ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Alok Prasanna KumarSubscribe to Alok Prasanna Kumar

Criminal Laws and Civil Rights

In the past few weeks, constitution benches of the Supreme Court have struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) ( Navtej Singh Johar and Ors v Union of India 2018) and Section 497 of the IPC ( Joseph Shine v Union of India 2018), partly upheld the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of...

Not Just Hadiya

Although the legal system formally defends the rights of individuals as to who they want to live with or marry, it does pose various impediments in the path of those who choose against the will of their parents or the dictates of society. The abuse of process by parents and even third parties goes unpunished by the legal system, only creating new hurdles in the free exercise of the individual’s rights.

National Register of Citizens and the Supreme Court

The imminent withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 by the union government in the face of strong protests by the residents of the north-eastern states is hardly a victory for constitutional principles or morality. It leaves “illegal migrants” in a continued limbo and heightens ethnic tensions in the North East. It also shifts the focus to the Supreme Court, which has taken upon itself the extremely delicate task of overseeing the preparation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam.

Statehood for Delhi

The Supreme Court’s interpretation of Article 239-AA of the Constitution in Government of NCT of Delhi v Union of India has reaffirmed the centrality of representative democracy and federalism to India’s constitutional government. However, it has only restored an unhappy status quo as far as Delhi is concerned. The fault lies in Article 239-AA itself, an incomplete and unworkable division of powers and responsibilities that gives Delhi a lot of government, but little governance.

Reforming the Office of the Governor

The blatantly partisan actions of Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala in the aftermath of the Karnataka Assembly elections in 2018, which had thrown up a hung result, call for the need to scrutinise the post and functioning of governors within India’s constitutional scheme. Such malfeasance on the part of governors is not recent and their supposedly neutral role has always been more a pious hope than a reality. The need of the hour is serious constitutional reform, whether by the legislature or by the judiciary.

The Ordinance Route

The deadlock in Parliament has resulted in the increasing tendency of the union government to promulgate legislation through ordinances, when Parliament is not in session. While there are no substantive restrictions on the President’s power to promulgate ordinances, given the inherently temporary nature of ordinances, the exercise of this power must be limited keeping in mind the concerns of rule of law.

Crises in the Judiciary

The press conference organised by four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court was a result of a long period of dissatisfaction over the way the institution was functioning. The problems are systemic and will require more than a short-term fix. The Supreme Court and the judiciary’s credibility have taken a battering over the last decade for many reasons, and the press conference is an acknowledgement to some extent of the rot within. What happens next is not very clear, but the status quo cannot continue.

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