The Hindu Editorial Notes or Summary
QUESTION : How Bhutan-China’s bitterness in relations can impact Indo-Bhutan strategic relations with respect to current scenario ? Critically analyse.
Topic- ANOTHER FRONT
- China-Bhutan Dispute and India
WHY IN NEWS ?
- For the third time since early June 2020, China has repeated its claim that Bhutan’s eastern boundary was a “disputed” area.
- Chinese representative tried to stop funding for the Sakteng forest reserve in Bhutan’s eastern district of Trashigang, which abuts(borders) Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang district.
TERRITORIAL CLAIMS OF CHINA :
- According to China, the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the China-Bhutan disputed areas which is on the agenda of China-Bhutan boundary talk.
- China’s first claim was at a UNDP-led Global Environment Facility (GEF) conference on June 2-3, when the Chinese representative tried to stop funding for the Sakteng forest reserve in Bhutan’s eastern district of Trashigang.
- China claims that the boundary between China and Bhutan has never been delimited and that it has had disputes over the eastern, central and western sectors of Bhutan.
BHUTAN’S POSITION :
- Bhutan totally rejected the claim made by China and was able to secure the funding from GEP
- Bhutan said that Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is an integral and sovereign territory of Bhutan.
- Bhutan has conveyed its position to China through its embassy in New Delhi, as Bhutan and China do not have any formal diplomatic relation
- After repeated claims by China in past two months, Bhutan has now appeared to take a sober view of China’s claims by saying that all disputes would be taken up in the next round of China-Bhutan talks.
CONCERNS FOR INDIA :
- Sakteng is situated along the border with Arunachal Pradesh, some part of which is also claimed by China.
- Even after the India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty of 2007, Indian military is virtually responsible for protecting Bhutan from the kind of external threat that the Chinese military poses
STRATEGY BEHIND CHINESE CLAIMS :
For Bhutan –
- Pressure tactic: It is an attempt by China to hurry the scheduling of the next meeting, or to gain leverage in the boundary talks.
- Boundary talks between China & Bhutan — the last round was in 2016 — have been put off due to the Doklam stand-off in 2017, elections in 2018, and pandemic in 2020
- Reiteration of a “package solution” by China during these period as a solution for China-Bhutan boundary dispute.
- It refers to a deal offered by Chinese in 1990s whereby China was ready to give up its claims on 495 km2 in the norther region in exchange for control of 269 km2 in the western region (Doklam & Chumbi Valley)
For India –
- Wedge between India & Bhutan: China’s new territorial claim is a part of the larger Chinese tactics of putting pressure on India’s smaller neighbours, to punish them for any closeness to India.
- Diversionary Tactic: India which is already dealing with Chinese aggression across the Line of Actual Control, the Sakteng claim could be a diversionary tactic
- Extend Claims on Arunachal Pradesh: By claiming Bhutan’s eastern boundary, China is attempting to double down on its claims over Arunachal Pradesh, neither of which it has lien on or control of.
- To gain Control of Doklam region located near Strategically important Siliguiri corridor of India
- The repetition of its “package” offer is worrying as it implies that Beijing is not giving up its push for the Doklam plateau, located near trijunction of China,India & Bhutan
- China has consolidated its military infrastructure in Doklam Plateau -and would like to inch towards India’s Chumbi valley, a strategically sensitive location.
BHUTAN’S SIGNIFICANCE TO INDIA :
- Bhutan shares border with four Indian States: Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Sikkim.
- Nestled in the Himalayas, Bhutan serves as a buffer between India and China.
- Security of Bhutan’s present borders especially its western border is very important for India.
- Economic Significance: Bhutan pr ovides a market for Indian commodities and is a destination for Indian investment.
- Also for India, Bhutan is a rich source of hydropower.
- Political Significance: A politically stable Bhutan is important to India. An unstable and restive Bhutan can provide a safe haven to anti-India activities and anti-India militant groups.
AREAS OF COOPERATION :
- Trade: Major exports from India to Bhutan are mineral products, machinery and mechanical appliances, electrical equipments etc. whereas major items of import from Bhutan are electricity, ferrosilicon, Portland cement etc.
- Economic Assistance: India is Bhutan’s leading development partner. Since the launch of First Five Year Plan of Bhutan in 1961, India has been extending financial support to Bhutan’s FYPs. India has allotted Rs 4500 crore to Bhutan’s 12th FYP.
- Water Resources: So far, Government of India has constructed three Hydroelectric Projects (HEPs) in Bhutan. Currently, India is helping Bhutan in the development of power plant on Mangdechhu River.This hydropower cooperation comes under 2006 Agreement on Cooperation in Hydropower. Under a protocol to this agreement, India has agreed to assist Bhutan in the development of minimum of 10,000 MW of hydropower and import of surplus electricity from same by year 2020.
- Border Management: There is a Secretary-level mechanism on border management and security related matters between the two countries.
- There is also a Border District Coordination Meeting (BDCM) Mechanism between the bordering States and the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) to facilitate coordination on border management and other related matters.
- Educational and Cultural Cooperation: A large number of college going Bhutanese students study in India. Government of India provides number of scholarships to Bhutanese students.
- Indian Community: About 60,000 Indian nationals live in Bhutan, employed mostly in the hydro-electric power construction and road industry. In addition, around 8000-10,000 daily workers enter and exit Bhutan everyday in border towns.
- Multilateral Partnership: Both India and Bhutan are founding members of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) , BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal), BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) etc.
WAY FORWARD :
- India and Bhutan must stay the course on their border claims, with the close cooperation and complete understanding they have shared for decades, in order to respond to the Chinese claims purposively.
