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Tuesday, 1 May 2018

The Hindu Editorial: A Dangerous Incursion

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The Hindu Editorial: A Dangerous Incursion
Title: A dangerous incursion 

(By Kapil Sibal; is a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), former Union Minister and a senior Congress leader) 

Context: Opposition to the elevation of the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court, Justice K.M. Joseph, to the Supreme Court. 

Its logic is faulty, both statistically and otherwise. 

Justice Joseph pronounced a historic judgment in April 2016 when he struck down the imposition of President’s rule in Uttarakhand. Little did he know that his judgment would stand in the way of his elevation. 

Justice Joseph’s request to be transferred to the Andhra Pradesh High Court on health grounds since he had undergone a bypass surgery was ignored. 

In May 2016, the collegium had cleared his transfer to the Andhra Pradesh High Court. For inexplicable reasons, the recommendation was not forwarded for approval to the then President of India, Pranab Mukherjee. 

In the normal course of events, recommendations for transfers are cleared within 10 days. The attitude of the Union government shows that he was being targeted. 

Point of seniority 

The reasons put forth in Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s letter of April 26, 2018 for rejecting the recommendation for Justice Joseph’s elevation. The first is that in the All India High Court Judges Seniority List, Justice Joseph is placed at serial number 42 and that 11 Chief Justices of various High Courts in the said list are otherwise senior to him. 

This reasoning is flawed. The first is that Justice Joseph was, obviously, elevated as Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court on account of his qualities as a judge over other judges who might otherwise have been senior. Second, seniority among High Court judges has never been the only benchmark for appointment as Chief Justice of a High Court or elevation to the Supreme Court. Ever since 2014, the government of the day has never considered seniority as the only basis for elevation. 

When Judges Deepak Gupta and Navin Sinha were appointed in February 2017 to the Supreme Court, there were 40 High Court judges across India senior to them. 

Regional representation 

Another reason given by the Law Minister is that several High Courts including smaller high courts are not represented in the Supreme Court at present. 

It is true that High Courts in a few States are not represented. This has happened under the present regime as well as in the past. 

Justices K.G. Balakrishnan, Cyriac Joseph and K.S.P. Radhakrishnan were all from the Kerala High Court despite the Law Minister calling it a relatively small High Court. 

The third reason is that there is an inadequate representation of the Scheduled Castes (SC) and the Scheduled Tribes (ST) in the Supreme Court. First, the total sanctioned strength of the Supreme Court is 31 judges. At the moment, there are 25. Six judges are to retire this year. Consequently, its strength, if no judges are appointed, will be reduced to 19. There will be 12 vacancies. 

It is crystal clear that the opposition to Justice Joseph is mala fide. The executive is seeking to blatantly interfere in the appointment process. If the government’s stand is legitimised, such incursions on the independence of the judiciary will become routine. 

Final Words: 

We want our judges to be immune to extra-constitutional pressures. That immunity is the only way to protect our citizens. A judiciary that capitulates(surrender) is the greatest danger to democracy. 

Title: The cost of pollution 

(It adversely impacts both the economy and our health) 

Context 

In recent years, the pollution load has increased, sometimes beyond the carrying capacity of the environment. Though various measures have been adopted to manage pollution, significant progress has not been achieved. 

The environmental Kuznets curve 

India’s developmental activities are affecting the environment to a considerable extent, through over-exploitation of natural resources and indiscriminate discharge of waste. This has been interpreted by the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) hypothesis which suggests that as per capita income grows, the increase in environmental impact hits the maximum and thereafter declines. 

According to the hypothesis, in the initial stages of economic growth, when more resources are used, there is greater waste generation and more emissions. 

But when a country has achieved a certain level of development, pollution reduces with greater protection of the environment, technological improvements, diversification of the economy from manufacturing to services, and increasing scarcity and prices of environmental resources, leading to lower consumption. 

India is on the upward part of the EKC. For achieving sustainable development, it must move to the second stage. 

Over the last few decades, water-intensive and polluting industries such as textiles, leather, sugar and paper have shifted from developed to developing countries. 

They withdraw huge quantities of water and discharge effluents without adequate treatment. Before 1980, countries like the U.K. and the U.S. played a vital role in textile production and export. 

But by 2000, their dominance had substantially reduced and the share of developing countries like India and China had increased. 

Pollution impacts ecosystems and related economic activities like agriculture and livestock. Air pollution causes climate change. Hence, pollution leads to the real and potential loss of the overall development opportunity in an economy. 

Generally, pollution impacts the socially vulnerable and poor communities more due to their weak coping options. When traditional drinking water sources get contaminated, the rich can buy packaged water. But the poor cannot afford it and are hence compelled to use contaminated water. They are also less aware of the health hazards caused by pollution. 

Final Words 

Pollution is not a disease, it is only a symptom. Hence, its root cause should be investigated. 

Economic growth is an inevitable requirement, but it need not be at the cost of health. 

Vocabulary words: 

Incursion (noun) = An invasion or attack (आक्रमण) 

Elevation (noun) = Promotion (उन्नति) 

Specious (adj) = Misleading in appearance 

Collegium (noun) = An advisory or administrative board 

Inexplicable (adj) = Unable to be explained (अकथनीय) 

Obduracy (noun) = Impertinence (ज़िद्दी होना) 

Benchmark (noun) = Standard, level 

Betray (verb) = Unintentionally reveal (विश्वासघात करना) 

Fragility (noun) = The quality of being easily broken or damaged 

Mala fide (adj & adv) = In bad faith 

Immune (adj) = Protected, exempt (प्रतिरक्षित) 

Capitulate (verb) = Surrender 

Attribute (verb) = Regard something as being caused by (आरोपित करना) 

Contaminate (verb) = Pollute, adulterate (दूषित) 

Idioms & Phrases 

Pass with flying colors = To pass easily with high score 

Play hooky = To skip school 

One word Substitution 

1) One who has become dependent on something or drugs = Addict 

2) Fear of being enclosed in small closed space = Claustrophobia 

Phrasal Verb 

1) Act on = To affect 

2) Act out = To demonstrate by words and gestures. 

    

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