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Current Affairs 03 March 2023

Contents

  1. Agreement  on mutual recognition of qualifications
  2. Supreme Court Collegium recommends names for judges of high court
  3. Need For Restoration of peace along LAC
  4. Women, Bussiness and Law Index

Agreement  on mutual recognition of qualifications


Context:

India and Australia signed a framework mechanism for mutual recognition of qualifications that will help in easing the mobility of students and professionals between the two countries.

Relevance:

GS Paper – 2 International Treaties & Agreements, Government Policies & Interventions, Groupings & Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key points
  2. The significance of India to Australia
  3. Relationship Overview
  4. Prior collaboration agreements
  5. Collaboration in multilateral fora

Key points:

  • The agreement that provide mechanism to mutually recognise qualifications was signed following a bilateral meeting between India’s Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and his Australian counterpart.
  • The Australian government will be contributing 1.89 million dollars for running a skill programme in India in the area of agriculture which is a critical sector for India. 
  • Both countries reiterated that this partnership is a two-way street for students from both countries to immigrate and pursue the courses of their choice.

The significance of India to Australia

  • Australia wants to diversify its supply chains for critical minerals and find alternative markets to China.
  • Australia also has reserves of approximately 21 of the 49 minerals listed in India’s critical minerals strategy. It is well positioned to serve India’s national interests in carbon reduction.

Relationship Overview

  • Mutual interests: Aside from being two English-speaking, multicultural, federal democracies that believe in and respect the rule of law, both have a strategic interest in maintaining balance in the Indo-Pacific and ensuring that no single hegemonic power dominates the region.
  • Furthermore, Indians are now the largest source of skilled migrants in Australia, and the already robust economic relationship could be transformed if the promise of the new Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) is realised.
  • Disagreements: The Cold War’s long shadow, India’s independent economic policies, the White Australia policy, Canberra’s decision not to transfer uranium to India, and other factors had kept the two countries apart for decades.
  • White Australia policy: The Act empowered immigration officers to force any non-European migrant to take a 50-word dictation test. Beginning in 1901, it was intended to prohibit people of non-European ethnic origin, particularly Asians, from immigrating to Australia.

Prior collaboration agreements

  • Economic Cooperation And Trade Agreement: In 2022, India and Australia signed a historic interim Economic Cooperation And Trade Agreement (INDAUS ECTA) that will provide zero-duty access to 96% of India’s exports to Australia and approximately 85% of Australia’s exports to India.
  • India will benefit from Australia’s preferential market access on 100% of its tariff lines.
  • India will grant Australia preferential access to over 70% of its tariff lines.
  • Trade and Investment: Australia is India’s eighth largest trading partner, and India is Australia’s fifth.
  • Strategic Dialogue: In June 2020, Australia and India agreed to elevate their Secretaries 2+2 dialogue (Defense and Foreign Affairs) to the Ministerial level and form a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
  • Mutual Logistic Support Agreement (MLSA): Australia and India signed the MLSA in 2020, allowing for more sophisticated operational cooperation, more complex military engagement, and greater combined response to regional humanitarian disasters.
  • Defence Science and Technology Implementing Arrangement (DSTIA): This arrangement facilitates interaction among our defence research organisations.

Collaboration in multilateral fora

  • Australia backs India’s bid for a seat on an expanded United Nations Security Council.
  • India and Australia are both members of the G-20, the Commonwealth, the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Asia Pacific Partnership on Climate and Clean Development, and have attended East Asia Summits.
  • Both countries have also been cooperating as members of the WTO’s Five Interested Parties (FIP).
  • The Five Interested Parties were a group of countries chosen to break the initial deadlocks, consisting of key political and economic players in the world of trade, namely the United States, European Union, Australia, Brazil, and India
  • Australia is a key member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and supports India’s membership in the organisation.
  • Australia joined SAARC as an observer in 2008.
  • Australia took part in the MALABAR naval exercise in October 2020, joining India, the US, and Japan in demonstrating a shared commitment to an open and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

-Source: The Hindu


Supreme Court Collegium recommends names for judges of high court


Context:

The Supreme Court of India recently recommended names of the Judges to the government for appointments as judges in the Gujarat and Gauhati High Courts.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Indian Judiciary)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Collegium System?
  2. Evolution of the Collegium system
  3. Working of the Collegium System and NJAC
  4. Appointment procedure of HC Judges
  5. Transfer procedure of HC Judges

What is the Collegium System?

  • The Collegium System is a system under which appointments/elevation of judges/lawyers to Supreme Court and transfers of judges of High Courts and Apex Court are decided by a forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.’ There is no mention of the Collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments.
  • The recommendations of the Collegium are binding on the Central Government; if the Collegium sends the names of the judges/lawyers to the government for the second time.

