(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Polity & Governance; Judiciary
Supreme Court to launch a detailed examination into the circumstances under which a person can make public allegations of corruption against the judiciary.
SC’s 1995 judgment in C Ravichandran Iyer case where the court had laid down that if members of the bar had any material about “misconduct” or “bad conduct” of a judge, they should meet the high court chief justice concerned or the Chief Justice of India to apprise them of the material against the judge.
The apex court had said they should wait for a reasonable period of time to allow the administrative head of the HC or the SC to take appropriate action.
1992 Judgement -Justice J S Verma in S Ramaswami case
- The judgment had laid down the procedure to deal with allegations against a sitting judge.
- The judge had to be given a fair opportunity to be heard before an inquiry committee formed under the Judges Inquiry Act of 1968.
- The judgment had limited the inquiry process against a judge to be done within a tight and limited circle of high judicial functionaries and parliamentarians.
- The issue of whether allegations against a sitting judge warranted an inquiry was to be decided by Parliament on admitting a motion for removal of the judge moved by requisite number of MPs. However, it had said that during the inquiry, the sitting judge should have full right of defence.
- The dominating spirit of the 1992 judgment was to “preserve the right, interest and dignity of the judge, which is commensurate with the dignity of all the institutions and functionaries involved in the process”.
- The judgment was against publicly making allegations against judges.
But in none of these two cases, the apex court had the occasion to examine whether an advocate could go ahead and make allegations against a sitting judge without first submitting the evidence backing the charges to the HC chief justice or the CJI.
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Conservation; Environment
Context: The International Solar Alliance (ISA) to organise the First World Solar Technology Summit on 8th September, 2020 on a virtual platform.
About World Solar technology summit
- The objective of the event is to bring the spotlight on state-of-the-art technologies as well as next-generation technologies which will provide impetus to the efforts towards harnessing solar energy more efficiently.
- Four Sessions: The event will hold four technical sessions that would be available to the participants in different languages namely English, Spanish, French & Arabic.
- ISA would also launch the ISA Journal on Solar Energy (I JOSE) that would help authors from across the globe to publish their articles on solar energy, during the event.
International Solar Alliance
- The launch of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) was announced by the Prime Minister of India (Narendra Modi) and former President of France (Francois Hollande) on 30th November 2015, at the 21st session of United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP-21) in Paris, France.
- It was conceived as a coalition of solar-resource-rich countries (which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn) to address their special energy needs.
- 67 countries have signed and ratified the ISA framework agreement.
- The Assembly of the ISA is the apex decision-making body which comprises representatives from each Member Country.
- It aims at lowering the cost of technology and finance and thereby facilitate deployment of over 1,000 GW of solar energy and mobilize more than USD 1,000 billion into solar power by 2030 in Member countries.
- Solar is a key source of affordable and reliable energy, thus it could play a significant role in achieving the universal energy access goal (SDG 7).
- The Government of India has allotted 5 acres of land to the ISA in National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) campus, Gurugram and has released a sum of Rs. 160 crore for creating a corpus fund, building infrastructure and meeting day to day recurring expenditure of the ISA up to the year 2021-22.
Part of: GS Paper – III Growth & Development; Conservation Environmental Pollution & Degradation
- The government has set targets of 10% bioethanol blending of petrol by 2022 and to raise it to 20% by 2030 under the Ethanol Blended Programme (EBP).
- The EBP was launched in line with the National Biofuels Policy, 2018.
Reasons for Ethanol Blending:
- It is estimated that a 5% blending can result in replacement of around 1.8 million Barrels of crude oil.
- As the ethanol molecule contains oxygen, it allows the engine to more completely combust the fuel, resulting in fewer emissions and thereby reducing the occurrence of environmental pollution.
- The renewable ethanol content, which is a by-product of the sugar industry, is expected to result in a net reduction in the emission of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbons (HC).
