Land Reforms

Supreme Court lays out 7 Sub-Rights of Right to Property

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 300A, 44th Constitutional Amendment, Right to Property

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The Supreme Court’s ruling safeguards landowners from arbitrary government acquisition, emphasizing adherence to Article 300A, ensuring the constitutional right to property and sub-rights compliance.

Procedural Sub-Rights under Right to Property

These seven rights are foundational components of a law that is in tune with Article 300A, and the absence of one of these or some of them would render the law susceptible to challenge:

  1. Right to Notice: Individuals must be informed about the intention to acquire their property.
  2. Right to Be Heard: Affected individuals have the right to voice objections.
  3. Right to a Reasoned Decision: The government must justify the acquisition with a reasoned decision.
  4. Public Purpose Justification: Acquisitions must serve a demonstrable public purpose.
  5. Right of Restitution or Fair Compensation: Landowners are entitled to fair compensation for their property.
  6. Right to An Efficient and Expeditious Process: Acquisition procedures should be efficient and adhere to set timelines.
  7. Right of Conclusion: The process concludes with the physical transfer of property; failure to take possession renders the acquisition incomplete.

Back2Basics: Right to Property in India

  • The Right to Property was initially a fundamental right under the Constitution of India, included in Part III (Articles 19 and 31).
  • Through the 44th Amendment Act of 1978, this right was removed from the list of fundamental rights. It was reclassified as a constitutional right under Article 300A.

About Article 300A:

  • Article 300A was introduced to the Constitution, stating that “No person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law.”
  • Legal Framework: This implies that the government can still acquire private property, but this acquisition must be done through a law that justifies the acquisition and provides for fair compensation to the affected parties.

Current Legal Status

  • Not a Fundamental Right: The Right to Property is no longer a fundamental right, which means it cannot be directly enforced through the Supreme Court or High Court under Article 32 or Article 226. However, it remains a constitutional right.
  • Protection under Law: Any person deprived of his property under any state enactment can approach a High Court challenging the legality of the act under Article 300A.
  • Legal Recourse: Affected individuals have the right to legal recourse if they believe that the acquisition was not justified or that the compensation was inadequate.

Recent Judgment: Human Rights 

  • Case Background: The judgment supported a Calcutta High Court decision that dismissed an appeal by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation regarding the acquisition of private land.
  • Court’s Order: The Corporation was ordered to compensate with ₹5 lakh for costs within 60 days.
  • Human Rights Perspective: The right to property is not only protected as a constitutional right but has also been recognized as a human right by a “Bench of Justices P.S. Narasimha and Aravind Kumar”.

Legal Interpretations and Clarifications

  • Justice Narasimha clarified that the phrase ‘authority of law’ in Article 300A extends beyond the state’s power of eminent domain.
  • It necessitates a proper legal framework for property acquisition.
  • The ruling underscored that mere possession of eminent domain power and the provision of compensation do not justify compulsory acquisition if due processes are not followed.

PYQ:

[2021] What is the position of the Right to Property in India?​

(a) Legal right available to citizens only

(b) Legal right available to any person

(c) Fundamental Right available to citizens only

(d) Neither Fundamental Right nor legal right

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Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Hindu Marriage not valid without requisite Ceremonies: SC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Features of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and its applicability

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • The Supreme Court recently emphasized the sacredness of Hindu marriage, stating it is not merely a social event but a ‘samskara’ and a sacrament of significant value in Indian society.
  • The court’s observations came in response to a case involving two commercial pilots seeking a divorce decree without a valid Hindu marriage ceremony.

About Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

Details
Enactment Passed by the Parliament of India on May 18, 1955.
Purpose Amendment and codification of laws related to marriage among Hindus and others.
Applicability
  • Applies to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, and others NOT governed by Muslim, Christian, Parsi, or Jewish laws.
  • NOTE: The Special Marriage Act, 1954 applies to all citizens of India, irrespective of religion, faith, or belief.  It facilitates inter-religious and inter-caste marriages.
Conditions for Marriage Section 5 specifies conditions including age, mental capacity, consent, and absence of prohibited relationships.

Features of the HMA

Guardianship for Marriage Section 6 outlines the persons entitled to give consent for a bride’s marriage.
Solemnization of Marriage Section 7 recognizes customary rites and ceremonies for Hindu marriage.
Registration of Marriage Section 8 allows for the registration of Hindu marriages for facilitating proof.
Ceremonies for a Hindu Marriage
  • Explains the special varieties of ceremonies that may be done to solemnize a Hindu marriage. Ex. ‘Saptapadi’
  • It acknowledges each conventional and court-registered marriage.
Restitution of Conjugal Rights Section 9 permits application for restitution of conjugal rights if one spouse withdraws without excuse.
Judicial Separation Section 10 provides for judicial separation based on certain grounds.
Nullity of Marriage and Divorce Grounds for voidable marriages and divorce specified in Sections 11-13.
Mutual Divorce Section 13B allows mutual divorce by consent of both parties.
Alimony and Maintenance Sections 24-25 enable spouses to seek maintenance and alimony post-divorce.
Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 Proposed amendments for easier divorce on grounds of irretrievable breakdown.
Judicial Review Supreme Court rulings on divorce petitions and exercise of powers under Article 142.

Essence of Hindu Marriage: Supreme Courts’ Observations

  • Denouncement of Unrecognized Marriages:
      • The Supreme Court denounced the practice of seeking marital status without a valid ceremony.
      • Emphasized that marriage is a lifelong commitment and not to be treated lightly.
  • Sacred Character of Hindu Marriage:
      • Hindu marriage is termed as a ‘sacrament’ with a sacred character.
      • It symbolizes the unity of two individuals into a dignified, equal, and consensual union.
  • Institutional Importance:
      • Viewed as a vital institution for procreation, family consolidation, and fostering fraternity within communities.
  • Adherence to Rites and Ceremonies:
      • The court reiterated that a Hindu marriage must adhere to the rites and ceremonies prescribed under the Hindu Marriage Act.
      • For instance, the ‘saptapadi’ ceremony is essential for validity.
  • Role of Marriage Registration:
    • Marriage registration aids in providing evidence of the wedding.
    • However, it does not confer legitimacy if the marriage is not solemnized according to the Hindu Marriage Act.

PYQ:

[2020] Customs and traditions suppress reason leading to obscurantism. Do you agree?

[2015] Discuss the possible factors that inhibit India from enacting for its citizen a uniform civil code as provided for in the Directive Principles of State Policy.

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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Decoding the judgment on Jim Corbett

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jim Corbett National Park

Mains level: Key points related the judgment

Why in the news? 

In its March ruling, the Supreme Court highlighted the corrupt collaboration between politicians, forest officials, and local contractors that led to the illegal felling of 6,000 trees in the Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand.

Key points related the judgment

  • Shift from Anthropocentrism to Eco-centrism: The Supreme Court emphasized the need for an eco-centric approach rather than anthropocentrism in ecotourism management.
  • Ban on Tiger Safaris in Core Areas: : The court disagreed with the 2019 guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) permitting tiger safaris on the lines of a zoo in national parks, The court directed the banning of tiger safaris in core areas of national parks, aiming to minimize environmental damage and disturbance to wildlife habitats.
  • Committee Formation for Feasibility Study: A committee was constituted to explore the feasibility of permitting tiger safaris in peripheral areas of national parks across India, indicating a cautious approach towards balancing tourism with conservation goals.

What the court missed

Absence of Well-Defined Methodology: The court’s decision to recover the cost of restoration from errant individuals and officers lacks a well-defined methodology, making it challenging to accurately assess the damage done to the green cover of Jim Corbett.

Suggestive measures 

  • Need for Ecosystem Services-Based Valuation: In light of growing degradation of biodiversity hotspots and support for revenue-generating eco-tourism, there is a need for a valuation method based on ecosystem services, which includes benefits like food, water, and climate regulation.
  • Precedent on Ecosystem Services: The court could have set a precedent by prioritizing ecosystem services over eco-tourism or highlighting the need for a precise law and policy regarding ecosystem services, which play a crucial role in environmental conservation and sustainable development.
  • Reference to International Court of Justice (ICJ) Ruling: The reasoning provided by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Costa Rica v. Nicaragua (2018) regarding the compensability of damage to the environment could have been used to better understand methodologies for evaluating environmental damage and loss of ecosystem services

Conclusion 

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Jim Corbett underscores a shift towards eco-centric ecotourism management, banning tiger safaris in core areas. However, the absence of a clear restoration methodology and the need for ecosystem services-based valuation remain unaddressed, suggesting room for improvement.

