02 DEC 2015 and 03 DEC 2015 _ Judicial Overreach, Criminal Defamation, Gian

1)Madras HC prescribes dress code at temples :-

  • In a significant judgment, the Madras High Court Bench prescribed a dress code for men, women and even children wanting to visit temples maintained by Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department across the State.
  • The judge also said that his order should be followed as an interim measure till the State government takes a policy decision as expeditiously as possible to prescribe a similar dress code in order to enhance the spiritual ambiance among devotees.
  • The temples which are not coming within the purview of the Government shall enforce their own dress code.Police will not allow devotees inside any Hindu Temple of Tamil Nadu who wear dresses other than the one prescribed.
  • Observing that the object of imposing dress code was to restrict devotees who visit the temple in “improper clothing,” the judge said that all religions, including Christianity and Islam, prescribe a decent, neat and disciplined dress code for worshiping their respective Gods.

Analysis :-

  • Judgement of this kind has multiple facets :-
    • Is this judicial activism or judicial overreach:-
      • Because for one , the HC has no business to tell the people what to wear. To understand it better , Lets use another analogy when a minister has stated that improper clothing leading to eve-teasing and sexual harassment .Now the statement by the minister was essential to promote decency in clothing. However Decency varies according to people, place and socio-cultural milieu; hence there was a no. of protest against the particular statement of the minister .In the same vein we can argue that the HC should have restrained to prescribe on what to wear , instead it would have been better if the HC had directed the temple to form their own dress code (Should the temple prescribe dress code ?- argued later). In Padmanavaswamy Temple in Kerala there is a dress code which is prescribed by the temple itself and there is no interference of HC . Moreover , this is socio-cultural aspect hence response to this should have been a socio-cultural reform , not an interference by the hands of Law.
    • Is there any merit in judgement of HC:-
      • To understand this , we have to keep aside the “right to wear” and see what has gone wrong that led to intervention by the HC. The HC prescribes this order as the spiritual ambiance has been deteriorating in the places of worship. If we could get out of our denial mode, then the statement is broadly true; personally many of us would have come across this situation when clothing of others would have seemed improper to us. However, without being judgmental about it , people and their clothing should be left to their choice and their conscious decision.
    • The use of Self-restraint:-
      • Conscious decision and self-restraint are very much important in anybody’s life.An occasional alcohol drinker , without self-restraint may become addicted to it.However , in our society there are many occasional drinkers (Social-drinkers) who are not addicted to alcohol. So to say, this vindicates the point that people, by and large in our society exercise the self-restraint to live in harmony with the society and it’s values.If one does not exercise self-restraint, usually moral policing follows .But moral policing alienates people rather than reforming them . Hence in this scenario – it would have been best if HC would have asked the temples to form their own dress code, and prescription from temples would have helped people make conscious decision while visiting places of worship without deteriorating spiritual ambiance.
    • Should we protest against this order:-
      • Yes, we should protest against this order , but before doing that we should protest against the dress code of discos and clubs, dress code of certain luxury hotels, dress code in sports, dress code in Military, dress code in offices and wherever dress code is used .If we don’t protest against this dress codes then we must not protest against this order of HC.It is true that it was judicial overreach but what we forget while making judgement is that it was a social compulsion that led to this judicial overreach. If we don’t reform as society , we will be reformed by other means (judicial activism is one such tool)

2)Time to abolish criminal defamation :-


  • The observation by the Supreme Court that political leaders should not take criticism as a personal insult highlights a particular kind of intolerance that is rarely referred to in the ongoing debate on the subject: the inability of public figures to tolerate criticism and their repeated resort to criminal defamation proceedings to stifle adverse comment.
  • There are 100-odd prosecutions launched by the government of Tamil Nadu against politicians and the media.
  • Criminal defamation has a chilling effect on free speech and undermines public interest by coercing the media to observe self-censorship and self-restraint.
  • Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalize defamation in India, have been challenged in the Supreme Court, but so far there is little hope that the State will give up the use of this weapon against adverse coverage.
  • Global Consensus:-
    • Democratic opinion in many countries is veering around to the view that defamation should be treated as a civil wrong and should not be pursued as a criminal case, and that the state has no compelling interest to protect the reputation of its individual servants by prosecuting alleged offenders.
    • In 2011, the Human Rights Committee of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights called upon states to abolish criminal defamation, noting that it intimidates citizens and makes them shy away from exposing wrongdoing.

