1. Fill tribunal vacancies by Sept. 13, SC tells Centre
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Tribunals in India | UPSC
Context: Supreme Court has directed the Central Government to fill the vacancies in Tribunals across India latest by September 13, 2021, else the Court can:
- Close down the Tribunals and transfer the jurisdiction to High Court; or
- Appoint members of Tribunals; or
- Initiate contempt proceedings against the central government for not following SC Orders
Supreme Court’s Order on Increasing Vacancies in Tribunals across India
- Supreme Court (SC) enquired about the reasons for not appointing Members to various Tribunals such as NCLT, NCLAT, Armed Forces Tribunal, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) etc.
- SC also asked the government about its intention on shutting down the Tribunals permanently. The Court said that if such was the issue, then the SC will transfer the jurisdiction of these Tribunals created under specific statute to High Courts.
- The Court also criticised the government for passing Tribunals Reforms Act containing provisions for Search-cum-Selection Committee for appointment of Chairperson and Members which is still heavily dominated by members of executive. This goes against the previous judgment of Supreme Court in the case of Rojer Mathew vs South Indian Bank and Others.
|Essentials of Tribunals
• Whether a body is Tribunal or not can be decided by applying several tests:
➔ It should be a quasi-judicial body
➔ It should be under an obligation to act judicially
➔ It should have some “trappings of a court”
➔ It should be constituted by the state ➔ State should confer on it the power to adjudicate upon disputes
• These criteria are not exhaustive but illustrative.
|Trappings of Court includes the following ➔ Authority to determine cases initiated by parties
➔ Sitting in public
➔ Power to compel attendance of
➔ to examine the witnesses on oath
➔ duty to follow fundamental rules of evidence (though not strict rules of
➔ provisions for imposing sanctions by way of imprisonment, fine, damages
➔ give prohibitory or mandatory orders to enforce obedience
Abdul Kuddus v Union of India
- The Supreme Court held that the “opinion” of the Foreigners Tribunal was to be treated as a “quasi judicial order”, and was therefore final and binding on all parties including upon the preparation of the NRC.
- The Court held that 1964 Order has been issued in exercise of power under Section 3 of the Foreigners Act, 1946.
- The Tribunals under the 1964 Order have the power to decide whether the person is a foreigner or not within the meaning of the Foreigners Act.
Date: 07-Sept-2021 DNS Notes – Revision
- The 1964 Order before its amendment in 2012 was examined by Supreme Court in Sarbananda Sonowal vs. Union of India & Anothers where it was held that the procedure prescribed for the Tribunals constituted under the 1964 Order was just, fair and reasonable.
Central Govt. framed rules under Finance Act, 2017
- Rules were framed under the Finance Act 2017 for appointment and service conditions of members of various tribunals.
- With the help of Finance Act 2017, 26 Central laws were amended and power to prescribe eligibility criteria, selection process, removal, salaries, tenure and other service conditions pertaining to members of 19 tribunals were sub-delegated to the rule-making powers of the Central government.
SC Judgment – Rojer Mathew vs South Indian Bank and Others (2019)
- Violation of Judicial Independence – Supreme Court declared the Rules framed under Finance Act 2017 as unconstitutional for being violative of principles of independence of judiciary. • Deliberate Attempt to keep Judiciary Away – The Supreme Court held that search-cum-selection committee to appoint members of tribunals was an attempt to keep the judiciary away (by the executive) from the process of selection and appointment of members, vice-chairman and chairman of tribunals.
- Aspect of Bias for the Government – The Court also held that Executive is a litigating party in most of the cases which appears before the Tribunal and hence cannot be allowed to be a dominant participant in tribunal appointments.
- Members of Tribunals mostly from Central Government – The Court observed that apart from National Company Law Tribunal (NCLAT), the selection committee for all other tribunals was made up either entirely from personnel within or nominated by the Central government or comprised a majority of personnel from the Central government.
- Most Selection Committee having only one Judge – While the selection committee for NCLAT consisted of two judges and two secretaries to the Government of India, all other selection committees comprised only one judge and three secretaries to the Government of India.
