Polity & Governance
- Cabinet approves extension of Fifteenth Finance Commission
- Karnataka crisis: What was SC’s Kihoto Hollohan order of 1992
Government Schemes & Policies
- Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga Project
- More than 1 crores Employees benefited under PMRPY
- Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana
- Financial assistance being provided to released bonded labourers for rehabilitation
- National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)
- Cabinet nod to 2,880 MW hydel project in Dibang
Bilateral & International Relations
- Palau joins International Solar Alliance
- ICJ stays Kulbhushan Jadhav’s execution, tells Pakistan to allow consular access
Defence & Security Issues
- Based on Red Corner notices, 27 accused persons extradited to India till 1st April 2019
Science & Technology
- NavIC could replace current GPS in India
- Internet Saathi programme to be expanded to Punjab, Odisha
Key Facts for Prelims
- Incredible India Campaign Wins Pata Gold Award 2019
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Polity & Governance
Cabinet approves extension of Fifteenth Finance Commission
The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of the term of Fifteenth Finance Commission up to 30th November, 2019.
- The Fifteenth Finance Commission, chaired by K. Singh, was constituted by the President on 27th November, 2017.
- Its recommendations will cover the five-year period commencing from 1st April, 2020.
Mandate of 15th Finance Commission:
- Review the impact of the 14th Finance Commission recommendations on the fiscal position of the centre.
- Review the debt level of the centre and states, and recommend a roadmap.
- Study the impact of GST on the economy.
- Recommend performance-based incentives for states based on their efforts to control. population, promote ease of doing business, and control expenditure on populist measures, among others.
What is Finance Commission?
- The Finance Commission is a constitutional body formed every five years to give suggestions on centre-state financial relations.
- It is constituted by the President under article 280 of the Constitution to give its recommendations on the distribution of tax revenue between the Union and the States (vertical sharing) and among the states themselves (horizontal sharing).
- Two distinctive features of the Commission’s work involve redressing the vertical imbalances between the taxation powers and expenditure responsibilities of the Centre and the States and equalization of all public services across the states.
- Finance Commission’s recommendations are advisory in nature and, hence, not binding on the Government.
Why is there a need for a Finance Commission?
- In Indian federal system, the taxation powers are broadly divided between the center and states.
- States have the responsibility of delivering public goods in their areas due to their proximity to local issues and needs.
- However, sometimes, this leads to states incurring expenditures higher than the revenue generated by them. Further, due to vast regional disparities some states are unable to raise adequate resources as compared to others.
- To address these imbalances, the Finance Commission recommends the extent of central funds to be shared with states.
- Prior to 2000, only revenue income tax and union excise duty on certain goods was shared by the centre with states.
- A Constitution amendment in 2000 allowed for all central taxes to be shared with states. Moreover, the 14th Finance Commission considerably increased the devolution of taxes from the center to states from 32% to 42%.
- 11th to 14th finance commission decided share between central and state based on Population, Area, Income distance (difference between the per capita income of a state with the average per capita income of all states) and Forest cover factors.
Functions of the Finance Commission
- The distribution between the Union and the States of the net proceeds of taxes and the allocation between the States of the respective shares of such proceeds.
- The principles which should govern the grants-in-aid of the revenues of the States out of the Consolidated Fund of India.
- The measures needed to augment the Consolidated Fund of a State to supplement the resources of the Panchayats/ Municipalities in the State on the basis of the recommendations made by the Finance Commission of the State.
- Any other matter referred to the Commission by the President in the interests of sound finance.
What are the qualifications for Members?
- As per the provisions contained in the Finance Commission [Miscellaneous Provisions] Act, 1951 and The Finance Commission (Salaries & Allowances) Rules, 1951, the Chairman of the Commission is selected from among persons who have had experience in public affairs, and the four other members are selected from among persons who:
(a) are qualified to be appointed as Judges of a High Court; or
(b) have special knowledge of the finances and accounts of Government; or
(c) have had wide experience in financial matters and in administration; or
(d) have special knowledge of economics
How are the recommendations of the Finance Commission implemented?
