1. Election commission Contempt power
Context: Recently election commission has demanded contempt powers. This is due to allegation made by various political parties that electronic voting machines have been tampered.
What is contempt power?
- Contempt power means the power of public institutions such as court to punish persons who show contempt for the process, orders, or proceedings of that institution.
- It provides a means for a institution to uphold its dignity.
- Contempt of court comes in two flavors: civil and criminal.
- Civil Contempt is defined in Section 2(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
- Willfully disobeying the Court orders or willfully breaching his own undertaking are the civil contempt.
- It contains less seriousness
- A civil contempt is generally limited to the parties to a suit, viz. Judgment debtors, Governmnt officers, authorities. A civil contempt arises when the Court issues certain directions of them, and if they fail to comply such orders.
- Criminal Contempt is defined in Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
- It includes scandaling, or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any Court; or prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.
Arguments in favour of such powers
- International examples – Election management bodies (eg: Kenya, Pakistan) have direct power to initiate contempt proceedings.
- Effect on Credibility – Such allegations affect the credibility of the commission as one of the important guardian of the democratic process.
Arguments against giving such power
- Need of transparency– The body, custodian of secret ballot, should choose transparency rather than contempt powers to maintain its track record of honesty and fairness.
- Undemocratic – Contestation is part and parcel of elections. Thus, powers to silence criticism will undermine this democratic process.
- Against freedom of expression – Because of this reason even big democracies such as USA and Canada have not given contempt powers to election panel.
- Satisfaction of people is supreme – EC does not have to satisfy every politician. It enjoys public confidence and reputation of impartiality. Thus, it just needs to reach out to people and explain process transparently.
- Prone to abuse – Fair criticism in future may be silenced.
Review of status of national
Context: The Election Commission of India (EC) accorded national party status to the All India Trinamool Congress(TMC), making it the seventh party that can contest Lok Sabha and assembly polls across the country on its own symbol.
Recent changes made by ECI
- Under the revised rules of EC, a party’s performance over two consecutive Lok Sabha or assembly elections is considered, as opposed to one previously, for granting recognition as a national party.
- The changes have helped other parties that performed badly in 2014 elections to maintain their nation party status.
- The Election Commission amended rules that, from now onwards, it will review the national and state party status of political parties every 10 years instead of the present five years.
Now there are seven National parties in India
- Bharatiya Janata Party
- Bahujan Samaj Party
- Nationalist Congress Party
- Communist Party of India (Marxist)
- Communist Party of India.
- All India Trinamool Congress(TMC)
Criteria for becoming national party
A political party shall be eligible to be recognised as a National party if any of the given three criteria is met.
- It secures at least six percent (6%) of the valid votes polled in any four or more states, at a general election to the House of the People or, to the State Legislative Assembly; and in addition, it wins at least four seats in the House of the People from any State or States.
- It wins at least two percent (2%) seats in the House o the People (i.e., 11 seats in the existing House having 543 members), and these members are elected from at least three different States.
- State party needs to be recognized in at least four states to become a national party.
Benefits for National parties
- Party is entitled to a reserved symbol for its candidates contesting from across the country.
- Candidates from a national party require only one proposer to file their nominations and are entitled to two sets of electoral rolls free of cost.
- National parties get dedicated broadcast slots on public broadcasters Doordarshan and All India Radio during the general elections.
- Political parties are entitled to nominate ‘star campaigners’ during general elections. A national party can have a maximum of 40 ‘star campaigners’ while a registered unrecognised party can nominate a maximum of 20 ‘star campaigners’, whose travel expenses are not accounted for in the election expense accounts of candidates.
Chief election commissioner appointment issue
- Supreme court has asked the government to formalise Election Commissioner’s appointment through law.
Present status of selection procedure
- Who should be short-listed? Who short-lists these names? What is the eligibility? There is nothing to show the procedure followed in selecting them.
- It said the appointments were made by the President solely on the basis of the advice given by the political-executive at the Centre. This situation allegedly gives “ample room for the ruling party to choose someone whose loyalty is ensured and renders the selection process vulnerable to manipulations and partisanship which is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
About Election commission
- It is an autonomous constitutional authority
Responsible for administering election processes in India. The body administers elections to the
Paid News and Electoral Reforms
As per Press Council of India, paid news refers to propaganda in favour of a candidate masquerading as news reports or articles for a price in cash or kind as consideration.
