Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Chief Justice of India
- Personal Data Protection Bill
- Constitution Bench
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Chief Justice of India
Context : Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana recommended to the government the name of Justice Uday Umesh Lalit as his successor and the 49th Chief Justice of India.
Chief Justice of India, Role and Functions
- Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, is the chief judge of the Supreme Court of India as well as the highest-ranking officer of the Indian federal judiciary.
- The president (Discharge of Functions) Act, 1969 states that CJI shall act as the president of India in the event of the offices of both the president and the vice president being vacant. When President Zakir Hussain died in office, Vice President V. V. Giri, acted as the president. Later, Giri resigned as the vice president. The chief justice, Justice Mohammad Hidayatullah then became the acting president of India.
- The chief justice of India administers the oath of the office of the president of India.
- As head of the Supreme Court, the chief justice is responsible for the allocation of cases and appointment of constitutional benches which deal with important matters of law
- On the administrative side, the chief justice carries out functions of maintenance of the roster, appointment of court officials and general and miscellaneous matters relating to the supervision and functioning of the Supreme Court.
- The Constitution of India gives the power of deciding remuneration as well as other conditions of service of the chief justice to the Parliament of India.
Appointment of Chief Justice
- The CJI and the Judges of the SC are appointed by the President under clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution.
- The appointment of judges to the higher judiciary is done by the collegium system and the appointment is made by the President, with the executive head holding the power to appoint the CJI under Article 124.
- As per Memorandum of Procedure of appointment of judges appointment to the office of the Chief Justice of India should be of the seniormost Judge of the Supreme Court considered fit to hold the office.
- The Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs would, at the appropriate time, seek the recommendation of the outgoing Chief Justice of India for the appointment of the next Chief Justice of India.
- Whenever there is any doubt about the fitness of the seniormost Judge to hold the office of the Chief Justice of India, consultation with other Judges as envisaged in Article 124 (2) of the Constitution would be made for appointment of the next Chief Justice of India.
- After receipt of the recommendation of the Chief Justice of India, the Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs will put up the recommendation to the Prime Minister who will advise the President in the matter of appointment.
- This established convention was violated in 1973 and 1977 when A N Ray and M U Beg was appointed as the Chief Justice of India by superseding senior judges.
Appointment of Judges
- Judges of the higher judiciary are appointed only through the collegium system
About the collegium system
- It is the system of appointment and transfer of judges that has evolved through judgments of the Supreme Court, and not by an Act of Parliament or by a provision of the Constitution.
- The Supreme Court collegium is headed by the Chief Justice of India and comprises four other seniormost judges of the court.
- A High Court collegium is led by its Chief Justice and four other seniormost judges of that court.
- Names recommended for appointment by a High Court collegium reaches the government only after approval by the CJI and the Supreme Court collegium.
- Judges of the higher judiciary are appointed only through the collegium system — and the government has a role only after names have been decided by the collegium.
- The government’s role is limited to getting an inquiry conducted by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) if a lawyer is to be elevated as a judge in a High Court or the Supreme Court.
- It can also raise objections and seek clarifications regarding the collegium’s choices, but if the collegium reiterates the same names, the government is bound, under Constitution Bench judgments, to appoint them as judges.
Constitutional Provisions regarding Appointment of Judges
- Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts are appointed by the President under Articles 124(2) and 217 of the Constitution. The President is required to hold consultations with such of the judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts as he may deem necessary.
- Article 124(2) says: “Every Judge of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with such of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as the President may deem necessary for the purpose and shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty-five years. Provided that in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of India shall always be consulted.”
- And Article 217: “Every Judge of a High Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of the State, and, in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of the High Court.”
Evolution of Collegium System
- 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.
Criticism regarding Collegium System
- Critics argue that the system is non-transparent, since it does not involve any official mechanism or secretariat. It is seen as a closed-door affair with no prescribed norms regarding eligibility criteria or even the selection procedure. There is no public knowledge of how and when a collegium meets, and how it takes its decisions. Lawyers too are usually in the dark on whether their names have been considered for elevation as a judge.
2 . Personal Data Protection Bill
Context : The government has withdrawn the Personal Data Protection Bill from Parliament as it considers a “comprehensive legal framework” to regulate the online space, including bringing separate laws on data privacy, the overall Internet ecosystem, cybersecurity, telecom regulations, and harnessing non-personal data to boost innovation in the country.
Why is this development significant?
- The government has taken this step after nearly four years of the Bill being in the works. It had gone through multiple iterations, including a review by a Joint Committee of Parliament (JCP), and faced major pushback from a range of stakeholders including big tech companies such as Facebook and Google, and privacy and civil society activists.
