A crippling shortage: on vacancies in courts

The burgeoning docket burden that weighs down the judiciary is not because of its lumbering judicial processes alone, as it is often made out. The chronic shortage of judges and severe understaffing of the courts they preside over are significant reasons. More than a decade after the Supreme Court laid down guidelines in 2007 for making appointments in the lower judiciary within a set time frame, a similar issue is back before the highest court. The immediate context is the existence of more than 5,000 vacancies in the subordinate courts. A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has pulled up State governments and the administration of various High Courts for the delay in filling these vacancies. Answers provided in the Rajya Sabha reveal that as on March 31, 2018, nearly a quarter of the total number of posts in the subordinate courts remained vacant. The court has put the actual figure at 5,133 out 22,036 sanctioned posts. The State-wise figures are quite alarming,

Krishna will sing

T.M. Krishna, a leading Carnatic vocalist, has previously commanded a full lawn in Delhi’s chilly season tradition of classical music and dance performances in Nehru Park. His scheduled participation in a Spic Macay programme this weekend was always going to be a big draw. But in a move that should shock anybody concerned about the threats to free expression, the programme was abruptly cancelled, after its sponsor, the Airports Authority of India, suddenly bailed out. The public sector enterprise constituted by an Act of Parliament may have been the target of a sustained attack by trolls, angry with Mr. Krishna for being an outspoken critic of the Narendra Modi government. But rather than capitulate, it should have had the courage — and summoned up the necessary official support and protective cover — to ensure that the show was conducted. The AAI has said it has called off the show because of “some urgent engagements”, an explanation that has found few takers. For one, there was no

Another orbit: on GSAT29 launch

The Indian Space Research Organisation has marked a big milestone by successfully testing its heavy-lift launcher while launching an advanced communication satellite. It plans to use this for the Chandrayaan-II moon mission in the early months of 2019. On Wednesday the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle MarkIII (GSLV MkIII) launched GSAT29, an advanced communications satellite, into a geosynchronous transfer orbit where the satellite’s closest approach to earth would be 190 km and the farthest 35,975 km. The launcher bearing the 3,423 kg satellite took off from a launchpad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota. Seventeen minutes later, after various stages, the vehicle injected the satellite into the transfer orbit. Taking over smoothly, ISRO’s master control facility at Hassan assumed the command and control of the satellite, and it will be manoeuvred into a geostationary orbit, its final destination, in days. Once placed, the satellite’s solar panels and antennae will


Gaza on the brink

The sudden flare-up in Gaza between Palestinian militant groups and Israel is another grim reminder that the situation in the blockaded Mediterranean strip remains precarious. The latest violence was triggered by a botched spy operation by Israeli commandos inside Gaza that killed seven Palestinians, including a Hamas military commander. Hamas, which controls the territory, and Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets and mortar shells into Israel in retaliation. Israel responded with airstrikes and artillery fire, hitting scores of military posts and weapons depots across Gaza. They levelled television and radio stations as well as Hamas’s military intelligence headquarters. It was the heaviest Israeli attack since the 2014 war on the impoverished enclave of 1.82 million people. Now, Gaza is staring at the prospect of a fourth war in a decade. The territory has been on the brink for years. In past wars, Israel inflicted enormous havoc on the enclave’s public infrastructure and


Turn the page: on Sri Lanka crisis

After three weeks of political turmoil, Sri Lanka’s controversially dismissed Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, appears to have gained the upper hand. A majority of lawmakers backed a no-confidence motion in Parliament against Mahinda Rajapaksa, a former President who was sworn in Prime Minister on October 26. The Speaker declared the motion to have been passed by voice vote, as Mr. Rajapaksa’s loyalists sought to block the motion being taken up. Mr. Rajapaksa himself walked out of the parliamentary chamber before the vote was taken, with his supporters questioning the no-trust motion being taken up with such urgency. This contention could pale before the fact that as many as 122 MPs, in a House of 225, signed a memorandum expressing lack of confidence in his government to the Speaker. The noisy scenes and attempts to disrupt the vote reflected the deep divisions between the country’s main national parties. Mr. Sirisena’s decisions in the last three weeks have been against the

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