Judiciary Institutional Issues

Sep, 12, 2019

[op-ed snap] Striking a blow for investigative credibility

CONTEXT

These are highly contentious times for India’s criminal justice system. With sensational criminal cases, controversy erupts almost every day.

Criminal justice system

  • The judiciary enjoys a certain insularity. It is not required to be overly communicative. Thus it can stay away from direct confrontation with others. 
  • Prosecutors and investigators face an issue of trust. 
  • In the defence team, a few private lawyers hired by influential accused persons enjoy an immunity.
  • In all this, investigators have no mechanism to air their grievances. 
  • The prosecution lawyers and investigating officers are in an unequal battle against the defence. 

Supreme Court judgement

  • A bench of the Supreme Court recently observed that probe agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) needed a free hand to conduct their investigations.
  • Recently certain defence lawyers requested that courts should scrutinise every piece of evidence collected by the agencies before passing any orders, including ones related to the granting of bail.
  • The court believed that investigators should not be pressured to compromise on the confidentiality of evidence they have gathered during the process of data collection.

Changing the nature of criminal investigations

  • In the early 1980s and 1990s, arrests were rare. 
  • Now, given the volume and complexity of investigative processes linked to multi-layered economic crime and pressure from the public and the executive, the pressure that the CBI should produce instant results is telling. 
  • The charge against the CBI is that it has been selective in its targets, pursuing a campaign of a vendetta at the behest of its political masters. 
  • Two issues were flagged in court recently:
    • the right of an accused to get bail
    • the need for custodial interrogation by probe agencies. 
  • Although the maxim that ‘bail is the rule, and jail is an exception’ was held since Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, the growing volume of crime and the dexterity of offenders have induced a change in judicial thinking. 
  • Courts at all levels now believe that granting bail cannot be a routine and mechanical process and that certain cases deserve an application of mind while ordering bail. 
  • This has led to lengthy hearings before a bail application is disposed of. While the application of an ordinary offender is summarily rejected, the rich and the famous are able to persuade judges to devote several sittings to decide on the bail application.
  • Courts now demand and peruse prosecution documents to satisfy themselves that no injustice has been done to a bail applicant. 
  • Neither the prosecution nor those accused can complain of judicial caprice or arbitrariness in the matter.

Custodial interrogation

  • There is a controversy over the need for custodial interrogation of an accused person. 
  • The complexity of present-day crime and the ease with which the many details of a crime can be hidden enhance the need for the custodial examination. 
  • While courts are convinced of its utility they sparingly grant such custody. 
  • This could also lead to possible misuse in questioning under controlled conditions. 
  • Police custody is a serious responsibility for the investigating officer. Any pressure tactics or attempted physical violence on the person in custody is fraught with serious consequences. 
  • There are reasonable guarantees including accountability to the judiciary for civilised treatment of an accused in police custody.

Conclusion

Criminal law and its contours are evolving. It is easy to criticise and accuse police agencies charged with efficient solving of crime with arbitrariness. The attempt should not be to choke them. There’s a need for allowing them more freedom to be professional without diluting the controls that are already in place.

Sep, 09, 2019

Criticizing executive, judiciary and bureaucracy cannot be called sedition: SC Judge

News

  • Justice Deepak Gupta, judge of Supreme Court, opined about the chilling effect caused by sedition law on legitimate criticism on the organs of state.
  • As citizens, Indians have the right to criticize the government, and criticism cannot be construed as sedition, he said, adding that stifling such criticism will make us a police state.

Sedition and Right to dissent

  • Criticism of the executive, the judiciary, the bureaucracy, the armed forces cannot be termed sedition.
  • If we stifle criticism of these institutions, we shall become a police state instead of a democracy.”
  • There is a very important right which is not spelt out in the Constitution… the right of freedom of opinion, the right of freedom of conscience, by themselves, include the most important right — the right to dissent.

Why is dissent important?

  • Every society has its own rules, and over a period of time, when people stick to only age-old rules and conventions, the society degenerates; it doesn’t develop.
  • New thinkers are born when they disagree with well-accepted norms of the society. If everybody follows the well-trodden path, no new paths will be created and no new vistas of the mind will be found.
  • If a person doesn’t ask questions and raise issues questioning age-old systems, no new systems will develop and horizons of the mind will not expand.
  • New thoughts and religious practices have developed only when they have questioned the old.

A right to expression

  • He said that in a secular country such as India, a non-believer, an atheist, an agnostic, ritualistic or a spiritualist person all has the right to expression.
  • When we talk of dissent, it reminds of Justice H R Khanna in the habeas corpus case.
  • That dissent is more important than any decision that may have come before or after it. Today, it is the rule of law.
  • In a case, a five-member bench was adjudicating on the matter of those detained during the Emergency in 1975, and Justice Khanna was the lone dissenter, while the four other judges in the bench allowed unrestricted powers of detention during the Emergency

Judiciary not above criticism

  • The judge emphasized that allowing a climate for free expression of thoughts and ideas without fear of criminal prosecution is essential for growth of civilization.
  • The judiciary is not above criticism. If Judges of the superior courts were to take note of all the contemptuous communications received by them, there would be no work other than the contempt proceedings.
  • Not only should there be criticism but there must be introspection. When we introspect, we will find that many decisions taken by Judiciary need to be corrected.

(Note: All these are personal opinion of the apex court Judge.)

Aug, 29, 2019

[op-ed snap] Reforming the Law Commission: Govt should enshrine in law, the composition, tenure, functions and work procedure of the panel

CONTEXT

There are reports that the cabinet will take a call on reconstituting the Law Commission. 

Background

  1. The Law Commission of India is the oldest amongst the national-level parastatal bodies.
  2. It is a legacy of the country’s colonial past. In 1833, British rulers unified the three presidencies and planned to enforce the English common law in “British India”. For this, they constituted many law commissions. 
  3. After the fourth commission completed its work towards the end of 19th century, they did not continue the exercise.
  4. The first commission was set up in 1955 for a three-year term, assumed charge on September 1 that year and vacated office on August 31, three years later. The same pattern was then irrationally adopted as the fixed term for the commission for all time to come.
  5. Each of the later commissions worked for less than three years, leaving their assigned work half way.

Ad Hoc nature of Law commission

  1. It has no fixed composition, no defined eligibility criteria for its chair and members, and no set functions as everything rests on the government’s will. 
  2. The terms of reference are specified afresh each time it is reconstituted as if it were an ad hoc body. 
  3. Three of the other national commissions for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes, are now regulated by the Constitution and there are laws for each of the national commissions for human rights, minorities, women, children and safai karmcharis.
  4. Though the commission’s job requires research-oriented juristic learning, the commission has been a haven for retired judges
  5. The chairpersons of the four pre-independence Law Commissions — C H Cameron, John Romilly, Whitley Stokes and Thomas Macaulay — were eminent jurists, not judges, and so were many of their members. 
  6. Independent India initially maintained the tradition by appointing the distinguished jurist M C Setalvad as the chairman of its first Law Commission. 
  7. The policy was later changed, and with the exception of K V K Sundaram, the commission has always been headed by judges.
  8. Members of the commission are also generally drawn from the judiciary, and the member-secretary is always from the bureaucracy. 
  9. Reports of the commission are generally written individually by members including the chairman and placed before the full commission for discussion and adoption. 
  10. Few of these reports have been on the Hindu and Christian family laws, but none on the Muslim personal law. Mostly because of backlash against an all Hindu commission.

Way ahead

  1. If the commission has to work without regard for extra-legal and political considerations it must have a governing statute defining its powers and responsibilities, and limitations.
  2. It must be placed under a proper parliamentary charter. 
  3. It should be a predominantly jurists’ commission, not a retired judges’ collective.
Aug, 19, 2019

[op-ed snap] A law for those who testify

CONTEXT

Maharashtra came out with the Maharashtra Witness and Protection and Security Act 2017. However, the Centre and most other states are yet to act on the directive.

Background

  1. Supreme court gave its assent last year to the Witness Protection Scheme drafted by the Centre.
  2. The scheme was meant to be a measure in force only until the government brought out its own law on the issue.
  3. The objective of the scheme is to ensure the safety of witnesses so that they are able to give a true account of the crime without any fear of violence or criminal recrimination.

Poor implementation

  1. Though the scheme provides for police personnel to be deployed to protect the witness, it is silent on the punishment to be given to those policemen who themselves threaten the witnesses. 
  2. Criminals continue to get support from the police. The shadowy politician-police nexus is so strong that no policeman dares take any action against his ‘master’.
  3. The Witness Protection Scheme calls for more elaborate and stricter laws to be incorporated so that criminals find no loopholes that can be exploited to their advantage.

The sooner the Centre comes up with legislation codifying the protection to be given to witnesses, the better it is for India’s criminal justice system.

Aug, 13, 2019

Haryana Administrative Tribunal

News

  • The Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association has suspended work indefinitely since a notification came out on July 24 for setting-up the Haryana Administrative Tribunal.
  • The Tribunal is meant to adjudicate over the service matters of the state employees that earlier would be directly heard by the High Court.

What is Haryana Administrative Tribunal?

  • Following a recommendation from the Haryana government, the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions on July 24 issued a notification for establishing the Haryana Administrative Tribunal.
  • This tribunal is a quasi-judicial body on the lines of Central Administrative Tribunal for redressal of the grievance of state employees concerning their employment.
  • In the absence of the Tribunal, the employees have no other option but to directly approach the High Court.
  • The government’s decision to establish the Tribunal had been pending since 2015 and is aimed at reducing a large number of pending cases before the High Court and quick disposal of the grievances of employees, as per the state.
  • Tribunal orders can be challenged before the High Court.

Under which law is the Tribunals setup?

  • Article 323-A, which came by way of 42nd constitutional amendment in 1976, enabled the Centre to enact The Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 for setting-up the Tribunals.
  • These tribunals are set for adjudication over disputes and complaints with respect to recruitment and conditions of service of persons.
  • The Centre under the Act can establish the Tribunal for its own employees and also has the power to establish one for a state after receiving a request from the state government.
  • Two or more states can also agree for a single tribunal. The Tribunal is to be headed by a Chairman or Chairperson – a retired High Court Judge, and a number of Judicial and Administrative Members.
  • The Chairperson can be removed only by the President of India. The Tribunal can also have benches at different locations.

Do any other states have the Tribunal?

  • The Union Government last month also issued another notification – the one abolishing the Himachal Pradesh Administrative Tribunal which had been in existence since 2015.
  • The request for it came from the state cabinet. Established first in 1986, the Himachal Tribunal was earlier also abolished in 2008 but re-established in 2015.
  • When Haryana government took the decision to establish its own Administrative Tribunal, it had also cited the “encouraging” results of the Himachal Tribunal.
  • Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal and Maharashtra with their own tribunals for service matters.
  • On August 2, Odisha also got abolished its Administrative Tribunal through a notification issued by the Centre.
Aug, 01, 2019

Cabinet approves increasing strength of Supreme Court judges from 31 to 34

News

  • Against the backdrop of rising cases in the Supreme Court, the Union Cabinet has approved increasing the number of judges in the top court from the present 31 to 34, including the Chief Justice of India.

Judges in Supreme Court

  • At present, the Supreme Court is working with its full sanctioned strength of 31.
  • The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956 was last amended in 2009 to increase the judges’ strength from 25 to 30 (excluding the CJI).
  • The decision of the Cabinet came days after Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi wrote to PM Modi to increase the number of judges in the top court.

Why need more Judges?

  • Due to paucity of judges, the required number of Constitution Benches to decide important cases involving questions of law was not being formed.
  • This rise also aims to expedite disposal of cases to keep pace with the rate of institution.

What are Constitution Benches?

  • Constitution bench is the name given to the benches of the SC which sit to decide any case “involving a substantial question of law as to the interpretation” of the Constitution of India or “for the purpose of hearing any reference” made by the President of India under Article 143.
  • It consist of at least five judges of the court.
  • This provision has been mandated by Article 145 (3) of the Constitution of India.
  • The Chief Justice of India has the power to constitute a Constitution Bench and refer cases to it.
  • Constitution benches have decided many of India’s best-known and most important Supreme Court cases, such as A. K. Gopalan v. State of Madras, Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (basic structure doctrine) and Ashoka Kumar Thakur v. Union of India (OBC reservations) etc.

Timeline: Number of Judges

  • The original Constitution of 1950 had envisaged a Supreme Court with a Chief Justice and seven puisne judges, leaving it to Parliament to increase this number.
  • The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956 originally provided for a maximum of 10 judges (excluding the CJI).
  • This number was increased to 13 by the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 1960, and to 17 in 1977.
  • The working strength of the Supreme court was, however, restricted to 15 judges by the Cabinet (excluding the chief Justice of India) till the end of 1979.
  • But the restriction was withdrawn at the request of the Chief Justice of India.
  • In 1986, the strength of the top court was increased to 25, excluding the CJI.
  • Subsequently, the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 2009 further augmented the strength of the court from 25 to 30.

Back2Basics

Eligibility of a judge of the Supreme Court

A citizen of India not exceeding 65 years age as per Article 124 of the constitution who has been

  • a judge of one high court or more (continuously), for at least five years, or
  • an advocate there, for at least ten years, or
  • a distinguished jurist, in the opinion of the president, power conferred by clause(2) of article 124 of the Constitution of India
  • is eligible to be recommended for appointment, a judge of the supreme court
Jul, 16, 2019

Centre for Research and Planning (CRP)

News

  • Nine months after it was set up with an ambitious mandate to reform the judiciary, the Centre for Research and Planning (CRP), the Supreme Court’s in-house think tank, is now virtually disbanded.

Centre for Research and Planning (CRP)

  • The CRP was CJI Gogoi’s brainchild, and setting it up was one of the first decisions he took after assuming office in October 2018.
  • It was intended to improve public confidence in the judiciary that had taken a knocking after four most senior judges took to media to express their discontent.
  • Few Supreme Court judges had held a press conference in January 2018 to raise concerns on the functioning of the court, especially the allocation of cases by then CJI Dipak Misra.

Terms of reference for CRP

  • The CRP was asked to come up with short versions of key judgments without the jargon to connect with ordinary citizens.
  • The idea was mooted after the criticism the court received following the Sabarimala verdict in September 2018, allowing entry of women into the Kerala shrine.
  • The CRP was also tasked with creating a network of leading independent scholars in key domain areas, complementing state and national judicial academies in strengthening the knowledge infrastructure of the judiciary.
Jul, 15, 2019

Law Commission

News

  • With the country left without a Law Commission since September 2018, the Law Ministry has initiated the process of setting up the body which gives advice to the government on complex legal issues.
  • The three-year term of the 21st Law Commission ended on August 31 last year. On at least one occasion, the Ministry had moved the proposal to reconstitute the panel.