- India should try as much as possible to remain out of Bhutan’s internal matters, though it can act as a mentor.
- Safety of Border from China is a concern for both nations. Therefore, both sides need to work together on this issue. Also, it needs to be ensured that border areas remain militants free.
- Being neighbours, it is necessary that both nations continuously recognise value of each other. For this, regular high level visits from both the sides are necessary.
QUESTION : Do you think that there is a need to set up high court in the union territory of Puducherry? Comment
Topic- SET UP A HIGH COURT FOR PUDUCHERRY
- Demand for a separate High Court
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The Puducherry administration must highlight the need to streamline expenses, the case volume and constitutional rights as factors for establishing a separate high court.
BACKGROUND TO DEMAND SEPARATE HC:
- In 1962, when Puducherry was merged with India, the jurisdiction of the Madras High Court was extended to it.
- In April 2017, the Pondicherry Bar Association had also passed a resolution seeking the establishment of the High Court.
- In 2017, the legislature of Puducherry unanimously resolved to have its own High Court, and the Madras High Court was also informed regarding this.
- In 2019, Chief Minister of Puducherry had said that “a Bench of the Madras High Court at Puducherry.
REASONS BEHIND THIS NEED :
- Exorbitant sums of money paid for the expenses of the larger court –
- this amount can be reduced to less than a quarter of the amount spent with a much smaller High Court for Puducherry
- Ensuring quick action on pendency of matters
- Increasing ratio of judges strength to population
CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS :
- The Constitution permits Puducherry to have its own High Court under Article 241.
- The presence of the Constitutional Court in the capital city will also act as a check on the executive and legislature.
Would this step be aiding statehood demand?
- The Constitution enabled the establishment of a legislature and Council of Ministers for certain Union Territories with the intent of providing them Statehood gradually.
- Consequently, out of the seven Union Territories originally placed under Article 239A, all except Puducherry were granted Statehood by 1989.
ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR:
Speedy disposal of cases:
- The judge to population ratio at Puducherry can be increased if a separate High Court with four to five judges is established. This can ensure quick action on the pendency of cases.
Access to justice:
- Given the fact that people from Puducherry have to travel to Chennai for appeals at High Court, this leads to considerable expenses and time requirement. This reduces access to justice for the people.
- A High Court at Puducherry would help make access to justice easier for the people.
Constitutionally permissible :
- The presence of the Constitutional Court in the capital city acts as a check on the executive and legislature
DIFFERENCE IN DELHI AND PUDUCHERRY :
- The court also went on to point out the differences between the powers conferred on the legislatures of Puducherry and Delhi under Articles 239A and 239AA of the Constitution.
- The court said though Article 239AA imposes several restrictions on the legislature of Delhi, no such restrictions had been imposed explicitly in the case of Puducherry under Article 239A.
- While the LG of Delhi is also guided by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, and the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules, 1993, the LG of Puducherry is guided mostly by the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963
HIGH COURTS IN INDIA :
- As per the Constitution of India, Articles 214-231 deals with the provisions of the High Courts in India.
- The highest judicial court in a state is the High Court. It is termed as the second-The highest judicial court in a state is the High Court. It is termed as the second-highest in the country after Supreme Court of India. Currently, India has 25 High Courts.
HIGH COURT : CONSTITUTION AND COMPOSITION –
- Every high court consists of a Chief Justice and a number of judges, who are determined by the President from time to time. Article 217 deals with the appointment of judges and states that every judge of high court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of the state.
JURISDICTION AND POWERS OF HCs :
- Original Jurisdiction- it means that applicant can directly go to High Court and not by means of appeals. This power is used in the following matters –
- Disputes arising out of relating to members of Parliament and state legislative assembly
- Relating to marriage, law, admiralty divorce, contempt of court etc
- Enforcement of fundamental rights (Supreme Court also has this power)
- Cases transferred from other court to itself which involves a question of law.
- Writ Jurisdiction- Article 226 states that High Court shall have power throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction to issue to any person or authority including in appropriate cases, any government, within those territories directions, orders, or writs.
- It is said that the high court is the primary court of appeal i.e. it has power to hear the appeals against the judgment of the subordinate courts within its territories. This power can be classified in to 2 categories-Civil jurisdiction and Criminal jurisdiction
Power of Superintendence –
- Call for return from such courts
- May issue general rules and prescribe forms for regulating the practice and proceedings of such courts
- Prescribe the form in which books and accounts are being kept by the officers of any court
- Settle fees payable to the sheriff clerks, officers and legal practitioners
- The constitution does not place any restriction on this power of superintendence over the subordinate courts, it is not only by means of appeal by the person, it can be suo motto.
Control over Subordinate Courts –
- This is an extension of the above supervisory and appellate jurisdiction. It states that the High Court can with draw a case pending before any subordinate court.
- Court of Record – It involves recording of judgments, proceedings and acts of high courts to be recorded for the perpetual memory. These records cannot be further questioned in any court.
Judicial Review –
- power to examine the constitutionality of legislative and executive orders of both central and state government. It is to be noted that the word judicial review is no where mentioned in our constitution but the Article 13 and 226 explicitly provide High Court with this power.
Extension of jurisdiction of High Court to Union Territories –
- Parliament by law may extend the jurisdiction of a High Court to or exclude the jurisdiction of a high court from any union territory.
- The administration can highlight the need to streamline expenses, the case volume and constitutional rights as arguments for a separate High Court.
- The Puducherry government needs to form a committee to prepare a comprehensive report and a draft Bill backing its proposal and forward it to the Central government