SC Current Affairs - 2020

SC cancels licences of 214 coal blocks

SC in a landmark judgement has cancelled 214 coal blocks issued since 1993 to bring in more transparency in the system. The apex court has granted a 6-month window to companies involved in the businesses to wind up their operations. In addition the companies will be required to pay Rs. 295 per tonne of coal they extract and the also for the one which has been already extracted. The verdict has been based on the irregularities with the set procedure which is to be followed in case of auctions. The court has mentioned that the whole process of allocations has been mired in serious corrupt practices as it suffers from the vice of arbitrariness and glaring legal flaws. The bench headed by CJI RM Lodha stated that, “the Screening Committee has never been consistent, it has not been transparent, there is no proper application of mind, it has acted on no material in many cases, relevant factors have seldom been its guiding factors, there was no transparency and guidelines have seldom guided it.”
The Indian industry has however not taken the decision in the right light and has warned with serious implications for Indian economy which operates on coal. It has expressed concerns about the accentuation of the power crisis and the economic slowdown. The dependence on outside coal will increase. The investments in the sector will be badly affected and the key sectors of power, steel and mining will also bear the brunt.
Despite the drastic responses from the industry the judgement has paved way for the next level of reforms and for inviting more private investments and entry of foreign players. It gives a bright opportunity for government to develop a more competitive market.

Supreme Court advisory: No tainted ministers

In a subtle yet strong worded document, the highest court of appeal in India, has gone ahead to advise the PM and CMs of various states not to include any tainted ministers in the cabinet against whom serious charges have been framed in both civil and criminal cases.
Resting its advice on the principle of good governance and a basic constitutional expectation, it stated that only clean MPs should be given responsible offices to maintain the sanctity of the Parliament. It stated that it is a primary and a very legitimate expectation of every Indian voter that the beholders of the highest institution in the country who take “oath to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India and to discharge their duties faithfully and conscientiously” should be free from any criminal charges and tainted past.
SC in special reference to the PM has reiterated that people have placed immense faith in him and the post calls for supreme and unbiased approach to select his own cabinet and ministers. The Constitution expects great deal from his position and entrusted him great duty. The bench went on to state that,”that is what the Constitution expects from him and thus has to be left to the wisdom of the PM”. The 5-member bench was headed by the CJI justice R.M. Lodha.
The Court stopped short of giving any directions to the PM as that will amount to gross misuse of the powers of the judicial review and against the basic structural features of the same.
Looking at the statistics, more than a dozen ministers of Modi government have serious charges framed against them. Alarmingly 34% MPs in Parliament have criminal records and cases registered against them. Amongst these some are involved in serious crimes like murders, kidnapping, etc.