The Hindu Daily Editorial Discussion 8/3/19 By - Ashish Singh
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Page 10 Page 11 . The imperial cabinet and an acquiescent court . The Supreme Court has squandered the chance to rein in 'Abhinandan's release was a saving grace for both sides' an increasingly powerful Central executive Women and the workplace Do UN strategies to deal with sexual harassment and ensure gender parity offer examples to follow? Probing the press The Official Secrets Act can't be an instrument to censor embarrassing media revelations . Breathing clean . Being global Political will is integral to the tackling of India's hazardousThe World Bank's board will have a huge air pollution responsibility if Trump's nominee becomes its President
The imperial cabinet and GS PAPER 2 Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary PARLIAMENT OF INDIA
In the last six months, the Supreme Court has frequently found itself in the headlines. In September, it handed down four landmark judgments orn fundamental rights: decriminalising same-sex relations and adultery, opening up Sabarimala to women of all ages, and (partially) upholding Aadhaar. And soon after that, the court was in the eye of a political storm. Its Rafale and Central Bureau of Investigation judgments were subjected to intense scrutiny, and continue to be debated.
After the dust has settled, however, and these blockbuster cases consigned to memory, the most important legacy of the 2018-19 Supreme Court may lie elsewhere: in two decisions that have attracted less attention. These are the court's findings on the legal status of "money bills"a part of its Aadhaar judgment), and its judgment on the distribution of power between the Central government and the government of Delhi. These two decisions were about constitutional structure: about the balance of power between the different organs of the state, the federal character of the Republic, and fundamental questions of democratic accountability
. We are often tempted to think that our rights and freedoms depend upon the Constitution's fundamental rights chapter, and the judiciary's willingness to enforce it against the state. There are other important ways, however, in which a Constitution guarantees freedom. It does so, also, by dividing and distributing political power between state organs in order to avoid concentration of authority, and to ensure that these different organs act as checks and balances upon each other. The surest dam against totalitarianism is to guarantee that no one stream of authority becomes powerful enough to sweep away everything else in the time of a flood
Money bills Therefore, away from the glamour of fundamental rights adjudication, and away from the thrill of political controversy, it is in cases involving constitutional structure that courts often exercise significant influence upon the future direction of the Republic. And it is in this context that we must examine the recent decisions on money bills and on federalism. Money Bill refers to a bill (draft law) introduced in the Lower Chamber of Indian The passage of the Aadhaar Act, 201 has received strong criticism. Parliament (Lok Sabha) which generally covers the issue of receipt and spending of money, such as tax laws, laws governingThe Act warrants censure for its process. borrowing and expenditure of the Government, prevention of black money etc. Aadhaar Act, 2016 The government has introduced the Act as a money bil under Article 110 of the Constitution of India. The Act lies well outside the confines of the Article. The Act takes away an individual's control of his/her own information.
First, money bills. Despite strong protests, the Aadhaar Act was passed as a money bill This affected a crucial element of our constitutional structure: bicameralism Bicameralism, in our parliamentary democracy, requires that a bill must be scrutinised and passed by both Houses of Parliament before it becomes law. The Lok Sabha represents the voice of the democratic majority. The Raiya Sabha represents the interests of the States, as well as perspectives free of immediate,_electoral interests.
The basic idea is that law-making is a balanced and deliberative process, not an exercise in pure majoritarianism. The crucial purpose of the Rajya Sabha is to act as a check and a balance upon the Lok Sabha, by scrutinising bills in a more deliberative and reflective manner, and raising concerns that may have been glossed over or evaded in the Lower House. . The role of the Rajya Sabha becomes even more important when we consider a unique Indian innovation: anti-defection In the 1980s, it was decided that the only way to combat party defections was to disqualify members who voted against the whip, except under very tough conditions. . This effectively meant the end of intra-party democracy: individual MPs could no longer vote according to their conscience, and had to follow the diktats of the cabinet.
Consequently, where there is a single-party majority in the Lok Sabha, the executive can effectively rule by decree, as it is in no threat of losing a vote if it fails to persuade its own party members. With the Lower House no longer able to check the government, the only remaining legislative forum that can then do so is the Rajya Sabha.
.A money bill, however, takes the Rajya Sabha out of the equation: it only needs Lok Sabha approval. In combination with the anti-defection law, this places absolute power in the hands of the executive, and skews the democratic process. . Hence, its use must be restricted to the most limited of circumstances, This was what was argued in the Aadhaar case: that the terms of the Constitution (Article 110) mandated that money bills be narrowly limited to those that fell exclusively within the categories set out in Article 110.
