Executive and Judiciary (DAMP)
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- Recently, the credibility of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been called for question. Discuss the reasonsand suggest remedial measures to improve its credibility.
- Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is increasingly being misused to advance personal interests under the guise of serving the public interest. Discuss.
- Examine the matter of tribunalization of justice and suggest measures to enhance the tribunal framework in India.
- The concept of judicial activism requires reconsideration, given its potential for violation of the principle of separation of powers. Analyze
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Introduction: Describe briefly about CBI.
Body: Mention the reasons for declining credibility and also suggest measures.
Conclusion: Summarize the topics and conclude with positive feedback.
Answer: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the premier investigation agency and derives their power from Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
Reasons for declining credibility in CBI:
- Corruption: Several charges of corruption and its employees have been charged with accepting bribes. For instance, in May 2022, CBI arrested its four officials on corruption charges.
- Political involvement: Political intervention and influence have harmed the integrity and independence of the CBI. For instance, concerns about political influence were raised in 2018 when CBI head Alok Verma was fired.
- Efficiency: Slow in wrapping its investigations and bringing charges. For instance, the inquiry into Augusta Wetland Fraud (2020) was condemned.
- Lack of resources: Lack of adequate housing discourages officers from states to join the CBI, which is facing a staff crunch, a parliamentary panel report stated in 2017.
- Lack of accountability: Lack of oversight procedures, and employees being charged for acting outside the bounds of the law. For instance, the way the investigation into Sushant Singh Rajput’s death in 2020.
Steps to be taken:
- Legal Framework: The Central government should tighten its laws. As an illustration, the Lokpal, and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 which created a separate anti-corruption authority, was passed.
- Non-intervention: The central government should refrain from the CBI’s investigations. The Supreme Court also asked the government to give the CBI additional autonomy in 2019.
- Process streamlining: To avoid delays, the CBI should be encouraged to streamline its investigation and prosecution procedures.
- Specialized training: To improve the skills and capabilities of CBI officials, the central government should offer them specialized training.
- Public confidence: The central government should endeavor to restore public confidence in the CBI by guaranteeing accountability and transparency. The CBI should regain its credibility to enhance its effectiveness in fighting crimes. This would lead to increased public confidence in the agency’s ability to bring the guilty to justice, deter others from engaging in corrupt activities and improve law and order.
Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is a legal action initiated in a court of law to uphold public or general interest. The introduction of PIL in India involved relaxing the traditional “locus standi” rule, enabling any member of the public with “sufficient interest” to approach the court for the redressal of common grievances and enforcement of others’ rights.
PIL – Serving Public Interest:
- Powerful Tool: PIL is a potent instrument empowering vigilant citizens to champion the causes of marginalized and oppressed groups. For instance, the Vishaka judgment recognized sexual harassment as a violation of fundamental constitutional rights.
- Democratization of Access to Justice: Relaxing the locus standi rule facilitates any public-spirited citizen or social action group to approach the court on behalf of oppressed classes.
- Inexpensive Legal Remedy: PIL provides an affordable legal remedy, involving only a nominal fixed court fee.
- Focus on Larger Public Issues: PIL enables litigants to draw attention to and achieve results regarding significant public issues. For instance, has evolved through public interest petitions, leading to principles like the polluter pays and the public trust doctrine.
Misuse of PIL – Disguised as Public Interest:
- Facade for Personal Agendas: PIL has, at times, been misused as a facade for individuals seeking publicity or settling personal, business, or political scores. For example, a petitioner filed a PIL two years after an incident in 2015, seeking an investigation into the falling of a dais in Raipur.
- Compromising Judicial System Efficacy: Frivolous petitions compromise the efficacy of the judicial system, diverting time and resources from legitimate cases requiring attention.
- Publicity-Interested Petitions: Some PILs are deemed as promoting personal, business, or political agendas, as seen in cases where the Supreme Court labeled a PIL seeking an SIT probe into the PNB scam as a publicity-interested petition, given the ongoing investigation.
In essence, while PIL serves as a procedural innovation addressing public interest, it must guard against becoming “Publicity Interest Litigation” or “Private Interest Litigation.”
The term “tribunalization of justice” denotes an excessive dependence on tribunals as opposed to traditional judicial processes for the delivery of justice.
The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 introduced a new Part XIV A to the Constitution which laid down foundation of administrative tribunals under Article 323A, while tribunals for other matters are constituted under Article 323B of the Indian Constitution.
Issues of Tribunalization of Justice:
- Critics argue that tribunalization in India violates the separation of powers principle, exemplified by the replacement of high courts with tribunals for disputes under various acts such as the Companies Act and Consumer Protection Act.