Madras Bar Association Series Case – Independence of Tribunal
- Constitution Bench dealing with the validity and appointment of members to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) under the Companies Act, 1956, held that the selection committee should comprise:
✓ Chief Justice of India or his nominee (as chairperson, with a casting vote),
✓ A senior Judge of the Supreme Court or Chief Justice of the High Court, and
✓ Two Secretaries in the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Law and Justice respectively. • Subsequent Constitution Bench decisions in Madras Bar Association (2014), Rojer Mathew (2019) and the decision of the Madras High Court in Shamnad Basheer have repeatedly held that principles of the Madras Bar Association (2010) are applicable to the selection process and constitution of all tribunals in India.
Post SC Judgment, Government Framed New Rules
- After the Judgment, the Finance Ministry notified – ‘Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2020.
The Problem with 2020 Rules for Tribunals
- Denial of Equality – The judiciary does not have an equal say as there is only one judicial member and two executive members.
- To deny executive an upper hand in appointments of members of tribunals, The Court in Madras Bar Association series case (2010) ordered to have two judges of the Supreme Court to be a part of the four-member selection committee.
- Executive Dominance – Earlier, the Search-cum-Selection Committees for Tribunals were dominated by bureaucrats and nominees of Central Government, with a nominal representation to the Chief Justice of India. The Court observed that lack of judicial dominance in the Search-cum Selection Committee is in direct contravention of the doctrine of separation of powers and is an encroachment on the judicial domain.
- Non-Judicial Member can become President Chairman or Chairperson – This makes Supreme Court Judge a minority in selection committee as even members are from executive branch of the government.
Similar Problems persists with THE TRIBUNALS REFORMS ACT, 2021
- Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette can make rules to provide for the qualifications, appointment, salaries and allowances, resignation, removal and other conditions of service of the Chairperson and Member of a Tribunal.
- The Chairperson and the Member of a Tribunal shall be appointed by the Central Government on the recommendation of a Search-cum-Selection Committee which shall consists of: (a) a Chairperson, who shall be the Chief Justice of India or a Judge of Supreme Court nominated by him;
(b) two Members, who are Secretaries to the Government of India to be nominated by that Government;
(c) one Member, who –
(i) in case of appointment of a Chairperson of a Tribunal, shall be the outgoing
Chairperson of that Tribunal
(ii) in case of appointment of a Member of a Tribunal, shall be the sitting Chairperson of that Tribunal
(iii) in case of the Chairperson of the Tribunal seeking re-appointment, shall be a retired Judge of the Supreme Court or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court, to be nominated by the Chief Justice of India
(d) the Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry or Department under which the Tribunal is constituted or established—Member-Secretary
(e) the Secretary or the Principal Secretary of the General Administrative Department of the concerned State—Member-Secretary.
Constitutionality of Tribunals
- Enactment of Constitution 42nd Amendment gave rise to the first challenge regarding the constitutionality of tribunals.
- Sampath Kumar case – Five-judge bench of the Supreme Court had to determine the constitutionality of Section 28 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985.
- Section 28 provides for exclusion of jurisdiction of courts except the Supreme Court under article 136 of the Constitution.
- The bench concluded that the creation of ‘alternative institutional mechanisms’, which were as competent as High Courts, would not violate the basic structure of the Constitution.
- It also passed directions with respect to qualifications of tribunal members, manner of appointment, etc.
- With regard to the appointment process, the court stated that the recommendations of a High Powered Selection Committee (chaired by the Chief Justice of India or his/her designate) must be ordinarily followed, unless reasons for not following them are furnished.
- Sakinala Harinath and Ors. v State of Andhra Pradesh – High Court of Andhra Pradesh offered a different approach and stated that provision ousting the power of judicial review of High Courts and Supreme Court, would be violative of the basic structure doctrine.
- R.K. Jain v Union of India – Subsequently, the Supreme Court criticised the rationale behind the decision in Sampath Kumar and emphasized that the power of judicial review of the High Court under Article 226 cannot be excluded even by a constitutional amendment.
- Chandra Kumar v Union of India
- Finally Seven Judge Constitution Bench conclusively held that the power of the High Courts under Article 226 and 227 to exercise judicial superintendence over the decisions of all courts and tribunals, is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution.
- SC also stated that “all decisions of Tribunals, whether created pursuant to Article 323A or Article 323B of the Constitution, will be subject to the writ jurisdiction of the High Court under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution, before a Division Bench of the High Court within whose territorial jurisdiction the particular tribunal falls.