Analysis of Editorial:-

  • Mostly defamation is used against media houses by public figures and hence to understand the discourse of defamation , it is necessary to understand media vs public figure.
  • It is true that criminal defamation has a chilling effect of freedom speech and is largely used against media houses to “coerce them to exercise self-censorship and self-restraint” – as per this statement media is coerced to exercise self-censorship and self-restraint – the question is  – should the media not exercise these two in the first place ? If they exercise the two , then there is no need for forcing it upon them.
  • Another dismal fact of Indian media house is that they survive on sensationalism. They have known to take statement of particular public figure and twist it around to generate viewership.There has been cases , where an alleged offender (emphasis on alleged , not convicted) has been persecuted by media – famously known as media trials. Media has influenced court proceedings and cases.
  • This discourse of media is very true now in India.There are cases where the media has selectively defamed a person even before the court verdict is out , there by undermining the basic principle of our jurisprudence  – “Innocent until proven guilty” . It has always taken a stand of  “Holier than thou” and uses the bogey of “freedom of Speech” to get public empathy. However as per our constitution  “Freedom of Speech” is not absolute and subject to reasonable restrictions.For eg-  one has all the rights of freedom of speech but one cannot exercise the same freedom of speech rights while giving hate speech. Similarly, media can give constructive criticism , but it should stay away from becoming the police, the persecutor and the jury.
  • These are the examples where the  media in India is tagged as paid-news and lacks the self-restraint and unbiased reporting. Serious Journalism is nowhere to be seen. Hence defamation becomes a necessary tool for the person in concern , so as to safeguard his/her reputation and social standing .However Criminal defamation  truly serves no purpose.Hence the defamation should be treated as civil wrong.
  • The state of Media in India has been reflected in the statement of the President in his recent address to Press Club of India:-
    • “It is said accusations appear in headlines, denial in small print and contradictions are hidden away amidst cheap advertisements. The media must realise that it remains always accountable to its readers and viewers and through them, to the entire nation”

Details of Presidents address :- http://upsctree.com/2015/11/16/16-nov-2015-2/

3)Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) scheme :-

  • Scheme was launched to boost the quality of the country’s higher education through international collaboration.
  • Aims at Tapping the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs to engage with the institutes of higher education in India to augment the country’s existing academic resources, accelerate the pace of quality reforms, and further strengthen India’s scientific and technological capabilities
  • It will bring world-class educators from across the globe to teach in India.
  • These lectures would be made available later to students across the country. A web portal gian.iitkgp.ac.in has been designed by IIT Kharagpur to allow electronic registration and online assessment.

P.S. – The Analysis is exclusive to UPSCTREE, kindly let us know if you have any concern and comment in this regard. We strongly believe in debate, discussion and deliberation and always open to it.


Question of the Day

To be answered in 150-200 words:-

  1. What do you understand by Judicial Overreach. Do you think since the oncoming of PIL  (Public Information  Litigation ) , the judiciary became hyper active ?
  2. Do you think it will be of any help for Indian students to bring world class educator  to teach in India , especially when we don’t have the “world-class” infrastructure ,”World-class” curriculum and “World-class” quality programs.
  3. What do you understand by media trial ? Media can do both – strengthen a nation or weaken it . Comment.



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By | 2015-12-03T15:49:05+00:00 December 3rd, 2015|Daily Current Events|21 Comments
  • Irshad

    Nice change…you people are galloping in showy way….. 🙂
    As i know your appellation of “Picking the relevant from the sea of Irrelevant” i opine you paste the most relevent daily question ( not questions)…. 🙂

    • Saima Tabasum

      To get a sensible & intelligent generation also depends the education provided to them . it’s a good step to bring world class educator in India even if we dnt have world class facility in class room . Small steps make a big change . Small drops of water make a mighty ocean !! So we can proceed step by step for world class education . If we get world class educator we get more exposure & come to know what more we should add to get world class rooms . But it’s good to make our infrastructure upto some level. Everything needs some basic & primary things . Infrastructure is one of them. Whenever we go for admission , we concentrate on some things – infrastructure , faculty & placement . But something is better than nothing . We should see it a good & positive step .

