1. SC puts colonial sedition law on hold
Court suspends pending criminal trials under Section 124A, allows Centre to reconsider the law
The Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended pending criminal trials and court proceedings under Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code, while allowing the Union of India to reconsider the British-era law.
“All pending trials, appeals and proceedings with respect to the charge framed under Section 124A of the IPC be kept in abeyance,” a three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, ordered. It was argued in court that nearly 13,000 people were already in jail under the sedition provision.
However, adjudication with respect to other Sections of law, if any, would proceed if the court concerned was “of the opinion that no prejudice would be caused to the accused”.
No new FIRs
The court also made it clear that it “hopes and expects” the Centre and States to restrain from registering FIRs, continuing investigations or take coercive measures under Section 124A while the “reconsideration” of the colonial provision was on.
Adding a fail-safe to protect civil liberties against any future misuse of Section 124A while it was under the Union’s microscope, the court ordered that the persons accused in fresh cases were free to approach courts, which would consider their cases taking into account the order of the Supreme Court and the “clear” stand of the Union that the provision was abused and needed “re-examination”.
The court, meanwhile, gave the Union of India liberty to issue a directive to States and authorities to prevent the continued misuse of the sedition law.
2. SC slams govt. claim that only President has pardon power
It reserves order in Perarivalan case
A claim by the Centre that the President, and not the Tamil Nadu Governor, has “exclusive power” to decide on the plea for pardon by the Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict A.G. Perarivalan drew flak from the Supreme Court on Wednesday before it reserved the case for judgment.
A three-judge Bench, led by Justice L. Nageswara Rao, said the government’s argument, if taken on face value, would leave Article 161 (the constitutional power of Governors of States to grant pardon) a “dead letter”.
“So, according to you, the power to grant pardon is exclusively that of the President… Well, in that case, pardons granted by Governors throughout the history of this nation across States are all null and void?” Justice B.R. Gavai quizzed Additional Solicitor-General K.M. Natraj, appearing for the Centre.
The court said then by the Centre’s logic, every murder case convict would have to move the President for pardon.
“The end result of your submissions is that all pardons granted for IPC offences by Governors all these years are unconstitutional… If we try to accept your submissions, it would mean the President would have the exclusive power to grant pardons… So, over the period of 70-75 years, all pardons granted under Article 161 by Governors for the IPC are unconstitutional,” Justice Rao exclaimed at the nature of the Centre’s submissions.
3. Rising internet addiction in children worries experts
They say recognising symptoms, seeking immediate medical help are important
The majority of the 67 persons who walked into the Internet Deaddiction Clinic at the Government Omandurar Medical College Hospital were adults. But what was shocking to the psychiatrists on call was that 10 of them were aged five to 10 and 13 of them were aged 11 to 18.
Among them was a 14-year-old boy, who was brought by his mother with complaints of abnormal hand movements, staying awake late at night to play mobile games, academic decline and lack of interest to write the board exams. The boy, according to doctors, stayed awake till 3 a.m. to play mobile games and compete with friends. He had lost weight and his appetite had reduced.
When he was assessed at the centre, he appeared thin for his age. He avoided eye contact and answered only in monosyllables. Treatment was initiated; he was counselled regularly once every four days and his gadget use was restricted to one hour per day. His progress was monitored. He was also started on medications. Eventually, his abnormal hand movements reduced and his appetite improved, psychiatrists said.
Malar Moses, associate professor and head of psychiatry, Government Omandurar Medical College Hospital, said use of gadgets had became a necessity for children and adolescents due to the conduct of online classes during the pandemic. However, many became addicted to these gadgets. As a result, they show less involvement in studies, experience sleep disturbances, anger issues, social withdrawal and have reduced their interaction with family members.
“The clinic, which was launched on December 13, 2021, has been catering to clients with overuse of the Internet in various forms. This includes video games, social media, online shopping, online gambling and online pornography. Some are victims of cyberbullying and suffer from sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, strained interpersonal relationships, poor school or work performance,” she said.
She pointed at the practice of giving gadgets to toddlers to watch nursery rhymes while being fed. “We find speech delay occurring in toddlers due to high Internet use. There is delay in saying even the basic words. We need to reduce all screens, including television for children.” Of the 67 clients, there were 23 children and 44 adults. “One of our assistant professors, Dr. Mathivanan, developed an internet addiction scale culturally suited for our client population..
4. Shallow and deep ecologism
All forms of environmentalism will not lead to effective climate change
The fashionable fight against pollution and resource depletion is shallow ecologism. Exponents of this philosophy believe in continuing our present lifestyle, but with specific tweaks aimed at minimising the damage to the environment.