Mains PYQ 

Q How does biodiversity vary in India? How is the Biological Diversity Act,2002 helpful in conservation of flora and fauna? (UPSC IAS/2018)

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LGBT Rights – Transgender Bill, Sec. 377, etc.

No Counseling to LGBTQ+ Persons against their Own Identity: Supreme Court

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Section 377, LGBTQ+ Rights

Mains level: Sexual Minorities and their Social Rights

Why in the news-

  • The Supreme Court issued a cautionary directive to judges regarding court-ordered counselling for LGBTQ+ individuals, emphasizing the need to respect their identity and sexual orientation.

Context

 

  • Petition: The verdict stemmed from a habeas corpus petition filed by a Kerala-based woman seeking the whereabouts of her same-sex partner, highlighting the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in asserting their rights.
  • Coercion Concerns: Concerns were raised about court-ordered counselling potentially being used to coerce individuals against their sexual orientation or chosen partners, prompting the Supreme Court to address these apprehensions.

 

Counselling to LGBTQ+ Persons: 

[A] Guidelines and Observations

  • Avoiding Identity Suppression: Judges were cautioned against using counselling as a tool to coerce individuals into rejecting their LGBTQ+ identity or relationships, particularly when they are in distress or facing familial separation.
  • Upholding Constitutional Values: CJI underscored the importance of upholding constitutional values, urging judges to refrain from imposing their personal biases or societal prejudices during legal proceedings.
  • Empathy and Compassion: The verdict emphasized that judges must demonstrate sincere empathy and compassion towards LGBTQ+ individuals, ensuring that the principles of justice and equality guide legal decisions.

[B] Guidelines for Courts

  • Embracing Diversity: Courts were directed to eschew social morality influenced by homophobic or transphobic views, prioritizing the protection of individual rights and freedoms.
  • Respecting Chosen Families: Acknowledging the significance of chosen families for LGBTQ+ individuals, the court highlighted the need to recognize and respect these relationships, especially in cases involving familial rejection or violence.

LGBTQ+ Persons (Sexual Minority) Rights in India: An Overview

  • Decriminalization of Homosexuality: A watershed moment occurred on September 6, 2018, when the Supreme Court of India partially struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalized consensual same-sex relationships. This historic decision marked a crucial step towards recognizing the dignity and autonomy of LGBTQ+ individuals.
  • Recognition of Transgender Rights: In 2014, the Supreme Court recognized transgender individuals as the third gender and affirmed their fundamental rights under the Constitution in the landmark case of National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India (2014). This judgment laid the foundation for legal recognition and protection of transgender rights in India.

Several key legal cases and judgments have shaped the evolution of LGBTQ rights in India:

  1. Naz Foundation Govt. v. NCT of Delhi (2009): The Delhi High Court ruled that Section 377 of the IPC violated fundamental rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, including privacy and equality. This judgment was a crucial step forward in recognizing the rights of LGBTQ individuals.
  2. Suresh Kumar Koushal vs Naz Foundation (2013): The Supreme Court overturned the Delhi High Court’s judgment, recriminalizing homosexuality. This decision was met with widespread criticism and sparked renewed activism for LGBTQ rights in India.
  3. National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India (2014): This landmark judgment recognized transgender individuals as the third gender and affirmed their fundamental rights under the Constitution. It laid the groundwork for ensuring equality and non-discrimination for the transgender community.
  4. K.S. Puttaswamy v Union of India (2017): This case affirmed the right to privacy as a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution. The judgment recognized that discrimination based on sexual orientation is unconstitutional and emphasized the dignity and autonomy of individuals.
  5. Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India (2018): The Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality and struck down Section 377 of the IPC. The court recognized the rights of LGBTQ individuals to intimacy, autonomy, and identity, setting a precedent for equality and non-discrimination.

Future Prospects 

[A] Extension of ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) Rights  

  • The Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Rights bill, as currently formulated, does not adequately extend to LGBTQ+ persons due to several factors:
  1. Definition of Commissioning Couple: It restricts access to ART services to “infertile married couples,” excluding same-sex couples and individuals in same-sex relationships.
  2. Requirement of Legal Marriage: Since same-sex marriage isn’t recognized in India, LGBTQ+ couples are automatically excluded from accessing ART services.
  3. Narrow Definition of Infertility: The bill’s definition overlooks the unique reproductive challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals and couples.
  4. Gender-Binary Language and Restrictions: Gender-binary language and restrictions exclude transgender and gender non-conforming individuals from accessing ART services.
  5. Lack of Recognition of Diverse Identities: The bill fails to accommodate the diverse identities within the LGBTQ+ community, neglecting their specific needs and concerns regarding assisted reproduction.

[B] Child Adoption 

  • National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR): It had opposed the adoption rights of same-sex couples.
  • Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act): It allows heterosexual married couples, and single and divorced persons to adopt.
  • Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA): It permits any male or female Hindu of sound mind to adopt, and for couples to adopt with the consent of their spouse.
  • Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA): It permits applications from adoptive parents in live-in relationships, which it examines on a case-to-case basis.

However, in October 2023 the Supreme Court ruled that Regulation 5(3) of the CARA Regulations, insofar as it prohibited unmarried and queer couples from adopting, violated Article 15 of the Constitution.

While India’s Supreme Court declined to legalise same-sex marriage and did not explicitly grant gay couples adoption rights.

 


PYQ:

2020: Customs and traditions suppress reason leading to obscurantism. Do you agree?

 

Practice MCQ:

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which sought to decriminalize homosexuality was struck down in the landmark case of-

  1. Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India
  2. Naz Foundation Govt. v. NCT of Delhi
  3. Suresh Kumar Koushal vs Naz Foundation
  4. None of these

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Terrorism and Challenges Related To It

Maoism and Related Issues

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Marxism, Leninism, Maoism

Mains level: Concept of Urban Naxals, Left Wing Idea of Development

mao

In the news

  • The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court recently acquitted a former Delhi University professor and five others in a case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for alleged Maoist links.
  • The Maharashtra government swiftly approached the Supreme Court seeking an urgent hearing after failing to secure a stay on the High Court’s judgment.

CSE Mains Questions based on Left Wing Extremism (LWE):

     

Note: Almost every alternate year, a question on LWE has been asked in the Mains.

 

  1. 2015: The persisting drives of the government for development of large industries in backward areas have resulted in isolating the tribal population and the farmers who face multiple displacements. With Malkangiri and Naxalbari foci, discuss the corrective strategies needed to win the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) doctrine affected citizens back into mainstream of social and economic growth.
  2. 2018: Left Wing Extremism (LWE) is showing a downward trend, but still affects many parts of the country. Briefly explain the Government of India’s approach to counter the challenges posed by LWE.
  3. 2020: What are the determinants of left-wing extremism in Eastern part of India? What strategy should the Government of India, civil administration and security forces adopt to counter the threat in the affected areas?
  4. 2022: Naxalism is a social, economic and developmental issue manifesting as a violent internal security threat. In this context, discuss the emerging issues and suggest a multi-layered strategy to tackle the menace of Naxalism.

Who are the Maoists?

  • Origins: Maoism, derived from the teachings of Chinese leader Mao Zedong, emerged as a form of communist theory.
  • Ideology: Maoists believe in the philosophy that “Power flows from the barrel of the gun” and advocate for armed struggle to achieve their goals.
  • Evolution in India: Maoism gained prominence in India through movements like the Naxalbari uprising, leading to the formation of groups like the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) in West Bengal.

Historical Context and Evolution

  • Influence of Russian Revolution: Naxalism draws ideological inspiration from the Russian Revolution and the overthrow of the Tsarist regime.
  • Marxian Ideals: Rooted in Marxism, Maoism emphasizes class struggle and the redistribution of power to marginalized communities.
  • Neo-Marxism: After the success of revolutions led by Lenin and Mao, intellectuals worldwide, including Fidel Castro, embraced Marxist ideologies.

Root Causes of Maoism in India

  • Corporate Exploitation: Exploitation of natural resources in Eastern India has led to marginalization and harassment of tribal communities.
  • Tribal Alienation: Post-independence, tribal communities lost traditional rights over resources, leading to alienation.
  • Livelihood Losses: Depletion of natural resources threatened tribal livelihoods.
  • Forceful Displacement: Displacement from ancestral lands disrupted traditional governance systems.
  • Absence of Governance: In areas of exploitation, governance structures collapsed due to killings and intimidation.
  • Foreign Provocations: External support for LWE outfits exacerbated the conflict.

