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9 PM Daily Brief -7 July 2016

7-july

Brief of newspaper articles for the day bearing
relevance to Civil Services preparation

What is 9 PM brief?


GS PAPER 2


[1]Collegium reiterates objections to draft memo

The Hindu

Issue

  • Tussle between judiciary and govt. over appointment of judges.

Context

  • The Supreme Court collegium has reiterated its rejection of several crucial clauses in the government’s draft Memorandum of Procedure for appointment of judges.
Supreme Court        Government
  • The collegium, has taken offence to how the government wants merit to be the overriding concern and not seniority, as is the norm, of judges during appointment and elevation.
  • The collegium has said both merit and seniority should be balanced.
  • The government wants a panel of retired judges to vet the applications of judicial candidates before they are forwarded to the collegium for its recommendations.
  • Besides, the government wants the authority to reject a judicial candidate citing national security reasons despite the collegium’s recommendations.
  • Finally, the government wants the Attorney-General of India and Advocates General of States to have a role in the appointment of Supreme Court and High Court judges, respectively.

Current norms

  • Presently, the government is bound to comply if the Supreme Court collegium chooses to override its disapproval of a person recommended for judicial appointment.

[2]Supreme Court warns judges against judicial overreach

The Hindu

Issue

  • Supreme Court has cautioned the judiciary against judicial activism.

Message to judges by the Supreme Court

  • A judge may be one who would like to sing the song of liberty and glorify the same abandoning passivity, but his solemn pledge has to remain embedded to Constitution and the laws.
  • The apex court said if a judge considered himself or herself a “candle of hope” and took decisions under the influence of such a notion, it might do more harm than good to the society.
  • While using the power he has to bear in mind that ‘discipline’ and ‘restriction’ are the two basic golden virtues within which a judge functions.

[3]The fault in our speech 

The Hindu

Issue

  • Freedom of speech and expression

Context

Power to censor speech lies with the Legislature, and not with the Judiciary

  • Under the Constitution, the judiciary is not granted the power to censor speech.
  • Article 19(2) stipulates that the freedom of speech can be restricted only by a valid “law” — that is, a law enacted by Parliament.
  • Once Parliament passes a law restricting speech, the judiciary may review it to check whether it passes constitutional scrutiny.
  • In the case of banning books, for instance, this procedure is contained in Sections 95 and 96 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • Section 95 authorises the government to ban a book if it appears to have violated certain laws.
  • If the government chooses to ban a book, the writer or publisher may then approach the High Court, arguing that the ban is an unconstitutional invasion of their right to free speech.
  • High Courts can — and often have — struck down bans on this basis.

Importance of this procedure

  • This two-step procedure is vitally important in protecting the right to free speech, since it first requires the government to apply its mind to the question of whether a book may legitimately be banned, and then authorises the court to determine whether the government correctly applied its mind.
  • Straightaway approaching the court for a ban short-circuits an essential safeguard, and also invites the court to step outside its jurisdiction by passing banning orders not contemplated by the Constitution.
  • Unfortunately, this has become an increasingly common tactic in recent years, and one that has far too frequently been entertained by the Supreme Court.
  • In the ongoing Kamlesh Vaswani case, for instance, the Supreme Court admitted — and is hearing — a petition to judicially ban pornographic websites, in the absence of any existing legislation.
  • The Court is yet to provide a satisfactory constitutional justification for this.

Road ahead

  • For speech to be truly free, the judiciary must stop asking literature to justify its aesthetic or its politics before the Bar, whether mediated by an awards jury or not.
  • There should be objective criterion enshrined in the law on the basis of which speech should be censored.
  • Otherwise, writers will be at the mercy of judges.
  • And  they have to be  lucky to have their cases heard by progressive judges, then only they will triumph; but free speech will lose, and lose again.

[4]Chilcot report slams Tony Blair over Iraq war

The Hindu

Issue

  • Report of the Iraq Inquiry, headed by Sir John Chilcot.
  • According to him , this report is an account of an intervention which went badly wrong, with consequences to this day.

 

Key observations

  • The first is that the judgments of the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were “presented [to the British Parliament] with a certainty that was not justified”.
  • Second, the outcome of the invasion was underestimated by Mr. Blair, “despite explicit warnings”.
  • Third, planning for an Iraq after Saddam was “wholly inadequate”, and finally, the government “failed to realise its stated objectives”.
  • Fourth,“There was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein,” when the U.S.-U.K.-led coalition entered Iraq.

Criticism of Tony Blair

  • Mr. Blair emerges as not just an obedient junior ally of the then U.S. President George W. Bush, but as a powerful backer and, sometimes, a step ahead of the U.S. President, first in pushing for regime-change in Iraq, and then endorsing military invasion as a means to carry it out.
  • Mr. Blair, in a misleading statement to Parliament in September 2002, had warned that the-then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological capabilities that posed a threat to the U.K. “with a certainty that was not justified”.

 


GS PAPER 3


[1]‘Almost 30 per cent of our land undergoing degradation’ 

The Hindu

Report

  • According to a study led by the Indian Space Research Organisation that analysed satellite imageries of the country over an eight-year period, nearly 30 per cent per cent of the country’s total geographical area is undergoing degradation.

Key points

  • There was high desertification and degradation in Delhi, Tripura, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh and Mizoram, while Odisha, Telangana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh showed some improvement.
  • India has committed itself to the U.N. Convention on Combating Desertification that it would fully stop land degradation by 2030.
  • 3.6 million ha of productive land are getting lost, while on the positive side, some land has been reclaimed and the intensity of degradation has been slowed down in a few other areas.
  • The main culprit is water erosion (26 per cent) followed by degrading vegetation (rising slightly nearly nine per cent) and land or soil erosion due to wind.

[2]New port in Tamil Nadu may lead to traffic imbalance in the region 

The Hindu

Issue

  • Critical analysis of the recent decision of the Government to  declare  port at Enayam near Colachel on Tamil Nadu’s west coast  as the 13th major port of India.

Excess capacity

  • The plan for the new port is being developed mostly on the basis of trans-shipment potential from the Indian subcontinent.
  • Though the proposed facility is close to the main shipping routes, it will compete for traffic with the ports at Vallarpadam (operated by international player DP World) and Vizhinjam (for which the development concession has been awarded to Adani Ports and SEZ), both on the Kerala coast.
  • This could create excess capacity in the region, eroding the economic viability of half a dozen ports in the vicinity.

Economically unviable

  • To protect the port facility from waves and currents, two breakwaters will be needed – one each on the south and north.
  • The southern breakwater may be shorter than the northern breakwater.
  • But the total length and costs of breakwater may be very high.
  • In addition to this dredging cost to maintain minimum 15 to16 ft draft will be costly and make the project economically unviable.

What are Breakwaters?

  • Breakwaters are structures constructed on coasts as part of coastal defense or to protect an anchorage from the effects of both weather and longshore drift.
  • Breakwaters reduce the intensity of wave action in inshore waters and thereby reduce coastal erosion or provide safe harbourage.

Colombo competition

  • If the purpose of this port is to woo trans-shipment container traffic from Colombo, it would be a challenging task.

Road ahead

  • Hinterland connectivity is much more important than just putting up a port.

[3] ICRA sees pick-up in rural demand

The Hindu

Good news

  • A pick-up in monsoon is likely to boost rural demand.

How?

  • A pick-up in the monsoon will boost demand for agricultural inputs and set the stage for improved output of various agri-commodities.
  • And on the consumption side,  it is anticipated that there will be  enhanced consumption in the wake of pay and pension revisions announced for Central Government employees.

Additional points:

  • Expectation of an above-average volume of rainfall in 2016 comes as a big relief after deficits witnessed in the last two years though the likely temporal distribution is less than ideal.
  • Regional variations in rainfall would impact the outlook for specific crops such as sugar.
  • Food inflation is expected to dip as the monsoon progresses, taking a cue from improved kharif acreage, as well as lower prices of perishables following a decline in temperatures.

 

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