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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 19th March 2020

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  • March 19, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 19th March 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


State Human Rights Commission

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Polity

In News:

  • Rajasthan SHRC recommends meditation to fight COVID-19
  • The Protection of Human Rights Act of 1993 provides for the creation of State Human Rights Commission at the state level. 
  • A State Human Rights Commission can inquire into violation of human rights related to subjects covered under state list and concurrent list in the seventh schedule of the Indian constitution
  • The Governor of the state appoints the chairperson and other members on the recommendations of a committee consisting of  
    • Chief Minister as its head 
    • Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
    • The state home minister 
    • The leader of the opposition in the Legislative Assembly
    •  In case the state has legislative council- The chairman and the leader of the opposition of legislative council would also be the members of the committee
  • The chairman or any other member is removable by the President on the charge of proved misbehavior or incapacity after a regular inquiry by a judge of the Supreme Court.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) puts contingency plans in place to fight COVID-19

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Disaster Management

In News:

  • NDRF was established in 2006 under The Disaster Management Act, 2005 
  • It comes under Ministry of Home Affairs
  • It is the only dedicated disaster response force in the world
  • It works under National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) which lays down policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management.
  • Capabilities for undertaking disaster response, prevention, mitigation and capacity building
  • At present there are 12 battalions in NDRF (three each from the BSF and CRPF and two each from CISF, ITBP and SSB) which are deployed strategically across country to provide immediate response.
  • All battalions have been equipped and trained to respond natural and man-made disasters including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) emergencies.

Rehabilitation of Beggars

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I- Society 

In News:

  • The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment is exploring the possibilities of a scheme for persons engaged in the act of begging.
  • The Scheme would cover identification, rehabilitation, provision of medical facilities, counselling, education, skill development with the support of State governments & NGOs.
  • The Ministry provides funds to the National Backward Classes Finance & Development Corporation (NBCFDC) for skill development programmes for beggars

About NBCFDC

  • NBCFDC is a Government of India Undertaking under the aegis of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • It was incorporated under Section 25 of the Companies Act 1956 on 13th January 1992 as a Company not for profit.
  • Its objective is to promote economic and developmental activities for the benefit of Backward Classes and to assist the poorer section of these classes in skill development and self-employment ventures.

Ibuprofen

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- health

In News:

  • WHO advised patients suffering from COVID-19-like symptoms to avoid the drug ibuprofen, unless prescribed by doctors.
  • It is an anti-inflammatory drug that is easily available with chemists in India, and can be purchased without a doctor’s prescription. 
  • Ibuprofen, a non-steroid, is used for relief from joint pain, migraine, fever, body ache, and even pain during the menstrual cycle. 
  • Its function is to reduce pain, swelling, and fever by suppressing substances that produce swelling in the body. 
  • Other non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs include aspirin, cortisone, naproxen and diclofenac.

The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Governance

In News:

  • The Bill was passed by Rajya Sabha
  • The Bill seeks to repeal the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 and provides for a medical education system to ensure availability of quality medical professionals of Indian System of Medicine

Key features of the bill are:

  • The Bill provides for the establishment of the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCISM).  The NCISM will consist of 29 members, appointed by the central government. 
  • Functions of the NCISM include: 
    • Framing policies for regulating medical institutions and medical professionals of Indian System of Medicine
    • Assessing the requirements of healthcare related human resources and infrastructure
    • Ensuring compliance by the State Medical Councils of Indian System of Medicine of the regulations made under the Bill
    • Ensuring coordination among the autonomous boards set up under the Bill.
  • Autonomous Boards: The bill sets the following boards under supervision of NCISM
    • The Board of Ayurveda and the Board of Unani, Siddha, and Sowa-Rigpa
    • The Medical Assessment and Rating Board for Indian System of Medicine:
    • The Ethics and Medical Registration Board: 
  • The central government will constitute an Advisory Council for Indian System of Medicine.  The Council will be the primary platform through which the states/union territories can put forth their views and concerns before the NCISM. 
  • Entrance Exam: There will be a uniform National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to under-graduate education in each of the disciplines of the Indian System of Medicine in all medical institutions regulated by the Bill.

(MAINS FOCUS)


Indian Polity

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary 
  • Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Judicial Propriety

Context: Within five months of his retirement as Chief Justice of India, Justice Ranjan Gogoi has been nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the government. 

Former CJI had presided over politically sensitive cases (Assam NRC, Sabarimala, Ayodhya, Rafale, CBI) in which the government was a party.

This raises the question that, should judges stop accepting post-retirement jobs offered by the government, at least for a few years after retiring.

