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Article
26 Nov 2022

Courts' Pendency Crisis: One Wheel Cannot Move

Context: The article highlights concern over the high judicial pendency in India and suggests corrective measures to rectify it.

Statistics related to pendency in Indian Judiciary

  • At over 47 million, India has the largest number of pending court cases in the world.
  • As per the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG), 57,987 cases in Supreme Court and 49 lakh cases are pending in High Courts
  • Also 2.4cr cases are pending cases in India’s district courts, out of which 23 lakh (9.58%) have been pending for over 10 years, and 39 lakh (16.44%) have been pending for between 5 and 10 years.
  • A Law Commission report in 2009 had quoted that it would require 464 years to clear the arrears with the present strength of judges.
  • A 2018 paper by NITI Aayog said it would take more than 324 years to clear the backlog.

Causes of judicial pendency and solutions to reform judicial system

  • Government - the biggest litigant: The Centre and state governments are party to 46% of the pending cases.
    • Thus, a simple negative list which identifies instances in which government and its agencies are barred from going to court would be helpful to avoid futile litigation.
  • Judge strength: As of 2021, India had 21.03 judges per million people compared to the UK with 51 and the US with 107 judges per million. Hence India needs more judges for speedy justice delivery.
    • The 120th Law Commission of India report has suggested a judge strength fixation formula.
    • India should utilize its most experienced judges since present retirement age (62 for HC judges and 65 for SC judges in contrast with 75 in UK or Canada) was fixed when life expectancy was lower.
  • Judicial appointments: The tussle between the executive and the judiciary over judicial appointments must be resolved on a war footing. The collegium system of judges appointing other judges should be replaced with a more viable scheme.
    • The Constitution of the All-India Judicial Services can also help India establish a better judicial system.
  • Administrative burden: The Indian judges spend majority time in scheduling hearings, deciding admission, etc., unlike in developed countries where administrative tasks of courts are supported by an external agency.
    • India can emulate the same with a separate professional agency with administrative expertise, specialization, and modern management practices and technologies.
    • The Union government had suggested Indian Courts and Tribunal Services (ICTS) - an authority charged with supervising and fulfilling the administrative requirements of the courts.
    • This will increase the productivity of the court system and assure that judges are left free to perform the core task of handling cases and delivering judgments.
  • Frivolous litigation: Certain categories of cases such as dishonouring of cheques or landlord-tenant disputes are voluminous and clog the system.
    • Thus, rules should be established for disincentivizing such litigations by imposing exceptionally heavy costs on losing party. This would lead to several frivolous disputes settled out of court.
  • Poor judicial infrastructure: For example, many court complexes operate from rented premises. Ex CJI N V Ramanna has remarked that a National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation (NJIC) should be created for the standardization and improvement of judicial infrastructure.
  • Technology constraints: Certain categories of cases can be moved permanently to an online disposal system, similar to online hearings during Covid-19 lockdown. The computer algorithms could also be used to manage the roster, thus eliminating bias.
  • Issue of undertrials: Around 76% of prisoners in Indian jails are undertrials, i.e., three out of four prisoners are not even convicted.
    • The SC recently directed the government to consider the introduction of Indian Bail Act to streamline the grant of bails, as done in various other countries like the UK.
  • Frequent adjournments: A norm needs to be formed that once a date is fixed no adjournment should be possible unless the side that requests it is willing to pay the other side's legal costs along with a substantial penalty.
  • Volume of appeals: Almost 40% of the working days of SC judges are consumed in determining admission of special leave petitions (SLPs) and as much as 90% of those SLPs are rejected. It leads to mammoth time wastage of SC.
    • SLP provides the aggrieved party a special permission to be heard in apex court in appeal against any judgment or order of any Court/tribunal in the territory of India.
    • Thus, Special Benches can be assigned for time-bound and quick disposal of SLPs.
  • Poor management practices: The system of long vacations for courts is a colonial practice that should be done away for optimum justice delivery owing high pendency in courts today.
    • Former CJI Lodha has recommended that instead of all the judges going on vacation at one time, individual judges should take their leave at different times through the year.
    • It will ensure that the courts are constantly open and there are always benches present to hear cases.
  • Absenteeism of judges: The productivity of judges should be reviewed periodically to have oversight upon absenteeism of judges.
    • Ex CJI Ranjan Gogoi had proposed a “no leave formula” for judges during working days of the court.
    • Those judges who failed to follow the formula would either withdraw his name from the judges list or judicial work is withdrawn from that errant member of the court. This should be emulated in lower courts also.
  • Poor case flow management: The SC had drawn up a fine blueprint on case-management, on how to get more cases moving along. For instance, on three different tracks, i.e., fast track, normal track and slow track.
  • Low number of Special courts: Special Courts can be established on specialised areas such as commercial cases can be transferred to the commercial division and the commercial appellate division of High Courts.
    • Similarly, Special Courts within High Courts can be set up to address litigations pertaining to land, crime, traffic challans etc., in order to reduce the burden on main courts.

