More Than Just An Adjournment Disease

Justice Karanam Sreedhar Rao has rightly focused attention in his column in this issue of India Legal on the malignancy that has metastasized throughout our judicial system. It is an affliction known as pendency, a fancy word for interminable delays in the delivery of justice in both civil and criminal cases. Supreme Court Chief Justice Dipak Misra recently attributed this to what he called the “adjournment disease”. He was referring to a major flaw in the system which allows lawyers and judges and litigants to play fast and loose with it by escaping hearing dates when convenient, or using procrastinating tactics to defer ongoing cases to future dates. One painful example is of a company petition in the Karnataka High Court that is awaiting admission since 1985! Rao notes: In the Calcutta High Court, a civil suit is pending since 173 years. It was filed prior to the establishment of the Calcutta High Court 144 years ago. There are nearly 2.96 crore cases pending in subordinate courts and 5,000 judges are needed to tackle the pendency. In the High Courts, 31,16,492 civil cases are pending, out of which 5,98,631 go back over a decade; and 10,37,465 criminal cases are pending of which 1,87,999 have crossed the 10-year mark.…
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Prohibition in Kerala: Let the Good Times Roll

The Left government’s new liquor policy relaxes harsh restrictions imposed to curb the consumption of alcohol. While many are celebrating, others are calling it an anti-people and regressive move ~By Naveen Nair in Thiruvananthapuram It was champagne time for the tourism, liquor and hospitality industry in Kerala recently. What brought good cheer was the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government’s decision to scrap the phased prohibition policy initiated by the Congress-led UDF government that preceded it. Justifying the move, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan labelled the earlier policy as “impractical.” Said Vijayan: “We completely understand and respect the sentiments of the people who stand for prohibition. But it is an impractical solution in Kerala. So, the government has this strong conviction that the policy needs to be changed in lines with the realities before us.’’ With the scrapping of the old policy and the introduction of new norms, hotels with three-star ratings and above can now serve hard liquor in Kerala. This was something which the former UDF government had strictly limited by allotting liquor licenses only to five-star hotels. Others were only permitted to run beer and wine parlours. With the new policy, some 712 odd bar owners in the state have every reason to smile.…
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Way back in April India Legal predicted Kenneth Juster will be US Ambassador to India

The prediction of India Legal magazine came true on June 21 when Kenneth Juster, deputy director of National Economic Council was appointed as the US Ambassador to India. In his Delhi Durbar column (which features the latest gossips in the bureaucratic circles in New Delhi) of April 10, Dilip Bobb predicted that Juster would be the next US Ambassador to India. The prediction is in the news item titled Climbing Trump Tower (see picture). The grab of the news item which predicted that Kenneth Juster will be the next US ambassador to India “The Modi visit is scheduled for September, while an old hand, Kenneth Juster who was involved in early negotiations on the Indo-US nuclear deal is likely to be posted to Roosevelt House in Delhi sometime soon,” the news item said. —India Legal Bureau The post Way back in April India Legal predicted Kenneth Juster will be US Ambassador to India appeared first on India Legal.…
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Creating the Master Race

  ~By Dilip Bobb   It’s a Hitlerian concept with some additions. Adolf sought to create a Master Race of tall, blonde, blue-eyed Aryans by eliminating those with inferior genes like Jews and non-Whites. There are many in India, and the Indian government, who are seeking to create the Indian version of a master race and the perfect progeny. Suggestions on how this can be done, aka “Indic Thinking”, are pouring in from all over. Here are some of the more prominent ones. AYUSH: For those with inferior genetics who may not be aware, AYUSH stands for Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy. It is a ministry created by this government, upgraded from an obscure department in the ministry of health. It is headed by the aptly-named Yesso Naik, the BJP representative from Goa. The sensitive representative has taken the lead in forming the genetic code for creating the ideal Indian. Its official line: to produce healthy (Indic) babies, pregnant mothers should avoid feelings of lust, hatred, anger, attachment, desire, and avoid sex and meat, and have spiritual thoughts all the time. Sounds utopian? Here’s the Ayush-type answer—hang beautiful pictures in the bedroom and all will be fine, impure thoughts will be banished and only the purest baby will emerge.…
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CJI JS Khehar: A Judge in a Hurry

