IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


27th January, 2020


The four phases of constitutional interpretation

The Constitution of India came into force 70 years ago, on January 26, 1950.  

Interpretation of constitution by judiciary over the years:

Text as Phase one:

-       The Supreme Court adopted a textual approach, focusing on the plain meaning of the words used in the Constitution.

-       In A K Gopalan Case, Supreme court decided that Articles 19 (Right to freedom), Art. 21 (Right to life) and Art. 22 (Protection against arbitrary arrest and detention) covered different subject matters and were to be read as separate codes rather than being read together.

-       The Court read that the Constitution literally concluded that there was no limitations on parliament to amend the constitution.

Phase two- The structure

-       Appeals to the text of the Constitution were gradually overtaken by appeals to the Constitution’s overall structure and coherence.

-       In the leading case of Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (1973) Supreme Court concluded that the Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution did not extend to altering its “Basic structure”. And what constitutes basic structure is completely defined by the Court.

-       Court also categorically rejected the Gopalan approach in favour of a structuralistic  one in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978).

-       The Court conceived of the fundamental rights as a cohesive bill of rights rather than a miscellaneous grouping of constitutional guarantees.

-       The right to life was incrementally interpreted to include a wide range of rights such as clean air, speedy trial and free legal aid.

-       This phase paved the way for court to play proactive role in governance of the country.

In both the phases, significant decisions involving the interpretation of the Constitution were entrusted to Constitution Benches (comprising five or more judges of court) and were carefully (even if incorrectly) reasoned.
Electicism as phase three

-       Supreme Court’s interpretive philosophy turned far more result-oriented than it had ever been.

-       Court often surrendered its responsibility of engaging in a thorough rights reasoning of the issues before it.

Reasons behind decline of reasoning within the court:

-       Court strength grew from 8 to 32. Court began to sit in the bench of 2 or more judges.

-       It effectively transformed itself into a “polyvocal” group of about a dozen sub-Supreme Courts.

-       The Court began deciding cases based on a certain conception of its own role — whether as sentinel of democracy or protector of the market economy.

-       It side-lined reason-giving in preference to arriving at outcomes that match the Court’s perception.

-       Different Benches adopted inconsistent interpretive approaches based on their conception of the Court’s role

Impact of failure of court:

-       It led to serious doctrinal incoherence and inconsistency across the law.

Phase four-Purpose

-       The Court has acknowledged as critical to its interpretive exercise the purpose for which the Constitution has been enacted.

-       The Court is now beginning to interpret the Constitution in accordance with its revolutionary and transformative potential.

-       With about a dozen significant Constitution Bench decisions from the Supreme Court since September 2018, there has been a renaissance in decision-making by Constitution Benches.

-       It includes cases like striking down the section 377 and the criminal offence of adultery and including the office of the Chief Justice of India within the scope of the Right to Information Act.


-       Facets of phase 3 continue to linger on in the courts.

-       Cases that involve substantial questions of interpretation of the Constitution — such as the cases concerning the National Register of Citizens and the electoral bonds scheme — are still being adjudicated upon by benches of two or three judges.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/the-four-phases-of-constitutional-interpretation/article30661636.ece


India showcases A-SAT missile prowess

Indian Showcase in republic day parade:

Anti-Satellite (A-SAT) missile :

-       Developed under Mission Shakti

-       Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)

-       It plays a critical role in providing the necessary strategic deterrence.

-       The covert technology of ‘hit to kill’ developed for the first time in India for such applications enables it to destroy an enemy satellite by directly colliding with it with pinpoint accuracy.

-       The test made India the fourth country after the US, Russia and China to have tested an ASAT weapon.

-       The ASAT test utilized a modified anti-ballistic missile interceptor code-named Prithvi Defence Vehicle Mark-II, which was developed under Project XSV-1.

Air Defence Tactical Control Radar (ADTCR):

-       Used for volumetric surveillance, detection, tracking and friend/foe identification of aerial targets of different types and transmission of prioritised target data to multiple command posts and weapon systems.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/india-showcases-a-sat-missile-prowess/article30661753.ece


Fund crunch hits MGNREGA scheme



Fund Crunch :

-       More than 96% of the allocated money has already been spent or is needed to pay pending dues.

-       Less than ₹2,500 crores left to sustain the scheme for the next two months.

-       Fifteen States are already in the red.

-       Rajasthan has the highest negative net balance of ₹620 crores, followed by ₹323 crores in Uttar Pradesh.

-       The situation on the ground may be worse as States do not always enter pending payments into the information system.

-       January, February and March are months with little agricultural activity, when rural workers desperately need employment.

Reason’s for fund crunch:

-       This year’s budget allocation was ₹60,000 crore, lower than the amount spent in the previous year.

-       There is a high demand for work this year as the rural economy is in distress and informal employment has also collapsed.

-       Other States still have funds remaining, but activists say this is only because they are actively suppressing demand and turning workers away.

-       The State government does not want to be liable to pay interest for delayed wages, so they suppress demand.


-       Wages have not been paid to workers since October 11, 2019 as the Centre has not released funds.

-       This is contrary to the spirit of the Act and violates the principle of rights-based implementation of the MGNREGA scheme.



-       Provides 100 days of guaranteed wage employment to rural unskilled labour

-       Increase economic security

-       Decrease migration of labour from rural to urban areas

-       Grassroots-driven approach to employment generation

-       Programmes under the act are demand driven

-       Central government funds this scheme and bears full cost of unskilled labour and 75% cost of material for works undertaken under this law.

