Jagan’s letter attempts to coerce judiciary, says judges body
The All India Judges Association has passed a resolution condemning Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s letter against Supreme Court judge Justice N.V. Ramana as a “deliberate attempt to scandalise and coerce the judiciary”.
The Association said the “tone, tenor and timing of the letter portrays malafide intent and appears to be orchestrated for hidden agendas”.
What’s the issue?
AP CM’s complaint is with respect to Supreme Court Justice N.V. Ramana’s alleged influencing of posting of cases in the State High Court.
The complaint also alleges the hostile attitude of some High Court judges towards the current state government of Andhra Pradesh and their deliberate and unsubstantiated striking down of the state government’s decisions and orders.
This amounts to an accusation of misconduct, corruption and the political bias among the judges.
Why is this issue important?
Though there have been previous instances of such allegations against certain judges, the current situation is unprecedented given that the current allegations have been made by a constitutional body, The Chief Minister of a state. This marks an open conflict between the judiciary and a Chief Minister.
But, How are allegations of misconduct against judges dealt with?
There are two broad alternatives when it comes to complaints against sitting judges:
Let’s see what an in-house procedure means?
Since 1997, judges have adopted an ‘in-house procedure’ for inquiring into charges.
Under this, when a complaint is received against a High Court judge:
The CJI should decide on the authenticity of the complaint and decide whether it is frivolous or it involves serious misconduct and impropriety.
The CJI would ask for the concerned judge’s response if he feels the complaint is serious, The CJI may close the matter if he is satisfied with the response.
Suppose, If the CJI feels that a deeper probe is necessary:
He forms a three-member committee consisting of only the judiciary members.
The composition of this three-member committee depends on the position of the judge against whom the complaint has been filed.
The inquiry it holds is of the nature of a fact-finding mission and is not a formal judicial inquiry involving examination of witnesses.
The committee can give two kinds of recommendations, one where it deems the misconduct as serious enough to require removal from office, or that it is not serious enough to warrant removal.
Actions taken on the recommendations of the committee:
If the committee deems the charges against the judge as genuine, the concerned judge will be urged to resign or seek voluntary retirement.
If the judge is unwilling to quit, the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned would be asked to withdraw judicial work from him.
The executive i.e, the President and the Prime Minister are informed of the situation and are expected to begin the process of impeachment.
If the misconduct does not warrant removal, the judge would be advised accordingly.
Concerns against the manner of the release of the letter in the public domain:
The public disclosure of the letter could have compromised the dignity, independence and majesty of the top court and the A.P. High Court.
It could amount to scandalising the judiciary in the eyes of the people by sensationalising the issue and could also be deemed an interference with the administration of justice.
In such cases the faith of the people in the judiciary and the rule of law are at stake.
Constitutional provisions in this regard:
Article 121 and Article 211 of the Indian Constitution expressly bar Parliament and the state legislatures to discuss the conduct of any judge.
Besides, the SC in the Ravichandran Iyer v. Justice A.M. Bhattacharjee (1995) case has held that complaints against sitting judges should be kept confidential.
IFSCA introduces Framework for Regulatory Sandbox
The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) has introduced a framework for “Regulatory Sandbox”.
Firstly, what is a regulatory sandbox?
It is a safe harbour, where businesses can test innovative products under relaxed regulatory conditions.
Typically, participating companies release new products in a controlled environment to a limited number of customers for a limited period of time.
Now, under the new framework released by IFSCA:
The Regulatory Sandbox shall operate within the IFSC located at GIFT City.
Entities operating in the capital market, banking, insurance and financial services space shall be granted certain facilities and flexibilities to experiment with innovative FinTech solutions in a live environment with a limited set of real customers for a limited time frame.
These features shall be fortified with necessary safeguards for investor protection and risk mitigation.
About the International Financial Services Centres Authority:
It is a statutory body established in 2020.
It works under the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance.
Headquartered in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
Roles and functions:
Its main function is to develop and regulate the financial products, financial services and financial institutions located/performed in the International Financial Services Centres in India.
The Authority is empowered to exercise the powers of RBI, SEBI, IRDAI and PFRDA in respect of financial services, financial products and financial institutions performed/located in the international financial services centres in the country.
Chairperson, one Member each to be nominated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), two members to be dominated by the Central Government and two other whole-time or full-time or part-time members.
They will have a three-year term subject to reappointment.
Can an IFSC be set up in a special economic zone (SEZ)?
The SEZ Act 2005 allows setting up an IFSC in an SEZ or as an SEZ after approval from the central government.
“Ghar Tak Fibre” scheme
As per government data, ‘Ghar Tak Fibre’ scheme is off to a slow start in Bihar, the first state that aims to connect all its 45,945 villages by March 31.
To connect all villages by March 31, the state would need to dig trenches, lay cables, and provide connectivity to an average of 257 villages daily, or a monthly average of over 7,500 villages.
However, nearly a month after the scheme was inaugurated, optical fibre cable has been laid only in 4,347 villages as of October 14, or at the rate of 181 villages per day.
About the scheme:
Launched in September this year.
It aims to connect all the villages with high-speed internet.
Targets: Under the scheme, Bihar has to provide at least five fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections per village, while there should also be at least one WiFi hotspot per village.
Implementation: The project will be jointly executed by the Department of Telecom (DoT), ministry of Electronics & Information Technology and Common Service Centres (CSC).