New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Protecting our children
Who killed Gauri? We all failed
Antara Dev Sen
Is BJP looking for NCP as a new
Demonetisation: Political gain,
A L I Chougule
Inflection point in Kabul
C. Raja Mohan
At Least Seven Dead After
Shooting In North Texas
Why the Bullet Train project,
whose foundation will be laid by PM Modi and Abe, is the key to transforming India
By Shailesh Pathak
Catch up time: Many states
whittling down pendency of cases bodes well for justice system
Compiled by New Age Islam Edit
Nip in Bud: Threats To Secular
Writers Should Not Go Unpunished
Times of India
Aikya Vedi leader KP Sasikala, after lauding the assassination of journalist Gauri
Lankesh, has publicly threatened secular writers at a function in Kerala. In
her speech, Sasikala warned secular writers of the same fate as Lankesh and
advised them to pray for their lives. Such publicly uttered threats amount to
incitement to violence and demand immediate action by authorities. No one
should be allowed to issue threats like these and get away with impunity – be
that person a politician, a religious leader or a social activist.
fact, the climate of intolerance prevailing in the country is a direct outcome
of the impunity with which such threats are uttered these days. They are then
justified with a misleading defence of free speech, often by those who have no
time for free speech otherwise. In the US, for example, the First Amendment to
the American Constitution gives wide latitude to free speech. However, criminal
intimidation is taken very seriously and swiftly acted upon. Similarly,
Sections 503, 506 and 507 of the Indian Penal Code punish criminal
intimidation. However, these are hardly implemented, especially when the
accused are people with political influence.
and until hate speech and communal threats are nipped in the bud, there’s a
serious possibility that murders like that of Lankesh or attacks on Dalits and
Muslims by cow vigilantes will continue unabated. As it is India’s
international reputation as a democracy governed by rule of law – an invaluable
foreign policy asset as it confronts the China-Pakistan axis – has been
diminished by recent events. But apart from such considerations the first job
of any modern state is to provide security to its citizens. It should not fail
in this basic function.
12, 2017, 12:23 am IST
SC is seized of the Gurgaon school murder and one hopes guidelines will soon be
drafted to raise security levels in schools across India.
we failing our children? The psychopathic murder of a schoolboy and a girl’s
rape on school premises, besides cruelty inflicted for minor infractions of
rules, reveals a pattern of sadistic behaviour aimed at innocent, helpless
young students who can’t retaliate. The murder in one school and the rape in
another in the Delhi-NCR area left parents around the country dreading sending
children to school in the morning — and having to worry all day till the kids
return home. The very psychosis of a large number of Indians is suspect as they
display thought disorder and action inconsistent with people living in a
civilised nation. An entire generation of young people will suffer from the
trauma of growing up hearing about these gory goings-on.
Supreme Court is seized of the Gurgaon school murder and one hopes guidelines
will soon be drafted to raise security levels in schools across India. The
feckless way in which even basic background and security checks were ignored
while hiring non-teaching staff and the inability to inculcate a sense of
discipline in the teaching staff were apparent in these few incidents. We must
consider ourselves a failed society if we can’t offer the minimum guarantee of
safety in schools. A knee-jerk reaction will be to demand closure of schools in
which such incidents take place, but the greater challenge is to make millions
of schools nationwide more accountable. The authorities of the two NCR schools
must face the legal consequences for their criminal culpability arising from
sheer negligence in ensuring the basic security of children in their care.
