Polity & Governance
- Supreme Court panel to monitor MCI
- Rajya Sabha clears mining law amendment
- Non-trade issues at WTO, lack of legal experts worry India
Environment & Ecology
- Indian Railways signed MoU with Haryana & Punjab to plant trees alongside Railway Track
- India should send Marine to Italy, U.N. arbitration court rules
Polity & Governance
Supreme Court panel to monitor MCI
The Supreme Court has set up a three-member committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha, to oversee the functioning of the Medical Council of India (MCI) for at least a year.
- While setting up a committee, the supreme court has endorsed a Parliamentary Standing Committee report of March 2016 that medical education and profession in the country is at its lowest ebb and suffering from total system failure due to corruption and decay.
- To set up a committee, the court has exercised its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution [Article 142 of the Constitution empowers the Supreme Court to pass such “decree or order as may be necessary for doing complete justice between the parties”].
Reason for this move:
- Court was bound to take this route as the government had not acted on the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare. Its report on ‘The functioning of the Medical Council of India’ was tabled in Parliament on March 8, 2016.
Mandate of the committee:
- According to the court, the Justice Lodha committee will have the authority to oversee all statutory functions under the MCI Act. All policy decisions of the MCI will require approval of the Oversight Committee.
- The Committee will be free to issue appropriate remedial directions. The Committee will function till the Central Government puts in place any other appropriate mechanism after due consideration of the Expert Committee Report.
Rajya Sabha clears mining law amendment
Parliament has passed Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016.
- The Bill amends the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.
- The amendment Bill was first passed in the Lok Sabha in March 2016.
- The amendment Bill paves the way for merger and acquisition activity involving firms holding captive mining leases that were allotted in the past without adopting the auction route.
- The Bill provides for transfer of mining leases, which have been granted through procedures other than auction and where minerals are used for captive purpose. This provision will allow for merger and acquisition of companies with captive mining leases.
- The bill also adds the definition of leased area as the area within which mining operations can be undertaken. This will also include the non-mineralised area required and approved for the activities defined under Mines Act 1952.
- The Bill adds a new Fourth Schedule to the Act. It includes bauxite, iron ore, limestone and manganese ore and are defined as notified minerals. The central government may, by notification, amend this Schedule.
About the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957:
- The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 regulates the mining sector in India and specifies the requirement for obtaining and granting mining leases for mining operations.
Non-trade issues at WTO, lack of legal experts worry India
India has recently raised concerns that developing nations, including India, are facing a double disadvantage at the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB).
What are the major concerns?
- According to India, these developing nations are challenged not only by the lack of a sufficient pool of trade law experts to represent them effectively at the DSB but also by certain efforts to bring within the body’s ambit non-trade issues such as labour and environment.
- India has been advocating that certain issues, including labour and environment, must be kept out of the WTO’s purview and instead be dealt with by the global bodies concerned such as the International Labour Organisation and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
However, the developed world is keen that the WTO addresses, what they call, global trade’s new challenges, including labour and environment.
About the Dispute Settlement Body of WTO:
The Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) makes decisions on trade disputes between governments that are adjudicated by the Organization.
- By joining the WTO, member countries have agreed that if they believe fellow members are in violation of trade rules, they will use the multilateral system of settling disputes instead of taking action unilaterally — this entails abiding by agreed procedures (Dispute Settlement Understanding) and respecting judgments, primarily of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), the WTO organ responsible for adjudication of disputes.
- Dispute settlementis regarded by the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the central pillar of the multilateral trading system, and as the organization’s “unique contribution to the stability of the global economy”.
- A former WTO Director-General characterized the WTO dispute settlement system as “the most active international adjudicative mechanism in the world today.”
Environment & Ecology
Indian Railways signed MoU with Haryana & Punjab to plant trees alongside Railway Track
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding “plantation of trees alongside Railway Track on Railway Land Boundary” was signed between Ministry of Railways and Forest Department of Haryana & Punjab.
- The MoU paves way for planting around 5 lakh trees alongside Railway Track on Railway Land Boundary prior to Monsoon Season.
- This agreement paves way improvements with regard to afforestation on railway land. With this Indian Railways can contribute substantially towards the Green India Mission.
- Forest department of respective states will provide expertise in afforestation as well as in maintenance and disposal of trees.
- The afforestation will help in protecting railway land from illegal encroachment.
- Tree plantation will be done without declaring such land as protected forest, thus it will be no hindrance to railway works and developmental projects.
- Union Ministry of Railways has asked all Zonal railways to execute similar agreement between their zones and concerned State Forest departments as early as possible.
India should send Marine to Italy, U.N. arbitration court rules
A UN arbitration tribunal has ruled in favour of an Italian marine, held in India on murder charges, by allowing him to return home pending the arbitration proceedings at The Hague.
- An Italian marine accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012 could return home as an international tribunal asked India and Italy to approach the Supreme Court of India to relax his bail conditions.
- In its interim ruling, the UN’s Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that Sergeant Salvatore Girone be allowed to return home until the dispute is resolved through arbitration.
- The verdict is the first big pronouncement of the PCA (Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague), after Italy approached it in June 2015.
- Two Italian marines — Massimiliano Latorre and Mr. Girone are facing the charge of murdering two Indian fishermen in 2012 off the Kerala coast. The fishermen were killed when the marines on duty aboard MV Enrica Lexie, an Italian-flagged oil tanker, fired at them.
- The order is binding for both countries as there is no appeal process in the UN tribunal.
- Technically, the Supreme Court has the power to keep the accused marine in India till the tribunal delivers its verdict in the jurisdiction case.
- For his return to his homeland, the tribunal has suggested conditions such as Girone surrendering his passport so that he doesn’t travel abroad and reporting his presence to an Italian authority designated by the Indian top court.
About Permanent Court of Arbitration:
- The Permanent Court of Arbitration, established by treaty in 1899, is an intergovernmental organization providing a variety of dispute resolution services to the international community.
- It is based in The Hague, the Netherlands.
- It is not a court and does not have permanent judges. The PCA is a permanent bureaucracy that assists temporary tribunals to resolve disputes among states (and similar entities), intergovernmental organizations, or even private parties arising out of international agreements.
- The cases span a range of legal issues involving territorial and maritime boundaries, sovereignty, human rights, international investment, and international and regional trade.