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GS Paper II  Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

Centre not in favour of new law for CBI

What’s Happening-
The Central government has turned down the recommendation of a Parliamentary Committee to come up with a new law for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), to replace the 70-year-old Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act which governs the agency, stating that it might impinge on the federal structure of the Constitution.

Key Points discussed were:

Strengthening CBI

  • The 85th report of the Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, chaired by MP Anand Sharma.
  • Report strongly recommended that the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) revisit the 24th report of the committee on “The Working of the Central Bureau of Investigation.”
  • “With cases being referred by States and courts to the CBI for investigation, the Committee acknowledges the burden of load bestowed upon it. However, it is of the concerted view that the CBI turn to the State or other Central Forces to plug the vacancy in the establishment. It, therefore, desires that the CBI manage its cadre more efficiently and the DoPT should take holistic steps to hasten the part of recruitment in consultation with the UPSC,” said the panel, referring to the 24th report.

Committee and Panel View:

  • The committee, in its subsequent remarks, said it was of the view that the powers given to CBI under the DSPE Act were not adequate. In this context, the panel recommended a separate statute for the CBI. “The apprehensions raised have been answered in the Twenty-fourth report of panel.

Violates federal structure’
DoPT said the agency, since the submission of the 24th report, had grown into a more dynamic and efficient organisation. It also listed the measures taken to strengthen the CBI.
“The subject of bringing a separate statute for the CBI has been considered and it has been concluded that the Constitution would require to be amended, which may also impinge on the federal structure of the Constitution and the mandate of Parliament to enact a law which would be in conflict with Entry 2 of List II which is in the domain of the States,” said the DoPT.
“Therefore, it is not open to the Central Government to constitute a CBI and confer on it powers which will impinge on all the powers of investigation of offences which are conferred on the State police,”.

GS Paper II –  Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

In a first, SC issues contempt notice to sitting HC judge

What’s Happening-
Justice Karnan accused of disgracing judiciary, impeding justice:
The Supreme Court sent out a strong message that it will not hesitate to act against one of its own for the sake of upholding justice.

Key Points discussed were:

  • contempt of court notice:
  • For the first time in the history of Independent India, it issued a contempt of court notice against a sitting High Court judge for allegedly disgracing the judicial institution and impeding the course of justice administration.
  • Bench of seven senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, assembled in Court and heard Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi give his opinion that the Calcutta High Court judge, Justice C.S. Karnan, should face contempt action for his “scurrilous” letters against sitting and retired High Court and Supreme Court judges.
  • The Supreme Court had taken suo motu cognisance of Justice Karnan’s letters and conduct.
  • It also directed him to refrain forthwith from undertaking any judicial or administrative work and return all his official files to the Calcutta High Court registry.
  • The Bench sought the assistance of senior members of the Bar to help understand the extent of its own constitutional powers in the uncharted waters presented by the case.

Background-
In its Union of India versus Sankal Chand Sheth judgment of 1977, the Supreme Court had held that neither the President nor the Chief Justice of India had the power to punish a judge for misconduct.
Justice Chinnaswamy Swaminathan Karnan (born 12 June 1955) is an Indian judge in .
He is the first serving High Court judge to be sent to prison for contempt.
He first hit the national headlines in November 2011 when his complaint to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), alleging that he was being harassed and victimised by brother judges because he was a Dalit, became public.
January 2014, in an unprecedented act, Justice Karnan entered a court hall where a Division Bench was hearing a public interest litigation petition relating to names recommended for the post of judges and declared that the “selection [of names] is not fair” and that he would file an affidavit on the issue.

GS Paper III  Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Distinguish between sabotage, accidents’

What’s Happening-
Centre is not looking for scapegoats, says Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu
Expressing concern over what he called a spate of “sabotage attempts” on trains, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said he would rather not pin the blame on anyone right now for the train derailment near Kanpur last year that killed 151 people, as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was probing the matter.

Key Points discussed were:

Mr. Prabhu said:

  • “I won’t be able to comment on the NIA investigation. One thing is for sure that there has been an unusual activity in the Railways in the past few days. We have noticed that there are several sabotage attempts. When we noticed them, we handed over the matter to the NIA,”.
  • Dismissing suggestions that the Central government was looking for ‘scapegoats.’

ISI role in accidents:

  • The NIA had registered a case after three accused arrested by the Bihar Police in a separate case said that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was behind the derailments.
  • Referring to the Kanpur derailment of the Indore-Patna express, Mr. Prabhu also would not comment on initial reports from the Committee on Railway Safety that said “carriage and wagon defects” could have been responsible for the tragedy.

Background-
The number of “consequential” rail accidents had remained the same at 95 in 2016-17 compared to the preceding year.

Government Measures:
The government, also open to all options including a cess on tickets to help improve its railway safety record, indicating that –
The newly set up “railway safety fund” of ₹100,000 crores would be used to “increase [rail] speeds.
Eliminating unmanned level crossings and
Replacing [old] coaches.

Sources- The Indian Express, The Hindu. Page 12