Polity & Governance
- Maharashtra placed under President’s Rule
- MHA recommends commutation of death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana
Government Schemes & Policies
- Chhattisgarh moves closer to journalist protection law, releases draft
- FCRA registration of 1,807 NGOs cancelled in 2019 for violation of laws
- Government to decide new base year for GDP in few months
- 6th World Congress on Rural and Agriculture Finance
Bilateral & International Relations
- First India-US joint tri-services exercise ‘Tiger Triumph’ begins
Art & Culture
- Suranga Bawadi selected on World Monument Watch list
Key Facts for Prelims
- Amazon launches ‘Project Zero’ in India
- Sri Lanka has criminalised match-fixing. What does the new law say?
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Polity & Governance
Maharashtra placed under President’s Rule
Indian President approved a proclamation imposing President’s Rule in Maharashtra, following a recommendation from Governor.
- In recently held Maharashtra Legislative Assembly election, no political party was able to prove the majority in the assembly. This due to the fact that the two major parties – BJP and Shiv Sena fought the election in an alliance, but fell apart (and hence unable to prove majority) after the results were declared on the issue of who will be the chief minister.
- After 15 days without stable having government, the President’s rule was imposed in Maharashtra following recommendation by the Governor.
- Ultimately, the largest legislative party and a faction of other political party agreed to form a grand coalition with the previous Chief Minister of Maharashtra becoming Chief Minister again.
- Under Article 356 of the Constitution of India, in the event that a state government is unable to function according to constitutional provisions, the Central government can take direct control of the state machinery.
- Once the President’s Rule has been imposed on a state, the elected state government is temporarily dissolved, and the Governor, who is appointed by the government at the Centre, will replace the Chief Minister as the chief executive of the State.
- Also there would be no Council of Ministers.
- Such a situation forces the Election Commission to conduct a re-election within six months.
- The imposition of the President’s rule requires the sanction of both the houses of Parliament. If approved, it can go on for a period of six months. However, the imposition cannot be extended for more than three years, and needs to be brought before the two houses every six months for approval.
When can President’s Rule be imposed on a state?
- Government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
- State Legislature is unable to elect a leader as Chief Minister
- Collapse of a Coalition due to disagreements, parting ways within the members
- Serious breakdown law and order
- Elections postponed due to ineludible reasons
- Loss of majority in the state assembly
- Shoot up of insurgency or rebellion
Critic on Article 356
- Article 356 has been widely criticized for giving provisions for the party/coalition in the Centre to misuse democratic powers for political gains. Dr BR Ambedkar called it ‘the death letter of Indian Constitution’.
- The rival parties running governments in various states were dissolved by those at the Centre by making use of this Article.
- The dismissal of the Communist government in Kerala by Jawaharlal Nehru in July 1959, and the 21 instances during the period 1975-1979 are often considered as examples of the misuse of the President’s Rule.
How does it affect the people of the state?
- While day to day operations of the state will not be affected, President’s rule would mean that for the next six months no major government decisions will be made. No projects will be sanctioned, and no major policy decisions including subsidies and others will be made, until the next government is formed.
A similar situation in Uttar Pradesh
- In 1996, when due to the same reason (no political party claimed the majority) in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the president’s rule was imposed.
- In S. Jain vs Union of India case, this imposition of president’s rule was challenged in the Allahabad high court which held the imposition unconstitutional.
- The court said that imposition of president’s rule should not be resorted to unless all other recourses have failed (as also held in the Bommai case, (1994))
- In other words, when the governor could not find any party or combination of parties which have a majority in the assembly, before recommending the imposition of president’s rule, he should send a message to the house under Article 175(2) to assemble, deliberate, and then inform governor within a reasonable period of time in whom house has confidence, so that he could be appointed as chief minister.
- The above steps were skipped in the 1996 Uttar Pradesh case as well as in recent Maharashtra Legislative Assembly election.
MHA recommends commutation of death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sent a letter to the Punjab government to commute the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted for the assassination of the then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.
- The MHA took an “in principle” decision to commute the sentence as a “humanitarian gesture” ahead of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
President’s Pardoning power under Article 72:
- Under the Constitution of India (Article 72), the President of India can grant a pardon or reduce the sentence of a convicted person, particularly in cases involving capital punishment.
There are five different types of pardoning which are mandated by law:
- Pardon: completely absolving the person of the crime and letting him go free.
