ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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On the Maratha Reservations Judgment: Part II

Apart from holding the Maratha reservations unconstitutional, the Supreme Court also interpreted the 102nd amendment to take away the power of state governments to designate communities as “socially and educationally backward classes.” This particular aspect of the Court’s judgment is poorly reasoned, goes contrary to the express provisions of the Constitution and threatens to upset well-set principles and practices in relation to reservations in India.

On Maratha Reservations Judgment: Part-1

The Supreme Court’s constitution bench judgment striking down the Maharashtra government’s reservations for Marathas has affirmed and applied well-accepted tests laid down in the Indra Sawhney judgment. However, it has also missed an opportunity to re-examine the artificially imposed 50% limit on reservations in jobs and seats. The justification for retaining the same, however, could also affect reservations for the economically weaker sections.

Debating Supreme Court Reform

US President Joseph R Biden’s newly set up commission to recommend reform of the United States Supreme Court has brought to the forefront the “political” role of constitutional courts. While the US Supreme Court inhabits a vastly different legal, constitutional and political sphere from its Indian counterpart, nonetheless there are interesting parallels given common shared values towards the independence of the judiciary and constitutional governance.

Pendency during the Pandemic

Twelve months after measures to fight COVID-19 forced courts in India to suspend in-person hearings and move online, the Supreme Court finds itself facing increased pendency and demands to restart in-person hearings. Apart from the increased backlog, the Court also finds itself with fewer judges and no immediate nominations in the pipeline to fill the gaps. The incoming Chief Justice of India will therefore have to address a range of issues that fundamentally affect the Court’s basic functioning.

Two Papers on Judicial Bias in India

Two papers studying bias in judicial decision-making in India using large data sets have come to very different conclusions. One examines bail decisions and finds that childhood exposure to communal riots seems to influence whether a judge is likely to grant bail. The other examines convictions and finds no trace of similar bias on grounds of religion or gender. Both papers shed light, in different ways, on the working of India’s legal system and are not necessarily contradictory.

An Act of Judicial Disingenuity

The Supreme Court’s intervention ( Rakesh Vaishnav v Union of India 2021) in the ongoing protests and debate over the three controversial “farm laws” 1 has been met with a storm of criticism (Hegde 2021; Yamunan 2021). It has “stayed the implementation” of the three farm laws “until further orders...

Cow Slaughter Laws as State-sanctioned Violence

The Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2020 is the most recent attempt of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state to make for harsh cow slaughter laws, which have been used in the past to disproportionately target Dalits and Muslims across the country. The bill is poorly drafted and offends notions of rule of law and procedural justice, raising questions on whether it is even intended to be applied as a law or is just a tool of state-sanctioned violence.

Appointment of Judges to the Higher Judiciary during the Pandemic—II

The impact of the appointment process for high court and Supreme Court judges following the recommendations of the collegium is examined. The functioning of the collegium itself was not significantly affected by the pandemic. However, how many of its recommendations have been implemented by the union government, and how quickly, point to the need for the judiciary and the government to work together to ensure optimal judicial functioning.

Appointment of Judges to the Higher Judiciary during the Pandemic – I

As with most other activities, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the functioning of courts, revealed through the steep drop in the number of cases disposed of during the pandemic. However, there has not been much comment on the functioning of the collegium, which, theoretically, should not be compromised in these circumstances. The performance of the Supreme Court collegium during the pandemic is examined in this column by comparing it with available data for past years.

Clarifying the Rights of Daughters as Coparceners

By clearing the confusion over the interpretation of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, the Supreme Court in Vineeta Sharma v Rakesh Sharma (2020) has secured for Hindu women the right to be coparceners in joint family property with retrospective effect from 1956. The three-judge bench has restored the progressive intent to the 2005 amendment, but has based it on a conservative interpretation that reinforces the basic concepts of the Hindu joint family and coparcenary ownership of property.

Domicile Reservations in National Law Universities

National law universities set up by state governments have remained “islands” for too long–elitist and distanced from the local communities in which they were located. Domicile reservations, favouring students who are from the state where such universities have been set up are one way of rectifying this trend. The elite resistance to this move has no basis in constitutional principles and reflects an unfounded fear of the “local.”

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