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Insights Daily Current Events, 09 April 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 09 April 2015

NJAC rollout may take months

Though the Supreme Court recently refused to stay the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act and referred a batch of petitions challenging it to a larger Bench, it may still be several months before the Commission is even active.

Why the implementation is being delayed?

  • Though President has given his assent to the NJAC along with an enabling Bill providing for the panel on December 31 last year, the framing of rules and procedures under which the Commission will operate has not yet been finalised.
  • There are also a host of logistical and procedural issues still to be addressed. For one, the government will have to appoint two eminent persons to serve on the six-member Commission along with the Chief Justice of India, the two seniormost judges of the Supreme Court and the Law Minister.
  • These two persons will have to be appointed by a panel consisting of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha. Till date, this panel is yet to hold an official meeting to consider names.
  • Besides this, the government is yet to allocate an office to the NJAC or appoint a secretariat to serve it.
  • The NJAC will likely require several officials at various levels who will have to compile the background information on the various persons that the Commission will consider for appointment as judges.
  • There are three vacancies in the Supreme Court and 358 vacancies for judges in the 24 High Courts, according to numbers put out by the Law Ministry.


NJAC is a proposed body responsible for the appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary in India. It seeks to replace the collegium system of appointing the judges of Supreme Court and 24 High Courts with judicial appointments commission wherein the executive will have a say in appointing the judges.


  • A new article, Article 124A, (which provides for the composition of the NJAC) will be inserted into the Constitution.
  • The NJAC Act also seeks changes in articles 124,217,222 and 231.

The commission will consist of the following members:

  • Chief Justice of India (Chairperson, ex officio)
  • Two other senior judges of the Supreme Court next to the Chief Justice of India – ex officio
  • The Union Minister of Law and Justice, ex-officio
  • Two eminent persons (to be nominated by a committee consisting of the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister of India and the Leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha or where there is no such Leader of Opposition, then, the Leader of single largest Opposition Party in Lok Sabha), provided that of the two eminent persons, one person would be from the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes or OBC or minority communities or a woman. The eminent persons shall be nominated for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for re-nomination.

Functions of the Commission:

  • Recommending persons for appointment as Chief Justice of India, Judges of the Supreme Court, Chief Justices of High Courts and other Judges of High Courts.
  • Recommending transfer of Chief Justices and other Judges of High Courts from one High Court to any other High Court.
  • Ensuring that the persons recommended are of ability and integrity.

Under the present Collegium system, the Chief Justice of India would consult the four senior most judges of the Supreme Court for Supreme Court appointments and two senior-most judges for high court appointments.

How the NJAC will help:

  • The NJAC, once it came into existence, is expected to usher in transparency in judicial appointments in the highest courts and end the highest judiciary’s two-decade-old grip over appointments of judges through the collegium system.
  • It would restore an equal role for the executive in higher judicial appointments.


  • Some people contend that that by passing the NJAC Bill, Parliament had “altered the basic structure of the Constitution” and encroached into judicial independence. They say Independence of the judiciary includes the necessity to eliminate political influence even at the stage of appointment of a judge. This is being violated.
  • The amendment, as passed by the two houses of Parliament, “takes away the primacy of the collective opinion of the Chief Justice of India and the two senior most Judges of the Supreme Court of India”.
  • Although the six-member Commission had the CJI as chairperson and two senior most Supreme Court judges as members, there was no “primacy” for them. Even their collective recommendation of a candidate as judge could be frozen if any two non-judicial members on the panel vetoed it.

Under the present Collegium system, the Chief Justice of India would consult the four senior most judges of the Supreme Court for Supreme Court appointments and two senior-most judges for high court appointments.

Sources: The Hindu,, PIB.


India ranks lower than even Nepal

Social Progress Index (SPI) ratings will shortly be released globally. The SPI was launched in 2013 and is based on 52 indicators of countries’ social and environmental performance. It includes no economic indicators and measures outcomes. The UN’s Human Development Index and Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index are also alternate measures for well being but they use GDP or other economic measures.

Details of the Index:

  • Out of 133 countries rated on indicators of well-being such as health, water and sanitation, personal safety, access to opportunity, tolerance, inclusion, personal freedom and choice India has secured the 101th place. Nepal and Bangladesh rank higher than India. Norway has bagged the first rank. The U.S. is at the 16th place.
  • On the parameter ‘Tolerance and inclusionIndia ranks 128th and is at the 120th place on ‘health and wellness’. The U.S. despite its high levels of spending on health and wellness ranks 68th.

Performance of BRICS Nations:

Country: Rank

Brazil: 42.

Russia: 71.

China: 92

South Africa: 63.

Sources: The Hindu.


Voluntary retirement is no excuse to skip alimony: SC

Deciding the case of a man who took voluntary retirement and stopped paying maintenance to his divorced wife, the Supreme Court recently held that he has to continue paying her as long as he is “healthy, able-bodied and is in a position to support himself.”

