SC Current Affairs - 2020

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SC declares all coal allocations between 1993-2010 illegal

The Supreme Court of India, has given a new turn to the infamous coalgate scam which surfaced during the UPA tenure and involved some of the ministers of the then ruling government too. The Court has declared all coal block allocations done in the pre-auction era, between the years 1993-2010 as illegal as they were done in a non-transparent manner by the successive governments.
The Coal fields during the said span were allotted without following the due auction process which has cost the exchequer a hefty sum of Rs. 1.76 trillion.
A bench of three judges, CJI R.M. Lodha, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph have rested their ruling on premise of “ vice of arbitrariness” and lack of transparency. SC has taken action on the writ petitions filed notably by Manohar Lal Sharma and Prashant Bhushan.
India is one of the largest producer and consumer of coal in the world. 20% coal production of India comes from disputed coal fields. Orissa, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh are coal-rich regions which are further divided into mining-blocks which have to be auctioned/ leased to the companies.
Coalgate was a major scam which had significantly contributed to the fall of goodwill of UPA government and ex-PM Manmohan Singh in particular as he was the considered as the man of no words despite the rampant corruption which was seen in his government.
The recent ruling also puts under scan the BJP-led coal block allocations and will thus be a major test for both the parties. The Court will now decide on cancellation of approximately 218 licences. The next hearing is on September 1, 2014.

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What is the buzz about Leader of Opposition?

Opposition is an essential organ of the democratic setup as it is said to keep suitable checks on the governmental policies and directions. The person who heads the party who is next in majority to the ruling party technically gets the post of Leader of Opposition. The party is apparently in a minority and may not have a significant role in decision-making of the government which is having clear numerical majority but the LoP is a member of significant Parliamentary committees. Being an elected post, he makes the government working better by giving timely and effective criticism. It is one of the foremost duties of the opposition to oppose any defective policies and administration. Also, bring to light any corruption happening in the government machinery. Where the Opposition should not indulge in putting party spirit above the parliamentary spirit and indulge in unwanted disruptions of the proceedings of the House, the government is also expected to respect and allow the opinion of opposition from being properly fielded and considered. LoP has got statutory recognition.

The Current Deadlock

In the recent deadlock between BJP and Congress over the position of LoP, wherein both the parties have put forth concrete points to support their viewpoint. Taking view of the situation, SC has asked the government to clarify its position on how it will go ahead with critical appointments which require opinion of Leader of Opposition in face of this recent vacuum created by the latter’s non-appointment and hence the vacancy. The posts of Lokpal and Central Information Commissioner both require consideration by the Leader of Opposition for their selection.
CIC is an important post and has never been left vacant ever since its inception in the first decade of this millennium. Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha has asked the Centre to give its statement explaining the solution without further delay as Lokpal is a strong institution to defend the mounting corruption in public offices. A bench comprising Lodha, Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman have assigned September 9, 2014, for final hearing, when the central government will present its case.

It is apparent that both the parties in question are trying to gain greater political edge out of the situation and dragging the issue to unwarranted proportions.

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