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January 05

    NATIONAL

    • Supreme Court On The Lack Of Implementation Of Sexual Harassment Act 2013

    About the Act:

    This Act makes it illegal to sexually harass women in the workplace. It talks about the different ways in which someone can be sexually harassed and how they can complain against this kind of behavior.

    It is not necessary for the woman to be working at the workplace in which she is harassed. A workplace can be any office, whether government or private.

    Constitution of Internal Complaints Committee:even if there are no cases of sexual harassment at the moment, it is still necessary for the committee to be set up (if you employ more than 10 workers) and for all rules to be followed.

    The Act gives you a choice between dealing with the offender within the office or approaching a court. If you wish, you can file a criminal complaint instead of approaching your Internal/Local Complaints Committee.

    Constitution of local complaints committee: Every District Officer shall constitute in the district concerned, a committee to be known as the “Local Complaints Committee” to receive complaints of sexual harassment from establishments where the Internal Complaints Committeehas not been constituted due to having less than ten workers or if the complaint is against the employer himself.

    • Human Rights Court

    Recent issue:

    Supreme court highlighted Human Rights law of 1993 makes state responsible for setting up exclusive human rights courts on the basis of rampant problem of orphanages trafficking children under their care.

    About Human Rights Court:

    The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 provides for establishment Human Rights Courts for the purpose of providing speedy trial of offences arising out of violation of human rights.

    It provides that the state Government may, with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of the High Court, by notification, specify for each district a Court of Sessions to be a Human Rights Court to try the said offences. The object of establishment of such Courts at district level is to ensure speedy disposal of cases relating to offences arising out of violation of human rights.

    Issues of the Act:

    Not defined the word expression “offences arising out of violation of human rights”. It is vague in nature.

    No clarity on what type of cases the human rights court has to taken up.

    No clarity on who can take cognizance of the offences.

    EDITORIAL

    • Bhima - Koregaon Violence

    The Incident

    Every year on January 1, a large number of Dalits visit a memorial in Bhima-Koregaon to mark an 1818 battle in which the East India Company, with Mahar soldiers prominent in its ranks, had defeated the Peshwa. From being a battle lauded in colonial times only to be forgotten by the British, over the years Bhima-Koregaon came to be marked as a site of Dalit valour and repudiation of caste stereotypes.

    With a visit by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in 1927, it got invested with political and spiritual meaning beyond the specifics of the original battle and in a forward-looking politics. This year being the 200th anniversary, the commemoration was always going to be larger and more high-profile.

    The police should, therefore, have increased security. But there were also indications of tensions brewing after a vandalisation attempt in late December 2017 near the samadhi of a Mahar who it is said had performed the last rites of Sambhaji, Shivaji’s son. This is not far from Bhima-Koregaon and the administration was aware of the incident and its potential for causing trouble. The pent-up anger, which resulted in widespread incidents of arson and vandalism, ended with the bandh that brought Mumbai and other places to a halt.

    How It Got Out Of Hand?

    It appears that the police had failed to anticipate the potential for trouble breaking out in Bhima-Koregaon and then ensure that normal life continued in the days after.

    Law and order may have been restored in Maharashtra, but there is a political failing framed by the caste tensions that have bubbled over in the State. These are the result of many factors ranging from contested histories, at a more abstract level, to economic insecurities about jobs and livelihood, on the ground.

    Backdrop of neo-reservation movements, such as by the Marathas in Maharashtra over the past couple of years. This and demands by Marathas to dilute the provisions of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act may be borne of economic and social anxieties — but they, in turn, have created understandable anxieties among Dalits about being left adrift to wage the political battle for their protection on their own.

    • Should MPs And MLAs Be Barred From Practising Law?

    They Should Be Barred - Arguments

    We don’t need part-time legislators, we need dedicated parliamentarians.The work of a lawyer is a full-time activity. So is the work of MPs and MLAs; they are full-time members of Parliament and Assemblies. They have to take part in the proceedings of the House, meet people in their constituencies, and grapple with and address people’s issues. They have their work cut out. To facilitate their work, they are given a bungalow and a car, an office and a salary. They should go and serve the people.

    This is illegal and unconstitutional. It is also unethical and immoral.

    Rule 49 of the Bar Council of India states that any full-time salaried employee, whether he or she belongs to a corporation, private firm, or the government, cannot practise as a lawyer before a court of law.

    No public servant can engage in the pursuit of any other vocation and certainly cannot offer his or her services as a lawyer while in service. A five-judge Bench in M. Karunanidhi v. Union of India (1979) categorically stated that MPs and MLAs are public servants, though the employer-employee relationship will not apply to them. Mr. Karunanidhi had argued that he was not a public servant in a corruption case.

    Haniraj L. Chulani case(1996): The court held that a person qualified to be an advocate would not be admitted as one if he or she is in full-time or part-time service or employment.

    No lawyer can benefit from the petitioner and the respondent. MPs and MLAs who are practising lawyers take a fee from the petitioner and get their salary from the respondent, which is the Central or State government. This is professional misconduct, as they end up enjoying the benefits of both. There is also a conflict of interest.

    MPs and MLAs have the power to initiate impeachment proceedings against a judge, which means that they can pressurise the judge to give a favourable verdict when they plead before him or her in a case. When you take public money and argue against the government, it is professional misconduct.

    When MPs and MLAs find a draft Bill wanting, they should argue in Parliament, not challenge it in a court of law. Also, they take retainership from a company, which raises questions of professional misconduct as well as conflict of interest. The MP/MLA becomes a corporate lobbyist.

    How is it that when you bar public servants from engaging in other professional services, you allow legislators who are also public servants to open petrol pumps and argue cases in courts? This is a violation of Articles 14, 15, and 21, which deal with the right to equality, prohibition of discrimination, and protection of life and personal liberty, respectively. How can you discriminate against one public servant and not the other? A public servant is defined in Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 2 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

    They Can Practice As Lawyers Also – Arguments

    Taken to its logical conclusion, this proposition would mean that all professionals, including chartered accountants, architects and medical doctors, should also be banned. Otherwise it would be a discriminatory ban.

    Parliament deserves to be enriched by diverse talents, varied experiences, and different vocational acumen. It is this diversity which is truly enriching and shows up all the time in a stray debate, in a casual conversation, in a heated intervention and, of course, in a prepared speech. Parliament must remain, as indeed our country is, a true salad bowl or a melting pot (or both) of diversity, even in terms of expertise.

    The time factor-No one worth her salt, either in public life or in the legal profession, will undermine her reputation by taking on that which she cannot efficiently discharge.

    Advocates are governed by the Advocates Act and Bar Council Rules, which seek to impose certain restrictions on practitioners of law. The discrimination also lies in the fact that practitioners of other professions — engineers, doctors, etc. — don’t face such restrictions under any legislation similar to the Advocates Act.