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Q.1)Recently, the Supreme Court accepted the suggestions made by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) Bar Association on appointments to various tribunals. In this context discuss the current challenges facing by tribunals in India. What are the Suggestions made by CAT Bar Association related to appointment of its members.(GS-2)

The Supreme Court accepted the suggestions made by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) Bar Association on appointments to various tribunals.

Tribunals in India:

  • Tribunals were added in the Constitution by Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976 as Part XIV-A, which has only two articles viz. 323-A and 323-B.
  • Article 323-A deals with Administrative Tribunals; article 323-B deals with tribunals for other matters.
  • The ‘tribunals’ are not courts of normal jurisdiction, but they have very specific and predefined work area.
  • The administrative tribunals are not original invention of the Indian Political System. They are well established in all democratic countries of Europe as well as United States of America.

What are the various challenges facing by tribunals?

  • The functioning of administrative tribunals suffers from lack of autonomy especially in terms of appointment and funding.
  • Lack of adequate infrastructure to work smoothly and perform the functions originally envisioned for them.
  •  There is a lack of understanding of the staffing requirements in tribunals.
  • Appointments to tribunals are usually under the control of the executive. The following issues can be crop up out of this:

Issues related to appointments:

  • Tribunals perform a judicial function, while the government is part of the executive.
  • There may be instances where the government is a party to a dispute before a tribunal like the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) or the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT).
  • There would be conflict of interest if the government were to be a litigant before the tribunal as well as have the power to determine appointment or reappointment of its members.
  • By allowing the central government to frame rules to decide each of these aspects, the independence of tribunals could be affected.
  • In Shamnad Basheer vs Union Of India on 10 March, 2015, the Supreme Court held that “the selection process has been left entirely to the Executive, though the functions of the Tribunal are judicial. This act is a direct affront to the basic structure, which is fundamental to the Constitution of India. “

Suggestions made by CAT Bar Association related to appointment of members:

The suggestions were made by Senior Counsel  Aryama Sundaram in the batch of petitions challenging the Finance Act, 2017 and the Rules made there under pertaining to tribunals. The following were the suggestions:

  • Staying the composition of Search-cum-Selection Committee as prescribed in Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and Other Authorities (Qualification, experience and other conditions of service of members) Rules, 2017 both in respect of Chairman/Judicial Members and Administrative Members.
  • Appointment to the post of Chairman shall be made by nomination by the Chief Justice of India.
  • Stay the terms of office of 3 years as prescribed in Column 5 of the Schedule to the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualification, experience and other conditions of service of members) Rules, 2017.
  • All appointments to be made in pursuance to the selection made by the interim Search-cum-Selection Committee shall be with conditions of service as applicable to the Judges of High Court.
  • All appointments to be made in pursuance to the selection made by the interim Search-cum-Selection Committee shall abide by the conditions of service as per the old Acts and the Rules.

Q.2)The Union cabinet has approved a proposal for ratification of the Minamata Convention. What is Minamata Convention? Discuss the role of convention to protect human and environment.(GS-3)

The Union cabinet has approved a proposal for ratification of the Minamata Convention, a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from adverse effects of mercury. After joining the Convention, it will now be easier for India to get technological or financial assistance to address issues related to mercury.

Minamata Convention and its role to protect human and environment:

  • The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a multilateral environmental agreement that addresses specific human activities which are contributing to widespread mercury pollution.
  • Implementation of this agreement will help reduce global mercury pollution over the coming decades.
  • The Convention also addresses interim storage of mercury and its disposal once it becomes waste, sites contaminated by mercury as well as health issues.
  • The Minamata Convention on Mercury will be implemented in the context of sustainable development with the objective to protect human health and environment from the anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.
  • The Minamata Convention on Mercury will further urge enterprises to move to mercury-free alternatives in products and non-mercury technologies in manufacturing processes. This will drive research & development, and promote innovation.

Conclusion:

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is an opportunity for the global community to address this mounting problem before it gets worse. Over the next decades, implementation of this international agreement will help reduce mercury pollution from the specific human activities responsible for the most significant mercury releases to the environment.

Q.3) Write short note on any two of the following:

a) Great Indian Bustard

b)  Initial Coin Offerings

c) Compensatory afforestation (CA) funds

Great Indian Bustard

  • The Great Indian Bustard or Indian bustard is a bustard found in India and the adjoining regions of Pakistan.
  • A large bird with a horizontal body and long bare legs, giving it an ostrich like appearance, this bird is among the heaviest of the flying birds.
  • Once common on the dry plains of the Indian subcontinent, as few as 250 individuals were estimated in 2011 to survive and the species is critically       endangered by hunting and loss of its habitat, which consists of large expanses of dry grassland and scrub.
  • These birds are often found associated in the same habitat as blackbuck. It is protected under Wildlife Protection Act 1972 of India.
  • ·Great Indian Bustard is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection)Act, 1972, in the CMS Convention and in Appendix I of CITES, as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
  • It has also been identified as one of the species for the recovery programme under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.
  • This species was formerly widespread in India and Pakistan.

Initial Coin Offerings :

  • An initial coin offering (ICO) is a controversial means of crowdfunding centered around cryptocurrency, which can be a source of capital for startup companies.
  • In an ICO, a quantity of the crowdfunded cryptocurrency is preallocated to investors in the form of “tokens”, in exchange for legal tender or other cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or ethereum.
  • These tokens supposedly become functional units of currency if or when the ICO’s funding goal is met and the project launches.
  • ICOs provide a means by which startups avoid costs of regulatory compliance and intermediaries, such as venture capitalists, bank and stock exchanges, while increasing risk for investors.
  • ICOs may fall outside existing regulations or may need to be regulated depending on the nature of the project, or are banned altogether in some jurisdictions, such as China and South Korea.

Compensatory afforestation (CA) funds

Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016 (CAF) has a provision for creating a national fund with contributions from user agencies—any person, organisation, company or department of the Central Government or state government making a request for diversion or de-notification of forest land for non-forest purpose.

According to the Act, the fund will be used for “compensatory afforestation, additional compensatory afforestation, penal compensatory afforestation, net present value, catchment area treatment plan or any money for compliance of conditions stipulated by the Central Government while according approval under the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.”

In news:

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is in deliberation with the Ministry of Finance over the future of compensatory afforestation (CA) funds collected by the Centre.

Currently, the CA funds, amounting to roughly Rs 50,000 crore, are with the ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA). The ad hoc body was created by the order of Supreme Court on July 10, 2009.

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