Consequence of Post-retirement appointments of Judges of Higher Courts

  • Post-retirement appointments mean that Judges, during his serving period, can get vulnerable to the ruling dispensation pressures so as to deliver the verdict in government’s favour in a quid-pro-quo arrangement.
  • It is often feared that a judge who is nearing retirement could decide cases in a manner that pleases the government in order to get a favourable post-retirement position.
  • It would signal that the judiciary is not independent, but is vulnerable to dictates of the executive
  • Deteriorates the Public Perception about the integrity of the Judiciary. 
  • The very fact that a judge accepts such an appointment could cast doubt on his judgements. 

Independence of Judiciary

  • The authority of the Supreme Court of India can be said to be resting on two things: The cogency of its reasoning, and the integrity of its judges.
  • India has adopted the doctrine of Separation of Powers whereby Legialature, elected by people, makes laws; executive who is a part of Legislature (Parliamentary form of government) implements the laws and Judiciary interprets these laws
  • The judiciary is the upholder of the Constitution and provides a check against executive excesses, arbitrariness, and unlawful steps.
  • Being Guardian of Constitution, the judiciary has to be independent — insulated from pressures and inducements.
  • Independence of the Judiciary is ensured by many constitutional provisions like
    • Judges do not hold their offices at the “pleasure” of the President
    • They can only be impeached by a special majority of both houses (Article 124(4)) of Parliament 
    • Article 121 and 211 provides that there shall be no discussion in the legislature of the state with respect to the conduct of any judge of Supreme Court or of a High Court in the discharge of his duties
    • The salaries and allowances of the judges are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India in case of Supreme Court judges
    • Parliament can only add to the powers and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court but cannot curtail them
    • Both the Supreme Court and the High Court have the power to punish any person for their contempt (Article 129 and 215)

Is this the first time that such post-retirement appointment is taking place?

  • No, retired judges have been appointed to political office since independence.
  • In 1952, Justice Fazl Ali was appointed the Governor of Orissa, shortly after retiring from the Supreme Court.
  • In 1958, Chief Justice M C Chagla resigned from the Bombay High Court in order to become India’s Ambassador to the US at Prime Minister Nehru’s invitation.
  • In April 1967, Chief Justice Subba Rao resigned from the Supreme Court to contest elections for President.
  • Justice Baharul Islam served as Judge of Supreme Court from 4th Dec 1980 to 12th Jan 1983. He contested elections as a Congress party candidate and was elected to the Rajya Sabha from 15th June 1983 to 14th June 1989. He gave a Judgement in the case absolving the then Congress Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra in the urban cooperative bank scanda
  • Ranganath Mishra served as CJI 25 Sep 1990 to 24 Nov 1991. He was first Chairman of the NHRC in 1993 and a member of the Rajya Sabha on a Congress ticket from 1998 to 2004. He was the sole member of the Commission of Inquiry into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots which gave clean chit to Congress Party
  • In more recent times, Chief Justice P Sathasivam was appointed the Governor of Kerala.

Should Judges be prohibited from Post-retirement appointment?

  • There is no explicit prohibition against judges accepting Rajya Sabha nominations
  • In the Constituent Assembly, K T Shah, suggested that High Court and Supreme Court judges should not take up an executive office with the government, “so that no temptation should be available to a judge for greater emoluments, or greater prestige which would in any way affect his independence as a judge”.
  • Article 124(7) of the Indian Constitution provides that a retired Supreme Court judge cannot “plead or act in any court or before any authority within the territory of India”. 
  • However, this provision only restricts post-retirement appointments in Judiciary itself, but not in posts of president, governor, member of parliament, etc
  • In its 14th report in 1958, the Law Commission noted that retired Supreme Court judges used to engage in two kinds of work after retirement:
    • Firstly, “chamber practice” (a term which would, today, mean giving opinions to clients and serving as arbitrators in private disputes) and secondly, “employment in important positions under the government”.
    • The Law Commission frowned upon chamber practice, but did not recommend its abolition.
    • However, it strongly recommended banning post-retirement government employment for Supreme Court judges because the government was a large litigant in the courts.
  • The Commission’s recommendations were never implemented.

Challenges in prohibiting the post-retirement appointments:

  • It is often thought that the solution to this problem requires explicit prohibition on any post-judicial appointment, including commissions of inquiry. 
  • The solution is not that simple; after all, there are many positions that require judges to be appointed.
  • Institutions like NHRC, SHRC, NGT, Lokpal often require appointment of Judges of Higher Court. Thus, a blanket prohibition will restrict the working of other important institutions of our Democracy

Way Forward:

  • Cooling-off period: Several appointments to administrative bodies require a cooling-off period for individuals so as to eliminate the possibility or suspicion of a conflict of interest or quid pro quo. This cooling-off period must be extended to Indian Judiciary.
  • Former CJI R M Lodha recommended a cooling-off period of at least 2 years.
  • The 16-point code of conduct for judges also called the “Restatement of Values of Judicial Life” -adopted at a Chief Justices Conference in May 1997- needs to be followed by Judges in letter and spirit

Connecting the dots

  • Post-retirement prohibitions on Election Commission of India
  • Case of Justice Mohammad Hidayatullah who was appointed vice-president nine years after his tenure as CJI ended.