Federalism - Meanwhile the court the sisgaute betweei the tenent of Delhi. Meanwhile, the court was also considering another issue of democratic structure: the dispute between the central government acting through the Lt Governor) and the government of Delhi This dispute effectively turned upon the text of Article 239AA of the Constitution, a somewhat ambiguously drafted provisilone between establishing Delhi as a hybrid federal entity a State and a Union Territory. somewhere between
Fear of an imperial executive In 1973, the American historian Arthur M. Schlesinger coined the term "Imperial Presidency", to characterise the increasing concentration of power in the office of the President, at the cost of other democratic institutions (such as the U.S. Congress and the Senate). Over the last few decades, many scholars have noticed this drift towards the increased powers of the political executive, across liberal democracies.
Breathing clean GS PAPER 3 Environmental pollution
IQ Airvisual 2018 JAN'2018 2018 AVG DEC'2018 1 133.6Gurugram 208.2 145.6 255.1 Ghaziabad 247.2 144.6 Faridabad2 123 178.8 202.6 Noida 22 212.2 228.1 134
An assessment of the quality of air across countries and in cities has come as a fresh warning to India on the levels of deadly pollutants its citizens are breathing. The lQ AirVisual 2018 World Air Quality Report published in collaboration with Greenpeace underscores that Delhi remains an extremely hazardous city to live in. The national capital exposes people to air containing annual average fine particulate matter (PM2.5) of 113.5 micrograms per cubic metre, when it should be no more than 10 micrograms as per WHO guidelines.
In fact, Gurugram, which borders Delhi, fares even worse with a PM2.5 level of 135.8 micrograms, while 15 of the 20 cities worldwide ranked the worst on air pollution metrics are in India. Delhi's air quality has been making headlines for years now. Yet, measures to mitigate emissions have not moved into crisis mode: the launch this year of the National Clean Air Programme for 102 cities and towns, including the capital, talks only of long-term benefits of mitigation programmes beyond 2024, and not a dramatic reduction in near-term pollution. litu This has to change, and an annual target for reduction be set to make governments accountable.
The monitoring of air quality in real time across cities and towns in India is far from adequate or uniform. The evidence from Delhi, which is relatively more robust, has clear pointers to what needs to be done. lest The Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises learnt from a commissioned study last year that dusty sources such as roads, construction sites and bare soil added about 42% of the coarse particulate matter (PM10) in summer, while in winter it was a significant 31% . Similarly, PM10 from transport varied between 15% and 18% across seasons.
Cutting nitrogen and sulphur emissions from industrial processes needs a time-bound programme supervised by the Environment Ministry. These are priority measures to get urban India out of the red zone.
The essential distinction between public interest and the interest of the government of the day seems to have been lost on the Attorney General. K.K. Venugopal's claim that documents pertaining to the purchase of Rafale jets published by the media, including this newspaper, have been "stolen" amounts to a definitive admission that they are genuine.
.The documentary evidence published so far indicates that "parallel parleys" held at the behest of the Prime Minister's Office undermined the Indian Negotiating Team's discussions with the French side; that internal questions had been raised about the absence of bank guarantees to hedge against possible default by the vendor; and that this had an adverse effect on the pricing of the 36 jets to be bought in fly-away condition. Few can doubt that these revelations advance the public interest, and have no impact on national security.
The publication of the documents and news reports based on them constitute the legitimate exercise of the freedom of the press. 1923 (OSA) is disappointing, if not downright perverse. should not rely on "stolen" documents while hearing petitions seeking . The threat of a criminal investigation under the Official Secrets Act, . The government is also on weak legal ground when it claims the court a review of its judgment declining a probe into the Rafale deal. As the Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, pointed out, the manner in which a document has been procured is immaterial, if it is relevant to an adiudication. . As one of the judges asked, can the government seek shelter behind the notion of national security if a corrupt practice had indeed takern place?
It is to the credit of successive governments that the OSA has rarely been used against the press. The law primarily targets officials entrusted with secret documents, codes and other material, but Section 5 criminalises voluntarily receiving and possessing such documents, if given to them in contravention of the Act. In a limited examination of this section, the Law Commission observed in a 197h repors renment to decide against prosecurest. that its wording was quite wide. However, it left it to the government to decide against prosecution, if the information leak did not materially affect the state's interest.
. The government should refrain from using its secrecy laws to contend with embarrassing media revelations. It would do well instead to respond responsibly to questions thrown up by the revelations.
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