- Commutation: changing the type of punishment into a less harsh one
- Reprieve: a delay allowed in the execution of a sentence to apply for Presidential Pardon or some other legal remedy
- Respite: reducing the quantum or degree of the punishment to a criminal in view of some special circumstances, like pregnancy, mental condition etc.
- Remission: changing the quantum of the punishment without changing its nature.
How can President use his pardoning powers?
- This power of pardon shall be exercised by the President on the advice of Council of Ministers.
The President can exercise these powers:
- In all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a court martial;
- In all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends;
- In all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death.
Pardoning powers of President Vs. Governors:
The pardoning power of President is wider than the governor and it differs in the following two ways:
- 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.
- The President can grant pardon in all cases where the sentence given is sentence of death but pardoning power of Governor does not extend to death sentence cases.
Pardoning power & Judicial Review:
- The constitution of India does not provide for any mechanism to question the legality of decisions of President or governors exercising mercy jurisdiction.
- But the supreme court in Epuru Sudhakar case has given a small window for judicial review of the pardon powers of President and governors for the purpose of ruling out any arbitrariness.
- The court has earlier held that court has retained the power of judicial review even on a matter which has been vested by the Constitution solely in the Executive.
Reasons behind Pardoning Power:
- Power to pardon is meant to be used in those circumstances where it would not be in the interest of justice to strictly apply the law even if the circumstances call for the same.
- The Courts are not necessarily always wise, which may properly alleviate guilt. Hence, it is a check entrusted to the Executive for special cases.
A Global View of Presidential Pardon
United States of America
- US President can grant pardon except in the cases of impeachment. Unlike Indian President, the American President has the absolute power, such power cannot be questioned or blocked by the court or the congress. Thus there is no question of any judicial review.
- Pakistan’s President has an absolute power to grant pardon, reprieve, respite and remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or authority. The power cannot be questioned.
France and Germany
- In France, pardon and act of clemency are granted by President of France who has the sole discretion and power is non questionable.
- A German President has pardoning power which he can transfer to someone elsesuch as chancellor or the minister of justice.
Government Schemes & Policies
Chhattisgarh moves closer to journalist protection law, releases draft
A committee headed by former Supreme Court judge Aftab Alam has sought public comment on a draft Bill to safeguard mediapersons in Chhattisgarh from harassment, intimidation and violence.
About the draft Chhattisgarh Protection of Mediapersons Act
- It suggests the creation of a Committee for Protection of Mediapersons within 30 days of the Act coming into force to deal with complaints of harassment, intimidation or violence, or unfair prosecution and arrests of media person.
- The State-level committee would comprise a police officer not below the rank of the Additional Director General of Police, Head of the Department of Public Relations, three media persons of at least 12 years’ standing each, at least one of whom should be a woman.
- In case an official wilfully neglects duties stipulated by the Act, he could be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to one year. And the offences, cognizable but bailable, would be investigated by a police officer not below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police.
- The draft envisages a Register of Mediapersons for which an Authority for the Registration of Mediapersons will be set up, including senior journalists and officials of the Department of Public Relations.
- Under the committee, “risk management units” will be set up at the district level comprising the District Collector, district DPR officer, SP and two mediapersons from the district, at least one of whom will be a woman.
- Emergency protection measures would be put in place and within 24 hours, the unit would decide on further protection measures based on the threat perception.
- According to the draft Bill, “Person Who Requires Protection” means all registered media persons facing threats of harassment, intimidation or violence and includes other persons facing such threats on account of their connection with the registered media person.
- The draft makes it a duty of each member of risk management units to immediately inform the Collector or SP about any complaint under this act.
Journalism in India
- According to the not-for-profit organization, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ),between 1992 and 2017, 28 journalists were murdered in a premeditated or spontaneous act in direct relation to their work in India.
- Among the major economies of the world belonging to the G-20 group, India has witnessed the fourth highest number of such killings related to journalistic work, behind Mexico (38), Russia (38), and Brazil (37).
- India ranked at 140th out of 180 countries in 2019 World Press Freedom Index.
- At least 6 Indian journalists were killed in connection with their work in 2018. These murders highlighted the many dangers Indian journalists face, especially those working for non-English-language media outlets in rural areas.
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]
FCRA registration of 1,807 NGOs cancelled in 2019 for violation of laws
Over 1,800 NGOs and academic institutes found to be violating laws have been banned by the government from receiving foreign funds in 2019.
About Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010
- The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010 regulate the receipt and usage of foreign contribution by non-governmental organisations (‘NGOs’) in India.
- It is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- The intent of the Act is to prevent use of foreign contribution for any activity detrimental to the national interest.