By Antara Dev Sen
the contrary, we see most criminals with political links go scot-free, and
those who cannot dodge jail get new escape routes.
is this country coming to?” The opening line of Girish Karnad’s compelling play
Tughlaq has come back to haunt us. Karnad is among 25 Kannada writers and
intellectuals who have been given police protection following the shocking
murder of Gauri Lankesh. For thinkers are in danger. This is the age of hollow
men, headpiece filled with straw, leaning together, with dried voices. We must
not think for ourselves, or speak out. This is the age of submission, of
else would writers need police protection? Traditionally, writers were
protected by readers, by a society that valued writers, artists, teachers,
thinkers. But for years intolerance of inconvenient thought has been growing —
now we have allowed it to escalate into the shameless murder of dissent. From
banning books to vandalising libraries and burning texts, from attacking art to
hounding artists and chasing M.F. Husain out of India, to brazenly harassing
anybody who doesn’t conform to my idea of my country. From Salman Rushdie’s
book banned to placate Muslims to Wendy Doniger’s book banned to placate
Hindus, we have come a long way while staying rooted to the same spot. Because
we like to magnanimously grant wishes to interest groups for narrow political
gain, often going against the basic principles that our nation was founded on.
If we really believed in equality as guaranteed by the Constitution, maybe none
of this would have happened.
now, instead of introspecting on what went wrong, we are either gloating over
the “well-deserved” murder of a gutsy journalist, or moving the dialogue
towards who killed her. We know who killed her. We may not know who pulled the
trigger, but we know who were behind it. We all were.
have all failed Gauri, my old colleague from Sunday magazine. The State failed
her, by allowing and encouraging “non-state actors” who wreak violence on
critics and independent thinkers. The media failed her by either cowering
before power or by supporting power beyond the call of duty, by being lured by
profit, cosying up to the establishment, brushing aside basic journalistic
new and more democratic media, the social media, is the Wild West of curious
comments and jubilant jibes, where unmoderated hostility and violence roll on,
gathering support in a realm that defies logic, facts and decency.
Right-wingers were always cheerfully vocal on these forums, and moderates and
liberals found getting down to that crass level beneath their dignity. So the
bigots ruled the Internet, creating an illiberal reality that was a lie and
deeply problematic for a pluralistic culture.
publishing industry failed her. By withdrawing and pulping books that ruffled
feathers and refusing to publish books that could be problematic they stifled
dialogue and paved the way for this majoritarian rule over thought and ideas.
The other nurturing ground of thought, education, is being tailored for years
to suit this make-believe reality. We allow it.
industrial houses failed her. By keeping their hands clean and their eyes
focused squarely on the bottom line, by caring only about their own profit and
not the larger profit of their country and their future generations, they
quietly supported injustice and the deliberate destruction of the
constitutional guarantees that made India such a wonderfully free, pluralistic
police failed her. They failed to stop the murderers as they weaved their way
through everyday life and picked out their victims in cold blood — killing
Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi before they turned their guns on Gauri. They
failed to stop, or nab, the killers of valiant reporters and editors in small
towns and villages, fearless journalists silenced by corrupt politicians and
importantly, the justice system failed her. Our old, smug, lugubrious,
incredibly slow justice system takes decades to decide cases, and often
palpably fails to deliver justice. It’s important that culprits are brought to
book. It’s important that killers are punished. We need to see that criminals
get no political protection.
the contrary, we see most criminals with political links go scot-free, and
those who cannot dodge jail get new escape routes. D.G. Vanzara, Gujarat’s
notorious encounter cop, is back in the news contemplating a political career.
And Maya Kodnani, convicted of organising massacres during the 2002 Gujarat violence,
promises to get BJP president Amit Shah to court to testify in her favour.
Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, accused of leading the 1984 Sikh massacre in
Delhi, still roam free.
1993 Mumbai blasts verdict has finally come. And following a curious verdict by
the high court that almost legitimised the 1992 demolition, the Babri Masjid
case is now in the Supreme Court.
would there be the Mumbai blasts — masterminded by Muslims, as we love to say —
if there were no Mumbai riots, masterminded by Hindus? Would there be the
Mumbai riots if the Babri Masjid had not been demolished by the Hindutva
fundamentalists led by the BJP? Would the Babri Masjid be demolished if the
then Congress government had not opened the gates to the Ram Janmabhoomi site in
order to please the Hindus? Would the “secular” Congress feel inclined to
please the Hindus if it hadn’t tried to please the Muslims by supporting the
Muslim clerics in the Shah Bano case? We could go on and on…
Gauri’s killing was not planned today. It was being hatched for decades. As we
slowly moved away from constitutional guarantees and curbed our rights and
freedoms as citizens. As we paved the way for the slow stifling of dissent. And
the murder of diverse opinions.