- Those to be implemented by an order of the President: Recommendations relating to distribution of Union taxes and duties and grants-in-aid fall in this category.
- Those to be implemented by executive order: Recommendations in respect of sharing of royalty between the Centre and the states, debt relief, mode of central assistance etc. are implemented by executive order.
Criteria used by the 11th to 14thFinance Commissions:
- Population is an indicator of the expenditure needs of a state. Over the years, Finance Commissions have used population data of the 1971 Census. The 14th Finance Commission used the 2011 population data, in addition to the 1971 data. The 15th Finance Commission has been mandated to use data from the 2011 Census.
- Area is used as a criterion as a state with larger area has to incur additional administrative costs to deliver services.
- Income distance is the difference between the per capita income of a state with the average per capita income of all states. States with lower per capita income may be given a higher share to maintain equity among states.
Forest cover indicates that states with large forest covers bear the cost of not having area available for other economic activities. Therefore, the rationale is that these states may be given a higher share.
- Besides the taxes devolved to states, another source of transfers from the centre to states is grants-in-aid.
- As per the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, grants-in-aid constitute 12% of the central transfers to states. The 14th Finance Commission had recommended grants to states for three purposes: (i) disaster relief, (ii) local bodies, and (iii) revenue deficit.
Need for permanent status:
- Finance commissions have over the past several decades adopted different approaches with regard to principles of tax devolution, grants to be given to states and fiscal consolidation issues. In other words, there has to be continuity and change between finance commissions.
- There is a need to ensure broad consistency between Finance Commissions so that there is some degree of certainty in the flow of funds, especially to the states. This has become even more critical in the post GST scenario.
- If it is given permanent status, the Commission can function as a leaner entity in the intervening period till the next Finance Commission is set up in a full-fledged manner. During the intervening period, it can also address issues arising from implementation of the recommendations of the finance commission.
- The First Finance Commission was constituted by the presidential order of 22 November 1951 under the chairmanship of K.C. Neogy in 1952.
- The 14th Finance Commission had recommended grants to states for three purposes: (i) disaster relief, (ii) local bodies, and (iii) revenue deficit.
- Several other federal countries, such as Pakistan, Malaysia, and Australia have similar bodies (similar to finance commission) which recommend the manner in which central funds will be shared with states.
Karnataka crisis: What was SC’s Kihoto Hollohan order of 1992
In the arguments in the Supreme Court in the case related to the political crisis in Karnataka, representative of the Speaker of the Assembly cited the landmark judgment in Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu (1992).
What was the Kihoto Hollohan case?
- In Kihoto Hollohan case, the constitutional validity of the Tenth Schedule was challenged in supreme court.
- The question before the Supreme Court in the case was whether the powerful role given to the Speaker violated the doctrine of Basic Structure which is the judicial principle that certain basic features of the Constitution cannot be altered by amendments by Parliament (as laid down in Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala).
What is the extent of the Speaker’s powers?
- Paragraph 6(1) of the Tenth Schedule describes the Speaker’s sweeping discretionary powers: “If any question arises as to whether a member of a House has become subject to disqualification under this Schedule, the question shall be referred for the decision of the Chairman or, as the case may be, the Speaker of such House and his decision shall be final.”
What is tenth Schedule of Indian Constitution?
- The 10th Schedule to the Indian Constitution, also known as ‘Anti-Defection Law’ was inserted by the 1985 Amendment to the Constitution
- It provides for the disqualification of Members of Parliament and state legislatures who defect.
- Tenth Schedule describes the Speaker’s sweeping discretionary powers in which speaker or chairman’s’ decision regarding defecation of any member of a House is final.
What did the Supreme Court rule in Hollohan case?
- The petitioners in Hollohan case argued whether it was fair that the Speaker should have such broad defecting powers, given that there is always a reasonable likelihood of bias.
