4 Jan 2024 : The Hindu Editorial Noted Pdf

1. I-T searches, a form of extra-constitutional power.

Topic: GS2 – Judiciary – Functioning.

Crucial for UPSC as it assesses understanding of constitutional principles, privacy rights, and judicial review in governance and law.

  • The 2017 Puttaswamy verdict affirmed the right to privacy, aiming for a culture of justification.
  • Despite this, the unchecked power in Section 132 of the Income Tax Act persists, highlighting a gap between judicial rhetoric and statutory interpretation.
  • Judicial deference, exemplified by the Wednesbury rule, threatens the post-Puttaswamy imperative of proportionality and rigorous review, underscoring the need for consistent application of constitutional principles.


  • In August 2017, the Supreme Court of India, in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy vs Union of India, affirmed the fundamental right to privacy under the Constitution.
  • The ruling aimed to usher in a new era of protecting civil liberties against arbitrary governmental excesses.

Prospects of Privacy Rights:

  • The verdict placed the individual at the core of constitutional discourse, ensuring stringent scrutiny of state actions impinging on privacy.
  • It signaled a shift towards a culture of justification, emphasizing principles like proportionality to safeguard fundamental rights.

Challenges in Statutory Interpretation:

  • Despite the Puttaswamy ruling, statutory interpretation of rights has seen little change, often displaying a culture of judicial deference to executive authority.
  • Section 132 of the Income Tax Act, granting extensive search powers to tax authorities, exemplifies the persistence of unchecked executive power.

Historical Context of Income Tax Law:

  • The original 1922 income tax law lacked provisions for search and seizure, relying on civil court powers.
  • Post-independence, the 1947 Taxation on Income (Investigation Commission) Act was struck down by the Supreme Court for violating equal treatment principles.

Search and Seizure Powers Examined:

  • The 1961 reformation introduced Section 132, conferring search and seizure powers, challenged in Pooran Mal vs Director of Inspection (1973).
  • The Court’s reliance on M.P. Sharma vs Satish Chandra, justifying unbridled state power, has since been reconsidered.

Proportionality Doctrine:

  • The Puttaswamy judgment highlights the evolution in constitutional interpretation, emphasizing the right to privacy as intrinsic to personal liberty.
  • The proportionality doctrine dictates that any intrusion on rights must serve a legitimate aim, be rationally connected to its goal, and lack less intrusive alternatives.
  • However, the judiciary, under the Wednesbury principle, focuses on the honesty of belief rather than the proportionality and legitimacy of the search.

Post-Puttaswamy Imperatives:

  • The Wednesbury rule has no place post-Puttaswamy, especially concerning fundamental rights.
  • Constitutional canon demands strict adherence to statutory law, requiring warrants for searches to withstand rigorous judicial review. 


  • Upholding the spirit of the Puttaswamy judgment is imperative for preventing executive overreach and safeguarding individual rights.
  • A renewed focus on proportionality and a culture of justification can ensure that statutory powers, such as those in income tax laws, align with constitutional principles.
Justice K.S. Puttaswamy vs Union of India Case
  • Challenged: Aadhaar Scheme’s potential violation of right to privacy.
  • Landmark ruling: Recognized right to privacy as a fundamental right in 2017.
  • Balancing act: Upheld state’s legitimate interests but emphasized proportionality and safeguards for privacy.
  • Impact: Reshaped data privacy landscape in India.
  • Ongoing debate: Balancing security & welfare schemes with individual privacy continues. 
PYQ: Examine the scope of Fundamental Rights in the light of the latest judgement of the Supreme Court on Right to Privacy. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2017) (250 words/15m)
Practice Question: How does the Puttaswamy verdict on the right to privacy impact the interpretation of statutory powers? Discuss with reference to the principle of proportionality. (250 words/15 m) 

2. The dispute on Indias debt burden.

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy – Government Budgeting.

Critical for UPSC as it assesses understanding of India’s fiscal challenges, global debt dynamics, and economic policy implications.

  • The IMF raises concerns about India’s long-term debt sustainability and reclassifies its exchange rate regime.
  • India dismisses worst-case projections. Challenges include global debt rise, asymmetric burden, credit rating stagnation, and fiscal concerns in an election year.

IMF Observations:

  • Concerns raised about long-term sustainability of India’s debts.
  • Reclassification of India’s exchange rate regime from “floating” to “stabilised arrangement.”

Debt Sustainability Concerns:

  • IMF projects India’s government debt could reach 100% of GDP by fiscal 2028.
  • Emphasis on the need for prudent debt management amid climate change mitigation targets and resilience improvement.

Indian Government’s Response:

  • Finance Ministry dismisses IMF projections as a “worst-case scenario,” not a fait accompli.

Global Debt Scenario:

  • Global public debt increased fourfold since 2000, reaching a record $92 trillion in 2022.
  • Developing countries, including India, account for a significant portion, with debt rising due to development needs, cost-of-living crisis, and climate change.

Asymmetric Debt Burden:

  • Developing countries face higher interest rates, impacting debt sustainability.
  • Number of countries with interest spending at 10% or more of public revenues increased from 29 in 2010 to 55 in 2020.

Credit Rating Challenges for India:

  • India struggles to enhance credit ratings despite being the fastest-growing major economy.
  • Consistent ‘BBB-‘ rating by Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings since August 2006.

Debt Levels in India:

  • Union government’s debt at 6 trillion, 57.1% of GDP, as of March 2023.
  • State governments’ debt about 28% of GDP.
  • Public debt-to-GDP ratio has barely increased from 81% in 2005-06 to 84% in 2021-22, back to 81% in 2022-23. 

Fiscal Front Challenges:

  • Possibility of fiscal slippage in FY24, attributed to higher expenditure on employment guarantee schemes and subsidies.
  • Concerns about increased subsidies in an election year, affecting fiscal correction path.

Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBMA):

  • FRBMA specifies debt-GDP targets for the Centre, States, and their combined accounts at 40%, 20%, and 60%, respectively.
  • Higher public debt levels than FRBMA targets.


  • Short-term fiscal challenges, particularly in an election year, need addressing to avoid worst-case scenarios projected by the IMF in the medium term. 
PYQ: What are the reasons for introduction of Fiscal responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) act, 2003? Discuss critically its salient features and their effectiveness. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2013)
Practice Question: How do the IMF’s concerns about India’s long-term debt sustainability impact economic policies? Discuss with reference to fiscal challenges and global debt dynamics. (150 words/10 m)

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