Daily The Hindu Editorial Notes or Summary
QUESTION : How Contempt of Court undermines the prestige of Indian judicial and examine punishments for COC ?
Topic- SCANDALISING AS CONTEMPT
- Contempt of Court
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The Supreme Court, taking suo motu cognisance filed contempt of court case against public rights activist and lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
MORE ABOUT CURRENT NEWS :
- The court has its opinion that the tweets by Mr. Bhushan undermined the prestige of the CJI office and portrayed the judiciary in a bad light.
- The first tweet was a general comment on the role of some Chief Justices of India in the last six years, and second one targeted the current CJI based on a photograph.
- As per the court if there is any issue with respect to the judgment delivered or procedure followed by the judiciary, then queries must be brought before the courts rather than humiliating the judiciary on social media platforms.
ISSUES RELATED TO CONTEMPT OF COURT :
- Against Right to Speech given under Article 19 (1)(a).
- Most of the cases are of civil nature thus criminal contempt must be removed.
- The Act is made by parliament while it is an inherent jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under article 142 of Indian Constitution.
- Cases where contempt of an individual is taken as contempt of court.
CONTEMPT OF COURT ??
- Article 129: Grants Supreme Court the power to punish for contempt of itself.
- Article 142(2): Enables the Supreme Court to investigate and punish any person for its contempt.
- Article 215: Grants every High Court the power to punish for contempt of itself.
Contempt under the Indian law :
- In India, the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, divides contempt into civil contempt and criminal contempt.
- It is a ‘wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other processes of a Court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to the court’.
- It is the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which:
- Scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court.
- Prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of any judicial proceeding.
- Interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.
PUNISHMENTS FOR COC :
- The Supreme Court in 1991, ruled that it has the power to punish for contempt not only of itself but also of high courts, subordinate courts and tribunals functioning in the entire country.
- The High Courts have been given special powers to punish contempt of subordinate courts, as per Section 10 of The Contempt of Courts Act of 1971.
- This means only the supreme court and high courts have the power to punish for contempt of court, either with simple imprisonment for a term up to six months or with fine up to 2,000 or with both.
Criticism allowed or not
- The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, very clearly states that fair criticism of any case which has been heard and decided is not contempt.
Contempt of Courts (Amendment) Act, 2006
- The statute of 1971 has been amended by the Contempt of Courts (Amendment) Act, 2006 to include the defence of truth under Section 13 of the original legislation.
- Section 13: Restrict the powers of the court in that they were not to hold anyone in contempt unless it would substantially interfere with the due process of justice.
- The amendment further states that the court must permit ‘justification by truth as a valid defence if it is satisfied that it is in public interest and the request for invoking the said defence is bona fide.’
WHY NEED ?
- Judiciary ensures justice and equality to every individual and institutions, therefore, the makers of the constitution upheld the sanctity and prestige of the revered institution by placing provisions under articles 129 and 215 of the constitution, which enables the courts to hold individuals in contempt if they attempt to demean or belittle their authority.
WAY FORWARD :
- There is the need for an evaluation of the necessity for retaining the law of contempt in these contemporary times.
- Besides needing to revisit the need for a law on criminal contempt, even the test for contempt needs to be evaluated. Such a test should evaluate whether the contemptuous remarks in question actually obstruct the Court from functioning.
- There is an urgent need to usher in judicial accountability by examining the serious allegations through impartial and transparent probes.
QUESTION: Explain the discretionary powers of the Governor mentioned in the Indian Constitution and how are these different from the President’s powers ?
Topic- A GOVERNOR’S TEST
- Discretionary Powers of the Governor
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra has sought clarifications from the state government as he returned the proposal by chief minister Ashok Gehlot for the convening of the assembly session from July 31.
- A Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court has held that a Governor is bound to convene a meeting of the Assembly for a floor test on the recommendation of the Cabinet.
RESOLVING THE DEADLOCK:
- The judgment is significant in the present deadlock between the CM and the Governor over the summoning of an Assembly session for a floor test.
- The Governor can summon, prorogue and dissolve the House only on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as the head.
The Nabam Rebia Case
- The five-judge Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court cited the Nabam Rebia versus Deputy Speaker on July 13, 2016.
- It held that a Governor cannot employ his ‘discretion’, and should strictly abide by the “aid and advice” of the Cabinet to summon the House.
- It held that the discretionary power of the Governor is extremely limited and entirely liable to judicial review.
- The Constitution Bench held Mr. Rajkhowa’s decision to be a violation of the Constitution.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND :
- The Governors under the Government of India Act 1935 were “by the Raj, of the Raj and for the Raj”. The constituent assembly wanted elected governors as proposed by a sub-committee of B.G. Kher, K.N. Katju and P. Subbarayan.
- The apprehension of the clash between powers of Governor and Chief minister led to the system of appointed Governor in the state.
- The draft constitution of 1948 was ambivalent – the drafting committee leaving it to the constituent assembly to decide whether governors should be elected or nominated.
CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS RELATED TO GOVERNOR :
- The appointment and powers of government can be derived from Part VI of the Indian constitution. Article 153 says that there shall be a Governor for each State. One person can be appointed as Governor for two or more States.
- The governor acts in ‘Dual Capacity’ as the Constitutional head of the state and as the representative.
- He is the part of federal system of Indian polity and acts as a bridge between union and state governments.
- Article 157 and Article 158 of the Constitution of India specify eligibility requirements for the post of governor.
Governor’s Discretionary Powers:
CONSTITUTIONAL DISCRETION :
- As per Article 163 there shall be a Council of Ministers (headed by Chief Minister) to aid and advise the Governor except in situations where he/she requires to act as per discretion, however if any question arises whether a matter falls within the governor’s discretion or not, the decision of the governor is final.
- Determining the amount payable as Royalty accruing from mineral exploration licences to autonomous Tribal District Council by the Government of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
- Article 356 empowers him to recommend the imposition of President’s Rule in the state in case he feels that there is a breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state
- Reservation of a bill for the consideration of the President: Situations are mentioned in Article 200, when the Governor will reserve the bill, yet he can use discretion regarding this matter.
- As per Article 167 he can seek any information from the chief minister with regard to the administrative and legislative matters of the state.
- While exercising his functions as the administrator of an adjoining union territory (in case of additional charge)
SITUATIONAL DISCRETION :
- Appointment of chief minister: Discretion is exercised in appointment of CM when a hung assembly turns up after the elections or when coalition partner suddenly withdraws the support from the ruling party
- Dismissal of the council of ministers: When it cannot prove their confidence in the legislative assembly, the governor can dismiss the ministry. But he cannot dismiss it until it loses majority support.
- Dissolution of the state legislative assembly: As per Article 174, the Governor may Dissolve the Assembly if he/she is satisfied that the government has lost the majority in legislative assembly.
ALL ABOUT THE FLOOR TEST :
- A floor test is a motion through which the government of the day seeks to know whether it still enjoys the confidence of the legislature.
- In this procedure, a CM appointed by the Governor can be asked to prove majority on the floor of the Legislative Assembly of the state.
COMPOSITE FLOOR TESTING:
- If there is more than one person staking claim to form the government and the majority is not clear, the governor may call for a special session to see who has the majority.
- Some legislators may be absent or choose not to vote. In such a case, the majority is counted based on those present and voting
- Role of Protem Speaker: The pro-tem speaker’s role is crucial in conducting a floor test.
- Conventionally, the longest serving House member is nominated as pro tem speaker, whose role is limited to administering oaths to new MLAs and conducting the election of the full-time speaker
- The CM has said the Governor is acting under pressure from the Centre, as he took the battle to the streets.
- Congress MLAs supporting the CM held a dharna at the Governor’s residence, and a public protest is to be held on Monday.
- It is instructive to compare Mr. Mishra’s conduct with that of Lalji Tandon, the former Governor of Madhya Pradesh, when similar sabotage(obstruction) brought down the Congress government led by Kamal Nath in March.
- Nath had said Congress MLAs were held captive, and the voting could be vitiated, but the Governor declared that the failure to take an immediate floor test would be presumed as a lack of majority.
- Mishra wants to ensure that all MLAs are free to move around before a session could take place, though there is no public knowledge of anyone complaining to him being restrained.
- There are numerous examples of the Governor’s position being abused, usually at the behest of the ruling party at the Centre. The process of appointment has generally been the cause behind it.
- In several cases, politicians and former bureaucrats identifying with a particular political ideology have been appointed as the Governors by the Governments. This goes against the constitutionally mandated neutral seat and has resulted in bias, as appears to have happened in Karnataka and Goa.
- Recently, the Governor of Rajasthan has been charged with the violation of the model code of conduct. His support of the ruling party is against the spirit of nonpartisanship that is expected from the person sitting on constitutional posts.
- Governor’s discretionary powers to invite the leader of the largest party/alliance, post-election, to form the government has often been misused to favour a particular political party
- The arbitrary removal of the Governor before the expiration of his tenure has also been an important issue in the recent past.
- The Raj Bhavan should not be a tool of the BJP to dislodge and install governments as and when it wants.
- Governors should not act at the behest(request) of the party ruling at the Centre.
WAY FORWARD :
- For the smooth functioning of a democratic government, it is equally important that the governor must act judiciously, impartially and efficiently while exercising his discretion and personal judgment
- In order to enable the governor to successfully discharge his functions under the constitution, an agreed ‘Code of Conduct’ approved by the state governments, the central government, the parliament, and the state legislatures should be evolved.
- ‘Code of Conduct’ should lay down certain ‘norms and principles’ which should guide the exercise of the governor’s ‘discretion’ and his powers which he is entitled to use and exercise on his personal judgment.
- The ‘procedure for appointment of governors should be clearly laid down’ and conditions of appointment must also be laid down and must assure a fixed tenure for the governor so that the governor is not under the constant threat of removal by the central government.
