Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Daily Current Affairs 20th August-2021

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 20th August-2021

Daily Current Affairs 20th August – Topics

  • Collegium System for the Appointment of Judges
  • Anti-Conversion Law
  • Sea Erosion in India’s Coastlines
  • Criminal Justice system reforms
  • Community policing- ‘UMMEED’
  • Platform to ensure safety and security of UN Peacekeepers

 

1.Collegium System for the Appointment of Judges

#GS2 #Structure, Organization & Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary #Appointment to Various Constitutional Posts

Context: Recently, the Supreme Court Collegium, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana has recommended to the union government 09 names for appointment as Supreme Court judges.

  • This will be the first time that the Collegium in one single resolution, recommended 03 women judges.

Key Details:

  • If the recommendations are okayed by the union government, 03 more judges could be added to the line of succession for the CJI’s post — till mid-2028 — including what could be the first woman CJI.
  • As per the reports, Justice B V Nagarathna of the Karnataka High Court could become the first woman CJI.
    • The other two on the list who could become CJI are Justice Vikram Nath, Gujarat High Court Chief Justice; and Senior Advocate P S Narasimha. Nevertheless, all 03 are likely to have relatively short tenures.

Collegium System: Background

  • It is the system of appointment and transfer of judges to India’s constitutional courts.
  • The system has its origin in, and continued basis resting on, 03 of its own judgments which are collectively known as the Three Judges Cases.
  • Over the progression of the 03 cases, the court evolved the principle of judicial independence to mean that no other branch of the state – including the legislature and the executive – would have any say in the appointment of judges.
  • There is no mention of the collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments

Evolution of the System:

  • First Judges Case: S. P. Gupta v/s Union of India – 1981
    • It declared that the “primacy” of the CJIs recommendation on judicial appointments and transfers can be rejected for “convincing reasons.”
    • This gave the Executive prevalence over the Judiciary in judicial appointments for the next 12 years.
  • Second Judges Case: Supreme Court Advocates-on Record Association vs Union of India – 1993
    • SC introduced the Collegium system, holding that “consultation” really meant “concurrence”.
    • It added that it was not just the CJI’s distinct opinion, but an institutional decision made in consultation with the 02 senior-most judges in the SC.
  • Third Judges Case: In re Special Reference 1 of 1998
    • Supreme Court on President’s reference (Article 143) expanded the Collegium to a 05-member body, comprising the CJI and 04 senior-most Supreme Court judges.
    • A HC collegium is led by its Chief Justice and 04 other senior most judges of that court.
      • Recommended judges for appointment by a High Court collegium gets to the Union government only after sanction by the CJI and the SC collegium.
    • Judges of the higher judiciary are selected only through the collegium system and the government has a role only after names have been decided by the collegium.
    • The government’s role is restricted to getting an inquiry conducted by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) if a lawyer is to be elevated as a judge in a High Court or the Supreme Court.
  • Parliament established National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) (a proposed body which would have been responsible for the recruitment, appointment and transfer of judges and legal specialists in India) by amending the Constitution of India through the 99th constitution amendment Act, 2014.
  • In 2015, the Constitution Bench of Supreme Court by 4:1 Majority upheld the collegium system and struck down the NJAC as unconstitutional.

Procedure for Various Judicial Appointments:

For Chief Justice of India:

  • CJI and Other Supreme Court judges are appointed by the President of India.
  • The outgoing CJI usually recommends his successor.
  • In practice, it has been strictly by seniority ever since the supersession controversy of the 1970s.

For Supreme Court Judges:

  • For other judges of the SC, the proposal is introduced by the CJI.
  • The CJI consults the rest of the Collegium members, as well as the senior-most judge of the court coming from the High Court to which the recommended person belongs.
    • The consultees must record their opinions in writing and it should form part of the file.
  • The Collegium sends the recommendation to the law minister, who forwards it to the Prime Minister to advise the President.

