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In the corridors of justice



New Delhi 9th Oct 2017, : If transfers by the Collegium are made in a non-transparent fashion, even unanimously, people will speculate Under our constitutional scheme, the Supreme Court occupies a unique position. The power of judicial review, the felicity with which it entertains Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and its selective use of Article 142 of the Constitution of India in aid of which, the Court bypasses even established procedures to do complete justice in the case earns the institution both kudos and justified criticism.

We credit the Supreme Court with many landmark decisions. The Court has shown exemplary courage in protecting constitutional values, bringing to book the corrupt and protecting the poor and marginalised whenever the occasion arose. At the same time, by entertaining PILs on certain occasions, it has rendered judgements which have, perhaps unwittingly, adversely impacted the economy of the country. In some ways, NPAs of banks are the result of these decisions. Omnibus cancellation of telecom licenses and coal block allocations are cases in point. The extent of damage caused cannot be assessed in just economic terms. Such decisions tend to shake the confidence of foreign investors who, for no fault of theirs, found their investment set at nought. The third element, the use of Article 142 of the Constitution has even more serious consequences. Such power, according to the Court, can only be exercised in the absence of remedies available in law. Yet, the Court has often deviated from this salutary principle and used Article 142 to do what it thinks best. The hierarchy of Courts allows errors to be corrected when the lis moves up the hierarchy, ending in the Supreme Court. But if the Court of last resort, either through PILs or in the exercise of power under Article 142 acts as the Court of first instance, litigants are left remediless. Individuals and entities have suffered unjustifiably at the hands of the Court.

It is in the exercise of its administrative functions that the Court has been found even more wanting. The Supreme Court exercises administrative functions in three ways — (1) in the management of the administration that supports its judicial functions; (2) by being the final arbitrator in the appointment of Judges of the Supreme Court as well as to the High Courts and; (3) the power of transferring Judges from one Court to another.

The Chief Justice of India has the power to determine the roster for hearing cases. Eyebrows are occasionally raised when some significant matters are listed before a particular combination. Why the Chief Justice, in the presence of the Prime Minister, publicly announced that three significant cases will be heard during vacation caused concern. Why those particular cases were picked up for hearing during vacation is inexplicable. Such decisions become controversial outside the courtroom. This adversely impacts the dignity of the institution. Unfortunately, there are no guidelines which give confidence both to the litigant and the legal fraternity that cases would be heard in their turn based on transparent procedures. The moment the system becomes opaque, it gives rise to unnecessary speculation. The Court, in exercising judicial powers, expects transparency from the government. It should adhere to the same principle when exercising administrative power also.

Functioning of the collegium system is also charged for opacity. Non-participation in the collegium, making unanimous recommendations in the absence of unanimity, and open dissent are matters for which the Court has not earned laurels. When individuals with hardly any practice are elevated to High Courts, it makes us lose confidence in the wisdom of Judges who exercise the power of appointment. Why elevation of certain Judges was held back while others considered, again raises issues of transparency.

The third element in exercise of administrative power is the sole prerogative of transferring Judges of higher judiciary from one Court to another. In the recent past, transfers or holding them back has raised eyebrows. One recent example is of Justice Jayant Patel, Judge of Karnataka High Court, who quit the judiciary when transferred to Allahabad High Court. If he had accepted the transfer, he would have been the third senior-most Judge in the Allahabad High Court while in the Karnataka High Court, he would have, after October 9, 2017, ordinarily become the acting Chief Justice. If transfers are made in a non-transparent fashion, even though they are done unanimously, people will speculate. We know that Justice Patel, when in Gujarat, had directed a CBI investigation into the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, which led to the arrest and subsequent charge-sheets against senior Gujarat police officers. This has not happened for the first time. The controversial transfer of Justice Rajiv Shakdher from Delhi High Court to Madras High Court and of Justice Abhay Mahadeo Thipsay from Bombay High Court to the Allahabad High Court has not enhanced the status of the Supreme Court. Justice Rajiv Shakdher apparently set aside the lookout notice in 2015 issued by the IB against Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai. Justice Thipsay, as a Judge of Mumbai Sessions Court, had imposed life sentence on nine of the 21 accused in the Best Bakery riot case during the 2002 Gujarat carnage. This was a case transferred out of the Gujarat High Court by the Supreme Court, to be tried by a Mumbai Court. The reason for speculation may or may not be correct. But in the absence of a transparent system for such administrative decisions and the opacity surrounding them, the judiciary gets scarred.

