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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 07 April 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Govt issues Tribunals Reforms Ordinance
  2. President appoints N.V. Ramana as CJI
  3. CVC officers to be transferred every 3 years

GOVT ISSUES TRIBUNALS REFORMS ORDINANCE

Context:

The government has issued an ordinance which does away with certain appellate tribunals and transfers their functions to other existing judicial bodies.

Recently, the government also introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha to abolish some tribunals where the public at large is not litigant. However, since the bill could not get parliamentary nod, an ordinance was issued.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Quasi-Judicial Bodies, Government Policies and Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Constitutional provisions and mandates regarding Tribunals
  2. Issues with tribunalization:
  3. Provisions of the Tribunals Reforms Ordinance, 2021
  4. Need for the Ordinance 2021

Constitutional provisions and mandates regarding Tribunals

The provision for Tribunals was added by the 42nd Constitutional amendment act which added two new articles to the constitution.

Article 323-A: of the constitution which empowers the parliament to provide for the establishment of administrative tribunals for adjudicating the disputes relating to recruitment and conditions of service of a person appointed to public service of centre, states, local bodies, public corporations and other public authority.

Accordingly, the Parliament has enacted Administrative Tribunals Act,1985 which authorizes parliament to establish Centre and state Administrative tribunals (CAT & SATs).

  1. Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT):
    • It was set up in 1985 with the principal bench at Delhi and additional benches in other states (It now has 17 benches, 15 operating at seats of HC’s and 2 in Lucknow and Jaipur.
    • It has original jurisdiction in matters related to recruitment and service of public servants (All India services, central services etc).
    • Its members have a status of High Court judges and are appointed by president.
    • Appeals against the order of CAT lie before the division of High Court after Supreme Court’s Chandra Kumar Judgement.
  1. State administrative tribunals
    • Central government can establish state administrative tribunals on request of the state according to Administrative tribunals act of 1985
    • SAT’s enjoy original jurisdiction in relation to the matters of state government employees.
    • Chairman and members are appointed by President in consultation with the governor.

Article 323-B: which empowers the parliament and the state legislatures to establish tribunals for adjudication of disputes related to following matters:

  1. Taxation
  2. Foreign exchange, Imports and Exports
  3. Industry and Labour
  4. Land reforms
  5. Ceiling on Urban Property
  6. Elections to parliament and state legislature
  7. Food stuffs
  8. Rent and Tenancy Rights

Issues with tribunalization:

  1. Appeal: Administrative tribunals were originally set up to provide specialized justice delivery and to reduce the burden of caseloads on regular courts. However, appeals from tribunals have inevitably managed to enter the mainstream judicial system.
  2. High Pendency: Many tribunals also do not have adequate infrastructure to work smoothly and perform the functions originally envisioned leading to high pendency rates thus proving unfruitful to deliver quick justice.
  3. Appointments: Appointments to tribunals are usually under the control of the executive. Not only does the government identify and appoint the members of the tribunals, but it also determines and makes appropriate staffing hires. This is problematic because often there is a lack of understanding of the staffing requirements in tribunals.
  4. There is a lack of information available on the functioning of tribunals. Websites are routinely non-existent, unresponsive or not updated.
  5. Accessibility is low due to scant geographic availability therefore justice becomes expensive and difficult.
  6. Against the separation of powers: Tribunalisation is seen as encroachment of judicial branch by the government.

Provisions of the Tribunals Reforms Ordinance, 2021

The Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021, issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice made amendments to the

  1. Cinematograph Act,
  2. Copyright Act,
  3. Customs Act,
  4. Patents Act,
  5. Airports Authority of India Act,
  6. Trade Marks Act,
  7. Geographical Indications of Goods (registration and protection) Act,
  8. Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act,
  9. Control of National Highways (land and traffic) Act, and
  10. Finance Act.

In the Cinematograph Act, the appellate body will now be the high court.

