TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related GOVERNANCE 1. Centre comes to Kerala’s aid 2. Submarine training lax, says CAG 3. Use Aadhaar freely, without fear: UIDAI INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. Ranil Wickremesinghe hands over India-built houses in Sri Lanka’s estates 2. Ties with India critical for growth of Texas: Governor SOCIAL ISSUES 1. Children living in jails worries SC C. GS3 Related SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 1. ISRO set to launch its TV channel ECONOMY 1. More banks report tightening of credit standards, shows survey 2. Flipkart: FDI norms compliance not under our ambit, says CCI D. GS4 Related E. Editorials GOVERNANCE 1. The Delhi High Court and the Begging Act POLITY 1. The Supreme Court and the Lodha norms F. Tidbits G. Prelims Fact H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
1. Centre comes to Kerala’s aid
- Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday conducted an aerial survey of flood-ravaged Kerala and announced an immediate relief of Rs. 100 crore as the State braced for another spell of heavy rain after a fresh low pressure area developed in the Bay of Bengal.
- State authorities said the death toll in the recent monsoon rain rose to 38 and more than 1,00,000 people had been shifted to 1,026 relief camps.
- The Union Minister’s announcement of aid came as the first response to the State’s plea for Rs. 1,220 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund.
National Disaster Response Fund.
- National Disaster Response Fund is defined in Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DM Act) as a fund managed by the Central Government for meeting the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation due to any threatening disaster situation or disaster.
- NDRF is constituted to supplement the funds of the State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) of the states to facilitate immediate relief in case of calamities of a severe nature.
- The DM Act defines “disaster” to mean ‘a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area.’
- The July 2015 guidelines states that natural calamities of cyclone, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslide, avalanche, cloud burst, pest attack and cold wave and frost considered to be of severe nature by Government of India (GoI) and requiring expenditures by a state government in excess of the balances available in its own SDRF will qualify for immediate relief assistance from NDRF.
- In the event of a disaster of ‘a severe nature’, in which the funds needed for relief operations exceeded the balances in the SDRF account, additional assistance would be provided from the NDRF after following prescribed procedures.
- The financial assistance from SDRF/NDRF is for providing immediate relief and is not compensation for loss/damage to properties /crops.
- In other words, NDRF amount can be spent only towards meeting the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation.
- For projects exclusively for the purpose of mitigation, i.e, measures aimed at reducing the risk, impact or effect of a disaster or threatening disaster situation a separate fund called National Disaster Mitigation Fund has to be constituted.
Features of NDRF
- The primary purpose of NDRF is to supplement the SDRF, in case there is a calamity of “severe nature” which requires assistance over and above the funds available under SDRF.
- NDRF is located in the “Public Accounts” of Government of India under “Reserve Funds not bearing interest”
- The Centre had earlier sanctioned Rs. 80 crore and another Rs. 18.24 crore assistance to the State.
- Singh called the flood situation serious and unprecedented in the history of the State.
- Later, Mr. Singh told the media that the Centre was convinced about the losses Kerala had suffered.
- According to him, it was the worst floods the State had experienced since 1924. The tourism and agriculture sectors had suffered badly.
- Large tracts of paddy and cash crops and banana plantations were damaged. The infrastructure sector, including roads and buildings, were damaged and power lines had snapped, he said.
- The rain-related calamities, he said, had rendered hundreds homeless and around 1,00,000 people had to be sheltered in relief camps.
- Offering all support, Mr. Singh said the government would consider the demands for additional relief assistance after a detailed evaluation by an inter-ministerial team.
- A high-level team, headed by him, would evaluate the report of the inter-ministerial team. More men from the National Disaster Response Force would be deployed in Kerala, if required, he added.
- The Minister, who visited a relief camp in Paravur taluk, said the people in the camps were satisfied with the arrangements made for them and none complained about any inadequacies.
The National Disaster Response Force
- The National Disaster Response Force is a unit created by the government for the purpose of specialised response to natural and man-made disasters.
