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19th April Current Affairs

Pendency of cases in Supreme Court

(GS-II: Important Constitutional Bodies)

In News:

The Supreme Court is set to witness many vacant posts in 2022 with many current judges retiring this year.

The concern:

The retirements come at a time when the court is in the process of steadying itself after particularly brutal waves of the pandemic. There is a huge pendency of cases.

India’s legal system has the largest backlog of pending cases in the world – as many as 30 million pending cases.

This number is continuously increasing and this itself shows the inadequacy of the legal system.

And also due to this backlog, most of the prisoners in India’s prisons are detainees awaiting trial.

Pendency in Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court’s statistics show that 70,362 cases are pending with it as of April 1, 2022.

Over 19% of them are not ready to be placed before a Bench for judicial hearing as they have not completed the required preliminaries.

While 52,110 are admission matters, 18,522 are regular hearing cases.

The number of Constitution Bench cases (both main and connected matters) totals 422.

The Supreme Court has only recently resumed full physical hearings after two years of virtual systems.

Various steps taken by the Government to reduce Pendency:

Adoption of “National Litigation Policy 2010” to transform government into an Efficient and Responsible litigant.

All states formulated state litigation policies after National Litigation Policy 2010.

Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS) was created in 2015 with the objective of tracking cases to which the government is a party.

The Supreme Court had advised the centre that criminals sentenced to imprisonment for 6 months or a year should be allocated social service duties rather than be sent to further choke the already overflowing prisons.

Need of the hour:

  • Revise national litigation policy.
  • Promotion of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to encourage mediation.
  • Coordinated action between government and judiciary.
  • Judicial capacity should be strengthened in the lower courts to reduce the burden on higher courts.
  • Increase expenditure on the judiciary.
  • Improve courts case management and court automation system.
  • Create subject-specific benches.
  • Robust internal dispute resolution mechanisms.
  • Judges should write Shorter and more Pointed judgments.

What does designation as a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ by the US mean?

(GS-II: Effects of policies of developed nations)

In News:

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked President Joe Biden to designate Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism”.

This is perhaps the harshest suite of sanctions available with the United States against Russia.

Countries on the list:

As of now, there are four countries on the list of state sponsors of terrorism – Syria, Iran, North Korea and Cuba.

Designation as state sponsor of terrorism:

The US Secretary of State has the power to designate countries that “have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism” as “State Sponsors of Terrorism”.

The US can place four categories of sanctions on countries that are on this list:

  • Restrictions on US foreign assistance.
  • A ban on defence exports and sales.
  • Certain controls over exports of dual use items.
  • Miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.

Sanctions can be placed on countries and persons that engage in certain trade with designated countries.

Impact of designation:

  • Freezing of the country’s assets in the United States, including real estate.
  • Requiring the US to veto efforts of that country to secure World Bank or International Monetary Fund loans.
  • Prohibiting a wide variety of dual-use exports.
  • Requiring the US to take economic action against countries that continue to do business with the targeted country.

How can a country be delisted?

A country can be delisted if it is deemed by the US to have reformed its behaviour and returned to complying with the requirements of international law and conduct, or if it has undergone a change of leadership.

Sudan, Iraq and South Yemen have been removed from the list.

Gaza Strip

(GS-II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora)

In News:

Israel has carried out strikes in the Gaza Strip after a rocket was fired from the Palestinian enclave into Israel.

The armed wing of Hamas have announced that it fired on Israeli planes.

Who are Hamas?

Hamas is a Palestinian Islamist political organization and militant group that has waged war on Israel since the group’s 1987 founding, most notably through suicide bombings and rocket attacks.

It seeks to replace Israel with a Palestinian state. It also governs Gaza independently of the Palestinian Authority.

Need for an agreement:

Gaza has been under a tightened Israeli blockade since 2007 in which most basic goods still enter the region under highly restricted measures.

Where is the Gaza Strip?

The Gaza Strip is an entirely artificial creation that emerged in 1948 when roughly three-fourths of Palestine’s Arab population was displaced, in some cases expelled, during the course of Israel’s creation. And most of the refugees, they were sort of scattered across the region in neighboring countries like Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Some went to the West Bank, which came under Jordanian rule after 1948. And a very large number went to the Gaza Strip, which is this tiny little coastal strip between Egypt and what is now Israel. Today, the population of Gaza, about 70% of Gaza’s population are refugees.

