1.Towards transparency (The Hindu, Live Mint)

2.Problem animals (The Hindu)

3.At Bonn, stay the course (The Hindu)

1.Towards transparency (The Hindu, Live Mint)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of Supreme Court collegium decision to upload the decisions on its website. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • To ensure transparency in judicial appointments, the Supreme Court collegium has recently decided to disclose its rationale for recommending candidates to the government. This would include reasons for names recommended or rejected by the collegium, comprising the five senior most judges of the apex court, to the government for its consideration.
  • Until now, the collegiums’ decisions on transfers, elevation, appointments have been taken without any disclosure to the public, a practice that was criticised by members of the legal fraternity for being opaque and arbitrary.

Recent decision

  • The introduction of transparency acquires salience in the light of the resignation of Justice Jayant M. Patel of the Karnataka High Court after he was transferred to the Allahabad High Court as a puisne judge, despite his being senior enough to be a High Court Chief Justice.
  • The Supreme Court collegiums’ decision to disclose the reasons for its recommendations marks a historic and welcome departure from the entrenched culture of secrecy surrounding judicial appointments.
  • The collegium, comprising the Chief Justice of India and four senior judges, have mentioned that it would indicate the reasons behind decisions on the initial appointment of candidates to High Court benches, their confirmation as permanent judges and elevation as High Court Chief Justices and to the Supreme Court, and transfer of judges and Chief Justices from one High Court to another.
  • A certain degree of discreetness is necessary and inevitable as in many cases the reasons will pertain to sitting judges. At the same time, it would become meaningless if these disclosures fail to provide a window of understanding into the mind of the collegium. It is important to strike the right balance between full disclosure and opaqueness.
  • Going by the decisions disclosed so far with regard to the elevation of district judges, it is clear that quality of judgments, the opinion of Supreme Court judges conversant with the affairs of the high court concerned, and reports of the Intelligence Bureau together form the basis of an initial appointment being recommended.
  • There are 387 vacancies in the various High Courts as on October 1. The mammoth task of filling these vacancies would be better served if a revised Memorandum of Procedure for appointments is agreed upon soon.

Way ahead

  • The resolution is passed to ensure transparency and yet maintain confidentiality in the collegium system, according to a resolution posted on the Supreme Court website which was signed by the current collegium comprising of chief justice of India Dipak Misra, and justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph. 

Question Supreme Court collegium has decided to upload on its website the decisions taken by it, including on elevation, transfer and confirmation of judges, critically analyse.

2.Problem animals (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of to manage Problem animals. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • In the recent times the Bombay High Court quashed an order by the Maharashtra Forest Department to shoot a tigress in the Bramhapuri region after she killed two persons. The death warrant was overturned as a result of a Public Interest Litigation petition by an animal rights activist, which argued that the tigress’s behaviour had been forged by illegal human intrusion into her territory.

Council decision

  • The NTCA guidelines state that tiger shouldn’t be killed unless it is habituated to human deaths, elimination of tiger should be the last resort after failure of all efforts to capture it live, reasons should be declared to justify declaration of the animal as man-eater.
  • Forest officials were forced to capture the problem animal and re-release her in the Bor forest reserve, less than 200 km away, putting another set of villagers in harm’s way. The released tigress went on to kill two others in Bor, and the authorities scrambled to capture her again. Such actions go against conservation science.
  • Translocating a large carnivore as a response to conflict does not work. Large predators need a certain prey density and are territorial, and they would tend to find their way back, even over hundreds of kilometres, to their original habitat.
  • The stress of relocation, with hostility from other predators already present, often drives them to greater aggression. A 2011 study in Maharashtra showed that moving leopards from one region to another to reduce attacks on livestock only increased attacks on humans. To translocate a tiger in response to man-eating behaviour is absurd.