For Chief Justice of High Courts:

  • The Chief Justice of the High Court is appointed as per the procedure of having Chief Justices from outside the respective States.
  • The Collegium takes the call on the promotion.
  • High Court judges are recommended by a Collegium comprising the Chief Justice of India and 02 senior-most judges.
  • The proposal, however, is initiated by the outgoing Chief Justice of the High Court in consultation with 02 senior-most judges.
  • The recommendation is sent to the Chief Minister, who advises the Governor to send the proposal to the Central Law Minister.

Is the collegium’s recommendation final and binding?

  • The collegium sends its final recommendation to the President of India for approval. The President can either accept it or reject it.
  • In the case the President rejects the recommendation, it comes back to the collegium. If the collegium repeats its recommendation to the President, then he/she is bound by that recommendation.

Criticism of the Collegium System:

  • Opaqueness and a lack of transparency.
  • Scope for nepotism.
  • Embroilment in public controversies.
  • Overlooks several talented junior judges and advocates.

Road Ahead:

  • Transparent procedures involving participation preferably by broad-based constitutional body respecting judicial primacy.
  • It should ensure independence, mirror diversity, demonstrate professional competence and integrity.
  • Instead of selecting the number of judges needed against a certain number of vacancies, the collegium must offer a panel of possible names to the President to appoint in order of preference and other valid norms.

 

2.Anti-Conversion Law

#GS1 # Salient Features of Indian Society # Communalism

#GS2 #Fundamental rights #Judiciary

Context: Recently, Gujarat High Court stayed the operation of some provisions of the Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, including the section that termed interfaith marriages as means for forceful conversion.

About the issue:

  • The interim relief by Gujarat High court came during the hearing two pleas challenging the constitutionality of the newly enacted amendment.
  • This amendment brings in the section on interfaith marriages as a means to carry out forced conversion, among other things.
    • Both petitions in High Court challenged the amended Act mainly on the grounds that the law is manifestly arbitrary and violates the right to privacy.
  • This was passed by the Gujarat Assembly on April 1,2021.
  • Till date, 03 cases have been filed under the law.
  • During the hearing, the Court observed that the amended law keeps a sword hanging over interfaith marriages because it has created an impression that interfaith marriages are not permissible in the State.
  • High Court said that interfaith marriages done without force, allurement or fraudulent means cannot be construed as an offence.

Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021:

  1. It amends the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003.
  2. It proposes punishment of 3-10 years in jail for forcible or fraudulent religious conversions through marriage.
  3. The amendment ins aimed at reducing the “developing trend” where women are “lured to marriage” for the purposes of religious conversion.

Issues with the amendment:

  1. The amended law has ambiguous terms which are against basic values of marriage and right to propagate, profess and practice religion as enshrined in the Article 25 of the Indian Constitution.
  2. The law even permits distant family members to file a criminal complaint.
  3. The law empowers Family Court or Court having jurisdiction to declare “forceful marriage” which involves religious conversion before or after marriage invalid.
  4. Amendment also stipulates prior permission of district magistrate in case of conversion and district magistrate’s permission to prosecute offences under the Act.
  5. Section 6A of the amendment places the burden of proof as to whether a religious conversion was not by any “fraudulent means” on the person who has caused the conversion.

Supreme Court on Marriage and Conversion:

  • In its several judgements, the Supreme Court has held that the state and the courts have no authority over an adult’s absolute right to choose a life partner.
  • In both Lily Thomas and Sarla Mudgal cases, it has confirmed that religious conversions carried out without an authentic belief and for the sole purpose of deriving some legal benefits do not hold up.
  • Salamat Ansari-Priyanka Kharwar case of Allahabad High Court 2020: The right to choose a partner or live with a person of choice was part of a citizen’s fundamental right to life and liberty (Article 21).

Way Forward:

  • As per the article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, everyone has the right to freedom of religion including changing their faith. Since it is a state subject, the Union government can frame a model law to bring in
  • Any states while making laws on sensitive subjects similar to anti-conversion laws should avoid putting vague or ambiguous provisions.
  • The anti-conversion laws also need to include a provision to mention the valid steps for conversion by minority community institutions.
  • People also need to be educated about the provisions and ways of Forceful conversions, Inducement or allurement, etc.

