Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2021
Current Affair 1:
Is It Constitutional to Declare Wild Animals to Be ‘Vermin’?
Farmers in particular lose their livelihoods, standing crops – when stray animals trample them. So, state governments have sent several requests over the years to the Centre to declare certain species as ‘vermin’, so that they may be hunted and killed without consequence.
We will see here certain legal and constitutional provisions regarding protection of wildlife. So many Prelims based question you can get from this Article. So, read carefully.
The Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 does not define the term ‘vermin’. However, its Schedule V contains a list of animals designated ‘vermin’, including rats, crows and foxes.
Section 62 of the Act empowers the Centre to declare wild animals of any species as ‘vermin’ in any area and for a specified period of time. These animals are deemed to be included in Schedule V, opening them up to be hunted.
However, many experts have argued against such mass-culling because it is ineffective and does not resolve the human-animal conflicts. Against this background, it’s worth noting that the constitutionality of Section 62 of the Act is also suspect for three reasons:
- It violates Article 14 of the Constitution
- It violates Article 21 of the Constitution
- A combined reading of the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSPs) and the fundamental duties require the state to be cautious when enacting laws that affect wildlife
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution secures equality and equal protection before the law. One of the tests to determine compliance with Article 14 is called manifest arbitrariness. A law suffers from arbitrariness when it is ‘excessive’ and ‘capricious’ or suffers from the lack of an ‘adequate determining principle’. The wording of Section 62, which allows the Centre to declare any wild animal to be ‘vermin’, apart from those listed in the Act’s Schedule I and part II of Schedule II, itself doesn’t disclose a determining principle, leave alone an adequate one.
- Notifications issued by the Union environment ministry suggest there are no specific principles the Centre uses to determine whether a particular species can be declared ‘vermin’.
- The notifications only mention that the animals have become a threat to property, life and crops. The decision rests heavily on the state governments’ requests.
- In the past, states have requested the Centre to declare certain animals as ‘vermin’ without providing any detailed accounts or estimates of the destruction caused by those animals.
- The Centre issues these notifications on the basis of the state governments’ requests – poorly researched or not.
- So, this provision suffers from ‘manifest arbitrariness’ both in how it is worded and how it is implemented.
In its controversial decision in Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja (2014), the Supreme Court extended the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution to animals. This opinion understandably drew flak from lawyers and constitutional experts, but high courts around the country have cited it and expanded on it. For example, the Uttarakhand high court in 2018 and the Punjab and Haryana high court in 2019 declared all the members of the animal kingdom to be legal entities, with distinct legal personalities and with rights akin to those of a living person.
- This expansion of Article 21 also means the same safeguards that apply to humans – including the right to not be deprived of life or personal liberty except according to just, fair and reasonable procedures – also applies to animals.
- There are no procedural guidelines on how and in what situations Section 62 can be exercised. As a result, the government has an unfettered discretion in deciding which animals deserve to be designated ‘vermin’.
What the DPSPs and fundamental duties say:
The first mention of wildlife in the Indian Constitution is in Article 48A, a part of the DPSPs. It states that the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard forests and wildlife.
Article 51A(g) under the fundamental duties also makes it the duty of every citizen “to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.”
- In Sachidanand Pandey v. State of West Bengal (1987), the Supreme Court held that whenever an ecological issue is brought before the court, the justices have to bear in mind Articles 48A and 51A(g).
- The bench in that case also said that when the court is called upon to give effect to the DPSPs and fundamental duties, the least it can do is make sure it bears appropriate considerations in mind and excludes irrelevant information. However, the government often ignores ‘appropriate considerations’ and factors extraneous factors like public pressure into its decisions about declaring this or that species to be ‘vermin’.
Where do we go from here?
- Specifically, lawmakers should delete Section 62 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 such that they don’t use their discretion to declare any animal as vermin and allow culling.
- Perhaps they as well as the courts can draw inspiration from Section 11(1)(b) of the Act, which allows the chief wildlife warden or an authorized officer to permit the hunting of an animal that has become dangerous to human life or property (including crops). It thus raises the threshold for determining whether an animal can be hunted as well as restricts the hunting to only those specific animals or groups of animals.
