Daily Current Affairs: 14th December 2021

Topics covered

  1. Role of Governor in State Universities
  2. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
  3. Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR)
  4. The National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Bill
  5. Facts for Prelims

1 . Role of Governor in State Universities

Context : A controversy has erupted in Kerala over the reappointment of Gopinath Ravindran as the Vice Chancellor of Kannur University, with Governor Arif Mohammed Khan saying he approved the decision against his “better judgement” as Chancellor. In a letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on December 8, Khan expressed his desire to step down as Chancellor, alleging political interference in the universities.

What is the role of Governors in state universities?

  • In most cases, the Governor of the state is the ex-officio chancellor of the universities in that state. While the Governor’s powers and functions as the Chancellor are laid out in the statutes that govern the universities under a particular state government, their role in appointing the Vice Chancellors has often triggered disputes with the political executive.
  • In Kerala’s case, the Governor’s official portal asserts that “while as Governor he functions with the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, as Chancellor he acts independently of the Council of Ministers and takes his own decisions on all University matters”. In marked contrast, the website of Rajasthan’s Raj Bhawan states that the “Governor appoints the Vice Chancellor on the advice/ in consultation with the State Government”

What about central universities?

  • Under the Central Universities Act, 2009, and other statutes, the President of India shall be the Visitor of a central university.  With their role limited to presiding over convocations, Chancellors in central universities are titular heads, who are appointed by the President in his capacity as Visitor. The VCs too are appointed by the Visitor from panels of names picked by search and selection committees formed by the Union government.
  • The Act adds that the President, as Visitor, shall have the right to authorise inspections of academic and non-academic aspects of the universities and also to institute inquiries.

2 . United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

Context: India remained committed to promoting a free, open and rules-based order rooted in international law and undaunted by coercion, the Centre informed Parliament on Monday while reiterating support for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).


  • The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was adopted in 1982. 
  • It replaced the four Geneva Conventions of April, 1958, which respectively concerned the territorial sea and the contiguous zone, the continental shelf, the high seas, fishing and conservation of living resources on the high seas.
  • The Convention has created three new institutions on the international scene :
    • the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea,
    • the International Seabed Authority
    • the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf


  • The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is established to define coastal and maritime boundaries, to regulate seabed exploration not within territorial claims, and to distribute revenue from regulated exploration.
  • It lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world’s oceans and seas establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources.
  • It embodies in one instrument traditional rules for the uses of the oceans and at the same time introduces new legal concepts and regimes and addresses new concerns.
  • The Convention also provides the framework for further development of specific areas of the law of the sea.
  • The Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) of the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations serves as the secretariat of the Convention on the Law of the Sea and provides information, advice and assistance to States with a view to providing a better understanding of the Convention and the related Agreements, their wider acceptance, uniform and consistent application and effective implementation. 
  • The Division monitors all developments relating to the Convention, the law of the sea and ocean affairs and reports annually to the General Assembly of the United Nations on those developments.
  • It also assists the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea in reviewing such developments.

International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS)

  • It is an intergovernmental organization created by the mandate of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea.
  • It was established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, signed at Montego Bay, Jamaica, on 10 December 1982.
  • The Convention entered into force on 16 November 1994, and established an international framework for law over all ocean space, its uses and resources.
  • The ITLOS is one of four dispute resolution mechanisms listed in Article 287 of the UNCLOS.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA)

  • It is an autonomous international organization established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1994 Agreement). 
  • ISA  is the organization through which States Parties to UNCLOS organize and control all mineral-resources-related activities in the Area for the benefit of mankind as a whole.
  • In so doing, ISA has the mandate to ensure the effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects that may arise from deep-seabed related activities.
  • ISA which has its headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica, came into existence on 16 November 1994, upon the entry into force of UNCLOS. 
  • ISA became fully operational as an autonomous international organization in June 1996, when it took over the premises and facilities in Kingston, Jamaica previously used by the United Nations Kingston Office for the Law of the Sea. 
  • In accordance with article 156 (2) of UNCLOS, all States Parties to UNCLOS are ipso facto members of ISA. As of 1 May 2020, ISA has 168 members, including 167 member States and the European Union. 

Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf

  • The Convention on the Continental Shelf was an international treaty created to codify the rules of international law relating to continental shelves.
  • The treaty, after entering into force 10 June 1964, established the rights of a sovereign state over the continental shelf surrounding it, if there be any.
  • The treaty was one of three agreed upon at the first United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS I).
  • It has since been superseded by a new agreement reached in 1982 at UNCLOS III.
  • The purpose of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (the Commission or CLCS) is to facilitate the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the Convention) in respect of the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles (M) from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured. Under the Convention, the coastal State shall establish the outer limits of its continental shelf where it extends beyond 200 M on the basis of the recommendation of the Commission.
  • The Commission shall make recommendations to coastal States on matters related to the establishment of those limits; its recommendations and actions shall not prejudice matters relating to the delimitation of boundaries between States with opposite or adjacent coasts.