The FCAT was a statutory body constituted to hear appeals of filmmakers aggrieved by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

  • The Ordinance has amended the Finance Act 2017 to include provisions related to the composition of search-cum-selection committees, and term of office of members in the Act itself.

Need for the Ordinance 2021

  • There has been incessant litigation since 1985 by advocate bar associations against the tribunals over serious questions of their independence from the executive.
  • The quality of adjudication has been underwhelming in most cases, the delays have been substantial because the government has struggled to find competent persons willing to accept positions on these tribunals, and litigation has actually become more expensive, as these tribunals added another layer to it.
  • The Government of India began the process of rationalisation of tribunals in 2015.
  • By the Finance Act, 2017, seven tribunals were abolished or merged based on functional similarity and their total number was reduced to 19 from 26.

-Source: The Hindu


PRESIDENT APPOINTS N.V. RAMANA AS CJI

Context:

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind appointed Justice N.V. Ramana as Chief Justice of India with effect from April 24.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Judiciary, Appointment of Supreme Court Judges and CJI)

Dimensions of the Article:

Qualifications for Appointment as Judge of the Supreme Court

Appointment of Judge of the Supreme Court

Controversy over Consultation and Evolution of Collegium system

Working of Collegium System and NJAC

Qualifications for Appointment as Judge of the Supreme Court

  1. Be a citizen of India, and
  2. Have been the judge of a high court for a period of 5 years, or
  3. Have been an advocate of the High Court for at least 10 Years, or
  4. Be in the view of the President “a distinct Jurist of the country”.

Thus, there is nothing which can prevent the direct appointment of the Judges of the Supreme Court from the Bar, yet. So far, the appointments have been made from the Judges of High Courts only.

In the recent appointment of Justice N.V. Ramana as Chief Justice of India, both the Supreme Court and the government have followed the seniority norm in the appointment of CJIs.

Appointment of Judge of the Supreme Court

  • Every Judge of the Supreme Court is appointed by the President after consultation with the Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts in states, the President may deem necessary for the purpose.
  • President if thinks necessary, can consult the Judges of the High Courts of States to appoint a Supreme Court Judge, as per Article 124. However, in the appointment of the other judges, the President shall always seek consultation from the Chief Justice of India.
  • Till 1993, the Judges of the Supreme Court were appointed by the President on the recommendation of the CJI.
  • When the CJI is absent any other Judge of the Supreme Court is appointed by the President as Acting Chief justice as per the provisions of Article 126.

Controversy over Consultation and Evolution of Collegium system

  • In the First Judges case (1982), the Court held that consultation does not mean concurrence and it only implies an exchange of views.
  • In the Second Judges case (1993), the Court reversed its earlier ruling and changed the meaning of the word consultation to concurrence.

Third Judges Case, 1998:

  • In the Third Judges case (1998), the Court opined that the consultation process to be adopted by the Chief Justice of India requires “consultation of a plurality of judges”.
  • The sole opinion of the CJI does not constitute the consultation process. He should consult a collegium of four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court and even if two judges give an adverse opinion, he should not send the recommendation to the government.
  • The court held that the recommendation made by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) without complying with the norms and requirements of the consultation process is not binding on the government.
  • The Collegium system was born through the “Third Judges case” and it is in practice since 1998. It is used for appointments and transfers of judges in High courts and Supreme Courts.
  • There is no mention of the Collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments.

Working of Collegium System and NJAC

  • The collegium recommends the names of lawyers or judges to the Central Government. Similarly, the Central Government also sends some of its proposed names to the Collegium.
  • Collegium considers the names or suggestions made by the Central Government and resends the file to the government for final approval.
  • If the Collegium resends the same name again then the government has to give its assent to the names. But the time limit is not fixed to reply. This is the reason that appointment of judges takes a long time.
  • Through the 99th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2014 the National Judicial Commission Act (NJAC) was established to replace the collegium system for the appointment of judges.
  • However, the Supreme Court upheld the collegium system and struck down the NJAC as unconstitutional on the grounds that the involvement of Political Executive in judicial appointment was against the “Principles of Basic Structure”. i.e., the “Independence of Judiciary”.