Observations made by the Supreme Court?

  • The Court has said that reasons given by estranged husbands like “they do not have a job, the business is not doing well” to skip payment are just bald excuses and these have no acceptability in law.
  • It says that the right to get maintenance is absolute for a woman, and she cannot be reduced to the state of a beggar after being compelled to leave her matrimonial home. If the husband is healthy, able-bodied and is in a position to support himself, he is under the legal obligation to support his wife, for the wife’s right to receive maintenance under Section 125 Cr.PC, unless disqualified, is an absolute right.
  • The court has held that the obligation of the man to pay maintenance is “heightened” when the couple’s children are with the wife. Again, the amount of maintenance should not be that which would only mean their “mere survival.” As per law, she should lead a life similar to the one she would have in her husband’s house. And that is where the status and strata of the husband comes into play and that is where the legal obligation of the husband becomes a prominent one.


  • The court was deciding the case of a former Armyman who, according to his wife, took voluntary retirement so that he did not have to pay her the monthly maintenance of Rs. 4,000.
  • The High Court had felt that his means had been considerably reduced after retirement, and halved the maintenance sum to Rs. 2,000. Aggrieved, the wife had moved the Supreme Court then.

The SC found that the litigation on the maintenance had dragged on from 1998 to 2012 in the High Court. Terming such procrastination “unacceptable”, the Supreme Court observed that such prolonged court battles only further corrode human relationships and take a toll on society.

Sources: The Hindu.


PM launches Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana

The Prime Minister recently launched the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA (Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency) Yojana.


The MUDRA scheme is aimed at “funding the unfunded”.

  • The scheme, which has a corpus of Rs 20,000 crore, can lend betweenRs 50,000 and Rs 10 lakh to small entrepreneurs.

MUDRA will be set up through a statutory enactment. It will be responsible for developing and refinancing all micro-finance institutions (MFIs) which are in the business of lending to micro and small business entities engaged in manufacturing, trading and service activities.

Role of MUDRA bank?

  • MUDRA Bank will refinance Micro-Finance Institutions through a Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana. In lending, priority will be given to SC/ST enterprises.
  • It will also partner with State and regional-level coordinators to provide finance to last-mile financiers of small and micro business enterprises. Its proposed role includes laying down policy guidelines for micro enterprise financing business, registration, accreditation and rating of MFI entities.
  • The agency will also lay down responsible financing practices to ward off over-indebtedness and ensure proper client protection principles and methods of recovery.


  • These measures will greatly increase the confidence of young, educated or skilled workers who would now be able to aspire to become first generation entrepreneurs.
  • Existing small businesses, too, will be able to expand their activities.
  • By floating MUDRA bank, the Centre has ensured credit flow to SMEs sector and has also identified NBFCs as a good fit to reach out to them.
  • People will now be able to get refinance at subsidised rate and it would be passed on to the SMEs. Moreover, it would enable SMEs to expand their activities.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.


Killing of woodcutters violates SC ruling

Recently, Andhra Pradesh police shot dead 20 woodcutters from Tamil Nadu. They were found felling red sanders.


The reason given by Andhra Pradesh Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force officials is that they feared for their own lives and shot dead 20 woodcutters from Tamil Nadu. But, experts say that it is hardly a legal defence, especially when the Supreme Court has held that the act of extrajudicial killing by the police, if not justified, amounts to culpable homicide.

What the law says?

  • It is not an offence for a police officer to use force in private defence, but Section 46 of the Criminal Procedure Code, dealing with the procedure of arrest, mandates that a police officer has no right to “cause the death of a person who is not accused of an offence punishable with death or with imprisonment for life.”
  • The law further mandates that a police officer should use only “reasonable force” to arrest an offender. In this case, the police resorted to fatal force to counter stones and sickles allegedly hurled at them by the woodcutters.

What has the Supreme Court said?

  • In its 2012 decision in the Om Prakash versus State of Jharkhand case, the Supreme Court categorically warned policemen that “it is not the duty of police officers to kill,” even dreaded criminals.
  • The SC had further said that the duty of the police is to arrest an accused and put him up for trial. Such killings must be deprecated. They are not recognised as legal by our criminal justice administration system. They amount to State-sponsored terrorism.

Sources: The Hindu.


President of India presents Padma Awards

The President of India recently presented Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri awards to 50 people.

About Padma Awards:

Padma Awards – one of the highest civilian Awards of the country, are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. They were instituted in the year 1954.

The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc.

  • Padma Vibhushan is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service;( it is a second degree honour)
  • Padma Bhushan is awarded for distinguished service of high order. (it is a third degree honour)
  • Padma Shri is awarded for distinguished service in any field. (it is a fourth degree honour)

The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year. The award is normally not conferred posthumously. However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously if the demise of the person proposed to be honoured has been recent, say within a period of one year preceding the Republic Day on which it is proposed to announce the award.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, MHA.

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