- The majority of the judges ruled against petitioners and ruled that speaker’s power related to defection are intended to strengthen Indian Parliamentary democracy by curbing unethical political defections.
- However, some judges believed that as Speaker is dependent on the continuous support of the majority in the House, he does not satisfy the requirement of such an independent adjudicatory authority for defection purpose.
Government Schemes & Policies
Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga Project
About Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga Project:
- It is a gas pipeline project of government of India.
- This project, also known as Jagdishpur-Haldia & Bokaro-Dhamra Natural Gas Pipeline (JHBDPL), was inaugurated in 2015.
- This project aims to provide piped cooking (PNG) gas to residents of the eastern region of the country and CNG gas for the vehicles.
- The project is being implemented by state-run gas utility Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) which is scheduled to be completed by 2021 in phases.
- It aims to connect the eastern part of the country with the National Gas Grid by laying down 2,655 km long Jagdishpur-Haldia & Bokaro-Dhamra Natural Gas Pipeline that originates at Jagdishpur (Uttar Pradesh). The main trunk of pipeline ends to Haldia (West Bengal) and Dhamra (Odisha).
- The project includes 40 per cent capital grant from the Government of India.
- The pipeline passes through 5 states namely Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha. At present the pipeline has been commissioned upto Barauni in Bihar.
Phases of the programme:
- Phase-I: Pipeline segment from Phulpur near Allahabad in UP to Dhobi in Bihar.
- Phase-II: The pipeline will be extended to West Bengal and Odisha and connect via en-route spur lines to Barauni, Haldia etc.
- Phase-III: The pipeline is extended to Assam via the Barauni-Guwahati pipeline by the end of 2021.
- Angul-Mumbai natural gas pipeline is another proposed extension on the JHBDPL pipeline system.
Significance of the project:
- The project is considered as a major step towards collective growth and development of the Eastern region of India. Under it, overall 20 lakh households will get PNG connections.
- It will usher Industrial development in East India by supplying environmentally clean natural gas to fertiliser and power plant, refineries, steel plants and other industries.
- From Varanasi’s perspective, 50,000 households and 20,000 vehicles will get cleaner and cheaper fuel PNG and CNG gas respectively.
- It will also help in revival of defunct fertilizer plants in Barauni in Bihar, Gorakhpur in UP, Sindri in Jharkhand and Durgapur in West Bengal by supplying gas.
What is High Pressure-High Temperature (HP-HT) reservoirs?
- An oil well is a hole dug into the Earth that serves the purpose of bringing oil or other hydrocarbons – such as natural gas – to the surface.
- In HP/HT well, the conditions of the well are hotter or more pressurized than the typical normal wells. In HP/HT wells, the temperature at the depth of the well is higher than 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 degrees Celsius) and pressure reaches at least 0.8 psi per foot.
About National Gas Grid:
- To remove regional imbalance within the country with regard to access for natural gas and provide clean and green fuel throughout the country.
- To connect gas sources to major demand centres and ensure availability of gas to consumers in various sectors.
- Development of City Gas Distribution Networks in various cities for the supply of CNG and PNG.
- The National Gas Grid together with providing gas connections to households will provide better infrastructure for automobiles using gas.
- The National Gas Grid will also aid in renewing of the fertilizer sector and also give a boost to the Power and Automotive sector.
More than 1 crores Employees benefited under PMRPY
The total number of employees benefited under Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY) from April 2016 to March 2019 are 1.18 crore.
Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY)
- Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY) is the flagship scheme of the Central Government for employment generation.
- It is being implemented by Ministry of Labour and Employment through the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO).
- Under the scheme, Government is paying full employers’ contribution of 12% (towards Employees’ Provident Fund and Employees’ Pension Scheme both), for a period of 3 years in respect of new employees who have been registered with the EPFO on or after 1st April 2016, with salary up to Rs. 15,000 per month. The Government in 2018 announced that it will extend this benefit for another three years.
- The entire system is online and AADHAR based with no human interface in the implementation of the scheme.
- A direct benefit is that these workers have access to social security benefit through Provident Fund, Pension and Death Linked Insurance.
