HC’s control over district courts

The front-page news-item “HC Judges opposed CJ for ignoring full court” (May 23), while making a vague reference to Articles 229 and 235 of the Constitution, tends to create an impression that there is an inherent contradiction between them. To dispel it, these articles need to be referred to in verbatim. Article 229 reads as under: “(I) Appointments of officers and servants of a High Court shall be made by the Chief Justice of the court, or such other Judge or officer of the court as he may direct. (2) Subject to the provisions of any law made by the legislature of the state, the conditions of service of officers and servants of a High Court shall be such as may be made by the Chief Justice, or by some other Judge or officer of the court authorised by the Chief Justice to make rules for the purpose.”

Art. 235 states that “The control over district courts and courts subordinate thereto, and the grant of leave to, persons belonging the judicial service and holding any post inferior to the post of district judge shall be vested in the High Court, but nothing in this Article shall be construed as taking away from any such person any right of appeal which he may have under the law regulating the conditions of his service, or as authorising the High Court to deal with him otherwise than in accordance with the conditions of his service prescribed under such law.”



It would thus be clear that the control of the High Court (full court) extends to posts “inferior to the post of district judge,” and therefore the Chief Justice acted within his constitutional rights in the transfers and postings of District Judges A.K. Sharma and M.M. Singh Bedi. Any precedents do not have any constitutional sanction, because as the late Chief Justice of India Mehr Chand Mahajan observed: “Hundred wrong precedents do not make one right law.”

In any event, no grievance, howsoever genuine, gives Judges the right to go on strike, in the context of the Supreme Court ruling on strike by lawyers, which, under Article 141, “shall be binding on all courts within the territory of India.”

D.C. SAXENA, Advocate (Supreme Court), Chandigarh

Criminals in elections

The editorial “Criminals in elections” (May 3) aptly stressed the need to prevent criminals from entering the portals of Parliament and the state legislatures. There is no denying the fact that criminals thrive on the active support of the politicians and, in turn, they offer money and muscle power to their mentors.

In the changed socio-political scenario, criminals having realised the power of crime in politics do not hesitate to jump into the political arena and be the masters of both worlds. The new coalition government, being vulnerable, can ill-afford to take hard decisions to delink crime from politics.

In these circumstances, the courts should dispense timely justice in criminal cases. The media should spread an awareness campaign on the criminalisation of politics. The Election Commission should strictly enforce the relevant provisions of the Representation of People Act. And the people should assert their right to have good and clean governance. This way, the criminals can be kept off our representative institutions.

Col KULDIP SINGH GREWAL (retd), Patiala

Selection of VC

Apropos of the news-item “MDUTA for scrapping decision on search panel for VC” (May 20), for about 20 years, MDU has had vice-chancellors without them being selected by search committees, though the recommendations of educational commissions and committees were in existence.

The Kothari Education Commission (1964-66) had recommended adopting the Delhi University search committee panel. The Dr P. B. Gajendragadkar Committee on the Governance of Universities (1971) had recommended that the Vice-Chancellor might be appointed by the Visitor (or Chancellor) from among a panel of names submitted by a committee constituted on the alternative three patterns.

The latest report of the UGC Committee on Appointment of Vice-Chancellors in Indian Universities (1991-93) mentions that the Vice-Chancellor should be selected through proper identification of a panel of names (3-5 persons) by a search committee. A fresh search committee should be constituted in accordance with the latest recommendations of the UGC.


Inter-state rivers

Justice Eradi, Chairman of the Ravi-Beas waters tribunal, is reported to have said that river waters are a state subject in our Constitution. In the overall interest of the country, however, these should be shifted from the State List to the Union List. (May 23). “Water” was a provincial subject in the Government India Act, 1935. The same provision has been inserted in our Constitution to make “water” a State subject — Entry 17 of Seventh Schedule of State List (List II). This time-honoured provision cannot be disturbed.

Any change would need an amendment to the Constitution and the State would not agree to it. There is already a demand for greater autonomy for the states. The river waters are a free bounty of nature showered on the riparian States, and the riparian rights in regard to these waters cannot be diminished or extinguished.

Entry 17 of the State List (List II) of the Seventh Schedule is, however, subject to Entry 56 of the Union List (List I), which is in regard to inter-state rivers and river valleys. The Centre thus comes into picture only in respect of the state rivers and river valleys.

Inter-linking of rivers aims at transferring water from the surplus basin to the deficit area, subject to feasibility. In no way it intends to rob Peter to pay Paul.

All the three rivers of Punjab, normally the Sutlej, the Beas, and the Ravi have been inter-linked for optimum utilisation of their waters. What is required is correct interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution and not any amendment to our constitutional provisions. Correct interpretation should be followed by faithful implementation.

G.R. KALRA, Chief Engineer (retd), Chandigarh

The crucial point

The editorial “Abu Ghraib shame” (May 18) is rightly critical. In fact, the US has squandered all the goodwill internationally and exacerbated tensions. However, the edit omits one point. If crimes are committed by a democratic establishment, it has means of identifying and correcting the wrong-doing. This is what the US and the UK are trying to do now. This stands in contrast to the nature, ends and methods of the terrorists and extremists. This required sophisticated and sensitive analysis and not just a stinging attack.

B.K. CHAUDHARI, Smethwick, West Midlands (UK)

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