Earlier steps taken to reduce pendency

  • Policy formulation: Adoption of “National Litigation Policy 2010” to transform government into an Efficient and Responsible litigant. All states formulated state litigation policies after National Litigation Policy 2010.
  • Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS): It was created in 2015 with the objective of tracking cases to which the government is a party.
  • Criminal reform: The SC had advised the Centre that criminals sentenced to imprisonment for 6 months or a year should be allocated social service duties rather than be sent to further choke the already overflowing prisons.
  • Concept of Plea Bargaining: It was inserted as a new chapter in Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
    • Plea Bargaining means a pre-negotiation between the accused and the prosecution where the accused pleads guilty in exchange for certain concession by the prosecution.
    • Its main objective is to reduce the time in criminal trial and give the accused a lesser punishment and helps in fast disposal of cases.
  • Alternate dispute resolution (ADR): The Legal Services Authorities undertake pre-litigation mediation so that the inflow of cases into courts can be regulated. E.g., Lok Adalat for settling civil and family matter, Gram Nyayalayas to manage small claim disputes from rural areas, etc.

Conclusion

  • Denial of ‘timely justice’ amounts to denial of ‘justice’ itself. Timely disposal of cases is essential to maintain rule of law and provide access to justice.
  • Speedy trial is a part of right to life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Hence a continuous formative assessment to come out of the judicial pendency crisis is the key to strengthen and reinforce the justice delivery system in India.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Daily Question
Nov. 26, 2022

"The real utility of MNREGA was witnessed during COVID times." Comment. (10 Marks, 150 Words)

The Model Answer will be displayed at Nov. 27, 2022, 6 a.m.

Article
26 Nov 2022

Government forms panel to look into MGNREGA’s efficacy

In News:

  • The Central government has constituted a committee to review the implementation of MGNREGA scheme to assess the programme’s efficacy as a poverty alleviation tool.
  • The committee is headed by former Rural Development secretary Amarjeet Sinha.

What’s in Today’s article

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme – About, features, Budget allocation, MGNREGA & COVID, Criticism
  • News Summary

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS):

  • The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) was notified in September, 2005.
    • In 2009, through an amendment, the name of the Act was changed to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
  • Mandate: To provide at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme  was created as the means to implement the Act so that the guarantee comes into effect.
  • MGNREGS is a Centrally-Sponsored Scheme i.e. the scheme is jointly funded by the Central government and the State governments.
  • Concerned Ministry: Ministry of Rural Development

Salient Features of the Scheme:

  • Legal Right to Work:
    • The MGNREGA provides a legal guarantee for wage employment.
    • Every rural household has the right to register under MGNREGA.
    • Also, at least one-third of the beneficiaries of the scheme have to be women.
    • There are legal provisions for allowances and compensation both in cases of failure to provide work on demand and delays in payment of wages for work undertaken.
  • Demand-Driven:
    • It is a demand-driven programme where provision of work is triggered by the demand for work by wage-seekers.
  • Decentralized mode of implementation:
    • The State governments have powers to make rules and amend the concerned State scheme.
    • Gram Panchayats (GPs) are to implement at least 50 per cent of the works in terms of cost.
    • Plans and decisions regarding the nature and choice of works to be undertaken etc. are all to be made in open assemblies of the Gram Sabha and ratified by the GP.
  • Annual Report tabled in the Parliament:
    • CEGC is a statutory body set up under Section 10 of the MGNREGA.
    • It is chaired by the Union Minister for Rural Development.
    • An Annual Report prepared by the Central Employment Guarantee Council (CEGC), on the outcomes of MGNREGA is required to be presented annually by the Central Government to Parliament.
  • The MGNERGA covers the entire country with the exception of districts that have a hundred percent urban population.

Budget allocation

  • The government's expenditure on job guarantees is among the largest social sector spends it budgets for.
  • 730 billion Indian rupees have been earmarked ($8.94 billion) towards the jobs scheme for fiscal 2022-23
    • Historic allocation of 1.1 trillion rupees was made in FY 2020-2021.

