Citizens' Issues
SC admits Centre's review plea on info panel appointments

The apex court made it clear its verdict for appointment of people from judicial background in information commissions was not aimed at rehabilitating judges but to make information panels independent of the government's influence

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday admitted the Centre's plea to review its judgement which had stipulated that only sitting or retired chief justices of high courts or an apex court judge can head the Central and state information commissions, reports PTI.
While admitting the plea, a bench of justices AK Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar, however, made it clear its verdict for appointment of people from judicial background in information commissions was not aimed at rehabilitating judges but to make information panels independent of the government's influence.
"Idea is not to rehabilitate judges but to ensure independence of the institutions" the bench said adding "commissions must be headed by independent persons." 
The bench said the government appoint those persons in the commissions who are in its good book and asked as to how such favourites of government can pass orders against their appointing authority.
"You have to ensure that the body is independent. You find people, who are in good books of the government, are appointed. How would those person pass order against the same authority who has appointed him," the bench remarked.
"If Right to Information (RTI) is to be effectively implemented then the commissions must be headed by a person independent of all authorities," the bench said.
Agreeing to hear the Centre's review petition, the bench issued notice to Namit Sharma, on whose plea the apex court had delivered its 13th September verdict.
The Centre had moved the apex court for review of its verdict saying it is against the provisions of the Right to Information Act. 
The apex court had held in its verdict that like other quasi judicial bodies, people from judicial background should be appointed as members of the Central and state information commissions and this should be done after consulting the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and chief justices of the respective high courts.
It had directed the government to amend RTI Act for it.
"Chief Information Commissioner at the Centre or state level shall only be a person who is or has been a chief justice of the high court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India," the court had said.
The bench had passed the order on a PIL challenging sections 12 and 15 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 enumerating the qualifications needed for the appointment of members of the commissions.
The bench, however, had refused to quash the sections but asked the government to modify it so that people from judicial background are also preferred for the post.
Currently, none of the eight members of the Central Information Commission (CIC), including the Chief Information Commissioner, is from judicial background.
The CIC comprises one Chief Information Commissioner and 10 information commissioners.




4 years ago

We have a Constitution and a large-sized library of statutes which can protect almost every right a citizen could think of for a decent living. Any country should envy the tripod of legislature, executive and judiciary which was put in place to give effect to the rights, responsibilities and duties envisaged in the Indian Constitution by those who took charge of governance from the British. Though not as active as it is now, the fourth estate, the media, too has played its bit fairly well in bringing to the fore the commissions and omissions by people who have been running the government so far. Then, why results are not showing the way the framers of our Constitution visualized?

As for the hurdles faced by the different wings of the government machinery in reaching out to the people or solving problems, there is no dearth of deliberations in legislatures, reports of committees and commissions and research reports from academicians where remedies and measures for each and every problem can be found. Still, we are left with more and more unresolved issues as days pass.

The solution is, improvement in the infrastructure in government offices and placing adequate manpower in place with the needed skill there that do not have to keep their lower drawers of the table open to maintain a lifestyle expected of the position they hold. You will find secretaries in the government to the junior-most support staff in a village office compensating for the inadequately furnished, clumsy rooms without AC/fans in office going for posh, well-furnished houses with all facilities in good localities. Whether they manage it with salary or bribe, the cost is born by the tax payer. Then why not factor in a reasonably good lifestyle commensurate with the job expectations from them in their remuneration package and provide better infrastructure in their offices? In any case the debit is to taxpayer’s account. Then why not allow transparency? If this is done, they will do their job better.

Coming back to the mess in which our judicial system has landed as of now, something drastic has to be done and done quickly, if we have to avoid a breakdown. By breakdown I mean the loss of faith of common man in the judiciary. You cannot always refer to three crores of cases pending in courts (someone disputing the number, saying that, if ‘current’ cases are excluded, the number will come down to one crore!) and projecting the requirement of thirty years to clear the present arrears. They are all good for academic speeches at seminars. The immediate measures could include:

• Segregating cases which need to be decided within a year and taking them on a priority basis by the courts now in position.
• Leaving the remaining cases to new Special Courts to be put in place at all levels depending on the number of pending cases.
• Ensuring vacancies of judges are filled in time
• Making it compulsory for government and public sector organizations to expedite procedures where they are on either side of matters before courts. This is necessary as there is laxity on their side as cost and delay seldom affects the individuals who handle cases in government and public sector. This position is slowly creeping into big corporates also.
• Making necessary legislative changes to reduce procedural delays
• Simultaneous efforts to encourage concerned parties to settle issues out of court. This method would bear fruit where party on one side of the dispute is government or quasi-government organizations.

Vaibhav Dhoka

4 years ago

When our JUDICIAL system is already overburdened and they are not in a position to give TIMELY justice to crores of litigants then what is the need to encroach on other areas.The time is ripe supreme court takes up PIL on its own functioning and subordinate courts,who are already overflowing and delaying justice.And it should also take up JUDICIAL CORRUPTION at all levels thro' PIL only.