Impact of Paid News
- It causes undue influence on voters and also affects their Right to Information.
- It hampers the ability of people to form correct opinions.
- It seeks to circumvent election expenditure laws/ ceiling.
Steps taken by ECI
- Starting in 2010, ECI has issued instructions to state and district officers to scrutinize, identify and report cases of Paid News.
- The Commission has appointed a Media Certification & Monitoring Committee (MCMC) at District and State level for checking Paid News.
- The Committee will scrutinise all media within its jurisdiction to identify political advertisement in the garb of news. MCMC shall also actively consider paid news cases referred to it by the Expenditure Observers.
Law commission recommendations: Report No. 255 on “Electoral Reforms” 2015
- The definitions of “paying for news”, “receiving payment for news” and “political advertisement” should be inserted in the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
- Making paid news an electoral offence will lead to disqualification.
Press Council of India
- The Press Council of India is a statutory and quasi judicial body in India that governs the conduct of the print media.
- It adjudicates the complaints against and by the press for violation of ethics and for violation of the freedom of the press respectively.
- The Council is headed by a Chairman, who has by convention, been a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. The Council consists of 28 other members of whom 20 represent the press.
Context: There is a rising demand that privileges of legislature should be codified. Presently they are not codified and open to interpretation and thus, to exploitation and misuse
Article 105 of the constitution mentions the Powers, privileges, etc., of the Houses of Parliament and of the members and committees.
Privileges may be classified into two groups:
- Privileges that are enjoyed by the members individually
(a) Freedom of speech: According to the Indian Constitution, the members of Parliament enjoy freedom of speech and expression. The basic idea of extending this freedom being the necessity that every member would put forward without fear or favour his/her arguments for or against any matter before the House.
(b) Freedom from Arrest: The members of Parliament also enjoy freedom from arrest. From this freedom it is understood that no such member shall be arrested in a civil case 40 days before and after the adjournment of the House (Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha) and also when the House is in session.
- It also means that no member can be arrested within the precincts of the Parliament without the permission of the House to which he/she belongs
A member can be arrested outside the four walls of the House on criminal cases under the Preventive Detention, ESMA, NSA, POTA or any other such Act.
(c) Freedom of attendance as witnesses: The members of Parliament also enjoy freedom from attendance as a witnesses
2. Privileges that belong to each House (Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha) of Parliament collectively.
- The right to publish debates and proceedings.
- The right to exclude strangers from the premise of parliament.
- The right to punish members and outsiders for breach of its privileges.
- The right to regulate the internal affairs of the House.
NGOs and Regulation
Why in news?
- According to a CBI report submitted at Supreme Court there are more than 31 lakh NGOs existing in India, while only 8% to 10% of those file annual financial statement.
- According to a report by Intelligence Bureau, some NGOs are working against Indian interest by stalling developmental projects.
Legal recognition of NGOs
The Indian context, a non-profit entity can be incorporated under:
- The Societies Registration Act, 1860
- The Indian Trusts Act, 1882
- The Co-operative Societies Act, 1904
- The Trade Union Act, 1926
- Section 8 of Indian Companies Act, 2013
Present regulation scenario
- Presently, there are nearly 100 international NGOs and associations that receive foreign funds through their liaison offices and disburse them to NGOs across India.
- The Home Ministry monitors foreign funds donated to NGOs and organisations through the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).
- The Finance ministry monitors the NGOs under the Foreign Exchange Management Act(FEMA).
- However, The Home Ministry wants the Finance Ministry to surrender its powers to monitor non-governmental organization (NGOs) under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
- The Foreign Exchange Management Act (1999) or in short FEMA has been introduced as a replacement for earlier Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA). FEMA came into act on the 1st day of June, 2000.
- The main objective was to consolidate and amend the law relating to foreign exchange with objective of facilitating external trade and payments and for promoting the orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange market in India.
About FCRA, 2010
- The FCRA, 2010 regulates the acceptance and utilization of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations or companies.
- It prohibits acceptance and utilization of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to national interest.
- Funds can be collected only for research, training, awareness, rehabilitation and relief for victims of manmade and natural calamities, maintenance of buildings and real estate for philanthropic activities.
Who are Gorkha?
- Indian Gorkhas are indigenous people living all along the Himalayan belt and the North-East states of India. The Gorkhas inhabit areas in J&K, Himachal, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Darjeeling, Assam, and other states in the North- East.
