Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Second Judges Case
- Study on Impact of Climate change caused by human activity
- Katchatheevu Controversy
- Nagaparamba Excavation
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Second Judges Case
Context : The appointment of a Delhi High Court judge, Justice Siddharth Mridul, as the Chief Justice of the Manipur High Court, remains in limbo six weeks after the Supreme Court Collegium proposed his name on July 5. The Manipur High Court is, at present, functioning under Acting Chief Justice M.V. Muralidharan.
Background of the issue
- The office of the Chief Justice had fallen vacant in February 2023, following the elevation of Justice P.V. Sanjay Kumar to the Supreme Court.
- Within days of the Collegium recommending Justice Mridul, Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud had in open court, while hearing petitions concerning the ethnic violence which has rocked the State, said that a regular Chief Justice would be appointed soon to the High Court.
- Justice Mridul’s file had been sent by the Centre to the Manipur government for consent. However, nothing further was heard of it in the public domain.
What is ‘Deemed consent’
- The top court’s Constitution Bench in the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association versus Union of India, also popularly known as the ‘Second Judges Case’, has held that the consultation process should be completed within a stipulated time of six weeks. In case any constitutional functionary delays consent beyond the stipulated time, the consent is “deemed”. However, the Memorandum of Procedure does not mention “deemed consent” or a six-week period.
Key Points of the Judgement
- According to the Judgement “Adherence to a time-bound schedule would prevent any undue delay and avoid dilatory methods in the appointment process. On initiation of the proposal by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) or the Chief Justice of the High Court, as the case may be, failure of any other constitutional functionary to express its opinion within the specified period should be construed to mean the deemed agreement of that functionary with the recommendation, and the President is expected to make the appointment in accordance with the final opinion of the Chief Justice of India,” the 1993 judgment had directed.
- The judgment said that after expiry of the specified time within which all the constitutional functionaries were to give their opinion, the Chief Justice of India is expected to request the President to make the appointment without any further delay, the process of consultation being complete.
- “On initiation of the proposal by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) or the Chief Justice of the High Court, as the case may be, copies should be sent simultaneously to all the other constitutional functionaries involved. Within the period of six weeks from receipt of the same, the other functionaries must convey their opinion to the Chief Justice of India (CJI),” the judgment said.
- In case any of the functionaries involved disagree or change their opinion about a candidate, the dissent should be conveyed within the six-week period.
- The Chief Justice of India (CJI) would then form his final opinion and convey it to the President within four weeks, for final action to be taken.
Three Judges Case
- The collegium system has its genesis in a series of judgments called “Judges Cases”. The collegium came into being through interpretations of pertinent constitutional provisions by the Supreme Court in the Judges Cases.
- First Judges Case: In S P Gupta Vs Union of India, 1981, held that the proposal for appointment to a High Court can emanate from any of the constitutional functionaries mentioned in Article 217 and not necessarily from the Chief Justice of the High Court. The Constitution Bench also held that the term “consultation” used in Articles 124 and 217 was not “concurrence” — meaning that although the President will consult these functionaries, his decision was not bound to be in concurrence with all of them. The judgment tilted the balance of power in appointments of judges of High Courts in favour of the executive.
- Second Judges Case: In The Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association Vs Union of India, 1993, a nine-judge Constitution Bench overruled the decision in S P Gupta and devised a specific procedure called ‘Collegium System’ for the appointment and transfer of judges in the higher judiciary. The majority verdict accorded primacy to the CJI in matters of appointment and transfers while also ruling that the the term “consultation” would not diminish the primary role of the CJI in judicial appointments. Ushering in the collegium system, the court said that the recommendation should be made by the CJI in consultation with his two seniormost colleagues, and that such recommendation should normally be given effect to by the executive. It added that although it was open to the executive to ask the collegium to reconsider the matter if it had an objection to the name recommended, if, on reconsideration, the collegium reiterated the recommendation, the executive was bound to make the appointment.
- Third Judges Case: In 1998, President K R Narayanan issued a Presidential Reference to the Supreme Court over the meaning of the term “consultation” under Article 143 of the Constitution (advisory jurisdiction). In response, the Supreme Court laid down 9 guidelines for the functioning of the coram for appointments and transfers. This opinion laid down that the recommendation should be made by the CJI and his four seniormost colleagues, instead of two. It also held that Supreme Court judges who hailed from the High Court for which the proposed name came, should also be consulted. It was also held that even if two judges gave an adverse opinion, the CJI should not send the recommendation to the government.
