Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 27 August 2022
- Clearing of Backlog Cases
- Boosting the Women Workforce
- In a recent notice, the Supreme Court announced a list of 25 of the 53 Constitution Bench cases that will be heard.
- The notice is a strong indication that the Court is serious about reducing its massive legal backlog.
- The recent developments have come as a pleasant surprise, as the court had been roundly chastised for its selective method of listing, which was seen as an institutional failure.
GS Paper 2: Important Constitutional Bodies.
Courts are sitting on a ticking time bomb, and strengthening the Indian judiciary has never been more important. Discuss. (150 Words)
- It is alleged that India’s Supreme Court has gradually devolved into an ordinary appellate forum, far from the high constitutional authority that it was intended to be.
- However, in a country that will soon overtake China at the top of the population tables, it appears difficult to limit the Supreme Court to constitutional issues.
Backlog cases’ magnanimity
- Cases pending in the Supreme Court: The Supreme Court currently has over 71,411 cases pending, with a paltry (meagre) batch of 53 Constitution Bench cases (where at least five judges sit together to answer important questions on the Constitution).
- Additionally, Article 136 of the Constitution allows anyone to file a challenge to the Supreme Court against any order or judgement of any court, which is one of the reasons for the increasing number of cases in the Supreme Court.
- In India, there is one judge for every 73,000 people. In comparison, the United States has one judge for every 13,000 people.
- Recent verdicts: In the last five years, such benches have issued rulings on Aadhaar, privacy, reservations, judicial appointments, temple entry, governor powers, and land acquisition.
- However, these have been prioritised for hearing over cases that have been pending for decades.
Causes of Delay and backlog
- Persistent Vacancies: Across India, there are vacancies against even the sanctioned strengths of courts, with vacancies exceeding 30% in the worst-performing states.
- As a result, the average waiting period for a trial in lower courts is around 10 years, and 2-5 years in higher courts.
- Poor State of the Subordinate Judiciary: District courts across the country suffer from inadequate infrastructure and poor working conditions, which must be drastically improved if they are to meet the higher judiciary’s digital expectations.
- In addition, there is a huge digital divide between courts, practitioners, and clients in major cities and those outside.
- It will take years to overcome the obstacles of ageing infrastructure and digital illiteracy.
- The Government is the Biggest Litigant: Poorly drafted orders have resulted in contested tax revenues totaling 4.7% of GDP, and this figure is rising.
- Crowding out investment: Around Rs 50,000 crore is trapped in stalled projects, and investments are declining.
- Both of these issues have arisen as a result of injunctions and stay orders granted by the courts, primarily as a result of poorly drafted and poorly reasoned orders.
- Less budgetary allocation: The judiciary’s budget ranges between 0.08 and 0.09 percent of GDP. Only four countries, Japan, Norway, Australia, and Iceland, have a lower budget allocation and do not face pendency issues like India.
Few constitutional cases are pending in the Supreme Court.
- Election Commissioners: Unlike most other entities, such as the Director CBI, the CVC, and the judges, who are appointed by broad-based committees or recommended by Collegia, the selection of Election Commissioners is entirely up to the government.
- The Supreme Court is hearing a petition to reform the way members of the Election Commission of India are appointed.
- Constitutional Amendment No. 103: Following the Indira Sawhney decision in 1993, which allowed OBC reservations in jobs and education but rejected the use of economic stratification for such quotas, the Constitution was amended in 2019 to allow for a maximum of 10% for economically disadvantaged groups (EWS).
- Demonetisation case: Among policy decisions, demonetisation has been by far one of the most contentious in recent Indian history, and its legality will be examined.
- Because the Supreme Court had directed that no petitions be heard by any high court, all orders were solicited (requested) at the apex court.
- Reservation: The Andhra Pradesh quota for Muslims, as well as Sikhs’ right to minority status in Punjab, are also in play, and could result in a complete rethinking of political strategy in these states.
- Minority-related cases: In the coming months, the Supreme Court will hear a slew of cases involving minorities and religious freedom. For example, consider the Dawoodi Bohra process of excommunication and the practise of Nikah Halala.
- Regarding excommunication: The Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Bill, 2016, makes social boycott, or excommunication, a crime punishable by jail time and a fine.
- The community’s then spiritual leader, the 51st Syedna, petitioned against the law, claiming that it violated his fundamental constitutional rights.
- Justice Lalit has a better understanding of how the Court works because he has previously served as both a solicitor and a Senior Advocate of the Court than many who have come from lower courts and tried to understand how the top court works.
- One can only hope that the implementation of strict deadlines becomes the new normal. It is customary for practises to change with each new Chief Justice, but a categorical declaration of intent should last far beyond Justice Lalit’s tenure. This would be a fitting legacy for a country well served.