- In 1780, the Gorkhas captured Sikkim and other areas includes Darjeeling, Siliguri, Simla, Nainital, Garhwal hills, and Kumaon, that is, the entire region from Teesta to Sutlej. After 35 years of rule, the Gorkhas surrendered the territory to British in the Treaty of Segoulee in 1816, after they lost the Anglo-Nepal war.
- In 1907, the first demand for Gorkhaland was submitted to Morley-Minto Reforms panel. Later, on several occasions demands were made to the British government and then government of Independent India. There have been two mass-movements - first in the 1980s and then in 2007.
Why demand for Gorkhaland?
- Differences in language and culture.
- Aspiration of Indian Gorkha identity: Since creation of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council in 1988 and GTA in 2012 did not fulfill this aspiration, they failed.
- Economic deprivation
- Alleged maltreatment by Bengalis and lack of voice in Kolkata.
Steps taken to resolve the issue
- Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) was formed after agitation of 1986.
- Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA): GTA created in 2012 through a tripartite agreement signed by GoI, Govt. of West Bengal and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), replaced the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.
Article 3 of the constitution
It deals with
- Form a new State by separation of territory from any State or by uniting two or more States or parts of States or by uniting any territory to a part of any State.
- Increase the area of any State.
- Diminish the area of any State.
- Alter the boundaries of any State.
- Alter the name of any State
- Bill for the purpose shall be introduced in either House of Parliament only on the recommendation of the President.
- Where the proposal contained in the Bill affects the area, boundaries or name of any of the States, the Bill has been referred by the President to the Legislature of that State for expressing its views.
- Views of the state are not binding on Parliament.
- Bill introduced require only simple majority to become an act.
Cauvery River water Dispute
- The Cauvery water sharing dispute has been a bone of contention between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu since the time of the British Raj.
- Many of the districts in both states are dependent on the Cauvery for irrigation, while the city of Bengaluru gets its water from the river.
- The Cauvery water sharing dispute began in 1892 between the Madras Presidency under the British Raj and the princely state of Mysore as the two regions could not agree over how to divide the water between themselves.
The British presided over the issue of water sharing and in 1924, the Madras Presidency and Mysore state signed an agreement
- The rules regarding the water usage of Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) dam were listed out.
- The agreement also gave Madras the freedom to construct the Mettur dam.
- As per the agreement in 1924, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry would get 75% of the surplus water, while Karnataka would get 23%. The remaining would go to Kerala.
- Karnataka argued that the 50-year time period for the 1924 agreement had ended in 1974, and hence the state was not obliged to stick to the regulations. This led to the escalation of dispute and Cauvery river water dispute tribunal was constituted.
- The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal gave out its final award in 2007.
- In 2013, the central government notified the final award. Tamil Nadu approached the SC.
- In February, 2018 SC announced its judgement
About River Cauvery
- Originate in the foothills of Western Ghats at Talakaveri, Kodagu in Karnataka.
- It flows through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
- It is the third largest after Godavari and Krishna in south India.
- It falls in the bay of Bengal.
- The river’s basin covers three states and a Union Territory as follows: Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.
Tributaries of Cauvery are
- Lakshmana Tirtha
River dispute resolution system in India
- Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956 (IRWD Act) is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted under Article 262 of Constitution to resolve the water disputes that would arise in the use, control and distribution of an interstate river or river valley.
- IRWD Act is applicable only to interstate rivers / river valleys.
- Section 4 of IRWD Act provides dispute resolution process in the form of Tribunal.
List of tribunals formed till date
- Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal
- Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal –I
- Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal
- Ravi & Beas Water Tribunal
- Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal
- Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal –II
- Vansadhara Water Disputes Tribunal
- Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal
- Till now three tribunal awards are notified in official gazette by the Government of India. These are Krishna (tribunal 1), Godavari and Narmada water disputes tribunals.
- Decision of tribunals can be appealed in supreme court of Inda
Mahadayi river water dispute
- Mahadayi river rises in the Western Ghats, from the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary in Khanapur taluk of Karnataka’s Belagavi district. Flowing westward, it enters Goa from Sattari taluk of North Goa districts. It also flows in Maharashtra.
- A number of streams join the flow of the river to form the Mandovi which is one of two major rivers that flow through Goa. It joins the Arabian Sea at Panaji.
Background of dispute
- The dispute over Mahadayi river began in the 80s and grew stronger in the subsequent decades. Attempts at negotiations among the states were initiated by the central government way back in 1985.
