Indian Constitution, significant provisions and basic structure
Separation of powers between various organs , dispute redressal mechanisms and institution
Structure, organization and functioning of Executive and Judiciary
‘Right to reputation’ is a fundamental right?
Supreme Court recently rejected the idea of constitutional challenge to criminal defamation (denied the plea to de-criminalise defamation). Rather the judgment raised ‘reputation’ to the level of “shared value of the collective” and elevated it to the status of a fundamental right.
The honorable Supreme Court held that the right to reputation to be an integral part of Articles 21 and 19(2) of the Constitution. It also held that the ‘right to free speech cannot be read to mean that one citizen can defame another’.
Landmark Verdict: Balances the right to freedom of speech and expression and right to reputation
The theory of balancing of rights dictates that along with the right to freedom of speech and expression, there is a correlative duty on citizens not to interfere with the liberty of others, as everyone is entitled to the dignity of person and of reputation.
The guiding rationale, as enumerated in various previous judgements of the apex court, hold that nobody has a right to denigrate the others’ right to person or reputation.
Therefore, in this context, criminal defamation, which exists in the form of Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), is not a restriction on free speech that can be characterized as disproportionate, as cumulatively, it serves the social interest in holding “reputation” to be a shared value of the collective.
Defamatory speeches must be held accountable; “reputation” as a cherished constituent of life must be vehemently protected
The provisions governing criminal defamation are clearly laid down:
The intention to cause harm and the existence of knowledge that one’s speech is likely to cause harm upon utterance of defamatory words are essentials to convict a person accused of an offence under these provisions.
No person can be criminally held liable for defamatory speech merely on the utterance of slanderous or libellous statements.
Additionally, knowledge or proof of recklessness (absence of good faith) that is enlisted as an “exception” or defence in the IPC is also incorporated in Section 499 as essential to hold a person liable under these provisions.
Interestingly, in the current milieu of wide-ranging media coverage, journalists also have to be held accountable for making imputations/allegations sufficient to ruin the reputation of an individual. Given the fact that in today’s world there is an increasing awareness, it has become more important now than ever that reckless or wild allegations made by any section of the society, be it an individual or sections of media, be held accountable for such brazen impunity.
The Supreme Court declared that the right to free speech under Article 19(1)(a) had to be “balanced” against the right to “reputation” under Article 21. However, the court fails to explain how this balancing exercise was to be carried out. It simply asserted that since reputation could not be “crucified” at the altar of free speech, criminal defamation was constitutional.
Explanation 1 to Section 499 of IPC provides that a statement or imputation is defamatory if it is not made in public good. It is not sufficient to prove that such statement or imputation is in fact true. The idea of public good is at best vague without any means to evaluate it.
Further, under Section 199 of CrPC allows multiple complaints to be filed in different jurisdictions for a single offensive publication.
These provisions have the potential to be used to file frivolous complaints and could be a handy tool for harassment of journalists or activists among others.
These aspects are critical to determine the reasonableness of criminal defamation and it is unfortunate that the judgment that runs into hundreds of pages has not evaluated them.
There is a need to define what kind of speech is considered defamatory, what procedure is followed to bring action against the alleged wrong doer and scope of abuse of the law. There should be provisions for strict legal actions against those who misuse and file frivolous complaints.
General Studies 2
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General Studies 3
Infrastructure – Roads
Sociologically—Economically taxed Indian Cities
Let us talk about Indian cars—It’s about prestige and ego, to own so many cars. That is what makes vehicular emissions a social problem, not an economic one. It is about those who do not have versus those who use too much.
Can we ever fix deteriorating air quality and where do the answers really lie?
Acknowledgement of the problem itself—
The Centre for Science and Environment quotes a 2012 epidemiological study of 12,000 children across 36 Delhi schools, which showed that every third child had reduced lung function. The sputum of a Delhi child apparently contained four times more iron-laden macrophages than those from clean environs, indicating pulmonary haemorrhage. More and more Delhi parents speak of their children using nebulizers.
Beyond Delhi: 2016 World Health Organisation report says 16 of the 30 most polluted cities in the world are in India.
Determined efforts needed:
No exemptions should be made either for women, children and other sections (Odd-even rule)
Create stringent rules and give teeth to its enforcement
Strong demand management measures like highly priced parking for cars, or a variation of congestion pricing needs to be employed
Create efficient public transport system—
Construct bicycle lanes: In Europe, Munich has 1,200 km of marked bike lanes and 22,000 stands. Close to 20 per cent of the city’s traffic is believed to be on bicycles
Employ more new generation buses: China has more than 100,000 electric buses, 20 per cent of the total number of buses
Expand Metro facilities: Beijing’s Metro railway system went from two lines and 54 km in 2000 to a staggering 18 lines and 527 km by 2014
Make arrangements for alternative transportation facilities: The use and adoption of BRT needs to be preceded by strong, smart and attractive messaging
Selective privatization of India’s public transport sector—
By either through opening up the market to private ?rms (who would own, manage, operate and ?nance their own systems) or by having public agencies contract with private ?rms to operate services on a system wide basis, for selective routes, or for selected functions (like maintenance)
Has much potential to improve e?ciency, but must be accompanied by strict regulations, performance standards, and overall coordination to ensure an integrated network of services.
Essential to replace the outdated buses with modern, safe, clean, and fuel-e?cient vehicles
Improving and expanding rail systems are also crucial, since they are insulated from the congestion delays caused by roadway tra?c.
Polluting Industries—No place amidst people
Mexico City didn’t just move out the industries but ensured there were better filtration systems introduced into polluting stacks.
Reducing sulphur content in diesel is a critical task
The leap towards Euro VI (by 2020) or higher emission standards from the current Euro IV norms—
To attain the specified super low emissions, all reactions have to be precise, and controlled by microprocessors; and the technologies must be introduced in series, and then synergised
If BS-V were to be skipped entirely, then both DPF and SCR would need to be fitted together for testing, which, auto firms say, would make it extremely difficult to detect which of the technologies is at fault in case of errors in the system.
So, even if oil companies manage to leap, auto firms claim they need 6-7 years to switch to BS-VI
BS IV fuels contain 50 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur while Euro VI will contain 10 ppm.
Today, India has Euro III norms in most parts of the country and Euro IV in major cities.
Promotion of cleaner technologies and alternate sources of energy to run vehicles:
National Mission for Electricity Mobility (NMEM): To enhance penetration of efficient and environmentally friendly hybrid and electric vehicles;
GoI: 1,000 crores for the Plan in 2015 to decrease CO2 emissions by 1.2- 1.5% in 2020
Promotion of usage of Biofuels: To substitute petrol and diesel in automobiles
Target: 20% blending of bio-fuels such as bio-diesel and bio-ethanol by 2017 is proposed;
Ethanol run bus launched in Nagpur under ‘Green Bus’ Project
Awareness of impact lacking: Behavioural approach needs to altered and a comprehensive, integrated and long-term plan of action, involving coordination between different ministries, departments, NGOs and the public, needs to be drawn to address the issue
Connecting the Dots:
Can change in values and aspirations in citizens, help in traffic management and reduction in pollution? Comment
The takeaway from Tehran – The Prime Minister’s visit has given India another chance to craft a strategic relationship with Iran and to enhance its influence in West Asia. But New Delhi has its work cut out for it
The court’s future is in its own hands – The Supreme Court’s attempt to orchestrate environmental governance in a case relating to diesel taxis in Delhi hurtles it towards a new frontier, and one for which it is wholly unprepared
Payments bank dreams go awry before take-off– Of the 11 licence holders, only eight remain in the fray as concerns about profitability and rising competition are making them think twice before jumping in