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Indian polity Current affairs 2022


Following the current events and news in the area of Indian polity is very important for the general studies paper in the UPSC exam. In recent times questions are set on only those topics that have made news. Regular study of Indian polity from NCERT books or otherwise is no longer required. The idea is to follow the current affairs news related to Indian polity and understand the Indian polity behind those issues. This is true for all levels of teh IAS exam - prelims, mains and also the interview.

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Indian Polity Current Affairs - October 2022

Live Streaming of Courts Proceedings: As per the decision of the full court meeting of the top court all proceedings of Supreme Court Constitution Benches will be live-streamed from September 27 onward.

Key Points:

  • Bar and Bench has reported that the decision was taken at meeting of the full court, convened by Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit which was held on September 20, 2022.
  • A full court meeting is attended by all judges of the court.
  • Senior Advocate Indira Jaising had written to the judges of the court earlier this month seeking live streaming of proceedings in matters of public and constitutional importance.

Background:

  • History was made on August 26 (2022), when the Supreme Court live-streamed its proceedings for the first time.
  • Back in the ‘Swapnil Tripathi’ judgment, in September 2018, the Supreme Court had ruled that live telecast of court proceedings was part of the right to access justice under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Several of the country’s High Courts have already live-streamed their proceedings through their YouTube channels. For instance -
  • Gujarat High Court began live streaming its proceedings in July 2021.
  • Currently, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, and Patna High Courts live stream their proceedings.
  • It is speculated that the Allahabad High Court is thinking of doing the same.

Immediate Factors for live streaming:

  • They had consented to hear a public interest litigation that sought live streaming of court cases with issues of constitutional and general concern.
  • Among the most important factors are:
  1. Improving physical access to courts for litigants who have to otherwise travel long distances.
  2. De-congestion of courts.

Recommended by A-G:

The Apex Court approved a set of guidelines suggested by the A-G, which included archiving the hearings and allowing transcripts.

However, the A-G suggested that the court must retain the power to withhold broadcasting, and to also NOT permit it in cases involving:

  • Matters of National security,
  • Matters where publicity would be antithetical to the administration of justice, and
  • Cases which may provoke sentiments and arouse passion and provoke enmity among communities.
  • Matrimonial matters,
  • Matters involving interests of juveniles or the protection and safety of the private life of the young offenders,
  • To protect confidential or sensitive information, including all matters relating to sexual assault and rape,
  • To ensure that victims, witnesses or defendants can depose truthfully and without any fear.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960: Recently a doctor from Jodhpur, Rajasthan faced charges under Section 428 (mischief by killing or maiming animal) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 11 (treating animals cruelly) of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960.

  • He had allegedly tied a dog to his car and dragged it across the city.

About PCA Act, 1960:

  • The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, defines cruelty to animals including acts of overburdening or overworking it, not providing the animal food, water and shelter, mutilating or killing an animal, etc.
  • It enshrines the provisions relating to the establishment of an animal welfare board, its constitution, powers, and functions.
  • The act provides the guidelines relating to experimentation on animals for scientific purposes.
  • It enshrines the provisions relating to the exhibition of the performing animals, and offences committed against the performing animals.

Animals are protected under Sections 428 and 429 of the IPC. These provisions make killing, poisoning, maiming or rendering useless any animal, a punishable offence.

Penalty:

  • It provides for punishment for causing unnecessary cruelty and suffering to animals.
  • If convicted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 and found to be a first-time offender, he can be punished with a fine of Rs 10 to Rs 50.
  • If it is found that this is not his first such crime within the past three years, the maximum punishment would be a fine between Rs 25 and Rs 100, a jail term of three months, or both.

Criticism:

  • The Act has been criticised for being ‘speciesist’ (the assumption that humans are a superior species deserving more rights), for its quantum of punishment being negligible, for not defining ‘cruelty’ adequately, and for slapping a flat punishment without any gradation of crimes.

The Animal Welfare Board of India had suggested amendments to the PCA Act by increasing the amount of fine to 10,000 rupees and a minimum of three years imprisonment.

In 2014 (Animal Welfare Board of India v. Nagaraja and Others) the Supreme Court had also recommended an overhaul of the penalties and punishments in the PCA Act, 1960 to effectively control the incidences of cruelty.

Indian Polity Current Affairs - September 2022

Assam Tribal Tripartite Peace Agreement: A tripartite peace agreement was recently signed between Centre, Assam Government and eight tribal groups of Assam in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi.

Key Points:

  • The agreement was signed to end decade old crisis of tribal groups and tea garden workers in Assam.
  • The agreement was signed between Assam’s Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Home Minister Amit Shah on September 15, 2022.
  • The tribal groups which have signed the agreement include, Birsa Commando Force, Adivasi People's Army, All Adivasi National Liberation Army, Adivasi Cobra Military of Assam and Santhal Tiger Force.
  • Since 2016, they have been in a ceasefire with the government of India.
  • The agreement will prove to be another milestone in the direction of making North East region extremism free by 2025 as per the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of peaceful and prosperous North East.

About the constituents of the agreement:

  • The agreement states that it is the responsibility of the Government of India (GoI) and Assamese governments to meet the economic, political, and educational goals of the Adivasi people.
  • Provisions have been made to protect and strengthen the cultural, social, ethnic, and linguistic identity of Adivasi groups in the agreement.
  • The agreement also calls for the creation of an Adivasi Welfare and Development Council in order to ensure the swift and targeted development of Tea Gardens.
  • It also outlines measures for the welfare of Tea Garden employees as well as the resettlement and rehabilitation of armed cadres.
  • A special development package of Rs. 1,000 crore (Rs. 500 crore each by the Government of India and the Assam Government) will be distributed over a five-year period for infrastructure development in villages/areas with an Adivasi population.

Peace Agreements:

Several agreements have been signed to ensure peace and development in the North Eastern region in the last three years. These agreements are -

  • NLFT agreement in 2019,
  • BRU-REANG and Bodo accord in 2020,
  • Karbi Anglong agreement in 2021 and
  • Assam-Meghalaya inter-state boundary agreement in 2022.

These agreements have resolved around 65% of border disputes.

Inclusion of Tribes to ST List: The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shree Narendra Modi recently approved the inclusion of several tribes in the Schedule Tribe (ST) category across 5 states.

Key facts:

  • The five states include Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh (HP), Tamil Nadu (TN), Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh (UP).
  • They have been included as a part of the Constitution (Schedule Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill 2022.
  • After this decision, the number of STs in the country has increased from 705 to 720.

Tribes to be included in the ST category list:

Himachal Pradesh:

  • The Hattee Community living in the Trans-Giri region in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh.
  • The Cabinet approval follows the Registrar General of India’s nod to the proposal for grant of ST status to the Hattee community after rejecting earlier proposals in 1995, 2006 and 2017.
  • Since 1967, when residents of the Sirmaur district's bordering Jaunsar Bawar area in Uttarakhand received the status, this group has been demandingthe ST status.
  • This community is named based on its traditional occupation of selling home-grown crops,vegetables,  meat and wool at small-town markets called haats.

Tamil Nadu:

  • In Tamil Nadu, the Narikoravan and Kuruvikkaran communities have been included in the list of STs for the state through the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to amend the Constitution (Schedule Tribes) Order, 1950.
  • The demand of the two communities for inclusion in the list dates back to 1965.
  • They were earlier recognized as the Most Backward Community.
  • This community is mostly involved in traditional occupation of hunter-gathering and selling of bead necklaces.

Chhattisgarh:

  • Chhattisgarh’s 12 caste communities were included in the Scheduled Tribes.
  • Binjhia were listed as ST in Jharkhand and Odisha but not in Chhattisgarh.
  • The Cabinet approved synonyms of Bhariyabhumiya for tribes like:
  • Bharia (variations added include Bhumia and Bhuyian),
  • Gadhwa (Gadwa),
  • Dhanwar (Dhanawar, Dhanuwar),
  • Nagesia (Nagasia, Kisan), and
  • Pondh (Pond), among others.

Karnataka:

  • The Union Cabinet has included the Betta-Kuruba community as synonym of “Kadu Kuruba” in the ST list.
  • Betta-Kuruba tribe in Karnataka’s Chamarajnagar, Kodagu and Mysuru districts have been demanding ST status for the past 3 decades but have not been granted because of spelling errors and similar sounding names.

Uttar Pradesh:

  • The Cabinet approved a proposal to bring the Gond community residing in 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh, under the ST list from the Scheduled Caste list.
  • This includes the five subcategories of the Gond community (Dhuria, Nayak, Ojha, Pathari, and Rajgond).
  • The changes were approved for four districts in UP - Kushinagar, Sant Ravidas Nagar (renamed Bhadohi in 2015), Chandauli and Sant Kabir Nagar.

Benefits:

  • After the Bills becomes Acts, the newly listed communities in the ST list will be able to derive benefits under the existing government schemes for the STs in the country.

The major schemes for the STs include

  1. Post-matric scholarships,
  2. National overseas scholarships,
  3. National fellowships,
  4. Top class education,
  5. Concessional loans from the National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation
  6. Hostels for students
  • Members of these communities would also benefit from reservations in services and admissions in educational institutions.

Key Additional Info:

Ministry of Tribal Affairs:

  • Government of India (GoI) set up Ministry of Tribal Affairs in 1999 after the bifurcation of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • As in the case of the Scheduled Castes, the Plan objective of empowering the tribals is being achieved through a three-pronged strategy of: Social empowerment, Economic empowerment & Social justice

Criteria for inclusion in ST List:

  • The criteria presently followed for specification of a community as a Scheduled Tribe are:
  • indications of primitive traits; distinctive culture; geographical isolation; shyness of contact with the community at large; and backwardness.
  • However, these criteria are not spelt out in the Constitution.

The process for including tribes in the ST list:

  • The process for including tribes in the ST list starts with the following -
  • The recommendation from the respective State governments.
  • The recommendation is sent to Tribal Affairs Ministry for reviewing it.
  • Then the Tribal Affairs Ministry sends them to the Registrar General of India (RGI) for approval.
  • This is followed by the Naional Commission for Scheduled Tribes' (NCST) approval,
  • When approved the list is sent to the Cabinet for final decision.

Scheduled Tribes in India:

  • According to the 2011 census, the Scheduled Tribe population in the country is 10.43 crore, which is 8.6% of the total population of the country.
  • No community has been specified as Scheduled Tribe in the State of Haryana and Punjab and UTs of Chandigarh, Delhi and Puducherry.

BLO e-Patrika: The Election Commission of India (ECI) recently released a new digital publication named ‘BLO e-Patrika’.

(BLO stands for Booth Level Officer)

Key Highlights:

  • It was released at an interactive session held with BLOs spread across the States in India.
  • This event was a first-of-its-kind direct interaction by the Commission with the BLOs across the country.
  • 50 BLOs from the adjacent states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi participated physically in the event at the India Habitat Center in New Delhi while more than 350 BLOs from the office of Chief Electoral Officers attended the conference (CEO) through video conferencing.

Key Points:

  • BLOs are the direct link of the Commission with the people.
  • They are the primary source of information for every voter across the length and breadth of the country.
  • BLO E-Patrika has been introduced with an intent to ensure a cascading information model for a better informed and motivated Booth Level Officer.
  • The themes of the bimonthly e-Patrika will include subjects like EVM-VVPAT training, IT applications, Special Summary Revision, Minimum SVEEP Activities at polling booths, Postal Ballot facility, accessible elections, Electoral Literacy Clubs, unique voter awareness initiatives and National Voters’ Day.

Rajpath Renamed Kartavy Path: The Government of India (GoI) is all set to rename the iconic Rajpath which streches from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate and and Central Vista Lawns in New Delhi as Kartavya Path (the Path of Duty).

Key Points:

  • New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) approved a proposal to rename the street in a special meeting on 7th September 2022 passed the resolution for to rename the historic street.
  • A public notice issued by NDMC stated "In exercise of the powers conferred under clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 231 of NDMC Act, the chairperson, with the sanction of the council, has approved therenaming of the exiting Rajpath and Central Vista lawns as Kartavya Path."

What is the purpose of renaming the street?

  • The renaming of 'Rajpath, which means 'Kingsway' in English to ‘Kartavya Path’ is in line with PM Modi’s thrust on shedding names and symbols reminiscent of the British era and the last vestiges of colonialism.
  • Called Kingsway during British rule, it was built as a ceremonial boulevard by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, the architects of New Delhi, in around 1920.
  • When built the road was named King’s Way, or Kingsway, in honour of the Emperor of India George V, who had visited Delhi during the Durbar of 1911, and where the Emperor formally proclaimed the decision to move the capital.
  • The name was similar to Kingsway in London, which had been opened in 1905, and which was also a custom-built arterial road, and which had been named in honour of George V’s father, Edward VII (as King of the United Kingdom).
  • Following the independence of India, the road was given its Hindi name of ‘Rajpath’ in place of its English designation.
  • The Queens Way was renamed as Janpath while Kingsway was only translated into Hindi as Rajpath.

Background:

  • On August 15, 2022, Prime Minister Modi stressed the importance of getting rid of names and symbols that come from the colonial mindset when addressing the nation from the Red Fort ramparts on India's 75th Independence Day, Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
  • These steps are in line with Prime Minister’s second ‘Panch Pran’ for New India in Amrit Kaal: ‘remove any trace of colonial mindset.
  • The renaming of Rajpath also comes in the wake of proposals to rename 40 villages and localities in Delhi which have foreign or 'Mughal' sounding names.

About Kartvya Path:

  • The Kartavya Path, which translates to "Boulevard of Duty," stretches from Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s House) on Raisina Hill, through Vijay Chowk to India Gate.
  • It stretches westward from the National Stadium through the War Memorial arch (India Gate), to the Central Secretariat buildings.
  • This iconic road is also flanked by the north and south blocks, also called as the Secretariat buildings, on either side with the north block that homes the offices of the Home and Finance Ministers and the south block that homes the offices of the Defence and External Affairs Ministers.
  • It also houses numerous offices of the Prime Minister seen in the Secretariat Building.
  • Considered to be one of the most important roads in India, the annual Republic Day parade takes place here on 26 January.
  • The British built Rasthtrapati Bhavan, to house the head of their government in India, such as Lord Mountbatten which currently houses the President of the country.
  • The British made India Gate in memory of the soldiers from WW1 and II.
  • The Rajpath connects these famous architectural marvels, and the gardens, fountains.It crosses through Janpath (meaning "People's Way") Road that leads to Connaught Place in central Delhi and at Vijay Chowk it crosses Sansad Marg or Road flanked with the Parliament House on its right-hand side.
  • Vijay Chowk is also famous for hosting the special ceremony named ‘Beating Retreat’ organised every year on 29th January by the Defence personnel that is attended by the President of India and the Head of all States.
  • It is also used for the funeral processions of key political leaders of India.

Significant Name Changes in New Delhi:

  • Renaming of cities as an official exercise was first undertaken after 1947 when there was a concerted push to rename Anglicised and English colonial names of cities.

Here are five of the significant name changes in Delhi since 2014:

Aurangzeb Road (2015):

  • The elite street, named after Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, was changed in 2015 to APJ Abdul Kalam Road after the death of the latter in 2015.

Race Course Road (2016):

  • Nearly 36 years after its construction, the Race Course Road which is home to some of the most powerful personalities in India was renamed as Lok Kalyan Marg in September 2016 by the NDMC.

Dalhousie Road (2017):

  • After first proposing to rename Dalhousie Road in 2014, the NDMC implemented the change in 2017.
  • The name of the street was changed to Darah Sikoh Road as a tribute to Dara Sikoh, the son of Mughal ruler Shah Jahan.

Teen Murti Chowk (2018):

  • The roundabout around the historic war memorial in Central Delhi, which was formerly known as Teen Murti Chowk, was renamed Teen Murti Haifa Chowk in 2018 to mark 100 years of the historic Battle of Haifa in Israel.
  • By defeating Ottoman Empire forces as well as their German allies, Indian soldiers fighting under the British Army had played an important role in the decisive victory of Israel at the time.
  • The move by the Centre was intended as a symbolic tribute to the friendship between India and Israel and also a sign of growing camaraderie between the two nations under PM Modi.

Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium (2019):

  • In 2019, the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) renamed Feroz Shah Kotla Cricket Stadium as Arun Jaitley stadium as a tribute to the former Union Minister's contribution to cricket in India.
  • A stand inside the stadium was named after Indian skipper and former national captain Virat Kohli.

Karthavya Path: Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the redeveloped two-kilometre stretch from India Gate to Rashtrapati Bhavan that was renamed Kartavya Path.

Key Highlights:

  • PM Modi also unveiled a statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose under the canopy at India Gate that during British rule had a statue of King George V.
  • The statue of Netaji replaces his hologram statue that was placed earlier on his 125th birth anniversary on 23rs January 2022.
  • The grand canopy was built by Edwin Lutyens and added to the India Gate Complex in 1936 as a tribute t the then recently deceased Emperor of India, The King George V.
  • It housed his 50-foot marble statue.
  • But after widespread opposition after independence the statue of King George was moved to Coronation Park by the River Yamuna in North Delhi in 1968.
  • Modi said that “Kingsway, that is, Rajpath, the symbol of slavery, has become a matter of history from today and has been erased forever.
  • Today, a new history has been created in the form of Kartavya Path”
  • The iconic stretch had been closed to the public since January 2021 for redevelopment works as part of the larger Central Vista revamp.
  • The ₹477-crore project is the first of the Central Vista works to be completed and opened to the public.

EWS Quota: A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit recenlty finalised three cardinal issues for examining whether the 103rd Constitutional Amendment which provides 10% quota to economically weaker sections (EWS) of society in government jobs and educational institutions, violates the Basic Structure of the Constitution.

The bench includes Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, S.Ravindra Bhat, Bela Trivedi and J.B. Pardiwala.

The three questions are:

  1. Whether the amendment breaches the Basic Structure by permitting the state to make special provisions, including reservation, based on economic criteria.
  2. Whether it violates the Basic Structure by allowing the state to make special provisions in relation to admissions to private unaided institutions.
  3. Whether the Basic Structure is trampled upon by the constitutional amendment by excluding Socially Economic Backward Caste (SEBC), Other Backward Class (OBC), Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities from the scope of the EWS quota.

Chief Justice Lalit said the three questions of law formulate by attorney-general K.K.Venugopal would form the foundation of the court’s examination and lawyers could expand on them while arguing.

Background:

  • Economic reservation was introduced in the Constitution by amending Articles 15 and 16 and adding clauses empowering the State governments in the country to provide reservation on the basis of economic backwardness.
  • The challenge to the 103rd Constitutional Amendment was referred to a five-judge Bench in August 2020.
  • The three-judge Bench, which had referred the case to the larger Bench, had refused to stay the implementation of the amendment.

Landmark Judgement of Subramaniam Balaji Vs TN: The Supreme Court recently referred to a three-judge Bench a series of petitions seeking a judicial direction that political parties who make “wild” promises of largesse should also reveal in their poll manifestos where they will get the money to pay for them.

Key Points:

  • The reference is a shift from the court’s own stand in the S. Subramaniam Balaji vs Tamil Nadu judgment of 2013.

What is the reason for Supreme Court’s decision to revisit the Balaji Verdict?

  • In the 2013 Balaji case judgment, the Apex court had held that making promises in election manifestos do not amount to a ‘corrupt practice’ under Section 123 of the Representation of People Act (RP).
  • But now, the Apex Court is worried that freebies promised by political parties to win elections could bleed the public exchequer dry.
  • The Courts’ recent stand is that parties who form the government riding the wave created by their pre-poll promises of free gifts are bleeding the State finances dry by actually trying to fulfil their outlandish promises using public money.
  • Therefore, the Supreme Court has decided to revisit the Balaji verdict.

What triggered the Balaji case?

  • The course of events started in 2006, during the run-up to the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections.
  • A party announced in its election manifesto that if elected to power, it would provide free colour television sets (CTVs) to every family.
  • After winning a landslide victory in the elections, the party decided to put its plan into action and allotted 750 crore from the budget for the undertaking. 30,000 TVs were eventually distributed by the government throughout the State.
  • Then again in 2011, in order to "equalise" the presents provided, the opposing party likewise released its election platform with freebies.
  • It promised electric fans, laptop computers,grinders, mixies, four gram gold thalis, a cheque of ₹50,000 for women’s marriage, green houses, 20 kg of rice to ration card holders and free cattle and sheep.

The Balaji case:

  • Balaji, a resident of Tamil Nadu, challenged the schemes in the Madras High Court.
  • He stated that the expenditure to be incurred by the State from the exchequer was “unauthorised, impermissible and ultra vires the constitutional mandates”.

Mr. Balaji’s arguments:

  • He argued that the State cannot act in furtherance of “eccentric principles of socialistic philanthropy”.
  • He argued that the promises of free distribution of non-essential commodities in an election manifesto amounts to electoral bribe under Section 123 of the RP Act.
  • Money can be taken out of the Consolidated Fund of the State only for “public purposes”.
  • The distribution of goods to certain sections of people was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

The State of Tamil Nadu’s arguments:

  • In response, the State of Tamil Nadu countered that promises of political parties do not constitute corrupt practice.
  • Political parties are not the State and ‘freebies’ is a nebulous term which has no legal status.
  • The promises implemented by the party after forming the government are an obligation under the Directives Principles of State Policy.
  • The State is only doing its duty to promote the welfare of its people.
  • The promises are implemented by framing various schemes/guidelines/eligibility criteria etc. as well as with the approval of the legislature.
  • Thus, it cannot be construed as a waste of public money or be prohibited by any statute or scheme.

Outcome of the Judgement

  • The High Court dismissed his case, following which he had moved the apex court.

Scope for revisiting the judgment:

  • However, the court agreed that freebies create an “uneven playing field”.
  • It had asked the Election Commission of India (ECI) to consult political parties and issue guidelines on the election manifesto and make it a part of the Model Code of Conduct.

HC's Judgement:

  • The court’s judgment held that promises by a political party cannot constitute a ‘corrupt practice’ on its part.
  • It would be “misleading” to generalize that all promises in the election manifesto would amount to corrupt practice.
  • The manifesto is a statement of the policy for a political party.
  • The question of implementing the manifesto arises only if the political party forms a government.
  • It is the promise of a future government and not of an individual candidate.

What is the significance of the Court’s move to review the Balaji judgment?

  • The Court, in its order, predicts that "freebies may create a situation wherein the State governments are forced toward impending bankruptcy and are unable to provide basic amenities due to a lack of funds."
  • The court stated that it wanted a transparent debate about whether a "enforceable" judicial order may prevent political parties from making and giving out "irrational freebies" before the three-judge Bench.
  • The case is unique as the Supreme Court is exploring whether judicial parameters can be set on a purely political act of promising freebies.

What are freebies?

  • The literal meaning of freebie is something that is given free of charge or cost.

How did freebies culture originate?

  • In India, this frequently occurs in around election time.
  • Freebies have been known to be provided to entice voters to cast their vote in a specific election.
  • They provide the recipient with only a small amount of personal gain and do nothing to improve public amenities.

Constitutional provision for the Supreme Court for reviewing its own judgements:

  • Under Article 137 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has the power to review any of its judgments or orders.
  • The Court has the power to review its rulings to correct a “patent error” and not “minor mistakes of inconsequential import”.
  • A review is by no means an appeal in disguise.
  • That means the Court is allowed not to take fresh stock of the case but to correct grave errors that have resulted in the miscarriage of justice.

Bail Provisions for Women: The Supreme Court recently granted activist Teesta Setalvad interim bail in a case involving allegations of forgery and fabrication of records in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots cases.

Key Points:

  • A three-judge Special Bench led by Chief Justice of India UU Lalit heard an application for protection filed by Teesta Setalvad in a Gujarat Riot case.
  • CJI Lalit, in its order on activist Teesta Setalvad on September 2, made an oral observation that under Section 437 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), a woman is entitled to favourable treatment.
  • He was referring to a provision that says being a woman is a possible ground for granting bail, even when otherwise it cannot be considered.

What does the bail provision say?

  • Section 437 of the CrPC deals with bail in case of non-bailable offences.
  • It says a person shall not be released on bail if there is reasonable ground to believe that he has committed an offence punishable with death or life imprisonment; or, if he has been previously been convicted for an offence punishable with death, life imprisonment, or for a term of seven years or more; or been convicted on two or more occasions on other offences with a term between three and seven years.
  • However, it also contains exceptions in a proviso that says the court may grant bail even in these cases, “if such person is under the age of 16 or is a woman or is sick or infirm”.

Other provisions favourable to women accused:

  • There are several provisions in criminal law that give special consideration to women, of any age, when they are victims of offences, including sexual offences, in the way they are treated as witnesses and victims of crimes.
  • There are also some provisions relating to women when they are made an accused, and arrested.
  • For instance, when a police officer requires the attendance of any person who he believes is acquainted with a case under investigation, the person has to appear before the officer (Section 160).
  • However, no woman shall be required to do so at any place other than the place in which she resides.

What does the CrPC say on the arrest of a woman?

  • A police officer may arrest a person who has committed a cognisable offence without a judicial order or a warrant (Section 41).
  • If the person does not submit to custody based on the word or action of the police, Section 46 enables the police officer to confine the person physically to effect the arrest.
  • In 2009, a proviso was introduced in the CrPC to the effect that where a woman is to be arrested, only a female police officer may touch the woman’s person, unless circumstances otherwise require.
  • Through a 2005 amendment, a subsection was added to Section 46 to prohibit the arrest of a woman after sunset or before sunrise.
  • In exceptional circumstances, a woman police officer can obtain the prior permission of a judicial magistrate to make the arrest.

What does it say on women who don’t appear in public?

  • The police may seek entry into any premises where they suspect that a person who is required to be arrested is present.
  • In a situation where any such place is an apartment in the occupancy of a female (who is not the person to be arrested) and if the woman is one who, by custom, does not appear in public, the police have to give notice to her so that she may withdraw before they enter it.
  • It adds that they shall afford her every reasonable facility for withdrawing before they break open and enter the place.
  • In yet another exception, a woman who intends to file a defamation case, but is one who does not appear in public according to custom, can ask someone else to file the complaint on her behalf.

Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958: The Central Government recently amended the Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958.

  • The government has amended the original Supreme Court Judges Rules of 1959 in exercise of powers conferred on it under the Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958.

Key Points:

  • The Department of Justice in the Law Ministry notified the amended 'Supreme Court Judges Rules’ under the banner of Supreme Court Judges (Amendment) Rules, 2022.
  • The amendments extend various benefits to the retired judges for a period of one year after they demit office.

New Benefits for SC Judges:

Rent-free Accommodation:

  • Chief Justices of India (CJIs) retiring from the Supreme Court will be entitled to rent-free Type-Type VII accommodation in Delhi other than the designated official residence  for a period of six months from the date of retirement.

Note: Type VII accommodation is usually provided to sitting MPs who have been former Union ministers.

  • The accommodation provided to retired CJI would be different from the official residence of a sitting Chief Justice.
  • Prior to the amendment, SC Judges, including CJI was allowed to retain their official accommodation only for a period of 1 month.

Chauffeur and Assistant:

  • Retired Judges of the Supreme Court are entitled to chauffeur facility and secretarial assistant for a period of 1 year from their retirement date.
  • The chauffeur with full pay and allowances admissible to regular employees will be drawn from the establishment of the apex court or the high court.
  • The secretarial assistant being provided to the judges will be of the level of the Branch Officer in the Supreme Court.

Round the Clock Security:

  • They will also be entitled to security cover round the clock at their residence in addition to round the clock personal security guard at their residence, for a period of one year from the date of their superannuation.
  • Earlier, a retired Chief Justice of India was entitled to round-the-clock security for a lifetime.

Access to Ceremonial Lounges:

Apart from the above, another benefit which has been included is that a retired chief justice or a retired judge (of the apex court) shall be entitled to the protocol to extend courtesies at ceremonial lounges at airports.

Reason for revising the Supreme Court Judges’ Rules:

  • The Apex court of India had reached out to the Department of Justice seeking additional benefits for the judges who retire after serving the apex court.
  • The sanctioned strength of the Supreme Court is 34 judges and on an average three retire annually, a functionary pointed out.
  • Sources have pointed out that some of these issues had come up during the recent Chief Ministers-Chief Justices Conference.
  • Judges flagged several issues with many of them related to post-retirement benefits for them.
  • The request to amend Supreme Court Judges Rules was formally expedited after Justice N.V. Ramana took it up with the ministry upon assuming charge as Chief Justice of India (CJI) in April 2021.
  • The amendment to the law comes merely 3 days before Chief Justice Ramana demits office on 26th August 2022.

Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, who demits office on Friday, will be one of the first to avail the new post-retirement facility.

Section 9(A) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951: Hemant Soren's future as  Jharkhand Chief Minister  is in doubt since the governor is likely to disqualify him from serving in the legislative assembly.

Highlights:

  • The Governor of Jharkhand Ramesh Bias may decide on Election Commission's view on “disqualification” of Chief Minister Hemant Soren as an MLA, amid the rapidly changing political scenario in the state.
  • According to reports, the Indian Election Commission (ECI) informed the Governor that the Chief Minister needed to be "disqualified" since he had broken multiple electoral laws.
  • ECI found Hemant Soren to be in violation of the office of profit in its findings.
  • The Jharkhand CM violated Section 9A of the 1951 People's Representative Act
  • Regarding this matter, Hemant Soren has the option of going to Ranchi High Court or filing a petition in the Supreme Court.
  • Once an appeal is filed in a court, it will give Soren a breather and he will be able to continue till the verdict comes. 
  • However, looking at past precedents, courts don't usually pass stay orders on disqualification by ECI.

About the matter:

  • The case against him stems from a mining lease that he issued to himself in 2021 while serving as the minister of mines.
  • On February 11, 2022, the BJP had complained to the Governor on February 11, 2022, that this act was in violation of Section 9(A) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • On August 25, the ECI wrote to the Governor that Mr. Soren could be disqualified under Section 9(A).
  • The awarding of a mining lease to himself was a brazen act of self-service, misuse of office and breach of people’s trust.
  • Soren has since surrendered the mining lease.

Section 9A in The Representation of the People Act, 1951:

  • Section 9A in The Representation of the People Act, 1951 deals with Disqualification for Government contracts, etc.
  • The clause states that "a person shall be disqualified if, and for so long as, there subsists a contract entered into by him in the course of his trade or business with the appropriate Government for the supply of goods to, or for the execution of any works undertaken by, that Government."

Article 192 of the Indian Constitution:

Under Article 192 of the Constitution, the rulings regarding an MLA's disqualification shall be referred to the Governor of the state, who in turn "shall obtain the opinion of the Election Commission and shall act according to such opinion".

Leaders Caught in Office of Profit Trap:

There are many cases of the Office of Profit in Indian political history.

Many people have been forced to resign for the same reason.

In 2006, two prominent leaders resigned after allegations of office of profit surfaced.

One was Jaya Bachchan and the other was Sonia Gandhi.

  • Jaya Bachchan was barred from joining the Rajya Sabha for holding an "office of profit."
  • While she was a Rajya Sabha MP, she also held the office of Chairperson of the UP Film Development Council, which triggered a political slugfest.
  • Sonia Gandhi resigned from her Lok Sabha membership in 2006. This was while the ECI was considering a petition against her.
  • It was alleged that Mrs. Gandhi, inspite of being a Lok Sabha MP, she was also the chairpersonship of the National Advisory Council (NAC).
  • Sonia Gandhi, on the other hand, had resigned from both positions (LS MP and Chairperson of NAC) prior to the ECI decision.

In 2018, the EC recommended disqualification of 20 AAP legislators for holding 'office of profit'.

 

Justice Uday Umesh Lalit: Justice Uday Umesh Lalit has been sworn-in as 49th Chief Justice of India.

  • As per protocol, Ramana recommended his successor’s name to the Ministry of Law and Justice through a communication on August 4, 2022.

Key Points:

  • President Draupadi Murmu will administer him oath as the 49th Chief Justice of India at Rashtrapati Bhawan.
  • He succeeds Justice NV Ramana who retired on 26th August 2022.
  • Justice UU Lalit will be in office for 74 days, a tenure shorter than average.
  • His retirement is scheduled for November 8.
  • He will also only be the second CJI to have been appointed directly from the Bar, without serving as a judge of a high court.
  • He was involved in some landmark judgements in past.
  • He will also handle some major cases in his tenure as Chief Justice.
  • In past, he was involved in the landmark judgement in the Triple Talaq case.
  • He studied at the Government Law College, Mumbai.
  • He specialised in criminal law.
  • He practised in the Bombay High Court till 1985 and moved to Delhi in 1986.

Key Info:

Who appoints the CJI?

  • The Chief Justice of India (CJI) is the chief justice of the Supreme Court of India as well as the highest-ranking officer of the Indian federal judiciary.
  • The CJI and the other judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President under clause (2) of Article 124 of the Indian Constitution.
  • It is mentioned in Article 124 that appointment by the President is to be done “after consultation” with judges of the Supreme Court, as the President may “deem necessary”.
  • Article 217, which deals with the appointment of High Court judges, says the President should consult the CJI, Governor, and Chief Justice of the High Court concerned.
  • Further, the tenure of a CJI is until they attain the age of 65 years, while High Court judges retire at 62 years.

Eligibility:

  • The person should be an Indian citizen.

The person must-

  1. have been for at least five years a Judge of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession or
  2. have been for at least ten years an advocate of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession, or
  3. be, in the opinion of the President, a distinguished jurist.

What is the system followed for recommending and appointing judges?

  • The appointment of judges is done using the more than 20-year-old collegium system, which consists of the five senior most Supreme Court and High Court judges.
  • The government gets a background inquiry done by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) at times from the names first suggested for appointment by the collegium.
  • While the government can also raise objections, usually the collegium’s will prevails.

Note: The term “collegium” is not mentioned in the constitution, which only speaks of consultation by the President.

Removal of CJIs:

  • Article 124(4) of Constitution of India lays down the procedure for removal of a judge of Supreme Court which is applicable to chief justices as well.

He can be removed only through a process of removal by Parliament as follows:

  • A Judge of the Supreme Court shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting has been presented to the President in the same session for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.

Indian Polity Current Affairs - August 2022

PM Modi's speech on 75th Independence Day: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 15th August 2022 addressed the nation on India’s 75th Independence Day from Red Fort, Delhi.

Key Highlights:

In his ninth consecutive speech from the ramparts of Red Fort, PM Modi outlined a roadmap for the next 25 years which will be India’s ‘Amrit Kaal’ and also set the goals that are to be achieved as country progresses towards its 100th years of Independence.

He urged all ‘130 Crore Indians’ to take 5 Pledges that will propel the country and serve as its guide map for the next 25 years.

key highlights from PM Modi's Independence Day Speech:

PM Modi spoke upon a range of topics from the Covid-19 pandemic, vaccines, Aatmanirbhar Bharat, welfare of small farmers, infrastructural development and India's Olympics performance

5 Panch Pran' (five resolves):

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that corruption and nepotism were two main challenges that are not confined to politics alone and asked people to have 'nafrat' (hatred) for these evils and focus on 'Panch Pran' (five resolves) to ensure a developed India in the next 25 years.
  • He called upon all 130 crore Indians, including chief ministers and other officials to help the country progress towards ‘Amirt Kaal’.
  • He proposed "Panch Pran" (five resolves) to fulfil freedom fighters' dreams for the country at India's independence centenary by 2047. The 5 Pledges Proposed by PM Modi include:
  1. Pledge to Aspire to Develop India
  2. Erase all traces of servitude or colonial mindset
  3. Take Pride in Country’s Legacy
  4. Make Unity our Strength
  5. Fulfil one’s duties towards the country.

Nari Shakti:

  • PM Modi paid tribute to women freedom fighters for showing the world the true meaning of India’s “nari shakti”.
  • He stressed the importance of gender equality and increasing female engagement in all spheres, saying that it is our responsibility as Indians to ensure that we do nothing to diminish the dignity of women.
  • He added that women's power, or nari shakti, will be a crucial pillar of India's unity, growth and progress as it moves forward in its Amrit Kaal.
  • He said the citizens are proud of the strength of the women of India like Rani Laxmibai, Jhalkari Bai, Rani Chennamma, Durga Bhabhi and Begum Hazrat Mahal. Indian women symbolize sacrifice and struggle.
  • Rani Laxmibai: The queen of the princely state of Jhansi, Rani Laxmibai is known for her role in the First War of India’s Independence in 1857.
  • Jhalkari Bai: A soldier in Rani Laxmibai’s women’s army, Durga Dal, she rose to become one of the queen’s most trusted advisers.
  • Durga Bhabhi: A member of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, she helped Bhagat Singh escape in disguise from Lahore after the 1928 killing of British police officer John P Saunders.
  • Rani Gaidinliu: Born in 1915 in present-day Manipur, Rani Gaidinliu was a Naga spiritual and political leader who fought the British. She joined the Heraka religious movement which later became a movement to drive out the British.

Jai Anusandhan:

  • As India moves closer towards the centenary of Independence, PM Modi made a strong pitch for innovation with the slogan 'Jai Anusandhan'
  • He referred to the phrase used by the late prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, noting that Atal Bihari Vajpayee added the phrase "Jai Vigyan" to it.
  • Modi proclaimed in his speech that there was one more requirement before Amrit Kaal Jai Anusandhan (hail innovation) i.e., "Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyan, Jai Anusandhan."

Viksit Bharat:

  • PM Modi set another goal of focusing on Viksit Bharat i.e., developed and Industrialized India.
  • He encouraged Indians to cleanse all traces of colonialism from the nation and from their hearts, as well as all signs of servitude (Ghulami).
  • To find a dynamic world order, he said that India needs to work towards a vikshit mansikta and find its own place in the dynamic world order.

Corruption and Nepotism:

  • He urged the citizens of India to weed out Corruption and Nepotism from the country.
  • He identified corruption and nepotism as two key issues which were holding the country back and needed to be dealt with very strictly if India is to progress.
  • On the issue of corruption, he assured Indian citizens that the administration was working to apprehend corrupt people who had pillaged India and return the loot back.
  • Regarding nepotism, he asked people to give opportunities to brilliant people who are willing, visionary, and passionate about working for the advancement of their nation.

Aatmanirbhar Bharat:

  • He said, as for the citizens of the country to become self-dependent or aatmanirbhar, Aatmanirbhar Bharat should be imbibed as a social agenda of the country rather than a government scheme.
  • He invited private sector to be an active participant in India’s journey towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat and called upon government agencies and private firms to join hands in the fields of organic farming, green jobs, and the space sector, where India could develop its strength backed by self-dependency and self-reliance.

Make in India:

  • PM Modi praised the armed forces for their dedication to "Make In India" and for demonstrating India's skill at producing top-notch weapons and ammunition.
  • He also lauded the indigenous howitzer gun, Brahmos missile, and Vande Bharat trains, all of which were unveiled at the Independence Day ceremony and have since gained recognition on the global market.

Duty of Youth:

  • PM Modi called upon youth of India, who are stepping into the threshold of their careers, to give next 25 years of their life to create a ‘Fully Independent India’ by 2047.
  • He said that the government is trying to ensure that young people in the nation receive all funding for research in all fields, from space to the ocean's depths for which the Deep Ocean Mission and Space Mission is being extended.
  • The depths of space and the ocean hold the key to our future.

India's techade:

  • PM Modi said that this decade of technology is India's techade and India will play a key role in the coming decade which will be a techade for humankind.

India an Aspirational Society:

  • The prime minister said that the aspirational society was the biggest asset of any country.
  • Indians are known for having an aspirational spirit, which represents the opportunities this nation's citizens have to develop and advance.
  • He further stated that while it is the responsibility of the government to promote the development and expansion of the nation, citizens must actively participate in this process by carrying out their obligations to India.

Independence Day 2022:

  • India celebrated its 76 Independence Day on 15th August 2022 to mark the country’s freedom from nearly two centuries of British colonial rule.
  • India celebrated its 76th Independence Day on August 15, 2022, and marked the end of its 75 years of freedom.

Independence Day 2022: India celebrated its 76 Independence Day on 15th August 2022 to mark the country’s freedom from nearly two centuries of British colonial rule.

India celebrated its 76th Independence Day on August 15, 2022, and marked the end of its 75 years of freedom.

Key Points:

  • It was celebrated with a fresh and pious theme, Nation First, Always First will be celebrated.
  • PM Modi addressed the nation from The Red Fort.
  • This is his ninth address as the prime minister.
  • To celebrate the 75 years of Independence the Government of India has started an initiative called “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”.

10 Points of Independence Day:

  • India celebrate Independence Day on 15th August of every year.
  • Independence Day in India is a national holiday.
  • It commemorates the nation’s struggle for freedom.
  • It reminds us of the sacrifices of the freedom fighters.
  • Every state and Union Territory celebrate it with much enthusiasm and enjoyment.
  • The President of India addresses the nation on the eve of Independence Day.
  • The Prime Minister of India unfurls the flag from ramparts of Red Fort followed by the National Anthem.
  • In states Chief Ministers unfurls the flag followed by parades and cultural processions.
  • It is one of the greatest festivals of democracy.
  • All TV channels broadcast patriotic songs and movies throughout the day.