- The trigger was Karnataka’s move to design a number of dams, canals and barrages to route the Mahadayi river water to the Malaprabha basin.
- Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal was set up on November 16, 2010.
- Mahadayi is disputed between Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra
Stands of stakeholder states and present dispute
- Goa contends that its population is dependent on the river’s natural path and any move to divert it would affect its fragile ecosystem. It claimed that the ingress of saltwater in the river, which is dependent on monsoons, will ultimately end up killing the state’s mangroves and green belt, disturb the relationship between the people and the land, as well as the ecological balance.
- The dispute is also around the amount of water that Goa receives. Karnataka claims that the surplus from Mahadayi drains into the sea and that it should be diverted into the deficit basin in Malaprabha to meet the state’s drinking, irrigation, agriculture and power generation needs.
- Goa has, meanwhile, denied Karnataka’s claims saying it is a water deficient state and limiting the water supply would adversely impact its agriculture production.
- Supreme Court has, for now (on January 2018), stayed the construction of dams and canals by Karnataka on the Mahadayi.
Global Hunger Index
- The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger globally and by country and region.
- Calculated each year by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
- India has a “serious” hunger problem and ranks 100th out of 119 countries on the global hunger index — behind North Korea, Bangladesh and Iraq but ahead of Pakistan, according to a Global hunger report 2017.
- India stood at 97th position in last year’s rankings.
- As per the report, India ranks below many of its neighbouring countries such as China (29th rank), Nepal (72), Myanmar (77), Sri Lank (84) and Bangladesh (88). It is ahead of Pakistan (106) and Afghanistan (107).
The GHI, now in its 12th year, ranks countries based on four key indicators.
- Undernourishment(Not enough nutrients is called undernutrition or undernourishment while too much is called overnutrition)
- child mortality(refers to the death of children under the age of five or between the age of one month to four years depending on the definition).
- child wasting(acute malnutrition).
- child stunting(impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation).
- It is a research center of CGIAR, a worldwide partnership engaged in agricultural research for development.
- Established in 1975.
- IFPRI currently has more than 600 employees working in over 50 countries.
- Provides research-based policy solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in developing countries.
Bringing BCCI under RTI
Arguments in favour
- Public authority – Supreme court has declared BCCI as a public body as it discharges pubic functions monopolistically with tacit approvals of central and state governments.
- Transparency and accountability to public.
- Punishment to guilty.
- Reducing role of black money – Transparency will enable meaningful government-control of enormous amount of public-money earned regularly by BCCI.
- Government order which declared all the National Sports Federations (NSF) receiving a grant of Rs. 10 lakh or more as a Public Authority under Section 2(h) of the RTI, 2005. And BCCI has received concessions above this amount.
- Lodha committee also favored it in its recommendations.
Arguments against it
- Auditing done – Auditing of their accounts is already being done by BCCI.
- Affect working efficiency – due to interference and fear of officials of being scrutinized for every decision.
Why BCCI is a public authority?
- It conducts cricket-matches with its teams named as ‘Indian team’ which gets all types of recognition and facilities from Union and stategovernments.
Support from the government includes.
- Thousands of crores received towards tax concessions by BCCI.
- Making available land by state and UT governments for stadiums.
- Making available security during matches.
- Facilities for visa etc.
- It has complete monopoly and all-pervasive control over the sport of cricket in India.
Central Information Commission
- The Central Information Commission has been constituted with effect from 12-10-2005 under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
- The jurisdiction of the Commission extends over all Central Public Authorities.
- This Commission does not have jurisdiction over a State Information Commission nor a complaint or appeal can be filed in this Commission against an order of a State Information Commission.
Powers and functions
- To adjudication in second appeal for giving information.
- To give direction for record keeping.
- To take suo motu disclosures receiving.
- Enquiring into a complaint on inability to file RTI .
- To impose penalties and Monitoring and Reporting including preparation of an Annual Report.
- The decisions of the Commission are final and binding.
- Intelligence and security organizations specified in the Second Schedule to the Act are exempt from furnishing information under the Act.
- However, this exemption does not apply if the requested information pertains to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations.
Composition of the CIC:
- There is one Chief Commissioner and not more than 10 Information Commissioners who make up the entire Central Information Commission.
- All these commissioners are appointed by the President of India.
- What is right to information?
Right to information” means the right to information accessible under the Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to—
- inspection of work, documents, records;
- taking notes, extracts, or certified copies of documents or records;
- taking certified samples of material;
- Obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device.
- Type of information that can be obtained under RTI
The type of information which may be obtained is defined under section 2 (f) of the Act as
- any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, log books, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Lok Sabha by Ministry of Home Affairs. The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.
- The Citizenship Act, 1955 provides various ways in which citizenship may be acquired. It provides for citizenship by birth, descent, registration, and naturalisation and by incorporation of territory into India.
- The Act prohibits illegal migrants from acquiring Indian citizenship. It defines an illegal migrant as a foreigner: (i) who enters India without a valid passport or travel documents, or (ii) stays beyond the permitted time.
- To apply for citizenship by naturalisation, person must have resided in India or been in service of the central government for at least 11 years before applying for citizenship.
Highlights of the Bill
- The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.
- Under the Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years. The Bill relaxes this 11 year requirement to six years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries.
- The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.
Key Issues and Analysis
- The Bill makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees right to equality.
- The Bill allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences (eg. parking in a no parking zone).
Provisions for Delhi and Pudduchery state governments
- There was a conflict between the Lt. Governor and elected government of the Puducherry and Delhi.
- Only Puducherry and Delhi are two UTs which have elected form of government. The provisions in the constitution are provided under articles 239 to 241 in Part VIII of the Constitution.
- The special provisions for Puducherry were provided Constitution (Fourteenth Amendment) Act, 1962.
- The special provisions for UT of Delhi were provided by Constitution (Sixty Ninth Amendment) Act, 1991. It has added two new Article 239AA and 239AB.
- Art. 239AA provides that the Union Territory of Delhi shall now be called the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
Special Provisions are:
- There is Legislative assembly with Council of Ministers & Chief Minister.
- The President shall make appointments to the Council of Ministers including the Chief Minister.
- The administrator of UTs shall be known as Lt. Governor.
- Size of Council of Ministers is to be 10% of the strength of legislative assembly.
- Pondicherry & Delhi can make laws on any subject of state list & concurrent list except laws related to Public order, Police & land.
- In case of difference between opinions of COMs & Lt. governor, the Lt. governor shall refer it to the President for his decision & shall act according to directions given by President. This is one of the provision which leads to conflict between Lt. governor and Delhi government. Ordinance making power of Lt. Governor of Delhi nad Puducherry.
- Article 239 B gives the administrator power to promulgate an ordinance when the legislative assembly of a Union Territory is not in session. An ordinance may be promulgated only after obtaining instructions from the President.
Other Provisions (Article 240)
- President may make regulations for the peace, progress and good government of the UTs of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu.
- However, during the dissolution or suspension of the Puducherry Legislative assembly, the president can regulate the peace, progress and good government.
Punjab drug menace
Why in news?
- The Punjab government has decided to collaborate with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as part of its efforts to root out the drug menace in the State.
- Easy availability of drug: drugs are smuggled from the golden crescent which includes 3 countries- Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.
- Agriculture has brought the state its wealth, is stagnating and with little industrialisation there is high unemployment.
- High purchasing capacity of youth due to high per capita income
- Police politician and bureaucracy nexus.
- Golden triangle is yet another source of drugs in India. It include three countries namely Myanmar, Laos, Thailand.
National Green Tribunal
- Established on 18.10.2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
- New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai shall be the other four place of sitting of the Tribunal.
- For enforcement of any legal right relating to environment.
- To provide relief and compensation for damages to persons and property.
Advantages over conventional courts
- The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
- Shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts.
- The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
- Tribunal is competent to hear cases for several acts such as
- Forest (Conservation) Act,
- Biological Diversity Act,
- Environment (Protection) Act,
- Water & Air (Prevention & control of Pollution) Acts
National commission for SC/ST
- In order to ensure that the safeguards are properly implemented the Constitution on its inception, provided for appointment of a special office under Article 338 of the Constitution to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes and report to the President about the working of these safeguards.
- In pursuance of this provision a Special Officer known as the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes was appointed for the first time on 18th November, 1950.
- It was felt that the office of the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was not enough to monitor the safeguards provided to SCs & STs. Hence, Article 338 of the Constitution (46th Amendment) was ammended replacing the single member Special Officer by multi-member system.
- The first Commission for SC & ST came into being on August, 1978.
- In the 89th Amendment of the Constitution it was decided to have a separate National Commission for Scheduled Castes & separate National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. This came into effect on 19.02.2004.