- The tech companies had, in particular, questioned a proposed provision in the Bill called data localisation, under which it would have been mandatory for companies to store a copy of certain sensitive personal data within India, and the export of undefined “critical” personal data from the country would be prohibited. The activists had criticised, in particular, a provision that allowed the central government and its agencies blanket exemptions from adhering to any and all provisions of the Bill.
- The delays in the Bill had been criticised by several stakeholders, who had pointed out that it was a matter of grave concern that India, one of the world’s largest Internet markets, did not have a basic framework to protect people’s privacy.
Why has the Bill been withdrawn?
- The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 was deliberated in great detail by the Joint Committee of Parliament. 81 amendments were proposed and 12 recommendations were made towards a comprehensive legal framework on the digital ecosystem. Considering the report of the JCP, a comprehensive legal framework is being worked upon. Hence, in the circumstances, it is proposed to withdraw ‘The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019’ and present a new Bill that fits into the comprehensive legal framework.”
- The Bill was also seen as being too “compliance intensive” by startups of the country. According to government sources, the revamped Bill will be much easier to comply with, especially for startups.
What was the journey of the draft Bill like?
- The Justice Srikrishna panel was set up in 2017 in the backdrop of the Supreme Court’s verdict holding privacy is a fundamental right, and its direction to the government to draw up a data protection framework for the country. The Srikrishna Committee released a white paper that same year, outlining the areas it would be looking at.
- In July 2018, the committee submitted a draft data protection Bill to the Ministry of Electronics and IT, which said that it would draft a fresh Bill borrowing from the ideas presented in the Srikrishna Committee Bill.
- In December 2019, the Bill was referred to the JCP. As the committee started a clause-by-clause analysis of the Bill, it also sought and received extensions for presenting its report in September 2020 and March 2021.
- In July 2021, after the change of chair person, JCP received yet another extension to submit its report
- In December 2021, the JCP tabled its report in Parliament, which Justice Srikrishna said was heavily in favour of the government.
What did the JCP recommend?
- It proposed 81 amendments to the Bill finalised by the Srikrishna panel, and 12 recommendations including expanding the scope of the proposed law to cover discussions on non-personal data — thereby changing the mandate of the Bill from personal data protection to broader data protection. In its most basic form, non-personal data are any set of data that does not contain personally identifiable information.
- The JCP’s report also recommended changes on issues such as regulation of social media companies, and on using only “trusted hardware” in smartphones, etc. It proposed that social media companies that do not act as intermediaries should be treated as content publishers — making them liable for the content they host.
3 . Floods
Context: Kerala may again have to endure flood like situation with high-intensity rain triggered by strong monsoon winds lashing central Kerala.
What is flooding?
- Flooding is an overflow of water onto land that is normally dry.
- Floods can happen during heavy rains, when ocean waves come on shore, when snow melts quickly, or when dams or levees break.
- Damaging flooding may happen with only a few inches of water, or it may cover a house to the rooftop.
- Floods can occur within minutes or over a long period, and may last days, weeks, or longer.They are the most common and widespread of all weather-related natural disasters.
Floods and India
- India is highly vulnerable to floods.
- Out of the total geographical area of 329 million hectares (mha), more than 40 mha is flood prone.
- Floods are a recurrent phenomenon, which cause huge loss of lives and damage to livelihood systems, property, infrastructure and public utilities.
- An average every year, 75 lakh hectares of land is affected, 1600 lives are lost and the damage caused to crops, houses and public utilities is Rs.1805 crores due to floods. The maximum number of lives (11,316) was lost in the year 1977. The frequency of major floods is more than once in five years.
- Floods have also occurred in areas, which were earlier not considered flood prone.
- Eighty per cent of the precipitation takes place in the monsoon months from June to September.
- The rivers a bring heavy sediment load from catchments. These, coupled with inadequate carrying capacity of rivers are responsible for causing floods, drainage congestion and erosion of river-banks.
- Cyclones, cyclonic circulations and cloud bursts cause flash floods and lead to huge losses.
- It is a fact that some of the rivers causing damage in India originate in neighboring countries, adding another complex dimension to the problem.
Flood distribution in India
- State-wise study shows that about 27% of the flood damage in the country is in Bihar, 33% in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and 15% by Punjab and Haryana.
- Major flood areas in India are in the Ganges – Brahmaputra – Meghna Basin which accounts for nearly 60% of the total river flow of the country.
- Distribution of flood plains –
- Brahmaputra River Region
- Ganga River Region
- North – West River Region
- Central and Deccan India
Types of flood
- There are 3 common types of floods:
- Flash floods are caused by rapid and excessive rainfall that raises water heights quickly, and rivers, streams, channels or roads may be overtaken.
