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A judicious warning

The Chief Justice of India is the Master of the Roster. He must also be accountable

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Supreme Court Judges

The press conference by the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court (SC) on January 12 will remain etched in the annals of the Court’s history. They demonstrated rare courage and commitment to protect the independence and integrity of the institution. Their moments with the press were heart-warming and moving. In a few words, they conveyed to the nation the malaise that has set in, warning that democracy was under threat. We must heed that warning.

The Chief Justice of India (CJI) and his brother judges act in all the causes brought before them. Judges of the SC do not sit singly but in combinations of normally two and occasionally more. When deciding matters in open court, the CJI and the other judges sitting with him, act in their judicial capacity. While deciding cases, the CJI is one among equals. He also has the responsibility to take decisions on administrative matters. He deals with personnel, postings, allocation of work and other such matters to make sure that the administration of the Court is smooth and efficient. One such onerous responsibility is the posting of matters before his own and other benches. When doing so, he does not act in his judicial capacity, but assigns matters keeping in mind established norms and conventions.

Now, we are told that the CJI is the sole authority in posting matters. He is, they say, Master of the Roster. That he is. He may decide that a certain class of matters goes before a particular bench. Occasionally, a bench of three or more judges may be constituted for the adjudication of matters depending on their importance. On one occasion, a bench of 13 judges was constituted to review a particular decision. Nine judges recently sat to decide whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right and, if so, the contours of such a right. The constitution of benches is critical to the outcome of matters. For the discerning lawyer, the nature of the constitution of the bench in a particular matter often determines its outcome. As professionals in court, day in and day out, we get to know our judges, not personally, but in the manner they approach issues. Since adjudication often involves a dialogue between bar and bench, it helps us understand their attitudes, which are no secret. The power of the CJI to assign matters with appropriate circumspection is critical to the justice delivery system.

Supreme Court Judges Address Nation To Appeal For Saving The Institution

Many highly-sensitive issues reach the Supreme Court. Being the final arbiter, its decisions have an element of permanence, until they are set aside by a larger bench. That is rare. The Court decides highly complex constitutional issues including those that decide the fate of governments, members of the legislature, Speakers of Houses of the legislature. Executive actions, both at the level of the Union and state governments, are scrutinised by the Court and declared unconstitutional or invalid, if necessary. It has the power to strike down laws enacted by Parliament and state legislatures. The Court decides the fate of multinationals, large domestic conglomerates, NGOs, LGBT issues, co-operative societies, trusts etc. It also decides the fate of corrupt politicians and others charged with illegal activity. Ex-prime ministers, chief ministers, Union and state council of ministers, including public servants of whatever hue — all have knocked at the Court’s portals to seek relief.

The Supreme Court of India is perhaps the most powerful court in the world. All the judges of the US Supreme Court meet to adjudicate matters together and not in benches of two or more. Here, two or more judges sitting in benches decide for the entire court. So the task of the CJI in assigning matters to particular benches is crucial. If established norms and conventions are jettisoned, particular assignments may raise questions of propriety. Ideally, all administrative decisions must be transparent to instil confidence. Administrative decisions in government are based on norms that can be tested in courts of law. Besides, past precedent plays an important role in the process of decision-making. Even otherwise, the hierarchy of officers and the upward movement of files has an inbuilt safety net allowing for different points of view to be in play before a final decision is taken. Usually, the decision is not that of the minister alone but of the department. But in the case of the present CJI, the assignment of certain particularly sensitive cases to benches is without reference to established norms and precedents. This untrammelled power is not subject to any scrutiny and is exercised in his chamber. This is worrisome. Settled norms should guide the CJI, leaving no room for suspicion. When assignments are transparent, there is no cause for concern. Courts which seek transparency from others must demonstrate it themselves.

If matters pending before a bench are transferred to another bench by an administrative order of the CJI, that does raise issues of concern, especially when the RTI does not apply to matters relating to the SC. If a particular bench or a couple of benches alone handle highly-sensitive matters, that too is not a healthy practice. What we have witnessed of late is that all important and highly-sensitive matters are assigned to a couple of benches alone. Our senior-most judges are excluded from matters which, if decided one way or the other, will have far-reaching implications. Matters that deserve hearing by a Constitution bench are instead heard by relatively junior judges. If after hearing a matter for months, suddenly the judge recuses himself and a particular bench is assigned the matter, it raises eyebrows. Occasionally, midstream, matters are taken out of the bench slated to hear them. Exceptions, if any, have to be justified and explained.

For the four senior-most judges to have expressed their anguish openly after having made attempts to salvage the situation must mean that the integrity of the institution already stands seriously damaged. The judges have spelt out in their letter only some of the instances in which all judges of the Court are vitally concerned: The Memorandum of Procedure to ensure that the executive does not make unacceptable inroads in the process of appointment of judges. They have withheld details of other instances where established norms have been flouted. The Bar is fully aware of them. The only way to save the institution is to protect it not by words alone.

Just as all masters, including those that guide the nation’s destiny are made accountable, so must the Master of the Roster.

This article is published in Indianexpress on dated 13/Jan/18

Kapil Sibal is a Congress leader, former Union Minister and lawyer

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2nd wave: Fears of slower global recovery, US polls to weaken rupee

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Wall Stree USA

New Delhi, Oct 31 : Fears of a slower global recovery due to rising cases of Covid-19 infections in Europe and the US will cast pressure on the Indian rupee next week.

Additionally, the rupee is expected to get weaker on account of uncertainties prevailing on the back of upcoming US Presidential Election which will be held on November 3.

