Current Affairs Today - Current Affairs 2014

Key points in proposed Judicial Appointment Commission Bill

The controversy over the efficacy of the collegium system for appointing Supreme Court judges has gained momentum with many leaders and even eminent jurists including well-known names such as Markandey Katju have been candid on the failure of the current collegium system. There are demands for overhaul of the existing provisions.

To address this issue the government has proposed Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Bill as an alternative to the existing system.

Highlights of JAC Bill:

  • Establishment of a six-member Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) to make recommendations to the President on appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary.
  • It will encourage collaborations between the judiciary and executive.
  • The Chief Justice of India, two other senior most judges of the Supreme Court, the Union Minister for Law and Justice, and two eminent persons to be nominated by the Prime Minister, and the Leader of Opposition of the Lok Sabha will be its members. Law Commission of India Chairman and former Delhi High Court Chief Justice AP Shah have suggested raising the strength of the body to seven.
  • JAC basic function: Making recommendations for appointments of the CJI, SC judges, Chief Justice and other High Court judges, and even the transfer of HC judges.
  • It would be empower the Parliament to pass a law providing for the composition, functions and procedures of the JAC.
  • Transparency will be the underlining feature of the entire process under the JAC. As per suggestions, the entire record of the process, starting from the nominations received up to the final recommendation made to the President, must be publicly disclosed.
  • As per Katju’s recommendation, JAC should hold a meeting and it should be televised so that all people in India can see it and there is total transparency. They should call the prospective candidate and ask him questions about his earlier functioning as a High Court judge and also his personal life, as is done in the United States.
  • Consensus will be criteria for arriving at decisions. In the case the consensus not clear, a simple majority may help decide, with all dissenting notes accompanied by reasons being recorded in writing.
  • The JAC will work in a stipulated time frame. It provides time periods within which vacancies will be filled up. Even the government has time limit of upto 2 months to intimate the Commission of the vacancy.
  • There are other suggestions to provide constitutional validation to the JAC, thus making it a permanent body and not an ad hoc measure. It is also suggested that its decision be made binding on the President and in case the President rejects any name, the same should be open to judicial review.

 

In December 2013, the Standing Committee report to Rajya Sabha noted that because of intrinsic deficiencies in the collegium, as many as approximately 275 posts of judges in various High Courts were lying vacant, which has direct impact upon justice delivery system and thereby affecting the 13 institutional credibility of judiciary.

World has only 3,200 tigers left: WWF report

In a sharp contrast to the 100,000 tigers that once lived in the wild a century ago, the number now has reduced to just 3,200. This was revealed by a latest report released by the World Wide Fund (WWF).

WWF has also expressed their willingness to assist the conservation efforts being made by the 13 tiger-range countries – India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam – which in 2010 set the target of doubling of wild tiger population by 2022.

The report which coincided with the International Tiger Day on July 29 warns that the largest of all the Asian big cats could go extinct in the wild mainly due to poaching and habitat destruction.

WWF considers ‘poaching’ as the biggest threat to wild tigers since their parts are used for traditional medicine, folk remedies, and increasingly as a status symbol among some Asian cultures.

RBI regresses to multiple price method for bond auctions

The RBI will revert to the Multiple Price method for bond auctions on August 1, 2014, a year after it adopted the present method of Uniform Price.

On August 1, 2014, the central bank will auction a 10-year bond with a coupon rate of 8.40% for a notified amount of Rs 9,000 crore using this method. Two more bond auctions for a total of Rs 5,000 crore will be conducted on the same day.

Bond auctions could be classified as either Uniform Price-based or Multiple Price-based.

  • In the Uniform Price-based, all successful bidders are required to pay for the allotted quantity of securities at the same rate, the auction cut-off one, irrespective of what they’d quoted.
  • In a Multiple price auction, the successful bidders are required to pay for the allotted quantity at the respective price or yield at which they bid.​

It was in June 2013 when RBI adopted the uniform price method, when bond yields were volatile, with foreign institutional investors leaving the domestic markets amid a dwindling currency. However, the macro fundamentals have improved since September2013​, with the rupee stabilizing after recovering most of the losses. A new government at the Centre has reestablished hope among foreign investors. It is expected to speed up the opening to foreign investment and control the fiscal deficit. The fiscal deficit for the current financial year is targeted at 4.1% of GDP, as compared to 4.5% in 2013-14. The recent Union Budget set the target at 3.6% for 2015-16 and 3% for 2016-17.
Using a different method RBI would also be able to observe how the market reacts to different methods of auction.

Sixth C-17 Globemaster III aircraft delivered to IAF

Indian Air Force received its sixth C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at the Palam Airbase in New Delhi in the presence of the Union Defence Minister Arun Jaitley. 

About C-17 Globemaster III

  • It has the potential to carry 75 tonnes of load which is almost double the capacity of Russian IL-76 in the IAF inventory which can carry only around 40 tonnes.
  • It will boost up IAF’s flexibility in terms of operational response and with the heavy lift capability it could easily move troops and heavy tanks to required locations.

It will have a greater strategic reach of up to 4000 kms and will also be very useful in relief operation with its capabilities of being operational under all conditions and abilities to take-off from short runways with heavy loads.

Science Express for raising biodiversity awareness flagged off

The third phase of Science Express Biodiversity Special (SEBS) was flagged off from Safdarjung Railway Station in Delhi.

The train with its innovative exhibition aims to spread awareness amongst masses in general and youth in particular about the exceptional biodiversity of India.

Science Express is a flagship programme of Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Ministry of Science and Technology and Indian RailwaysThe train covering a span of 194 days at 57 locations would reach out to 30 lakh students.

In fact, the train was the brand ambassador of the COP-11. It exhibited India’s rich biodiversity to delegates from over 190 nations.

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