UPSC 2017: Comprehensive News Analysis - October 16

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY
1. Pro bono criterion for judges too?
2. Debate over proxy voting for NRIs gains steam
3. Supreme Court to hear plea against linking Aadhaar to bank accounts, phones
4. Plea seeks proportional seats for STs
5. SC seeks views on guidelines for abortion
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/BILATERAL RELATIONS
1. Pak govt drops terrorism charges against Hafiz Saeed
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. GoM on composition scheme holds first meeting 
2. Information utility under the IBC
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND ECOLOGY
1. Melting ice making Greenland sea less saline
D. GS4 Related
E. Prelims Fact
F. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. Pro bono criterion for judges too?

Context:

  • Supreme Court’s guidelines: a lawyer should have fought a certain number of cases pro bono or free of cost in order to be designated as a senior lawyer

In news:

  • Government’s decision: a lawyer’s pro bono record should be considered while elevating him or her as a judge.
  • Idea needs to be approved by the collegiums:
  • Judges to higher courts are appointed by the Supreme Court collegium, — made up of the top five judges of the apex court — and the Law Ministry only has to give its concurrence.
  • So, the idea has to be first approved by the collegium before it can be implemented.

2. Debate over proxy voting for NRIs gains steam

Context:

  • The Central government is planning to amend the Representation of People Act to provide proxy voting right to Non-Resident Indians (NRIs).
  • The Central government will have to tackle a series of challenges in States with a relatively significant NRI population.
  • Statement issued by External affairs minister: NRIs could cast their votes by issuing an authorisation letter to their kin.

In news:

Issues:

  • The Election Commission of India would have to evolve a mechanism to ensure that he or she is voting as per the desire of the NRI.
  • The Voter Verifiable Paper Trail would be insufficient to address such concerns. Having a foolproof verification system is not an easy task either.
  • The commission would have to define whether the proxy could be an immediate family member, wife, husband, ward or parent of the NRI.
  • It would also have to fix the number of votes a proxy could cast in an election.
  • The Centre might be planning to amend the Act to incorporate such provisions. At present, the Act permits a person to cast only one vote and that needs to be rectified.
  • Safeguards against impersonation need to be put in place.

Key Fact: Kerala, Punjab, and Gujarat are the three States that have a major expatriate population and the experiment would have considerable impact on the election process in these States.

3. Supreme Court to hear plea against linking Aadhaar to bank accounts, phones

Context:

  • Linking of Aadhaar.
  • A bank account and mobile phone connection is the personal property of an individual.
  • Compelling citizens to part with their biometric details compromises India’s international law obligations. It goes against the very concept of the expression ‘limited government’, which means the State cannot act against the spirit and the assurance of the Constitution.

In news:

  • The Supreme Court will hear a petition challenging the government move to link bank accounts and mobile phones with Aadhaar numbers, saying it violates the fundamental right to privacy and equates citizens, including the elderly, women and students, with money launderers.

Petition:

  • The petitioner has challenged Rule 2(b) of the Prevention of Money-laundering (Maintenance of Records) Second Amendment Rules, 2017 for mandatory submission of Aadhaar number for individual clients, companies, partnership firms and trusts for opening of bank accounts, maintaining existing bank accounts, making financial transactions of and above ₹50,000 and crediting foreign remittance into ‘small accounts’.
  • Directives issued: Existing bank account holders have been directed to furnish Aadhaar numbers by December 31, 2017.
  • Non-compliance incurs the same liability as Section 5 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (for involvement in money laundering), that is rendering the concerned bank account in-operational.
  • Present and potential bank account holders, who do not wish to part with their biometric information, are therefore treated on par with alleged offenders under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
  • The petition also challenges the Department of Telecom circular, which makes it mandatory for all mobile phone holders to link their mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar.
  • Violative of Article 300A: The mobile phone circular is violative of Article 300A of the Constitution which protects a person’s right to not be deprived of property.
  • Besides, both the provision and the circular are violative of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 which limits the purpose of the Aadhaar number to receipt of a public subsidy, benefit or a service.