- In the opinion of the court, it would serve two purposes:
➔ First, frivolous claims will be filtered by tribunals before they reach the High Court; and ➔ Second, the High Court will have the benefit of a reasoned decision on merits which will assist in finally deciding the matter.
- The court also suggested remedying the issue of malfunctioning of tribunals by setting up an independent agency for their administration, preferably in the form of a single nodal ministry. • Way Forward
- Central Government must follow Supreme Court Judgments in Roger Mathews and Madras Bar Association series and should accordingly provide equality of space to judicial members in search cum-selection committee and in composition of various Tribunals in India. Based on these provisions, the government must fill the vacancies in Tribunals as workings of such tribunals have almost come to a standstill.
2. Spirit of federalism lies in consultation
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Federalism in India | UPSC
Context: Unilateral legislation without taking States into confidence not only goes against the principle of federalism as envisaged in the Constitution but will also see more protests on the streets by respective states on different legislations. Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan recently highlighted that one of India’s main problem is excessive centralisation of power in the political decision making.
Different State Government Raising Concerns
- The States and the Legislative Assemblies standing up for their rights assumes significance in the wake of the Union government introducing a number of laws without taking the States into confidence, thereby undermining the federal principles.
- Kerala Chief Minister stated that it is not in the essence of federalism for the Union government to legislate unilaterally, avoiding discussions with the States on the subjects in the Concurrent List. • Tamil Nadu Chief Minister raised the issue by calling on other Chief Ministers against the Union government usurping powers under the State and Concurrent Lists.
- The Kerala Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a resolution against the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 whereas the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed a resolution against the controversial farm laws.
Farm Laws Enacted under Entry 33 of Concurrent List
- Parliament passed the farm laws without consulting the States. The laws, essentially related to Entry 14 (agriculture clause) belonging to the State List, were purportedly passed by Parliament citing Entry 33 (trade and commerce clause) in the Concurrent List.
- According to State of Bombay vs F.N. Balsara judgment, if an enactment falls within one of the matters assigned to the State List and reconciliation is not possible with any entry in the Concurrent or Union List after employing the doctrine of “pith and substance”, the legislative domain of the State Legislature must prevail.
Non-Major Ports – Entry 31 of Concurrent List
- According to the Indian Ports Act, 1908, which presently governs the field related to non-major ports, the power to regulate and control the minor ports remained with the State governments. • However, the new Draft Indian Ports Bill, 2021, proposes to change the status quo by transferring
the powers related to planning, developing and regulating the non-major ports to the Maritime State Development Council (MSDC), which is overwhelmingly controlled by the Union government. • Coastal States like Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have objected to the Bill that proposes to seize the power of the State government with respect to non-major ports.
Electricity – Entry 38 of Concurrent List
- Various States like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have also come forward against the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The field related to electricity is traceable to Entry 38 of the Concurrent List.
- The power to regulate the sector was vested with the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs), which were ostensibly manned by individuals appointed by the State government.
- However, the proposed amendment seeks to change the regulatory regime with the establishment of a National Selection Committee, dominated by members nominated by the Union government that will make appointments to the SERCs.
- The amendment proposes the establishment of a Centrally-appointed Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority (ECEA) as the sole authority having jurisdiction over matters regarding the performance of obligations under a contract related to the sale, purchase or transmission of electricity.
- In effect, the power to regulate the electricity sector would be taken away from the State government. This is apart from other proposed changes, including changing the licensing regime to facilitate private sector entry without State government approval.
Need to Implement Important Recommendations
- Implementing Sarkaria Commission Report – specifically recommended that there should be a “coordination of policy and action in all areas of concurrent or overlapping jurisdiction through a process of mutual consultation and cooperation is, therefore, a prerequisite of smooth and harmonious working of the dual system”. The Union government, while exercising powers under the Concurrent List, must limit itself to the purpose of ensuring uniformity in basic issues of national policy and not more.
- Implementing Recommendations of the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) – It had recommended that individual and collective consultation with the States should be undertaken through the Inter-State Council established under Article 263 of the Constitution.
- As the Supreme Court itself had held in the S.R. Bommai vs Union of India case, the States are not mere appendages of the Union. The Union government should ensure that the power of the States is not trampled with.
- The essence of cooperative federalism lies in consultation and dialogue, and unilateral legislation without taking the States into confidence will lead to more protests on the streets.
