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Q.1 What is the three-judge case? What are the problems Indian Judiciary is facing today? Also, discuss the steps taken by the government to tackle it. (GS-2)

Introduction : Three-judge case

  • According to first judges case chief justice of India does not have primacy over executive in the matter of appointment of judges of Supreme Court and High Courts.
  • Second judges case decision made the judiciary the ‘de facto’ appointing authority of themselves curtailing the power of council of ministers under Article 74(1).
  • In third judges case, nine judge Bench again confirmed that the opinion of the collegiums of judges have primacy in appointing and transfer of judges of higher judiciary. In light of this decision detailed Memorandum of Procedure was prepared, which took the form of present collegiums system.

The problems of Indian judiciary

  • Huge pendency of cases
  • Lack of judges and inefficient management is the reason behind delay in justice delivery.
  • Inadequate data on pending cases and “lack of scientific maintenance” of data makes it difficult to analyse problems and propose sustainable solutions for the judiciary.
  • There is “no unanimity on the number of judges in the country”.
  • Proliferation through SLPs: A lot of cases are entertained under article 136, which would otherwise not fall in the criminal/appellate/advisory jurisdictions.
  • Technical nature of cases: Often the judges have to hear cases related to technical matters such as taxation, environmental policy etc.
  • Lack of infrastructure and manpower shortage.
  • Expensive and delayed justice: Judicial proceedings are prohibitively expensive, confusing for commoners and delay in justice delivery has denied gainful opportunities for many.
  • Lack of expertise: Judiciary lacks expertise in dealing with new age problems like Corp Tax, Cyber laws, International treaties, Climate change and its conservative attitude is exploited and corrupt go scot free.
  • Corruption is also an major issue in judicial system as it is any other government department especially in lower courts increasing transparency and accountability corruption can be bought down.
  • Absence of separate Commercial Courts to adjudicate on disputes of civil nature resulting in large number of pending civil suits related to various business and services related disputes in the high courts.

Steps taken by the government to address the above-mentioned problems:

  • Tribunals: They have been set up to deal with technical matters and appeals against their orders are usually capped.
  • Special bencheslike the social justice bench have been set up.
  • Quasi judicial bodies like NHRC take some load off the judiciary
  • Recently efforts like separate benches for Trade disputes, Tribunals, Lok Adalats and Rural courts, NJAC, release of undertrials, PIL etc has been taken.

Efforts made to address the concerns:

  • The NDA government has tried twice, unsuccessfully both times, to replace the collegium system with a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC).
  • The BJP-led government of 1998-2003 had appointed the Justice M N Venkatachaliah Commission to opine whether there was need to change the collegium system. The Commission favoured change, and prescribed an NJAC consisting of the CJI and two senior most judges, the Law Minister, and an eminent person from the public, to be chosen by the President in consultation with the CJI.

Q.2 Commerce and Industry Ministry is planning to expand exports by increasing agri-exports. Discuss the benefit that this step will incur. Also suggest what more can be done for promoting exports of agricultural products? (GS-3)

Commerce and Industry Ministry is planning to expand exports by increasing agri-exports.

The benefits

  • Increasing agri – exports will help increase India’s export basket and would also expand farmers’ incomes and amend farm distress.
  • This objective is achievable, provided there is a paradigm shift in policy-making from being obsessively consumer-oriented to according greater priority to farmers’ interests.
  • According to the Survey, the IMF’s January update of its World Economic Outlook forecast projecting an increase in global growth from 3.1 per cent in 2016 to 3.4 per cent in 2017, with a corresponding increase in growth for advanced economies from 1.6 per cent to 1.9 per cent, augured well for India’s exports.

