Bail basics: On Chidambaram case

The Supreme Court has restated the basic principles of granting bail while ordering the conditional release of former Union Minister P. Chidambaram in the INX Media ‘money-laundering’ case. That these principles required fresh iteration indicates a problem in the way courts have been handling certain applications for bail in recent times. In a case largely turning on documentary evidence — and one being probed by two agencies concerning the same transactions — it was quite astonishing that the former Minister was incarcerated for over 100 days, even after being subjected to prolonged custodial interrogation. As rightly pointed out by the three-judge Bench, bail remains the norm and its refusal the exception. The denial of bail is directly related to the possibility that a remand prisoner who has been released may not appear before the court to face trial. As securing the presence of a suspect is the primary ground for keeping a person in judicial custody prior to trial, there is no

A strategic pause: On RBI holding interest rate

After a breathless run of five consecutive rate cuts, beginning February, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decided to pause and catch its breath in the December policy announced on Thursday. And rightly so too. Though growth concerns are still paramount, a lot has changed between the earlier policies and now — inflation is rearing its head up again and the government’s approach to the fiscal deficit glide path is still unclear even as the macro numbers indicate a considerable slippage in the target of 3.3% for this fiscal. Monetary policy works with a lag and the 135 basis points cut since February needs to percolate down through the system and its impact analysed. The RBI runs the risk of blunting the repo rate weapon if it continues to cut rates without the cuts being transmitted down the line. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has taken care to point out that “there is monetary policy space for future action” and that the accommodative stance will continue. This should smoothen the

Another quota question: On creamy layer for SCs

The time may have come for an authoritative pronouncement on the question whether the concept of ‘creamy layer’ ought to be applied to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The Union government has called upon the Supreme Court to form a seven-judge Bench to reconsider the formulation in M. Nagaraj vs Union of India (2006) that it should be applied to the SC and ST communities. This verdict was a reality check to the concept of reservation. Even while upholding Constitution amendments meant to preserve reservation in promotions as well as consequential seniority, it contained an exposition of the equality principle that hedged reservation against a set of constitutional requirements, without which the structure of equal opportunity would collapse. These were ‘quantifiable data’ to show the backwardness of a community, the inadequacy of its representation in service, and the lack of adverse impact on “the overall efficiency of administration”. This placed a question mark on the


Close encounters: On faking anti-Naxal fight

It will be hard for security forces in Chhattisgarh to live down the assertion by the Justice V.K. Agarwal judicial enquiry commission that no evidence existed to support the claim that the 17 people who died in the “encounter” on the night of June 28-29, 2012, in three villages in Bijapur and Sukma districts were “Naxalites”. In the official narration, two teams led by a DIG marched into the forests to outflank subversives in a meeting only to be surprised by gunfire. And when the light of day penetrated the fog of battle, 17 Naxalites lay dead, and six uniformed personnel hurt. But the commission found no evidence of a gunfight, and held that firing had been one-sided beginning to end.The findings are a chilling and sordid catalogue of how truth can be subverted and buried by the very officers who are supposed to enforce the law. Though the commission puts it down to a disproportionate reaction from the anti-naxal formation, the findings make it clear that the entire operation


National shame: On gender sensitisation

Last week’s brutal rape and murder of a 26-year-old veterinarian in Hyderabad has led to an outpouring of anger across the country and in Parliament. Several MPs questioned the adequacy of criminal laws and a judicial system that permits under-age convicts to get away with lenient punishment and others sentenced to death to escape the noose through mercy petitions. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the government was “ready to make more stringent provisions in law”. After the 2012 Nirbhaya outrage in Delhi, and on the recommendations of the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 was passed, by bringing in changes to the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. Key amendments were brought in to provide for death penalty for rape that led to death of the victim or reduced the survivor to a persistent vegetative state and anyone found guilty of rape

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