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

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Supreme Court's Seniority Norm

Given that the Chief Justice of India composes panels and assigns cases to judges, unlike in systems where cases are randomly assigned to avoid bias or where apex constitutional courts sit in plenary sessions, the question of how the CJI is appointed is crucial. This article seeks to answer this question by empirically investigating whether the seniority norm existed prior to the establishment of the Supreme Court of India - specifically, in the high courts of Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Allahabad, Patna, and in the Federal Court of India.

Misplaced Priorities and Class Bias of the Judiciary

It is clear from the recent record of the higher judiciary that the imperative of upholding civil liberties, socio-economic rights, and environmental protection has been subordinated to agendas such as the "war on terror", "development" and satisfying corporate interests. Far from remaining faithful to the motives that resulted in the institution of public interest litigation, the Supreme Court has tended to act against the interests of the socio-economically backward.

Myth of Judicial Overreach

The question of judicial activism is once more in the limelight with two Supreme Court judges making observations on the "overreach" of the judiciary. This article examines the veracity of such observations and points out that the courts must intervene to enforce the rule of law and cannot remain mute spectators to the callousness of the executive class.

Tax Change with Retrospective Effect

The legality and propriety of the retrospective withdrawal of excise duty exemption for cigarettes and pan masala manufactured in the north-east. A critical examination.

Meghalaya: Impact of Ban on Timber Felling

Though the apex court's ban on timber felling was welcomed by conservationists, its ecological and social impact is only now coming to light. To alleviate many of its unforeseen consequences, it is imperative for several measures to be implemented in tandem - a comprehensive forest survey, involvement of the local community and a much-needed simplification of the legal process.

Linking of Rivers: Judicial Activism or Error?

The Supreme Court's direction that the rivers of India shall be linked within 10 years is not at all a defensible instance of judicial activism. That apart, turning to the merits of the direction, one wishes that the learned judges had undertaken a more careful study of the subject before deciding to issue directions. Fortunately these are interim directions, and there is still time for a reconsideration of the matter. It is to be hoped that the Task Force that is to be set up as directed by the Supreme Court will consider not merely the 'modalities' of the `linking of rivers' but also the soundness and wisdom of the idea. Any headlong rush in the pursuit of this chimera will be disastrous.

Reforming Indian Electoral Process

The attempt to reform the electoral system is a welcome move. However, the current proposals on candidates' disclosures of various kinds do not appear to be well-constructed and the bill includes ambiguities which are open to misinterpretation. It is perhaps more important immediately to strengthen the system of preparing electoral rolls and allowing public access to them.

Cheating Parliament

When the executive refuses to issue the notification announcing the date a particular law passed by the legislature comes into force, the judiciary is well within its powers to intervene. Yet, there have been occasions when the apex court has allowed such wrongs to go unchecked.

India's Medium-Term Growth Prospects

This paper reviews India's recent growth performance and assesses medium-term growth prospects in the light of relevant factors. These factors include the likely evolution of fiscal and savings-investment imbalances, financial sector performance, the role of the external sector, economic reforms and productivity, infrastructure constraints, problems in agriculture, the likely developments in labour supply and demand and governmental performance. The paper concludes that it might be reasonable to expect growth in the next five years to fluctuate in the range of 4 to 6 per cent, perhaps averaging close to 5 per cent, provided there is no major economic or financial crisis. This is much lower than the 6.7 per cent growth achieved in the Eighth Plan period and far lower than the 8 per cent mooted in the Tenth Plan.

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