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Current Affairs 23 May 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Appointment of Judges in Supreme Court
  2. Centre files review petition against SC order on Delhi services
  3. Lumpy skin disease
  4. PM MITRA scheme
  5. FIPIC Summit 2023
  6. IRIS-T Surface-Launched-Missile (SLM) system

Appointment of Judges in Supreme Court


Context:

The Supreme Court of India recently witnessed the administration of oath to two new judges, Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra, and Justice K.V. Viswanathan, by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. How are Supreme Court Judges Appointed?
  2. Collegium System for Judicial Appointments
  3. Removal of Supreme Court Judges

How are Supreme Court Judges Appointed?

Appointment:

  • The President appoints the judges of the Supreme Court as per clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution.
  • The President consults with judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts to make informed appointments.

Oath of Office:

  • Every appointed judge is required to take an oath before the President or a designated individual.
  • The oath includes pledges to uphold the Constitution, sovereignty, and integrity of India, and to perform duties impartially.

Tenure and Resignation:

  • There is no specified minimum age limit for the appointment of a judge.
  • A Supreme Court judge serves until the age of 65.
  • However, a judge may choose to resign before reaching the age of 65 by submitting their resignation to the President.

Salaries and Allowances:

  • Parliament determines the salaries, allowances, privileges, leave, and pension of Supreme Court judges.
  • The expenses for salaries, pension, and allowances of Supreme Court judges are funded from the Consolidated Fund of India.

Composition :

  • Initially, the Supreme Court consisted of eight judges, including one chief justice and seven others.
  • Over time, the number of judges in the Supreme Court has been increased by Parliament.
  • Currently, the Supreme Court comprises 34 judges, including one chief justice and 33 others.
Qualifications:

According to Article 124(3) of the Constitution, individuals can be appointed as Supreme Court judges if they meet the following criteria:

  • They must be citizens of India.
  • They should have served as a judge in a High Court for at least five years or two such courts consecutively.
  • Alternatively, they must have been an advocate in a High Court for at least ten years or two or more such courts consecutively.
  • They should be regarded as a distinguished jurist in the opinion of the president.
Post-retirement Restrictions:
  • After retirement, a Supreme Court judge is prohibited from practicing law in any court in India or pleading before any government authority.
  • As per Article 128 of the Indian Constitution, the Chief Justice of India can request the President’s permission to recall a retired judge of the Supreme Court to serve and act as a judge again.

Collegium System for Judicial Appointments:

  • The process of appointing judges to the higher judiciary in India follows the collegium system.
  • The collegium, which comprises the Chief Justice of India and the four most senior judges of the Supreme Court, plays a crucial role in deciding judicial appointments, elevations, and transfers.

Composition and Decision-making:

  • The collegium consists of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
  • This group collectively deliberates and makes decisions regarding the appointment, elevation, and transfer of judges within the judiciary.

Establishment and Legal Basis:

  • Although the term “collegium” is not explicitly mentioned in the Indian Constitution, it has been established through judicial pronouncements.
  • Over time, through various judgments by the Supreme Court, the collegium system has gained recognition and prominence in the process of judicial appointments.

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.

Removal of Supreme Court Judges:

Introduction:

  • The removal of a judge from the Supreme Court can only occur through an order issued by the President.
  • The process of removal involves the participation of both Houses of Parliament.

Removal Process:

  • To initiate the removal process, each House of Parliament must present an address supported by a special majority.
  • A special majority refers to a majority of the total membership of that House and a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting.

Grounds for Removal:

  • The grounds for removing a Supreme Court judge are proven misbehaviour or incapacity.
  • Misbehaviour or incapacity must be established through an investigation and proof conducted by Parliament.

Parliament’s Authority:

  • Parliament has the authority to regulate the procedure for presenting the address and conducting the investigation into the alleged misbehaviour or incapacity of a judge.
  • The specific details and procedures for the removal process are determined by Parliament.

Tenure and Protection:

  • Once appointed, judges of the Supreme Court can serve until they reach the age of 65.
  • During their tenure, judges are protected from removal except in cases of proven misbehaviour or incapacity.

-Source: The Hindu


Centre files review petition against SC order on Delhi services


Context:

The Central government moved the Supreme Court, filing a review petition against the Court’s judgment that gave control over the subject of administrative services to the Delhi government.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Why has this review petition been filed?
  2. How does a review petition get heard in court?
  3. Procedure for Considering a Review Petition

Why has this review petition been filed?

