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17-03-2023

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Table of Contents



  • GS-2 Polity
    • Maharashtra Crisis-SC Ruling on Powers of Governor in Rameshwar Prasad Case 2005
  • Fact Files
  • International Booker Prize 2023 longlist
  • Foreign lawyers can now practice in India but not appear in court
  • International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin over alleged war crimes



Maharashtra Crisis-SC Ruling on Powers of Governor in Rameshwar Prasad Case 2005

GS-2: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

 

During Shiv Sena crisis hearings, the Supreme Court asked if Governor can order a floor test during internal party conflicts. Responding to this, Solicitor General referred to Rameshwar Prasad case, 2005 that defines Governor's powers to dissolve the Assembly.


The context: A hung Assembly after the state elections in Bihar in 2005

  • In 2005, Bihar state elections resulted in a hung Legislative Assembly as no party or alliance could gain the required majority of 122 seats in the 243-member House.
  • The contenders for government formation included the NDA, comprising BJP and JD(U) led by Nitish Kumar with 92 seats, RJD led by Lalu Prasad with 75 seats, LJP led by Ram Vilas Paswan with 29 seats, and Congress with 10 seats.
  • The then Governor Buta Singh concluded that no party or alliance could reach a majority in the Assembly after meeting with political parties due to LJP’s indecisiveness.
  • On March 6, 2005, Governor Singh recommended President’s Rule in Bihar under Article 365 and kept the Assembly in "suspended animation," meaning it would not be dissolved, but it could not conduct business either.
  • The following day, two notifications were issued, imposing President’s Rule on Bihar and transferring the powers of the President to the Governor subject to his final control and superintendence.
  • In the meantime, a group of 17 Independent MLAs and three smaller parties extended their support to the NDA group led by Nitish Kumar.
  • The Governor sent two reports to the President regarding the situation in Bihar.
  • The first report was sent on April 27, 2005, and warned of attempts to buy off MLAs to form a majority. It recommended fresh elections be held to avoid democracy distortion.
  • The second report was sent on May 21, 2005, recommending the dissolution of the existing Assembly and reiterating the recommendation for fresh elections. 
  • The Union Cabinet forwarded the reports to the President for his assent, which is necessary for dissolution of an Assembly and conducting fresh elections
  • The JD(U) and BJP staged protests and strikes after the Assembly was dissolved.
  • Rameshwar Prasad, an MLA from the Sandesh Assembly seat, filed a petition before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Presidential Proclamation of May 23, 2005, and the dissolution of the Assembly.
  • The Election Commission of India announced fresh elections in Bihar in four phases between October 18 and November 19, 2005, despite the petitions before the Supreme Court still pending.
  • The announcement created a difficult situation as the outcome of the election could potentially complicate things while the Supreme Court was yet to decide in the matter.

 

The Verdict: Days before the scheduled elections, Supreme Court announces verdict

  • A Constitution Bench led by CJI YK Sabharwal concluded a six-day hearing and delivered a shorter version of its verdict on October 7, 2005.
  • The SC declared the President's Proclamation of dissolving Bihar's state assembly as unconstitutional.
  • Despite this, the court decided not to restore the Assembly due to the upcoming elections.
  • The Constitution provides for Governor obtaining the opinion of the Election Commission and acting according to such opinion in the constitutional scheme of things.
  • The court also held the Union Council of Ministers responsible for accepting the Governor's report as a "gospel truth" without verifying the facts.
  • The court accused the Governor of misleading the Council of Ministers and rejected the Governor's actions as "mere pretence."
  • The court observed that the Governor's real objective was to keep a political party from staking a claim to form the government.

 

The Similarity and difference: The Supreme Court criticizes the Governor's behavior in the Maharashtra case

  • The Supreme Court expressed concern over the use of powers by then Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to order a floor test, which led to the resignation of then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
  • The crisis in the state occurred after a rebellion in the Shiv Sena in June 2022, with the majority of MLAs joining the faction led by current Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.
  • During the proceedings, a five-judge Bench led by CJI D Y Chandrachud questioned whether the Governor could intervene by calling for a floor test in case of internal dissatisfaction within a party.
  • SG Mehta referred to the 2005 ruling in Rameshwar Prasad’s case, but Justice P S Narasimha pointed out that the situation in Maharashtra was different from that case as the government was never formed in Bihar — however, in the present situation, the government in Maharashtra had been there for more than three-and-a-half years.
  • Thus, the CJI distinguished between the decision in Rameshwar Prasad and the present case, stating that the Governor cannot refuse the formation of a new government and override the majority because of his subjective assessment, as the current government was legitimately formed.

 

[Ref- IE]


Fact Files


International Booker Prize 2023 longlist

  • Perumal Murugan, a Tamil writer, has created history as his novel 'Pookkuzhi', which has been translated into English as 'Pyre' by Anirudh Vasudevan, has been longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2023. 
  • This marks the first time that a Tamil novel has been nominated for the Bookers. 


International Booker Prize

  • The prize is worth £50,000 (Rs 50 lakh) and is awarded annually for a novel or short story collection written in any language, which has been translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland.
  • The author and translator of the winning book equally share the prize money.

Foreign lawyers can now practice in India but not appear in court

  • The Bar Council of India (BCI) notified the Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022, which has allowed foreign lawyers and law firms to practice in India.
  • However, foreign lawyers and law firms are not allowed to appear before any courts, tribunals, or other statutory or regulatory authoritiesnor do any work related to property conveyancing or title investigation.
  • Though, they can offer advice on foreign law and work on corporate transactions.
  • According to the Advocates Act, only advocates enrolled with the Bar Council can practice law in India. However, Foreign lawyers and law firms can register with BCI to practice in India if they are entitled to practice law in their home countries, but they cannot practice Indian law.
  • Indian lawyers working with foreign law firms will also be subject to the same restriction of engaging only in "non-litigious practice."


Bar Council of India (BCI)

  • The BCI is a statutory body established under the Advocates Act, 1961, responsible for regulating legal practice and legal education in India.

International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin over alleged war crimes

  • The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Putin for war crimes related to alleged involvement in the abduction of children from Ukraine.
  • The ICC accuses Putin of the war crimes of unlawful deportation and unlawful transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.


The International Criminal Court (ICC)

  • The ICC investigates and, where warranted, tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.
  • Governed by an international treaty called the Rome Statute, the ICC is the world’s first permanent international criminal court.
  • Headquarters: The Hague, the Netherlands.
  • Criticism: It does not have the capacity to arrest suspects and depends on member states for their cooperation.
  • India has not signed the Rome Statute and therefore is not among the 123-member countries of the ICC.


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