Editorial Simplified: Time to Raise the Bar | GS – II

Relevance: GS 2, 4[ Governance]


Theme Of The Article

The judiciary needs a mechanism to regulate post-retirement government appointments.


Why has this issue cropped up?

Justice A.K. Sikri found himself in the eye of a storm arising from accepting a post offered by the government, last year, while being a judge of the court. By later turning down, he substantially redeemed the judiciary’s and his own honour. However, this is an issue that recurs frequently.


Instances  of accepting govt post by judiciary

  • After retirement, Justice Chagla had accepted a government appointment to serve as Indian Ambassador to the U.S. (1958-61) and later as Indian High Commissioner to the U.K (1962- 1963) . Soon after this he became a minister in Nehru’s cabinet.
  • As many as 70 out of 100 Supreme Court retired judges have taken up assignments in the National Human Rights Commission of India, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Armed Forces Tribunal, and the Law Commission of India, etc.

Should judges accept govt posts after retirement?

  • The practice of a judge looking forward to accepting employment under the government after retirement was undesirable as it could affect the independence of the judiciary.
  • The Tribunals should not be haven for retired persons and appointment process should not result in decisions being influenced if the Government itself is a litigant and appointment authority at the same time.
  • At the same time, it is also true that the valuable experience and insights that competent and honest judges acquire during their period of service cannot be wasted after retirement.
  • Unlike abroad, a judge of the higher judiciary in India retires at a comparatively young age and is capable of many more years of productive work.
  • However, government-sponsored post-retirement appointments will continue to raise a cloud of suspicion over the judgments the best judges delivered while in service.

Way forward

  • It is true that in law justice must not only be done but also be seen to be done. Therefore, the viable option is to establish a commission made up of a majority, if not exclusively, of retired judges to make appointments of competent retired judges to tribunals and judicial bodies.
  • It is desirable the Supreme Court invokes that methodology now and puts in place a process to regulate post-retirement appointments for judges. Such a process must sufficiently insulate the judiciary from the charge of being a recipient of government largesse.

Conclusion

The attacks on the fabric of independence of the judiciary will not be through engulfing flames but through small corrosive doses. Therefore, it is in the judiciary’s own interests to resolve this issue as expeditiously as it can.


 

Essential Facts (Prelims): 13th Feb, 2019


SIG716

Category: Defence & Security

  • The Army signed a contract with U.S. for SIG716 assault rifles for front-line soldiers deployed in operational areas.
  • The broad parameters for the weapon are an effective range of 500 m and weight of less than 3 kg.
  • The new rifles will replace the Indian National Small Arms System (INSAS) rifles.
  • This is the first project to be executed through the strategic partnership policy.
  • Under this, the chosen Indian private company will team up with the Original Equipment Manufacturer to build the product in India.
  • The EoI follows the Request for Information (RFI).

India- Maldives

Category: International

  • India and Maldives exchanged an agreement to facilitate visas for travel between the two countries.
  • Under the agreement, the government will free up the visa regime for Maldives citizens who travel to India for medical reasons and for education in particular.
  • The government has also agreed to grant visas for parents and other dependants to live in India while their children attend school here.
  • The agreement will ease visas on arrival for Indian businessmen, and bring cheer to Indians applying for work in the Maldives.
  • Indians are the second largest expatriate community in the Maldives, numbering about 22,000.
  • If a child from Maldives is being educated in India, his/ her entire family will get dependent visas.
  • For Indian professionals applying for employment visa in the island country, the employers will pay the fees and will get the paperwork done within 15 days.

Lighthouse projects

Category: Social sector

  • The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has instituted a challenge for States/ UTs to select six sites across the country for constructing the Lighthouse projects under GHTC-India.
  • The winning six States/ UTs that score the highest marks across the prescribed criteria will be awarded lighthouse projects.
  • The States/ UTs will receive Central Assistance to construct these projects.

Tiger

Category: Environment & ecology

  • The Gujarat forest department confirmed the presence of a tiger in the state, almost 25 years after the feline was last spotted in the forests of Dangs in the southern part of the state.
  • The Gir National Park and Sanctuary, home to Asiatic lions, is located around 500 kms from Lunawad-Santrampur forest where tiger was spotted.
  • The 1992 tiger census had reported the extinction of the animal from the state.
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a statutory body under the ministry of environment and forests, included Gujarat in its tiger census in 2018 — the first time since 1992.
  • The Gujarat government is likely to start tiger safaris soon with a tag line, “One state in India to have both tigers and lions”.

PM-KISAN

Category: Agriculture

  • PM-KISAN scheme, which will enable cash transfers to small and marginal farmers, will be headed by a chief executive officer (CEO) and the programme will run on a centralized software platform with realtime monitoring.
  • an official familiar with the details of the initiative said on condition of anonymity.
  • To implement the scheme, the government will rely on a ‘management information system platform’, a software that will connect states, banks and farmers
  • The scheme will offer Rs 6,000 a year in three instalments to all farmers who own cultivable land parcels under two hectares.
  • The CEO will be a civil servant.
  • Cash will be transferred by the Centre to beneficiaries electronically through the “State Notional Account”, a mechanism similar to the one being used for paying beneficiaries of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
  • Each inclusion of beneficiaries will need to be accompanied by a self-declaration that the prospective beneficiary doesn’t fall within the criteria of those excluded from the scheme, such as taxpayers and government employees.

NUH Project

Category: Defence & security

  • Govt is to build 111 naval utility helicopters (NUH) in the country to replace the navy’s outdated fleet of French-designed Chetak choppers.
  • Defence minister-led Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) cleared the NUH project under the government’s strategic partnership (SP) model that seeks to provide impetus to the Make in India programme.
  • The SP model envisages local manufacturing of major defence platforms by an Indian strategic partner, which will collaborate with a foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to set up production facilities in India.
  • The helicopters are expected to have an indigenous content of 60%.
  • As part of the NUH project, 16 choppers would be bought in a flyaway condition from the foreign OEM, and the remaining 95 will be built in the country.
  • The SP policy stipulates that “a minimum number of platforms, not exceeding 10-15% of the units being procured, may be manufactured on the premises of the original equipment manufacturer”.
  • The navy uses such choppers for search and rescue operations, medical evacuation, communication duties, anti-piracy and antiterrorism operations, humanitarian assistance and surveillance and targeting.