2 . Study on Impact of Climate change caused by human activity
Context : Climate change caused by human activity under a high-emissions scenario may halve the area covered by glaciers outside the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets by the end of the century, as per a study published in Nature. This will have marked ecological and societal cascading consequences, as novel ecosystems develop to fill emerging new habitat. However, there has been no complete spatial analysis carried out to quantify or anticipate the important changeover.
Key Findings of the study
- “Under a high-emissions scenario (in which global greenhouse gas emissions triple by 2075), about half of 2020 glacier area could be lost by 2100. “However, this could be curbed by a low-emissions scenario (in which net zero is achieved by 2050), which would reduce this loss to approximately 22%.”
- As per the modelling exercise, the loss of glacier area will range from 22% to 51%, depending on the climate scenario.
- It would mean that by 2100, the decline of all glaciers outside the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets may produce “new terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems over an area ranging from the size of Nepal (1,49,000sq. km) to that of Finland (3,39,000 sq. km)”.
- In the deglaciated areas, the new ecosystems will be characterised by “extreme to mild ecological conditions” encompassing terrestrial, freshwater and even marine habitats.
- While such drastic changes might favour primary productivity, it may also lead to increased numbers of non-native species and those that can thrive under certain conditions such as cold-adapted species and generalist species.
- “Such vast emergence on a relatively short timescale will add to the complexity of glacial dynamics and will increase the challenge of glacier conservation,” notes an accompanying News & Views piece in the journal. Ironically, less than half of glacial areas are located in protected areas.
- In response to the possible scenarios, the authors “emphasise the need to urgently and simultaneously enhance climate-change mitigation and the in-situ protection of these ecosystems to secure their existence, functioning and values”. This is the first ever attempt towards getting a full understanding of the ecosystem shift associated with global deglaciation.
3 . BRICS
Context : All eyes this week are on Johannesburg, as leaders of the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) grouping are hosted by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. BRICS is essentially a movement of “emerging economies”, and thus gives a salience to economic issues, but given the geopolitical flux especially after the war in Ukraine, this BRICS summit takes on a new importance. It is, therefore, no surprise that many Western capitals are watching the summit closely.
- BRICS is an informal group of states comprising the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa.
- On November 30, 2001, Jim O’Neill, a British economist who was then chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, coined the term ‘BRIC’ to describe the four emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China.
- It was the Russian side that initiated the creation of BRICS.
- On 20 September 2006, the first BRICS Ministerial Meeting was held at the proposal of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the margins of a UN General Assembly Session in New York. Foreign ministers of Russia, Brazil and China and the Indian Defence Minister took part in the meeting. They expressed their interest in expanding multilateral cooperation.
- It was agreed to expand BRIC to BRICS with the inclusion of South Africa at the BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New York in September 2010.
- The 6th BRICS Summit (Fortaleza and Brasilia, 15-16 July 2014) produced a highly important result. The sides signed the Agreement on the New Development Bank and the Treaty for the Establishment of a BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement. These institutions will possess a total of $200 billion.
- Considering the increasing instances of global financial crisis, BRICS nations signed BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) in 2014 as part of Fortaleza Declaration at Sixth BRICS summit. The BRICS CRA aims to provide short-term liquidity support to the members through currency swaps to help mitigating BOP crisis situation and further strengthen financial stability.
- BRICS does not exist in form of organization, but it is an annual summit between the supreme leaders of five nations.
- The Chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S.
- BRICS cooperation in the past decade has expanded to include an annual programme of over 100 sectoral meetings.
Importance of BRICS for India
- From the Indian perspective, BRICS has emerged the voice of developing countries, or the global south. As these countries face an aggressive club of developed countries, raising challenges on issues from WTO to climate change, New Delhi believes BRICS has to protect the rights of the developing countries. The five BRICS countries are also members of G-20.
- While the economic heft of three of the five countries has been dented in the last few years, the BRICS cooperation has two pillars — consultations on issues of mutual interest through meetings of leaders and ministers, and cooperation through meetings of senior officials in areas including trade, finance, health, education, technology, agriculture, and IT.
