The National Anthem Verdict : Decoded

  • Background:
    • Supreme court recently ordered that national anthem must be played before the film is screened in every theatre and people must stand up to pay respect to it.
    • Case: Shyam Narayan Chouksey v/s Union of India.

 

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  • Why did the court order this?:
    • The statement of the court is “ People nowadays do not know how to sing the national anthem and people must be taught. We must respect national anthem”.
    • Love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the national anthem and national flag.
    • Article 51A(a) which cites that it is the duty of every citizen “to abide the constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the national flag and national anthem”.
    • At the root of the guideline is national identity, integrity ,and constitutional patriotism.

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  • What else did the court say?:
    • The court said that the national anthem should not be played on entertainment TV shows as it cannot be commercially exploited.
    • There should not be any dramatization while singing and playing national anthem nor it should be in abridged form.
    • The anthem cannot be printed on an “undesirable place”.
  • Any earlier such order?:
    • The screening of K3G was banned by a bench of MP High Court for commercial exploitation of the national anthem.However, the Supreme Court set aside the verdict by ruling that audience does not need to stand up when singing of national anthem is depicted.
    • Bijoe Emmanuel and Ors v/s State of Kerala: granted protection to three children who did not join singing the national anthem in school. The court said: it will not be right to say that disrespect is shown by not joining in the singing.
  • Was it earlier played in cinemas?:
    • After 1962 war. But discontinued after 1975 after moviegoers ignored it.
  • Have any states made it compulsory to play the national anthem before the movie is screened?:
    • Maharashtra, Chattisgarh and Goa.
  • Any laws in place?:
    • Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act : Section 3 of the act states that causing disturbance during the playing of the anthem or preventing singing of the anthem is punishable by imprisonment and/or fine.
  • What could be the ramifications?:
    • Negative:
      • Moral policing and chaos could be the first major consequence. Examples:
        • Salil Chaturvedi, a physically challenged social activist was harassed at Goa theatre for not standing while the national anthem was played.
        • Actor Kushal Tandon accused Ameesha Patel, who was menstruating at that time for not standing while the national anthem was been played.
      • There is no law which mentions that refusing to stand on the national anthem play is a crime.
      • What happens if we refuse to stand is still unclear.
    • Positive
      • Inculcation of nationalism and patriotism among the citizens.
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Judiciary v/s Executive: A never-ending tussle?

Recently, the series of cross allegations from judiciary and executive on each other regarding the dismal situation of justice in the country.So, here is a series of FAQs with answers simply put for you to understand.

  • What is the reason for this tussle?:
    • Judiciary claims that the executive is not letting it appoint the judges by withholding the names short-listed by it through the defined procedure involving “collegium” of judges.
    • Executive accuses judiciary of :
      • delay in appointments and
      • opaque procedure for appointment of judges.The executive wanted to bring a National Judicial Appointment Commission(NJAC) , a multistakeholder body ensuring wider views and transparency , over the monolithic and opaque “collegium”* system.
    • The judiciary has struck down the NJAC as unconstitutional. Also, the Memorandum of Procedure(MoP) for the appointment of judges to the High Court is being impeded by the judiciary.

 

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Chief Justice, TS Thakur

 

  • What are some of the figures related to need and pendency of judicial appointments?
    • Pendency:
      • The Chief Justice of India(CJI) has recently claimed that there are around 500 vacancies of judges in the High Court.
      • A recent data by the Law Ministry has revealed that over the last five years, 43% of the vacancies in 24 High Court remain unfilled.
    • Need:
      • If we go by the ratio of 50 judges per million of the population , the overall requirement(including all the 3 levels of the judiciary) would be 60,476. 
      • Current strength is 16,119.
      • Around 41,000 more needed.

