WeForNews | Latest News, Breaking News, News Updates Judiciary must speak up, hold government to account on its handling of pandemic | WeForNews | Latest News, Blogs
Connect with us

Blog

Judiciary must speak up, hold government to account on its handling of pandemic

Under our constitutional framework, the executive is answerable even in times of a national crisis: Kapil Sibal

Published

on

daily wages workers

We are in the midst of a national crisis. With extended lockdowns, our paralysed economy is in a wait-and-watch mode. The poor have been hit the hardest. The plight of migrants is heart-wrenching. The facilities provided at the so-called “shelters” are woefully inadequate in terms of food, sanitation, toilets and medical care. Over 400 million people in the informal sector have no means of livelihood. It is for the executive to take appropriate measures, by honouring its statutory obligations, to ensure that their constitutional rights are not trampled upon. Under our constitutional framework, the executive is answerable even in times of a national crisis. It may not be constitutionally appropriate to believe that the executive knows “best” in times of crises. It never does. Otherwise, we would not have courts of law.

Of course, courts may not interfere with economic packages the government announced for helping those affected by the pandemic. That is in the exclusive domain of the executive. But if the impact of executive decisions hurts those who have, in such situations, no recourse to courts of law, then the judiciary must sit up and ensure that laws are obeyed. Take, for example, the state of these “shelters”. Under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (Act of 2005), a National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) presided over by the prime minister with nine nominees of the government is obliged to lay down guidelines for minimum standards of relief to be provided in relief camps in relation to shelter, food, drinking water, medical cover and sanitation (Section 12). It also provides for ex-gratia assistance on account of the loss of life, for the restoration of means of livelihood and other reliefs. If the NDMA has not issued such guidelines, how will the executive be made accountable?

Migrant workers stranded mid-way between the place where they are sheltered and their homes have protested in frustration. We have witnessed and heard the stories of our citizens walking hundreds of kilometres to reach home. The state has not provided them with transportation. The fact that they have chosen to walk such long distances is proof enough of state apathy or inefficiency. To ensure that such facilities are made available is the only way the court can make the executive accountable. If courts look the other way, the executive will have a free run. Even in times of war, the Constitution is not silent. All institutions in emergencies must respect, to the extent possible, the fundamental rights of citizens. There is enough material to suggest that these rights have been, prima-facie, violated.

Even if courts were not to interfere, the least they must do is to direct that the government places before the court data concerning all actions conforming to the executive’s constitutional and statutory obligations. That will serve two purposes. One, measures the government has taken thus far will become a matter of record. Two, the manner and extent to which its decisions have been implemented will have to be demonstrated. All actions of the NDMA will thus be under scrutiny. That, in turn, will at least assure people that the courts’ oversight might help mitigate their suffering. This will allow non-state actors to verify government claims.

Recently, the PM established the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) fund to which the private sector can contribute monetarily. The objective of the fund is to alleviate the pain of those affected by the pandemic. The setting up of a National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) under the Act of 2005 (section 46) is for the same purpose. Any person or institution can make contributions into such a fund for mitigation. The NDRF is to be utilised by the National Executive Committee (NEC) to address the emergency response, relief and rehabilitation per the guidelines laid down by the central government in consultation with the NDMA (section 46). The provisions of the Act of 2005 override all other laws or administrative actions of the government (section 72).

THE pure legal issue is whether a fund called PM-CARES can be created by setting up a trust when the Act of 2005 provides otherwise. If the contributions were to the NDRF, then the NEC will deal with it consistent with the needs arising out of this emergent situation. No individual will get credit for it. Who else, except the judiciary, will scrutinise this decision of the central government?

Other decisions of the executive including those directing employers to pay salaries of employees during the lockdown period also require judicial scrutiny since no provision of the Act of 2005 empowers the NEC to so direct.

Courts are sentinels of the Constitution. The Constitution is like a fort within which institutions play their assigned roles. A display of attrition between institutions is a healthy sign. The bonhomie between institutions or the judiciary’s hands-off approach will make the fort crumble. Silence within the fort is proof that no one is left to protect the Constitution.

This article first appeared in the print edition on May 19, 2020 under the title ‘The silent sentinels’. The writer, a senior Congress leader, is a former Union minister.

Blog

Male sex hormones may help treat breast cancer: Study

While endocrine therapy is standard-of-care for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, resistance to these drugs is the major cause of breast cancer mortality.

