Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
- Judge recuses himself
The issue in news
Justice U.U. Lalit of the Supreme Court recused himself from hearing separate writ petitions that sought action against the Andhra Pradesh government and Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy for levelling “false, vague and political allegations” against Supreme Court judge N.V. Ramana and other High Court judges.
- The petitions relate to a letter by Mr. Jagan addressed to the CJI against the judges and the subsequent revelation of its contents at a press conference.
- Recently, the Attorney-General refrained from giving his statutory consent to pleas seeking contempt of court action against Mr. Jagan and his Principal Adviser Ajeya Kallam.
- Recusal is the act of abstaining from participation in an official action such as a legal proceeding due to a conflict of interest of the presiding court official or administrative officer.
- It is the withdrawal of a judge, prosecutor, or juror from a case on the grounds that they are unqualified to perform legal duties because of a possible conflict of interest or lack of impartiality.
- As noted by the Supreme Court in the NJAC judgment, a judge may be required to step down in one of two scenarios:
- Cases of presumed bias, where the judge has a pecuniary interest in the outcome of a case (extended, through the Pinochet judgment to other similar non-pecuniary interests); or
- Cases of apparent bias, where a reasonable, fair-minded observer would believe there is a real possibility that the judge is biased.
Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
- conflict between Ethiopian govt. and Tigray rebels
The issue in news
In November 2020, Ethiopia’s Nobel Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed started a military operation in the rebellious Tigray region.
- Abiy stated that it would be a limited campaign focusing on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF): the militia-cum-political party that runs the northern region.
- However, almost two weeks into the conflict, Ethiopia risks falling into an ethnic civil war with regional implications.
Tigray People’s Liberation Front:
- The TPLF was founded in 1975 as a resistance army of the Tigrayan people against the military dictatorship, which was called the Derg.
- The leftist Derg, which was established in 1974, would change its title in 1987 but practically remained in power till it was ousted by the armed rebels in 1991. The TPLF played a crucial role in ousting the junta and they were welcomed as national heroes in 1991.
- TPLF leader Meles Zenawi took over as the interim President in 1991 and became the first elected Prime Minister in 1995. He is largely seen as the architect of the country’s ethno-federal system and remained in power till 2012.
- Over the years, the government led by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), was accused of being increasingly authoritarian and there were frequent mass protests in the regions.
- Though the EPRDF contains regional political parties, the TPLF remained the dominant political force.
- In 2018, the EPRDF chose Mr. Abiy (a former military intelligence officer), to lead the government amid growing protests and a political deadlock.
- Though the EPRDF provided a stable rule with high economic growth for 17 years, there was mounting criticism against the country’s ethno-federal arrangement.
- Abiy reached out to Eritrea, a sworn enemy of the TPLF, which shares a long border with the Tigray region.
- He purged TPLF functionaries from key government posts, released political prisoners (jailed by the TPLF-led government) and promised freer media.
- The TPLF saw the formation of a new party as an attempt by Mr. Abiy to consolidate more power in his hands. The party’s leadership shifted from Addis Ababa to Mekele, the Tigray regional capital.
- TPLF saw his moves as hostile.
- Abiy’s outreach to Eritrea had outraged the TPLF, which had fought a prolonged war with the Eritrean government along the Tigray border.
- The TPLF accuses Eritrea of backing Mr. Abiy’s offensive.
- The rebels have fired rockets into Eritrea from Tigray, threatening a wider regional war in the Horn of Africa.
- Tigray rebels also fired rockets into the neighbouring Amhara region.
- The operation by Mr. Abiy could spill out of control, given the underlying complexities of the conflict.
- Sudan has a border dispute with Ethiopia. If Sudan’s new rulers keep the old links with the TPLF active and the border open for the rebels, the conflict could go on. If it does, it could derail Mr. Abiy’s reform agenda at home as well as the diplomatic agenda abroad.
- The Tigray region shares a border with Sudan.
The TPLF enjoyed good relations with Sudan’s ousted dictator Omar Bashir.
- GAIL completes Kochi-Mangaluru pipeline
The issue in news
The Kochi-Mangaluru natural gas pipeline project is ready for commissioning.
- The 444-km-long natural gas pipeline was launched in 2009 at an estimated cost of 2,915 crore.
- It was to be commissioned in 2014.
- However, due to the opposition with regard to safety and on commercial grounds, wherein the land price was the main hurdle, the project cost nearly doubled to over 5,750 crore.
- The first phase of the project was commissioned in August 2013 in the Kochi metropolitan area.
- GAIL India has completed the final 540-metre treacherous stretch across the River Chandragiri in northern Kerala.
- The pipeline would supply gas to all seven districts it passes through in Kerala (Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargod) and the hilly Wayanad district.
- Koottanad is the main junction of the pipeline from where the line bifurcates to Mangaluru and Bengaluru.
Significance of the project:
- With the commissioning of the pipeline, gas demand in Kerala is expected to touch 80-90 million cubic metres per annum from 60 million cubic metres now.
- The State can gain monetarily as it can get up to 1,000 crore by way of taxes alone.
- Besides, huge environmental gains are also expected.