need to stop believing that it’s beneath our dignity to respond to the “fools”
who attack our culture hoping for a Hindu rashtra. Our media needs to recognise
the dangers it is leading our country into by selfish commercial interest, fear
or the greed for power. We need to realise that mischievous news and debates on
TV can mislead and harm us. We need to get our hands dirty, as citizens who
care, to reclaim our identities as citizens who matter.
need to fight the factless, tactless, graceless, unethical trolls on the social
media and the deluded people in real life — friends, family, colleagues — who
may be armed with false information and righteous indignation.
wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t allowed our politicians to play with our
sentiments, if we hadn’t tried to take shortcuts in our battle for identity
politics. Stop it now. They are at your door.
Free Press Journal
12, 2017 07:23 am
controversy over whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi had offered National
Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supria Sule a berth in his
newly-reconstituted cabinet is nothing for BJP to be defensive about. With the
Shiv Sena constantly bad-mouthing Modi and the BJP, the latter can hardly be
faulted for looking for an alternative to Sena from Maharashtra.
and again, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has been causing acute
embarrassment to the BJP which is its alliance partner by opposing its key
policies like demonetisation of high value currency, the non-allotment of an
additional berth in the Union Cabinet and on myriad other things. Uddhav and
Shiv Sena have revelled in mocking at the BJP while continuing to be a junior
partner in the coalition in Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena leans on the BJP for
survival in the municipal corporation in Mumbai but its acrimony towards Shiv
Sena is open and vicious.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut says in the ‘Sena’ mouthpiece Saamna that Pawar had
told him that Supriya Sule had indicated to Modi at a meeting between the three
of them that she would be the last person to join the BJP, Ms Sule has flatly
denied that she had any such meeting with Modi in the presence of her father
Sharad Pawar and that she had said anything like this.
Thackeray is peeved that the BJP does not give him the kind of mileage that he
deserves as a coalition partner. Perhaps, that’s true. But can he force it out
of the BJP especially when he is so scathing in criticizing Modi government’s
policies. Uddhav can hardly lose track of the fact that the BJP and Shiv Sena
had fought the electoral battle in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 separately
after they parted ways and it was the first time the BJP was able to emerge
much stronger. Again, in 2019, if the Shiv Sena ties with the BJP continue to
be strained, such an eventuality may arise. Whatever the BJP may say, it is
looking at an alliance with NCP if the alliance with Sena snaps again.
By A L I Chougule
12, 2017 07:18 am
of high value currency notes on November 8 was described by economists as
‘economic anarchy’. The government
projected it as a momentous fight against black money, terror funding and
counterfeit currency. Whether demonetisation was a success or failure has been
a subject of contentious debate. The government claims that it is a success as
one of the principal objectives of demonetisation was to gradually bring down
the quantum of cash in the system and an integration of the informal economy
with the formal one. However, several prominent economists have called it a
meaningless and painful exercise of ‘exchanging notes’ that gave a body blow to
the economy. Drowned in the debate is the economic cost and significant
under-achievement of original demonetisation objectives.
government is loath to acknowledge that demonetisation came at a heavy cost.