- The erstwhile National Commission for SCs & STs was bifurcated into two different Commissions with actual bifurcation date being 1.12.2004.
- To investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes under the Constitution or under any other law for the time being in force or under any order of the Government and to evaluate the working of such safeguards
- To inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Castes.
- This Commission is a National Level Advisory body plays the role of adviser on major policy and developmental issues relating to SCs/STs.
Commission is vested with powers of civil court
- Summon and enforce attendance of any person and examine on oath;
- Discovery & production of any documents;
- Receive evidence on affidavits;
- Requisition any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;
- Issue Commissions for examination of witnesses and documents; and
- Any matter which President, by rule, may determine.
National commission for women
- The National Commission for Women was set up as statutory body in January 1992 under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990.
- Commission is vested with the power of a civil court.
- To review the Constitutional and legal safeguards for women.
- To recommend remedial legislative measures.
- To facilitate redressal of grievances.
- To advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women.
- The Commission presents an annual report to the Central Government.
- It can also submit a report as and when it thinks necessary.
- The Central Government places all such reports before each House of Parliament, along with a memorandum explaining the action taken on the recommendations made by the Commission.
- The memorandum should also contain the reasons for the non-acceptance of any of such recommendations.
- The NCW is made up of a chairperson, five members and a member secretary.
- A person ‘committed to the cause of women” is nominated and appointed as Chairperson by the Central Government.
- The Five members are also nominated by the central Government.
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
- Set up in March 2007 under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005, an Act of Parliament.
- NCPCR is a statutory body under the CPCR Act,2005 under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development ,Government of India.
- The Commission’s Mandate is to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Defination of child
- The Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group
Sub-categorization of the OBC
- The Union Cabinet approved a proposal for setting up of a Commission under article 340 of the Constitution to examine the issue of sub-categorization of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
- Subsequently, President Ram Nath Kovind has appointed five-member commission to examine sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
- It will be headed by retired Chief Justice of Delhi High Court G. Rohini.
Terms of references of the Commission
- To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes/ communities included in the broad category of OBCs, with reference to the OBCs included in the Central list.
- To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters, in a scientific approach, for sub-categorization within such OBCs, and,
- To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes/communities/ sub-castes/ synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.
Aim of Subcategorization
Sub-categorisation of OBCs aims to ensure more equitable distribution of reservations in government jobs and educational institutions so that dominant groups among OBCs do not corner all benefits. The exercise will involve sub-categorisation of 5,000 castes in central OBC list.
The President may by order appoint a Commission:
- to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within the territory of India and the difficulties under which they labour.
- to make recommendations as to the steps that should be taken by the Union or any State to remove such difficulties and to improve their condition.
- to recommend the grants that should be made for the purpose by the Union or any State.
- The Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney and others vs. Union of India observed that there is no Constitutional or legal bar to a State categorizing backward classes as backward or more backward and had further observed that if a State chooses to do it (sub-categorization), it is not impermissible in law.
- Nine States of the country viz., Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Puducherry, Karnataka, Haryana, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have already carried out sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes.
Tele law initiative
- It is an online portal to provide legal aid services to the marginalized communities and citizens living in rural areas through the Common Service Centres (CSC) at the panchayat level, spread across the country.
- The Ministry of Law and Justice has launched the ‘Tele-Law’ initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
- Tele Law initiative would help people to seek legal advice from lawyers with the help of video conferencing facility available at the Common Service Centers.
- Apart from the lawyers, law school clinics, District Legal Service Authorities, voluntary service providers and Non-Government Organisations working on legal aid and empowerment can also be connected through the CSCs.
- Under the initiative, a Para Legal Volunteer (PLV), would be employed in each CSC. The volunteer would serve as the first point of contact for the marginalized communities in the rural areas who will help them understand the legal issues, explain the advice given by lawyers and assist in further action as per the advice of the lawyer.
- The Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pension has launched a new training programme Comprehensive Online Modified Modules on Induction Training (COMMIT) for State Government officials.
- It has been developed by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) in collaboration with United Nations Development Program(UNDP).
- It will supplement the existing 12-Day Induction Training Program(ITP) launched in 2014-15 for newly recruited state Government officials to develop in them Generic and Domain specific competencies.
- The COMMIT program has been designed in such a way that it allows to translate the content in local/regional languages.
- It will be implemented through State Administrative Training Institutes (ATIs).