Law Commission of India

  • It is an executive body established by an order of the Government of India. First law commission of independent India was established post the Independence in 1955.
  • The Cabinet approves reconstitution of the law panel for a period of three years. It is usually headed by a former Supreme Court judge or a former Chief Justice of a High Court.
  • Composition: Chairman, 1 Permanent Member, 1 Member Secretary, 2 Part-time Members, 2 ex-officio
    members. (21 st Law Commission Chairman: Justice BN Chauhan)
  • Tenure: 3 Years
  • Function: Advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice for “Legal Reforms in India”
  • Recommendations: NOT binding
  • First Law Commission was established during the British Raj in 1834 by the Charter Act of 1833 under Macaulay.
  • It recommended for the Codifications of the IPC, CrPC etc.
Jul, 01, 2019

Analysis of Free Legal Aid Services in India


News

Background

  • In 1987, the Legal Services Authorities (LSA) Act was enacted to give free and competent legal services to the poor.
  • The Act paved the way for the constitution of National Legal Service Authority (NALSA) and other legal service institutions at the State, district and taluka level.
  • Free legal services under LSA Act are available to a person belonging to Schedule Tribe and Schedule Caste, woman, child, victim of human trafficking, differently abled person, industrial workman, and person in custody in a protective home and the poor.
  • According to the statistics provided by NALSA, about 8.22 lakh people across India benefited through legal aid services from April 2017 to June 2018.

The unpopular free legal aid: Report

  • A majority of the people who are entitled to the free legal aid system see the service as an option only when they cannot afford a private lawyer.
  • First-of-its-kind pan-India research by National Law University, Delhi (NLUD) has found that people don’t have faith over the services of legal aid counsel (LAC) under the free legal aid services due to a variety of factors.
  • The services offered by LAC are absolutely free. But a majority of potential beneficiaries are disinclined towards the option of availing these services.
  • This is observed in the research report titled ‘Quality of Legal Representation: An Empirical Analysis of Free Legal Aid Services in India’.

Status of Legal system in India

  • Last year, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) had come out with a report stating that India’s per capita lawyer ratio is better than most countries in the world.
  • There are about 1.8 million lawyers in India which mean there is one lawyer for every 736 people.
  • The same report also stated there are 61,593 panel lawyers in the country, which translates to just one legal aid lawyer per 18,609 population or five legal aid lawyers per 1,00,000 population.
  • Also, 22.6% of the beneficiaries responded that they won’t opt for free legal aid services for the second time.

What most aggrieved sections think

  • The study also found that 60% of women, who were aware of the free legal aid services, chose to opt for private legal practitioner because they could have better control over their lawyer.
  • These women have no faith and confidence over the quality of services offered under the legal aid system, the study said.

Why private lawyers?

  • The beneficiaries opt for free legal aid service due to the dearth of resources to engage a private lawyer.
  • About 75% of beneficiaries opted for free legal aid because they had no means and resources to hire a paid private practitioner.
  • They would never have approached for the legal aid services if they had resources to engage private legal practitioners,” the study found.

Fault lines in LAC

  • The survey found that 56% of LAC spends an average of 1 to 10 hours per week on legal aid cases. On the contrary, around 58% LAC spend on an average of 20 hours and above per week on private cases.
  • Although the services offer by LAC are absolutely free, the ground reality is that around 16.30% of beneficiaries claimed their LAC often demand money before or after every court hearing.
  • Also, around 33% of the judicial officers said complaints were received against LACs for demanding money from beneficiaries.
  • LAC can withdraw from an aided case by submitting a reason to member-secretary. In this scenario, a beneficiary has to go through the painstaking task of retelling their case history to newly allotted LAC.

Problems with beneficiary

  • The trust deficit among the beneficiaries towards the panel lawyers was hard to eradicate.
  • The problem with most of the beneficiaries is that they are illiterate and don’t have the procedural knowledge of the functioning of courts.
  • Hence they end up getting irked after three or four dates. Thereafter, they don’t want to come to court.

NALSA’s views

  • The quality of legal aid is one of the prime focus areas of NALSA in 2019.
  • NALSA was improving the selection process of panel lawyers to ensure selection and empanelment of committed lawyers.
  • After periodic assessments, lawyers can be delisted from the panel.
  • The Structure and Framework of Monitoring Committees have been changed, and now these committees also do the work of mentoring of panel lawyers in legal aided cases.
  • Front offices at the district level are being upgraded to make them one-stop centres for legal aid seekers.
May, 13, 2019

Vacation Bench of Supreme Court

News

  • Recently Hon’ble Supreme Court has notified its annual summer holiday from May 13, and listed the judges who will occupy the Vacation Benches for hearing urgent matters during this period.

Vacation Bench

  • A Vacation Bench of the Supreme Court is a special bench constituted by the Chief Justice of India.
  • The court takes two long vacations each year, the summer and winter breaks, but is technically not fully closed during these periods.
  • Litigants can still approach the Supreme Court and, if the court decides that the plea is an “urgent matter”, the Vacation Bench hears the case on its merits.
  • While there is no specific definition as to what an “urgent matter” is.
  • During vacations the court generally admits writs related to habeas corpus, certiorari, prohibition and quo warranto matters for enforcement of any fundamental right.

Legal Provisions for Vacation Bench

  • Under Rule 6 of Order II of The Supreme Court rules, 2013 the CJI has nominates the Division Benches for hearing of urgent miscellaneous matters and regular hearing matters during the summer vacation for the period.
  • The rule reads that CJI may appoint one or more Judges to hear during summer vacation or winter holidays all matters of an urgent nature which under these rules may be heard by a Judge sitting singly.
  • And, whenever necessary, he may likewise appoint a Division Court for the hearing of urgent cases during the vacation which require to be heard by a Bench of Judges.

Which else can appoint vacation bench?

  • The High Courts and trial courts too have Vacation Benches to hear urgent matters under their jurisdiction.
May, 08, 2019

[op-ed snap] Not Justice

CONTEXT

CJI. In a report submitted on Monday, the panel has given a clean chit to CJI Gogoi.

Background

Onus on Panel

  • The three-member panel probing charges of sexual harassment against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had a task much broader and more critical than its stated remit.
  • Given that it was investigating allegations levelled against the highest office of the country’s apex court, the panel needed to answer questions that pertained, inevitably, to the integrity of the institution itself.
  • Upon it also lay the onus of instituting procedures that mitigated the unequal power relations in a case where a former junior employee of the court was ranged against the CJI.
  • In a report submitted on Monday, the panel has given a clean chit to CJI Gogoi. It has “found no substance” in the charges.
  • But this denouement — an ex parte report, which will not be made public — raises more questions than it answers.

Proceedings

Complaints regarding Procedure

  • The committee comprising Justices S A Bobde, Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra wrapped up the inquiry in sittings over four days, three of which were devoted to questioning the complainant.
  • On the third day, the complainant withdrew from the probe alleging that the panel did not adopt “a procedure that would ensure fairness and equality”.
  • She accused the committee of not informing her about its procedures, denying her legal help, not recording its proceedings and not providing her with a copy of her depositions before it.

Power Asymmetry

  • Each of these four points raises issues of power asymmetry.
  • The committee’s task was, no doubt, complicated by the fact that the SC’s “in-house procedures” do not have provisions to deal with charges against the CJI.
  • But the apex court has, over the years, also interpreted and re-interpreted Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Constitution to lay down the rights of working women.
  • The probe was a chance to extend such jurisprudence to a situation inside the institution of the court.

Concerns with ex parte investigation

  • The panel’s recourse to an ex-parte investigation is problematic.
  • Aside from the fact that such a probe is against the principles of natural justice..
  • And by not making its report public, the panel has come up short on the requirement of transparency .
  • It has argued that the verdict in Indira Jaising vs Supreme Court of India does not enjoin placing in public “the report of a committee constituted as a part of the In-House Procedure”.
  • But surely a probe into an issue where the institutional propriety of the SC is in question cannot hearken to pre-RTI jurisprudence — which Indira Jaising is.

Conclusion

The panel’s verdict goes against the Court’s tradition of interpreting the law creatively for the sake of upholding and strengthening constitutional morality. The Court has corrected itself in the past. It should do so again.

May, 01, 2019

Contempt of Court

News

Contempt of Court

  • According to the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, contempt of court can either be civil contempt or criminal contempt.
  • Civil contempt means wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
  • On the other hand, criminal contempt means the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which
  1. Scandalizes or tends to scandalize, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or
  2. Prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or
  3. Interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.

Penalty for Contempt

  • A contempt of court may be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both.
  • This is provided in case that the accused may be discharged or the punishment awarded may be remitted on apology being made to the satisfaction of the court.
Apr, 26, 2019

[op-ed snap] CJI Sexual Harassment Case: How Fragile Is Judicial Independence?

CONTEXT

Since the infamous Saturday morning emergency hearing in the Supreme Court on an “issue of great public importance”, several legal and political commentators have raised noteworthy concerns over the apparent absence of due process, and the possibility of abuse of the office of the Chief Justice of India.

Wrong Focus

  • Instead, the focus was mainly on how the incident represents an ‘attack’ on the independence of the judiciary. This view was then echoed by the Chairman of the Bar Council of India in a statement, and the Finance Minister on his website.
  • The Finance Minister, in fact, claimed that “a mass intimidation of judges is on”.
  • This approach suffers from two fundamental flaws that command a critical assessmen.

Is it threatening Judicial Independence?

1. Is there a connection?

  • For such an allegation to amount to a threat to judicial independence, there would have to be some connection between the individual and the institution – apart from the fact that the individual happens to be a member of the institution.
  •  The allegations made by the complainant are rather complex, and are seemingly reflected in a series of documents bearing the imprimatur of the Supreme Court administration.
  • Without any detailed inquiry or investigation, it is impossible to dismiss the allegations as necessarily false, and to do so constitutes a violation of due process that the complainant is entitled to.

2.Jeopardising Checks and balances

  • For individuals representing the government to assert that the allegations against the CJI are false – without demanding an impartial inquiry through proper channels – jeopardizes the system of checks and balances.

Questions that should be raised

  • How can we find out if the allegations are false?
  • What if the allegations are not false?
  • Does the victim’s right to access to justice deserve to be ignored owing to possibilities of other false allegations?
  • Can a mechanism can be put in place for an inquiry to be carried out by an independent committee efficiently and without delay?
  • What if an inquiry committee must give preliminary findings before judicial work is taken away from a judge?
  • What are the possible measures that can be instituted to deter politically motivated allegations of sexual harassment?

Perceived Fragility of ‘Judicial Independence

  • This view of the fragility of judicial independence is now rather familiar.
  • RTI case – Earlier this month, in the case concerning whether the judiciary’s decision on judicial appointments should be subject to the Right to Information Act, the government argued that making the judiciary amenable to the RTI Act would destroy “judicial independence”, without explaining how lack of transparency is a necessary facet of the independence of the judiciary.
  • Contempt of court Case –Similarly, in contempt of court proceedings, it is often asserted that criticism of judgments can compromise confidence in the judicial system, and therefore interfere with the “due administration of justice.”

Problems With Judicial Independence Recourse

  • Non- elected – It is important to remember that the judiciary consists of non-elected individuals.
  • Trust of people –Its power as an institution – in terms of issues of governance – has been amassed over time, and is predicated on the trust of the people.
  • Transparency –Judicial decisions on the importance and need for openness and transparency ought to be applied with equal – if not greater force – to the judiciary.

Way Forward

  • It is not enough to assert that judicial independence will be at risk whenever any matter related to the judiciary is sought to be debated. Instead, mechanisms must be evolved to ensure due process to both parties, where protecting judicial independence is one of the factors involved.
  • Thus, any committee that undertakes an inquiry into the allegations must not let the question of judicial independence eclipse the inquiry.

 

 

Apr, 25, 2019

Explained: What happens when judges face allegations?

News

Background

  • Recently allegations of sexual harassment were made by a former employee of the Supreme Court against the CJI.
  • However it was later claimed by a litigant that he was offered to “frame” the CJI.
  • While judges indeed require powerful protection against motivated accusations, due process demands that an expeditious, thorough, fair and impartial probe is carried out in the matter.
  • The extraordinary developments at the country’s highest seat of justice offer an opportunity to revisit some larger questions around its accountability.

The question of ‘good behaviour’

  • Constitution protects judges against the will of the masses, of Parliament, and of the all-powerful executive.
  • A judge of the SC cannot be removed except by an order of the President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting has been presented to the President in the same session.
  • Such removal can be initiated on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.

The question of ‘good behaviour’

  • The Constitution does not define ‘misbehavior’ and ‘incapacity’.
  • The Judges (Inquiry) Bill, 2006 sought to establish a National Judicial Council to inquire into allegations of incapacity or misbehavior of judges of the HC and SC.
  • It defined misbehavior as willful or persistent conduct which brings dishonour or disrepute to the judiciary; or willful or persistent failure to perform the duties of a judge; or wilful abuse of judicial office, corruption, lack of integrity; or committing an offence involving moral turpitude.
  • The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010, tried to lay down enforceable standards of conduct for judges.
  • It proposed to widen the definition of ‘misbehaviour’ by adding “corruption or lack of integrity which includes delivering judgments for collateral or extraneous reasons, making demands for consideration in cash or kind”, or “any other action… which has the effect of subverting the administration of justice”.
  • Failure to declare assets and liabilities, or wilfully giving false information was also included within the definition of ‘misbehaviour’.

No single definition yet on ‘misbehaviour’

  • In C Ravichandran Iyer vs Justice A M Bhattacharjee & Ors (1995), the Supreme Court said ‘misbehaviour’ could not have a straitjacketed definition.
  • But if the conduct of a judge leads to the credibility of the judiciary being called into question, it should be considered misbehaviour.
  • Misconduct prior to assuming office is not exempt — in 2009, Rajya Sabha passed an impeachment motion against Justice Soumitra Sen of Calcutta High Court for allegedly misappropriating funds several years before he became a judge.

What should be the standard of proof for ‘misbehaviour’?

