Power of judicial review
Context: The Supreme Court on Monday said it intended to stay the implementation of the controversial agricultural laws while proposing to form an independent committee chaired by a former Chief Justice of India to “amicably resolve” the standoff between the farmers and the Union government.
Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Polity
Power of judicial review:
· Judicial review is a process under which executive or legislative actions are subject to review by the judiciary.
· A court with authority for judicial review may invalidate laws acts and governmental actions that are incompatible with a higher authority: an executive decision may be invalidated for being unlawful or a statute may be invalidated for violating the terms of a constitution.
· Judicial review is one of the checks and balances in the separation of powers: the power of the judiciary to supervise the legislative and executive branches when the latter exceed their authority.
· The doctrine varies between jurisdictions, so the procedure and scope of judicial review may differ between the countries.
· In India, a judicial review is a review of government decisions done by the Supreme Court of India. A court with authority for judicial review may invalidate laws acts and governmental actions which violates the Basic features of Constitution.
· Related articles for the judicial review for Supreme Court Article 32(Right to Constitutional Remedy) and Article 136(Special leave to appeal by the Supreme Court).
· For High Court Article 226(Power of High Courts to issue certain writs.) and Article 237(Power of superintendence over all courts by the High Court), the 226 and 237 both articles are judicial review.
· Judicial Review can be conducted in respect of all Central and State laws, the orders and ordinances of the executives and constitutional amendments.
· Judicial Review cannot be conducted in respect of the laws incorporated in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution. Judicial Review applies only to the questions of law. It cannot be exercised in respect of political issues.
· The Supreme Court does not use the power of judicial review of its own. It can use it only when any law or rule is specifically challenged before it or when during the course of hearing a case the validity of any law is challenged before it.
· The Supreme Court can decide:
o (i) The law is constitutionally valid. In this case the law continues to operate as before, or
o (ii) The law is constitutionally invalid. In this case the law ceases to operate with effect from the date of the judgment.
o (iii) Only some parts or a part of the law is invalid. In this case only invalid parts or part becomes non-operative and other parts continue to remain in operation. However, if the invalidated parts/part are so vital to the law that other parts cannot operate without it, then the whole of the law gets rejected.
· Judicial Review in India is governed by the principle: ‘Procedure Established by Law’. Under it the court conducts one test, i.e., whether the law has been made in accordance with the powers granted by the Constitution to the law-making body and follows the prescribed procedure or not. It gets rejected when it is held to be violative of procedure established by law.
o (1) Judicial Review is essential for maintaining the supremacy of the Constitution.
o (2) It is essential for checking the possible misuse of power by the legislature and executive.
o (3) Judicial Review is a device for protecting the rights of the people.
o (4) No one can deny the importance of judiciary as an umpire, or as an arbiter between the centre and states for maintaining the federal balance.
o (5) The grant of Judicial Review power to the judiciary is also essential for strengthening the position of judiciary. It is also essential for securing the independence of judiciary.
o (6) The power of Judicial Review has helped the Supreme Court of India in exercising its constitutional duties.
o (7) The possibility of abuse of is power of by the Judiciary is very less because several checks have been in existence.
Context: The wildfire at Dzukou Valley straddling the Manipur-Nagaland border has been doused after it raged for two weeks, officials said on Monday.
Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Environment & ecology
About Dzukou valley:
· The Dzüko Valley is a valley located at the borders of the states of Nagaland and Manipur in Northeast India. This valley is well known for its natural environment, seasonal flowers and flora & fauna.
· It is situated at an altitude of 2452 m above sea level. The valley is famous for its wide range of flowers in every season but the most famous one is the Dzüko Lily and it is found only in this valley.
· The valley borders a region of old-growth forest, and is home to several rare and endangered species of flora and fauna, including the Dzüko Lily and the Blyth’s tragopan, which is the state bird of Nagaland.
· In Nagaland, the scenic Dzukou Valley has been officially declared Plastic Free Zone on the occasion of 2019 World Environment Day.
Context: In Our World, a documentary by award-winning filmmaker Shreedhar B.S. will premiere at the 51st
International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa on January 18. Produced by Mr. Shreedhar’s Shred Creative Lab Private Ltd, the film highlights autism spectrum disorder (ASD) through the lives of three children.
Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Science & technology
· Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition that involves persistent challenges in social interaction, speech and nonverbal communication, and restricted/repetitive behaviours. The effects of ASD and the severity of symptoms are different in each person.
· Characteristics of autism spectrum disorder fall into two categories.
o Social interaction and communication problems: including difficulties in normal back-and-forth conversation, reduced sharing of interests or emotions, challenges in understanding or responding to social cues such as eye contact and facial expressions, deficits in developing/maintaining/understanding relationships (trouble making friends), and others.
o Restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviors, interests or activities: hand-flapping and toe-walking, playing with toys in an uncommon way, speaking in a unique way, having significant need for a predictable routine or structure, exhibiting intense interests in activities that are uncommon for a similarly aged child, experiencing the sensory aspects of the world in an unusual or extreme way (such as indifference to pain/temperature, excessive smelling/touching of objects, fascination with lights and movement, being overwhelmed with loud noises, etc), and others.
· Some of the suspected risk factors for autism include:
o having an immediate family member with autism
o genetic mutations
o fragile X syndrome and other genetic disorders
o being born to older parents
o low birth weight
o metabolic imbalances
o exposure to heavy metals and environmental toxins
o a history of viral infections
Context: Democrats in the House of Republicans introduced an article of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump — the “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the attack on the Capitol last Wednesday. The House could vote on this charge on Wednesday.
Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Polity
About American president impeachment process:
Indian President impeachment process:
· When a President is to be impeached for violation of the Constitution, the charge shall be preferred by either House of Parliament.
· No such charge shall be preferred unless:
The proposal to prefer such charge is contained in a resolution which has been moved after at least fourteen days’ notice in writing signed by not less o than one-fourth of the total number of members of the House has been given of their intention to move the resolution, and
o Such resolution has been passed by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the House.
· When a charge has been so preferred by either House of Parliament, the other House shall investigate the charge or cause the charge to be investigated and the President shall have the right to appear and to be represented at such investigation.
· If as a result of the investigation a resolution is passed by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the House by which the charge was investigated or caused to be investigated, declaring that the charge preferred against the President has been sustained, such resolution shall have the effect of removing the President from his office as from the date on which the resolution is so passed.
Important news in short
· Chinese authorities said on Monday a team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) will arrive in China on Thursday to study the origins of COVID-19.
· Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das has flagged the growing disconnect between exuberant equity markets and real economic activity and warned that the ‘stretched valuations of financial assets’ threaten overall financial stability.
· Researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Maryland have developed an autonomous drone that uses live antennae from a moth to smell and avoid obstacles as it travels in the air. The ‘smellicopter’ was developed in association with the Air Force Center of Excellence on Nature Inspired Flight Technologies and Ideas (NIFTI), and uses antennae from the Manduca sexta hawkmoth.
o Moths can use their antennae to sense chemicals in the environment. Incorporating a live antenna from a moth as a sensor makes this drone tune and search in rescue operations. It also helps navigate an area with unexploded devices.
Examples related to Ethics (GS-4) in today’s newspaper
· Pope Francis changed church law on Monday to explicitly allow women to do more things during Mass,
while continuing to affirm that they cannot be priests. The Pope amended the law to formalise and institutionalise what is common practice in many parts of the world: that women can read the Gospel and serve on the altar as Eucharistic ministers. Previously, such roles were officially reserved to men even though exceptions were made. (Religious ethics, women empowerment)
Engaging the neighbour
Source: The Indian Express
Written by: C. Raja Mohan
Topic in syllabus: India and its Neighborhood- Relations. (GS-2)
Analysis about: This editorial talks about why India must manage dynamic interaction between domestic policies of India and its neighbours.
· External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s travels to Sri Lanka last week and the incoming visit of Nepal’s foreign minister, Pradeep Gyawali, this week bring India’s neighbourhood diplomacy back into focus.
· The two visits also highlight the perennial questions on India’s role in the domestic politics of other South Asian nations.