- River floods are caused when consistent rain or snow melt forces a river to exceed capacity.
- Coastal floods are caused by storm surges associated with tropical cyclones and tsunami.
Causes of Floods
- Natural Causes
- Heavy concentrated rainfall reduces the capacity of rivers to accept any more surface run–offs due to rainfall and as result water spills over to adjoining areas.
- Cloud bursts are basically thunderstorms which yield very heavy rains It can cause extensive damage within short span of time.
- Heavy melting of ice and snow,
- Changes in river systems and large catchment areas,
- Sediment deposition/Silting of river beds,
- The collapse of dams,
- Transgression of sea at the occasion of tropical cyclone, and
- Tsunami in coastal areas and landslides in course of rivers
- Man-made/Anthropogenic causes
- Deforestation – It leads to soil erosion and Landslides. It is responsible for the loss of vegetation. It also leads to silting of river beds.
- Unscientific use of land utilization and bad farming practices
- Increased Urbanization – It has reduced the ability of the land to absorb rainfall through the introduction of hard impermeable surfaces. This results in an increase in the volume and rate of surface run-off as less water infiltrates into the ground.
Impact of floods
- Drowning accounts for 75% of deaths in flood disasters. Deaths also result from physical trauma, heart attacks, electrocution, carbon monoxide poisoning or fire associated with flooding.
- Floods can also have medium- and long-term health impacts, including:
- Water- and vector-borne diseases, such as cholera, typhoid or malaria
- Injuries, such as lacerations or punctures from evacuations and disaster cleanup
- Chemical hazards
- Mental health effects associated with emergency situations
- Disrupted health systems, facilities and services, leaving communities without access to health care
- Damaged basic infrastructure, such as food and water supplies, and safe shelter.
- Flood waters provide much needed water resources in arid and semi-arid regions where precipitation can be very unevenly distributed throughout the year and kills pests in the farming land.
- They play an important role in maintaining ecosystems in river corridors and are a key factor in maintaining floodplain biodiversity.
- Flooding can spread nutrients to lakes and rivers, which can lead to increased biomass and improved fisheries for a few years.
- For some fish species, an inundated floodplain may form a highly suitable location for spawning with few predators and enhanced levels of nutrients or food.
- Fish, such as the weather fish, make use of floods in order to reach new habitats. Bird populations may also profit from the boost in food production caused by flooding.
- Periodic flooding was essential to the well-being of ancient communities along the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers, the Nile River, the Indus River, the Ganges and the Yellow River among others.
- The viability of hydropower, a renewable source of energy, is also higher in flood prone regions.
Flood Control Management
- Flood Forecasting
- It provides prior information regarding the occurrence of floods.
- It can help in taking timely action to reduce the loss of human lives, livestock, and movable properties.
- The central water commission started flood forecasting in November 1985, when the first flood forecasting station was established near the old railway bridge of Delhi.
- At present, there are 175 flood forecasting stations on various rivers in the country.
- Reduction in Run-Off
- It is one of the most effective methods of flood control.
- It can be reduced by inducing and increasing infiltration of the surface water into the ground in the catchment areas.
- This can be done by large scale afforestation, especially in the upper catchment areas.
- Building Dams
- A number of such reservoirs were constructed during the 1st Five-year plan. In the subsequent plans also, many dams have been constructed to reduce the run-off and to store and release water under controlled conditions.
- Improvements in channel and Construction of Embankments
- The central and state governments have constructed a number of embankments along the rivers to reduce instances of floods.
- Zoning of flood pain
- It is an important step to control floods which are based on information regarding flood plains, particularly the identification of floodways in relation to land use.
Government Programmes for Flood management
- Various legislative measures are taken to restrict the construction of industrial and residential units in flood-prone areas.
- The construction of buildings, factories, houses in the zones adjacent to river channels should be prohibited.
- The areas occasionally flooded should be under green belts and social forestry should be encouraged in the flood plain.
- National Flood Control Management Programme, 1954
- At the national level, the first policy statement on flood control in India was established on 3 September 1954.
- It envisaged 3 types of flood control measures, namely, Intermediate, short and long term.
- National Hydrology Project, 2016
- It is a central sector scheme with 50% of the outlay amount received from the World Bank loan.
- This project gathers hydro-meteorological data which will be stored and analyzed on a real-time basis and can be seamlessly accessed by any user at the State/District/Village level.
3 . Constitution Bench
Context: The Supreme Court referred the battle between Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Chief Minister over the “real” Shiv Sena to a Constitution Bench.
- Meanwhile, the three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India has requested the Election Commission of India (ECI) to desist from taking any action on Mr. Shinde’s claim over the party and its symbol of bow and arrow.
