Polity & Governance
- Seeking votes on religious basis a corrupt act: SC
- Re-promulgation of ordinances is ‘fraud’ on Constitution, says Supreme Court
Environment & Ecology
- Many New Projects Under Namami Gange Approved For Haridwar and Varanasi
Bilateral & International Relations
- India, Sri Lanka agree to exchange views to find permanent solution to fishermen issues
Defence & Security Issues
- Nuclear-capable Agni-IV missile successfully test-fired
Key Facts for Prelims
- Savitribai Phule, Google Doodle Tribute To 19th Century Social Reformer
- NTR Arogya Raksha Scheme
- West Bengal’s longest free WiFi-enabled road
- David R. Syiemlieh: New Chairman of UPSC
Polity & Governance
Seeking votes on religious basis a corrupt act: SC
The Supreme Court in its latest verdict has held that election candidates cannot seek votes on the grounds of the religion, caste, creed, community or language of voters.
- The court held that if the candidate is found violating the order will result into call for his disqualification.
- The state being secular in character will not identify itself with any one of the religions or religious denominations. The relationship between man and God is an individual choice.
- It implies that religion will not play any role in the governance of the country and state must at all times be secular in nature.
- Election is a secular exercise; therefore, this process should be followed and elected representatives must be secular in both outlook and practice to maintain this fabric.
- The word ‘his’ only in Section 123 (3) of RPA means complete ban on any reference or appeal to religion, race, community, caste and language during elections. It also extended to social, linguistic and religious identity of voter also.
Significance of the verdict:
- The latest ruling is now significant in the sense that any attempt to canvass for votes on the ground of religion or other such parochial identities – either of the candidate’s or on behalf of his agents or groups or his opponents – would invite the provisions of the Representation of People Act.
- The ruling can potentially overturn the traditional rules of the game for electoral politics in India. Traditionally parties did not hesitate to employ religion, caste and ethnicity to woo voters. With this SC verdict, greater clarity will emerge once the Election Commission of India, implement this decision and spells out the electoral rules.
The apex court’s verdict came while it was hearing several petitions in the Hindutva case seeking interpretation of Section 123 (3) of the Representation of the People Act.
This provision says that if a candidate or his agent or any other person, with his consent, appeals for votes on religious or such grounds it would amount to a ‘corrupt practice’.
Earlier in the Hindutva case, SC had held that canvassing votes in name of ‘Hindutva/Hinduism’ was not a corrupt electoral practice, as Hinduism was not a religion but a way of life in India.[Ref: The Hindu]
Re-promulgation of ordinances is ‘fraud’ on Constitution, says Supreme Court
In its latest verdict, the Supreme Court held that the re-promulgation of ordinances is a “fraud” on the Constitution and a subversion of democratic legislative processes, especially when the government persistently avoids the placing the ordinances before the legislature.
Important observations made by the apex court:
- Re-promulgation defeats the constitutional scheme under which a limited power to frame ordinances has been conferred upon the President and the Governors.
- Government’s decision to bring ordinance can be reviewed by judiciary
- It was obligatory for the government to place the ordinance before the legislative body for its approval and non-placement of ordinances before the Parliament and the State legislature would itself constitute a fraud on the constitution.
- The danger of re-promulgation lies in the threat it poses to the sovereignty of Parliament and the state legislatures which have been constituted as primary law givers under the Constitution.
- Open legislative debate and discussion provides sunshine which separates secrecy of ordinance making from transparent and accountable governance through law making
- There could be situations, though very rare, when re-promulgation is necessary.
- The laying of an ordinance facilitates the constitutional process by which the legislature is enabled to exercise its control. Failure to lay an ordinance before the legislature amounts to an abuse of the constitutional process and is a serious dereliction of the constitutional obligation.
- Apex court’s ‘hope and trust’ that law making through re-promulgated ordinances would not become the norm had been belied by the governments through succession of re-promulgated ordinances.