4. Plea seeks proportional seats for STs

In news:

  • The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to respond to a petition seeking proportional representation of the Scheduled Tribes (ST) in the Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies of West Bengal and Sikkim.
  • Petition filed by an organisation, Public Interest Committee For Scheduling Specific Areas (PICSSA).
  • Petition contention: despite the constitutional and statutory requirements, the Centre, ECI and these State governments have failed to ensure proportional representation to the Scheduled Tribes.
  • Articles 330 and 332 of the Constitution deal with reservation of seats for SCs and STs in the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies.
  • As per SC&ST Orders (Amendment) Act, 2002, several tribes, communities, parts and groups have been included in the lists of Scheduled Tribes.
Basic Information:

Article 330.Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People

(1) Seats shall be reserved in the House of the People for

  1. the Scheduled Castes;
  2. the Scheduled Tribes except the Scheduled Tribes in the autonomous districts of Assam; and
  3. the Scheduled Tribes in the autonomous districts of Assam

(2) The number of seats reserved in any State or Union territory for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes under clause ( 1 ) shall bear, as nearly as may be, the same proportion to the total number of seats allotted to that State or Union territory in the House of the People as the population of the Scheduled Castes in the State or Union territory or of the Scheduled Tribes in the State or Union territory or part of the State or Union territory, as the case may be, in respect of which seats are so reserved, bears to the total population of the State or Union territory

(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in clause ( 2 ), the number of seats reserved in the House of the People for the Scheduled Tribes in the autonomous districts of Assam shall bear to the total number of seats allotted to that State a proportion not less than the population of the Scheduled Tribes in the said autonomous districts bears to the total population of the State Explanation In this article 332, the expression population means the population as ascertained at the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published: Provided that the reference in this Explanation to the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published shall, until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2000 have been published, be construed as a reference to the 1971 census.

Article 332. Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the States

(1) Seats shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, except the Scheduled Tribes in the tribal areas of Assam, in Nagaland and in Meghalaya, in the Legislative Assembly of every State

(2) Seats shall be reserved also for the autonomous districts in the Legislative Assembly of the State of Assam

(3) The number of seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly nearly as may be, the same proportion to the total number of seats in the Assembly as the population of the Scheduled Castes in the State or of the Scheduled Tribes in the State or part of the State, as the case may be, in respect of which seats are so reserved bears to the total population of the State

(4) The number of seats reserved for an autonomous district in the legislative Assembly of the State of Assam shall bear to the total number of seats in that Assembly a proportion not less than the population of the district bears to the total population of the State

(5) The constituencies for the seats reserved for any autonomous district of Assam shall not comprise any area outside that district

(6) No person who is not a member of a Scheduled Tribe of any autonomous district of the State of Assam shall be eligible for election to the Legislative Assembly of the State from any constituency of that district

5. SC seeks views on guidelines for abortion

In news:

  • The Supreme Court has sought a response from the government on framing of guidelines for setting up a permanent mechanism for termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks in exceptional cases.
  • No amendment: The court, however, refused to amend the 1971 Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act which prohibits termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks, saying that the issue fell within the legislative domain.
  • Petition:
  • Seeks amendment of the 1971 Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act for abortion of foetuses older than 20 weeks involving rape survivors and women with abnormal foetus.
  • The plea also sought constitution of a committee for setting up a permanent mechanism for expedient termination of such pregnancies under safe medical facilities with adequate inputs from an association of professionals and experts.
Basic Information:

What is MTP Act, 1971?

  • Abortion in India is legal only up to twenty weeks of pregnancy under specific conditions and situations.
  • One, the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury of physical or mental health, or
  • Two, there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

What the draft MTP bill 2014 provides?

  • The draft MTP increased the legal limit for abortion from 20 weeks to 24 weeks.
  • It provides for abortion beyond 24 weeks under defined conditions.
  • The Bill amends Section 3 of the 1971 Act to provide that “the length of pregnancy shall not apply” in a decision to abort a foetus diagnosed with “substantial foetal abnormalities” or if it is “alleged by the pregnant woman to have been caused by rape”.
  • Under the 1971 Act, even pregnant rape victims cannot abort after 20 weeks, compelling them to move court.
  • It allows a woman to take an independent decision in consultation with a registered health-care provider.
  • It also takes into account the reality of a massive shortage of both doctors and trained midwives, and seeks to allow Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha practitioners to carry out abortions.

