Editorial analysis: Judiciary’s fire test; Govt bites with windfall tax; Get know-how of landslides


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In ‘Editorial analysis’, The Raisina Hills critically reviews comments of India’s top five English newspapers – The Indian Express (IE), The Pioneer (TP), The Hindu (TH), The Times of India (ToI) and Deccan Herald (DH).


For three days in a row, the social media warriors have been roasting the judiciary by trending unpalatable term for the Supreme Court.

The Chief Justice of India N V Ramanna’s comments made in the US last week that parties in power and Opposition, both, want the judiciary to endorse them sizzled the debate in the wake of sharp observations against Nupur Sharma by the two judge bench of the apex court.

Sharma, the suspended BJP spokesperson, who earned international ire against her comments on Prophet Mohammad, wanted the Supreme Court to order clubbing several FIRs filed against her across the country, and they be moved to Delhi. The Supreme Court wasn’t obliging, and in place gave her a tongue-lashing.

That sets the backdrop for the Edits of DH and ToI. They are sharply contrasting in their tones and subjects.

DH essentially lauds the top court for trashing Sharma’s plea and serves the consequent outbursts of the judges, while asking that Teesta Setalvad is arrested on the basis of the observations of the apex court but the suspended TV face of the BJP isn’t yet touched, while claiming a double-standard on the part of the enforcement agencies.

ToI’s Edit, quite by chance, appears to be a rebuttal of DH line of thinking, as the daily shows the mirror to the judiciary and the Supreme Court in particular, asking several questions, including opaque judicial appointments, not following “bail, not jail, is norm”, failing to uphold Article 20(2) against double jeopardy that subjects persons to numerous proceedings, subjective delay in listing of cases, including the review of the abrogation of Article 370 and so on.

That should remind people of the dialogue of Raj Kumar delivered with élan in the film Waqt that “those who live in glass houses don’t throw stones”.

Indeed, while reforms have touched all walks of lives, judiciary remains in the bygone era, and rejection of any suggestion of changes which can help transparency and accountability, as had been the case with the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014, doesn’t boost the case of the courts.

The US President Joe Biden on Sunday in a tweet asked the gas stations in his country not to profiteer, saying there’s a war going on.

India has acted, though much delayed, against the money sharks, who had been profiteering due to sharp rise in the oil prices, by imposing a windfall tax on the oil refiners and producers.

ET and IE have come out with Edits on Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman waking up late in the day, with both the dailies arguing that the June 30 announcement of the imposition of cess on export of petro-products is aimed at keeping the domestic prices in check and in turn calming the furious run of inflation.

Exports of refined petro-products from India amount to USD 67.5 billion (2021-22), and the dailies rightly summed up that the refiners, while some of them not selling within the country, were gung ho with exports to make quick bucks.

It may be known that the government announced a Rs 6 a litre special additional excide duty on export of petrol and air-turbine fuel, and Rs 13/litre on diesel, besides binding refiners that they must commit supply of their half of exports in domestic market, while also slapping a cess of Rs 23,250/tonne cess on domestically produced crude.

IE by taking account a 15 per cent duty on import of Gold has slmmed the government’s decisions, calling them “short-termism”.

ET, however, adds the caveat that government’s move may be preparing the country from further western sanctions against Russia.

Rains bring landslides in fragile terrains. Last year Uttarakhand reported cases of landslides, and now Manipur is in the midst of a devastating landslide, which has already accounted for a death toll of 34 people, who belonged to territorial army.

DH has argued that while 12 per cent of the landmass in the country, particularly in the Himalayas and Western Ghat, is vulnerable pins the blame on unabated desforestation, mining and construction.

TH has also in its Edit has referred to the Manipur landslide to the construction works of highways in a fragile zone.

Both the dailies have noted that the Geological Survey of India is in an advanced stage to develop an early warning system for landslides, which is being tested in Darjeeling and the Nilgiris, and to be operational by 2025 can provide relief.

Still, the early warning system will also not be a substitute for the mining works in the fragile hilly zones, which is nothing short of suicide by the government agencies, endangering the lives and habitations of the people.

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