Challenges in Ethanol Blending:
- Less Production: Currently, domestic production of bioethanol is not sufficient to meet the demand for bio-ethanol for blending with petrol at Indian OMCs.
- Sugar mills, which are the key domestic suppliers of bio-ethanol to OMCs, were able to supply only 57.6% of the total demand.
- Sugar mills do not have the financial stability to invest in biofuel plants.
- There are also concerns among investors on the uncertainty on the price of bioethanol in the future as the prices of both sugarcane and bio-ethanol are set by the central government.
- Water Footprint: While India has become one of the top producers of ethanol but it lags top producers, the USA and Brazil, by a huge margin and remains inefficient in terms of water usage.
- India’s water requirements for producing ethanol are not met through rainwater and the groundwater is used for drinking and other purposes.
- Water footprint, that is water required to produce a litre of ethanol, includes rainwater at the root zone used by ethanol-producing plants such as sugarcane, and surface, ground water, and fresh water required to wash away pollutants.
- Limited Sugarcane Availability: Sugarcane is another limited resource that affects the ethanol blending in the country.
- In order to achieve a 20% blend rate, almost one-tenth of the existing net sown area will have to be diverted for sugarcane production. Any such land requirement is likely to put a stress on other crops and has the potential to increase food prices.
- India’s biofuel policy stipulates that fuel requirements must not compete with food requirements and that only surplus food crops should be used for fuel production, if at all.
- Lack of Alternatives: Producing ethanol from crop residue can be a good alternative but the annual capacity of biorefinery is still not enough to meet the 5% petrol-ethanol blending requirement.
- Other biofuels such as Jatropha have often proven to be commercially unviable.
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Conservation; Environment
Context: Recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has observed that the pollutants are still being discharged into the river Ganga, despite several directions of various courts.
- Constitutional Right: Pollution-free environment is the constitutional right of every citizen and constitutional obligation of States. However, the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and West Bengal are certainly failing in providing pollution free Ganga.
- Monitoring: The NGT has directed the above states to periodically monitor the rejuvenation of the Ganga.
- Joint Meetings: It has also called for periodic joint meetings of the above states to consider vital issues like pooling of human resources and sharing best practices for rejuvenation of Ganga.
- The meetings shall be focussed on preventing discharge of sewage and other pollutants in Ganga directly or through its tributaries or drains connected thereto.
Initiatives Taken to Clean Ganga:
- Ganga Action Plan: It was the first River Action Plan that was taken up by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in 1985, to improve the water quality by the interception, diversion, and treatment of domestic sewage.
- The National River Conservation Plan is an extension to the Ganga Action Plan. It aims at cleaning the Ganga river under Ganga Action Plan phase-2.
- National River Ganga Basin Authority (NRGBA): It was formed by the Government of India in the year 2009 under Section-3 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
Part of: GS Paper – II GS Paper – III Government Policies & InterventionsGrowth & DevelopmentBanking Sector & NBFCs
Context: The government has extended the scope of the Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme (PCGS) 2.0 to provide greater flexibility to state-owned banks in purchasing bonds and Commercial Papers (CPs) of Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs).
- The PCGS was announced in July 2019, allowing public sector banks to purchase high-rated (BBB+ or above) pooled assets from financially sound NBFCs and Housing Finance Companies (HFCs).
- A pool of assets is basically a securitisation of loan portfolio i.e. conversion of a loan into a marketable security, typically for the purpose of raising cash by selling them to other investors.
- These are sold by NBFCs/HFCs to banks in return for an advance payment. NBFCs/HFCs get the much needed money and banks get the interest paying assets.
- Credit ratings is an analysis of the credit risk associated with a financial instrument or a financial entity. These range from AAA to C and D.
- As a part of the Aatmanirbhar initiative, the scheme was extended in May 2020 (PCGS 2.0) to cover primary market issuance of bonds/CPs by NBFCs, HFCs and Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) with low credit ratings.