History:

  • In the 17th century, European traders established their trade centres in the Indian subcontinent.
  • The Englishmen entered Surat and Gujarat in 1619 for trading purposes.
  • The Britishers made their control over India after the victory of the English East India Company at the Battle of Plassey in 1757.
  • They ruled over India for over 200 years starting from 1757.
  • It was marked by many movements as well as armed revolutions.
  • Legendary freedom fighters and leaders like Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Mahatma Gandhi and others sacrificed everything to see India as a free nation.
  • In addition to the revolts of these freedom fighters, World War II tipped the odds in our favour by causing significant damage to the British forces, leaving them unable to rule over India.
  • Lord Mountbatten was eventually given power by the British Parliament to transfer power by June 30, 1948.
  • However, observing the people’s impatience, Mountbatten realized that if he waited until June 1948, havoc will be created, which is why he advanced the process to August 1947.
  • Ultimately, on August 15, 1947, British rule in India completely came to an end.
  • The 1947 Indian Independence Act came into force which transferred the legislative sovereignty to the Indian Constituent Assembly.
  • On this historic day, India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru raised the tricolour for the first time at the Red Fort in Delhi.
  • Following that, it became a tradition, and now every year on Independence Day, the incumbent Prime Minister hoists the national flag at the heritage site.

Amazing Facts related to Independence Day:

  • The Indian tricolor flag with three stripes of red, yellow, and green was hoisted for the very first time on 7 August 1906 in Kolkata.
  • The present Indian Flag was designed by one of the freedom fighters Pingali Venkayya in 1921.
  • The current tricolor with three stripes of saffron, white and green with the Ashoka Chakra in the middle was officially adopted on 22 July 1947.
  • The song Bharta Bhagya Vidhata was composed in 1911 by Nobel Prize Winner Rabindranath Tagore.
  • This song was later renamed, Jana Gana Mana.
  • It was officially adopted by the constituent assembly on January 24th, 1950.
  • Goa was the last territory to join the Indian states. Even after the Independence Day, Goa was still a Portuguese colony and it was handed over to the Indian army in 1961.
  • Five other nations also share their Independence Day with India. They are Bahrain, North Korea, South Korea, the Republic of Congo, and Liechtenstein.

Parliamentary Board of BJP: Bharatiya Janata Party recently reconstituted the Party’s Parliamentary Board and the Central Election Committee (CEC).

Key Highlights:

  • Headed by the party’s national president JP Nadda, the board will have Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and new members have also been added to the board.
  • New members have been added to the board. They are former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Rajya Sabha MP K Laxman, and former Lok Sabha MP Sudha Yadav, former Union Minister Satyanarayan Jatiya and Iqbal Singh Lalpura.
  • In the Party’s central election committee, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Union Minister Bhupender Yadav, and Rajya Sabha MP OM Mathur have been included.
  • However, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan were dropped from the reconstituted BJP Parliamentary Board.
  • Nitin Gadkari, who is a former party president, is said to be close to the top brass of the RSS. He is also the sitting MP from Nagpur.

What is parliamentary Board of BJP?

  • The Parliamentary Board of BJP is the top-most decision-making body of Bharatiya Janata Party
  • The National Executive sets up a Parliamentary Board consisting of Party President and ten other members appointed by the BJP chief.
  • It can have maximum 11 members.
  • The current President of BJP is JP Nadda.

Roles of the BJP parliamentary board:

  • It supervises activities of the parliamentary and legislative groups of the party.
  • It guides and regulates all organizational units below the National Executive.
  • It Takes a call on choosing the CM face before elections, or who would be elevated to the position later.
  • It plays a role in giving tickets as parliamentary board members are also part of the BJP central election committee.
  • It Has the authority to interpret rules of the party constitution.
  • It can amend, add or delete provisions to the constitution.

About BJP:

  • The Bharatiya Janata Party abbreviated BJP is the current ruling political party in India under Narendra Modi since 2014.
  • It is one of the two major Indian political parties alongside the Indian National Congress.
  • The Bharatiya Janta party was established on 6th April 1980 by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani.
  • After the party's foundation, Atal Bihari Vajpayee became its first president.

History:

  • The BJP's origins lie in the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, popularly known as the Jana Sangh.
  • It was founded by Syama Prasad Mukherjee in 1951 in response to the politics of the dominant Congress party.
  • It was founded in collaboration with the Hindu nationalist volunteer organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and was widely regarded as the political arm of the RSS.
  • The Jana Sangh's aims included the protection of India's "Hindu" cultural identity, in addition to countering what it perceived to be the appeasement of Muslim people and the country of Pakistan by the Congress party and then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

14th Vice-President of India: National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate and former West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankharhas been elected as the 14th Vice President of India.

Key Points:

  • He won the vice-presidential election by getting 528 votes of the total 725 votes against Opposition Candidate Margaret Alva's 182. Ms Alva, who is ex-Union Minister and 5-time Congress MP, was Opposition candidate for Vice President’s Post.
  • In terms of percentage, Dhankhar secured 74.36%, which is the highest winning margin in the last six vice-presidential elections.
  • He will be sworn-in as 14th Vice President of India on 11th August 2022, a day after the term of the incumbent Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu ends.
  • Mr Dhankhar will also be appointed the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
  • The record for the vice-presidential victory with the largest margin of victory still belongs to KR Narayanan, who in 1992, defeated independent contender Kaka Joginder Singh by winning 700 of the 701 votes cast.

About Jagdeep Dhankhar:

  • Jagdeep Dhankhar is an Indian politician, who was elected for the Vice President Elections by the NDA from Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP).
  • He was born on 18th May 1951 in Kithana village in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district.
  • He completed his schooling at Sainik School, Chittorgarh.
  • He pursued his law degree from the University of Rajasthan.
  • He practiced law as a lawyer in Rajasthan High Court and then in Supreme Court for over 40 years.
  • He has also been an ex-member of ICC - International Court of Arbitration.

His Political Journey:

  • Mr. Dhankar's political career began in 1989–1991 when he was elected to the legislature from the Janata Dal-affiliated Jhunjhunu Lok Sabha constituency.
  • In 1990-1991, he served as Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs in under PM Chandra Shekhar’s minority Government.
  • On 30th July 2019, he was appointed as the Governor of West Bengal by the then President Ram Nath Kovind.

About the Vice President of India:

  • The vice president of India is the deputy to the head of state of the Republic of India, i.e. the president of India.
  • The office of vice president is the second-highest constitutional office after the president and ranks second in the order of precedence and first in the line of succession to the presidency.
  • The vice president is also a member of the Parliament of India as the ex officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

How is the Vice President elected?

  • Article 66 of the Constitution of India states the manner of election of the vice president.
  • The vice president is elected indirectly, by an electoral college consisting of members (elected as well as nominated) of both Houses of Parliament and not the members of state legislative assembly.
  • Members of both Houses of Parliament, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, make up the electoral college.
  • The election is conducted using the proportional representation system and a single transferable vote.
  • The voting is conducted by Election Commission of India (ECI) via secret ballot.
  • The electoral process for the election of the vice-president consists of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha members. Rajya Sabha has a total of 233 elected members and 12 nominated, while the lower house has 543 elected members and 2 nominated.
  • Every candidate has to make a security deposit of ₹15,000 in the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The election is to be held no later than 60 days of the expiry of the term of office of the outgoing vice president.

What are eligibility criteria?

  • A candidate needs to be at least 35 years old.
  • They also must be Indian citizens and fulfill all the requirements for the membership of the Upper House.
  • Candidates holding profit-making position with the government of India or a state government, are not eligible to become a Vice President.

How votes are counted?

  • The number of first-choice votes received by each MP is determined.
  • Then, the calculated numbers are added together and divided by two, one is added to the quotient, disregarding any remainder.
  • The resulting number is the quota required for a candidate to run in the election.
  • Later on, after the calculation is done, if the total number of votes credited to any candidate at the end of the first or any subsequent count is equal to or greater than the quota, that candidate is declared elected.

Parliament adjourned Sine Die: Both the House of Parliament adjourned Sine Die on 9th of August 2022, four days ahead of the schedule.

Key Points:

  • The Monsoon Session of Parliament, which commenced on the 18th of last month, was scheduled to end on the 12th of this month.
  • This was the seventh time when parliament was adjourned ahead of its due date.

Rajya Sabha Session:

  • Rajya Sabha sessions was chaired by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu.
  • In the Rajya Sabha, the House conducted business for 38 hours while it lost 47 hours due to disruptions during the session.
  • Question Hour could not be taken up on seven days.
  • Only five Bills were considered and passed.

The Rajya Sabha passed the following Bills: -

  1. Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill, 2022,
  2. Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022,
  3. National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021,
  4. Family Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and
  5. Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2022.

Lok Sabha Session:

  • Lok Sabha sessions was chaired by Speaker Om Birla.
  • 16 sittings were held and the House conducted business for more than 44 hours. 
  • In the Lok Sabha, six bills were introduced and seven bills were passed during the session.

The Lok Sabha passed the

  1. Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022,
  2. Family Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2022,
  3. National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021, the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021,
  4. Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2022,
  5. Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and
  6. New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (Amendment) Bill, 2022
  • The House also held two short-duration discussions on the price rise and steps to promote sports in the country.

What was reason for the Parliament being adjourned sine die?

  • No clear reason has been stated for the sine die adjournment of the Monsoon Session 2022.
  • However, it comes in the backdrop of multiple disruptions including the 50-hour dharna against price rise, over 24 MPs suspended from the Parliament, and Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigations on key leaders.
  • This also comes soon after the ‘Rashtrapatni’ remark row, when Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury called newly-elected President Droupadi Murmu the Rashtrapatni of the nation.

What is A Session of Indian Parliament?

  • A session of the Indian Parliament is the time period during which a House meets almost every day continuously to transact business.
  • There are usually three sessions in a year.

They are

  1. Budget Session (February to May);
  2. Monsoon Session (July to September); and
  3. Winter Session (November to December).
  4. A session contains many meetings.

Each meeting has two sittings –

  1. Morning sitting from 11 am to 1 pm and
  2. Post-lunch sitting from 2 pm to 6 pm.

A sitting of Parliament can be terminated by adjournment, adjournment sine die, prorogation or dissolution.

What is sine die adjournment of Parliament?

  • Adjournment sine die in Latin means “without day” which means “without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing”.
  • To adjourn an assembly sine die is terminating a sitting of Parliament for an indefinite period.
  • In other words, when a legislative body adjourns without setting a date for its next appearance or meeting, it is called adjournment sine die.
  • The power of adjournment sine die lies with the presiding officer of the House.

Note: The presiding officer of a House can call a sitting of the House before the date or time to which it has been adjourned or at any time after the House has been adjourned sine die.

Other terms related to the sessions of Parliament:

Adjournment – terminates a sitting.

Prorogation – terminates a session.

Dissolution – terminates the life of a House.

49th Chief Justice of India (CJI): Justice Uday Umesh Lalit has been appointed the 49th Chief Justice of India (CJI) after President Droupadi Murmu signed his warrant of appointment.

Key Highlights:

  • He will assume charge on August 27,2022 a day after Justice N.V. Ramana demits office as the CJI.
  • Justice Ramana is scheduled to retire from office on August 26, on superannuation.
  • He was the 48th CJI of India.
  • He was appointed on April 24, 2021.
  • However, the tenure of Justice Lalit will be a brief tenure as he will demit office on November 8 after holding the charge as the CJI for a little under three months.
  • He will be the second CJI who was directly elevated to the apex court Bench from the Bar.
  • The first lawyer to be elevated directly to the top court Bench in March 1964 was Justice S.M. Sikri who went on to become the 13th CJI in January 1971.

About Justice Uday Umesh Lalit:

  • Justice Uday Umesh Lalit is senior-most judge in the Supreme Court.
  • Set to become the 49th CJI, Justice Lalit will retire in November, 2022.
  • Justice Lalit is the 6th senior advocate who was appointed to the Apex Court, directly from the Bar.
  • As a senior advocate he specialised in criminal cases and was appointed as CBI’s Special Public Prosecutor in all 2G matters, under the Supreme Court’s orders.
  • He has been part of several landmark judgements including ‘triple talaq’.
  • He was appointed a judge of the SC on August 13, 2014.

Important Takeaways:

Memorandum of Procedure:

  • As per Memorandum of Procedure, the outgoing CJI is asked to recommend name of his successor by the Law Ministry.
  • The recommendation is usually asked within a month of retirement of the incumbent CJI.
  • In practice, CJI is strictly appointed by seniority.
  • The CJI and other SC judges are appointed by the President of India, as per clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution.

Tenure of CJI:

  • The Constitution of India does not provide any fixed tenure for the CJI.
  • However, after appointment, the CJI remains in office till the age of 65 years.

Note: While Supreme Court judges retire on attaining the age of 65, judges of the 25 High Courts superannuate at the age of 62.

Removal of a CJI:

  • The CJI can be removed by an order of the President, in accordance with Article 124(4) of Constitution of India.

Private Member Bill: YSRC MP V Vijayasai Reddy recently introduced three Private Member Bills in the Rajya Sabha.

Key Points:

  • One on the bill he introduced is the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2022 for insertion of new article 3A.
  • It seeks to provide state legislatures with explicit legislative competence to establish one or more capitals within their territory.
  • The state government had plans to develop three capitals for Andhra Pradesh.
  • The other two were the Representation of People Amendment Bill, 2022 and Press Council (Amendment) Bill, 2022.

Representation of People (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was introduced to enable the members of Parliament and State legislatures get mandatory bail for the purpose of participating in the proceedings of their respective houses and voting in the elections for the president and vice-president or any other office.

The Press Council (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was introduced to give teeth to the Press Council of India to act against fake news being spread by ‘All Biased News’ Channels.

Key Facts Private Member Bill:

  • A private member's bill is a bill (proposed law) introduced by the Member of Parliament (MP) who is not a Minister.
  • Members of Parliament (MPs) other than ministers are private members.
  • Private Members can also move legislative proposal or bill which he/she thinks is appropriate to be present in the Statute Book.
  • Members of Parliament of both the ruling party as well as the opposition can introduce a Private Member Bill.
  • The Member must give At least a month’s notice must be given by the member before the introduction of the Bill.
  • It is then examined by the House secretariat for compliance with constitutional provisions and rules on legislation before listing.
  • The Private Member bill, in order to become an act, must be passed in both the houses.
  • Once passed in both houses, Presidential assent is also mandatory for the bill to become an Act.
  • Such Bills can be introduced and discussed only on Fridays.
  • Number of private member bills has been capped to 3 per session of Parliament.

Admissibility of a Private Member’s Bill:

  • The admissibility is decided by the Chairman for Rajya Sabha and Speaker in the case of Lok Sabha. The procedure is roughly the same for both Houses:

Note:

There are two kinds of bills that are introduced in parliament for the legislative procedure:

  1. Public Bills
  2. Private Bills

Public Bills are called government bill whereas private bills are called private members’ bill.

President’s role in a Private Member Bill:

According to the present traditions, the Indian President can easily discard a private member's bill by exercising his absolute veto power.

Justice U.U. Lalit named as CJI’s Successor: The Chief Justice of India (CJI), Justice NV Ramana recently recommended the name of Justice Uday Umesh Lalit as his successor.

Key Facts:

  • Justice NV Ramana sent the recommendation to the Union Minister for Law and Justice.
  • He is scheduled to retire from office on August 26, on superannuation.
  • He was the 48th CJI of India.
  • He was appointed on April 24, 2021.

About Justice Uday Umesh Lalit:

  • Justice Uday Umesh Lalit is senior-most judge in the Supreme Court.
  • Set to become the 49th CJI, Justice Lalit will retire in November, 2022.
  • Justice Lalit is the 6th senior advocate who was appointed to the Apex Court, directly from the Bar.
  • As a senior advocate he specialised in criminal cases and was appointed as CBI’s Special Public Prosecutor in all 2G matters, under the Supreme Court’s orders.
  • He has been part of several landmark judgements including ‘triple talaq’.
  • He was appointed a judge of the SC on August 13, 2014.

Key Takeaways:

Memorandum of Procedure:

  • As per Memorandum of Procedure, the outgoing CJI is asked to recommend name of his successor by the Law Ministry.
  • The recommendation is usually asked within a month of retirement of the incumbent CJI.
  • In practice, CJI is strictly appointed by seniority.
  • The CJI and other SC judges are appointed by the President of India, as per clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution.

Tenure of CJI:

  • The Constitution of India does not provide any fixed tenure for the CJI.
  • However, after appointment, the CJI remains in office till the age of 65 years.

Removal of a CJI:

  • The CJI can be removed by an order of the President, in accordance with Article 124(4) of Constitution of India.

Competition (Amendment) Bill 2022: The Union Cabinet recently approved the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022.

Key Highlights:

  • The decision to amend the Competition Act, 2002 was necessitated because of the significant growth of Indian markets and emergence of various business models.
  • The Bill was introduced by the Minister of State Corporate Affairs Rao Inderjit Singh to allow the CCI to address the needs of new-age markets.
  • It will now be presented in ongoing Monsoon Session of the Parliament.
  • Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022 seeks to amend the Competition Act, 2002.
  • The Bill aims to make the Competition Commission of India (CCI) more flexible and accountable.
  • It also aims to strengthen the enforcement efficiency of the body.

Salient features of the Bill:

Flexible decision-making:

  • It proposes to let individual or single members of six-member board to take decision on cases.
  • Currently, regulations demand that at least three members decide on each case.
  • Letting single members decide on cases is expected to help dispose of them quicker.

Room for negotiations:

  • It proposes to allow businesses, accused of anti-competitive practices, to settle cases by negotiating with the CCI.
  • If the Bill is passed, “negotiated settlements and commitments” clause would help in avoiding avoid long-drawn proceedings.
  • It will also cut down litigation and provide soft-exit windows for uninformed or ill-informed businessess and individuals.

Widening definitions:

  • In addition, the bill proposes to expand the prohibited anti-competitive agreements, in a bid to cover new-age marketing arrangements, specifically the hub-and-spokes model of cartels.
  • Currently, prohibited anti-competitive agreements fall in the class of those among parties in the same line of business or those at different stages of production or supply.
  • This revision in the definition of anti-competitive agreements will make the regulator’s checks and balances foolproof.
  • Also, the definition of customers would be updated as well to include government agencies making procurements.

About Competition Commission of India (CCI):

  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a statutory body of the Government of India (GoI).
  • CCI was established in October 2003 as a regulatory authority.
  • It has been established under the provisions of The Competition Act, 2002, however it was not fully operational until 2009.
  • It is responsible for enforcing The Competition Act, 2002 throughout the country which prohibits anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position by enterprises.
  • It regulates mergers and acquisition (M&A) which can have an adverse effect on competition within India. Thus, deals beyond a certain threshold are required to get clearance from CCI.
  • Through constructive engagement with all stakeholders, the government, and foreign jurisdiction, it aims to create a competitive environment in the Indian economy.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • It comprises of a Chairperson and 6 Members who are appointed by the Central Government.
  • Its preceding agency is Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission.
  •  

The main aims of CCI are as follows:

  • Prevent actions that harm the competition.
  • Promote and maintain market competition.
  • Protect the interests of consumers.
  • Ensure the freedom of trade.

Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Amendment) Bill 2022: The Indian Parliament recently passed the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Amendment) Bill 2022.

Key Highlights:

  • It was passed in Rajya Sabha through a voice vote.
  • It was approved in Lok Sabha in April 2022.
  • The bill seeks to amend the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act 2005 and ban financing weapons of mass destruction.
  • The Bill proposes to amend 2005 act in accordance with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the UNSC's targeted financial sanctions.
  • Bill has been directed by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

Key Features of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Bill 2022 Bill:

  • It seeks to prohibit financing of any activity in relation to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.
  • It aims to prohibit making available funds, financial assets or economic resources for any prohibited activity in connection with weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.
  • It also seeks to modify the 2005 law- Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005.
  • The 2005 Act only prohibits unlawful activities including manufacturing, transport, or transfer and delivery of weapons of mass destruction.
  • The bill prohibits people from financing any prohibited activity related to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. 
  • To prevent such financing, the bill empowers the Union Government to freeze, seize or attach funds, financial assets, or economic resources held, owned or controlled directly or indirectly.
  • Additionally, the Bill forbids People from providing money or associated services to others involved in any prohibited action.

About Financial Action Task Force (FATF):

  • The Financial Action Task Force, also known by its French name, Groupe d'action financière, is an intergovernmental organisation.
  • It was established in 1989 during the G7 Summit in Paris to develop policies against money laundering.
  • The objectives of FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of regulatory, legal and operational steps to combat money laundering, terror financingand other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
  • It is a "policy-making body" that works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
  • It monitors progress in implementing its Recommendations through "peer reviews" ("mutual evaluations") of member countries.
  • The Secretariat of FATF is located at Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which is headquartered in Paris.
  • Since 2000, FATF has maintained the FATF blacklist (formally called the "Call for action") and the FATF greylist (formally called the "Other monitored jurisdictions").
  • There are 39-member countries, including India.

What are Weapons of Mass Destruction?

  • The weapons of mass destruction are biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons.

Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA): The Supreme Court has upheld the core amendments made to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Key Points:

• This act gives the government and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) virtually unbridled powers of summons, arrest, and raids, and makes bail nearly impossible while shifting the burden of proof of innocence on to the accused rather than the prosecution.

• The apex court called the PMLA a law against the “scourge of money laundering” and not a hatchet wielded against rival politicians and dissenters.

• The verdict came on an extensive challenge raised against the amendments introduced to the 2002 Act by way of Finance Acts.

• The court noted “Money laundering is an offence against the sovereignty and integrity of the country, It is no less a heinous offence than the offence of terrorism”.

• The three-judge Bench said the method of introduction of the amendments through Money Bills would be separately examined by a larger Bench of the apex court.

• Over 240 petitions were filed against the amendments which the challengers claimed to violate personal liberty, procedures of law and the constitutional mandate.

About PMLA, 2002:

• Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted by the NDA government to prevent money-laundering and to provide for confiscation of property derived from money-laundering.

• The Act and Rules notified there under impose obligation on banking companies, financial institutions and intermediaries to verify identity of clients, maintain records and furnish information in prescribed form to Financial Intelligence Unit - India (FIU-IND).

• The act was amended in the year 2005, 2009 and 2012.

Objectives:

The PMLA seeks to combat money laundering in India and has three main objectives:

• To prevent and control money laundering.

• To confiscate and seize the property obtained from the laundered money; and

• To deal with any other issue connected with money laundering in India.

Who controls PMLA?

Under Section 19 of PMLA, the Director, Deputy Director, Assistant Director or any other officer authorized in this behalf by the Central Government by general or special order, has the power to arrest a person.

Flag Code of India, 2002: The Centre recently amended the Flag Code of India, 2002, allowing for the tricolour to be flown by the public both day and night.

Key Points:

  • This is in line with the “Har Ghar Tiranga” campaign launched by the government from August 13 to 15 as part of the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ to commemorate 75 years of a progressive independent India.

Note: The display, hoisting and use of the Indian national flag is governed by the Flag Code of India, 2002 and the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.

Amendments made in Flag Code of India, 2002:

  • First amendment permits tricolour to be flown day and night.
  • Earlier, the tricolour was allowed to be flown from sunrise to sunset, irrespective of weather conditions.

The Flag Code of India, 2002 has been amended through an order on July, 20, 2022 and clause

(xi) of paragraph 2.2 of Part-II of the Flag Code of India, 2002 shall now be read as under: –

(xi) “where the Flag is displayed in open or displayed on the house of a member of public, it may be flown day and night”.

  • Now, a member of the public, a private organisation or an educational institution is allowed to hoist the flag on all days and occasions, ceremonial or otherwise, consistent with dignity and honour of the national flag.
  • Similarly, the Flag Code of India was earlier amended on December 30, 2021, allowing the use of polyester, apart from cotton, wool, silk and khadi for making hand-spun, hand-woven and machine-made flags.

The amendment in December 2021 said, “The National Flag shall be made of handspun and hand woven or machine made, cotton/ polyester/ wool/ silk khadi bunting.”

Shape and Size of the National Flag:

  • The national flag of India must be in rectangular shape.
  • It can be made in any size. But it shall follow a length to width ratio of 3:2.

Flag Code of India (FCI):

  • The Flag Code of India 2002 was formulated by the Government of India.
  • The Flag Code of India was operationalized on January 26, 2002.
  • The use, display and hoisting of the National Flag in the country is guided by this code.
  • It brings together all laws, conventions, practices, and instructions for the display of the National Flag.

The Flag Code of 2002 is divided into three parts:

  • Part I of the Code contains a general description of the National Flag.
  • Part II of the Code is devoted to the display of the National Flag by members of public, private organisations, educational institutions, etc.
  • Part III of the Code relates to display of the National Flag by Central and State governments and their organisations and agencies.

Assembly sittings in 2021: Kerala has been ranked at top slot, in terms of holding State Assembly Session in 2021 with its House sitting for 61 days, the highest for any State.

Key Points:

In 2020, the state had slipped to the eighth slot in holding the sittings of the State Assembly during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report on the functioning of State Assemblies for 2021 is published by the PRS Legislative Research (PRS), a New Delhi-based think tank.

Important findings of the report:

  • Kerala, in fact, between 2016 and 2019, remained at the top with an average of 53 days.
  • Despite enjoying the record of having the highest number of sittings in 2021, Kerala (where the Left Democratic Front is in power since May 2016) had promulgated 144 ordinances, also the highest in the country.
  • Kerala is followed by Odisha, with 43 sitting days.
  • Karnataka is ranked at 3rd place, with 40 sitting days.
  • Tamil Nadu has been ranked at 4th with 34 sitting days.
  • Of the 28 State Assemblies and one Union Territory’s legislature, 17 met for less than 20 days.
  • Andhra Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Delhi met for less than 10 days.
  • The figures for Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Punjab were 17, 16 and 11, respectively.
  • Between 2016 and 2021, the PRS points out, 23 State Assemblies met for an average of 25 days.
  • As for the ordinance route, which should be, according to the Supreme Court, used under exceptional circumstances, 21 out of 28 States promulgated ordinances in 2021

Rules for minimum sittings:

  • The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2000-02), headed by former Chief Justice of India M.N. Venkatachaliah, had prescribed the standards for working of legislatures.
  • The standards provide that, House of State of Union Territories legislatures like Puducherry, with lower than 70 members shall meet for at least 50 days in a year.
  • On the other hand, Houses like in Tamil Nadu shall meet for at least 90 days.
  • States like Manipur, Punjab, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh provides for minimum number of sitting days under Rules of Procedure.
  • It prescribes 40 days sittings in Punjab while 90 days in Uttar Pradesh.

kangaroo Court:  according to Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, A "growing number of media trials" is proving to be a barrier to delivering justice and “kangaroo courts” run by the media are causing harm to the health of the democracy.

About Kangaroo Court:

  • A kangaroo court is a court that ignores recognized standards of law or justice, carries little or no official standing in the territory within which it resides, and is typically convened ad hoc.
  • Oxford Dictionary defines kangaroo court as “an unofficial court held by a group of people in order to try someone regarded, especially without good evidence, as guilty of a crime or misdemeanour”.
  • In a less literal sense, it is used to refer to proceedings or activities where a judgement is made in a manner that is unfair, biased, and lacks legitimacy.
  • The origin of the phrase is not clearly known, but it is believed that the phrase “kangaroo court” originated in 19th-century America to describe any illegitimate court proceedings, as were often held by mutineers or prisoners.
  • Why the word ‘kangaroo’ is used is also not clear, but there are several theories.
  • The Collins Dictionary argues that it could be to evoke a sense that “justice progresses by leaps and bounds” in case of kangaroo court verdicts.

All India District Legal Services Authorities Meet: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the inaugural session of the first All India District Legal Services Authorities Meet in New Delhi on July 30, 2022.

Key Points about the meet:

  • The first-ever national level meet of District Legal Services Authorities (DLSAs) is being organized from 30-31 July 2022 at Vigyan Bhawan by National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).
  • Chief Justice of India Justice N V Ramana, Supreme Court Judges Justice UU Lalit, Justice D Y Chandrachud, Union Minister, Shri Kiren Rijiju, Shri S. P. Singh Baghel, Other Supreme Court Judges, Chief Justices of High Courts, Executive Chairpersons of the State Legal Services Authorities (SLSAs) and Chairpersons of the District Legal Services Authorities (DLSAs) were present on the occasion.
  • The Prime Minister also released a commemorative postal stamp on the ‘Right to free legal aid’.
  • The meeting deliberated on the creation of an integrated procedure to bring homogeneity and synchronization across DLSAs.

About DLSAs:

  • District Legal Services Authorities (DLSAs) is formed under Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
  • There is a total of 676 District Legal Services Authorities (DLSAs) in the country.
  • Section 9(1) of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 states that the DLSA is a body that shall be constituted by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.
  • They are headed by the District Judge who acts as Chairman of the authority.
  • Through DLSAs and State Legal Services Authorities (SLSAs), various legal aid and awareness programs are implemented by National Legal Services Authority.
  • The DLSAs also contribute towards reducing the burden on courts by regulating the Lok Adalats conducted by NALSA.

About NALSA:

  • The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) was established on November 9, 1995, in accordance with the authority of Legal Services Authorities Act 1987.
  • It was founded with the goal of organizing Lok Adalats to speedily resolve issues and offering free legal assistance to qualified candidates.
  • Chief Justice of India acts as the patron-in-chief of NALSA.
  • On the other hand, second senior-most Judge of Supreme Court of India acts as the Executive-Chairman.
  • Similar mechanism is followed at the state level, headed by Chief Justice of High Courts and district level, headed by Chief Judges of District courts.
  • Its main objective is to reduce burden of judiciary through speedy disposal of cases.

AI-based Lok Adalat: The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) Chairman Uday Umesh Lalit recently unveiled India’s First AI-powered, end-to-end digital Lok Adalat in Rajasthan.

Key Highlights:

  • The AI-based Lok Adalat was launched during the 18th All India Legal Services Authorities’ Meet held in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
  • The two-day event was inaugurated by Chief Justice of India, N V Ramana in the presence of Minister of Law & Justice, Kiren Rijiju and Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot.

About AI-based Lok Adalat:

  • The Digital Lok Adalat by Rajasthan State Legal Services Authority (RSLSA 22) was designed and developed by its technology partner Jupitice Justice Technologies.
  • It will be used to dispose of pending disputes or disputes that are at the pre-litigation stage.
  • The platform will help to proved end-to-end dispute resolution with easy drafting and filing of applications, one-click generation of e-notices, smart templates to draft settlement agreements, and digital hearings powered by tailor-made video conferencing tools, etc.
  • In addition, it will also offers an AI-powered voice-based interactive chatbot and advanced data analytics tools to help gain deeper insights into the functioning of Lok Adalat through custom reports and dashboards for data-driven decision making.

Significance of AI-based Lok Adalat:

  • The number of pending cases in India is increasing over the years.
  • The pending cased further increased, especially during the pandemic where the courts came to a standstill for a while.
  • Recently, a district court in Bihar gave a verdict in a land dispute case after 108 years, making it one of the oldest pending cases in the country.
  • As per the NITI Aayog report, it would take an around 324 years to dispose of all current pending cases in country.
  • The report further said that 75% to 97% of legal problems never reach the courts.
  • That means about 5 million to 40 million legal tangles arising in a month never reach the court.
  • Therefore, the Digital Lok Adalat will be used to dispose of pending disputes or disputes that are at the pre-litigation stage

About Jupitice:

  • Jupitice is the world’s first Justice Technology company.
  • It has been working with several quasi-judicial bodies and ADR centres across India, in a bid to transform and reboot dispute resolution ecosystem, digitally.
  • It has developed the “digital Lok Adalat”, to fill the existing justice gap and to address problems of digital divide.
  • It seeks to ensure that justice reaches to common people even in remotest villages by means of mobile, CSCs, and web.

Draupadi Murmu: Draupadi Murmu has been elected as the 15th President of India on 21st July 2022 and is due to take office on 25th July 2022.

Key Highlights:

  • She is the second woman to occupy the top post in the country.
  • The 64-year-old will be the first tribal woman president of India.
  • She will be succeeding incumbent President Ram Nath Kovind.
  • She won the Presidential Election with a majority of 5,77,777 votes, beating the opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha.
  • Around 17 MPs cross-voted in favour of Droupadi Murmu in the Presidential elections.
  • The 2022 Indian Presidential Election was the 16th presidential election that was held in India on the 18th of July 2022.

About Draupadi Murmu:

  • She is an Indian politician and a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
  • She was born on June 20, 1958 in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district to a family belonging to the Santhal tribe.
  • She is the first-ever person belonging to a scheduled tribe community to occupy the top post of Indian President and the second person belonging to a scheduled tribe, to be nominated as a candidate for the post of President of India.
  • She started out as a school teacher before entering politics in 1997. 
  • She served as the ninth Governor of Jharkhand from 2015 to 2021.
  • She became India’s first woman tribal governor and the first female tribal leader from Odisha to be appointed as a governor of an Indian state.
  • She also served as the national vice-president of BJP Scheduled Tribes Morcha.
  • She also served as the Minister of State with Independent Charge for Commerce and Transportation from March 6, 2000- August 6, 2002.
  • As a member of the BJP, she was elected to the state assembly twice i.e., in 2000 and in 2009 from the Rairangpur seat.
  • In 2017, she was awarded the Nilkantha award for the best MLA by Odisha Legislative Assembly.

Family History:

  • Draupadi Murmu’s father and her grandfather were elected as sarpanch under the Panchayati Raj system.
  • She married a banker named Shyam Charan Murmu and had two sons and a daughter. However, in 4 years, she lost her husband and both her sons.

About the Santhal tribes:

  • As per the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Research and Training Institute (SCSTRTI), Bhubaneswar, Santhal, also spelt as Santal, literally means a calm, peaceful man.
  • Santha means calm, and ala means man in the Santhali (also spelt as Santali) language.
  • Santhals are the third largest scheduled tribe community in India after Gonds and Bhils.
  • The SCSTRTI says Santhals were a nomadic stock before they chose to settle in the Chotanagpur plateau.
  • By the end of the 18th century, they had concentrated in the Santhal Parganas of Jharkhand (earlier Bihar).
  • From there, they migrated to Odisha and West Bengal.
  • The Santhali population is mostly distributed in Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal.

Santhal Rebellion of 1855-56:

  • The Santhal rebellion also known as Santhal Hool was a revolt by the Santhal in present-day Jharkhand, India, against the British East India Company and the Zamindari System.
  • It began on June 30, 1855, and the East India Company declared martial law on November 10, 1855, which lasted until January 3, 1856, when martial law was lifted.
  • The insurrection was put down by the Presidency soldiers.
  • The revolt was spearheaded by four Murmu Brothers – Sidhu, Kanhu, Chand, and Bhairav.

About the President of India:

  • The President of India is the head of state of the Republic of India.
  • The president is the nominal head of the executive, as well as the commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces.
  • The Constitution of India came into force on January 26, 1950.

Note: Dr Rajendra Prasad was elected as the first constitutional head of the state, the President of India.

Who elects President of India?

  • The president is indirectly elected by an electoral college comprising both houses of the Parliament of India and the legislative assemblies of each of India's states and territories, who themselves are all directly elected.

Qualifications to be the Indian President:

The qualifications to be an Indian President are given below:

  • He should be an Indian Citizen.
  • Age limit is a minimum of 35 years.
  • He should qualify the conditions to be elected as a member of the Lok Sabha.
  • He should not hold any office of profit under the central government, state government, or any public authority.

Term of office of President:

  • The President shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office.

National Emblem: Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the National Emblem cast on the roof of the New Parliament Building on July 11, 2022.

About the emblem:

  • The metal sculpture has been built in Aurangabad, Jaipur and Delhi by artists Sunil Deore and Lakshman Vyas.
  • The earlier design incorporated a spire atop the building and was replaced with the Ashoka Emblem in 2020.
  • The emblem weighs 9500 kilogram and is 6.5 metres in height.
  • It is perhaps bigger than any other adaptation of the Lion Capital of Ashoka, a statue from 280 BCE during the reign of the Maurya Empire.
  • It has been cast at the top of the Central Foyer of New Parliament Building.
  • A supporting structure of steel weighing around 6500 kilograms has also been constructed to support the Emblem.
  • Eight separate stages of preparation, including clay modeling, computer graphics, bronze casting, and polishing, went into the concept drawing and the process of casting the National Emblem on the roof of the New Parliament Building.

About the New Parliament building:

  • The new parliament building project will cost the government ₹ 1,250 crore.
  • The cost shot up by 29 per cent over the budgeted expenditure of ₹ 977 crore.
  • The building, which is the highlight of the government's ambitious Central Vista project, is being built by Tata Projects.
  • The proposed four-storey building Is spread over 13 acres.
  • It is located a stone's throw from Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • It was initially expected to be finished before the country's 75th Independence Day this year.
  • Later, the deadline was changed to October.

Namsai Declaration: The Assam & Arunachal Pradesh Government signed the Namsai Declaration today in an effort to end the longstanding boundary dispute.

Highlights:

  • The Chief Ministers of the two North-eastern neighbours met at Namsai in Arunachal Pradesh and signed the agreement in the presence of several cabinet ministers of both states.
  • Namsai is the headquarters of Namsai district in southern Arunachal Pradesh.

Key Points:       

  • The Namsai Declaration has been signed by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart Pema Khandu for minimising the inter-State boundary dispute involving 123 villages.
  • A list of these villages had been placed before a local commission by Arunachal Pradesh on December 26, 2007.
  • According to the declaration, all border issues between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh will be confined to those raised before the local commission in 2007.
  • Both the Chief Ministers have decided to restrict the ‘disputed villages’ to 86 instead of 123.
  • Based on the present boundary, they will try to resolve the rest by September 15, 2022.

Assam and Arunachal Pradesh Dispute:

  • Allegations of residents of one state encroaching land on the other have led to disputes and violence.
  • The two states share an 804.1 km-long border.
  • The grievance of Arunachal Pradesh which was made a union territory in 1972 is that several forested tracts in the plains that had traditionally belonged to hill tribal chiefs and communities were unilaterally transferred to Assam.
  • Present-day Arunachal Pradesh attained Statehood in February 1987.
  • After Arunachal Pradesh achieved statehood, a tripartite committee was appointed which recommended that certain territories be transferred from Assam to Arunachal.
  • However, Assam contested this and the matter is in the Supreme Court.

About Assam:

  • Assam is a state in northeastern India known for its wildlife, archeological sites and tea plantations.
  • It is situated south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys.
  • It is encircled by verdant hills.
  • Assam is known for Assam tea and Assam silk.
  • Its capital is Dispur.
  • The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Assam are Professor Jagdish Mukhi and Himanta Biswas Sarma respectively.

About Arunachal Pradesh:

  • Arunachal Pradesh is the northeasternmost state of India.
  • It borders the states of Assam and Nagaland to the south.
  • It shares international borders with Bhutan in the west, Myanmar in the east, and a disputed border with China in the north at the McMahon Line.
  • It is the largest of the Seven Sister States of Northeast India.
  • It was part of British India in 1913-14 and formally included in India when the McMohan Line was established as the border between India and Tibet in 1938. China continues to consider Arunachal Pradesh a part of Tibet, which it occupied in 1951.
  • It became a full-fledged State on 20th February, 1987.
  • Arunachal Pradesh was earlier called NEFA (North-East Frontier Agency) and was created on 1954.
  • It gained the Union Territory status on 20 January 1972 and was renamed as Arunachal Pradesh by Sri Bibhabasu Das Shastri, the Director of Research and K.A.A. Raja, the Chief Commissioner of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It's Capital is Itanagar.
  • The current Governor and Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh are B. D. Mishra governor and prema khandu respectively.

 

Sherpa of G-20: Former CEO of Government’s think tank NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant, has been selected to serve as India's new G-20 Sherpa.

Key Points:

  • He will be replacing Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal as G-20 Sherpa.
  • Shri Piyush Goyal was appointed as G-20 Sherpa in September 2021.
  • With the G-20 presidency coming to India, a full-time Sherpa is required who would be needed to devote a lot of time to meetings that will be held in different parts of the country.
  • India will take over G20 presidency during December 1, 2022 to November 30, 2023.
  • Other Sherpas for G-20 include Shaktikanta Das, Suresh Prabhu and Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

About Amitabh Kant:

  • Amitabh Kant is a 1980 batch retired IAS officer of Kerala cadre.
  • He was the second chief executive officer of NITI Aayog, a public policy think tank of the Government of India (GoI).
  • He assumed charges as NITI Aayog CEO in 2016.
  • He completed his extended term in June 2022.
  • He is the author of Branding India – An Incredible Story, The Path Ahead: Transformative Ideas for India, and Incredible India 2.0- Synergies for Growth and Governance.
  • He has also been the chairman of Empowered Group-3, which is one among the 11 groups set up by central government for controlling the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

Who is a Sherpas?

