January 2020
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Death Penalty Abolition Debate

Justice or vengeance – Exploring death warrantop-ed snapSC Judgements

  1. Death warrant or ‘black’ warrant proceedings are held in the court that first ordered the sentence of death.
  2. Ideally, the death warrant proceedings should take place only after a prisoner has exhausted all legal remedies.
  3. The SC, in Shabnam v. Union of India case (May 2015) has laid down the key principles for black warrant proceedings.
  4. After the decision of SC, a black warrant proceeding cannot take place without the accused and his lawyer being present.
  5. The Supreme Court in Shatrughan Chauhan v. Union of India case (January 2014) once again affirmed the rights of death row prisoners to challenge the rejection of their mercy petition on certain grounds.
Right To Privacy

Where’s right to privacy? You decide, Govt tells SCSC Judgements

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi asked the court to constitute a nine-judge bench to decide what he said is a disputed question of law and constitutional provisions.




  1. Is right to privacy a fundamental right? The NDA government raised this question in the Supreme Court Wednesday, and went on to state that the Constitution does not assign right to privacy that status.
  2. What’s going on here?
  3. NDA is defending the validity of the Aadhaar card since a batch of petitions have contended that collection and sharing of biometric information was a breach of their “fundamental” right to privacy.
  4. It must first be settled authoritatively whether privacy is a fundamental right.

Denial of clearance to Sun TV illegal: RohatgiSC Judgements

Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi has said the refusal by the Ministry of Home Affairs to grant security licence to the media group is “not legal.”

Mr. Rohatgi, in his constitutional capacity as the government’s top law officer, has said the decision to deny clearance to 33 channels of the network — one of the largest media houses in the country — is unnecessary given that the CBI and the ED have already been investigating corruption charges against its promoters.

  1. Under Article 76 of the Constitution, it is the duty of the Attorney-General, who possesses the same qualifications as a Supreme Court judge, to give legal advice to the Centre.
  2. The advice has great persuasive value, but is not binding.
  3. The Attorney-General’s opinion may be put up for an inter-ministerial discussion.
Judicial Appointments Conundrum Pre-NJAC Verdict

Judicial appointments are too vital for a hit-and-trial methodSC Judgements

  1. SC objected to the Centre’s argument that the National Judicial Appointments Commission should be given a chance under the ‘hit-and-trial’ method.
  2. Attorney General, Mukul Rohatgi pleaded that The NJAC is a wholesome mechanism in which the voice of the people plays a part in the judicial appointments.
  3. The Bench had asked Mr. Rohatgi to hand over a list of bad appointments of judges made by the Supreme Court Collegium during the last two decades.

SC moved against making Sathasivam NHRC chiefSC Judgements

  1. Government decided to make P.Sathasivam the new chairman of NHRC after exit of existing chairman, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan.
  2. P Sathasivam is ex-CJI and present governor of Kerala.
  3. PIL filed in Supreme Court against this move. Reasons – government did not consider any other candidate such as Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S.H. Kapadia.
  4. Justice Sathasivam will have conflict of interest, because he will always owe a debt of gratitude to the government for having appointed him Governor of Kerala.

[op-ed snap] A glass half empty for Adivasisop-ed snapSC Judgements

  1. Adivasi communities living in mineral-rich areas are wary of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill 2015 (MMDRA) which has received presidential assent.
  2. The main flaw in the Act – Adivasis are described in the MMDRA law as ‘occupiers of the surface of the land.
  3. In India, the state has all rights over minerals, but over the years it has acted as a front to hand over mineral resources for private profit.
  4. This despite the Supreme Court Samatha judgment of 1997, which upheld Adivasi rights to informed consent and to a share in mineral wealth.
  5. The 2011 MMDRA Bill had proposed the setting up of a District Mineral Foundation (DMF). The 2015 amendment limits its scope.
  6. Coal companies were mandated to give 26 per cent of profit to the DMF, but the new government has scrapped this provision altogether.
Judicial Appointments Conundrum Pre-NJAC Verdict

Justice Dave recuses himself from NJAC BenchSC Judgements

  1. Senior advocate Fali Nariman pointed out there is a clear conflict of interest as Justice Dave is also a member of the NJAC.
  2. Justice Dave, who heads the five-judge bench, is the third senior-most Supreme Court judge.
  3. He is also a member of the NJAC as per the statute which prescribes that the six-member Commission will have the CJI and the next 2 senior most judges as its members.
Land Reforms

Is re-promulgation of land ordinance valid, SC asks CentreSC Judgements

  1. The Supreme Court agreed to examine the constitutionality of the President’s re-promulgation of the Land Acquisition Ordinance.
  2. This is the first time this court is holding a hearing on an ordinance promulgated by the President under Article 123 of the Constitution.
  3. The government has to reply on a plea to hand over the trail of documents detailing the decision leading to the re-promulgation.
  4. An ordinance has a life of 6 months if promulgated when Parliament is not in session. Once the Houses are in session, the Land ordinance expires in 6 weeks.

Windmills spell doom for the Great Indian BustardSC Judgements

  1. The world population of GIB (locally called Gudavan) is said to be 150 with India, particularly Rajasthan.
  2. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar also had Bustards but have now lost them all.
  3. Thar Desert is the only viable breeding population to GIBs – Also called as Desert National Park (DNP).
  4. Concerns – installation of windmills, shortage of forest guards, Supreme court permitted school constructions here.