  • While rejecting the Opposition’s notice for impeachment of CJI, RS chairman cited the “lack of substantial merit”, and said the charges had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
  • But impeachment is not a criminal trial.
  • In all civil matters, the standard of proof is the “preponderance of probabilities”.
  • In Australia and South Africa, this is the standard of proof in the impeachment process of judges.
  • India does not currently have a statutory mechanism to examine the misconduct of judges, and short of the complex process of impeachment, there is no mechanism available to make judges accountable.

Allegations against judges

  • While no judge has so far been removed by impeachment, several have faced allegations of corruption, and a couple of them of sexual harassment as well.
  • An allegation of corruption or sexual harassment, if proved, ought to count as misbehaviour or misconduct.

Addressing Sexual harassment at Courts

  • In 1997, the Supreme Court noted that “the present civil and penal laws in India do not adequately provide for specific protection of women from sexual harassment in work places”, and laid down the ‘Vishakha Guidelines’.
  • Sixteen years later, Parliament enacted The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
  • The Supreme Court has a Gender Sensitization and Internal Complaints Committee headed by a woman judge, with a majority of woman members.
  • The committee has a laid-down procedure for dealing with complaints of sexual harassment on the premises of the court.
  • But it has no power to deal with complaints against the CJI or judges. In respect of misconduct by judges, the in-house process can be initiated only by the CJI.
  • The Regulations are silent on a situation where the allegation is against the CJI himself.

Accountability must persist with conscience

  • In K Veeraswami vs Union Of India And Others (1991) the Supreme Court ruled that in case of an allegation of corruption against a judge of the Supreme Court, the President would order an investigation in consultation with the CJI.
  • And, if the allegation is against the CJI himself, the President would consult other judges and act on their advice.
  • Prior to this judgment, the Prevention of Corruption Act was applicable only to public servants.
  • Justice K Jagannatha Shetty wrote: “The judiciary has no power of the purse or the sword. It survives only by public confidence.
  • The judge whose character is clouded and whose standards of morality and rectitude are in doubt may not have judicial independence and may not command the confidence of the public.
  • He must voluntarily withdraw from the judicial work and administration.
  • Veeraswami was only about allegations of corruption, but it is being followed for all allegations, including the commission of crimes against judges of constitutional courts.

No man is above the Law

  • The rule of law demands judicial accountability. Accountability makes the exercise of power more efficient and effective.
  • The British constitutional theorist A V Dicey wrote that “no man is above the law [and] every man, whatever be his rank or condition, is subject to the ordinary law of the realm and amenable to the jurisdiction of the ordinary tribunals”.
  • Legal equality is the cardinal principle of the rule of law, and everyone including judges, must respect it.

Should CJI undergo trial?

  • To place judicial performance beyond scrutiny would be myopic, as liberty without accountability is freedom of the fool.
  • Power without responsibility is the anti-thesis of constitutionalism. Accountability of public officials, including judges, is the very essence of a mature democracy.

Way Forward

  • Judicial accountability promotes at least three discrete values: the rule of law, public confidence in the judiciary, and institutional responsibility.
  • Both judicial independence and judicial accountability are purposive devices designed to serve greater constitutional objectives.
  • Though the independence of the judiciary is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution, it is not an end in itself.
  • In fact, it is an instrumental value defined by the purposes it serves.
Apr, 02, 2019

[op-ed snap]Ensuring access to justice

CONTEXT

The Supreme Court should reconsider setting up Benches in different States in keeping with the recommendations of the Law Commissions (125th Report and 229th Report).

Background

  • At an informal meeting, all of the then sitting judges of the Supreme Court advised the then Chief Justice of India to decide against the request of the then Central government to sit in other places in the country under Article 130 of the Constitution.
  • The reason judges decided against it was because we felt that the authority of the Supreme Court would get diluted.

Problem with this reasoning

  • Many High Courts in this country have different Benches for meting out justice without ‘justice’ being ‘diluted’.
  • For example, the Bombay High Court has four Benches — in Mumbai, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Panaji (Goa) — and the quality of its decisions or status have certainly not been diluted thereby.

The logic behind the number of benches

  • The number of Benches depends on the size of the State,
  • the idea being to facilitate easier access to justice.

Consequences of single Bench

1.Quality Of Lawyers

  • First, the Supreme Court sitting only in Delhi has resulted in excellent lawyers from other High Courts not appearing before the Supreme Court, possibly because it casts too large a monetary burden on their clients, many of whom are impoverished.
  • Second, all lawyers, whatever their calibre or competence, who happen to be in Delhi now appear in the Supreme Court.
  • Some of the good lawyers who were able to leave lucrative practices in the High Courts have settled down in Delhi, but they have established a monopoly, and, as a result, charge unconscionable fees even from charitable concerns — sometimes even when they do not appear at the hearing.
  • This is also true of litigating lawyers at all levels of the judicial system.

2.Reducing to District Court Level

  • The third fallout of the failure to act under Article 130 is that the Supreme Court in Delhi has been flooded with work and been reduced to a District Court instead of a Court of Final Appeal and Constitutional Court as envisaged under the Constitution.

Lawyers fooling people

  • Some of the lawyers specialising in victim compensation cases do not charge any fees for their services and render services free of cost.
  • They generally obtain a blank cheque from the victim which is filled in after credit of the compensation to the bank account of the victim.
  • Some of the lawyers specialising in victim compensation cases thus take huge money as a percentage of compensation amount awarded towards victim compensation.
  • This is illegal, being a champertous agreement.
  • Incidentally, according to a study carried out by a research organisation, Vidhi, in the Delhi High Court, more than 70% of the delays in the disposal of cases are attributable to lawyers, a major reason being sometimes unjust pleas for adjournments.

Way Forward

  • To hound out the corrupt lawyers from the system at all levels so that justice may be truly rendered to the public.
  • First, the Supreme Court should reconsider setting up Benches in different States in keeping with the recommendations of the Law Commissions (125th Report and 229th Report).
  • Second, the Bar Council of India should exercise its powers under the Advocates Act, 1961 more effectively.
  • If not, the disciplinary jurisdiction must be returned to the judiciary as was the position prior to the Advocates Act, 1961 by repealing the 1961 Act.
  • Third, lawyers should be made irrelevant by referring more cases to trained mediators, as the Supreme Court has done in the Ayodhya dispute.

 

Mar, 22, 2019

Right to Self-Defence

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Right to Self-Defence

Mains level: Expanded scope of the aforesaid right


News

  • The right to self-defence extends not only to one’s own body but to protect the person and property of another; the Supreme Court has interpreted the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • The court acquitted a forest ranger, who was jailed for shooting an alleged sandalwood smuggler in 1988.

Key points of SC ruling

  • The court observed that the right of private defence extends not only to “the defence of one’s own body against any offence affecting the human body but also to defend the body of any other person.
  • The right also embraces the protection of property, whether one’s own or another person’s, against certain specified offences, namely, theft, robbery, mischief and criminal trespass.
  • The court explained that the right does not arise if there is time to have recourse to the protection of the public authorities. Nor does it extend to the infliction of more harm than is necessary.
  • When death is caused, the person exercising the right of self-defence must be under reasonable apprehension of death, or grievous hurt, to himself or to those whom he is protecting, the court explained.

Right to Self-defence

  • Sections 96 to 106 of the IPC deals with the right to private defence.
  • It is not necessary that there should be an actual commission of the offence in order to give rise to the right of private defence.
  • A person who faces imminent and reasonable danger of losing his life or limb may in an exercise of self-defence inflict any harm even extending to death on his assailant either when the assault is attempted or directly threatened.
  • It is enough if the accused apprehends that such an offence is contemplated and it is likely to be committed if the right of private defence is not exercised, the court ruled.
Mar, 19, 2019

Govt.’s prerogative to frame schemes: SC

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Separation of powers between various organs

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Art.32 vs Art.226

Mains level: Writ Jurisdiction


News

  • It is the sole prerogative of the government to frame schemes and courts should stay out of governance, the Supreme Court has said in a judgment.
  • A Bench led by Justice A.M. Sapre criticised the Uttarakhand High Court for framing a scheme to regularize hundreds of casual workers engaged by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in the construction of roads for Char Dham Yatra pilgrimage.

Courts can only direct

  • The High Court failed to see that it is not the function of the courts to frame any scheme but it is the sole prerogative of the government to do it.
  • All that the High Court, in exercise of its extraordinary power under Article 226 of the Constitution, can do is to direct the government to consider framing an appropriate scheme.
  • Such directions to the government to consider framing a scheme should be with regard to the facts and circumstances of each case.
  • It is only in exceptional cases when the court considers it proper, should it issue appropriate mandatory directions, the Supreme Court held.
  • Instead, in the present case, a single judge of the High Court framed a scheme itself to regularize the services of the casual labourers and granted the benefits similar to those of regular employees under the labour law.

To read more about the Writ Jurisdiction, navigate to the page:

Polity Titbits: Functions/powers of Judiciary

Mar, 09, 2019

Mediation in Ayodhya dispute

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Legal provisions mentioned in the newscard

Mains level: Arbitration mechanism in India – pros, cons, challenges and way forward


News

  • A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has referred the Ayodhya dispute for mediation in a bid to heal minds and hearts.
  • The mediation would start in a week in Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh of which the disputed area is a part  with the process conducted in-camera.

Legal provisions for Mediation

  1. Under Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code, judges must ensure that all avenues to resolve a dispute outside the Court have been exhausted.
  2. The Section reads: Where it appears to the Court that there exist elements of a settlement which may be acceptable to the parties, the Court shall formulate the terms of settlement and give them to the parties for their observations.
  3. After receiving the observations of the parties, the Court may reformulate the terms of a possible settlement and refer the same for:
  • Arbitration (a process by which parties select an independent person, who renders a decision regarding the case)
  • Conciliation (it attempts to make parties come to an agreement, about the problem at hand)
  • Judicial settlement including settlement through Lok Adalat or
  • Mediation
Feb, 19, 2019

[op-ed snap] Not without an explanation: when judges recuse themselves

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Judges Recusing themselves from hearing cases must give their reasons in writing for recusing themselves from specific cases.


NEWS

CONTEXT

Recently 3 Judges Recused themselves from hearing the case challenging the appointment of M. Nageswara Rao as interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Previous  cases of recusals

  • Justice U.U. Lalit recused himself from hearing the dispute over land in Ayodhya after senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan pointed out that the judge had appeared for former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh in a related contest.
  • Two judges of the Gujarat High Court withdrew from a set of controversial cases by merely saying, “not before me.”

Problem with such recusals

  • None of the judges recorded their reasons in writing, allowing, in the process, plenty of scope for conjecture and surmise.
  • Not having a written order specifically justifying the recusal, it’s difficult to tell whether the disqualification was really required.
  • An unwarranted recusal, much like a failure to recuse when faced with genuine conflicts of interest, damage the rule of law.
  • To withdraw from a case merely because a party suggests that a judge does so impair judicial fairness.
  • It allows parties to cherry-pick a bench of their choice.

Obligations of Judiciary

  • In taking the oath of office, judges, both of the Supreme Court and of the high courts, promise to perform their duties, to deliver justice, “without fear or favor, affection or ill-will”.

Formulating Rules

  • There are no definite rules on recusals by Judges.
  • Justice J. Chelameswar in his opinion in Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India (2015) held that “Where a judge has a pecuniary interest, no further inquiry as to whether there was a ‘real danger’ or ‘reasonable suspicion’ of bias is required to be undertaken,”
  • “But in other cases, such an inquiry is required, and the relevant test is the ‘real danger’ test.”
  • The test does provide a plausible solution, so long as judges make their choices by reducing their reasons to writing.
  • For when judges choose without a rational motive, without expressing their decisions in writing, they hurt the very idea of judicial rectitude.

Way Forward

  • Ultimately, a mistaken case of recusal can prove just as destructive to rule of law as those cases where a judge refuses a recusal despite the existence of bias.
  • Recusals to be used as a tool to manoeuvre justice, as a means to picking benches of a party’s choice, and as an instrument to evade judicial work.
  • As the Constitutional Court of South Africa held, in 1999, “the nature of the judicial function involves the performance of difficult and at times unpleasant tasks,” and to that end, judicial officers “must resist all manner of pressure, regardless of where it comes from.
  • This is the constitutional duty common to all judicial officers. If they deviate, the independence of the judiciary would be undermined, and in turn, the Constitution itself.”

 

Feb, 12, 2019

[op-ed snap] All is still not well in court

Note4Students

Mains Paper 2: Constitution | Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of the issues in Judiciary.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the issues relating to the independence of the judiciary, transparency and accountability in the institution, in a brief manner.


Context

  • A year ago, four judges of the Supreme Court of India called an unprecedented press conference and posed troubling questions relating to the independence of the judiciary, transparency and accountability in the institution and so on.

Recent issues in Judiciary

  1. The idea of the CJI as the “master of the roster”
  • The previous CJI was criticised by many for the manner in which cases were allocated to judges and for selectively choosing the benches that would hear cases of public importance.
  • In democratic countries around the world, notably in the UK, Canada and Australia, the allocation of work and the selection of benches is a consultative process, and necessarily involves a culture of trust.
  • Alternatively, there are clear and defined rules in this regard, as, for example, in the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice.
  • It is not acceptable for the chief justice to have unbridled power.
  • Even in high courts in India, where a chief justice may have official roles such as presiding over administrative meetings, at no point is the chief justice considered or made to believe that he/she is superior to other judges in the court.
  • Unfortunately, the trend of the CJI assuming the role of master of the roster, with unbridled and unrestricted power, continues even under the present CJI, which may have disturbing implications for the dispensation of justice in our country.
  • Urgent reforms in this regard are necessary.

2. How appointments to and transfers within the higher judiciary continue to be made

  • Every time a new cohort of judges is announced for selection, a new set of problems emerges.
  • Two incidents over the past month have been particularly distressing.
  • One relates to a recent proposal to transfer a sitting judge of the Delhi High Court, whose decisions have been attacked by those within or close to the present Union government.
  • Another case is the inexplicable reversal of a decision of the collegium to elevate two high court chief justices, both well-regarded as fine judges, to the Supreme Court.
  • Equally problematic is the overwhelming silence of the government.
  • On an earlier occasion, the same government had staunchly defended the seniority convention in judicial appointments.

Not enough attention is being paid to the judiciary as an institution

  • Ideally, in any democratic set-up, we need the best individuals running the judiciary.
  • One important criterion for selecting judges is merit.
  • But it has been seen, many brilliant judges are overlooked.
  • The appointments of judges on grounds other than merit can be self-perpetuating.
  • Many such appointees will become members of the the collegium and may make the same kinds of choices their seniors made.
  • Short-term decisions to appoint certain individuals affect the long-term condition of the judiciary.

