The deeper malaise is the complete inability of the conventional court system to deliver timely justice.
30|March|2020, Kerala High Court: conducted proceedings through video conferencing + made proceeding live.
The judges conducted the hearing from their homes.
Nearly 30 urgent matters were taken up for hearing, including bail applications and writ petitions, and were disposed of.
The advocates concerned and law officers also participated in the proceedings from their respective offices.
This is truly epochal.
This example must be institutionalised and eternalised.
A blueprint for e-courts
Government must establish an effective task force.
System Analysts Skill Developers Court Administrators Technologists Judges
Establishing hardware, software and IT systems for courts
Examining application of artificial intelligence benefiting from the data base generated through e-courts projects
Establishing appropriate e-filing systems and procedures
Creating skill training and recognition for paralegals to understand and to help advocates and others to access the system to file their cases and add to their pleadings and documents as the case moves along
While these schemes look rosy on paper, without implementation and accountability there is no justice to the aggrieved citizens.
The local panchayat, municipalor corporation office, or any well-intentioned NGO can assist the complainant to make these online complaints to the Legal Services Authority if the complainant is unable to do so directly.
This is just one of the myriad ways in which access to justice can be enhanced exponentially whilesimultaneously reducing the burden on conventional courts.
Sacking by subterfuge
Removal of the Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner.
The State government got the Governor to issue an ordinance
To cut the SEC’s tenure from five to three years
Amend the criterion: from being an officer of the rank of Principal Secretary and above to one who had served as a High Court judge.
This automatically rendered Mr. Kumar’s continuance invalid.
Last month, just days before the local body polls were to be held, the SEC postponed the elections, citing the COVID-19 outbreak.
The State government approached the Supreme Court, but the court declined to interfere.
The Constitution makes the holder of that post removable only in the same manner as a High Court judge.
If courts uphold this means of dislodging the head of an independent election body, it would mark the end of free and fair elections.
Aparmita Prasad Singh vs. State of U.P. (2007)
The judgment seems erroneous, as it gives a carte blanche to the State government to remove an inconvenient election authority by merely changing the tenure or retirement age.
It is a well-settled principle in law that what cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly.
Further, the Constitution, under Article 243K, prohibits the variation of any condition of service to the detriment of any incumbent.
France’s competition regulator:Google must pay news publishers and agencies for re-use of their content.
Over the last two decades, even as publishers across the world struggled to make a commercially meaningful transition to the digital world, Google became the primary gateway for readers.
While this worked well for the readers and for Google, which as a result could build a mammoth advertising business, it never worked well enough for news publishers, notwithstanding the increase in traffic they experienced.
Unions representing publishers charged Google with abusing its dominant position in response to the law, which seeks to create fairer grounds of negotiation.
The complaint was that Google, on the grounds of complying with the new law, decided it would not display the extracts and other elements unless publishers authorise free usage.
The regulator said it found that Google’s practices “were likely to constitute an abuse of a dominant position, and caused serious and immediate harm to the press sector.”
Ambedkar and the Poona Pact
In late September 1932, B.R. Ambedkar negotiated the Poona Pact with Mahatma Gandhi.
The background to the Poona Pact was the Communal Award of August 1932, which, among other things, reserved 71 seats in the central legislature for the depressed classes.
Gandhi, who was opposed to the Communal Award, saw it as a British attempt to split Hindus, and began a fast unto death to have it repealed.
In a settlement negotiated with Gandhi, Ambedkar agreed for depressed class candidates to be elected by a joint electorate.
However, on his insistence, slightly over twice as many seats (147) were reserved for the depressed classes in the legislature than what had been allotted under the Communal Award.
In addition, the Poona Pact assured a fair representation of the depressed classes in the public services while earmarking a portion of the educational grant for their uplift.
The Poona Pact was an emphatic acceptance by upper-class Hindusthat the depressed classes constituted the most discriminated sections of Hindu society.
It was also conceded that something concrete had to be done to give them a political voice as well as a leg-up to lift them from a backwardness they could not otherwise overcome.
Perry Anderson and Arundhati Roy argued that Gandhi through his fast coerced Ambedkar into the Poona Pact. Ambedkar, however, was hardly the person to bend to someone else’s will.
The Poona Pact had several positive outcomes for Ambedkar. It emphatically sealed his leadership of the depressed classes across India.
He made the entire country, and not just the Congress Party, morally responsible for the uplift of the depressed classes.
Most of all he succeeded in making the depressed classes a formidable political force for the first time in history.
As a practical man Ambedkar was not looking for the perfect solution.