During his eight-month tenure, the chief justice adopted novel and clever ways to bring down the pendency of cases and constituted vacation benches to hear cases ~By Mary Mitzy Chief Justice of India JS Khehar demits office on August 27 after a short, eight-month tenure. However, when he does, he would have left to his successor and the judicial system a legacy of efficiency and diligence, built through his tireless efforts in reducing pendency. Justice Khehar’s stint at the top would last 120 working days, out of which 82 were before the summer vacations and 38 after that. He realised that the summer vacations were to be utilised and tried to introduce more than one vacation bench and took up critical cases during this time. What he has so far achieved is worthy of applause. When he assumed the top office at the Supreme Court, the number of cases pending there were 62,791; by May 1, this had come down to 60,751. On the face of it, the disposal of 2,040 cases during this short period is a major achievement. However, one has to keep in mind that many cases were filed during this period and that Justice Khehar had to manage all this within the constraints of a severely understaffed court. …
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Defeat by a Thousand Cuts

  ~By Dilip Bobb   Ever since the late lamented Zulfikar Ali Bhutto pledged that he would defeat India by inflicting a thousand cuts, Pakistan and India have been in a state of undeclared war. It takes many forms and proxies but it has escalated in recent weeks. Unhappy with the current state of play, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif summoned a meeting of his top army officers for a briefing last week. Excerpts.      Nawaz Sharif: I am not happy with the results of our last few encounters with India. It has bordered on being embarrassing. The public is angry and asking questions about leadership and team spirit. What seems to be the problem? General Ustaad: Sir, it looks like the enemy had far superior firepower. Our intelligence on their preparation, offensive capability and frontline forces was not adequate and some of our key strategies did not work out. Sharif: This is not on. I am coming under fire for failing in my duties. The buck stops with me, as does the buk buk. Why is this happening under my watch? I was told we were going to win this battle. What has gone wrong? General Bahadur: Mr Prime Minister, it is all to do with their new leader.…
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Witch-hunting: Diabolic Persecution

Single women and widows are often branded as witches to humiliate and ostracise them and seize their property. Why does this reprehensible practice continue unchecked and are our laws stringent enough to provide relief? ~By Shankar Sinha and Meha Mathur “My name is Pedki Devi. I live in a village in Jharkhand. When I was 15, I was married off. My eldest daughter was born three years later and subsequently, I gave birth to three more children. When I was 35, life came to a standstill when my husband died after an illness. Following that, my husband’s brothers tried to seize our land. They beat me up brutally and labelled me a witch. I filed a case against them. At the age of 40, I saw a police station for the first time. I learnt how to read and write at the age of 45. Now I am 50 years old.” This testimony is not recorded in a police report but is part of a math textbook, Ganit ka Jaadu (The Magic of Maths), of the Jharkhand Education Project for Class III students. And the unfortunate story is followed by an exercise in which students have to mark, next to an illustration of a woman, the milestones of Pedki Devi’s life.…
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The media will not “crawl” ever again, cry voices against media oppression

The protest meeting on Press Freedom at the National Press Club on June 9 turned out to be a huge affair, with some of the best media names of the country lashing out at not just the CBI raid on NDTV, but also on the atmosphere of suppression in the country at the moment. The general consensus was that silence was not an option today and the media should not again “crawl” as LK Advani had described it once during Rajiv Gandhi’s time. The doyen of legal India, Fali S Nariman, said: “Freedom after speech is what freedom of speech is all about.” Here are some special comments from the meeting: Rajdeep Sardesai (senior journalist): “I believe in the present atmosphere, silence is not an option… we have to be on the right side of history.” HK Dua (Former Rajya Sabha Member): “Last time, most of the press community did not stand up. They crawled, as Advani famously said. Then came the defamation bill. We got together, it became a national movement. Rajiv Gandhi sought talks but we refused. The unity of the press won the battle. The bill had to be withdrawn as the people were against it. Similar signs are visible now… This is a wake-up call, we have to be vigilant and cautious of such attacks.” Fali S Nariman (eminent jurist): Freedom after speech is what freedom of speech is all about… No one is immune from being prosecuted under a criminal offence, but the manner, circumstances give me reason to believe all of this is unjustified attack on press and media freedom.…
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The Rapid Descent

With the fortunes of this once-glorious airline plunging rapidly and the centre in no mood to aid it further, the blame has to be shared by politicians, bureaucrats and the staff    ~By Jitender Bhargava Air India has, for a change, been in the news for the right reasons for two unrelated developments. One is the CBI filing three FIRs for instituting probes into decisions that financially incapacitated Air India and the other is the government finally waking up to address the question of its future through strategic disinvestment. Both issues have raised questions along expected lines because of the abysmal track record of government inaction. Will these issues be pursued to the logical end with the government exhibiting adequate determination and not sacrificing it at the altar of political expediency? And why have the CBI and government suddenly woken up from slumber to take up these issues which had been crying for attention for years now? These cynical reactions have emanated because of Air India’s plunge from the heights it once commanded to its current pitiable state, which has been the consequence of gross inaction on the part of the government. OUT OF CONTROL The diminution of a national carrier that was once a globally recognised brand can be akin to an airline descending from a safe altitude of 30,000 feet with the chairman and board members seated in the cockpit and the rest of the staff distributed in First, Business and Economy Class.…
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Ministries of Utmost Happiness

  ~By Dilip Bobb   The peacocks may be shedding tears at their sudden enforced celibacy, joining the ranks of “others” who have become like Anjum, the protagonist of Arundhati Roy’s Ministry of Utmost Happiness. It’s a timely title, since government spokesmen and ministries are falling over each other to paint a portrait of the New India, teeming with shiny, happy people and cow’s milk and Patanjali honey flowing like rivers. Here are the ministries (with apologies to Roy) that lead the way in creating utmost happiness. Animal Husbandry: With the cow becoming the dominant factor in Indian society and politics, we are now being informed of its miraculous powers. Modern research, ancient texts and learned judicial minds have combined to remind us that the cow represents 33 crore Gods and Goddesses (somebody actually counted them); it inhales and exhales oxygen so hospitals can get rid of those ugly oxygen cylinders, in fact, the cow is like a hospital in itself; drinking cow urine washes off sins of our past lives; it keeps the liver, brain and heart healthy; cow dung keeps away radiation; and when a cow moos, it destroys harmful bacteria and viruses. Scientists may scoff but India’s animal spirits are alive and well, and cattle class, or cattle classes, is the way to go.…
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Chhattisgarh: Tribal Rights in Peril

In an apparent defiance of the Forest Rights Act, the state government has bypassed the will of residents of 20 villages in Hasdeo-Arand region and allowed coal mining to the powerful Adani group ~By Neeraj Mishra in Raipur Ghatbarra is a non-descript and impoverished village to the south of Ambikapur in Sarguja, North Chhattisgarh. Its only claim to fame is that it sits on 450 million tonnes of coal. The Parsa East and Kete Besan blocks located here were first put on the—much hyped “no go” list of the Jairam Ramesh—led Environment Ministry. They were later taken off it in 2011 following hectic lobbying by the state government and private players eyeing the coal deposits, the Adani Group in particular. Their pressure finally culminated in the state government issuing an executive order last year dismissing the community rights of tribals over the forest land under which lies the precious coal. Mining has begun in phase I, while the villagers of Ghatbarra have challenged the executive order in the Chhattisgarh High Court. Many believe they are virtually fighting a losing battle. The Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act known better as FRA provides for approval by the gram sabha before traditional forest lands can be handed over for mining activity.…
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Protests mount over Kerala HC’s decision to annul marriage of adults

When the girl converted to Islam and married her chosen one (a Muslim), her father ran to the court, branding the man an ISIS recruiter ~By Irfan Amayur The Kerala High Court’s division bench of Justices Surendra Mohan and Abraham Mathew on May 24 ordered that a marriage by two educated, consenting adults, Akhila (alias Hadiya) and Shafin Jahan, was invalid in law and ordered the girl (Hadiya) to be taken back to her parents. This judgment has been vociferously contested in the state, in the media, on social media and across all sections of the intelligentsia. It must be mentioned here that the girl has neither been declared intellectually incapable of handling her own affairs and neither has a medical test been ordered to determine the same. The basic plinth on which this judgment was based is, as the bench observed, “a girl aged 24 years is weak and vulnerable, capable of being exploited in many ways. This court exercising Parens Patriae (Latin, meaning: A doctrine that grants the inherent power and authority of the state to protect persons who are legally unable to act on their own behalf) jurisdiction is concerned with the welfare of a girl of her age.…
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