- It is applicable to a natural person, body corporate, all other types of Indian entities as well as NRIs and overseas branches/subsidiaries of Indian companies in India.
- The act defines the term ‘foreign contribution’ to include currency, article other than gift for personal use and securities received from foreign source. While foreign hospitality refers to any offer from a foreign source to provide foreign travel, boarding, lodging, transportation or medical treatment cost.
- Prohibits acceptance and use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality.
- Regulates the inflow to and usage of foreign contribution by NGOs by prescribing a mechanism to accept, use and report usage of the same.
In which situation foreign fund can be accepted?
- The Act permits only NGOs having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme to accept foreign contribution, that too after such NGOs either obtain a certificate of registration or prior permission under the Act.
Registration under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FRCA):
- An NGO must be in existence for at least three years and must have undertaken reasonable activity in its field for which the foreign contribution is proposed to be utilised.
- It must have spent at least INR 1,000,000 over three years preceding the date of its application on its activities.
- The registration certificate is valid for a period of five years and must be thereafter renewed.
- NGOs not eligible for registration can seek prior approval from FCRA for receiving foreign funding. This permission is granted only for a specific amount of foreign funding from a specified foreign source for a specific purpose. It remains valid till receipt and full utilization of such amount.
Restriction on use of foreign funding:
- All funds received by a NGO must be used only for the purpose for which they were received. No funds other than foreign contribution is deposited in the Foreign Contribution account.
- Such funds must not use in speculative activities identified under the Act.
- Except with the prior approval of the Authority, such funds must not be given or transferred to any entity not registered under the Act.
- Every asset purchased with such fund must be in the name of the NGO and not its office bearers or members.
- Any organisation of a political nature and any association engaged in the production and broadcast of audio or audio visual news have been placed in the category prohibited to accept foreign contribution.
Government to decide new base year for GDP in few months
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation announced that the new base year for the GDP series will be decided in a few months. The ministry is considering 2017-18 as the new base year instead of the existing base year of 2011-12.
What is the need to change the base year?
- The change in base year captures the change in structures of the economy.
- It is changed due to global and national scenario as well.
What is the current base year?
- The current base year is 2011-12 for GDP calculation.
GDP calculation in India
- India’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) calculates the gross domestic product (GDP).
India’s GDP is calculated with two different methods, one based on economic activity (at factor cost), and the second on expenditure (at market prices).
- Factor cost method: It assesses the performance of 8 different industries. It is calculated by collecting data for the net change in value for each sector during a particular time period.
- Expenditure-based method: The expenditure method involves summing the domestic expenditure on final goods and services across various streams during a particular time period. It indicates how different areas of the economy, such as trade, investments, and personal consumption, are doing.
Gross Value Added (GVA)
- It is a measure of total output and income in the economy.
- It provides the rupee value for the amount of goods and services produced in an economy after deducting the cost of inputs and raw materials that have gone into the production of those goods and services.
- It also gives sector-specific picture like what is the growth in an area, industry or sector of an economy.
- The Formula for GVA is: GVA= GDP+SP-TP [SP= Subsidies on products TP = Taxes on products]
- It is used in the calculation of GDP.
Difference between GVA and GDP
- The GDP gives the picture of the state of economic activity from the consumers’ side or demand perspective whereas the GVA gives a picture from the producer’s side.
- GDP helps in cross-country analysis of the economy whereas the GVA helps in measuring the sector specific development.
6th World Congress on Rural and Agriculture Finance
Union Finance Minister reiterated the Government’s resolve to put the farmers’ concerns and rural development on a larger landscape while speaking at the inauguration of the 6th World Congress on Rural and Agriculture Finance.
About the 6th World Congress on Rural and Agriculture Finance
- The 6th World Congress was jointly hosted by Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and Ministry of Agriculture Farmers Welfare and Cooperation.
- Theme: ‘Rural and Agricultural Finance: Critical Input to Achieve Inclusive and Sustainable Development’.
- Its aim is to bring member institutions and all interested development sector partners together to discuss the topics that define the future of the flow of finance to the rural and agricultural sector and to bring a powerful message to the worldwide policymaking community.
About Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA)
- APRACA, representing 81 member institutions from 21 countries, is a regional association that promotes cooperation and expertise in the field of rural finance.
- APRACA is one of the three regional agricultural credit associations, along with NENARACA (Near East – North Africa Agricultural Credit Association) and AFRACA (African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association) that were established, with the help of Food and Agriculture Organization, following the 1975 World Conference on Agricultural Credit.