- Workers earning wages less than INR 15000 per month.
- A Business must be registered with the EPFO and must have a Labour Identification Number (LIN) that one can acquire under the Shram Suvidha Portal.
Significance of the scheme:
PMRPY has a dual benefit –
- The employer is incentivised for increasing the employee base in the establishment through payment of EPF contribution of 12% of wage, which otherwise would have been borne by the employer.
- A large number of workers find jobs in such establishments.
Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana
About Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojna
- Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojna was launched by Employees’ State Insurance (ESIC) in 2018.
- It aims to benefit ESIC’s subscribers, who are mainly formal sector workers who have become unemployed for whatever reason, by providing cash through bank account transfer.
- It provides up to 25% monetary assistance of the average per day earning during the previous four ESIC contribution periods (total earning during the four contribution period) for the maximum of 90 days of unemployment period once in lifetime.
- The Insured Person should have been in insurable employment for a minimum period of two years.
- The Insured Person should have contributed not less than 78 days during each of the preceding four contribution periods.
- The contribution in respect of him should have been paid or payable by the employer.
- The employee should not be unemployed due to any punishment for misconduct or superannuation or voluntary retirement.
- If the Insured Person is working for more than one employers and is covered under the ESI scheme, he will be considered unemployed only if he is unemployed with all employers.
- A beneficiary is not entitled to receive any similar benefit admissible under the provisions of any other enactment.
How it is different from Rajiv Gandhi Shramik Kalyan Yojana?
- The Rajiv Gandhi Shramik Kalyan Yojana (RGSKY) of ESIC was introduced in 2005 for employees who were left unemployed for three reasons – the closure of factory or establishment, retrenchment or permanent invalidity.
- However, if an employee became unemployed for some other reason, no unemployment benefit was offered to him/her under the RGSKY scheme.
- The ABVKY will provide cash allowance to ESIC subscribers who are unemployed for at least three months in a row after leaving their previous jobs, for reasons apart from retrenchment and factory closure.
About ESI scheme:
- Inaugurated in 1952, Employees’ State Insurance Scheme of India is a social security system tailored to provide socio-economic protection to worker population and their dependents.
- This scheme is administered by the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation.
- ESI Scheme is a self-financing health insurance scheme. Contributions are raised from covered employees and their employers as a fixed percentage of wages.
- Currently, the employee’s contribution rate is 4% of the wages and that of employer’s is 3.25 % of the wages paid.
- Applicable to non-seasonal factories employing 10 or more persons.
- It has been also extended to shops, cinemas, Road Motor Transport Establishments, Newspaper establishments and private medical and educational institutions etc. employing 10 or more persons.
- Once a factory or an Establishment is covered under the Act, it continues to be covered notwithstanding the fact that the number of coverable employees at any time falls below the required limit.
- The scheme is yet to be implemented in Arunachal Pradesh and Lakshadweep.
Benefits under ESI Scheme:
- Full medical care to an Insured person and his family members without any limit.
- Sickness Benefit in the form of cash compensation including Extended Sickness Benefit (ESB) and Enhanced Sickness Benefit.
- Maternity Benefit for confinement/pregnancy.
- Disablement Benefit including Temporary disablement benefit (TDB) and Permanent disablement benefit (PDB)
- Dependants Benefit in case where death occurs due to employment injury or occupational hazards.
- Other benefits include Vocational Rehabilitation (for permanently disabled Insured Person for undergoing virtual reality (VR) Training) and Old Age Medical Care.
Financial assistance being provided to released bonded labourers for rehabilitation
The Government is aware of the low conviction rate under the Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act, 1976.
Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976
- The objective of the Act is to provide for the abolition of bonded labour system with a view to prevent the economic and physical exploitation of the weaker sections of the people.
- It provides for an institutional mechanism at the district level in the form of Vigilance Committees.
- In 2016, Government of India introduced a revamped Central Sector Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourers- 2016, under which financial assistance up to three lakhs are provided to released bonded labourers based on their category and level of exploitation.