- One of the cardinal issues is whether the dissent of Mr. Shinde’s faction, without subsequently forming a new party or merging with another, amounted to a “split” from the original Shiv Sena party.
- A “split” from the original political party without a subsequent merger with another party or formation of a new faction was no longer a defence from disqualification under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution.
About Constitution Bench
- Generally, most of the cases before the Supreme Court are heard by a division bench (2 or 3 judge members). An exception to this rule is a Constitution bench.
- A constitution bench consists of at least five or more judges of the court which is set up to decide substantial questions of law with regard to the interpretation of the constitution in a case.
- The provision for a Constitution bench has been provided in the Constitution of India under Article 143.
- It is the Chief Justice of India who is constitutionally authorized to constitute a constitution bench and refer cases to it.
- Constitution benches are set up when the following circumstances exist:
- When a case involves a substantial question of law pertaining to the interpretation of the Constitution [Article 145(3)].
- Article 145(3) provides, “The minimum number of Judges who are to sit for the purpose of deciding any case involving a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution or for the purpose of hearing any reference under Article 143 shall be five.”
- When President of India has sought the Supreme Court’s opinion on a question of fact or law under Article 143 of the Constitution. Article 143 of the Constitution provides for Advisory jurisdiction to the Supreme Court of India.
- When a case involves a substantial question of law pertaining to the interpretation of the Constitution [Article 145(3)].
- As per the provision, the President of India has the power to address questions to the Supreme Court, which he deems important for public welfare. The Supreme Court upon reference advises the President by answering the query. However, such referral advice by the apex court is not binding on the President, nor is it ‘law declared by the Supreme Court’.
- When two or more three-judge benches of the Supreme Court have delivered conflicting pretation of the law by a larger bench.
- The Constitution benches are set up on an ad hoc basis as and when the above-mentioned conditions exist.
- Most of the landmark cases, such as AK Gopalan v. State of Madras, Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, etc., in which the court settled the law by some degree of finality were decided by the Constitution benches.
4 . Facts for Prelims
Foodborne Pathogen Survey Network
- The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has inaugurated Foodborne Pathogen Survey Network (ICMR-FoodNet) in the northeastern States of India.
- This latest initiative is part of the project, started by ICMR, in 2020.
- The integrated task force coordinates project-based activity campaigns, monitors foodborne enteric disease outbreaks, and conducts intensified systematic laboratory-based surveillance in four North-East Indian states, in collaboration with research and medical institutions and food sectors.
- It also includes estimation of illness burden, detection of specific pathogens responsible for outbreaks, documenting antimicrobial resistance patterns among enteric bacteria, while additionally acting as an external quality assurance system and maintaining a centralized databank providing reference services, noted the Council.
- Foodborne Pathogens Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet)
- The Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) is the principal foodborne disease component of the United States Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),Emerging Infections Program (EIP).
- FoodNet is an active laboratory and population-based surveillance system to monitor the incidence of foodborne diseases and to conduct epidemiologic studies designed to help public health officials better understand the epidemiology of foodborne diseases of public health importance in the United States.
- Determine the burden of foodborne illness in the United States
- Monitor trends in the burden of specific foodborne illness over time
- Attribute the burden of foodborne illness to specific foods and settings
- Disseminate information that can lead to improvements in public health practice and the development of interventions to reduce the burden of foodborne illness
Indian Council of Medical Research
- The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, is one of the oldest medical research bodies in the world.
- Apex body in India for formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research
- Conduct, coordinate and implement medical research for the benefit of the Society
- Translating medical innovations in to products/processes and introducing them in to the public health system
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
Context: Negotiators have started over Iran’s nuclear programme in Vienna, seeking to salvage the agreement on Tehran’s atomic ambitions.
About the JCPOA
- In 2015, Iran agreed on a long-term deal on its nuclear programme with a group of world powers known as the P5+1 (the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany).
- Under it, Iran agreed to cut its stores of key components for nuclear weapons like centrifuges, enriched uranium and heavy water.
- Iran would only have enough enriched uranium to maintain its energy needs, without having the ability to build a nuclear bomb.
- It also agreed to dismantle much of its nuclear programme and open its facilities to more extensive international inspections in exchange for billions of dollars worth of sanctions relief.
- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) played an important role in enforcing the deal, keeping a check on Iran and inspections.
International Atomic Energy Agency
- It is popularly known as the world’s “Atoms for Peace and Development” organisation.
- IAEA is the international centre for cooperation in the nuclear field.
- It was established on 29th July 1957 as an autonomous organisation, at the height of the Cold War (1945-1991) between the US and the Soviet Union.
- Though established independently of the UN through its own international treaty, the agency reports to both the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.
- It works with the member states and multiple partners worldwide to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies