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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 4th January, 2016

  • January 4, 2016
  • 5
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs January 2016, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 4th January, 2016

 

NATIONAL

 

TOPIC

  • General Studies 1: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times
  • General studies 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Taming bulls, wounding rights

  • As the harvest festival of Pongal approaches in Tamil Nadu, the clamour for legitimising the brutal sport, jallikattu, has grown louder yet again.
  • The pressure this time includes the added weight of the political context, with ‘Tamil tradition and culture’ being invoked to stir up a high fever ahead of the 2016 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu.

What is the issue?

  • Supreme court in 2014 banned the sport jallikattu as it violates provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA) and militates the constitutional duty of treating animals with compassion, Article 51A (g).
  • It also reiterated the expansive reading it had given in the past, to Article 21 (Right to Life), which prohibits any disturbance to the environment, including animals, considered essential for human life.

What is Jallikattu?

  • Jallikattu is derived from the words ‘calli’ (coins) and ‘kattu’ (tie), which means a bundle of coins is tied to the bull’s horns.
  • In older times, the tamer sought to remove this bundle from the animal’s head to win gold or silver.
  • He would be called ‘brave’ and ‘valourous’ and would also sometimes be rewarded with a bride.
  • The southern parts of Tamil Nadu witness bull-taming the most, with Alanganallur near Madurai hosting the largest and most famous of these events.

A start of cruelty towards animals:

  • But what started as a simple act of bravado has become an act of cruelty towards animals.
  • The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)’s report submitted before the court in this case lists unimaginable forms of torture inflicted on the beast meant to help in farming — tails twisted and fractured, chemicals poured into the eyes, ears mutilated, sharp-edged weapons used to poke the animal, and intoxicants forced into its mouth.
  • All these and more take place right under the watch of officials.
  • The enclosures in the arena deny the bull food, water, or even space to stand.

Wider interpretation by Supreme Court:

  • Taking into consideration all these aspects, the Supreme Court ruled that not only did jallikattu inflict “unnecessary pain and suffering” on the animal and thereby violate the PCA Act, but the whole sport in the form in which it exists today has nothing to do with the traditional bull-taming of yore.
  • The court exhaustively cites international rights jurisprudence to stress the need to correct anthropocentric views and the fact that animals too have the right to live dignified lives.

The court then banned the use of bulls as performing animals, reiterating that any custom, even if in existence since the pre-constitutional days, should be in consonance with the values of the Constitution.

International experience:

  • The tradition of bullfighting in Spain is cited to legitimise the conduct of Jallikattu and present it as a viable tourist attraction.
  • It is significant that the Spanish state of Catalonia banned the sport in 2012 after a prolonged ‘culture versus rights’ debate.
  • In 2002, Germany took animal rights to a new level by giving animals constitutional protection.

Way ahead:

  • Those who want the sport to be legalised have called for an amendment to the PCA Act and measures to revoke the 2011 notification of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) which barred the use of bulls as performing animals.
  • Trying to allow an event that legitimises cruelty to animals would be a direct insult to the carefully reasoned writ of the Supreme Court, a complete negation of the PCA Act and its objectives, and would take the country back by a few steps in the crucial area of Right to Life.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically analyse the extent to which environment legislations in India have been successful in safeguarding environment.
  • Analyse the role played by culture in socio economic development of a region.
  • The expression “life and personal liberty” under Article 21 of Indian constitution are of widest amplitude and cover infinite volume of rights. Elucidate

 

NATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States; Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation; Governance Issues

 

Kerala’s Liquor Policy: All in the spirit of equality

  • Supreme Court of India has recently, delivered its judgment on the validity of Kerala’s newest liquor policy, which seeks to prohibit the sale and service of alcohol in all public places, save bars and restaurants in five-star hotels.
  • The verdict while employing a case of patent discrimination places the five-star hotels at stake and undermines the fundamental promise of equal concern and treatment under the Constitution.
  • Thus, inThe Kerala Bar Hotels Association v. State of Kerala , the most basic doctrines of constitutionalism have been thrown open to the politics of hypocrisy.

