Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 25 February 2023

‘Neutral citation’ system in SC judgment

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud announced that the Supreme Court will adopt a “neutral citation system” for its judgments. The CJI expressed hope that High Courts too would follow neutral citations for their judgments. The Delhi, Kerala, and Madras HCs have already introduced neutral citation.

What is a “citation”?

  1. A case citation is essentially an identification tag for a judgment.
  2. Typically, it would contain a reference number, the year of the judgment, the name of the court that delivered that judgment, and shorthand for the journal publishing the judgment.

What is a neutral citation?

  1. neutral citation would mean that the court would assign its own citation — distinct from those given by traditional Law Reporters.
  2. Law Reporters are periodicals or annual digests that publish judgments, often with an editorial note to make it accessible for lawyers to refer to precedents.
  3. For example, for the landmark Kesavananda Bharati case, the citation in ‘Supreme Court Cases’, a journal published by the Eastern Book Company, is (1973) 4 SCC 225. In the All India Reporter (AIR), the citation is AIR 1973 SC 1461.

Why is a neutral system good or necessary?

  1. Judgments mention citations while referring to precedents and often use citations from different Law Reporters. With artificial intelligence (AI) enabled translation of judgments and transcribing of court proceedings, a uniform citation is necessary.
  2. Several High Courts including Delhi High Court have started a neutral citation format.
  3. The Delhi HC neutral citation is, for example, in this format: No-YEAR/DHC/XXXXXX

How will the SC implement the neutral citation system?

  1. Our recent initiative is neutral citations for all judgments of the Supreme Court so all 30,000 judgments are going to have neutral citations.
  2. First tranche will be till 1 January 2023, then the other tranche will be till judgments from 2014 and then finally we will go back to 1950. So all judgments will now have neutral citations, the CJI said.


FBU under scrutiny for ‘political espionage’

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has given the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) its nod to prosecute Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in a prevention of corruption case related to a ‘Feed Back Unit’ (FBU) created in 2015. The CBI had sought sanction to prosecute Sisodia, who presides over the Delhi government’s vigilance department.

What is the Feed Back Unit; is it still operational?

  1. Setup in September 2015 with approval from Delhi Cabinet of Ministers, the ‘Feed Back Unit’ was tasked with gathering ‘relevant information and actionable feedback’ regarding the working of government departments, autonomous bodies, institutions and entities under the jurisdiction of the Delhi government.
  2. Its mandate also included conducting sting operations, or ‘trap cases’, by its personnel, dubbed intelligence ‘assets’, on ‘targets’ or subjects – mainly individuals – under the Secretary of the Vigilance department but the ‘direct control of the Chief Minister’s Office.’
  3. In a note to the Delhi Chief Secretary, Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena termed it “an extra-constitutional/extra-judicial body” on lines of a private intelligence agency, answering to none but a single individual.
  4. The unit became functional and began incurring expenditure for ‘operations’ since February 2016.
  5. A provision of Rs. 1 crore was set aside for ‘Secret Service Expenditure’ for the unit in the Delhi government’s budget for the Financial Year 2016-17. There is no clarity on whether the unit is still functional.

What was the organizational set-up of the FBU?

  1. Under the charge of the Secretary of the Delhi government’s vigilance department, the FBU is supposed to have been under the ‘direct control of the Chief Minister’s Office’ through individuals appointed as advisors to the Chief Minister.
  2. It is understood to have become operational with 17 contractual employees, most of whom were retired officials from the Intelligence Bureau, Central Paramilitary Forces and police organisations. The posts being created for the unit were initially proposed to be manned by serving as well as retired personnel.
  3. Initially, 20 posts under the FBU were to be adjusted against 22 abolished posts of the Delhi government’s Industries Department but 20 of these posts in the FBU were adjusted against 88 posts created in the Anti-Corruption Branch allegedly without the consent of the Lieutenant Governor’s Secretariat.
  4. The unit also had a 6-vehicle contingent under it, including SUVs and 3 motorcycles along with supporting staff in the form of 4 Data Entry Operators.


Sansad Ratna Awards

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated fellow Members of Parliament who will be conferred the Sansad Ratna Awards 2023. The Sansad Ratna Awards were instituted in 2010, inspired by the teachings of former President APJ Abdul Kalam, who launched the first edition of the Award function in Chennai. They seek to recognise and felicitate the top-performing MPs on the basis of their work in the apex legislative body. So far90 Parliamentarians have been given this award. The 13th edition of the award ceremony is set to be held this year on 25 March 2023 in New Delhi.

Who are the Sansad Awards winners this year?

  1. The Jury Committee has chosen a total of 13 MPs and two parliamentary committees for the award, with a lifetime award being presented for the first time this year.
  2. The awardees are Bidyut Baran Mahato (BJP, Jharkhand)Sukanta Majumdar (BJP, West Bengal)Kuldeep Rai Sharma (INC, Andaman Nicobar Islands), Heena Vijayakumar Gavit (BJP, Maharashtra), Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (INC, West Bengal), Gopal Chinayya Shetty (BJP, Maharashtra), Sudhir Gupta (BJP, Madhya Pradesh), and Amol Ramsing Kolhe (NCP, Maharashtra) from the Lok Sabha.
  3. From the Rajya Sabha, John Brittas (CPI-M, Kerala), Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD, Bihar), Fauzia Tahseen Ahmed Khan (NCP, Maharashtra), Vishambhar Prasad Nishad (Samajwadi Party, UP) and Chhaya Verma (INC, Chhattisgarh) will be given the Sansad Ratna award.
  4. The Finance Committee (Lok Sabha, under BJP’s Jayant Sinha) and Transport, Tourism and Culture Committee (Rajya Sabha, under YSR Congress’s V Vijayasai Reddy) have been nominated for Awards for their outstanding cumulative performance from the beginning of the 17th Lok Sabha until the end of Winter Session of 2022.
  5. T K Rangarajan (former Rajya Sabha MP for two terms and a Senior CPIM Leader) will be honoured with the “Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Lifetime Achievement Award” for his contribution to “Parliament and Indian people” over the years.

Which is the organisation that instituted the Sansad Ratna Awards?

  1. The Sansad Ratna Awards are not given by the Government of India, though over the years, its jury members have included individuals in the government.
  2. The awards were instead the brainchild of K Srinivasan, a communication strategist who founded the Prime Point Foundation in 1999.
  3. Started to “promote communication awareness”, it is this foundation which runs the awards show, alongside the foundation’s monthly eMagazine PreSense.
  4. The awards were started with support from IIT Madras.