- The satisfaction of the President under Article 123 and of the Governor under Article 213 is not immune from judicial review. The test is whether the satisfaction is based on some relevant material. The court in the exercise of its power of judicial review will not determine the sufficiency or adequacy of the material. The court will scrutinise whether the satisfaction in a particular case constitutes a fraud on power or was actuated by an oblique motive. Judicial review in other words would enquire into whether there was no satisfaction at all.
The seminal question that arose in the case was whether seven successive re-promulgations of the Bihar Non-Government Sanskrit Schools (Taking Over of Management and Control) Ordinance, 1989 suffered from any illegality or constitutional impropriety.
The Patna High Court had dismissed the writ petition filed by the appellants noting that the repeated re-promulgation of the ordinances was unconstitutional. The High Court had, however, protected the appellants against any recovery of salaries already paid to them.
The appeal filed in Supreme Court was initially heard by a two-Judge Bench who differed in their opinions resulting in a reference of the appeal to a bench of three-Judges. The matter finally came to be heard by a seven- judge bench.
Dr. D.C. Wadhwa versus State of Bihar case:
- In the Dr. D.C. Wadhwa versus State of Bihar case, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that the Executive has no arbitrary right to promulgate ordinances.
- The apex court held that it is the right of every citizen to insist that he should be governed by laws made in accordance with the Constitution and not law made by the Executive in violation of the constitutional provisions.
Environment & Ecology
Many New Projects Under Namami Gange Approved For Haridwar and Varanasi
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has approved new projects under Namami Gange programme in Haridwar (Uttarakhand) and Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh).
- In Haridwar, 68 MLD sewage treatment plants (STP) and 14 MLD STP in Sarai was with Central government funding and also under Hybrid Annuity based PPP mode.
- Besides, 50 MLD sewage treatment plant at Ramana in Varana under Hybrid Annuity-based PPP mode was also approved.
About Namami Gange Programme:
‘Namami Gange’ Programme, is a flagship programme of Government of India with a renewed impetus to decrease river pollution and conserve the revered river ‘Ganga’.
- The Union government approved “Namami Gange” Program in May 2015.
- In this connection, the Indian Government solicited support from various countries to rejuvenate the Ganga.
- The program would be implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organizations i.e., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs).
- Among other things, the programme will focus on pollution abatement interventions namely Interception, diversion & treatment of wastewater flowing through the open drains through bio-remediation / appropriate in-situ treatment / use of innovative technologies.
- Under this programme, the focus of the Government is to involve people living on the banks of the river to attain sustainable results.
- The programme also focuses on involving the States and grassroots level institutions such as Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions in implementation.
Bilateral & International Relations
India, Sri Lanka agree to exchange views to find permanent solution to fishermen issues
India and Sri Lanka exchanged views on possible mechanisms to help find a permanent solution to the fishermen issues.
- This has been decided following the ministerial level talks between Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare of India Radha Mohan Singh and his Sri Lankan counterpart.
What has been decided?
- Both sides agreed to a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to expedite the release and handing over of fishermen in each other’s custody on completion of respective legal and procedural formalities.
- As part of the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) agreed to by both sides, it was decided to intensify cooperation on patrolling and to institute periodic interaction between the Coast Guard of the two countries.
- The Sri Lankan side reiterated that the practice of bottom trawling needs to end at the earliest. The Indian side assured that bottom trawling would be phased out in a graded time-bound manner within a practicable time frame.
The number of Indian fishermen detained in Sri Lanka has increased since the end of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009.
Previously cordoned off areas like off the coast of northern and eastern Sri Lanka were opened to fishing after the defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels. And Indian fishermen venturing into these waters have been facing protests from Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen who say that their livelihoods are at stake.
Sri Lankan coast guard and navy have been capturing Indian fishermen straying into Sri Lankan waters or sometimes firing shots to scare them away, which has led to deaths or injury to Indian fishermen.[Ref: LiveMint]
Defence & Security Issues
Nuclear-capable Agni-IV missile successfully test-fired
India successfully test-fired its home-grown long range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Agni-IV.