Impact on Youth

  • Romanticism and Misunderstanding: Some view Maoists romantically, overlooking the violence inherent in their ideology.
  • Violence and Destruction: Maoist doctrine glorifies violence, leading to destruction of governance mechanisms.
  • Radicalization and Coercion: Maoists radicalize youth and coerce locals to join their movement.
  • Urban Presence: Maoists extend their influence to semi-urban and urban areas, facilitated by educated intellectuals.

Strategies used by LWEs and Maoists

  • Utilization of State Structures: Maoists exploit state structures to further their agenda and weaken enforcement.
  • Recruitment and Fundraising: They recruit and raise funds for insurgency, often through legal means.
  • Urban Shelters: Maoists establish urban shelters for underground cadres.
  • Legal Assistance: Legal aid is provided to arrested cadres.
  • Mass Mobilization: They mobilize masses on issues relevant to their cause.

Government Initiatives for LWE-Affected Areas

  • Aspirational Districts Programme: Monitoring of development initiatives in affected districts.
  • Education and Infrastructure: Building schools and improving road connectivity in affected areas.
  • Naxal Surrender Policy: Aimed at reintegrating misguided youth and hardcore extremists.
  • National Policy Action Plan: Development-focused policy to address LWE challenges.

SAMADHAN Doctrine: A Comprehensive Strategy

  • Smart Leadership: Effective leadership at all levels.
  • Aggressive Strategy: Proactive measures to counter extremism.
  • Motivation and Training: Training of security personnel and motivation for operations.
  • Actionable Intelligence: Intelligence-driven operations.
  • Harnessing Technology: Use of technology for surveillance and monitoring.
  • Strategic Action Plans: Tailored action plans for each theater of conflict.
  • Financial Isolation: Cutting off financial support to extremist groups.

Way Forward

  • Dual Objective: Military defeat of insurgents and ideological resolution of grievances.
  • Institutional Overhauls: Reforms in governance and security institutions.
  • Coordinated Efforts: States must coordinate operations to deny space to Maoists.
  • Population Segregation: Separating civilians from insurgents, both operationally and ideologically.
  • Economic Development: Addressing resource conflicts through inclusive economic development.

Conclusion

  • Understanding the complex dynamics of Maoism and Left-Wing Extremism is crucial for formulating effective counterinsurgency strategies.
  • By addressing root causes, implementing targeted initiatives, and adopting a comprehensive approach, India can mitigate the impact of LWE and pave the way for sustainable peace and development in affected regions.

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Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

SC ends Immunity for Legislators taking Bribes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Parliamentary Privileges

Mains level: Vote for cash issue

In the news

  • A seven-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, delivered a significant judgment regarding parliamentary privilege and criminal prosecution.
  • The verdict overturned a 1998 ruling in PV Narasimha Rao Case that granted immunity to lawmakers accepting bribes if they subsequently voted or spoke in the House

Also read:

Legislators Immunity against Criminal Prosecution

What are Parliamentary Privileges?

Details
Definition Special rights, immunities, and exemptions enjoyed by Parliament, its committees, and members.

Defined in Article 105 of the Indian Constitution.

Scope Applies to Parliament, committees, and members.
Freedom of Speech Guaranteed under Article 105(1).

Subject to rules and procedures of Parliament (Article 118).

Limitations to Free Speech Speech must comply with constitutional provisions.

Cannot discuss judges’ conduct (Article 121), except for motions for their removal.

Freedom from Arrest Immunity from arrest in civil cases 40 days before and after sessions.

House permission needed for arrest within Parliament limits.

Notification of Arrest Chairman/Speaker must be informed of any member’s arrest.
Right to Prohibit Publication No liability for publishing reports, discussions under member’s authority (Article 105(2)).
Right to Exclude Strangers Members have power to exclude non-members from proceedings.

 

Immunity against Bribe: Constitutional Provisions Examined

  • Article 105(2): This article grants immunity to members of Parliament from court proceedings concerning their actions (speech or votes) in Parliament.
  • Article 194(2): Similarly, this article extends immunity to members of state assemblies.

Court’s Review and Interpretation

  • PV Narasimha Rao Case: In 1998, the Supreme Court ruled with a 3:2 majority that MPs and MLAs were immune from prosecution in bribery cases as long as they fulfilled their end of the bargain.
  • Judicial Scrutiny of Privilege: The Court revisited the interpretation of Articles 105(2) and 194(2), challenging the traditional understanding of absolute immunity for lawmakers.
  • Historical Context: It noted that India’s parliamentary privileges stem from statutory and constitutional sources, unlike the UK’s House of Commons, which has ancient and undoubted rights.

Key Findings and Interpretations

  • Necessity Test Applied: The Court applied a “necessity test” to determine the legitimacy of claims to parliamentary privilege, emphasizing that accepting bribes cannot be deemed necessary for lawmakers to discharge their duties.
  • Emphasis on Probity: The ruling underscored the importance of probity in public life, highlighting the corrosive impact of corruption on democratic ideals.
  • Interpretation of Offense: It clarified that the act of accepting a bribe constitutes an offense, regardless of subsequent actions by the lawmaker in the House.

Conclusion

  • The Supreme Court’s ruling represents a significant departure from past precedent, affirming the principle that no individual, including legislators, is above the law.
  • By asserting the judiciary’s role in scrutinizing claims of parliamentary privilege, the Court reaffirmed the primacy of constitutional values and accountability in governance.
  • This landmark judgment underscores the judiciary’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and combating corruption, thereby bolstering India’s democratic foundations.

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Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Grant Permanent Commission to Women: SC to Coast Guard

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Permament Commission vs Short Service Commission, Indian Coast Guard

Mains level: Women in Armed Forces

coast guard

In the news:

  • The Supreme Court emphasized the need for the Indian Coast Guard to grant Permanent Commission to women officers. Further, CJI too directed the Indian Coast Guard to consider it, indicating the court’s willingness to intervene if necessary.

Context:

  • Attorney-General highlighted operational difficulties in implementing permanent commissions for Short Service Commission Officers.
  • AG suggested to limit permanent commission for women to 10%, stressing that women should not be considered inferior.

About the Indian Coast Guard

  •  The Indian Coast Guard was established on August 1, 1978, as an armed force of the Union.
  • Its mission is to protect India’s maritime and national interests within its maritime zones. It enforces laws related to customs, immigration, poaching, and pollution at sea.
  •  It conducts round-the-year real-life operations at sea, despite being relatively small in size.
  • The Indian Navy operates globally, while the ICG is restricted to territorial waters extending out to 30 nautical miles from the coast.
  • The Indian Navy protects Indian ships and ports from external threats, while the ICG enforces maritime laws, ensures safety, and preserves the marine environment within territorial waters.

Significance of the Permanent Commission for Women:

  • Gender Equality: Permanent Commission for Women in the Armed Forces removes gender discrimination.
  • Secure Employment: It provides increased job security and extended tenure for women officers. It can also grant equal entitlements as men, including pension benefits after 20 years of service.
  • Fostering Opportunities: Ensures economic opportunities, and improves social conditions, and dignity for women.
  • Behavioral change in the Society: It can encourage more women to join the Armed Forces, expanding the talent pool and addressing officer shortages.

What are the challenges faced by Women Officers in the Indian Armed Forces?

  • Gender Bias and Discrimination: Women face biases from male officers who question their commitment due to marriage or family responsibilities. Biases exist among both genders, affecting the perception of women officers’ capabilities.
  • Limited Career Opportunities: Women officers have historically faced restrictions in combat roles, limiting their career advancement. Challenges in obtaining commanding positions due to gender norms and lack of representation in leadership roles.
  • Work Environment Issues: Lack of gender-sensitive facilities like separate toilets for women officers at certain postings. Unequal treatment and expectations, such as proving themselves more than male counterparts for recognition is a major challenge.
  • Societal and Cultural Barriers: Traditional societal norms hinder the acceptance of women in combat roles and leadership positions. The need for a shift in societal attitudes towards viewing women as equals in the armed forces.
  • Recruitment and Retention Challenges: Recruitment and retention rates in the armed forces are affected by the lack of a strong mixed-gender force. The Indian Army’s decision not to allow women in commanding roles impacts recruitment and retention efforts.

What can be the Balanced Approach for Women in the Armed Forces (Way Forward)?

  • Acceptance of Gender-specific Rights: Acknowledge and incorporate gender-specific rights like maternity and child care leave into the policies of the armed forces.
  • Equality in Physical Fitness Standards: Physical fitness standards should be role-based, not gender-based, to ensure equal rights and opportunities for all officers.
  • Need to go with Merit-based Promotion: Women officers should compete on merit without any preferential treatment or discrimination, following a merit-driven approach for promotions.
  • Developing of Pragmatic Policies: The armed forces need to adopt a pragmatic policy for the gradual inclusion of women in all ranks and disciplines, shedding patriarchal attitudes and creating necessary infrastructure.
  • Need for the Codification of Rules and Regulations: Codify terms of service for women officers considering organizational interests, establish military laws to address gender crimes, and ensure that only volunteer women meeting psychological and physical fitness standards join combat roles.