3. Recent fascination of the Supreme Court for the “sealed cover”

  • The recent fascination of the Supreme Court for the “sealed cover” as a means of receiving information about cases, having used it in three highly-documented litigations in the past few months, is completely against the idea of open, transparent justice.
  • Unfortunately, our judiciary is not only opaque in its own workings but is also becoming partial to opacity in its public function, as an arbiter of public disputes.
  • Jurisprudence clearly shows that such secretive information should be resorted to only in exceptional cases.
  • But here, it is being asked for in an ad hoc manner without any clear or rational reason.

4. Post-retirement appointments.

  • Such appointments really compromise the independence of the judiciary.
  • They raise potential conflicts of interest, if not in reality, certainly in matters of perception.
  • Ideally, there should be a policy decision to introduce a cooling-off period after retirement before taking up new appointments.
  • Or such appointments should be made by a neutral body which is free from executive influence.
  • In any case, such offers of appointments should neither be made nor considered when a judge is still in office.

5. Appeal made to the Supreme Court by itself against the order of the Delhi High Court

  • The fifth issue is that of the appeal made to the Supreme Court by itself against the order of the Delhi High Court on the applicability of the Right to Information Act, 2005, to the judiciary.
  • The Delhi High Court judgment has been stayed, and the case has been languishing in the court for a decade now.
  • Closure on this account is more urgently needed than ever, especially in the context of issues of transparency in the judiciary.

Conclusion

  • The 2018 press conference gave a flicker of hope that maybe things will turn around soon.
  • However, the issues relating to the independence of the judiciary, transparency and lack of accountability in the institution still remain a pressing concern.
  • Urgent reforms are necessary in this regard.
Feb, 09, 2019

Supreme Court may curb advocates from speaking on cases

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Polity | Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Various aspects of the contempt of court


News

Contempt Charges for Public Proclamation

  1. The Supreme Court has agreed to examine the possibility of imposing curbs on advocates airing their views in the media about pending cases and the judges handling them.
  2. The apex court was hearing a plea on contempt petitions filed by the government and the Attorney General of India against a famous civil rights lawyer.
  3. The lawyer’s tweets willfully and deliberately” made a false statement in a case pending in court.

Freedom carries with it responsibility

  1. The SC Bench agreed that though the flash of cameras and media attention may seem irresistible to some, a line needed to be firmly drawn.
  2. Observing that “freedom carries with it a responsibility”, it noted that some lawyers even used air time to attack judges, whose code of conduct did not allow them to go public.
  3. The bench also observed that some lawyers rushed to the media as soon as their petition was filed.

Damage to the institution

  1. It can be often sees just after a judgement is pronounced it is publicly proclaimed that it is a black day, bringing disrepute to the institution.
  2. When a matter is sub judice, the lawyers are expected to maintain expected to maintain the decorum of the court and should avoid going public and being part of media and TV debate.
  3. The attack on judicial proceedings in a brazen, willful and malicious manner would tend to shake the very foundation of the justice delivery system.
Jan, 17, 2019

[op-ed snap] Slogans, critical of govt, are not anti-national and do not amount to sedition

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Polity | Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basics aspects of sedition law in India.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the issues of sedition law in India, in a brief manner.


Context

  • Recently, sedition charges are filed against an ex-president of the JNU Student’s Union and former students for allegedly “raising and supporting anti-national slogans”.

What is sedition, enacted by Section 124-A of the IPC?

  • According to the Privy Council, it meant any statement that caused “disaffection”, namely, exciting in others certain bad feelings towards the government, even though there was no element of incitement to violence or rebellion.

Constituent Assembly debates on the subject of sedition

  • In the Draft Constitution, one of the heads of restrictions proposed on freedom of speech and expression was “sedition”.
  • In the heyday of British colonialism, the sedition law was frequently invoked to crush the freedom movement and to incarcerate prominent nationalist leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gandhiji, Jawaharlal Nehru and others. K M Munshi opposed the inclusion of “sedition” as a head of restriction and moved an amendment for its deletion.
  • In the course of the debates, Munshi urged that “now that we have a democratic government, a line must be drawn between criticism of government which should be welcome and incitement to violence which would undermine security or order on which civilised life is based.
  • As a matter of fact the essence of democracy is criticism of government.
  • The party system, which necessarily involves advocacy for the replacement of one government by another is its only bulwark; the advocacy of a different system of government should be welcome because that gives vitality to democracy.”
  • The founding fathers agreed with Munshi and deliberately omitted “sedition” as one of the permissible grounds of restriction on freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(2).
  • However, Sedition remained as a criminal offence in the IPC and provides inter alia for a sentence of life imprisonment and fine upon conviction.

 How did courts in India construe ‘sedition’?

  • The Federal Court of India presided over by the distinguished chief justice, Maurice Gwyer, ruled that the sedition law is not to be invoked “to minister to the wounded vanity of government .
  • The acts or words complained of must either incite disorder or must be such as to satisfy reasonable men that is their intention or tendency”.

I.Kedarnath vs. State of Bihar

  • Supreme Court in its landmark decision pronounced in 1962 in Kedarnath vs. State of Bihar dissented from the view of the Privy Council and adopted the view of the Federal Court.
  • The Court ruled that mere criticism of the government or comments on the administration, however vigorous or pungent or even ill-informed, did not constitute sedition.
  • The Supreme Court limited the application of Section 124A (sedition) to acts involving intention or tendency to create disorder, or disturbance of law and order, or incitement to violence.
  • Therefore, incitement to violence is the essential ingredient of the offence of sedition (emphasis added).

ii.Balwant Singh vs. State of Punjab

  • In 1995, the Supreme Court in the case of Balwant Singh vs. State of Punjab applied the principle in Kedarnath’s case to the prosecution of certain persons who raised the certain slogans.
  • The Court ruled that in view of the prosecution evidence that the slogans were raised a couple of times and that the slogans did not evoke any response from any other person of the Sikh community or reaction from people of other communities, raising of such casual slogans a couple of times without any other act whatsoever, did not justify prosecution for sedition and Section 124-A could not be invoked.

iii.Nazir Khan vs. State of Delhi

  • In 2003, in the case of Nazir Khan vs. State of Delhi the Supreme Court emphasised that: “It is the fundamental right of every citizen to have his own political theories and ideas and to propagate them and work for their establishment so long as he does not seek to do so by force and violence or contravene any provision of law.
  • The mere use of the words ‘fight’ and ‘war’ in their pledge did not necessarily mean that the society planned to achieve its object by force and violence.”

Anti-national slogans and sedition

  • Slogans, however critical or censorious of government, are not anti-national and per se do not amount to sedition.
  • If the slogans had stated that the Indian state is tyrannical and it is necessary to overthrow it, that could possibly attract Section 124-A.
  • However, Section 124-A has often been misused by ill-informed and over-enthusiastic prosecuting agencies. But, that is no ground for repealing Section 124-A.

Way Forward

  • Invocation of the section should only be in cases of slogans or statements which incite violence and have a manifest tendency to create public disorder.
  • The right remedy is to educate our law enforcement agencies and impress upon them that incitement to violence is the indispensable pre-requisite for invoking Section 124-A.
  • Our state rests on solid foundations, which cannot be disturbed by ill-tempered or pungent or stupid slogans.
  • Misuse of the sedition law should attract appropriate penalties for law enforcement agencies coupled with a provision for compensation to the injured party.
Jan, 05, 2019

[op-ed snap] We don’t need career judges

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Indian Polity| Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic aspects of polity

Mains level: The newscard discusses issues and  challenges, related to the Indian Judiciary, in a brief manner.


Context

  • The vision document titled ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’, released by the NITI Aayog, amongst other things, proposes a spate of judicial reforms.
  • The think-tank has come out batting for the creation of an All India Judicial Service, akin to the other central services like the IAS and the IPS.

Background

  • The proposal for an All-India Judicial Service (AIJS) in lines of All-India Services was proposed as early as 1950.
  • The idea was first mooted by the Law Commission in the 1950sto have an All-India Judicial Services.
  • The Constitution of India was amended in 1977to provide for an All-India Judicial Services under Article 312.
  • The Chief Justices conferences in 1961, 1963, and 1965 favouredcreation of All-India Judicial Services and even the Law Commissions (1st, 8th and 11th, 116th) had suggested the creation of the service. However, each time it was faced with opposition.
  • The proposal was again floated by the ruling UPAgovernment in 2012 but the draft bill was done away with after opposition from High Court Chief Justices who labelled this an infringement of their rights.

Issues:

Despite the constitutional permit, the road to setting up an AIJS is ridden with numerous concerns, which remain unaddressed in the NITI Aayog’s trite proposal.

  1. The AIJS is being proposed as a panacea to cure the chronic vacancy crisis plaguing the Indian subordinate judiciary.
  • Given the limited extent to which the Constitution only permits the appointments of district judges to such a prospective AIJS, it will not magically remedy this crisis.
  • At best, what an all India service potentially offers is a more streamlined and regularised recruitment process for the limited number of vacancies for district judges in the country.
  1. The second concern is the much wider composition of the AIJS proposed by NITI Aayog, than what is permissible under Article 312.
  • The top government think-tank has rather ambitiously pitched an omnibus service to covering entry level civil judges, prosecutors and legal advisers to comprise the service.
  • Such a sweeping mandate would require considerable amendments to the Constitution, especially with respect to the appointments process for the lower subordinate judiciary.
  • These amendments, establishing a centralised appointments mechanism, may arguably be constitutionally untenable and vulnerable to being struck down as flagrant violations of the basic structure doctrine and judicial federalism.
  1. The final contention against the NITI Aayog’s proposal for an AIJS is the oversimplification of a complex legal and political issue into a punchline reform.
  • The idea of an AIJS has been significantly contentious within the legal fraternity and other concerned stakeholders.
  • Last year, on a reported internal note prepared by the Department of Justice on the feasibility of an AIJS, there was vehement disagreement by almost half the high courts in the country.
  1. Other issues includes the need to familiarise oneself with the local languages, customs, and laws of the state where a potential judicial officer will be posted, or the need to ensure reservation for locally domiciled citizens, these central selection mechanisms have thrown up grave concerns impugning their utility and legality as judicial reforms.

Way Forward

  1. The proposal of NITI Aayog leaves much to be desired, both in terms of research rigour, as well as the presentation and articulation of a complex policy challenge.
  2. While policy-vision statements are typically broad and hyperbolic, being the government’s chief policy think-tank, the onus rests on the NITI Aayog to accurately project the scope and limitations of its solutions, in order to facilitate a responsible deliberative process to address these concerns.
Dec, 25, 2018

[op-ed snap] A solution in search of a problem

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Article 233, 234, 312

Mains level: Vacancy across various levels of the judiciary and the idea of an All India Judicial Service


Context

Idea of a pan India judicial service

  1. In its report, ‘Strategy for New India@75’, the NITI Aayog mooted the creation of an All India Judicial Service (AIJS) for making appointments to the lower judiciary through an all India judicial services examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in order to maintain “high standards” in the judiciary
  2. Similar proposals were made by the Union Law Minister on three different occasions this year as a solution to the problems of vacancies in the lower judiciary and a lack of representation in the judiciary from marginalised communities

The argument against AIJS

  1. The argument that the creation of the AIJS and a centralised recruitment process will help the lower judicial services is based on the assumption that the current federal structure, that vests the recruitment and appointment for the lower judiciary in the hands of State Governors, High Courts and State Public Service Commissions, is broken and inefficient
  2. Going by the latest figures published by the Supreme Court in its publication Court News (December 2017 and the last available figures), many States are doing a very efficient job when it comes to recruiting lower court judges
  3. The problem of vacancies is not uniform across different States and varies significantly from one state to another
  4. The argument that the centralisation of recruitment processes through the UPSC automatically leads to a more efficient recruitment process is flawed and not a guarantee of a solution
  5. For example, the Indian Administrative Service — its recruitments are through the UPSC — reportedly has a vacancy rate of 22%, while the Indian Army’s officer cadre, also under a centralised recruitment mechanism, is short of nearly 7,298 officers

Against equality

  1. Another argument in support of the AIJS is that its creation, along with provisions of reservations for the marginalised communities and women, will lead to a better represented lower judiciary
  2. Dalit and tribal politicians are supporting the AIJS on these grounds
  3. The fact is that several States already provide for reservations in their lower judicial service
  4. Unlike States, the Centre almost never provides reservation for women in the all India services
  5. On the issue of caste, an AIJS may provide for SC/ST reservation along with reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) but it should be noted that a recent Supreme Court ruling has held that SC/STs can avail the benefit of reservation in State government jobs only in their home States and not when they have migrated
  6. The same principle is usually followed even for OBC reservations
  7. Thus, instituting an AIJS would mean that nationally dominant SC, ST and OBC groups would be at an advantage as they can compete for posts across the country, which they would otherwise be disqualified from because of the domicile requirement

No constitutional hurdle in creating AIJS

  1. Articles 233 and 234 of the Constitution vested all powers of recruitment and appointment with the State Public Service Commission and High Courts
  2. During the Emergency, Parliament amended Article 312 of the Constitution to allow for the Rajya Sabha to pass a resolution, by a two-thirds majority, in order to kick-start the process of creating an all India judicial service for the posts of district judge
  3. Once the resolution is passed, Parliament can amend Articles 233 and 234 through a simple law (passed by a simple majority), which law will strip States of their appointment powers
  4. This is unlike a constitutional amendment under Article 368 that would have required ratification by State legislatures
  5. In other words, if Parliament decides to go ahead with the creation of the AIJS, State legislatures can do nothing to stop the process

Way forward

  1. The AIJS is not a solution to judiciary recruitment problems and the government would be well advised to reconsider its stance
  2. The solution is to pressure poorly performing States into performing more efficiently
Dec, 14, 2018

[op-ed snap] The fear of executive courts

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Overaching judicial activism and its conseqences


Context

Opinionated judiciary

  1. Justice S.R. Sen of the Meghalaya High Court recently observed in a judgment that “anybody opposing Indian laws and the Constitution cannot be considered citizens of the country”
  2. He thought it fit to further note that in 1947 India “should have been declared a Hindu country”, and that “our beloved Prime Minister” ought to legislate to grant automatic citizenship to (non-Muslim) religious minorities “who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan”
  3. Justice Sen’s ill-advised and ill-judged diatribe is only the latest in a series of instances where judges have inserted themselves into fraught political controversies, and have deployed the prestige of judicial office to lend weight to one side of the controversy

What does judicial independence entail?