As he remarked in a 1943 address to mark the 101st birthday celebrations of Mahadev Govind Ranade, all he wanted was “a settlement of some sort”; that he was not “prepared to wait for an ideal settlement”.
On the 129th year of his birth on April 14 this year, we would do well to remember Ambedkar as much for the Poona Pact as we do for the Constitution he helped conjure.
Re-imagining our economic choices
The COVID-19 pandemic will reshape all our economic choices.
For decades, we have chosen profits and growth over human lives.
The WHO estimates that 4.2 million lives are lost annually due to air pollution.
Social distancing will also take a disproportionate economic toll on the informal sector, employing up to 60% of the working population globally and 90% in India.
Wash your hands? What about the 35% who lack access to sanitation?
According to UNICEF, even prior to COVID-19, diseases directly linked to lack of safe water killed 1,400 children under five every day, globally over half a million a year.
The Confederation of Indian Industry is advising pay cuts for senior managementwhile ensuring workers do not lose jobs.
Citizens are supporting (even demanding) these restrictions.
Perhaps it is time to shift from indices of economic growth and speed (such as rates of GDP growth) to those that build on lives and living conditions.
We face a common enemy, and there may be more in thefuture.
Actions giving results; no new cases in 25 districts, says govt.
India registered the largest spike in deaths due to COVID-19 on Monday, with 51 being reported in the past 24 hours, the highest since the first case was reported in January.
India’s tally with 905 additional cases has gone up to 9,352 and 324 deaths so far. Over 857 patients have recovered.
The Union Health Ministry, however, on Monday said that implementation of its action plan had started yielding results in 25 districts across 15 States, which had reported cases earlier.
Odisha govt. modifies second phase lockdown guidelines
Set to enter the second phase of the lockdown imposed to fight the COVID-19 outbreak from April 15 to 30, the Odisha government has made relaxations to kick-start activities relating to agriculture, horticulture, fisheries, forest, drinking water and e-commerce.
Announcing modifications in the lockdown guidelines on Monday, State Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Pradeep Jena said social distancing norms would be strictly followed while facilitating activities that were related to livelihood of people.
E-commerce activities would function during the extended lockdown period when companies engaged in home delivery of goods and services would be allowed to operate without any hindrance.
Restaurants could carry out home delivery but could not allow people to eat inside.
The SRC said farmers could resume all agricultural activities, including harvesting, selling their rabi crops and activities relating to preparing their fields for the coming kharif season.
The shops and establishments engaged in selling agricultural implements, cattle feed, fish feed and food proceeding and packaging would also be allowed to remain open.
Centre may raise loan to pay GST dues to States
The Union government is exploring raising a loan to pay the shortfall of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) compensation amount to the States as the latter have had to ramp up spending to combat the outbreak of COVID19.
Free tests only for the poor, clarifies SC
The Supreme Court on Monday modified its April 8 order to clarify that free testing for COVID-19 shall continue to be made available to the poor eligible under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.
Free testing would also be made available to any other category of economically weaker sections of society as notified by the government from time to time, the court said.
Private labs would continue to charge the Indian Council of Medical Research rates of up to ₹4,500 for tests from people who can afford to pay.
Ministers, bureaucrats return to offices
As work from home ended for Ministers in the Union Council and senior bureaucrats on Monday, some activity slowly returned to hitherto deserted corridors of power in New Delhi.
Ministers were seen at work at their Ministries donning masks and after going through temperature checks at the entrance of their office buildings.
‘Floor test is Governor’s discretion’
A Governor can call for a floor test any time he objectively feels a government in power has lost the confidence of the House and is on shaky ground, the Supreme Court held on Monday.
In a judgment, a Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta concluded that a Governor can call for a trust vote if he has arrived at a prima facie opinion, based on objective material, that the incumbent State government has lost its majority in the Assembly.
‘Online child porn traffic rises by 95%
Online child pornography traffic after the lockdown in the country has gone up by 95% with online data monitoring websites showing an increase in demand for searches like “child porn”, “sexy child” and “teen sex videos.”
Water from Ganga, Yamuna being tested
Has the lockdown had a measurable impact on the water quality of the Ganga and Yamuna, rivers that have a history of battling pollution?
Water samples have been collected from Delhi (Yamuna) and all Ganga basin States, and are in the process of being analysed. While this was also part of the routine water quality monitoring in the river, there was a “special focus” on the impact of lockdown, said D.P. Mathuria, senior NMCG official in charge of water quality management.
Explain the process of removal of Election Commissioner of India. Is the process of removal of Chief Election Commissioner of India and Election Commissioners the same?