SC Freezes Sedition Law
On 11th May 2022, the Supreme Court of India freezed a colonial era sedition law until its re-examination.
- The Supreme said, “We hope and expect that the State and Central Governments will restrain from registering any FIR, continuing any investigation or taking any coercive measures by invoking Section 124A of IPC while the aforesaid provision of law is under consideration.”
For those who are in Jails under this Provision
- The Court ordered that: “All pending trials, appeals, and proceedings with respect to the charge framed under Section 124A of IPC be kept in abeyance.”
- In other words proceedings should be halted while this order is in effect. For people who’ve been slapped with multiple charges, cases under other heads can proceed only if the rights of the individual will not be affected.
- The court said: “Adjudication with respect to other Sections, if any, could proceed if the Courts are of the opinion that no prejudice would be caused to the accused.”
Two Intriguing Questions before the Court
- The court is seized of two considerations, the security of the State and the civil liberties of citizens. There is a need to balance both considerations, which is a difficult exercise.
What is Sedition Law?
- Drafted by British historian-politician Thomas Babington Macaulay in 1837, sedition was defined as an act by ‘whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India’.
- As per Section 124A, sedition is a non-bailable offence, punishable with imprisonment from three years up to life, along with a fine.
- The person charged under this law is also barred from a government job and their passport is seized by the government.
Why it should be re-visited?
- Archaic: The Sedition charge, which was included in Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code in 1870, was imposed by the British Colonial government to primarily suppress the writings and speeches of prominent Indian freedom fighters. At present it should be looked into keeping in present day context.
- Low Conviction Rate: As per the 2020 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, in 2018, 70 sedition cases were filed; however, not a single person was convicted. Similarly, in 2019, 93 cases were filed, while only two were convicted. Similarly in 2020, 73 cases were filed and no one was convicted of sedition.
- Creators have also changed this Rule: The sedition charge was abolished by the United Kingdom in 2010.
Second National Judicial Pay Commission
- After the First Judicial Pay Commission report (1996) and the Sixth Central Pay Commission (2006), the Supreme Court (SC) constituted the Padmanabhan Commission in 2009 to give recommendations on pay scales, allowances and perquisites of judicial officers.
- However, due to some anomalies, the All India Judges Association filed a writ petition in the SC for constitution of a separate pay commission for judicial officers.
- The SC, under the Article 32, allowed constitution of the Second Judicial Pay Commission in May 2017.
First National Judicial Pay Commission(NJPC)
About Second Judicial Pay Commission
- Following the SC order, the Union cabinet approved the appointment of a second national judicial pay commission for the subordinate judiciary in November, 2017, headed by Justice J P.Venkatrama Reddi, former Judge of Supreme Court.
- The Interim Report was submitted by the Commission in 2018.
- To recommend a uniform pay scale for the service of judicial officers of the subordinate judiciary throughout the country.
- Given the virtue of duties performed by judicial officers they are not equated with state government officers, even though it is essentially a state subject.
- Though there is revision of pay scales for employees of the central government, Judges and judicial officers of subordinate courts got their last pay hike in 2010.
Term of References
- To evolve the principles governing the pay structure and emoluments of Judicial Officers belonging to the Subordinate Judiciary all over the country.
- To examine the present structureof emoluments and conditions of services of Judicial Officers in the States and Union Territories and to make suitable recommendations including post-retirement benefits such as pension, having regard among other relevant factors to the existing relativities in the pay structure between the Officers of Subordinate Judiciary and other civil servants.
- To make recommendations regarding setting up of a permanent mechanism to review the pay and service conditions of members of Subordinate Judiciary periodically by an independent Commission.
- Having considered various alternative methodologies has recommended the adoption of Pay Matrix which has been drawn up by applying the multiplier of 2.81 to the existing pay, commensurate with the percentage of increase of pay of High Court Judges @ 3% cumulative has been applied.
- As per the revised pay structure evolved by the Commission, the Junior Civil Judge/First Class Magistrate whose staring pay is Rs.27,700/- will now get Rs.77,840/-.
- The percentage of Selection Grade and Super Time Scale District Judges proposed to be increased by 10% and 5% respectively.
- The revised pay and pension will be effective from 1st January, 2016.
- Arrears will be paid during the Calendar year 2020 after adjusting the interim relief.
- Pension at 50% of last drawn pay worked out on the basis of proposed revised pay scales is recommended w. e. f. <str1st January, 2016.
- The family pension will be 30% of the last drawn pay. Additional quantum of pension will commence on completing the age of 75 years (instead of 80 years) and percentages at various stages thereafter are increased.
- Nodal officers will be nominated by the District Judges to assist the pensioners/family pensioners.
- Recommendation has been made to discontinue the New Pension Scheme (NPS) which is being applied to those entering service during or after 2004.The old pension system, which is more beneficial, will be revived.
- The existing allowances have been suitably increased and certain new features have been added.
- However, the City Compensatory Allowance (CCA)is proposed to be discontinued.
- House Rent Allowance (HRA) proposed to be increased uniformly in all states.
- Certain new allowances viz. children education allowance, home orderly allowance, transport allowance in lieu of pool car facility has been proposed.
- Improvement in the medical facilities and simplification of the reimbursement procedure.
- Medical facilities to be granted to pensioners and family pensioners also.
- Making Judiciary More Efficient: The recommendations of the Commission will help in promoting efficiency in Judicial Administration, optimizing the size of judiciary and to remove anomalies created in implementation of earlier recommendations.