  1. We normally think about judicial independence as independence from the government
  2. Our Constitution is designed to ensure that judges can do their work “independent” of government influence: fixed salaries, security of tenure, and an appointments process that — through the Supreme Court’s judgments — is insulated from executive control
  3. Independence, however, means something more. It also requires that judges perform their constitutional role independent of personal biases, political and moral beliefs, and partisan ideologies
  4. Of course, adjudication is a political task, and there is no doubt that a judge’s political vision will inform her work but that does not authorise the judge to turn into a politician
  5. At all times, she is bound to maintain primary fidelity to the law and the Constitution: to the text of legal instruments, to the canons of legal interpretation, and to the body of judicial precedent that holds the field
  6. Judicial independence, therefore, depends on judges recognising that law, while being influenced by politics, is not reducible to it

The need of accountability

  1. Law and adjudication must remain autonomous from partisan politics in important ways
  2. And the more we strengthen judicial independence in its first sense — independence from the government — the more attention we must pay to independence in this second sense
  3. This is because control brings with it accountability
  4. Politicians, for example, remain “accountable” to the people in at least some sense, because they depend upon them in order to continue in office after five years
  5. Judges who are insulated from any external control are accountable only to themselves, and their own sense of the limits of their constitutional role
  6. Accountability only to oneself, however, is a very weak form of constraint. The temptation to overstep is always immense, more so when such immense power has been placed in one’s own hands

How this crisis deepened?

  1. In the 1980s, there was a rapid expansion of judicial power. This expansion was motivated by a sense that the judiciary had long been a conservative institution, taking the side of landed interests against “the people”. This needed to change
  2. In order to accomplish this, the Supreme Court began to dispense with procedural checks upon its power
  3. Some of these steps were important and necessary, such as allowing “public interest” cases to be filed on behalf of those who were unable to access the courts
  4. Others, however, were double-edged swords, such as diluting the evidentiary standards required to prove disputed facts, and vastly expanding the courts’ discretion to shape and fashion remedies
  5. By the 1990s and the 2000s, under the misleading label of “judicial activism”, the court was beginning to engage in a host of administrative activities, from managing welfare schemes to “beautifying cities” to overseeing anti-corruption initiatives
  6. The constitutional court had become a Supreme ‘Administrative’ Court
  7. A combination of viewing the judiciary as an infallible solution to all social problems, and viewing procedure — that would otherwise constrain judicial power — as an irritant that stands in the way of a truer, purer justice has created the perfect storm that we see today

Towards ‘Executive’ courts

  1. Judgments like the national anthem order, the Tirukkural order (that every student in Tamil Nadu must study the Tirukkural), the NRC process and Justice Sen’s recent foray raise an altogether more frightening prospect: that of an “executive court”
  2. An executive court is a court whose moral and political compass finds itself in alignment with the government of the day, and one that has no compunctions in navigating only according to that compass
  3. Instead of checking and limiting government power, an executive court finds itself marching in lockstep with the government, and being used to set the seal of its prestige upon more controversial parts of the government’s agenda

Way forward

  1. We urgently need the return of a thriving legal culture, one that uncompromisingly calls out political posturing
  2. Only a principled consistency in requiring that judges must always give reasons for their judgment can halt the transformation of the constitutional court into an executive court
Dec, 06, 2018

India gets first witness protection scheme

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the scheme

Mains level: Importance of protection for Witness in major trials


News

Background

  • The issue came up when the Supreme Court was hearing a PIL plea seeking protection for witnesses in rape cases, involving a self-proclaimed godman as key accused in Madhya Pradesh.

Supreme Court asks for implementation

  1. The Supreme Court has brought in place a witness protection regime in the country noting that one of the main reasons for witnesses turning hostile is that they are not given security by the State.
  2. A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and S. Abdul Nazeer said Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 will come into effect immediately across all States.
  3. The court said the scheme, which aimed to enable a witness to depose fearlessly and truthfully, would be the law of the land till Parliament enacted suitable legislation.

Witness Protection Scheme, 2018

  1. Under it, witness protection may be as simple as providing a police escort to the witness up to the courtroom.
  2. In more complex cases involving organised criminal group, extraordinary measures will be taken such as offering temporary residence in a safe house, giving a new identity, and relocation at an undisclosed place.
  3. The objective of this Scheme is to ensure that the investigation, prosecution and trial of criminal offences is not prejudiced because witnesses are intimidated or frightened to give evidence without protection from violent or other criminal recrimination.
  4. The scheme shall extend to the whole of the India except the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
  5. During the  course  of  investigation  or  trial  of  any  serious  offence,  an application  for  seeking  identity  protection  can  be  filed  in  the  prescribed  form before the Competent Authority.
  6. The scheme has three categories of witnesses based on the threat perception, and the states should start enforcing it:

Category ‘A’

  • Where the threat extends to life of witness or his family members and their normal way of living is affected for a substantial period, during investigation/trial or even thereafter.

Category ‘B’

  • Where the threat extends to safety, reputation or property of the witness or his family members, only during the investigation process or trial.

Category ‘C’

  • Where the threat is moderate and extends to harassment or intimidation of the witness or his family member’s, reputation or property, during the investigation process.

Other Provisions

  1. Witness Protection Fund means the fund created for bearing the expenses incurred during the implementation of Witness Protection Order passed by the Competent Authority under this scheme;
  2. Witness Protection Order means an order passed by the Competent  Authority detailing the steps to be taken for ensuring the safety of witness from threats to his or his family member’s life, reputation or property.  *It also includes interim order, if any passed, during the pendency of Witness Protection Application;
  3. Witness Protection Cell means a dedicated Cell of State/UT Police or Central Police Agencies assigned the duty to implement the witness protection order. It shall be responsible for the security as per witness protection order.

Proposed Rights to be entitled to the Witness

  • Right to give evidence anonymously
  • Right to protection from intimidation and harm
  • Right to be treated with dignity and compassion and respect of privacy
  • Right to information of the status of the investigation and prosecution of the crime
  • Right to secure waiting place while at Court proceedings
  • Right to transportation and lodging arrangements

With inputs from official website of  NALSA

Nov, 22, 2018

Supreme Court to direct states to implement draft witness protection scheme

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the draft scheme

Mains level: Importance of protection for Witness in major trials


News

  • The Supreme Court said that it would direct all the states to implement the draft witness protection scheme framed by the Centre in consultation with the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).

Background

  1. The issue of witness protection scheme had cropped up earlier when the top court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking protection for witnesses in rape cases involving a self-styled preacher.
  2. The court had asked the Centre to a draft scheme for witness protection in the country as specific provisions in this regard were already there in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act.
  3. The SC was told that the draft scheme has now been finalised and would be made into a law in due course.
  4. However till then the court should direct the states to start implementing it.

Witness Protection

  1. Witness Protection  may  be  as simple  as  providing  a  police  escort  to  the Courtroom,  offering  temporary  residence  in  a  safe  house  or  using  modern communication   technology  for   recording   of testimony.
  2. In other  more  complex  cases,  where  cooperation  by  a  witness  is critical  to  successful  prosecution  of  a    powerful  criminal  group,  extraordinary measures are required to ensure the witness’s safety viz. anonymity, relocation of  the  witness  under  a  new  identity  in  a  new,  undisclosed  place  of

Draft Witness Protection Scheme

  1. The objective of this Scheme is to ensure that the investigation, prosecution and trial of criminal offences is not prejudiced because witnesses are intimidated or frightened to give evidence without protection from violent or other criminal recrimination.
  2. The schme shall extend to the whole of the India except the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
  3. During the  course  of  investigation  or  trial  of  any  serious  offence,  an application  for  seeking  identity  protection  can  be  filed  in  the  prescribed  form before the Competent Authority.
  4. The scheme has three categories of witnesses based on the threat perception, and the states should start enforcing it:

Category ‘A’

  • Where the threat extends to life of witness or his family members and their normal way of living is affected for a substantial period, during investigation/trial or even thereafter.

Category ‘B’

  • Where the threat extends to safety, reputation or property of the witness or his family members, only during the investigation process or trial.

Category ‘C’

  • Where the threat is moderate and extends to harassment or intimidation of the witness or his family member’s, reputation or property, during the investigation process.

Other Provisions

  1. Witness Protection Fund means the fund created for bearing the expenses incurred during the implementation of Witness Protection Order passed by the Competent Authority under this scheme;
  2. Witness Protection Order means an order passed by the Competent  Authority detailing the steps to be taken for ensuring the safety of witness from threats to his or his family member’s life, reputation or property. It also includes interim order, if any passed, during the pendency of Witness Protection Application;
  3. Witness Protection Cell means a dedicated Cell of State/UT Police or Central Police Agencies assigned the duty to implement the witness protection order. It shall be responsible for the security as per witness protection order

Proposed Rights to be entitled to the Witness

  • Right to give evidence anonymously
  • Right to protection from intimidation and harm
  • Right to be treated with dignity and compassion and respect of privacy
  • Right to information of the status of the investigation and prosecution of the crime
  • Right to secure waiting place while at Court proceedings
  • Right to transportation and lodging arrangements

With inputs from:  NALSA

Nov, 19, 2018

[op-ed snap] Gender of justice

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The need for gender sensitisation in judiciary


Context

Sexist notions in the judiciary

  1. Conservative and progressive elements tend to coincide in judicial discourse
  2. The Supreme Court has recently passed certain key judgments to safeguard the rights of women
  3. It abolished triple talaq, upheld women’s autonomy, while declaring the law on adultery unconstitutional, and ruled that the bar on women’s entry to the Sabarimala temple is illegal
  4. But the judiciary has also been a purveyor of sexist notions — at times, perhaps inadvertently. Victim-blaming by the courts lends credence to certain stereotypes, and such responses go on to influence the entire criminal justice system

Analysis of rape cases

  1. In a study conducted by researchers of the National Law University, Delhi, 50 rape case judgments of the Supreme Court were analysed to understand how the court tends to perpetuate gendered opinions
  2. The researchers also tried to understand if the court evaluates victims in a stereotypical manner
  3. These include how a rape survivor would or ought to react, what a perpetrator would do after the rape and whether a sexually active victim would make a false rape accusation
  4. It was observed that judges often have a stereotypical image of a rape victim
  5. The researchers found that the judges betrayed sexist notions of gender roles, showed a tendency to use insensitive language and made comments that undermined the seriousness of the incident
  6. Certain judgments did have sensitive comments that broke gender stereotypes and rape myths. However, such verdicts were very few

Findings of the study

The study came out with four significant findings

  1. First, was a sharp increase in gender insensitive comments in cases where the woman was sexually active. Sexist comments were made in 52.3 per cent of the cases which involved a sexually-active victim
  2. Second, the presence of a female judge on the bench led to a sharp decline in sexist comments. There was no female judge in 44.4 per cent of the cases where the bench made a sexist comment. But only 14.2 percent of the benches with a female judge made a sexist comment
  3. Third, the conviction was overturned in 80 per cent of the cases in which the bench made gender insensitive comments
  4. Fourth, gender insensitive comments have declined with significant amendments in law. While all the cases studied prior to 2003 had gender insensitive comments, only 15.1 per cent of the judgments after the 2013 criminal law amendment carried such comments

Way forward

  1. Rape victims are subjected to institutional sexism that begins with their treatment by the police, continues through a male-dominated judiciary influenced by notions of victim blaming and ends in the acquittal of many alleged rapists
  2. The solution lies in initiating conversations amongst those who are entrusted with setting the tone of public discourse
  3. Gender sensitisation of the judiciary and appointing more female judges is imperative
Nov, 10, 2018

No double jeopardy bar if there was no trial: Supreme Court

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Indian Polity | Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions & basic structure

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Fundamental rights and their interpretation

Mains level: Read the attached story


News

  • The bar of double jeopardy does not arise if an accused was discharged of a criminal offence, even before the commencement of trial, on the basis of an invalid sanction for prosecution held the Supreme Court.

Background

  1. The corruption case was filed by the Aizawl police in February 2009 for misappropriation of public money.
  2. During inquiry, it was detected that the respondent had acquired valuable assets disproportionate to known sources of income.
  3. The first invalid sanction for prosecution was issued by the Commissioner-Secretary, Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms (DP & AR) directly without the Governor’s approval.
  4. Following the discharge of the accused by the special court, the Governor accorded a fresh sanction in December 2013.
  5. The judgment is based on an appeal filed by the State of Mizoram against an order passed by the Gauhati High Court in August 2015.
  6. It upheld a Special Court decision to decline to entertain a second chargesheet filed in a corruption case against the accused, Dr. C. Sangnghina, on the ground of double jeopardy.

SC Ruling

  1. Article 20 (2) of the Constitution mandates that a person cannot be prosecuted or punished twice for the same offence.
  2. A Bench of Justices R. Banumathi and Indira Banerjee held in a judgment that if an accused has not been tried at all and convicted or acquitted, the principles of double jeopardy cannot be invoked at all.
  3. If an earlier order of sanction was found to be invalid, there is no bar for the competent authority to issue a proper order of sanction for prosecution.
  4. The courts are not to quash or stay the proceedings under any Act merely on the ground of an error, omission or irregularity in the sanction granted by the authority unless it is satisfied that such error, omission or irregularity has resulted in failure of justice, the SC observed.

Back2Basics

Article 20 of the Indian Constitution

  1. The Article 20 is one of the pillars of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India. It mainly deals with protection of certain rights in case of conviction for offences.
  2. When an individual as well as corporations are accused of crimes, the provisions of Article 20 safeguard their rights.
  3. The striking feature of the Article 20 is that it can’t be suspended during an emergency period.
  4. The Article has set certain limitations on the legislative powers of the Union and State legislatures.

Ex Post Facto Legislation 

  • The clause (1) of Article 20 protects individuals against ex post facto legislation, which means no individual can be convicted for actions that were committed before the enactment of the law.
  • In other words, when a legislature declares an act to be an offence or provides a penalty for an offence, it can’t make the law retroactive so as to prejudicially affect the individuals who have committed such acts prior to the enactment of that law.

Immunity from Double Punishment 

  • The Constitution of India prohibits double punishment for the same offence. That is reflected in the clause (2) of Article 20, which safeguards an individual from facing multiple punishments or successive criminal proceedings for the same crime.
  • According to this clause, no person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once.
  • If someone has been put on trial and punished in a previous proceeding of an offence, he can’t be prosecuted and punished for the same proceedings of an offence again in subsequent proceeding. If any law provides for the double punishment, it will be considered void.