 

 3.Sea Erosion in India’s Coastlines

#GS1 # Salient Features of World’s Physical Geography

# Factors Causing Changes in Critical Geographical Features

# Landforms & their Evolution

Context: As per the recent technical report by the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), one-third of India’s coastline underwent sea erosion in 28 years.

  • As much as 32% of India’s coastline suffered sea erosion and 27% of it expanded between 1990 and 2018.

Key Findings:

  1. India’s Coastline:
    • Out of India’s 6,631.53 kilometres long coastline,
      • 2,135.65 kilometres suffered varying degrees of erosion and 1,760.06 km expanded during this period.
      • Nearly 2,700 km of the coastline is unchanged.
    • The long coastline of India is having several major ports such as Kandla, Mumbai, Nhava Sheva, Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Tuticorin, Visakhapatnam, and Paradip.
  2. Coastal Erosion:
  • The West Bengal coastline has been particularly vulnerable with almost 60% of its coastline suffered erosion during the period, followed by Puducherry (56 %) and Kerala (41 %).
  • As many as 98 coastal pockets have been facing sea erosion. Tamil Nadu has 26 coastal areas vulnerable to sea erosion, followed by West Bengal (16); Kerala (12); Maharashtra (8).
  • More erosion in Eastern Coast than the Western coast:
    • The eastern coast sees a so much rain which keeps the seas rough through most of the year. Besides the Southwest Monsoon, the eastern coast also witnesses the Northeast Monsoon from October to December.
    • The eastern coast underwent more erosion due to frequent Cyclonic Activities from Bay of Bengal in the past 30 years, compared to the western coast, which remained largely stable.

Land Accretion:

  • Odisha on the eastern coast is the only state where the coast witnessed an expansion of more than 50%, followed by the coast of Andhra Pradesh, which expanded 48%; Karnataka (26%) etc.

Coastal Erosion:

  • Coastal erosion is the loss or displacement of land because of rise in sea level, resulting in strong waves and coastal flooding.
  • Coastal erosion can be either be,
    • A rapid-onset hazard (occurs very quickly, a period of days to weeks)
    • A slow-onset hazard (occurring over many years, or decades to centuries).
  • Erosion and Accretion: Erosion and accretion are balancing each other. If the sand and sediments have drifted from one side, it must accumulate somewhere else.
    • Soil erosion is the loss of land and human inhabitation as sea water washes off regions of soil along the coastline.
    • Soil accretion, on the other hand, results in an increase in the land area.
    • However, if accretion happens in Deltas, Estuaries, and creeks, the soil will block the inflow of seawater into these areas which are breeding ground for several species of aquatic flora and fauna.
  • Impact:
    • This would create long-lasting environmental as well as social implications.
    • The coastal erosion does impact coastal communities residing in the erosion prone areas, including fishermen communities.
    • Even the biodiversity of the place, like turtles that visit the shore to lay eggs every year, would be significantly damaged.
  • Measures: Coastal habitats such as Mangroves, Coral Reefs and lagoons are considered as the best protection against sea storms and erosion, deflecting and absorbing much of the energy of sea storms. Therefore, it is vital to maintain these natural habitats for protection of shores as well as for environmental conservation.

Reasons behind Coastal Erosion:

Natural Phenomena:

  • Wave are the prime reason for coastal erosion.
  • Natural hazards like cyclones, thermal expansion of seawater, storm surges, tsunami etc as a result of glacier and ice sheet melting due to climate change clog the natural rhythm and precipitate erosion.
  • Strong littoral drift resulting in sand movement is also one of the main reasons for coastal erosion.

Anthropogenic Activities:

  • Dredging, sand mining and coral mining have contributed to coastal erosion causing sediment deficit, modification of water depth leading to longshore drift and altered wave refraction.
  • Coastal erosion has been sparked by fishing harbours and dams constructed in the catchment area of rivers and ports reducing the flow of sediments from river estuaries.

Various bodies on Shoreline monitoring:

  • The National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), an attached office of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, monitors shoreline changes along the Indian coast.
    • It has carried out a national shoreline change assessment mapping for Indian coast using 28 years of satellite data from 1990 to 2018 along nine coastal states and two Union territories (UT) to provide information for coastal management strategy.
  • The National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and the Central Water Commission under the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti also undertake studies on shoreline changes / coastal erosion and their impact.
  • Planning and execution of anti-sea erosion measures are undertaken by the maritime states and Union Territories as per their own preference and from their own resources.

 

4.Criminal Justice system reforms

#GS2 #Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions #Statutory, Regulatory & Quasi-Judicial Bodies

Context: A core group on criminal justice system organised by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed “grave concerns over the slow pace of reforms in the to ensure speedy justice”.

Criminal Justice System:

  • The codification of criminal laws in India was completed during the British administration, which almost remains the same even in the 21st century.
  • Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay is the principal architect of codifications of criminal laws in India.
  • Criminal law in India is governed by Indian Penal Code, 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and Indian Evidence Act, 1872, etc.
  • The criminal law and criminal procedure are in the concurrent list of the 07th schedule of the constitution.

Current concerns/challenges:

  • The delay in case disposal was leading to human rights violations of the under-trials and convicts.
  • Despite the Supreme Court’s instructions on police reforms, there had been hardly any changes in reality.
  • Court rulings convicting a person are also taking years to implement.
  • Article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to speedy justice as a fundamental right.
    • But as per to Prison Statistics 2018, out of the total 4,20,000 inmates in various jails across the country, 2,82,076 or 67.2% were undertrials prisoners reflecting gross injustice and poor criminal justice system in India.
    • There are about 4.4 crore pending cases across the Supreme Court, high courts and district courts.
    • Since March 2020, about 70 lakh more have been added to the pending cases.

Suggested Reforms by the core group:

  • Fast-track courts specialised in criminal laws and special laws could substitute certain offences under the Indian Penal Code in order to reduce the piling up of cases at every police station.
  • Digitisation of documents would help in speedy investigations trials.
  • Reworking the existing classification of offences must be directed by the principles of criminal philosophy which have substantially altered in the past four decades.
  • The classification of offences must be done in a manner conducive to management of crimes in the future.
  • Focus should also be given on the victim’s rights and smart policing.
  • Awareness creation on law among police personnel.
  • Study into the rate of conviction of police officials and their non-compliance of law
  • Increasing the number of police personnel.
  • Government should work on introducing social workers and psychologists in criminal justice system.

Need for reforms:

  • Colonial era laws: Criminal laws are underproductive because they are out-dated.
  • Ineffectiveness of Judiciary with minimal cooperation between the courts, prosecutors and police.
  • Pendency of cases.
  • Huge undertrials.
  • Complexity of crimes.

Committee For Reform In Criminal Law:

  • The Union Home ministry has formed a national level committee for reform in criminal law under Ranbir Singh and several other members.
  • The committee would be collecting opinions online by consulting with experts and organizing material for their report to the government.

Road Ahead:

  • Government should focus on drafting a clear policy that should inform the changes to be foreseen in the existing criminal laws.
  • It also needs to make concurrent developments in the police, prosecution, judiciary and in prisons.
  • The focus of reform should be on reformative justice in order to bring all around peace in the society.

 

5.Community policing- ‘UMMEED’

#Gs2 # Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation #Various security forces and agencies and their mandate

Context: Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana recently inaugurated a Community Policing Programme called ‘Ummeed’.

Key Details:

  • The Elementary Principle Underlying Community Policing is that ‘A Policeman is a Citizen with Uniform and a Citizen is a Policeman without Uniform’.
  • Under this program, committees and in-charge are being appointed in every neighbourhood, with the help of which the crime can be curtailed and a good coordination between the police and the public can be established.
  • The main aim of Community Policing is to lessen the gap between policemen and citizens to such an extent that the policemen become an integrated part of the community they serve.
  • It is defined as a law enforcement philosophy that lets police to uninterruptedly operate in the same area in order to create a stronger bond with the citizens living and working in that area.
  • It helps in building trust between police and public as it necessitates the police to work with the community for prevention and detection of crime, maintenance of public order, and resolving local conflicts, with the objective of providing a better quality of life and sense of security.

Success factors for an efficient Community policing

Benefits of communal policing:

  • Better integration of public and police.
  • Reduced fear of crime- Increased confidence among the community.
  • Does not depend on government funding
  • More reliable and workable information will be available to police.
  • Builds the sense of responsibility in the public.

Challenges:

  • Poor public opinion of the police force.
  • Poor public interaction procedures within the police force.
  • It might lead to vigilantism and mob justice.

Successful models across the country:

  • Kerala- Janamaithri Suraksha Project
  • Manipur- Meira Paibi
  • Andhra Pradesh: Maithri
  • Maharashtra: Mohalla Committees
  • Tamil Nadu: Friends of Police

Way Forward:

  • Community policing demands an operating framework in which there is high potential to build trust relations between communities, the police and other public institutions.
  • Fundamentally, community policing must be adopted strategically, implying institutional, structural and cultural commitment to its delivery throughout the policing model.
  • Community policing alongside approaches such as Problem Oriented Policing and Intelligence led Policing is a force-multiplier.
  • The role of community policing in promulgating concepts such as ‘shared values’ and challenging ‘extremist views’ presents challenges.

 

  1. Platform to ensure safety and security of UN Peacekeepers

#GS2 # Important International Institutions – UN and its agencies

# Indian Diaspora # Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests

Context: Union government in partnership with United Nations launched a technological platform called ‘UNITE Aware’ — to aid in enhancing the safety of UN peacekeepers.

  • The platform has been used in four UN missions.
  • This was launched during the recent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) open debate on technology and peacekeeping.
  • This launch came as India assumed the Presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of August.

The Indian External affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has also charted a 04-point framework for securing the peacekeepers:

  • Need for the deployment of efficient, cost-effective and field-serviceable technologies that were ecologically sustainable in their construction.
  • Because of complex nature of their work, Peacekeepers need sound information and intelligence.
  • Need for accurate positioning and overhead visualisation.
  • Investment in capacity building and training of peacekeepers with regard to technology.

India- UN MOU: Outcome of the summit

  • A Memorandum of Understanding has been announced between India and the UN in support of the “Partnership for Technology in Peacekeeping” initiative and the UN C4ISR Academy for Peace Operations (UNCAP).

UNITE AWARE:

  • This project aims to demonstrate the bearing of modern surveillance technology on the finding asymmetric threats.
  • It is a mobile tech platform developed by India to provide terrain-related information and real time threat analysis to the UN peacekeepers by utilising modern surveillance technology.
  • This will access live video and satellite imagery, and in very volatile circumstances can also deliver early warnings to peacekeepers.
  • It is developed in partnership with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Operational Support.
  • India has spent 1.64 million US Dollars for this project.

UN Peacekeeping:

  • It is a joint effort between the Department of Peace Operations and the Department of Operational Support.
  • It deploys troops and police from around the world, along with civilian peacekeepers to work on various mandates set by the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the General Assembly.
  • They are often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets.
  • It helps countries overcome the difficult situations from conflict to peace.
  • The financing of UN Peacekeeping operations is the collective responsibility of all UN Member States.
    • Every Member State is legally obligated in accordance with provisions of UN Charter to pay their respective share towards peacekeeping.
  • India is a major contributing nation to UN peacekeeping activities, the second highest amongst troop-contributing countries.
  • More than 200,000 Indians have served in 49 of the 71 UN peacekeeping missions established around the world since 1948.
  • India became the first country to deploy an all-women contingent to a UN peacekeeping mission in 2007.

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