TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Separation of powers between various organs , dispute redressal mechanisms and institution
- Structure, organization and functioning of Executive and Judiciary.
Judicial Activism or Judicial Adventurism?
Doctrine of separation of powers:
The doctrine of separation of powers implies that each pillar of democracy – the executive, legislature and the judiciary – perform separate functions and act as separate entities.
- The executive is vested with the power to make policy decisions and implement laws.
- The legislature is empowered to issue enactments.
- The judiciary is responsible for adjudicating disputes.
Different agencies impose checks and balances upon each other but may not transgress upon each other’s functions. Thus, the judiciary exercises judicial review over executive and legislative action, and the legislature reviews the functioning of the executive.
In the course of action, Supreme Court has been activist in its interpretation of certain provisions in the Constitution and its day-to-day judicial control and correction of the executive branches of government set it apart from other common law countries.
Evolution and growth of Judicial Activism in India:
- This judicial activism began when access to courts was opened up to the poor, indigent and disadvantaged sections of the nation and their basic rights were enforced through what has now become the Public Interest Litigation (PIL)
- The judiciary, led by the Supreme Court, became an active participant in the dispensing of social justice and increased its relevance to the nation in a manner not envisaged by the makers of the Constitution.
- However, this activism, which was widely welcomed in India and acclaimed abroad, has now metamorphosed (matured) into a correctional jurisdiction that the superior courts exercise over governments and public authorities.
- As a result, over the years, the judiciary in India has acquired the supremacy over the legislature and the executive, which is criticized as violating the doctrine of separation of powers. It is remarked by many that courts are going beyond the ambit and it is no more a judicial ‘activism’ but a judicial ‘adventurism’.
Judicial ‘activism’ or judicial ‘adventurism’?
- The PIL was originally conceived as a jurisdiction firmly grounded on the enforcement of basic human rights of the disadvantaged unable to reach courts on their own.
- The courts’ function was to supplement the other government departments in improving the social and economic conditions of the marginalised sections.
- Initially, it did not assume the functions of supervising and correcting the omissions and actions of government or public bodies; it, rather, joined them in a cooperative effort to achieve constitutional goals.
- Over the years, however, the unexceptional social action dimension of the PIL has been diluted, converted, and eclipsed by another type of “public cause litigation”.
- In this type of legal process, the court’s intervention is not sought for enforcing the rights of the disadvantaged but to simply correct the actions or omissions of public officials, government departments or other public bodies.
Examples of recent Supreme Court’s Judicial Activism:
- Supreme Court giving directions to the Election Commission to order candidates to disclose their criminal convictions, their assets and liabilities at the time of elections.
- SC calling for quotas in medical and engineering colleges
- SC issuing orders to safeguard women from sexual harassment at workplaces.
- Ordering control over automobile emissions, mandatory wearing of seat belts and helmets, action plans to control and prevent the menace of monkeys in cities and towns, among others.
- The Supreme Court also monitors the conduct of investigating and prosecution agencies, a process which began in Vineet Narain vs CBI (1998), in which the court entertained a petition to get the CBI to investigate high-ranking officials suspected of corruption.
- The court directed the government to set up a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), with statutory status, and gave orders for the selection of its commissioner.
- In 1993, the court even issued orders on the conduct of a military operation in Hazratbal, Kashmir, where the army had, as a matter of strategy, restricted food supplies to hostages. The court ruled that food of 1,200 calorific value should be supplied to hostages. It prompted an army general to write, “For the first time in history, a court of law was asked to pronounce judgment on the conduct of an ongoing military operation. Its verdict materially affected the course of operation”.
- Even proceedings of legislatures have not been out of its ambit. In the Jharkhand assembly case, the speaker was directed to conduct proceedings as per a prescribed agenda and record them for the court.
- These orders were made in spite of Article 212, which forbids courts from inquiring into any proceedings of the legislature.
- In several PILs concerning the environment and the welfare of those disadvantaged, the court has directed policy changes in administration.
- There has been a strong critique against seeing Supreme Court correcting government action in trifling matters which should not be its concern. The above instances of Court’s interference are seen as judicial adventurism rather than judicial activism by many politicians and public.
- Majority of politicians from different parties are supporting the case for curbing judicial activism on the grounds that the executive and legislature must be allowed to function freely.
- Unless the parameters of PIL are strictly formulated by the Supreme Court and strictly observed, PIL which is so necessary in India, is in danger of becoming diffuse, unprincipled, encroaching into the functions of other branches of government and ineffective by its indiscriminate use.
Connecting the dots:
- There is a strong debate that Supreme Court is increasingly, and controversially, asserting control over the executive and legislature. Critically examine with examples.
- Critics argue that over the scope of the PIL has expanded to include matters that affect the doctrine of separation of rights and its scope should be limited to its original constituents. Critically examine.
