1.Undoing injustice (The Hindu) 

2.Shaping wilderness (The Hindu)

1.Undoing injustice (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue that the Supreme Court invokes constitutional norms and Islamic canon to bar instant talaq. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • The Supreme Court of India by declaring the discriminatory practice of instant triple talaq as unconstitutional has sent out clear and loud message that personal law can no longer be privileged over fundamental rights.
  • Three of the five judges on the Constitution Bench have not accepted the argument that instant talaq, or talaq-e-biddat, is essential to Islam and, therefore it deserves constitutional protection under Article 25.

Triple talaq

  • Triple talaq is the practice under which a Muslim man can divorce his wife by simply uttering “talaq” three times. It is prevalent among India’s Muslim community majority of whom follow the Hanafi Islamic school of law.
  • This mode of divorce is not universal among Muslims across the world, as many other Islamic schools of thought prefer the divorce process to be deferred, in many cases over a period of three months. 

Landmark judgement

  • According to the judges the main ground on which the practice has been struck down is a simple formulation that “this form of talaq is manifestly arbitrary in the sense that the marital tie can be broken capriciously and whimsically by a Muslim man without any attempt at reconciliation so as to save it.”
  • However, on the contrary other judge says that having held the practice to be arbitrary, there is really no need to go into the element of discrimination. The court deserves commendation for undoing the gender injustice implicit in the practice so effortlessly, within constitutional parameters as well as the Islamic canon.
  • All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), a non-governmental organisation that aims to educate Muslims on the protection and application of Islamic laws, has opposed the move to ban triple talaq and polygamy.
  • Critics say divorce and polygamy are not the main issues facing the Muslim community, the majority of whom, are close to the bottom of economic and educational indicators in the country. The AIMPLB has opposed what it calls government interference in the personal laws of the Muslim community, who form nearly 14 percent of India’s 1.3 billion populations.
  • Earlier apex court’s ruling in Shamim Ara (2002) case, reiterated in several later cases saying that a talaq by a Muslim husband can have legal effect only if pronounced in full compliance with the true Islamic procedure for it (by implication of which triple talaq has no legs to stand on), “is the law applicable in India” qualifies to be seen as the most sensible and hence highly appreciable observation found in all the judgments.

Way ahead

  • The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, and all those who supported its regressive opinion that even an unworthy practice should not be dislodged by judicial verdict, should now accept the verdict in the interests of a modern social order as there is no reason to contend that their faith has been unduly secularised.

Question– What are the implications of banning triple talaq for all other personal laws? Is it a step towards Uniform Civil Code?

 

2.Shaping wilderness (The Hindu) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of use to technologies to save wildlife. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • With global biodiversity in rapid decline and a growing number of species on the brink of extinction, advances in technology are becoming ever more important in helping us to solve these conservation challenges.
  • The threats are many like, habitat destruction, climate change, illegal wildlife trade etc. Through using technology we can more efficiently and effectively collect, process and analyse data at different spatial and temporal scales. This in turn can better enable us to identify threats, develop mitigation strategies and test their effectiveness.

Use of technology

  • New software and sophisticated surveillance technologies are being operationalised to keep an eye on developments across large landscapes and the use of contraceptives has been suggested to contain runaway populations of animals ranging from the monkey in large parts of India to the elephant in Africa.
  • The use technology includes, Camera traps which have provided new evidence of tiger presence in the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa and of the Asiatic wildcat in Bandhavgarh (Madhya Pradesh), radio collars have helped solve the mystery of tiger deaths in Bandipur in Karnataka and Chandrapur district of Maharashtra; and satellite telemetry promises to provide new insights into the behaviour and movement patterns of the Great Indian Bustard in Gujarat, which includes its journeys across the border to Pakistan.
  • Surveillance technologies are bringing distant and topographically complex landscapes so that they can be observed and monitored easily. More individual wild animals are perhaps being caught and handled today than has ever happened earlier.
  • Also there are various levels of physical intrusion that these sentient beings are subjected to be it a microchip in the tail, a radio collar around its neck or a contraceptive injected into its body, not to mention the sedation that most of these individuals are forced into to enable such intrusions.

Constraints

  • Technology has always allowed us deeper access into and control over our environment; in many ways it has been key in the human conquest over nature, but there are some things a ferocious large cat or a free flying bird or a deep-sea mammal that had still seemed out of reach.
  • These animals are wild and therefore inaccessible or inaccessible, therefore wild. Technology is closing that gap and it is the very idea of the ‘wild’ and ‘wilderness’ that comes into focus in important public initiatives such as conservation and protection of biodiversity. How wild or natural, for instance, is an animal that cannot perform its fundamental biological function of procreation because it has been sterilised by human intervention? It raises ethical questions.
  • The basic pleasures of enjoying the wild are essentially technology mediated intrusions (like binoculars and cameras) into the private lives of animals that the human species does not allow in its own case.
  • The radio collar goes a step further; one could argue that this collar is a signifier of further human dominance and authority over the wild animal if not complete control. The issue is one that goes to the very heart of the notion of the ‘wild’ and of ‘wilderness’, marking as it does a paradigm shift in our relationship to and understanding of wildlife.
  • This is not right to think of the ubiquitous use of high technology to shape wilderness, and to intrude into ‘wild’ bodies, even as they are used in the name of protecting them.

Way ahead

  • Current ideologies and methods of conservation need to go for change.

Question– Technology has been a great boon for advancement of human life. What are its prospects now to save the wildlife?