October 16, 2015


[India has a long tradition of a judiciary independent from the rest of the government, a situation reinforced by a Supreme Court decision in 1993 creating the collegium system and all but cutting the executive branch out of the selection process.]

By Nida Najar

NEW DELHI India’s Supreme Court declared on Friday that a law pushed by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that would have increased the executive branch’s power over the selection of judges was unconstitutional, a decision hailed as a landmark affirming the independence of the judiciary.

“If the alignment of tectonic plates on distribution of powers is disturbed, it will quake the Constitution,” Justice Kurian Joseph, one of five judges who heard the case, wrote in the ruling. “Once the constitutional structure is shaken, democracy collapses.”

But Friday’s decision was not without controversy, because it upheld a system of appointments to higher courts by a panel of judges, known as a collegium, that has been criticized for a lack of transparency.

India has a long tradition of a judiciary independent from the rest of the government, a situation reinforced by a Supreme Court decision in 1993 creating the collegium system and all but cutting the executive branch out of the selection process.

Lawyers have said the 1993 decision was reached in part because of controversies surrounding the transfer of judges during a two-year state of emergency, beginning in 1975, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s government exercised sweeping and arbitrary powers.

In April, Mr. Modi’s government enacted the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, which was struck down on Friday. It had been passed unanimously by a Parliament that is rarely unified, along with a constitutional amendment ensuring its validity, but the commission was never formed because the Supreme Court case was underway.

Though legal analysts and the many lawyers who had argued against the law called Friday’s decision a victory for the separation of powers and democracy, experts also agreed with the government’s argument that the existing process of appointing judges was flawed and insufficiently open.

“Appointments will continue to be made in an opaque system where all the stakeholders will not have their voice,” said the attorney general, Mukul Rohatgi.

The court appeared to acknowledge the criticism in its judgment, calling for a review of the collegium process in a separate hearing “to make it more responsive to the needs of the people” and “to make it more transparent and in tune with societal needs.” Legal experts have criticized the collegium process as vesting too much discretion in a panel of senior judges to appoint the legal decision makers in the country’s highest courts.

The law struck down on Friday would have set up a panel of three judges, the law minister and two “eminent persons” nominated by the chief justice and the central government. Many analysts said it gave too much power to the government, which is involved in the majority of legal cases in India.

Justice Jasti Chelameswar, in the sole dissenting opinion, offered a sharp critique of the collegium system, referring to quick turnarounds in decisions by the panel and a lack of openness that neither enhanced the credibility of the institution nor benefited the people.

Salman Khurshid, a former law minister, told the Indian news channel NDTV on Friday, “We were looking at two imperfect outcomes, and what we have is the judges have assumed that this is the less imperfect outcome.”

@ The New York Times


It was a bit of wait but as Pele, dressed in a blue ensemble of shirt and trousers, made his way into the VIP enclosure, the Ambedkar stadium burst into a wave of awe and exhilaration. The chants of his name filled the air, underlining the fact that legends are beyond the trappings of nationality and generation.

By Pragya Tiwari  

Age may have wrinkled his body but not his legend; it has only grown year after year. More so at a time when the world governing body FIFA is neck-deep in crisis and desperately in need of a figure who can win back its lost confidence. And who can be a better ambassador for football other than Pele? The 74-year-old might be reluctant to be the FIFA president but then, when did icons like him need positions to cast their influence?

He showed the thousands who gathered here on Friday what it is to be a legend as he limped his way through a flight of stairs, his once prized feet fumbling, and entered the ground to shake hands with the two finalists of under-17 boys event of 56th Subroto Cup —  AIFF FC and Manipur team.

Pele was 15 when he first played for his club
Santos and part of the Brazilian national team when just 16. His enthusiasm towards meeting young footballers was, therefore, understandable. Before that he appreciated the cultural programme by school children and skilful display by Air Warrior Drill Team of the Air Force.

He later spiritedly climbed an open jeep to take a circle of the stadium. He blew kisses and waved tirelessly, often bringing his hands to his heart, to acknowledge the adulatory crowd. People craned their necks, hung on the railing of stands, screamed his name and clicked away at his moving figure to freeze this rare moment for posterity.

The Brazilian, once known for his ruthlessness in front of the goal and supreme athleticism, however, didn’t come down again from his
VIP enclosure for the prize distribution, as previously planned. He recently had undergone a hip surgery and obviously wouldn’t have preferred further exertion.

Instead the AIFF FC captain Deependra Negi and coach Floyd Pinto, after beating Manipur 4-1 in an entertaining match,  went up to the
VIP enclosure to receive the prize money and trophy from the great man.  

@ Deccan Herald