The time has come for an overhaul of the judicial system. While the electorate can replace the government every five years, that luxury is not available when dealing with Judges. They alone can instil confidence not just within the legal fraternity, but in civil society. That confidence is on the decline.

DISCLAIMER: The author is a member of the Rajya Sabha, and a senior Indian National Congress leader. Views expressed are personal.

Courtesy: This Article is published in DNA on dated 9th October 2017.


24% scheme performance indicators of Delhi government ‘off track’



Manish Sisodia

An average 23.7 per cent of output and outcome indicators for various programmes and schemes of the Delhi government departments were “off track” till December last year, analysis of a report tabled in the Delhi Assembly on Wednesday suggested.

The 23.7 per cent of indicators were off track for schemes and programmes of 14 major departments, including Health, Social Welfare and Education, for which funds were allocated in the Delhi Budget 2017-18, according to an IANS analysis of Status Report of the Outcome Budget 2017-18.

The Status Report was presented by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

In the report, the indicators — output and outcome of schemes and programmes — of a department were used to denote whether their schemes were on or off track. Here off track implies the performance or progress of indicators of major schemes of a particular department (till December 2017) was less than 70 per cent of the expected progress.

With 45 per cent indicators off track, the Public Works Department’s schemes performed worst, followed by the Transport Department and the Environment Department, each having 40 per cent of indicators for schemes off track.

The departments whose schemes performed well include the Directorate of Education with 89 per cent indicators of schemes on-track, followed by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) with 87 per cent schemes on track and the Delhi Jal Board with 82 per cent programmes on track.

Sisodia said that idea behind the Outcome Budget was to bring a high degree of accountability and transparency in public spending.

The Outcome Budget, which coveres 34 departments of the government, was termed as the “first of its kind” in the country.

Citing an example of Mohalla Clinics, Sisodia said a regular budget tells only about the money allocated for the construction of clinics, while Outcome Budget is about the number of clinics built and the number of people expected to benefit from it.

The Outcome Budget measures each scheme using two indices: output and outcome.

The infrastructure created or services offered due to spending on a particular scheme is termed as output, whereas the number of people benefited and how is termed as outcome.

(Nikhil M. Babu can be contacted at [email protected])

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Will Drabu’s ouster impact PDP-BJP alliance in J&K?

While even Mehbooba’s political adversaries, including the National Conference President, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, have welcomed her decision, her allies in the BJP are not happy at all about her decision.



Jammu, March 15 : The decision by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to drop Haseeb Drabu from her council of ministers for his remarks at a business meet in Delhi is being hotly debated in political circles – especially what its consequences could be on the state’s PDP-BJP ruling coalition.

By doing what she has done, the Chief Minister has proved that she is prepared take political risks — and taking her for granted is something her colleagues and allies should learn not to do.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders were aghast after Drabu, who was the Finance Minister, was quoted as telling a meeting organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi that Kashmir was not a political problem and a conflict state but a “social problem”. He said this while seeking investments in the state from businessmen and saying the conditions in the state were conducive to business “where you will find some very interesting opportunities” not just to make money but also to have “a lot of fun and enjoy yourselves”.

PDP Vice President Sartaj Madni had said this was something which negated the very existence of the PDP because it is the firm belief of the party that Kashmir is political problem that needed political remedies to resolve.

Interestingly, instead of voices being raised in Drabu’s favour by his own party men, leaders of the PDP’s coalition unlikely partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seem to be more worried about the decision to drop him.

Some senior BJP leaders have rushed to Delhi to discuss the development and its fallout on the ruling coalition with the central leadership of the party.