No immunity from Proceedings

  • Although Article 20 disapproves of the doctrine of ‘Double Jeopardy’, it does not give immunity from proceedings before a court of law or tribunal.
  • Hence, a public servant who has been punished for an offence in a court of law may yet be subjected to departmental proceedings for the same offence.
  • It is to be noted that Article 20 provides protection against double punishment only when the accused has been ‘prosecuted’ and ‘punished’ once.
  • Also, the Article does not prevent subsequent trial and conviction for another offence even if the two offences have some common aspects.

Immunity from Self-Incrimination

  • The immunity from self-incrimination is conferred in the Article 20(3) of the constitution which states that the accused can never be compelled to be a witness against himself. In short, no individual can be forced to accuse himself.
  • The scope of this immunity has, prima facie, been widened by the Supreme Court by interpreting the word ‘witness’ as inclusive of both oral and documentary evidence.
  • Hence, no person can be compelled to furnish any kind of evidence, which is reasonably likely to support a prosecution against him.
  • This ‘Right to Silence’ is not called upon in case any object or document is searched and seized from the possession of the accused.
  • For the same reason, the clause does not bar the medical examination of the accused or the obtaining of thumb-impression or specimen signature from him.

This immunity is only limited to criminal proceedings. 

  • The Article 20 (3) can be rightfully used as an anchor only by those accused of an offence and against whom an FIR has been lodged, which in normal course would result in prosecution.

 

Sep, 27, 2018

Supreme Court nod to live-streaming of court proceedings

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Judgment

Mains level: Need for propagating exact hearings of the judiciary to enhance understanding of a particular Judgment involving Public Interest.


News

Context

  • Ushering in more transparency in the judiciary’s work, the Supreme Court gave its nod to live-streaming of court proceedings.
  • The court held agreement with the recommendations submitted by Attorney General K K Venugopal regarding live-streaming.
  • The judgment pointed out that the Supreme Court Rules, 2013, will have to suitably amended to provide for the regulatory framework to incorporate the changes.

Importance of the ruling

  1. Although courts in India are ordinarily open to all members of the public, sometimes they are denied the opportunity to witness the proceedings due to logistical issues and infrastructure restrictions.
  2. By providing ‘virtual’ access of live court proceedings to one and all, it will effectuate the right of access to justice or right to open justice and public trial
  3. It will also put to affect the right to know the developments of law and including the right of justice at the doorstep of the litigants.
  4. The court expected that this does not interfere with the administration of justice or the dignity and majesty of the court hearing the matter and/or impinge upon any rights of the litigants or witnesses.

Impact of Broadcasting

  1. It will reduce the public’s reliance on second-hand narratives to obtain information about important judgments of the court and the course of judicial hearings.
  2. Society will be able to view court proceedings first-hand and form reasoned and educated opinions about the functioning of courts.
  3. This will help reduce misinformation and misunderstanding about the judicial process.

Starting on Pilot basis

  1. As a pilot project, only cases of constitutional and national importance being argued for final hearing before the Constitution Bench are live-streamed initially, the court said.
  2. For this, permission of the court concerned will have to be sought in writing in advance.
  3. Consent of parties to the proceedings must be insisted upon, and if there is no unanimity between them, the court concerned can take the appropriate decision in the matter.
  4. The court concerned will also have the power to revoke permission at any stage of the proceedings.

Other Details

  1. There must be a reasonable time-delay (say 10 minutes) between the live court proceedings and the broadcast.
  2. This is to ensure that any information which ought not to be shown, as directed by the court, can be edited from being broadcast.
  3. The judgment touched on the placement of cameras in the courtroom and reproduction, re-broadcasting, transmission, publication, re-publication, copying, storage and/or modification of any part(s) of the original broadcast of court proceedings, in any form, physical, digital or otherwise, must be prohibited.
  4. It will also attract prosecution.
Sep, 01, 2018

[pib] Law commission submits report on “Wrongful Prosecution (Miscarriage of Justice): Legal Remedies”

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ICCPR, Provisions against Wrongful Prosecution

Mains level: Need for Compensation against Wrongful Prosecution.


News

Context

  1. The Law Commission of India submitted its report titled ‘Wrongful Prosecution (Miscarriage of Justice): Legal Remedies’ to the Government of India.
  2. The Delhi HC in its Order in the case of Babloo Chauhan expressed grave concern about the state of innocent persons being wrongfully prosecuted, incarcerated for crimes that they did not commit.
  3. The Court highlighted the urgent need for a legislative framework for provided relief and rehabilitation to victims of wrongful prosecution, incarceration.

Global Scenario on Wrongful Prosecution

  1. Internationally, the issue is identified as ‘miscarriage of justice’ that takes place after a person has been wrongfully convicted but is later found to be factually innocent basis a new fact / proof coming to light.
  2. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (‘ICCPR’, ratified by India) also creates an obligation on the State parties to enact a law to compensate the victims of such miscarriage of justice.

Wrongful Prosecution

  1. The panel recommended ‘wrongful prosecution’ to be the standards of miscarriage of justice, as against ‘wrongful conviction’ and ‘wrongful incarceration’.
  2. ‘Wrongful prosecution’ would include cases where the accused and not guilty of the offence, and the police and / or the prosecution engaged in some form of misconduct in investigating and / or prosecuting the person.
  3. It would include both the cases where the person spent time in prison as well as where he did not; and cases where the accused was found not guilty by the trial court or where the accused was convicted by one or more courts but was ultimately found to be not guilty by the Higher Court.

Panel Asks for Remedial Measures

  1. The Report gives an overview of the remedies available under the existing laws and discusses their inadequacies.
  2. The panel recommends provision of relief to the victims of wrongful prosecution in terms of monetary and non-monetary compensation
  3. This may include counseling, mental health services, vocational / employment skills development etc. within a statutory framework.
  4. The Report enumerates the core principles of the recommended framework-
  • defining ‘wrongful prosecution’ i.e., cases in which claim for compensation can be filed,
  • designation of a Special Court to decide these claims of compensation,
  • nature of proceedings – timeline for deciding the claim, etc.,
  • financial and other factors to be considered while determining the compensation,
  • provisions  for interim compensation in certain cases,
  • removal of disqualification on account of wrongful prosecution / conviction etc.
  1. A draft Bill, articulating the aforesaid, is annexed with the Report as the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
Aug, 31, 2018

Law Commission calls for re-think on sedition clause

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Section 124A

Mains level: Broadening the Scope of Free Speech.


News

Considering Contempt of Government

  1. Dissent and criticism of the government are essential ingredients of a robust public debate in a vibrant democracy, said the Law Commission of India.
  2. The Commission published a consultation paper recommending that it is time to re-think or even repeal the provision of sedition (Section 124A) from the Indian Penal Code.
  3. The Commission has also posed the query that if contempt of court invites penal action, should “contempt of government” also attract punishment.
  4. The Commission asked whether it would be “worthwhile” to rename Section 124A and find a suitable substitute for the term sedition.

Right to Free Speech

  1. The Commission seeks to consider that right to free speech and expression is an essential ingredient of democracy.
  2. The Commission said an expression of frustration over the state of affairs cannot be treated as sedition.
  3. It recommended that India should not retain the British era clause to oppress Indians, whereas Britishers have themselves abolished the law in their country.
  4. It said every restriction on free speech and expression must be carefully scrutinized to avoid unwarranted restrictions.

Dissent is the safety valve of democracy, says SC

  1. The consultation paper was published a day after the Supreme Court lashed out at the forces while hearing a petition challenging the pan-India crackdown and arrests of five activists.
  2. For merely expressing a thought that is not in consonance with the policy of the government of the day, a person should not be charged under the Section.

Constructive Criticism is essential

  1. If the country is not open to positive criticism, there lies little difference between the pre- and post-Independence eras.
  2. Right to criticize one’s own history and the right to offend are rights protected under free speech.

Way Forward

  1. In a democracy, singing from the same songbook is not a benchmark of patriotism.
  2. People should be at liberty to show their affection towards their country in their own way.
  3. While it is essential to protect national integrity, it should not be misused as a tool to curb free speech, the Commission said in its consultation paper.
Aug, 17, 2018

[pib] Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL)

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Indian Polity | Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: APTEL

Mains level:  Read the attached story


News

Context

Justice Manjula Chellur took Oath as Chairperson, Appellate Tribunal for Electricity, Ministry of Power.

Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL)

  1. On 10th June, 2003, the Electricity Act was notified by the Govt. of India.
  2. A/c to this act, Appellate Tribunal for Electricity has been established by Central Government for those who are not satisfied with the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission order or with a state.
  3. The Tribunal has the authority to overrule or amend that order, just like the Income-Tax tribunal or the Central Administrative Tribunal.
  4. The tribunal has to be approached within 45 days of the aggrieved person from getting the order.
  5. The Act extends to the whole of India except the state of Jammu & Kashmir.
Jul, 31, 2018

[op-ed snap] The narrow and the transformative

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Philosophy behind the working of Judiciary

Mains level: Judicial adjudication in certain cases can create the fear of alienation and leaves all possibility to trigger a cultural war. However the role played by Indian Judiciary is revolutionary , a golden mean of narrow and transformative approaches.


News

Hearing most crucial cases

  1. Certain cases have placed the apex court at the heart of the culture wars.
  2. The Aadhaar challenge was argued on the relatively straightforward basis of when and to what extent the state can exercise its coercive power over individuals.
  3. The 377 and Sabarimala hearings have seen clashes between the invocation of personal rights and the claims of cultural and religious groups.
  4. This is set to continue with the forthcoming adultery hearings, where the state’s objection to the decriminalisation of adultery is premised on the argument that it would destroy the institution of marriage.

The strategy of containment

  1. Whenever a constitutional challenge brings individuals against the state, the court’s task is to find if there has been a breach by the state, and it must strike down the offending law (or rules), and vindicate the rights at issue.
  2. This is because these conflicts often represent deep, long-standing and irreconcilable divisions in society, touching issues of personal belief and conviction.
  3. This strategy of containment creates a situation where, for the most part these conflicts remain submerged.
  4. The fear of permanent defeat prompts all parties to maintain a tense equilibrium. One method of resolution is through the courts.
  5. Unlike in political or economic disputes, a decisive loss in personal belief risks creating deeply embittered and alienated communities, and risks an erosion of faith in the neutrality and impartiality of state institutions.
  6. Ex: Constitution framers consciously refrained from directly addressing them: for example, the framers of the Constitution deliberately placed the provision for a uniform civil code in the unenforceable DPSP chapter, thinking that it was too divisive to be made a FR.

The narrow approach

  1. To avoid overreach, there is a popular school of thought that asks the court to tread with particular caution when questions of culture are at stake.
  2. As far as possible the court should avoid hearing and deciding such questions altogether. If it is must to decide, then it should do so on the narrowest grounds possible.
  3. The role of the court, in short, is to do everything it can to lower the stakes, and take a pragmatic, problem-solving approach to the conflict rather than an ideal-oriented, expansive one.
  4. In the Section 377 hearings, the government stated that it would not oppose the “reading down” of Section 377 as long as it was confined to same-sex relations between consenting adults in private.
  5. During oral arguments, every time the petitioners pressed for something more, government counsel urged the court to limit itself to simple decriminalisation, and nothing more.

The transformative approach

  1. The philosophy of Constitutional Adjudication holds that the Constitution is a transformative document, whose goal is to erase and remedy long-standing legacies of injustice.
  2. A particular feature of these injustices is their deep-rooted, social and institutional character. In the Indian context, the most obvious example is that of caste.
  3. The ill influence of caste-discrimination in our society not only prompted the inclusion of a specific article in the Constitution abolishing untouchability (Article 17), but it gave rise to a constitutional vision of equality that specifically included affirmative action.
  4. Consequently, the narrow approach sees a culture war triggered by the disruption of a carefully-maintained accommodation of cultural difference.
  5. The transformative approach sees a long-suppressed protest against a system of hierarchy and subordination that has found its utterance in the language of constitutional rights.
  6. Ex: In the 377 hearings, it was argued that decades of social exclusion and ostracism of the LGBT community could not be remedied simply by “decriminalisation”.
  7. Rather, it would require the court that no institution, public or private, would be permitted to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation, or deny any person their civil rights.

Way Forward

  1. In section 377 case, SC ruled for equal moral membership of the LGBTQI community.
  2. Similarly, in the Sabarimala case, Court ruled that constitutional morality must prevail over precepts that are rooted in any particular religion.
  3. In these cases, therefore, the court is faced with a stark choice between the narrow and the transformative approaches to navigating the choppy waters of culture and the Constitution.
  4. Which direction it chooses to take, depends upon what it believes the Constitution is for and will have profound consequences in the years to come.
Jul, 24, 2018

[op-ed snap] The art of writing a judgment

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The problem of lengthy judgments being given by judiciary across all levels and measures that should be taken to bring more simplicity in this process


Context

Lengthy judgments from Judiciary

  1. The fate of the governance of the National Capital Territory of Delhi was decided earlier this month by the Supreme Court
  2. But one had to pore over 500 pages of widely awaited judgment in order to understand the demarcation of powers between the Lieutenant Governor and the elected government
  3. It was yet another reminder about the need for crisp and on-message judgments

The need of crisp judgments

  1. First, erroneously drafted judgments run into pages and state the same point repeatedly
  2. Second, insensitive comments made in judgments can tarnish the quality of pronouncements
  3. Third, several judgments do not record submissions or issues raised by both parties, which often results in a reader being unable to make out the link between the legal provisions used to arrive at a judgment and the facts to which they are applied
  4. Lastly, in most judgments, a uniform structure (recording of facts, issues, submissions and then reaching the decision) is lacking

What can be done?

  1. Judicial academies play a significant role in equipping trainee judges to deliver lean, to-the-point judgments
  2. As judgment writing is one of the most requisite skills that a judge should possess, there has to be focussed training in this area
  3. To eliminate bias, training sessions could have diverse socio-economic scenarios which would also help trainee judges apply theories
  4. There can be variations of the same case scenario and the facts that are likely to induce value judgments
  5. Evaluation and a full class discussion must follow
  6. Another useful exercise is in re-writing judgments, particularly those that are difficult to understand due to a seeming lack of structure
  7. Trainee judges can be asked to identify structural lapses and rework them
  8. Judicial training must lay emphasis on the need for concise and reasoned judgments

Attempts in this direction

  1. The attempt towards improving judgment quality (in the form of training sessions on judgment writing conducted by judicial academies) appears to be ineffective
  2. Several judgments in lower and higher courts continue to remain verbose
  3. Judges-in-training do not go to areas of law or management that they want to be trained in and a generic syllabus is thrust upon them
  4. The pedagogical methodology of training is classroom-like, with little or no post-training evaluation

Way Forward

  1. Judicial academies must focus on practical-based training
  2. In the interim, higher courts and also the Supreme Court must consider summarising the crux of lengthy decisions into a separate official document
  3. Judicial decisions are the law of the land and if the law is unclear, it becomes increasingly difficult to follow or enforce them
Jul, 10, 2018

SC reserves verdict on plea seeking ban on MPs/MLAs practising as advocates

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Judgement of Supreme Court

Mains level: Debate over MPs/MLAs practising as advocates.