- The Centre provided 20% first loss sovereign guarantee to public sector banks for purchase of bonds/CPs, resulting in liquidity infusion of Rs. 45,000 crore into the system.
- The scheme covered papers with ratings of AA and below, including unrated papers, aimed at providing access to fresh liquidity support to non-bank lenders.
- The Scheme has been extended for three months, giving public sector banks time till 19th November 2020 to build their portfolios of bonds and CPs from non-banking financial institutions.
- Further, the government has allowed banks to invest upto 50% of total investments under the Scheme in AA and AA- rated bonds.
- This decision was taken as the earlier limit for such investments at 25% was almost met.
- Bonds: Borrowers issue bonds to raise money from investors willing to lend them money.
- Commercial Paper: It is a commonly used type of unsecured, short-term debt instrument issued by corporations, typically used for meeting the short-term liabilities.
- Primary Market: The primary market is where companies issue a new security, not previously traded on any stock exchange. Securities issued through a primary market can include stocks, corporate or government bonds, notes and bills.
- The secondary market is where investors buy and sell securities they already own.
Part of: GS Paper – I Physical Geography
Context: Recently, Death Valley (USA) registered a temperature of 54.4°C which, once verified, could be the highest temperature in more than a century. The temperature was recorded at the USA National Weather Service’s automated weather station at Furnace Creek on 16th August 2020.
- The temperature has been termed as preliminary and not final as it awaits verification.
- According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Death Valley’s all-time record high is 56.7°C taken on 10th July 1913 at Greenland Ranch.
- It still stands as the hottest ever recorded on the planet’s surface.
- However, since the temperature-recording mechanisms a century ago were not as advanced, many have doubted if that reading was reliable.
Effects of Extreme Heat:
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), extreme heat can exacerbate pre-existing health conditions, including respiratory diseases, heart conditions and kidney disorders.
- The immediate effects on the human body are heat cramps, dehydration and even potentially fatal heat strokes.
- It can also have a severe impact on agriculture and forests.
- It either causes vegetables to wilt and die or encourage the spread of plant diseases.
- It causes wildfires which lead to forest cover reduction and death of fauna.
- It affects infrastructure too by straining power grids and causing blackouts. It can ground planes, melt roads and cause the inside of vehicles to overheat to dangerous levels.
Part of: GS Paper – I and II Water Resources and Povernment Policies
Context: Recently, the Gujarat government has awarded the contract for the Bhadbhut project in Bharuch.
Features of the Bhadbhut project:
- It is located across the river Narmada, 5 km from Bhadbhut village and 25 km from the mouth of the river, where it flows into the Gulf of Khambhat.
- The project is part of the larger Kalpasar Project, which entails the construction of a 30-km dam across the Gulf of Khambhat between Bharuch and Bhavnagar districts.
- Kalpasar Project aims to store Gujarat’s 25% average annual surface water resources..
- This reservoir will store about 8,000 million cubic metres (MCM) of surface water and will be one of the world’s largest freshwater reservoirs in the sea.
Part of: GS I- Indian Architecture
Context: Recently, the Kerala government has taken control of Marthoman Jacobite Syrian Cathedral Church at Mulanthuruthy in Ernakulam district, Kerala.
- The Church at Mulanthuruthy has been in the focus of a dispute between Jacobite and Orthodox factions of the Malankara Church, a prominent non-Catholic Christian community.
- The Malankara Church first split in 1912, into the Jacobite and Orthodox groups. However, the two Churches reunified in 1959, but the truce lasted only until 1972-73.
- Since then, the two factions have been engaged in battle over ownership of churches and their wealth.
- The SC had upheld the validity of the 1934 constitution of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church to govern the parishes (administration) under the Church.
- However, the Orthodox faction was still denied access to the Church, therefore they appealed in the Kerala High Court, which directed the Kerala government to take over the Church and hand it over to Orthodox faction.