Economists had predicted the chilling effect of demonetisation on informal
sector, agriculture, employment and growth. What the government is not willing
to admit is: not only demonetisation was a failure, it wasn’t worth the kind of
disruption the country and economy went through. Incidentally, not only the
government was informed by the RBI about the potential cost and benefit of
demonetisation, the central bank had also suggested alternatives to
demonetisation which could achieve similar objectives. So, what was the cost of
demonetisation? What did it achieve?
demonetisation was in perfect sync with Prime Minister Modi’s image of an
anti-corruption crusader. People supported demonetisation out of genuine
resentment against black money. Urging people to bear it all for the sake of
nation to end corruption and black money was a great idea that connected
brilliantly with ordinary people. Demonetisation received overwhelming support
because people were made to believe that it was all for the good and came with
high decibel noise and justification of its necessity to cleanse the
system. Another reason for widespread
support was: people genuinely believed that demonetisation would extinguish
black money menace permanently. It is why, despite changing narrative, the
political cost of demonetisation was almost nothing for the government. On the
contrary, the prime minister channelized people’s anger against black money
into a definite gain for himself and his party.
in economic terms it was an audacious blunder. One plausible reason for
economic cost of demonetisation not getting required attention could be the
absence of an international precedent or a credible economic theory to back
demonetisation. Hence arriving at a definite figure was a long drawn out
process. However, the consensus was that the impact on growth would be around 1
to 1.5 per cent of GDP. GDP data released by Central Statistics Office (CSO) on
August 31 amply proves that demonetisation had a significant impact on growth
in the last two quarters: 5.7 per cent in April to June quarter of FY-18, a
three-year low, and 6.1 in January to March quarter, down from 7 per cent in
the third quarter of 2016-17. This had an impact on the overall growth in
2016-17 at 7.1 per cent, against last year’s upwardly revised 8 per cent
immediate and dominant objective of demonetisation was neutralising black
money. India has traditionally been a cash intensive economy. According to RBI
estimates, 78 per cent of all consumer payments are done in cash. The currency
in circulation before demonetisation was 12 per cent of GDP. The note ban
invalidated 86.9 per cent of the total currency in circulation. Black economy
was conservatively estimated to be around 20 per cent of GDP. As the stock of
black money is not held in cash but wealth, black money in cash was
conservatively estimated to be only around 2 to 3 per cent of currency in
circulation. RBI’s annual report released on August 30 revealed that 99 per
cent of the demonetised notes had been returned to the central bank. This
number does not include the old notes deposited with District Central
Cooperative Banks and the notes within Nepal. Thus the shortfall of Rs. 16,050
crore could be made up once these notes are returned to RBI. This invalidates
the government’s earlier claim that a significant amount of currency – around
Rs. 4 to 5 lakh crore – held by people would be neutralised.
money flowed back into the system, the goalposts changed and digitisation
became an emphatic theme of demonetisation. Migration from cash to digital
payment is a very slow process, made even more sluggish by the convenience and
preference of using cash. India is also largely a cash-based economy. Currently
there are about 10 lakh outlets with 14.6 lakh electronic terminals accepting
card payments. The average usage of plastic money in India is less than three
transactions per user per year. While the number of cards is steadily rising,
there is little doubt that India’s reliance on cash is overwhelming. Currency
in the system, for instance, fell sharply between November and January, from
Rs. 11,642 billion to Rs. 9,921 billion. During this period electronic
payments, according to RBI data, peaked in December at 957.50 million
transactions, compared with 671.49 million in November.
following the expansion in currency, there has been a decline in electronic
payments from 893.89 million transactions in March to 862.38 million in July.
This dip indicates that once sufficient currency was back in circulation, the
system gradually started going back to the earlier equilibrium. The lesson here
is that people were forced to migrate from cash to digital payment mainly
because of cash drought and hence not sustainable in the long run as digital
mode of payment is concomitant with economic development. Currently the
currency in circulation, according to RBI, is Rs 15.6 lakh crore, against 17.9
lakh crore during pre-demonetisation days. This is 2.3 lakh crore or 12 per
cent less than the earlier balance, hardly a gain that the government is
claiming as an achievement.
had its pros and cons. It definitely gave the prime minister an image makeover.
But it also contracted economic activity
in agriculture and informal sector, disrupted supply chain, dented growth and
cost 15 lakh jobs. Significant drop in GDP growth and 99 per cent of banned
notes returning to RBI are major indicators of demonetisation’s failure. While
the original objectives of demonetisation were not achieved, added objectives
could have been achieved through other means. Perhaps the most important
benefit is the fear it has generated among non-compliers of indirect and direct
taxes. As for formalisation of economy, more than demonetisation it is the GST
which will speed up the process.
By C. Raja Mohan
12, 2017 12:04 am
current plans to intensify strategic cooperation with Afghanistan could well
mark an inflection point in its regional security politics. If its approach to
Afghanistan has long been marked by excessive caution, Delhi now seems ready to
new activism in Afghanistan could turn out to be of a piece with its much
acclaimed management of the recent Doklam crisis on the China frontier. Yet,
there is no denying India’s manoeuvre in Doklam was essentially defensive. It
was about raising the military and political costs for China and deterring
Beijing from escalating the confrontation and persuading it to accept a negotiated
Afghanistan, Delhi is entering a very different domain. It is now preparing for
involvement in a conflict that is once removed from its own borders. The lack
of geographic access has always reinforced independent India’s tentativeness in
Afghanistan. The NDA government, led by Narendra Modi, seems open to testing
the limits of that geographic constraint.
renewed activism comes at a moment when Kabul and its international partners
are fighting with their backs to the wall. The Taliban, with its sanctuaries in
Pakistan, has gained considerable ground in Afghanistan over the last few
years. On the positive side of the ledger, President Donald Trump has certainly
reaffirmed US military and political commitment to Afghanistan last month. But
many fear that it might be too late to reverse the negative dynamic in
Trump administration is hoping that by mounting pressure on Pakistan to give up
its support to the Taliban, it could alter the outcomes in Afghanistan. Unsurprisingly,
Pakistan has reacted angrily, and has turned to China to counter the new US
policy towards Afghanistan.
Delhi got Beijing to sign on to a statement at the BRICS forum last week
demanding an end to terror sanctuaries in Pakistan, India knows that one
swallow does not a summer make. Beijing is nowhere near abandoning Islamabad.
As a rising power, China seeks to shape its periphery. It hopes to have a say
in Afghanistan’s long-term political evolution in collaboration with the
is certainly enthused by Trump’s decision to try and change Pakistan’s
behaviour. But Kabul, like Delhi, will keep its fingers crossed on the tenacity
and effectiveness of Trump’s commitment to Afghanistan. Both are deeply wary of
the current political turbulence and policy volatility in Washington.
unlike Delhi, Kabul is eager to enlist China for a larger role in Afghanistan.
Given American uncertainties, Afghan leadership believes only China can now
restrain Pakistan. Kabul also sees Beijing’s massive resources as critical for
Afghanistan’s economic development.
past partners against the Taliban in the late 1990s — Iran and Russia — are
today looking at Afghanistan very differently. Both Tehran and Moscow see the
Islamic State or Daesh as their main threat and have been engaging the Taliban.
All these factors point to the challenging picture in Afghanistan.
this geopolitical churn, Delhi can no longer put Afghanistan’s economic and
security problems in separate compartments. Thanks to a large American military
presence in Afghanistan and a relatively peaceful environment after the US
military forces ousted the Taliban at the end of 2001, it was possible for
India to focus on the economy. Today the deteriorating security situation makes
developmental work in Afghanistan harder. Even as it recalibrates India’s
economic engagement with Afghanistan, Delhi must necessarily consider greater
security cooperation with Kabul.
had in fact signed a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan at the
end of 2011 that called for expansive bilateral military cooperation. Despite
the clamour from Kabul, Delhi seemed hesitant to move forward. Part of the
problem was India’s sensitivity to Pakistan’s neuralgia about Delhi’s expanding
role in Afghanistan.
