THE HINDU EDITORIAL : SEPTEMBER 28, 2018
THE HINDU EDITORIAL : SEPTEMBER 28, 2018
THE HINDU EDITORIAL – September 28, 2018 is one of the must read section for the competitive exams like IBPS RRB PO, IBPS RRB Office Assistant 2018, RBI Grade “B” 2018 & NIACL Assistant 2018. These topics are widely expected to be asked in the reading comprehension , Cloze Test or Error Detection topics in the forthcoming exams. So gear up your Exam preparation and learn new words daily.
A) Finding an equilibrium
The Supreme Court’s verdict in the Aadhaar case is best read in light of the dissenting opinion
A thicket of Aadhaar litigation has now ended with the decision of a five-judge Supreme Court Bench comprising the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, which had reserved its order on May 10, after a marathon 38-day hearing. The right to privacy was won in K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2017), but that nine-judge Bench had left open the question of Aadhaar: whether the “national security” perspective (the vital role of surveillance to curb terror and prevent money laundering and crime financing) and “social welfare state” perspective (Aadhaar ensured that subsidies went to the right people) provided constitutional grounds for “reasonable restrictions” (reasonable because non-arbitrary).
Although conceived and executively implemented during the UPA-2 regime, the project got coercive statutory backing only during the NDA regime, in 2016. The Aadhaar Act has now been upheld, and Aadhaar is mandatory for all government benefits, as somewhat narrowly re-crafted by the majority. “[A]nnoyance, despair, ecstasy, euphoria, coupled with rhetoric, [were] exhibited by both sides”, but Justice Sikri rightly stressed the “posture of calmness”; the political fallouts of a decision, even in an election year, cannot be a matter for judicial concern.
The court examined only whether the entire scheme was constitutionally valid under the nine-judge Bench enunciation of the right to privacy and whether the decision of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha to pass the Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill was declared so “final” by the Constitution as to exclude even the jurisdiction of the apex court.
The Money Bill question
Whether this decision disappoints those who had high expectations or remains enigmatic on key aspects is a question which will be debated for long. But clearly the majority disappoints with the lack of constitutional scrutiny on the finality of the Speaker’s decision on what amounts to a Money Bill under Article 110(3) of the Constitution.
No one doubts the high constitutional status of the Speaker, but a very expansive view suggests that any bill which involves recourse to Consolidated Fund of India is a Money Bill and the finality of the Speaker’s decision is virtually unchallengeable. The other view is that the Speaker, like all constitutional functionaries, is bound to exercise the discretion reasonably; purposive as well as strict pragmatic scrutiny carrying “lethal emanations” from Article 14 and 21 must ensue when a large number of bills are tagged with Money Bills. This is dangerous because it removes the rationale for bicameral legislatures, because the Constitution does not foreclose the Rajya Sabha’s collective right to meaningfully deliberate legislative change. The Constitution is not a political tactic, it is not a mere ‘play thing’ of a special majority as Justice M. Hidayatullah said in Sajjan Singh v. State of Rajasthan (1965), laying the foundations of what became the doctrine of basic structure and essential features. Perhaps, T.S. Eliot’s words regarding Shakespeare remain apt for constitutional interpretation: “…if we can never be right, it is better that we should, from time to time, change our way of being wrong”.
But the majority led by Justice Sikri gives a short shrift to the finality argument. Both Justice Chandrachud and Justice Bhushan refer to a set of decisions which subject ‘finality’ to judicial review and even the basic structure but Justice Bhushan while ruling that the decision of the Speaker is not “immuned [sic] from Judicial Review” still takes the view that the Speaker’s decision “does not violate any constitutional provision, hence does not call for any interference in this proceeding”.
Justice Chandrachud fully dissents and holds the law invalid as a “fraud on the Constitution”, that is a colourable exercise of constitutional power. He maintains that the “notion of absolute power” is anathema to the Constitution and that there is need to “liberate its founding principles from its colonial past”. Its purpose cannot be to shield an excess of power from being questioned before the court, nor to clothe a high functionary with utter impunity.