Salient Features of the Act
- Totally abolishes bonded labour and frees every bonded labour from any obligation to render bonded labour
- Liability to repay bonded debt was abolished
- Identifies certain scheme and Vigilance committees at the district level
- Punishment of up to 3yrs imprisonment and/or fine
- Any attachment of property of bonded laborers stands cancelled form the date of enforcement of the act
- District Magistrate entrusted with certain duties for implementation of this act
- Employers cannot evict the bonded labourer from the accommodation provided.
What is bonded labor?
- Bonded labour refers to service arising out of loan/debt/advance.
- It represents the relationship between a creditor and a debtor wherein the debtor undertakes to mortgage his services to the creditor for a specified or unspecified period with or without wages.
- It is accompanied by denial of choice of alternative avenues of employment, or to deny him freedom of movements.
Reason for low FIR filed against Bonded Labour in India:
- General social bias
- Nature of bonded labor being migrants, absentism of Witnesses due to their migratory Nature
- District Magistrate/Sub Divisional Magistrate (DM/SDM) Courts not as proficient in trial as judicial Courts
- Many police officials are not made aware of how to investigate such cases as they do not know what the law says
- In most cases, the person enslaving the victims have connections and they persuade the police to mediate and settle the matter
- Victims constantly migrate and the police do not want to go into the trouble of tracking them down during the trial
National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)
About National Social Assistance Programme
- The National Social Assistance Programme came into effect from 15th August, 1995.
- It is a welfare programme being administered by the Ministry of Rural Development.
- This programme is being implemented in rural areas as well as urban areas.
- It is a 100% Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
- It provides support to aged persons, widows, disabled persons and bereaved families on death of primary bread winner, belonging to below poverty line households.
- It represents a significant step towards the fulfilment of the Directive Principles in Article 41 and 42 of the Constitution recognizing the concurrent responsibility of the Central and the State Governments in the matter.
- In particular, Article 41 of the Constitution of India directs the State to provide public assistance to its citizens in case of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement and in other cases of undeserved want within the limit of its economic capacity and development.
- For getting benefits under NSAP, the applicant must belong to a Below Poverty Line (BPL) family according to the criteria prescribed by the Govt. of India.
- Ensuring minimum national standards, in addition to the benefits that the States are currently providing or might provide in future.
- Ensuring that social protection to the beneficiaries everywhere in India is uniformly available without interruption.
Presently NSAP comprises of five schemes, namely –
- Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS)
- Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS)
- Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS)
- National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS)
Cabinet nod to 2,880 MW hydel project in Dibang
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave the green light to the 2,880 megawatts Dibang hydropower project in Arunachal Pradesh, approving clearance expenditure of more than 28 thousand crores.
About Dibang Multipurpose Project (DPP):
- Dibang Multipurpose Project is a hydropower cum flood moderation scheme proposed on Dibang River in Lower Dibang Valley District of Arunachal Pradesh.
- On completion, it will be the largest and highest ever Hydro Electric Project to be constructed in India.
- It is one of the component of the master plan of the Brahmaputra Board for flood moderation of all rivers contributing to river Brahmaputra.
- It will moderate flood in the areas downstream of the Dibang Dam during the entire monsoon period.
- It will help in mitigating the perennial damage due to floods in Assam.
- On completion, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh will get 12% free power from the project. One per cent free power will be given in Local Area Development Fund (LADF).
- Due to the disagreement over the diversion of the Brahmaputra river between India and China, accelerating hydroelectric projects such as Dibang would give user rights to India even as it explores a diplomatic option to solve the disagreement.
Bilateral & International Relations
Palau joins International Solar Alliance
Palau, an archipelago of over 500 islands in Oceania, became the 76th signatory country to join the International Solar Alliance.
About International Solar Alliance (ISA):
- ISA is initiative jointly launched by India and France in November 2015 at Paris on side lines of COP21 UN Climate Change Conference.