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  • What are the consequences of the delay in these appointments?
    • Imparting of Justice will be delayed and as it is famously said , “Justice delayed is Justice denied”.
    • The huge pendency of cases in the judiciary. Even now, around 30 million(3 crores) cases remain pending in the judiciary.
    • Human rights violation as there are many who are accused of something they have never committed. A number of times , they even complete a decade or more in jails due to delayed adjudication of their cases.
    • It violates the Fundamental Rights under Article 21(Right to Life which covers under its ambit Right to speedy trial). 
  • Who actually is at fault?:
    • You cannot clap with one hand. So, the faults are two-sided.
    • Judiciary:
      • Adamant at its position of appointing through the notorious system of collegium.
      • Though independence of judiciary is a basic feature of our constitution, but the judiciary is misusing it to a greater extent.
    • Executive:
      • It is continuously sitting on the recommendations of the judge short-listed by the collegium.
      • It is not giving due respect to the independence of judiciary, a cornerstone of any democracy.
  • What could be a few solutions to this long drawn impasse?:
    • 120th Law Commission recommended “rate of pendency” or “rate of litigation” as the basis to fix the number of judges rather than population.
    • The collegium system is quite a notorious one when it comes to transparency. The first step could be to rationalize the same. If the judiciary is not up to include executive in the appointment procedures, the improving the collegium must be the way forward. This could be done as follows:
      • Applicability of RTI on judiciary(as recommended by the Central Information Commission).
      • Making public the list of candidates who have applied for the position  of judge.This should be along with the details of the applicant including his experience , capacity etc.
      • Exams(if any) and Interview must be video-recorded.
      • Every detail of the complete procedure must be made available online.
      • These steps could inculcate transparency as well as accountability of the judiciary.
    • An All India Judicial Service on the lines of Indian Civil Services to directly appoint judges at the subordinate(district) level. This could be a fool-proof method of filling up vacancies at this level. In turn, these will be promoted to higher judiciary.
    • There should be a stipulated time limit, say 2 months , within which the executive must approve or negate the short-listed candidates by the collegium.

 

  • Increasing pendency of cases is directly related to the increased requirement of judges. What could be done to tackle the pendency of cases?
    • Fixed time limit for the judges to dispose of the cases.
    • Performance based pay to increase the efficiency of disposal. However, this must be complemented with a quality-check mechanism to ensure quality delivery of justice.
    • Alternate Dispute Resolution(ADR) mechanisms like Lok Adalats to dispose small civil and criminal cases.
    • Special courts , Fast-track courts ,and Tribunals for the cases which are increasing in number and magnitude to deal with them specifically.
    • Supreme Court should lay down an objective code for admitting and rejecting PILs(Public Interest Litigation). Over-cognizance of PIL leads to overburdening with cases.
    • Special Leave Petition(an extraordinary instrument which allows the SC to shift cases at any level to itself) must be for a few select cases. This should be properly defined.
    • Ad Hoc judges and Retired judges could be brought in for a temporary period to deal with increased number of cases.

 

Constitution Day Special: Basics

Last year, 26th November was declared as the Constitution Day. Here are a few basic points regarding the Indian Constitution.

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  • When was the constitution adopted?:
    • 26th November, 1949.
    • The reason for its declaration as the Constitution Day.
  • When was it enacted and why?:
    • 26th January, 1950.
    • This date has a historical significance.
    • On this date in 1929, at Lahore session, the PURNA SWARAJ(Complete Independence) was declared as the only goal of the Indian National Congress.
  • How many articles were there in the constitution at the time of adoption?:
    • In the beginning, there were 395 Articles.
    • Through Constitutional amendments, now the number has reached around 450.
  • How many parts are there in the constitution?:
    • These are broad but specific topics of the constitution.
    • There are 22 parts of the constitution.
  • How many schedules are there in the constitution?:
    • Schedules are the list in the constitution which categorize government policies and bureaucratic activities.
    • These are like appendices.
    • There are 12 schedules of the Indian constitutions.
  • Who were the members of the Drafting Committee?
    • Dr. B.R Ambedkar: Chairman.
    • N Gopal Swamy Aiyangar.
    • Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar.
    • K.M. Munshi.
    • Syed Muhammad Saadullah.
    • N Madhav Rao.
    • TT Krishnakarmachari.
  • What are some of the basic features of our constitution?:
    • Lengthiest written constitution:
      • Around 450 articles, 22 parts, and 12 schedules
    • Drawn from multiple sources. A few instances: 
      • Fundamental Rights : U.S
      • Fundamental duties: USSR.
      • Directive Principles of State Policy: Ireland.
      • Parliamentary government: Britain.
      • Federation with a strong centre: Canada.
    • Federal with a unitary bias:
      • It means that though the constitution has upheld the distribution of powers among various tiers(federalism) but the centre still has been given a greater say in a number of aspects(unitary).
      • This means that The Constitution of India is quasi-federal.
    • Rigid+ flexible:
      • Flexible as it provides for the provision of amending the constitution(Article 368)
      • Rigid as the procedure of amending the constitution is complex and requires a large amount of cooperation.
    • Parliamentary form of government:
      • Here, the executive is a part of the legislature.
      • The government is run by the Council of Minister headed by the Prime Minister.
    • Independent Judiciary:
      • Judiciary, however, is independent from the other two organs of the Indian polity.
      • This ensures impartial enforcement of justice
    • Fundamental Rights and Duties
    • Directive Principle of State Policies.
    • Universal Adult Franchise:
      • Every adult has the right to vote.
    • Single Citizenship:
      • One citizenship of the country India and no state-wise citizenship.
    • Three-tier government.
      • Tier 1: Central Government.
      • Tier 2: State Government.
      • Tier 3: Panchayati Raj Institutions(PRIs)/ Urban Level Governments(ULBs)
    • Emergency provisions
  • How does the constitution play a significant role for us?:
    • It empowers the citizens with fundamental rights.
    • It encourages the state to take necessary steps(mentioned in the Directive Principles of State Policy) to create an ideal nation.
    • It creates order in the polity of our country.
    • It is an ideal codification of “can and can’t” , “do’s and dont’s”  among others for the citizens and the state.
    • A country without constitution cannot be a democratic one.
    • The constitution brings the reminiscence of the struggle of our freedom fighters and the efforts of the constitutional fathers.

