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A dangerous incursion

Kapil Sibal, File Photo

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The government’s opposition to the elevation of the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court, Justice K.M. Joseph, to the Supreme Court, as recommended by the Supreme Court collegium as far back as January 10, 2018, is per se unprincipled. Its logic is faulty, both statistically and otherwise.

Justice Joseph pronounced a historic judgment in April 2016 when he struck down the imposition of President’s rule in Uttarakhand. Little did he know that his judgment would stand in the way of his elevation. This has created a situation where the very independence of the judiciary is now under attack. We will have to await the response of the collegium. I hope its members stand together and speak in one voice. That is the only way the Supreme Court can reassert its supremacy in the matter of judicial appointments.

Justice Joseph’s request to be transferred to the Andhra Pradesh High Court on health grounds since he had undergone a bypass surgery was ignored. In May 2016, the collegium had cleared his transfer to the Andhra Pradesh High Court. For inexplicable reasons, the recommendation was not forwarded for approval to the then President of India, Pranab Mukherjee. In the normal course of events, recommendations for transfers are cleared within 10 days. The attitude of the Union government shows that he was being targeted. The Centre’s obduracy by supplying unedifying reasons for rejecting the collegium’s recommendation can be clearly attributed to his judgment of April 2016.

Point of seniority

Let us analyse the reasons put forth in Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s letter of April 26, 2018 for rejecting the recommendation for Justice Joseph’s elevation. The first is that in the All India High Court Judges Seniority List, Justice Joseph is placed at serial number 42 and that 11 Chief Justices of various High Courts in the said list are otherwise senior to him.

This reasoning is flawed. The first is that Justice Joseph was, obviously, elevated as Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court on account of his qualities as a judge over other judges who might otherwise have been senior. Second, seniority among High Court judges has never been the only benchmark for appointment as Chief Justice of a High Court or elevation to the Supreme Court. Ever since 2014, the government of the day has never considered seniority as the only basis for elevation. When Judges Deepak Gupta and Navin Sinha were appointed in February 2017 to the Supreme Court, there were 40 High Court judges across India senior to them. Similarly, in the case of Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, who were also elevated to the Supreme Court in February 2017, there were 20 High Court judges who were senior to them. When Justice S.K. Kaul was elevated too, there were 14 High Court judges senior to him. In denying Justice Joseph his due, the government has left itself without cover.

Regional representation

Another reason given by the Law Minister is that several High Courts including smaller high courts are not represented in the Supreme Court at present. It is true that High Courts in a few States are not represented. This has happened under the present regime as well as in the past. Justices K.G. Balakrishnan, Cyriac Joseph and K.S.P. Radhakrishnan were all from the Kerala High Court despite the Law Minister calling it a relatively small High Court. This was at a time when the strength in the Kerala High Court was less than 40 judges. Justices K.S. Paripoornan and K.T. Thomas were also elevated to the Supreme Court from the Kerala High Court when its strength was just 21. So, a small High Court such as Kerala’s has had a slew of elevations perhaps because of the outstanding quality of individual judges. The Delhi High Court, with a judge strength of 60, has three judges in the top court. The reason given by the Law Minister that in elevating Justice Joseph there would then be two judges from the Kerala High Court —which he considers inconsistent with the concept of adequate regional representation — is clearly specious.

The Law Minister ought to have disclosed that in February 2017, two judges from the Karnataka High Court, Justices Shantanagoudar and Abdul Nazeer, were elevated on the same day. If two judges can be elevated from Karnataka, especially in light of the fact that Justice Kurian Joseph, also from Kerala, is going to retire in the course of this year, the logic of not having two judges from the Kerala High Court is clearly manufactured only to oppose Justice Joseph’s appointment.

If one looks at the aspect of regional representation made much of by the Law Minister and analyses the current representation of judges in the Supreme Court, then the Allahabad High Court, which has a sanctioned strength of 160, should have many more than two judges. This logic also applies to the Punjab and Haryana High Court as well as the Bombay High Court. While the Allahabad High Court has two judges in the Supreme Court, the Bombay High Court has three. Therefore, the opposition to Justice Joseph’s elevation on the basis of inadequate regional representation is a bogey.