- Its Framework Agreement came into force in December 2017. It celebrated its founding day on 11th March, 2018.
- It is a treaty-based international organization.
- It is a group of 121 solar resource-rich countries. The ISA Framework Agreement has been ratified by a total of 54 of the 76 countries.
- The organisation aims to deploy over 1,000 gigawatts of solar energy and mobilise more than USD 1,000 billion into solar power by 2030.
- It is headquartered at campus of National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), Gurugram, Harayana, making it first international intergovernmental treaty based organization to be headquartered in India.
- Currently, the ISA is not funding projects directly, but assist member countries in finding suitable bilateral or multilateral funding. The World Bank and French Development Agency are developing a Solar Risk Mitigation Facility for this purpose.
Objectives of ISA:
- Undertake joint efforts required to reduce the cost of finance and the cost of technology
- Mobilize more than US $1000 billion of investments needed by 2030 for massive deployment of solar energy
Who can join the International Solar Alliance?
- Must be Solar resource-rich States which lie fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
- Must be member of the United Nations.
Ongoing programs of ISA:
ISA presently has 5 ongoing programs:
- Scaling Solar Mini Grids
- Affordable Finance at Scale
- Scaling Solar Applications for Agricultural Use
- Scaling Solar Rooftop catering to the needs of solar energy in specific areas
- Scaling Solar E-Mobility & Storage
- The ISA has launched a Solar Technology Application and Resource – Centre ( iSTAR-C) to support capacity building efforts in the ISA member countries.
- It is also developing Solar INFOPEDIA, funded by European Union, dedicated to the dissemination of information, best practices and knowledge on Solar Energy.
Funding from India:
- India will contribute US $ 27 million to the ISA for creating corpus, building infrastructure over 5-year duration from 2016-17 to 2020-21.
- In addition, public sector undertakings of the India namely Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA)have made a contribution of US $ 1 million each for creating the ISA corpus fund.
Location of Palau:
- It is located in the continent of Oceania.
- It does not share land borders with any countries.
- It is an archipelago of more than 500 islands.
- It is a part of the Micronesia region in the western Pacific Ocean.
- It has a marine lake called the jellyfish lake. The relative isolation of this lake allowed the independent evolution of the species here. Thus, the jellyfish found here are not poisonous.
- Paula is often referred to as Belau.
- Palau Created the World’s First Shark Sanctuary in 2009.
- Palau is regarded as the World’s Most Over-Governed Place as it has sixteen distinct administrative regions compromising only about 20,000 people in total.
- Under the United Nations authority, the islands became a part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) administered by the United States from 1947 to 1994.
- Palau will host the 2020 edition of the ‘Our Oceans conference’, which will focus on issues such as climate change, sustainable fisheries and marine pollution
ICJ stays Kulbhushan Jadhav’s execution, tells Pakistan to allow consular access
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) stayed the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan.
- Kulbhushan Jadhav had been arrested in Pakistan’s restive province of Balochistan in 2016.
- He was accused of terrorism, spying, and fomenting trouble by Pakistan.
- He was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in 2017.
India’s allegation on Pakistan:
- As per Indian government, Kulbhushan Jadhav is not a spy but a retired Indian Navy businessman.
- India alleged Pakistan that it informed the Indian High Commission of Jadhav’s detention three weeks after Pakistan had first taken him into custody.
- Moreover, Pakistan breached the rights to communicate with and have access to Jadhav, to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Order of ICJ:
- ICJ directed Pakistan to review the death sentence and order remedial steps for the violation of the rights enshrined in the 1963 Vienna Convention.
- The judgement also said that Pakistan was under obligation to inform Jadhav without further delay of his rights and to provide Indian consular officers access to him under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
What is the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations?
- Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries.
- It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or harassment by the host country.
- This forms the legal basis for diplomatic immunity. Its articles are considered a cornerstone of modern international relations.
About International Court of Justice:
- The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN).
- It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in 1946.
- The Court is located at Hague (Netherlands).
- Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).
- Its official languages are English and French.
