Times Top10: It’s T-shirts vs shorts between Congress and BJP

Good morning!

Today: Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections for 68 seats; Vice President Dhankar to attend ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in Phnom Penh; National Lok Adalat to address pendency of 6 lakh cases in consumer courts across the country. Tomorrow: T20 World Cup Final – England Vs Pakistan in Melbourne; G20 Joint Finance and Health Ministers’ Meeting at Bali in Indonesia

1. Ex-PM’s ‘killers’ freed for good conduct
  • What: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the release of six convicts, including Nalini Sriharan and R P Ravichandran, who were imprisoned for life in connection with the assassination of former PM Rajiv Gandhi. The others are Robert Payas, Santhan, Jaikumar and Nalini’s Sri Lankan husband Murugan. Gandhi, who was a Congress leader, was killed by a suicide bomber at a poll rally in Tamil Nadu’s Sriperumbudur in 1991.
  • Why: The bench also noted Friday that the convicts had spent over three decades in prison and that their conduct during the incarceration was satisfactory. In May, the top court freed A G Perarivalan, another convict in the case who was serving life sentence.

Case background

  • Both Nalini and Ravichandran have been on parole since December 27, 2021. Nalini served her sentence in a special prison for women in Vellore, while Ravichandran was in the Central Prison in Madurai. They challenged a June 17 order of the Madras high court, which rejected Nalini’s plea for early release, and they cited the top court’s judgement ordering the release of Perarivalan.
  • In May 1999, the Supreme Court had upheld the death sentences of four convicts — Perarivalan, Murugan, Santhan and Nalini. In 2001, Nalini’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment on the consideration that she has a daughter. In 2014, the top court also commuted the death sentences of Perarivalan, Santhan and Murugan to life imprisonment on grounds of delay in deciding their mercy petitions.

TN government’s stand

  • The Tamil Nadu government had earlier favoured the premature release of convicts Nalini Sriharan and Ravichandran, saying its 2018 advice for remission of their life sentence is “binding” upon the governor. Later, it told the top court that in a cabinet meeting held on September 9, 2018, it had considered mercy petitions of seven convicts in the case and resolved to recommend the governor for remission of their life sentences.
  • Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin on Friday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision.

Congress upset

  • The Congress – which is an ally of the DMK in Tamil Nadu – has termed “totally unacceptable and completely erroneous” the Supreme Court order directing the release of the six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, and said that the top court has not acted in consonance with the spirit of India on this issue.
2. A record seizure of freebies, liquor
Nearly 11 lakh litres of liquor, freebies worth Rs 65 crore and Rs 17.84 crore in cash meant to induce voters have been seized from poll-bound Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the Election Commission (EC) has said, describing it as a “record”. While polling will be held in Himachal Pradesh today, Gujarat will have voting on December 1 and 5. The counting of votes will be taken up on December 8.

Seizure by DRI

  • The EC said the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence has also reported “massive seizures” amounting to Rs 64 crore of toys and accessories that were being smuggled by way of “mis-declaration and resorting to concealment in the import cargo” at the Mundra port in Gujarat.
  • Two persons, including the mastermind, have been arrested in the case and further investigation is under progress, the poll watchdog said.

A sharp spike

  • Gujarat witnessed seizures of Rs 71.88 crore in just a few days after the election was announced, which surpassed the seizures made during the entire duration of the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct during the 2017 Assembly polls, which amounted to Rs 27.21 crore.
  • Similarly, the seizures in Himachal Pradesh are also significant, amounting to Rs 50.28 crore as compared to Rs 9.03 crore five years ago, marking more than a five-fold increase, the EC said.