- Also, India has to maintain the balancing act between Russia-China on the one side and the US on the other. While India has had a growing role in global affairs in the last decade or so, and is seen to be helping drive the global agenda, the current crop of BRICS leaders too are seen as strong personalities — from Chinese President Xi Jinping to Russian President Vladimir Putin to Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro — with a pronounced nationalistic agenda. South Block views this as a potential for cooperation, as the leaders have more in common than their predecessors. New Delhi believes that over the last few years, India has taken the lead in galvanising BRICS has also worked within the grouping to take a strong stand against terrorism and bring about focused consultations on specific aspects relating to terrorism.
Why is the 15th BRICS summit important?
- This BRICS meet comes at an important geopolitical and geoeconomic moment — this is the first in-person summit since 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic. Even in 2022, when COVID had receded, the remnants of the pandemic remained in China, and the summit was hosted via videoconference.
- This is also the first in-person meeting since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, an event that has cast a long shadow not only over global stability, but food, fertilizer and fuel (energy) security. Given its composition, BRICS deliberations are perceived to carry a “counter-western” slant, and will be of importance as the U.S. and EU still hope to try and “isolate” Russia over the conflict.
- This is also the first summit since Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Lula returned to power in Brazil, who represents a more socialist, anti-western politics than his predecessor President Bolsonaro.
What is in it for India?
- This is the first in-person summit since the military standoff with China at the Line of Actual Control began in 2020, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will come face to face with President Xi Jinping at the BRICS meet. Ahead of the summit, the 19th round of India-China Corps Commander Level Meeting resulted in a joint statement last weekend, seen as a positive sign ahead of a possible Modi-Xi engagement. This meeting would be significant in terms of resolving the LAC situation, where an estimated 1,00,000 soldiers stand at the boundary on either side
- Just over two weeks after the BRICS summit, India will host the G20 summit, and Prime Minister Modi will want to ensure full attendance by the leaders, which include all BRICS members.
- In addition, India wants more cooperation from China and Russia that are blocking discussions on a common language for the Leader’s declaration to be released at the summit on September 9-10. Mr. Modi might use the forum for talks on the issues over the paragraphs on Ukraine, climate change, debt financing and others that are being held up by their objections.
What’s the big item on the agenda?
- During the summit, the leaders of BRICS will confer among themselves, and also take part in the BRICS-Africa Outreach and BRICS Plus Dialogue.
- A major item on the agenda is on the expansion of BRICS. More than 40 countries have shown an interest in joining BRICS, and at least 19 countries have applied formally for membership. Of these, consensus appears to be developing around four countries: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran.
- BRICS leaders are also expected to take forward earlier talks on intra-BRICS trading in national currencies, although a much-touted plan pushing for a “BRICS currency” to challenge the dollar does not appear to be on the agenda.
- The Johannesburg Declaration will include language acceptable to all the countries on a number of global developments. In addition, South Africa which has chosen the theme “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism” for the year, seeks to introduce initiatives in its priority areas, including an equitable and just transition on climate change issues; unlocking opportunities through the African Continental Free Trade Area; and strengthening the meaningful participation of women in peace processes.
- Indian officials will also look out for language proposed by China, by far the biggest economy in the grouping, to promote Beijing’s key initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative, and the new Global Development Initiative (GDI) as part of an economy roadmap for BRICS. India had refused to sign onto an Economy Roadmap at the SCO meeting chaired by India in July 2023 for the same reasons.
4 . Katchatheevu Controversy
Context : On August 18, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin revived the debate over Katchatheevu, an uninhabited and barren 285 acre islet about 14 nautical miles off Rameswaram. He reiterated the demand for retrieval of the islet from Sri Lanka, which will, according to him, put a permanent end to the problems of fishermen of the State. Addressing a fishermen’s conference in Mandapam of Ramanathapuram district, he pointed out that following his letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, fishermen arrested by the Sri Lankan authorities, were released but the boats and fish nets, essential to the livelihoods of the fishermen, had not been returned. Last month, ahead of the visit of Sri Lanka’s President to New Delhi, the Chief Minister urged Mr. Modi to raise the issue with the dignitary.
When did Katchatheevu become a part of Sri Lanka?