Try this PYQ from CS Mains 2021:

Q. “Though women in post-Independent India have excelled in various fields, the social attitude towards women and the feminist movement has been patriarchal.” Apart from women education and women empowerment schemes, what interventions can help change this milieu?

 

Post your responses here.

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Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

Supreme Court’s Interim Order on Forest Definition

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Godavarman Judgement, Forest Definition

Mains level: Forest land-use management

forest

Introduction

  • The Supreme Court issued an interim order on February 19, 2024, emphasizing that states and Union territories (UTs) must adhere to the Definition of ‘Forest’ as established in the TN Godavarman Thirumalpad v. Union of India judgement of 1996.
  • This order came during the hearing of a public interest litigation challenging the constitutionality of the Forest (Conservation) Act, which was amended by the Union government in 2023.

Why such move?

  • The petitioners highlighted concerns that the 2023 amendment had narrowed the expansive definition of ‘forest’ provided in the Godavarman judgement.
  • They argue that this move potentially aims at diverting forest lands for non-forest use.

What is Godavarman Judgement?

  • The Godavarman Judgment is a landmark environmental case in India, first heard in the Supreme Court in 1996, commonly referred to as the “Godavarman Case.”
  • Originating as a PIL filed by Mr Godavarman, a retired forest officer, it addressed concerns about forest degradation due to various developmental activities without proper environmental clearances.

Key Legal and Regulatory Framework

  • Forest Conservation Act (FCA) and Rules: The case primarily interprets and implements the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, and the Forest (Conservation) Rules, 1981, aiming at forest conservation and wildlife protection.
  • Powers of Central Government: The FCA empowers the central government to declare areas as “reserved forest” or “protected forest,” prohibiting non-forest activities without prior approval. It extends to all forests in India, not just declared reserves.
  • Defining Forest: The order defined as any area recorded as forest in the Government record irrespective of the ownership. This definition is broad and encompasses any area recorded as a forest in government records, regardless of its legal status or ownership.
  • Analysis:
  1. Diversion of Forest Land: The case tackled the diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes, emphasizing compliance with the law and due diligence.
  2. Extent of Central Government’s Powers: It clarified that the central government’s authority under the FCA extends to all forests, irrespective of ownership, emphasizing stringent regulation.
  3. Emphasis on Sustainable Development: The court stressed the importance of sustainable development in forest conservation and protecting the rights of forest dwellers and tribal communities.

Impact of the Judgement

  • Strengthening Forest Conservation Laws: The case led to stricter interpretation and implementation of forest laws, focusing on conservation and protection.
  • Increased Judicial Role in Environmental Governance: It established the judiciary as a watchdog in environmental governance, promoting public scrutiny of environmental decisions.
  • Protection of Forest Lands: Resulted in the cancellation of projects diverting forest land, contributing to biodiversity conservation.
  • Recognition of Rights: Emphasized the recognition and protection of rights of forest dwellers and tribal communities.
  • Promotion of Sustainable Development: Highlighted the importance of balancing economic development with environmental protection.

Criticism of the Judgement

  • Hindrance to Economic Development: Criticized for hindering economic development and displacing communities.
  • Role of Judiciary: Criticized for causing delays in decision-making and project implementation.

Key Points of the Recent Order

  • Adherence to 1996 Order: The bench, led by CJI emphasized that states and Union territories (UTs) must adhere to the definition of ‘forest’ as per the Godavarman judgement until the completion of the process of land recorded as ‘forests’ in government records.
  • Recording Forest Land: State and UT administrations are directed to prepare records on forest land within a year from the notification of the 2023 amendment as per Rule 16 of the Van (Sanrakshan Evam Samvardhan) Rules, 2023.
  • Expert Committees: The Union government is instructed to provide a comprehensive record of land registered as ‘forest’ by expert committees constituted by states and UTs within two weeks.
  • Compliance Deadline: All states and UTs must comply with the directions by forwarding the reports of the expert committees by March 31, 2024.

Additional Directions

  • Zoo and Safari Establishment: Any proposal for the establishment of zoos and safaris in forest areas other than protected areas shall not be finally approved without prior permission from the Supreme Court.
  • Exemption Clause: Section 5 of the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act, 2023, exempts zoos and safaris from the definition of ‘forests’ within forest areas, excluding protected areas.
  • Government Undertaking: The Union government submitted an undertaking that no precipitative steps would be taken concerning forest areas as per the dictionary sense, in line with the Godavarman judgement.

Conclusion

  • The Supreme Court’s interim order underscores the importance of preserving forest lands as per the Godavarman judgement and ensuring compliance with environmental protection measures.
  • It aims to safeguard the ecological balance and prevent misuse of forest resources for non-forest purposes.

Back2Basics: Universal Definition of Forest

  • As per the Conference of Parties (CoP) 9-Kyoto Protocol, the forest can be defined by any country depending upon the capacities and capabilities of the country.
  • Forest- Forest is defined structurally on the basis of
  1. Crown cover percentage: Tree crown cover- 10 to 30% (India 10%)
  2. Minimum area of stand: area between 0.05 and 1 hectare (India 1.0 hectare) and
  3. Minimum height of trees: Potential to reach a minimum height at maturity in situ of 2 to 5 m (India 2m)

India’s definition of Forests

The definition of forest cover has clearly been defined in all the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) and in all the International communications of India.

  • The forest cover is defined as ‘all land, more than one hectare in area, with a tree canopy density of more than 10 percent irrespective of ownership and legal status.
  • Such land may not necessarily be a recorded forest area. It also includes orchards, bamboo and palm’.

Classification of forest cover

In ISFR 2021 recently published has divided the forest cover as:

  1. Inside Recorded Forest Area: These are basically natural forests and plantations of Forest Department.
  2. Outside Recorded Forest Area: These cover mango orchards, coconut plantations, block plantations of agroforestry.

Forest Survey of India (FSI) Classification

  • FSI classifies forest cover in 4 classes.
  1. Very Dense forest: All lands with tree cover (including mangrove cover) of canopy density of 70% and above.
  2. Moderately dense forest: All lands with tree cover (including mangrove cover) of canopy density between 40% and 70%.
  3. Open forests: All lands with tree cover (including mangrove cover) of canopy density between 10% and 40%.
  4. Scrubs: All forest lands with poor tree growth mainly of small or stunted trees having canopy density less than 10%.

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Electoral Reforms In India

Supreme Court Strikes Down Electoral Bonds Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Electoral Bonds Scheme, Article 19, RTI, Proportionality Test

Mains level: Read the attached story

electoral bond

Introduction

  • The Supreme Court delivered a groundbreaking unanimous judgment, deeming the electoral bonds scheme “unconstitutional and manifestly arbitrary.”
  • Led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, a five-judge Constitution Bench unanimously struck down the scheme, citing infringement on voters’ right to information and disproportionate restrictions.

ebs

Key Reasons for Striking Down Electoral Bonds Scheme

[A] Violation of Right to Information (RTI)

  • Petitioners argued that the scheme violates Right to Information under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, emphasizing voters’ right to information regarding political party funding.
  • Despite the government’s stance that citizens lack a “right to know” about political contributions, the court upheld voters’ right to such information, citing the inherent connection between money and politics.
  • The court highlighted the “deep association” between money and politics, stressing the need for transparency to prevent quid pro quo arrangements.

[B] Disproportionate Restrictions:

  • The scheme’s anonymity for donors, aimed at curbing black money, was deemed disproportionate to its goal.
  • Advocates highlighted potential loopholes allowing for cash donations, undermining its efficacy in combating black money.
  • The court emphasized the availability of alternative, less restrictive measures to achieve the scheme’s objectives, such as Section 29C of the Representation of People Act, 1951.

[C] Privacy vs. Public Interest:

  • While the government argued for donor anonymity to protect privacy rights, advocates stressed the importance of public scrutiny in political funding.
  • The court clarified that donor privacy extends only to genuine forms of public support, rejecting absolute anonymity facilitated by the scheme.

[D] Unlimited Corporate Contributions:

  • Advocates underscored the adverse impact of unlimited corporate contributions on free and fair elections.
  • The court reinstated the cap on political contributions from companies, citing the need to prevent undue corporate influence in politics.
  • It noted concerns that unlimited contributions could incentivize quid pro quo arrangements, especially by loss-making companies.

