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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 19 October 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Centre: Judiciary should not act as a ‘super-legislature’
  2. India – Israel FTA talks back
  3. Kushinagar Airport – Buddhist connect with Sri Lanka
  4. IEA’s World Energy Outlook (WEO) report 2021

Centre: Judiciary should not act as a ‘super-legislature’

Context:

In his speech, the former United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt said that the judiciary ought not to act as a “super-legislature”.

The government used this remark to criticize the Supreme Court’s move to entertain the challenge to the Tribunal Reforms Act by Rajya Sabha member who claimed that the Tribunal Reforms Act was an attack on judicial independence.

The government said it was the “exclusive right” of Parliament and the executive to frame policy and execute it.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Separation of Powers, Judiciary, Judgements & Cases), GS-II: Governance (Government Policies and Initiatives, Issues arising out the design and implementation of the Policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Other recent events that concern Separation of Powers
  2. What is the separation of power?
  3. Functional Overlapping amongst the organs of Government
  4. 2021 Judgement on Judiciary intervening in Govt.’s policies
  5. What is meant by independent of judiciary?
  6. Tribunal Reforms Bill 2021

Other recent events that concern Separation of Powers

  • Judicial intervention in response to the Union government’s flailing response to the health crisis has reached its apotheosis with the Supreme Court order forming a 12-member national task force for the effective and transparent allocation of medical oxygen to the States and Union Territories “on a scientific, rational and equitable basis”.
  • When the Karnataka High Court ordered last week that the Centre should supply 1,200 tonnes of medical oxygen daily to the State, the Centre rushed with a challenge to the apex court. The Supreme Court declined to stay the order, describing it as a careful and calibrated one.
  • This trend did raise concerns about the judiciary encroaching on the executive domain. There is some merit in the argument that allocation of resources based on a formula related to the present and projected requirements of each State is indeed an executive function.
  • Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, who heads the Bench hearing the suo motu proceedings, has clarified that the Court was not usurping the executive’s role, but only wanted to facilitate a dialogue among stakeholders.

What is the separation of power?

  • The separation of power is part of governing of a state in which the components of state like legislative, executive and judiciary remain independent with each other so that the powers of one branch are not in conflict with those of the other branches. It is also a part of independent of judiciary.
  • Separation of powers, therefore, refers to the division of government responsibilities into distinct branches to limit any one branch from exercising the core functions of another.  The intent is to prevent the concentration of power and provide for checks and balances.

Although the Constitution of India does not provide strictly for the separation of powers, these articles provide a general guideline:

  1. Article 50: This states that the State or the Government concerned will take appropriate steps to ensure that the judicial branch is separated from the functioning and working of the executive branch.
  2. Article 121 & 211: It, in a way, provides for the separation of the legislature and the judiciary. This article states that the conduct of justice or the way a judge discharges his duties of any Court cannot be discussed in the legislature (state or union).
  3. Article 122 & 212: This article is aimed at keeping the judiciary (the law interpreting body) and the legislature (the law-making body) separated. It does so by stripping the judiciary of any power to review and question the validity of proceedings that take in a legislature or the Parliament.
  4. Article 361: This article separates the judiciary and the executive. It states that the President or any governor of any state is not answerable to any court in the country for actions and activities are taken in performance/exercise of the powers and duties of their office.

Functional Overlapping amongst the organs of Government

  • While separation of powers is key to the workings of Indian Government, no democratic system exists with an absolute separation of powers or an absolute lack of separation of powers.
  • Every organ is, in a way, overlapped in its practical functioning with the other two organs of the Government. This overlapping enables the organs to act as a check on each other without too much interference.

Overlapping Powers of Legislature

With JudiciaryWith Executive
Impeachment and the removal of the judges. Power to amend laws declared ultra vires by the Court and revalidating it. In case of breach of its privilege and it can punish the person concerned.  The heads of each governmental ministries are members of the legislature. Through a no-confidence vote, it can dissolve the Government. Power to assess the works of the executive. Impeachment of the President. The council of ministers on whose advice the President and the Governor acts are elected members of the legislature. 