- During June 26-28, 1974, the then Prime Ministers of India and Sri Lanka, Indira Gandhi and Sirim R.D. Bandaranaike, signed an agreement to demarcate the boundary between the two countries in the historic waters from Palk Strait to Adam’s Bridge. A
- joint statement issued on June 28, 1974, stated that a boundary had been defined “in conformity with the historical evidence, legal international principles and precedents.”
- It also pointed out that “this boundary falls one mile off the west coast of the uninhabited” Katchatheevu.
How important is Kachatheevu?
- Fisherfolk of the two countries have been traditionally using the islet for fishing. Though this feature was acknowledged in the 1974 agreement, the supplemental pact in March 1976 made it clear that fishermen of the two countries “shall not engage” in fishing in the historic waters, territorial sea and exclusive zone or exclusive economic zone of either of the countries “without the express permission of Sri Lanka or India.”
- While certain sections of political parties and fisherfolk in Tamil Nadu believe that the retrieval of Katchatheevu would resolve the problem of fishermen having to illegally cross the International Maritime Boundary Line, fishermen of the Northern Province in Sri Lanka say that this would only add to their suffering from the adverse impact of T.N. fishermen using the fishing method of bottom trawling on their territorial waters.
What triggered the negotiations between India and Sri Lanka?
- Sri Lanka claimed sovereignty over Kachatheevu on the ground that the Portuguese who had occupied the island during 1505-1658 CE had exercised jurisdiction over the islet.
- India’s contention was that the erstwhile Raja of Ramnad [Ramanathapuram] had possession of it as part of his zamin.
- According to Raja Ramanatha Sethupathi, Kachatheevu was under the jurisdiction of the zamin “from time immemorial”. However, during a debate on the matter in Lok Sabha in July 1974, the then External Affairs Minister Swaran Singh said that the decision had been taken after “exhaustive research of historical and other records” on the islet.
How was the 1974 pact received?
- The present demand for the Katchatheevu retrieval traces its origin to the opposition that the pact generated in 1974. During the debates in both Houses of Parliament in July 1974, most of the Opposition including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Jan Sangh, Swatantara and the Socialist Party, staged walk outs in the two Houses.
- The Katchatheevu issue was revived in August 1991 with the then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa demanding retrieval during her Independence Day address. She later modified her demand to one of getting the islet back through “a lease in perpetuity.” In the last 15 years, both Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi had approached the apex Court on the matter.
What has the Centre said?
- In August 2013, the Union government told the Supreme Court that the question of retrieval of Kachchatheevu from Sri Lanka did not arise as no territory belonging to India was ceded to Sri Lanka.
- It contended that the islet was a matter of dispute between British India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and there was no agreed boundary, a matter of which was settled through 1974 and 1976 agreements. In December 2022, the Centre, pointed out in its reply in the Rajya Sabha that Katchatheevu
- “lies on the Sri Lankan side of the India-Sri Lanka International Maritime Boundary Line.” It added that the matter was sub-judice in the Supreme Court.
5 . Nagaparamba Excavation
Context : A large number of megalithic hat stones were found from a single site during a recent salvage excavation conducted by the Kerala State Archaeology Department at Nagaparamba in Kuttippuram village, near Tirunavaya, in Malappuram district.
Details of the excavation
- Large number of megalithic hat stones were found. Hat stones, popularly called Thoppikkallu in Malayalam, are hemispherical laterite stones used as lids on burial urns during the megalithic period.
- Archaeologists say the discovery at Nagaparamba could arguably be the largest number of hat stones in an unprotected site in the State.
- A large number of megalithic burial sites and relics were found during the excavation. The team salvaged numerous earthen urns and iron implements with unique features, which could throw light on the life and culture of people who lived in those parts over 2,000 years ago.
- Megalithic has been used to describe buildings built by people living in many different periods from many parts of the world.
- A megalith is a stone which is larger in size and has been used to construct monument or a structure. The monument or the structure has been constructed either alone or together with other stones.
- Megaliths were constructed either as burial sites or commemorative (non-sepulchral) memorials. The former are sites with actual burial remains, such as dolmenoid cists , cairn circles and capstones. The urn or the sarcophagus containing the mortal remains was usually made of terracotta. Non-sepulchral megaliths include memorial sites such as menhirs.
- The construction of this type of structures took place mainly in the Neolithic and continued into the Chalcolithic Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age.