- Objective of COMMIT program is to improve the public service delivery mechanism and provide citizen centric administration through capacity building of officials who interact with the citizens on day-to-day basis.
Government e Market (GeM) Place
Why in news?
- Recently 5 States and a Union Territory (UT) formally adopted the Centre’s initiative called the Government e-Marketplace (GeM).
What is GeM?
- The Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D) has developed the GeM.
- It is a completely end to end procurement system for purchase of goods and services of common use by the government buyers.
- GeM aims to ensure that public procurement of goods and services in India worth more than Rs. 5 lakh crore annually is carried out through the online platform.
- It promotes transparency eliminates corruption.
- A call centre for GeM has also been set up to help both buyers and sellers in conducting their transactions on GeM.
What are the impacts?
- GeM relieves public offices from tedious and time consuming tendering process and thus cuts down on administrative and transaction costs.
- It will help in online registration of suppliers and government buyers using self certification and authentication through Aadhar, PAN, MCA21 and Biometric Attendance System.
- It will also facilitate seamless process flow and standardised specifications with complete audit trail.
- All transactions in GeM are completely secure.
- It promotes the spirit of cooperative federalism.
National Power Portal
- It is a centralized system for Indian power sector, that facilitates online data capture and input (daily, monthly, annually) from generation, transmission and distribution utilities in the country.
- It was conceptualized, designed and developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC).
- The nodal agency for implementation of NPP and its operational control is the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
- NPP will disseminate Power Sector Information i.e consumption, supply, demand, capacity, operation through various analyzed graphs, statistics and reports for generation, transmission and distribution at all India level, state level, regional level for the central, state and private sector.
- The NPP Dashboard will act as single point interface for all Power Sector applications like Merit Order Despatch of Electricity for Rejuvenation of Income and Transparency (MERIT), VIDYUT PRAVAH, Urban Jyoti Abhiyaan (URJA), GARV, Unnat Jyoti by Affordable Lighting for All (UJALA) and Transmission App for Real Time Monitoring & Growth (TARANG) launched earlier by the Ministry of Power.
- Stakeholders: Ministry of Power, Rural Electrification Comission (REC) for Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, PFC for Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), Central Electricity Authority (CEA), other power sector utilities in the government sector, private sector and other government organizations.
Urja Ganga Project
- It is an ambitious gas pipeline project which aims to provide piped cooking (PNG) gas to residents of the eastern region of the country and CNG gas for the vehicles.
- The project is being implemented by state-run gas utility GAIL.
- It envisages laying a 2,050-km pipeline connecting Jagdishpur (UP) to Haldia (West Bengal) by 2018.
- The project is considered as a major step towards collective growth and development of the Eastern region of India.
- Under it, overall 20 lakh households will get PNG connections.
- It will also help in building environment friendly economy in eastern India.
- It will reduce the instances of respiratory an eye diseases caused by smoke from firewood while using it as cooking fuel.
Why in news?
State-owned GAIL plans to extend the ambitious Urja Ganga natural gas pipeline project to Guwahati to connect the north-eastern region with grid
Why in News?
A new credit rating system has been adopted by the government for inviting private investment.
- Government launched various urban development schemes like AMRUT, Smart Cities Mission, HRIDAY, Urban Transport, etc.
- These schemes fund only a fraction of the required investment and cities are tasked with finding other ways to bridge the funding gap.
- Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been the preferred route for infrastructure creation in India.
- PPPs have not worked as well as they were expected to, owing to the poor rate of return for the private sector and other inefficiencies.
Recommendations for Financing ULBs (Urban Local Bodies)
- Formulation of VCF( value capture financing) policy, tools and rules at State level.
- Harness full potential of Municipal bonds. This can be done by ranking municipal bodies on basis of their financial status.
- Enactment of Land Titling Laws and their implementation in a specific time frame.
- Professionalisation of Municipal Cadre, i.e. establishing cadre with assessment of requirements, formulation of Recruitment Rules.
- Rationalise the user charges for the provision of public services like water supply.
- Increase the minimum cap for the professional tax.
- Rationalise the property tax whose potential has not yet been harnessed completely.
About value capture financing
- It is based on the principle that Government makes large investments in developing public infrastructure in an area, which leads to rapid economic development there, increasing the prices of the land.
- This value created by government investment helps government make use of this increment through additional taxes.
- The funds would then be used for future infrastructure projects in the same area.