During bypolls

  • The poll panel pointed out that even during the recent bypolls to seven Assembly constituencies in Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra, Telangana, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, significant seizures of Rs 9.35 crore were made.
3. Centre, judiciary at loggerheads over…
  • The Supreme Court on Friday expressed displeasure over the Centre keeping pending the names recommended for appointment as judges in the higher judiciary, including those reiterated by the apex court Collegium, saying it was “not acceptable”.
  • The top court observed that the method of keeping names on hold is becoming “some sort of a device” to compel the persons, whose names have been recommended for appointment as judges in the higher judiciary, to withdraw their consent.
  • The Supreme Court also issued notice to the incumbent Secretary (Justice) of the Union Law Ministry seeking response on a plea alleging “wilful disobedience” of an order issued by it on April 20 last year, which said that the Centre should appoint judges within three to four weeks if the Collegium reiterates its recommendations unanimously. The top court on Friday was hearing a plea filed by the Advocates’ Association Bengaluru, which raised the issue of “extraordinary delays” in appointing judges at high courts.

An ongoing conflict

  • The development comes at a time when Union law minister Kiren Rijiju has reiterated at least thrice over the last four weeks that the Collegium system of appointing judges was “opaque”, as he defended the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) Act calling it the “collective will of the nation”.
  • The NJAC Act, unanimously passed by both the Houses of Parliament and ratified by more than half of all the states, was struck down by a constitution bench of the apex court as unconstitutional in 2015, upholding the Collegium system of appointing judges for high courts and the Supreme Court.
  • However, CJI D Y Chandrachud has strongly backed the Collegium system, adding that there is need to strengthen the collegium system by ironing out the creases and by being responsive to criticism.

Vacancies in high courts

  • The Supreme Court had noted in its April 2021 order that the then Attorney General had placed before it the appointment position in the high courts to contend that against the sanctioned strength of 1,080 judges, 664 were appointed and 416 positions were vacant.
4. How game theory helped explain Chinese incursions
  • Chinese incursions across India’s west and central borders are not independent, random incidents that happen by mistake but are part of a strategically planned and coordinated effort to gain permanent control of the disputed border areas, according to a study by a team of international experts.
  • The study ‘Rising tension in the Himalayas: a Geospatial Analysis of Chinese Border Incursions into India’ by Northwestern University, Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands and the Netherlands Defence Academy presented a geospatial analysis of the incursions, using an original dataset that covers the past 15 years.
  • Findings: “We find that the conflict can be separated into two independent conflicts, west and east, centred around the major contested areas of Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh. Building on insights from game theory, we conclude that the Chinese incursions in the west are strategically planned and aim for a permanent control, or at least a clearer status quo of the contested areas,” the study released on Thursday said.
  • 7 incursions per year: In the 15-year dataset, the researchers noted an average of 7.8 incursions per year even though the Indian government’s estimates are much higher. The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it. Aksai Chin is a vast area in Ladakh which is currently under Chinese occupation.
  • Two zones: The authors of the study assembled a new dataset, compiling information about Chinese incursions into India from 2006 to 2020 and used game theory and statistical methods to analyse the data. They found that conflicts can be separated into two distinct sectors: west/middle (the Aksai Chin region) and east (the Arunachal Pradesh region).
  • Indian government data in 2019 showed the Chinese Army transgressed into Indian territory 1,025 times between 2016 and 2018.
6. ‘Will steer clear of political slugfest’
  • The Supreme Court said on Friday it will step back from the “actual arena of political conflict” between the Delhi government and the Centre and only deal with the constitutional issue related to the control of services in the national capital.
  • Fresh affidavit: Terming the bringing up of the political arena slugfest into the court “unnecessary”, a bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli refused to be drawn into it and made it clear that it will not ask the Centre to respond to a fresh affidavit filed by Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia.
  • The case: A five-judge Constitution bench is scheduled to hear on November 24 the legal issue concerning the scope of the legislative and executive powers of the Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi over the control of services in the national capital.
  • Sisodia, in an affidavit, has told the Supreme Court that Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena has “derailed” governance in Delhi by encouraging the “recalcitrance of civil servants” towards the elected government. The AAP government has also alleged that Saxena is “running a parallel system of governance in the NCT of Delhi” by taking unilateral executive decisions.
7. A twist in global carbon emissions trend
The world’s burning of coal, oil and natural gas this year is putting 1 percent more heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air than last year, bad news for the fight against climate change, according to scientists who track emissions.