-       The central and state governments audit the works undertaken under this act through annual reports prepared by CEGC (Central Employment Guarantee Council) and the SEGC (State Employment Guarantee Councils).

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/fund-crunch-hits-mgnrega-scheme/article30661750.ece


Economic slowdown may impact poverty alleviation, says Banerjee

Comment of Nobel laureate and economist Abhijit Banerjee :

-       Slowdown in the economy might adversely impact poverty alleviation because the urban and rural sectors depended on each other for creation of jobs and availability of low-skilled workers.

-       There is no early end to the economic slowdown that has gripped India.

-       It might take a long time to get out of the difficult situation, as there was not enough money to improve the economy.

-       We have a great demand deficit. People are not spending because they are not confident.

-       Slowdown in the urban sector was bound to have “negative consequences” for the entire economy.

-       The banking sector is stressed and the government is not in a position to bail it out.

-       Like cancer, poverty has several problems. Some people are education-poor, some are health-poor and some asset-poor. There is need to figure out, what is missing?

-       Country needed a “better opposition” for effective governance.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/economic-slowdown-may-impact-poverty-alleviation-says-banerjee/article30661733.ece


EU Parliament set to vote on Kashmir, citizenship Act

Close on the heels of a number of critical international statements and parliamentary resolutions, the government is bracing for six scathing resolutions on both Jammu and Kashmir and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019.

Government Sources comment:

-       The CAA is a matter that is entirely internal to India.

-       This legislation has been adopted by due process and through democratic means after a public debate in both Houses of Parliament.

-       Government hoped that the sponsors of the draft would engage with New Delhi for an “accurate assessment of the facts before they proceed”.

-       The EU Parliament should not take actions that call into question the rights and authority of democratically elected legislatures in other regions of the world.

-       Every society that fashions a pathway to naturalisation, contemplates both a context and criteria. This is not discrimination. In fact, European societies have followed the same approach.

EU resolution:

-       The current resolutions, each of which is worded slightly differently and focuses mainly on the CAA, will be introduced by six different political groups representing a total of 626 of the total 751 members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

-       The resolutions list more than a dozen different counts of actions by the government that are allegedly in violation of international norms and India’s international commitments on Human Rights and at the UN Security Council.

-       It lists:

-       Actions in Jammu and Kashmir after the dilution of Article 370

-       Police firing on protestors against the CAA in Uttar Pradesh

-       Reports of “torture during detention”

-       The potential for creating what it calls the “largest statelessness crisis in the world”.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/eu-parliament-to-vote-on-kashmir-citizenship-act/article30661751.ece

Palestinians threaten to quit Oslo peace accord

Palestinian officials threatened to withdraw from key provisions of the Oslo Accords, which define relations with Israel, if U.S. President Donald Trump announces his Middle East peace plan next week.

Palestinian comment:

-       Palestine Liberation Organisation reserved the right “to withdraw from the interim agreement”, if Mr. Trump unveils his plan.

-       Mr. Trump’s initiative will turn Israel’s “temporary occupation” (of Palestinian territory) into a “permanent occupation”.

Oslo Peace Accord:

-       The Oslo Accords are a set of agreements between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

-       The Oslo Accords are based on the 1978 Camp David Accords and shows considerable similarity with those Accords.

-       It stated that Israel wll withdraw from Jericho and Gaza and eventually the West Bank.

-       Five years of limited autonomy for Palestinians in those areas.

-       Election of Palestinian Legislative Council within nine months.

-       Establishment of a Palestinian police force.

-       The question of Jerusalem was left undecided.

-       It has tacitly been rolled over for more than two decades.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/palestinians-threaten-to-quit-oslo-peace-accord/article30659494.ece


Mongolian geese find a new home in Davangere

Mongolian geese:

-       It is known for their ability to fly in extreme altitude and weather conditions.

-       As the temperature declines in Mongolia in the last week of October, these birds migrate to comparatively warmer places in India.

-       The geese used to feed on the grass, corn and the grain in the agricultural fields.

Kundavada lake in Karnataka, which is their winter abode hasn’t seen visit from Mongolian geese this time.


-       Large tracts of agricultural land in the vicinity of Kundavada have been converted into residential layouts in recent times.

-       The conversion of agricultural land into residential layouts has resulted in a shortage of food for them.

-       An increase in human movement near Kundavada lake and unabated construction works here have annoyed these sensitive birds.

-       The reflection of light from the glasshouse has also disturbed their flight and movements.

-       Indiscriminate usage of chemical fertilizers and pesticides by the farmers in the vicinity has also affected their movements.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/mongolian-geese-find-a-new-home-in-davangere/article30658651.ece


AnSI explores the ‘anthropologist’ Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary

The Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) has dedicated an entire issue of its journal, published last month, on what it calls “Gandhian insights into applied anthropology”.

Gandhian Ideology:

-       Equality and human community of the Gajan (a rural festival of Bengal), which had so much in common with the Gandhian yatra, embodied the equality of citizens in democratic India for which he sacrificed his life.

-       Gandhi would “doubtless have been put off by the spectacles of the modern Durga Puja and the occasional rowdiness of its organisers.

-       The “participation of the entire community in differentiated roles, appropriate to their castes, spelled out in ritual” resembled the healthy society that Gandhi visualised.

-       Gandhi’s idea was that “the tribes should be approached on the basis of non-violence, accepting the principles of a democratic society and the fundamental equality and unity of man.”

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/ansi-explores-the-anthropologist-gandhi-on-his-150th-birth-anniversary/article30661659.ece