1. A Case for a More Federal Judiciary
There is a need to examine the Indian judiciary and to strengthen the federal nature of our judiciary.
The status of judiciary in a federal India:
- Integrated judiciary- The federal judicial system comprises the Supreme Court and the High Court in the sense that it is only these two courts which can adjudicate upon the rights of the federal units and the central unit, and between the citizen and these units. There is no dual judiciary.
- Equality of power- The Indian Constitution envisaged the equality of power of High Court judges and Supreme Court judges, with a High Court judge not being a subordinate of a Supreme Court judge.
- Independent judiciary: Security of tenure has been provided to the judges who cannot be removed from the office except by an order of the President, salaries and allowances of the judges are determined by Parliament by law etc.
- SC has reiterated the position that it is superior to HC only in appellate sense.
|Federalism is a system of government in which the same territory is controlled by two levels of government.
It is a midpoint between unitarism (which has a supreme centre, to which the States are subordinate) and confederalism (wherein the States are supreme, and are merely coordinated by a weak centre).
The Supreme Court in the Kesavananda Bharti case mentioned that federal character is one of the basic features of the Indian Constitution.
- Collegium- The Supreme Court (the Collegium) has the power to appoint judges and chief justices to the High Courts and the Supreme Court, transfer judges and chief justices from one High Court to another etc. This violates the equality principle and gives SC more power over HC.
- Creation of parallel judicial systems of courts and tribunals which provide for direct appeals to the Supreme Court, bypassing the High Courts. EG: CCI, Company law tribunals etc.
- The Supreme Court has been liberal in entertaining cases pertaining to trifling matters.
- In 2018, the Supreme Court entertained a writ petition and issued directions that Deepavali could be celebrated for only one or two hours in the evening. This led to interfering in local matters which have no constitutional ramifications.
There is a need for SC to recognise the importance of self-abnegation and restore federal balance by re-empowering HC.
2. Ukraine: Why Germany Matters?
The Ukraine crisis appears to have turned a corner with Russia declaring it has withdrawn some troops from the border but issues remain with Nord Stream 2 which is perceived by some as a geopolitical weapon.
|What is Nord Stream 2 (NS2)?
NS 2 is an expansion of Russia’s existing Nord Stream gas pipeline to Germany across the Baltic Sea.
The total capacity of two strings of Nord Stream 2 is 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year.
NS2’s manufacture began in 2016 and construction in 2018.
The 1,224 km, $11-billion underwater link is the shortest, most economical and environment-friendly route to double Russia’s gas export to Germany.
It will increase Europe’s dependence on Russia for Natural Gas, currently EU (European Union) countries already rely on Russia for 40% of their gas needs.
Issues with Nord stream 2:
- Ukraine’s concerns – Ukraine offered extra transit capacity for Russian gas to Europe but Russia booked only 4.3% of it, citing domestic demand.
- It believes the pipeline is a Russian geopolitical weapon aimed at depriving Ukraine of crucial revenue.
- It has raised fears that Russia could cut off gas supplies to Ukraine without endangering its own gas exports to Europe- Ukraine whose viability is dependent on Russian fossil fuels through its territory, fears that Russia could reduce energy supplies by cutting those needed for Ukraine’s
- USA’s Concerns: It could give Russia complete dominance over gas supplies to Europe, and leverage influence over these countries.
- Increased influence over Europe increases the threat of Russian invasion of Ukraine.
- It has awakened fears about Russia and Germany coming together against rest of the Europe.
- Some EU members have security concerns about Russian presence in their waters in Baltic sea.
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