The ‘ultimate test’
Memorably, he says that the “ultimate test” is whether the ouster of “judicial review is designed to achieve a constitutional purpose” that “meets the test of functionality, assessed in terms of a constitutional necessity”. Pointedly, Justice Chandrachud says: “In the seventh decade of the republic, our interpretation of the Constitution must subserve the need to liberate it from its colonial detritus.” Accordingly, he holds that the decision to give the Aadhaar Bill the status of a Money Bill violates the principle of bicameralism, declared as a part of basic structure, and an aspect of federalism and entails a “debasement of a democratic institution” which “cannot be allowed to pass. Institutions are crucial to democracy. Debasing them can only cause a peril to democratic structures”. Why was the majority not persuaded by the Chandrachud dissent is a question that will for long haunt those who prize democracy and rule of law values as essential for the future of putting the Constitution to work.
The proportionality test
Perhaps, a salient reason for the majority decision is to be found in ‘balancing’ interests under the ‘proportionality test’: simply put, any conflict of interest requires balancing, keeping in view constitutional first principles and its vision, values, and the mission. In Justice Sikri’s dexterous judicial hands, this leads to many welcome invalidations and dilutions of some important sections of the Act (like non-application of the Act to situations where no direct benefits are claimed by beneficiaries, minimal data sharing, prohibitions on corporates from acquiring metadata, of opting out of children when they attain majority, and equality of esteem for other means of identification when Aadhaar is not available). But on the main aspect whether the right to privacy is violated, there is now posited a conflict with privacy and dignity, which only ‘harmonious construction’ may reconcile. Their Lordships also felt that some loss of privacy is constitutionally permissible to achieve the public good to the “marginalised sections of society” and there was a collective right to privacy which may override the individual right.
Apart from the fact that the right to privacy decision foregrounds privacy and regards dignity as an integral aspect of privacy, the majority opinions ignore the message of the great sociological jurist Roscoe Pound, who developed the theory of law as an ad hoc balancing of the interests — sacrificing some, and supporting others for the time being — justified only when interests in conflict are put on the same plane (inter-translatability); the tasks of balancing begin only when all interests are translated as individual, social, or public. True, the “sanctity of privacy lies in its functional relationship with dignity”. But this relationship is “functional” only when “undue intrusion” into the “autonomy on the pretext of conferment of economic benefits” is avoided. Surely, there are other ways to achieve privacy and autonomy save the mandatory and ubiquitous Aadhaar number?
The majority decision offers a harmonious construction, but the dissenting opinion shows why this is not the only or necessarily the best way. Do the ways of upholding the Aadhaar also open the floodgates of being constitutionally nir-aadhaar?
Upendra Baxi is Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Warwick, and Delhi, and Distinguished Professor of Law, NLUD, Delhi.
B) A fraught timeline: on Ayodhya title suit
The stage is set for a final hearing on the title suit to the disputed site in Ayodhya
The Supreme Court’s refusal to refer some questions of law in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute to a seven-judge Bench has one immediate consequence: it could expedite the final hearing in the appeals against the Allahabad High Court’s compromise judgment of 2010 in the main title suit. The two-judge majority opinion has fixed the date for the hearing as October 29, a development that may mean that a final verdict is not far off and it could have a bearing on political events in the run-up to the general election due next summer. The final hearing ought to have begun a year ago, but was delayed because some parties wanted the reference to a larger Bench so that certain observations in a Constitution Bench decision in Ismail Faruqui (1994) could be reconsidered. The apprehension was that remarks to the effect that “a mosque is not an essential part of the practice of Islam” and that namaz can be offered anywhere, even in the open, would influence the outcome of the appeal. Justice Ashok Bhushan’s main opinion has sought to give a quietus to the controversy by declaring that “the questionable observations” were to be treated only as observations made in the context of whether land on which a mosque stood can be acquired by the government. It should not be taken into account while deciding suits and appeals. It is difficult to fault this approach, as it is a fact that the respective claims of the U.P. Sunni Central Wakf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla, the deity, can only be tested against evidence adduced during trial and not by pronouncements on the significance of places of worship or practices in a particular religion.