- It was the sixth test of the missile and the previous test was conducted on November 09, 2015 by the specially formed strategic force command (SFC) of Indian Army.
- Agni-IV is two-stage surface-to-surface nuclear capable intercontinental ballistic missile.
- It has been designed and developed indigenously by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- It has many cutting-edge technologies which can meet global standards including Pershing missile of US.
- It is fire and forget missile navigated using a jam proof ring laser gyroscope.
- Its re-entry heat shield can withstand temperatures in the range of over 4,0000.
- It is equipped with state-of-the-art Avionics, 5th generation on-board computer and distributed architecture.
- It is equipped with most accurate ring laser gyro-based inertial navigation system (RINS) and supported by highly reliable redundant micro navigation system (MINGS) that ensures it hit target within two-digit accuracy.
- It can be fired from locations deeper in the Indian hinterland, making it very difficult for the enemy to track and destroy it.
- The missile also possesses a submarine launch capability.
Key Facts for Prelims
Savitribai Phule, Google Doodle Tribute To 19th Century Social Reformer
Commemorating the 186th birth anniversary of social reformer and poet Savitribai Phule, Google has dedicated a special doodle on the day.
About Savitribai Phule:
- Born on January 3, 1831, Savitribai Phule was a social reformer and poet.
- She was among the country’s first women to speak up for the rights of women. She was the first woman teacher of the first women’s school in India and also a first pioneer in modern Marathi poetry.
- She was married at the age of nine to the 13-year old Jyotirao Phule. She was home taught to read and write by her husband. Later the couple founded India’s first school for girls and women in Bhidewada, Pune (Maharashtra).
- Four years later, she and her husband were honored by the British government for their contributions to women’s education.
- Later in life, Phule set up a care program for widows and led campaigns advocating for Indian citizens deemed “untouchable,” due to being born into what was considered a lower caste.
- During the British rule in India, Savitribai’s courageous campaign covered social issues such as child marriages, child widows, practice of ‘Sati’, women education and fighting for equal rights for all women.
- Even after death of Jyotirao Phule in 1890, she carried on legacy of his Satyashodhak. She died while serving people suffering from bubonic plague in Maharashtra in 1897.
- India Post also had released a stamp in honour of Savitribai on March 10, 1998.
- The Government of Maharashtra has instituted an award in her name and in 2015, the University of Pune in western India was renamed: Savitribai Phule Pune University in her honor.
NTR Arogya Raksha Scheme
- It is a family health insurance scheme launched by the Andhra Pradesh Government to provide the medical treatment to the people below Above Poverty Line (APL).
- The scheme is intended to provide health insurance cover to every individual in a family on payment of a monthly premium of Rs.100 per head for a year.
West Bengal’s longest free WiFi-enabled road
- West Bengal’s longest free WiFi-enabled road has become operational.
- Free WiFi will be available over the entire stretch on Biswa Bangla Sarani covering a distance of 13.5 km.
- The step has been taken to facilitate IT professionals who travel along the road to their workplaces in Salt Lake and Rajarhat.
Prof. David R. Syiemlieh: New Chairman of UPSC
- As per Article 316 of Constitution, President Pranab Mukherjee has appointed Prof David R Syiemlieh as the Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
- He shall remain the head of the organisation till his retirement on January 21, 2018 or till further orders. Prior to this appointment, he was functioning as a UPSC member.
- UPSC is constitutional body that conducts the prestigious civil services examination to select IAS, IFS and IPS officers among others.
- It has been established under Article 315 of the Constitution and consists of a Chairman and ten Members; appointed and removed by President.
- The chairman and members of the Commission hold office for a term if six years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
- The Chairman and other members of the UPSC are appointed by the President of India. They can be removed by the President.
- As per article 319, the Chairman of UPSC is not eligible for further employment either under Govt of India or a State.