Needless impatience: On Centre’s plea on death row convicts

The Centre’s application in the Supreme Court for additional guidelines regarding the execution of condemned prisoners betrays a needless impatience to hang the four convicts facing the gallows for the rape and murder of ‘Nirbhaya’ in 2012. The Ministry of Home Affairs essentially seeks the incorporation of measures aimed at reducing the scope for death row convicts to adopt dilatory tactics. Even though there may be some evidence to believe that convicts tend to file review petitions, mercy petitions and curative petitions in such a way that their execution is indefinitely delayed, it is difficult to attribute their conduct to the supposedly “accused-centric” nature of the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in Shatrughan Chauhan (2014). These guidelines were undoubtedly aimed at protecting the constitutional rights of prisoners in the context of a sound body of jurisprudence that maintains that such rights extend right up to the moment of their execution. The court was anxious

Unprecedented step: On Wuhan lockdown

In a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus that emerged in the city of Wuhan in Hubei Province in early December last year, China took a drastic and unprecedented step this week to shut down the city, thus preventing its 11 million inhabitants from leaving. All modes of transport have been suspended to prevent residents from exiting the city. Authorities also planned to suspend public transport services in Huanggang, a city of seven million; shut rail stations in Ezhou; and impose travel restrictions in Chibi. These moves come in the wake of an increasing number of people getting infected and even dying. As on January 23, the number of infected people in China stood at 571 and deaths at 17. Wuhan, the hotspot of the disease outbreak, has reported nearly 80% of all cases and all the 17 deaths. Further, the virus has spread to 24 provinces within the country and outside as well — cases have been reported in Thailand and Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, U.S., Hong Kong, Macau,

Ending inaction: On Speakers and disqualification

There are two significant aspects to the Supreme Court’s latest decision on the Speaker as the adjudicating authority under the anti-defection law. The first is that Parliament should replace the Speaker with a “permanent tribunal” or external mechanism to render quick and impartial decisions on questions of defection. Few would disagree with the Court’s view that initial fears and doubts about whether Speakers would be impartial had come true. The second is its extraordinary ruling that the reference by another Bench, in 2016, of a key question to a Constitution Bench was itself unnecessary. The question awaiting determination by a larger Bench is whether courts have the power to direct Speakers to decide petitions seeking disqualification within a fixed time frame. The question had arisen because several presiding officers have allowed defectors to bolster the strength of ruling parties and even be sworn in Ministers by merely refraining from adjudicating on complaints against them.


Playing with learning: On status of early childhood education

The Annual Status of Education Report 2019 data on early childhood education in rural areas makes the case that the pre-school system fails to give children a strong foundation, especially in government-run facilities. Going by the findings, the percentage of girls in government schools is higher than in private institutions, the cognitive skills of children attending official anganwadi playschools do not match those attending private schools, and there is a significant percentage of underage children in the first standard of formal school, in violation of the stipulated age of six. It is beyond question that children will be benefitted greatly if they are provided a properly designed environment to acquire cognitive skills. These skills are critical to their ability to verbalise, count, calculate and make comparisons. What the ASER data sampled from 26 Indian districts seem to indicate is an apparent imbalance in State policies, which is disadvantaging the less affluent as


Shaky perch: On Nadda’s election as BJP chief

J.P. Nadda’s election as president is unlikely to cause any discontinuity or transformation in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but it is noteworthy for other reasons. There is no other political party in India which has many of its former presidents around: L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Amit Shah and M. Venkaiah Naidu. Unlike most other parties in India which are controlled by families that pass on the baton from one generation to the next, the BJP has continuously elected fresh faces as its leaders. Mr. Nadda, 59, is the 11th president of the party in its 40 years of existence. This openness, demonstrated through repeated instances of average workers rising to high positions, has been a critical strength of the BJP and the party has been vocal about it. The internal dynamism and potential mobility of its workers have aided the party’s dramatic growth. But none of this masks the rigid ideological apparatus that drives and controls the party. In

Return of bonds: On SC refusal to stay electoral bonds scheme

Tragic trek: on unauthorised expeditions

Stay put: on Vladimir Putin's Cabinet reshuffle

Fighting radicalisation: On CDS Bipin Rawat's comments

Quiet, for now: On trade deal between US and China

Talking of Kashmir: on China raising Kashmir issue again at UNSC

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