Evolution of the Collegium system

In the First Judges case (1982), the Court held that consultation does not mean concurrence and it only implies an exchange of views.

In the Second Judges case (1993), the Court reversed its earlier ruling and changed the meaning of the word consultation to concurrence.

Third Judges Case, 1998:

  • In the Third Judges case (1998), the Court opined that the consultation process to be adopted by the Chief Justice of India requires “consultation of a plurality of judges”.
  • The sole opinion of the CJI does not constitute the consultation process. He should consult a collegium of four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court and even if two judges give an adverse opinion, he should not send the recommendation to the government.
  • The court held that the recommendation made by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) without complying with the norms and requirements of the consultation process is not binding on the government.
  • The Collegium system was born through the “Third Judges case” and it is in practice since 1998. It is used for appointments and transfers of judges in High courts and Supreme Courts.
  • There is no mention of the Collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments.

Working of the Collegium System and NJAC

  • The collegium recommends the names of lawyers or judges to the Central Government. Similarly, the Central Government also sends some of its proposed names to the Collegium.
  • Collegium considers the names or suggestions made by the Central Government and resends the file to the government for final approval.
  • If the Collegium resends the same name again then the government has to give its assent to the names. But the time limit is not fixed to reply. This is the reason that appointment of judges takes a long time.
  • Through the 99th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2014 the National Judicial Commission Act (NJAC) was established to replace the collegium system for the appointment of judges.
  • However, the Supreme Court upheld the collegium system and struck down the NJAC as unconstitutional on the grounds that the involvement of Political Executive in judicial appointment was against the “Principles of Basic Structure”. i.e., the “Independence of Judiciary”.

Issues involved in appointment

  • Cumbersome Process: There are inordinate delays in the appointment of High Court judges and it leads to the pendency of cases.
  • Lack of Transparency: There is no objective criteria for selection and people come to know about judges only after selection. It also promotes nepotism in the judiciary. The consultations of the Collegium are also not discussed in any public platform.
  • Instances of Politicisation: In many cases, there is indication that due to the unfavorable judgments of certain judges the political executive hinders their appointments, elevation, or transfer. This reflects poorly on the concept of independence of the judiciary.
  • Improper Representation: Certain sections of societies have higher representation whereas many vulnerable sections have nil representation.

Appointment procedure of HC Judges

  • Article 217 of the Constitution: It states that the Judge of a High Court shall be appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India (CJI), the Governor of the State.
  • In the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of the High Court is consulted.
  • Consultation Process: High Court judges are recommended by a Collegium comprising the CJI and two senior-most judges.
  • The proposal, however, is initiated by the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned in consultation with two senior-most colleagues.
  • The recommendation is sent to the Chief Minister, who advises the Governor to send the proposal to the Union Law Minister.

Transfer procedure of HC Judges

  • Article 222 of the Constitution makes provision for the transfer of a Judge (including Chief Justice) from one High Court to any other High Court. The initiation of the proposal for the transfer of a Judge should be made by the Chief Justice of India whose opinion in this regard is determinative.
  • Consent of a Judge for his first or subsequent transfer would not be required.
  • All transfers are to be made in public interest i.e., for promoting better administration of justice throughout the country.

-Source: The Hindu


Need For Restoration of peace along LAC



Context:
Recently, the external Affairs minister met Chinese Foreign Minister. He reiterated India’s position and called for restoration of peace on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was required to return to normalcy.
Relevance:
GS Paper 2: India and its Neighbourhood (relations)
Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Points
  2. Indo-China Border
  3. Major irritants of India china relations:
  4. Cooperation between India and China:
    Key Points:
    • Recently, the Chinese Foreign Minister visited India and met India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.
    • Mr. Jaishankar had flagged the “abnormal” state of ties and reiterated India’s position that restoration of peace on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was required for a return to normalcy.
    • The Chinese foreign Minister also stressed the need to put the border issue in the proper place.
    • Last week, the two sides held their first in-person high-level border talks.
    • The two sides discussed proposals for disengaging in two remaining friction areas to create conditions to “restore normalcy” in relations, and agreed to hold the next round of talks between senior military commanders at an early date.
    Indo-China Border:
    The Sino-Indian border is generally divided into three sectors namely:
    I. The Western sector,
    II. The Middle sector, and
    III. The Eastern sector.
  5. The western sector: it is around 2152 km long. It is between Jammu and Kashmir and Xinjian province of China.
    o Aksai chin: The Johnson’s line shows Aksai chin under India control while McDonald’s line shows it under China’s control.
  6. The middle sector: it is 625km long. It runs along the watershed from Ladakh to Nepal.
  7. The eastern sector: it is around 1140 km long. It was demarked by Henry Mc Mohan in 1913-14 under Shimla accord. China consider Mc Mohan line as illegal and unacceptable because during Shimla accord, Tibet was not a part of China.
    Major irritants of India china relations:
    The Dalai Lama and Tibet:
    o The Dalai Lama formed a Tibetan government in exile, which still functions without any real authority over the people. But it was opposed by China.
    Arunachal Pradesh and Stapled Visa:
    o China began the practice of issuing stapled visa to residents of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
    String of pearls:
    o China has an undeclared policy of String of Pearls to encircle India. This involves building of ports and naval bases around India’s maritime reaches.
    o China is present at Cocos Island in Myanmar, Chittagong in Bangladesh, Hambantota (Sri Lanka), Marao Atoll (Maldives) and Gwadar (Pakistan). Interestingly, China is the only other country than India to have a fully functional embassy in Male.
    River Water Dispute:
    o Brahmaputra River water sharing is the major flashpoint between India and China. China has been building dams (Jiexu, Zangmu and Jiacha) in the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra which is called Tsangpo in Tibet.
    China Pakistan Economic Corridor:
    o India considers building of the CPEC as China’s interference in India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. But China has not deterred from going ahead.
    Trade imbalance:
    o While China is India’s largest trade partner, concerns about trade imbalance between the two countries remain, with the imbalance skewed in China’s favour. India’s trade deficit with China is around $56 billion.