- The NDRF works under the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) which lays down the policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management.
- The NDRF consists of eight battalions of Central paramilitary forces – two battalions each from the Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) for the purpose of specialist response in disaster situations.
- These eight NDRF battalions would be positioned at Arrakonam (Chennai), Mundali (Bhubneshwar), Greater Noida, Chandigarh, Barasat (Kolkata), Guwahati (Assam), Pune (Maharashtra) and Gandhinagar (Gujarat).
- In addition, 16 Regional Response Centres (RRCs) of NDRF battalions are being set up across the country to enable immediate response to natural calamities.
2. Submarine training lax, says CAG
- No facility exists for training Navy crew on various aspects of damage control and firefighting in a submarine, the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) has observed in a report.
- This is among a series of deficiencies in training noted by the federal auditor.
- In April 2014, INSSatavahana, the dedicated school for imparting all facets of submarine training, submitted a proposal to the submarine headquarters, indicating the requirement of a simulator to train in damage control and firefighting.
- The proposal has, however, not yet been approved by the competent authority.
- As a result, limited practical training is imparted through attachment to the Navy’s facilities for damage control and firefighting, which are based on the layout of ships.
- Thus, even after identifying the requirement of a critical training facility and recommendations by a Board, which investigated a major submarine accident, there is undue delay in procurement and installation of the same.
- In August 2013, Russian-built Kilo class submarine INSSindhurakshak sank in the Mumbai harbour after an explosion on board, killing 18 sailors.
- In the next year, a fire on board INS Sindhuratna killed two officers, following which the then Navy Chief, Admiral D.K. Joshi, submitted his resignation.
- India has an ageing submarine fleet most of which are getting mid-life upgrades to keep them active for another 15-20 years.
- The Navy inducted the first of the French Scorpene submarines, INSKalvari, in December last year. This is the first new submarine induction in almost two decades.
- Training in damage control and firefighting assumes even greater importance as India inducts nuclear submarines into its fleet.
- Indigenously built ballistic missile nuclear submarine (SSBN) INSArihant was quietly inducted in 2016, and follow on boats are in various stages of testing and construction.
- India also has the nuclear attack submarine (SSN) INS Chakra, which is on lease from Russia.
- Against this backdrop, the Navy is in the process of inducting two deep submergence rescue vessel systems from a U.K.-based firm, which are critical in case of any disaster in the depths of the sea.
- The report highlighted delays in the completion of the Naval Academy Project at Ezhimala, non-availability of training equipment for new induction platforms, a deficiency in quality of training and other issues.
- The results of internal assessments of training establishments, as well as engine room watch keeping certificate and weighted input output analysis, brought out various deficiencies in the training imparted.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)
- The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is an authority, established by Article 148 of the Constitution of India, which audits all receipts and expenditure of the Government of India and the state governments, including those of bodies and authorities substantially financed by the government.
- The CAG is also the external auditor of Government-owned corporations and conducts supplementary audit of government companies, i.e., any non-banking/ non-insurance company in which Union Government has an equity share of at least 51 per cent or subsidiary companies of existing government companies.
- The reports of the CAG are taken into consideration by the Public Accounts Committees (PACs) and Committees on Public Undertakings (COPUs), which are special committees in the Parliament of India and the state legislatures.
- The CAG is also the head of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department, the affairs of which are managed by officers of Indian Audit and Accounts Service, and has over 58,000 employees across the country.
- The CAG is mentioned in the Constitution of India under Article 148 – 151.
- The CAG is ranked 9th and enjoys the same status as a judge of Supreme Court of India in Indian order of precedence. The current CAG of India is Rajiv Mehrishi, who assumed office on 25 September 2017. He is the 13th CAG of India.
3. Use Aadhaar freely, without fear: UIDAI
- After TRAI chief’s Aadhaar dare ignited a debate on the security of the 12-digit number, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is planning a user outreach to sensitise people to the dos and don’ts of sharing their biometric identifier.
- The UIDAI intends to draw a parallel between the Aadhaar number and other personal information such as PAN (Permanent Account Number) and bank account number to caution users against placing such details in the public domain, particularly on digital platforms.
- The FAQ will address nearly six queries on the issue, which has been hotly debated over the past fortnight ever since TRAI Chairman R.S. Sharma, a former Director-General of the UIDAI, tweeted his Aadhaar number and dared Internet users to show how mere knowledge of the ID can cause him “real harm”.
- His tweet caused a flutter after some users claimed to have accessed his bank account number and e-mail id, though the TRAI chief refuted their claims.
- Cautioning people against publicising their Aadhaar number, the UIDAI, however, says it can be given freely for proving one’s identity and for transaction purposes, just like one gives bank account or other details for a specific purpose.
- Mere knowledge of Aadhaar cannot harm an individual or be misused for impersonation, as it is fortified with additional security layers such as biometrics and one-time password authentication, it says.
- The UIDAI has also outlined the responsibilities of banks and other user organisations in carrying out the required checks in this regard.
- Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identity number that can be obtained by residents of India, based on their biometric and demographic data.
- The data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a statutory authority established in January 2009 by the government of India, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, following the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016.
- Aadhaar is the world’s largest biometric ID system.
- World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer described Aadhaar as “the most sophisticated ID programme in the world”.
- Considered a proof of residence and not a proof of citizenship, Aadhaar does not itself grant any rights to domicile in India. In June 2017 the Home Ministry clarified that Aadhaar is not a valid identification document for Indians travelling to Nepal and Bhutan.
1. Ranil Wickremesinghe hands over India-built houses in Sri Lanka’s estates
- Over 400 families living on the famed tea estates in Sri Lanka on Sunday took possession of their new houses built with Indian assistance.
- The construction of the homes is part of India’s commitment to build 4,000 homes in the island’s central highlands that is home to Malayaha Tamils.
- During his visit to the island last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an additional 10,000 homes in the area. A bilateral agreement formalising the project was signed at a special ceremony in Nuwara Eliya district on Sunday.
- The nearly million-strong hill country, or Malayaha, Tamil community, distinct from those living in the war-affected north and east, comprises descendants of labourers that the British brought down from South India to work on the estates.
- For about two centuries now, they have served as the primary workforce in Sri Lanka’s tea estates, contributing significantly to the country’s foreign exchange earned through the sector.
- But the community has been historically neglected and confined to British-era line-room accommodations, which are small, cramped dwellings where many still live.
- The current government has taken some measures to provide individual housing to estate workers — authorities have estimated 1,60,000 homes initially — and India is also contributing towards the initiative, helping build 14,000 homes.
- Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who handed over the houses on Sunday, appreciated India’s commitment in partnering Sri Lanka in development projects, a press release said.
- India is supporting the construction of 60,000 houses across the island. As many as 46,000 in the north and east, being built for war-displaced persons, are already complete and 14,000 are now being built in the central and southern parts of the island.
2. Ties with India critical for growth of Texas: Governor
- Expansion of trade ties with India was his top priority in office, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott told a gathering of the State’s business leaders.
- Texas and India aligning economically will be enormously beneficial for both.
- Houston and surrounding areas are emerging as a magnet for several Indian companies expanding their operations in North America.
- Texas is now the second largest exporter of goods to India and the fourth largest importer of Indian goods, among the American States.
- India has started importing crude and natural gas from America this year, and Texas, as the country’s petroleum hub, stands to benefit.
- Texas energy can fuel the growth that is coming to India. Petroleum imports from America have begun to reduce India’s trade surplus with it, partially blunting an irritant for the Donald Trump administration.
- Abbott thanked Mahindra for setting up Mahindra’s North American headquarters in Texas and donating $1.5 million for relief after the State was struck by hurricane last year.