- The President and Vice-President are elected by the Members of the Court every three years by secret ballot.
- The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ.
- The 15 judges of the Court are distributed as per the regions: three from Africa, two from Latin America and Caribbean, three from Asia, five from Western Europe and other states and two from Eastern Europe.
Role of the court:
- The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
- The Court has no jurisdiction to deal with applications from individuals, non-governmental organizations, corporations or any other private entity. It cannot provide them with legal advice or help them in their dealings with national authorities.
- ICJ is not a supreme court to which national courts can turn. It is not an appeal court for any international tribunal. It can, however, rule on the validity of arbitral awards.
Qualifications of ICJ judges:
- A judge should have a high moral character.
- A judge should fit to the qualifications of appointment of highest judicial officers as prescribed by their respective states or
- A judge should be a juriconsult of recognized competence in international law.
- As stated in the UN Charter, all 193 UN members are automatically parties to the Court’s statute. Non-UN members may also become parties to the Court’s statute.
- Once a state is a party to the Court’s statute, it is entitled to participate in cases before the Court.
- However, being a party to the statute does not automatically give the Court jurisdiction over disputes involving those parties.
When and where are the elections held?
- Election of the judges is held in New York during the annual autumn season of the UN General Assembly.
- Judges elected after every three years start their term of office in February and the election for the President and the Vice-President takes place post-election of the one-third court.
Who nominates the ICJ judge candidates?
- Every country, party to the UN Charter, designates a group who propose candidates for the office of ICJ judges. This group includes four members/jurists of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
- Each group is limited to nominate four candidates, two of whom could be of their nationality.
How are the ICJ judges elected?
- The UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council vote at the same time separately. A judge is elected once it receives an absolute majority of the two organs due to which the voting takes place in several rounds.
Nature of judgements:
- Its judgments have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned.
What differentiates the ICJ from the International Criminal Court and the ad hoc international criminal tribunals?
- The International Court of Justice has no jurisdiction to try individuals accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity. As it is not a criminal court, it does not have a prosecutor able to initiate proceedings.
- This task of hearing proceedings of war crimes are done by national courts, the ad hoc criminal tribunals established by the United Nations (such as the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) to take over residual functions from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR)).
How does the International Court of Justice differ from other international courts?
- The ICJ differs from the Court of Justice of the European Union (based in Luxembourg), whose role is to interpret European Community legislation uniformly and also differ from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (in Costa Rica), which deal with allegations of violations of the human rights conventions under which they were set up.
- The jurisdiction of the ICJ is general and thereby differs from that of specialist international tribunals, such as the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
Defence & Security Issues
Based on Red Corner notices, 27 accused persons extradited to India till 1st April 2019
From 2016 to April 2019, total 27 accused persons were extradited / deported from foreign countries to India, based on Red Notice / Extradition requests made by Indian law enforcement agencies.
About Red Corner notices:
- Red Notice is issued by International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL which is an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation).
- Red Notices are issued for fugitives wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence.
- A Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant.
- Fugitives with Red Notice are not wanted by INTERPOL, but by a country in which crime has occurred or an international tribunal.
- INTERPOL cannot compel the law enforcement authorities in any country to arrest someone who is the subject of a Red Notice.
- The Red Notice is not a pre-requisite for and may not necessarily lead to the extradition of a fugitive offender for which there is a separate legal process to be followed.
It contains two main types of information:
- Information to identify the wanted person, such as their name, date of birth, hair and eye color etc.
- Information related to the crime they are wanted for, such as murder, child abuse etc.
- It is meant to facilitate quick location and arrest of a person abroad and providing the information to the national agency / authority on whose request the Notice was issued.
- They are used to simultaneously alert police in all Interpol member countries about internationally wanted fugitives. Police in other countries can then be on the watch for them and use the Red Notice to support extradition proceedings.
Science & Technology
NavIC could replace current GPS in India
Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) system can provide accurate position information service to users in India and the region, extending up to 1,500 km from its boundary, which is its Primary Service Area.
About Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS)
- The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), with an operational name of NAVIC, is an autonomous regional satellite navigation system, that provides accurate real-time positioning and timing services.
- The system at-present consist of a constellation of 7 satellites. Three of the 7 satellites are located in geostationary orbit while remaining four are in geosynchronous orbits.
- It will provide two types of services, namely, Standard Positioning Service (SPS) which is provided to all the users and Restricted Service (RS), which is an encrypted service provided only to the authorized users.
- It can provide accurate position information service to users in India and the region, extending up to 1,500 km from its boundary which is its Primary Service Area.
Important applications of NavIC (the IRNSS constellation) include:
- Fisheries (fishermen can receive alerts related to bad weather and high waves)
- Transport (helps monitor the movement of school vans and facilitates better traffic management in cities, towns and highways)
- Resource Management (helps Government agencies to manage resources efficiently using Geo-tagging and Geo-fencing techniques. Alert messages are generated when there is a movement of object beyond permissible limits)
- Location-based Services
- Survey and Alignment
- Time-synchronized Services
How many satellites does NAVIC consist of?
- It is a regional system and so its constellation will consist of seven satellites. Three of these will be geostationary over the Indian Ocean, i.e., they will appear to be stationary in the sky over the region, and four will be geosynchronous – appearing at the same point in the sky at the same time every day. This configuration ensures each satellite is being tracked by at least one of fourteen ground stations at any given point of time, with a high chance of most of them being visible from any point in India.
Why it is necessary to have indigenous global navigation system?
- Having a global navigation system bolsters the ability of a nation to serve as a net security provider, especially through the guarantee of such assurance policies. It can also play a significant role in relief efforts post disasters such as the tsunami in the Indian Ocean region in 2004 and the Pakistan-India earthquake in 2005.
Is India the only country to have its positioning system?
- Several other countries have its own positions system.
- For example, the Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based radio navigation system that is owned by the United States and operated by the United States Air Force.
- Apart from GPS, there is GLONASS of Russia, Galileo of the European Union and BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) of China.
Internet Saathi programme to be expanded to Punjab, Odisha
Google India and Tata Trusts will expand their Internet Saathi initiative that aims to facilitate digital literacy among women in rural India in villages of Punjab and Odisha.
- Currently, the programme has reach of 2.6 lakh villages across 18 states. On adding Punjab and Odisha the programme will now extend its reach to 20 states in India.
About Internet Saathi initiative:
- Internet Saathi was launched in 2015 to equip women in rural India with internet skills.
- It is a joint collaboration of Tata Trusts and Google India.
- Under this programme, Women from villages are trained on using the Internet and are made equipped with data-enabled devices.
- These women are known as Internet Saathis and work as trainers to help other women in their village to get started with Internet services.
- In 2015, only 1 out of every 10 Internet user in rural India was a woman.
- Hence, the Saathi initiative was launched to bridge the digital gender gap in rural areas by introducing a digital literacy program based on ‘train the trainer’ model.
Key Facts for Prelims
Incredible India Campaign Wins Pata Gold Award 2019
The Incredible India ‘Find the Incredible You’ campaign released globally by the Ministry of Tourism during 2018-19 has been declared winner of the PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Gold Award 2019 in the ‘Marketing – Primary Government Destination’ category.
About Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold Awards:
- PATA Gold Awards are given to tourism industry organizations and individuals making outstanding contribution towards the successful promotion of the travel industry throughout the Asia Pacific Region.
- Founded in 1951, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a not-for profit association that is internationally acclaimed for acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region.
- The Ministry of Tourism as part of its promotional initiatives annually releases Global Media Campaigns under the ‘Incredible India’ brand-line.
- The ‘Incredible India 2.0’ Campaign, with the tagline ‘Find the Incredible You’, was launched in September 2017 that marked a shift from generic promotions undertaken across the world to market specific promotional plans.
- The campaign focuses on digital and social media and the promotion of Niche Tourism products of the country.