August 2019
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[op-ed snap] A glass half empty for Adivasis

  1. Adivasi communities living in mineral-rich areas are wary of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill 2015 (MMDRA) which has received presidential assent.
  2. The main flaw in the Act – Adivasis are described in the MMDRA law as ‘occupiers of the surface of the land.
  3. In India, the state has all rights over minerals, but over the years it has acted as a front to hand over mineral resources for private profit.
  4. This despite the Supreme Court Samatha judgment of 1997, which upheld Adivasi rights to informed consent and to a share in mineral wealth.
  5. The 2011 MMDRA Bill had proposed the setting up of a District Mineral Foundation (DMF). The 2015 amendment limits its scope.
  6. Coal companies were mandated to give 26 per cent of profit to the DMF, but the new government has scrapped this provision altogether.

Justice Dave recuses himself from NJAC Bench

  1. Senior advocate Fali Nariman pointed out there is a clear conflict of interest as Justice Dave is also a member of the NJAC.
  2. Justice Dave, who heads the five-judge bench, is the third senior-most Supreme Court judge.
  3. He is also a member of the NJAC as per the statute which prescribes that the six-member Commission will have the CJI and the next 2 senior most judges as its members.
Judicial Appointments Conundrum Pre-NJAC Verdict

Is re-promulgation of land ordinance valid, SC asks Centre

  1. The Supreme Court agreed to examine the constitutionality of the President’s re-promulgation of the Land Acquisition Ordinance.
  2. This is the first time this court is holding a hearing on an ordinance promulgated by the President under Article 123 of the Constitution.
  3. The government has to reply on a plea to hand over the trail of documents detailing the decision leading to the re-promulgation.
  4. An ordinance has a life of 6 months if promulgated when Parliament is not in session. Once the Houses are in session, the Land ordinance expires in 6 weeks.
Land Reforms

Windmills spell doom for the Great Indian Bustard

  1. The world population of GIB (locally called Gudavan) is said to be 150 with India, particularly Rajasthan.
  2. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar also had Bustards but have now lost them all.
  3. Thar Desert is the only viable breeding population to GIBs – Also called as Desert National Park (DNP).
  4. Concerns – installation of windmills, shortage of forest guards, Supreme court permitted school constructions here.

SC lifts stay, Govt. can finalise the spectrum auction result

  1. Although with a caveat that their right to allotment is subject to the final order from the Supreme Court on a clutch of petitions.
  2. Auction of spectrum of bands was allowed for – 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MZ.
  3. One criticism – Competitive bidding was not really competitive but compulsive bidding for survival. The amount to be collected from the auction was incorrect and “the entire design of NIT is gloriously faulty”.

Will it impact the Mehdi case?

  1. Will the SC striking down Section 66 A of the IT Act weaken the case against pro-IS tweeter Mehdi Masroor Biswas?
  2. Mehdi has been booked under Section 66 F of the IT Act, 2000, for cyber terrorism and Section 66 A of the IT Act, 2000, for posting offensive messages, apart from a host of other sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 2012.
  3. If the investigators fail to prove the criminal intent, the only section under which he could be convicted is under Section 66 A of the IT Act, which has now been struck down by the Supreme Court.

99th Amendment Act 2014 replaces Collegium System with NJAC (1/2)

  1. What was? The Collegium system is one where the Chief Justice of India and a forum of 4 senior-most judges of the SC recommend appointments and transfers of judges.
  2. The system was evolved through Supreme Court judgments in the Three Judges Cases. However, it has no place in the Indian Constitution.
  3. The 99th amendment to the Constitution introduces NJAC, replacing the Collegium system.
  4. Under Article 124A, the NJAC has 6 members – the CJI, 2 senior-most judges. The remaining 3 are the Union Law Minister and two “eminent persons”.
  5. They are to be appointed by the PM, the Leader of the Opposition and the CJI.
Judicial Appointments Conundrum Pre-NJAC Verdict

Argentina, Vulture funds & US Supreme Court

  1. Would you believe us if we tell you that a PE firm in US seized an Argentine national navy ship! That’s a sovereign country we are talking about.
  2. Why? Because Argentina is in a long legal battle with the hedge fund Elliott Capital Management.
  3. Argentina will be able to get this ship back if it pays an unspecified amount in bond. What is this? This drama is because of a new financial instrument called “Vulture Funds”.
  4. Vulture Fund = A fund that buys distressed debt of commercial companies or sovereign nations at a cheap price and then often sues them for the entire value of the debt.

    Discuss: The PE firm bought up Argentina’s sovereign bills & when the country lapsed into trouble, the PE firm refused to take any hairline cut and asked for full payment!

A Nehru-Malvankar debate

  1. While the first Speaker (GV Malvankar) felt ordinances were undemocratic, Nehru saw them as the last resort.
  2. Malvankar said, “Whether an ordinance is justifiable or not, the issue of a large number of ordinances has psychologically, a bad effect”.

 Discuss: Remember 1986 Supreme Court judgment in D.C. Wadhwa versus State of Bihar case, when it said that “Ordinance Raj” cannot be permitted.