- Tribunalization raises concerns about conflict of interest as judicial powers are transferred to quasi-judicial bodies under executive control, impacting fairness, especially when the government is involved in the dispute.
- Tribunals, aiming for speedy case disposal, bypassing the constitutional mandates of High Courts and the Supreme Court.
- Tribunals are less accessible than high courts, exemplified by the limited number of benches, like the Green Tribunal, compared to high courts for environmental matters.
- Tribunals become sources of post-retirement employment for bureaucrats and judges with political connections, raising concerns about executive influence.
- Tribunals, lacking autonomy in appointment and funding, face resource crunch and dependence on executive patronage, affecting objectivity and impartiality.
- While appeals to higher courts neutralize cost and time effectiveness, they contribute to inordinate delays, as seen in the huge tendency of cases in Debt Recovery Tribunals.
Positives of Tribunalization of Justice:
- Expert involvement in tribunals, such as the National Green Tribunal, enhances the quality of judicial processes by leveraging domain knowledge, saving time, and increasing effectiveness in crucial judgments.
- Tribunals serve as effective tools for swift dispute resolution and contribute to good governance.
- In the pursuit of improved justice delivery, institutions like tribunals are indispensable and should not be eliminated entirely.
STEPS TO STRENGTHEN THE TRIBUNAL FRAMEWORK
- It is essential to infuse a spirit of professionalism into the functioning of tribunals to enhance their effectiveness.
- Establishing a National Tribunal Commission (NTC) is essential to address the major issues plaguing tribunals in India. The NTC’s composition must adhere to judiciary standards to ensure independence.
- Introduce uniformity in the appointment system for tribunals, ensuring independence and transparency in the process – ensure timely filling of positions.
- Create an Indian Tribunals Service to establish a systematic and regular procedure for appointments within the tribunal framework.
What is essential for the government is to adopt a systematic and responsible approach to tribunal reforms instead of dealing with them in a fragmented manner. This approach will ensure a more comprehensive and meaningful impact on India’s justice system.
Judicial activism denotes court decisions that are perceived to be influenced by personal opinions rather than strict adherence to existing legal principles. Examples of judicial innovation, such as the introduction of Public Interest Litigation (PIL), due process of law, or the frequent use of provisions like Special Leave Petition under Article 136 and Article 142 for the sake of complete justice, serve as manifestations of judicial activism.
Violation of the Principle of Separation of Powers:
- Legislature-Judiciary Boundary: The judiciary creating rules, as seen in instances like the Vishakha Guidelines for preventing workplace sexual harassment and the Prakash Singh judgment for police reforms, infringes upon the separation of powers. This boundary violation occurs when the Judiciary takes on a legislative role.
- Executive-Judiciary Conflict: Judicial imposition of executive orders, as observed in decisions such as banning Diwali fireworks, liquor ban near national highways, etc. violates the separation of powers.
- PIL and Judicial Overreach: Judicial activism, particularly through Public Interest Litigation (PIL), loses its original focus and constituency, signaling a form of judicial overreach.
- Unlimited Powers under Article 142: The judiciary’s unrestricted powers under Article 142, aimed at achieving complete justice, contradict the principle of Constitutionalism, which rejects absolutism.
Positive Role played by judiciary through Judicial activism:
- Protecting Constitutional Core: The judiciary has safeguarded the essence of the constitution from executive overreach, as evident in the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973).
- Expansion of Fundamental Rights: Going beyond the written provisions of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has emerged as a true defender of fundamental rights and the guardian of the Constitution. For instance, in the Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India Case (1978), the introduction of the “due process of law” widened the scope of Article 21.
- Social Reforms: Judicial activism has led to transformative social reforms, such as declaring Section 377 of the IPC unconstitutional, banning instant Triple Talaq, and decriminalizing adultery (Section 497).
- Filling Institutional Vacuums: Addressing inaction by other branches of the state, the judiciary, for instance, played a role in introducing CNG in Delhi to combat air pollution.
- Adaptation to Societal Challenges: The judiciary’s proactive stance has made the Constitution an ever-evolving document to address emerging challenges in society. The declaration of the Right to Privacy as a fundamental right in the Justice K. S. Puttaswamy vs. Union of India, 2018 case, is a notable example.
The Judiciary must exercise self-restraint and caution, avoiding judicial overreach. Simultaneously, other state organs should collaborate harmoniously with the Judiciary to promote broader public welfare, minimizing the need for excessive judicial interference.