- President’s nomination of former Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, as a Rajya Sabha member.
- so soon after his retirement: gap of 4 months
- Will be seen as a crass example of a regime rewarding a member of the judiciary for meeting its expectations during his tenure.
- The fact that a series of decisions in his court were in seeming conformity with the present government’s expectations militate against such a justification.
- The second argument, that there have been instances of retired Chief Justices being nominated to the Upper House or appointed Governors, does not cut ice either, as it is nothing more than a dubious claim to the same level of impropriety.
- Justice Mishra’s commission of inquiry absolved the Congress from any organisational responsibility for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
- Justice Islam exonerated a Congress Chief Minister of wrong-doing in a financial scandal in Bihar.
- Mr. Gogoi: ensuring cohesion between the judiciary and the legislature
- Any attempt to create ‘cohesion’ between the two wings would necessarily encroach on the judiciary’s role as a restraining force on the executive and legislature.
- As for the government, making such an offer to a just-retired CJI, indicates an alarming intention to undermine judicial authority so that the elected executive is seen as all-powerful.
In Upper House nomination, a fall for ‘aloofness’
- During his tenure, Justice Gogoi also presided over and pushed through the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, an exercise that has excluded more than 19 lakh people from the final version of the citizenship register, and which has been widely criticised on several grounds.
- Then there was the Sabarimala temple review. A Bench headed by Justice Gogoi gratuitously referred these issues to a larger Bench, much to the delight of the government.
- He was a judge who had participated in a press conference held on January 2018
- Allegations of sexual harassment against him give us a good insight into this.
- Not only was she dismissed from service in an ex-parte hearing on frivolous grounds, but her brother-in-law, who was inducted to the Supreme Court staff under Justice Gogoi’s discretionary quota, was also terminated without assigning any reasons.
- Soon after, the Delhi Police suspended her husband and his brother — again on baseless charges.
- Justice Gogoi sat as a judge in his own cause in a case he titled “In Re: A Matter of Great Public Importance Touching Upon the Independence of the Judiciary”.
- It is against this background that we need to look at Justice Gogoi’s nomination to the Upper House, on Monday.
Over the cliff
- The next U.S. President will decide whether the planet goes over the climate cliff or pulls back from the brink.
- Within the next decade, the world must reduce its annual greenhouse gas emissions by 55% to have a chance at curbing warming to within 1.5°C, or by 25% to have a chance at staying below 2°C, compared with average pre-industrial temperatures.
- Currently, we do not exactly know where the planet is headed with regard to rising temperatures, as greenhouse gas emissions are still rising annually at around 1% -3% and financial pledges lie unfulfilled.
- The Paris Agreement commitments made in 2015, even if achieved, are inadequate to attain climate stability.
The Obama years (2008-2016)
- A time when the second commitment period of the Kyoto Agreement began and the Copenhagen Accord was forged.
- Neither the Kyoto nor Copenhagen pledges were fulfilled by the U.S.
- The world’s biggest contributor to anthropogenic greenhouse gases accumulated in the atmosphere made weak promises and did not keep them.
- Currently, the second biggest emitter after China, the U.S. is responsible for between onethird to one-fourth of all the anthropogenic carbon dioxide that was discharged into the atmosphere from 1750 to the present.
- Unfortunately, since the atmosphere is one of the largest shared commons, countries do not have a choice but to work together.
- The American and world public must speak loudly.
- Unless the next President can build on an ambitious platform, a planetary cataclysm is imminent.
Faith can’t override public health
- That mass gatherings, especially in enclosed spaces, provide the perfect conditions for novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) to easily spread became amply clear early on during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Diamond Princess cruise ship: 712
- Jails in China: 500
- Church gatherings in Singapore and South Korea
- Formula 1 racing events to tennis, basketball, football and cricket championships, including the Indian Premier League, have been put off or cancelled.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that he was not going to celebrate Holi.
- U.P. government has said that the Ayodhya Ram Navami Mela will be held as planned from
- March 25 to April 2.
- Tradition cannot be allowed to override public health, especially when it cannot be guaranteed that the number of people congregating can be reduced or precautions instituted.
- On International Women’s Day on March 8, over 1,20,000 people marched through Madrid. The same day, over 60,000 fans gathered at the city’s largest stadiums and 9,000 supporters of Vox party assembled inside a sports center.
- Today, with more than 13,700 cases, Spain has the third-highest number of cases outside China.
- In Malaysia, over 16,000 people gathered in late February in a mosque complex in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur for a four-day meeting. Of the 790+ cases in Malaysia so far, nearly two-thirds are linked to the event.
- The city of Qom in Iran, where the first case and death were reported, is full of holy sites that people touch and kiss.
- Qom soon turned into a hotspot and played a role in the virus’s spread to the rest of Iran. While in South Korea, a day after cases soared by 833 in a single day, the church halted masses at more than 1,700 locations across the country.
Time for a powerful display of humanity
- Confirmed cases in India, as of today stand at 158, much lower than small countries such as Iceland (250).
- Testing in India remains abysmally low.
- Only about 10 in a million people in India have been tested, compared to say nearly 120 in a million in Thailand or 40 per million in Vietnam.
- As the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, said recently about the need for more testing, “You cannot fight a fire blindfolded. ”
- We need to identify coronavirus-infected patients in a timely manner in order to increase our chances of preventing secondary infections.
- In the current scenario, we are not ready. India has somewhere between 70,000 and 100,000 intensive care unit beds and probably a smaller number of ventilators.
- That is simply inadequate.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said, “we should get criticized for over-reacting” rather than being underprepared.
An SC verdict violative of minority rights
- Protection of minorities is the hallmark of a civilisation.
- Lord Acton added another dimension to this when he said: “The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities. ”
- Pledge of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel: “our mission is to satisfy every interest and safeguard the interests of all the minorities to their satisfaction”.
- Accordingly, special safeguards were guaranteed to the minorities and incorporated under Article 30 with a view to instil in them a sense of confidence and security.
- However, due to recent developments in Delhi and elsewhere, this confidence stands eroded even though, in the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973), minority rights were held to be the part of basic structure of the Constitution.
- In the last one year, a new trend has emerged in the Supreme Court. Smaller benches now do not hesitate to overrule larger benches’ decisions. Increasingly, judicial discipline is losing its charm. In the latest judgment on minority rights, a two judge bench of Justice U.U. Lalit and Justice Arun Mishra upheld the West Bengal Board of Madrasah Education Act, 1994, and the West Bengal Madrasah Service Commission Act, 2008, both of which take away the autonomy of madrasas in the State.
- The appointment of teachers in these theological institutions shall now be made by a board nominated by the government.
- Rights under Article 30 What is the importance of minority rights? Why is the judgment per incuriam, i.e. contrary to law?
- As per Section 10 of the West Bengal Madrasah Service Commission Act, 2008, all appointments of teachers to the religious schools are to be recommended by the commission and the management committee shall be bound by such recommendations.
- Section 11 says that anyone appointed in contravention of this Act shall not be considered a teacher and such an appointment shall be invalid.
- Section 12 empowers the government to deny grants to the schools that refuse to make appointments in accordance with such recommendations.
- Further, government recognition and affiliation of such schools can be withdrawn.
- A single judge of Calcutta High Court in March 2014 struck down the above provisions as violative of Article 30 that guarantees religious and linguistic minorities the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
- In December 2015, a Division Bench of the High Court upheld that decision. Interestingly, the latest judgment notes that in Chandana Das (2019), a three-judge bench gave the Sikh minority institutions of West Bengal the right to appoint teachers.
- In less than four months, a right given to Sikh minority institutions by the apex court has been denied to Muslim minority religious institutions.
- Framers of the Constitution in their wisdom did not include any restrictions under Article 30 (unlike in the case of other fundamental rights).
- Hence, the Article 30 right is absolute though minority institutions are very much subject to health, sanitary and municipal regulations.
- In Rev. Sidharjbhai (1963), a six-judge bench of the Supreme Court observed that every government regulation in respect of a minority institution shall be valid only when it satisfies the dual test, i.e., it is regulative and not destructive of the organisation’s minority character and it makes the minority institution an effective vehicle of minority education.
- 276 Indians infected with virus abroad
- Gurugram closes malls, weekly markets
- SC: anxious to avoid horse-trading in M.P.
- Uttar Pradesh ordinance arbitrary: Allahabad HC
- 13 asked to pay ₹21.76 lakh or face confiscation of property
- No medical care, say Indians in Iran
- The Iranian government sent officials for inspection of the hotels where the Indian nationals were staying without maintaining quarantine conditions, Asghar Ali, one of the group leaders in Qom, told The Hindu.
- Not enough numbers for WHO trials: ICMR
- The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said that India will not participate in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) clinical trials for COVID-19 as of now because the country has a very small sample size.
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