News

MPs/MLAs can practise as Advocates

  1. The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its verdict on a plea seeking a ban on members of Parliament and legislative assemblies practising as advocates.
  2. The attorney general of India, K.K. Venugopal, argued that such a prohibition did not exist in law and there was no ‘full time’ ‘employment’ between a government and MPs/MLAs.
  3. However, he added, that such a ban was present in case of a minister.
  4. The Bar Council of India had, on a previous occasion, informed the court that they were not opposed to legislators practicing law.

Why was Ban demanded?

  1. The plea alleges that MPs/MLAs practising as advocates pose a “conflict of interest” under the provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961, and the Bar Council of India Rules.
  2. The dual role would also amount to professional misconduct when MPs and MLAs, who get salary and other benefits from public funds, may appear against the government as lawyers.
  3. Another instance would be counsel thinking about their clients’ interests while passing a bill in their capacity as legislators.
  4. It was sought that a ban on legislators practising as advocates till the period that they are occupying such positions.
Jul, 07, 2018

Supreme Court upholds Chief Justice of India as 'Master of Roster'

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Judgement of the SC, Judges Cases

Mains level: Debate over powers of CJI to redirect cases to various benches.


News

CJI- the Master of Roster

  1. The ‘Chief Justice of India’ (CJI) is an individual judge and not the powerful collective of five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court called the ‘Collegium’, held the Supreme Court.
  2. And it is this exclusive authority of this individual judge, who is the “spokesperson of the court”, to allocate cases to fellow judges as the ‘Master of Roster’, a Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan declared in their separate but concurring opinions.
  3. The judgment is based on a petition filed by former Union Law Minister to have a collegium of Supreme Court judges to collectively allocate cases rather than leave the entire power in the hands of the CJI in his administrative capacity as the ‘Master of Roster’.

The moral responsibility of CJI

  1. SC highlighted that the CJI owes a moral responsibility to his colleagues and the public at large while flexing his powers as ‘Master of Roster’ to allocate cases.
  2. CJI Dipak Misra and some of his predecessors were criticised by four of his senior-most judges led by Justice Chelameswar for allocating cases of national importance to select judges.
  3. They hinted that “absolute discretion” cannot be confined in just one man, the CJI.

Qualities for a CJI

  1. Justice Sikri’s opinion listed some of the qualities a CJI should possess as the Master of Roster, including balance, fortitude, moral courage and independence of mind.
  2. As the court’s spokesperson, it is the CJI’s duty to usher in and administer reform as a continuous process.
  3. Erosion of credibility of judiciary is the greatest threat.

CJI is the “ultimate authority to distribute judicial work

  1. Both Justices Sikri and Bhushan concurred that neither Article 145 (rules of court) and the Supreme Court Rules say the ‘Chief Justice of India’ as the Collegium.
  2. Unlike having the Collegium to decide the appointment and transfer of judges, a collective deciding which cases should go to which Bench would affect the day-to-day functioning of the court.
  3. The role of the CJI as the Master of Roster was qualified by the consensus from other judges.
  4. The CJI took into consideration the expertise, capacity and interest of his fellow judges while allocating cases to them.
  5. This duty should be left to his wisdom.

Defying ‘the proposal’

  1. It was argued that the authority of the CJI as the ‘Master of Roster’ to allocate cases to Benches should not be reduced to an “absolute, singular and arbitrary power”.
  2. The court rejected proposal that the CJI should only sit with two of his senior most judges.
  3. And the Constitution Bench should be either a combination of the five senior most judges or three senior most judges, including him, and two junior most judges.
  4. The court said all this should be left to the CJI to decide on.

CJI only first among equals

  1. Justice Sikri said though the Constitution is silent on the exact role of the CJI, precedents, healthy practices and conventions – engrafted in the Supreme Court Rules – have moulded the powers and duties of the office.
  2. Justice Sikri wrote that the CJI is only ‘first among equals’ in his judicial functions on the Bench.
  3. The opinion of the CJI on the Bench carries the same weight as any other member of the Bench.
  4. This way, the CJI may hold the minority view in a case while the majority opinion on the Bench becomes the law.

AGI’s view on the issue

  1. Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, who was asked to assist the court, had argued that having a Collegium of the five senior most judges to allocate cases among all judges in the court would only invite chaos.
  2. Unlike the Collegium to recommend new judges, a collegium to allocate cases would mean judges deciding for themselves which cases they should hear.
  3. Better have the CJI decide for all as the Master of Roster.

Contradicting the Third Judges Case (1998) with recent judgements

  1. The Judges case of 1998 has infers that the Supreme Court itself had interpreted the term ‘Chief Justice of India’ to collectively mean the CJI and his four senior most judges.
  2. The Bench heard the petition despite two separate judgments by the Supreme Court in November 2017 and April this year upholding the CJI ‘s complete administrative authority to allocate cases and constitute Benches.
  3. Both these judgments were pronounced by Benches led by CJI Dipak Misra and the verdict had called the CJI an “institution in himself”.
May, 04, 2018

[op-ed snap] Acting against a judge

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968

Mains level: Recent issues related to working of judiciary


News

Context

  1. The failed bid to initiate the impeachment process for the removal of Chief Justice of India has also drawn attention to the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968

Requirements under the Judges (Inquiry) Act

  1. A procedural statute, it regulates “the procedure for the investigation and proof of the misbehavior or incapacity of a judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court and for the presentation of an address by Parliament to the President and for the matter, connected therewith”
  2. It covers the stages between the admission of the removal motion and the address of the motion in the Houses of the Parliament

Committee to inquire Charges

  1. Section 3 describes the investigation into the charges by a committee of three members, who would be selected by the Chairperson or Speaker
  2. Once formed, the committee will frame definite charges against the judge on the basis of which the investigation is proposed to be held

The beginning of the trial

  1. Such charges, together with a statement of the grounds on which each such charge is based, shall be communicated to the judge.
  2. The judge will then be given a reasonable opportunity to present a written statement in his or her defence within the time specified by the committee.

Misbehavior yet undefined

  1. It is left to Parliament to decide what constitutes proved misbehaviour from case to case.

Proving Incapacity

  1. In case the judge denies that he or she is unable to discharge the duties of office “efficiently” due to any physical or mental incapacity, the committee will arrange for the medical examination of the judge by such medical board as may be appointed for the purpose by the Speaker or Chairman.
  2. If the judge refuses to undergo the examination considered necessary by the medical board, the board shall submit a report to the committee stating the case.
  3. The committee may, on receipt of such report, presume that the judge suffers from physical or mental incapacity as alleged in the removal motion.
  4. The committee may, after considering the written statement of the judge and the medical report, if any, amend the charges. In such a case, the judge would be given a reasonable opportunity of presenting a fresh written statement of defence

Government intervention

  1. The government, if required by the Speaker or the Chairperson, can appoint an advocate to conduct the case against the judge
  2. The judge must also be given an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses

Concluding the Investigation

  1. At the conclusion of the investigation, the committee is to submit a detailed report to the Speaker or Chairperson
  2. If the report has a finding that the judge is guilty of any misbehaviour or suffers from an incapacity, then, the removal motion shall, together with the report of the committee, be taken up for consideration by the House or the Houses of Parliament in which it is pending

Back2Basics

Impeachment of a Supreme Court Judge

  1. Article 124(4) of the Constitution of India states: “A Judge of the Supreme Court shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting has been presented to the President in the same session for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity”
  2. 100 Lok Sabha MPs or 50 Rajya Sabha MPs is the minimum number of signatories required to issue the notice
  3. The notice has to be handed over either to the Speaker if it is from Lok Sabha MPs or to the Chairman if it is Rajya Sabha MPs
  4. If and when the motion is admitted, the Speaker or the Chairman will have to constitute a three-member committee to investigate the charges leveled against the Supreme Court judge
  5. This committee will consist of a senior Supreme Court judge, a High Court judge, and a ‘distinguished jurist’ — who is a highly qualified law professor who has been appointed as a Supreme Court judge by the President of India
Apr, 21, 2018

How is the Chief Justice of India impeached?

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Impeachment process of judges

Mains level: Recent issues related to working of judiciary


News

Motion to impeach Chief Justice of India

  1. Opposition leaders met Chairman of the Rajya Sabha to hand over a motion to impeach Chief Justice of India
  2. The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is the Vice President of India
  3. This is not the first time impeachment has been mentioned in the same sentence as a sitting judge

Can a judge be impeached?

  1. Just like all other constitutional positions, the Chief Justice of India can also be impeached provided the necessary steps as laid out in the Constitution are taken
  2. This is not the first time impeachment has been mentioned in the same sentence as a sitting judge

Procedure for impeachment

  1. Article 124(4) of the Constitution of India states: “A Judge of the Supreme Court shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting has been presented to the President in the same session for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity”
  2. 100 Lok Sabha MPs or 50 Rajya Sabha MPs is the minimum number of signatories required to issue the notice
  3. The notice has to be handed over either to the Speaker if it is from Lok Sabha MPs or to the Chairman if it is Rajya Sabha MPs
  4. If and when the motion is admitted, the Speaker or the Chairman will have to constitute a three-member committee to investigate the charges levelled against the Supreme Court judge
  5. This committee will consist of a senior Supreme Court judge, a High Court judge and a ‘distinguished jurist’ — who is a highly qualified law professor who has been appointed as a Supreme Court judge by the President of India

What happens after the investigation?

  1. The three-member committee has to support the motion for it to be sent back to the House where it was introduced
  2. In the House, it has to be discussed and passed with a special majority — not less than two-thirds
  3. This means, in case of a full House seated, at least 364 Members should have voted for the motion in the Lok Sabha, and 164 Members in the Rajya Sabha
  4. This will then pass on to the other House where it has to be passed by special majority again
  5. Once it passes both the Houses of Parliament, the President can be approached to remove the Chief Justice of India

Can CJI continue working while the motion of impeachment is in the process?

  1. Both the Constitution and the Judges (Inquiry) Act of 1968 are silent on whether a judge facing impeachment motion should recuse from judicial and administrative work till he is cleared of the charges against him
  2. Neither the law nor propriety requires the CJI to withdraw from work
  3. Until the Rajya Sabha Chairman makes up his mind to admit the motion and refer it to an Inquiry Committee under the 1968 Act, things will be as usual for the CJI
Apr, 20, 2018

Reviewing the Contempt of Courts Act

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciaryt

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Contempt of Courts Act of 1971, Article 142(2) of the constitution, Law Commission of India (Evolution, Historical perspectives, Key recommendations), Twenty-First Law Commission (2015-2018)

Mains level: Role of Law Commission in Legal Reforms


News

Contempt of Courts Act

  1. The Contempt of Courts Act of 1971 is one of the most powerful statutes in the country.
  2. It gives the constitutional courts wide powers to restrict an individual’s fundamental right to personal
    liberty for “scandalising the court” or for “willful disobedience” of any judgment, writ, direction or
    order
  3. The offence of “scandalising the court” continues in India even though it was abolished as an offence in
    England and Wales long ago

What Law Commission Report said?

  1. Deleting the provision relating to ‘criminal contempt’ inter alia ‘scandalising of courts’ will have no impact on the power of the Superior Courts to punish for contempt (including criminal contempt) in view of their inherent constitutional powers, as these powers are independent of statutory provisions
  2. The report stated that there is no point “tinkering” with the 1971 Act. The statute only lays down the procedure in contempt cases
  3. The powers of contempt of the Supreme Court and High Courts are independent of the Act 1971
  4. The contempt powers of the higher courts are drawn from the Constitution itself
  5. Article 142(2) enables the Supreme Court to investigate and punish any person for its contempt
  6. It empowers the High Court to act if someone is in contempt of the subordinate courts
  7. Diluting the Act would expose the subordinate judiciary to acts of contempt of court

Back2Basics

Law Commission of India

  1. It is an executive body established by an order of the Government of India. First law commission of independent India was established post the Independence in 1955
  2. Composition: Chairman, 1 Permanent Member, 1 Member Secretary, 2 Part-time Members, 2 ex-officio
    members. (21 st Law Commission Chairman: Justice BN Chauhan)
  3. Tenure: 3 Years
  4. Function: Advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice for “Legal Reforms in India”
  5. Recommendations: NOT binding
  6. First Law Commission was established during the British Raj in 1834 by the Charter Act of 1833
  7. Chairman: Macaulay
  8. Recommended for the Codifications of the IPC, CrPC etc.
Feb, 16, 2018

[op-ed snap] Should Supreme Court proceedings be live-streamed?

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Importance of live streaming of court cases and related issues discussed in the newscard.


News

What is the issue?

  1. The Indian legal system is built on the concept of open courts, which means that the proceedings are open to all members of the public
  2. But the reality is different
  3. On any given day, only a handful of people can be physically present and are allowed in the courtroom

An important question: Why shouldn’t the legal system benefit from technology?

  1.  While the courts are now opting for digitisation, with online records of all cases, a provision for filing FIRs online, an automated system of case rotation, etc.
    There is still a need to do more
  2. An important question arises
  3. In the light of these technological advancements, why shouldn’t millions of people be allowed to watch the rich deliberations that transpire in the halls of justice?

Live streaming of court cases is not needed for all the cases

  1. First, note that live-streaming is neither called for in all types of matters nor in all courts
  2. The emphasis is to make those matters that are of great public importance available for all to see
  3. Therefore, matters which have a privacy dimension, such as family matters or criminal matters, or matters with legal procedural intricacies, such as most trial court matters, are out of its scope
  4. But matters which have a bearing on important public interest issues such as the constitutionality of the Aadhaar scheme, or the legality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code,
    all of which are pending before the Supreme Court, should be available for all to watch

The demand is not impossbile

  1. Further, note that to promote transparency, live-streaming has been allowed for both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha proceedings since 2004
  2. Similarly, the recording of videos in the highest courts in Canada and Australia, the International Court of Justice, shows that this exercise is neither novel nor so difficult

Why is it important?