-Source: The Hindu


CVC OFFICERS TO BE TRANSFERRED EVERY 3 YEARS

Context:

  • The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has modified the guidelines pertaining to the transfer and posting of officials in the vigilance units of government organisations, restricting their tenure to three years at one place.
  • The tenure may be extended to three more years, albeit at a different place of posting.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Constitutional and Non-Constitutional Bodies, Policies and Interventions on Transparency and Accountability in governance)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the recent CVC order
  2. Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)
  3. Functions of CVC
  4. Composition of Central Vigilance Commission
  5. Removal of members (according to CVC Act)

About the recent CVC order

  • The CVC, in its order, said undue long stay of an official in a vigilance department had the potential of developing vested interests, apart from giving rise to unnecessary complaints or allegations.
  • Personnel can have two continuous postings in vigilance units, at different places of posting, each running into a maximum of three years.
  • Personnel who have worked for over three years at one place should be transferred in phases, with priority given to those who have served for the maximum period, the order said.
  • Those having completed over five years at one place should be shifted on top priority basis.

Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)

  • Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is an apex Indian governmental body created in 1964 to address governmental corruption.
  • The CVC was set up by the Government in February, 1964 on the recommendations of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption, headed by Shri K. Santhanam- The parliament enacted the CVC Act 2003 and set up the CVC. Hence, the CVC is a Statutory Body.
  • In 2003, the Parliament enacted a law conferring statutory status on the CVC.
  • It has the status of an autonomous body, free of control from any executive authority, charged with monitoring all vigilance activity under the Central Government of India, advising various authorities in central Government organizations in planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilance work.
  • The CVC is an independent body, free of control from any executive authority (CVC is NOT controlled by any Ministry or Department).
  • The CVC is responsible only to the Parliament.
  • The CVC is NOT an investigating agency. The CVC may have the investigation done through the CBI or Chief Vigilance Officers (CVO) in government offices.

Functions of CVC

The CVC receives complaints on corruption or misuse of office and to recommend appropriate action. Following institutions, bodies, or a person can approach to CVC:

  1. Central government
  2. Lokpal
  3. Whistle blowers
  • It is not an investigating agency. The CVC either gets the investigation done through the CBI or through chief vigilance officers (CVO) in government offices.
  • It is empowered to inquire into offences alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 by certain categories of public servants.
  • Its annual report gives the details of the work done by the commission and points to systemic failures which lead to corruption in government departments. Improvements and preventive measures are also suggested in the report.

Composition of Central Vigilance Commission

The CVC is comprised of 3 members:

  1. A Central Vigilance Commissioner (Chairperson)
  2. Up to Two Vigilance Commissioners (Members)
  • President of India appoints CVC members by warrant under his hand and seal.
  • The Oath of office is administered by the President.
  • A three-member committee made of – The Prime Minister, The Home Minister and The Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha – Makes the Recommendation for appointment of Vigilance Commissioners.
  • The Vigilance Commissioners are appointed for a term of Four years OR until they attain 65 years of age (whichever is earlier).
  • On retirement – they are NOT eligible for reappointment in any central or state government agency.

Removal of members (according to CVC Act)

The Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner can be removed from his office only by order of the President on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity after the Supreme Court reports that the officer ought to be removed after inquiry, on a reference made to it by the President.

Also, a member can be removed if the member:

  1. Is Adjudged as an insolvent
  2. Is convicted of an offence that involves moral turpitude according to Central Government
  3. Engages in Office of profit outside the duties of his office
  4. Is declared unfit by reason of infirmity of mind or body, by the President
  5. Participates / Concerned / Interested to Participate – in any way in the profit / in any benefit – in any contract or agreement made by or on behalf of the Government of India

-Source: The Hindu

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