- It is a European style of architecture popular in the 12th-16th century.
- Origin: This architecture has its roots in France and England.
- Features: Pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses.
- The Britishers merged some Indian features of architecture to the Gothic architecture, which resulted in the Indo-Gothic style of architecture.
- Examples of Indo-Gothic style of architecture: Madras High Court, Victoria Memorial, The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (previously Victoria Terminus) etc.
Part of: GS II- Health
Context: Recently, a heart was brought from Pune to Chennai with the help of a “green corridor” created for unrestricted movement.
- A green corridor is a demarcated, cleared out special road route created for an ambulance that enables retrieved organs meant for transplant to reach the destined hospital.
- Green corridors require a concentrated effort from transplant coordinators, local police, traffic police and airport staff. Awareness of the general public towards green corridors is also important.
- Procedure: When a patient is declared brain dead and his family consents to organ donation, the availability of a recipient is first checked within the city, state, region and then nationally.
- Need: Organs have a short preservation time, and green corridors ensure the ambulance escapes traffic congestion and reaches the destination in the shortest possible time.
- Coordinated by: The requisite regulatory procedures and coordination was carried out with National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO).
National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation
- National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) is a National level organization set up under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, located in New Delhi.
- NOTTO’s various state centers are called State Organ and Tissue Transplantation Organisation (SOTTO).
- It coordinates and establishes a network for procurement and distribution of organs and tissues as per the Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act 2011.
- NOTTO in collaboration with the National Informatics Centre (NIC) is developing a national registry of organ and tissue donors.
- This initiative will help in maintaining data and surveillance of all transplants across the country and also plans to map post-transplant survival rate of patients.
- SC to study context of charges against judges
Person in news: Pandit Jasraj
Part of: GS I- Art and culture
Context: Recently Pandit Jasraj, one of the world’s most prominent Indian classical vocalists, passed away.
- Pandit Jasraj was associated with Mewati gharana of music.
- He is known for his unconventional mixing of khayal with elements of bhakti rasa, employing harkats and murkis that were traditionally used in light classical music.
- Khayal is a musical form based on the elaboration of a Raga with lyrical composition consisting of two stanzas.
- He also performed semi-classical old musical forms such as the Haveli sangeet.
- Haveli Sangeet are performances are held in temples and the compositions are sung in praise of Lord Krishna.
- He is the recipient of numerous awards, honours, and titles, including the prestigious Padma Vibhushan and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.
- Recently, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) named an asteroid after him, formally known as 2006 VP32, as Panditjasraj.
- He was the first Indian musician to receive this honour.
POLITY / FEDERALISM
Topic: General Studies 2:
- Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers
Context: There has been clash of opinion over the appointment of prosecutors for conducting the Delhi riot cases
Constitutional Status of Delhi
- The 69th Amendment Act, 1992 has added two new Articles 239AA and 239AB under which the Union Territory of Delhi has been given a special status.
- Art. 239AA creates a legislative assembly for Delhi which can make laws on subjects under the State List and Concurrent List except on these matters: public order, land, and police.
- It also provides for a Council of Ministers for Delhi consisting of not more than 10% of the total number of members in the assembly.
What has been the tussle?
- Delhi Government had accused Lieutenant Governor (LG) of referring the decisions of an elected government to President and thus causing hurdles in governance
- The Centre, which appoints the L-G, contends that “for any Centrally administered territory and especially Delhi responsibility is on the Union Government”.
- Also, Delhi, being a Union territory, does not have a cadre of officers of its own and is part of a common cadre shared with other UTs. Thus, elected government of Delhi has less control over its officers.
- It is basically about two power centres which created confusion
Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Government of NCT of Delhi vs. Union of India (2018) Case
- The Supreme Court said the Delhi Lieutenant Governor cannot act independently and must take the aid and advise of the Council of Ministers.