India and UNCLOS

  • For years India’s territorial waters and continental shelf were governed by proclamations issued by the President of India.
  • In 1976, consequent upon the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (“UNCLOS”), held at Geneva, the Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zones and Maritime Zones Act, 1976 was enacted in India.
  • Hereunder, land, minerals and other resources, underlying the ocean, within the territorial waters, the continental shelf or the Exclusive Economic Zone3 (“EEZ”) are vested with the Union of India.
  • The Act categorically prescribes the limits of the territorial waters, continental shelf, EEZ6 and other maritime zones of India.
  • It also provides the legal framework specifying the nature, scope and extent of India’s rights, jurisdiction and control of various maritime zones; the maritime boundaries between India and its neighboring countries; and the exploitation, exploration, conservation and management of natural resources within the maritime zones.
  •  As a State party to the UNCLOS, India promoted utmost respect for the UNCLOS, which established the international legal order of the seas and ocean

3 . Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR)


  • India’s policy on maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is based on the approach of SAGAR – Security And Growth for All in the Region.
  • However, there is no single officially released document that lays down the approach of SAGAR although numerous maritime events and initiatives are attributed as part of it.
  • The only source of reference is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech of 12 March 2015 on the occasion of the Commissioning Ceremony of Mauritius National Coast Guard Ship Barracuda.
  • Supplementing this are the two speeches by the former External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj on the occasion of the 2nd and 3rd Indian Ocean Conference.


  • The vision of SAGAR has been articulated by the Prime Minister as follows: “Our vision for the Indian Ocean Region is rooted in advancing cooperation in our region and to use our capabilities for the benefit of all in our common maritime home.”
  • Although this vision is articulated for the IOR, in his Keynote Address at the Shangri La Dialogue on 01 June 2018, Prime Minister Modi indicated that SAGAR “is the creed we follow to our east now even more vigorously through our Act East policy”.
  • The end goal for the cooperation is clear – “the benefit of all”.

Constituent Elements

  • It is instructive to quote elaborately from the Prime Minister’s speech to cull out the constituent elements of SAGAR.
  • The first element is “to do everything to safeguard our mainland and islands and defend our interests.
  • The second element is to “deepen our economic and security cooperation with our friends in the region, especially our maritime neighbours and island states.
  • The third element dwells on the approach that “collective action and cooperation will advance peace and security in our maritime region.
  • The fourth element is to enhance “the prospects for sustainable development for all”.
  • The fifth element emanates from the recognition “that there are other nations around the world, with strong interests and stakes in the region.
  • Regional connectivity and maritime infrastructure development can be considered as an additional element of SAGAR, although it was included in the vision articulated by the Prime Minister as part of “sustainable development”
  • Having identified the elements of SAGAR, we can elaborate on them by tagging them under the following sub-sections:
    • Security.
    • Capacity building.
    • Collective action.
    • Sustainable development.
    • Maritime engagement.
    • Regional connectivity


  • The SAGAR initiatives accord the opportunity to enable free movement of people, goods and services across the IOR.
  • Enhancement of connectivity and integration of markets would be mutually beneficial to all nations. People to people interactions can aid in ensuring stability in the region.
  • Access to large markets will enable the smaller nations to have the means to support sustainable economic progress.
  • If the IOR nations can get together to provide a Common Operational Picture (COP) of MDA for the region, it will greatly help to maintain security.
  • These initiatives will also augment India’s benign image of an enabler and provider, an acceptable regional leader ready to shoulder responsibilities for mutual benefit.

4 . The National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Bill

Context: Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju told the Rajya Sabha on Monday that there was a call from within the judiciary and parliamentarians to change the collegium system for appointment of judges. There is a growing voice in favour of reintroduction of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Bill, Law and Justice Minister Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

About NJAC

  • The Bill provides for the procedure to be followed by the NJAC for recommending persons for appointment as Chief Justice of India and other Judges of the Supreme Court (SC), and Chief Justice and other Judges of High Courts (HC).
  • The NJAC Act, 2014 was enacted by the Narendra Modi government to regulate the procedure to be followed the NJAC for recommending names for appointment as Chief Justice of India and other judges of Supreme Court and Chief Justices and judges of High Courts and for their transfers.
  • However, in October 2015, Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional an amendment to the Constitution establishing the NJAC.