The Way Forward
- Increasing the Strength of the Judicial System: One solution is to significantly increase the strength of the judicial system by appointing more judges at the subordinate level — improvements must begin at the bottom of the pyramid.
- Strengthening the subordinate judiciary also entails providing administrative and technical support as well as opportunities for advancement, development, and training.
- Institutionalizing the All-India Judicial Service can be a positive step.
- Appropriate Budgeting: The appointments and improvements will necessitate substantial but absolutely necessary expenditure.
- The Fifteenth Finance Commission’s recommendations and the India Justice Report 2020 have both raised the issue and suggested ways to earmark and deploy funds.
- Hibernating Unnecessary PILs: The Supreme Court should order the dismissal of all ‘hibernating’ PILs – those pending for more than ten years before HCs – if they do not involve a significant public policy or legal issue.
- Correcting Historical Inequalities: Judiciary reform should include addressing social inequalities within the judiciary.
- Women judges, as well as judges from historically marginalised castes and classes, must be given a fair share of the table.
- Promoting Alternative Dispute Resolution: It should be mandated that all commercial litigation be heard only if the petitioner provides an affidavit stating that mediation and conciliation have been attempted and failed.
- ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution), Lok Adalats, and Gram Nyayalayas should be used effectively.
- India’s Prime Minister stated during the two-day National Labour Conference (in Tirupati) that India must prepare for future labour needs by providing flexible workplaces with flexi work hours and developing a work-from-home ecosystem, particularly to increase women’s participation in the workforce.
- The Conference aims to address a variety of issues concerning the implementation of labour codes, discussions on migrant workers’ data, and the workforce’s Vision-2047.
GS 1: Social Empowerment
The ability of women to participate in the labour force is the result of a complex interaction of economic and social factors. Examine. (250 words)
ILC (Indian/National Labour Conference)
- It is the highest level tripartite (government, employers, and workers) consultative committee in the Ministry of Labour & Employment, advising the government on issues affecting the country’s working class.
- The Indian Labour Conference (then known as the Tripartite National Labour Conference) held its first meeting in 1942. The most recent meeting was in 2014-15.
- Such a conference is required because India has a legal obligation, as the Indian Parliament has ratified the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention (144) on strengthening the tripartite mechanism.
2022 National Labour Conference:
- The Union Ministry of Labour and Employment is hosting a two-day conference in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh.
- The Conference is being held in the spirit of cooperative federalism to discuss a number of important labor-related issues.
- There will be four thematic sessions at the Conference on –
- Integrating an e-Shram portal for social security scheme onboarding in order to universalize social protection;
- Swasthya se Samriddhi for improving medical care through state-run ESI hospitals and integration with the PM Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY);
- Development of rules and modalities for their implementation under four Labour Codes;
- Shramev Jayate 2047, with a focus on just and equitable working conditions, social protection for all workers, including gig and platform workers, gender equality at work, and so on.
The Four Labor Laws:
- The Indian Parliament passed four labour codes:
- the 2020 Industrial Relations Code;
- To consolidate and amend the laws governing trade unions, working conditions in industrial establishments, and the investigation and resolution of industrial disputes.
- the 2020 Social Security Code;
- To amend and consolidate social security laws in order to provide social security to all employees and workers.
- the 2020 Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions Code
- To consolidate and amend the laws governing occupational safety and health, as well as working conditions for those employed in a business.
- It supersedes 13 previous central labour laws.
- The 2020 Wage Code.
- To simplify existing labour laws dealing with wage payment, overtime, bonuses, minimum wages, and so on.
- Because labour is a concurrent subject, states must frame their rules first, and only then can the codes be fully implemented.
- These codes aim to streamline and simplify the country’s existing and overlapping labour laws (by combining 29 pre-existing labour laws into 4)
- The Government of India’s Ministry of Labour and Employment had previously planned to implement the four labour codes on April 1, 2021.
Their implementation status
- As the government lays the groundwork for the four new labour laws, there are hints of a phased implementation, beginning with the introduction of two codes – The Wage Code and The Social Security Code.
- These will almost certainly be followed by the other two – the Industrial Relations Code and the Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions Code – later.
Ecology centred on women
- The future will necessitate flexible workspaces, a work-from-home culture, and flexi work hours. These policies have the potential to increase women’s participation in the labour force.
- The Indian labour force, particularly women workers, will assist India in achieving its labor-sector goals under ‘Vision 2047.’
- India lagged behind in capitalising on the first, second, and third Industrial Revolutions, but it was now time for the country to capitalise on the ongoing fourth Industrial Revolution in the digital sphere with the right policies and efforts.
- The Centre has taken steps to repeal slavery-era laws that reflect slavery’s mentality.
- The country is now changing, reforming, and simplifying such labour laws, which has justified the decision to reduce 29 labour laws to four simple labour codes