Why is it essential to change the MTP law?

  • Foetal abnormalities show up only by 18 weeks, so just a two-week window after that is too small for the would-be parents to take the difficult call on whether to keep their baby.
  • Even for the medical practitioner, this window is too small to exhaust all possible options before advising the patient.
  • There is an urgent need to empower women with sexual rights, legal protection against sex crimes and sex choices both in their own interest and for the sake of reducing the fertility rate as a whole.
  • The lack of legal approval moves abortion to underground and they are done in unhygienic conditions by untrained, thus, putting thousands of women at risk.

Category: INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/BILATERAL RELATIONS

1. Pak govt drops terrorism charges against Hafiz Saeed

In news:

  • Pakistani authorities withdrew terrorism charges against Hafiz Saeed and his group Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), paving way for the possible release of the UN, US and Indian designated terrorist for his involvement in 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Key Fact:

  • Saeed and JuD were already banned by the UN while U.S. has put $10 million bounty on his arrest.
  • Saeed challenged his detention in the Lahore High Court alleging that his arrest was due to U.S. pressure and that he had never been charged for any crime.
  • No formal charges have been filed against Saeed so far by Pakistani authorities.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. GoM on composition scheme holds first meeting

Context:

  • With only over 15.50 lakh businesses out of 98 lakh registered under the GST regime opting for the composition scheme, the GST Council decided to set up the GoM to examine ways of making it more attractive.

In news:

  • Within a week of being set up, the group of ministers (GoM) on making the GST composition scheme more attractive held its first meeting.
  • Tasks assigned to the GoM:
  • The GoM has also been tasked with revisiting the tax structure of different categories of restaurants with a view to rationalising or reducing the rates.
  • The GoM will examine whether the AC restaurants pass on the benefit of cost reduction under GST to consumers and if they are not, whether they should be disallowed input tax credit claims
  • To make the composition scheme more attractive, the GoM would look into whether turnover of exempted goods can be excluded from the total turnover threshold for levying tax under the composition scheme.
  • It will also consider whether the scheme can be extended to taxpayers dealing in inter-state supplies of goods.
  • The panel will look at whether the manufacturers opting for the scheme can be given the benefit of input tax credit.

Key Fact:

  • Businesses with turnover of up to Rs 1 crore can opt for the composition scheme and they can pay taxes in the range of 1-5 per cent and file returns quarterly.
  • Currently, GST is levied at 12 per cent on non-AC restaurants while it is 18 per cent for air-conditioned ones.
  • The tax rate for traders of goods in the composition scheme is 1 per cent, while it is 2 per cent for manufacturers and 5 per cent for restaurants.
Basic Information:

Composition Scheme under GST

  • Goods and Services Tax has brought in a new regime of business compliance in India. Large organizations have the requisite resources and expertise to address these requirements. On the flip side, many startups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) may struggle to comply with these provisions. To resolve such scenarios, the government has introduced Composition Scheme under GST, which is merely an extension of the scheme under VAT law.
  • When opting for the Composition Scheme under GST, a taxpayer will be required to file summarized returns on a quarterly basis, instead of three monthly returns (as applicable for normal businesses).

Who can opt for Composition Scheme?

  • Businesses dealing only in goods can only opt for composition scheme. Services providers have been kept outside the scope of this scheme. However, restaurant sector taxpayers may also opt for the scheme.

2. Information utility under the IBC

Context:

  • National e-Governance Services Ltd (NeSL) became India’s first information utility (IU) for bankruptcy cases under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016.
  • NeSL is owned by State Bank of India and Life Insurance Corporation Ltd., among others.
  • Recently, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) eased ownership norms for setting up such utilities.

What is an information utility?

  • Information utility is an information network which would store financial data like borrowings, default and security interests among others of firms.
  • The utility would specialise in procuring, maintaining and providing/supplying financial information to businesses, financial institutions, adjudicating authority, insolvency professionals and other relevant stake holders.