Steps to promote agri-exports

  • The government needs to put in money to push infrastructure if exports have to be increased.
  • Improvement in warehousing infrastructure would also counter inflation concerns due to seasonal factors such as poor monsoon rains.
  • India’s warehousing capacity for perishables is disproportionately concentrated in a few regions. Almost 50% of cold-storage capacity is concentrated in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
  • According to a report on warehousing in India by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy released in September 2015, post-harvest losses of agricultural commodities is estimated to be at about Rs44,000 crore annually.
  • The cobweb effect means that higher cultivation leads to lower prices, which in turn leads to lower cultivation in the next period.
  • The problem of bumper crops leading to a price crash can be taken care of by policies such as minimum support prices.
  • India pursued the cause of legitimizing its procurement-based PDS at the WTO in the past two WTO ministerial conferences.
  • If India has to promote agri-exports, the country’s policymakers must build global value-chains for some important agri-commodities in which the country has a comparative advantage.
  • On the exports front, India is relatively competitive in cereals, especially rice and wheat and maize, and, at times, oilseeds, especially groundnuts and oil meals.
  • The country can also be competitive in groundnut and mustard oil, provided there is an open and stable export policy. India has also been the world’s second largest exporter of cotton.
  • The country has a great potential to export fish and seafood, bovine meat, and fruits, nuts and vegetables. These are the commodities to focus on in order to stimulate agri-exports.
  • Stimulating agri – exports would require infrastructure and institutional support — connecting export houses directly to farmer producer organizations (FPOs), sidestepping the APMC-regulated mandis, removing stocking limits and trading restrictions.
  • Stimulating such exports would also require structural reforms in agriculture.
  • A special package to support value-chains through infrastructural investments (in assaying, grading, packaging and storing facilities), which will also create jobs in rural areas, or assistance in adhering to sanitary and phytosanitary standards would make them more resilient to future price shocks.
  • The import policy must be designed such that the landed price of palm oil and yellow pea never goes much below the domestic prices of their nearest rivals, say, soybean oil and chickpea, respectively.
  • Liberalization of factor markets, especially land-lease markets, would also help in building more efficient and reliable export value-chains.
  • Long land-lease arrangements can facilitate private investments in building export-oriented global value-chains, generating rural non-farm employment and enhancing farmers’ incomes.
  • A farm-to-foreign” strategy, improving agri-trade surpluses by promoting agri-exports, and most importantly create more jobs and bring prosperity to rural areas can sure be a go ahead.

Q.3 India hosted Charles, the Prince of Wales with an agenda to revive the future of the Commonwealth. What is the significance of Commonwealth meetings in present scenario and the importance that it holds for India specifically in the context of trade and services? (GS-2)

Introduction

  • Charles came to India to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the Commonwealth Summit scheduled in London in April 2018.
  • Charles stopped over in three other commonwealth countries — Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia before arriving in Delhi.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting is significant for many reasons:

  • Charles, with his considerable interest in Commonwealth affairs in recent years, is likely to take over from Queen Elizabeth as the head of the organization. As the largest country in the Commonwealth, India will have a key role in formalizing this transition.
  • Britain’s renewed interest in the Commonwealth amidst its looming separation from the European Union is important. London is making a big push to reconnect with its historic partners in the Commonwealth and the Anglo sphere.
  • Charles declared that “the Commonwealth should, and does, have a pivotal role” in resolving contemporary global problems like climate change, urbanization and sustainable development.
  • The Commonwealth forum can draw on a uniquely wide range of national contexts, experiences, traditions and, above all, professional associations for the solutions.

India’s new possibilities with the Commonwealth

  • A group of realists dealing with the foreign policy of India would want to explore with Britain the idea of a long-term partnership between Delhi and London in rejuvenating the Commonwealth.
  • Delhi’s lack of interest in the Commonwealth in recent decades was reinforced by the preoccupation with managing the complex relationships with its immediate neighbours, reordering its ties with the major powers, and becoming part of regional institutions like the Association of the South East.

Trade and services ties

  • Post-Brexit, the two countries want to expand their bilateral trade which was pegged at $14.02 billion in 2015-16. The two sides have also been looking to work out a trade deal.
  • According to a Commonwealth report titled ‘The Commonwealth in the Unfolding Global Trade Landscape’, trade within this grouping was pegged at $592 billion in 2013 and is projected to surpass the $1 trillion mark by 2020.
  • Asian members account for 55 per cent of intra-Commonwealth trade with India, Malaysia and Singapore contributing to over half the total intra-Commonwealth goods exports.
  • As a founding member, India is the largest member and the fourth largest contributor to its budget after the UK, Australia and Canada. Besides, India shares close ties with many Commonwealth members including the African nations and island states.
  • As the UK works to persuade India into playing a greater role in the Commonwealth, it needs to put forth the reason that India can generate more influence for itself and increase its soft power by staying as a part of Commonwealth.
  • New Delhi clearly would want something more substantive from the UK in return for backing it on the Commonwealth reforms front.
  • A sticking point between the two governments has been restrictive visas for Indian students and IT professionals.
  • However, with 10 Downing firm in its resolve not to grant concessions, it’s unlikely to bag a trade pact with India.
  • With the strategic trajectories of India and Britain diverging in the last few decades ruined the bilateral relationship between Delhi and London. The falling off the Commonwealth was inevitable.

Way ahead

  • The essence of the original idea that the Commonwealth can serve the interests of both countries has not just survived but has come back to the fore today.
  • For Britain, that is reinventing itself politically after Brexit. The Commonwealth has now become a significant forum to recalibrate London’s international relations.
  • For India, the Commonwealth is the most natural theatre to demonstrate its credibility as a “leading power”. With a globally dispersed membership from the Caribbean to the South Pacific and Southern Africa to East Asia, the Commonwealth can easily reinforce India’s expanding international footprint.
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