August 29, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether former CJI NV Ramana’s tenure was above or below par. We also look at the overcrowded jails in Delhi, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Judging The Tenure Of Former CJI NV Ramana
As the former Chief Justice of India (CJI), NV Ramana, retired recently after serving an eight-year term in the Supreme Court, we thought we could take a look at whether his tenure was fruitful or less than satisfactory.
Justice NV Ramana started his career as a journalist before becoming an advocate on 10 February 1983. His judicial journey began when he was appointed as a permanent Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on 27 June 2000. He became the Acting Chief Justice of the AP High Court on 10 March 2013 and the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court on 2 September 2013. He was appointed as the Judge of the Supreme Court of India on 17 February 2014. Eventually, he became the 48th Chief Justice of India on 24 April 2021 and retired on 26 August 2022.
Before his elevation as the CJI, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy alleged that Justice Ramana and his relatives were involved in corruption relating to the acquisition of land in the city of Amravati. He also accused Justice Ramana of attempting to influence hearings in the AP High Court. CM Jagan asked the then CJI SA Bobde to initiate an investigation into his claims. However, an in-house enquiry into the complaints found that the allegations against Justice Ramana were meritless and the investigation was closed.
Justice Ramana has been a part of 657 Benches and authored 174 Judgements. When he took over the reins as the Chief Justice of India in April 2021, Covid was one of the many challenges he had to face. Due to the halt in physical hearings, many judicial cases of importance had to be pushed and remained unheard for months.
VIEW: CJI Ramana’s tenure was above par
One of the most notable changes observed during Justice Ramana’s tenure was the sharp drop in judicial vacancies. As an attempt to promote access to justice, his tenure saw the appointment of 224 judges in high courts, which accounts for 20% of the total sanctioned strength of the judges.
Additionally, 11 judges were appointed to the Supreme Court, and 15 high court chief justices were appointed during his tenure. Justice Ramana’s tenure saw the appointment of the most women judges in the history of the country’s judiciary. He thereby brought vacancies down to the lowest since 2016.
He also took many favourable administrative decisions such as allowing the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) to employ the apex court’s auditorium for its official events. In an attempt to ensure more accountability and transparency, Justice Ramana undertook the innovative initiative of implementing ‘Fast and Secured Transmission of Electronic Records (FASTER), a digital platform to send stay orders, bail orders, interim orders and other such documents.
Some of his important judicial interventions include the Pegasus spyware scandal where he set up a panel led by him to examine the allegations. Justice Ramana also held a firm stance in the Lakhimpur Kheri case after cancelling the bail granted to the accused after the Allahabad High Court awarded it. More notably, his bench suspended criminal trials and court proceedings under the sedition law followed in the British era.
COUNTERVIEW: CJI Ramana’s tenure was below par
While some of the decisions taken by CJI Ramana were groundbreaking in the judicial history of the country, there were some prominent shortcomings. One of the biggest criticisms of his term as Chief Justice of India was that many constitutional matters went unheard. He did not set up any benches to hear questions regarding the interpretation of the Constitution or the law.
There are currently 53 such matters still pending before the court. These include pressing issues such as the abrogation of Article 370, the constitutionality of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill Act, 2019, and the validity of the reservation for Economically Weaker Sections. This cannot be excused as the Supreme Court was near full strength, with the number of judges never falling below 30 during his tenure.
The Union Government’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir has over 20 pending petitions before the apex court. When asked about addressing the concern relating to the abrogation of Article 370, CJI Ramana stated that there are some issues with the composition of the Constitution Bench and he would try to list the case.
Many significant cases before the Supreme Court have been met with disregard. Some of these include the electoral bond scheme, the decision on divorce through Talaq-e-Hasan and the appeal against the Karnataka High Court’s Hijab verdict. In light of all these issues, CJI Ramana’s tenure will be looked at as bittersweet.
What’s your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) Former CJI Ramana’s tenure was above par.
b) Former CJI Ramana’s tenure was below par.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
Indian Army’s Persistent Penchant For ‘Marvel Comics Weaponry‘ Has Again Cost It Dear
For the Left:
How The Modi Government Is Providing A Massive Boost To Agri Exports From Northeast India
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Overcrowded jails (Delhi) – The Tihar Prison Complex is overcrowded. It has two-and-a-half times the number of inmates of its capacity. The new complexes in Rohini and Mandoli were supposed to ease the burden, but they’re overcrowded too. The office of the Director General of Prisons said Tihar has a capacity of 5,200. Currently, more than 13,000 inmates are housed there. Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the prison population.
Why it matters: The overcrowding has made it difficult for prison officials to monitor all the convicts. The total population of 16 prisons is around 19,500. The sanctioned capacity is just over 10,000. If fights and skirmishes break out between inmates, officials have a tough time ensuring safety and maintaining surveillance. Among the high-profile inmates include Olympic silver medallist Sushil Kumar.
Jayalalithaa hospitalisation report (Tamil Nadu) – Former High Court Judge Justice A Arumughaswamy said there was nothing suspicious about former chief minister Jayalalithaa’s hospitalisation in September 2016. In a probe about the same, he said the commission didn’t visit her residence in Poes Garden. The commission’s report is three volumes and is 500-pages long in English. The report concluded that there was no malicious intent, and the treatment given was according to protocol.
Why it matters: The commission was criticised for taking too long to investigate and submit its report. The judge said the inquiry lasted only 13 months and examined 149 witnesses. The investigation couldn’t happen for three years since the Supreme Court ordered a stay on a petition by Apollo Hospital that wanted a panel of medical experts to assist the commission.
Palanquin ambulance saves lives (West Bengal) – Palanquin, previously used by zamindars and brides, is now a lifeline for residents of Alipurduar’s Buxa area. It has about 3,000 indigenous tribes in 11 villages with low accessible roads. They’re used as mobile ambulances for sick people and pregnant women to transport them to local healthcare centres. It was launched earlier this year. The goal is to cover all 11 villages.
Why it matters: The government doesn’t allow the building of concrete structures, including roads, inside the Buxa Tiger Reserve. The villages are located at 4,600 feet above sea level. Previously, villagers carried patients on makeshift stretchers made from sacks, clothes, and bamboo sticks.
Journalist booked (Gujarat) – Aniruddh Nakum, the editor and author of an article that hinted at the possible removal of Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, has been booked after an FIR was filed against him. The story was published in the Saurashtra Headline, a Rajkot-based news outlet. The complaint filed by Babubhai Vaghera alleged the report was written to spread rumours without any factual information.
Why it matters: The article claimed the BJP’s central leadership is unhappy with Patel’s performance and was considering replacing him. It also named Union Ministers Parshottam Rupala and Mansukh Mandaviya as the front runners for his replacement. The editor’s wife, the owner, was also booked under IPC sections relating to an offending act likely to induce a person to commit an offence and publishing information with an intent to create enmity.
Arrests cause political storm (Assam) – The arrest of 35 suspected Al Qaeda terrorists across the state has caused a political storm. Assam Congress MLA Abdur Rashid Mandal alleged the government is distracting from important issues affecting Assam. He also questioned the police’s intentions since he believes Muslims of the state weren’t involved in Jihadi activities.
Why it matters: Among those arrested was Abdus Suahan who is allegedly closely linked with two Imams who were arrested earlier. The police got information about Al Qaeda’s plan in the wake of the Imam’s arrest. They said six Bangladeshi terrorists entered the state a few years back and targeted the people of Char district and some remote areas which are Muslim-dominated.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
13,000 – The number of schools in Karnataka that have written to the Prime Minister, accusing the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government of corruption. They have asked him to look into alleged bribes demanded by the state education department.