Excise Policy

2007: Kerala government has strived to tighten its excise policy to making liquor less freely available in the State (and more so in the interest of public health)

1st step—Amended the policy by permitting new bar licences to be granted only to those hotels which were accorded a rating of three stars or more by the Central government’s Ministry of Tourism

2011:

  • Hotels having a rating below four stars were disentitled from having a licence issued to serve alcoholic beverages on their premises
  • Amnesty provided- For hotels hotels with existing licences, to have their licences renewed even if they did not possess a four-star mark

2014 (March):

  • SC held that the deletion of three-star hotels from the category of hotels eligible for a liquor licence as constitutionally valid
  • Even hotels without a bar licence were entitled to three-star statuses under the Ministry of Tourism’s Rules and Regulations

August 2014: Intensification of ‘Excise Policy’ by Government:

  • Tried enforcing complete prohibition
  • Hotels classed as five star and above, by the Union government’s Ministry of Tourism- Only one’s entitled to maintain a bar licence
  • A pre-constitutional enactment was duly amended, and the State’s excise commissioners issued notices to all hotels of four stars and below, which served liquor, intimating them of the annulment of their respective bar licences

New Policy Challenged:

Grounds of challenge- Fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of India’s Constitution

Article 19(1)(g)—

  • Right to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business
  • Liberty to freely carry on any trade or business is subject to reasonable restrictions that may be imposed by the state in the interest of the general public
  • Article 47 of the Constitution: Requires States to make an endeavour towards improving public health (including by bringing about prohibition of the consumption of liquor)
  • These can lead to a proof behind the action to be termed as legitimate

1994: Khoday Distilleries Ltd. v. State of Karnataka

  • The constitution bench of the Supreme Court had questioned the existence of any right to trade in alcoholic beverages
  • Justice P.B. Sawant: The State can
    • Prohibit completely the trade or business in potable liquor since liquor as beverage is res extra commercium
    • Create a monopoly in itself for trade or business in such liquor
    • Place restrictions and limitations on such trade or business which may be in nature different from those on trade or business in articles res commercium
  • Reflection- In the Kerala Bar Hotels Associationcase, SC thus, held the Abkari (excise) policy of the Kerala government to being in conformity with the right under Article 19(1)(g)

Article 14—

  • Categorisation has led to an unnecessary classification by treating persons on an equal standing unequally
  • Courts have time and again employed basic two-prong test to determine what constitutes such a classification:

There must be—

  • An intelligible differentia, which distinguishes persons or things that are grouped together from others left out of the group
  • The differentia must have a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the law in question
  • But, even the rationale being practiced in granting license as well as the purpose of a better human health seems to be disguised under truck-load of policies which does not seem in tandem with each other
  • Courts Excuse:
    • Price being a prohibitive factor: Five Star hotels can act as a deterrent to individuals going in for binge or even casual drinking and thus, an inadequate justification was forwarded with an economic way out
    • Tourism as used by the State government

IASbaba’s Views:

  • If a commodity is res extra commercium— a thing outside commerce — this particular point does not give the state absolute power to make laws on the subject in violation of the guarantee of equal treatment.
  • While a law might represent a valid constraint on the freedom to trade, it must confirm to other constitutional commands, including Article 14, which assures us that the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
  • Employing paternalism and classism will only have a polarising effect on the policy issues of the country and thus, there is a need to revisit the policy to keep one’s faith in Art 14 intact.

Connecting the Dots:

  • Has the State of Kerala made a reasonable classification in consonance with Article 14 by permitting only five-star hotels and above to serve liquor? Critically examine
  • Discuss how will the special treatment being granted to the five-star hotels possibly help the Kerala government in achieving the highlighted objectives

 

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