Editorial 1. Charge sheet scrutiny is not a case of prying eyes


The highest court of India reached the almost last frontier of transparency in its agreeing to the live telecast of some of its hearings — a move warmly welcomed by activists clamouring for more openness in judicial proceedings.

Recent developments:

The Chief Justice of India’s (CJI) statement, that Supreme Court of India judgments will now be translated in four languages (Hindi, Gujarati, Odia and Tamil, as “the English language in its ‘legal avatar’ is not comprehensible to 99.9% of the citizens”) is another step towards making judicial processes more accessible.

Against this backdrop, a Supreme Court pronouncement on charge sheets appears to be retrograde. Here, the Court ruled that a charge sheet filed against an accused in a criminal case is not a ‘public document’ within the meaning of the Right to Information Act 2005 or the Indian Evidence Act — therefore, the demand that a charge sheet in a criminal case should be uploaded on to a public website as soon as it is filed in court was untenable.

It is a step that may be viewed as a setback for those pushing for greater transparency in the criminal justice administration as this has several implications as far as investigating officials and victims of crime are concerned.

Contradicting an earlier order

On the face of it, the judgment seems to contradict an order passed by the Court where, in Youth Bar Association of India vs Union of India (2016), it directed that the First Information Report (FIR) in any case should be on the relevant investigating agency’s website within 24 hours of its registration.

This was for public perusal and appropriate action. But in the Court’s view now, the charge sheet (i.e., the Final Report specified by the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973) is on a footing different from the FIR, and hence cannot be shared with anyone other than the accused and the victim.

This was presumably because a charge sheet was a comprehensive account of the crime in question and had vital information such as a list of prosecution witnesses and documents in support of the investigating officer’s conclusions.

Though such material would become public knowledge during the trial, in the top court’s view, any action to part with details contained in these documents even before a trial begins would be detrimental to the accused and the victim. The Court has observed that open publicity to what is contained in the final report is not within the scheme contemplated by the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Times have changed

We are now a long way from the early days of the Constitution, when confidentiality was the mantra in every aspect of judicial activity. Courts then were a sacrosanct institution, where none of their actions was open to criticism or any kind of scrutiny. The slightest criticism of judicial decisions stood a fair chance of inviting contempt and punishment.

We now have a situation where judges are often criticised in the media for their judicial decisions that are unconventional and not in line with popular expectations. We have even seen a judge’s personal life being subjected to public debate. It is against this backdrop that the Supreme Court’s decision to keep charge sheets away from public knowledge could be disapproved by those who are constantly pushing to expand the frontiers of judicial reticence.

Sharing a charge sheet with the public on demand is very much in order. While it need not necessarily be posted on the website of the court concerned, public interest dictates a positive response to a request to peruse its contents. It is true that vested interests in league with the accused might engage in finding loopholes in the charge sheet with a view to undermining the prosecution case.

But this is no reason to prevent members of the public from wanting to have a look at the charge sheet before commencement of the trial and be denied an opportunity to evaluate the quality of an investigation. Instead, the prospect of critical analysis by a rank outsider has the potential to enhance the soundness of an investigation and prevent tendentious prosecution against innocent individuals not based on facts.

A lost chance

We now know how some investigations are malicious and prejudiced due to extraneous considerations. A trial court will actually benefit from outsider scrutiny of the prosecution case if a charge sheet is made available to the lay public.

The Supreme Court’s order is a wake-up call to all investigating agencies, including the Central Bureau of Investigation, which have often been assailed by courts for delays in filing a charge sheet or for the poor quality of investigation.


Court scrutiny is a good feature in India’s criminal justice system that reasonably ensures that false prosecution of an innocent individual is only an aberration and not a rule. A chance for well-meaning members of the public to study a charge sheet, at least in important cases before a trial begins, will only ensure that prospects of loosely framed charge sheets will be fewer in number.

Editorial 2. Going green: On Budget 2023’s and India’s net-zero commitment


Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s latest Budget is noteworthy for the emphasis she has laid on the government’s commitment to move towards net-zero carbon emission by 2070.

Net Zero Emissions (NZE):

NZE, also referred to as carbon neutrality, does not mean that a country would bring down its emissions to zero. Rather, it is a state in which a country’s emissions are compensated by the absorption and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Further, absorption of the emissions can be increased by creating more carbon sinks such as forests, while the removal of gases from the atmosphere requires futuristic technologies such as carbon capture and storage or carbon sequestration.

More than 70 countries have promised to become Net Zero by the middle of the century i.e., by 2050. India has promised to cut its emissions to net zero by 2070 at the conference of parties-26(COP) summit of UNFCC at Glasgow (2021).

Going green:

As an article presented at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos last month notes, India holds the key to hitting global climate change targets given its sizeable and growing energy needs. With the country’s population set to overtake China’s some time this year, India’s appetite for energy to propel the economy is set to surge exponentially.

The transition to green alternatives from the current reliance on fossil fuels is therefore an urgent imperative and an opportunity to leverage this move to catalyse new industries, generate jobs on a sizeable scale, and add to overall economic output. In a nod to this, Budget 2023-24 devoted a fair amount of space to the green industrial and economic transition needed.

Electric vehicle (EV) :

With the electric vehicle (EV) revolution poised to take off as every automobile major rolls out new EV models to tap demand, the availability of indigenously produced lithium-ion batteries has become a necessity, especially to lower the cost of EVs.

The Budget hearteningly proposes to exempt customs duty on the import of capital goods and machinery required to manufacture lithium-ion cells used in EV batteries. This ought to give a fillip to local companies looking to set up EV battery plants.


Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME-India) Scheme was launched under National Mission on Electric Mobility in 2011/ National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020, unveiled in 2013.

The scheme aims to encourage the progressive induction of reliable, affordable, and efficient electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles (xEV). The Scheme has been extended from time to time, with the previous extension allowed for a period up to 2019 which has now again been extended up to 2024.

Battery storage system:

Another key proposal relates to the establishment of a viability gap funding mechanism to support the creation of battery energy storage systems with a capacity of 4,000 MWh.

Energy storage systems are crucial in power grid stabilisation and essential as India increases its reliance on alternative sources of power generation including solar and wind. With wind turbine farms and solar photovoltaic projects characteristically producers of variable electric supply, battery storage systems become enablers of ensuring the electricity these generators produce at their peak output is stored and then supplied to match the demand arriving at the grid from household or industrial consumers.

Ms. Sitharaman also set aside a vital ₹8,300 crore towards a ₹20,700 crore project for building an inter-State transmission system for the evacuation and grid integration of 13 GW of renewable energy from Ladakh. With its vast stretches of barren land and one of the country’s highest levels of sunlight availability, Ladakh is considered an ideal location to site photovoltaic arrays for producing a substantial capacity of solar power. The transmission line will help address what had so far been the hurdle in setting up solar capacity in the region, given its remoteness from India’s main power grid.


India’s transition to green energy is well on the way and needs wholehearted adoption by people as well.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *