SC flags delay in appointment of judges
- Bench seeks details on 213 names pending with government and Collegium
- Two hundred and thirteen names recommended for appointment to various High Courts are pending with the government/Supreme Court Collegium, the Supreme Court said in a judicial order.
- At least the names on which the Supreme Court Collegium, the High Courts and the governments had agreed upon should be appointed within six months, the order said.
- “If recommendations of the High Court Collegium meet with the approval of the Supreme Court Collegium and the government, at least their appointments must take place within six months. This is not to say that in other cases the process should not be completed within six months,” a Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph said in an order dated December 6 and made available on Tuesday.
- It emphasized that the appointments required “a continuous, collaborative and integrated process, where the government is an important consultee”.
- The order is significant, coming at a time when inordinate delays in the appointment of High Court judges and depleting numbers in the higher judiciary threaten to affect the justice delivery mechanism.
- The court has asked for a list with details of the 213 names, including when their files were forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the time taken by the Law Ministry to forward them to the PMO. Falling appointments
- The Bench observed in the order that the number of judges appointed to the High Courts has steadily dipped since 2017. Judicial appointments to High Courts have nearly halved in 2019 compared to 2017 and 2018.
- Only 65 judges have been appointed to High Courts in 2019. It was 115 in 2017 and 108 in 2018.
- The High Courts are functioning at nearly 50% of their sanctioned judicial strength. Of a total 1,079 judges sanctioned in the High Courts, there are 410 vacancies.
History of "Three Judges Cases"
- Following are the three cases:
- S. P. Gupta v. Union of India - 1981 (also known as the Judges' Transfer case)
- Supreme Court Advocates-on Record Association vs Union of India - 1993 3. In re Special Reference 1 of 1998
- Over the course of the three different cases brought to the supreme court of India, 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.
- The court then created the collegium system, which has been in use since the judgment in the Second Judges Case was issued in 1993. There is no mention of the collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments. Although the creation of the collegium system was viewed as controversial by legal scholars and jurists outside India the Parliament and the executive, both have done little to replace it.
- The Third Judges Case of 1998 is not a case but an opinion delivered by the Supreme Court of India responding to a question of law regarding the collegium system, raised by then President of India K. R. Narayanan, in July 1998 under his constitutional powers.
- Further, in January 2013, the court dismissed as without locus standi, a public interest litigation filed by NGO Suraz India Trust that sought to challenge the collegium system of appointment.
- In July 2013, Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam spoke against any attempts to change the collegium system.
- On 5 September 2013, the Rajya Sabha passed The Constitution(120th Amendment) bill, 2013, that amends articles 124(2) and 217(1) of the Constitution of India, 1950 and establishes the National Judicial Appointments Commission, on whose recommendation the President would appoint judges to the higher judiciary.
- The amendment was struck down by the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional on 16 October, 2015. The constitutional bench of Justices J. S. Khehar, Madan Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel had declared the 99th Amendment and NJAC Act unconstitutional while Justice Chelameswar upheld it
India proposes extended deadline for commitments at climate summit
- ‘Developed countries have not met Kyoto Protocol targets’
- India on Tuesday proposed that developed countries make good commitments on providing finance to developing countries by 2023, instead of 2020.
- “It is time for reflection and assessment as we near the end of the pre-2020 period. Has the developed world delivered on its promises? Unfortunately, annexed [developed] countries have not met their Kyoto Protocol targets... I propose that we have three more years to fulfill the pre-2020 commitments till the global stock take takes places for bridging emission gaps,” Union Environment Minister, Prakash Javadekar said in Madrid, Spain, on Tuesday. He was stating India’s position at the 25th Session of the Conference of Parties under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP25), currently under way.
- According to Mr. Javadekar, India is on its way to achieving voluntary targets it has set for itself to curb emissions. It has reduced emissions intensity of GDP by 21% and is “on track” to achieve the goal of 35% emissions reduction as promised in Paris, he said.
- A document which food and beverages giant PepsiCo India cited to support its charges against Gujarat potato farmers earlier this year is being revised by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Authority (PPV&FRA), following complaints from major farmers groups.
- The Frequently Asked Questions or FAQ document had claimed that “only small and marginal farmers involved in subsistence farming” are eligible to claim rights under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001. The FAQ also said these rights are not for “commercial farmers” and are only meant for “small scale” use.
- PepsiCo has used the same argument in an ongoing case at the Authority over its registered potato variety used for Lays chips. The company has also cited the FAQ document to justify dragging more than nine farmers to court in 2018 for growing and selling its registered variety.
- The company faced product boycotts and major protests across the political spectrum for slapping a ₹4.2 crore lawsuit against four farmers, and ultimately withdrew all cases after government intervention just before Lok Sabha elections in May 2019.
- The PPV&FR Act allows a farmer to “save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under this Act”. The legislation itself does not include any stipulation that only small and marginal farmers will be protected, or mention the scale of use.
Calling for change
- On Tuesday, Gene Campaign chairperson Suman Sahai sent a complaint letter about the FAQ document to PPV&FRA chairperson K.V. Prabhu.
- The letter was endorsed by over 130 other farmers groups including major players such as the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, the Bharatiya Kisan Union and the Shetkari Sangathana.
- Dr. Prabhu told The Hindu that an expert committee has now been set up to revise the document. “There were some statements that could have been explained in simpler language and some could be interpreted differently from what is provided. Hence taken out for revision,” he said.
- The ongoing case at the PPV&FRA revolves around PepsiCo’s FL-2027 variety of potatoes, which it grows through a collaborative farmers programme, wherein the company sells seeds to 12,000 farmers and has an exclusive contract to buy back their produce to make its chips.
- The company introduced the variety to India in 2009 and registered it under the PPV&FR Act in 2016.
- In a shock for online platforms like Google, the Supreme Court on Tuesday held that internet intermediaries cannot be protected from criminal defamation cases registered against them prior to October 27, 2009.
- It was only on October 27, 2009 that Parliament amended the Information Technology Act of 2000 to protect online intermediaries from liability for criminally defamatory content published in them by third parties.
- The amended Section 79 of the 2000 Act provided that “an intermediary shall not be liable for any third party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by him.” The amendment gave almost blanket protection to intermediaries from legal action under Section 499/500 (criminal defamation) of the Indian Penal Code.
- A Bench of Justices Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and K.M. Joseph pronounced the 148-page judgment on the basis of an appeal filed by Google India Pvt Ltd.
- The appeal was against a criminal defamation action on the basis of a complaint filed by M/s Vishaka Industries, a manufacturer of asbestos cement sheets. Vishaka accused the co-ordinator of a Google group called ‘Ban Asbestos India’ and Google India for authoring/hosting defamatory articles against their products in 2008. The accused were asked to appear in court in September 2009 – that is before the amendment in Section 79 came into existence.
- “We hold that Section 79 of the Act, prior to its substitution, did not protect an intermediary in regard to the offence under Section 499/500 of the IPC,” Justice Joseph, who wrote the judgment, concluded. The verdict noted that Google India argued it was not a publisher of third-party content. Google liable for defamation cases before Act change: SC Company faces action for defamatory content published by third parties
- Even as the Lok Sabha debated the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, on Monday, the Nagaland government extended the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system to Dimapur, the commercial hub of the State.
- The decision makes it mandatory for “every non-indigenous person” who entered the district after November 21, 1979, to obtain an ILP within 90 days.
- The notification said non-indigenous persons living in Dimapur prior to November 21, 1979, would have to produce documents as evidence to get a certificate from the Deputy Commissioner for exemption from the permit system.
- Except Dimapur, the ILP has been applicable to the rest of Nagaland. Known as “mini India”, Dimapur district has a mixed population.
Exempt from CAB
- Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram, protected by the ILP requirement, have been exempted from the provisions of the CAB along with the whole of Meghalaya, Mizoram and the tribal areas of Tripura and Assam as covered in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Residents of other States have to mandatorily obtain an ILP to visit the protected States.
- On Monday, Home Minister Amit Shah told the Lok Sabha that Manipur would be brought under the ILP system, exempting it from provisions of the CAB. Except nontribal areas in Assam and Tripura, the entire northeast has been exempted from the CAB.
- There have been protests across the northeastern States against the Bill that nullifies the 1985 Assam Accord, which called for detection and deportation of anyone who entered the State after March 24, 1971. The Bill makes the Accord redundant as it is likely to benefit non-Muslims among the over 19 lakh people excluded from the National Register of Citizens.
Doping to win
- Some athletes do cheat, but when they do so with official sanction it is an epic crisis
- Monday’s decision by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to ban Russia from global sporting events for a four-year period is arguably the biggest sporting crisis the country has faced till date. The anti-doping watchdog’s move will hurt Russia the most at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics where the nation’s flag, name and anthem will not be allowed. Russia will inevitably approach the Court of Arbitration for Sport with an appeal, for which it has three weeks, but if the sentence is upheld it could bar the nation from participation in several high-profile global sporting events including the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar. The saga has its roots in the scandal that erupted on the eve of the 2016 Rio Olympics, when whistle-blower reports nailed Russia for running one of the most sophisticated doping programmes.
- The allegations centred around the active collusion of Russian anti-doping experts, the sports ministry and members of the country’s intelligence service in replacing dope-tainted urine samples with clean ones during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. In September 2018, as part of the resolution of that case, Russia reluctantly agreed to open up its database to corroborate the findings of the reports. WADA has now ruled that the country manipulated this very database in order to cover up large-scale violations.
- However, as stiff as the latest sanctions seem, there is considerable doubt among anti-doping crusaders whether the measures go far enough. Even ahead of the Rio games, WADA had recommended that Russia be expelled, but the International Olympic Committee (IOC), under President Thomas Bach, had left the decision to individual sports’ governing bodies, and, subsequently, athletes who were cleared of doping were allowed to compete as neutrals. A similar episode had played out during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games, where Russia was again banned but individual athletes competed. The IOC’s hand may be forced this time around by the sheer magnitude of the findings, but there remains a similar possibility of Russian competitors still participating. It may be worth noting that despite Sochi, Russia still played host to marquee events such as the 2015 World Aquatics Championships and the 2018 FIFA World Cup and is again slated to host the swimming event in 2025.
- In a sense, both the IOC and WADA have had to straddle the thin line between two powerful but opposing arguments — of punishing Russia, the country, for its misdemeanours while at the same time preserving natural justice for athletes who are clean. But, increasingly it feels like a situation where even honest sportspersons may end up paying the price for the machinations of their corrupt administrators. Doping to win Some athletes do cheat, but when they do so with official sanction it is an epic crisis
- International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) is an intergovernmental organization established by the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants.
- It is in compliance with International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) & Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
(A) Only 1
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