Current Public Administration Magazine (JULY 2020)

Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine

1. Accountability and Responsibility

Custodial Torture

It was the mid-1980s and Calcutta, as it was known then, was witnessing the final phase of the Naxal movement — an armed peasant revolt against the zamindars, which had begun in the summer of 1967 in Darjeeling district‘s Naxalbari area. To counter the movement‘s violent turn in the 1970s, the State adopted equally violent measures to suppress it.  Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, newspaper columns were full of reports of Naxal deaths in police lock-ups and staged encounters.

Stories of these custodial deaths, published in The Indian Express, The Telegraph and The Statesman, prompted Justice (retired) Dilip K Basu, then Executive Chairman of the Legal Aid Services of West Bengal and a senior lawyer at the Calcutta High Court and the Supreme Court, to send a letter along with the newspaper clippings to then Chief Justice of India, P N Bhagwati, on August 26, 1986. 

Chief Justice Bhagwati, who introduced the concept of Public Interest Litigation to the Indian judicial system, treated the letter as a writ petition, and the Shri D K Basu, Ashok K Johri versus State of West Bengal and State of Uttar Pradesh case was taken up by the apex court in 1987. (In July that year, Johri had written to the CJI over the death of an Aligarh resident, Mahesh Bihari, in police custody.) Senior lawyer Abhishek Singhvi, now a Congress leader, was appointed amicus curiae.

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2. Indian Government and Politics

Article 370 and Territorial Pluralism

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the muchawaited temple to Lord Ram in Ayodhya. Lord Ram not only abdicated his throne but also went on a 14-year exile so that his father could keep his promise. He adhered to the principle of ―Pran Jaye per vachan na jaye‖ – one should keep a promise even if that means losing one‘s life. As his devotees, should we not honour the commitments made in Kashmir‘s Instrument of Accession (IoA) and the Constitution? Perhaps PM Modi will honour his commitment of early restoration of Kashmir‘s statehood and make an announcement to that effect from the ramparts of the Red Fort on Independence Day. 

As we mark the completion of one year of the abrogation of Article 370, let us revisit the historical context in which the Article was drafted, debated and adopted by the framers of our Constitution. That will enable us to understand that the Article was about honoring the promises made to Raja Hari Singh and the people of Kashmir. 

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3. Significant Issues in Indian Administration

India needs a new political culture, not a presidential system

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor (‗Case for presidential system‗, IE, July 25) has very thoughtfully reopened the debate on the parliamentary versus presidential systems that had been dormant for several decades. He makes several valid points, including the propensity of lawmakers to defect at the drop of a hat in search of perks and offices, which he blames on the parliamentary system. 

Consequently, according to Tharoor, the system produces governments focused more on politics and personal aggrandisement rather than policy. The sordid spectacle in Rajasthan bears testimony to the lack of interest on the part of the executive and the legislature in policymaking and legislation, preoccupied as they are with retaining or capturing power. Unfortunately, this continues to be true even when we are in distress today because of the pandemic.

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