Impact on Key Legal Amendments

  • Representation of the People Act, 1951: The court struck down amendments exempting political parties from disclosing donations above Rs. 20,000, reinforcing the balance between voters’ right to information and donor privacy. (Section 29C)
  • Companies Act, 2013: Amendments allowing unlimited corporate contributions were overturned, restoring the cap on political donations by companies and preserving electoral integrity. (Section 182)
  • Income-tax Act, 1961: Exemptions for political parties to maintain records of donations received via electoral bonds were annulled, safeguarding voters’ right to information. (Section 13A)

Application of Proportionality Test

[A] Definition:

  • The proportionality test assesses the balance between competing fundamental rights or interests and the measures taken by the state to achieve its objectives.
  • It involves four criteria: legality, necessity, proportionality in the strict sense, and balancing of interests.

[B] Government’s Arguments:

  • The government defended the scheme, citing legitimate aims such as tackling black money and protecting donor anonymity.
  • Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the right to information does not extend to information not in the state’s possession.

[C] Court’s Analysis:

  • Applying the proportionality test, the court scrutinized the balance between competing fundamental rights, emphasizing the necessity of the “least restrictive” methods.
  • It underscored the importance of less intrusive alternatives, such as the electoral trusts scheme, in achieving the scheme’s objectives.

Why is this a Landmark case?

  • Burden of Proof: The court held that the state must demonstrate that its measures are the “least restrictive” and that no other “equally effective” methods exist to achieve its objectives.
  • Balancing Competing Rights: Unlike previous approaches prioritizing public interest over individual rights, the court’s focus is on balancing competing fundamental rights.
  • Structured Proportionality Test: The verdict applies a structured proportionality test, requiring the state to demonstrate that its actions restricting fundamental rights are proportional to its objectives.
  • Application of Legal Precedents: While the right-to-privacy ruling laid down the law, subsequent cases like Aadhaar (2018) and Demonetization (2023) applied the structured proportionality test. The electoral bonds verdict represents a significant departure in this regard.

Conclusion

  • The Supreme Court’s verdict reaffirms its commitment to upholding constitutional principles and safeguarding democratic processes.
  • By striking down the electoral bonds scheme and reinstating key legal provisions, the court emphasizes the primacy of transparency and accountability in electoral financing.

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Electoral Reforms In India

States do not violate Constitution in appointment of Deputy CM: Supreme Court

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Deputy CM

Mains level: Political alliances and their stable functioning

Introduction

  • The Supreme Court recently dismissed a petition challenging the appointment of Deputy Chief Ministers in States, stating that the position does not breach the Constitution.
  • Despite lacking constitutional backing, Deputy CM play significant roles in state governments, raising questions about their powers, significance, and concerns.

What is the Deputy CM Position?

  • Constitutional Status: Unlike the Vice President of India, the Deputy CM post is political rather than constitutional.
  • Origin: The post traces back to the Deputy PM position established in 1947 post-independence, leading to the evolution of Deputy CM roles in states.
  • Appointment and Tenure: Deputy CMs are appointed and removed at the discretion of the Chief Minister, who may appoint multiple Deputy CMs.
  • Historical Context: Anugrah Narayan Sinha of Bihar was the first Deputy CM post-Independence, with 12 states in India having Deputy CMs as of July 2023.

Powers and Responsibilities

  • Rank and Pay: Deputy CMs hold a rank equivalent to cabinet ministers, receiving similar pays and perks.
  • Portfolio Allocation: They are entrusted with portfolios, although typically smaller in scale compared to the Chief Minister.
  • Financial Powers: Deputy CMs hold no specific financial authority, requiring approval from the Chief Minister for expenditures exceeding allocated budgets.
  • Administrative Role: They facilitate governance and administration, acting as a bridge between the ruling party and its allies.

Significance of Deputy CMs

  • Political Stability: Deputy CMs contribute to coalition government stability by bridging gaps between ruling parties and allies, reducing incidents of anti-defection.
  • Representation and Trust: Their presence ensures better representation of communities, fostering public trust in governance.
  • Succession and Accountability: Deputy CMs serve as potential successors to the Chief Minister, promoting transparency and accountability in government.

Concerns and Suggestions

  • Lack of Constitutional Backing: Raises concerns about role ambiguity and potential exploitation by Chief Ministers.
  • Multiplicity of Appointments: No limit on the number of Deputy CMs can lead to appeasement and governance complexities.
  • Complexity in Governance: Overlapping roles with cabinet ministers may complicate governance and administration.

Future Perspectives

  • Clarity and Limitations: Need for a defined role and limitations for Deputy CMs to simplify governance structures.
  • Political Literacy: Enhancing awareness among citizens about the role and function of Deputy CMs is essential for informed governance.

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Women Safety Issues – Marital Rape, Domestic Violence, Swadhar, Nirbhaya Fund, etc.

Supreme Court Overturns Remission in Bilkis Bano Case

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Remission of Sentences

Mains level: Bilkis Bano Verdict

bilkis bano

Introduction

  • Supreme Court’s Ruling: The Supreme Court struck down the remission granted to 11 men convicted in the 2002 Bilkis Bano Gangrape Case.
  • Gujarat Government’s Action Deemed Illegal: The court declared the Gujarat government’s decision to release the convicts as illegal, citing jurisdictional issues.

Remission of Sentences: Constitutional Analysis

Details
What is Remission? Complete ending of a sentence at a reduced point;

Nature of the sentence remains unchanged, but the duration is reduced;

Conditional release; breach of conditions leads to cancellation.

Constitutional Provisions Article 72: President’s pardoning powers

Article 161: Governor’s pardoning powers

President’s pardoning power >>> Governor’s

Statutory Power of Remission Provided under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)

Sections 432 and 433 allow suspension, remission, or commutation of sentences

Background of Remission System Defined under the Prison Act, 1894;

Observed in Kehar Singh vs. Union of India (1989) and

State of Haryana vs. Mahender Singh (2007) cases

Latest MHA Guidelines Special Remission Guidelines to commemorate 75th year of Independence as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations.
Eligibility for Special Remission Women and transgender convicts aged 50+

Male convicts aged 60+, having completed 50% of their sentence

Physically challenged convicts with 70% + disability, having completed 50% of their sentence

Terminally ill convicts who have completed 66% of their sentence

Poor prisoners detained due to non-payment of fines

Young offenders aged 18-21 with no other criminal involvement, having completed 50% of their sentence

Exclusions from the Scheme Convicts with death sentences or life imprisonment;

Convicts involved in terrorist activities or convicted under specific acts like TADA, POTA, UAPA, etc.

Convicts of offences like dowry death, counterfeiting, rape, human trafficking, POCSO Act violations, etc.

Core Issue before the Court

  • Question of Authority: The central issue was whether the Gujarat government had the authority to issue remission orders for the convicts.
  • Jurisdictional Clarification: The crime occurred in Gujarat, but the trial was held in Mumbai. The Supreme Court clarified that the appropriate government for remission decisions is where the sentencing occurred, not where the crime was committed.

Understanding Remission of Sentences

  • Constitutional and Legal Provisions: Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution and Section 432 of the CrPC empower the President, Governors, and state governments to remit sentences.
  • Restrictions Under Section 433A of the CrPC: This section imposes limitations on remission for life imprisonment cases, requiring a minimum of 14 years of imprisonment.

Grounds for Remission

  • Sentence Review Board’s Role: States have a Sentence Review Board to exercise powers under Section 432 of the CrPC.
  • Supreme Court Guidelines: The court mandates due process in remission decisions, considering factors like the crime’s seriousness, co-accused status, and jail conduct.
  • Criteria Established in ‘Laxman Naskar v. Union of India’ (2000): The Supreme Court outlined five specific grounds for considering remission:

(a) Whether the offence is an individual act of crime that does not affect society.

(b) The likelihood of the crime being repeated in the future.

(c) Whether the convict has lost the potentiality to commit a crime.

(d) The purpose served by keeping the convict in prison.

(e) Socio-economic conditions of the convict’s family.

The Bilkis Bano Case Specifics

  • Convict’s Appeal for Remission: A convict appealed to the Supreme Court for premature release under Gujarat’s 1992 remission policy.
  • Supreme Court’s Initial Directive: The court initially directed the Gujarat government to consider Shah’s application as per the 1992 policy.

Gujarat’s Remission Policy and Its Implications

  • 1992 Policy vs. 2014 Policy: The 1992 policy, under which remission was sought, was invalidated by the Supreme Court in 2012.
  • Gujarat Government’s Argument: The state argued that the 1992 policy was applicable as the conviction occurred in 2008, before the 2014 policy with stricter guidelines was formulated.