· India’s reluctance to be drawn into the latest round of political turmoil in Kathmandu has drawn much attention. Delhi’s refusal is in contrast to Beijing’s active effort to preserve the unity of the ruling communist party in Kathmandu.
Has India finally recognised the virtue of non-intervention in the internal affairs of its neighbouring countries? And is Beijing breaking from its proclaimed principle of non-interference in other societies?
· Neither Delhi nor Beijing are departing from the basic traditions of their foreign policy towards the neighbours.
· Interventions on their periphery have been an enduring feature of Indian and Chinese foreign policy.
· The problem is less with their diplomatic practice than the misleading public discourse on the principles of “sovereignty and non-intervention”.
· That India can’t simply stand apart from the domestic politics of its neighbours was quite evident during Jaishankar’s remarks in Colombo.
· Jaishankar underlined the importance of Colombo addressing the expectations of the Sri Lankan Tamil minority for “equality, justice, peace and dignity” within a united Sri Lanka.
· China’s current behaviour in Nepal is not an exception to the rule; it is very much part of China’s current interventionist strategy across Asia and beyond.
· To make matters a little more complicated, India and China always insist that other countries should stop interfering in their respective internal affairs.
Sovereignty and Non-Interference in global arena:
· Most recently, India reacted strongly to the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments on the farmers’ agitation.
· The US and its allies regularly criticise China’s domestic policies, most recently Beijing’s actions in Hong Kong.
· Intervention is part of international life; and the rhetoric on sovereignty in the international discourse tends to be, as one scholar put it, “organised hypocrisy”. All powers — big and small — frequently violate the principle of sovereignty.
· The concept of national sovereignty was never absolute. The ability to secure one’s sovereignty depends on a state’s comprehensive national power.
· Big nations tend to intervene more, and the smaller ones find ways to manage this through the politics of balancing against their large neighbours.
· Ironically, preventing intervention by one power invites intervention by another.
o For example, Nepal has long resented India’s interventions and saw Beijing as a benign neighbour.
· The pressure for external intervention often comes from major domestic constituencies within.
o For example, the conflict between Sinhala majority and Tamil minority in Sri Lanka produces Chennai’s political pressure on Delhi to intervene in Sri Lanka.
· The demand sometimes comes from outside. In Nepal, for example, elite competition sees different factions trying to mobilise external powers to gain the advantage over their domestic rivals.
Challenges in managing Sovereignty and Non-Interference for India & other nations:
· Given the nature of South Asia’s political geography, very few problems can be isolated within the territories of nations.
· There is also the tension between the shared cultural identity in the subcontinent and the determination of the smaller nations to define a contemporary identity independent of India.
· The bitter legacies of Partition leave the domestic political dynamics of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan tied together and complicate their interaction as separate sovereign entities.
· India’s relations with its smaller neighbours are also burdened by the legacy of India’s past hegemony and the emerging challenges to it.
· India can neither stand apart nor jump into every domestic conflict within the neighbourhood.
· The real question, then is, when to intervene and when to avoid it. It is always about political judgement about specific situations.
· Even the most powerful nations find it hard to compel the smallest states to do what is right on such issues as democratic governance, minority rights and federalism. They must come out of the organic evolution of each society.
· India can encourage, but can’t really force Colombo and Kathmandu to respect the rights of Tamils and Madhesis.
What is the way forward for India?
· For India, the question is not about choosing between intervention and non-intervention. It is about carefully managing the unavoidable and dynamic interaction between the domestic political processes of India and its neighbours.
· The subcontinent has historically been an integrated geopolitical space with a shared civilisational heritage. Equally true is the reality of multiple contemporary sovereignties within South Asia. In dealing with these twin realities, the principles guiding India’s engagement are not too difficult to discern.
· As Jaishankar promised Sri Lankan leaders in Colombo, “India will always be a dependable partner and reliable friend” and is committed to strengthening bilateral ties “on the basis of mutual trust, mutual interest, mutual respect and mutual sensitivity”.
· Delhi’s consistent pursuit of this framework could help India better manage the complex dynamic with its neighbours.
