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

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Defamation and Public Advocacy

A recent judgment of the City Civil Court, Mumbai, raises hopes of a meaningful contribution by the district judiciary to protection of the right to criticism of illegal acts of the state and hegemonic civil society bodies.

Accountability of the Supreme Court

Can a citizen of India not criticise the Supreme Court's decisions? Can she not criticise the procedures and management of the court? Is the court not supposed to be accountable? How will its accountability be enforced if it were made absolutely immune from public criticism?

Judging the Judges

Courts and Their Judgments by Arun Shourie; Rupa and Co, New Delhi, 2001; pp viii+454, Rs 495.

NBA Contempt of Court Case

The Narmada Bachao Andolan contempt of court case, involving advocate Prashant Bhushan, Medha Patkar and Arundhati Roy, is analysed here from three perspectives: the frivolous nature of the complaint; the scope of the fundamental right to freedom of speech as against the power to punish for contempt of court; and the need for restraint on the part of social activists in their criticism of the judiciary.

Supreme Court, Jayalalitha and Crisis Management

The Supreme Court's decision declaring Jayalalitha's appointment as chief minister of Tamil Nadu unconstitutional and void is notable, most of all, for the capacity for crisis management displayed by the court.

Enron and Prayas: Some Reservations

Prayas has said in its note (EPW, June 9-15, 2001) that a judicial enquiry into the making of the contract with the Enron (Dabhol Power Corporation) would help us avoid the contract if the findings of the Inquiry Commission clearly show that the power was not exercised properly by the concerned authorities. While I support the demand for judicial enquiry because such an enquiry will help us reform the law and make the process of government contracts more transparent and inject greater accountability, I do not agree that an adverse finding by the Judicial Commission would help us rescind the contract. An adverse finding would certainly help in locating the responsibility on organisations as well as people who took those decisions. But, just because representatives of the Maharashtra Electricity Board or the Maharashtra government have not applied their minds, have not taken relevant considerations into account or have acted mala fide, which could have been the grounds for quashing their actions, may not be grounds enough for avoiding a contract with a foreign company where the government has specifically agreed to have all matters of dispute settled through an international arbitration.

The Constitution as Instrument of Social Change

Our Constitution, Government and Politics by M V Pylee; Universal Law Publishing Company, Delhi, 2000; pp ix + 198, Rs 185.

Supreme Court and NBA

By taking a very formal view of issues like rehabilitation and environment, the Supreme Court, in the Sardar Sarovar case, seems unfortunately to be suggesting its withdrawal from the larger role which it had assumed in recent decades. This is cause for concern because through judicial activism the court has played the role of legitimising and channelling various movements for social change and social justice. The dissenting judgment of Justice Bharucha, however, encourages hope that the trend of going back to the narrow legalistic paradigm of the judicial process will not be shared by the entire court.

Review of the Constitution

The commission appointed to review the Constitution is merely an advisory body. Its suggestions will be considered by the government and when the government formulates proposals for amendment of the Constitution, another debate will start. We should be prepared to consider such proposals on merit. If they enhance the liberal spirit of the Constitution, they should be welcomed. If they diminish that spirit, they should be opposed.

For Gender-Just Law

S P Sathe Legally Dispossessed Gender, Identity and the Process of Law by Maitreyi Mukhopadhay; GenderCulture-Politics series, editor Susie Tharu; Stree, in association with The Book Review Literary Trust, Calcutta, 1998; Rs 180.

Appointment of Judges- The Issues

S P Sathe THE president K R Narayanan has sought the opinion of the Supreme Court on several questions pertatning to the appointment of judges of the high courts and the Supreme Court under Article 143 of theConstitution, Article 143 reads as follows:

Feasibility of Revival of Nyaya Panchayats

Feasibility of Revival of Nyaya Panchayats S P Sathe Nyaya Panchayats as Instruments of Justice by S N Mathur; Institute of Social Sciences, Concept Publishing Company, New Delhi. 1997; Rs 150.

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