  • A Sherpa is a personal representative of the leader of a member country at an international Summit meeting such as the G8, G20, the Nuclear Security Summit etc.
  • Sherpas are career diplomats or senior government officials appointed by the leaders of their countries.

Etymology: The term is derived from the Nepalese Sherpa people, who serve as guides for mountaineers in the Himalayas.

Task of a Sherpa:

  • The Sherpa engages in planning, negotiation and implementation tasks through the Summit.
  • They coordinate the agenda, seek consensus at the highest political levels, and participate in a series of pre-Summit consultations to help negotiate their leaders’ positions.

Role of Indian Sherpa:

  • The Sherpa is likely to dedicate a significant amount of time to many meetings that are slated to take place around India during India’s presidency to G20.

About G-20:

  • The G20 means the Group of Twenty.
  • It is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 19 countries and the European Union (EU).
  • The membership of the G20 consists of 19 individual countries plus the European Union. The members of the G20 group are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union (EU).
  • The EU is represented by the European Commission and by the European Central Bank.
  • It was established on 26 September 1999 with an aim to discuss policy pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability. 
  • The main objective of G20 is to unite world leaders around shared economic, political and health challenges.

 India’s Presidency at G20:

  • India has been a member of the G20 since its inception in 1999.
  • India will be holding the G20 Presidency from 1 December 2022.
  • While holding the G-20 presidency, India will prepare agenda for the year.
  • It will identify focus areas & themes, work on outcome documents and conduct discussions.

Division of G-20 process:

The G-20 process has been categorized into two tracks - the Sherpa track and the Finance track.

  1. Sherpa Track:

Under the Sherpa track, around 100 official meetings will be held in the areas related to health, employment, trade, digital economy, energy, investment & industry, agriculture, environment & climate, anti-corruption, culture, tourism, education, socio-economic development, and women empowerment.

  1. Finance Track:

Under the Finance track, 40 meetings will be held in areas of international financial architecture, financing for infrastructure, financial inclusion & sustainable finance, tax matters and climate finance.

G-20 Leaders’ Summit:

  • India will convene the G20 Leaders’ Summit in 2023 for the first time.
  • India will also be part of the G20 Troika (preceding, current, and incoming G20 Presidencies) from 1 December 2021 till 30 November 2024.

Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA): The Union Home Ministry recently amended the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) giving certain relaxations such as allowing relatives to send more money to India freely.

Key Points:

  • The amended rule now allows relatives to send 10 lakh rupees without informing the government.
  • If the amount exceeds, the individuals will now have three months to inform the government against 30-days earlier.
  • The amended rule also gives more time to the organizations to inform the government about opening of bank accounts for utilization of funds received under ‘registration’ or ‘prior permission’ category.
  • A provision where an organization or individual receiving foreign funds had to declare such contributions every quarter on its official website has also been done away with.

About Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010:

  • The Foreign Contribution (regulation) Act, 2010 is an act of the Parliament of India, by the 42nd Act of 2010.
  • The act, in its consolidating form, was originally passed in 1976 and majorly modified in 2010.
  • The FCRA Act is implemented by Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • FCRA, 2010 has been enacted by the Parliament to consolidate the law to regulate the acceptance and utilization of foreign contribution (especially monetary donation) or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations or companies.
  • Under the Act, donating organisations need to register themselves every 5 years.
  • A person with a definite educational, cultural, economic, religious or social programme can accept foreign contribution after registration or permission from the Central Government.
  • However, election candidate, Member of any legislature (MP and MLAs), Political parties, publishers of a registered Newspaper, Judge, government servant or employee of any corporation owned by the government cannot accept the foreign contributions.
  • This Act prohibits the acceptance and utilization of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to national interest and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Note: The Act has been used by the Government of India to freeze bank accounts of certain NGOs who it found were affecting India's national interest for wrong purposes.

Vice President of India: The Election Commission of India (ECI)on July 5th 2022 issued the notification for the election of the Vice President of India.

Key Highlights:

  • The term of office of Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu comes to an end on August 10.
  • The election is scheduled for August 6, and July 19 is the last date for filing nominations.

Is Vice President of India a constitutional post?

  • The office of vice president is the second-highest constitutional office after the president and ranks second in the order of precedence and first in the line of succession to the presidency.
  • The vice president is also a member of the Parliament of India as the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Office of the Vice President:

  • Article 63 of the Indian Constitution states that “there shall be a Vice-President of India”.
  • Under Article 64, the Vice-President “shall be ex officio Chairman of the Council of the States” (Rajya Sabha).
  • Article 65 says that “in the event of the occurrence of any vacancy in the office of the President by reason of his death, resignation or removal, or otherwise, the Vice-President shall act as President until the date on which a new President…enters upon his office”.

What is the process of election of the Vice-President?

  • Article 66 lays down the process of the election of the Vice-President.
  • It says the Vice-President “shall be elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of the members of both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote and the voting at such election shall be by secret ballot”.
  • Article 66(3) says “No person shall be eligible for election as Vice-President unless he —
  • is a citizen of India;
  • has completed the age of thirty-five years; and
  • is qualified for election as a member of the Council of States”.
  • He/she should not hold any office of profit under the Union government or any state government or any local authority or any other public authority.

Eknath Shinde: Shivsena rebel leader Eknath Shinde was recenlty sworn-in as the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

Key Highlights:

  • He has become the 20th Chief Minister of the state.
  • The oath of office to Mr. Shinde was administered by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
  • Apart from Mr Shinde, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis was also sworn-in as Deputy Chief Minister.
  • The trust vote of the new government will be held on Saturday.
  • The special session of the Assembly will be held on July 2 and 3.
  • The Speaker will also be elected on the first day of the session.

Background:

  • Shinde, had revolted against former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on June 20, 2022.
  • He was joined by 39 Sena MLAs and 11 Independents.
  • The rebel MLAs had demanded that Mr. Thackeray quit the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and snap ties with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to return to the path of Hindutva.

Indian Polity Current Affairs - July 2022

Section 295A of IPC: The recent controversy over the remarks made by BJP spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal has drawn attention to the law that governs criticism of or disrespect to religion.

Key Points:

  • The BJP today took action against two party leaders over their controversial remarks against a particular community by suspending spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelling Delhi Unit media head Naveen Jindal from the party.
  • Nupur Sharma was booked under sections 153A, 153 B, 295A, 298 and 505 of the IPC which means a case has been registered against her for 'promoting enmity, outraging religious feelings’, ‘uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person’, ‘deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of a class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs’, and other offences.

Hate Speech Legislation:

  • There is no formal legal framework for dealing with hate speech in India.
  • But a collection of clauses that go by the name of "hate speech laws" are used.
  • These laws are largely intended to address offences against religions.
  • The provisions in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), primarily Section 295A, defines and prescribes a punishment for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.

About Section 295A of IPC:

  • As per the Constitution of India, Section 295A states that whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written, or by songs or by visible representations or otherwise, insults or attempts to insult the religion or religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
  • Section 295A IPC is a cognisable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable offence and police can register an FIR anywhere in the country at the instance of purportedly aggrieved complainants.

Maharashtra Political Crisis: Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray recently left his official residence Varsha and moved back to Matoshree, the residence of Thackeray family at Bandra, Mumbai after offering to quit the top post.

Key Highlights:

  • The move comes amid high drama as the political crisis in the western state following a rebellion by disgruntled Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, who is currently camping in BJP-ruled Assam with a large number party MLAs.
  • Party workers raised slogans and showered petals on the CM as he left his official house along with his family members
  • As the CM left, chants of "Uddhav tum aage badho, hum tumhare saath hain"  (Uddhav, you go ahead, we are with you) were heard.
  • In the 56-year history of the group, Mr. Shinde's rebellion is the most significant because it poses a threat to topple the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra, whereas previous uprisings occurred when the party was not in charge of the State.
  • Mr. Shinde is a Cabinet Minister who fled with a number of Shiv Sena MLAs.

Thackeray heads a coalition government with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress. He became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra in November 2019.

Balika Panchayat: Gujarat has become the first State in the country to launch Balika Panchayat.

Key Highlights:

  • The country’s first-ever girl Panchayat, “Balika Panchayat” was started in several villages of Gujarat’s Kutch district.
  • It started in Kunaria, Maska, Motagua, and Vadsar villages of the Kutch district.
  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development is also planning to begin the girl panchayat across the country.

About Balika Panchayat:

  • It is a unique initiative of the Women and Child Development Welfare department of the Gujarat Government under the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign.
  • “Balika Panchayat” is managed by people in the 11-21 age groups.
  • Members of the Balika Panchayat are elected after an intense campaigning process.
  • Girls who aspire to become members of the Balika Panchayat even carry out rallies and door-to-door campaigns.

Aim of Balika Panchayat:

  • To promote social and
  • To ensure the political development of the girl child
  • To remove the evil practices from society such as child marriage, and the dowry system.

National Youth Parliament Festival: The 3rd edition of the National Youth Parliament Festival (NYPF) was recently started in New Delhi.

Key Highlights:

  • The NYPF was organized jointly by the Lok Sabha Secretariat and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports on March 10 and 11, 2022, in the Central Hall of Parliament, New Delhi.
  • The theme of the 3rd NYPF is ‘be the voice of New India and find solutions and contribute to Policy’.
  • Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur addressed the inaugural session of NYPF on March 10, while the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla addressed the valedictory function on March 11.

Goal of NYPF:

  • The NYPF's major goal is to hear the voices of young people aged 18 to 25, who will be entering a variety of vocations in the next years, including public service.
  • The top three National level youth winners will get an opportunity to speak before the Lok Sabha Speaker during the valedictory function.

Background:

  • The first edition of NYPF was conducted from 12th January to 27th February, 2019 with the theme “Be the Voice of New India and Find solutions and Contribute to Policy”.
  • The second edition was held from 23rd December, 2020 to 12th January, 2022 with the theme “YUVAAH- Utsah Naye Bharat Ka”.
  • The third edition of NYPF was launched at the district level on 14th February 2022 through virtual mode.
  • More than 2.44 lakh youth participated in it.
  • This was followed by State Youth Parliaments through the virtual mode from February 23 to 27, 2022.
  • Overall 87 winners (62 Female and 25 Male) from the district and state-level YPF seek to participate in NYPF 2022.

Significance of NYPF:

  • National Youth Parliament provides a platform for the youth to voice their thoughts opinions and dreams for the country and enable the youth to voice their concerns and local problems.

Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA): The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved a proposal to continue the Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA) till 2025-26.

About RGSA:

  • RGSA is a scheme for improving the governance capabilities of Panchayati Raj institutions.
  • The scheme started in 2018-2019.

Key Points:

The CCEA approved the extension of the plan, which was set to expire on March 31, at a cost of $5,911 crore, with the Centre contributing $3,700 crore and the States contributing $2,211 crore.

The scheme would work towards the following:

  1. Poverty-free and enhanced livelihood in villages
  2. Healthy villages
  3. Child-friendly villages
  4. Water-sufficient villages
  5. Clean and green villages
  6. Self-sufficient infrastructure in villages
  7. Socially-secure villages
  8. Villages with good governance
  9. Engendered development in villages

Panchayats would be strengthened and a spirit of healthy competition inculcated.

Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya in New Delhi on April 14, 2022.

Key Highlights

  • He inaugurated the sangrahalaya  as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav — a 75-week celebration launched to mark 75 years of Independence.
  • He bought the first ticket to the museum dedicated to the former PMs of the country.
  • The event was attended by Union Minister of Culture, DoNER and Tourism Shri G.K Reddy; Minister of State for Culture and External Affairs, Smt. Meenakshi Lekhi, Minister of State of Culture and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal along with other dignitaries.

About Pradhanmantri Sanghralaya:

  • Pradhanmantri Sanghralaya is an initiative to showcase the story of India post-independence and how each Prime Minister has contributed to the country’s progress since independence.
  • It is a tribute to all the Prime Ministers of India, irrespective of their tenure or ideology.
  • The Sangrahalaya is located at the iconic Teen Murti complex.
  • It has two blocks inspired by the celebratory journey of India after its Independence.
  • Spanned over an area of 15,600 square meters, the core design of the museum represents the progressive story of rising India.
  • The design of the museum incorporates sustainable conservation practices.
  • No tree was felled or transplanted during the course of work on the project.
  • The museum also has a unique logo which shows hands holding the dharma chakra, symbolising the nation and democracy.
  • The museum reflects cutting-edge technology-based interfaces to engage its audience and make the experience more interactive.
  • Holograms, interactive kiosks, digital kinetic sculptures, and interactive screens are some technology tools that are being installed in the museum to also encourage “Digital India” among the youth.
  • There are 43 galleries in “Pradhanmantri Sanghralaya” which exhibit the story of our Prime Ministers and how they ensured the progress of the country despite facing various challenges during their respective tenures.
  • The Sangrahalaya will also include the Nehru Museum.

President Election 2022: The process to file nominations for the Presidential election began on June June 15, 2022 with the Election Commission of India (ECI) issuing a notification calling upon the electors to fill the vacancy.

Key Highlights:

  • The President Election 2022 is scheduled to be held on July 18.
  • The nomination process began on the day the representatives from the main opposition parties met in Delhi to choose a presidential candidate.

Process to file nomination:

  • The nominations for Presidential Election 2022 can be filed till Jun 29.
  • The scrutiny of the papers will take place on July 30.
  • The counting will be held here on July 21.
  • The last date to withdraw from the Presidential electoral battle is July 2.

The term of incumbent President Ram Nath Kovind is scheduled to end on July 24.

How is the President elected?

  • The president is elected by the members of the Electoral College consisting of elected members of both houses of Parliament and elected members of the legislative assemblies of all states, including the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
  • The nominated members of either Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha or Legislative Assemblies of the States are not eligible to be included in the Electoral College and, therefore, they are not entitled to participate in the election.
  • Similarly, members of the Legislative Councils are also not electors for the Presidential election.
  • While voting takes place in Parliament House and State Legislative Assemblies, the counting of votes is held in the national capital.

Who can file nominations?

1)The candidate must be a citizen of India and must have completed 35 years of age.

2)He or she must be eligible to be a member of the Lok Sabha.

3)The candidate must not hold ‘any office of profit under the Indian Government or the Government of any state or under any local or other authority subject to the control of any of the said governments.’

4)The candidate may be holding the office of President or vice president or governor of any state or the ministers of the state or ministers of the union or any state.

How to file the nomination?

1)The nomination paper of a candidate has to be made in the prescribed form- For 2 appended to the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections, 1974.

2)The form must be subscribed by at least 50 electors as proposers and at least 50 electors as seconders.

3)The completed nomination paper has to be presented to the Returning Officer between 11 am and 3 PM.

4)The candidates need to deposit an amount of Rs. 15,000 as security to the Returning Officer.

All India Chief Secretaries' Conclave:  The First National Conference of Chief Secretaries was recently presided over by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at HPCA Stadium in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh.

Key Highlights:

  • The All India Chief Secretaries' Conclave was held from 15th to 17th June 2022.
  • The conference was organized by NITI Aayog, the think tank of India.
  • Over 200 people representing the central government, states and UTs participated in the conclave.
  • People from the thematic sector took part in the event.

Topic of Discussion at the conference:

  • The three-day national conference of chief secretaries of all states focused on the rapid and sustained economic growth in partnership with the States.
  • Working as Team India, the Conference laid the ground for collaborative action for higher growth with sustainability, creation of jobs, education, ease of living and aatmanirbharta (self-reliance) in agriculture.
  • The Conference emphasized on evolution and implementation of a common development agenda and blueprint for cohesive action to achieve the aspirations of the people.
  • The concept and agenda for this conference has been curated after more than 100 rounds of deliberations spread over six months.

Three themes were discussed at the Conference:

  1. Implementation of the National Education Policy;
  2. Urban governance; and
  3. Crop diversification and achieving self-sufficiency in oilseeds, pulses and other agri-commodities.

This is taken as a significant step toward further strengthening the partnership between the Centre and the State Governments.

Additional Charges of Minority Affairs and Ministry of Steel: Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani and Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia have been assigned additional charges of Minority Affairs and Ministry of Steel respectively.

 

Key Highlights:

  • They have been given the additional charges of the two ministries after two Union Ministers Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Ram Chandra Prasad Singh resigned from the Union Council of Ministers.
  • Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was the Deputy Leader of Rajya Sabha and BJP party while Ram Chandra Prasad Singh is a former bureaucrat.
  • Post their resignations, the President of India Ram Nath Kovind, as advised by PM Modi, accepted the resignations of Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Ram Chandra Prasad Singh from Union Council of Ministers with immediate effect, under clause (2) of Article 75 of the Constitution.

Rajya Sabha Election Result 2022: The result of the Rajya Sabha Election 2022 was announced on the same date of polling- June 10, 2022.

Key Highlights:

  • Rajya Sabha Elections 2022 to fill 57 vacant seats was held on June 10, 2022.
  • The contest was narrowed down to 16 seats spread across 4 states- Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Haryana, and Karnataka- after 41 members in 11 states were elected unopposed.

Results:

  • The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) registered a win in three of the four states where Rajya Sabha Elections 2022 were held for 16 seats.
  • Congress won 3 seats in Rajasthan, however, suffered a setback in Haryana.
  • In Maharashtra, the ruling alliance MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi) suffered a jolt as the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party won three of the six seats while three ruling alliance partners bagged one seat each.
  • In Karnataka, BJP’s Nirmala Sitharaman, Jaggesh, and Lehar Singh Siroya took three out of the four seats, while Jairam Ramesh from Congress won the only remaining seat.
  • HD Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular), whose home base is Karnataka, was not able to win a single seat.

Significance of Rajya Sabha Election 2022:

  • The election for the 16 seats across 4 states in Rajya Sabha will be significant in view of the Presidential Elections which are scheduled to take place on July 18, 2022.

About Rajya Sabha:

  • The Rajya Sabha or Council of States is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of India.
  • It is a permanent body and is not subject to dissolution.
  • At present the Rajya Sabha has a maximum membership of 245, of which 233 are elected by the legislatures of the states and union territories using single transferable votes through Open Ballot while the President has the power to appoint 12 members for their contributions to art, literature, science, and social services.
  • The Upper House was founded on 3 April 1952 by the Constituent Assembly of India.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Mandatory Eco-sensitive Zone (ESZ): Recently, the Supreme Court directed that every protected forest, national park and wildlife sanctuary across the country should have a mandatory eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of a minimum one km starting from their demarcated boundaries.

Key Points:

  • The judgment came on a petition instituted for the protection of forest lands in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu.
  • This direction came from a three-judge Bench comprising of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Aniruddha Bose and B.R. Gavai.
  • In a 60-page judgment, they highlighted how the nation’s natural resources have been for years ravaged by mining and other activities.
  • It held that, government should not only act like a facilitator of economic activities for immediate upliftment of the fortunes of State.
  • Mining within the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries will not be permitted.
  • Environment Ministry guidelines show that the purpose of declaring ESZs around national parks, forests and sanctuaries is to create some kind of a “shock absorber” for the protected areas.
  • These zones would act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to those involving lesser protection.
  • The judgment observed that the government should not confine its role to that of a “facilitator” of economic activities for the “immediate upliftment of the fortunes of the State”.

Extent of the buffer zone:

  • The Apex court has fixed a minimum of 1 km, starting from the demarcation line, would act as buffer zone.
  • In case, the national park or protected forest already has a buffer zone, beyond one km, it will prevail.
  • In case, the question of extent of buffer zone is pending for any judgement, then court’s direction to maintain 1 km safety zone would be applicable till the final decision is taken under the law.

Direction to Officials:

  • Supreme Court has directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests as well as Home Secretaries of States for the compliance of this judgement.
  • They have been directed to make a list of subsisting structures within the ESZs and submit reports to the court in three months.
  • The court directed that “mining within the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries shall not be permitted”.

Views of Court on Sustainable Development:

  • The State will have to act as trustee for the benefit of public with respect to natural resources, in a bid to achieve sustainable development in the long term.

What is Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ)?

  • ESZ are areas in India that are notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), across the Protected Areas, National Park and Wildlife sanctuaries.
  • The National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) stipulated that state governments should declare land falling within 10 km of the boundaries of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries as eco fragile zones or Eco Sensitive Zones (ESZs) under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • ESZs are declared for the purpose of creating some kind of a “shock absorber” for protected areas.
  • These zones act as a transition zone from high protection zones to lesser protected zones.
  • ESZs could go up to 10 Kms around Protected Areas or beyond.

Prohibited activities:

  • In such zones, activities like Commercial mining, saw mills, industries causing pollution, establishment of major hydroelectric projects (HEP), commercial use of wood are prohibited.
  • Also, tourism, production of hazardous substances and discharge of effluents or any solid waste are all prohibited.

Regulated activities:

  • Activities like felling of trees, commercial use of natural water, the establishment of hotels and resorts, erection of electrical cables, etc are regulated.

 Permitted activities:

  • Activities like agricultural or horticultural practices, organic farming, rainwater harvesting, use of renewable energy sources, adoption of green technology etc are permitted.

Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2022: The Rajya Sabha on 30 March 2022 approved The Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2022 to remove the Bhogta caste from the list of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and include additional communities in the list.

Overview:

  • The Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was passed by a voice vote.
  • The Bhogta caste will be included instead as a Scheduled Tribe in the State.
  • The Bill also amends the schedule to the Scheduled Tribes order to include the Deshwari, Dautalbandi (Dwalbandi), Ganjhu, Patbandi, Maajhia, Raut, Khairi (Kheri), Tamaria (Tamadia) and Puran communities on the ST list.
  • The main aim of the Bill is to help people get more benefits from the provisions of reservation in education and government jobs

Note: Based on requests from the states, the government keeps amending the lists originally notified in 1950.

The Scheduled Castes order specifies the castes, races and tribes deemed to be Scheduled Castes in various states and Union territories, while the Scheduled Tribes order specifies the same for tribes and tribal communities.

Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022: The Lok Sabha has passed the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 so that three municipal corporations of Delhi (MCD) can be merged into a single entity.

Key Highlights:

  • This bill was passed by a voice vote.
  • Various amendments that were moved by the Opposition members were rejected.
  • This bill has been passed by a voice vote and various amendments that were moved by the Opposition members have been rejected.
  • The Union Cabinet had approved the Bill for the unification of Delhi’s three Municipal corporations into one Municipal Corporation.
  • A “Special officer” is to be appointed to discharge the elected wing of councilors’ functions till the new corporation’s first meeting is held.
  • The Bill omits the provision for a Director of Local Bodies.

About the Bill:

  • The Bill seeks to amend the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 passed by Parliament.
  • It envisages bringing about greater transparency, improved governance and more efficient delivery of civic service for the people of Delhi.
  • The Act was amended in 2011 by Delhi Legislative Assembly to trifurcate the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi into:

1.South Delhi Municipal Corporation - SDMC

2.North Delhi Municipal Corporation - NDMC

3.East Delhi Municipal Corporation - EDMC

  • The Bill seeks to unify the three corporations by replacing the three municipal corporations under the Act with one Corporation named the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).
  • The Act as amended in 2011 empowered the Delhi government to decide various matters under the Act such as total number of seats of councilors, delimitation of wards etc. while this Bill instead empowers the central government to decide these matters.
  • The Act provides that the number of seats in the three corporations taken together should not be more than 272 while the Bill states that the total number of seats in the new Corporation should not be more than 250.
  • The Act provides for a Director of Local Bodies to assist the Delhi government and discharge certain functions while the Bill omits the provision for a Director of Local Bodies.
  • The Bill provides that the central government may appoint a Special Officer to exercise powers of the Corporation until the first meeting of the Corporation is held after the commencement of the Bill.

Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022: The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 was recently introduced in the Lok Sabha.

Key Details:

  • The Bill introduced would allow the police and prison authorities to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples, including retina and iris scans.
  • Resistance to or refusal to allow the taking of measurements under this Act shall be deemed to be an offence under section 186 of the Indian Penal Code.
  • It also seeks to apply these provisions to persons held under any preventive detention law.
  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be the repository of physical and biological samples, signature and handwriting data that can be preserved for at least 75 years.
  • The Bill seeks to repeal the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 whose scope was limited to recording finger impressions and footprint impressions of limited category of convicted and non-convicted persons and photographs on the order of a magistrate.

Significance of the Bill:

  • The bill makes provisions for the use of modern techniques to capture and record appropriate body measurements.
  • The existing law which is the Identification of Prisoners Act is dated back to 1920. It allows taking only fingerprint and footprint impressions of a limited category of convicted persons.
  • The bill aims to increase the "ambit of persons" whose measurements can be taken as this will help the investigating agencies to gather sufficient legally admissible evidence and establish the crime of the accused person.
  • The law establishes legal authority for taking proper body measurements of those who are required to submit such measurements, which would improve the efficiency and speed of criminal investigations while also improving the conviction rate.

Issues with the Bill:

  • The opposition members have termed the Bill “unconstitutional”.
  • Opposition members argued that the Bill was beyond the legislative competence of Parliament as it violated fundamental rights of citizens, including the right to privacy.
  • They claimed that it violates Article 20 (3) of the Constitution as well as the Supreme Court judgment in the K.S. Puttaswamy case.
  • Note: Article 20(3) says that 'No person accused of an offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself'.
  • The Bill, when implied use of force in collection of biological information, could also lead to narco analysis and brain mapping.
  • It also violates human rights provisions as laid out in the United Nations charter.

Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and JB Pardiwala: Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and JB Pardiwala were recently sworn in as Supreme Court judges.

Key Highlights:

  • The oath of office was administered to them by Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana in a swearing-in ceremony held in the auditorium of the Supreme Court’s additional building complex.
  • After the appointment of the two new judges, the apex court will function at its full strength of 34.
  • The Supreme Court Collegium, chaired by Chief Justice NV Ramana, had previously recommended that Justices Dhulia and Pardiwala be elevated to the position of top court judges to the Central Government.

Justice Pardiwala is in line to be appointed Chief Justice of India years from now.

  • He would then have tenure of about two years and three months as the top judge of the country.
  • He would be the sixth member of the Parsi community to become a Supreme Court judge.

Justice Dhulia is the second judge to be elevated from Uttarakhand High Court.

  • He is from Madanpur, a remote village located in the Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand.

Note: Of the 11 judges, Justice B.V. Nagarathna, is in line to be the first woman Chief Justice of India, albeit for 36 days, in 2027.

About Supreme Court of India:

  • The Supreme Court of India (SCI) is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal under the Constitution of India, the highest constitutional court, with the power of constitutional review.
  • It consists of the Chief Justice of India and a maximum of 34 judges, it has extensive powers in the form of original, appellate and advisory jurisdictions.
  • It is regarded as the most powerful public institution in India.
  • It was established on 26 January 1950.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • The current CJI of the Supreme Court is Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana

Rajiv Kumar: Rajiv Kumar, an officer of the 1984 batch of the Indian Administrative Service of the Bihar/Jharkhand cadre has been appointed as the next Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) in the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Key Highlights:

  • Kumar will take charge of the office from the 15th of May, 2022.
  • He will be replacing Sushil Chandra who conducted the last five state assembly elections in 2022.
  • Sushil Chandra will demit the Office of the Chief Election Commissioner on 14th of this month.

About Rajiv Kumar:

  • Mr. Kumar has been a member of the three-person Election Commission of India since September 1, 2020.
  • Prior to that, he served as the chairman of the Public Enterprises Selection Board.
  • He retired from the civil service in February 2020 from the post of Union Finance Secretary.

Who has the power to appoint the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC and Election Commissioners (ECs)?

  • The power to appoint the CEC and the ECs lies with the President of India under Article 324(2) of the Constitution.
  • Article 324(2) states that “the President shall fix the number of ECs in a manner he sees fit, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament”.
  • Thus, Article 324(2) left it open for the Parliament to legislate on the issue.
  • However, in the absence of any Parliamentary law governing the appointment issue, the ECs are appointed by the government of the day, without pursuing any consultation process. There is no concept of collegium and no involvement of the opposition.

 

Indian Polity Current Affairs - June 2022

Weapons of Mass Destruction (Amendment) Bill, 2022: The Lok Sabha recently passed yet another bill that prohibits the funding of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

This Bill was introduced by External Affairs Minister Dr S.Jaishankar.

Key Details:

  • The Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill 2022 was passed unanimously in the lower house (Lok Sabha) of the Parliament to amend the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005.
  • The amendment law was passed in accordance with India's international commitments to prevent the financing of the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.
  • The 2005 Act only banned the manufacturing, transport, and transfer of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.
  • The passage of the legislation will strengthen national security and enhance India's reputation globally.

The need for amending the act:

  • The current Weapons of Mass Destruction Act does not address the financial aspects of such delivery systems, so additional measures are required to meet international obligations.
  • The need to amend the Act arose because recently, regulations relating to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems by international organisations have expanded.
  • The United Nations Security Council's targeted financial sanctions and the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force have mandated against financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems."

Objectives of the Bill:

The Bill aims to achieve three objectives:

1)Prohibit financing of any activities linked to weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

2)Empower the Centre to freeze, seize or attach funds, financial assets or economic resources for preventing such financing.

3)Prohibit making funds, financial assets or economic resources available for any prohibited activity in relation to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.

India’s 2005 WMD Act:

  • India’s 2005 WMD Act defines biological weapons as weapons that are specially designed to use various toxins or agents for hostile purposes or during armed conflict.
  • The act defines chemical weapons as weapons that are used to cause death and destruction using toxic chemicals.

What are Weapons of Mass Destruction?

  • Weapons of mass destruction (WWD) are those weapons that can inflict mass casualties, destroy nations and also cause great damage to the biosphere, or the natural structures.
  • The WMDs can be used in four ways to cause devastation:

1)Chemically,

2)Biologically,

3)Nuclear, and

4)Radiologically.

  • These weapons are frequently referred to collectively as NBC (nuclear, biological, and chemical) weapons.
  • The term weapons of mass destruction have been since at least 1937, when it was first used to describe massed formations of bomber aircraft.
  • For instance, nuclear bombs used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki attack in Japan.

When were WMDs used?

  • The first wide-scale use of chemical weapons began during World War I.
  • The Germans used mustard gases at the village of Langemarck in 1915.
  • They were also used extensively by the British and the French.
  • In World War II, the Japanese made use of biological weapons on China.
  • The United States used nuclear weapons when it detonated two atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.
  • Chemical weapons were used extensively by Iraq against Iran in the war of the 1980s.

Which countries have WMDs?

Nine countries possess nuclear weapons:

1.The US

2.Russia

3.France

4.The UK

5.China

6.India

7.Pakistan

8.North Korea

9.Israel

A vast majority of nukes are held by the US and Russia.

Efforts to control the spread of WMD:

The use of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons is regulated through the use of various international treaties.

Some of the treaties are -

  • The Geneva Protocol, 1925, which banned the use of biological and chemical weapons.
  • The Chemical Weapons Convention, 1992, and the Biological Weapons Convention, 1972, which bans chemical and biological weapons.

Note: These two treaties have been signed and ratified by India.

  • The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) regulates nuclear weapons proliferation.
  • Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993

Note: India has not signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, but is signatory to both Biological Weapons Convention and Chemical Weapons Convention.

Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022: The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 was passed by both Houses of Parliament amid heated protests by the Opposition.

Overview:

  • This Bill was introduced by the government on March 28, 2022.
  • It cleared the Lok Sabha on April 4, 2022 and the Rajya Sabha on April 6, 2022.
  • The government turned down demands that the Bill be referred to a Standing Committee for consideration.
  • Under the bill's provisions, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be the repository of physical and biological samples, signature and handwriting data that can be preserved for at least 75 years.
  • NCRB has also been empowered to share the records with any other law enforcement agency.
  • The Union government stated that the sole purpose is to improve the conviction rate in the country and to safeguard the human rights of law-abiding citizens.

According to the 2020 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB):-

  • Conviction rate in Murder cases was just 44%
  • Conviction rate in Rape cases was just 39%
  • Conviction rate in cases of attempted murder was just 24%
  • Conviction rate in robbery was just 38%
  • Conviction rate in dacoity cases was just 29%

The Union government has stated that the Bill aimed to provide the police with the essential resources for securing convictions in court.

Key Features of the Bill:

  • The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022, would repeal the existing Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.
  • The police are currently permitted to only take finger and footprint impressions of a limited category of convicts and non-convicted persons.
  • The Bill would empower the police and prison authorities to collect measurements and biometric samples of all detainees such as finger prints, palm prints, footprints, iris and retina scan, physical samples and behavioural attributes including handwriting and signatures.
  • Biological samples can be forcibly collected from the convicted or persons arrested for crimes against women or children, or in case the crime attracts a minimum of 7 years’ jail.
  • It can also be taken on the order of a magistrate to assist the investigation.
  • The Bill also seeks to apply these provisions to persons held under any preventive detention law.
  • As per the provisions of the new Bill any person convicted, arrested or detained under any preventive detention law will be required to provide the above-mentioned measurements to the police or a prison official.
  • If any person resists or refuses to allow the taking of such measurements, it shall be lawful for the police officer or prison officer to take such measurements in such manner as may be prescribed.
  • Resistance to or refusal to allow the taking of measurements under this Act shall be deemed to be an offence under section 186 of the Indian Penal Code.
  • It would authorize the police to take and preserve records of convicts and other persons for the purpose of identification and investigations.

Budget Session of Parliament 2022: The Budget Session of Parliament concluded on April 7, 2022.

Key Points of the Session:

  • In one of the most productive sessions, the Lok Sabha passed 13 Bills, including the Finance Bill, Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill and the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill.
  • The Rajya Sabha passed 11 Bills, including six Appropriation Bills and Finance Bills that were returned.
  • The Lok Sabha also had short duration discussions on climate change, the situation in Ukraine and the need to promote sports in India.
  • The total productivity of the eighth session of the 17th Lok Sabha was 129%.
  • The Rajya Sabha too recorded impressive functioning, clocking 99.8% productivity.

Note: This was the second last session for Mr. Naidu to chair the proceedings of the House before his term ends in August.

About the Budget Session:

  • The session ended a day ahead of schedule with both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha registering impressive productivity numbers and fewer disruptions.
  • Held in two parts, the Budget session had begun on January 31, 2022 with the address of President Ram Nath Kovind to a joint sitting of both the Houses.
  • It was followed by the presentation of the Budget by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, 2022.
  • On February 11, 2022, Parliament went into a recess to examine the Budget papers.
  • The session was reconvened on March 14 and concluded on 7th April 2022.

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA): The Supreme Court of India (SCI) recently upheld amendments introducing restrictions in the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) while holding that no one has a fundamental or absolute right to receive foreign contributions.

Key Details:

In a judgment that may hit non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working at the grass-root level with no direct link to foreign donors, the court reasoned that unrestrained stream of foreign funds may destabilise the sovereignty of the nation.

New amendments in FCRA:

  1. The restrictions involve a prohibition on using operational FCRA accounts to get foreign contributions.
  2. Mandatory production of the Aadhaar card for registration under the FCRA.
  3. Amendments require NGOs and recipients to open a new FCRA account at a specified branch of the State Bank of India in New Delhi as a “one-point entry” for foreign donations.

Justification of the Amendments by SCI:

  1. The Supreme Court said that free and uncontrolled inflow of foreign funds has the potential to impact the socio-economic structure and polity of the country.
  2. The court said charity could be found at home.
  3. NGOs could look within the country for donors.
  4. The apex court stated that unregulated inflow of foreign donations would only indicate that the government was incapable of looking after its own affairs and needs of its citizens.
  5. The amendments do not prohibit inflow of foreign contributions, but are a regulatory measure to permit acceptance by registered persons or persons having prior permission to do so with condition that they must themselves utilize the entire contribution.
  6. However, the court read down one of the provisions — Section 12 (A) — of the 2020 Amendment Act, which mandated the production of Aadhaar cards for registration.
  7. The Bench allowed the office-bearers of NGOs to use their Indian passports as an identification documents.

About Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010:

  • The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 is an act of the Parliament of India, by the 42nd Act of 2010.
  • The act, in its consolidating form, was originally passed in 1976 and majorly modified in 2010.
  • The FCRA Act is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • FCRA, 2010 has been enacted by the Parliament to consolidate the law to regulate the acceptance and utilization of foreign contributions (especially monetary donation) or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations or companies.
  • Under the Act, donating organizations need to register themselves every 5 years.
  • A person with a definite educational, cultural, economic, religious or social programme can accept foreign contributions after registration or permission from the Central Government.
  • However, election candidate, Member of any legislature (MP and MLAs), Political parties, publishers of a registered Newspaper, Judge, government servant,s or employees of any corporation owned by the government cannot accept the foreign contributions.
  • This Act prohibits the acceptance and utilization of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to national interest and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Note: The Act has been used by the Government of India to freeze bank accounts of certain NGOs that it found were affecting India's national interest for the wrong purposes.

 

Indian Polity Current Affairs - April 2022

Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2022: The Rajya Sabha on 30 March 2022 approved The Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2022 to remove the Bhogta caste from the list of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and include additional communities in the list.

Overview:

  • The Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was passed by a voice vote.
  • The Bhogta caste will be included instead as a Scheduled Tribe in the State.
  • The Bill also amends the schedule to the Scheduled Tribes order to include the Deshwari, Dautalbandi (Dwalbandi), Ganjhu, Patbandi, Maajhia, Raut, Khairi (Kheri), Tamaria (Tamadia) and Puran communities on the ST list.
  • The main aim of the Bill is to help people get more benefits from the provisions of reservation in education and government jobs

Note: Based on requests from the states, the government keeps amending the lists originally notified in 1950.

The Scheduled Castes order specifies the castes, races and tribes deemed to be Scheduled Castes in various states and Union territories, while the Scheduled Tribes order specifies the same for tribes and tribal communities.

Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022: The Lok Sabha has passed the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 so that three municipal corporations of Delhi (MCD) can be merged into a single entity.

Key Highlights:

  • This bill was passed by a voice vote.
  • Various amendments that were moved by the Opposition members were rejected.
  • This bill has been passed by a voice vote and various amendments that were moved by the Opposition members have been rejected.
  • The Union Cabinet had approved the Bill for the unification of Delhi’s three Municipal corporations into one Municipal Corporation.
  • A “Special officer” is to be appointed to discharge the elected wing of councilors’ functions till the new corporation’s first meeting is held.
  • The Bill omits the provision for a Director of Local Bodies.

About the Bill:

  • The Bill seeks to amend the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 passed by Parliament.
  • It envisages bringing about greater transparency, improved governance and more efficient delivery of civic service for the people of Delhi.
  • The Act was amended in 2011 by Delhi Legislative Assembly to trifurcate the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi into:

1.South Delhi Municipal Corporation - SDMC

2.North Delhi Municipal Corporation - NDMC

3.East Delhi Municipal Corporation - EDMC

  • The Bill seeks to unify the three corporations by replacing the three municipal corporations under the Act with one Corporation named the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).
  • The Act as amended in 2011 empowered the Delhi government to decide various matters under the Act such as total number of seats of councilors, delimitation of wards etc. while this Bill instead empowers the central government to decide these matters.
  • The Act provides that the number of seats in the three corporations taken together should not be more than 272 while the Bill states that the total number of seats in the new Corporation should not be more than 250.
  • The Act provides for a Director of Local Bodies to assist the Delhi government and discharge certain functions while the Bill omits the provision for a Director of Local Bodies.
  • The Bill provides that the central government may appoint a Special Officer to exercise powers of the Corporation until the first meeting of the Corporation is held after the commencement of the Bill.

Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022: The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 was recently introduced in the Lok Sabha.

Key Details:

  • The Bill introduced would allow the police and prison authorities to collect, store and analyze physical and biological samples, including retina and iris scans.
  • Resistance to or refusal to allow the taking of measurements under this Act shall be deemed to be an offence under section 186 of the Indian Penal Code.
  • It also seeks to apply these provisions to persons held under any preventive detention law.
  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be the repository of physical and biological samples, signature and handwriting data that can be preserved for at least 75 years.
  • The Bill seeks to repeal the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 whose scope was limited to recording finger impressions and footprint impressions of limited category of convicted and non-convicted persons and photographs on the order of a magistrate.

Significance of the Bill:

  • The bill makes provisions for the use of modern techniques to capture and record appropriate body measurements.
  • The existing law which is the Identification of Prisoners Act is dated back to 1920. It allows taking only fingerprint and footprint impressions of a limited category of convicted persons.
  • The bill aims to increase the "ambit of persons" whose measurements can be taken as this will help the investigating agencies to gather sufficient legally admissible evidence and establish the crime of the accused person.
  • The law establishes legal authority for taking proper body measurements of those who are required to submit such measurements, which would improve the efficiency and speed of criminal investigations while also improving the conviction rate.

