IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 26th April, 2016
TOPIC: General studies 2
Structure, organization and functioning of the Judiciary
India’s overburdened and understaffed Judiciary
The Law Commission in 1987, had called for increasing the number of judges fivefold, but none of the governments that have held office since that time, showed sufficient interest in closing the gap, while both the population and the volume of litigation have grown rapidly
The settling of disputes is central to the duties of a well-governed state and to the prospects of economic growth; India’s judicial process is not just unjust, but a severe impediment to any other efforts to raise India out of poverty (significant economic and social implications)
The urgency to pay attention thus, has become vital to the country’s future given the government’s emphasis on flagship initiatives such as “Make in India and Invest in India”
Operational challenges facing the judicial system:
Requirement- about 50,000 judges
Judicial strength- mere 18,000
Pending cases- more than three crore cases
Supreme Court’s current pendency: 60,260 for a Bench consisting of 31 judges
Vacant posts f HC Judges- 434 posts
Vacancies at the level of the subordinate judiciary amount to almost a quarter of the currently sanctioned posts; and it is even worse at the crucial high court level, where 44 per cent of appointments remain unfilled.
Even when names have been shortlisted to fill these vacancies, the executive has been slow in confirming the appointments.
Even the currently sanctioned strength of the judiciary is insufficient to deal with an “avalanche” of litigation— the lack of empathy for poor litigants and under-trial prisoners, who suffer the most because of judicial delay.
Need for the strengthening of the lower judiciary; be viewed as the regular — and, in most cases, final — appellate court, allowing the Supreme Court to be more discerning in its use of discretion, thus substantially reducing its burden of acting as a corrector of simple errors
Designating at least two constitution benches to hear cases, Monday through Friday, thereby solving problems concerning the inability of the Supreme Court to devote itself to its most important duty
Nobody likes ‘backlogs’:
‘Delay’ in the context of justice denotes the time consumed in the disposal of case, in excess of the time within which a case can be reasonably expected to be decided by the Court
Creation of Additional Judicial Manpower Planning Authority to clear backlogs and initiate swift disposal of new cases, eliminate delays and reduce cost— Appointing more judges, including retired judges as ad hoc judicial officers, based on periodic needs assessments, increasing their retirement age, and deploying judicial resources efficiently
Target for the disposal level at the national level should be raised from 60% of the total case-load (at present) to 95% of the total case-load in five years
Ensuring that not more than 5% of the cases pending before them should be more than 5 years old (5×5 rule) within the next three years
Law Commission, in its 245th report two years ago, had pointed to the impracticability of using the number of judges per million populations (the official figure for India in 2013 was 16.8) as a criterion to assess the required judicial strength. Instead, it had suggested a ‘rate of disposal’ method by which the number of judges required at each level to dispose of a particular number of cases could be computed based on analysis.
Adjournments are granted too easily and too often, leading to delays in the administration of justice— limiting reasonable grounds for adjournment would reduce pendency considerably
Oral arguments could be replaced by written submissions
Constructive use of the Subordinate Courts
Issue: Tendency to fix many more cases than the Court can possibly hear on a day and then spending considerable time every day in calling certain cases with a view to adjourn them to a future date
Solution: An attempt should be made in consultation with Advocates to estimate the time; a particular case will take to hear, leading to reduction in the number of adjournments
Connecting the Dots:
Critically examine- in view of the current judicial crisis, if changing the core structure of the judiciary has become indispensable to address the inefficiencies pointed out by CJI Thakur.
General studies 2:
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General studies 3:
Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.
The way forward in Military command – Indian Army, Navy, Air Force
Why in news?
Aiming to validate and fine-tune its strategy to take over enemy land via sea, the Indian military has just completed a mammoth amphibious exercise ‘Jal Prahar’ that saw participation of all three wings of the armed forces in the strategic Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) is the first integrated theatre command in India with headquarters at Port Blair.
Andaman and Nicobar Command:
The Andaman and Nicobar Command is the only Tri-service theater command of the Indian Armed Forces, based at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a Union Territory of India.
It was created in 2001 to safeguard India’s strategic interests in Southeast Asia and the Strait of Malacca by increasing rapid deployment of military assets in the region.
Tri-service theater command:
Tri service/ joint warfare: Joint warfare is a military doctrine which places priority on the integration of the various service branches of a state’s armed forces into one unified command.
Theater command: In warfare, a theater is an area or place in which important military events occur or are progressing.
Recent developments in China:
Early this year, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China adopted a tri-service command in full, signalling its determination to undertake the deep systemic reforms needed to create an effective command structure that might someday credibly challenge the US.
In Beijing, on February 1, the PLA’s seven “military regions”, traditionally led by the army, gave way to five geographic theatre commands (termed “battle zones”) that will now function on a tri-service basis, incorporating elements from the PLA Navy and PLA Air Force.
The case of India with respect to creating theater commands:
In India, the debate over tri-service structures has focused mainly on appointing a tri-service commander – a five-star “chief of defence staff (CDS)” recommended by a Group of Ministers (GoM) in 2001; or a four-star “permanent chairman chiefs of staff (PCCOS)”, a half-way house solution proposed in 2013 by the Naresh Chandra committee.
But there is little focus on the need to simultaneously restructure India’s single-service theatre commands, merging 17 army, navy and air force commands into five-six tri-service commands.
Creating a CDS/PCCOS to oversee long-range force structuring and to deliver single-point military advice to political leaders would unquestionably make the military leaner and more effective.
But creating tri-service theatre commands is crucial for enhancing battlefield performance.
Note : Refer ‘Naresh Chandra committee’ on defence reforms
Who are opposing the tri service structures in India?
Opposition to tri-service structures comes not just from bureaucrats and politicians, but equally from within the military.
Neither the army, navy or air force chiefs want a military boss (CDS) or even another equal (PCCOS).
And they certainly do not want to give away control over their theatre commands, with these cutting edge units placed under some commander who reports elsewhere.
We have been slow to reform the structures of our armed forces.
We should promote ‘jointness’ across every level of our armed forces.
We wear different colours, but we serve the same cause and bear the same flag.
Jointness at the top is a need that is long overdue.
We also need reforms in senior defence management.
It is sad that many defence reform measures proposed in the past have not been implemented. This is an area of priority for India.
Connecting the dots:
To what extent do you think India needs a chief of defence staff at the apex level to take the responsibility of decision making under critical and necessary conditions.
Differentiate between defence forces, paramilitary forces and central armed police forces.
Water will continue to be scarce – A focus on minor irrigation projects and drip irrigation could go a long way in coping with frequent crises