Rural consumers buying more durables due to higher affordability

According to CRISIL, even though higher income is a necessary factor, it is not the sole factor, influencing purchase decision for durables in rural households

Rise in discretionary spending and the low level of price rise in consumer durables have resulted in higher affordability of these articles for rural households, reports PTI quoting a CRISIL research.


According to a report from ratings agency CRISIL, consumer durables have become more affordable to rural households in recent years, due to rising discretionary spending and relatively low levels of price rise in durables.

It also states that at least one in every two rural households owned a bicycle, an electric fan and/or a mobile phone in 2009-10.


The report, however, points out that the penetration pattern of consumer durables varies distinctly in rural areas, “clearly indicating that even though higher income is a necessary factor, it is not the sole factor, influencing purchase decision for durables.”

The report says discretionary spending grew to Rs24,000 in 2009-10 from Rs14,000 in 2004-05, a growth of over 11% annually, which was higher than inflation that rose about 6% per year over the same period.


While Kerala and Punjab are at the top spots in terms of the highest discretionary rural household spending, it grew higher than the national average in Maharashtra, Bihar, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.


The report also notes that discretionary rural household spending grew at lowest rates in Andhra, Bengal and Karnataka.


On the availability of electricity and its impact on some of consumer durables, the report says access to electricity will play a major role in expanding penetration of these goods.

The report said, “In future, while rural households in relatively poorer states could enjoy higher affordability levels towards purchase of consumer durables, improving access to electricity will play a more critical role in expanding penetration of these goods.”


It said this will especially hold true for Bihar, Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.


According to CRISIL estimates nearly 12 million additional rural households in Uttar Pradesh and 4 million more in rural Bihar would have owned electric fans by 2009-10, had there been better access to electricity. Further, each of these two states would have had 5 million more households owning a television set.


In contrast to the relatively poor electricity access, an improvement in road connectivity between 2004-05 and 2009-10 appears to have resulted in a sharp pick-up in ownership of two-wheelers in several states including Bihar, Orissa and Rajasthan. Therefore, apart from raising rural incomes, boosting rural infrastructure will help unlock the true demand potential for consumer durables, CRISIL said.

“While several factors, including availability of finance determine penetration of two-wheelers and cars in rural areas, an improvement in rural road network could enhance demand for these items,” it stated.


Better connectivity through the Prime Minister's Rural Roads Scheme appears to have positive impact on auto sales, it added.


The report adds that apart from raising rural incomes, boosting rural infrastructure will help unlock higher demand.


“In times to come, in addition to higher incomes, improved access to electricity and roads will be key determinants of demand for consumer durables in rural areas across many states,” the report says.

Rural households in richer states such as Kerala and Punjab are likely to move further up the ladder and purchase more high-end durables goods, such as refrigerators, ACs, four-wheelers and digital cameras in future, it added.


Taliban threaten to target Indians to avenge Kasab's hanging

Following the threat from Taliban, security measures at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, which are already very extensive, had been further tightened after the Taliban threat

Islamabad: Pakistani Taliban on Thursday threatened to target Indians "anywhere" in retaliation for the execution of Ajmal Kasab and demanded that India should return the body of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks to his family, reports PTI.
In calls made to journalists in northwest Pakistan, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said his group would target Indians and Indian interests "anywhere" to avenge the hanging of Kasab.
Ihsan further said Indian authorities should hand over Kasab's body to his family or to the Taliban.
He warned the Taliban would "capture Indians" and "not return their bodies" if Kasab's body was not handed over.
25-year-old Kasab, who belonged to Pakistan's most populous province of Punjab, was executed in a Pune jail in the western Indian state of Maharashtra on Wednesday.
His body was buried within the prison.
The Pakistan government reacted cautiously to the hanging, with the Foreign Office spokesman saying Islamabad was against all forms of terrorism and would cooperate with countries in the region to tackle the menace.
Kasab was the only surviving member of a 10-member team of LeT terrorists who killed 166 people during a three-day rampage in Mumbai nearly four years ago.
Diplomatic sources said security measures at the Indian High Commission, which are already very extensive, had been further tightened after the Taliban threat. 
Indian diplomats in Pakistan have faced threats in the past too.
In 2010, two deserters from a paramilitary force arrested for terror links had revealed that militants aligned with the Pakistani Taliban had plans to abduct Indian diplomats and target foreign missions.
The men had revealed that militant groups had plans to kidnap Indian diplomats, including the High Commissioner, to exchange them for militant commanders being held by Pakistani authorities.
At that time too, security had been tightened for Indian diplomats and their families.
on Wednesday, an unnamed LeT commander was quoted by media as saying that the group regarded Kasab as a hero who would inspire more terror attacks.
Ihsan was quoted by the Pakistani media on Wednesday as saying that the Taliban were shocked by Kasab's hanging.


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