In the midst of all the hue and cry about Gopal Subramaniam's appointment, the most important issue - of judicial reforms - has taken a backseat
The entire judicial system, including appointment of judges and advocate/solicitor generals, is ripe for a re-look. There are talks of the Judicial Appointments Bill, there has recently been a raging controversy about Gopal Subramaniams appointment to the Supreme Court as a Judge. The government and the judiciary seemed to be at loggerheads. In the midst of all this, the most important issue - of judicial reforms - has taken a backseat.
1. The procedure of appointment of judges :
The present collegiums system of appointment of Supreme Court and High Court judges by a panel of 5 supreme court judges, is erroneous and opaque. It is in some sense a coterie system that runs the higher echelons of the judiciary. The question being whether other constitutional and parliamentary bodies should also have a say in these appointments. This practise of judges appointing their colleagues possibly has no parallel in the world. Surely, keeping the judiciary independent is most desirable for the country, and the countrymen are proud of their judiciary; let the Honourable Judges be appointed either by a Judicial and Law Commission of India or otherwise by a committee consisting of The President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Leaders of Opposition of both houses, The Chief Justice and 4 senior Supreme Court judges, two members from bar council and 2 eminent citizens, to bring transparency to the system and to ensure that there is no discrimination or favouritism.
Similarly, the district and metropolitan judges should be appointed by a committee constituted in each state, comprising of High Court judges, Chief Minister, Leader of Opposition in the assembly, Governor, Law Minister, one member from Bar Council and 4 eminent citizens.
2. Increase the number of judges and their working days and hours:
The number of judges should be increased immediately and suitably, to clear the huge backlog of court cases as fast as possible and to lower the burden of all our judges. The help of retired judges can also be taken on a temporary basis. The number of holidays in courts should be drastically cut so that cases are expedited.
3. Renovation and upgradation of court premises:
Many court premises are in deplorable conditions with shabby looking old structures, old furniture, crammed accomodation, inadequate computers, unplanned data storage for pending and disposed off cases, inadequate seating capacity, creaky fans, leaky toilets and unsafe drinking water facilities.
Hence, the court premises should be modernised, upgraded, renovated and equipped with modern gadgets by using the money collected as court fees. Let the court fees not go to the govt till this task is completed.
4. Special Courts:
Constitute separate special courts, equal in power to those of high courts for corruption, taxation and money recovery matters for quicker judgements.
5. Branches/benches of Supreme Court at six centres:
The number of judges in apex courts is just 29, and in the year 2013, they sat in court for only 176 days and have 66,349 cases pending. How it is possible for apex courts to give a fast verdict unless the number of judges is increased and working days are substantially increased too, along with more branches.
The centralised Supreme Court at Delhi is highly inconvenient and expensive for people of distant parts of the country. The Supreme Court must have at least 6 Benches located at Mumbai, Nagpur, Chennai, Kolkata, Allahabad and Guwahati, with at least 5 judges. How it is possible for one Delhi based Supreme Court to take care of a vast nation of 1250 million people?
6. Rationalisation and fixation of lawyer’s fees:
The fees structure needs to be regulated and rationalised, and should be fixed case-wise irrespective of number of hearings involved and for the full tenure of the case till the verdict is announced. The fees of supreme court lawyers are too exorbitant more often than not and has broken all records and is beyond the reach of even upper middle class litigants.
7. Court Reporting:
The system of quarterly court news by the apex court, which used to give information of cases pending in high courts and subordinate courts along with strength of judges, has been abandoned since 2009. This system must be reintroduced with further reforms.
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Asset base of top 10 AMCs, which contributed 85% to the mutual fund industry's growth, rose by around Rs68,000 crore or 10% during April-June 2014
Improved market sentiments helped Indian mutual funds' assets under management (AUM) to increase by 9% or Rs80,000 crore to Rs9.85 lakh crore during the June quarter.
According to latest data available with Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI), the country's 44 fund houses together had an average AUM of Rs9.85 lakh crore during April-June 2014 quarter, up from Rs9.05 lakh crore in the preceding three months.
However, AUM had touched a record Rs10.11 lakh crore at the end of May.
Industry experts said the quarterly rise in AUM is largely due to gains in equity markets. Besides, retail participation in equity schemes has increased significantly during the recent months.
During the quarter, BSE mid-cap grew by an impressive 32%, while BSE 100 accelerated by 15% and benchmark Sensex moved up by over 13%.
HDFC Mutual Fund (MF) retained its top position with an average AUM of Rs1.3 lakh crore, a surge in asset base by over 15%, while ICICI Pru MF saw its asset base grow by 10.52% to Rs1.18 lakh crore during the same period.
In the top league, HDFC MF and ICICI Pru are followed by Reliance MF (Rs1.12 lakh crore) Birla Sunlife (Rs98,556 crore) and UTI MF (Rs79,441 crore), in terms of average AUM in the first quarter of 2014-15.
Interestingly, the asset base of the top 10 AMCs climbed by around Rs68,000 crore or 10%. They together contributed 85% of industry growth during the quarter.
Mumbai suburban trains, the city's life line, was worst-hit due to water logging on tracks, delaying local rail services by more than an hour on some routes
Heavy rains lashed Mumbai on Wednesday, severely disrupting road, rail and suburban train services, and inconveniencing lakhs of commuters and office-goers.
According to a senior official from Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), there were traffic jams due to water logging in suburban Dadar, Parel, Chembur and on LBS Marg in Ghatkopar. The Andheri subway has been closed down completely due to water logging.
Traffic came to a halt on the Western Express Highway and on roads leading to the domestic airport from Kherwadi junction.
Mumbai suburban trains, the city's life line. was worst-hit due to water logging on tracks, delaying local services by more than an hour on some routes.
"There a few locations on the Central Railway like Kurla, Ghatkopar, Vikhroli and Bhandup where water has flooded the tracks and hence the main line is running late by about 20-25 minutes," a railway official said.
There is severe water logging on the Harbour line at stations like Kurla and Tilaknagar, which has resulted in the delay of train services by more than a hour, he said.
Several commuters were stranded for hours due to the rail traffic halt between Kurla and Chunabhatti stations, another official said.
However, train services on the Western line were running with a "small delay" on the Virar-Churchgate route.
"We are continuously monitoring the situation of water logging and trying our best to resolve the problem at the earliest. Since these are non-peak hours, the damage caused is comparatively less," the official added.
Flights from Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport were running behind by half an hour. Seven flights had been diverted due to heavy rains.
Meteorological Department officials predict the showers could continue for the next 48 hours, after which the rainfall may slacken.
"So far we had a weak spell of rains in Mumbai. A low pressure has now formed over the Bay of Bengal which has caused rainfall in the city. We expect the rainfall to last with the same intensity for the next 48 hours and after that it may reduce," VK Rajeev, Director of Weather forecasting, Mumbai Meteorological department said.