Bilateral & International Relations
First India-US joint tri-services exercise ‘Tiger Triumph’ begins
The maiden India-US joint tri-services humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) exercise, titled ‘Tiger Triumph’ began with a joint flag parade ceremony on board INS Jalashwa.
Exercise Tiger Triumph
- It is the first tri-services (Army, Navy and Air) exercise between India and US, being held at Visakhapatnam and Kakinada.
- The focus of the drill will be on amphibious humanitarian disaster and relief (HADR) operations.
- It is being organized under the aegis of the headquarters of the Integrated Defense Staff (IDS).
- The exercise will for the first time feature an Indian Navy P8i long range maritime reconnaissance (military observation of a region to locate ascertain strategic features) and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
Art & Culture
Suranga Bawadi selected on World Monument Watch list
A New York based NGO World Monument Fund has selected the Suranga Bawdi in the World Monument Watch list for 2020 along with 24 other monuments from across the world.
What it is?
- Suranga Bawadi is an integral part of the ancient Karez system of supplying water through subterranean tunnels.
- It was built by Adil Shahi in Vijayapura in Karnataka.
How is it selected?
- The monument has been selected under the ‘Ancient Water System of the Deccan Plateau’ by World Monuments Fund [the NGO], which monitors restoration of ancient monuments across the globe.
Benefit of the selection
- The Suranga Bawadi is expected to get funds for restoration within the next two years.
- The NGO would also coordinate with the authorities concerned for restoration and create public awareness on its importance.
What is Karez System?
- It is the ancient water system and believed to be one of the best systems in the world.
- The Karez system was built in the 16th century by Ali Adil Shah–I.
- The Ibrahim Adil Shah–II, brought in several changes by adding more structures to strengthen it.
World Monument Fund
- World Monuments Fund is a private nonprofit organization founded in 1965 by individuals concerned about the accelerating destruction of important artistic treasures throughout the world.
- It is headquartered in New York and is dedicated in the preservation of historic architecture and cultural heritage sites around the world.
- Now celebrating 50 years, World Monuments Fund has orchestrated over 600 projects in 90 countries.
- It has affiliate organizations established in Britain, India, Peru, Portugal, and Spain.
- The fund sponsors an ongoing program for the conservation of cultural heritage worldwide.
World Monument Watch
- It is a global program launched in 1995 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of World Monuments Fund.
- It aims to identify imperiled cultural heritage sites and direct financial and technical support for their preservation.
- It is a biennial selection program of ‘At-risk cultural heritage sites’ that combine great historical significance with contemporary social impact.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Key Facts for Prelims
Amazon launches ‘Project Zero’ in India
- com announced the “Project Zero” to India to ensure that customers receive authentic goods when shopping on Amazon.
- Project Zero aims to identify, block and remove counterfeit products.
- The also aim is to ensure that customers receive authentic goods when shopping on Amazon.
Sri Lanka has criminalised match-fixing. What does the new law say?
In a first for a South Asian nation, Sri Lanka has criminalised several offences related to match-fixing, and decreed strict penalties in the wake of the investigation by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) of International Cricket Council (ICC) into the country’s cricket, which has been roiled by corruption scandals over the past two years.
Highlights of the Sri Lanka’s Match fixing law
- It lists offences and punishments under three broad categories.
Offences in First category: Match-fixing and spot-fixing, providing inside information on the game, providing or receiving gifts, payments that might bring the sport into disrepute, players betting on games in which they are involved etc.
Offences in Second category: Failing to appear before investigators, refusing or failing to answer any questions posed by investigators etc.
Offences in Third category: Pertains to any service provider or person who fails to maintain confidentiality after being asked to provide information or data related to an investigation.
Why was such a bill passed in Sri Lanka?
For the past two years, Sri Lankan Cricket saw several instances of corruption and match-fixing. The Sri Lankan cricket board has been under the scrutiny of the ICC since 2017, after former cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya was charged under the ICC Code, and was handed a two-year ban for failing to co-operate with the agency in a match-fixing probe.
Law on match-fixing in India
- Cricket betting is illegal in India. However, one can do session bets outside India on matches played in India.
- In 2018, the report of Law Commission under Justice B S Chauhan recommended that match-fixing and sports fraud be deemed as criminal offences, and be dealt with severe punishments.
- The report came after the Supreme Court asked it to look into the Justice R M Lodha Committee’s recommendation for betting to be legalized by law in India. The Lodha Committee was constituted in 2015 to bring reforms into Indian cricket on the back of the IPL spot-fixing scandal.