General studies 1:
- Role of women and women’s organization, women related issues, Social empowerment
General studies 2:
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Time has come—Feminist Economics
Time and again, and with respect to different reports, one common thing stands starkly the same—having more women in paid work will make our economies grow faster. Feminist Economics thus emerges as an ideology, working swiftly to put behind the age-old ignorance and skewed biases towards the female gender as an economic asset. It has taken up the concept of gender norms, most commonly conceived as a constraint on women’s voice and gender equality; and puts into perspective the state of norms having materialised over generations in specific domains and their embedment in social institutions.
Norms are not free-floating and we need to understand that it changes in multiple ways—both in response to broad socioeconomic change and from the dynamics of gender relations themselves. Restructuring of gender orders, and diversity and contradictions in gender norms, give scope for activism. When we talk about India, affirmative action measures have long been identified as an ‘herb’ to enhance women’s agency in decision making, both economically and socially. But, these transformative reforms have witnessed mixed results and have led the institutions, including social norms, entail specific identity costs that has managed to reinforce stereotyped accounts on women’s political agency.
Feminist Economics include—
Includes both studies of gender roles in the economy from a liberatory perspective and critical work directed at biases in the economics discipline
- Challenges economic analyses that treat women as invisible, or that serve to reinforce situations oppressive to women, and develops innovative research designed to overcome these failings
- Points out how subjective biases concerning acceptable topics and methods have compromised the reliability of economics research
- Topics addressed include the economics of households, labor markets, care, development, the macroeconomy, national budgets, and the history, philosophy, methodology, and teaching of economics
Too much of a man’s world
Viewpoint: Economics should offer an objective way of looking at world and its problems but proponents believe that both in terms of methodology and focus, economics as a subject has become too much of a man’s world. The habit of ignoring ‘women’ by referring to ‘men’ even while explaining and proposing definitions carry a mind-set with a strong affinity towards the male counterparts. Economics has just become limited to be thought of just a world of money, machines and men.
Blindness: The constructed social norms are not only ‘not’ in favour of women but are ignorant towards their plight as well. They are not only blind towards social norms that are unfair to women but also misses out an element of inequality between the sexes, namely, unpaid work. Unequal gender systems largely works to ensure that women are often slotted for the lowest wage, least secure jobs, with men having preferential access to “male breadwinner” jobs
Paid Vs. Unpaid: The most fundamental question being GDP counts house work when it is paid but excludes it when it is done free of charge— a misleading and an ill-thought policy which should be addressed as soon as possible. Leaving unpaid work is highly contributing towards diminishing women’s contribution and remains nullified even when women are contributing immensely in raising the future generation—this exclusion from official measures of output makes it less of a priority sector
- Paul Samuelson humorously pointed out the truth when he said a country’s GDP falls, when a man marries his maid.
- Marilyn Waring, a feminist economist: The system of measuring GDP was designed by men to keep women “in their place”; arguing that unpaid care should be included in GDP to reflect that “production” of well cared-for children is just as important as that of cars or crops
- OECD: Women spend roughly 5 per cent more time working than men and simultaneously spend roughly twice as much time on unpaid work
Constitution: Guarantees protection to women under articles 14, 15 and 16 as well as in the Directive Principles of State Policy
- Passage of Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005- Recognised the daughter as a coparcener with equal rights to the son
- A woman can be the karta or Manager of the ‘HUF’
Draft National Policy for Women 2016: Shifted from just welfare to “welfare with heavy dose of rights”
The Household is a locus of economic activity:
The household has traditionally been out of the purview of economics and is a serious shortcoming which can be corrected within feminist economics, where the household is treated as an important economic institution. Also, Feminist economists have demonstrated that people are more than just rational entities who act individually through marginal analysis, and have attempted to construct a more holistic vision of an economic actor, which includes group interactions and actions motivated by factors other than greed.
Policymaking: The policies should take care of the following while being framed—
- Right to earn paid sick days
- Paid parental leave
- Right to ask their employer for a schedule that works for them and their family
- Programs to address the need for care for children and the elderly
- Illegal to discriminate against those with care responsibilities
Agenda 2030— The process of defining the new agenda—more inclusive, and its scope universal and grounded in human rights. To be consistent with the newly adopted 2030 Agenda, three key measures would be needed to stimulate economic and social recovery that “leaves” no one behind:
- Job creation along with the extension of social protection measures to all;
- Public investments in infrastructure and social services to support the unpaid care economy, build human capabilities and contribute to job creation; and
- Effective regulation of global finance to avoid future crises, and to channel financial resources into building more stable, equitable and caring economies
To reduce Inequality:
- Promotion of women’s rights and economic opportunities because it contributes to economic growth and the increase of productivity, instead of primarily because it is a matter of women’s human right to development
- Need to address the phenomenon of ‘poor women in the informal sector facing a relatively heavy tax burden, while multinational companies keep benefiting from tax dodging’—Need for progressive tax reform
- Complementing financial inclusion of women (in terms of access to credit) with deconstruction of the structural barriers for women’s economic rights and access to, ownership, and control over economic resources.
Connecting the Dots:
Is economics truly the study of men as they live and think and move in the ordinary business of life literally, or there can be more to this definition which misses our though process? Discuss if this is the right way to explain a phenomenon and substantiate your argument with proper examples.
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