- Jindal Steel Works has announced plans to invest $500 million into expanding their steel manufacturing in Baytown, Texas, and Wipro Limited will set up a new Texas Technology Centre in Plano.
1. Children living in jails worries SC
- A committee headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court will be formed to tackle the issue of children living in prisons merely because their mothers are convicts.
- A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta has directed the government to form a panel headed by a former apex court judge, assisted by two or three Central government officers, to study the problems of mothers and children living inside prisons.
- Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal, for the Centre, agreed with the court’s view.
- The order came after Supreme Court’s amicus curiae and advocate Gaurav Agarwal submitted a report showing that there were 18 jails exclusively for women.
- Plus there are separate areas for women in other jails, but there is a huge lack of space for women inmates. He said these jails were not modelled to house women inmates, especially those with minor children staying with them.
- The committee would also look into what reforms could be introduced within the prison walls.
- The court said the Centre should issue a notification on the setting up of the committee, highlighting the importance of prison reforms and the fundamental right to life and dignity of the prisoners.
- The court ordered training manuals to be circulated to the Directors-General of Prisons and Secretaries of Prison Department in each State government/ Union Territory and also to three training institutes, that is, Institute of Corrections Administration, Chandigarh; Regional Institute of Correctional Administration, Kolkata; and Academy of Prison and Correctional Administration, Vellore.
- The court advised the Centre that criminals sentenced to imprisonment for six months or a year should be allocated social service duties rather than be sent to further choke the already overflowing prisons.
C. GS3 Related
1. ISRO set to launch its TV channel
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will have a year-long Vikram Sarabhai centenary celebration starting in August 2019 to honour the visionary scientist and its legendary founding father.
- In a few months’ time, it plans to roll out a dedicated ISRO TV channel showcasing space applications, developments and science issues, targeting young viewers and people in remote areas in their language.
- Sarabhai, the architect of the Indian space programme, the first ISRO chief and renowned cosmic ray scientist, was born on August 12, 1919.
- ISRO’s tributes to Sarabhai start with naming the first Indian moon landing spacecraft of the Chandrayaan-2 mission ‘Vikram’. The mission is planned for early 2019.
- A chair each at Sarabhai’s two alma maters, Cambridge University and Gujarat University, as also at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), would be set up, apart from giving awards, scholarships and fellowships in the country and abroad.
- Sarabhai was only 28 when he sowed the seeds of a space agency around the late 1940s and 1950s.
- Sivan said 100 lectures by science luminaries would be held across the country and in association with the International Astronautical Federation, the global space networking body. Space clubs, knowledge centres and talk shows are also among the plans.
- As it strengthens its public outreach, ISRO will shortly start allowing the public to watch satellite launches from its Sriharikota launch centre.
- Sarabhai was considered as the Father of the Indian space program; he was a great institution builder and established or helped to establish a large number of institutions in diverse fields.
- He was instrumental in establishing the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad: after returning from Cambridge to an independent India in 1947, he persuaded charitable trusts controlled by his family and friends to endow a research institution near home in Ahmedabad.
- Thus, Vikram Sarabhai founded the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad on November 11, 1947. He was only 28 at that time. Sarabhai was a creator and cultivator of institutions and PRL was the first step in that direction. Vikram Sarabhai served of PRL from 1966-1971.
- He was also Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. He along with other Ahmedabad-based industrialists played a major role in the creation of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
Indian Space Program
The establishment of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was one of his greatest achievements.
- He successfully convinced the government of the importance of a space programme for a developing country like India after the Russian Sputnik launch. Dr. Sarabhai emphasized the importance of a space program in his quote:
Homi Jehangir Bhabha, widely regarded as the father of India’s nuclear science program, supported Dr. Sarabhai in setting up the first rocket launching station in India.
- This center was established at Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram on the coast of the Arabian Sea, primarily because of its proximity to the equator.
- After a remarkable effort in setting up the infrastructure, personnel, communication links, and launch pads, the inaugural flight was launched on November 21, 1963 with a sodium vapour payload.
- As a result of Dr. Sarabhai’s dialogue with NASA in 1966, the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) was launched during July 1975 – July 1976 (when Dr.Sarabhai was no more).
- Sarabhai started a project for the fabrication and launch of an Indian Satellite. As a result, the first Indian satellite, Aryabhata, was put in orbit in 1975 from a Russian Cosmodrome.
- Sarabhai was very interested in science education and founded a Community Science Centre at Ahmedabad in 1966. Today, the Centre is called the Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre.
1. More banks report tightening of credit standards, shows survey
- A survey conducted by FICCI and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) showed more respondents claiming they had tightened credit standards during January-June 2018, the period in which survey was conducted.
- 67% respondents among participating banks have reported tightening of standards, steeply increasing from 28% in the last round of the survey.
- A total of 22 public sector, private sector and foreign banks participated in the survey, which is conducted twice a year.
- These banks together represent 64% of the banking industry, as classified by asset size. This round has been conducted at a time when NPAs have shot past the Rs. 10-lakh crore mark and continue to rise.
- The survey noted that with stressed assets rising, banks have generally adopted a cautious approach in lending, to prevent fresh slippages.
- As was the case in the previous round of the survey, 59% of the respondent banks reported a rise in NPAs in the current round of the survey.
- Infrastructure, metals and engineering goods were the key sectors reported with the highest NPAs. More than two-thirds of the respondents have cited these as sectors with high NPAs.
- At the same time, most participating banks agreed that the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) had made the recovery process faster and improved the recovery position of banks.
- To improve the resolution rate, bankers suggested strengthening of the judiciary, enhancing capacity, empowerment of local level government officials, among other suggestions.
- They also said that extension of the moratorium beyond 270 days for any reason should not be permitted.
2. Flipkart: FDI norms compliance not under our ambit, says CCI
- Having cleared global retail giant Walmart’s $16 billion acquisition of homegrown Flipkart, fair trade watchdog CCI has opined that complaints about the deal violating FDI rules ‘may merit policy intervention’ but do not fall under its ambit.
- The Competition Commission also observed that the complaint about Flipkart’s discounting practice or preference to select e-tailers is not specific to this merger deal and is ‘already prevalent’ in the market.
- It also made it clear that there is no bar on the regulator to examine these issues under relevant provisions of the Competition Act about anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominance.
- The deal has triggered opposition from several quarters including traders’ lobby groups and the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch and several of them had submitted their complaints to the CCI, which was approached in May for approval of the acquisition.
- In its order clearing the deal, the CCI has said it is ‘not likely’ to have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India.
- Issues falling beyond the scope of the (Competition) Act cannot be a subject matter of examination by the Commission, though they may merit policy intervention.
- Noting that as per the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy an e-commerce platform cannot influence market prices directly or indirectly, the regulator said this was a matter of consideration for the ‘appropriate regulatory/enforcement authority.’
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
1. The Delhi High Court and the Begging Act
Provisions of the Begging Act
- The Begging Act was passed in 1959 by the State of Bombay, and has continued to exist in as many as 20 States and two Union Territories
- Begging Act criminalises begging.
- It gives the police the power to arrest individuals without a warrant.
- It gives magistrates the power to commit them to a “certified institution” (read: a detention centre) for up to three years on the commission of the first “offence”, and up to 10 years upon the second “offence”.
- It strips the people of their privacy and dignity by compelling them to allow themselves to be fingerprinted.
- The Act also authorises the detention of people “dependent” upon the “beggar” (read: family), and the separation of children over the age of five
- Certified institutions have absolute power over detainees, including the power of punishment, and the power to exact “manual work”
- Disobeying the rules of the institution can land an individual in jail.
- From its first word to the last, the Begging Act reflects a vicious logic.There is the definition of “begging” which has a pointed reference to “singing, dancing, fortune telling, performing or offering any article for sale”.
