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17th December Current Affairs

Court vacations

(GS-II: Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Judiciary)

In News:

The Chief Justice of India (CJI) recently said that no Vacation Benches will be available in the SC during the winter break.

Background:

The announcement came a day after the Union Law Minister criticised the long vacations of the court and the inconvenience it caused to litigants.

According to an SC’s earlier circular, a senior SC Registry official is specially deputed as a ‘Vacation Officer,’ who could be approached in matters seeking urgent relief and in such instances, a Bench would be constituted if required.

What are court vacations?

The SC has 193 working days a year for its judicial functioning, while the HCs function for approximately 210 days and trial courts for 245 days.

The SC breaks for its annual summer vacation which is typically for seven weeks (May-July), a week-long break each for Dussehra and Diwali and two weeks at the end of December.

The fate of the important cases during court vacations:

The Supreme Court Rules, 2013, provides that the CJI may appoint one or more Judges to hear during vacation (vacation benches) all matters of an urgent nature (bail, eviction, etc) and s/he may likewise appoint a Division Court for the hearing of urgent cases.

For example, in 2015, a five-judge Bench of the SC heard the challenge to the constitutional amendment setting up the NJAC during the summer vacation.

Criticism of the court vacations:

The colonial origins: the European judges of the Federal Court of India found Indian summers too hot and took the winter break for Christmas.

Mounting pendency of cases: the court’s pendency as on December 1 is 69,598

The calendar for the year 2023 shows the court would not be fully functional for nearly 180 days.

Arguments in favour of court vacations:

The judges do not take leave of absence (family tragedies, and health are rare exceptions) like other working professionals when the court is in session.

In a profession that demands intellectual rigour and long working hours, vacations are needed for rejuvenation.

The judges utilise the vacation to write judgments.

Cutting the vacation period would be a solution to pendency that is not backed by data.

The issue of pendency relates largely to legacy cases that need to be tackled systemically.

Reforms were undertaken: In 2014 when the SC reduced the period of summer vacation from 10 to 7 weeks.

Suggestions:

The Justice Malimath Committee: vacation period should be reduced by 21 days and the SC work for 206 days and HCs for 231 days every year.

The Law Commission of India: Vacations in the higher judiciary are to be curtailed by at least 10 to 15 days and the working hours should be extended by at least half an hour.

Former CJI R M Lodha:

Keep the SC, HCs and trial courts open around the year.

The schedules of individual judges should be sought at the beginning of the year, and the calendar should be planned accordingly.

Compared with other countries:

Indian SC: It has the highest caseload among the apex courts around the world and also works the most. For example, with 34 judges in 2021, 29,739 cases came before the SC and 24,586 cases were disposed of in the same year.

US SC: Hears approximately 100-150 cases a year, and sits for oral arguments for five days a month.

In the UK, High Courts and Courts of Appeals sit for 185-190 days a year.

India’s first 5G-enabled auto manufacturing unit

In News:

Bharti Airtel and Tech Mahindra have announced a strategic partnership under which they have deployed a “5G for Enterprise” Solution i.e., a ‘captive private network’ at Mahindra and Mahindra’s Chakan facility in Maharashtra, making it India’s first 5G- enabled auto manufacturing unit.

Details:

The partnership is in line with Tech Mahindra’s NXT.NOWTM framework, which aims to enhance the “Human Centric Experience”, focuses on investing in emerging technologies and solutions that enable digital transformation and meet the evolving needs of the customer.

As the industry 4.0 paradigm gathers momentum, reliable data networks will prove to be a key differentiator in factory and manufacturing performances.

About 5G:

The fifth generation of mobile networks, or 5G, is what comes after the 2G, 3G, and 4G generations. 5G is expected to deliver substantially higher connection speeds.

About private 5G network:

Also called a captive non-public network (CNPN), it is a network that is set up solely for a firm’s own use. Unlike a public network, it is closed to external communication.

The network relies on high-frequency, low-wavelength airwaves and is therefore ideal for institutions like factories, manufacturing plants, hospitals, universities etc.

Significance of the move:

Airtel and Tech Mahindra’s partnership shows the opportunity for collaboration between telcos and private enterprises.

How will the private 5G network work at the Chakan plant?

Improved speeds for software flashing – a critical operation for all vehicular dispatches – and allow managers to undertake multiple software flashing sessions in parallel, thereby reducing the turn-around time for an operation.

Opportunities of using 5G:

  • High-speed and Digital India
  • Better Governance: Better speed and connectivity would reduce red-tapism
  • Employment generation: 5G will open greater opportunities for new device manufacturers and application developers.
  • Enhanced coverage: Device-to-device communication techniques will further enhance network performance.
  • Reduced digital gap: small cell concept used in 5G will have multiple advantages of better cell coverage, maximum data transfer, low power consumption and cloud access network etc.
  • Entertainment and multimedia industry: Analysts found that 55% of mobile Internet traffic has been used for video downloads globally in 2015.
  • Enhanced Security: 5G wireless technology is one the best solution for security surveillance due to higher bandwidth and unlicensed spectrum.
  • Logistics and Shipping: Logistic and shipping industry can make use of smart 5G technology for goods tracking, fleet management etc.
  • Boost Smart cities
  • Industrial Growth
  • Agricultural applications: 5g technology can be used for agriculture and smart farming in future. Using smart RFID sensors and GPS technology.
  • Healthcare and mission-critical applications
  • Education

Challenges for India:

Indian operators have far less spectrum in comparison to international operators.

Indian spectrum is also rather expensive.

The high investment cost makes telecom companies unsure about Return on Investment.

The switch from 4G to 5G will be infrastructure intensive and the development of infrastructure for 5G is very expensive.

The transition experience from one technology generation to another is not very good as one has to buy a whole new phone to start using the latest cellular technology, thereby creating financial liability.

Kashi-Tamil Sangamam

In News:

One long-month programme got over

Other Cultural Significance of the Sangamam:

Kashi Tamil Sangamam’ is an attempt to bring a cultural renaissance that will unite the country and connect different languages

Kashi is the cultural capital of India whereas Tamil Nadu and Tamil culture are at the centre of India’s antiquity and glory

Connection: Both Kashi and Tamil Nadu are the birthplaces and ‘karma bhoomi’ (workplace) of the greatest acharyas of Indian spirituality. Kashi is the land of devotees of Tulsi, while Tamil Nadu is the land of Saint Thiruvalluvar

The Kashi-Tamil Sangamam has also helped to bring the Hindi and Tamil-speaking people closer.

Unity in Diversity: Kashi-Tamil Sangamam signifies that we might speak different languages, and follow different cultures and traditions, but we all are Indians.

Other linkages: Kutch- Tamil Linkages: It is said that hundreds of years ago a large population from the Kutch-Saurashtra region migrated to Tamil Nadu. Today, a large number of Gujarati-origin people live in Madurai and other parts of Tamil Nadu.