IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


17th March, 2020


Arunachal puts off survey of road through tiger reserve

Government comments:

-       Decided to “keep in abeyance” the survey work for a road through the Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR).

-       Local stakeholders would be part of the next review meeting on the road project.

-       PTR, home to over 2,000 species of plants, 300 species of birds, 40 species of mammals, 30 species of amphibians and 36 species of reptiles, is one of the most protected sanctuaries in the country.

Challenges with the Project:

-       Elevation is no guarantee against felling of trees and disturbing wildlife in the sensitive PTR.

-       This corridor will be a threat to the adjoining Nameri Tiger Reserve in Assam too.

-       Proposed highway had been realigned to bisect PTR after the NHPC turned down the original proposal to let the corridor pass near its hydroelectric project on the Subansiri River, east of Seijosa.

About Pakke Tiger Reserve:

-       Pakke Tiger Reserve, also known as Pakhui Tiger Reserve, is a Project Tiger reserve in the East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India.

-       The 862-sq km Pakke Reserve home for many rare and endangered wildlife species, such as leopard, wild dog, Himalayan black bear and elephant.

-       Contiguous with the Nameri Tiger Reserve of Assam, it is also an important habitat for the big cats big cats, one of the most endangered species in the world.

-       Pakke is also the only Hornbill sanctuary in India.

-       The forest around this reserve harbours four hornbills species - great hornbills, wreathed, oriental pied and the rufous-necked.

-       The Pakke River lies to the east and the Bhareli River to the west and the north.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/arunachal-puts-off-survey-of-road-through-tiger-reserve/article31084883.ece


RBI’s focus on liquidity is correct

RBI meets outcomes:

-       Forex swap

-       A second long-term repo operation (LTRO) of รขโ€šยน1 lakh crore.

Impact of the Schemes:

-       Market rates may incidentally fall as the LTRO is at the repo rate of 5.15%.

-       It will be helpful to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

Justification of the steps:

-       We may not have seen the worst yet in terms of the virus impact, both in human and economic terms.

-       The falling indices and currencies are only a manifestation of the first order impact.

-       The second, and more severe one, will come when major economies either slow down sharply or tip into recession.

-       The disruption caused to commerce, trade and travel already is so immense that the effects on the world economy will be felt for the rest of this calendar year.

-       In such a situation, it is sensible to hold on to the rate cut option for use at a more challenging time.

About long-term repo operation (LTRO):

-       Under LTRO, RBI will conduct term repos of one-year and three-year tenors of appropriate sizes for up to a total amount of Rs 1 lakh crores at the policy repo rate.

-       RBI introduced LTRO with a view to assuring banks about the availability of durable liquidity at reasonable cost relative to prevailing market conditions.

-       It will encourage banks to undertake maturity transformation smoothly and seamlessly so as to augment credit flows to productive sectors.

-       It is a measure that market participants expect will bring down short-term rates and also boost investment in corporate bonds.

-       These new measures coupled with RBI’s earlier introduced ‘Operation Twist’ are an attempt by the central bank to manage bond yields and push transmission of earlier rate cuts.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/rbis-focus-on-liquidity-is-correct/article31085242.ece

Coronavirus will make most global airlines go bankrupt by May: CAPA

Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) comment:

-       As 145 countries have been affected by coronavirus, most airlines in the world will go bankrupt by this May end owing to restrictions put in place to prevent its spread.

-       Cash reserves are running down quickly as fleets are grounded and what flights there are operated much less than half full.

-       Forward bookings are far outweighed by cancellations and each time there is a new government recommendation it is to discourage flying.

-       More important, raising funds, if required, may be very challenging.

-       Each nation is adopting the solution that appears best suited to it, right or wrong, without consideration of its neighbours or trading partners.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/coronavirus-following-large-scale-air-travel-restrictions-most-global-airlines-will-go-bankrupt-by-may-2020-says-capa/article31083030.ece?utm_source=udmprecommendation_business&utm_medium=sticky_footer&transactionId=c67ce4f57cd4439794439bfacb176b44

In U-turn, govt. moots 20-year window to clear telco dues

Government Steps:

-       All the licensees impacted by the judgment be allowed to pay the unpaid or remaining amount of past Department of Telecoms assessed/calculated dues in annual instalments over 20 years (or less if they so opt).