Issues with the Bill:

  • The opposition members have termed the Bill “unconstitutional”.
  • Opposition members argued that the Bill was beyond the legislative competence of Parliament as it violated the fundamental rights of citizens, including the right to privacy.
  • They claimed that it violates Article 20 (3) of the Constitution as well as the Supreme Court judgment in the K.S. Puttaswamy case.
  • Note: Article 20(3) says that 'No person accused of an offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself'.
  • The Bill, when implied the use of force in the collection of biological information, could also lead to narco analysis and brain mapping.
  • It also violates human rights provisions as laid out in the United Nations charter.

 

Uttarakhand CM Oath Ceremony: Pushkar Singh Dhami was sworn in as the 11th Chief Minister of Uttarakhand in a grand ceremony on March 23, 2022.

Overview:

  • The 46-year-old is the youngest Chief Minister of the state.
  • This will be his second consecutive term.
  • Governor Lieutenant General Gurmit Singh administered him the oath of office and secrecy at the Parade Ground in Dehradun.
  • Eight Cabinet Ministers were also sworn in along with the Chief Minister.
  • The 8 Cabinet Ministers include Premchand Aggarwal, Satpal Maharaj, Ganesh Joshi, Subodh Uniyal, Dhan Singh Rawat, Rekha Arya, Chandan Ram Das and Saurabh Bahuguna.
  • The oath-taking ceremony of Uttarakhand CM was attended by all the Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states including Goa CM-designate Pramod Sawant, UP CM-designate Yogi Adityanath,  Rajasthan BJP leader Vasundhara Raje, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and other BJP leaders.

Uttarakhand Election Results 2022:

  • The Uttarakhand Assembly Polls 2022 were held in a single phase on February 14th.
  • In the elections, the BJP won 47 seats in the 70-member state assembly
  • The Congress won 19 seats, while BSP won 2 seats and two independents also won one seat each.
  • However, the two key candidates - incumbent Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and former Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat were defeated in their respective constituencies.

About Pushkar Singh Dhami:

  • Pushkar Singh Dhami was born in 1975 Kanalichhina village in Pithoragarh district.
  • He is the son of an ex-serviceman and holds a law degree.
  • He initially worked as a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) volunteer.
  • He was also previously a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student organization affiliated to RSS.
  • Dhami also served as the president of BJP Yuva Morcha in Uttarakhand twice between 2002 and 2008.
  • He is believed to be a protégé of Bhagat Singh Koshyari, the former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand.

Delhi MCD Merger: The Union Cabinet has approved a bill for the unification of Delhi’s three Municipal corporations into one Municipal Corporation.

  • The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 is likely to be tabled in the ongoing budget session of Parliament.

Key Details:

  • The national capital has five local bodies namely the
  1. North Delhi municipal corporation (NDNC)
  2. East Delhi municipal corporation (EDMC)
  3. South Delhi municipal corporation (SDMC)
  4. Delhi Cantonment Board 
  5. New Delhi Municipal Council
  • The North, South, and East Delhi corporations cover the majority of Delhi's territory.
  • Before 2012, these three corporations were known as the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).
  • The erstwhile Delhi Municipal Corporation was trifurcated into three Municipal Corporations in the year 2012 as per the Delhi Municipal Corporation amendment Act, 1911 (Delhi Act, 12 of 2011).  
  1. South Delhi Municipal Corporation - SDMC
  2. North Delhi Municipal Corporation - NDMC
  3. East Delhi Municipal Corporation - EDMC
  • North and South Municipal Corporations currently comprise 104 Wards each while East Delhi Municipal Corporation has 64 Wards.
  • MCD was the second-largest civic body in the world after the Tokyo Metropolitan Area when it was trifurcated by the then Congress establishment.
  • It was headed by a commissioner, assisted by six additional commissioners, 22 directors and department heads, to oversee key functions such as sanitation, horticulture, education, and engineering, among others.
  • After the unification of the three corporations, Delhi will have one Mayor in place of existing three Mayors.

Phangnon Konyak: Over 59 years since the Statehood, creating history, BJP's S Phangnon Konyak has become the second woman ever from Nagaland to be elected to either House of the Parliament or the State Assembly.

Overview:

  • Konyak, 44 years old is the incumbent Mahila Morcha President Nagaland unit, hailing from Mon district.
  • She is the second lady parliamentarian from Nagaland, the first being Rano M Shaiza who was elected to the Lok Sabha from the state in 1977.
  • Nagaland has not had a single woman MLA since it got statehood in 1963.
  • She was elected unopposed to the Upper House earlier this week.
  • Phangnon was declared ‘duly elected uncontested’ by Returning Officer, Khruohituonuo Rio, Additional Secretary, Nagaland Legislative Assembly(NLA), after the last hour for withdrawal of candidature on March 24, it said. 
  • She was later handed over the certificate of election by the Returning Officer.

Yogi Adityanath: Yogi Adityanath took oath as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP) for his second term in office.

Overview:

  • He was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Anandiben Patel at Lucknow’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Stadium in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and other central ministers.
  • Brajesh Pathak and Keshav Prasad Maurya also took oath as the Deputy Chief Ministers in the new government.
  • The Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government created history with its comeback as no other CM has been able to repeat a government in the state in 37 years.
  • The BJP-led NDA secured 274 seats out of 403, becoming the first party in over three decades to form a government for a second consecutive time in the state.
  • The Congress had returned to power with a majority in the state 37 years ago.
  • After this, CM Yogi Adityanath has not just made history by completing five successful years of governance but by also returning to power with a thumping majority.
  • He has become the first such BJP leader to become the CM for the second consecutive term.

Background:

  • In the 2017 Assembly elections, Adityanath was chosen as the Chief Minister by BJP after winning the poll.
  • After becoming the CM of the state, he kept 36 ministries under his direct control, including Home, Economics and Statistics, Home Guard, Sainik Welfare,  Personnel and appointment, as well as Civil Defence.
  • Before being sworn as UP chief minister in 2017, he was Gorakhpur MP for five consecutive terms from 1998 to 2017.

About Yogi Adityanath:

  • Yogi Adityanath was born on June 5, 1972, in a village in Uttarakhand.
  • He was named Ajay Singh Bisht by his parents.
  • He left home to join the movement for the construction of Ram Temple and became a disciple of Mahant Avaidyanath of Gorakhnath Temple in Gorakhpur.
  • He commenced his political journey in 1998 becoming the youngest MP from Gorakhpur.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Polity Current Affairs - March 2022

Bhagwant Mann: Punjab CM-designate Bhagwant Mann, took oath as the new Chief Minister of Punjab on March 16, 2022 in a historic ceremony, in the presence of thousands of people at Khatkar Kalan,  Bhagat Singh's native village.

Key Highlights:

  • The 48-year-old had submitted his resignation on March 14, 2022, from membership of Lok Sabha to Speaker Om Birla.
  • He met Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit at Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh on March 12 to stake claim to form the government in the state.
  • He has become the youngest Punjab CM since 1970s.
  • He is also the first non-Congress, non-Akali Chief Minister of Punjab.
  • He was an elected Lok Sabha MP from Sangrur constituency.
  • He was elected the leader of the AAP Legislature Party at a meeting of the party MLAs in Mohali on March 11.

Punjab Election Results 2022:

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won a historic victory in Punjab Assembly Elections 2022 by claiming 92 seats in the 117-member assembly, decimating both Congress and Akali Dal and reducing them to 18 and 3 seats respectively.

About Punjab:

  • Punjab is a state in northern India.
  • It is bounded by the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir to the north, Himachal Pradesh to the northeast, Haryana to the south and southeast, and Rajasthan to the southwest and by the country of Pakistan to the west.
  • Punjab in its present form came into existence on 1 November 1966.
  • The city of Chandigarh, within the Chandigarh union territory, is the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana.
  • Punjab means "The Land of Five Waters", which are Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas.
  • The current Governor of Punjab is Banwarilal Purohit respectively.

Hijab Ban: The Karnataka High Court recently upheld the ban on the wearing of hijab (head scarf) by students in schools and colleges in the State.

Key Points:

The Karnataka High Court has settled the debate in favour of the state government and educational institutions that prohibited hijab in classrooms.

When considering the hijab row case, the Karnataka High Court considered four key questions.

Question 1:

Is wearing a hijab an essential part of religious practice in Islam?

  • Karnataka High Court held that wearing the hijab is not an essential religious practice in Islam and is not, therefore, protected under by the right to freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution.

Article 25: Article 25 guarantees a person the freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate her religion.

But this fundamental right is subject to public order, morality and health. It is not an absolute right.

Question 2:

Uniform VS Fundamental Right:

  • The second essential question before the high court was whether school administration prescribing a uniform is legal or if it violates the petitioners' fundamental rights as guaranteed by Articles 19 and 21.
  • The court said it was a reasonable restriction that was constitutionally permissible.

Question 3:

Is Uniform Discriminatory?

  • The third crucial question to investigate was whether the February 5 government decision prohibiting the wearing of hijab on college was ineffective, arbitrary, and imposed "without application of mind."
  • The Bench also upheld the legality of the Karnataka government’s February 5, 2022, order prescribing guidelines for uniforms in schools and pre-university colleges under the provisions of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983, after a row over hijab in Udupi and other districts.
  • The high court upheld that the government has power to issue the order banning clothes that could disturb peace, harmony and public order and no case is made out for its invalidation.
  • The Bench also spoke about the possibility of some “unseen hands” behind the hijab row to engineer social unrest and disharmony, and expressed dismay over the issue being blown out of proportion.
  • The court said that school uniform will cease to be a uniform if hijab is also allowed.

Question 4:

Were the students were harassed by teachers?

  • The high court bench's final benchmark question was whether the principal, teachers, and panel members responsible for banning hijab in classrooms violated the children' rights by enforcing the school uniform code.
  • The court said that the idea of schooling is incomplete without teachers, education and a uniform.

The Hijab Controversy:

  • The hijab dispute erupted in Karnataka after the Udupi college issued instructions for the academic year in July 2021 requiring a uniform dress code.
  • Six students (who later became the principal petitioners in the Karnataka High Court) filed a complaint in September alleging religious discrimination by professors.
  • By December, their complaint had evolved into a demonstration, prompting the district administration to intervene.
  • The protest had spread to other colleges and districts by January.
  • The Karnataka High Court began hearing a slew of petitions in the case in February.

Assam Accord: the Assam government recently informed the Assembly that on the basis of the Assam Accord inked in 1985, approximately 1.44 lakh illegal foreigners were found in the state till January 31, 2022, and around 30,000 of them were deported to their countries of origin.

Key points:

The government added that definitions of phrases mentioned in the Accord such as ‘Axomiya janagan’ (Assamese people), ‘khilonjia’ (indigenous) and ‘adi basinda’ (original inhabitants) were yet to be determined.

Who is a foreigner under the Assam Accord?

  • The Assam Accord was signed in on August 15, 1985, by the Centre and the Assam government with the All Assam Student Union (AASU) and the All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad.
  • According to the Assam Accord, all foreigners who came to Assam on or after March 25, 1971, and stayed illegally would be detected and steps would be taken to deport them.
  • This movement had spearheaded the 1979-85 Assam Movement against migration from Bangladesh.
  • The Accord set March 24, 1971 as a cut-off. Anyone who had come to Assam before midnight on that date would be an Indian citizen, while those who had come after would be dealt with as foreigners.
  • The same cut-off was used in updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Why is it important to define ‘Assamese people’?

  • Clause 6 of the Assam Accord promises “constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
  • However, it doesn’t provide clear cut definitions to identify who would be the “Assamese people”.
  • Clause 6 is important because many felt the 1971 cut-off was inadequate to address the impact of migration.
  • It is seen as a provision that would guarantee certain benefits to the Assamese people to compensate for the 1971 cut-off.

Why is the definition difficult?

  • According to Dr Kaustubh Deka, from the political science faculty at Dibrugarh University, ‘Axomiya’ or ‘Assamese’ is a contested term and there is no specific universal definition.
  • Assam’s demography has been shaped by decades of migration.
  • Many feel people whose ancestors were living in Assam before 1826, when Assam was merged with British India, are Axomiya while others feel ‘Axomiya’ include residents of Assam before 1951, when the first NRC was drawn up.
  • While they might not be native speakers of an indigenous language, such as Assamese or Bodo or Karbi, the question was whether the definition of “Assamese” could be used to exclude someone who has lived in Assam for 100 years.

Credentials from Ambassadors/High Commissioners: The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, on 16 March 2022, from five Envoys at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Key Highlights:

They are:

  1. Ambassador of Algeria Abderrahmane Benguerrah
  2. High Commissioner of Malawi Leonard Senza Mengezi
  3. High Commissioner of Canada Cameron Dean MacKay
  4. Ambassador of Indonesia Ms Ina Hagniningtyas Krisnamurthi
  5. Ambassador of Russia Denis Evgenyevich Alipov.

After the presentation of credentials, the President interacted with the five envoys separately.

He congratulated them on their appointments and emphasized the warm and friendly relations and the multifaceted relationship that India shared with these countries.

The President also wished them success in strengthening bilateral ties and for their well-being and progress and prosperity of the friendly people.

Through the Ambassadors and the High Commissioners, the President also conveyed his personal regards to their leadership.

The envoys present at the event reiterated their commitment to work closely to strengthen their ties with India, the Rashtrapati Bhavan communique added.

 

 

National Youth Parliament Festival-2022: Lok Sabha Speaker, Shri Om Birla addressed the valedictory function of the 3rd edition of National Youth Parliament Festival-2022 ((NYPF-2022) in the Central Hall of Parliament, New Delhi on 11th March 2022.

Key Highlights:

  • The NYPF 2022 was held on 10th and 11th March 2022.
  • At the event, Shri Om Birla presented awards to the winners of the third edition of National Youth Parliament Festival and conveyed his best wishes to all the participants.
  • Ms. Rageshwari Anjana from Bhopal won the first position, Shri Siddharth Joshi from Dungarpur, Rajasthan got the second position and Ms. Amarpreet Kaur from Bathinda received the third position in National Youth Parliament 2022 national round competition.
  • The top three National Winners got an opportunity to speak before the Lok Sabha Speaker.
  • Around 2 lakh 44 thousand youth across the country had participated in the District Youth Parliaments (DYPs) followed by State Youth Parliaments (SYPs).

Key Points about NYPF:

  • National Youth Parliament is an innovative programme to equip youth with the understanding of parliamentary procedures and democratic processes.
  • NYPF is based on the Prime Minister's proposal from his Mann Ki Baat Address on December 31, 2017.
  • The first edition of the NYPF was held from the 12th to the 27th of February, 2019, with the theme "Be the Voice of New India and Find Solutions and Contribute to Policy."
  • It was jointly organized by National Service Scheme (NSS) and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS), under the aegis of Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sport.
  • 2nd edition of NYPF was organized from 23rd December, 2020 to 12th January, 2022 with the theme “YUVAAH- Utsah Naye Bharat Ka” through virtual mode.
  • The 3rd edition of NYPF was launched on 14th February 2022 at District level through virtual mode.
  • Around 2 lakh 44 thousand youth across the country participated in the District Youth Parliaments (DYPs) followed by State Youth Parliaments (SYPs).

What are the objectives of NYPF?

The objectives of NYPF are as follows:

  • To hear the voice of young generation between 15-29 years of age on various issues, through deliberations in Youth Parliaments at District, State, and National levels.
  • To encourage the youth to become involved with public issues and form their opinions.
  • To improve the youth's decision-making ability.
  • To develop tolerance for other people's points of view in children and teenagers.

 

  • To document the views of the young generation on the Vision of New India.
  • To make the perspectives of youth available to policymakers so that they can act on them.

With India's rising worldwide importance, the country's role as a "Vishva Guru" will gain even more impetus.

AP & three capitals: In a setback to the state government's ambitions for three capitals, the Andhra Pradesh (AP) High Court recently ordered the Amaravati Master Plan to be implemented and all development activities be continued in the region.

Key Details:

  • According to a three-member division bench of the High Court the government must honour the deal reached with farmers who gave up their lands for the establishment of the capital city of Amaravati.
  • The high court has clearly stated that the state assembly has no jurisdiction to enact laws over the capital city.
  • The bench ordered the government file an affidavit the progress of the development works in Amaravati in six months.

About tri-capital plan:

  • The Andhra Pradesh state government's plan for a tri-capital calls for the setting up executive, legislative and judicial capitals at Visakhapatnam, Amaravati and Kurnool respectively.
  • After bifurcation, the state lost its capital and development went on backfoot.
  • Keeping this in mind, the Chief Minister appointed three committees, all of which recommended decentralization as the sole option.
  • The Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA) Act and the Andhra Pradesh Decentralization and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act were passed for development of the state capital post bifurcation with a specific area demarcated as the capital region.
  • For the purpose, the then government acquired 34,000 acres of land through APCRDA under a land pooling scheme for establishing the capital at Amaravati.
  • Kurnool was the first capital of Andhra state when it was split from Tamilnadu and it is regarded as the best place to be the judicial capital.
  • The state assembly proceedings were planned to happen in Amaravati and the high court to be located in Kurnool while Visakhapatnam was chosen as the location for the Chief Minister's and Governor's offices.

 However, the opposition on the other hand has called the Governor's decision on the three-capital plan as a historic disaster.

They further claimed that the proposal of three capitals and the repeal of APCRDA were in violation of the AP Reorganization Act, 2014, which only allowed for one capital.

Additional Info:

States/UTs with more than one capital cities:

  • Maharashtra has two capitals - Mumbai and Nagpur, with Nagpur serving as the state's winter capital.
  • Himachal Pradesh has two capitals — Dharamshala and Shimla (Summer).
  • The Union Territory Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has two capitals — Srinagar in summers and Jammu in winters.
  • Uttarakhand with 13 districts is separated into two divisions- Garhwal and Kumaon.
  • The winter capital of Uttarakhand is Dehradun and Gairsain/Bhararisain, a town in Chamoli district, is the summer capital of Uttarakhand.

Other states with similar proposal:

  • The government of Tamil Nadu with its present capital Chennai has proposed the idea of a second capital, with many people asking for Madurai or Tiruchirappalli to be given this honor.
  • Karnataka, whose current capital is Bengaluru, but it also conducts winter sessions in Belagavi (not announced officially).

Two states having one capital:

  • Chandigarh is the capital of Punjab is Chandigarh as well as Haryana and is thus administered separately as a Union Territory of India.
  • The Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh serves as the state government's judicial branch.

About Andhra Pradesh:

  • Andhra Pradesh is situated in the south-eastern part of India.
  • It came into existence in its present form in 1956 as a result of the demand of the Andhras for a separate state.
  • Capitals are Visakhapatnam (executive capital), Kurnool (judicial capital, Amaravati (legislative capital.)
  • The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Andra Pradesh is Biswabhusan Harichandan and Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy respectively.

Yupp TV: Prasar Bharati, India’s public broadcaster has signed a MOU with Yupp TV, an over-the-top (OTT) platform.

Key Points:

  • The MoU was signed by the Prasar Bharati CEO, Shashi Shekhar Vempati and Yupp TV Founder and CEO Uday Reddy.
  • It is aimed at expanding the reach of DD India channel, which puts forth the country’s perspective on major international developments on global platforms.
  • It is also aims to showcase the country’s culture and values to the world. 
  • With this, DD India is now available in the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), Europe, West Asia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand on the OTT platform of Yupp TV.
  • DD India, Prasar Bharati’s international channel is available in more than 190 countries.
  • The channel provides worldwide viewers with India's perspective on all local and global events, as well as serving as a link between India and the Indian diasporas around the world.

About YuppTV:

  • YuppTV is an over-the-top (OTT) content provider for South Asian content including live television and films with recording and storage features.
  • It was founded in October 2006.
  • It is headquartered in Atlanta and Hyderabad.
  • Its current CEO is Uday Reddy.
  • It offers 300+ TV channels in 15 languages which are Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Oriya, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Sinhalese, Bangla, Nepali, Urdu and English.

About Prasar Bharati:

  • Prasar Bharati, is India's public broadcaster.
  • It is a statutory autonomous body set up by an Act of Parliament and comprises the Doordarshan Television Network and All India Radio, which were earlier media units of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • The Parliament of India passed the Prasar Bharati Act to grant this autonomy in 1990, but it was not enacted until 15 September 1997.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi, India.

Justice D N Patel: The Centre has recently announced that Delhi High Court Chief Justice D N Patel is to be appointed as the new chairperson of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).

Key points:

  • Chief Justice D N Patel is going to be retired on March 12th, 2022.
  • The approval for his appointment was given by the Cabinet Appointments Committee has given for four years from the date of assumption of charge or till attaining 70 years age, whichever is the earliest.
  • He will receive a salary of Rs 2.5 lakh per month.

About Justice D N Patel:

  • Delhi High Court Chief Justice DN (Dhirubhai Naranbhai) Patel is from Gujarat and was elected as a judge in March 2004.
  • Born on March 13, 1960, he became Chief Justice of Delhi High Court in June 2019.
  • He has also served as the Acting Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court.

About TDSAT:

  • The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) was established in 2000, by amending the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act, 1997.
  • It was established to adjudicate disputes and dispose of appeals with a view to protect the interests of service providers and consumers of the telecom sector and to promote and ensure orderly growth of the telecom sector.
  • All decisions or orders of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) can be challenged through appeals in TDSAT.
  • In January 2004, the Government included broadcasting and cable services also within the purview of TRAI Act.
  • The jurisdiction of TDSAT stands extended to matters that lay before the Cyber Appellate Tribunal and also the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority Appellate Tribunal.

Composition of TDSAT:

The Tribunal consists of a Chairperson and two Members appointed by the Central Government.

Chairperson appointed by the Central government.

The Chairperson should be or should have been a Judge of the Supreme Court or the Chief Justice of a High Court.

Two Members are appointed by the Central Government.

A Member should have held the post of Secretary to the Government of India (GoI) or any equivalent post in the Central Government or the State Government for a period of not less than two years or a person who is well versed in the field of technology, telecommunication, industry, commerce or administration.

Article 80: The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation recently approved a proposal to amend Article 80 of the Constitution so that its councilors could send a representative to the Rajya Sabha.

About Article 80 of the Indian Constitution:

  • Article 80 of the Constitution of India deals with the composition of the council of states also called the Upper House and Rajya Sabha (Upper House).
  • According to Article 80, the Rajya Sabha shall consist of not more than 238 representatives of the States and of the Union territories, and 12 nominated members.

Key Points:

  • So far, Chandigarh has no representation in the Rajya Sabha.
  • In the case of Chandigarh, the Private Member Bill was introduced by Congress MP from Anandpur Sahib, Punjab, Manish Tewari, who is a resident of Chandigarh.
  • The bill (Private Member Bill) sought the adding of a provision provided that the representative of the Union Territory of Chandigarh in the council of states shall be elected by an electoral college.
  • The Electoral College should consist of elected members of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh constituted under the Punjab Municipal Corporation (Extension to Chandigarh) Act, 1994 in Article 80 of the Constitution.
  • MP Tewari has also sought amendment of the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution with ‘Entry 32, Chandigarh.”

4th Schedule of the Constitution:

  • The 4th Schedule of the Constitution contains provisions as to the allocation of seats in the Council of States.
  • It contains the number of seats represented in the Council of states (Rajya Sabha) from each State and Union Territory.

Private Member Bill:

  • The Private Member Bill is a bill introduced by a Member of Parliament (MP), who is not a minister.
  • MPs sitting in the Opposition mostly bring Private Member Bills in the house.

Representation of Union Territories (UTs):

  • The representatives of each Union Territory (UT) in the Rajya Sabha are indirectly elected by members of an electoral college specially constituted for the purpose.
  • This election is also held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
  • Out of the 9 Union Territories, only 3 (Delhi, Puducherry and Jammu & Kashmir) have representation in Rajya Sabha.
  • The populations of the other 6 Union Territories are too small to have any representative in the Rajya Sabha.

Representation of States:

  • The representatives of states in the Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of state legislative assemblies.
  • The election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
  • The seats are allotted to the states in the Rajya Sabha on the basis of population.
  • Hence, the number of representatives varies from state to state.
  • For example, Uttar Pradesh has 31 members while Tripura has 1 member only.

Sabka Vikas MahaQuiz: MyGov, on 1st March, 2022 has launched the “Sabka Vikas MahaQuiz” series.

Key Points about Sabka Vikas MahaQuiz series:

  • Sabka Vikas MahaQuiz series was launched in order to build awareness amongst citizens about good governance.
  • It aims to sensitize the participants about the various government schemes and initiatives.
  • This is a year-long project and consists of 14 episodes, all hosted at Quiz.MyGov.in
  • The quiz will be available in Hindi & English and all other major languages.
  • Every week, the top 1000 winners will be announced.
  • Every winner will receive Rs 2000/- each
  • At the end of 52 weeks, there will be a bumper prize for those who took part in all the quizzes
  • This is a timed quiz with 20 questions to be answered in 700 seconds
  • The first quiz is on Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY).

About PM-GKAY:

PM-GKAY is a pro-poor package intended to reduce the challenges encountered by the poor as a result of disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About MyGov:

  • MyGov has been established as the Government of India's Citizen Engagement Platform.
  • This platform collaborates with multiple Government bodies/ Ministries to engage with citizens for policy formulation and seeks the opinion of people on issues/ topics of public interest and welfare.
  • It was established on 26th July 2014.
  • Its main aim is to promote the active participation of Indian citizens in the governance and development of India.
  • It also aims to create a common platform for Indian citizens in a bid to “crowdsource governance ideas from citizens”.

Enforcing Fundamental Duties: The Supreme Court of India (SCI) has asked the Centre and States to respond to a petition to enforce the fundamental duties of citizens, including patriotism and unity of the nation, through “comprehensive, well-defined laws”.

Key Highlights:

  • A Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul issued a notice in a petition filed by Durga Dutt.
  • The plea emphasized- the need to enforce fundamental duties arises from a new illegal trend of protest by protesters in the garb of freedom of speech and expression.
  • This has been increasingly done by way of blocking road and rail routes in order to compel the government to meet their demands.

About Fundamental Duties:

  • The idea of Fundamental Duties is inspired by the Constitution of Russia (erstwhile Soviet Union).
  • These were incorporated in Part IV-A of the Constitution by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976 on the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee.
  • Originally 10 in number, one more duty was added through the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002 during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government.
  • Like the Directive Principles of State Policy, the Fundamental duties are statutory duties, not enforceable by law, but a court may take them into account while adjudicating on a matter.
  • The idea behind their incorporation was to emphasize the obligation of the citizen in exchange for the Fundamental Rights that he or she enjoys.

The 11 Fundamental Duties are:

  1. To abide by the constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem
  2. To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom
  3. To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India — it is one of the preeminent national obligations of all the citizens of India.
  4. To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so
  5. To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women
  6. To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture — our cultural heritage is one of the noblest and richest, it is also part of the heritage of the Earth
  7. To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures
  8. To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform
  9. To safeguard public property and to abjure violence
  10. To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement
  11. To provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of six and fourteen years (added by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002).

Note:

  • The eleventh duty is very important between the others, it was inserted in this article under the 82nd amendment in 2002 which is: –
  • “Who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years.”
  • It is the most important because it is the only duty that is compulsory to follow in the eyes of law; it became compulsory in this case.

What is the importance of Fundamental Duties in the Indian Constitution?

  1. The Importance of Fundamental Duties in the Indian Constitution is as follows:
  2. They remind Indian Citizens of their duty towards their society, fellow citizens, and the nation.
  3. They warn citizens against anti-national and anti-social activities.
  4. They inspire citizens & promote a sense of discipline and commitment among them.
  5. They help the courts in examining and determining the constitutional validity of a law.
  6. Both moral and civic duties have been laid down under the fundamental duties, like, “the Indian citizens should not only cherish the noble ideas that lead to the freedom struggle but they should also respect the Constitution, the National Flag, and National Anthem”.
  7. They give a chance to the people to have active participation in society rather than being a spectator.

Shri Hemananda Biswal: Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi recently expressed deep grief over the passing away of the Former Chief Minister of Odisha and veteran Congress leader, Shri Hemananda Biswal.

Shri Hemananda Biswal passed away on 26th February 2022 at the age of 82.

About Shri Hemananda Biswal:

  • He was the first tribal CM of Odisha.
  • He served as Chief Minister of Odisha from 7 December 1989 to 5 March 1990, and again from 6 December 1999 to 5 March 2000.
  • He was also the MP of Sundergarh from 2009 to 2014.
  • The veteran leader was well known for his administrative capabilities.

Vicarious liability: The High Court of Kerala, in a major decision, has recently held that the administrators or creators of a WhatsApp group cannot be held vicariously liable for any objectionable content posted on it by any of its members.

The ruling by the high court came while quashing a Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act (POCSO) case against the admin of a WhatsApp group one of whose members had posted child pornography on it.

What's the case?

  • The petitioner in the case had created a WhatsApp group called 'Friends'.
  • The group had two other admins apart from him, one of whom is the first accused in the case.
  • In March 2020, the first accused posted child porn on the group.
  • A case was registered against the group admins based on Section 67 B (a, b and d) of the Information and Technology act and sections 13, 14, and 15 of the POCSO act.
  • The petitioner was made the second accused since he created the group.
  • This led to him approaching the court.

Vicarious liability of admin of WhatsApp group:

  • The primary question before the Court was whether the creator or admin of a WhatsApp group can be criminally liable for offensive content posted by a group member.
  • The court examined whether the admin, the petitioner in the case, has vicarious liability or can be held liable for the actions of the social media group member.
  • Vicarious criminal liability can be fixed only by reason of a provision of a statute and not otherwise.
  • In the absence of a special penal law creating vicarious liability, an admin of a WhatsApp group cannot be held liable for the objectionable post by a group member.
  • The third party also carries its own share of the liability.
  • Vicarious liability can arise in situations where one party is supposed to be responsible for (and have control over) the third party and is negligent in carrying out that responsibility and exercising that control.
  • There is no law by which an admin of any messaging service can be held liable for a post made by a member of the group.
  • A WhatsApp admin cannot be an intermediary under the IT Act.
  • He does not receive or transmit any record or provide any service with respect to such record.
  • Such liability arises usually because of some or the other legal relationship between the two.
  • This often occurs in the context of civil law, for instance in employment cases.
  • In a criminal context, vicarious liability assigns guilt, or criminal liability, to a person for wrongful acts committed by someone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Polity Current Affairs - February 2022

Anti-Lynching Bill: Bills passed against mob lynching in the past 4 years by at least 3 States ruled by BJP rivals and one governed by the party itself have not been implemented since lynching is not defined as a crime under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

These states include Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Manipur and West Bengal.

Why are the bills still pending?

  • In 2019, the MHA informed the Lok Sabha that it had received the bills passed by the State legislatures that have been reserved by the Governor for consideration of the President.
  • The President has to go with the advice given by the Council of Ministers, in the case of such legislation, represented by the MHA.
  • The Ministry examines the State legislations on three following grounds:-

1. Repugnancy with Central laws

2. Deviation from national or central policy and

3. Legal and constitutional validity

Dealing with lynching in India:

  • The Union Home Ministry informed Parliament in 2019 that there was “no separate” definition for lynching under the IPC, adding that such incidents could be dealt with under Sections 300 and 302 of the IPC which pertain to murder.

Note: Section 302 provides that whoever commits murder shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to a fine.

Offence of murder is a cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable offence.

  • In 2017, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) collected data on mob lynching, hate crimes and cow vigilantism.
  • However, the figures were not published and the work was discontinued as these crimes are not defined and the data were found to be unreliable.
  • In 2018, the Supreme Court asked Parliament to make lynching a separate offense.
  • Since then, the government is working to overhaul the IPC framed in 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to consider mob-lynching.

What is meant by Lynching?

Lynching means any act or series of acts of violence or aiding, abetting (encouraging) such act or acts thereof, whether spontaneous or planned, by a mob on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ethnicity or any other related grounds.

Reason for the rise in lynching:

The reasons for rise in lynching are as follows:

Impunity: So far, the state has done little to shake that confidence. Therefore, lynch mobs are confident of getting away with it.

Communalism: In the case of cow-linked lynchings, a lot depends on whether the incumbent in power considers it compatible with its political interests to crack down on such attacks.

Unemployment: High Unemployment rates leave millions of youth unengaged.

Fake news: Another factor that gave rise to lynchings is the spread of fake news through social media platforms which incite a sudden wave of antagonism.

Alienation: The sense of fraternity has been fading away due to modernity. This causes the growth of individualism and erosion of associational life.

Background:

Supreme Court  2018 guidelines:

The Supreme Court of India directed the Parliament to draft new legislation to effectively deal with incidents of mob lynching, told the Centre and state governments to take preventive measures to control the spread of messages on social media platforms that can incite a mob to lynch.

The top court gave a slew of directions, including preventive, remedial and punitive steps, to deal with the crime. They are as follows:-

  1. The state governments shall designate a senior police officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.
  2. The state governments shall immediately identify districts, sub-divisions and villages where instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the recent past.
  3. The nodal officers shall bring to the notice of the DGP any inter-district coordination issues for devising a strategy to tackle lynching and mob violence-related issues.
  4. It shall be the duty of every police officer to cause a mob to disperse, which, in his opinion, has a tendency to cause violence in the disguise of vigilantism or otherwise
  5. Central and the state governments should broadcast on radio and television and other media platforms including the official websites that lynching and mob violence shall invite serious consequences.
  6. Curb and stop the dissemination of irresponsible and explosive messages, videos and other material on various social media platforms. Register FIR under relevant provisions of law against persons who disseminate such messages.
  7. Ensure that there is no further harassment of the family members of the victims.
  8. State governments shall prepare a lynching/mob violence victim compensation scheme.
  9. Cases of lynching and mob violence shall be specifically tried by designated court/fast track courts earmarked for that purpose in each district. The trial shall preferably be concluded within six months.
  10. To set a stern example in cases of mob violence and lynching, the trial court must ordinarily award maximum sentence upon conviction of the accused person.
  11. If it is found that a police officer or an officer of the district administration has failed to fulfill his duty, it will be considered an act of deliberate negligence.

Scheme of Modernization of State Police Forces: The Union government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently approved the umbrella scheme of Modernization of State Police Forces (MPF) for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26.

Key Highlights:

  • The approval for the Police force modernization scheme moves forward the initiative of the Union Home Minister to modernize and improve the functioning of Police Forces of States and Union Territories.
  • It comprises all relevant sub-schemes that contribute to modernization and improvement.
  • It will continue for another five years.
  • The scheme has a total financial outlay of ₹26,275 crore.

Salient Features of the MPF Scheme:

  • Under the MPF scheme, provision has been made for internal security, law and order, adoption of modern technology by police, assisting States for narcotics control.
  • It aims at strengthening the criminal justice system by developing a robust forensic set-up in India.
  • The Centre will provide ₹4,846 crore for the modernization of state police forces.
  • The government has approved ₹2,080.50 crore under the central scheme for the modernization of forensic capacities.
  • The amount has been approved to develop operationally independent high-quality forensic sciences facilities to aid scientific and timely investigation through modernization of resources.
  • Rs 18,839 crore has been allocated for security-related expenditure Jammu and Kashmir, insurgency affected North Eastern States Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected areas.
  • With the implementation of the ‘National Policy and Action Plan’ for combating LWE, the LWE violence incidents have come down drastically.
  • To further pursue this accomplishment, six LWE related schemes have been approved, with a Central outlay of Rs. 8,689 crores.
  • These schemes include Special Central Assistance (SCA) to Most LWE Affected Districts & Districts of Concern to consolidate the gains.
  • Rs 350 crores have been allocated to raise India Reserve Battalions as well as Specialised India Reserve Battalions by the government.
  • The government has extended the central sector scheme of assistance to states and union territories for narcotics control with an outlay of ₹50 crores.

Background:

Key Points of MPF Scheme:

  • Scheme for Modernization of State Police Forces (MPF Scheme) is being implemented by the union government since 1969-70 for reforming the state police forces.
  • The MPF Scheme is a centrally sponsored scheme.

Under the Scheme-

  • The States are grouped into two categories, namely Category ‘A’ and Category ‘B’ for the purpose of funding both under ‘Non-Plan’ and Plan.
  • Category ‘A’ States, namely, J&K and 8 North Eastern States including Sikkim will be eligible to receive financial assistance on a 90:10 Centre: State sharing basis.
  • The remaining States will be in Category ‘B’ and will be eligible for financial assistance on a 60:40 Centre: State sharing basis.

Who is responsible for implementing the MPF scheme?

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is responsible for implementing the MPF Scheme.

Objectives of MPF scheme:

  • The objective of the scheme is to gradually reduce the dependence of the State Governments on the Army and the Central Armed Police Forces to control internal security and law and order situations.
  • This is done by equipping the State Police Forces adequately and strengthening their training infrastructure.
  • The main focus of the scheme is to strengthen police infrastructure at cutting edge level by the construction of secure police stations, training centres, police housing (residential), equipping the police stations with the required mobility, modern weaponry, communication equipment and forensic set-up, etc.

New Rules for Children on Two-wheelers: The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways issued a notification stating that children under the age of 4 must wear a helmet and safety vest when riding a two-wheeled vehicle.

Highlights:

  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, vide notification dated February 15, 2022, has amended the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, making the two safety equipment mandatory for children between the age of nine months and four years.
  • The new rules will come into force after one year from the date of publication of the Central Motor Vehicles (Second Amendment) Rules, 2022.

Key Points:

  • This has been notified under Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, which mandates that the central government may, by rules, provide for measures for the safety of children below four years of age, riding or being carried on a motorcycle.
  • Amending Rule 138 of Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, the Centre notified that the speed of a motorcycle with a child up to the age of four years being carried on the pillion will not be more than 40 kmph.
  • For children below four years, safety harnesses shall be used for attaching the child to the driver of the motorcycle.

Safety Harness:

  • The safety harness is a vest to be worn by the child, which shall be adjustable, with a pair of straps attached to the vest and forming shoulder loops to be worn by the driver.
  • This can be achieved if the driver and the pillion rider wear safety harnesses so the child can be fastened securely to the driver by attaching the straps to the back of the vest and crossing the straps to form two large crossover loops that pass between the passenger’s legs and the child sitting on the seat.
  • This way, the upper torso of the child is securely attached to the driver.

Inter-Operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) Project: Union Government recently approved implementation of the Phase II of the Inter-Operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) project during the period 2022-23 to 2025-26.

Key points:

  • The second phase of the ICJS Project is to be implemented as a Central Sector Scheme at a total cost of Rs 3,375 crore.
  • Phase II of the ICJS project will be a step towards ensuring effective and modern policing.
  • The ICJS system would be made available through a dedicated and secure cloud-based infrastructure with high-speed connectivity.

Implementation:

  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in association with National Informatics Center (NIC) will be responsible for the implementation of the project.
  • The project will be implemented in collaboration with the States and Union Territories.

Note:

In Phase-I of the ICJS project, individual IT systems have been implemented and stabilized; also search of records have been enabled on these systems.

Under Phase-II, the system is being built on the principle of ‘one data one entry’ whereby data is entered only once in one pillar and the same is then available in all other pillars without the need to re-enter the data in each pillar.

About ICJS:

Inter-Operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS)  is a national platform for enabling integration of the main IT system used for the delivery of Criminal Justice in the country.

 It seeks to integrate the five pillars of the system namely-

1. Police (Crime and Criminal Tracking and Network Systems),

2. e-Forensics for Forensic Labs,

3. e-Courts for Courts,

4. e-Prosecution for Public Prosecutors

5. e-Prisons for Prisons.

About NCRB:

  • The National Crime Records Bureau, (NCRB), is an Indian government agency responsible for collecting and analyzing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws (SLL).
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • It is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India (GoI).
  • NCRB was set up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators based on the recommendations of the Tandon Committee, National Police Commission (1977-1981) and the MHA’s Taskforce (1985).
  • Subsequently, NCRB was entrusted with the responsibility for monitoring, coordinating and implementing the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) project in the year 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022: The Haryana Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, approved the draft of the Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022.

  • The draft will now be tabled in the Vidhan Sabha during the Budget Session beginning March 2.

Key Points:

  • It seeks to prohibit religious conversion effected through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage or for marriage, by making it an offence.
  • According to the draft Bill, the burden of proof “lies on the accused”.
  • The Bill, on the lines of recent anti-conversion laws passed in other States, proposes to make the conversion by marriage an offence.
  • Several BJP-ruled states including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have such legislation against illegal conversion.
  • It also provides for greater punishment for the conversion of minors, women, and members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
  • The burden of proof as to whether a conversion was not affected through misrepresentation, use of force, under threat, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage or for marriage for the purpose of carrying out conversion lies on the accused.
  • The draft Bill provides for declaring marriages null and void, which were solemnized by concealment of religion.

Why is there a need for such a bill?

  • Several “Love Jihad” incidents were reported in the state.
  • Love Jihad is a term used in the country to address Muslim men forcing Hindu girls to convert to Islam.
  • These men do this by marrying them.
  • According to several Hindutva leaders, it is a strategy used by the Muslim world to eradicate Hinduism.
  • There are pseudo-social organizations that use this strategy to convert vulnerable sections of society.
  • This phrase is not found in central government laws or state government laws.
  • However, it is commonly used in politics.

Objectives and reasons for the draft Bill:

  • As per the draft Bill’s statements of objectives and reasons the right to freedom of religion is guaranteed under Articles 255, 26, 27, and 28 of the Constitution.
  • It adds that the objective of this right is to sustain the principle of secularism.
  • According to the Constitution, “state has no religion, all religions are equal, and no religion shall be given preference over the other”,” it reads, adding that the citizens are free to preach, practice and propagate any religion of their choice.

Justification:

  • The Constitution confers on each individual the fundamental right to profess, practice and propagate his religion.
  • However, the Right to freedom of religion on each individual cannot be extended to interpret the collective right to convert.
  • Because it belongs to each individual.
  • Still, there are mass conversions happening in the country.
  • The people converting are mostly the vulnerable sections.
  • Such people are offered allurement for conversion.
  • In someplace, the men marry the girls concealing their identity.
  • They reveal that they follow Islam after getting married.
  • Also, they force their wives to get converted.

How will it be established?

  • Any individual who wants to convert from one religion to another should submit a declaration that the conversion is not being done under unlawful means.
  • The term unlawful means by use of force, fraudulent means, coercion, undue influence or under threat.

Central Media Accreditation Guidelines-2022: The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting recently released the Central Media Accreditation Guidelines-2022.

Provisions under Guidelines:

As per guidelines,

  • The accreditation will be withdrawn or suspended if a journalist acts in a manner prejudicial to the country’s security, sovereignty and integrity, friendly relations with foreign States, public order or if the journalist is charged with any serious cognizable offence.
  • Accreditation can also be withdrawn or suspended, if actions prejudicial to decency, or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.
  • Accredited media persons have been prohibited from using the words “Accredited to the government of India” on public or social media profiles, visiting cards, and letterheads, or on any other form or any published work.

Provisions for Granting Accreditation:

  • In the case of digital news publishers, the general terms of accreditation would apply.
  • News aggregators will not be considered.
  • The digital news publishers applying for accreditation should have furnished requisite information to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under Rule 18 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code), Rules, 2021, and have not violated the rules.

Conditions to get accreditation for digital news publishers:

  • A journalist needs to have a minimum of five years of professional experience as a full-time working journalist or a cameraperson in a news organization, or a minimum of 15 years as a freelancer to become eligible.
  • No accreditation will be granted to freelance journalists working for foreign news media organizations.
  • The website must have a registered office in India.
  • Its correspondents should be based in Delhi or National Capital Region.
  • The website should have continuously operated for at least one year.
  • The Editor of the news portal should be an Indian national.

What is media accreditation?

  • Accreditation means recognition of news media representatives by the Government of India (GoI).
  • Accreditation applications are vetted by a Central Press Accreditation Committee chaired by the DG, PIB.
  • Media accreditation is done for purpose of accessing sources of information in Government and written or pictorial news materials, released by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) or other agencies of the Government.

Note: At present, there are 2,457 PIB-accredited journalists in the country.

About CMAC (Central Media Accreditation Committee):

  • The Government of India (GoI) shall constitute the Central Media Accreditation Committee CMAC.
  • The Committee will be led by the Principal Director General of the Press Information Bureau (PIB).
  • It will comprise up to 25 government-nominated members to carry out the tasks laid down in these guidelines.
  • The CMAC would function for 2 years from the date of its first meeting. It would meet once in a quarter or more frequently if necessary.

Significance:

  • Accreditation helps in access to government offices and to special events and functions organized by the Government of India (GoI).
  • Some Ministries like Home and Defence and Finance allow access only to accredited journalists

Additional Info:

Constitutional Provisions related to Freedom of Press:

  • The Indian Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression under Article 19.
  • Article 19 deals with the Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc.
  • Freedom of the press is not expressly protected by the Indian legal system.
  • However, it is impliedly protected under article 19(1) (a) of the constitution.
  • Freedom of the press is also not absolute.
  • A law could impose only those restrictions on the exercise of this right, it faces certain restrictions under article 19(2), which are as follows:
  1. Sovereignty and integrity of India
  2. Security of the State
  3. Friendly relations with foreign states
  4. Public order
  5. Decency 
  6. Morality 
  7. In Contempt of court
  8. Defamation
  9. Incitement to an offence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restructuring of IB: The Union Home Ministry has recently approved the restructuring of the Intelligence Bureau (IB).

Key Highlights:

  • The restructuring of the IB cadre has been approved to increase promotions in the organisation.
  • The expenditure on this account would be met from its sanctioned budget grants.
  • The executive cadre's strength however remains the same at 20, 054 after the restructuring.
  • The IB had proposed the restructuring of the executive cadre for streamlining its functioning in July 2020.

About Intelligence Bureau (IB) of India:

  • The Intelligence Bureau (IB) is India's domestic internal security and counter-intelligence agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • It was founded in 1887 as Central Special Branch.
  • It is reputed to be the oldest such organization in the world.
  • The current Director of the Intelligence Agency is Arvind Kumar.

Renaming of 3 Places in MP: The Central Government, recently, approved the proposal of the State Government to change the names of three places of Madhya Pradesh (MP).

Key Highlights:

  • The three places of MP are Hoshangabad, Shivpuri and Babai.
  • The centre has given its nod to renaming Hoshangabad as Narmadapuram, Shivpuri as Kundeshwar Dham and Babai as Makhan Nagar.
  • The proposal to rename these 3 places was sent by the Madhya Pradesh government to the Central Government in the year 2021.

About Hoshangabad:

  • Hoshangabad is located on the southern bank of the Narmada River.
  • It was named after the ruler of Malwa, Hoshangshah Shah Ghori more than six hundred years ago.
  • Narmadapur was its erstwhile name.

About Shivpuri:

  • Shivpuri is a city and a municipality in Shivpuri district located in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
  • It is an ancient town and a sacred place in Madhya Pradesh, Shivpuri was earlier known as Sipri.
  • It is known for Kundadev Mahadev an ancient temple on the bank of the Jamdhar river, and is the location of Kundadev Mahadev Temple.
  • As per the legend, the city named after Lord Shiva.
  • It served as the heaven of Kachhawaha Rajputs till 1804 and it was ruled by Scindias.
  • Also, it holds historical importance to the pre-Independence times as it is the place where the great freedom fighter Tatya Tope was hanged till death.

About Babai:

  • Babai is the birthplace of Makhanlal Chaturvedi, the eminent cinematographer of Indian poetry.

About Makhanlal Chaturvedi:

  • Makhanlal Chaturvedi was born on 4th April 1889.
  • He was also called Panditji. 
  • He was an eminent poet, writer, journalist, and playwright.
  • He had participated in India’s freedom struggle.
  • He is remembered for his phenomenal contribution to the Neoromanticism movement in Hindi literature.
  • He started editing the national monthly magazine Prabha and Karmaveer in 1913.
  • He was awarded the first Sahitya Akademi award in Hindi literature in the year 1955.
  • The government of India had conferred the Padma Bhushan award on him in 1963. He passed away on 30th January 1968.

Guidelines for renaming villages, towns, cities and railway stations:

  • To change the name of any city, town, or village, it is mandatory for the State Government to obtain a NOC from the Central Government.
  • The NOC ensures that other institutions in the district names, including railway station, high court and university, are also changed
  • After this, the central government will seek a report about this from its three major departments Intelligence Bureau (IB), Geographical Survey of India (GSI), and Ministry of Earth Science (MoES).
  • Upon receiving the report, the Central Government gives its permission to proceed with the proposal.

Renaming of other places in MP:

  • Recently, Habibganj station of Bhopal was renamed Rani Kamalapati, the name of Tony Vidhan Sabha has been changed from Minto Hall to Kushabhau Thackeray.
  • Many BJP leaders including Bhopal MP Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur have been demanding the renaming of Bhopal's Idgah Hills to Guru Nanak Tekri and also to change the name of Halali Dam, Islam Nagar, Lalghati, Halalpur bus stand.

Renaming of States:

  • The renaming of a state requires an amendment of the Constitution with a simple majority in Parliament.
  • For changing the name of a village or town, an executive order is needed.

Note: The proposal to change the name of West Bengal (WB) to 'Bangla', as suggested by the state government, is frozen as the proposed name sounded similar to the name of neighbouring country Bangladesh.

Freedom of Religion and Attire: Recently, in Karnataka,  six students were banned from entering a college in Karnataka’s Udupi district for wearing a hijab.

They were advised not to wear the hijab in class, students have been boycotting lessons since the last week of December.

The issue throws up legal questions on reading the freedom of religion and whether the right to wear a hijab is constitutionally protected.

How is religious freedom protected under the Constitution?

  • Freedom of religion comes under six fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution.
  • Articles 25-28 of Indian constitution designate the freedom of religion.
  • Article 25(1) of the Constitution guarantees the “freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion”.
  • It is a right that guarantees a negative liberty — which means that the state shall ensure that there is no interference or obstacle to exercising this freedom.
  • However, like all fundamental rights, the state can restrict the right for grounds of public order, decency, morality, health and other state interests.

View of Supreme Court:

Over the years, the Supreme Court has evolved a practical test of sorts to determine what religious practices can be constitutionally protected and what can be ignored.

In 1954, the Supreme Court held in the Shirur Mutt case that the term “religion” will cover all rituals and practices “integral” to a religion.

  • The test to determine what is integral is termed the “essential religious practices” test.

In 2016, a three-judge Supreme Court bench, comprising of justices D Y Chandrachud, T S Thakur and L Nageswara Rao upheld the discharge of a Muslim airman from the Indian Air Force for keeping a beard.

  • The court distinguished the case from that of Sikh airmen who are allowed to keep a beard.
  • Regulation 425 of the Armed Force Regulations, 1964, prohibits the growth of hair by Armed Forces personnel, except for “personnel whose religion prohibits the cutting of hair or shaving of face”.
  • The top court stated that Regulation 425(b) applies to ‘personnel whose religion prohibits the cutting off the hair or shaving off the face of its members’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Districts of Andhra Pradesh: The Andhra Pradesh government, led by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, has recently formed 13 new districts.

Key Highlights:

  • The new districts have been formed based on Parliamentary constituencies.
  • Now, there are a total of 26 districts in the Andhra Pradesh.
  • The new districts are likely to be formed on Ugadi, March 2.
  • A notification was issued specifying the revenue boundaries and district centres of the total 26 districts.
  • According to a notification issued by the government, the reorganization of the districts is being done under Section 3 of the Andhra Pradesh Districts (Formation) Act, 1974.
  • In a significant political move, the state government has decided to name the Vijayawada district after the founding president of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the former Chief Minister NT Rama Rao (NTR).

About the new districts:

  • The new districts include Manyam, Alluri Seetarama Raju, NTR, Anakapalli, Konaseema, Eluru, Bapatla, Palnadu, Nandyala, Sri Satyasai, Kakinada, Annamaiah, Sri Balaji and Parvathipuram.
  • The Araku Lok Sabha constituency in Visakhapatnam was divided into two districts.
  • According to the notification, the new districts and their district headquarters (in brackets) are Srikakulam (Srikakulam), Vizianagaram (Vizianagaram), Manyam (Parvathipuram), Alluri Sitharama Raju (Paderu), Visakhapatnam (Visakhapatnam), Anakapalli (Anakapalli), Kakinada (Kakinada), Konaseema (Amalapuram), East Godavari (Rajamahendravaram), West Godavari (Bheemavaram), Eluru (Eluru), Krishna (Machilipatnam), NTR (Vijayawada), Guntur (Guntur), Bapatla (Bapatla), Palnadu (Narsaraopeta), Prakasam (Ongole), SPS Nellore (Nellore), Kurnool (Kurnool), Nandyal (Nandyal), Ananthapuram (Ananthapuram), Sri Satyasai (Puttaparthy), YSR Kadapa (Kadapa), Annamayya (Rayachoty), Chittoor (Chittoor) and Sri Balaji (Tirupati).

What is the procedure for the creation of new districts in India?

  • The power to create new districts or alter or abolish existing districts rests with the State governments.
  • This can either be done through an executive order or by passing a law in the State Assembly.
  • Many States prefer the executive route by simply issuing a notification in the official gazette.

Role of Center in the creation of Districts:

  • The Central Governments have no role in creating new districts.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs is included only when the state government wishes to change the name of a district or a railway station.

Why are new districts created?

The idea behind creating new districts is generally to provide effective governance. However, it is sometimes driven by local demands.

What are the advantages of the creation of new districts in India?

The advantages of creating new districts are as follows:

  • Better administration and governance as there will be more officers for less population.
  • The grievances of the people shall be redressed easily.
  • Scheme implementations and fund transfers become easy.
  • Increase in employment as new districts require new officials from top-down.

  Current scenario of Indian districts:

  • According to the 2011 census, there were 593 districts in India.
  • Between 2001 and 2011, 46 districts were created.
  • Though the 2021 Census is yet to happen, but according to Know India, a website run by the Government of India (GoI), it says currently there are 718 districts in the country.
  • The number increased due to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into A.P. and Telangana in 2014.
  • Telangana at present has 33 districts and A.P. has 13 districts.

Digital Sansad App: The Lok Sabha secretariat recently unveiled a new official mobile application of the Parliament called "Digital Sansad."

Key Highlights:

Digital Sansad App was launched by the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

The App has been launched to make the Parliament proceedings accessible not just to the members but also to the public at large.

About the Digital Sansad App: 

  • The app will enable citizens to watch the Parliamentary proceedings in the Parliament and check what their members of the Parliament are doing and the debates that they are participating in.
  • Through Digital Sansad App, citizens will be able to watch the initiatives taken by the temple of democracy at the click of a button on the phone.
  • The App will also make it convenient for citizens to access general information about Members of Parliament, their participation in sessions, budget speeches since 1947 and proceedings from 12th Lok Sabha to 17th Lok Sabha.
  • The App will also contain the live telecast of Sansad proceedings.
  • Apart from a virtual tour of the Parliament, it will allow citizens to access live proceedings of the House, including the Union Budget 2022 live.

How will this app prove useful for the Members of Parliament (MPs)?

  • The MPs will be able to use the App to access services such as House bulletins, the status of their notifications, and so on.
  • The MPs are not permitted to use Laptops inside the House of Commons. Therefore, this App will prove very useful for getting parliamentary data during any debate in the House.
  • MPs will be able to use this App to log in for attendance, give questions during Question Hour, and submit notices for debates or adjournment motions in the future.
  • Digital Sansad App is an empowering realization of Parliament’s holistic efforts to keep progressing towards the goal.

What makes Digital Sansad App more significant in Digital India?

  • The new age of Digital India flourishes even in the remotest corners of India, the Parliament of the world’s largest democracy too has been expanding its footprints. Parliament’s Digital Sansad App is a step in this direction.
  • As India is a sovereign democratic Republic, it is the duty of the Indian Parliament to uphold the highest standards of transparency. Digital Sansad App is a realization to keep progressing towards that goal.

Background:

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, during the last winter session of Parliament, had informed that the application was being worked upon and would be live soon.

12th National Voters' Day 2022: Election Commission of India (ECI) celebrated the 12th National Voters' Day (NVD) on 25th January 2022.

Key Highlights of NVD 2022:

  • Hon’ble Vice President of India, Shri  Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu had consented to be the Chief Guest for the national function but due to his inability to attend the function in person, his message was virtually-delivered during the function.
  • Union Minister for Law and Justice, Shri Kiren Rijiju graced the function as the Guest of Honour.
  • On the occasion, National Awards for the Best Electoral Practises for the year 2021-22 was conferred to officers for their outstanding performance in the conduct of elections in different spheres such as IT initiatives, Security Management, Election Management, Accessible Elections and contribution in the field of voter awareness and outreach.
  • In addition, awards were also conferred on Govt. Departments and Media Houses for their outstanding contribution in the field of voter awareness and outreach.
  • The ECI launched a publication ‘Leap of Faith: Journey of Indian Elections’.
  • The book narrates India's electoral history and the growth of representative and electoral principles in India as it evolved from the nineteenth to twenty-first century.
  • The book focuses on the Election Commission of India’s persistent efforts to make the elections genuinely reflective of people’s verdict.
  • Another Publication ‘Pledging to Vote – A decadal Journey of The National Voter’s Day in India’ was also released.
  • The book presents the journey of National Voter’s Day celebrations by ECI from Diamond Jubilee celebration onwards.
  • During the function, five newly enrolled voters from Delhi were also felicitated and handed over their Elector Photo Identity Card (EPIC).

The theme of NVD 2022:

The theme for this year’s NVD is ‘Making Elections Inclusive, Accessible and Participative’,.

  • The theme envisages focusing on ECI’s commitment to facilitate the active participation of voters during the elections and to make the complete process hassle-free and a memorable experience for all categories of voters.

About NVD:

  • NVD is celebrated on 25 January.
  • The main objective behind the celebration is to encourage, facilitate, and maximize enrolment, especially for new voters.
  • Dedicated to the voters of the country, on this day, voters are being made aware of promoting informed participation in the electoral process.
  • New voters or first-time electorate are handed over their Elector Photo Identity Card (EPIC) in the National Voters' Day function.

History of NVD:

  • The Voters' Day celebration was initiated in 2011 by the then President of India, Pratibha Devi Patil, on the 61st foundation day of the Election Commission of India.
  • The Election Commission of India, or ECI, was established on January 25, 1950.
  • The ECI is a Constitutional body that is bound by its responsibility to conduct free and fair elections in India at all levels of the legislature.

Importance of Voting:

  • Voting is a basic process that helps to form a country's government.
  • In India, people vote once in every five years to elect representatives to the national, state and local legislative bodies. 
  • Voting rights of the people are very important as one has the direct power to put the right people into positions of governance.

Eligibility of the Voters:

  • The eligibility age of the voter was 21 years but in 1988 it was lowered to 18 years.
  • The Sixty-First Amendment Bill of 1998 lowered the voter's eligibility age in India.

Indian Polity Current Affairs - January 2022

Inheritance of Daughters: In a significant verdict, the Supreme Court recently ruled that the property of a man who had died without executing a will and is survived only by a daughter will devolve upon the daughter and not others such as his brother.

Key Points:

  • The judgment, which came on an appeal against the Madras High Court verdict, dealt with the property rights of Hindu women and widows under the Hindu Succession Act.
  • Daughters' right to inheritance has always been disputed in this country despite law stipulating so.
  • It said “right of a widow or daughter to inherit the self-acquired property or share received in the partition of a coparcenary property of a Hindu male dying intestate is well recognized under the old customary Hindu Law.

How did the court reach the conclusion?

  • The court discussed Mitakshara law and looked into among others to ‘Vyavastha Chandrika’, a digest of Hindu Law by Shyama Charan Sarkar Vidya Bhushan which quoted ‘Vrihaspati’ as saying ‘the wife is pronounced successor to the wealth of her husband; in her default, the daughter. As a son, so does the daughter of a man proceed from his several limbs. How then, should any other person (b) take her father’s wealth?
  • The Apex Court also noted that the book quoted Manu as saying “the son of a man is even as himself, and the daughter is equal to the son. How then can any other inherit his property, notwithstanding the survival of her, who is, as it were, himself.”

What was the case?

  • The case involved a dispute over the property of one Marappa Gounder who died in 1949 leaving behind a daughter Kupayee Ammal who also died issueless in 1967.
  • Marappa Gounder had a brother Ramasamy Gounder who was survived by a son Gurunatha Gounder and four daughters. One of the four daughters, Thangammal, had instituted the suit seeking a one-fifth share in the property of Marappa Gounder.
  • As per Thangamma’s argument, Kupayee Ammal inherited Marappa Gounder’s property and after she died issueless, it came to Sundara Gounder and through him to Ramasamy Gounder.
  • Thangammal contended that she being one of the heirs of Ramasamy Gounder was entitled to one-fifth of the share.
  • Gurunath’s children opposed this saying that when Marappa Gounder died in 1949, his daughter Kupayee Ammal was not having any right to inherit his property.
  • The only heir available then was Guranatha Gounder and from him, the property had come to them, the children claimed.
  • The trial court after scrutinizing the evidence brought on record by the parties came to the conclusion Marappa Gounder had died prior to the enforcement of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and, therefore, Thangammal and her other sisters were not the heirs as on the date of his death and was not entitled to partition of 1/5th share in the suit properties.
  • The court dismissed Thangammal’s suit on March 1, 1994.
  • The High Court dismissed the appeal against the trial court order on January 21, 2009.

 

Republic Day Tableaux: Recently, the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee in her letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that she was “profoundly shocked” as West Bengal’s tableau for the Republic Day parade “was rejected without assigning any reasons or justifications.”

Key Details:

  • She had mentioned that the tableau was set to commemorate the contributions of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and his INA on his 125th birth anniversary year.
  • According to sources, there are to be 21 tableaux in the parade - 12 from states and Union Territories and 9 departments under the Central Government or independent institutions.
  • However, West Bengal is not the only state whose tableau has been rejected, Kerala’s proposed tableau featuring Sree Narayan Guru is not among the selected ones.
  • Officials of the Defence Ministry, which is responsible for the parade and is the coordinating body for the tableaux, stated that the selection was done by an expert committee, and asserted that there is no political involvement in it.

When is the process of deciding the tableaux and who can participate?

  • Around September every year the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which is responsible for the Republic Day parade and the celebrations, invites all the states, the Union Territories, Central Government departments, and a few constitutional authorities to participate in the parade through tableaux.
  • The proposals had to be submitted by September 27.
  • The shortlisting of the proposals began in the second week of October.
  • The participants have to showcase elements relevant to their state/ UT/ department, within the overarching theme.
  • The theme given to participants this year was around 75 years of India’s Independence.
  • The participants have to showcase elements relevant to their state/ UT/ department, within the overarching theme. The theme given to participants this year was around 75 years of India’s Independence.
  • The MoD constitutes an expert committee of distinguished persons from fields like art, culture, painting, sculpture, music, architecture, choreography, etc, who help in shortlisting the tableaux from the proposals.

About MoD:

  • MoD refers to the Ministry of Defence.
  • It was created in 1776 which is 244 years ago as Military Department by the British East India Company at Kolkata but on 15 August 1947, the Department of Defence became the Ministry of Defence under a cabinet minister.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi, India.
  • It is charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government relating directly to national security and the Indian armed forces.
  • The President of India is the ceremonial commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the country.
  • The responsibility for national defence rests with the Cabinet.
  • The function of MoD is to provide policy framework and resources to the armed forces to discharge their responsibility in the context of the defence of the country.
  • The Indian Armed Forces (including the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Indian Navy) and Indian Coast Guard under the Ministry of Defences are primarily responsible for ensuring the territorial integrity of the nation. The current Defence Minister is Rajnath Singh.

 

DGGI of J&K: Union home minister Amit Shah on Saturday launched the District Good Governance Index (DGGI) in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Key Highlights:

  • J&K is the first Union Territory to have such an index.
  • The DGGI for 20 Districts of UT of Jammu and Kashmir was launched on January 22, 2022, in the presence of Union minister Jitendra Singh and Jammu and Kashmir's lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha.
  • It was released in a function organized jointly by the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG), GOI and Jammu & Kashmir Institute of Management, Public Administration & Rural Development in association with the Centre for Good Governance, Hyderabad.
  • During the occasion, a presentation on the formulation of DGGI was also made by the Centre for Good Governance, Hyderabad

About DGGI of J&K:

  • The DGGI of J&K was prepared by DARPG in collaboration with the Government of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • It was prepared in pursuance of the announcements made in the “Behtar e-Hukumat – Kashmir Aelamia” resolution adopted on July 2, 2021, in the Regional Conference on Replication of Good Governance Practices held at Srinagar.
  • The exercise on the formulation of DGGI was set in motion in July 2021 which has now been completed and Jammu & Kashmir will become the first Union Territory in the country to have Good Governance Index.

Significance:

  • According to an official statement, the DGCI is a significant step for timely collation and publication of statistics at the state as well as the district level.
  • It is expected that the index will provide a robust framework for the evidence-based assessment of the performance of all the districts in J&K.
  • The index will benefit residents of Jammu and Kashmir in a big way as it will work towards improving the district machinery, make districts result-oriented and also improve their delivery mechanism.

Expansion of DGGI:

  • DGGI in J&K will slowly expand to all other states and a good governance competition will start in every district of the country.

 

Justice Clock: Justice DY Chandrachud who is the Supreme Court e-Committee chairperson and SC judge recently inaugurated two digital services for Gujarat High court.

The 2 digital services are a ‘Justice Clock’, and electronic payment of court fee.

What is the Justice Clock?

  • Justice Clock is an LED display of 7 feet by 10 feet, placed at a height of 17 feet from the ground.
  • It has been erected at a busy crossroad near the Gujarat High Court premises.
  • This ‘Justice Clock’ will exhibit vital statistics of the justice delivery system in Gujarat, to “maximize outreach and visibility” of the work done by the state judiciary.
  • The interface has been designed and developed in-house and will display data from the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) in real-time.
  • A similar format of Gujarat judiciary-related statistics will also be available on the Gujarat HC website under a tab of ‘Virtual Justice Clock’, accessible to all.
  • While the data is accessible for the public already on NJDG’s website, with an option to further distill the statistics district-wise, this new initiative — through the physical LED display as well as the virtual justice clock — is aimed at greater accessibility and transparency.

What is the e-court fee and how will it help?

  • While the online e-Courts fee system was already available for the Gujarat High Court, which was tested on a pilot basis allowing advocates and parties to procure judicial stamps online through electronic payment and upon submission of a PDF receipt, this platform now stands expanded to all district and taluka courts.
  • The payment platform is of StockHolding Corporation of India Ltd (SHCIL) as impaneled by the Gujarat government.
  • A PDF receipt of the fee paid will be generated and submitted to the court registry concerned.
  • It will then be verified from within the digital case information system and locked as ‘consumed’, wherein the receipt will be defaced, so as to avoid its reuse or misuse.

Indu Malhotra Committee: Former SC Judge Indu Malhotra has been appointed as the Chairperson by the Supreme Court of India to head the inquiry committee, along with other members.

Key Points:

  • The inquiry committee will look into the alleged security breach of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Punjab visit on 5th January this year.
  • The order was passed by a three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana and also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.
  • The committee headed by Justice (Retired) Indu Malhotra will also comprise DG- NIA, DG Security of Punjab and Registrar General of Punjab and Haryana High Court.
  • The Apex court has passed the order after hearing a petition filed by NGO, Lawyers Voice, seeking appropriate directions and or orders in the alleged security breach of the Prime Minister, who was on his way to Punjab to address a rally.

Double Telecast Time: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has decided to double the broadcast and telecast time allotted to each National Party and recognized State Parties in poll-bound states.

Key Points:

  • Broadcast and telecast time will be doubled on Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR) during the ongoing General Election to the Legislative Assembly of Goa, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The order states that a base time of 90 minutes will be given to each national party and recognized state party of Goa, Punjab, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The facilities will be available from the regional kendras of All India Radio and Doordarshan.
  • The steps were taken in consultation with Prasar Bharti in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and enhanced relevance of the non-contact-based campaign.

About Election Commission (ECI):

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) is a permanent and independent body established by the Constitution of India directly to ensure free and fair elections in the country.
  • ECI is an autonomous constitutional authority that administers Union and State election processes in India.
  • It was established on January 25, 1950, in accordance with the constitution under article 324.
  • It also administers elections to Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, President and Vice President.

Note: It is not concerned with elections to panchayats and municipalities.  A separate State Election Commission is there to administer Panchayat & Municipality election.

Functions of ECI:

  • The election commission has the right to allow symbols to the political parties.
  • It gives recognition to the national parties, state parties and regional parties.
  • It sets limits on poll expenses.
  • The commission prepares electoral rolls and updates the voter's list from time to time.

Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recently asked to further extend the deadline for framing the rules of the “Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019” for the sixth time.

Highlights:

  • The extension was sought by MHA from the parliamentary committees in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.
  • Earlier, the Ministry had sought time till April 9, 2021, and it was then extended to July 9, 2021, by the committees to notify the rules.
  • The third and the latest extension expired on January 9, but MHA failed to notify the rules.

Note: With the MHA not notifying the rules, the Act that grants Indian nationality to non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan cannot be implemented.

Provision for extension:

  • Manual on Parliamentary Work contains provisions for an extension.
  • It says, in case the Ministries or Departments failed to frame rules within six months after the legislation is passed, they can seek an extension of time from the Committee on Subordinate Legislation”, stating reasons for the move.
  • The time can be extended for three months, at a time.

About The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019:

  • The CAA was passed by Parliament on December 11, 2019, and the Act was notified within 24 hours on December 12.
  • In January 2020, the MHA notified that the Act will come into force from January 10, 2020. However, the same was postponed amid the covid-19 pandemic.
  • The CAA provides citizenship on the basis of religion to six undocumented non-Muslim communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.
  • It exempts the members of the six communities from any criminal case under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport Act, 1920.
  • The two Acts specify punishment for entering the country illegally and staying here on expired visas and permits.

 

 

Sudhir Kumar Saxena Committee: Following a breach in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s safety in Punjab, the Ministry of Home Affairs has constituted a committee to inquire into the serious lapses leading to grave security risk.

Key Points:

  • The three-member committee will be led by Sudhir Kumar Saxena, Secretary (Security), Cabinet Secretariat and will comprise Balbir Singh, Joint Director, IB and S. Suresh, IG, SPG.
  • The Committee has been asked to submit its report as soon as possible.

Why was the committee formed?

  • PM Modi who was scheduled to address a rally and launch projects in Punjab on January 5, 2022, was on his way when the convoy was blocked by protestors.
  • PM was stuck for 15 to 20 minutes on the flyover, as opposed to the protocol.
  • This situation put the Indian Prime Minister in grave danger.

About Special Protection Group (SPG):

  • The Special Protection Group (SPG) is responsible for the protection and security of the Prime Minister.
  • The SPG commando force is the innermost security cordon surrounding the PM wherever he goes.
  • He is the only VVIP who is protected by the SPG, after an amendment to the SPG Act.
  • The PM’s security also comprises personnel from other central and state security agencies such as local LIUs, state police and central intelligence agencies.
  • The SPG has sole responsibility for PM’s security and perimeter routes. State police are responsible to secure areas that the PM visits, under the supervision of the SPG.

About PM' Security Planning:

  • Prime Minister’s security details and planned routes are discussed, finalized and documented by central agencies in close association with the SPG. The entire exercise involves central and state agencies.
  • The SPG carries an Advanced Security Liaison (ASL) for maintaining every minute of the Prime Minister’s planned routes which is done by involving officials from the Intelligence Bureau in the concerned states, police officials and district magistrates.
  • The entire route and venue are completely sanitized by a state police force.
  • Clearance is issued by the head of the state police force, which is lastly examined by central agencies and the SPG.

 

Assam Cattle Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2021: The Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 2021, was recently made more stringent through an amendment in the Winter Session of the Assam Assembly.

 

Key Points:

  • The original legislation had been passed on August 13.
  • In August, the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 2021 had replaced the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950.
  • The Act was laid in the House by Industry and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary on behalf of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Statement of objects and reasons for the amendment:

  • The statement of objects and reasons for the amendment are mentioned below-
  • The Act was replaced on the ground that the latter lacked sufficient legal provisions to regulate the slaughter, consumption and transportation of cattle.
  • It seeks to remove certain existing restrictions with the aim of facilitating the utilization of cattle for animal husbandry and agricultural purposes.
  • The amendments also seek to “ensure strict implementation of the penal provisions of the Act’ and therefore, new provisions regarding investigation procedure have been proposed.

Assam cattle Act 2021:

  • The Act bars sale and purchase of beef or beef products in areas “predominantly inhabited by Hindu, Jain, Sikh and other non-beef-eating communities”, or “within a radius of 5 km” of any temple or sattra (Vaishnavite monasteries).
  • The Act passed to check cattle smuggling to Bangladesh — prohibits interstate transport of cattle to and from Assam without valid documents.
  • Initially, the law was meant to be applicable to all cattle (cows, bulls, bullocks, buffaloes) but buffaloes were removed from the definition before it became a law.

Key Points of the amendments:

  • The main amendments include a change in the transport permissions to cattle within the state and two new provisions that provide more teeth to the police.
  • The amendment also seeks to allow transport of cattle from one district to another within the state by issuing permits to agencies and farms registered under the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary department for bona fide agricultural or animal husbandry purposes or for transportation of cattle for trade for the said purposes.
  • However, the transport of cattle to any district within the state that has an international boundary is sought to be prohibited through the amendment bill.
  • The amendment seeks to allow the sale of the seized vehicles, boats, vessels and others except for cattle, after being produced before the appropriate court during inquiry or trial.
  • Further, the amendments empower the police to enter the house of an accused, search and seize properties if they have a “prima facie reason to believe” that the properties have been acquired in the last six years with money earned from the illegal cattle trade.
  • It provides for-
  • A minimum jail term of 3 years (extendable up to eight years)
  • Rs 3 lakh fine (with the upper limit Rs 5 lakh).
  • For repeat offenders, the punishment will be doubled.
  • This provision also places the burden of proof on the accused.

 

Election Expenses Limit Raised: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has increased the existing election expenditure limit for candidates in Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies.

  • The revised limits were notified by the Ministry of Law, Justice and Legislative Department.

Key Points:

  • The expenditure limit has been increased due to the rise in inflation.
  • The new limits will be applicable in all upcoming elections in the country.
  • ECI enhanced election expenditure from the existing Rs 20 lakh to Rs 28 lakh and from Rs 28 lakh to Rs 40 lakh, in respective states and Union territories.
  • In parliamentary constituencies, limit has been increased from the current Rs 54 lakh to Rs 75 lakh, and from Rs 70 lakh to Rs 95 lakh.

Background:

  • The previous major revision in the election expenditure limit was done in 2014.
  • It was further increased by 10% in 2020. EC had formed a Committee to study the cost factors and other related issues and make suitable recommendations.

Parliamentary constituencies poll expenditure ceiling:

  • The ceiling on parliamentary poll expenditure has been raised from 70 lakh to 95 lakh rupees in bigger states.
  • Bigger states include Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka.
  • The ceiling on parliamentary poll expenditure has been raised from 54 lakh to 75 lakhs in smaller states.
  • The smaller states include Goa, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and UTs.
  • The ceiling on poll expenditure in UT of Jammu and Kashmir has been raised to 95 lakhs.
  • For Assembly constituencies, expenditure limits have been enhanced from 28 lakh rupees to 40 lakh rupees in bigger states and from 20 lakhs to 28 lakhs in smaller states.

Additional Info:

Expenditure limit:

  • Candidates are free to spend between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 70 lakh, depending on the state they are contesting the Lok Sabha election from.
  • In Delhi, the limit is Rs 70 lakh while for other Union Territories like Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Goa limit is Rs 54 lakh.

About ECI:

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) is a permanent and independent body established by the Constitution of India directly to ensure free and fair elections in the country.
  • ECI is an autonomous constitutional authority that administers Union and State election processes in India.
  • It was established on January 25, 1950, in accordance with the constitution under article 324.
  • It also administers elections to Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, President and Vice President.
  • It is not concerned with elections to panchayats and municipalities.
  • A separate State Election Commission is there to administer Panchayat & Municipality election.

Functions of ECI:

  • The election commission has the right to allow symbols to the political parties.
  • It gives recognition to the national parties, state parties and regional parties.
  • It sets limits on poll expenses.
  • The commission prepares electoral rolls and updates the voter's list from time to time.

About CEC:

  • The President of India appoints the CEC and Election Commissioner for a fixed tenure of six years or till 65 years of age.
  • They have the same status, salary and perks as is available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Polity Current Affairs - December 2021

Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021: On 20 December, the Lok Sabha passed the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021 that seeks to link voter identity cards with Aadhaar.

Key Points:

According to Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, the legislation will end bogus voting in the country and cleanse the election system.

The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill seeks to allow the electoral registration officers to seek the Aadhaar number of people who want to register as voters ‘for the purpose of establishing the identity.’

The amendment bill makes it clear that “no application for inclusion of name in the electoral roll shall be denied and no entries in the electoral roll shall be deleted for inability of an individual to furnish or intimate Aadhaar number due to such sufficient cause as may be prescribed”.

Such people will be allowed to furnish other documents as may be prescribed.

About the Bill

Various sections of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and 1951 will be amended.

• Section 23 of 1950 act will be amended for allowing linking of electoral roll data with Aadhaar ecosystem. This amendment will help in curbing the menace of multiple enrolment of same person in different places.

• Section 14 of 1950 act will be amended to have four “qualifying” dates for eligible people for registering as voters. As of now, January 1 of every year is the sole qualifying date.

EWS Quota: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has appointed a three-member committee to revisit the criteria for 10% reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) in educational institutions and government jobs.

Highlights:

  • The panel has as members Ajay Bhushan Pandey, former finance secretary; Prof. V.K. Malhotra, member secretary of the Indian Council of Social Science Research; and Sanjeev Sanyal, principal economic adviser to the Centre.
  • The committee will also examine various approaches so far followed in the country for identifying economically weaker sections, and recommend criteria that may be adopted for identifying EWS category in future.
  • The panel has been given three weeks’ time to suggest new criteria.

The 10% EWS quota was introduced under the 103rd Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2019 which is under challenge before a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court.

Governor’s Role in State Universities: Recently, a controversy has erupted in Kerala over the reappointment of Gopinath Ravindran as the Vice Chancellor of Kannur University. Governor Arif Mohammed Khan stated that he approved the decision against his “better judgement” as Chancellor.

What role Governors play in state universities?

In most of the instances Governor of a state acts as the ex-officio chancellor of the universities in that state. The powers and functions of Governor as the Chancellor are provided in statutes governing the universities under any particular state government.

Role of Governors in state universities:

• However, the role of Governor in appointing the Vice Chancellors has often led to disputes with the political executive.

• In Kerala, there is a dispute over the role of governor. Governor’s official portal in Kerala says that “as Governor he functions with the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, as Chancellor he acts independently of the Council of Ministers and takes his own decisions on all University matters”.

The role of governor in Rajasthan is in contrast to that in Kerala. The website of Rajasthan’s Raj Bhawan states that the “Governor appoints the Vice Chancellor on the advice/ in consultation with the State Government”.

Kerala Controversy:

In the month of November 2021, Gopinath Ravindran was re-appointed as VC in Kannur University for another four years. He is above 60 whereas according to Kannur University Act, no person aged above 60 shall be appointed as VC. Furthermore, state government had recently amended the University Act under which powers of Governor as Chancellor to make appointments to University Appellate Tribunal were done away with.

Governors of the states:

Governors of the states have similar powers and functions at the state level as those of the President of India at Central level. Governors exist in the states while Lieutenant Governors or Administrators exist in union territories including National Capital Territory of Delhi.

Governors act as the nominal head in the states while real power lays with Chief Ministers of the states and her/his councils of ministers.

ART (REGULATION) BILL, 2020: The Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) (Regulation) Bill, 2020, that proposes the establishment of a national registry and registration authority for all clinics and medical professionals serving in the field was recently passed by Lok Sabha (LS).

Key Points:

  • The ART bill seeks to set minimum standards and codes of conduct for fertility clinics and egg/sperm banks.
  • The bill provides for the “safe and ethical practice of assisted reproductive technology services”, including egg or sperm donation, in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), and gestational surrogacy.
  • The bill also aims to introduce protections for egg donors, gestational surrogates, and children conceived through ART services.
  • The bill proposes the constitution of a national board.
  • The National Board shall lay down a code of conduct to be observed by persons working at clinics, to set the minimum standards of physical infrastructure, laboratory and diagnostic equipment and expert manpower to be employed by clinics and banks.
  • Offences under the bill include clinics offering sex selection, abandoning or exploiting children born through ART, the selling, buying, or importing of human embryos, and exploiting the couple or donors concerned in any form. Proposed jail terms for violations range from five to 12 years, and fines from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 25 lakh.
  • The bill has excluded live-in couples, single men and the LGBTQ community.

Background:

  • The Government had been working on the bill to regulate the ART industry since 2008 when it was first drafted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
  • The bill was first introduced in Lok Sabha in 2020 but the House had referred it to a standing committee.

About ART:

  • Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is a technology that is used to treat infertility.
  • It includes fertility treatments that handle both a man's sperm as well as a woman's egg.
  • It works by removing eggs from a woman's body and mixing them with sperm to make embryos then the embryos are put back in the woman's body.
  • The most common and effective type of ART is In Vitro fertilization (IVF).
  • However, sometimes the ART procedures use donor eggs, donor sperm, or previously frozen embryos.
  • It may also involve a surrogate carrier.

Greater Tipraland: Several tribal outfits in Tripura have joined hands to push their demand for a separate state for indigenous communities in the region, arguing that their “survival and existence” was at stake.

