TOPIC: General studies 2
- Structure, organization and functioning of the Judiciary
Diffusing the Judicial burden
Why in news?
- Recently the Supreme Court had asked the centre to consider the request of setting up National Court of Appeal with regional branches in Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkatta.
- However the Centre strongly opposed the plea saying that it is a “fruitless endeavour” and will not lessen the burden of two crore cases pending in trial courts.
National Court of Appeal (NCA):
What is a National Court of Appeal?
- The National Court Appeal with regional benches in Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata is meant to act as final court of justice in dealing with appeals from the decisions of the High Courts and tribunals within their region in civil, criminal, labour and revenue matters.
- In such a scenario, a much-relieved Supreme Court of India situated in Delhi would only hear matters of constitutional law and public law.
How will the NCA help ease the apex court’s burden?
- The Supreme Court is saddled with civil and criminal appeals that arise out of everyday disputes.
- As a result of entertaining these appeals, the Supreme Court’s real mandate ,that of a Constitutional Court, the ultimate arbiter on disputes concerning any interpretation of the Constitution is not fulfilled.
- By taking up the Supreme Court’s appeals jurisdiction, the NCA will give the former more time for its primal functions.
Backlog cases deviates the apex court from its primal functions:
- The Supreme Court was meant to be a Constitutional Court.
- However, the sheer weight of its case backlog leaves the court with little time for its primal functions.
- In spite of recently accelerated rates of case disposal in the Supreme Court (in 2015 it disposed of 47,424 cases compared to 45,042 in 2014 and 40,189 in 2013), the backlog was still a staggering 59,468 cases as of February 2016.
Inequitable state of affairs of the apex court in India:
- Geographical proximity to the court is definitely an aspect of access to justice.
- The fact that the Supreme Court sits only in New Delhi limits accessibility to litigants from south India.
- A study reveals that of all the cases filed in the Supreme Court, the highest numbers are from high courts in the northern States:
- 12 per cent from Delhi, 8.9 per cent from Punjab and Haryana, 7 per cent from Uttarakhand, 4.3 per cent from Himachal Pradesh, etc.
- The lowest figures are from the southern high courts: Kerala 2.5 per cent, Andhra Pradesh 2.8 per cent, Karnataka 2.2 per cent and a mere 1.1 per cent from Madras High Court.
- There is therefore an urgent need to find a solution to such an inequitable state of affairs.
What does law commission say in this regard?
- The 229th report of the Law Commission of India delved into this problem in depth and came up with the suggestion of retaining the New Delhi bench of the Supreme Court as a Constitutional Court and the establishment of Cassation (like devolving power) Benches of the Supreme Court in the four regions at New Delhi, Chennai/Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai.
- The report pointed out that since Article 130 of the Constitution provides that “the Supreme Court shall sit in Delhi or such other place or places as the Chief Justice of India may with the approval of the President, from time to time, appoint”, the creation of Cassation Benches of the Supreme Court would require no constitutional amendment.
- However the Supreme Court rejected suggestions to have benches of the Supreme Court in other parts of the country.
- Now a constitutional bench is hearing to the plea of setting up of National Court of Appeal.
- The judgement will decide the future of NCA and accessibility of judiciary to common man.
Connecting the dots:
- Critically examine the status of the criminal justice delivery system in India.
- To what extent do you think setting up of National Court of Appeal would ease the burden of apex court of India.
TOPIC: General studies 2
- Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein
The ironies of Small States
Familiar questions of the political terrain—
- Political instability (once inelegantly called ‘horse-trading’)
- Containment of capacity of the anti-defection law
- The regrettable tendency of parties controlling the Central government to inexorably expand their writ
- The readiness of State leaders to violate their own obligations as representatives of the political public, and vitiate democracy
Formation of States—Deepening of Democracy
- Smaller political units facilitate contact between the government and the governed
- Enables local populations to imprint their opinions and interests onto the consciousness of their representatives
Demands for statehood followed struggles against injustice—
State leaders have shown great willingness to play into the hands of the Central government, with representatives forgetting the history of their own societies
- Case of Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (CMM), Shankar Guha Niyogi— (from the late 1970s till 1991)
- He was assassinated by the men of the liquor lobby— one of the most transformative social movements in the country.
- Focussed not only on the struggle for wages, but also on alternative development strategies that inspired radical political consciousness among the Dalits and the Adivasis- giving ‘us’ an enormously creative interpretation of citizenship
- When Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh—
- Presently, according to the 2011 India Human Development Report, the incidence of poverty among Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) households in Chhattisgarh is much higher than in other social groups in the State and the country.
- Chhattisgarh ranks low on Human Development Index rankings, with more malnourished women, underweight children, and illiterate people than the national average
- People in the densely populated forests and hills of Dantewada and Bastar-where a majority of the STs live are the most illiterate
- Ironically, Chhattisgarh is a mineral-rich and power-surplus State
- Jharkhand with vast natural resources—
- Accounted for 70 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product of Bihar before 2000 (but presently remains one of the most economically backward States of the country)
- The SC and ST population constitutes around 12 per cent and over 26 per cent of the State’s population.
- Poverty figures in these two communities are much higher than corresponding figures at the all-India level.
- A higher percentage of children of the communities suffer from malnutrition and illiteracy.
- Demand for Statehood:
- Emerged from a 200-year-old struggle against exploitation
- 1970s- the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha led by prominent communists and tribal leaders focussed on the direct delivery of justice to exploited tribal communities in the mineral-rich areas, in agrarian districts, and in plantations— launched a concerted effort against displacement
- The demand for statehood was part of the demand of control over resources by tribal communities
- State of Uttarakhand—
- It is inhabited by hill people (majority- upper castes)
- 1970s- Local communities mobilised against transfer of forest resources to commercial companies.
- The Chipko movement in the Kumaon and the Garhwal regions became famous for novel modes of protest and awareness of environmental harm (protested against appropriation of resources and actions that impinged upon their bare survival)
- The demand for statehood on the ground of special needs was articulated by leaders in national parties, and gained momentum in the late 1990s.
Deepening of Democracy or Political Vacuum?
- A new exploitative elite— With the formation of three small States the two paths — the fight against injustice and the drive to hoard power in the name of identity — have diverged replacing claims of representative democracy by aspirations to political power and distasteful compromises made in pursuit of profit.
- The political vacuum created by systemic injustice in both States have stepped the Maoists, with their ideology of a new world geared towards the interests of the poor and the oppressed.
Compromise— The chasm between the needs of the people who struggle for survival, action and inaction by representatives, and lack of remedial justice has compromised representative democracy enormously
Connecting the Dots:
- In the light of the divergence between justice and power-hoarding, discuss the relationship shared between federalism, States, representative democracy and justice?
- Many State Governments further bifurcate geographical administrative areas like Districts and Talukas for better governance. In light of the above, can it also be justified that more number of smaller States would bring in effective governance at State level? Discuss. (UPSC 2013 GS Mains)
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