Aftermath of the Remission Grant

  • Public Outrage: The release of the convicts sparked widespread outrage and was perceived as a miscarriage of justice.
  • Bilkis Bano’s Appeal: Bilkis Bano challenged the remission in the Supreme Court, highlighting the heinous nature of the crime and its impact on society.

Conclusion

  • Restoration of Legal Integrity: The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the remission restores faith in the legal system’s commitment to justice.
  • Reaffirmation of Jurisdictional Authority: The ruling clarifies the jurisdictional authority in remission cases, reinforcing the importance of due process and legal consistency.
  • Broader Implications: This judgment sets a precedent for future remission cases, emphasizing the need for careful consideration of the crime’s nature and societal impact in such decisions.

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Capital Markets: Challenges and Developments

Decoding the Adani-Hindenburg Judgment

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Adani-Hindenburg Judgment

Introduction

  • Recent Order: The Supreme Court’s recent order on the Adani-Hindenburg matter focused on the inquiries conducted by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
  • No Regulatory Failure Found: The apex court concluded that there was no regulatory failure on SEBI’s part, negating the need for a Special Investigating Team (SIT).

SEBI’s Investigations and the Supreme Court’s Stance

  • Status of Investigations: Out of 24 investigations related to the Adani-Hindenburg matter, SEBI has completed 22.
  • Supreme Court’s Trust in SEBI: The court accepted SEBI’s status report without delving into the details of the investigations, trusting SEBI to bring them to a logical conclusion.

Concerns and Criticisms of the Supreme Court Judgment

  • Lack of Transparency: The findings of the completed SEBI investigations have not been made public, raising questions about the transparency and accountability of the process.
  • ‘Chicken-and-Egg’ Inquiry: The Supreme Court did not address the “chicken-and-egg situation” where SEBI’s inability to identify the ultimate beneficial owners of certain overseas entities has stalled the investigation.
  • Overlooked Statutory Violations: The judgment did not consider the alleged dilution of regulations that could facilitate the concealment of beneficial ownership, which might be violative of the SEBI Act.

Implications of the Judgment

  • Continued SEBI Investigation: SEBI has been given an additional three months to conclude its inquiry into the alleged violation of minimum shareholding norms by the Adani group companies.
  • Potential Subversion of Ongoing Investigations: The deficiencies in the Supreme Court judgment could potentially undermine the ongoing investigations into the Adani group.
  • Hindenburg and OCCRP Reports: The judgment has seemingly dismissed the reports by Hindenburg and OCCRP as unrelated or inconclusive, despite their revelations about the Adani group’s financial dealings.

Historical Context and Ongoing Concerns

  • Past Allegations: The Adani group has faced similar allegations of share price manipulation and round-tripping in the past, with SEBI itself filing a criminal complaint 15 years ago.
  • Current Investigations: Despite ongoing investigations for over three years, no criminal complaint has been registered against the Adani promoters for the recent allegations.

Conclusion

  • Need for Reevaluation: The deficiencies in the Supreme Court judgment warrant a reconsideration in the interest of justice and transparency.
  • Public Interest and Justice: Ensuring that the findings of SEBI’s investigations are made public and acted upon is crucial for upholding regulatory integrity and public trust.
  • Future of Adani Investigations: The outcome of the ongoing SEBI investigations and the handling of the Hindenburg and OCCRP reports will be pivotal in determining the course of justice in this high-profile case.

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Judicial Reforms

Tribunals cannot direct Government to frame policy: SC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Tribunals

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • The Supreme Court clarified that tribunals, bound by their governing legislations, cannot compel the government to formulate policy.
  • It emphasized the separation of powers, stating that policy-making is outside the judiciary’s domain, including quasi-judicial bodies like tribunals.

What are Tribunals?

Details
Nature Judicial or quasi-judicial institutions established by law
Purpose Provide faster adjudication compared to traditional courts

Offer expertise on specific subject matters

Functions Adjudicating disputes

Determining rights between parties

Making administrative decisions

Reviewing existing administrative decisions

Constitutional Recognition 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 introduced Articles 323-A and 323-B in the Constitution
Article 323A Empowers Parliament to constitute administrative Tribunals for public service matters
Article 323B Allows Parliament or state legislatures to constitute tribunals for specific subjects like taxation, land reforms
Composition Comprises expert (technical) members and judicial members
Expert Members Selected from various fields, including central government departments
Judicial Members Persons with a judicial background, such as High Court judges or eligible lawyers
Supreme Court’s Stance Technical members not required if tribunal’s aim is expeditious disposal of matters

Case in Focus: Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) and Policy Direction

  • Specific Case Reviewed: The Bench addressed whether the AFT could direct the government to create a policy for appointing the Judge Advocate General (Air).
  • General Observation: It has been consistently observed that courts cannot mandate the government to enact legislation or develop a policy.

Judicial Analysis and Reasoning

  • Justice Karol’s Observations: Justice Sanjay Karol noted that the AFT, with powers akin to a civil court, lacks the authority of the Supreme Court or High Courts.
  • High Courts’ Limitations: Even High Courts, under Article 226 of the Constitution, cannot order the government or its departments to establish specific policies.
  • Government’s Prerogative: The judgment reinforced that policy creation, especially concerning defense personnel services or their regularization, is exclusively the government’s responsibility.

Implications of the Judgment

  • Tribunals’ Restricted Powers: Tribunals must operate within the confines of their governing legislation and lack the jurisdiction to influence policy formation.
  • Judiciary’s Role in Policy Matters: The judgment highlights the judiciary’s limited role in policy-making, even in cases where fundamental rights might be at stake.
  • Separation of Powers: This ruling underscores the principle of separation of powers, delineating the distinct functions of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

Conclusion

  • Respecting Institutional Boundaries: The judgment serves as a reminder of the importance of respecting the boundaries and roles of different government institutions in a democratic setup.
  • Broader Implications: This decision has significant implications for how tribunals and courts interact with policy-making processes, emphasizing judicial restraint and adherence to the constitutional framework.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Supreme Court clarifies Enforcement Directorate’s Arrest Procedures

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Enforcement Directorate (ED)

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • The Supreme Court ruled on the procedures for arrests made by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

About Enforcement Directorate (ED)

Details
Establishment May 1, 1956

Initially set up as an ‘Enforcement Unit’

Mandate Enforces economic and financial regulations
Jurisdiction Nationwide
Legal Authority – Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002

– Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999

Functional Focus Economic and financial offenses including money laundering, foreign exchange irregularities
Investigative Powers – Attachment, confiscation, and arrest

– Conduct raids and searches

– Summon and question individuals

Collaboration Coordinates with various agencies (CBI, local police) and banks
Reporting Authority Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance
Corruption Investigations Has a separate Economic Offenses Division
Notable Cases – Vijay Mallya extradition

– PNB fraud case

– Augusta Westland VVIP chopper scam

International Cooperation Works with international law enforcement for cross-border investigations (Interpol, FATF)
Public Interface Accepts complaints and information regarding economic offenses
Transparency and Accountability Regular reports to the Ministry of Finance; subject to oversight by judiciary and government bodies

Issue: Revision of ED Arrest Norms

  • Supreme Court Ruling: On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) needs only to orally inform an accused of the grounds of their arrest at the time of arrest.
  • Requirement for Written Grounds: The court also specified that the written grounds of arrest must be supplied to the accused within 24 hours of their arrest.

Modification of Previous Supreme Court Ruling

  • Earlier Mandate: A two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court on October 3 had mandated the ED to provide the grounds of arrest in writing at the time of custody.
  • Current Ruling: The latest ruling by Justices Bela Trivedi and Satish Chandra Sharma modified this requirement.

Legal Framework: Section 19 of PMLA

  • ED’s Arrest Power: Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) authorizes the ED to arrest individuals based on material evidence.
  • Notification Requirement: The law requires that the reasons for such belief must be recorded in writing, and the grounds of arrest be informed to the accused “as soon as may be.”
  • Understanding ‘As Soon As May Be’: The court interpreted the phrase to mean “as early as possible”, “without avoidable delay”, “within reasonably convenient” or a “reasonably requisite” period.

Case Background: Supertech Limited’s Founder’s Challenge

  • Delhi High Court’s Decision: The Delhi High Court had dismissed a petition by a person to declare his arrest illegal.
  • Argument: He contended that his arrest violated Section 19(1) of the PMLA and his fundamental rights, as he was not supplied with written grounds for arrest.