- Thus value is created by public financing followed by capturing it and using it for financing the other infrastructure projects.
Case for larger benches
- In the early years, all 8 judges including chief justice sat together to hear the cases.
- With the increase in workload, Parliament increased the number of judges gradually from 8 in 1950 to the present 31 and the constitution of benches also changed and they sat in smaller benches of two and three to dispose of backlogs.
- In the 1960s, Supreme Court heard about 100 five-judge or larger benches a year. By the first decade of the 2000s, the court averaged only about 10 constitution benches a year.
- Thus, various important cases are being heard by smaller benches such as RTE act case was decided by three judges, Naz Foundation case by just two judges etc.
- However, focusing more judges on constitution benches also comes with a concern that it could come at the cost of less access to the court for other matters.
Reason for demands for larger benches:
- Article 145(3) of constitution: states that any “substantial question of law” relating to the interpretation of the Constitution must be heard by benches of at least five judges.
- More judges mean that there will be more points of view, greater reflection and more thorough analysis in vital cases. It will also add to legitimacy thus, minimizing coming up of same issue frequently.
- It is more difficult to overturn a five-judge bench than a two- or three-judge bench, meaning the public canhave more confidence in the stability of the law
Why in news?
- Narayan Lavate (88) and Iravati Lavate (78), an elderly couple from Maharashtra seeks Presidential nod for ‘active euthanasia’. They say that they do not wish to be a burden on society in their old age.
What is Euthanasia?
Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering. It is of two types.
- Passive euthanasia means withdrawing life support to induce death in a natural way.
- Active euthanasia means injecting legal drugs to induce death. It is more controversial.
Current legal status:
- The path-breaking judgment in Aruna Shanbaug vs. Union of India (2011) brought the issue of euthanasia into the public domain. Aruna Shanbaug was in a vegetative state since 1973 after she was sexually assaulted in the hospital premises.
- The 2011 judgment helped to push the debate to the extent of permitting passive euthanasia for terminally ill patients under the strict supervision of the High Court, in consultation with a team of doctors treating the terminally ill patient.
- So, only Passive euthansia is allowed under some circumstances while Active euthanasia is not permitted.
Aruguments in favour of Active Euthanasia:
- The right to life U/A 21 includes the right to live with dignity. When you are in pain, that dignity is lost and you are forced to rely on your kith and kin for support.
- In the case of terminally ill patients, the expensive health is economic burden on the family.
- Everyone should be given Right to Choose.
Argument against Passive Euthanasia:
- The probability of its misuse — whether it is demanded for property, money, or because of animosity among family members — is very high.
- Euthanasia is a rejection of the importance and value of human life.
- Euthanasia can become a means of health care cost containment.
- Euthanasia for those who are terminally ill and in vegetative state can be debated. But euthanasia for those who are mentally alert, though physically disabled, is a big no.
- Further, legislation must be introduced for laying down the procedure for Passive euthanasia.
National Rural Drinking water Programme
Why in news?
- The Union Cabinet approved continuation and restructuring of National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP).
- The programme will cover all the Rural Population across the country.
- Its focus will be on piped water supply, increase level of service delivery, thrust on coverage of water quality affected habitations, coverage of Open Defecation Free (ODF) declared villages, ýIntegrated Action Plan (IAP) districts, ýBorder Out Posts (BOP) with piped water supply and ýInstitutional set up for proper O&M of water supply assets etc.
- The restructuring will make programme flexible, result-oriented, competitive, and will enable the Ministry towards to reach the goal of increasing coverage of sustainable Piped Water Supply.
- National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) was launched under Bharat Nirman.
- It was launched in 2009.
- Objective: ensuring provision of safe and adequate drinking water supply through hand-pumps, piped water supply etc. to all rural areas, households and persons.
- This programme was launched after merging the three erstwhile programmes on Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme-ARWSP; Swajaldhara and National Rural Water Quality Monitoring & Surveillance.
India ranks third in global index of countries with most confidence in their government: OCED Report
- First and second position are held by Indonesia and Switzerland respectively.
About Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
- OCED is an international economic organisation of 34 countries to stimulate economic progress and world trade
- Founded in 1961.
- It defines itself as a forum of countries committed to democracy and the market economy.
- It provides common platform for members to compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practices etc.
- Most OECD members are regarded as developed countries i.e. high-income economies with very high Human Development Index (HDI).
- Its headquarter is in Paris, France.