“The continuation of the pandemic in absence of a vaccine is creating havoc and is playing out in the Fx market. The fear that economic conditions are going to get worse before they get better, is keeping the dollar strong against EM currencies,” said Rahul Gupta, Head of Research-Currency at Emkay Global Financial Services.

“Adding to this mood is the uncertainty of the US presidential election outcome. So, next week the chances of USDINR trading above 74 are higher and expect the spot pair to trade within 73.50-74.50.”

The Indian rupee closed last week at 74.11, its weakest level in two months.

“Next week, US elections will take centrestage. Democratic candidate, Joe Biden is projected to win the race comfortably based on the current polls and leads. Also based on the current polls there is a likelihood the democrats could win both the House and Senate. This will be huge blue sweep for the and that will drive policy changes,” said Devarsh Vakil — Deputy Head of Retail Research at HDFC Securities.

“Their stated economic positions suggest that dollar could weaken in the medium term, which could drive commodities and emerging market equities higher.”

Besides, major economic data points such as automobile sales figures for October and ‘Purchasing Manager Index’ will further guide the currency’s movement.

The foreign fund inflows into the country’s equity markets are greatly influenced by these macro data that show the health of the economy.

Consequently, the flow status of foreign funds also impacts the rupee’s movement.

According to Sajal Gupta, Head, Forex and Rates, Edelweiss Securities: “Just before US elections rupee and equity became wobbly and some people may have booked profits before the event. Rupee has weakend to 74.50 levels. It has traded comfortably above the 74 handle.”

“Expect the rupee to be volatile and trade in wider range of 74 to 75.20 with some more depreciation risk.”

(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at [email protected])

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Lalu’s son Tejashwi trying to secure his own place under the sun

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Tejashwi Yadav

Patna, Oct 31 : As the Bihar Assembly elections are underway amid hectic electioneering, one political leader who is toiling to secure his own place under the sun – away from the political shadow of his father – is Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Tejashwi Yadav.

In the absence of his father and party supremo Lalu Prasad — whose oratory and inimitable style have catapulted RJD quite a few times to power in the past – Tejashwi is spearheading the poll campaign on behalf of his party and the Grand Alliance, of which the RJD, Congress and certain Left parties are a part.

By removing the pictures of his parents – former Chief Ministers Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi – from the banners and posters of the RJD early on during campaigning, Tejashwi had give enough indications that he would go among the voters with a new image of a young leadership.

While his father forged a Muslim-Yadav alliance to come to power in Bihar, Tejashwi is talking of going down the developmental path by taking along all sections of society.

While the opposition NDA is bringing up the alleged ‘jungle raj’ during the RJD rule in Bihar in the past, Tejashwi has been avoiding to join issues with them and instead talking of jobs, irrigation and education to woo the voters.

Even as Lalu Prasad, who is presently admitted in the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi, where he has been lodged since May 2018 after conviction in fodder scams starting 2017, may be giving political instructions to Tejashwi and other RJD leaders in the run-up to the electoral battle, Tejashwi has been adding his own elements to the RJD campaign strategy.

Given the huge crowds that are seen at the rallies of Tejashwi, it seems that his poll strategies are a success so far, remarked a party leader.

Even though Tejashwi, who was Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Assembly, may not have his father’s ability to take lighthearted potshots at his political adversaries, which has swayed the voters in the past, he has been delivering his speeches in Bhojpuri for the voter connect.

“Tejashwi may not have Lalu’s oratorial skills or style, but he has got his fingers on the pulse of the voters as to what they want. He also understands what to speak so as to make the youths at his rallies to clap. The promises of jobs and to take all along have been paying him dividends,” said an RJD leader on the condition of anonymity.

Political analyst Faizan Ahmed pointed out that by seeking forgiveness from the people for all the wrongs done in the past RJD rule, Tejashwi has given indication that he wants to make a fresh beginning in Bihar politics.

“There is no doubt that he wants to move away from his father’s shadow and prepare his own ground. In this, he is succeeding and making a connect with the electorate.”

Senior journalist Manikant Thakur said that though Tejashwi’s attempt to move away from the past RJD rule is commendable, slip of his tongue once in a while has created fear among the voters.

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Who is Preetika Chauhan? Everything to know about ‘Savdhaan India’ actress arrested by NCB

Saavdhan India’ actress Preetika Chauhan (30) was among one of the people who got arrested after getting caught buying drugs. Here’s everything about her!

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preetika chauhan

The Narcotics Control Bureau made two more arrests in the drug supply case on Sunday. ‘Saavdhan India’ actress Preetika Chauhan (30) was among one of the people who got arrested after getting caught for buying drugs red-handed.

Who is Preetika Chauhan?

Preetika Chauhan hails from Karsog, Himachal Pradesh. She is a B.Tech graduate and had made her acting debut with the film Jhamela, which was released in 2016.

She went on to play goddess Shachi in Sankat Mochan Mahabali Hanumaan.

Apart from Sankatmochan Mahabali Hanuman, Preetika Chauhan also had appeared in a few episodes of CID and Savdhaan India. She was also seen as Bhudevi in Star Bharat show Jag Janni Maa Vaishno Devi.

Preetika was last seen as Goddess Parvati in Santoshi Maa – Sunayein Vrat Kathayein. Preetika was also part of the TV show ‘Devon Ke Dev Mahadev’.

The case is in the ongoing investigation in actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case. The Bollywood drugs nexus case came to light while a parallel investigation was being carried out by the NCB.

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