Supreme Court’s December 15 Ruling

  • Non-Retrospective Application: The court stated that the October 3 ruling in Pankaj Bansal vs. UOI cannot be applied retrospectively to cases before that date.
  • Reference to Vijay Madanlal’s Case: The court relied on its July 27 decision in Vijay Mandanlal Choudhary vs. UOI, by a three-judge Bench, to support its ruling.
  • Upholding PMLA Provisions: The validity of Section 19 was upheld, affirming its reasonable nexus with the PMLA’s objectives.

Resolving Bench Discrepancies

  • 2002 Ruling: In “Pradip Chandra Parija vs. Pramod Chandra Patnaik,” a Constitution Bench ruled that if two Benches of equal strength arrive at different conclusions on the same question of law, the matter must be referred to a higher Bench.
  • Implications for Current Case: This precedent is relevant in resolving discrepancies when two Benches of equal strength, like in the current scenario, differ in their rulings.

Conclusion

  • Legal Clarity: The Supreme Court’s ruling provides clarity on the procedures for arrests made by the ED, balancing prompt enforcement action with the rights of the accused.
  • Impact on Future Cases: This decision sets a precedent for how the ED’s arrests are to be conducted, influencing future cases involving the agency.

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J&K – The issues around the state

Explained: SC Verdict on Abrogation of Article 370

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 370, SR Bommai Verdict

Mains level: Read the attached story

Article 370

Central Idea

  • A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Monday unanimously upheld the power of the President to abrogate Article 370 in August 2019, leading to the reorganisation of the full-fledged State of Jammu and Kashmir to two Union Territories and denuding it of its special privileges.

Key Issues and Court’s Findings

[A] On the Sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir:

  • Petitioners’ Claim: They argued that J&K retained an element of sovereignty when it acceded to India in 1947, different from other princely states.
  • Court’s Examination: The Court noted that J&K was listed as a Part III state in the Indian Constitution and Section 3 of J&K’s Constitution declared it an integral part of India.
  • Final Ruling: The Court held that J&K did not retain sovereignty, and the process of integration was ongoing, culminating in the Presidential declaration under Article 370(3).

[B] Whether Article 370 is Temporary or Permanent:

  • Arguments Presented: Petitioners argued for Article 370’s permanence, while others viewed it as temporary.
  • Court’s Opinion: Both CJI Chandrachud and Justice Kaul concurred that Article 370 was a temporary provision.

[C] Legality of Abrogating Article 370:

  • Abrogation Process: On August 5, 2019, President Ram Nath Kovind issued CO 272, amending Article 367 and redefining “Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir” as the “Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir.”
  • Court’s Upholding: The Court upheld this process, with CJI Chandrachud stating that post-dissolution of J&K’s Constituent Assembly, the President could have unilaterally abrogated Article 370.

[D] Actions Under President’s Rule:

  • Challenge to Union’s Actions: The challenge was to the extent of powers appropriated under Article 356 (President’s rule).
  • Reference to Bommai Ruling: The Court, citing the 1994 Bommai ruling, stated that actions under the President’s rule must not be mala fide or irrational.

Upholding Centre’s (Union) Supremacy

  • Parliament’s Unilateral Actions: The Court’s interpretation suggests Parliament can change a state’s status under the President’s rule.
  • Article 3 Reference: The President referred the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019, to Parliament for its views, as the state was under President’s rule.
  • Validity of Executive Orders: The Court applied Bommai ruling standards to validate the executive orders, emphasizing the need for proof of mala fides to challenge the actions.

Conclusion

  • J&K’s Integral Status Affirmed: The Court conclusively ruled that J&K has always been an integral part of India.
  • Temporary Nature of Article 370: The ruling clarifies that Article 370 was a temporary provision.
  • Expansion of Union Powers: The judgment potentially expands the Union’s powers under President’s rule, affecting the federal balance.
  • Constitutional Precedent: This ruling sets a significant precedent in interpreting Union and state powers, reflecting on the dynamics of Indian federalism.

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President’s Rule

SR Bommai Judgment and its Relevance in Article 370 Verdict

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: SR Bommai Case

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • The Supreme Court’s reliance on the 1994 SR Bommai judgment was pivotal in upholding the abrogation of Article 370.
  • The SR Bommai case is a landmark judgment interpreting Article 356 of the Constitution, which deals with President’s rule in states.

SR Bommai Case: An Overview

  • Origin of the Case: The case arose from the dismissal of the Janata Dal-led Karnataka government in 1989 by the Congress-led central government.
  • Governor’s Recommendation: Karnataka Governor P Venkatasubbaiah recommended President’s rule citing the loss of majority by Chief Minister SR SR Bommai and the inability of other parties to form a government.
  • Controversy: The move was controversial, especially as some MLAs later retracted their withdrawal of support, claiming their signatures were obtained by misrepresentation.

Supreme Court’s Verdict in the Case

  • Judicial Review of President’s Proclamation: The Court unanimously held that the President’s proclamation is subject to judicial review on several grounds, including illegality, malafide, and abuse of power.
  • Parliamentary Approval Requirement: The verdict mandated Parliamentary approval for imposing President’s rule. Without this approval, the dismissed government would automatically be revived after two months.
  • Centre-State Relationship: The ruling emphasized the autonomy of states, stating that greater power at the Centre does not reduce states to mere appendages.

Impact of the Ruling

  • Scrutiny of Governor’s Conduct: This was one of the first judgments to scrutinize the Governor’s role, especially in the context of frequent impositions of President’s rule.
  • Decrease in President’s Rule Impositions: Research indicates a significant decrease in the frequency of President’s rule post-SR Bommai , from an average of 2.5 times a year (1950-1994) to just over once a year (1995-2021).

Kashmir Reference in the Article 370 Ruling

  • Key Question: The central question was whether Article 370 could be abrogated while J&K was under President’s rule, which had been in place since 2018.
  • Supreme Court’s Reliance on SR Bommai: The Court used the SR Bommai ruling to validate the President’s actions in J&K, applying the standards set by Justices PB Sawant and Jeevan Reddy for testing the validity of executive orders.

Conclusion

  • Influence on Federal Dynamics: The SR Bommai judgment continues to influence the balance of power between the Centre and states, ensuring judicial oversight over central interventions in state governance.
  • Relevance in Contemporary Rulings: Its principles, particularly regarding judicial review and the autonomy of states, remain crucial in contemporary constitutional interpretations, as seen in the Article 370 ruling.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Supreme Court questions Governor’s Discretion on TN Bills

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 200

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • The Supreme Court has taken notice of the Tamil Nadu government’s assertion that Governor R.N. Ravi lacks the “discretion” to withhold approval for the ten Bills “re-passed” by the State Legislative Assembly.
  • This legal matter revolves around the interpretation of Article 200 of the Constitution, which governs the Governor’s role in granting assent to Bills passed by the State Legislature.

Article 200 of the Indian Constitution

 

  • It pertains to the “Assent to Bills.”
  • It outlines the procedure for the Governor of a state in India to give their assent to bills passed by the state legislature.
  • Article 200 states that when a bill is passed by the legislative assembly of a state (or in the case of a bicameral legislature, by the legislative assembly and legislative council), it shall be presented to the Governor for their assent.

Governor’s Discretion: The Governor has the discretion to either:

  1. Give their assent to the bill, after which it becomes a law.
  2. Withhold their assent to the bill, in which case the bill does not become law.
  3. Return the bill (if it is not a money bill) to the legislature with a request for reconsideration, along with a specific message explaining the reasons for withholding assent.

Reconsideration by the Legislature: If the Governor returns a bill for reconsideration, the legislature can then reconsider the bill, taking into account the Governor’s message. They may choose to make amendments to the bill or pass it again without any changes.

Assent after Reconsideration: If the bill is passed again by the legislature, with or without amendments, and is presented to the Governor, the Governor is bound to give their assent to it. In other words, the Governor cannot withhold assent a second time.

 

Governor’s Discretion

  • Article 200 Interpretation: The Tamil Nadu government argued that once Bills have been re-passed by the Assembly, they are treated similarly to Money Bills and cannot be rejected by the Governor.
  • Questioning the Process: The CJI questioned whether the Governor must send the Bills back to the Assembly for reconsideration after withholding assent.
  • Limiting Presidential Referral: The State also emphasized that the Governor cannot refer the reiterated Bills to the President after withholding assent.

Background and Delay

  • Delayed Bills: The Bills in question were sent to the Governor’s office between January 2020 and April 2023, and the State accused the Governor of holding them indefinitely.
  • Special Session: The TN Assembly convened a special session to re-pass the Bills after the Governor withheld assent.
  • Governor’s Statement: The Governor returned the Bills with a simple statement: “I withhold consent,” prompting the Assembly to take action.