Indian Polity

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these. 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

An SC verdict violative of minority rights

Context:

Supreme Court upheld the West Bengal Madrasah Service Commission Act, 2008. The court set aside a Calcutta High Court verdict which had held the legislation was unconstitutional

What is the legislation all about?

  • As per the provision of the act, the appointment of teachers in these theological institutions (Madrassas) shall now be made by a board nominated by the government.
  • As per Section 10 of the act, all appointments of teachers to the religious schools are to be recommended by the commission and the management committee shall be bound by such recommendations
  • Section 11 says that anyone appointed in contravention of this Act shall not be considered a teacher and such an appointment shall be invalid. 
  • Section 12 empowers the government to deny grants to the schools that refuse to make appointments in accordance with such recommendations. 
  • Further, government recognition and affiliation of such schools can be withdrawn, if government guidelines are not followed

Why were cases filed against this law?

  • Several petitions were filed in the court challenging the validity of the law, contending that the government, which funds or provides aid to the minority institutions, can formulate guidelines for appointments of teachers but cannot itself appoint them
  • Also, the act violates Article 30 which stated that all minorities shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
  • Additionally, the judgment by a three-judge bench in Chandana Das (2019) case gave the Sikh minority institutions of West Bengal the right to appoint teachers. 

The dual test criterion

  • In Rev. Sidharjbhai (1963), a six-judge bench of the Supreme Court observed that every government regulation in respect of a minority institution shall be valid only when it satisfies the dual test, i.e., 
    1. It is regulative and not destructive of the organisation’s minority character 
    2. It makes the minority institution an effective vehicle of minority education.

Other Judgements which upheld the Minority Institution’s right to appoint teachers & Staff

  • Kerala Education Bill case (1957) 
  • Rev. Father W. Proost (1969)
  • Very Rev. Mother Provincial (1969)
  • Ahmedabad St. Xaviers (1974)
  • Bihar State Madrasa Education Board (1990), where the court observed “under the guise of regulating educational standards to secure efficiency in institution, the state is not entitled to frame rules or regulations compelling the management to surrender its right to administration”.
  • In T.M.A. Pai (2003)
    • An 11-judge bench reiterated that the management of minority institutions should have freedom in day-to-day affairs of the institutions, for example, in appointment of teaching and non-teaching staff and administrative control. 
    • However, minimum qualifications, experience and other conditions may be fixed by the government.
  • The apex court has been consistent in holding that the term includes rights of minority institutions to select their governing bodies, teachers and staff and exercise disciplinary control over them and a right to fix reasonable fees and admit students in a fair and transparent manner.

Importance of Minority Rights

  • Protection of minorities is the hallmark of a civilisation. 
  • Lord Acton said: “The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.
  • special safeguards were guaranteed to the minorities and incorporated under Article 30 with a view to instil in them a sense of confidence and security. 
  • Also, in the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973), minority rights were held to be the part of basic structure of the Constitution.
  • Minority rights and special privileges (like Article 30) is thus necessary to ensure a thriving and a vibrant Democracy

Conclusion

The Chief Justice of India has now referred this judgment to a larger bench where we need to see if the judgement is upheld or reversed.

Connecting the dots

  • Article 29 and its difference with Article 30
  • Is Article 30 absolute? Or is it limited by reasonable restrictions?

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note: 

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q 1. Consider the following statements about State Human Rights Commission (SHRC)

  1. The tenure of the chairperson and members is five years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier. 
  2. The recommendations of SHRC are binding on the state government or authority.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q 2. Which of the following is true regarding State Human Rights Commission (SHRC)?

  1. The commission has the power of a civil court and can take cognizance of cases if received within one year of occurrence.
  2. It can recommend compensation to victim, prosecution of accused. But such recommendations aren’t binding.
  3. It submits special or annual reports to state legislatures along with action taken on their recommendations and reasons for non acceptance of advice.
  4. All

Q 3. Consider the following statements about National Disaster Response Force(NDRF)

  1. It comes under Ministry of Home Affairs
  2. It is the only dedicated disaster response force in the world

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q 4. Consider the following statements about National Backward Classes Finance & Development Corporation (NBCFDC)

  1. It is a Government of India Undertaking under the aegis of Ministry of Finance
  2. Its objective is to promote economic and developmental activities for the benefit of Backward Classes and to assist the poorer section of these classes in skill development and self-employment ventures

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q 5. Hyogo Framework and Sendai Framework often seen in news is related to which of the following?

  1. Disaster Management
  2. Prevention of trade in wildlife
  3. Money Laundering and Terrorism funding
  4. Conservation of Biodiversity

ANSWERS FOR 18 March 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 D
3 C
4 B
5 A

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