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Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The Hindu Editorial: Looking for a new clarity

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Title: Looking for a new clarity 

(Protecting constitutional values requires an independent judiciary. For this, three issues need attention) 

Context:- The Supreme Court, this past month, provided us with a useful reminder about its worth to our constitutional democracy. Its intervention in the imbroglio (जटिलता) over government formation in Karnataka was flawless. 

Yet, much as its decision here deserves appreciation, we must be careful not to allow any ascription (जोड़ना) of credit to veil the deeper wounds that afflict it, for a litany of problems continues to strike at the court’s independence. 

Three of these are especially salient. The first involves the rejection by the government of the collegium’s recommendation of K.M. Joseph, currently Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court, for elevation to the Supreme Court. The second concerns the need for a systemic mechanism to deal with allegations of corruption in the higher judiciary. 

The third area of worry concerns the embroiled state of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, his position as the master of the roster, and the critical question of whether such powers ought to be vested in the hands of one individual. 

Recurring problems 

India’s Constitution is possibly the longest written constitution in the world, but it too leaves much unsaid. Take, for example, Article 124. It states that judges of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President, after consultation with certain authorities, including the CJI. But it does not tell us how these consultations are to be made, or what criteria ought to be applied in deciding who becomes a judge. 

Filling the voids 

One thing has become abundantly clear: the collegium system is simply unworkable. Its ills are plain to see. It’s not only opaque and inequitable, containing not a single constitutionally provided check or balance, but it has done nothing to either improve the judiciary’s independence or provide a seamless system of elevating well-qualified persons to the bench. 

Efforts to introduce a judicial appointments commission have already been scuttled(hurriedly), after the court struck down the 99th constitutional amendment. But the trend across liberal, constitutional democracies is towards such a commission. Hence, what we need now is a renewed debate on how to reshape the composition of a potential judicial appointments panel, which will preserve, in some regards, the judiciary’s primacy(importance), while also divorcing its membership completely from the executive. 

Simultaneously, as we make an endeavour to be rid of the collegium system, we must also work towards putting in place an independent mechanism to deal with allegations of corruption in the judiciary. 

The 99th amendment of the Constitution inserted a new Article 124A, which provides for composition of the NJAC. 

National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) was a proposed body which would have been responsible for the appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary in India. 

We must, therefore, strive to find a device that will straddle our concerns for the judiciary’s autonomy with a necessity for greater fairness and transparency. 

Any claim made against a judge of dishonesty, howsoever trivial, must be investigated by a properly constituted panel, which ought to be granted a status separate from all three established wings of government. 

Executive, Legislative, Judiciary 

Issue of the roster 

Finally, the CJI’s position as the “master of the roster” requires serious rethinking. The Constitution is silent on the administrative role that the CJI performs. 

There’s a burning need to define with greater clarity the precise role of the CJI, and to amend the existing framework of rules and regulations on how benches are to be created, and on how work ought to be divided between the different panels. 

Final Words: 

The Constitution embodies a rousing(inspiring) vision. But it stands on brittle foundations. Protecting its text and its values requires an independent judiciary that is not only committed to constitutionalism but that is also democratically accountable. We cannot rely simply on good fortune to see us through today’s crises. To do so would amount to inviting an annihilation(destruction) of our republican ethos.

Title: Talk it over 

(The Central government must build politically on the cease-ops initiative in J&K) 

Context:- Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement offering talks to the Hurriyat and Pakistan puts a seal on a series of moves by the Centre that signal a softer Jammu and Kashmir policy after two particularly violent years. 

Vocabulary words: 

Helter-skelter (adj & adv) = In disorderly haste or confusion 

Set off (phrasal verb) = Begin a journey (शुरू करना) 

Funeral (noun) = A ceremony or service held shortly after a person's death (शवयात्रा जनाज़ा) 

Interlocutor (noun) = A person who takes part in a dialogue or conversation (वार्ताकार) 

Stifle (verb) = Suffocate (दम घुटना) 

Subvert (verb) = Undermine the power and authority of an established system (नाश करना) 

Quandary (noun) = A state of perplexity or uncertainty 

Vest (verb) = Confer or bestow (power, authority, property, etc.) On someone (निहित) 

Alienation (noun) = Isolation, detachment (अलगाव की भावना) 

Imbroglio (noun) = An extremely confused, complicated, or embarrassing situation (जटिलता) 

Ascription (noun) = The attribution of something to a cause (जोड़ना) 

Salient (adj) = Most noticeable or important (मुख्य) 

Embroil (verb) = Involve deeply in an argument, conflict 

At first glance (phrase) = When seen or considered briefly and for the first time 

Nadir (noun) = The lowest or most unsuccessful point in a situation (पतन) 

Counterpart (noun) = Equivalent, peer (समकक्ष) 

Fidelity (noun) = Loyalty, faithful to a person (विश्वस्तता) 

Concurrence (noun) = Agreement, consistency (सहमति) 

Cogent (adj) = Clear, logical (ठोस) 

Nugatory (adj) = Of no value or importance (तुच्छ) 

Definition: 

A hardline policy 

A very strict policy and it is very difficult to be changed.


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