-       Duly protecting the net present value of the said dues using a discount rate of 8% (based on one year marginal cost of lending rate of SBI which is currently 7.75%).

Need for steps:

-       Consideration of larger, economic interest on the nation.

-       To ensure that the Supreme Court order is complied with in letter and spirit.

-       Will maintain the financial health and viability of the telecom sector

-       Will maintain competition and level playing field in the interest of consumers.

-       Closure of one or more TSPs would adversely impact the digital connectivity of the country driving e-governance projects in commerce, banking and health.

About AGR:

-       Telecom operators are required to pay licence fee and spectrum charges in the form of ‘revenue share’ to the Centre.

-       Revenue amount used to calculate this revenue share is termed as the AGR.

-       According to the DoT, the calculations should incorporate all revenues earned by a telecom company – including from non-telecom sources such as deposit interests and sale of assets.

-       The companies, however, have been of the view that AGR should comprise the revenues generated from telecom services only and non-telecom revenues should be kept out of it.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/in-u-turn-govt-moots-20-year-window-to-clear-telco-dues/article31085380.ece


Former CJI Ranjan Gogoi nominated to Rajya Sabha

Government Notification:

-       In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-clause (a) of clause (1) of article 80 of the Constitution of India, read with clause (3) of that article, President is pleased to nominate Shri Ranjan Gogoi to Council of States to fill the vacancy caused due to the retirement of one of the nominated members.

Constitutional provisions for appointment:

-       Article 80 provides for nomination of 12 persons to the Rajya Sabha by the President on the advice of the government.

-       These persons are expected to have special knowledge or practical experience in respect of literature, science, art and social service.

Ranjan Gogoi Major Cases:

-       Headed the five-judge Bench that delivered the verdict in the sensitive Ayodhya land title dispute.

-       Headed a bench that had held that the office of the CJI was a public authority and came under the purview of the Right to Information Act.

-       Headed the benches that heard matters like a review of the apex court’s verdict allowing the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple and the Rafale fighter jet deal.

Concern with the development:

-       It will raise questions about the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary.

-       It is clear case of quid pro quo. It redefines the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary. Has the last bastion fallen?

-       It adversely affects the impartiality of the judiciary of the country.

-       It eroded the dignity and high status of the judicial office.

-       It leads to erosion of the public’s faith in the judiciary.

-       It nullifies the court judgement in PV Thomas Case where the court held that even if a person is a paragon of virtue, the slightest presumption of doubt would vitiate an appointment to high public and constitutional office.

-       The acceptance of post-retirement jobs leaves newly retired judges open to political criticism from the opposition, who use it as an excuse to not only cast aspersions and insinuations on the government of the day and the judges who accepted these jobs immediately on retirement, but also on the Court, the Judicial system, and the judgments and orders passed by these judges while in office.

Constitutional provisions on Post-retirement:

-       Article 124(7): No person who has held office as a Judge of the Supreme Court shall plead or act in any court or before any authority within the territory of India.

-       Article 220: Article 220 of the Constitution of India restricts a retired judge from practicing in the court in which he was a judge. However, he is entitled to practice in any other High Court and the Supreme Court.

Law Commission Arguments:

-       The Fourteenth Law Commission was of the view that it was necessary to safeguard the independence of the Supreme Court Judges by enacting a law barring further employment except as ad hoc Judges of the Supreme Court under Art. 128.

Other Instances of Judges being given post retirement posts:

-       Justice Ranaganath Mishra, who retired from the CJI’s position in 1992, became an MP in the upper house in 1998 on a Congress ticket.

-       Justice Baharul Islam, who retired from the apex court in January 1983 and was sent to the upper house by Indira Gandhi in June 1983.

-       Justice M. Hidayatullah retired as CJI in 1970 and was appointed – apparently on the basis of all-party consensus – vice president of India in 1979.