  • The Centre’s ordinance has reinstated the final authority of the Delhi lieutenant governor in transfers and postings of bureaucrats and solidified his role as an administrator empowered to take decisions on proposals considered or decided by the elected government. 
  • The dispute over whether the Lieutenant Governor or the Chief Minister would have powers over these administrative services in Delhi went to the Supreme Court and a judgment was delivered ten days ago.
  • The ruling  places three constitutional principles – representative democracy, federalism and accountability – to an elected government within the interpretation of Article 239AA.  
  • In 1991, when Article 239 AA was inserted, Parliament also passed the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 to provide a framework for the functioning of the Legislative Assembly and the government of Delhi.
  • The Court also clearly held that Part XIV of the Constitution that contains provisions for regulating the employment of persons to the public services under the union and States is applicable to union territories, which includes Delhi.
  • The current ordinance takes away this power from the Delhi government and places it with a statutory body that comprises of the chief minister of Delhi and the Chief Secretary and principal Home Secretary of the Delhi government.

How does a review petition get heard in court?

  • Power of Review: The Supreme Court, under Article 137 of the Constitution, has the authority to review its judgments or orders.
  • Grounds for Review: A review petition is entertained based on specific and narrow grounds, primarily to correct grave errors leading to a miscarriage of justice.
  • Patent Error Standard: The court reviews its rulings to rectify a “patent error” rather than minor mistakes of inconsequential importance.
  • Criteria for Acceptance: A review petition can be accepted when there is a glaring omission, a patent mistake, or a grave error resulting from judicial fallibility.
  • Rarity of Review Petitions: It is uncommon for the Supreme Court to admit review petitions. While some requests are rejected, others are considered on specific grounds.
    • Examples: In the past, the court refused to review its December 2018 ruling on the Rafale deal. However, it allowed the Centre’s petition seeking a review of a March 2018 judgment that had diluted the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Atrocities Act.
Grounds for Seeking Review:

In a 2013 ruling, the Supreme Court established three grounds for seeking a review of a verdict it has delivered:

  • Discovery of New and Important Matter or Evidence: The petitioner can seek a review if new and significant matter or evidence, which was not previously known or could not be produced despite due diligence, has been discovered.
  • Mistake or Error Apparent on the Face of the Record: A review can be sought if there is a mistake or error that is evident from the records of the case.
  • Any Other Sufficient Reason: The court stated that a review can be considered for any other sufficient reason. Subsequent rulings clarified that this ground should be comparable to the first two grounds mentioned above.

In another 2013 ruling (Union of India v. Sandur Manganese & Iron Ores Ltd), the court laid down nine principles to determine when a review is maintainable. It emphasized that a review is not an appeal in disguise and is only allowed for a patent error. The mere existence of two differing views on a subject is not sufficient grounds for a review.

Who can file a review petition?
  • It is not necessary that only parties to a case can seek a review of the judgment on it. As per the Civil Procedure Code and the Supreme Court Rules, any person aggrieved by a ruling can seek a review.
  • However, the court does not entertain every review petition filed. It exercises its discretion to allow a review petition only when it shows the grounds for seeking the review.

Procedure for Considering a Review Petition:

  • Filing Deadline: A review petition must be filed within 30 days from the date of the judgment or order. The time limit applies to both final judgments and interim orders.
  • Condonation of Delay: In exceptional circumstances, the court may condone a delay in filing the review petition if the petitioner can provide strong justifications for the delay.
  • Review Without Oral Arguments: Review petitions are ordinarily considered without oral arguments by lawyers. The judges examine the petition “through circulation” in their chambers.
  • Same Combination of Judges: Review petitions are, as far as practicable, heard by the same combination of judges who delivered the original judgment or order. If a judge has retired or is unavailable, a replacement is appointed based on seniority.
  • Exceptional Oral Hearing: In exceptional cases, an oral hearing may be allowed. For instance, in 2014, the Supreme Court decided that review petitions in all death penalty cases would be heard in open court by a Bench of three judges.
What happens if a review petition fails:

If a review petition is dismissed, there is another recourse available known as a curative petition, which was established by the Supreme Court in the case of Roopa Hurra v Ashok Hurra (2002). A curative petition can be filed after a review petition is dismissed and is aimed at preventing abuse of the review process. It is considered on narrow grounds similar to a review petition and generally does not receive an oral hearing. The curative petition acts as a final safeguard to prevent a miscarriage of justice.