The third reason is that there is an inadequate representation of the Scheduled Castes (SC) and the Scheduled Tribes (ST) in the Supreme Court. First, the total sanctioned strength of the Supreme Court is 31 judges. At the moment, there are 25. Six judges are to retire this year. Consequently, its strength, if no judges are appointed, will be reduced to 19. There will be 12 vacancies. If the government so chooses, it can give representation to the SCs and STs consistent with its logic. But this logic cannot be advanced in opposing Justice Joseph’s elevation. Such an argument only betrays the real intent behind the opposition.

Having demonstrated the fragility of the reasoning of the Law Minister, all the points for not elevating Justice Joseph — such as seniority at the level of the High Court, regional representation, representation of SCs and STs — become insignificant when there is an outstanding candidate for elevation. I only wish to reiterate the recommendation made by the collegium on January 10, 2018: “The Collegium considers that at present Mr. Justice K.M. Joseph, who hails from the Kerala High Court and is currently functioning as Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, is more deserving and suitable in all respects than other Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges of High Courts for being appointed as Judge of the Supreme Court of India.”

It is crystal clear that the opposition to Justice Joseph is mala fide. The executive is seeking to blatantly interfere in the appointment process. If the government’s stand is legitimised, such incursions on the independence of the judiciary will become routine. We want our judges to be immune to extra-constitutional pressures. That immunity is the only way to protect our citizens. A judiciary that capitulates is the greatest danger to democracy.

Kapil Sibal is a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), former Union Minister and a senior Congress leader

Courtesy: This article is published in THE HINDU Newspaper on Ist May 2018

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World Alzheimer’s Day 2020: Everything you must know about the brain disease

The theme for World Alzheimer’s Day 2020 is “Let’s Talk About Alzheimer.”

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Alzheimer disease

World  Alzheimer’s Day is observed every year on September 21. The day aims at raising awareness and challenge the common stigma that surrounds Alzheimer related dementia.

According to Alzinfo, every 65 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s disease. At current rates, experts believe the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s will quadruple to as many as 16 million by the year 2050.

The theme for World Alzheimer’s Day 2020 is “Let’s Talk About Alzheimer.” The day was first observed in 2012.

What is Alzheimer?

Alzheimer, in simple terms, is a brain disease that negatively affects memory, thinking, and behavior. These changes interfere with daily living. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Most people with the disease get a diagnosis after age 65. If it’s diagnosed before then, it’s generally referred to as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Symptoms of Alzheimer:

According to the National Institute on Aging, in addition to memory problems, someone with Alzheimer’s disease may experience one or more of the following signs:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as getting lost in a familiar place or repeating questions.
  • Trouble handling money and paying bills.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or leisure.
  • Decreased or poor judgment.
  • Misplaces things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
  • Changes in mood, personality, or behaviour.
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and community.

Stages of Alzheimer:

  • Stage 1. There are no symptoms at this stage but there might be an early diagnosis based on family history.
  • Stage 2. The earliest symptoms appear, such as forgetfulness.
  • Stage 3. Mild physical and mental impairments appear, such as reduced memory and concentration. These may only be noticeable by someone very close to the person.
  • Stage 4. Alzheimer’s is often diagnosed at this stage, but it’s still considered mild. Memory loss and the inability to perform everyday tasks is evident.
  • Stage 5. Moderate to severe symptoms require help from loved ones or caregivers.
  • Stage 6. At this stage, a person with Alzheimer’s may need help with basic tasks, such as eating and putting on clothes.
  • Stage 7. This is the most severe and final stage of Alzheimer’s. There may be a loss of speech and facial expressions.

Treatment Of Alzheimer:

Alzheimer’s is most commonly identified through patient and family history, and by talking to the immediate family about the presence of symptoms. Also, brain imagining may be suggested to check for beta-amyloid protein deposits. As of today, there is no curative treatment for Alzheimer’s. Drugs are usually administered to manage symptoms and healthy lifestyle changes.

Despite this, Alzheimer’s is one of the most expensive diseases to get treatment for. The global cost of dementia is estimated to be around $1 trillion currently.

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At 7, child prodigy honours literary legacy with first book

They added that the title of the book, cover page and all the illustration are also a part of her creativity.

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Abhijita a student of Class II

New Delhi, September 20: Padma Bhushan recipient Rashtrakavi Maithalisharan Gupts and Santkavi Siyaramsharan Gupt’s great grand daughter Abhijita Gupta, who is all of seven years and a child prodigy, has penned her first collection of stories and poems.