Deep ecologism believes that humans should radically change their relationship with nature. Its proponents reject shallow ecologism for prioritising humans above other forms of life, and subsequently preserving the environmentally destructive way of life in modern societies.
A narrow focus on pollution and conservation movements is counterproductive. A holistic perspective to environmental crisis is one which acknowledges regional differences and the disparities between under and over-developed nations.
Heat waves are known to have been a reality for hundreds of years. But the long-term effects of climate change have exacerbated them, making the waves more extreme, frequent and prolonged. As India continues to grapple with the unrelenting waves, it becomes pertinent to unpack two strands of environmental philosophy that reinvent the relationship between nature and humans — shallow and deep ecologism.
Two styles of ecologism
The concepts emerged in the 1970s, when Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss sought to look beyond the popular pollution and conservation movements of his milieu to address environmental degradation. In his study of ecological concerns, Næss is more preoccupied with the role of the individual in nature. He believes that owing to increased anthropocentrism, humans have cut themselves off from nature, viewing nature and themselves as competing entities and establishing a master-slave dynamic.
By placing humans at the heart of the environmental crisis, Næss outlines the difference between the two styles of ecologism. He terms the powerful and fashionable fight against pollution and resource depletion as shallow ecologism or environmentalism. Exponents of this philosophy believe in continuing our present lifestyle, but with specific tweaks aimed at minimising the damage to the environment. Also referred to as weak ecologism, it may include the use of vehicles that cause less pollution or air conditioners that do not release chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). This branch of ecologism primarily serves to maintain the lifestyle of those dwelling in developed countries.
On the other hand, deep ecologism believes that humans should radically change their relationship with nature. Its proponents reject shallow ecologism for prioritising humans above other forms of life, and subsequently preserving the environmentally destructive way of life in modern societies. Deep ecologism maintains that by sustaining this lifestyle, shallow ecologism further widens the inequalities between countries. For instance, despite constituting only five per cent of the world’s population, the U.S. accounts for 17% of the world’s energy consumption and is the second largest consumer of electricity after China. Similarly, while low and middle-income countries have recorded lower cumulative and per capita carbon dioxide emissions over the past two centuries, it is the wealthier countries which are most responsible for a majority of carbon emissions.
Objectives of deep ecologism
Deep ecologism aspires to sustain nature by making large-scale changes to our lifestyle. These may include limiting the commercial farming of meat to preserve forest areas and reduce the artificial fattening of animals, or the reshaping of transport systems which involve the use of internal combustion engines.
However, besides advocating these lifestyle changes, deep ecologism shifts the attention from pollution and conservation narratives to robust policy formulation and implementation. According to Næss, policy-making must be aided by the reorientation of technical skills and inventions in new directions that are ecologically responsible. In fact, Næss recommends that ecologists reject work that is supervised by authorities with limited ecological perspectives. As irreplaceable informants, ecologists should not submit to power which does not recognise critical ecological priorities.
Additionally, to recognise the complex richness of different lifeforms, deep ecologism calls for a re-evaluation of the ‘survival of the fittest’ doctrine. Survival of the fittest should be understood through the human ability to cooperate and coexist with nature, as opposed to exploiting or dominating it. Deep ecologism thus prioritises a ‘live and let live’ attitude over an ‘either you or me’ approach.
The political potential of ecologism
Both strands of ecologism draw from different frameworks, including socialism, anarchism, feminism, conservatism and sometimes even fascism. Deep ecologism in particular borrows from socialism. In his writings on deep ecologism, Næss argues that a narrow focus on pollution and conservation movements is counterproductive. He believes that when projects are only implemented to solve pollution, it generates evils of a different kind. For instance, the installation of pollution control devices may increase the cost of living, leading to an increase in class difference. An ethically responsible ecologism is one which operates in the interest of all economic classes.
The environment may also become more vulnerable when decisions are strongly influenced by majority rule, without taking local interests into consideration. According to Næss, a solution to this can be found in decentralising the decision-making process and strengthening local autonomy. Næss claims that a chain consisting of a local board, a municipal council, a state-wide institution, a national government institution, a coalition of nations, and a global institution can be reduced to one made up of a local board, a nation-wide institution, and a global institution. A lengthy decision-making chain is unfavourable as it is prone to excluding local interests.
In all, Næss cautions humans against adopting a ‘vague, global’ approach to the environmental crisis.
A holistic perspective to the crisis is one which acknowledges regional differences and the disparities between under and over-developed nations.
Næss stresses that the political potential of the movement be realised, and that those in positions of power be held accountable. The responsibility of solving the climate crisis falls on policy-makers as much as it does on scientists and ecologists.