[Editorial Analysis] Barbed wire

Mains Paper 2: Governance
Prelims level: PM-KISAN
Mains level: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

Context:

• The Supreme Court disposed of a petition by Jammu and Kashmir Congress leader Saifuddin Soz’s wife challenging his “illegal detention”

• It accepted the government’s contention that he was under no restrictions.

• It frames the Soz speaking to reporters, from behind a boundary wall, before being pulled away by police personnel, at his residence in Srinagar.

• It did not deem necessary to listen to what Soz had to say across the wall.

Pertinent questions:

• It is not only: Why did the Jammu and Kashmir administration take liberty with the facts in court?

• It is also, and more: Why did the court accept the Jammu and Kashmir administration’s word for it?

• Why did it accept the state’s definition of freedom when it is clearly in conflict with the citizen’s?

• Unfortunately, that latter question is now embedded in a recurring pattern.

• In case after case involving citizens’ fundamental liberties and alleged transgressions by the state, the courts seem to give the government the benefit of the doubt.

A similar pattern:

• On Jammu and Kashmir, a marker of this pattern came last year on October 1, when, petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the August 5 decision to abrogate Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, were filed.

• Five-judge Constitution bench of the SC refused to order a stay and adjourned the hearing to November 4.

• The pattern has continued through the Court’s treatment of habeas corpus petitions related to politicians, business leaders, lawyers and journalists.

• Its lack of alacrity, its adjournments, effectively extended those detentions.

• In May, the SC order declining pleas for restoration of 4G internet services was disturbing not just for continuing the denial of such services but also because it seemed to cede its own powers of judicial review.

• A special committee headed by the Union home secretary — the very departments whose orders were in question would adjudicate on the validity of the curbs on citizens’ freedoms imposed by them.

Accountability:

• Soz’s is a test case because there are many like him.

• Trapped in a zone between arrest and detention, unofficial and official, verbal and formal, at the mercy of the policeman at the gate.

• This is exactly the zone tailor-made for abuse, where the apex court needs to shine the light, clear the air.

• All the more reason for the court, as the custodian of constitutionally mandated individual liberties, to ask more questions to the administration that wields the power.

Conclusion:

• SC needs to ask tougher questions, of those who wield power — before it dismisses an 83-year-old citizen’s plea for freedom.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the long-term repo operations (LTRO), consider the following statements:

1. Under LTRO, RBI will conduct term repos of one-year and three-year tenors of appropriate sizes for up to a total amount of Rs 1 lakh crore at the policy repo rate.

2. It is a measure that market participants expect will bring down short-term rates and also boost investment in corporate bonds.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

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