The book titled ‘Happiness All Around’, and was launched by Oxford Bookstores’ children’s wing, Oxford Junior in collaboration with Invincible Publishers. Seven-year-old Abhijita, taking after her family’s literary legacy, had started writing at a very tender age of five years.

The collection is an attempt to give children something to read, written by someone of their own age. (Abhijita Gupta – “The little poet”/Facebook)
“Abhijita is a student of Class II and is a third generation writer, to poet duo Rashtrakavi Shri Maithalisharan Gupt and Santkavi Shri Siyaramsharan Gupt. She is an avid reader and very expressive with her pen. She wrote her first story when she was a little over five years. By the grace of goddess Saraswati, she is carrying forward the traits of her forefathers and we hope she extends the legacy of Sahitya Sadan Gharana,” her parents Ashish Gupt and Anupriya Gupta said.

They added that the title of the book, cover page and all the illustration are also a part of her creativity.

“For her, every little thing around her matters: what she sees, she hears, she touches, she smells, she tastes and she feels — constantly soaking in the environment around her. And, her debut book proffers just that – the pure senses and humane values like an elixir.”

The collection is an attempt to give children something to read, written by someone of their own age. The book could prove equally useful for parents of young children, as it gives an insight into the mind of a six-seven year old and what thoughts and things interest her. The writings have been left untouched so that the innocence, mistakes included, of the child are not diluted.

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Covid-19 joblessness pushing youths to extremist groups in Northeast

Adding to this are the reports of a large consignment of China-made weapons reaching the hands of the secessionist Myanmar-based radical groups, who share close links with militant groups in India’s Northeast.

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Unemployment Rate in India

India’s Covid-19 pandemic lockdown is now giving headaches to the national security agencies. Youth, left jobless during the pandemic, are reported to be joining the banned rebel groups such as the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and other such, in droves.

Adding to this are the reports of a large consignment of China-made weapons reaching the hands of the secessionist Myanmar-based radical groups, who share close links with militant groups in India’s Northeast.

The emerging scenario is threatening to upset the delicate balance achieved through years of hard work by the Indian security and intelligence officers, according to senior executives in the national security establishment, who requested to stay unnamed, citing government service rules.

The Arakan Army (AA) — which seeks an independent homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine state — has received the fresh cache of Chinese weapons and is known to be one of the key suppliers of arms and ammunition to the rebel groups in Northeast India.

In addition, the AA opposes India’s Kaladan Multi Modal Project, which provides states like Mizoram — a landlocked province — an outlet to the sea through the Sittwe port in Myanmar, officials said. Interestingly the AA has not opposed the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

Security agencies have told the government that insurgent groups active along the Indo-Myanmar border find easy recruits among youth left unemployed by Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

“The successful induction of the Chinese-made weapons by the AA will have an impact on the security situation in India’s Northeastern states, as much of these weapons are finding their way to some of the dormant militant groups of the Northeast,” the official said.

“The new weapons provide firepower to the northeastern groups whose ranks are increasing as youth left jobless by the pandemic are signing for militant groups.”

Strengthened by new recruits and rearmed, the Khaplang faction National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) — a banned militant group of Northeast based out of Myanmar — is gathering along the Indo-Myanmar Border in areas such as Mon to plan and execute attacks against the Indian security forces.

In 2016, the NSCN (K) killed 18 soldiers of the Indian Army, forcing India to launch cross border strikes on the militant hideouts taking refuge in Myanmar.

Worryingly, for India, peace talks with the Naga rebel groups have failed despite efforts of the Narendra Modi government.

Agencies have warned that groups like the People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK) had recruited 15 fresh cadres in Assam. “There was recruitment of 10-15 cadres by the Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger in the outfit,” the source said.

Further, United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) had recruited 15-20 youths in the outfit from Meghalaya.

In Tripura, intelligence input indicates that extremist Parimal Debbrama of National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) is trying to revive his group and some newly recruited members of the outfit had completed their basic training in a hideout of Khagrachari District of Bangladesh.

“These cadres are planning to infiltrate into India for operations,” the source further added.

Intelligence agencies also stated that the India-Myanmar border remained susceptible to threat due to the presence of insurgent groups.

“Many insurgents groups are camping in Myanmar and trying to infiltrate through Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh, Mon District of Nagaland and Charaideo district of Assam,” the source said.

(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at [email protected])

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