We can conclude that in its current form, Section 62 fails to distinguish between individuals that are directly responsible for the destruction of crops and others of the same species. It also suffers from several legal infirmities, primarily vis-à-vis Articles 14 and 21. Our constitutional framework envisions a harmonious relationship between humans and the rest of the ecosystem. The section threatens this fragile relationship and challenges our fundamental human values of compassion, empathy and respect for other life forms.
Current Affair 2:
International E-Waste Day
International E-Waste Day has been observed on October 14 every year since 2018. Important for us is E-waste Management Rules.
Now, we will learn E-waste Management Rules 2016.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notified the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 on 23 March 2016 in supersession of the e-waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011.
Now we will see the salient features of this Bill:
- Manufacturer, dealer, refurbisher and Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) have been introduced as additional stakeholders in the rules.
2. It mandated extended producer responsibility (EPR) for all plastic producers, importers and brand owners (PIBOs). ERP is a mechanism through which producers are made responsible for handling and recycling end-of-life products.
3. Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) and other mercury containing lamp brought under the purview of rules.
4. Provision for Pan India EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) Authorization by CPCB has been introduced replacing the state wise EPR authorization.
5. Deposit Refund Scheme has been introduced as an additional economic instrument wherein the producer charges an additional amount as a deposit at the time of sale of the electrical and electronic equipment and returns it to the consumer along with interest when the end - of - life electrical and electronic equipment is returned.
6. The manufacturer is also now responsible to collect e - waste generated during the manufacture of any electrical and electronic equipment and channelize it for recycling or disposal and seek authorization from State Pollution Control Board (SPCB)
7. The roles of the State Government have been also introduced in the Rules in order to ensure safety, health and skill development of the workers involved in the dismantling and recycling operations.
8. Department of Industry in State or any other government agency authorized in this regard by the State Government is to ensure earmarking or allocation of industrial space or shed for e - waste dismantling and recycling in the existing and upcoming industrial park, estate and industrial clusters.
9. Department of Labour in the State or any other government agency authorized in this regard by the State Government need to ensure recognition and registration of workers involved in dismantling and recycling.
10. State Government to prepare integrated plan for effective implementation of these provisions, and to submit annual report to Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
11. Liability for damages caused to the environment or third party due to improper management of e - waste including provision for levying financial penalty for violation of provisions of the Rules has also been introduced.
12. Urban Local Bodies (Municipal Committee/Council/Corporation) has been assign the duty to collect and channelized the orphan products to authorized dismantler or recycler.
13. The import of electrical and electronic equipment shall be allowed only to producers having Extended Producer Responsibility authorisation.
Current Affair 3:
Global Hunger Index 2021
It is released by is released by Concern Worldwide, an Irish aid agency and Welt Hunger Hilfe, a German organisation.
The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool for comprehensively measuring and tracking hunger at global, regional, and national levels. GHI scores are based on the values of four component indicators.
undernourishment—the share of the population with insufficient caloric intake (data are from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization)
child wasting—the share of children under age five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition
child stunting—the share of children under age five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition (child wasting and child stunting data are from UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and the Demographic and Health Surveys Program)
child mortality—the mortality rate of children under age five, partly reflecting the fatal mix of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments (data are from the United Nations Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation).
Based on the values of the four indicators, the GHI determines hunger on a 100-point scale, where 0 is the best possible score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst. Each country’s GHI score is classified by severity, from low to extremely alarming. The 2021 GHI scores include data from 2016–2020.
India worst in 'weight for height' among children
India had progressed on other indicators including undernutrition, child stunting and child mortality, according to data in the report.
Current Affair 4:
About the Principles for Responsible Banking
The Principles for Responsible Banking are a unique framework for ensuring that signatory banks’ strategy and practice align with the vision society has set out for its future in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.
The principles were created in 2019 through a partnership between founding banks and the United Nations, and are designed to bring purpose, vision and ambition to sustainable finance.
Signatory banks commit to embedding these Principles across all business areas, at the strategic, portfolio and transactional levels. Over 250 banks representing over 40% of banking assets worldwide have now joined this movement for change and embarked on their 4-year journeys of impact analysis, target setting and reporting.
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