MGNREGA & COVID

Criticism

  • Poorer States like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar haven’t been able to use the scheme optimally to alleviate poverty, while economically better-off States like Kerala use it as an asset creation tool
  • The scheme has been criticised by economists like Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya as an “inefficient instrument of shifting income to the poor”.
  • While Bihar needs MGNREGA more, money cannot be denied to affluent states like Keralabecause of the current structure of the programme.
  • MGNREGA is slammed for the lack of tangible asset creation.

News Summary

  • The government has constituted the Sinha committee to review the implementation of the MGNREGA
  • The committee has been tasked to study the various factors behind demand for MGNREGA work, expenditure trends and inter-State variations, and the composition of work.
  • It will suggest what changes in focus and governance structures are required to make MGNREGA more effective.
  • It will review whether the scheme should focus more on community-based assets or individual works.
Social Issues

Article
26 Nov 2022

In a 1st, UN to call shots on global tax rules

In News:

  • Recently, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly unanimously accepted a resolution sponsored by Nigeria that advocates for the creation of an international tax cooperation mechanism.
  • With this mechanism, emerging countries in Africa and Asia are expected to have a greater say in the formulation of global tax regulations.
    • As a result, the OECD's (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) 60-year reign as a global tax rule maker is coming to an end.

What’s in today’s article:

  • About OECD and its Pillar two rules
  • News Summary

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development):

  • It is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1961 (under the Rome Treaties of 1957) with 38-member countries, which describe themselves as committed to democracy and the market economy.
  • It was to stimulate economic progress and world trade by providing a platform to compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practices and coordinate domestic and international policies of its members.

OECD's Pillar Two model rules:

  • These rules were agreed in 2021 by 137 countries and jurisdictions under the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS.
    • Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) refers to corporate tax planning strategies used by multinationals to shift profits from higher-tax jurisdictions to lower/no-tax jurisdictions, thus eroding the tax-base of the higher-tax jurisdictions.
    • The OECD defines BEPS strategies as exploiting gaps and mismatches in tax rules.
  • The rules provide governments a precise template for taking forward the two-pillar solution to address the tax challenges arising from digitalisation and globalisation of the economy.
    • Pillar 1 aims to ensure a better distribution of taxation of multinationals according to the countries in which they operate.
    • Pillar 2 aims to control tax competition on corporate profits by introducing a global minimum tax of 15% from 2023.
  • The rules specify the scope and mechanism for Pillar Two's so-called Global Anti-Base Erosion (GloBE) rules.
  • The new Pillar Two model rules will assist countries to bring the GloBE rules into domestic legislation in 2022. The GloBE rules:
    • Define the MNEs within the scope of the minimum tax;
    • Set out a mechanism for calculating an MNE’s effective tax rate on a jurisdictional basis; and
    • Impose the top-up tax on a member of the MNE group in accordance with an agreed rule order.
  • Significance of Pillar Two rules:
    • More than $125 billion in taxing rights were to be redistributed each year from about 100 of the world's largest and most profitable MNEs to consumer-centric countries.
    • This would ensure that large corporations pay their fair share of taxes everywhere they operate and make profits.
    • While the OECD is seen as a rich-country club, the rules show that it has become increasingly liberal in its approach to non-members such as India.

News Summary:

  • Concerns regarding Pillar Two rules:
    • Pillar 1 a contentious issue among several developing countries. It provides that no newly enacted digital services tax (like India’s equalisation levy) will be imposed on any company till the coming into force of the Pillar 1 agreement.
      • According to India, the equalisation levy was a temporary solution that could be repealed once Pillar 1 was implemented.
    • Pillar 2, with a mechanism for tax back by another country if the minimum rate was not adhered to, remains a hiccup in the negotiation.
  • Significance of the UN tax convention:
    • It would overhaul global taxation rules, end global tax abuse by multinational enterprises (MNEs) and the super-rich.
    • It could result in a larger number of companies (rather than just the top 100) coming within the ambit of a fairer customer-centric based profit allocation.
    • In addition to dealing with tax issues in a digital economy, the convention is also expected to deal with the menace of illicit money flows and solutions to overcome the same.
    • It will now kick off a power struggle between the two institutions (UN and OECD) with implications for global and local economies, businesses and people everywhere for decades to come.
Economics

Current Affairs
Nov. 26, 2022

UN Country Team (UNCT)
The Union Minister of Environment Forest and Climate Change recently addressed the special meeting of UN Country Team (UNCT) on CoP 27.
current affairs image

About:

  • The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) exists in 132 countries, covering all of the 162 countries where there are United Nations programmes.
  • The UNCT includes all the UN entities working on sustainable development, emergency, recovery and transition in programme countries.
  • The UNCT is led by the UN Resident Coordinator, who is the representative of the UN Secretary-General in a given country.
  • The UNCT ensures interagency coordination and decision-making at the country level. The goal is to plan and work together, as part of the Resident Coordinator system, to ensure the delivery of tangible results in support of the development agenda of the Government, including the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework—which guides the UN country team’s development programme cycle, in joint agreement with the host government.

The Resident Coordinator System

  • It ensures the coordination of all organizations of the United Nations dealing with operational activities for development at the country level, regardless of the nature of their presence in the country.
  • It encompasses the UN Resident Coordinator, the UN Country Team and Resident Coordinator’s Office and is served by the UN Development Coordination Office.
Source : PIB
International Relations

Current Affairs
Nov. 26, 2022

Y 12705 (Mormugao)
Y 12705 (Mormugao), the second ship of Project 15B stealth guided missile destroyers being built at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL), was delivered to the Indian Navy recently.
current affairs image
  • The ship is 163 meters long and 17 meters wide, displaces 7400 tonnes when fully loaded, and has a maximum speed of 30 knots.
  • Apart from myriad indigenous equipment in the ‘Float’ and ‘Move’ categories, the destroyer is also installed with the under-mentioned major indigenous weapons. The overall indigenous content of the project is approx. 75%.
    • Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missiles (BEL, Bangalore)
    • BrahMos Surface-to-Surface Missiles (BrahMos Aerospace, New Delhi)
    • Indigenous Torpedo Tube Launchers (Larsen & Toubro, Mumbai)
    • Anti-Submarine Indigenous Rocket Launchers (Larsen & Toubro, Mumbai)
    • 76mm Super Rapid Gun Mount (BHEL, Haridwar)

Project 15B

  • Project 15B (P15B) / Visakhapatnam-class is the latest destroyer design currently under construction for the Indian Navy.
  • These ships have been designed indigenously by the Indian Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design, New Delhi. Each ship spans 163 meters in length and 17.4 meters in beam and displaces 7,300 tonnes.
  • These ships will be propelled by four gas turbines to achieve speed in excess of 30 knots.
  • According to the Indian Navy, the P15B destroyers incorporate new design concepts for improved survivability, seakeeping, stealth, and maneuverability.
Source : PIB
Defence & Security

Article
26 Nov 2022

Suheldev to Birsa: How PM saluted 'unsung heroes'

In News:

  • Recently, PM Modi addressed at the closing ceremony of the year-long celebrations of 400th birth anniversary of Ahom commander Lachit Barphukan.
  • This marked a continuation of his government's efforts to honour the heroes whose contributions haven't received due recognition in the pages of Indian history.

What’s in today’s article:

  • News Summary

News Summary

  • The government is putting efforts so that the unsung heroes of India are given due importance, respect and promotion, for the benefit of youngsters and society at large.

Few Unsung Heroes of India

  • Shri Govind Guru
    • Few months back, PM Modi paid homage to Bhil freedom fighter Shri Govind Guru.
    • Govind Guru was a social and religious reformer in the early 1900s in the tribal border areas of present-day Rajasthan and Gujarat states in India.
    • He started working with the Bhil community during the great famine of 1899-1900 and saw their oppression at the hands of the princely states.
    • He started Bhagat Sampradaya (sect) in 1908.
      • His disciples followed strict rules including abstinence from liquor and meat, the adoption of hygienic practices, and the rejection of bonded labour work and witch-doctors.
  • Nadaprabhu Kempegowda
    • Recently, PM Modi unveiled the 108-feet-long bronze statue of Sri Nadaprabhu Kempegowda in Bengaluru.
    • Nadaprabhu Hiriya Kempegowda, also known as Kempegowda, was a chieftain under the Vijayanagara Empire.
    • He is also known as the founder of Bengaluru in the 16th century.
    • He is credited for prohibiting the custom of amputating the last two fingers of the left hand of the unmarried women during "Bandi Devaru", an important custom of Morasu Vokkaligas.
  • Alluri Sitarama Raju
    • He is believed to have been born in present-day Andhra Pradesh in 1897-98.
    • At a very young age, Raju channeled the discontent of the hill people in Ganjam, Visakhapatnam and Godavari into a highly effective guerrilla resistance against the British.
    • As the government sought to secure forest lands, colonial rule threatened the tribals' traditional podu (shifting) cultivation.
      • The Forest Act of 1882 prohibited the collection of minor forest products like roots and leaves and tribal people were forced to work for the colonial government.
    • While the tribals were exploited by muttadars (village headmen hired by the colonial government to extract rent), new laws and systems threatened their very way of life.
    • Strong anti-government sentiment, shared by muttadars (dissatisfied with the British curtailment of their powers), erupted into armed resistance - the Rampa or Manyam Rebellion - in August 1922.
      • Several hundred tribals led by Raju attacked several police stations in the Godavari agency.
      • The rebellion, which coincided with Mahatma Gandhi's Non-Cooperation Movement, lasted until May 1924, when Raju, the charismatic 'Manyam Veerudu' or Hero of the Jungle, was finally apprehended and executed.
  • Birsa Munda
    • The Union Cabinet approved the declaration of November 15 as, "Janjatiya Gaurav Divas" to honour the contributions of tribal freedom fighters.
      • November 15 was chosen because it was the birth anniversary of Birsa Munda.
    • In November 2021, the PM inaugurated Bhagwan Birsa Munda Museum in Ranch
      • Under his vision, 10 museums, cherishing the memories of tribal freedom fighters from various states, are also being constructed across the country.
    • Birsa Munda, a member of the Munda Tribe of the Chhota Nagpur Plateau, was an Indian freedom fighter, religious leader, and folk hero.
    • His action is recognised as a powerful symbol of opposition to British authority in India.
    • He was a driving force behind the Bengal Presidency's Millenarian movement (Present-day Jharkhand).
  • Maharaja Suheldev
    • In February 2021, Modi laid the foundation stone of Maharaja Suheldev Memorial in Bahraich, UP.
      • Legend has it that when waves of Muslim invaders were sweeping through India, Raja Suheldev of Shravasti gathered together heads of tribes including the Tharu and Banjara, and the rulers of several small estates, to resist the invaders.
      • His army is said to have defeated and killed Ghazi Salar Masud, purportedly a favourite nephew of Mahmud of Ghazni, in battle in Bahraich in 1034 AD.
History & Culture