UPA government seemed to put the normalisation of relations with Islamabad
above the logic of deepening military ties with Kabul. The Modi government is
aware that its activism in Afghanistan will beget significant reaction from
Pakistan. But Delhi may need to develop a new proposition — that substantive
strategic engagement with Afghanistan is a necessary component of India’s
the past, India’s regional policy was widely described as “reactive”. To be
sure, there were major exceptions — Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s military
intervention to liberate Bangladesh and her son and successor Rajiv Gandhi’s
despatch of an Indian Peace-Keeping Force into Sri Lanka in 1987.
series of weak coalition governments that followed Rajiv Gandhi had, however,
made caution the dominant theme of India’s foreign policy. Although India’s
potential to play a larger regional security role became a part of the national
discourse during the UPA years, the Congress leadership seemed paralysed by
however, seems less inhibited. If the defiance of China in Doklam was one side
of the coin, the new foray into Afghanistan could mark the other. The PM is
betting that strategic rewards in Afghanistan might be as large as the risks.
Delhi is realistic enough to know that it does not have the power to
unilaterally define Afghanistan’s future. But India can certainly hope to
develop some leverage and influence the outcomes in Afghanistan and the
Subcontinent’s north-west through purposeful actions on the ground.
12 September 2017 | IANS | Washington
gunman killed seven people at a home in the US state of Texas before he was
shot dead by police, media reported.
incident happened on Sunday night in Plano, a Dallas suburb. It is believed the
shoot-out was prompted by a “domestic dispute” at the party for fans of NFL
team the Dallas Cowboys, the US media reported.
spokesman David Tilley said the shooter was killed by the first responding
officer after an exchange of gunfire.
bodies were found in the house. Two others were wounded in the shoot-out and
taken to a hospital, the authorities were quoted as saying by the New York
motive behind the shooting had not been established yet.
still unclear,” said Officer David Tilley, a spokesman for the Plano police.
“We’re still trying to figure that out.”
episode began a few minutes after 8 p.m., when the police received reports of
shots fired at the house. “Our first responding officer heard gunshots, made entry
in the house and confronted the suspect, ultimately shooting and killing the
suspect,” Officer Tilley said.
witness said she heard between 30 and 40 shots fired around 8 p.m. local time.
Why the Bullet Train project,
whose foundation will be laid by PM Modi and Abe, is the key to transforming
By Shailesh Pathak
the eve of the foundation laying of India’s first High Speed Rail (HSR or
Bullet train), jointly by Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Narendra Modi, let us
not forget a Railway board chairman from 1968-69 who reportedly said, ‘India
does not need a Rajdhani Express. In a poor country such air conditioned trains
are luxuries, best avoided.’
he was overruled, and today we have Rajdhanis, Shatabdis, Durontos, Gatimaans
and many other AC express trains. Similarly, when Maruti-Suzuki started
producing cars in India, professional critics carped about how ‘poor India’
does not need more cars beyond the Ambassador and Premier Padmini. Today, after
nearly three decades, Maruti has created lakhs of jobs for Indians and a
thriving ecosystem of component suppliers in Gurgaon.
recently, Delhi Metro has been attacked for being very expensive and elitist.
But several studies have shown the Metro’s contribution to Delhi NCR’s job
creation and development. The HSR project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad is a
similar paradigm shift for creating jobs for Indians. This would go on to
become the first of the ‘diamond quadrilateral’ of bullet trains connecting
major metro cities in India.
see an entire ecosystem come up around manufacturing of locomotives and rolling
stock for future bullet trains, as well as the entire component value-chain,
with thousands of suppliers. ‘Make in India’ would get a fillip, and going
forward India would manufacture and export bullet train technology hardware and
software to other countries in the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, being promoted
jointly by India and Japan. Perhaps most significantly, human capacities would
be created in training and execution of large infrastructure projects in India
flying has enabled many Indians to switch from train to air. This has improved
connectivity and business, but is quite regressive in ‘economic rate of
return’. Short-haul flights use imported aviation turbine fuel (ATF) and are
large carbon emitters, hurting the environment.
an example, Mumbai-Delhi is perhaps one of the busiest air corridors in the
world. If we can replace at least half these flights with HSR, there would be
significant emission reductions. Strategically, imported ATF would be replaced
by electricity produced within India. Such HSR trains would run from city centre
to city centre, cutting down long airport commutes and lengthy security drills.
