The delay syndrome

The phenomenon of ragging is inhuman. According to our Supreme Court it is violative of the human rights of the victim. The Court issued strict directions in the matter, which are honoured more in breach than in observance. This is evident from the tragic death of 19-year-old Aman Kachroo in a medical college in Himachal Pradesh. The Prevention of Ragging in Colleges and Institutions Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2005. The Bill empowers the central government to ban ragging in educational institutions and make it punishable with rigorous imprisonment for three years and fine of Rs 25,000. It is pathetic that the Bill has not yet been enacted into law. There are other instances of the delay and procrastination syndrome that afflict our Parliament. The Supreme Court delivered its landmark judgement in Vishaka in August 1997. It issued detailed guidelines, virtually legislated, on the subject of sexual harassment at the workplace. Justice Verma who authored the judgement clarified that these guidelines would hold the field only till Parliament enacted legislation on this subject. Till date no parliamentary legislation has been enacted and sexual harassment continues unabated. The Parliament obviously has no time for this much needed legislation. There are complaints that the Supreme Court and in particular High Court collegiums in respect of appointment of judges are not working satisfactorily. It is widely accepted that the present method of impeachment of a judge of the Supreme Court and the High Court is time consuming and gets politicised as happened in the case of Justice V Ramaswami. Sadly legislation for a National Commission for appointment of judges and a National Judicial Council for disciplining errant judges for misconduct is not yet forthcoming. The most notorious instance is the absence of legislation for the institution of Lok Pal for which there have been demands for decades and which could be a potent instrument to curb corruption. In this instance is it the delay syndrome or is it lack of political will to eradicate corruption in high offices? Will these important issues find a place in the election manifestos of the major political parties and the motley Third Front? Or will people be beguiled by the usual promises of food, water and shelter? We await with bated breath.

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