Who controls it?

Hamas forcibly took control over the Gaza Strip in 2007. Shortly thereafter, the Israelis imposed a complete closure on Gaza’s borders. They declared Gaza to be an enemy entity. Of course, Gaza is not a state.

Hamas, of course, is viewed by Israel and by much of the international community as a terrorist organization, including the United States, for their history of attacks on civilians and so forth.

Present scenario:

Israel still occupies the West Bank, and although it pulled out of Gaza the UN still regards that piece of land as part of occupied territory.

Israel claims the whole of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The US is one of only a handful of countries to recognise Israel’s claim to the whole of the city.

What’s happening now?

Tensions are often high between Israel and Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank.

Gaza is ruled by a Palestinian militant group called Hamas, which has fought Israel many times. Israel and Egypt tightly control Gaza’s borders to stop weapons getting to Hamas.

Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank say they’re suffering because of Israeli actions and restrictions. Israel say it is only acting to protect itself from Palestinian violence.

Things have escalated since the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in mid-April 2021, with nightly clashes between police and Palestinians.

The threatened eviction of some Palestinian families in East Jerusalem has also caused rising anger.

Government lays down norms for quota in promotions

(GS-II: Important constitutional amendments)

In News:

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has asked all departments of the Central Government to collect the data on inadequacy of representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes before implementing the policy of reservation in promotion in government offices.

Specified conditions:

The DoPT order has also specified conditions (Based on the Supreme Court verdict) to be met while implementing the policy of reservation in promotions.

The conditions include:

Collection of quantifiable data regarding inadequacy of representation of SCs and STs.

Application of this data to each cadre separately.

If a roster exists, the unit for operation of the roster would be the cadre or which the quantifiable data would have to be collected and applied in regard to the filling up of the vacancies in the roster.

Reservations in promotions:

Indra Sawhney Judgement (1992):

In November 1992, in the Indra Sawhney Judgement, popularly known as Mandal Judgement, a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court decided that Article 16(4) of the Constitution did not provide for reservation in promotions.

77th Amendment Act:

To override the judgement and enable reservations in promotions, the Parliament, through the 77th Constitutional Amendment Act 1995, added a new clause in Article 16 i.e. Article 16(4A), making provision for reservation in promotions for SCs/STs.

85th Amendment Act:

The 85th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2001 was brought in for also giving consequential seniority to SCs and STs in matters of reservation in promotion.

  1. Nagraj v/s Union of India Judgement (2006):

The 77th and 85th Amendment in the Constitution were challenged by the General Category employees before a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court.

The Court clubbed all these petitions challenging these amendments and gave its verdict in the case of M. Nagraj v/s Union of India in 2006.

In its verdict, the Court validated Parliament’s decision to extend reservations for SCs/STs to include promotions (reservation in promotion).

Conditions for Providing Reservation in Promotions:

In the M. Nagraj Judgement, the Court laid down three conditions that the State must meet prior to granting a SC/ST a reservation in promotion.

First, the State must show the backwardness of the class.

Second, it must show that the class is inadequately represented in the position/service for which reservations in promotion will be granted.

Finally, it must show that the reservations would not affect the overall efficiency of administration.

Jarnail Singh Judgement (2018):

SC modified the Nagaraj judgement to the extent that State need not produce quantifiable data to prove the “backwardness” of SCs and STs before granting reservations.

2022 Judgement by the Supreme Court:

In January 2022, the Supreme Court held that collection of data to determine the inadequacy of representation of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes in Government jobs is necessary to grant reservation in promotions.

The Court held that “cadre” and not class, group or the entire service as the unit for the purpose of collection of quantifiable data for giving promotion quotas.

However, the Court has left it to the States and Central Government to assess the inadequacy of representation of SCs/STs to promotional posts taking into account relevant factors.

What is the significance of these norms?

This move is likely to benefit Central Secretariat Service(CSS) officials who have not been promoted for the past six years. The CSS comprises middle to senior management rank officials in various Ministries.