1. A national commission is essential to make appointments to tribunals

Context: Various Issues related to Tribunals taken up by the Supreme court regarding various actions of the Central Government.

Various issues include:

Tribunals Reforms Act: The Union government recently got Parliament to enact the Tribunals Reforms Act, which contained provisions that had been struck down by the Supreme Court in an ordinance issued earlier.

Vacancies in Tribunals: Supreme Court questioned on the unusual delay in filling up vacancies among judicial and administrative members, it released a set of appointments this week. The Court found that there was cherry-picking among the names chosen by the various Selection Committees. Instead of exhausting the selection list put together by panels of judges and officials, the Government had waded into the waiting list to exercise its choice.

Tenure of NCLAT Chairperson: The Government had cut short the tenure of the Acting Chairperson of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), Justice A.I.S. Cheema, by 10 days. The Government’s justification was that it was going by its latest law, under which the Acting Chairperson’s four-year tenure would end on September 10 and that Justice M. Venugopal had already been appointed in his place.

  • However, a Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, N.V. Ramana, was of the strong opinion that he should be allowed to complete his tenure, and even remarked that the Court would not hesitate to stay the operation of the Act on its own motion.
  • Fortunately, the matter was resolved quickly, with the Government backing down and agreeing that Justice Venugopal would go on leave until Justice Cheema finished his stint on September 20.

About Tribunals:

A Tribunal is a quasi-judicial body established in India by an Act of Parliament or State Legislature to resolve disputes that are brought before it.

They are formed under Articles 323-A and 323-B, which were inserted through the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 on recommendation of Swaran Singh Committee.

  • Article 323A deals with administrative tribunals: for the adjudication/trial of disputes with respect to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union / State/local authority/other authority within the territory of India or under Government control.
  • Article 323B deals with tribunals for other matters

Friction between Government and the court:

They have often disagreed on the eligibility criteria and conditions of service and a series of judgments have gone against the Government.

Clauses introducing changes to the conditions of service of members of the various Tribunals have often been subjected to judicial view.

Courts want to ensure that a reasonable tenure was available to the appointees, and do not allow criteria related to age and experience to be used to undermine their independence.

Tribunals have always been seen as institutions that were a rung lower in independence as regular courts, even though there is wide agreement that administrative tribunals are required for quicker and more focused adjudication of cases that required specialisation and domain expertise. As several laws now provide for such adjudicative bodies, the executive does have an interest in retaining some leverage over their members.10. The Supreme Court has repeatedly called for the establishment of a national tribunals commission to make suitable appointments and evaluate the functioning of tribunals. If the Government has been dragging its feet on this, it is only because there is a method to its mulishness. 

2. Of all the countries involved in Afghanistan, India possibly has the best credentials to enable Kabul’s neutrality

  • Source: The Hindu – Page 6/Editorial: Picking up the threads from the Afghan rubble
  • GS 2: IR

Context: Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, including the last resistance pockets such as Panjshir. This is the direct result of the unilateral agreement between the US and the Taliban.

Much turmoil, terror shoots

  • Threats: The overweening threat remains including the presence of many newer terrorist outfits, such as Daesh, ISIS-K, al Qaeda, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), ETIM-K (a militant group from China’s Xinjiang), the Fidayeen mahas, all of which are the enduring legacies of 20 years of foreign occupation.
  • The Government: The Taliban have in the meantime, announced the setting up of a 33-member interim government, headed by Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund as the acting Prime Minister. Prominent appointees include Abdul Ghani Baradar as acting Deputy Prime Minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani as acting Interior Minister, Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob as acting Defence Minister, and Amir Khan Muttaqi as acting Foreign Minister. There is little power sharing with other groups.
  • Terrorists in the Government:
    • Pakistan holds certain key cards given the prominent role assigned to its protégés, Sirajuddin Haqqani and Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of Mullah Omar.
    • The new government is unlikely to be fazed by the fact that quite a few members of the interim government are on various terror lists, including that of the United Nations and the United States.
  • NATO’s objectives failed: Destruction of the terror network — essentially of the al Qaeda network – was an objective which was far from achieved. Terror networks were driven underground for a time, but many new variants such as the Islamic State and many offshoots of the same thrive not only in Afghanistan but also in many different regions of the globe.
    • Graveyard of ambitions: Afghanistan’s strategic value has only increased in the recent years. The hasty withdrawal of the U.S. from Afghanistan is not merely a setback for the U.S., but for all those who sided with it.
    • Duplicitous roles: of Pakistan as the creator and sustainer of Taliban and of Qatar of nurturing and harbouring its leadership.
  • Real Damage: The idea of Democracy suffered the damage. Both have been known to play both sides.

 India’s engagement

  • India’s investment rendered useless: India’s efforts regarding the economic development of Afghanistan have been rendered infructuous, and its reputation has suffered lasting damage.
  • India’s strained relations with new regime: the new Taliban leadership remain strained due to its association, earlier with the Northern Alliance, and subsequently with the Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani administrations.

The eyes on the pie

  • Russia, though no longer the power it once was, is currently seeking to enlarge its influence in Eurasia, and the Afghan imbroglio gives it an opportunity.
  • China, which envisages domination of Asia as the first step in its bid to become the world’s number one power, sees Afghanistan as a prize both from a geo-economic and geo-political standpoint.
    • Eyeing the mineral wealth of Afghanistan is only one aspect;
    • a key objective is to make its Belt and Road Initiative a truly viable entity, and
    • further extend its reach to the Indian Ocean, without being totally dependent on Pakistan.
  • Many West Asian countries are, meanwhile, assessing the situation in Afghanistan to see how best to take advantage of the fluid situation.
    • Saudi Arabia is anxious to become involved, more so to prevent Iran from extending its influence into Afghanistan.
    • Iran is anxious to secure a hold in Afghanistan to ensure its own security.
    • Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which have a rather troubled relationship with Afghanistan, are not unwilling to maintain peace with a Talibanised Afghanistan.
    • The U.S.’s plans to enhance regional security/connectivity through a new Quadrilateral diplomatic platform, meanwhile, may well prove stillborn, even before it takes off.

The path for New Delhi

  • India can take on a mediating role among the different nations anxious to involve themselves in Afghanistan, and produce a formula that would help maintain Afghanistan’s neutrality and ensure that it becomes a buffer zone to prevent further Chinese expansionism towards South Asia. Seven decades ago, India had performed such a mediating role in bringing tentative peace to what was then Indo-China, now Vietnam. Of all the countries currently involved in Afghanistan, India possibly has the best credentials to act as an honest broker
  • It is critically important for India to ensure the unity and the integrity of Afghanistan, and in turn achieve an agreement in principle to maintain Afghanistan’s neutrality.



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