Current Affairs
Nov. 26, 2022

PSLV-C54
ISRO recently launched PSLV-C54 with Oceansat-3, 8 nano satellites.
current affairs image

About:

  • Satellites in PSLV-C54 includes EOS-06 (Oceansat-3) plus eight nano satellites (BhutanSat, 'Anand' from Pixxel, Thybolt, and Astrocast - four numbers from Spaceflight USA).

BhutanSat

  • ISRO Nano Satellite-2 for Bhutan (INS-2B) spacecraft is configured with INS-2 Bus. INS-2B will have two payloads namely NanoMx and APRS-Digipeater. NanoMx is a multispectral optical imaging payload developed by Space Applications Centre (SAC).

Anand

  • The Anand Nano satellite is technology demonstrator to demonstrate the capabilities and commercial applications of miniaturized earth-observation camera for earth observation using a microsatellite in Low Earth Orbit.
  • This is a three-axis stabilized satellite consisting of a satbus, accommodating all subsystems like telemetry, tele-command, Electrical Power system, Attitude Determination and Control System (ADCS), on-board computers etc.

Astrocast

  • Astrocast, a 3U spacecraft is a technology demonstrator satellite for the Internet of Things (IoT) as the payload. There are 4 nos. of Astrocast Satellites in this mission. These spacecraft are housed within an ISISpace QuadPack dispenser.
  • The dispenser protects the satellite from contamination.

Thybolt

  • The Thybolt is a 0.5U spacecraft bus that includes a communication payload to enable rapid technology demonstration and constellation development for multiple users.
  • It also demonstrates Store-and-Forward functionality for authorized users in the amateur frequency band. The satellites shall be deployed by using Dhruva Space Orbital Deployer to perform the specific mission operations for a minimum lifetime of 1 year.
Source : LiveMint
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Nov. 26, 2022

Payment aggregator
The Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has asked Paytm Payments Services Limited to resubmit the application to operate as payment aggregator.
current affairs image

About:

  • A payment aggregator provides payment services to merchants and e-commerce sites by accepting payment instruments from customers. As a part of this, they pool the funds received from customers and transfer them to merchants after a certain time.
  • The services include facilitating integrated payment options such as transactions of cash and cheque, and online and offline touch points, besides allowing bank transfers for merchants without the need to set up accounts directly with the bank.

Why a licence is needed?

  • In a new set of guidelines issued in March 2020, the RBI mandated that all PAs shall be authorised by it. For this, the regulator instructed non-bank companies offering PA services to apply for authorisation by June 30, 2021, which was later pushed to September 30, 2021.
  • The decision on granting the licence has come after a period of assessment of the applications. The norms made it important for all payment gateways to acquire a licence to continue. The few firms authorised to operate as payment aggregators in India will come under the direct purview of the RBI.
Source : LiveMint
Economy
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