-Source: Indian Express


Lumpy skin disease


Context:

Union minister of Fisheries, Animal husbandry and Dairying recently directed prompt action on reports of rising cases of lumpy skin disease (LSD) in livestock of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the lumpy skin disease?
  2. How does it spread?
  3. Symptoms
  4. What is the geographical distribution and how did it spread to India?
  5. What are the economic implications?

What is the lumpy skin disease?

  • Lumpy skin disease is caused by the lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), which belongs to the genus capripoxvirus, a part of the poxviridae family (smallpox and monkeypox viruses are also a part of the same family).
  • The LSDV shares antigenic similarities with the sheeppox virus (SPPV) and the goatpox virus (GTPV) or is similar in the immune response to those viruses.
  • It is not a zoonotic virus, meaning the disease cannot spread to humans.

How does it spread?

  • It is a contagious vector-borne disease spread by vectors like mosquitoes, some biting flies, and ticks and usually affects host animals like cows and water buffaloes.
  • According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), infected animals shed the virus through oral and nasal secretions which may contaminate common feeding and water troughs.
    • Thus, the disease can either spread through direct contact with the vectors or through contaminated fodder and water. Studies have also shown that it can spread through animal semen during artificial insemination.

Symptoms:

  • LSD affects the lymph nodes of the infected animal, causing the nodes to enlarge and appear like lumps on the skin, which is where it derives its name from.
  • The cutaneous nodules, 2–5 cm in diameter, appear on the infected cattle’s head, neck, limbs, udder, genitalia, and perineum.
  • The nodules may later turn into ulcers and eventually develop scabs over the skin.
  • The other symptoms include high fever, sharp drop in milk yield, discharge from the eyes and nose, salivation, loss of appetite, depression, damaged hides, emaciation (thinness or weakness) of animals, infertility and abortions.
  • The incubation period or the time between infection and symptoms is about 28 days according to the FAO, and 4 to 14 days according to some other estimates.
  • The morbidity of the disease varies between two to 45% and mortality or rate of date is less than 10%, however, the reported mortality of the current outbreak in India is up to 15%, particularly in cases being reported in the western part (Rajasthan) of the country.

What is the geographical distribution and how did it spread to India?

  • The disease was first observed in Zambia in 1929, subsequently spreading to most African countries extensively, followed by West Asia, Southeastern Europe, and Central Asia, and more recently spreading to South Asia and China in 2019.
  • As per the FAO, the LSD disease is currently endemic in several countries across Africa, parts of the West Asia (Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic), and Turkey.
  • The spread in South Asia first affected Bangladesh in July 2019 and then reached India in August that year, with initial cases being detected in Odisha and West Bengal.
Is it safe to consume the milk of affected cattle?
  • Studies say that it has not been possible to ascertain the presence of viable and infectious LSDV virus in milk derived from the infected animal.
    • However, that a large portion of the milk in Asia is processed after collection and is either pasteurised or boiled or dried in order to make milk powder.
    • This process ensures that the virus is inactivated or destroyed.

What are the economic implications?

  • The spread of the disease can lead to “substantial” and “severe” economic losses.
  • The disease leads to reduced milk production as the animal becomes weak and also loses appetite due to mouth ulceration.
  • The income losses can also be due to poor growth, reduced draught power capacity and reproductive problems associated with abortions, infertility and lack of semen for artificial insemination.
  • Movement and trade bans after infection also put an economic strain on the whole value chain.
  • A risk assessment study conducted by the FAO based on information available from 2019 to October 2020 revealed that the economic impact of LSD for South, East and Southeast Asian countries “was estimated to be up to $1.45 billion in direct losses of livestock and production”.

India’s Scenario:

  • The current outbreak in India has emerged as a challenge for the dairy sector.
  • India is the world’s largest milk producer at about 210 million tonnes annually.
  • India also has the largest headcount of cattle and buffalo worldwide.
  • In Rajasthan, which is witnessing the worst impact of LSD , it has led to reduced milk production, which lessened by about three to six lakh litres a day.
  • Reports indicate that milk production has also gone down in Punjab owing to the spread of the disease.
  • According to FAO, the disease threatens the livelihoods of smaller poultry farmers significantly.
  • Notably, farmers in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab have incurred losses due to cattle deaths and are seeking compensation from their State governments.