-       Justice K.S. Hegde, who resigned from the apex court in 1973 joined the Janata Party subsequently and was elected to the Lok Sabha from Bangalore (South) on the party’s ticket.

-       S. Fazl Ali, who retired in May 1952 and was made governor of Odisha the next month.

-       Fathima Beevi, who retired from the Supreme Court in 1992, was made governor of Tamil Nadu in 1997.

Reasons behind continuation of post retirement benefits by Judiciary:

-       Tribunals and commissions, several of which require retired judges to preside or act as members, have proliferated in the past few decades.

-       Second, there has been no consensus on increasing the retirement age of judges.  Hence, judges believe that they are still in a position to use their wide experience in public interest.

-       Pensions and post-retirement benefits of judges are widely considered to be altogether insufficient.

Way Forward:

-       Justice Lodha had presented a radical proposal to usher in a system under which all Supreme Court and High Court Judges would be given an option three months prior to retirement to either get full salary (minus other benefits) for 10 more years after their retirement, or get pension as fixed under the law. Only those who opted for full salary would be empanelled for selection for posts that require retired Supreme Court or High Court judges. Such judges who opt for full salary would not be allowed to take up any private work, including arbitration.

-       The other solution, as put forth by the Attorney General himself, is to increase the age of retirement.

-       It is true that several eminent members of the Bar refrain from joining the Bench due to the low remuneration. Hence, Government can look forward to increase the salary and pension of judges.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/former-cji-ranjan-gogoi-nominated-to-rajya-sabha/article31085274.ece

Census begins in Haryana from May 1

The first phase of Census – 2021 in Haryana, which includes house listing and housing census, will be conducted from May 1 to June 15 this year, during which the National Population Register will also be updated.

Census drive:

-       It will have two phases:

-       ‘Population enumeration’ phase

-       House Listing and Housing Census

-       ‘Population enumeration’ phase:

-       It will be carried out from February 9 to 28, 2021.

-       It will have the facility of online self-enumeration for the public.

-       Respondent could register online and fill in the details and share the reference number with the enumerators when they arrive.

-       It will not be available in the first phase.

-       House Listing and Housing Census

-       It is to be carried out from April 1 to September 30 this year.

-       The National Population Register (NPR) will also be updated simultaneously in the first phase.

-       The information asked would be whether the respondent has access to LPG/PNG connection.

-       If the person owns a radio, transistor or television has access to the Internet; whether they own a laptop, computer, telephone, mobile phone, among other things.

-       2021 would be the first-ever Census to be conducted with a mixed mode approach

-       A mobile app (created in-house by the RGI office)

-       Will have the facility for online self-enumeration for the public during the population enumeration phase.

About Census:

-       The Indian census is the largest administrative and statistical exercise in the world, with more than 30 lakh functionaries and at the cost of about 8700 crore rupees.

-       Confidentiality of data is guaranteed by Census Act, 1948.

-       Same law specifies penalty for BOTH public AND census officials for non-compliance or violation of any provision of the Act.

-       The decennial Census of India has been conducted 15 times as of 2011.

-       It has been undertaken every 10 years, beginning in 1872 under British Viceroy Lord Mayo, the first complete census was taken in 1881.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/census-begins-in-haryana-from-may-1/article31085133.ece#:~:text=The%20first%20phase%20of%20Census,Register%20will%20also%20be%20updated.


Getting the hang of death penalty

Law Commission reports:

-       Retribution should not be understood as an “eye for an eye”, but in its refined form as public denunciation of crime.

-       It also stated that there are a category of individuals who are “cruel and wicked”, and are not capable of reform.

-       A major reason stated in the report for the retention of capital punishment was the unique condition of India, and the society then prevalent.

262nd report of Law Commission:

-       The death penalty does not serve the oenological goal of deterrence any more than life imprisonment.

-       The commission, in its report published in 2015, recommended that the death penalty be abolished for all crimes other than terrorism-related offences and waging war against the State.

Supporting Arguments for Death Penalty

-       Punishment is not arbitrary because, it comes out of a judicial process.

