The Hindu Newspaper Analysis – 22 January 2021

Courts and the executive

  • This article has two speakers who present their views of the questions put forth, the primary one being, if the courts are encroaching on the powers of the executive?
  • The author answers this by bringing the farm into picture and says what the Supreme court did was not sought in this regard, what was questioned was the legality of the legislative competence of the laws since center legislated on a state subject and the question of law and order bought out in front of the court.
  • But the court took the other steps where it stalled the implementation of the laws and formed a four-member committee to look into this matter and provide a solution in this regard. The author says that the court tried to prove that it is better than the Govt.
  • The constitutional matters with regards to the legislation on the state list and the passage of the bills in the Rajya Sabha through a voice vote was not discussed about or catered to.
  • The courts do have the powers to pass stay orders but a legal reason has to be provided in this regard but here the assuage of the farmers feelings has been provided by the court which looks strange the basic constitutional aspect was not questioned.
  • The law-and-order question has also been evaded as the onus has been put on the police to take this consideration or not in the right way.
  • The courts have played a proactive role in most cases while they haven’t in some, the author says that the courts have abdicated their responsibility of judicial review and are usurping the executive and legislative powers which are beyond judicial review.
  • The authors also talk about judicial overreach where the courts have been going out of their boundaries to solute issues even though they have basic powers like striking down parliamentary laws if they are ultra vires to the constitution; the courts even have the power to check into the President’s rule, if it were legit or not.
  • Some places, the courts have taken radical steps to aid to the problems, we can mention the famous Navtej Singh Johar v/s union of India case where the section 377 decriminalized and social justice was provided to the LGBTQ community by providing that sexual orientation and marriage is a personal choice.

Death row debate

  • We are all aware of the fact that India is one of the countries that has the existence of capital punishments but the delay in carrying in out the same has been a matter of debate, also is the fact that if death penalties are efficient enough to reduce crimes in this regard.
  • Even the current ruling Govt has discussed the existence of the capital punishments, if it will be carried out further and also has sought the opinions of the states to end this debate.
  • India is one of the 56 nations that has the practice of death penalty, also 142 nations have abolished the same.
  • Some nations in the world China, Saudi Arabia, Iran among others have been practicing the same in which now Sri Lanka has also joined,
  • The death penalty convicts in India has reduced from 993 in 2017 to 690 in 2018.
  • We also need to look at from the perspective of the convicts who go through psychological trauma due to the fact that there is delay in execution and they are subjected to solitary confinement for all these years which is against the cannons of justice enshrined in the Indian constitution.
  • In 2019 we had 690 death penalties being awarded and this totaled to 378 people.
  • We need to make the special mention of former president, Pranab Mukherjee who disposed as many as 34 mercy petitions, while 30 were rejected, for 4 the penalty was reprieved.
  • It is not a matter of how many cases he disposed but it is about how swiftly he did it as lives of people were dependent on him.
  • Lack of accountability acts as a hinderance to the proper functioning of the criminal justice system added to it is the delay in investigations, delayed court hearings, administrative injustices among others.

Data among others

  • We are all aware of the debate with regards to the WhatsApp privacy policy which once updated will be shared with its parent company Facebook which will in turn use it to get revenue through data.
  • The people were not okay with this and hence moved to other apps like Signal. Telegram among others and those apps saw huge download rates.
  • This irked the Ministry of Electronics and Information technology that wrote to WhatsApp about the scenario and sought justifications.
  • But this not a sufficient solution, as we see that in the European union, this sought of transfer of data is prohibited.
  • Similarly, we also need a law that would protect our people, in this effort got the data protection bill which tried to inculcate all recommendations from the BN Shrikrsihna committee but there was a huge difference. It was said so because the bill was criticized as seeming to promote surveillance by the Govt.
  • Also, the bill ran by the fact the data localization would be enough and would save the people.
  • But this is not enough as we need a robust law with better coordination and tools to secure the data of people from being misused since the privacy of the people has to be respected.
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      Dr. RS Aggarwal
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