- In India, archaeologists trace the majority of the megaliths to the Iron Age (1500 BC to 500 BC), though some sites precede the Iron Age, extending up to 2000 BC.
- Megaliths are spread across the Indian subcontinent, though the bulk of them are found in peninsular India, concentrated in the states of Maharashtra (mainly in Vidarbha), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Types of Megalithic Structures
- The types of megalithic structures can be divided into two categories, the “Polylithic type” and the “Monolithic type”.
- In polylithic type more than one stone is used to make the megalithic structure. In monolithic typethe structure consists of a single stone. Following are the different megalithic structures.
Polylithic types :
- Dolmen: This is a type of megalith which is made in single chamber tomb, usually consisting of three or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone. Dolmens were usually covered with earth or smaller stones to form a barrow. But in many cases that covering has weathered away, leaving only the stone “skeleton” of the burial mound intact.
- Cairn: A Cairn is a human-made pile of stones, often in conical form. They are usually found in uplands, on moorland, on mountaintops, or near waterways. In modern times Cairns are often erected as landmarks. In ancient times they were erected as sepulchral monuments or used for practical and astronomical purposes. These vary from loose, small piles of stones to elaborate feats of engineering.
- Cromlekh: Cromlekh is a British word used to describe prehistoric megalithic structures, where crom means “bent” and llech means “flagstone”. The term is now virtually obsolete in archaeology, but remains in use as a colloquial term for two different types of megalithic monument.
- Cist: A cist or kist was used as encasements for dead bodies. It might have associations with other monuments. It would not be uncommon to find several cists close with each other in the cairn or barrow. The presence of ornaments within an excavated cist, indicate the wealth or prominence of the interred individual
Monolithic type :
- Menhir: A Menhir is a stone Monolithic standing vertically. It could also exist as part of a group of similar stones. They have different sizes with uneven and square shapes, often tapering towards the top. Menhirs are widely distributed across different continents viz., Europe, Africa, and Asia, but are most commonly found in Western Europe; in particular in Ireland, Great Britain and Brittany. Their origin dates back to pre-history. They are members of a larger Megalithic culture that flourished in Europe and beyond.
- Stone Circle: A Stone Circle is a monument of standing stones arranged in a circle usually dated to megalithic period. The arrangement of the stones may be in a circle, in the form of an ellipse, or more rarely a setting of four stones laid on an arc of a circle. The type varies from region to region
5 . Facts for Prelims
Boards for advance ruling
- Advance ruling is a method of securing opinions on tax consequences of transactions or proposed transactions which offers clarity to tax payers and helps in lowering disputes.
- BAR has set up as per the announcement made in the Union budget, and is aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of advance rulings.
- Each of these boards will consist of two members, not below the rank of chief Commissioner.
- Scheme of E-advance Ruling was also introduced with an objective to make the entire process of advance rulings with a minimal interface and impart greater efficiency, transparency and accountability. Subsequently, the Boards for Advance Rulings have been operationalised in Delhi and Mumbai. These Boards started functioning through e-mail-based procedures and conducting hearing through video conferencing.
- A non-resident investor can obtain certainty on its liability towards income tax even before undertaking the investment in India. Further, even a resident entity can obtain a Ruling on the taxability of a transaction and avoid long-drawn litigation, as the Scheme is also available to a resident taxpayer seeking an advance ruling concerning its tax liability arising out of one or more transactions, valuing Rs.100 crore or more in total. Public Sector Undertakings can take advantage of getting advance rulings on questions of facts or law pending before any income-tax authority or Appellate Tribunal.
- Curcumin is the principal curcuminoid of the popular Indian spice turmeric.
- Turmeric has been used historically as a component of Indian Ayurvedic medicine.
- India is the world’s largest producer of turmeric, a perennial herbaceous plant of the ginger family. The plant’s underground stems or rhizomes have been used as spice, dye, medicine and religious maker since antiquity.
- The spice’s colour comes mainly from curcumin, a bright yellow phenolic compound that has been in the news for its ostensible potential to fight cancer.
- Turmeric is a labour and water intensive crop, so farmers grow it along with onions, tapioca and coconut or sugarcane.
- In 2019 Erode turmeric got the Geographical Indication (GI) tag from the Geographical Indication Registry.