Constitution Day Special: Fundamental Rights.

Fundamental Rights are said to be the spirit of the constitution. In a democratic country, where people are at the center of everything, such rights carry a lot of importance. So, here are some basic aspects related to the same.

  • Background:
    • Part 3 of the Indian Constitution.
    • Article 12-35.
    • Inspired by the U.S Constitution.
    • Magna Carta of the Indian constitution.

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  • How many fundamental rights do we have?:
    • We have 6 fundamental rights, namely:
      • Right to Equality(A. 14-18)
      • Right to Freedom(A.19-22)
      • Right Against Exploitation(A.23-24).
      • Right to freedom of Religion(A.25-28)
      • Cultural and Educational Rights(A.29-30).
      • Right to Constitutional remedies(A.32)
  • Isn’t the Right to Property a fundamental right?:
    • No.
    • It was earlier but was removed after the 44th constitutional amendment of 1978.
    • Now, it has been made a legal right under Article 300-A of the Indian constitution.
  • What are a few features of the fundamental rights?:
    • Some are available to all, that is, both citizens and foreigners while some are available only to citizens.
    • They are justiciable in nature, that is, a citizen or a foreigner(if eligible), can move court to claim the violation of his/her right.
    • These are not absolute. Some reasonable restrictions are applicable to them.
    • Some could be enforced against the state, some against other citizens and some against both.
    • They are not sacrosanct. Thus, they can be amended(only through a constitutional amendment) given that the amendment does not violate the Basic structure of the constitution(those provisions of the constitution which cannot be abridged or taken away by the parliament) 
    • When there is a proclamation of emergency, fundamental rights(except Article 20 and 21) can be suspended. 
    • They are defended and guaranteed by the Supreme Court of India.
  • Explanation of a few very important and “trending” articles of the constitution:
    • Article 14: 
      • Equality before law and equal protection of laws.
      • Rule of law, that is:
        • Absence of arbitrary power–>no one can be punished except for the breach of a law.
        • Equality before law–>equal subjection of all the citizens to the ordinary laws of the land.
      • It’s a basic feature of the constitution.
      • A few exceptions with regard to : dignity of President and Governor; the privilege of parliament; defamation; foreign relations.
    • Article 15:
      • Prohibition of discrimination on certain grounds like:
        • religion
        • race
        • caste.
        • sex
        • place of birth.
      • No discrimination with regard to:
        • access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment.
        • use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort.
    • Article 19:
    • Article 21:
      • Protection of Life and Liberty, a.k.a , Right to Life.
      • A few of the important rights under this are the Right to:
        • Live with human dignity.
        • livelihood.
        • privacy.
        • shelter
        • health.
        • decent environment.
        • free education up to 14 years of age.
        • free legal aid.
        • against solitary confinement…. amongst others.
    • Article 25-28:
      • Right to Freedom of Religion.
      • Includes:
        • Right to freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion(Article 25).
        • Freedom to manage religious institutions(A.26).
        • Freedom from taxation for the promotion of religion(A.27).
        • Freedom from attending religious instructions(A.28).
    • Article 30:
      • Right of Minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.
    • Article 32:
      • Right to Constitutional Remedies. 
      • Dr. Ambedkar called it the “heart and soul of the constitution” .
      • The Supreme Court under this Article has the power to issue writs (writ jurisdiction).
      • Any citizen(or in some cases foreigner) whose rights have been abridged/breached can move to the SC to protect his/her rights.