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April 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         April 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Apr' 2018


Let justice reach the masses

Jagdish N Singh

Astate today can be legitimate only if advances justice . B R Ambedkar , one of the leading architects of our Constitution, rightly stressed the crucial social and economic components of justice. Our Constitution directs : "The State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities."
Regrettably, our successive governments have not put in place an appropriate judicial network for our hugely populous nation. We do not have an adequate number of judges to hear the cases that come before our courts. In 1987 the Law Commission of India had suggested for having 44,000 judges to effectively tackle the then number of pending cases. But the successive dispensations have cared a fig for this. The effect of neglecting our judiciary has been disastrous. According to an estimate, at least five crore( 50000000) cases are filed in our different courts every year. But , because of the lack of a sufficient number of judges, only two crore(20000000) cases are settled.

B R Ambedkar Knowledgeable sources say the Executive avoids making timely judicial appointments. In our Supreme Court the vacancies for judges will soon be going up to seven reducing the number of judges in the apex body to 24. The posts of Chief Justice in seven High Courts have been lying vacant for the past several months.
There are a total of 403 judicial vacancies in different High Courts.
In a recent judgement our Supreme Court has observed the Government has been delaying the appointment of judges to High Courts. Sometimes, our High Courts do not send fresh names to the Government for vetting a month prior to an anticipated vacancy. They do so late or do not do it at all. Sometimes, these courts send fresh names . But the files are kept pending at the Executive desk for long before being sent over to the Supreme Court Collegium for its approval.

It is high time our apex Court warned the Government against delay in filling in the sanctioned judicial posts . In our Constitution there is a well- defined mechanism of the separation of powers among the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. It is accompanied by the principle of checks and balances. Our judiciary can always restrain the Executive from proceeding with its approach of delay in the sphere of justice. Pertinently, our apex Court must direct the Government to comply with the Constitution in all its dimensions of justice – particularly,social and economic. Ironically, many of our laws are still feudal-colonial. They are elites-friendly and hence absolutely antithetical to what justice stands for in a democracy. Such laws must be discarded . The apex Court has already rightly held our law must necessarily be just, fair and reasonable.
On its own part, the Government would do well to appreciate the importance of a truly operational judiciary in our democracy and strengthen it in all its dimensions. The Government must see to it that the masses have an easy and equal access to our justice system .Presently, the system is too costly for the poor to afford .

Thomas Jefferson Not long ago, former Chief Justice of India J S Khehar lamented , "Ours is a strange country. The bigger the criminal, the bigger is the outrage. …The convict in a terrorist crime, can get access to justice in a manner that we extend.. What about the victims ....what about the families which have lost their bread earner.... what about that acid attack victim who has been defaced and cannot survive the society ? I wonder why we don't reach out to them....."
The Government must discard all laws that are unjust and purely elitesfriendly. The legendary American President Thomas Jefferson warned as early as in the eighteenth century : "When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty."

LGBT not a separate class

Democracy is about egalitarianism . It is supposed to foster justice for each and every citizen and group . There can be no preferential treatment to any gender herein. The Supreme Court has done well to have recently referred to a larger Bench a writ petition to strike down the Section 377 in the Indian Penal Code of 1860. This Section criminalises homosexuality. The Court has observed , "The determination of order of nature is not a common phenomenon. Individual autonomy and individual natural inclination cannot be atrophied unless the restrictions are determined as reasonable."
The Supreme Court must undo the judicial wrong done in 2013 when it upheld the validity of Section 377 . Its 2013 verdict observed that the LGBT community was just a "minuscule fraction" of the population. Those having sexual intercourse "against the order of nature" constituted a separate class on which the law could validly impose penal sanctions. Our Constitution treats equality as a fundamental right . There is a near consensus across the enlightened community that the sexual orientation of each individual in society needs to be protected . What is natural to one may not be so to another. In 2014, the Supreme Court did well to recognise that the community of the Transgender Persons as a third gender is entitled to the same rights and constitutional protection as other citizens. Besides, the court ruled that transgender persons had a positive right to make decisions about themselves, express themselves and participate in community life. It directed the government to accord them 'socially and educationally backward' status so they could benefit from affirmative action.

Gender bias still prevalent

Natalie Portman Like it or not, gender bias is still prevalent even in the part of the world that calls itself civilized and democratic. It is prevalent in the in the United States which boasts itself as the leader of the modern democratic world. According to an authentic report , on average, women earn less than men in nearly every single occupation . Between June 1, 2016 and June 1, 2017, actor Mark Wahlberg topped the men's ranking after earning $68 million . The highest-paid actress, Emma Stone, earned less than half that amount: $26 million. The report quoted Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman as saying " Compared to men, in most professions, women make 80 cents to the dollar.. In Hollywood we are making 30 cents to the dollar."
The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce finds in its new research that women have surpassed men in educational attainment. However , the wage gap persists. Women need one more degree than men in the same field in order to attain similar earnings. Women need more than a high school diploma, and ideally at least a bachelor's degree to make family-sustaining wages. The wage gap grows with graduate school, in part, because women are concentrated in lowerpaying master's degrees in fields such as education and counselling. Roughly three million more women in the United States are currently enrolled in postsecondary education than men.
Women on average earn just 81 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Even when men and women have equal educational attainment and work in the same occupation, women earn only 92 cents for every dollar earned by men. Women's educational gains have reduced the gender wage gap. But they have not erased it. The concentration in low-paying majors and occupations continues to hinder women's earning potential. Women have increased their enrollment in high paying majors such as engineering to 17 per cent. Yet they make up 76 per cent of all education majors, the lowest paying major. In high paying fields such as law, women are concentrated in lower paying occupations. Women make up 85 per cent of paralegals and legal assistants and only 44 per cent of lawyers. Pertinently, the study finds developed countries like Japan and France have smaller gender wage gaps and laws that are more supportive of women who have children or are taking care of elderly relatives.