- There should be a collective responsibility between CMs and governors of state so that strengthening in formal relations can be seen .
QUESTION : “Sustainable Development Goals can play positive role in overcoming crisis such as covid-19 “ .Justify
Topic- A REVOLUTION IN POLICY MINDSET
- Sustainable Development Goals amid Covid-19
WHY IN NEWS ?
- As lockdowns ease in countries across Asia and the Pacific in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a return to business as usual is unimaginable in a region that was already off track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- The virtual High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development recently convened governments and stakeholders to focus on the imperative to build back better while keeping an eye on the global goals.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ?
- ‘Development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.
- This most widely accepted definition of Sustainable Development was given by the Brundtland Commission in its report Our Common Future (1987).
- Sustainable development (SD) calls for concerted efforts towards building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future for people and planet.
- The SDGs, officially known as Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a set of 17 Global Goals with 169 targets between them.
- They are a new, universal set of goals, targets and indicators that UN member states will be expected to use to frame their agendas and political policies over the next 15 years.
- The SDGs follow, and expand on, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were agreed by governments in 2000, and ended on 2015.
17 GOALS :
- End poverty in all its forms everywhere
- End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
- Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
- Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
- Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
- Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
- Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
- Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
- Reduce inequality within and among countries
- Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
- Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
- Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
- Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
- Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
- Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Global issues Related to Sustainable Development :
- Inequitable growth of national economies (North-South Divide)
- Loss of Biodiversity: Despite mounting efforts over the past 20 years, the loss of the world’s biodiversity continues.
- Climate Change: As a global problem, climate change requires a global solution. Within climate change, particular attention needs to be paid to the unique challenges facing developing countries.
- Tackling climate change and fostering sustainable development are two mutually reinforcing issues.
- Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs): There is a need for welfare for all rich and poor to have affordable access to the results of innovation that can lead to sustainable development.
UNPRECEDENTED TIMES :
- Asia was the first to be hit by COVID-19 and feel its devastating social and economic impacts.
- Efforts to respond to the pandemic have revealed how many people in our societies live precariously close to poverty and hunger.
- Many countries are taking bold actions to minimise the loss of life and economic costs.
- As attention shifts from the immediate health and human effects of the pandemic to addressing its social and economic effects, governments and societies face unprecedented policy, regulatory and fiscal choices.
- The SDGs — a commitment to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development, globally, by 2030 — can serve as a beacon in these turbulent times.
PROGRESS TOWARDS SDGs IN THIS PANDEMIC :
- The SDGs can serve as a beacon in these turbulent times.
- SDGs are a commitment to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development, globally, by 2030.
- The pandemic has exposed fragility and systemic gaps in many key systems.
- Countries have used workable strategies during pandemic to accelerate progress related to development goals and strengthen resilience.
- Countries have taken steps to extend universal health care systems and strengthen social protection systems.
- Accurate and regular data have been key to such efforts.
- Innovating to help the most disadvantaged access financing and small and medium-sized enterprise credits have also been vital.
- Several countries have taken comprehensive approaches to various forms of discrimination, particularly related to gender and gender-based violence.
- Partnerships with the private sector and financing institutions, have played a critical role in fostering creative solutions.
FOCUS ON GREEN RECOVERY IN ASIA-PACIFIC COUNTRIES:
- Countries in Asia and the Pacific are developing ambitious new strategies for green recovery and inclusive approaches to development.
- South Korea recently announced a New Deal based on two central pillars: digitisation and decarbonisation.
- Many countries in the Pacific are focusing on “blue recovery,” which promote more sustainable approaches to fisheries management.
- India recently announced operating the largest solar power plant in the region.
- China is creating more jobs in the renewable energy sector than in fossil fuel industries.
SUGGESTIONS FOR POLICY-MAKING :
- We need a revolution in policy mindset and practice- following are part of the transformations needed.
- 1) Inclusive and accountable governance systems.
- 2) Adaptive institutions with resilience to future shocks.
- 3) Universal social protection and health insurance.
- 4) Stronger digital infrastructure
- Institutions such as the United Nations and Asian Development Bank have mobilised to support a shared response to the crisis.
- Now it is vital that we enable countries to secure the support they need to go beyond, to achieve the SDGs.
- With the onslaught of pandemic disrupting us, we should base our recovery and progress trajectory firmly towards achieving SDGs.
WAY FORWARD :
- Developed countries need to change their production and consumption patterns, including by limiting the use of fossil fuels and plastics, and to encourage public and private investments that align with the SDGs.
- Environmental commons—such as the atmosphere, rainforests and oceans—must be safeguarded as crucial sources of ecosystem services and natural resources. All stakeholders must work together to conserve, restore and sustainably use natural resources.
- The food system must undergo widespread changes to the infrastructure, cultural and societal norms, and policies that are supporting the current, unsustainable, status quo.
- The much deeper, faster and more ambitious response is needed to unleash the social and economic transformation needed to achieve our 2030 goals.
- A far more optimistic future is still attainable only by drastically changing development policies, incentives and actions.