Reframing India’s foreign policy priorities
Source: The Hindu
Written by: M.K. Narayanan (former National Security Adviser and a former Governor of West Bengal)
Topic in syllabus: India and its Neighbourhood-Relations. Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests. (GS-2)
Analysis about: This editorial emphasises on the need of ideational restructuring, prudent plans, achievable objectives and a line of continuity in the India foreign policy.
· The year 2021 should see a cementing of the many trends that had their genesis in 2020. Leadership change in the United States is perhaps the most awaited change, but is unlikely to bring about a major power shift in the international arena.
· Many countries will now find themselves scrambling for cover. India which has greatly curtailed its relations with China since April 2020, (in the wake of Chinese aggression in Eastern Ladakh) will
find itself ‘out on a limb’, with many countries likely to seek closer economic relations with China
The challenge of a stronger China:
· China is about the only major country which had a positive rate of growth at the end of 2020, and its economy is poised to grow even faster in 2021.
· Militarily, China has further strengthened itself, and now seeks to dominate the Indo-Pacific Ocean with its announcement of the launch of its third aircraft carrier in 2021.
· Simultaneously, it is seeking to strengthen its military coordination with Russia.
· News emanating from China is that President Xi will further cement his position, both as Party leader and as President during 2021, despite internecine tensions within the Communist Party of China.
· China is, hence, unlikely to concede any ground to its opponents across the world in 2021, a fact that India will need to reckon with.
· The healing of wounds among the Sunni Arab states in the region should be viewed as a pyrrhic victory at best for Saudi Arabia. One by-product of this could be a sharpening of hostilities between the Sunni and Shia camps.
· Given the strategic flux in the region, Iran could well be tempted to use its nuclear capability to enhance its position.
The Isolation of India:
· No breakthrough in Sino Indian relations has, or is likely to occur, and the confrontation between Indian and Chinese armed forces is expected to continue.
· India currently plays no significant role in West Asia.
· India Iran relations today lack warmth. In Afghanistan, India has been marginalised as far as the peace process is concerned.
· While India’s charges against Pakistan of sponsoring terror have had some impact globally, it has further aggravated tensions between the two neighbours, and in the process, also helped Pakistan to cement its relations with China.
· While hostility between India and Nepal appears to have reduced lately, relations continue to be strained.
Through a series of diplomatic visits, India has made valiant efforts to improve relations with some of its
neighbours such as Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, but as of now · worthwhile results are not
· One key takeaway is that as India China relations deteriorate, India’s neighbours are not averse to taking sides, increasing India’s isolation.
What trends can we see in 2021 in international politics?
· The new year will be dominated by strong authoritarian leaders like Xi Jinping in China, Vladimir
Putin in Russia, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey.
· International politics may not be very different from that in 2020, but any hope that the Compact of Democracy would emerge stronger will need to be eschewed.
· The China-EU Investment Treaty which saw Europe capitulating to China’s blandishments is an indication that Europe values its economy more than its politics.
· Russia is beginning to display greater interest in the affairs of countries on its periphery and, together with strengthening ties with China and reaching an entente with Turkey, this seems to signal reduced interest in countries such as India.
· In West Asia, the Abraham Accords, leading to a realignment of forces in the Arab world, have sharpened the division between the Saudi Bloc and Iran-Turkey.
· This does pose problems for India, since both have relations with it. Meanwhile, China demonstrates a willingness to play a much larger role in the region, including contemplating a 25year strategic cooperation agreement with Iran.
Issues associated with India’s foreign policy:
· Our diplomats conduct their activities with a high degree of competence, but they are possibly hampered by other factors.
· One, could be the kind of policy choices the country has adopted in the recent period, which have possibly altered the perception of India in certain quarters.
· There is again a perception that India’s closeness to the U.S. has resulted in the weakening of its links with traditional friends such as Russia and Iran, impacting the country’s image.
· Perhaps the most relevant explanation could be the shifting balance of power in the region in which India is situated, notably the rise of China, and the enlarging conflict between the two biggest powers in Asia, compelling many nations to pick sides in the conflict.
· India’s foreign policy suffers from an ideational vacuum. India’s inability or failure in the ideational realm that lies at the root of our foreign policy inadequacies.
What are the things India is losing?