Cooperation between India and China:

  • Both are members of the BRICS grouping of emerging economies, which is now establishing a formal lending arm, the New Development Bank.
  • India also was a founding member of the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
  • The two sides are ready to continue cooperation under the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organization. China welcomed India’s full membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
  • China and India have similar stand during WTO negotiations. In the Doha Round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiation, India and China coordinated their stands on several issues.
  • The two sides support a comprehensive reform of the United Nations, including recognizing the imperative of increased participation of developing countries in UN’s affairs and governance structures, so as to bring more effectiveness to the UN.
  • India and China are member of G-20 grouping.

-Source: The Hindu


Women, Bussiness and Law Index


Context:

As per the recent report by the World Bank, Women, on average, enjoy barely 77% of legal rights that men do.

Relevance:

GS Paper-1: Women Empowerment and related Issues.

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Women, Business and the Law Index
  2. Key Findings of the Index
  3. Mechanisms Existing in India for Vulnerable Sections

About Women, Business and the Law Index:

  • The index rates laws and regulations related to women in 190 countries.
  • The assessment covers eight areas related to women’s economic participation —
    • mobility
    • workplace
    • pay
    • marriage
    • parenthood
    • entrepreneurship
    • assets
    • pensions

Key Findings of the Index:

  • The World Bank’s ‘Women, Business and the Law Index’ released recently noted that the global pace of reforms toward equal treatment of women under the law has slumped to a 20-year low.
  • The report said-‘It seemed as if the legal rights and provisions were bridging the gap between men and women.’
  • In 2022, the global average score on the index was 77.1 — just one point higher than the year before. This indicates women, on average, enjoy barely 77 per cent of the legal rights that men do.
  • At the current pace of reform, in many countries, a woman entering the workforce today will retire before she will be able to gain the same rights as men.
  • Tracking the progress on gender-related legal reforms, the index said only 34 such reforms were recorded across 18 countries in 2022. This was the lowest number since 2001.
  • In absolute numbers, the score on the index means that nearly 2.4 billion women of working age still do not have the same rights as men.

Mechanisms Existing in India for Vulnerable Sections

Constitutional Provisions

  • Article 15(3): State can make special provisions for women
  • Article 23: Right to being protected from being trafficked and forced into bonded labour
  • Article 39 (a): State to ensure that, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means to livelihood
  • Article 39 (d): State to ensure equal pay to women for equal work
  • Article 42: Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief.
  • Article 243 D: Provides for reservation of seats in Panchayats at all levels to women.

Legislations Related to Women

  • The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 – Provides for paid maternity leaves of 26 months
  • The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961— To end dowry by providing penal provisions.
  • Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1986 – Penal provisions for trafficking of women
  • Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986 – To protect dignity of women
  • Commission of Sati (prevention) Act 1987 – Abolished Sati system
  • National Commission of Women Act 1990 – Establishes National Commission of Women
  • Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 – To protect women from domestic violence
  • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013 – It addresses workplace sexual harassment.

Institutions and Bodies for the betterment of women

  • National Commission for Women
    • The National Commission for Women was set up under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990 to:
      • Review the Constitutional and Legal safeguards for women;
      • Recommend remedial legislative measures;
      • Facilitate redressal of grievances and
    • Advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women.
  • Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK)
    • RMK, established in 1993, is a national level organization under the aegis of the Ministry of Womenand Child Development, for socio-economic empowerment of women.
    • RMK extends micro-credit to the women in the informal sector through a client friendly, without collateral and in a hassle-free manner for income generation activities.

-Source: Down To Earth


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