- All decisions by Delhi’s council of ministers must be communicated to the L-G but that does not mean his concurrence is required.
- Except for issues of public order, police and land, the Lieutenant Governor is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
- The LG has no independent authority to take decisions except in matters under Article 239 or matters outside the purview of the government.
- The court said, L-G cannot act as an obstructionist and can refer issues to the President when there is difference of opinion on any matter (Article 239AA(4)). This should happen only in exceptional matters and not as a general rule
- The government need not obtain LG concurrence in every issue of day-to-day governance.
- The national capital enjoys special status and is not a full state
- The basic message is that an elected government cannot be undermined by an unelected administrator
For Significance of the Judgement: Click Here
Does that mean the power tussle in Delhi is completely resolved?
- Not Actually. SC did not very clearly delineate the issues in respect of which the Lt. Governor can refer a decision taken by the Council of Ministers to the President in the event of a difference of opinion on any matter (Article 239AA(4)).
- Instead, SC has given a generic guideline that in case of differences of opinion, the LG and the NCT government should act with constitutional morality and trust for each other.
- The recent appointment of prosecutors for conducting the Delhi riot cases in the High Court is a case in point
What is the controversy about appointments of prosecutors?
- When the government decided to appoint prosecutors for Delhi riots case, the Lt. Governor referred it under proviso to Article 239AA (4) to the President stating that there is a difference of opinion between him and the government
- In the meantime, the Lt. Governor appointed all the prosecutors whose names were submitted by the Delhi Police (under Central Government) and thus the State government’s list was rejected.
- As a result, the decision of elected Delhi government was undermined
- Referring normal administrative matters (like appointment of Prosecutors) to the President would disturb the concept of Constitutional governance, principles of collaborative federalism, objectivity and the standards of Constitutional morality.
- Lt. Governor should not emerge as an adversary having a hostile attitude towards the Council of Ministers of Delhi; rather, he should act as a facilitator.
- The words ‘any matter’ employed in the proviso to Article 239AA (4) cannot be inferred to mean ‘every matter’.
- 239AA(4) represents the exception and not the general rule which has to be exercised in exceptional circumstances by the Lt. Governor. This has been clearly highlighted in the Supreme Court judgement
- The President is the highest Constitutional authority and his decision should be sought only on constitutionally important issues.
The Delhi Government and the Centre must embrace a collaborative federalism and interdependence so as to avoid any disputes which will impact the welfare of common man
Connecting the dots:
- Should Delhi be granted full statehood?
- UT of Puducherry
POLITY/ RIGHTS/ GOVERNANCE
Topic: General Studies 1,2:
- Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Context: One year of internet lockdown imposed in Jammu & Kashmir in the wake of abrogation of Article 370 on 5th August 2019.
Communication channels (Telephone and Internet) was highly restricted in Jammu & Kashmir since 5th Aug 2019, on the grounds of National Security and Law & order (to prevent rumours & chaos)
How has Pandemic increased the importance of internet?
- A large part of the realm of freedoms protected by the Constitution, ranging from carrying on a business, to obtaining education, health care, and information, have all moved online
- This has meant that it has become imperative for governments to improve access to the Internet for all
What are the impact of blocking internet access?
- Not in the spirit of Democracy: Internet shutdowns or slowdowns are an inherently overbroad restriction for it adversely affects millions of innocent civilians owing to the actions of a few
- Right to Freedom of speech & expression under Article 19(1)(a) is impacted as the medium to access information i.e. internet is blocked
- Right to carry on trade activities under Article 19(1)(g) is also negatively impacted with the restrictions placed on movement of people.
- Economy of the region adversely affected as access to e-banking facilities blocked due to ban on internet. Internet shutdown around the world in 2019 has cost the global economy over $8 billion.