- This makes it clear that the purpose of the Act is not simply to criminalise the act of begging (as commonly understood), but to target groups and communities whose itinerant patterns of life do not fit within mainstream stereotypes of the sedentary, law-abiding citizen with a settled job.
- The reference to “no visible means of subsistence and wandering about” punishes people for the crime of looking poor.
- These vague definitions not only give unchecked power to the police to harass citizens but they also reveal the prejudices underlying the law.
- In 1871, the colonial regime passed the notorious Criminal Tribes Act. This law was based upon the racist British belief that in India there were entire groups and communities that were criminal by birth, nature, and occupation.
- The Act unleashed a reign of terror, with its systems of surveillance, police reporting, the separation of families, detention camps, and forced labour.
- More then six decades after independent India repealed the Act, the “denotified tribes” continue to suffer from stigma and systemic disadvantage.
Delhi HC strikes down the beggar act
- Last week, in a remarkable, landmark and long overdue judgment, the Delhi High Court struck it down as inconsistent with the Constitution
- In its judgment in Harsh Mander v. Union of India and Karnika Sawhney v. Union of India, Delhi HC held that the Begging Act violated Article 14 (equality before law) and Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of the Constitution
- The Delhi High Court order striking down the Begging Act heeds the Constitution’s transformative nature.
- It marks a crucial step forward in dismantling one of the most vicious and enduring legacies of colonialism.
- A judgment delivered by the same court more than nine years ago, decriminalised homosexuality (Naz Foundation v. NCT of Delhi).
- It is now the task of the Legislative Assembly and the government to replace the punitive structure of the (now defunct) Begging Act with a new set of measures that genuinely focusses on the rehabilitation and integration of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of our society.
- The Act was one strand of a web of colonial laws that dehumanised communities and ways of life.
- The colonial administrators were particularly concerned about nomadic and itinerant communities, which by virtue of their movements and lifestyle were difficult to track, surveil, control, and tax.
- Through laws such as the Criminal Tribes Act, and other legal weapons such as vagrancy laws, the regime attempted to destroy these patterns of life, by using criminal laws to coerce communities into settlements and subjecting them to forced labour.
- Independence brought with it many changes, but also much continuity. Despite the birth of a Constitution that promised liberty, equality, fraternity, and dignity to all, independent India’s rulers continued to replicate colonial logic in framing laws for the new republic.
- They continued to treat individuals as subjects to be controlled and administered, rather than rights-bearing citizens.
- One of the most glaring examples of this is the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act.
- The Begging Act was passed in 1959 by the State of Bombay, and has continued to exist in as many as 20 States and two Union Territories.
- But last week, in a remarkable, landmark and long overdue judgment, the Delhi High Court struck it down as inconsistent with the Constitution.
- Disobeying the rules of the institution can land an individual in jail.
- From its first word to the last, the Begging Act reflects a vicious logic.
- First, there is the definition of “begging”.
- The Act defines it to include “soliciting or receiving alms, in a public place whether or not under any pretence such as singing, dancing, fortune telling, performing or offering any article for sale” and “having no visible means of subsistence and wandering about or remaining in any public place in such condition or manner, as makes it likely that the person doing so exist soliciting or receiving alms.”
- The pointed reference to “singing, dancing, fortune telling, performing or offering any article for sale” makes it clear that the purpose of the Act is not simply to criminalise the act of begging (as commonly understood), but to target groups and communities whose itinerant patterns of life do not fit within mainstream stereotypes of the sedentary, law-abiding citizen with a settled job.
- And the reference to “no visible means of subsistence and wandering about” punishes people for the crime of looking poor — but it also reflects the lawmakers’ desire to erase from public spaces people who look or act differently, and whose presence is perceived to be a bother and a nuisance.
- The Begging Act encodes into law the vicious prejudice that recently saw a prominent institution putting up spikes outside its Mumbai branch, to deter rough sleeping (they were removed after public outrage).
- Once individuals fall within its clutches, the Begging Act effectively renders them invisible, by confining them to “certified institutions” after a truncated, summary judicial procedure.
- Like the poorhouses of 19th century Europe, it is based on a philosophy of first criminalising poverty, and then making it invisible by physically removing “offenders” from public spaces.
- Effectively, it places a cordon sanitaire around the poor and the “undesirable”, keeping them from accessing spaces reserved for the use of “respectable” citizens.
- For these people, the constitutional guarantees of pluralism and inclusiveness do not exist.
- The authorities have not hesitated to use the Begging Act as a weapon. Just before the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the Delhi government was engaged in combing operations to take beggars off the street, lest their presence embarrass the nation in the eyes of foreigners.
- Such operations are also a regular part of preparing for national events, such as Independence Day and Republic Day.
The judicial view
- In its judgment delivered last week (Harsh Mander v. Union of India and Karnika Sawhney v. Union of India), a Bench of the Delhi High Court presided over by the Chief Justice, held that the Begging Act violated Article 14 (equality before law) and Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of the Constitution.
- In oral argument, the government conceded that it did not intend to criminalise “involuntary” begging.
- The High Court noted, however, that the definition of begging under the Act made no such distinction, and was therefore entirely arbitrary.
- More importantly, it also held that under Article 21 of the Constitution, it was the state’s responsibility to provide the basic necessities for survival — food, clothing, shelter — to all its citizens.
- Poverty was the result of the state’s inability — or unwillingness — to discharge these obligations. Therefore, the state could not turn around and criminalise the most visible and public manifestation of its own failures — and indeed, penalise people who were doing nothing more than communicating the reality of their situation to the public.
- The Delhi High Court’s judgment marks a crucial step forward in dismantling one of the most vicious and enduring legacies of colonialism. It is as significant and important as a judgment delivered by the same court more than nine years ago, when it decriminalised homosexuality (Naz Foundation v. NCT of Delhi).
- It is perhaps fitting that this judgment comes just a few days before the Supreme Court is likely to vindicate Naz Foundation after a 10-year legal battle.
- Both Naz Foundation and Harsh Mander recognise that our Constitution is a transformative Constitution, which seeks to undo legacies of injustice and lift up all individuals and communities to the plane of equal citizenship.
- However, it remains only one step forward. Hopefully, other High Courts will follow suit and the constitutionality of vagrancy laws as well as other provisions in the Indian Penal Code that criminalise status will also be called into question.
- Nonetheless, it is important to remember one thing: a court can strike down an unconstitutional law, but it cannot reform society. Poverty — as the Chief Justice recognised in her judgment — is a systemic and structural problem.
- The Delhi High Court has done its job in striking down a vicious law that criminalised poverty.
- But it is the task of the Legislative Assembly and the government to replace the punitive structure of the (now defunct) Begging Act with a new set of measures that genuinely focusses on the rehabilitation and integration of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of our society.
1. The Supreme Court and the Lodha norms
Justice RM Lodha Committee has submitted its report to the Supreme Court suggesting reforms in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
The committee was appointed by the SC in 2014 to make recommendations to the BCCI in order to prevent frauds and conflict of interest in cricket administration.
Major Recommendations Committee
- Governing Bodies: They should be separate for Indian Premier League (IPL) and BCCI, with limited autonomy for the IPL Governing Council.
- BCCI office-bearer: No Minister or government servant should become a BCCI office-bearer.
- BCCI office-bearer’s tenure: It should not exceed more than two consecutive terms, and he/she cannot hold two posts at the same time.
- Membership: Only to team representing the respective states. Each state should have only one vote.
- Zones: The relevance of different zones should be for the purpose of tournaments and not for the governance of the BCCI and its committees.
- State Associations: There should be uniformity of structure in the organisation and functioning of state associations on the lines of BCCI.
- Management: The BCCI management affairs should be done by professionals led by Chief executive officer (CEO).