· Currently, India remains isolated from two important supranational bodies of which it used to be a founding member, viz., the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
· Efforts to whip up enthusiasm for newer institutions such as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for MultiSectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), have hardly been successful.
· India has opted out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) (a majority of Asian countries are members), and failed to take advantage of the RIC, or the Russia, India and China grouping, even as relations with Russia and China have deteriorated.
· India’s foreign policy imperatives, across Asia and South Asia in particular, today seem to be a mixture of misplaced confidence.
· A lack of understanding of the sensitivities of neighbours such as Bangladesh and long-time friends (such as Vietnam and Iran), and according excessive importance to the policy needs and pressures of nations such as the U.S.
What is the way forward?
· India’s foreign policy objectives are to widen its sphere of influence, enhance its role across nations, and make its presence felt as an emerging power in an increasingly disruptive global system. It is a moot point though whether any of these objectives has been achieved.
· India will serve as the president of the powerful UN Security Council for the month of August, 2021, but if it is to make a real impact, it must be seen to possess substantial weight to shape policies, more so in its traditional areas of influence.
· As part of the ideational restructuring of India’s foreign policy, what is urgently required, apart from competent statecraft, is the adoption of prudent policies, pursuit of realistically achievable objectives, a demonstration of continuity of policy, irrespective of changes in the nature of the Administration.
Explained: India at UN high table
Source: The Indian Express
Topic in syllabus: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. (GS-2)
· At a time when the US is going through a chaotic transition in leadership, China is hoping to become the pre-eminent global power, and Pakistan is trying to rake up Kashmir and the human rights situation in India, India has entered the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as a non-permanent member this month.
India at UNSC:
· India has served in the UN Security Council seven times previously.
India played an active role in discussions on all issues related to international peace and security, including several new challenges which the UNSC was · called upon to deal with in Afghanistan, Cote d’Ivoire, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
· In view of the threat posed to international trade and security by piracy off the coast of Somalia, India promoted international cooperation against the pirates.
· At India’s initiative, the Security Council mandated international cooperation for release of hostages taken by pirates as well as for prosecution of those taking hostages and those aiding and abetting these acts.
· India also worked for enhancing international cooperation in counter-terrorism, prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-state actors, and the strengthening of UN peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts.
Politics within UNSC:
· The seven previous terms have given Indian diplomats the experience of how diplomacy is conducted at the multilateral setting.
· Most non-permanent members get influenced by the P-5 members.
· They did not wish to irritate the permanent members, and were keen to be perceived by them as ‘cooperative’.
· The Indians took their work more seriously, and consequently had to fight a lonely battle.
· India’s then Permanent Representative, Hardeep Singh Puri (now Union Minister of Civil Aviation and Housing) wrote in Perilous Interventions: The Security Council and the Politics of Chaos: “Most professional diplomats shed their innocence before they arrive at the horse-shoe table around which the Security Council meets.
· In the real world of foreign and security policy, decision makers are invariably confronted by cruel choices that are equally problematic and come in various shades of lousy.
Issues before India:
· UN REFORMS:
o New Delhi has said it is essential that the Security Council is expanded in both the permanent and non-permanent categories.
o It says India is eminently suited for permanent UNSC membership by any objective criteria, such as population, territorial size, GDP, economic potential, civilisational legacy, cultural diversity, political system and past and ongoing contributions to UN activities — especially to UN peacekeeping operations.
o The international effort against terrorism is a key priority for India in the UN.
o With the objective of providing a comprehensive legal framework to combat terrorism, India took the initiative to pilot a draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in 1996.
The China challenge:
· India is entering the UNSC at a time when Beijing is asserting itself at the global stage much more vigorously than ever. It heads at least six UN organisations — and has challenged the global rules.
· China’s aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific as well as the India-China border has been visible in all of 2020, and New Delhi will have to think on its feet to counter Beijing.
· There is some discussion among the strategic community in New Delhi on raising the issues of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet at the UNSC.
New Delhi will weigh the pros and cons with partners on what steps to take in this direction. But, the polarising politics inside India gives a window of opportunity to its rivals, and opens up the possibility of criticism — especially on human rights issues.