This choice would be good for the Indian traveller.
Shinkansen HSR was launched in Japan in 1964. With improvements, it is faster
and better today. Initially developed by Japanese government entities, using
state finances and borrowings, only in 1987 was the system handed over for
operations and maintenance to JR (Japan Rail) companies. Shinkansen trains have
perhaps the best safety record in HSR, and they are a treat to ride in.
country with a quick HSR rollout is China, which has developed about 22,000 km
of HSR since 2007-08. I flew from Shanghai to Beijing in 2 hours 40 minutes,
longer than Mumbai to Delhi. HSR trains take a mere 4 hours 29 minutes for the
same distance. Imagine reaching Mumbai from Delhi in less than 5 hours by
train, with attendant environmental benefits.
to that your cellphone and data in uninterrupted roaming, and getting to HSR
station in the city centre quickly. Such HSR stations would be fully linked to
multi-modal transit options, reducing private cars. On the Mumbai-Ahmedabad
HSR, cities chosen for brief stops would attain much quicker job creation.
Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR project will be a singular achievement for India. Japan
has been our valued partner earlier, with Delhi Metro financing. Japan is now
largely funding the HSR project, on extremely generous terms. It will be a
technology and project execution demonstrator for Indian infrastructure
joint ventures between Japanese and Indian companies would emerge, as transfer
of technology and training of trainers has already begun. Key learnings from
HSR would translate into better execution for many other infrastructure
sectors. The set of competencies created by this HSR project will contribute to
a quicker and more robust process of building India.
a few years, dear critics, we hope you will be riding the first of India’s many
high speed trains, leaving your misgivings at the departure station.
success achieved by four states and one union territory in reducing cases
pending for over 10 years in lower courts to less than 1% of total pendency is
a significant achievement. Together these five – Haryana, Chandigarh, Punjab,
Himachal Pradesh and Kerala – have just 11,000 cases pending for over 10 years
against a corresponding national pendency count of 22.72 lakh cases. Of these,
Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh are administered by the Punjab and Haryana high
court. This is no overnight achievement but the result of unwavering focus over
a decade, Punjab and Haryana HC has fixed annual targets and action plans for
judicial officers to dispose of old cases and criminal cases where accused is
in custody for over two years. The action plans also reveal how the HC is
perfecting its processes by shifting from monthly to quarterly review of
judicial officers’ performance to curb malpractices like hasty disposal which
undermine the quality of justice dispensed. Recent years also indicate a focus
on narcotics related cases, a particularly trenchant problem in Punjab. This is
how a dynamic justice system proves itself responsive to societal needs.
like Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Delhi also recorded
very low pendency of 10-year-old cases. The laggards – Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh,
Odisha, Bihar and Bengal – have some catching up to do. It is possible that
these states have the highest number of vacant posts, poor infrastructure, and
judicial recruitment examinations that do not match the standards set by better
performing states. In this context the national district judge recruitment
examination mooted by Supreme Court to raise quality of district judges and
dispel perceptions of irregularities in judge selection deserve consideration.
measures like restricting adjournments, curbing summer vacations, and
audio-visual recording of court proceedings along with real-time data
monitoring of case status will produce a transformative effect. Ironically, it
is at higher courts where answers to judicial pendency remain to be found. 28%
of cases (1.06 lakh) pending in Punjab and Haryana HC are over 10 years old.
Most HCs are in a similar situation but the Centre-SC standoff has stalled
judicial appointments and depleted high court strengths. When justice is
delayed it creates incentives to break the law. For ordinary people, lower
courts are the first stop for justice. By raising the bar they make the Indian
state work as it should.