For example

  • Conservation science sometimes throws up counter-intuitive wildlife protection strategies. In 2015, there was a global hue and cry over the killing of the Hwange National Park’s star attraction, Cecil the Lion, by an American dentist.
  • Animal lovers couldn’t fathom how licences to kill lions, under Zimbabwe’s trophy-hunting programme, could be legally purchased. It remains a controversial strategy. Evidence in support of the controversial strategy is admittedly mixed. But countries such as Namibia have shown that well-managed trophy-hunting schemes help conserve charismatic mega fauna, by pumping revenue from hunting licences back into conservation.

Way forward

  • Experience indicates that introducing problem animals into a region antagonises the local people, who can turn against the predators and kill them indiscriminately. A major challenge for India in the coming years will be to engage rural communities in conservation, because our burgeoning population and a revival in tiger numbers will only increase the intensity of conflict.

QuestionMan and animal conflict is one of the biggest conservation challenges, discuss the steps taken by government to minimize the conflict.

3.At Bonn, stay the course (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP-23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). (GS paper II)

Overview

  • The world leaders, delegates from various countries and others from business, along with media and other representatives of civil society will gather at Bonn for the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP-23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • The meeting will primarily concentrate on various aspects associated with the implementation of the Paris Agreement (PA), which was negotiated at COP-21 and entered into force, or became legally binding, on November 4, 2016.

COP-23

  • The COP-23 will be presided by the Prime Minister of Fiji. It is fitting that a Pacific island nation chairs this year’s COP as the very existence of low-lying islands is threatened by sea level rise due to climate change.
  • The meetings in Bonn will cover a wide range of issues, including adjusting to living in a warmer world with the associated impacts, known as adaptation to climate change and reduction in greenhouse gases, referred to as mitigation.
  • They will also include sessions on loss and damage, or the means of addressing economic and non-economic forfeitures and potential injury associated with climate change. Finally, the discussions will be about the implementation of targets that were decided by each country ahead of the Paris meeting, referred to as the nationally determined contributions (NDCs), and the finance, capacity building and technology transfer required by developing countries from rich nations.
  • According to the procedures of the UNFCCC, the meetings in Bonn will include the session of COP-23, the 13th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 13) and the second part of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement.
  • The decision-making bodies for the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement are the COP, the CMP and the CMA, respectively. In addition, the Bonn meetings will include the 47th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 47), which assists on science and technology, and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 47), which supports the work of the three bodies through assessment and review. Also, the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Paris Agreement will meet and is tasked with important issues such as NDCs, adaptation, transparency, and global stocktake.

Paris agreement

  • At the Paris COP, countries agreed to try and limit global warming to 1.5°C but since previous discussions had centred on the 2°C, this required renewed understanding of the policies and actions required to stay within a lower target.
  • Half a degree reduction may seem really small, but in terms of the impacts on ecosystems, geophysical cycles and diverse life forms on earth, this is a substantial difference. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has therefore undertaken the task of preparing a special report on the impacts of a warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and the global response needed to achieve these.
  • A recent paper in ‘Nature Geoscience’ analyses scenarios to demonstrate that limiting warming to 1.5 °C is not yet a geophysical impossibility. But this would imply continuing to strengthen pledges for 2030, deepening the mitigation targets rapidly and deeply, and based on the current conditions in global discussions and national targets, it is not clear that emissions can drop precipitously.
  • Article 14 of the Agreement provides the details on the targets, taking stock and reviewing them and the progress made towards long-term goals. The first such stock-taking covering all aspects such as mitigation, adaptation communications, and support for implementation is expected to take place in 2023, but meetings to prepare for this have already begun and have to conclude by 2018. Adaptation is increasingly also expected to become central at the COP meetings, which for the most part have focussed on mitigation.

Way forward

  • The planet and its inhabitants will still have to deal with the impacts of climate change; we can only hope to see a greater readiness on the part of all nations to compromise on their erstwhile hard positions, and sincerity to make progress in reducing emissions and building climate resilience in their development.

QuestionDiscuss the impact of climate change, critically analyse the steps taken by the Paris climate agreement.