- Players Associations: It should be formed for the international as well as for the first class levels. It should be for both men and women teams.
- Player’s ethics: BCCI should carry out awareness programmes for the players.
- Players Agents: They must be registered under the BCCI and players association norms.
- Betting and match-fixing: Betting should be legalised and match-fixing should be made criminal offence.
- Conflict of Interest: To avoid conflicts it should be handled with the norms laid down by an ethics officer.
- The Electoral Officer and Ombudsman: The electoral officer will oversee the election process, while the ombudsman to resolve grievances.
- Functioning and Transparency: All details and rues of BCCI must be uploaded on the website on BCCI for transparency functioning purpose. BCCI should come under the purview of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
- Supervision of Expenses: It should be carried out by an independent auditor.
- Two years after accepting the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee’s recommendations, the Supreme Court has now extended some concessions to those aggrieved by the rigorous rules, which aimed to revamp cricket administration in the country.
- The reasoning given in the order of a three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra suggests that it is a pragmatic modification rather than a significant climb down.
- Justice Lodha, a former Chief Justice of India, however, feels that the court has now knocked out the foundation of his recommendations.
- The most significant change concerns the cooling-off period prescribed for office-bearers before they are allowed to contest for a subsequent term.
- Against the panel’s view that every office-bearer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, in the national board or in a State association, should have a three-year break after a three-year term, the court has now allowed two three-year terms — that is, a tenure of six years — before the mandatory break kicks in.
- The logic behind a cooling-off period is that office-bearers should not be given lengthy tenures that enable them to establish personal fiefdoms.
- The argument against it is that the experience and knowledge that office-bearer gains over three years should not be frittered away, and a second term could help consolidate such learnings.
- The Bench has accepted the logic behind this and chosen to defer the cooling-off period until she completes two terms.
- Given that there is a nine-year aggregate limit as well as an age limit of 70 for any office-bearer, this change may not amount to any significant dilution of the core principle that there should be no perpetuation of power centres.
- The Lodha panel had also favoured the ‘one State, one vote’ norm. This meant that an association representing a State alone should be recognised as a voting member of the BCCI, while associations representing a region within a State or entities that do not represent a territory should not have the same vote or status.
- This norm has been overruled. Gujarat and Maharashtra will have three votes each, as the associations of Baroda and Saurashtra in Gujarat, and Mumbai and Vidarbha in Maharashtra will have separate votes.
- In this, too, the court has accepted the reasoning that associations that had contributed significantly to Indian cricket need not be stripped of their full membership.
- It is now up to the administrators of the future to dispel Justice Lodha’s apprehensions that this may lead to manipulation of votes.
- Whether the changes adopted by the court while finalising a new constitution for the BCCI differ in significant ways from what was proposed by the Lodha committee will be a matter of debate.
- However, judicial intervention has been immensely helpful in making cricket administration more efficient and professional, and addressing the credibility deficit of recent times.
Nothing here for today!!!
G. Prelims Fact
Nothing here for today!!!
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Consider the following statements?
- National Disaster Response Fund is a fund managed by the Central Government.
- NDRF is constituted to supplement the funds of the State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) of the states to facilitate immediate relief in case of calamities of a severe nature.
Choose the correct option:
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- None of the above
Question 2. Consider the following statements:
- The National Disaster Response Force is a unit created by the government .
- The NDRF works under the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
Which of the above statement/s is/are correct?
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Question 3. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is an authority, established by:
- Constitution of India
Question 4. Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a statutory authority established in January 2009 by the government of India, under the jurisdiction of :
- Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
- Ministry of Social Justice and Welfare
- Ministry of Telecom
- None of the above
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
- Begging is the oldest profession in India. Criminalizing begging will not help in removing this from our society. Critically analyze.
- Judicial intervention has been immensely helpful in making cricket administration more efficient and professional, and addressing the credibility deficit.Comment with respect to Lodha committee recommendations.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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