Journalism: Alternative to a Career in Law Firm


Raghul Sudheesh writes in Law School Terrace blog on Legal Journalism as an alternative to career in a law firm.

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TRAI Need Not Fix Telecom Tariff: says TDSAT; Copy of Order Available


Source: The Hindu
With telecom tariff ruling as low as Re. 1 due to competition in the market, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on Monday said there was no need at present for the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to fix tariffs and it should leave this to market forces.
“The consumer groups contend that TRAI should frame tariff. This tribunal is, however, of the opinion that TRAI having prescribed forbearance (operators are free to fix tariffs), no direction at this stage should be issued,” said a TDSAT bench headed by its Chairman Justice S.B. Sinha.
The TDSAT, however, said that the regulator must take steps to make consumers aware of their rights. The tribunal also said, “In the event the TRAI determines that there would be only one (tariff) plan, the scope of multiplicity of plans would become non-existent“.
It further said, “We have noticed that the consultative process is over. It is expected that the TRAI would take a decision one way or the other at an early date and possibly within a month or so. Only in the event, certain deficiencies are found out, the question of examining the same by this tribunal would arise,” it added.
The issues raised by consumer groups by and large are covered by the consultation papers and draft regulations circulated by the TRAI and, thus, require no further consideration at this stage. The tribunal’s remarks came on two petitions filed by Telecom Users Group of India and an individual.
They have requested the tribunal to direct TRAI to fix the tariff and to regulate the pre-paid services. According to them, there were several complex tariff structures floated by the service providers and TRAI should rationalise it to a few plans only.
According to the organisations, TRAI permits 25 tariff plans for each of the operators. VAS (Internet Data) was not regulated by the TRAI and electronic recharge does not have any transparency as the consumers are not informed as to the bill given by them while recharging, they said.
However, it was opposed by TRAI by saying that it was incorrect that it had not been performing its duties in terms of the tariff orders. So far, as latest increase of 20 per cent hike, it has already sought for justifications from the operators, said TRAI.
“So far as a complex tariffs issue is concerned, the numbers of plans are only 27 for GSM operators and 12 for CDMA operators and, thus, it is incorrect to contend that as many as 125 plans are in circulation,” TRAI had said. 

Order of TDSAT

A Chief Justice of India says “I am sorry” but 30 years too late


By Shanmugham D Jayan and Raghul Sudheesh

Article originally published in FirstPost

When a former Chief Justice of India apologises for a judgement, that’s big news.  And Justice P N Bhagwati was not just apologising for any judgement.
He was admitting his “mistake” about  a case the New York Times called close to the Indian Supreme Court’s “utter surrender” to an absolutist government.
That case was ADM Jabalpur, popularly known as the Habeas Corpus case. On 28 April, 1976, during the Emergency, the Supreme Court had to decide if the Court could entertain a writ of habeas corpus filed by a person challenging his detention. The High Courts had already said yes. But the Supreme Court went against the unanimous decision of all the High Courts and upheld the right of Indira Gandhi’s government to suspend all fundamental rights during the Emergency. Four judges ruled for the government. One of them was Justice P N Bhagwati.
The lone dissenter was Justice H R Khanna.  The New York Times wrote at that time:
If India ever finds its way back to freedom and democracy that were proud hallmarks of its first eighteen years as an independent nation, someone will surely erect a monument to Justice H R Khanna of the Supreme Court. It was Justice Khanna who spoke out fearlessly and eloquently for freedom this week.