Why is it important? How useful is it?

  • The objective behind information utilities is to provide high-quality, authenticated information about debts and defaults, as per the report of the Working Group on Information Utility published by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
  • Information utilities are expected to play a key role as they allow storage of financial information of registered users and expeditiously process and verify information received.
  • Moreover, the database and records maintained by them would help lenders in taking informed decisions about credit transactions.
  • It would also make debtors cautious as credit information is available with the utility.
  • More importantly, information available with the utility can be used as evidence in bankruptcy cases before the National Company Law Tribunal.

What are the key challenges for these utilities?

  • While the onus is on financial creditors, operational creditors and corporate debtors to provide the required information, procuring authentic information might be a challenge due to the sensitivity involved. There may also, be resistance in sharing information. Since it is a digital database, there is the risk of exposure to data piracy and data theft.

Category: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND ECOLOGY

1. Melting ice making Greenland sea less saline

Context:

  • Over the years, the dramatic meltdown of ice in the Arctic Ocean has received great attention and is easy to observe through satellite images.
  • Scientists from Aarhus University in Denmark have unveiled the long-term impact of the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

Study highlights:

  • Melting ice is causing coastal waters in Greenland to become less saline, which may in turn affect marine life as well as the global ocean currents that keep Europe warm.
  • Impact on fjords: The observed increase in freshwater content will affect the conditions in all Greenland fjords.
  • Kay fact: glaciers have been observed to melt and retreat and the researchers know that today’s meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet has more than doubled compared with the period 1983-2003.
  • Clear tale: Now, unique annual measurements made within the framework of the ‘Greenland Ecosystem Monitoring Program’ since 2003 in northeast Greenland tell a clear tale — fresh water from the ice sheet accumulates in the surface layers of the surrounding sea and flows into the Greenland fjords.
  • Measurements show that the surface water layers became up to 1.5 per mill less saline. This equivalent to an increase in freshwater content from about one metre in 2003 to almost four metres in 2015.
Basic Information:
  • A fjord is a deep, narrow and elongated sea or lake drain, with steep land on three sides. The opening toward the sea is called the mouth of the fjord, and is often shallow. The fjord’s inner part is called the sea bottom. If the geological formation is wider than it is long, it is not a fjord.

 

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

E. PRELIMS FACT

Nothing here for Today!!! 

 

F. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Kiltan is
  1. A Submarine
  2. A Helicopter
  3. An anti-submarine warfare class stealth corvette
  4. An army tank

See

Answer
Question 2. As per Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, abortion in India 
is legal only up to
  1. Twenty weeks of pregnancy
  2. Twenty four weeks of pregnancy
  3. Eighteen weeks of pregnancy
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements
  1. National e-Governance Services Ltd (NeSL) became India’s first information utility (IU) for bankruptcy cases under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016.
  2. NeSL is owned by State Bank of India and Life Insurance Corporation Ltd., among others.
  3. Information utility is an information network which would store financial data like borrowings, default and security interests among others of firms.

Choose the correct answer from the options given below:

  1. 1 and 3 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 2 only
  4. All are correct

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements with reference to the Composite 
scheme under the GST regime
  1. Businesses dealing only in goods can only opt for composition scheme.
  2. Services providers have been kept outside the scope of this scheme.
  3. Restaurant sector taxpayers may also opt for the scheme.

Choose the correct statements from the options given below:

  1. 1 and 3 only
  2. 1 and 2 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. All are correct

See

Answer
Question 5. With reference to Departmental Standing Committees, which of the 
following statements is/are correct?
  1. The main objective of such committees is to secure more accountability of the Executive to the Parliament, particularly financial accountability.
  2. Each such committee consists of members only from the Lok Sabha.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

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

See

Answer

G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

GS Paper II
  1. ‘The Supreme Court of India keeps a check on arbitrary power of the Parliament in amending the Constitution.’ Discuss critically.

GS Paper IV
  1. Critically analyze the various ethical issues involved in the Medical termination of pregnancies Act, 1971.

 

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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