Key Details:

 

  • The parties are demanding a separate state of ‘Greater Tipraland’ for the indigenous communities of the north-eastern state.
  • They want the Centre to carve out the separate state under Article 2 and 3 of the Constitution.
  • Among the political parties that have come together for the cause are TIPRA Motha (Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance) and IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura), which had so far been rivals in the electoral fray.
  • Among the 19 notified Scheduled Tribes in Tripura, Tripuris (aka Tipra and Tiprasas) are the largest.
  • According to the 2011 census, there are at least 5.92 lakh Tripuris in the state, followed by Reangs (1.88 lakh) and Jamatias (83,000).

What is the issue?

  • According to the regional political parties, the call of Greater Tipraland’ rose due to unfulfilled demands of revising NRC in Tripura and opposition to CAA in the past.

How did the demand originate?

  • Tripura was a kingdom ruled by the Manikya dynasty from the late 13th century until the signing of the Instrument of Accession with the Indian government on October 15, 1949.
  • The demand mainly stems from the anxiety of the indigenous communities in connection with the change in the demographics of the state, which has reduced them to a minority.
  • It happened due to the displacement of Bengalis from the erstwhile East Pakistan between 1947 and 1971.

About Article 2 and 3 of the Constitution:

  • Article 2 of the Constitution deals with admission or establishment of new states. “Parliament may by law admit into the Union, or establish, new States on such terms and conditions, as it thinks fit,” it states.
  • Article 3 comes into play in the case of “formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing States” by the Parliament.

What steps has the Government taken to address the grievances of indigenous communities?

  • The Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTADC) was formed under the sixth schedule of the Constitution in 1985 to ensure development and secure the rights and cultural heritage of the tribal communities.
  • The TTADC, which has legislative and executive powers, covers nearly two-third of the state’s geographical area.
  • The council comprises 30 members of which 28 are elected while two are nominated by the Governor. Also, out of the 60 Assembly seats in the state, 20 are reserved for Scheduled Tribes.
  • ‘Greater Tipraland’ envisages a situation in which the entire TTADC area will be a separate state.
  • It also proposes dedicated bodies to secure the rights of the Tripuris and other aboriginal communities living outside Tripura.

Tenures of the Directors of ED And CBI: The Lok Sabha on 9 December 2021 passed two bills to extend the tenures of chiefs of Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) up to a maximum of five years.

Key Details:

  • Minister of State for Personnel and Training Dr. Jitendra Singh introduced the Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and The Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and to replace ordinances that had been brought in the recess period.
  • The two bills were passed separately by voice vote in Lok Sabha.
  • These bills seek to replace two ordinances issued last month.
  • The 'Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Bill, 2021' seeks amendment in the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
  • The Bill also replaces the Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 which was promulgated on November 14.
  • The 'Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2021' is being brought in to amend the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003. On November 14, the Centre had moved an ordinance on the same, which President Ram Nath Kovind had assented to.
  • Through this proposed legislation, the Centre seeks to extend the tenure of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) director to five years.
  • The Centre is scheduled to move these two Bills in the Rajya Sabha 

Currently, the chief of ED is appointed for a period extending up to two years.

Objection raised by the opposition:

  • The two bills were introduced amid the protests from Opposition members who said that the Bills were against the Supreme Court observations on the matter, and were being brought in to harass Opposition leaders from such agencies.
  • They also stated that it completely disregarded the Supreme Court’s observations that were clear in view that extensions of tenure to superannuated officials should only be done in rare cases. The government’s move was mala fide.

Appointment of ED Director and CBI Director:

  • The ED Director is appointed by the government on the recommendation of a committee chaired by the Central Vigilance Commissioner and members comprising Vigilance Commissioners, the Home Secretary, Secretary DoPT and the Revenue Secretary.
  • The CBI Director is selected on the basis of the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Chief of Justice of India and the Leader of Opposition.

Private Member’s Bill: Shashi Tharoor who is a Senior Congress leader moved a private member’s Bill in the Lok Sabha seeking to establish permanent Benches of High Courts in State capitals.

Note: The State High cCourts in Kerala, Odisha, Goa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Chhattisgarh is situated outside the capital city.

Key Points:

  1. The private member’s Bill was moved in the Lok Sabha after a gap of nearly two years.
  2. “Establishment of permanent benches of high courts at state capitals Bill” had been pending since 2019.
  3. As many as 153 private members’ Bills were introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday, including one that sought compulsory teaching of the Bhagavad Gita in educational institutions.

Private Member Bills passed by Parliament:

  1. No Private Member’s Bill has been passed by the Parliament since 1970.
  2. So far, the Parliament has passed 14 such Bills, six of them in 1956.

What is Private Member’s Bill?

  1. Private Member’s Bills are bills introduced by private members.
  2. The purpose of private member’s bill is to draw the government’s attention to what individual MPs see as issues and gaps in the existing legal framework, which require legislative intervention.
  3. Its drafting is the responsibility of the member concerned.
  4. Its introduction in the House requires one month’s notice.
  5. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha or Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha decides whether the private bill has to be admitted or not.

Who is a private member?

  1. A private member is a member of parliament (MP) who is not a minister.

Difference between Private and Government Bills:

Both private members and ministers take part in the lawmaking process, however, there are some differences which are as follows:-

  1. Bills introduced by private members are referred to as private member’s Bills and those introduced by ministers are called government Bills.
  2. A private member’s bill can only be introduced and discussed on Fridays whereas a government Bill can be introduced and discussed on any day.
  3. Government Bills are backed by the government and also reflect its legislative agenda.

Parliamentary Questions: Over the last few sessions of Parliament, MPs mainly from the Opposition have often alleged that their questions have been intentionally disallowed in the Parliament.

How are questions admitted?

  1. In both Houses, elected members enjoy the right to seek information from various ministries and departments in the form of starred questions, unstarred questions, short notice questions and questions to private members.
  2. Usually, MPs’ questions form a long list, which then go through a rigorous process of clearance.
  3. Rules 47-50 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States governs the admissibility of the questions in the Rajya Sabha.
  4. Once a question that fulfils the conditions of admissibility is received, the Secretariat sends it to the ministry concerned.
  5. Once the facts are received from the ministry, the question is further examined for admissibility.
  6. A final list of questions is circulated to ministers, on the basis of which they frame their answers.

About the Different categories of Questions:

Starred Question:

  1. The starred questions are those questions where the member desires an oral answer from the minister.
  2. Such a question is distinguished by the MP with an asterisk.
  3. The answer can also be followed by supplementary questions from members.

Unstarred Question:

  1. The unstarred questions are those questions where the MP seeks a written answer, which is deemed to be laid on the table of the House by the concerned minister.

Short Notice Question:

  1. Short Notice Question is on an urgent matter of public importance, and an oral answer is sought.
  2. A notice of less than 10 days is prescribed as the minimum period for asking such a question.

Question to a Private Member:

 

  1. A question can be addressed to a private member under Rule 40 of Lok Sabha’s Rules of Procedure, or under Rule 48 of Rajya Sabha’s Rules.
  2. Such question deals with a subject relating to some Bill, resolution or other matter for which that member is responsible.

When are the questions asked?

  1. In both the houses of the Parliament of India, the first hour of every sitting is usually devoted to asking and answering of questions, and this is referred to as the ‘Question Hour’.
  2. The total number of questions for any day is limited to 175.
  3. These includes 15 questions for oral answers, questions postponed from one list to another for written answers, and 15 questions pertaining to states under President’s Rule.

 

Indian Polity Current Affairs - November 2021

Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021: On 20 December, the Lok Sabha passed the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021 that seeks to link voter identity cards with Aadhaar.

  • According to Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, the legislation will end bogus voting in the country and cleanse the election system.
  • The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill seeks to allow the electoral registration officers to seek the Aadhaar number of people who want to register as voters ‘for the purpose of establishing the identity.’
  • The amendment bill makes it clear that “no application for inclusion of name in the electoral roll shall be denied and no entries in the electoral roll shall be deleted for inability of an individual to furnish or intimate Aadhaar number due to such sufficient cause as may be prescribed”.
  • Such people will be allowed to furnish other documents as may be prescribed.

About the Bill

  • Various sections of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and 1951 will be amended.
  • Section 23 of 1950 act will be amended for allowing linking of electoral roll data with Aadhaar ecosystem. This amendment will help in curbing the menace of multiple enrolment of same person in different places.
  • Section 14 of 1950 act will be amended to have four “qualifying” dates for eligible people for registering as voters. As of now, January 1 of every year is the sole qualifying date.

Union Cabinet: The Union Cabinet has cleared the proposal to raise the minimum age of marriage for women from 18 to 21.

Highlights:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his Independence Day address of 2020, had referred to the proposal.
  • Presently, the minimum legal age of marriage for girls is 18 while for men it is 21.
  • The government is now likely to introduce changes to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, Special Marriage Act, and the Hindu Marriage Act to bring the plan into action.
 
  • The proposal is in accordance with the recommendations made to Niti Aayog by a government task force headed by Jaya Jaitly.
  • Top government expert VK Paul, senior officials of the Health Ministry, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Law Ministry were among the members of the task force, which was set up in June last year.
  • The recommendations on the proposal were made to the Niti Aayog in December.
  • According to the task force in its recommendation, had stressed, a woman must be at least 21 years old at the time of first pregnancy.

(Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2021: Parliament has passed the “High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2021” on December 13, 2021.

  • Key Points
    Bill was passed with the Rajya Sabha returning it to the Lok Sabha following the discussion. Since the bill was a money bill it was was returned to Lok Sabha.
  • About the Bill
    The Bill seeks to amend “Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958” as well as “High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954”.
  • These Acts regulate the conditions of services and salaries of High Courts & Supreme Court judges in India.
  • Provisions of the Bill
    Bill provides for additional quantum of pension or family pension. Under it, all the retired judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts including their family members are authorized to pension or family pension.
 
  • They are also authorized to an additional quantum of pension or family pension, after they attain a certain age in line with a specified scale.
  • Specified scale comprises of five age brackets, with minimum age of 80, 85, 90, 95, and 100 years.
  • The additional quantum increases with increasing age, from 20% to 100% of the pension or family pension.
  • As per bill, a person will be authorized to the additional pension or family pension from the first day of that month in which they complete minimum age under concerned age bracket.
  • Steps taken by central government to strengthen judiciary
    Government has approved the extension of “Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary” for additional five years, from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2026 at the total cost of nine thousand crore rupees.
  • This scheme will help in constructing Lawyer Halls, court halls & residential units for judicial officers of District and Subordinate Courts and toilet complexes.

Stalwarts of Constituent Assembly: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has paid tributes to eminent stalwarts of Constituent Assembly to mark 75 years of its historic first sitting.

Key Highlights:

On 9th December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid rich tributes to members of the first Constituent Assembly. Constituent Assembly met for the first time on December 9, 1946. The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly of India took place in Constitution Hall in New Delhi.

The first sitting of the Constituent Assembly was presided over by Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha, who was the eldest member of the Assembly.

He was introduced and conducted to the Chair by Jivatram Bhagwandas Kripalani , popularly known as Acharya Kriplani.

 

“Today, 75 years ago our Constituent Assembly met for the first time. Distinguished people from different parts of India, different backgrounds and even differing ideologies came together with one aim- to give the people of India a worthy Constitution. Tributes to these greats,” PM Modi tweeted.

Sachchidananda Sinha was then the oldest parliamentarian in India and had even served as a member of the Imperial Legislative Council from 1910 to 1920.

Indian Polity Current Affairs - October 2021

Contempt of Court: 

The Attorney General (AG) for India KK Venugopal recently declined to grant consent to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against the National President of Azad Samaj Party, Chandra Shekhar Azad.

  • He had made comments leveling allegations against the judges of the Supreme Court.

Background:

  • The Attorney General (AG) was considering a request to grant consent under Section 15(1)(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 to initiate contempt proceedings against Azad.

What does Contempt of court mean?

  • Contempt of court is the offense of being disobedient to or disrespectful toward a court of law and its officers in the form of behavior that opposes or defies the authority, justice and dignity of the court.

About the law on contempt of courts:

  • The Contempt of Courts Act 1971 defines civil and criminal contempt.
  • It lays down the powers and procedures by which courts can penalize contempt, as well as the penalties that can be given for the offence of contempt.

Why is the consent of the Attorney General (AG) required to initiate contempt proceedings?

  • The main reason behind requiring the consent of the AG before taking cognizance of a complaint is to save the time of the court.
  • This is also necessary because judicial time is misspent if pointless petitions are made and the court is the first forum for bringing them in.
  • The AG’s consent is meant to be a safeguard against pointless petitions, as it is deemed that the AG, as an officer of the court, will independently ascertain whether the complaint is indeed valid.

 What happens if the AG denies consent?

  • If the AG denies consent, the matter all but ends.
  • However, the complainant can, separately bring the issue to the notice of the court and urge the court to take suo motu cognizance.
  • Article 129 of the Constitution gives the Supreme Court the power to initiate contempt cases on its own, independent of the motion brought before it by the AG or with the consent of the AG.

Under what circumstances is the AG’s consent not needed?

  • The AG’s consent is mandatory when a private citizen wants to initiate a case of contempt of court against a person.
  • However, when the court itself initiates a contempt of court case then the consent of AG is not required. This is because the court is exercising its inherent powers under the Constitution to punish for contempt and such Constitutional powers cannot be restricted because the AG declined to grant consent.

                                                                                

Informal Workers: The Supreme Court recently held that part time employees in a government run institution are not entitled to seek regularization as they are not working against any sanctioned post in the Government.

  • The judgment came on a plea concerning the regularization of part time sweepers at a post office in Chandigarh.

Key Points:

  • In a recent judgment, the Bench of Justices M.R. Shah and A.S. Bopanna clarified that there cannot be any permanent continuance of part time temporary employees.
  • It is further observed that mere continuance every year of seasonal work during the period when work was available does not constitute a permanent status.
  • It was a settled proposition of law that regularization could be only as per the policy declared by the State/Government and “nobody can claim the regularization as a matter of right”.
  • The apex court also said that the regularization can be only as per the regularization policy declared by the State/government and nobody can claim the regularization as a matter of right "dehors" (outside the scope of) the regularization policy.

                                      

Modi Van: Home Minister Amit Shah recently flagged off Five Mobile Medical Vans dubbed as 'Modi Van' under the 'Seva Hi Sangathan' programme.

Key Highlights

  • The Modi van was flagged off in the Kaushambi district of Uttar Pradesh to commemorate Prime Minister Narendra Modi completing 20 years as the Head of Government.
  • PM Modi completed 20 years as the head of a government, including over 13 years as Gujarat chief minister this month.
  • He served as Gujarat CM between 2001 and 2014.

About Modi Van:

  • Five Mobile Medical Vans will operate in five Assembly Constituencies in Kaushambi district of Uttar Pradesh.
  • They will work under the aegis of Kaushambi Vikas Parishad run by BJP's National Secretary Vinod Sonkar.
  • These vans have a a 32 inch television and a high speed internet service which will broadcast PM Modi's monthly radio broadcast 'Mann Ki Baat'.
  • The van also consists of telemedicine.
  • These vans are equipped with a machine that can conduct 39 tests, including those for diabetes, with blood samples in one go.
  • This van will be used to administer the oath to the people of the village for cleanliness and plastic free.

                             

28th NHRC Foundation Day:

 Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recently attended 28th National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Foundation day programme today through video conference.

Key Points:

  • PM Modi addressed the gathering at the event.
  • He remarked that India’s freedom movement and its history has been a great source of inspiration for human rights and the values ​​of human rights for India.
  • He concluded by mentioning the human rights of future generations.
  • He emphasized that with measures like International Solar Alliance (ISA), Hydrogen Mission, and Renewable energy goals India is rapidly moving in the direction of sustainable life and eco friendly growth.

About National Human Rights Commission (NHRC):

  • The NHRC of India is a Statutory public body constituted on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993.
  • It is a statutory organization established under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993 as amended by the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006.
  • It is in conformity with the Paris Principles, adopted at the first international workshop on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights held in Paris in October 1991, and endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations by its Regulations 48/134 of 20 December, 1993.
  • The NHRC is an embodiment of India’s concern for the promotion and protection of human rights.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Functions:

  • The NHRC is responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights, defined by the Act as "Rights Relating to Life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India".
  • The purpose of the NHRC is, suo moto or through the petition of a person, to investigate the violation of human rights or the failures of the state or other to prevent a human rights violation.
  • The commissions may also take on research about human rights, create awareness campaigns through various mediums, and encourage the work of NGOs.
  • The current Chairperson of NHRC is Justice Arun Kumar Mishra.

Composition:

  • The NHRC consists of a Chairperson, four full time Members and four deemed Members.
  • A Chairperson should be retired Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court.

Appointment:

  • Section 2 Sections 3 and 4 of TPHRA lay down the rules for appointment to the NHRC.
  • The Chairperson and members of the NHRC are appointed by the President of India, on the recommendation of a committee consisting of:
  • The Prime Minister (Chairperson)
  • The Home Minister
  • The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha (Lower House)
  • The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House)
  • The Speaker of the Lok Sabha (Lower House)
  • The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House)

Note: Justice Ranganath Misra was the first chairperson of NHRC from 1993 till 1996.

                                                                                                    

Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021: The Union Government recently notified new rules under which the gestational limit for termination of a pregnancy has been increased from 20 to 24 weeks for certain categories of women.

Note: Gestation is the foetal development period from the time of conception until birth.

Key Points under the new rule:

  • The new rules come under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021 passed by the Parliament in March 2021.
  • Under the notified rules the gestational limit for termination of pregnancy has been increased from 20 to 24 weeks for exceptional categories of women in India.
  • These categories include survivors of rape, sexual assault or incest, minors, women whose marital status changes during an ongoing pregnancy (widowhood and divorce) and those with physical disabilities.
  • It also includes cases of foetal malformation where there is risk of physical or mental abnormalities, mentally ill women, or women with pregnancy in humanitarian settings or disaster or emergency situations as may be declared by the government.

Note: Earlier, abortion required the opinion of one doctor if it is done within 12 weeks of conception and two doctors if it is done between 12 and 20 weeks.

About the State level Medical Board:

  • According to the new rules, a state level medical board will be set up.
  • This state level medical board will decide if a pregnancy can be terminated after 24 weeks in cases of foetal malformation.
  • The Medical Board will examine the woman and her reports if she approaches for medical termination of pregnancy.
  • The board will then provide the opinion of either accepting or rejecting the proposal for medical termination of pregnancy within three days of receiving the request.
  • It will also ensure that the termination procedure, when advised by it, is carried out with all safety precautions along with appropriate counseling within five days of the receipt of the request for medical termination of pregnancy.

About Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act:

  • The MTP Act, 1971 was passed due to the progress made in the field of medical science with respect to safer abortions.
  • The MTP Act allows for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • In case, termination of pregnancy is immediately necessary to save the life of the woman, this limit does not apply (Section 5 of the MTP Act).
  • However, in a historic move, India amended the MTP Act 1971 to provide universal access reproductive health services and also to further empower women by providing comprehensive abortion care to all.
  • The Rajya Sabha approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 on 16th March 2021.
  • The Bill was approved in Lok Sabha on 17th March 2020.
  • The new Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act 2021 expands the access to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian and social grounds to ensure universal access to comprehensive care.

Now, recently new rules have been notified by the Government under which the gestational limit for termination of a pregnancy has been increased from 20 to 24 weeks for certain categories of women.

                                                                     

Public Accounts Committee (PAC): Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has invited Pakistan Senate Chair Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani to India in December, for a function to mark the centennial of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Key Facts:

  • However, the invite has not been confirmed by the Ministry of External Affairs yet.
  • The 100th anniversary of PAC celebrations is to be inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind, scheduled to be held in New Delhi on December 4 and 5, 2021.
  • The closing session of the celebrations would be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 5, 2021.

About PAC:

  • The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is the oldest parliamentary panel in India.
  • It was first constituted in 1921.
  • The Committee consists of 22 Members, 15 Members are elected by Lok Sabha and 7 Members of the Rajya Sabha are associated with it.
  • The Speaker is empowered to appoint the Chairman of the Committee from amongst its Members.
  • PAC has been crucial in upholding the principle of accountability as it exercises oversight of public expenditure.
  • It is responsible for the following:
  • For examining the accounts showing the appropriation of sums granted by Parliament for expenditure of Government of India.
  • For the annual Finance Accounts of Government of India (GoI).
  • For such other accounts laid before Parliament as the Committee may deem fit such as accounts of autonomous and semi autonomous bodies (except those of Public Undertakings and Government Companies which come under the purview of the Committee on Public Undertakings).
  • The current PAC is headed by Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury since July, 2019.

 

NDPS Act:

 Recently, Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan and seven others were booked by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

  • They are charged with various sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

Key Details:

The NCB has invoked four sections which are section 8(c), Section 20 (b), Section 27 and Section 35 of the NDPS Act.

About section 8(c) of the NDPS Act:

Section 8(c) of the NDPS Act states that produce, manufacture, possess, sell, purchase, transport, warehouse, use, consume, import inter State, export inter State, import into India, export from India or tranship any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance, except for medical or scientific purposes requires a licence or permit by the concerned authorities.

About Section 20 (b) of the NDPS Act:

  • Section 20 (b) relates to use of cannabis.
  • Section 20(b) of the NDPS Act reads, "produces, manufactures, possesses, sells, purchases, transports, imports inter State, exports inter State or uses cannabis, shall be punishable." The punishment under this section includes rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years and also includes a fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.
  • It also mentions of three clauses further which includes possession or manufacture of commercial quantity.

About Section 27 of the NDPS Act:

  • Under Section 27, the consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance is a punishable offence.
  • If the narcotic drug or psychotropic substance consumed is other than those specified in or under clause (a), the imprisonment may extend to six months, or with a fine which may extend to Rs10,000 or with both.

About Section 35 of the NDPS Act:

  • Section 35 states that the accused must have a culpable mental state.
  • Under this section, “culpable mental state” includes intention, motive, knowledge of a fact, or reason to believe a fact.
  • This means that it is upon the accused to show that he did not have an intention, motive, knowledge to commit the offences he is charged with.

About NDPS Act, 1985:

  • The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, commonly referred to as the NDPS Act, is an Act of the Parliament of India that prohibits a person to produce, manufacture, cultivate, possess, sell, purchase, transport, store or consume any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.  
  • The NDPS Bill, 1985 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 23 August 1985.
  • It was passed by both the Houses of Parliament, received assent from then President Giani Zail Singh on 16 September 1985, and came into force on 14 November 1985.
  • The NDPS Act has since been amended thrice   in 1988, 2001 and 2014.
  • The Act applies to the whole of India as well as to all Indian citizens outside India and also to all persons on ships and aircraft registered in India.

 

                                       

Vehicle Scrapping Policy: Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) on issued a GSR Notification 720(E) in the Gazette of India on October 5, 2021.

Key Highlights:

  • The vehicle scrapping policy will come into force from April 1, 2022.
  • Under this policy, the proposal is to have a system of incentives to nudge vehicle owners to discard old and polluting vehicles, which have higher maintenance and fuel consumption costs.
  • As an incentive for scrapping, the concession is stipulated in the motor vehicle tax for a vehicle registered against submission of "Certificate of Deposit", which is issued by a Registered Vehicle Scrapping Facility.
  • This concession is as below:
  • upto twenty five per cent, in case of non transport (personal) vehicles, and
  • upto fifteen per cent, in case of transport (commercial) vehicles
  • The concession will be available upto eight years, in the case of transport vehicles, and upto fifteen years, in the case of non transport vehicles.

About MoRTH:

  • It refers to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is a ministry of the Government of India(GoI).
  • Morth is the apex body for formulation and administration of the rules, regulations and laws relating to road transport, transport research.
  • Its task is also to increase the mobility and efficiency of the road transport system in India.
  • It was founded in July 1942.
  • The current Union Minister of Morth is Nitin Gadkari and the State Minister of Morth is Mansukh L. Mandaviya.

                                      

Amendments in Forest Conservation Act: An Amendment has been proposed in the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, by The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC)  has proposed certain amendments to the existing Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980.

Key Highlights:

  • The amendment has been proposed in a bid to liberalize the forest laws.
  • The MoEFCC has sent the proposed amendments to all states and Union Territories (UTs), asking their suggestions and objections in 15 days.
  • The draft proposals will be submitted to the parliament after taking the suggestions from states into consideration.

Key Points of the amendments:

  • The Amendment puts forth strict norms for conserving forests by boosting the penal terms for offences.
  • It puts in place stringent norms for forest conservation by increasing penal provisions for offenses and maintaining “pristine forests” where no non forestry activity will be allowed under any circumstances.
  • Under the Amendment, regarded forests that have been listed by state governments up to 1996 will still be considered forest land.
  • Land acquired by the Road ministries and Railways before 1980, on which forests came up, will not be considered as forests.
  • The Amendment would also reduce the flow from foreign exchange for importing wood & wood derivatives of approximately Rs 45,000 crore by means of encouraging plantations and afforestation.

About Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980:

  • The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 an Act of the Parliament of India to provide for the conservation of forests and for matters connected therewith or ancillary or incidental thereto.
  • This law extends to the whole of India.
  • It was enacted by Parliament of India to control further deforestation of Forest Areas in India. The act came into force on 25 October 1980.
  • It was amended in 1988.
  • This Act aims to restore the woods in our country by planting trees and increasing forest growth, to save the forest, its flora and wildlife, as well as other ecological components.

Why was this amendment put forward?

  • The 1996 Supreme Court judgment, in TN Godavarman Thirumulpad versus Union of India & Others case, forest land was defined by “1927 Forest Act”.
  • But in the 1996 case, Supreme court included all areas under the definition of forest that are recorded as ‘forest’ under any government record.
  • This definition of forest under the forest act was problematic within the case of railways and roads.
  • There's Land that both the ministries own, but they can't use it without getting permission from the MoEFCC.
  • These permissions are granted in about 2 4 years, causing delays in several projects.

About MoEFCC:

  • MoEFCC refers to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • MoEFCC an Indian government ministry was formed in 1985.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • The ministry is responsible for planning, promoting, coordinating, conservation and survey of forest, flora and fauna of India, prevention and control of pollution, afforestation, land degradation mitigation and overseeing the implementation of environmental and forestry programmes in the country.
  • The current Minister of MoEFCC are Ashwini Kumar Choubey (Minister of State), Bhupender Yadav (Union Minister).

                                                                                          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Polity Current Affairs - September 2021

Charanjit Singh Channi:

 Congress leader Charanjit Singh Channi will be swornin as Chief Minister of Punjab on 20 September 2021.

Highlights:

  • Channi will be the 16th Chief Minister of Punjab.
  • The oathtaking ceremony will take place at 11 am.
  • He was elected the leader of Congress Legislature Party on 19th September 2021.
  • The announcement comes a day after Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh tendered his resignation from the post.
  • Senior Congress leaders – Brahm Mohindra and Sukhjinder Randhawa have been appointed Deputy Chief Ministers.

About Charanjit Singh Channi:

  • Charanjit Singh Channi is a threetime Congress MLA from Chamkaur Sahib Assembly Constituency.
  • An MLA from the Chamkaur Sahib Assembly constituency, he had served as the leader of opposition in the Punjab Legislative Assembly from 2015 to 2016.
  • He had also served as the Minister of Technical Education & Industrial Training in the Amarinder Singh government.

 

Registration of Child Marriages: 

The Rajasthan Assembly, on 17 September 2021, passed the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021, to amend a 2009 Act, making the registration of marriages, including child marriages, mandatory.

  • However, this action of the Rajasthan Government was opposed by the opposition parties saying that registering child marriage is like giving legal recognition to such marriages and also that the child marriage is illegal under the Child Marriage Restraint Act, also known as Sharda Act.

Key Points:

As per the new amendment

  • A bride and a groom can apply for the registration of their marriage to the marriage registration officer of the place where they have been residing for more than 30 days.
  • The marriage between a groom under 21 years and a bride less than 18 years could be registered by their parents or guardians.

Note: Child Marriages are strictly prohibited in India as per The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.

The amendment bill also seeks to the following new subsection (1A) before subsection (2) under Section 8 of the 2009 Rajasthan Marriage Act:

Subsection (1A):

  • 1A If, at any time, death of either of the parties to the marriage or of both occurs, the surviving party, parents, adult child or, as the case may be, guardian of the parties may submit the memorandum.
  • The provision would enable a widow or a widower, or their children, parents, or their kin to register their marriage within 30 days of their death.

Subsection (2):

  • The bill also proposes to amend Sections 2, 5, and 15 of the 2009 Act to make marriage registration possible at the block level.
  • This provides for the appointment of a Block Marriage Registration Officer and Additional Marriage Registration Officer.
  • Till now, marriage registration could only be done at the district level by the District Marriage Registration Officer.
  • Notably, the 2009 Act had only provided the scope for district marriage registration officers.

What is the difference between the amendments compared to the 2009 Act?

Both the new amendment and the 2009 Act make the registration of child marriage compulsory. The difference is only in terms of age.

  • Under the 2009 Act, if both the bride and the groom are under 21, their parents/guardians have to register for their marriage.
  • The amendment seeks to differentiate between the age of the bride (18) and the bridegroom (21) for the same.

 

AssamMizoram Border Dispute: A recent report by the Assam Forest Department report has alleged that the government and people of Mizoram have been encroaching upon land in Assam along the 164.6km interstate boundary since 1980.

Key Points:

  • At the heart of the land conflict between the two northeastern States is the 1,318 sq. km InnerLine Reserve Forest along the boundary.
  • According to the report, the boundary was notified on March 9, 1933, which clearly defines “Inner Line” as the district boundary of the Lushai Hills.
  • At the center of the dispute are two notifications 1875 and 1993:
  • Mizoram has rejected the 1933 demarcation of the interstate boundary.
  • Mizoram claims that the land is theirs is based on an 1875 notification, which came from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act of 1873.
  • Assam claims that the land is theirs based on a 1933 notification that demarcated the Lushai Hills, which Mizoram was formerly known as, from the province of Manipur.
  • A district of undivided Assam, Lushai Hills became Mizoram, first as a Union Territory in 1972 and a State in 1987.
  • The State recognizes a regulation in 1873 that “includes areas wrongfully tagged with Assam” in 1933.

Recent incidents:

  • Earlier in June, 2021, two abandoned houses along the MizoramAssam border were burned down by unidentified persons, fuelling tension along the volatile interstate border.
  • The conflict most recently claimed the lives of six Assam police personnel in July, a fortnight after the report was prepared by the department’s Southern Assam Circle headquartered in Silchar.

Disputed Areas:

  • The two States share a 164.6km volatile border and the conflict is decadesold.
  • The major portion of the boundary between Assam and Mizoram runs along natural features like rivers, streams and watersheds.
  • Only two portions of the boundary, from Chattachura Peak to Longai and from Rukni river to Dholai River, do not follow definite natural features.
  • Incidents of encroachment in both Singla and Longai were recorded in November 1985.
  • The “government of Mizoram” has continued to control areas under Longai Reserve Forest.
  • Similarly, in the Hailakandi division of the Assam Forest Department, an encroachment of about 1,000 hectares of forest land by Mizoram at two different locations — 425 hectares at Kachurtal and 575 hectares at Dholcherra — have been recorded.

About Assam:

  • Assam is a state in northeastern India known for its wildlife, archeological sites and tea plantations.
  • It is situated south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys.
  • Assam is known for Assam tea and Assam silk.
  • The state was the first site for oil drilling in Asia.
  • Its capital is Dispur.
  • The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Assam are Professor Jagdish Mukhi and Himanta Biswas Sarma respectively.

About Mizoram:

  • Mizoram is a mountainous region which became the 23rd state of the Indian Union in February 1987.
  • It is a state in northeastern India.
  • It was previously part of Assam until 1972, when it was carved out as a Union Territory.
  • It became the 23rd state of India, a step above Union Territory, on 20 February 1987, with the FiftyThird Amendment of the Indian Constitution, 1986.
  • It is the southernmost landlocked state.
  • It shares its borders with three of the Seven Sister States, namely Assam, Tripura and Manipur.
  • The capital of Mizoram is Aizwal.
  • The current Chief Minister and Governor of Mizoram are Pu Zoramthanga and Kambhampati Hari Babu respectively.

 

Bhupendra Patel:

 Ghatlodia BJP MLA Bhupendra Patel was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Gujarat on September 13, 2021.

Key Highlights:

  • He was sworn in by the State Governor Acharya Devvrat at the Raj Bhavan, Gandhinagar.
  • He will be the 17th Chief Minister of Gujarat.
  • Cabinet members will be sworn in later after party will decide the names.
  • 59 year old first time MLA, Patel was unanimously elected leader of BJP Legislature Party.
  • He met the governor and staked the claim to form a new government in the state after the resignation of Vijay Rupani as Chief Minister of Gujarat.

About Bhupendra Rajnikant Patel:

  • Mr Patel has previously served as president of Memnagar Municipality in Ahmedabad, and the standing committee chairman of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority.
  • Patel became the MLA from the Ghatlodiya seat of Ahmedabad city in 2017.
  • He is the chairman of the standing committee of Vishwa Umiya Foundation.
  • He has also been associated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
  • He is believed to be close to Anandiben Patel  Governor of Uttar Pradesh and former Chief Minister of Gujarat.

                                                                                                   

Reforms in Urban Planning Capacity in India: NITI Aayog, 16 SEP 2021, launched a report on measures to ramp up urban planning capacity in India.

Highlights:

  • The report is titled ‘Reforms in Urban Planning Capacity in India’.
  • It was released by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar, CEO Shri Amitabh Kant and Special Secretary Dr K. RajeswaraRao.
  • The event was attended by the Secretaries of the ministries of housing and urban affairs, higher education, and panchayati raj, and chairpersons of AICTE and TCPO, Director of NIUA and President of ITPI.

About the report:

  • The report has been developed by NITI Aayog, in consultation with concerned ministries and eminent experts in the domain of urban and regional planning.
  • The report presents a condensed outcome of the extensive deliberations and consultations conducted over a period of nine months.
  • The report has made several recommendations that can unblock bottlenecks in the value chain of urban planning capacity in India.
  • Some of them are as follows:

Programmatic Intervention for Planning of Healthy Cities:

  • Every city must aspire to become a ‘Healthy City for All’ by 2030.
  • The report recommends a Central Sector Scheme ‘500 Healthy Cities Programme’, for a period of 5 years, wherein priority cities and towns would be selected jointly by the states and local bodies.

 Re engineering of Urban Governance:

  • The report recommends the constitution of a high powered committee to re engineer the present urban planning governance structure. The key aspects that would need to be addressed in this effort are:
  • Clear division of the roles and responsibilities of various authorities, appropriate revision of rules and regulations, etc.,
  • Creation of a more dynamic organizational structure, standardisation of the job descriptions of town planners and other experts, and
  • Extensive adoption of technology for enabling public participation and inter agency coordination.

Revision of Town and Country Planning Acts:

  • Formation of an apex committee at the state level is recommended to undertake a regular review of planning legislations (including town and country planning or urban and regional development acts or other relevant acts).

Demystifying Planning and Involving Citizens:

  • The committee strongly recommends a ‘Citizen Outreach Campaign’ for demystifying urban planning.

Steps for Strengthening Urban Planning Education System:

  • The Central universities and technical institutions in all the other States/UTs are encouraged to offer postgraduate degree programmes (MTech Planning) to cater to the requirement of planners in the country in a phased manner.

Measures for Strengthening Human Resource and Match Demand–Supply:

  • The report recommends the constitution of a ‘National Council of Town and Country Planners’ as a statutory body of the Government of India.
  • Also, a ‘National Digital Platform of Town and Country Planners’ is suggested to be created within the National Urban Innovation Stack of MoHUA.
  • This portal will enable self registration of all planners and evolve as a marketplace for potential employers and urban planners.

About NITI Aayog:

  • NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog is the premier policy 'Think Tank' of the Government of India (GoI).
  • It was established with the aim to achieve sustainable development goals with cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of State Governments of India in the economic policy making process using a bottom up approach.
  • It was founded on 1 January 2015 to replace the Planning Commission instituted in 1950. It is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • The Governing Council of NITI includes the Prime Minister as its Chairman.
  • It comprises of Chief Ministers of all States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories (UTs). The current Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog is Rajiv Kumar the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is Amitabh Kant.

                                                                                   

Sansad TV: Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Lok Sabha Speaker Shri Om Birla jointly launched Sansad TV.

Highlight:

  • Sansad TV was launched on the occasion of International Day of Democracy at the Main Committee Room, Parliament House Annexe.
  • The launch of Sansad TV is a new chapter in the story of Indian democracy as the country is getting a medium of communication and dialogue which will become a new voice of the nation’s democracy and people’s representative.
  • Sansad TV programming will primarily be in 4 categories –
  • Parliament and democratic institutions
  • Governance and Implementation of schemes and policies
  • History and culture of India
  • Issues of interest to the common man

Background:

In February, 2021, the decision to merge Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV was taken and the CEO of Sansad TV was appointed in March, 2021.

                               

 

Bhumiswami (owner of land): 

The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that a priest cannot be treated as Bhumiswami (owner of land) and the deity is the owner of the land attached to a temple.

Key Points:

  • According to a Bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and A. S. Bopanna  a ‘pujari’, or a priest cannot be treated as Bhumiswami (owner of land).
  • The priest only holds the land for the purpose of management of the property of the temple.
  • The apex court noted that ownership column only requires the name of the deity alone because deity as a juristic person is the owner of the land.
  • Occupation of the land is also by the deity which is carried out by servant or managers in behalf of the deity.
  • Thus, name of the manager or priest is not required to be mentioned in the column of occupier.
  • It added that the law is clear on the distinction that the Pujari is not a Kashtkar Mourushi, (tenant in cultivation) or a government lessee or an ordinary tenant of the maufi lands (land exempted from payment of revenue) but holds such land on behalf of the Aukaf Department (relating to ‘Devasthan) for the purpose of management.
  • The Pujari is only a grantee to manage the property of the deity and such grant can be reassumed if the Pujari fails to do the task assigned to him, i.e, to offer prayers and manage the land. He cannot be thus treated as a Bhumiswami.

Can collector be the manager of property?

  • SC said that the name of the Collector as manager cannot be recorded in respect of property vested in the deity as the Collector cannot be a manager of all temples unless it is a temple vested with the State.

Background:

  • The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by Madhya Pradesh challenging an order of High Court which quashed two circulars issued by the state government under the MP Law Revenue Code, 1959 (Code).
  • Both these circulars ordered deletion of the names of pujari from the revenue record so as to protect the temple properties from unauthorized sale by the priests.

                                                                                   

Shuffling of Governors: According to press communique issued by the Rashtrapati Bhawan , President Ram Nath Kovind has recently appointed new governors in four states.

Key Details:

  • In a series of gubernatorial changes, Governor of Nagaland R.N. Ravi was transferred as the next Governor of Tamil Nadu.
  • President Ram Nath Kovind also accepted the resignation of Baby Rani Maurya as the Governor of Uttarakhand, amid the speculation of her returning to active politics in Uttar Pradesh where the State Assembly elections are due next year
  • In other changes, Governor of Tamil Nadu Banwarilal Purohit, who held the additional charge of Punjab, has been appointed as the full fledged Governor of Punjab. Lt. Gen. Gurmit Singh (retired), a former Deputy Chief of Army Staff, has been made the Governor of Uttarakhand.
  • The key appointment is that of Mr. Ravi’s, who has been an interlocutor in the ongoing Naga peace talks since August 2014.
  • He was appointed the Nagaland Governor in July 2019.
  • Since last year, however, sharp differences have emerged between him and the functionaries of the Isak Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland and some sections of the Naga civil society.
  • Jagdish Mukhi, at present governor of Assam, has been appointed to discharge the functions of the governor of Nagaland in addition to his charge till a fresh appointment is made.
  • The above appointments will take effect from the dates they assume charge of their respective offices.

Who can transfer a Governor appointed to one state to another state?

The President may transfer a Governor appointed to one state to another state for the rest of the term. Further, a Governor whose term has expired may be reappointed in the same state or any other state.

                                                                               

Right To Sit: The government of Tamil Nadu recently introduced a Bill in the Assembly for recognizing workers’ ‘right to sit’.

Key Points:

The Bill seeks to amend the Tamil Nadu Shops and Establishments Act, 1947, by adding sub section Section 22 A.

It aims to provide a chair to each worker, and a whole lot of dignity, besides helping the employees avoid the discomfort and health issues arising from remaining on their feet throughout the day.

The Bill will benefit thousands of employees of large and small establishments, especially those working at textile and jewellery showrooms.

The Tamil Nadu Shops and Establishments (Amendment) Act, 2021, is inspired by a Kerala bill that was first tabled in July 2018 before it became a law in January 2019, after women textile workers in the state protested against harsh conditions in 2016.

Note: Kerala is the only other State to have legislated on the ‘right to sit’.