A twist

  • China’s carbon pollution was down 0.9 percent this year compared to 2021, while emissions in the United States were 1.5 percent higher, said a study by scientists at Global Carbon Project released early Friday at international climate talks in Egypt. Both are opposite long-term trends. American emissions had been steadily dropping while Chinese emissions had been rising — until this year.

Pandemic effect

  • In both cases, it is a reaction to the pandemic and perhaps a bit of the energy crisis created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, study lead author Pierre Friedlingstein of the University of Exeter told the Associated Press.
  • China’s lockdown in 2022 to try to control renewed Covid-19 is a major factor in that country’s drop, he said. Much of the jump was in transportation — cars and air travel — with people’s limits on travel during the pandemic wearing off, Friedlingstein said.

What about India?

  • In addition to the US, India had a 6 percent increase in 2022, while Europe had a 0.8 percent drop. The rest of the world averaged a 1.7 percent carbon pollution jump.

What does it mean?

  • While global carbon pollution is still increasing, it isn’t increasing at as fast a rate as 10 or 15 years ago. But overall, scientists said, this is bad news because it is pushing Earth closer to hitting and then passing the globally adopted threshold of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times.
8. A ‘publicity interest litigation’ that proved costly
  • The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the appointment of Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud.
  • The Division bench of the high court headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma termed the PIL a “Publicity Interest Litigation” and dismissed it imposing a penalty of Rs 1 lakh on the petitioner, Sanjeev Kumar Tiwari, who is the president of an organisation named Gram Uday Foundation. “Present petition has only been filed only to gain publicity without there being any material evidence,” it said.
  • The petitioner then argued that the appointment of CJI Chandrachud was made in violation of constitutional provisions. He had prayed for an immediate stay on the appointment. He also sought an inquiry by security agencies to ascertain that the new CJI does not have any relations with the naxalite Christian terrorist and “anti-nationals”. Last week, the Supreme Court had dismissed a similar petition.
9. Pakistan’s bid to bring back Nawaz
  • Pakistan government has issued a diplomatic passport to former premier Nawaz Sharif, who has been living in self-imposed exile in the UK since 2019, as per media reports cited by news agency PTI. The 72-year-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief was issued the diplomatic passport for a period of five years after getting the clearance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday, as per the media reports.

The passport affair

  • As per protocols, reported PTI, former presidents and premiers are entitled to keep diplomatic passports. In a brief conversation with the media in London, Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif is learnt to have indicated that his elder brother may return to Pakistan, saying: “Mian Sahib (Nawaz Sharif) is coming, failure is destined for Imran Khan.”
  • Former PM Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government had cancelled Sharif’s diplomatic passport after he was declared a proclaimed offender by a Pakistani court on corruption charges.

Living in exile

  • Nawaz Sharif was serving a seven-year prison sentence in Kot Lakhpat Jail on corruption charges when the Lahore High Court granted him a four-week bail and allowed him to leave the country for medical treatment. In November 2019, he went to London to receive treatment, and has been living there since. He has served thrice as the prime minister of Pakistan and appointed at least four Army chiefs.
  • Shehbaz Sharif met Nawaz Sharif in London earlier this week, taking a detour to the British capital from the COP27 climate conference in Egypt, apparently to discuss the appointment of the new Army chief later this month, according to a report in the Dawn newspaper on Thursday. It was his third visit to his brother since coming to power in April this year.

Moody’s on Friday slashed India’s GDP growth projections for 2022 to 7% – from its earlier projection of 7.7% – as the global slowdown and rising domestic interest rates are likely to dampen economic momentum. This is the second time that Moody’s Investors Service has cut India’s growth estimates. In September, it had cut projections for the current year to 7.7% from 8.8% estimated in May. Moody’s expects growth to decelerate to 4.8% in 2023 and then to rise to around 6.4% in 2024. It said the global economy is on the verge of a downturn amid extraordinarily high levels of uncertainty amid persistent inflation, monetary policy tightening, fiscal challenges, geopolitical shifts and financial market volatility.

Written by: Rakesh Rai, Jayanta Kalita, Prabhash K Dutta, Abhishek Dey
Research: Rajesh Sharma

Read More | Source: THE TIMES OF INDIA

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