  • imih

    Regarding the dress code, I dont believe it is right way to enforce decency….As it is concerned to the right to chose, the choice of choosing can be improved by other means also like proving awareness about spirituality, metual respect….
    It will take time, but it surely it will not need people to enforce……
    Also, the dress code mave prove disadvantageous to some section of society whose culture emboldens to have a particular type of dress….
    The corelation of dress code at bars and army is not logical, as these are regulated by government …

    • Yes ,you are absolutely right . Forcing never works and that is what we wrote in the article. Regarding correlation – the temples are maintained by Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department across the State – hence Govt has a say in it.

      • imih


  • imih

    What do you understand by Judicial Overreach. Do you think since the oncoming of PIL (Public Information Litigation ) , the judiciary became hyper active ?
    By judicial overreach i understand the intrusion of judicary into areas that are not under its ambit for example the regulation of the investigating team in coalgate scam, which is function of executive.

    PILan intrument , which was in fact inventen by judicary itself has increased the ambit of the functioning. From enforcement of environment laws to mid day meal scheme, it has redefined its function to not only the body which adjudicase cases of violation of right, but also made itself to perform function of execution.The PIL has enliven the judicary and on occasions made it pro-active.

    Keeping in account the ills of globalisation, the increse in ambit is the necessary to apart the vulnerable from ills.The PIL has provided a platform to this change that has happen.As function of governent is veering to just facilitator, it is in interest of the society as whole, that it increase its role.

    • Well written:)

      • Saima Tabasum

        There is a need to change our curriculum as well so that our students will be able to compete other students from world . Good educator can show us the path to make better programs for student . & to make efficient human resource which is the need of the our .

  • jagadeesh

    People must protest not against the trivial issue of prescribing dress code in temples maintained by govt. departments but must protest against judiciary’s overreach.If the dress code is prescribed by the popularly elected govt.(executive) or a law of similar kind is enacted by the legislature, it indicates the people’s will in one or the other way.But if it is prescribed by judiciary, it doesn’t in any sense reflect popular will. Instead it amounts to imposing of the judge’s discretion (based on a sound or unsound argument) on people which is against the very essence of democracy.No organ of the state should be allowed to cross its boundaries of jurisdiction prescribed by the constitution.

    In a similar instance, in Aravali Golf Course vs Chandrahas case, the SC reprimanded the HC for directing the govt. of the day to create a post and regularize it for creation and sanction of posts is prerogative of the executive.Similarly, prescribing norms for entities regulated by the executive would also be sole prerogative of the executive and judgments of this kind shouldn’t be supported(or opposed) as they pave the way for judicial control of the executive.

    P.S : These are my individual views and discrepancies, if any may pointed out. Thank you.

  • Why is the pdf option absent? It reallyt helped.

    • Q. What do you understand by Judicial Overreach. Do you think since the oncoming of PIL (Public Information Litigation ) , the judiciary became hyper active ?

      judicial overreach is intervention of court ,where court exceed their authority in interpreting the law and they become extra constitutional body in making law. A few example.

      a)Supreme Court has ruled that operators with cancelled 2G licences should stop services.

      b)Gujarat High Court has ordered that all new vehicles registered in the state should run on compressed natural gas.

      C) Madras high court prescribe dress code at temple.

      PIL has revolutionized the democracy as around 1979 court has set a trend that not only aggrieved citizen but also other can file a case on their behalf. This has open a gate for large number case where public spirited people and various organisation sought judicial intervention for protection of existing rights ,environment protection etc.But there is however negative side for large number of PIL or as idea of being judiciary hyper active .
      -as it has blurred the line of distinction between the executive and legislature on one side and judiciary on other.
      -reducing air pollution ,prescribe dress code is not exactly the duty of judiciary .They are to be handled by administration under the supervision of legislature

      therefore judicial activism or PIL has made a balance between them very delicate, as democratic gov. is based on respecting the powers and jurisdiction of others.

      • Examples are good. As you mentioned in another comment, judicial overreach introduction should have been given. However, overall flow of thought is good and comprehensive . More writing will immensely benefit you to bring the refined articulation which is inherent in your thought process.

        • thank you waiting for your initiative 2016

          • 🙂 Sure Shashi, it will be announced on Jan 1, 2016

    • Will be provided soon. We were working on the site so missed to put the pdf. Thanks for highlighting.