                                                                                           

Vijay Rupani resigns as Gujarat CM: Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani resigned from the Chief Ministerial post on September 11, 2021.  

Highlights:

He submitted his resignation to Governor Acharya Devvrat.

The announcement comes just a year before the assembly elections are scheduled to be held in the state.   

Vijay Rupani has become the fourth Chief Minister to resign this year after Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal.

The new Chief Minister of Gujarat is likely to be announced after a meeting with all the BJP MLAs.

Background:

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa was replaced by Basavaraj Bommai ahead of the 2023 elections.

Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat was first replaced by Tirath Singh and then he was also replaced by Pushkar Dhami.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal, under whom the party had contested the state assembly elections also resigned after a landslide win and was succeeded by Himanta Biswa Sarma.

                                                                                    

GST Appellate Tribunal: The Supreme Court of India (SCI) has warned that the government had no option but to constitute the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Appellate Tribunal.

Key Points:

  • The court was hearing a petition by advocate Amit Sahni.
  • He said Section 109 of the GST Act mandates the constitution of the Tribunal.
  • The GST tribunal has not been constituted even four years after the central GST law was passed in 2016.
  • Section 109 of the GST Act mandates the constitution of the Tribunal.
  • Citizens aggrieved are constrained to approach respective High Court and the same was overburdening the work of the High Courts.

What is GST Appellate Tribunal?

  • The GST Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT) is the second appeal forum under GST for any dissatisfactory order passed by the First Appellate Authorities.
  • The National Appellate Tribunal is also the first common forum to resolve disputes between the centre and the states.
  • It holds the same powers as the court and is deemed Civil Court for trying a case.
  • Section 109 of the GST Act mandates the constitution of the Tribunal.

Constitution of the GST Appellate Tribunal:

The GSTAT has the following structure:

 

  • National Bench: The National Appellate Tribunal is situated in New Delhi, constitutes a National President (Head) along with 2 Technical Members (1 from Centre and State each)
  • Regional Benches: On the recommendations of the GST Council, the government can constitute (by notification) Regional Benches, as required. As of now, there are 3 Regional Benches (situated in Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad) in India.
  • State Bench and Area Bench

                                                                              

 

 

 

 

 

Parasaram Pattabhi Kesava Ramacharyulu: Parasaram Pattabhi Kesava Ramacharyulu has been appointed as the new Secretary General Of Rajya Sabha.


Key Points:

  • Dr. Ramacharyulu, 63, was appointed by the Rajya Sabha Chairman M.Venkaiah Naidu.

  • He had been working as Secretary in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat since 2018.

  • He replaces Desh Dipak Verma, who demitted office as Secretary General on 31st August 2021 after serving for four years.

  • Ramacharyulu is the first ever Upper House employee to have risen to the secretary general’s post in about 70 years since the Rajya Sabha came into being in 1952.

  • Nine such insiders have become the Secretary General of Lok Sabha so far.

About Parasaram Pattabhi Kesava Ramacharyulu:

  • Born on March 20, 1958, Dr. Ramacharyulu has about 40 years of experience of handling various aspects of the functioning of the Parliament.

  • He joined the Secretariat in 1983 after serving in the Lok Sabha Secretariat for a year earlier.

  • He served as Special Secretary, Andhra Pradesh Legislature, in 2017.

  • A Bachelor of Laws and Master of Arts (Political Science) degree holder, Ramacharyulu was awarded Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) by the Jawaharlal Nehru University for his work on ‘Committee Systems of Indian Parliament and the US Congress: A Comparative Study’ in 2005.

About Rajya Sabha:

  • The Rajya Sabha or Council of States is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of India.

  • It is a permanent body and is not subject to dissolution.

  • At present the Rajya Sabha has a maximum membership of 245, of which 233 are elected by the legislatures of the states and union territories using single transferable votes through Open Ballot while the President has the power to appoint 12 members for their contributions to art, literature, science, and social services.

  • The Upper House was founded on 3 April 1952 by the Constituent Assembly of India.

  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.

  • The current Chairperson is Mr. Ramacharyulu.

Note: For the first time the Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha is the first insider to rise from the ranks of the Secretariat as it’s ahead in about 70 years since the Rajya Sabha came into being in 1952.

Freedom of Movement and Residence: The Supreme Court f India (SCI) has held that the power of the State to pass an externment order or a direction barring certain people entry to specified areas should be exercised only in “exceptional cases”.

Key Points:

  • A Bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and V. Ramasubramanian held in a judgment that the rights to free movement and residence across India cannot be curtailed on flimsy grounds.

  • The Apex court said externment orders have their use in maintaining law and order. However, they cannot be employed as a vindictive or retaliatory measure.

  • The drastic action of externment should only be taken in exceptional cases, to maintain law and order in a locality and/or prevent breach of public tranquillity and peace.

What does externment mean?

  • A system of preventing people from entering into a particular place for a certain period, due to their ability to affect that place’s conditions by criminal activity, as exhibited by their prior conduct, this system of restraining the criminal activities is known as externment.

Note: The word ‘extern’ is derived from the Latin root ‘externus’, meaning outward.

  • The provisions for providing the power of externment to the concerned authorities can be found in many statutes such as The Maharashtra Police Act (MPA) 1951, Punjab Security of State Act 1953, and Assam Maintenance of Public Order Act 1947, Karnataka Police Act et al.

About Freedom of Movement and Residence:

  • Article 19(1)(d) and (e) of the Indian Constitution guarantees to every citizen of India right to move freely throughout the territory of India and to reside and settle in any Part of the of the Territory of India.

  • This right is subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the general public or for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribes.

About Freedom of Movement under Article 19(1)(d):

  • All Citizens of India have the right “to move freely throughout the territory of India.

  • This Right is, however subject to reasonable restrictions mentioned under Article 19(5).

Restrictions:

  • This clause (5) empowers the State to impose reasonable restrictions in the interest of the general public or for the protection of the interest of any Scheduled Tribe.

About Freedom of Resident under Article 19(1)(e):

  • Article 19(1)(e) of the Indian Constitution guarantees to every citizen of India, the right “to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India”.

Restrictions:

  • This right is subjected to reasonable restrictions which may be imposed by the State in the interest of the general public or for the protection of the interest of any Scheduled Tribe.

Additional facts:

  • The Freedom of Movement and Residence apply only to citizens of India and not the Foreigners.

  • A foreigner cannot claim the right to reside and settle in the country as guaranteed by Article 19(1) (e).

  • The Government of India (GoI) has the power to expel foreigners from India.

Articles 15 and 25: Recently the former Congress president Rahul Gandhi asked if the Union government had “sold off” Articles 15 and 25 of the Constitution.

  • He asked this on twitter whle posting a video that showed alleged instances of Muslim men being attacked and asked to chant “Jai Sri Ram”.

About Article 15 and 25:

  • Articles 15 of the Indian Constitution prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

  • However, the State is not precluded from making special provisions for women and children or any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens, including the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

  • Article 25 of the Indian Constitution guarantees all persons the freedom of conscience and the right to preach, practice and propagate any religion of their choice.

  • The right to propagate, however, does not include the right to convert another individual, since it would amount to an infringement of the other's right to freedom of conscience.

9 new judges of SCI: Nine new judges, including three women, have recently been administered the oath of office as judges of the Supreme Court of India (SCI) by Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana.

Key Points:

  • With the swearing of the nine new judges the strength of the Supreme Court has risen to 33, including the CJI, out of the sanctioned strength of 34.

  • Three out of these nine new judges — Justice Vikram Nath and Justice BV Nagarathna and Justice PS Narasimha — are in line to become the chief justice of India.

Before the administration of oath of office, the warrant of appointment issue by President Ram Nath Kovind was read during the swearing-in ceremony.

Historic moment for SCI:

  • This is the first time that nine judges were sworn in together in the history of the top court.

  • Three of them are women judges.

  • One of them, Justice B.V. Nagarathna, is slated to be CJI in 2027.

  • With the new appointments, the number of women judges in the Supreme Court has gone up to four which is the highest number of women judges ever in the Supreme Court.

  • Traditionally, new judges take the oath of office in the CJI’s courtroom, but due to that Covid pandemic, the swearing-in ceremony was held in the auditorium of the Supreme Court’s additional building complex and it was also the first time a live telecast of the ceremony was allowed by the apex court.

Background:

  • The apex court Collegium had on August 17, 2021, recommended these nine names for appointment as judges of the top court.

  • Later, the President had signed the warrants of their appointment as apex court judges.

About the nine new judges of the Supreme Court:

  1. Justice Vikram Nath: Justice Nath, who was the chief justice of the Gujarat High Court, is in line to become the CJI upon the retirement of sitting top court judge Justice Surya Kant in February 2027.

  2. Justice BV Nagarathna: Justice Nagarathna was a judge of the Karnataka High Court. Justice Nagarathna is in line to become the first woman CJI in September 2027.

  3. Justice PS Narasimha: Justice Narasimha was a senior advocate and former additional solicitor general. He would succeed Justice Nagarathna as the CJI and would have a tenure of over six months.

  4. Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka: Justice Oka was the chief justice of the Karnataka High Court.

  5. Justice Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari: Justice Maheshwari was the chief justice of the Sikkim High Court.

  6. Justice Hima Kohli: Justice Kohli was the chief justice of the Telangana High Court.

  7. Justice CT Ravikumar: Justice Ravikumar was a judge of the Kerala High Court.

  8. Justice MM Sundresh: Justice Sundresh was a judge of the Madras High Court.

  9. Justice Bela M Trivedi: Justice Trivedi was a judge of the Gujarat High Court.

About Supreme Court of India (SCI):

  • The Supreme Court of India (SCI) is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal under the Constitution of India, the highest constitutional court, with the power of constitutional review.

  • It consists of the Chief Justice of India and a maximum of 34 judges, it has extensive powers in the form of original, appellate and advisory jurisdictions.

  • It is regarded as the most powerful public institution in India.

  • It was established on 26 January 1950.

  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.

  • The current CJI of the Supreme Court is Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana.

  • He is the 48th Chief Justice of India (CJI)

Governor of Manipur:

Senior BJP leader from Tamil Nadu La. Ganesan was on 22nd August 2021, appointed as the new governor of Manipur.

Highlights:

  • The post of the Governor had fallen vacant after the retirement of Najma Heptulla earlier this month.

  • A communique from the Rashtrapati Bhavan said Ganesan will be the new "Governor of Manipur with effect from the date he assumes charge of his office".

  • Heptulla had demitted office on August 10 and on the same day the charge was given to Sikkim Governor Ganga Prasad.

Procedure of Arresting a Cabinet Minister in India:

Recently, 3 FIRs were registered against Union Minister and Rajya Sabha member Narayan Rane in connection with a speech at Raigad where he spoke against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

Highlights:

The Maharashtra Police team was sent to arrest him.

Meanwhile, Narayan Rane was granted bail by a magistrate court in Mahad.

What is the procedure to arrest a Cabinet Minister in India?

The procedure to arrest a Cabinet Minister as per the constitution of India is as follows:

  • If Parliament is not in session, a cabinet minister can be arrested by a law enforcement agency in case of a criminal case registered against him.

  • However, as per Section 22 A of the Rules of Procedures and Conduct of Business of the Rajya Sabha, the Police, Judge or Magistrate would have to intimate the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha about the reason for the arrest, the place of detention or imprisonment in an appropriate form.

What is the Role of the Chaiman of Rajya Sabha in this regard?

  • The Chairman is expected to inform the Council if it is sitting about the arrest. If the council is not sitting, he/she is expected to publish it in the bulletin for the information of the members.

What about the privileges of the Rajya Sabha members vis-a-vis arrests?

  • In civil cases, they have freedom from arrest during the continuance of the House and 40 days before its commencement and 40 days after its conclusion, as per section 135 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

  • The privilege of freedom from arrest does not extend to criminal offences or cases of detention under preventive detention.

Can a person be arrested from the precincts of the House?

  • No arrest, whether of a member or of a stranger, can be made within the precincts of the House without the prior permission of the Chairman/Speaker and that too in accordance with the procedure laid down by the Home Ministry in this regard.

  • Similarly no legal process, civil or criminal, can be served within the precincts of the House without obtaining the prior permission of the Chairman/Speaker whether the House is in Session or not.

MP Implements NEP 2020:

Madhya Pradesh (MP) Government on August 26, 2021 implemented the National Education Policy-2020 (NEP-2020) in the state.

Key Points:

  • With this MP has become the second state to implement NEP-2020 after Karnataka.

  • The MP Government will implement NEP 2020 within four years in all the regions of the state, which includes 16 government universities and 40 private universities.

  • The aim of education is to impart knowledge, skills, and values of citizenship.

  • The students, before this were required to study subjects prescribed in a course. But now they will have the option to choose their subjects according to their interests.

  • The government will also be introducing agricultural science as a subject in Vikram University and Rani Durgavati University.

  • The new policy also focuses on National Service Scheme (NSS, National Cadet Corps (NCC) and skill-based subjects.

Key Points about National Education Policy, 2020:

  • The NEP 2020 was approved by the Union Cabinet on July 29, 2020.

  • It envisions major reforms in the school and higher education systems.

  • This policy was launched not only with an aim to introduce several changes in Indian education system, from school to college level but also with the aim of making “India a global knowledge superpower”.

  • NEP proposes for universalization of education from preschool to secondary level and seeks to achieve 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by the year 2030.

  • It will bring 2 crores out of school children back into the mainstream by the means of open schooling system. 10+2 system has been replaced by a new 5+3+3+4 curricular structure under the new policy.

  • Emphasis has been laid on Foundational Literacy & Numeracy and provides for no rigid separation between academic streams, vocational streams and extracurricular streams in schools.

  • As per the policy, Vocational Education will start from Class 6 with Internships.

  • It also provides for teaching up to at least Grade 5 in mother tongue or regional language. No language will be imposed on student.

  • On its first anniversary last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched SAFAL (STRUCTURED Assessment For Analyzing Learning), a competency-based assessment for grades 3, 5, and 8 introduced by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

Indian Polity Current Affairs - August 2021

Woman CJI:

The Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana has recommended nine names, including three women judges for appointment as judges in the top court.

Note: The collegium is a high-powered appointment panel led by the Chief Justice of India and comprises four senior judges of the top court. At present, it is headed by CJI N.V. Ramana and has justices U.U. Lalit, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and L.N. Rao as its members.

Key Details:

  • The three women judges recommended by the SC Collegium are Justice B V Nagarathna of Karnataka HC. Justice Hima Kohli of Telangana HC, and Justice Bela M Trivedi of Gujarat HC.

  • However, all three are likely to have relatively short tenures.

  • If the recommendations are accepted, three more judges could be added to the line of succession for the CJI’s post — till mid-2028 — including what could be the first woman CJI.

  • At present there is only one woman judge, Justice Indira Banerjee, who is due to retire on 8 November 2022.

  • Besides these three names, the Collegium has also recommended Karnataka High Court Chief Justice A S Oka, Telangana High Court Chief Justice Hima Kohli, Sikkim High Court Chief Justice J K Maheshwari, and Justices M M Sundresh (Madras High Court), C T Ravikumar (Kerala High Court) and Bela M Trivedi (Gujarat High Court) for appointment as judges to the apex court.

  • With the retirement of Justice R F Nariman on August 12, the strength of judges in the top court had come down to 25 as against the sanctioned strength of 34, including the CJI.

  • No appointment has been made after the superannuation of the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi on March 19, 2019.

About Justice B V Nagarathna of Karnataka HC:

  • Justice B V Nagarathna of Karnataka High Court could become the next and first woman Chief Justice of India (CJI).

  • She is currently a Judge in the Karnataka High Court.

  • She began as a lawyer in 1987 in Bengaluru.

  • She practiced in constitutional law and commercial law including administrative and public law, arbitration and conciliation, land and rent laws, insurance law, family law, conveyancing & drafting of contracts and agreements, etc.

  • In February 2008, she got appointed as an additional judge in the Karnataka High Court. She, in 2010, became a permanent judge.

  • In 2012, she ruled that regulation of electronic media is needed thereby emphasizing curbing sensationalism of news through ‘Breaking News’, ‘Flash News’, or any other way of sensationalized presentations.

  • In 2019, she ruled that a temple employee will be entitled to gratuity benefits under the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Act and not under the Payments of Gratuity Act deeming that a temple is not a ‘commercial establishment’.

About Justice Hima Kohli of Telangana HC:

  • Justice Kohli is the only women judge to head a high court as its Chief Justice.

  • She presently heads the Telangana High Court and was earlier with the Delhi High Court.

  • She was sworn in as the Chief Justice of Telangana HC on January 7, 2021.

  • In 2006, Justice Kohli was appointed as an Additional Judge on the Delhi High Court.

  • In 2007, she was made a permanent Judge on the Delhi HC.

  • She had enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi in 1984.

  • She has served as a legal advisor to many Delhi and Central government bodies such as the National Co-operative Development Corporation, the National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation of India, and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee.

  • In 2020, a judicial committee formed to monitor Delhi Government’s response during the COVID-19 pandemic was led by Justice Kohli.

About Justice Bela M Trivedi of Gujarat HC

  • Justice Bela Trivedi has been serving as a Judge of the Gujarat High Court since February 9, 2016.

  • Earlier from February 2011 to June 2011, Justice Trivedi served as the Additional Judge of the Gujarat HC. Before getting transferred to Gujarat HC, Justice Trivedi was serving as an Additional Judge of the Rajasthan High Court.

  • She has been a member of the General Council of Gujarat National Law University.

Credentials of Envoys:

President Ram Nath Kovind today accepted credentials from of Holy See, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Republic of Austria and Republic of Korea today (August 18, 2021) in a virtual ceremony.

Key Details:

Those who presented their credentials were:

  1. H.E. Mrs. Katharina Wieser, Ambassador of the Republic of Austria.

  2. H.E. Mr. Chang Jae-bok, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea.

  3. H.E. Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See.

  4. H.E. Mr. Ahmed Sule, High Commissioner of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

  • Speaking on the occasion, the President congratulated the envoys on their appointment and conveyed his good wishes to them for a successful tenure in India.

  • India enjoyed close ties with all the four countries and shared a common vision of peace and prosperity.

  • President Kovind added that India’s engagement at the United Nations and other multilateral fora have resulted in mutually beneficial partnership.

  • India remains committed to a just and equitable global order, keeping in mind interests of the developing countries and under-represented.

  • Ambassadors/High Commissioners conveyed good wishes to the Hon’ble President on behalf of their leaderships and reiterated the commitment of their leaders to work closely to strengthen their ties with India.

Institute of Economic Growth (IEG):

N.K. Singh who is the 15th Finance Commission Chairperson has been elected as the president of the Institute of Economic Growth (IEG) Society.

Key Highlights:

  • N.K. Singh will be succeeding former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh after he stepped down from the post earlier in August 2021.

  • Singh was recommended by Dr. Manmohan Singh had for the General Assembly of the IEG to consider for Presidency of the Society.

  • Dr. Manmohan Singh has served as the President of IEG since 1992.

  • At present, Tarun Das, former Director-General, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is the Chairman of, Board of Governors, and Professor Ajit Mishra is the Director of IEG.

About N K Singh:

  • N K Singh is an Indian economist, administrator, academician, and policymaker. He is currently the Chairman of the 15th Finance Commission.

  • Prior to this, he has been the Chairman of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Review Committee (FRBM).

  • He has also been a member of the Rajya Sabha from 2008 to 2014 during which he contributed significantly to several Parliamentary Standing Committees such as the Committee on Human Resource Development, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Public Accounts Committee.

  • He was not only a distinguished member of the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) in his home cadre in Bihar, where he held posts such as the Industrial Development Commissioner and Deputy Chairman, Bihar Planning Board but he also has vast international experience through interactions with multilateral organizations such as the World Bank, OECD, IMF, and ADB.

Awards:

 

  • He has been awarded the “Order of the Rising Sun – Gold, and Silver” in 2016 by the Emperor of Japan for his work as First Minister, Economic, and Commercial, Indian Embassy, Japan (1981–85).

About Institute of Economic Growth (IEG):

  • The Institute of Economic Growth (EIG), is an autonomous body and civil service training institute under the Government of India (GoI).

  • EIG was founded in 1952 by the renowned economist, V. K. R. V. Rao.

  • This institute was established for advanced research on economic and social development. It is widely regarded as a centre of excellence in the field.

Shankar Dayal Sharma:

The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, recently paid floral tributes to Shankar Dayal Sharma, former President of India, on his birth anniversary at Rashtrapati Bhavan on August 19, 2021.

About Shankar Dayal Sharma:

  • Shankar Dayal Sharma (1918 – 1999) was a member of Indian National Congress (INC).

  • He served as the Chief Minister (1952–1956) of Bhopal State.

  • He served as the Cabinet Minister (1956–1967), holding the portfolios of Education, Law, Public Works, Industry and Commerce, National Resources and Separate Revenue.

  • He again served as the Union Minister for Communications from 1974 to 1977.

  • He was appointed the governor of Andhra Pradesh in 1984.

  • After elections in Punjab, in the wake of the Longowal-Rajiv accord between the prime minister and the Akali Dal president, Sharma was made the governor of Punjab in 1985.

  • He then became the eighth vice-president of India and ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha, serving from 1987 – 1992.

  • He was the ninth President of India, serving from 1992 to 1997.

Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021: The Lok Sabha, on 9th August 2021, passed The Constitution (Schedule Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill 2021.

Highlights:

  • This Bill was passed after a brief discussion as some Opposition members kept protesting in the House.

  • The Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 5 with a voice vote amid din.

Key Details:

  • The Bill amends the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950.

  • The Bill seeks to amend the constitutional list of Scheduled Tribes as recommended by Arunachal Pradesh.

Note: The Constitution empowers the President to specify the Scheduled Tribes (STs) in various states and union territories. It also permits Parliament to modify this list of notified STs.

  • The bill was brought in to remove the Abor tribe from the list of STs in the state.

  • The Bill also replaces certain STs with other tribes.

  • Khampti is replaced with Tai Khamti,

  • Momba is replaced with Monpa, Memba, Sartang, and Sajolang (Miji)

  • Mishmi, Idu, and Taroan are replaced with Mishmi-Kaman (Miju Mishmi), Idu (Mishmi), and Taraon (Digaru Mishmi)

  • Any Naga Tribes is replaced with Nocte, Tangsa, Tutsa, and Wancho.

Additional News:

  • The House paid tributes to those who had participated in the Quit India Movement. The country is celebrating the 79th anniversary of the Quit India Movement that was launched in 1942 under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.

  • The Lower House also passed The Limited Liability Partnership (Amendment) Bill 2021 and The Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2021.

  • The bills have already been passed by the Upper House.

127th Constitution Amendment Bill: The Central Government, on 9th August 2021, introduced the 127th Constitution (amendment) bill, 2021 in Lok Sabha.

Key Points:

  • The bill seeks to restore the power of States and Union Territories to make their own OBC lists.

  • The Bill was introduced in the Parliament by Union minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Virendra Kumar.

  • It was introduced to clarify some provisions of the 102nd Constitutional Amendment Bill, restoring the power of states to identify backward classes.

Constitutional Provisions:

  • As per the Indian Constitution, Articles 15 (4), 15 (5), and 16 (4) confer power on the State Government to declare and identify the list of socially and educationally backward classes.

  • As a practice, separate OBC lists are drawn up by the Central Government and each State concerned.

Why is it 127th Constitution Amendment Bill needed?

  • The amendment was necessitated after the Supreme Court of India (SCI) in its Maratha reservation ruling of May 2021 upheld the 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act.

  • However, SCI also stated that, the President will determine which communities will be included on state OBC list, on the recommendations of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).

  • The 102nd Constitution Amendment Act of 2018 had inserted the Articles 338B and Article 342 A (with two clauses) after Article 342.

  • Articles 338B deals with the structure, powers, and duties of the National Commission for Backward Classes.

  • Article 342A says that the President, in consultation with the Governor, will specify the educationally and socially backward classes.

About 127th Constitution Amendment Bill:

  • The Amendment Bill will amend clauses 1 and 2 of Article 342A.

  • It will also introduce a new clause 3.

  • It will also amend Articles 366 (26c) and 338B (9).

  • The bill is designed to clarify that, State Governments can maintain state list of OBCs, restoring the system prior to SC judgment.

  • Articles 366 (26c) define the socially and educationally backward classes.

  • Under the amendment, the latest ‘State List’ will be taken out of the purview of the President completely and it will be notified by State Assembly.

What is the procedure to get 127th Constitution Amendment Bill passed?

  • An amendment of the Constitution can be initiated only by the introduction of a bill in either House of Parliament.

  • The bill must then be passed in each House by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a special majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting.

  • In case of disagreement between the two Houses, there is no provision for a joint sitting.

  • If the amendment seeks to make any change in any of the provisions mentioned in the provision to Article 368, it must be ratified by the Legislatures of not less than one-half of the states.

  • Although there is no prescribed time limit for ratification, it must be completed before the amending bill is presented to the president for his assent.

Preventive Detention: The Supreme Court held in a judgment on 2nd July 2021, that Preventive detention, the dreaded power of the State to restrain a person without trial, could be used only to prevent public disorder.

What has the apex court recently ruled?

  • Preventive detention is a necessary evil only to prevent public disorder.

  • The court must ensure that the facts brought before it directly and inevitably lead to a harm, danger or alarm or feeling of insecurity among the general public or any section thereof at large, a Bench, led by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman, observed.

  • The State should not arbitrarily resort to “preventive detention” to deal with all and sundry “law and order” problems, which could be dealt with by the ordinary laws of the country.

  • Preventive detention must fall within the four corners of Article 21 (due process of law) read with Article 22 (safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention) and the statute in question.

What is Preventive Detention?

  • Preventive detention (PD) means detaining a person so that to prevent that person from commenting on any possible crime.

  • In other words, preventive detention is an action taken by the administration on the grounds of the suspicion that some wrong actions may be done by the person concerned which will be prejudicial to the state.

Preventive Detention in India:

  • Under Section 151 of The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) preventive detention is action taken on grounds of suspicion that some wrong actions may be done by the person concerned.

  • A police officer can arrest an individual without orders from a Magistrate and without any warrant if he gets any information that such an individual can commit any offense.

  • Article 22 of the Indian Constitution provides protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.

Issues with preventive detention:

Arbitrariness:

  • The police determinations of whether a person poses a threat are not tested at a trial by leading evidence or examined by legally trained persons.

Rights violation:

  • Quiet often, there is no trial (upto 3 months), no periodic review, and no legal assistance for the detained person.

Abuse:

  • It does not provide any procedural protections such as to reduce detainees’ vulnerability to torture and discriminatory treatment, and to prevent officials’ misusing preventive detention for subversive activities.

Tool for suppression:

  • In the absence of proper safeguards, preventive detention has been misused, particularly against the Dalits and the minorities.

What is the difference between preventive detention and an arrest?

  • An ‘arrest’ is done when a person is charged with a crime. An arrested person is produced before a magistrate within the next 24 hours.

  • In case of preventive detention, a person is detained as he/she is simply restricted from doing something that might deteriorate the law and order situation.

Tribunals Reforms Bill: Amid the din, Lok Sabha, on August 3, 2021, passed the Tribunals Reforms Bill that seeks to abolish nine appellate tribunals.

Key Highlights:

  • The bill was passed by voice vote without a debate amid continuing protests by Opposition parties over the Pegasus snooping row and other issues.

  • The Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021, which seeks to replace the Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021, was introduced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021:

  • Tribunal Reforms Bill, 2021 seeks to replace Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021.

  • Bill was introduced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on August 1, 2021.

  • Bill provides for abolition of tribunals or authorities under several Acts by amending

  • Cinematograph Act of 1952

  • Copyrights Act of 1957

  • Customs Act of 1962

  • Patents Act of 1970

  • Airport Authority of India Act of 1994

  • Trade Marks Act of 1999

  • Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999

  • Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act, 2001,

  • Control of National Highways (Land and Traffic) Act, 2002

  • It also provides for uniform terms and conditions of service for chairperson and members of certain tribunals.

  • All pending cases before such tribunals or authorities will be transferred to Commercial Court or High Court.

Jawhar Sircar: He is the former chief executive of Prasar Bharati and TMC leader who took oath as a member of Rajya Sabha.

Highlights:

  • He was elected unopposed to the Upper House of Parliament earlier this week.

  • Sircar took oath in Bengali and was greeted by thumping of desk by fellow MPs.

  • He was elected to Rajya Sabha on a seat left vacant after TMC MP Dinesh Trivedi joined the BJP before the recent West Bengal assembly elections.

  • He spent nearly 42 years in public service and is known as a vocal critic of the BJP government at the Centre.

Governor’s Pardon Power: The Supreme Court on August 3, 2021, held that the Governor of a State can pardon prisoners, including those on death row, even before they have served a minimum 14 years of prison sentence.

Supreme Court verdict:

  • The bench held that the Governor can pardon the prisoners even before they have completed minimum 14 years of prison sentence.

  • The bench also held that, Governor’s power to pardon overrides a provision given under Section 433A of Code of Criminal Procedure which mandates that a prisoner’s sentence can be remitted only after 14 years of jail.

  • Section 433A of the Code cannot and does not in any way affect the constitutional power conferred on the President or Governor to grant pardon under Articles 72 or 161 of the Constitution.

  • If the prisoner has not undergone 14 years or more of actual imprisonment, the Governor has a power to grant pardon. Such power is in exercise of the power of the sovereign. However, the Governor is bound to act on the aid and advice of the State Government.

  • The court, infact noted that the sovereign power of a Governor to pardon a prisoner under Article 161 is actually exercised by the State government and not the Governor on his own.

  • The advice of the appropriate government binds the Head of the State,” Justice Gupta observed in the judgment which referred to the Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench judgment in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case on the power of remission.

Constitutional courtesy:

  • The court noted that “The action of commutation and release can thus be pursuant to a governmental decision and the order may be issued even without the Governor’s approval.

  • However, under the Rules of Business and as a matter of constitutional courtesy, it may seek approval of the Governor, if such release is under Article 161 of the Constitution.

Background:

The Bench was considering the feasibility of remission policies in Haryana.

Important Additional Info:

Pardoning Power of the President in India:

  • Under Article 72 of the Constitution, the President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence where the sentence is a sentence of death.

Limitation:

  • The President cannot exercise his power of pardon independent of the government.

  • In several cases, the SC has ruled that the President has to act on the advice of the Council of Ministers while deciding mercy pleas.

  • These include Maru Ram vs Union of India in 1980 and Dhananjoy Chatterjee vs State of West Bengal in 1994.

Reconsideration:

  • Although the President is bound by the Cabinet’s advice, Article 74(1) empowers him to return it for reconsideration once.

  • If the Council of Ministers decides against any change, the President has no option but to accept it.

Pardoning Power of the Governor:

Under Article 161 of the Constitution on India, the Governor of a State shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends.

Difference between pardoning powers of President and Governor:

The scope of the pardoning power of the President under Article 72 is wider than the pardoning power of the Governor under Article 161 which differs in the following two ways:

  1. Court Martial: The power of the President to grant pardon extends in cases where the punishment or sentence is by a Court Martial but Article 161 does not provide any such power to the Governor.

  2. Death sentence: The President can grant pardon in all cases where the sentence given is the sentence of death but the pardoning power of the Governor does not extend to death sentence cases.

Definitions:

Pardon:

  • It removes both the sentence and the conviction and completely absolves the convict from all sentences, punishments and disqualifications.

Remission:

  • It implies reducing the period of sentence without changing its character.

  • For example, a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for two years may be remitted to rigorous imprisonment for one year.

Reprieve:

  • It implies a stay of the execution of a sentence (especially that of death) for a temporary period.

  • Its purpose is to enable the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation.

Respite:

  • It denotes awarding a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded due to some special fact, such as the physical disability of a convict or the pregnancy of a woman offender.

Commutation:

  • It denotes the substitution of one form of punishment for a lighter form.

  • For example, a death sentence may be commuted to rigorous imprisonment, which in turn may be commuted to a simple imprisonment.

BS Yediyurappa: On July 26, 2021, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa Karnataka resigned from the top post after months of speculation.

Highlights:

The Governor of Karnataka Thawar Chand Gehlot accepted his resignation and issued a notification dissolving the council of ministers.

The Lingayat leader will continue as the caretaker CM till the next CM takes an oath.

The Party will announce the new Karnataka chief minister soon.

Background:

The 78-year old BJP veteran had announced on July 25, 2021, that he will take the decision on his future as the Chief Minister of Karnataka on July 26 when his government will complete two years in the state.

About BS Yediyurappa:

  • BS Yediyurappa is an Indian politician who served as the 19th Chief Minister of Karnataka.

  • He is the only CM to have as the CM of state for four terms.

  • He is also the only one till now in Karnataka to serve 3 times as the leader of opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly.

  • In 2008, he became the Chief Minister of Karnataka after leading BJP to a victory in the Assembly elections, a first for BJP in a South Indian State.

About Lingayats:

  • The Lingayats are the largest community of Karnataka.

  • They consist of at least 17% of the state's population.

  • The community is also known to have some firm supporters of the BJP and Yediyurappa and can determine the outcome of 30 to 40% Assembly seats.

New CM Of Karnataka: Basavaraj Bommai was sworn in as new Chief Minister of Karnataka on 28th July 2021.

Highlights:

  • His oath ceremony was administered by Governor Thaawar Chand Gehlot.

  • He has become the 23rd Chief Minister of the state.

  • Karnataka so far had 22 Chief Ministers but only three of them were able to complete their full term.

  • Former CM Yediyurappa had earlier resigned because of internal party pressure.

About Basavaraj Bommai:

  • He is the son of the former CM of Karnataka S. R. Bommai.

  • He is the three-time MLA from Shegaon in Haveri district in North Karnataka.

  • He was the Home Minister and Parliamentary Affairs Minister in the Yediyurappa Cabinet.

  • He is considered a close confidante of Yediyurappa. He joined BJP in 2008 and served as Water Resources Minister between 2008 and 2013.

  • A Mechanical Engineer, Bommai is son of former Chief Minister S. R. Bommai who was in office between 1988 and 1989.

After his election as Legislative Party leader, Basavaraj Bommai said that he will work under the guidance of outgoing Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa and work towards poverty alleviation.

About Karnataka:

  • It is a state in the south western region of India.

  • It was formed on 1 November 1956, with the passage of the States Reorganisation Act.

  • Originally known as the State of Mysore, it was renamed Karnataka in 1973.

  • It is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, Goa to the northwest, Maharashtra to the north, Telangana to the northeast, Andhra Pradesh to the east, Tamil Nadu to the southeast, and Kerala to the south.

  • It is the only southern state to have land borders with all of the other 4 southern Indian sister states. Its capital city is Bangalore.

Vandalism: The Supreme Court of India recently held that lawmakers cannot indulge in criminal acts on the Parliament or Assembly floors and then take cover behind the right to free speech.

What was the case about?

  • Kerala government had appealed to withdraw prosecution of top Left Democratic Front (LDF) leaders accused of vandalism and wanton destruction of public property on the Assembly floor during a Budget speech in 2015.

  • These leaders had claimed parliamentary privilege, arguing that the incident occurred inside the Assembly hall. They claimed immunity from criminal prosecution.

Observations made by the Court:

  • The court refused the Kerala government’s plea to withdraw the prosecution.

  • The Apex court observed that acts of vandalism cannot be said to be manifestations of freedom of speech and be termed as ‘proceedings’ of the Assembly.

  • It was not the intention of the drafters of the Constitution to extend the interpretation of ‘Freedom of Speech’ to include criminal acts by placing them under a veil of protest.

  • Legislators cannot unleash violence, run riot in Parliament or a Legislative Assembly and then claim parliamentary privilege and immunity from criminal prosecution.

  • Parliamentary privileges and immunities are not “gateways” for legislators to claim exception from the law of the land, especially criminal law.

  • The court explained that the purpose of bestowing privileges and immunities to elected members of the legislature was to enable them to perform their “essential functions” without hindrance, fear or favour.

  • The ‘essential’ function of the House is collective deliberation and decision-making.

As per the court the true essence of the privileges are as follows:

  • The purpose of bestowing privileges and immunities to elected members of the legislature was to enable them to perform their “essential functions” without hindrance, fear or favour.

  • The ‘essential’ function of the House is collective deliberation and decision-making.

  • These privileges are not a mark of status which makes legislators stand on an unequal pedestal.

What are Parliamentary Privileges?

  • Parliamentary Privileges are certain rights and immunities enjoyed by members of Parliament, individually and collectively, so that they can “effectively discharge their functions”.

  • Article 105 of the Constitution expressly mentions two privileges, that is, freedom of speech in Parliament and right of publication of its proceedings.

  • Apart from the privileges as specified in the Constitution, the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, provides for freedom from arrest and detention of members under civil process during the continuance of the meeting of the House or of a committee thereof and forty days before its commencement and forty days after its conclusion.

What is Breach of Privileges?

  • When any of these rights and immunities are disregarded, the offence is called a breach of privilege and is punishable under law of Parliament.

  • A notice is moved in the form of a motion by any member of either House against those being held guilty of breach of privilege.

Indian Polity Current Affairs - July 2021

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi : Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has been appointed as the Deputy Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha.

Highlights:

  • Mr Naqvi, 63, has succeeded Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, who has now taken over as the leader of House in the Rajya Sabha.

  • The minority affairs minister, a trusted organisation man of the BJP for decades, is a seasoned parliamentarian and had served as the minister of state for parliamentary affairs during the first term of the Modi government.

  • He is the only Muslim face in the Cabinet.

  • He was also a member of the council of ministers in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

About the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha:

  • The Deputy Chaiman is chosen by the Rajya Sabha from amongst its members.

  • He is elected internally by the Rajya Sabha.

  • The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha presides over the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha in the absence of the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

  • He has the same power as the Chairman when presiding over the Council and all references to the Chairman in these rules shall in these circumstances be deemed to be, references to any such person so presiding.

HC of J&K and Ladakh: According to an order notified by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice, Department of Justice on July 16, 2021, the ‘Common High Court for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh’ has been officially renamed as the ‘High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.’

Key Details:

President Ram Nath Kovind signed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Removal of Difficulties) Order, 2021 to effect the change, in the exercise of the powers conferred Section 103 (1) of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.

The Lieutenant Governor of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh as well as the then Chief Justice of the Common High Court for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have conveyed that they have no objection to the proposed change in the name of the High Court.

What is the reason for renaming the Common High court of J&K and Ladakh?

  • It was observed that the previous name of the J&K High Court was too lengthy.

  • The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019, was enacted to provide for reorganization of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territory of Ladakh.

  • The order pointed out that the Act declared that the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir will be the “Common High Court for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh”.

  • Therefore, the government used the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019, to rename the judicial institute of J&K and Ladakh.

About Ladakh:

  • Ladakh is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constituting a part of the larger region of Kashmir, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947.

  • Until 2019, Ladakh was a region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

  • In August 2019, the Parliament of India passed an act by which Ladakh became a union territory on 31 October 2019.

  • The capital of Ladakh is Leh, Kargil.

  • The current Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh is Radha Krishna Mathur.

About Jammu and Kashmir:

  • Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is a region administered by India as a Union Territory.

  • It was a region formerly administered by India as a state from 1954 to 2019.

  • Provisions for the formation of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir were contained within the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019, which was passed by both houses of the Parliament of India in August 2019.

  • The current Lieutenant Governor of J&K is Former Union minister and BJP leader Manoj Sinha

97th Constitution Amendment: The Supreme Court, on 20th July 2021, in a 2:1 majority verdict upheld the validity of the 97th Constitutional amendment that deals with issues related to effective management of cooperative societies but struck down a part related their setting up and functioning.

Key Details:

A three-judge bench comprising Justices R F Nariman, K M Joseph and B R Gavai of the Supreme Court struck down part of the 97th Amendment Act and Part IX B of the Constitution which governs the “Cooperative Societies” in the country.

  • Part IXB was inserted by the Constitution (97th amendment) Act, 2011.

  • It deals with incorporation, terms of members of board and its office bearers and effective management of cooperative societies.

  • However, the SC judgement held that Part IXB of the Constitution of India that deals with the functioning and incorporation of multi-state co-operative societies will be operative.

What was the reason for striking down part of Constitution Amendment on cooperative societies?

  • The court unanimously held that the 97th Constitutional Amendment required ratification by at least one-half of the state legislatures as per Article 368(2) of the Constitution, since it dealt with a entry which was an exclusive state subject (co-operative societies).

  • As such ratification was not done, therefore, the 97th Constitutional amendment, Part IXB of the Constitution inserted by the said amendment was struck down.

Note: The Gujart High court, in 2013, has also struck down part of the Constitution (97th Amendment) Act, 2011 citing the same reasons.