-Source: The Hindu


PM MITRA scheme


Context:

New Mega Textile Park at Dhar district will strengthen Make in India and will create new job opportunities: PM Modi

  • The Parks will come up in Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. It is under PM Mega Integrated Textile Regions and Apparel (PM MITRA) scheme.

Relevance:

GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure (Textile Industry, Government Policies and Initiatives, Industrial Policy)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About PM Mega Investment Textiles Parks (PM MITRA) scheme
  2. Aims and Significance of MITRA
  3. Significance of Textile Sector in India

About PM Mega Investment Textiles Parks (PM MITRA) scheme

  • The PM Mega Investment Textiles Parks (PM MITRA) scheme was launched in 2020 with a plan to establish Seven textile parks which will have a world-class infrastructure over three years.
  • These parks will also have plug-and-play facilities (business facilities will be available ready-made) to help create global champions in exports in the textile sector.
Aims and Significance of MITRA
  • The Mega Investment Textiles Parks (MITRA) Scheme aims to enable the textile industry to become globally competitive and boost exports.
  • The scheme also aims to boost employment generation within the textile sector and also attract large investment.
  • The scheme was launched in addition to the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme.
  • The scheme will create a level-playing field for domestic manufacturers in the international textiles market.
  • It will also pave the way for India to become a global champion of textiles exports across all segments.
  • MITRA will lead to increased investments and enhanced employment opportunities with the support from the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme.

Significance of Textile Sector in India

  • The Textile Sector accounts for 7% of India’s manufacturing output, 2% of GDP, 12% of exports and employs directly and indirectly about 10 crore people.
  • Owing to the abundant supply of raw material and labour, India is the largest producer of cotton (accounting for 25% of the global output) and second-largest producer of textiles and garments and man-made fibres (polyester and viscose).
  • The availability of a strong domestic market in India is a major reason that increases the importance of the sector.

-Source: The Hindu


FIPIC Summit 2023


Context:

Recently, Prime minister of India meets with Pacific Island nation leaders on sidelines of FIPIC Summit in Papua New Guinea.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the FIPIC Summit 2023
  2. About FIPIC

About the FIPIC Summit 2023:

  • The FIPIC Summit 2023, the third forum for India-Pacific islands cooperation, took place today in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
  • The summit was jointly hosted by India and Papua New Guinea, with the Prime Ministers of both countries co-chairing the event.
  • The discussions at the summit covered a wide range of cooperation areas, including commerce, technology, healthcare, and climate change.

About FIPIC:

  • The Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) is a multinational alliance aimed at fostering collaboration between India and 14 Pacific Islands nations.
  • The 14 islands included in FIPIC are Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
  • The first meeting of FIPIC was held in Suva, Fiji in November 2014, where the annual summit was conceptualized.
  • The FIPIC initiative demonstrates India’s commitment to expanding its involvement in the Pacific region.
  • A significant aspect of India’s engagement with these countries is through development assistance under South-South Cooperation, primarily focusing on capacity building, community development projects, and various forms of assistance such as training, scholarships, grant-in-aid, and loan assistance.
  • In 2015, the FIPIC Trade Office was established at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) to promote trade and investment opportunities between India and the Pacific Island Countries.

-Source: The Hindu


IRIS-T Surface-Launched-Missile (SLM) system


Context:

European Union and NATO members Estonia and Latvia will soon begin negotiations with Germany’s Diehl Defence for the purchase of IRIS-T SLM air defence system.

Relevance:

GS III: Defence

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About IRIS-T Surface-Launched-Missile (SLM) system
  2. Key Features of the IRIS-T SLM system

About IRIS-T Surface-Launched-Missile (SLM) system:

  • The IRIS-T SLM system is a medium-range variant of the IRIS-T SL air defense missile system created by Diehl Defense, a German company.
  • This system offers all-around protection, covering a 360° area, against aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles, and guided weapons.
  • It enables the engagement of multiple targets simultaneously, ranging from very short to medium-range, with exceptionally quick response times.
  • It is adaptable for both mobile and stationary deployment.

Key Features of the IRIS-T SLM system:

  • The system consists of three vehicles: a missile launcher, a radar, and a fire-control radar, along with integrated logistics and support.
  • It includes a radar with a range of 250 kilometers (155 miles) for effective surveillance.
  • The missiles utilized in the system employ infrared imaging technology to identify targets.
  • The missiles have a range of 40 kilometers (25 miles) and can reach a maximum altitude of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles).

-Source: The Hindu


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