Published

on

By

breast cancer

Sydney : Researchers have found new evidence about the positive role of androgens, commonly thought of as male sex hormones but also found at lower levels in women, in breast cancer treatment.

In normal breast development, estrogen stimulates and androgen inhibits growth at puberty and throughout adult life.

Abnormal estrogen activity is responsible for the majority of breast cancers, but the role of androgen activity in this disease has been controversial.

The new research published in the journal Nature Medicine showed that androgens have potential for treatment of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.

A cancer is called estrogen receptor positive if it has receptors for estrogen, according to Breastcancer.org.

Using cell-line and patient-derived models, the global team, including researchers at the University of Adelaide and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, demonstrated that androgen receptor activation by natural androgen or a new androgenic drug had potent anti-tumour activity in all estrogen receptor positive breast cancers, even those resistant to current standard-of-care treatments.

In contrast, androgen receptor inhibitors had no effect.

“This work has immediate implications for women with metastatic estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, including those resistant to current forms of endocrine therapy,” said lead researcher Theresa Hickey, Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide.

“We provide compelling new experimental evidence that androgen receptor stimulating drugs can be more effective than existing (e.g. Tamoxifen) or new (e.g. Palbociclib) standard-of-care treatments and, in the case of the latter, can be combined to enhance growth inhibition,” said Wayne Tilley, Director of the Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories, Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide.

Androgens were historically used to treat breast cancer, but knowledge of hormone receptors in breast tissue was rudimentary at the time and the treatment’s efficacy misunderstood.

Androgen therapy was discontinued due to virilising side effects and the advent of anti-estrogenic endocrine therapies.

While endocrine therapy is standard-of-care for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, resistance to these drugs is the major cause of breast cancer mortality.

“The new insights from this study should clarify the widespread confusion over the role of the androgen receptor in estrogen receptor driven breast cancer,” said Elgene Lim, a breast oncologist and Head of the Connie Johnson Breast Cancer Research Lab at the Garvan Institute.

“Given the efficacy of this treatment strategy at multiple stages of disease in our study, we hope to translate these findings into clinical trials as a new class of endocrine therapy for breast cancer.”

Continue Reading

Blog

Azim Premji and Dr Devi Shetty chosen for PCB awards

Besides them 25 senior journalists have been selected for the ‘Press Club Annual Awards’, a release said.

Published

on

By

Azim Premji Wipro

Bengaluru, Jan 19: The chairman of Wipro Limited Azim Premji and the founder chairman of Narayana Health Dr Devi Prasad Shetty are among those who have been selected for the annual awards given by the Press Club of Bangalore.

Premji has been chosen for ‘Press Club Person of the Year’, while Dr Shetty and actor-Director Sudeep Sanjeev have been selected for the ‘Press Club Special Award.’

Besides them 25 senior journalists have been selected for the ‘Press Club Annual Awards’, a release said.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa will facilitate the awardees at a function scheduled for the third week of February, it said.

Continue Reading

Blog

Elizabeth Olsen: Nepotism creates fear that you don’t deserve the work you get

The actress added that she “always had this need to prove myself to everyone around me that I work really hard”, adding: “I couldn’t walk in a room without everyone already having an opinion.”

Published

on

By

Elizabeth Olsen

Los Angeles, Jan 19 : Hollywood star Elizabeth Olsen says she once thought of changing her surname and distance herself from the success of her family because it was insanity growing up in the spotlight.

“It was insanity. There were times when my sisters would always be spotted and I would be in the car with them and it would really freak me out. It has helped me navigate how I want to approach my career,” said the actress, whose older sisters are Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen.

The actress added that she “always had this need to prove myself to everyone around me that I work really hard”, adding: “I couldn’t walk in a room without everyone already having an opinion.”

Elizabeth opened up om the fears of nepotism.

“The thing about nepotism is the fear that you don’t earn or deserve the work. There was even a part of me when I was a little girl that thought if I’m gonna be an actress I’m going to go by Elizabeth Chase, which is my middle name. And then, once I started working, I was like, ‘I love my family, I like my name, I love my sisters. Why would I be so ashamed of that?’ It’s fine now,” she said.

The actress said fame has made her more of a homebody.

“Fame has also made me someone who is more of a homebody than maybe I would like to be but I know where not to go. If I could do whatever I wanted for the day, I’d start with the gym, then I’d go to the grocery store, because it’s my favourite thing,” Elizabeth told The Sun.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Most Popular