Subordinate Judiciary – Its Pivotal Role in Justice System
- The Subordinate Judiciary is the backbone of the Judicial System. Most of the common people, especially those living in the rural areas, know of the Courts at the lowest level in judicial hierarchy,e., the Courts located in taluka or mandal areas.The “dynamics of judicial processes” are witnessed by the public mostly in these Courts.
- The Subordinate Courts and the Districts are the eyes and ears of the Judiciary. The image of Judiciary depends much on their efficient functioning and the capacity to dispense justice to the best of their ability.
- The Subordinate Courts play a prominent role in preserving law and order in the society. It is the public confidence in the judicial system that sustains the credibility of the Judiciary. In generating and fostering the public confidence, the role of the District and Subordinate Judiciary is therefore significant.
- Ensuring adequate emoluments and proper working conditions for the Judges constituting subordinate Judiciary will help in promoting judicial independence which is a basic feature of the Constitution.
SC Orders UP Govt. To Release Jailed Journalist
Why is it in News?
The SC on 11 June 2019 ordered release of the journalist Prashant Kanojia on bail who has been jailed by the UP government.
Relevance of the News: It highlights the supremacy of the constitutional Right to Liberty and the limits of state in using its powers of detention.
Cause of Arrest of the Journalist:
- The journalist was picked up from his home on June 8 by police and taken to an undisclosed location allegedly for having shared on social media a video of a woman claiming she had sent a marriage proposal to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
- The FIR, lodged "suomoto" by UP Police alleged that the journalist had made defamatory comments against Yogi Adityanath from his "twitter social media", with an attempt to malign the image of the Chief Minister.
- The journalist had been booked for criminal defamation, Section 505 of IPC (statements conducting public mischief), Sections 66 and 67 (publication or transmission of obscene material in electronic form) of IT Act.
Grounds of Release by SC:
- The journalist’s wife moved the top court filing a habeas corpus petition seeking release of her husband.
- As per the SC, his Right to Liberty has been infringed and the liberty granted under the Constitution is sacrosanct.
- The court called the action taken by the Uttar Pradesh government of detaining a person on remand for 13/14 days for posting material on social media, a case of deprivation of personal liberty and too excessive for the offence.
- Additional Solicitor General (ASG) of UP contended that release of the journalist would be viewed by people as an endorsement of his social media posts. However, SC countered and clarified by saying that the release would be construed as an endorsement of his right to personal liberty not of his tweets.
- Although SC accepted the fact that free speech is not absolute but also observed that free speech and criticism on social media cannot be choked by imprisonment.
- The court said that the fundamental rights of free speech and personal liberty were “non-negotiable”.
Karnataka Reservation Act, 2018
Why is it in News?
- The SC on 10th May backed the constitutional validity of the Karnataka Extension of Consequential Seniority to Government Servants Promoted on the Basis of Reservation (to the Posts in the Civil Services of the State) Act, 2018.
- The act provides for consequential seniority to individuals belonging to the SCs and STs promoted under the reservation policy of the State of Karnataka.
Relevance of the News:
The news highlights the importance that judicial review plays in ensuring the social justice in employment.
Background of the issue:
- Karnataka had passed a similar law in 2002 which was upheld by a constitutional bench in 2006 (Nagraj Case), but the bench laid down following conditions to be fulfilled before granting reservations in promotions:
- oThe State has to collect significant data showing backwardness of the class and shortage of representation of that class in public employment.
- oState will have to see that its reservation provision does not violate the upper-limit of 50% or obliterate the creamy layer or extend the reservation indefinitely.
- oState should make sure that the overall efficiency is not compromised after reservation.
- The 2002 law was again challenged in 2011 and in 2017 the SC held it to be unconstitutional in BK Pavitra Case by saying that the law did not fulfill the conditions laid down in Nagraj Case.
- Thereafter, the Karnataka government constituted the Ratna Prabha Committee to submit a report on the three conditions laid down in Nagraj Case i.e. backwardness and inadequacy of SCs and STs in the state services and impact on overall administrative efficiency.
- Based on the recommendations of this committee, the state government passed the new Act in 2018 which fulfils the Nagraj Case conditions and it is this law which has been now upheld by the SC.
Mediation Of Ayodhya Dispute
Why is it in News?
- Constitution bench of the Supreme Court has extended the time given to the Ayodhya mediation panel to complete the process till August 15. The SC decided to extend the time in order to enable the committee to complete the task assigned to it.
Appointment Of SC Judges
Why it is in the News?
- The Supreme Court collegium recommended the names of two judges and rejected the government’s disapproval of the elevation of two other judges whose names were sent earlier by the collegium.
- Justices Bhushan R. Gavai and Surya Kant are the new recommendations and Justices Aniruddha Bose and A.S. Bopanna have been recommended for a second time by the collegium.
- Justice Gavai superseded three judges in the Bombay High Court but the collegium said that though seniority is to be given due weightage, merit is the 'predominant consideration”.
- On April 12, 2019, the SC collegium recommended the elevation of Jharkhand HC and Gauhati HC Chief Justices Aniruddha Bose and A.S. Bopanna as SC judges but the government sent back the request for reconsideration.
- Now the government has to mandatorily appoint Aniruddha Bose and A.S. Bopanna as Supreme Court judges but the time of appointment is at the discretion of the government.
Process of Appointment of SC Judges:
- The collegium, consisting of the Chief Justice of India and four other senior most judges, recommends names to the government for appointment.
- When a collegium recommends a name the government can either accept it or send it back for reconsideration but if recommended again, the government is bound by the recommendation.