At the same time, can one brush aside the possibility that observations on a sensitive religious issue would be exploited by one side to gain legal advantage? In his dissenting opinion favouring a reconsideration of Ismail Faruqui, Justice Abdul Nazeer notes that its observations have permeated the High Court judgment. Ismail Faruqui was a ruling on petitions challenging the validity of a Central law that acquired the land on which the Babri Masjid stood before it was razed by a frenzied and fanatical mob on December 6, 1992. The judgment was notable for upholding the rule of law by restoring the title suits that had been declared as having “abated” in the Act. It also declined to answer a Presidential reference on whether a Hindu temple stood on the disputed site before the mosque was built. Any observation made in the course of such a decision is bound to have a profound impact on the courts below. It is easy to contend that courts should work to their own timelines and not be influenced by such things as election season. But in the life of this nation, the Ayodhya dispute has gone through dark political phases and been more than a mere legal issue. The onus is on the apex court to dispose of the appeals at its convenience without giving any scope for the exploitation of religious sentiments.
Meaning : close observation, especially of a suspected spy or criminal.
Tamil Meaning : கண்காணிப்பு
Synonyms : watch vigilance
Antonyms : carelessness
Example : “he found himself put under surveillance by British military intelligence”
Meaning : a check or restraint on something.
Tamil Meaning : கட்டுப்படுத்து
Synonyms : check , control
Antonyms : aid
Example : “plans to introduce tougher curbs on insider dealing”
Meaning : wash and iron (clothes or linen).
Tamil Meaning : மோசடியில்
Synonyms : wash , cleaning
Antonyms : dirtying
Example : “he wasn’t used to laundering his own bed linen”
Meaning : create (an embryo) by fertilizing an egg.
Tamil Meaning : சிந்தித்து
Synonyms : invented , imagined
Antonyms : destroyed
Example : “she was conceived when her father was 49”
Meaning : relating to or having the power to put plans or actions into effect.
Tamil Meaning : நிர்வாகி
Synonyms : manager , director
Antonyms : attendant
Example : “an executive chairman”
Meaning : a government, especially an authoritarian one.
Tamil Meaning : ஆட்சி
Synonyms : government , administration
Antonyms : chaos
Example : “ideological opponents of the regime”
Meaning : relating to or using force or threats.
Tamil Meaning : நிர்ப்பந்தப் படுத்தப்படும்
Synonyms : violent , forceful
Antonyms : powerless
Example : “coercive measures”
Meaning : an overwhelming feeling of great happiness or joyful excitement.
Synonyms : happiness , bliss
Antonyms : agony
Example : “there was a look of ecstasy on his face”
Meaning : the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the exploitation of figures of speech and other compositional techniques.
Tamil Meaning : சொல்லாட்சி
Synonyms : elocution , oratory
Antonyms : quiet
Example : “he is using a common figure of rhetoric, hyperbole”
Meaning : say or pronounce clearly.
Tamil Meaning : கூற்று
Synonyms : diction , articulation
Antonyms : verdict
Example : “she enunciated each word slowly”
Meaning : deny (someone) access to a place, group, or privilege.
Tamil Meaning : தவிர்க்க
Synonyms : eliminate , reject
Antonyms : include
Example : “the public were excluded from the board meeting”
Meaning : difficult to interpret or understand; mysterious.
Tamil Meaning : புதிரான
Synonyms : puzzling , cryptic
Antonyms : clear
Example : “he took the money with an enigmatic smile”
Meaning : critical observation or examination.
Tamil Meaning : கண்காணிப்பின்
Synonyms : examination , inspection
Antonyms : inspection
Example : “every aspect of local government was placed under scrutiny“
Meaning : the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offence or revealing confidential information.
Tamil Meaning : சுயேச்சையான
Synonyms : prudence , caution
Antonyms : paranoia
Example : “she knew she could rely on his discretion”
Meaning : having or done with a purpose.
Tamil Meaning : உறுதியான நோக்கத்துடன் செயல்படுகிற
Synonyms : purposeful
Antonyms : aimless
Example : “teaching is a purposive activity”
Meaning : something which originates or issues from a source.
Tamil Meaning : வெளிப்பாடாக
Synonyms : exhalations , odors
Example : “she saw the insults as emanations of his own tortured personality”
Meaning : (of a legislative body) having two chambers.
Tamil Meaning : இரு அவை
Synonyms : bipartite , divided
Antonyms : unicameral
Example : “a bicameral Parliament consisting of an appointed Senate and a popularly elected House of Assembly”
Meaning : a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a Church, political party, or other group.
Tamil Meaning : கோட்பாட்டை
Synonyms : philosophy , belief
Antonyms : disbelief
Example : “the doctrine of predestination”
Meaning : confession, especially to a priest.