How important Drabu had been for the PDP was proved not once, but many times in the past. The late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed trusted him to work out the terms of the agenda of alliance with BJP National Secretary Ram Madhav that finally paved the way for the present PDP-BJP coalition.

“Mufti Sahib always loved him and would overlook what some of his party men would say about Drabu Sahib,” said a PDP insider, not wishing to be identified.

In a letter released to the media after he was dropped from the cabinet, Drabu expressed sorrow for not being told by the Chief Minister or her office about the decision to drop him.

“I read it on the website of daily ‘Greater Kashmir’. I tried to call the Chief Minister, but was told she was busy and would call back. I waited, but my call was never returned,” he rued.

He also said in his letter that he had been quoted out of context by the media and that he what he had said was that Kashmir is not only a political problem, but that “we must also look beyond this”, Drabu clarified.

Sayeed made Drabu his economic advisor during his 2002 chief ministerial tenure and later made him the chairman of the local Jammu and Kashmir Bank. In fact, Drabu became the point man between the PDP and the BJP after the 2014 assembly elections.

The problem is that many PDP leaders had of late started saying that Drabu was more of “Delhi’s man in Kashmir rather than Kashmir’s man in Delhi”. Drabu is reportedly very close to Ram Madhav, the powerful BJP leader who is in-charge of Kashmir affairs, which many say “cost him his job”. It is this image that has been floating around in the PDP that finally cost him his berth in the state cabinet.

While even Mehbooba’s political adversaries, including the National Conference President, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, have welcomed her decision, her allies in the BJP are not happy at all about her decision.

“What did he say? He said it is a social problem and Kashmir is a society in search of itself. Is this wrong? We don’t think this is something for which such a harsh decision should have been taken,” a senior BJP leader told IANS, not wanting to be named.

His successor, Syed Altaf Bukhari, who has been assigned the finance portfolio, took a major decision immediately after taking over. Bukhari announced that the decision to replace the old treasury system by the Pay and Accounts Office (PAO) has been put on hold. The ambitious PAO system was Drabu’s brainchild.

Bukhari’s decision has been welcomed by hundreds of contractors in the state who had been on strike during the last 13 days demanding their pending payments and suspension of the PAO system at least till March 31.

Would Drabu’s ouster be a storm in a teacup or would it have repercussions on the PDP-BJP ruling alliance in the immediate future? Ironically, Drabu’s PDP colleagues say it won’t be, while the BJP leaders in the state say it would.

By : Sheikh Qayoom

(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at [email protected])

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Reports claiming top Indian leaders have fake followers deeply flawed: Twitter

A recent “Twitter Audit” report claimed that Modi, Gandhi, BJP President Amit Shah and others lead the list of leaders with fake followers globally.




New Delhi, March 14 : After reports surfaced that some of the top Indian politicians including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter accounts are infested with fake followers, the micro-blogging platform on Wednesday termed such reports as baseless.

A recent “Twitter Audit” report claimed that Modi, Gandhi, BJP President Amit Shah and others lead the list of leaders with fake followers globally.

According to a statement given to IANS, Twitter said the “Twitter Audit” fake follower measurement tool is not the company’s product.

“The methodology used by ‘Twitter Audit’ is deeply flawed and their incorrect information should not be taken seriously,” a Twitter spokesperson told IANS.

Twitter Fake Followers

The media reports are completely incorrect and do not have any source or authentic veracity of the information, the company said.

Twitter Audit is an external tool not affiliated to the micro-blogging website.

It takes a sample of 5,000 Twitter followers and assesses them on the number of tweets, followers, mutual followers and other parameters.

According to its website, “the scoring method is not perfect but it is a good way to tell if someone with lots of followers is likely to have increased their follower count by inorganic, fraudulent, or dishonest means”.

According to Twitter Audit, Rahul has the highest percentage of fake Twitter followers at 67 per cent, followed by Shah, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and Modi.

In Modi’s case, Twitter Audit claimed 61 per cent of his followers are fake. Modi has 41 million followers.

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