  • The issue gains significance as the central government during recent expansion of the Council of Ministers created a separate “Ministry of Cooperation” under Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Ministry of Cooperation:

  • The Central Government in July 2021 created a seperate Ministry of Cooperation (Sahkarita Mantralaya) to provide a separate administrative, legal and policy framework for strengthening the Co-operative Movement in India.

  • The newly formed Ministry of Cooperation is headed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah .

What is the 97th Constitution Amendment Act, 2011?

  • The 97th constitutional amendment, which dealt with issues related to effective management of cooperative societies in the country, was passed by parliament in December 2011 and had come into effect from February 15, 2012.

  • The change in the constitution has amended Article 19(1) (c) to give protection to the cooperatives and inserted Article 43 B and Part IX B, relating to them.

  • Article 19(1)(c) under Part III of the Constitution enables all the citizens to form associations or unions subject to some restrictions by giving it the status of fundamental right of citizens.

  • A new Article 43B was added in the Directive Principles of State Policy (Part IV) that states shall endeavour to promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of cooperative societies.

About Supreme Court of India:

  • The Supreme Court of India (SCI) is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal under the Constitution of India, the highest constitutional court, with the power of constitutional review.

  • It consists of the Chief Justice of India and a maximum of 34 judges, it has extensive powers in the form of original, appellate and advisory jurisdictions.

  • It is regarded as the most powerful public institution in India.

  • It was established on 26 January 1950.

  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.

  • The current CJI of the Supreme Court is Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana

Right To Be Forgotten: Ashutosh Kaushik who won reality shows Bigg Boss in 2008 and MTV Roadies 5.0 recently approached the Delhi High Court with a plea saying that his videos, photographs and articles etc. be removed from the internet citing his “Right to be Forgotten”.

In the plea, Kaushik maintains that the “Right to be Forgotten” goes in sync with the “Right to Privacy”, which is an integral part of Article 21 of the Constitution, which concerns the right to life.

What is Right to be forgotten?

  • The Right to be forgotten falls under the purview of an individual’s right to privacy, which is governed by the Personal Data Protection Bill that is yet to be passed by Parliament.

  • This Right goes in sync with the “Right to Privacy”, which is an integral part of Article 21 of the Constitution, which concerns the right to life.

  • In 2017, the Right to Privacy was declared a fundamental right by the Supreme Court in its landmark verdict.

Personal Data Protection Bill:

  • The Personal Data Protection Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 11, 2019 and it aims to set out provisions meant for the protection of the personal data of individuals.

  • Clause 20 under Chapter V of this draft bill titled “Rights of Data Principal” mentions the “Right to be forgotten.”

  • It states that the “data principal (the person to whom the data is related) shall have the right to restrict or prevent the continuing disclosure of his personal data by a data fiduciary”.

  • Therefore, under the Right to be forgotten, users can de-link, limit, delete or correct the disclosure of their personal information held by data fiduciaries.

What means data fiduciary?

  • A data fiduciary means any person, including the State, a company, any juristic entity or any individual who alone or in conjunction with others determines the purpose and means of processing of personal data.

Right to be forgotten in other countries:

  • The Center for Internet and Society notes that the “right to be forgotten” gained prominence when the matter was referred to the Court of Justice of European Union (CJEC) in 2014 by a Spanish Court.

  • In the European Union (EU), the right to be forgotten empowers individuals to ask organizations to delete their personal data.

  • It is provided by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a law passed by the 28-member bloc in 2018.

  • According to the EU GDPR’s website, the right to be forgotten appears in Recitals 65 and 66 and in Article 17 of the regulation, which states:

  • The data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data concerning him or her without undue delay and the controller shall have the obligation to erase personal data without undue delay” (if one of a number of conditions applies).

  • In its landmark ruling, the EU’s highest court ruled in 2019 that the ‘right to be forgotten’ under European law would not apply beyond the borders of EU member states.

Reconstituted Cabinet Committees: The central government has reconstituted the Cabinet committees, including the one on parliamentary affairs, ahead of the Monsoon Session, scheduled between July 19 and August 13.

The Government has reconstituted Cabinet Committees under the Transaction of Business Rules.

These include -

  1. Appointments Committee of the Cabinet

  2. Cabinet Committee on Accommodation

  3. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)

  4. Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA)

  5. Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs

  6. Cabinet Committee on Security

  7. Cabinet Committee on Investment and Growth

  8. Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development.

The members are as follows:-

1. Appointments Committee of the Cabinet:

Composition

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs

  • Appointments committee decides all higher level appointments in the Central Secretariat, Public Enterprises, Banks and Financial Institutions.

2. Cabinet Committee on Accommodation:

Composition

Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs, Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways; Minister of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance; Minister of Corporate Affairs, Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways, Minister of Commerce & Industry.

Special Invitees

Shri Jitendra Singh,Minister of State(I/C) of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region; Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Minister of State in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Minister of State in the Department of Atomic Energy; Minister of State in the Department of Space, Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State(I/C) of the Ministry of Housing &Urban Affairs; Minister of State(I/C) of the Ministry of Civil Aviation; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry

  • Committee on Accommodation determines the guidelines with regard to the allotment of government accommodation.

3. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs:

Composition

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shri Rajnath Singh, Minister of Defence, Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs, Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways; Minister of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, Shri D.V.Sadananda Gowda, Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance; Minister of Corporate Affairs, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture &Farmer Welfare, Minister of Rural Development: and Minister of Panchayati Raj, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications and Information Technology; and Minister of Law and Justice, Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister of Food Processing Industries, Dr. Subrahamanayam Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Steel.

  • Economic Affairs Committee directs and coordinates the governmental activities in economic area.

4. Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs:

Composition

Shri Raj Nath Singh, Minister of Defence, Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance; Minister of Corporate Affairs, Shri Ramvilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture &Farmer Welfare, Minister of Rural Development: and Minister of Panchayati Raj, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications and Information Technology; and Minister of Law and Justice, Shri Thawar Chand Gehlot, Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change; Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Shri Prahlad Joshi, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs; Minister of Coal and Mines.

Special Invitees

Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal, Minister of State Parliamentary Affairs; Minister of State in the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Shri V Muraleedharan, Minister of State Parliamentary Affairs; Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs

  • Parliamentary Affairs Committee will chalk out the schedule of the Parliament sessions, scrutinize non-government business and decide on the bills and resolutions to be presented in the Parliament. This committee alsoknown as Super-Cabinet also looks after the progress of government business in the parliament.

5. Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs:

The Cabinet committee on Political Affairs, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will comprise 12 Union ministers

Composition

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shri Raj Nath Singh, Minister of Defence, Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs, Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways; Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance; Minister of Corporate Affairs, Shri Ramvilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture &Farmer Welfare, Minister of Rural Development: and Minister of Panchayati Raj, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications and Minister of Electronics and Information Technology; and Minister of Law and Justice, Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister of Food Processing Industries, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Health & Family Welfare; Minister of Science & Technology; and Minister of Earth Sciences, Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Shri Prahlad Joshi, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs; Minister of Coal; and Minister of Mines, Shri Arvind Ganpat Sawant, Minister of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises

  • Political Affair Committee deals with all political matters related to domestic and foreign affairs including Centre-State relations and policy matters concerning foreign affairs that do not have external or internal security implications.

6. Cabinet Committee on Security:

Composition

Prime Minister Narendra Modi,Shri Rajnath Singh, Minister of Defence,Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs, and External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahamanayam Jaishankar.

This committee decides all important appointments in the government from the rank of joint secretary and above was also not changed.

  • The Committee on Security decides on all important appointments in the government from the rank of joint secretary to national security issues, defence expenditure of India and matters related to atomic energy.

7. Cabinet Committee on Investment and Growth:

Composition

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Minister of Defence Shri Rajnath Singh, Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of Railways & Minister of Commerce & Industry Shri Piyush Goyal.

  • Committee on Investment will identify the key projects required to be implemented on a time-bound manner in different sectors.

8. Cabinet Committee on Employment & Skill Development:

Composition

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Minister of Defence Shri Rajnath Singh, Minister of Home Affairs Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture &Farmer Welfare, Minister of Rural Development: and Minister of Panchayati Raj, Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways & Minister of Commerce & Industry, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, Minister of Human Resource Development, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum &Natural Gas: and Minister of Steel, Dr. Mahendra Nath Pandey, Minister of Skill development & Enterpreneurship, Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar, MOS(I/C)Labour & Employment and Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State(I/C) of the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs; Minister of State(I/C) of the Ministry of Civil Aviation; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Special Invitees

Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways; Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister of Food Processing Industries, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister of Women & Child Development and Textiles, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel, Minister of State (I/C) Culture, MOS (I/C) Tourism.

Committee on Employment and Skill Development will provide direction to all policies, programmes, schemes and initiatives for skill development aimed at increasing the employability of the workforce.

Note: All the committees are headed by the Prime Minister except two, Parliamentary Affairs Committee and Committee on Accommodation which are headed by the Home Minister.

Piyush Goyal: Union Minister Piyush Goyal is set to be be the Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha.

He will replace Thaawarchand Gehlot, who is now the Governor of Karnataka.

Highlights:

  • This replacement signals the induction of younger leader for a role which is usually handled by veterans.

  • Piyush Goyal was deputy leader when Gehlot was leader of the house.

  • Thaawar Chand Gehlot has been now appointed as governor of Karnataka.

  • Before becoming a minister in 2014, Goyal was BJP treasurer. He was also engaged in poll management activities.

  • As deputy leader of the House of Elders, Goyal has been an effective floor manager and played a role in passage of key legislations.

About the Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha:

  • Leader of House is the “leader and parliamentary chairperson” of majority party in Rajya Sabha.

  • The Leader is usually either a cabinet minister or another nominated minister.

  • The Leader of the House is responsible for organizing government meetings and business in the House.

Is it a constitutional post?

  • No. Office of leader of the House is not enshrined in constitution.

  • It is provided under Rules of Rajya Sabha.

Rajya Sabha or Council of States:

  • It is the upper house of bicameral Parliament of India.

  • It is a permanent body and is not subject to dissolution.

  • It has a maximum membership of 245 as of 2021. Out of 245, 233 members are elected by legislatures of states and union territories by single transferable votes through Open Ballot.

  • 12 members are nominated by President for their contributions in the fields of art, science, literature and social services.

  • Maximum seating capacity of Rajya Sabha is 250 in which 238 can be elected and 12 are nominated.

  • Article 80 of Constitution provides that, members sit for staggered terms lasting six years.

  • Elections are held every year with about a third of 233 designates up for election every two years.

Note: The Upper House was founded on 3 April 1952 by the Constituent Assembly of India. It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has recently approved the continuation of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary.

Key Details:

  • It has been approved for further five years from 01.04.2021 to 31.03.2026.

  • The total cost of the scheme is estimated at Rs 9,000 crore, out of which will be Rs 5,357 crore will be Central share, including Rs 50 crore for the Gram Nyayalayas Scheme.

  • This proposal seeks to help in construction of 3800 court halls and 4000 residential units (both new and ongoing projects) for judicial officers of District and Subordinate Courts, 1450 lawyer halls, 1450 toilets complexes and 3800 digital computer rooms.

  • This will be a new step towards building better courts for a new India.

  • The Cabinet also gave its approval for the implementation of the scheme in a mission mode through National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms with an aim to develop a well-equipped judicial infrastructure to facilitate the administration of justice in a manner that allows easy access and timely delivery of justice to all.

Implementation of the Scheme from 2021 to 2026:

The projects that will be undertaken under the CSS Scheme for the period between April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2026 are as follows:

  1. Construction of 3800 court halls and 4000 residential units for Judicial Officers (JO) in all the District and Subordinate Courtsin all the District and Subordinate Courts with an expenditure of Rs.4500 crores.

  2. Construction of 1450 Lawyers’ Halls in all the District and Subordinate Courts with an expenditure of Rs.700 crore.

  3. Construction of 1450 toilet complex in all the District and Subordinate Courts with an expenditure of Rs.47 crore.

  4. Construction of 3800 Digital Computer Rooms in the District and Subordinate Courts with an expenditure of Rs.60 crore.

  5. Operationalisation of Gram Nyayalayas in implementing states with an expenditure of Rs.50 crore.

Benefits of this scheme:

  • The CSS Scheme will increase the availability of well-equipped Court Halls and Residential Accommodations for Judges / Judicial Officers of District and Subordinate Courts all over the country.

  • The courts are also being provided with better amenities enabling win-win situation for both the judiciary and the lawyers and also to ease of living of common man.

  • Setting up of digital computer rooms will also improve digital capabilities and give impetus to the digitization initiation being pursued as a part of India’s Digital India vision.

  • This will help in improving the overall functioning and performance of the Judiciary. Continued assistance to the Gram Nyayalayas will also give impetus to providing speedy, substantial and affordable justice to the common man at his door step.

Monitoring of the Scheme:

  • Department of Justice has developed an online monitoring system with technical assistance from ISRO.

  • The online monitoring system will enable data collection on the progress of completion of court halls and other measures undertaken.

  • The upgraded “Nyaya Vikas-2.0” web portal and mobile application has been upgraded for monitoring physical and financial progress of CSS judicial infrastructure projects by geo-tagging completed and ongoing projects.

Background:

  • A Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary has been in operation since 1993-94.

  • The central assistance is provided to the State Governments / UT Administrations under the Scheme for construction of court halls and residential units for Judicial Officers / Judges of District and Subordinate Courts.

About Gram Nyayalayas:

The Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008 that came into force from 2 October 2009 was enacted for establishment of Gram Nyayalayas for speedy and easy access to justice system in the rural areas of India.

Jurisdiction:

  • A Gram Nyayalaya has jurisdiction over an area specified by a notification by the State Government in consultation with the respective High Court.

  • The Court can function as a mobile court at any place within the jurisdiction of such Gram Nyayalaya, after giving wide publicity to that regard.

  • They have both civil and criminal jurisdiction over the offences.

  • Gram Nyayalayas has been given power to accept certain evidences which would otherwise not be acceptable under Indian Evidence Act.

Composition:

  • The Gram Nyayalayas are presided over by a Nyayadhikari, who will have the same power, enjoy same salary and benefits of a Judicial Magistrate of First Class.

  • Such Nyayadhikari are to be appointed by the State Government in consultation with the respective High Court.

Sub-Categorization within OBCs: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, on 14 July 2021, approved the Eleventh Extension of the term of the Commission constituted under Article 340 of the Constitution.

  • It has been approved to examine the issue of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the Central List by 6 months beyond 31st July 2021 and upto 31st January 2022.

Benefits:

  • The proposed extension of tenure and addition in its terms of reference shall enable the “Commission” to submit a comprehensive report on the issue of sub-categorization of OBCs, after consultation with various stake holders.

Implementation:

  • The Order of extension of the term of the “Commission” by 6 months beyond 31.7.2021 and till 31.01.2022 would be notified with the approval of the President.

Background:

  • The Commission was constituted under article 340 of the Constitution with the approval of President on 2nd October, 2017.

  • The Commission, headed by Justice (Retd.) Smt. G. Rohini commenced functioning on 11th October, 2017 and has since interacted with all the States/UTs which have subcategorized OBCs, and the State Backward Classes Commissions.

What is the reason for the extension?

  • The Commission has come to the view that it would require some more time to submit its report since the repetitions, ambiguities, inconsistencies and errors of spelling or transcription etc. appearing in the existing Central List of OBCs need to be cleared.

  • Hence the Commission had sought extension of its term, up to 31st July 2020.

  • However, due to the nationwide lockdown and restrictions on travel imposed on account of COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission was not able to go perform the task assigned to it.

  • Therefore, the term of the Commission is being extended for a period of 6 more months i.e. up to 31.1.2021.

Safe Digital Transmission of Bail Order: The Supreme Court of India on July 16, 2021, announced that a system for safe digital transmission of its bail orders to jails across India.

Key Details:

  • The bail order scheme will be implemented so that authorities do not have to wait for authentic orders to release prisoners.

  • A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana directed the Secretary-General of the Supreme Court to submit a proposal on the safe digital transmission of its bail orders scheme.

  • The bench has directed the implementation of this scheme within a month.

  • The bench has also requested the states to provide information on availability of internet connection in jails across India because the digital transmission scheme would require an internet connection.

  • Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave was appointed as an amicus curiae to aid with implementing the scheme.

Background:

  • On July 13, 2021, the Supreme Court took sou motu cognizance of the delay by the Uttar Pradesh authorities in releasing 13 prisoners who had been granted bail by the apex court on July 8, 2021.

  • The 13 prisoners, who were juveniles at the time of conviction, have been lodged in Agra Central jail for periods from 14 to 22 years in a case of murder.

Definition of Amicus Curiae:

  • One who is not a party to case but assists court by offering information, expertise, or insight with bearing on issues in any case are known as “Amicus Curiae”.

  • The decision of considering brief by amicus is subject to discretion of court.

  • This figure originated in Roman law.

  • Amicus Curiae is a Latin phrase that literally means ‘friend of the court”.

Appointment of New Governors: Eight states, including Karnataka and Haryana among others, on 6 July 2021, got new governers as President Ram Nath Kovind made several appointments and changes.

The appointments will take effect from the dates they assume charge of their respective offices.

The new Governors whose appointments have been cleared by President Ram Nath Kovind are as follows:

  1. Union Minister Thawarchand Gehlot has been appointed as the new Governor of Karnataka.

  2. BJP leader Mangubhai Chhaganbhai Patel will be the new Governor of Madhya Pradesh.

  3. BJP leader Dr. Hari Babu Kambhampati will be Governor of Mizoram

  4. Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar has been appointed as the Governor of Himachal Pradesh.

  5. Haryana Governor Satyadev Narayan Arya will now be the Governor of Tripura.

  6. Tripura Governor Ramesh Bais is the new Governor of Jharkhand in place of Draupadi Murmu.

  7. Mizoram Governor P.S. Sreedharan Pillai has been appointed as the new Governor of Goa.

  8. Himachal Pradesh Governor Bandaru Dattatraya has been transferred and appointed as new Governor of Haryana.

Ministry of Co-operation: In a historic move, the Modi Government has created a separate ‘Ministry of Co-operation’ for realizing the vision of ‘Sahkar se Samriddhi’.

Highlights:

  • The creation of a separate Ministry of Cooperation was announced by Prime Minister Modi on July 6, 2021 ahead of the cabinet reshuffle.

  • The new ministry comes in amid a massive cabinet reshuffle exercise on July 7, 2021.

  • This move signals the government’s deep commitment to community-based development partnership.

  • The creation of a separate Ministry for Co-operation also fulfils the budget announcement made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

About the Ministry of Cooperation:

  • The name of the minister in charge of the new ministry is Amit Shah.

  • This Ministry has been created to realize the vision of ‘Sahkar se Samriddhi’ (Prosperity through cooperatives).

  • It will provide a separate administrative, legal, and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movement in the country.

  • It will help deepen Co-operatives as a true people-based movement reaching up to the grassroots.

  • It will work to streamline processes for ‘Ease of doing business’ for co-operatives and enable the development of Multi-State Co-operatives (MSCS).

Note: With the creation of Ministry of Cooperation, there will now be a total of 41 central government ministries.

Laws that govern cooperative societies:

Like agriculture, cooperation is in the concurrent list, which means both the central and state governments can govern them.

A majority of the cooperative societies are governed by laws in their respective states.

In 2002, the Centre passed a MultiState Cooperative Societies Act that allowed for registration of societies with operations in more than one state.

PM Modi 2.0 Cabinet reshuffle: The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, on 7th July 2021, administered oath of office and secrecy to members of Council of Ministers as a part of a major cabinet reshuffle.

Key Highlights:

The swearing in ceremony was held in the Darbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhawan

The new cabinet is set to be one of the most inclusive with record representation of SC, ST members.

Ahead of the oath-taking ceremony of the new Council of Ministers in the Modi government President Kovind has accepted the resignations of 12 members of the Council of Ministers including IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank.

List of the 13 Union Ministers who resigned from their post:

  1. Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal,

  2. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan,

  3. Animal and Husbandry Minister Pratap Sarangi,

  4. Women and Child Welfare Minister Debasree Chaudhuri

  5. Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar,

  6. Minister of State for Education Sanjay Dhotre,

  7. Union Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister D V Sadananda Gowda,

  8. MoS Jal Shakti and Social Justice and Empowerment Ratan Lal Kataria,

  9. Asansol MP and MoS Environment, Forest & Climate Babul Supriyo,

  10. Jalna MP and MoS for Consumer Affairs Raosaheb Patil Danve,

  11. IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad,

  12. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar

  13. MoS Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Choubey

The Centre had released the full list of 43 ministers who will be taking charge in the first cabinet reshuffle since Prime Minister Modi returned to power in 2019.

The names in the cabinet reshuffle included several new entrants as well as existing ministers who were reassigned.

This is the first major Union Cabinet reshuffle in the second term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Complete list of new Cabinet Ministers 2021

  1. Narayan Tatu Rane

  2. Sarbananda Sonowal

  3. Virendra Kumar

  4. Jyotiraditya Scindia

  5. Ramchandra Prasad Singh

  6. Ashwini Vaishnaw

  7. Pashu Pati Kumar Paras

  8. Kiren Rijiju

  9. Raj Kumar Singh

  10. Hardeep Singh Puri

  11. Mansukh Mandaviya

  12. Bhupendra Yadav

  13. Parshottam Yadav

  14. G Kishan Reddy

  15. Anurag Singh Thakur

  16. Pankay Chaudhary

  17. Anupriya Singh Patel

  18. Satya Pal Singh Bhagel

  19. Rajeev Chandrasekhar

  20. Shobha Karandlaje

  21. Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma

  22. Dardhana Vikram Jardosh

  23. Meenakshi Lekhi

  24. Annpurna Devi

  25. A Narayanaswamy

  26. Kaushal Kishore

  27. Ajay Bhatt

  28. BL Verma

  29. Ajay Kumar

  30. Chauhan Devusinh

  31. Bhagwanth Khuba

  32. Kapil Moreshwas Patil

  33. Pratima Bhoumik

  34. Subhas Sarkar

  35. Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad

  36. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh

  37. Bharati Pravin Pawar

  38. Bishweswar Tudu

  39. Shantanu Thakur

  40. Munjapara Mahendrabhai

  41. John Barla

  42. Dr L Murugan

  43. Nisith Pramanik

 

There are 77 members in the council of ministers now.

Average age of new Council of Ministers:

  • The average age of the newly-sworn in 43 ministers is 56 years while the average age of the new council of ministers is 58 years. Previously, the average age of the council of ministers was 61 years.

  • Nisith Pramanik (35), the Lok Sabha MP from West Bengal's Cooch Behar, is the youngest minister to be sworn in, while the oldest member in the council of ministers is 72-year-old Som Parkash.

  • Other ministers below 50 years of age in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet are Smriti Irani (45), Kiren Rijiju (49), Mansukh Mandaviya (49), Kailash Choudhary (47), Sanjeev Balyan (49), Anurag Thakur (46), Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar (42), Anupriya Singh Patel (40), Shantanu Thakur (38), John Barla (45) and Dr L Murugan (44).

Purpose of the Cabinet Reshuffle:

  • The latest union cabinet expansion and cabinet reshuffle was necessitated by the vacancies caused due to death of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and exit of few alliance partners including Shiv Sena and Akali Dal.

  • The upcoming state elections may also have a role in the latest cabinet reshuffle.

Key points:

  • In the mega cabinet reshuffle, 42 MPs and Tamil Nadu BJP chief L Murugan today took oath as ministers.

  • Of which, 15 are cabinet ministers and 28 are Minister of State.

  • There are seven women in the new cabinet.

  • There are 12 members from the SC community, including two in the cabinet.

  • Eight members from ST category in the council of ministers out of which three are in the cabinet.

Full List of Council of Ministers with their Portfolios:

 

PM Narendra Modi- Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy; Department of Space; All important policy issues and all other portfolios not allocated to any Minister

Cabinet Ministers:

  • Amit Shah - Minister of Home Affairs; and Minister of Cooperation

  • Nitin Jairam Gadkari - Minister of Road Transport and Highways

  • Nirmala Sitharaman - Minister of Finance; and Minister of Corporate Affairs

  • Narendra Singh Tomar - Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare

  • Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar - Minister of External Affairs

  • Arjun Munda - Minister of Tribal Affairs

  • Smriti Zubin Irani - Minister of Women and Child Development

  • Piyush Goyal - Minister of Commerce and Industry; Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution; and Minister of Textiles

  • Dharmendra Pradhan - Minister of Education; and Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship

  • Pralhad Joshi - Minister of Parliamentary Affairs; Minister of Coal; and Minister of Mines

  • Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi - Minister of Minority Affairs

  • Gajendra Singh Shekhawat - Minister of Jal Shakti

  • Dr Mahendra Nath Pandey - Minister of Heavy Industries

List of new Cabinet Ministers 2021 and their Portfolios:

  1. Narayan Rane- Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

  2. Sarbananda Sonowal- Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways and Minister of AYUSH

  3. Virendra Kumar- Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment

  4. Jyotiraditya Scindia- Minister of Civil Aviation

  5. Ramchandra Prasad Singh-Minister of Steel

  6. Ashwini Vaishnaw- Minister of Railways; Minister of Communications; and Minister of Electronics and Information Technology

  7. Pashu Pati Kumar Paras- Minister of Food Processing Industries

  8. Kiren Rijiju - Minister of Law and Justice

  9. Raj Kumar Singh- Minister of Power; and Minister of New and Renewable Energy

  10. Hardeep Singh Puri - Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas; and Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs

  11. Mansukh Mandaviya- Minister of Health and Family Welfare; and Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers

  12. Bhupendra Yadav- Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; and Minister of Labour and Employment

  13. Parshottam Rupala- Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying

  14. G Kishan Reddy- Minister of Culture; Minister of Tourism; and Minister of Development of North Eastern Region

  15. Anurag Singh Thakur- Minister of Information and Broadcasting; and Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports

Ministers of State (Independent Charge)

Rao Inderjit Singh - Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation; Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Planning; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs

Dr Jitendra Singh - Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Science and Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Earth Sciences; Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office; Minister of State in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions; Minister of State in the Department of Atomic Energy; and Minister of State in the Department of Space

Ministers of State:

  • Shripad Yesso Naik - Minister of State in the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism

  • Faggansingh Kulaste - Minister of State in the Ministry of Steel; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Rural Development

  • Prahalad Singh Patel - Minister of State in the Ministry of Jal Shakti; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Food Processing Industries

  • Ashwini Kumar Choubey - Minister of State in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change

  • Arjun Ram Meghwal - Minister of State in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Culture

  • General (Retd.) V. K. Singh - Minister of State in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Civil Aviation

  • Krishan Pal - Minister of State in the Ministry of Power; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Heavy Industries

  • Danve Raosaheb Dadarao - Minister of State in the Ministry of Railways; Minister of State in the Ministry of Coal; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Mines

  • Ramdas Athawale - Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

  • Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti - Minister of State in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Rural Development

  • Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Balyan - Minister of State in the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying

  • Nityanand Rai - Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs

  • V. Muraleedharan - Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs

  • Som Parkash - Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry

  • Renuka Singh Saruta - Minister of State in the Ministry of Tribal Affairs

  • Rameswar Teli - Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Employment

  • Kailash Choudhary - Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare

List of 28 news Ministers of State:

  1. Pankay Chaudhary- Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance

  2. Anupriya Singh Patel- Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry

  3. Satya Pal Singh Bhagel- Minister of State in the Ministry of Law and Justice

  4. Rajeev Chandrasekhar- Minister of State in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology

  5. Shobha Karandlaje -Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare

  6. Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma -Minister of State in the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

  7. Dardhana Vikram Jardosh- Minister of State in the Ministry of Textiles; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Railways

  8. Meenakshi Lekhi-Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Culture

  9. Annpurna Devi- Minister of State in the Ministry of Education

  10. A Narayanaswamy- Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

  11. Kaushal Kishore- Minister of State in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs

  12. Ajay Bhatt- Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism

  13. BL Verma- Minister of State in the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Cooperation

  14. Ajay Kumar- Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs

  15. Chauhan Devusinh- Minister of State in the Ministry of Communications

  16. Bhagwanth Khuba- Minister of State in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers

  17. Kapil Moreshwas Patil- Minister of State in the Ministry of Panchayati Raj

  18. Pratima Bhoumik- Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

  19. Subhas Sarkar- Minister of State in the Ministry of Education

  20. Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad- Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance

  21. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh -Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Education

  22. Bharati Pravin Pawar- Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

  23. Bishweswar Tudu-Minister of State in the Ministry of Tribal Affairs; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Jal Shakti

  24. Shantanu Thakur- Minister of State in the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways

  25. Munjapara Mahendrabhai- Minister of State in the Ministry of Women and Child Development; and Minister of State in the Ministry of AYUSH

  26. John Barla- Minister of State in the Ministry of Minority Affairs

  27. Dr L Murugan -Minister of State in the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

  28. Nisith Pramanik- Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports

Virbhadra Singh: The former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Virbhadra Singh passed away in Shimla on 8th July 2021 after a prolonged illness.

He was 87.

The Himachal Pradesh government declared three-day state mourning, from July 8 to July 10, in the honour of Virbhadra Singh.

About Virbhadra Singh:

  • Virbhadra Singh (1934 – 2021) was an Indian politician and a member of the Indian National Congress.

  • He was popularly known by the honorific Raja Sahib.

  • He was born in the royal family of the princely state of Bushahr.

  • He was the titular Raja of Bushahr from 1947 until 1971, when, by the 26th Amendment to the Constitution of India, the privy purses of the princes were abolished and official recognition of their titles came to an end.

  • The veteran politician was the 4th and longest-serving Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh.

  • The veteran leader was BA (Hons.), MA; educated at Bishop Cotton School, Shimla and St. Stephen's College, Delhi.

  • He was an elected member of the Lok Sabha in 1962, 1967, 1971, 1980 and in 2009.

  • He served as the Chief Minister of the state six times, from April 8, 1983, to March 5, 1990, December 3, 1993, to March 23, 1998, March 6, 2003, to December 29, 2007, and then for the sixth time from December 25, 2012, to December 26, 2017.

  • Mr Singh also remained the leader of Opposition from March 1998 to March 2003.

  • Apart from this, he also served as union deputy minister in Tourism and Civil Aviation, Minister of State for Industries, Union Minister of Steel and Union Minister of micro, small & medium enterprises (MSME).

About Bushahr:

  • Bushahr, also spelt as 'Bashahr' and 'Bussahir' or 'Bushair' was a princely state in India during the British Raj.

  • It was located in the hilly western Himalaya promontory bordering Tibet in the northern part of colonial Punjab region.

  • The territory of this former state is now part of Kinnaur and Shimla districts of the present Himachal Pradesh state.

  • The erstwhile Bushahr state was traversed by the Sutlej River.

Department of Public Enterprises: The Union Government recently brought the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) under the finance ministry.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced about this change in her budget speech 2021-2022.

Key Details:

  • As per the Cabinet Secretariat notification dated July 6, 2021, Ministry of Finance (Vitta Mantralaya), after the sub-heading (v) Department of Financial Services (Vittiya Sewayen Vibhag), following sub-heading shall be inserted, namely:- (vi) Department of Public Enterprises (Lok Udyam Vibhag)".

  • The gazette notification issued said these rules may be called the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Three Hundred and Sixty First Amendment Rules, 2021.

  • “They shall come into force at once,” the notification said.

  • The move came a few hours ahead of a major cabinet reshuffle.

  • The "Government of India (Allocation of Business) Three Hundred and Sixty First amendment Rules, 2021" amends the 'Government of India (Allocation of Business) Three Hundred and Sixty First amendment Rules, 1961'.

  • Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) was earlier under the Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises.

  • DPE has been brought under Finance Minister in a bid to enable better coordination regarding the Government's future Disinvestment Programmes.

  • The DPE will be the 6th Department in the Finance Ministry. The other five departments are:

  1. Department of Economic Affairs,

  2. Department of Expenditure,

  3. Department of Revenue,

  4. Department of Investment & Public Asset Management and

  5. Department of Financial Services.

  • The Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, the parent ministry of DPE, will now be called the Ministry of Heavy Industries.

Why was DPE brought under Finance Ministry?

  • DPE has been merged with the Finance Ministry to give it better control over key state-owned firms, review their capital expenditure plans and chalk out measures relating to revival as well as closure of Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs).

  • Earlier, issues like disinvestment used to face delay because finance ministry and DIPAM had to coordinate with DPE.

  • As result of the merger, key government companies like BPCL, ONGC, IOC, HPCL, Power Grid Corporation, Coal India, among others, will now come under direct control of Finance Ministry.

About DPE:

  • DPE is a nodal entity for the policy formulation for all the Central Public Sector Units (PSU).

Note: CPSEs are those companies in which the direct holding of the Central Government or other CPSEs is 51% or more.

  • It lays down, in particular, policy guidelines on performance improvement and evaluation, autonomy and financial delegation and personnel management in CPSEs.

  • It furthermore collects and maintains information in the form of a Public Enterprises Survey on several areas in respect of CPSEs.

Background of DPE:

  • In their 52nd Report, the Estimates Committee of 3rd Lok Sabha (1962-67) stressed the need for setting up a centralized coordinating unit, which could also make continuous appraisal of the performance of public enterprises.

  • This led to the setting up of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) in 1965 in the Ministry of Finance.

  • Subsequently, as a result of the reorganization of the Ministries/Departments of the Union Government in September, 1985, BPE was made part of the Ministry of Industry.

  • In May, 1990, BPE was made a full-fledged Department known as the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE).

Enforcing Contracts Portal:  The Department of Justice has recently launched ‘Enforcing Contracts Portal.’

This web portal, launched on 29 June 2021 seeks to be a source of comprehensive information on legislative and policy reforms being undertaken on the “Enforcing Contracts” regime for Ease of Doing Business in India.

Key Details:

  • Justice department launched this portal with an aim of promoting ease of doing business and improving ‘Contract Enforcement Regime’ across India.
  • The portal will provide easy access to latest information on commercial cases in Dedicated Commercial Courts of Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata.
  • It will also provide access to a repository of commercial laws.
  • The portal is envisioned to be a comprehensive source of information pertaining to the legislative and policy reforms being undertaken on the Enforcing Contracts parameters.
  • Legislative and policy reforms undertaken to strengthen Enforcing Contracts regime for Ease of Doing Business is being monitored by Department of Justice under Ministry of Law & Justice.
  • Dedicated Commercial Courts have been set up for speedy resolution of commercial disputes and boast of dedicated infrastructure & exclusive judicial human power.
  • The new portal also hosts online reporting by all high courts regarding the Mediation and Arbitration centres annexed to the Commercial Courts in order to monitor and promote institutional mediation and arbitration by way of Pre-institution Mediation and Settlement (PIMS) of commercial cases.

Note: PIMS has been introduced with the aim of reducing pendency of cases and to promote mediation as a viable dispute resolution alternative in commercial cases.

  • Information on commercial court and related services can be easily accessed by portal using several features like-
  1. Details or links of Dedicated Commercial Courts in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bengaluru
  2. Instructive videos related to e-filing
  3. Advocate registration
  4. Manuals on using Electronic Case Management Tools (ECMTs) like “JustIS app for judicial officers”
  5. e-Courts services app for use by lawyers
  6. Repository of all related commercial laws for ready reference.

About Enforcing Contracts:

  • The Enforcing Contracts is an essential area that measures time and cost to resolve a standardized commercial dispute as well as a series of good practices in the judiciary.

Parliamentary Privileges: Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, who chairs the Parliamentary Standing Committee on science and technology, recently moved a privilege motion against news channel Times Now.

Key Highlights:

  • He passed the privilage motion for “falsified and mischievous” reporting of the proceedings of the panel’s meeting by news channel Times Now.
  • Mr. Ramesh, in a letter to Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu, wrote that the agenda of the meeting was on “Vaccine Development for COVID-19” and “Genetic sequencing of coronavirus and its variants”.
  • But, the channel falsely reported that the proceedings involved a discussion on the ‘PM CARES fund’ and that this resulted in ‘high drama’.
  • Thus, this was patently false, and no such discussion or events ever took place.

What are Parliamentary Privileges?

  • Parliamentary Privileges are certain rights and immunities enjoyed by members of Parliament, individually and collectively, so that they can “effectively discharge their functions”.
  • Article 105 of the Constitution expressly mentions two privileges, that is, freedom of speech in Parliament and right of publication of its proceedings.
  • Apart from the privileges as specified in the Constitution, the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, provides for freedom from arrest and detention of members under civil process during the continuance of the meeting of the House or of a committee thereof and forty days before its commencement and forty days after its conclusion.

Breach of privilege:

When any of the above mentioned rights and immunities are disregarded, the offence is called a breach of privilege and is punishable under law of Parliament.

Then, a notice is moved in the form of a motion by any member of either House against those being held guilty of breach of privilege.

What is the role of the speaker under such circumstances?

  • The Speaker/RS chairperson is the first level of scrutiny of a privilege motion.
  • The Speaker/Chair can decide on the privilege motion himself or herself or refer it to the privileges committee of Parliament.
  • If the Speaker/Chair gives consent under relevant rules, the member concerned is given an opportunity to make a short statement.

Applicability:

  • The Constitution also extends the parliamentary privileges to those persons who are entitled to speak and take part in the proceedings of a House of Parliament or any of its committees.
  • These include the Attorney General of India.
  • However, the parliamentary privileges do not extend to the President who is also an integral part of the Parliament. Article 361 of the Constitution provides for privileges for the President.

Suresh N Patel: The incumbent Vigilance Commissioner, Suresh N Patel has recently been appointed as the acting Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) of India in the Central Vigilance Commission with effect.

Key Points:

  • He has been appointed in place of Sanjay Kothari, who completed his term on June 23, 2021.
  • He will remain on the post until the appointment of the new Central Vigilance Commissioner.
  • The Central Vigilance Commission is headed by the CVC and can have a maximum of two vigilance commissioners.
  • Currently, Mr Patel is the only VC in the commission.
  • The Personnel Ministry has invited applications for the posts of CVC and a vigilance commissioner.

About CVC:

Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is an apex Indian governmental body.

CVC was set up by the Government in February, 1964 on the recommendations of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption, headed by Shri K. Santhanam, to advise and guide Central Government agencies in the field of vigilance.

It has the status of an autonomous body, free of control from any executive authority, charged with monitoring all vigilance activity under the Central Government of India, advising various authorities in central Government organizations in planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilance work.

Consequent upon promulgation of an Ordinance by the President, the CVC has been made a multi member Commission with "statutory status" with effect from 25th August,1998.

Present status of the CVC:

  • The CVC Bill was passed by both the houses of Parliament in 2003 and the President gave its assent on September 11, 2003. Thus the Central Vigilance Commission Act 2003 (No45 0f 2003) came into effect from that date.
  • The Annual Report of the CVC not only gives the details of the work done by it but also brings out the system failures which lead to corruption in various Departments/Organizations, system improvements; various preventive measures and cases in which the commission's advises were ignored etc.

Members:

The Commission shall consist of:

  • A Central Vigilance Commissioner - Chairperson;
  • Not more than two Vigilance Commissioners - Members;

Pushkar Singh Dhami: Pushkar Singh Dhami, a two-term MLA from Khatima in Udham Singh Nagar district, has become the new Chief Minister of Uttarakhand.

He took oath as Chief Minister of Uttarakhand in Dehradun on 4 July 2021.

 He replaced Tirath Singh Rawat.

45-year-old Pushkar Singh Dhami has become the youngest CM of Uttharakhand.

Key Points:

  • The Legislative Party meet took place at the State Headquarters in Dehradun to elect the new Uttarkhand Chief Minister in the presence of Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and other BJP leaders.
  • He was elected by the State legislature party as its leader on 3rd July 2021, following the resignation of Tirath Singh Rawat.
  • Mr. Rawat had submitted his resignation to Governor Baby Rani Maurya on 2nd July 2021.
  • He had quit citing constitutional reasons, of not seeing his way clear to getting elected as a member of the Assembly in Uttarakhand within the stipulated six month period.
  • However, he continues to be a Lok Sabha MP from the State.

About Pushkar Singh Dhami:

  • Born in Pithoragarh district in 1975, Pushkar Singh Dhami is a law graduate in human resource management and industrial relations.
  • Dhami has worked in different positions in the RSS and its affiliate bodies for 33 years.
  • He was also a member of the ABVP for 10 years, during which time he worked in the Awadh Prant region of Uttar Pradesh.
  • He had been the president of BJP’s Uttarakhand Yuva Morcha twice, from 2002 to 2008.
  • Dhami had also served as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to Bhagat Singh Koshiyari when he was the chief minister in 2001-2002.
  • He also held the post of vice-chairman (with state minister rank) of the urban monitoring committee in the state.

About Uttarakhand:

  • It is a state in northern India crossed by the Himalayas.
  • Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India On 9 November 2000.
  • It was carved from the Himalayan districts of Uttar Pradesh.
  • Its winter Capital is Dehradun and summer capital is Gairsain.
  • The Chief Minister and the Governor of Uttarakhand are Pushkar Singh Dhami and Baby Rani Maurya respectively.