3. Manda Buffalo
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economic Geography
Sub Theme: Livestock Population in India | UPSC
New Breeds of Buffalo – The ICAR-National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resource has recently decided to register two new breeds of Buffalo- Dharwadi and Manda.
- The ICAR-National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources, Karnal (ICAR-NBAGR) is the nodal agency for the registration of newly identified breeds of livestock and poultry in the country. Recently, it has decided to register two new breeds of Buffalo- Dharwadi and Manda.
- The total number of indigenous breeds now in the country is 202, which include 50 for cattle and 19 for buffalo. Remaining indigenous breeds include goat, sheep, horses & ponies, camel, pig, donkey etc.
- Dharwari Buffalo: Mainly found in northern part of Karnataka particularly in districts such as Dharwad, Belgaum and Bijapur.
- Manda Buffalo: Mainly found in Koraput region of Odisha. Body colour of these buffaloes is ash grey with copper-coloured hairs.
Date: 07-Sept-2021 DNS Notes – Revision
Livestock Population-Major States: UP, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar
Important Indigenous Cattle Breeds in India
|Gir||Milch||Originated in Gir forests of South Kathiawar in Gujarat also found in Maharashtra and adjacent Rajasthan.
Horns are peculiarly curved, giving a ‘half-moon’ appearance.
|Red Sindhi||Milch||Originated in Karachi and Hyderabad (Pakistan) regions of undivided India and also reared in certain organized farms in our country.|
|Sahiwal||Milch||Originated in Montgomery region of undivided India. Heavy breed with symmetrical body having loose skin.|
|Hallikar||Draught||Originated from the former princely state of Vijayanagar, presently part of Karnataka.|
|Amritmahal||Draught||Originated in Hassan, Chikmagalur and Chitradurga district of Karnataka.|
|Khillari||Draught||Originated from Sholapur and Sitapur districts of Maharashtra. Closely resembles Hallikar breed.|
|Kangayam||Draught||Originated from Tamil Nadu.The horns are spread apart, nearly straight with a slight curve backwards.|
|Bargur||Draught||Found around Bargur hills in Bhavani taluk of Erode district in Tamil Nadu.|
|Umblachery||Draught||Originated from Thanjavur District of TN.|
|Pulikulam||Draught||Originated from Madurai District of TN.|
|Alambadi||Draught||Originated from Dharmapuri District of TN.|
|Originated in Tharparkar district (Pakistan) of undivided India and also found in Rajasthan.|
|originated from Rohtak, Hisar, Jind and Gurgaon districts of Haryana|
|Originated from Southeast Rann of Kutch of Gujarat and adjoining Rajasthan (Barmer and Jodhpur district).|
|Found in Guntur District of AP|
|Originated from Krishna river valley in Karnataka and also found in border districts of Maharashtra.|
|Originated in Western Andhra Pradesh and also found in Marathwada region of Maharashtra state and adjoining part of Karnataka.|
Important Indigenous Buffalo Breeds in India
|Murrah||Mainly found in Rohtak, Hisar districts of Haryana, Patiala district of Punjab.|
|Surti||Mainly found in Kaira and Baroda district of Gujarat.|
|Jaffrabadi||Mainly found in Gir forests, Kutch and Jamnagar districts of Gujarat.|
|Bhadawari||Mainly found in Agra and Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh and Gwalior district of Madhya Pradesh.|
|Nili Ravi||Found in Sutlej valley in Ferozpur district of Punjab and in the Sahiwal (Pakistan) of undivided India.|
|Mehsana||Found in Mehsana and Banaskanta districts in Gujarat and adjoining Maharashtra state.|
|Nagpuri||Found in Nagpur, Akola and Amravati districts of Maharashtra.|
|Toda||Named after Toda Tribes of Nilgiris Hills in south India|
Details about ICAR-National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resource
MANDATE – Identification, Evaluation, Characterization, Conservation and sustainable Utilization of Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources. Coordination and capacity building in animal genetic resources management and policy issues.
- To conduct systematic surveys to characterise, evaluate and catalogue farm livestock and poultry genetic resources and to establish their National Data Base.
- To design methodologies for ex situ conservation and in situ management and optimal utilization of farm animal genetic resources.
- To undertake studies on genetic characterisation using modern biological techniques such as molecular cytogenetics, Immunology, DNA Fingerprinting, RFLP analysis etc.
- To conduct training programmes as related to evaluation, characterisation and utilisation of animal genetic resources.