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Former SC judges divided over increasing retirement age

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Supreme Court of India

New Delhi, Oct 21 : Former Supreme Court judges are divided over a suggestion to increase the retirement age of judges to 70 years. Those opposed to it say that 65 years is “optimal” and even at this age it is difficult to bear the burden of the court’s heavy workload.

While Justice K.T. Thomas and Justice K.S. Panikar Radhakrishnan dismissed the suggestion to increase the retirement age, Justice B. Sudershan Reddy endorsed it.

In the recent past, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal — the central government’s topmost lawyer — had on a number of occasions raised the issue of increasing the retirement age of the judges of the higher judiciary, including a three-fold increase in their salaries — a position not shared by the Narendra Modi government.

Those favouring enhancing the retirement age have cited increased life expectancy as a ground and comparing it with the prevailing practices in other countries, including US where Supreme Court judges serve for life, the UK where the retirement age is 70 year and other countries where it is 70 or 75 years.

Justifying the suggestion for increasing the retirement age on the grounds of increasing “longevity” and life expectancy, senior lawyer C.S. Vaidyanathan said that “physical and mental ability to work” beyond 65 years is “very much there” — a view endorsed by former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and senior lawyer K.V. Vishwanathan.

There is no rational justification to retire judges at the age of 65, Vishwanathan said, adding: “Judges mature and ripen in their late fifties or early sixties and one must tap their talent beyond 65 years.”

Buttressing the point, Vishwanathan cited the example of Justice Anthony McLeod Kennedy who rested his pen in US Supreme Court in 2018 at the age of 82.

He described Justice Kennedy as a “classic example” of a “prolific writer” at the ripe age of 82.

Justice Kennedy was succeeded by Justice Brett Kavanaugh — whose confirmation hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee saw the burgeoning of the ‘MeToo’ volcano denting the reputation of many among the high and mighty.

All this did not weigh with Justice Thomas and Justice Radhakrishnan, who thought 65 years was a good enough an age to hang up the gown, because at this age, mental and physical wear and tear start manifesting.

“There may be one, two or three judges who can carry on with the heavy, demanding work of the Supreme Court with the same tempo. But others find it difficult to work. My colleagues used to tell me the that they find it difficult to carry on,” said Justice Thomas, citing Justice P.K. Paripoornan as telling him: “I can’t keep up with the volume of work in the Supreme Court.”

Rohatgi, Vaidyanathan and K.V. Vishwanathan not only favoured increasing the retirement age but also bringing the retirement age of the High Court judges at par with that of the Supreme Court — an issue on which Justice Reddy differed.

While Justice Thomas agreed that the retirement age should be at par, Justice Reddy felt that the “distinction” should remain.

Justice Thomas asked: “If Supreme Court judges could work up to the age of 65 years, then why not High Court judges?”

Unequivocally asserting that even at 65, handling the Supreme Court’s workload is fatiguing, Justice Radhakrishnan said that the retirement age of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts could be increased, but with the option of quitting before reaching the age of superannuation — a practice prevailing in Zimbabwe, where a top court judge is appointed to retire at 65 years but can opt to continue till 70.

“Personally I was very happy when I retired because for a period of 15 to 20 years you have put in so much work which can’t be compared with any other service,” Justice Radhakrishnan said, adding: “A really hard-working judge would like to retire at the age of 65 as working for over 15 to 20 years takes its toll.”

“As a judge I have to do justice to the court,” Justice Radhakrishnan maintained, pointing out that “there can’t be any comparison with other countries. In America, the Supreme Court has 100 to 130 cases per year. Similar is the case with England and the International Court of Justice.”

The Supreme Court in India deals with over 65,000 cases per year.

However, there is no split view on increasing the salaries of the judges of the higher judiciary which, at the current level, is considered to be on the lower side. In January, the salary of a Supreme Court judge was hiked to Rs 250,000 a month from Rs 90,000 and that of the Chief Justice to Rs 2.8 lakhs from Rs 1 lakh.

Justice Sudershan Reddy said that the salary increase of the judges should be “commensurate with the work load they carry”.

(Parmod Kumar can be contacted at [email protected] )

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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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