Overlapping Powers of The Executive

With JudiciaryWith Legislature
Making appointments to the office of Chief Justice and other judges. Powers to grant pardons, reprieve, respite or remission of punishments or sentence of any person convicted of any offence. The tribunals and other quasi-judicial bodies which are a part of the executive also discharge judicial functions.Power to promulgate ordinance which has the same force of the Act made by the Parliament or the State legislature. Authority to make rules for regulating their respective procedure and conduct of business subject to the provisions of this Constitution. Powers under delegated legislation.

Overlapping Powers of The Judiciary

With ExecutiveWith Legislative
Under Article 142, the Supreme Court functions as an Executive in order to bring about the complete justice.Judicial review, i.e., the power to review executive action to determine if it violates the Constitution. Rigidity / Non-Amendability of the Constitution under basic structure.

2021 Judgement on Judiciary intervening in Govt.’s policies

May 2021 Judgement on Separation of Powers – SC Can intervene

  • In May 2021, the SC bench while hearing the suo motu case “Distribution of Essential Supplies and Services During the Pandemic” enunciated that our Constitution does not envisage courts to be silent spectators when constitutional rights of citizens are infringed by executive policies. Judicial review and soliciting constitutional justification for policies formulated by the executive is an essential function, which the courts are entrusted to perform.
  • Responding to the government’s argument that it should have “room for free play in the joints” while dealing with the pandemic, the SC bench said that the court has no intention to “second-guess the wisdom of the executive”. However, it continues to exercise jurisdiction to determine if the chosen policy measure conforms to the standards of reasonableness, militates against manifest arbitrariness and protects the right to life of all persons.
  • The judgment highlighted that courts across the globe have responded to constitutional challenges to executive policies which violate rights and liberties of citizens.

July 2021 Judgement on Separation of Powers – SC should not undermine executive

  • The resolve voiced by a Division Bench of the Supreme Court recently to “examine” the extent to which the judiciary can question the government’s COVID-19 policies drifts from the court’s three-judge Bench judgment previously in May 2021 which held that courts cannot be “silent spectators when constitutional rights of citizens are infringed by executive policies”.
  • In July 2021, a Supreme Court Bench said that courts should not undermine the executive at a time when a “collective effort” was required to overcome the public health crisis.
  • According to the latest judgement, the Executive has the benefit of experts with their expert knowledge and there are certain norms based on which every institution should function, hence, the courts intervention into matters pertaining to the executive should not be overpowering.

What is meant by independent of judiciary?

Judiciary is an important pillar of democracy which adjudicates the disputes and ensures that the government must run according to spirit of the Indian constitution. The Indian constitution protect independence of judiciary through following ways:

  • The judges of higher judiciary are appointed by the president of India in consultation with the members of judiciary itself moreover the collegium gives recommendations regarding appointment of judges.
  • The salary and expenditure of the Supreme Court and Judges are charged from Consolidated fund of India.
  • Judges and their conduct cannot be discussed except during the removal.
  • Supreme Court judges are barred from practice after the retirement (High court Judges can practice)
  • Supreme Court can appoint its own staff.
  • Parliament cannot curtail jurisdiction of Supreme Court but can extend it.
  • Security of tenure for judges it means the President of India can remove the judges according the grounds mention in Indian constitution.

Click Here to read more about the Tribunal Reforms Bill, 2021

-Source: The Hindu


India – Israel FTA talks back

Context:

India and Israel agreed to resume long-pending negotiations on a free trade agreement, as External Affairs Minister of India met his Israeli counterpart.

Both leaders also joined a virtual quadrilateral meeting with U.S. Secretary of State and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister.

Recently India and Israel had signed “a three-year work program agreement” for development in agriculture cooperation.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Foreign Policies and Agreements affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. History of India–Israel relations
  2. Bilateral Cooperation on defence between India and Israel
  3. Trade relations between India and Israel

History of India–Israel relations

  • India and the State of Israel have an extensive economic, military, and strategic relationship.
  • India’s position on the establishment of the State of Israel was affected by many factors, including India’s own partition on religious lines, and India’s relationship with other nations.
  • Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi believed the Jews had a good case and a prior claim for Israel, but opposed the creation of Israel on religious or mandated terms. Gandhi believed that the Arabs were the rightful occupants of Palestine, and was of the view that the Jews should return to their countries of origin.
  • Albert Einstein wrote a four-page letter to Jawaharlal Nehru in 1947, to persuade India to support the setting up of a Jewish state. (Einstein’s request was not accepted).
  • India voted against the Partitioning of Palestine plan of 1947 and voted against Israel’s admission to the United Nations in 1949.
  • It was only in 1950, that India officially recognised the State of Israel.

Bilateral Cooperation on defence between India and Israel

  • The strategic cooperation between the two countries began during the Sino-India War of 1962 and improved when Israel supplied M-58 160-mm mortar ammunition to India in the war against Pakistan in 1965.
  • Israel was also one of the few countries that chose not to condemn India’s Pokhran nuclear tests in 1998.
  • India is the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment and Israel is the second-largest supplier of military equipment to India after Russia.
  • Israel has been among the top four arms suppliers to India for almost two decades now, notching military sales worth around USD 1 billion every year.
  • The Indian armed forces have inducted a wide array of Israeli weapon systems over the years, which range from Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) and Heron, Searcher-II and Harop drones to Barak anti-missile defence systems and Spyder quick-reaction anti-aircraft missile systems.
  • Military and strategic ties between the two nations extend to intelligence-sharing on terrorist groups and joint military training.

Trade relations between India and Israel

  • India was the third-largest Asian trade partner of Israel in 2014.
  • Israeli companies have invested in India in energy, renewable energy, telecom, real estate, water technologies, and are focusing on setting up R&D centers or production units in India.
  • Trade in diamonds constitutes close to 40% of bilateral trade.
  • The first recipients of grants from the Israel-India Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F) [to help Israeli entrepreneurs enter the Indian market] were announced in July 2018, including companies working to better the lives of Indians and Israelis through efficient water use, improving communications infrastructure, solar energy use, and life-changing surgeries.

-Source: The Hindu


Kushinagar Airport – Buddhist connect with Sri Lanka

Context:

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi declares open the Kushinagar International Airport in Uttar Pradesh a sizeable Sri Lankan contingent including a group of 100 Buddhist monks, led by a member of the first family, will be present.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Foreign Policy of India)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Kushinagar Airport and its significance
  2. Cultural diplomacy
  3. Buddhist link between India and Sri Lanka

About the Kushinagar Airport and its significance

  • The airport is expected to provide seamless connectivity to tourists from Sri Lanka, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, etc.
  • This airport is especially significant for Sri Lanka as Kushinagar is the centre of the Buddhist circuit, which consists of pilgrimage sites at Lumbini, Sarnath and Gaya.
  • To mark the occasion, Sri Lanka will present to India photographs of two murals painted by renowned Sri Lankan artist Solias Mendis.
  • Enhancing connectivity between the neighbours and tourist exchanges were among the key talking points during Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit to Sri Lanka earlier in 2021.
  • To add to this, recently, Sri Lanka and India have agreed to strengthen ties through their shared Buddhist heritage.

Cultural diplomacy

  • In the decade after the civil war in Sri Lanka – which coincides with China’s growing influence in the island nation, New Delhi seems keen on recasting its image as a friend and collaborator, using religious and cultural diplomacy.
  • India regularly invokes the Buddha and Buddhist history in its messaging in Sri Lanka, especially on social media.
  • When India sent the first consignment of 5 lakh doses of Covishield vaccines to Sri Lanka in January 2021 – the Indian High Commission in Colombo linked its arrival to a “blessed Poya Day”, or full moon day considered holy by Buddhists.
  • In 2020, Indian prime minister announced a $ 15 million grant to Sri Lanka for promoting bilateral Buddhist ties. This is a first of its kind grant announcement by India which may be utilised for construction/renovation of Buddhist monasteries, education of young monks, strengthening engagement of Buddhist scholars and clergy, development of Buddhist heritage museums, cultural exchanges, archaeological cooperation, and reciprocal exposition of The Buddha’s relics.
  • Sri Lanka, too, considers promoting shared Buddhist ties a matter of “paramount importance”, as was outlined in the Integrated Country Strategy prepared by Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India.