  1. To educate common people on how the judiciary functions is a strong reasons in favour of allowing live-streaming of court proceedings
  2. It presents a hope for the Indian legal system to finally deliver on its promise to empower the masses, not be scared of them
Jan, 16, 2018

[op-ed snap] Restoring order in the court

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The newscard briefly discusses the allegations by the four SC judges, against the CJI. It also talks about possible effects of these allegations on the judiciary.


News

Allegation by the four judges

  1. The judges has alleged that the CJI has been assigning cases, selectively to Benches of his preference, thus ignoring well established convention
  2. Those cases can have far-reaching consequences to the nation
  3. Justification for their objectionable conduct: In justification of their otherwise objectionable conduct in addressing a press conference on these issues, all of the four judges said they had been left with no other option

View of other senior (retd.) judges and law veterans on the issue

  1. Naturally, this incident has sent shock waves across the country in general and in the legal circles in particular
  2. Many former judges, eminent jurists, and senior counsel have found the conduct of the four judges to be highly disagreeable
  3. Former CJI, Justice T.S. Thakur, said that the conduct of the judges does not help resolve the issues
  4. However, a few former judges and lawyers have sought to justify the action by asserting that the judges had no other choice as their repeated pleas to the CJI
  5. They also feel that it is more important to address the issues raised by the judges rather than find fault with them for going public
  6. The opinion is divided, but no one can deny that the action of the four judges has caused serious damage to the credibility of the institution

It has set a bad precedent 

  1. Convention is that judges will never approach the media for redressal of their grievances, which is an internal matter
  2. All these developments have enabled the media (both print and electronic) to extensively hold discussions about the functioning of the judiciary, which otherwise they could not have done
  3. All this has further damaged the image of the judiciary
  4. The common man, who had absolute faith in the institution and in the impartiality of judges, is now let to suspect that court decisions may not be purely based on merit

Commendable Silence

  1. The conduct of the CJI and the Prime Minister in maintaining silence on the developments is commendable
  2. The Central government has also rightly made its position clear that this being an internal matter of the judiciary, it will not intervene
  3. The stand taken by the Bar Council of India and the Supreme Court Bar Association is also praiseworthy
  4. Both have urged the Supreme Court judges to discuss the issues and settle them amicably by themselves

The way forward

  1. The CJI cannot absolve himself of his responsibility for the present state of affairs
  2. He has to exercise his powers reasonably, without giving scope for any justifiable criticism
  3. Even in the past, there might have been some instances where there was similar criticism of assignment of cases to preferred Benches
  4. But such instances were few and far between and they were never discussed in public
  5. Let us hope that all the judges of the Supreme Court, including the CJI, will sort out their differences amicably and find a satisfactory solution to the problem
Jan, 13, 2018

Four SC judges air differences with CJI Misra

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: It is first-of-its-kind incident in the history of Indian Judiciary.


News

Allegations by the four judges

  1. The revelation at the press conference came a couple of hours after a Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra heard the Loya petition
  2. Without naming any, Justice Chelameswar(one of the four judges) said that several other important cases like this had been assigned to preferred Benches over the past months

What is the issue of contention?

  1. The convention of the court demands that important cases of public interest or sensitive matters should be first heard by the CJI
  2. If the CJI is not willing for some reason to hear the case, it should be assigned to the next senior-most judge in the Supreme Court
  3. Instead of that, such cases were assigned to certain Benches and eventually given a quiet burial
Nov, 28, 2017

Can’t force govt. to frame a law: SC

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: The UN convention against Torture

Mains level: Comments by the SC on political compulsions


News

Comment on Political Compulsions

  1. The Supreme Court has said it respected the government’s “political compulsions” and would not compel it to ratify the UN Convention against Torture
  2. Or command it to frame a standalone anti-torture legislation

What was the case?

  1. A public interest litigation petition was filed by the former Union Law Minister Ashwini Kumar for a standalone anti-torture law
  2. A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, refrained from passing any positive order on the PIL
  3. The court disposed of the petition almost a year after entertaining it

Recent comment from government on PILs

  1. The judiciary faced a barrage of criticism for its “judicial activism”
  2. Ministers said public interest litigation petitions could not replace governance and policy decisions of the executive

Government is considering anti-torture law

  1. The Law Commission has recommended that the Centre ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture and frame a standalone anti-torture law, making the state responsible for any injury inflicted by its agents on citizens
  2. The commission has said the state should not claim immunity for the actions of its officers or agents

Background of the UN Convention against Torture

  1. Though India signed the convention in 1997, it is yet to ratify it
  2. Efforts to bring in a standalone law have failed
  3. The National Human Rights Commission has been urging the government to recognise torture as a separate crime and codify the punishment in a separate penal law

Back2basics

United Nations Convention against Torture

  1. The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (commonly known as the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT)) is an international human rights treaty, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world
  2. The Convention requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction, and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured
  3. The text of the Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1984 and, following ratification by the 20th state party, it came into force on 26 June 1987.
  4. 26 June is now recognized as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, in honor of the Convention. Since the convention’s entry into force, the absolute prohibition against torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment has become accepted as a principle of customary international law
  5. As of August 2017, the Convention has 162 state parties
Nov, 25, 2017

[op-ed snap] The mandates of natural justice

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Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Constitution Day, Natural justice, CBI

Mains level: Principles of natural justice

Refer to this essay topic asked in 2017 Mains: “We may brave human laws but can not resist natural laws”


Context

Constitution Day: 26 November

  1. On November 26, 68 years ago, the chairperson of the Constitution drafting committee, B.R. Ambedkar, put to vote the following motion at the Constituent Assembly: “That the Constitution as settled by the Assembly be passed.”
  2. In 1969, the Supreme Court Bar Association declared November 26 as Law Day
  3. The government has now designated it as Constitution Day

Purpose of designating special day

  1. To emphasise the role and importance of law in the life of our Republic
  2. To review the state of law and administration of justice
  3. To suggest ways and means of improving our laws and our legal and judicial system
  4. To strengthen the principle of the independence of the judiciary
  5. To maintain, reinforce and augment public confidence in our legal and judicial system

Questions over conduct of judiciary

  1. The court’s collective actions, in undermining every notion of good ethical conduct, has struck a potentially irredeemable blow at the principles highlighted
  2. A first information report was regisitered in which a retired Orissa High Court judge, I.M. Quddusi, was implicated for allegedly taking bribes to secure favourable orders from the Supreme Court
  3. Given that any involvement of the Central Bureau of Investigation could impinge the autonomy of the judiciary, the petitions filed for investigation suggested that the court might consider appointing a special investigation team to conduct an inquiry into the FIR

What SC/CJI did?

  1. With a view to avoiding any intervention by the CJI, this case was separately mentioned before a bench presided by the court’s second most senior judge, Justice J. Chelameswar
  2. He ordered that the petition be heard by a bench comprising the five most senior judges of the court
  3. Ultimately, the CJI set aside Justice Chelameswar’s order, by constituting a five-judge bench of his own, over which he himself presided
  4. He also thereby reaffirmed his power and authority to make administrative choices

Questions that arise?

  1. Under what circumstances does a litigant’s claim in court translate into a claim that interests a judge?
  2. Does the CJI ever have a duty to recuse himself as the “master of the roster”?

What does precedent say?

  1. In ordinary circumstances, this discretion would be governed by the general principle expressed by Lord Chief Justice Hewart of the King’s Bench nearly 100 years ago: that “justice should not only be done but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.”

Examples where CJI recused himself from hearing

  1. In two cases — N.B. Jeejeebhoy v. Assistant Collector and Vajravelu Mudaliar v. Special Deputy Collector, Chief Justice P.B. Gajendragadkar had recused himself as its outcome would have affected a cooperative housing society of which he was a member
  2. He had thus “affirmed in India the principle, well settled in England, that the requirements of natural justice apply to the most exalted judicial officer as they do the humblest.”

Violating natural justice by placing CJI above all procedures

  1. If we place the Chief Justice’s position as an administrative head above ordinary mandates of natural justice, we would be violating the basic constitutional morality that holds together the entire structure of our Constitution
Nov, 15, 2017

[op-ed snap] A question of probity

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Credibility of the Indian Judiciary


News

Context

  1. The article talks about a recent important case of the SC, which is questioning the credibility of the SC itself.

What is the issue?

  1. A five-judge Constitution Bench of the SC led by the Chief Justice of India declared that the Chief Justice is the has the sole prerogative to determine which Bench of judges gets to hear which cases
  2. The bench was hearing a case concerning corruption arising out of certain judicial proceedings

What was the case?

  1. The genesis of this episode lies in the filing of petitions by Prasad Education Trust before the Supreme Court and Allahabad High Court
  2. The trust operated a medical college whose permission to run certain courses had been declined
  3. A simultaneous investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) indicated a possible criminal conspiracy to ensure a favourable judicial order in this matter
  4. According to its FIR, two persons managing the affairs of the trust, approached a retired judge of Allahabad and Odisha High Courts, Justice I.M. Quddusi, through Sudhir Giri of the Venkateshwara Medical College (part of Venkateshwara University, in whose case another judgment had been passed by Justice Dipak Misra in the Supreme Court)
  5. Quddusi recommended the filing of a petition before the Allahabad High Court, in which partial relief was granted
  6. Subsequently, when the matter again reached the Supreme Court, the FIR reveals that Quddusi and his associates assured the trust of getting the matter “settled” in the Supreme Court through “their contacts
  7. Quddusi, Agrawala and four associates have now been arrested for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code

What is the need of constituting the SIT(Special Investigation Team)?

  1. Since the FIR indicated an attempt to fix a judicial proceeding, the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms filed a writ petition in the SC requesting that a SIT under a retired CJI be set up
  2. This request was made since it was apprehended that leaving the investigation to the CBI might mean allowing the government to influence judges who would be brought under investigation

Two Important questions

  1. First, can the chief justice be part of the hearing, since the scandal allegedly implicates a judgment the CJI wrote, even though he has not been named in the FIR?
  2. Second, could a constitution bench be constituted bypassing the chief justice in violation of the current procedure through which such benches are constituted?

Issue of corruption in the court

  1. There are issues of corruption in the courts
  2. The judiciary has failed to find a mechanism to deal with allegations of corruption within its ranks
  3. Every justice in the court needs to be above suspicion
  4. But a lot of care needs to be exercised so that the anti-corruption measures taken do not undermine the independence of the judiciary

Concerns related to the CBI investigation

  1. We should also consider the possibility that the threat of being investigated by the CBI, or speculative naming (or suggestion in a CBI report)
  2. It can itself also be an instrument of seeking recusals or undermining the independence of judges, as is sometimes done with other government officials
  3. This subtle institutional challenge to the judiciary is not outside of the realm of possibility
  4. More than the conduct of Justices Misra and Chelameswar, the judiciary will have to think of how it will deal with instances where the Chief Justice of India or other justices becomes hostage to possible CBI innuendo

Use of article 142 in the present case

  1. Many learned counsel have defended Justice Chelameswar’s move by invoking Article 142 that gives judges the power to do whatever it takes to secure justice
  2. But the use of Article 142 has also become a sign of immense judicial indiscipline, where judges can easily ride roughshod over other procedural proprieties

The way forward

  1. There are lots of legal nuances to the case at hand
  2. But the court’s loss of external credibility combined with internal anarchy does not bode well for Indian democracy
  3. Instead of becoming a constitutional lodestar in our turbulent times, the court has itself become a reflection of the worst rot afflicting Indian institutions
Nov, 13, 2017

Can an FIR be filed against a sitting judge?

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: First information report (FIR), Criminal Procedure Code, Prevention of Corruption Act, Judges (Protection) Act of 1985

Mains level: Various laws and statutes related to judicial appointments and functioning


Context

  1. Can the police or any investigating agency file a first information report (FIR) against a sitting High Court or a Supreme Court judge and even the Chief Justice of India?

K. Veeraswami case

  1. A majority judgment delivered by a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, in this case, answers the above question
  2. The majority held that no criminal case shall be registered under Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code (an FIR) against a judge of the High Court, Chief Justice of the High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court unless the government first “consults” the Chief Justice of India
  3. The justification given was that the CJI’s assent was imperative as he was a “participatory functionary” in the appointment of judges
  4. The majority in the Constitution Bench classifies a judge as a “public servant”
  5. The Veeraswami case specifically dealt with the Prevention of Corruption Act in judiciary, but the majority judgment had extended its ambit to “any criminal case”

How important is CJIs opinion?

  1. Due regard must be given by the government to the opinion expressed by the Chief Justice
  2. If the Chief Justice is of opinion that it is not a fit case for proceeding under the Act, the case shall not be registered
  3. If the CJI allows the FIR to be registered, the government shall, for the second time, consult him on the question of granting sanction for prosecution
  4. Consultation with the CJI while registering a criminal case against a judge, whether of the High Court or the Supreme Court, has been made mandatory to protect the independence of judiciary

What if CJI himself is the accused?

  1. The verdict held that if the Chief Justice of India himself is the person against whom the allegations of criminal misconduct are received, the government shall consult any other judge or judges of the Supreme Court

Procedure for other judicial officers

  1. The Supreme Court has also laid down guidelines for the arrest of a judicial officer of the subordinate judiciary
  2. This has been done by the Delhi Judicial Service Association versus State of Gujarat judgment of the Supreme Court
  3. The court held that a judicial officer “should be arrested for any offense under intimation to the District Judge or the High Court”
  4. The immediate arrest shall only be a “technical or formal arrest”, after which it should be immediately communicated to the District and Sessions Judge of the district concerned and the Chief Justice of the High Court
  5. The arrested judicial officer shall not be taken to a police station without the prior orders of the District Judge and no statements shall be recorded from him or her except in the presence of a counsel
  6. He or she will not be handcuffed

Exemptions provided to Judges

  1. Section 3 of the Judges (Protection) Act of 1985 protects judges and former judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts from “any civil or criminal proceedings” for any act, thing or word committed, done or spoken by him in the course of their judicial duty or function
  2. No court shall entertain such complaints
  3. Section 77 of the Indian Penal Code exempts judges from criminal proceedings for something said or done during judicial duties

Option available to government

  1. The government can initiate criminal proceedings against a sitting or former judge of a superior court under subsection (2) of Section 3 of Judges (Protection) Act, 1985
  2. This can be done if it can produce material evidence to show that a judgment was passed after taking a bribe
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