- Delivery of government welfare provisions affected in today’s age of e-governance and digitization of the process
- Healthcare provisions impacted especially where government schemes like Ayushman Bharat have adopted digital means for delivery process
- Restricts ability to Cope with Pandemic: It has become impossible for J&K people to adapt to the pandemic, by resorting, as the rest of India has, to online classes, working from home, tele-consults with doctors or even video calls with family.
What should be the framework to adjudicate such restrictive actions of government?
The Court in Anuradha Bhasin recognised the proportionality test as the framework. Under this, the government must provide a four-step justification. It has to show that
- The restrictions are in pursuance of a legitimate aim (in this case, national security),
- That they are suitable to achieving that aim,
- That there exist no less restrictive alternatives that would limit the right to a lesser extent,
- That the adverse impact of the restrictions are proportionate to their benefit.
What has been the Judiciary’s reactions to such restrictions?
- Urgency Not Shown: Despite having heard two challenges to the restrictions since August 2019, the Supreme Court has remarkably not ruled on their validity.
- In Jan 2020, in Anuradha Bhasin case, SC granted limited relief by directing the government to publish reasoned orders and review the restrictions every seven days
- In Foundation For Media Professionals case, SC set up an Executive Committee to review the 2G speed restrictions that had been imposed by the Executive
- In response to the Supreme Court of India’s stern approach in the recent hearing on August 7, the Central government has agreed to restore Internet in two districts on a trial basis.
Two arguments have been advanced to justify the Court’s deferential approach
- First, that such decisions are not based on objective factors that can be presented to and assessed by a judicial body, but are based on the “subjective satisfaction” of officers who possess exclusive knowledge of the situation on the ground.
- The second, and closely related, argument offered is that the Court does not have the competence to review matters of national security.
- It is imperative that the Court fulfils its constitutional duty by examining and going over any further reasons given by the State with a fine toothcomb.
- Less restrictive alternatives cab be applied, some of these are
- Permitting the use of 4G on verified post-paid SIMs
- Blocking and intercepting specific numbers, websites or applications
- Issuing takedown orders of content that incite violence
- Limiting restrictions to particular areas for shorter durations
Connecting the dots:
- Sealed Cover Jurisprudence – Cases where such procedures were adopted
- Is Right to access internet a Fundamental right? What are the possible implications on the Indian Polity with such recognition of new right in the age of internet?
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
- 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) Which of the following with reference to process of removal of Supreme Court judges are correct?
- The process for removal of other Supreme Court judges and Chief Justice of India is different.
- A judge can only be removed on the grounds of proved misbehavior or incapacity.
- The motion for removal must be supported by a special majority of each House of Parliament.
Select the correct answer using code below
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.2) Which of the following about Contempt of Court is/are correct?
- The power of contempt is derived from the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971.
- The power is meant for all courts operating in the country.
Select the correct answer using code below
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.3) Which of the following are valid grounds to impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the freedom of speech and expression?
- Security of state
- Contempt of court
Choose the appropriate option from code given below:
- 1, 2 and 3
- 1, 3 and 4
- 2, 3 and 4
- 1, 2, 3 and 4
Q.4) Which of the following statements with reference to Green Corridor is/are true?
- It refers to setting up renewable energy projects along railway lines.
- Loan for its implementation will be provided by Germany.
Select the correct code
- Only 1
- Only 2
- 1 and 2
Q.5) Which of the following are examples of Indo-Saracenic Architecture
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai
- Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi
- Madras High Court, Chenna
Select the correct statements
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- All of the above
Q.6) Which of the following statements are correct regarding EBP?
- EBP is cheaper than petrol as alcohol is cheaper.
- Ethanol burns more cleanly and completely as compared to petrol.
- Calorific value of Ethanol is higher than Petrol
Select the code from following:
- 1 and 2
- 2 only
- 2 and 3
- All of the above
ANSWERS FOR 17th August 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
About rapid inexpensive saliva test:
About Contempt Proceedings against Lawyer Prashant Bhushan:
About Judiciary and its powers of Contempt: