QUESTION : Analyse the importance of joint action and collaboration by the global community in combating climate change, in light of the recent steps by the government of India in the same direction.

 

 

Today Topic Editorial : WIDE FAULT LINES WITHIN THE GLOBAL CLIMATE RISK INDEX

 

WHAT ?

 

Issues with the Global Climate Risk Index

 

WHY IN NEWS ?

 

Recently Barbados Prime Minister said that the failure to provide critical adaptation finance as well as measuring the extent of loss caused by climate change with respect to “lives and livelihoods” is immoral. This has again brought focus on the problems in measuring climate risk.

 

THE SENDAI FRAMEWORK FOR DISASTER RISK REDUCTION  2015-2030 :

 

It outlines seven clear targets and four priorities for action to prevent new and reduce existing disaster risks:

 

(i) Understanding disaster risk;

 

(ii) Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk;

 

(iii) Investing in disaster reduction for resilience and;

 

(iv) Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

 

  • It aims to achieve the substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries over the next 15 years.

 

  • The Framework was adopted at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, on March 18, 2015.

 

INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE (IPCC) :

 

  • It is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.

 

  • Created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the objective of the IPCC is to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies.

 

  • IPCC reports are also a key input into international climate change negotiations.

 

  • Through its assessments, the IPCC identifies the strength of scientific agreement in different areas and indicates where further research is needed. The IPCC does not conduct its own research.

 

  • Headquarters location: Geneva, Switzerland

 

INDIAN EFFORTS AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE :

 

(1). Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under Paris summit:

 

  • Decrease in Emissions intensity

 

  • Electricity generation capacity from non-fossil sources

 

  • Creation of Carbon sink

 

(2).International Solar Alliance: ISA is a global alliance being initiated by India as well as headquartered in India, with France as a partner country. Currently, it has 88 members. It is aimed at promoting research to develop more efficient, low-cost solutions to the global energy requirements, by leveraging advanced technology as well as providing incentives and regulation of solar power. Initially, its membership was restricted to countries within the tropics, commonly referred to as countries with high solar resource potential. However, now it has been thrown open to all UN members.

 

(3).Climate Transparency Report: Amongst the G20 members, India is the only country to have consistently fared at the top in the Climate transparency report, with Indian actions being consistent with the goal of not allowing the global temperature to cross 2 degress C of the pre-industrial levels.

 

(4).Mobilisation of resources: India is earmarking a large part of its developmental resources to the fight against climate change. This is a stupendous effort as compared to the western countries, which are already at the advanced stages of development. In fact, through its efforts in the direction of utilisation of solar power, India has now created a situation where the generation of solar energy is now cheaper compared to any other source of power.

 

CLIMATE RISKS :

 

  • Climate-Related Risk refers to the potential negative impacts of Climate Change on an organization.

 

  • It includes the potential for adverse effects on lives, livelihoods, health status, economic, social and cultural assets, services (including environmental), and infrastructure due to climate change.

 

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines climate risk as the likelihood of unfavourable impacts occurring as a result of severe climate events interacting with vulnerable environmental, social, economic, political or cultural conditions.

 

o Mathematically, it is the product of the probability of a climate event occurring and its adverse consequences.

 

MEASURING CLIMATE RISKS :

  • Currently climate risk assessment and management have been based on the “Global Climate Risk Index” (GCRI), published annually by GermanWatch, a non-profit organisation.

 

  • The latest version of the GCRI ranked 180 countries based on the impact of extreme weather events and associated socio-economic data from 2000-2019.

 

  • It analyses to what extent countries have been affected by the impacts of weather-related loss events (storms, floods, heat waves etc.).

 

  • The rankings are meant to forewarn countries about the possibility of more frequent and/or severe climate-related events in the future.

 

  • The Global CRI 2021 displayed data based on human impacts (fatalities) and direct economic losses due to extreme weather events in 2019 and between 2000 and 2019.

 

  • India was ranked the seventh worst-hit country in 2019 in the Global Climate Risk Index 2021.

 

  • Mozambique, Zimbabwe and The Bahamas were the worst-affected countries in 2019.

 

ISSUES :

 

  • This index uses historical data to provide insights on exposure to extreme events. It cannot be used for linear forecasts about future climate impact.

 

o The GCRI ranks countries based on four key indicators:

 

o number of deaths; number of deaths per 1,00,000 inhabitants;

 

o sum of losses in Purchasing Power Parity (in U.S. dollars); and

 

o losses per unit of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

 

o Two are absolute indicators while the other two are relative. However, the GCRI report does not provide a rationale for the selection of these macro indicators.

 

  • It omits geological incidents like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tsunamis, which may be potentially triggered by climate change and can have economic and humanitarian impact.

 

o The index only accounts for information on weather-related events like storms, floods, temperature extremes and mass movements. 

 

  • Data validation: The ranking under the GCRI is done based on data collected by Munich Re’s NatCatService, which is not validated at the ground-level.

 

o The data gaps particularly with regard to economic losses are based on experience, the prevailing intellectual property of MunichRe and the market value of elements at risk that are at best approximate values of economic losses.

 

  • Exclusion errors and selection bias: The index uses macro indicators like GDP loss. Estimating GDP loss is full of errors. Composite indicators are better constructed using micro indicators.

 

  • Delays in action and response: Any discussion on measurement and management of climate risk is incomplete without accounting for issues of uncertainty, scale and delays between action and response to climate change.

 

WAY FORWARD :

 

  • India’s latest module on the National Disaster Management Information System (NDMIS) captures damages and losses caused by disasters and monitors the targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

 

o The NDMIS captures details on parameters like death, injury, affected population by categories as well as economic losses in social and infrastructure sectors due to weather and geological events on a daily basis.

 

o The data captured by the NDMIS includes all major climatic events.

 

  • Holistic view: There is a need to understand the importance of greener growth in Indian perspective. A lesser carbon-intense economy will also benefit the country in the long term as India is a vulnerable country in the context of climate change. Its long coastline and proximity to the Himalayas make it prone to a rise in sea level as well as cyclones and floods. Therefore, investment in renewable energy would be helpful in decreasing the chances of the occurrence of disasters and safeguarding the livelihoods of people.

 

  • Follow the Bottom-up Approach: Resilience would be more effective if it is built on a bottom-up approach, by understanding the needs of the community at the local level, rather than providing directions from the leadership. For e.g. there is a need for a climate risk atlas to understand the vulnerability of a particular area at the district level.

 

  • Climate change can at best be managed within a comprehensive risk assessment framework, which uses climate information to better cope with the impact of climate change.

 

  • A number of key micro indicators such as the total number of people injured, loss of livestock, loss of public and private infrastructure, crop loss and others are better candidates for assessing the composite loss resulting from climate change events.

 

  • The process needs to deliver:

 

o a decision on how the need for support for vulnerable countries concerning future loss and damage is to be determined on an ongoing basis.

 

o the necessary steps to generate and make available financial resources to meet these needs.

 

o strengthening the implementation of measures for adapting to climate change.

 

CONCLUSION :

 

Deploying effective approaches and principles to foster collaboration among climate risk information users and providers, along with enabling the implementation of effective management actions, will allow India to leapfrog on the targets envisaged in the Sendai Framework.

 

QUESTION : Discuss the issues associated with collegium system for the appointment of judges.

 

Topic Editorial : TRANSFER AS PUNISHMENT 

 

WHAT ?

 

Appointment of Judges

 

WHY IN NEWS ?

 

The transfer of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee from being at the helm at the Madras High Court, India’s fourth-largest court with a sanctioned strength of 75 judges, to the Meghalaya High Court with a sanctioned strength of only four has raised questions about transparency in transfer and appointment of judges.