Highlights of the Bill

Reference to Commission for filling up of vacancies

  • When a vacancy arises in the SC or HCs, the central government will make a reference to the NJAC. 
  • Existing vacancies will be notified to the NJAC within thirty days of the Act entering into force.
  • When a vacancy arises due to the completion of term, a reference will be made to the NJAC, six months in advance.
  • For vacancies due to death or resignation, a reference must be made to the NJAC within thirty days of its occurrence.

Procedure for Selection of Supreme Court judges

  • Chief Justice of India: The NJAC shall recommend the senior most judge of the Supreme Court for appointment as Chief Justice of India.  This is provided he is considered fit to hold the office.
  • SC judges: The NJAC shall recommend names of persons on the basis of their ability, merit and other criteria specified in the regulations.
  • Veto power of members: The NJAC shall not recommend a person for appointment if any two of its members do not agree to such recommendation.

Procedure for Selection of High Courts judges

  • Chief Justices of HCs: The NJAC is to recommend a Judge of a High Court to be the Chief Justice of a High Court on the basis of seniority across High Court judges. The ability, merit and other criteria of suitability as specified in the regulations would also be considered.
  • Appointment of other HC Judges:
  • Nominations: Nominations shall be sought from Chief Justice of the concerned High Court for appointments of HC judges.
  • Eliciting views: The Commission shall nominate names for appointment of HC judges and forward such names to the Chief Justice of the concerned HCs for his views.
  • In both cases, the Chief Justice of the HC shall consult two senior most judges of that HC and any other judges and advocates as specified in the regulations.
  • Views of the Governor and CM: The NJAC shall elicit the views of the Governor and Chief Minister of the state before making recommendations.
  • Veto power of members: The NJAC shall not recommend a person for appointment if any two members of the Commission do not agree to such recommendation.

Transfer of Chief Justices and High Court judges:

  • The NJAC is to make recommendations for transfer of Chief Justices and other judges of the High Courts. 
  • The procedure to be followed will be specified in the regulations.

Power of the President to require reconsideration

  • The President may require the NJAC to reconsider the recommendations made by it.
  • If the NJAC makes a unanimous recommendation after such reconsideration, the President shall make the appointment accordingly.

What is Supreme Court of India Collegium and How it Works?

  • The Collegium of the Supreme Court consists of 5 senior most Judges including the Chief Justice of India.
  • They will consider the elevation of Chief Justices/Judges of High Court to Supreme Court, elevation of Judges of High Courts as Chief Justices and elevation of Judges. In case of difference of opinion, the majority view will prevail.
  • Since Constitution mandates consultation with the Chief Justice of India is necessary for appointments to judiciary, the collegium model evovled.

What is the Collegium System?

  • It is a system under which appointments and transfers of judges are decided by a forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
  • It has no place in the Indian Constitution.

What does the Constitution actually prescribe?

  • Article 124 deals with the appointment of Supreme Court judges.
  • It says the appointment should be made by the President after consultation with such judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court as the President may deem necessary.
  • The CJI is to be consulted in all appointments, except his or her own.
  • Article 217 deals with the appointment of High Court judges.
  • It says a judge should be appointed by the President after consultation with the CJI and the Governor of the state.
  • The Chief Justice of the High Court concerned too should be consulted.

5 . Facts for Prelims

International North South Transport Corridor

  • International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a multi modal transportation initiated in 2000 for the purpose of promoting transportation cooperation among the Member States.
  • It is a 7,200km long multi-mode transport project for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Russia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Ukraine.
  • It is a strategic significant connectivity project in Central Asia and Europe.
  • Corridor connects India Ocean and Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran, Islamic Rep., and is then connected to Saint Petersburg and North European via Russia.
  • The agreement was signed on 16th May 2002. Now all parties specially India, Iran and Russia are working to come bring the INSTC to life.
  • The INSTC connects Mumbai to Moscow and passes through Iran and Azerbaijan. India has good ties with both Armenia and Azerbaijan.
  • India is very interested to include the Iran’s Chabahar Port to facilitate such connectivity.
  • The INSTC extends from Mumbai to Chabahar via Azerbaijan to Moscow, offering much potential for India’s regional connectivity plans.

Supersonic missile-assisted torpedo system

  • A supersonic missile-assisted torpedo system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was successfully launched from Wheeler Island.
  • The system is a next-generation missile-based stand-off torpedo delivery system
  • The system has been designed to enhance anti-submarine warfare capability far beyond the conventional range of the torpedo.
  • This canister-based missile system consists of advanced technologies — two-stage solid propulsion, electro-mechanical actuators and precision inertial navigation.

Miss Universe

  • Punjab’s Harnaaz Sandhu on Monday won the Miss Universe 2021 pageant, beating contestants from 79 countries to bring the title back to India after 21 years.
  • Only two Indians before Ms. Sandhu, just 21 and an actor as well as a model, have been crowned Miss Universe earlier — actors Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000.

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