Buddhist link between India and Sri Lanka

  • History reveals that the advent of Buddhism to Sri Lanka during the time of Emperor Ashoka was the result of cross-border discourse.
  • Buddhism is one of the strongest pillars connecting the two nations and civilizations from the time when the Great Indian Emperor Ashoka sent his children Arhat Mahinda and Theri Sangamitta to spread the teachings of Lord Buddha at the request of King Devanampiya Tissa of Sri Lanka.
  • For many centuries in the first millennia, the ancient capital city of Anuradhapura housed an international community which included traders from India, China, Rome, Arabia and Persia. Later, Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka travelled to India, China, Cambodia and Java leaving behind inscriptions.
  • Underlining the deep people-to-people connect and shared Buddhist heritage between India and Sri Lanka, the venerated relics of Lord Buddha from Kapilawasthu discovered in 1970 in India have been exhibited two times in Sri Lanka.
  • Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka, to this day, contain shrines for Hindu deities.

-Source: The Hindu


IEA’s World Energy Outlook (WEO) report 2021

Context:

The IEA, which advises governments on energy policy, released its annual World Energy Outlook (WEO) report 2021, just weeks before the United Nations COP26 summit in Glasgow.

The World Energy Outlook (WEO) Report is published every year and provides critical analysis and insights on trends in energy demand and supply.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of Environment, Important International Institutions), GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure (Energy Sector, Sources of Energy, Types of Resources and Sustainable use of Resources)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. International Energy Agency (IEA)
  2. Highlights of the World Energy Outlook (WEO) Report 2021
  3. What was said in the WEO report regarding India?
  4. Way forward suggested in the WEO report 2021

Click Here to read about the International Energy Agency (IEA)

Highlights of the World Energy Outlook (WEO) Report 2021

  • Renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, hydropower and bioenergy, need to form a far bigger share in the rebound in energy investment after the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Demand for renewables continues to grow. However, this clean energy progress is still far too slow to put global emissions into sustained decline towards net zero by 2050, which the IEA believes will help limit the increase in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • The extra investment might not be as difficult as it sounds. More than 40% of the required emissions reductions would come from measures that pay for themselves, such as:
  • The IEA analyzed two possible scenarios:
    1. Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS): This looks at the measures and policies that governments have already put in place. Despite the measures, annual worldwide emissions would still be the same as developing countries build up their infrastructure. Under this scenario, temperatures in the year 2100 would be 2.6 C higher than pre industrial levels.
    2. Pledge for Net Zero: This looks at governments’ pledges to achieve net-zero emissions, potentially doubling clean energy investment over the next decade. If countries manage to implement these pledges in time, the global average temperature increase would be around 2.1 C by the year 2100 — an improvement, but still well above the 1.5 Celsius agreed under the Paris accord.

What was said in the WEO report regarding India?

  • India will become the most populous nation surpassing China’s population this decade, and by 2050 India crosses 1.6 billion in population whereas China’s population is projected to decrease.
  • India’s GDP will be growing faster than China on average over the next three decades [5.3% vs China’s 3.6%].
  • In India, over 50 GW of Financially Stressed Coal Assets (NPAs) has created strains in the banking system – Coal demand in India is expected to grow by around 30% by 2030.
  • As per their announced pledges, after China, India is projected to be the next largest user of unabated coal, responsible for about 15% of global use for electricity generation in 2030.
  • Recently 1.67 million premature deaths in India were linked to air pollution, that’s more than three deaths every minute.
  • India’s success in financing a rapid expansion of solar photovoltaics (pv) in pursuit of its 450 GW target for renewables by 2030 was highlighted as a notable example of developing economies mobilising capital for clean energy projects.
  • The WEO report 2021 calls for India to mandate a default set point temperature of 24 degrees Celsius for all room air conditioners and tighter minimum performance standards with the aim to improve efficiencies as the demand for cooling and power increases.

Way forward suggested in the WEO report 2021

  • Clean Electrification is the need of the hour and it requires a doubling of solar PV and wind deployment relative to the announced pledges scenarios.
  • It also recommended a major expansion of other low-emissions generation, including the use of nuclear power where acceptable; a huge build-out of electricity infrastructure and all forms of system flexibility, including from hydropower; a rapid phase-out of coal; and a drive to expand electricity use for transport and heating.
  • It calls for a relentless focus on energy efficiency, together with measures to temper energy service demand through materials efficiency and behavioral change.
  • It also recommends to cut methane emissions from fossil fuel operations and provide a big boost to clean energy innovation.

-Source: Indian Express

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