Justice Bhagwati was admitting his “mistake” about a case the NY Times called close to the Indian Supreme Court’s “utter surrender” to an absolutist government. Reuters
Now 30 years later Justice Bhagwati says in an interview with   his judgment was “an act of weakness.” He also says, “it was against my conscience…That judgment is not Justice Bhagwati’s.”
This might sound like a bravemea culpa on his part. But unfortunately it leaves a lot to be desired.
First of all there is Justice Bhagwati’s own track record of having his ear finely tuned to the prevailing political winds.
Justice Bhagwati has praised Indira Gandhi government during the Emergency and later criticized her during the tenure of Janata government. When Indira Gandhi came back to power, he wrote a letter congratulating her.
Here’s an excerpt from that letter:
“May I offer you my heartiest congratulations on your resounding victory in the elections and your triumphant return as the Prime Minister of India…I am sure that with your iron will and firm determination, uncanny insight and dynamic vision, great administrative capacity and vast experience, overwhelming love and affection of the people and above all, a heart which is identified with the misery of the poor and the weak, you will be able to steer the ship of the nation safely to its cherished goal.”
What this really shows is that CJI Bhagwati might have gone against his conscience but certainly not against his career trajectory. Justice H R Khanna, who dissented in that Jabalpur case should have become the CJI because of his seniority. But he paid the price for that dissent. He was superceded by Justice Beg. Justice Bhagwati would likely have met with the same fate of Justice H R Khanna had he dissented.
This is not the only issue where Justice Bhagwati has made a volte face.
Take the mysterious collegium system by which Supreme Court justices are appointed which has come under heavy criticism for being an unaccountable opaque cabal. It was Justice Verma who created the collegium system but in the First Judges Case (the SP Gupta case)Justice Bhagwati wrote about it: “There must be a collegium to make recommendation to the President in regard to appointment of a Supreme Court or High Court Judge”.
Justice Bhagwati’s mind has now changed about that as well and he says he is against the collegium system in toto.
His own track record as a judge has also raised legal eyebrows.
Noted constitutional law jurist HM Seervai has criticised Justice Bhagwati for merely copying justice Krishna Iyer’s judgment in the Som Prakash case and incorporating it into his judgment in the Ajay Hasia case.
In a landmark case of constitutional law, popularly referred to as the Minerva Millsjudgment, Justice Bhagwati wrote: “Unfortunately we could not be ready with our judgment and hence 9 May,1980 being the last working day of the Court before the summer vacation we made an order expressing our conclusion but stating that we would give our reasons later.”
A judge of the Apex Court saying “I am not ready with my reasons but this is my conclusion” anyway sets a deplorable standard for the Indian judiciary.
Justice Bhagwati writes, that after the Emergency he realized the mistake of Jabalpur and he practically rewrote Part III and Part IV of the Constitution; particularly Articles 14, 19, 21 and 32. A judge claiming that he is “writing” the Constitution, as opposed to interpreting it is unorthodox to say the least.
These days Justice Bhagwati is more in the news because he is a trustee with the beleaguered Sathya Sai Trust. As financial scandals  rock the Sai Baba’s spiritual empire, the trust relies on people of the eminence of  a former CJI to give it some credibility. Immediately after the demise of Satya Sai Baba Justice Bhagwati was appointed as chancellor of the Sri Sathya Sai  Institute of Higher Learning (Deemed to be University). Recently in an interview given toThe Times of India  Justice Bhagwati said: “Sai Baba, my god, dictated my every single judgment”.
People will make of that what they will. But the real question now is what does this apology mean for the Indian judiciary. Some will think its proof of the self-correcting mechanism of the Indian judiciary. But it’s also proof of something much more damning – that political equations play a crucial role in the appointment of judges and the judgments these judges deliver.
What happened in the Habeas Corpus case was not a momentary lapse in judgment. It was a disgrace to the Supreme Court, and more so because Justice Bhagwati says it went against his conscience, even then.
This belated apology does not restore the faith of people in judiciary. The only way to do that is to have an independent judicial commission appoint judges and bring in transparency in every stage of their appointment.
It may save us from a Bhagwati-style apology another 30 years later.
Shanmugham D Jayan is a lawyer practising before the High Court of Kerala and he is also a visiting faculty at NUALS, Cochin.
Raghul Sudheesh is Associate Editor at Bar & Bench. You can follow him on Twitter.

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