 

CONSTITUTIONAL ARTICLES RELATED TO APPOINTMENT & TRANSFER OF JUDGES :

 

Articles 124(2) and Article 217- governs the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts respectively.The President has the power to make the appointments after consultation with such of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as the President may deem necessary.

 

Article 222- Deals with transfer of judges-  The President may, after consultation with the Chief Justice of India (CJI), transfer a judge from one high court to another.

 

APPOINTMENT OF JUDGES :

 

(1).Chief justice of India

 

  • The chief justice is appointed by the president strictly on the basis of seniority and outgoing CJI recommends his successor.

 

  • Supreme Court in second judges case ruled that senior most judge of supreme Court should alone the appointed to the office of chief justice of India

 

(2).Judges of supreme court

 

  • The judges of supreme court are appointed by president in consultation with chief justice and such other judges of supreme court and high courts as president made deem necessary

 

  • The consultation with chief justice is obligatory in case of appointment of judge other than chief justice

 

  • Supreme Court in third judges case ruled that consultation process should include chief justice of India along with collegium of 4 senior most judges of supreme court

 

  • The court also held that the recommendations made by chief justice of India without complying with the norms of consultation process are not binding on the government

 

(3).Appointment of chief justice of High Court

 

  • Chief justice is appointed by the president after consultation with chief justice of India and the governor of state concerned

 

(4).Appointment of judges at high court

 

  • Judges other than the chief justice of the concerned High Court are appointed by the president in consultation with the CJI ,governor of the state and also the chief justice of the concerned high court.

 

  • In third judges case, supreme Court ruled that in case of appointment of High Court judges, chief justice of India should consult of two senior most judges of supreme court and that the sole opinion of chief justice of India does not constitutes the consultation process

 

RECALLING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT (IMPORTANT CASES) :

 

  • Suppression & transfer of judges in 1970s- There was supersession of multiple judges in the appointment of the Chief Justice of India & also the transfer of several High Court Judges.

 

  • Sankalchand H Sheth case

 

  • A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court interpreted Article 222 post-Emergency. The court held that the transfer of a judge from one court to another inflicts many injuries on the individual.

 

  • It noted that the consent of the judge proposed to be transferred was part of the scheme and language of Article 222.

 

  • The court also held that if the power of transfer is vested solely with the executive, it undermines judicial independence and eats into the basic features of the Constitution.

 

  • First Judges Case ( S P Gupta v Union of India ,1981) — the Supreme Court ruled that the President does not require the “concurrence” of the CJI in appointment of judges. The ruling affirmed the pre-eminence of the executive in making appointments.

 

  • Second Judges Case (Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v Union of India, 1993)- a nine-judge Constitution Bench evolved the ‘collegium system’ for appointment and transfer of judges in the higher judiciary. The concurrence means- concurrence of the Supreme Court as an institution and is arrivedat by the CJI including discussion with the two senior-most judges.

 

  • Third Judges case(1998)-The collegium was expanded to include five senior-most judges, including the CJI in the Third Judges Case in 1998.

 

  • K Ashok Reddy case(1994)-

 

  • The apex Court specifically dealt with the question of transfer of judges of high courts.

 

  • The court observed that the absence of norms and guidelines in Article 222 seemed to be deliberate, as the power is vested in high constitutional functionaries.

 

  • It was also held that the power of transfer can be exercised only in public interest for promoting better administration of justice throughout the country.

 

  • The court in this case also observed that primacy of the judiciary in the matter of appointments and its determinative nature in transfers introduces the judicial element in the process.

 

  • Hence, it is sufficient justification for the absence of the need for further judicial review of decisions, that is ordinarily needed as check against possible executive excess or arbitrariness

 

ABOUT NATIONAL JUDICIAL APPOINTMENT COUNCIL (NJAC) :

 

  • The National Judicial Commission Act (NJAC) was established in 2014 by the 99th Constitutional Amendment Act to replace the collegium system for appointing judges.

 

  • The Supreme Court, on the other hand, supported the collegium system and declared the NJAC illegal, claiming that the involvement of the political executive in judicial appointments violated the Principles of Basic Structure, the independence of the Judiciary.

 

NEED OF RE-EXAMINATION OF JUDICIAL APPOINTMENT PROCESS :

 

(1).Transparency & Accountability

 

  • Public has right to know-As held in K Ashok Reddy Case, transfers are based on public interest. So, the public should have a right to know reasons for such transfers as well.

 

  • Stakeholders involved-The material that is considered when a transfer of a judge is being deliberated should be shared with the concerned judge and all stakeholders

 

(2).Larger good of the judicial institution

 

  • Notion of false means- When the judiciary misses no opportunity to uphold the basic structure doctrine and preserve at all cost its independence, there is a need for transparency in judicial functioning to dispel all notions of favouritism, bias or governmental interference.

 

  • Speculations- When reasons for transfer are not known, it leads to speculation that only inconvenient judges get transferred. This could be seen as degrading the work a judge is doing.

 

(3).Reasonableness of the appointment

 

  • The Appointment of Judges by the Collegium system is opaque and lacks accountability on the part of the Judiciary.

 

  • The 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission observed that no other country in the world does the judiciary have a final say in its own appointments. In India, neither the executive nor the legislature has much say in who is appointed to the Supreme Court or the High Courts.

 

(4).Pendency of cases

 

  • There was a lack of implementation, one of the major reasons for the vacancy in the courts & thus pendency of cases.

 

WAY FORWARD :

 

(1).Filling up of vacancies is a continuous and collaborative process involving the executive and the judiciary, and there cannot be a time frame for it. However, it is time to think of a permanent, independent body to institutionalize the process with adequate safeguards to preserve the judiciary’s independence guaranteeing judicial primacy but not judicial exclusivity.

 

(2).It should ensure independence, reflect diversity, demonstrate professional competence and integrity.

 

(3).Instead of selecting the number of judges required against a certain number of vacancies, the collegium must provide a panel of possible names to the President to appoint in order of preference and other valid criteria.

 

(4).This is a time to revisit the Collegium issue, either through a Presidential reference to the Supreme Court, or a constitutional amendment with appropriate changes in the original NJAC law.

 

(5).The “thought process” of both the government and Collegium should be modulated and the time frame needed to be fixed for both the Collegium and Ministry to complete the appointment process.

 

(6).There should be an institutional basis for considering names from the Supreme Court Bar, rather than considering them on an ad hoc basis.

 

ADDITIONAL STUFF :

 

International Practices-

 

  • No other country in the world leaves judicial appointment solely to the judiciary, there are several methods and balances to protect the Independence of the Judiciary.

 

  • In England, judges (other than of the Supreme Court judges) are appointed on the recommendation of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC). It recommends names on merit by open competition and also has a specific statutory duty to ‘encourage diversity in the range of persons available for selection for appointments’.

 

  • In Australia, judicial commissions invite the “expression of interest” from the members of the Bar through public advertisements to enable the appointment of judges in a transparent manner.

 

Retirement age of High Court Judges

 

  • The 1st Law commission in its 14th report on ‘Reforms of the Judicial Administration’- recommends that the retirement age of the High Court judges should be increased to 65 years, the same as that of Supreme Court judges.

 

  • The age difference acts as a carrot and is exploited by the executive as well as some judges of the Supreme Court.

 

  • There are many instances of brilliant judges being ignored and not so worthy elevated.

 

All India Judicial Service

 

  • The Supreme Court issued a direction to establish IJS in All India Judges’ Association Vs Union of India . Conferences of the Chief Justices have repeatedly passed resolutions for establishing all India Judicial Service.

 

CONCLUSION :

 

It is critical that the judiciary, which is the major bulwark of civil freedoms, remain entirely autonomous and unaffected by the Executive’s direct and indirect influence. The very least that can be done to ensure the independence of India’s judicial system is to identify and choose judges of the utmost integrity for appointment to the country’s top courts.

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