Tamil Meaning : சுமுக விடை
Synonyms : confession , absolution
Example : “go to shrift”
Meaning : the holding or expression of opinions at variance with those commonly or officially held.
Tamil Meaning : எதிர்ப்பை
Synonyms : conflicts , disputes
Antonyms : agrees
Example : “there was no dissent from this view”
Meaning : complete; absolute.
Tamil Meaning : முற்றிலும்
Synonyms : say , complete
Antonyms : incomplete
Example : “Charlotte stared at her in utter amazement”
Meaning : evaluate or estimate the nature, ability, or quality of.
Tamil Meaning : மதிப்பீடு
Synonyms : appraised , evaluated
Antonyms : aided
Example : “the committee must assess the relative importance of the issues”
Meaning : waste or debris of any kind.
Tamil Meaning : கழிவு
Synonyms : debris , remainder
Antonyms : finery
Example : “the streets were foul with detritus”
Meaning : reduce (something) in quality or value; degrade.
Tamil Meaning : தரங்குறைந்த
Synonyms : degrade , vitiate
Antonyms : celebrate
Example : “the love episodes debase the dignity of the drama”
Meaning : induce (someone) to do something through reasoning or argument.
Tamil Meaning : வற்புறுத்தினார்
Synonyms : convinced , coaxed
Antonyms : discouraged
Example : “it wasn’t easy, but I persuaded him to do the right thing”
Meaning : showing or having skill, especially with the hands.
Tamil Meaning : கைகளை திறமையோடு
Synonyms : clever , adroit
Antonyms : clumsy
Example : “a dexterous keyboard player”
Meaning : respect and admiration.
Tamil Meaning : மதிப்பு
Synonyms : respect , regard
Antonyms : contempt
Example : “he was held in high esteem by colleagues”
Meaning : put in position; place.
Tamil Meaning : மறுசீரமைப்பு
Synonyms : domesticated , embosomed
Example : “the Professor posits Cohen in his second category of poets”
Meaning : restore friendly relations between.
Tamil Meaning : சரிசெய்யும்
Synonyms : harmonize , settle
Antonyms : disturb
Example : “the king and the archbishop were publicly reconciled”
Meaning : permitted; allowed.
Tamil Meaning : அனுமதிக்கப்பட்ட
Synonyms : allowable , licit
Antonyms : prohibited
Example : “it is permissible to edit and rephrase the statement”
Meaning : the action of intruding.
Tamil Meaning : ஊடுருவல்
Synonyms : interference , trespass
Antonyms : courtesy
Example : “he was furious about this intrusion into his private life”
Meaning : spread throughout (something); pervade.
Tamil Meaning : ஊடுருவியுள்ள போதிலும்
Synonyms : saturated , imbued
Antonyms : flooded
Example : “the aroma of soup permeated the air”
Meaning : hold or express opinions that are at variance with those commonly or officially held.
Tamil Meaning : எதிர்ப்போடு
Synonyms : dissident , dissentient
Antonyms : pedant
Example : “two members dissented from the majority”
Meaning : a disagreement or argument.
Tamil Meaning : சர்ச்சை
Synonyms : quarrel , fight
Antonyms : agree
Example : “a territorial dispute between the two countries”
Meaning : a decision on an issue of fact in a civil or criminal case or an inquest.
Tamil Meaning : தீர்ப்பு
Synonyms : decision , determination
Antonyms : accusation
Example : “the jury returned a verdict of not guilty”
Meaning : prolonged public disagreement or heated discussion.
Tamil Meaning : சர்ச்சை
Synonyms : disagreement , argument
Antonyms : agreement
Example : “the design of the building has caused controversy”
Meaning : a god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion).
Tamil Meaning : தெய்வம்
Synonyms : divinity , creator
Antonyms : mortal
Example : “a deity of ancient Greece”
Meaning : struggle to surmount (a difficulty).
Tamil Meaning : போராட
Synonyms : fight , argue
Antonyms : surrender
Example : “she had to contend with his uncertain temper”
Meaning : get rid of by throwing away or giving or selling to someone else.
Tamil Meaning : அகற்றுவதில்
Synonyms : arrange , incline
Antonyms : disorder
Example : “the waste is disposed of in the North Sea”
Meaning : the action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work.
Tamil Meaning : சுரண்டல்
Synonyms : using , operation
Antonyms : conserve
Example : “the exploitation of migrant workers”
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