Legal Perspectives

  • Governor’s Ceremonial Role: The State contends that the Governor’s role is primarily ceremonial and that he must act within the State Legislature’s framework.
  • Will of the People: The Bills passed by the Assembly represent the will of the people and should not be delayed or rejected without valid reasons.

Supreme Court’s Response

  • Addressing Delay: The Supreme Court acknowledged the need to address whether there has been a delay in the Governor’s constitutional function.
  • Bill Status: The Attorney General mentioned that 182 Bills were presented to the Governor, with 152 approved, five withdrawn, and nine reserved for referral to the President.
  • Key Issue: The real issue in this case involves amendments to State universities’ legislations that affect the Governor’s powers to select Vice-Chancellors.

Conclusion

  • The Supreme Court’s hearing on this matter raises critical questions about the Governor’s role in granting assent to Bills and the need to ensure timely decision-making in the best interest of the people and governance of the State.
  • The interpretation of Article 200 of the Constitution will play a pivotal role in this legal dispute.

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Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Reviving Adultery as a Criminal Offense

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Adultery De-Criminalization

Adultery

Central Idea

  • The Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs has proposed the reintroduction of adultery as a criminal offense in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), 2023, a law designed to replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860.
  • The committee’s recommendations have sparked a debate on the legal position of adultery and its implications on constitutional rights and gender equality.

Adultery De-Criminalization in India

  • Adultery in IPC (1860): Until 2018, Section 497 of the IPC defined adultery as a criminal offense, penalizing only men for engaging in adulterous relationships.
  • Supreme Court’s Verdict (Joseph Shine vs. Union of India, 2018): The Supreme Court unanimously struck down Section 497, citing discrimination and violations of fundamental rights.

Parliamentary Committee’s Recommendations

  • Gender-Neutral Adultery: The Committee suggests reinstating adultery as a criminal offense but making it gender-neutral, applicable to both men and women.
  • Safeguarding Marriage Sanctity: The Committee argues that safeguarding the sanctity of marriage is crucial and justifies criminalizing adultery.

Legal and Constitutional Implications

  • Discrimination and Violation of Fundamental Rights: The Supreme Court’s verdict in Joseph Shine case highlighted the discriminatory nature of Section 497 and its violation of Articles 14, 15, and 21 of the Constitution.
  • Autonomy of Women: The judgment emphasized women’s autonomy and dignity, asserting that husbands do not possess legal sovereignty over their wives.
  • Privacy and Matrimonial Sphere: Adultery as a criminal offense intrudes into the privacy of the matrimonial sphere, which is better left as a ground for divorce.
  • Relic of Victorian Morality: The Court deemed Section 497 as a relic of Victorian morality that treats women as chattels and property of their husbands.

Can the Supreme Court’s Decision Be Overturned?

  • Parliament’s Authority: While Parliament cannot directly overturn a Supreme Court ruling, it can pass legislation that addresses the basis of the court’s judgment.
  • Validating Legislation: Parliament can enact validating legislation that changes the circumstances under which the court’s judgment was rendered, effectively altering the legal landscape.

Conclusion

  • The debate surrounding the reintroduction of adultery as a criminal offence is fraught with legal, constitutional, and societal implications.
  • It calls for a nuanced examination of individual rights, gender equality, and the sanctity of marriage within the framework of Indian law and society.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Governors can’t sit on Bills passed by Assembly: Supreme Court

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: State vs . Governor Row

governor

Central Idea

  • In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court has asserted that a State Governor cannot obstruct crucial bills passed by a State Legislature.
  • The court delivered this verdict in response to a writ petition filed by the Punjab government.
  • The Punjab government approached the Supreme Court, challenging Governor Banwarilal Purohit’s decision to withhold some bills, alleging the legislative session’s illegitimacy.

SC Ruling on Governors Bill Withholding

  • Court’s Warning: The court sternly warned the Governor that he was “playing with fire” and directed him to make a decision regarding these pending bills presented to him for assent.
  • Power of Elected Representatives: Emphasizing the supremacy of elected representatives in a parliamentary democracy, the court highlighted that real power resides with them.
  • Governor’s actual Role: The court underscored that the Governor’s role is that of a constitutional statesman guiding the government on constitutional matters.

Governor’s Grounds for Delay

  • Governor’s Grounds: Governor Purohit contended that the Assembly session was “patently illegal” because the Speaker had adjourned the Budget Session sine die in March without proroguing it.
  • Special Assembly Sitting: He refused to consider the proposed laws passed in a special June sitting, arguing that they were in breach of Punjab Vidhan Sabha Rules.
  • Court’s Disagreement: The court disagreed with the Governor’s claims, stating that the Speaker acted within his rights in adjourning the House sine die.
  • Constitutional Validity: The court upheld the Speaker’s authority and stressed that it was not constitutionally valid for the Governor to question how the Speaker conducted the House’s affairs.

Court’s Disagreement with the Governor

  • House’s Autonomy: The court affirmed that each legislative house has the right to be the sole judge of the legality of its own proceedings.
  • Legitimate Session: It found that the June 19-20 legislative session adhered to Rule 16 of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Rules, rejecting any doubts cast on its legitimacy.
  • Democratic Peril Warning: The court cautioned that any attempts to challenge the legislative session could pose a grave peril to democracy.

Governor’s Role Defined

  • No Judgment on Prorogation: The court questioned the Governor’s right to sit in judgment on whether the session was prorogued and emphasized that the Speaker’s decisions on adjournments governed the House.
  • Avoiding Perpetual Session: While acknowledging the Speaker’s authority, the court cautioned against exploiting the sine die adjournment to perpetually avoid prorogation.

Conclusion

  • The Supreme Court’s verdict reiterates the importance of upholding legislative proceedings and the authority of elected representatives.
  • It underscores that Governors should respect the autonomy of legislative houses and not obstruct the passage of bills based on perceived procedural violations.
  • This landmark decision ensures the preservation of democratic principles and the effective functioning of State Legislatures.

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Electoral Reforms In India

Speedy Disposal of Cases against Lawmakers: What SC Guidelines on the matter say

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Guidelines for Speedy Disposal of Cases against Lawmakers

Central Idea

  • The Supreme Court has issued guidelines to ensure the quick resolution of criminal cases involving Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) across India.
  • These guidelines aim to address the long-pending issue of lawmakers facing criminal charges.

Background

  • Advocate’s Plea: These directions were issued in response to a plea filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay in August 2016.
  • Key Demands: Upadhyay’s plea sought the swift handling of cases involving legislators and a lifetime ban on convicted politicians, including those currently in office, instead of the existing six-year disqualification mentioned in Section 8(3) of the Representation of People Act, 1951.

Understanding the Representation of People Act (RPA), 1951

  • Purpose: The RPA, 1951, introduced by Dr. BR Ambedkar, governs the conduct of elections to India’s parliament and state legislatures.
  • Content: It covers various aspects, including qualifications and disqualifications for membership, corrupt practices, and offenses related to elections.
  • Section 8: Section 8 of the RPA deals specifically with the disqualification of legislators on conviction for certain offenses, such as promoting enmity between groups, bribery, undue influence, and offenses related to hoarding, profiteering, or adulteration of food or drugs.
  • Section 8(3): This subsection states that a person convicted of an offense and sentenced to imprisonment for at least two years will be disqualified from the date of conviction and continue to be disqualified for an additional six years after release. In essence, it imposes a six-year disqualification on individuals convicted of offenses with a minimum two-year prison sentence.

Supreme Court’s Ruling

  • Guidelines for Speedy Disposal: The Supreme Court, led by CJI DY Chandrachud, laid down guidelines for the prompt resolution of pending criminal cases against lawmakers.
  • Suo Motu Cases: High courts across India are directed to establish a “special bench” to oversee criminal cases involving legislators. High courts can also register such cases on their own initiative.
  • Flexible Approach: The court allows the chief justices of high courts to hear these cases or designate specific benches for this purpose. These cases may be listed regularly if needed, and the special bench can seek assistance from the advocate general or prosecutor.
  • High Court Role: To efficiently manage these cases, the Supreme Court leaves it to high courts to devise suitable measures.
  • Priority Cases: The court emphasizes prioritizing cases against lawmakers that carry the possibility of death or life imprisonment. Cases with sentences of five years or more are also given priority.
  • HC’s Authority: High courts are empowered to issue similar orders and directions for effective case disposal. They can involve the Principal District and Sessions Judge in allocating cases to appropriate courts.

Conclusion

  • The Supreme Court’s guidelines are aimed at expediting the resolution of criminal cases against MPs and MLAs and ensuring justice is served promptly.
  • While these guidelines address the issue of speedy disposal, the larger question of replacing the six-year disqualification with a lifetime ban remains open for future consideration.

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