Madan Lokur | Retired Judge, Supreme Court of India
Lokur states that Chief Justice S.A. Bobde has “an unenviable task ahead, principally to restore the credibility and stature of what is incorrectly described as the most powerful court in the world”. If this concern isn’t “urgently addressed, the cascading effect will be the death knell of the independence of the judiciary”, he adds.
He argues that recent judicial verdicts “suggest that some of our judges need to show some backbone and spine, particularly in dealing with issues of personal liberty”. Lokur calls on Justice Bobde to “instill faith in all judges that they will be fully protected in the discharge of their duties, without fear or favour”. Additionally, another task for the new CJI “is to keep open the channels of communication between the judiciary and the lay public.”
Lokur argues that “self-respecting lawyers are disinclined to accept an offer of judgeship for three reasons” — first, “delays in processes by the governments concerned”; second, “unpredictability in the decisions of the Supreme Court collegium” and third, “the possibility of transfer for the better administration of justice”.
In conclusion, Lokur maintains that the new CJI must “tackle” these issues “with utmost urgency, dispassionately and with the assistance of all stakeholders”.
Rekha Sharma | Former Judge, Delhi High Court
The Indian Express
Sharma writes that it is “ time to assess” the legacy of Ranjan Gogoi, the 46th Chief Justice of India, now that he has retired. She argues that by the time his predecessor, Justice Dipak Misra “demitted office, the image of the Supreme Court had taken a hit” and that Justice Gogoi “courted more controversies than his predecessor”.
On the sexual harassment allegation “levelled against Justice Gogoi”, Sharma writes that “instead of constituting a sexual harassment committee, he constituted a special bench of the Court” which comprised of three judges “to address the issue which was purely personal to him”. She adds, “Worse still, he himself presided over that bench ignoring the fundamental jurisprudential principle… no one can be a judge in his own cause.”
Sharma further argues that “transparency in matters of appointment to the higher judiciary” was a casualty during Gogoi’s tenure. Post the abrogation of Article 370, she writes that a number of habeas corpus petitions “were routinely adjourned” when they should have been entitled to at least an “urgent hearing”.
However, by deciding on the Ayodhya verdict “Justice Gogoi took the bull by the horns” since the issue brings closure to “the most controversial issue of present-day India”. Therefore, “the tenure of the chief justice which started with a whimper has ended with a bang”, concludes Sharma.
R. Hariharan | Head of Intelligence, Indian Peace Keeping Force, Sri Lanka (1987-90)
The Times of India
In light of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s win in the Sri Lankan elections, Hariharan writes that his “strong and assertive personality, focussed on results rather than means, [and] earned him the reputation of an authoritative figure hated by many”. Hariharan lists a “few home truths to how” Gotabaya managed to “win 52.35% of votes polled”.
He explains that for most Sinhalese, Rajapaksa “is a leader who delivered them from Tamil Tiger separatists who threatened their existence for over two decades”. Voters saw the “record of public service of his rival pale in comparison” and Gotabaya’s “earlier record made him the most qualified among the candidates to become president to ensure security and stability”.
Furthermore, his rival, Premadasa “barely got a month to launch his official campaign”. Gotabaya “was totally focussed on Sinhala sensitivities and did not deviate from what Mahinda had already offered to minorities”. He is a “pragmatic leader and can be expected to live up to his manifesto to develop security cooperation with India”, writes Hariharan.
He maintains that in order to be profitable, “almost all Sri Lankan projects would need Indian participation” and India’s challenge is to take full advantage of it.
Avijit Pathak | Professor of Sociology, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
From Jamia Milia Islamia to Jadavpur University, from Visva-Bharati University to Aligarh Muslim University, and from University of Hyderbad to Delhi University, “we are witnessing an organised attack on the fundamentals of a creative centre of learning”, argues Pathak. He writes that with “politically appointed vice chancellors, philosophically impoverished techno-managers, new technologies of surveillance, and the materialistic notion of discipline and punishment, it seems some of our finest universities are dying”.
He claims that it is important to “realise that if public universities with good quality, affordable education begin to crumble, the spirit of egalitarian democracy will be in danger”. If “we are really eager to resist the process of asymmetrical distribution of cultural capital”, we have to be able to “nurture creative, sensitive citizens through an environment of life affirming teaching”. In order to achieve this, “we have to keep the dream of a public university alive”, writes Pathak.
He argues that it is obvious that “young minds” that have “seen beyond placement and salary packages… interrogate the dominant ideology of nationalism”. Furthermore, owing to a “mix of technocratic rationality and right-wing nationalist, a new politics of knowledge begins to emerge”. It is “pathetic” that the administration sees student protests like the one at JNU as a “law and order problem”.
However, Pathak also calls on the students to be “careful” and not “allow their struggle” to “degenerate into a reactive violent act”.
R. Jagannathan | Editorial director, ‘Swarajya’ magazine
Jagannathan criticises economists and business experts for their mercurial opinions on economic “disruptions”. These include demonetisation, GST, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and the RBI’s mandates of inflation-targeting and bank balance-sheets cleanup.
Demonetisation can be easily identified as the “key villain” but reforms like GST, now failing under design flaws, were in fact highly anticipated by economists before being implemented, he writes. IBC, on the other hand, has been up against “a crony banking-cum-legal system that frustrates most well-intentioned legislation,” explains Jagannathan. There was no way to know the extent of failure of these reforms without implementing them first, he writes, but they can be rescued by “continuous feedback and agile responses to problems”.
However, the RBI’s inflation-targeting exercise, currently being applauded by economists, is in fact least likely “to work in the Indian context”, he explains.
Amaresh Dubey | Professor, JNU
Laveesh Bhandari | Economist, heads Indicus Foundation
Dubey and Bhandari recommend we move away from the “larger sob-stories of falling/stagnating employment” and focus on the “dark and light spots” of emerging employment patterns. Using the comparable PLFS and NSSO data of surveys conducted in 2004-05, 2011-12 and 2017-18, the authors found that subsidiary employment is falling while primary employment is rising. Subsidiary employment refers to those who take up employment for less than six months and are technically not included in the labour force.
The fall in subsidiary employment “has a different colour”, they write, since it often includes “disguised unemployment and unproductive and extremely small household enterprises.” On the other hand, rising primary employment is a great feat.
Therefore, it would make sense if policy focussed only on primary employment. In the past, adding subsidiary work to total employment figures has led to “wrong insights into how employment is changing in an economy marked by rapid technology changes”, they warn.