-       It is being implemented in the “rarest of the rare” cases (last 13 years-only 4 people executed).

-       The hanging of Ajmal Kasab and Yakub Memon strongly affirms India’s commitment to the protection of life

-       Criticizing it on arbitrariness, irreversibility and human rights are not valid arguments.

-       Its constitutionality is upheld, even in liberal democracies like U.S. It is not reflection of uncivilised society.

-       India has troubled borders and its relations with neighbouring countries are not peaceful; unlike Scandinavia (is a region in northern Europe). Also, India does not belong to any group of countries, like European Union.

Countering Arguments to abolish Death Penalty

-       It unfairly targets poor and marginalised, that means, those without money & power.

-       Executions occurred in 5.2 cases for every 1-lakh murders, which it very irrational.

-       Punishment should not imitate crime.

-       Most of the civilised world abolished it. Death penalty has not deterred terrorism, murder or even theft.

-       2000-2015, SC imposed 60 death sentences. It subsequently admitted that it had erred in 15 of them (25%).

-       The Police are not known for its probity or efficiency in our country.

-       How does killing a person who has killed a person show that killing is wrong?

-       No study has shown that the death penalty deters murder more than life imprisonment.

-       Death penalty is impossible to administer fairly or rationally.’

Supreme Court judgement on Death Penalty:

-       Every death penalty case before the court deals with a human life that enjoys certain constitutional protection.

-       If life is to be taken away, then the process must adhere to the strictest and highest constitutional standards.

-       Five-judge constitution bench in Bachan Singh versus State of Punjab in 1980, had already held the constitutional validity of death penalty provided in Indian Penal Code.

-       The society's perspective is generally formed by the emotionally charged narratives. Such narratives need not necessarily be legally correct, properly informed or procedurally proper.

-       The court plays a counter-majoritarian role in protecting individual rights against majoritarian impulses.

Rajendra Prasad case:

-       The special reason should be recorded for imposing death penalty in a case.

-       The death penalty must be imposed only in extraordinary circumstances.

Bachan Singh Case:

-       Death penalty, as an alternative punishment for murder is not unreasonable and hence not violative of articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

-       It also enunciated the principle of awarding death penalty only in the ‘rarest of rare cases’.

Machii Singh Case: It laid down the broad outlines of the circumstances when death sentence should be imposed.

-       Manner of Commission of murder – When the murder is committed in an extremely brutal manner so as to arouse intense and extreme indignation in the community.

-       Motive – When the murder is committed for a motive, which evinces depravity and meanness e.g. a hired assassin, a cold-blooded murder to inherit property, or gain control over property of a ward.

-       Anti-social or socially abhorrent nature of the crime – where a scheduled caste or minority community person is murdered in circumstances, which arouse: social wrath; or bride burning for dowry, or for remarriage.

-       Magnitude of the Crime – Crimes of enormous proportion, like multiple murders of a family or persons of a particular caste, community or locality.

International Scenario:

-       Internationally, countries are classified on their death penalty status based on four categories:

-       Abolitionist for all crimes,

-       Abolitionist for ordinary crimes,

-       Abolitionist de facto,

-       Retentionist.

-       Number of countries which are abolitionist in law or practice is 140.

-       58 countries are regarded as retentionist, who still have the death penalty on their statute book and have used it in the recent past.

-       Neighbouring countries such as Nepal officially abolished the death penalty in 1990 and did not reintroduce it even in the aftermath of the civil war.

Way Forward:

-       Since 1991, India’s murder rate has declined continuously and is at present the lowest in our recorded history except for 1963.

-       Studies show that equal sex ratio has more to do with declining murder rates than killing murderers.

-       In Law commission of India’s 35th Report correctly called for its retention in order to see its impact on a new republic, the more recent 262nd Report could not recommend the punishment’s absolute abolition.

-       Violent terror cases are constant reminders of the need to protect national stability by ensuring appropriate responses to such actions, and the death penalty forms part of the national response.

-       The fundamental right to life and dignity enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution also means the right to die with dignity