# 25 Dec 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. The Information Technology [Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules] 2018
EDUCATION
1. App for Odia-medium school students
C. GS3 Related
INDIAN ECONOMY
1. State startup Ranking Report, 2018
ENVIRONMENT
1. Rat-Hole Mining
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Addressing issues of vacancy in Lower Judiciary
2. The case against surveillance (Right to Privacy Vs. Surveillance)
3. Implementing NOTA in the right spirit
F. Tidbits
1. Nawaz Sharif gets jail for 7 years in corruption case
G. Prelims Fact
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions


A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

1. ‘The Information Technology [Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules] 2018’

Context

• The Government is introducing changes in the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines [Amendment] Rules), 2018, where social media platforms will soon have to end the complete encryption system and remove any ‘unlawful content’ for the sake of the country’s security.
• The government has sought public comments on the proposed amendments in the draft

Details

• The Government seeks to make it mandatory for platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter to trace “originator” of “unlawful” information, while also removing such content within 24 hours after being notified.
• The proposed amendments to rules under Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act make it mandatory for online platforms to “proactively” deploy technology, which would enable searching of content seen as “unlawful”.
• They also require end-to-end encryption to be broken so that the origin of messages can be traced.
• The intermediary will be any platform that has more than “50 lakh users in India or is in the list of intermediary specified notified by the government”.
• The decision was taken due to increase in the number of lynching incidents in 2018 mostly owing to fake news being circulated through WhatsApp and other social media sites.
• The content needs to be removed if Government notifies the online platforms for the following domains like “interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence, on its computer resource without vitiating the evidence in any manner”
• The intermediary is also expected to preserve such information and associated records for at least 180 days for investigation purposes as against 90 days now.
• The Centre’s draft SOP include setting up of proactive monitoring tools for auto deletion of unlawful content by deploying AI-based tools, deployment of trusted flaggers for identifying and deletion, setting up of a 24/7 mechanism for requisitions of law enforcement agencies, appointment of India-based contact officers, (with name, designation, email, mobile number), and prompt disposal of requisitions of law enforcement agencies to remove unlawful content.

1. App for Odia-medium school students

Context

• The Ganjam district administration is developing a free mobile app to help students of Odia medium schools enhance their knowledge via tutorials in their first language.

Details

• Recording of videos of best teachers of the district explain important chapters in Odia has already started.
• These videos will be uploaded to ‘YouTube’ and their links will be provided on the app.
• Besides the videos, the app will also provide detailed study materials and interactive practice tests.

Significance

• This will help the Odia medium school students on par with those studying in English medium private schools
• The school education app is also expected to help teachers share their best teaching practices.
• Using it, parents will also able to understand and keep track of what is being taught to their children in schools

C. GS3 Related

1. State startup Ranking Report, 2018

Context

• The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has announced results of the first ever States’ Start-up Ranking 2018

Details

• The key objective of the exercise was to encourage States and Union Territories to take proactive steps towards strengthening the Start-up ecosystems in their states.
• The methodology has been aimed at creating a healthy competition among States to further learn, share and adopt good practices.
• The entire exercise was conducted for capacity development and to further the spirit of cooperative federalism
• States have been identified as leaders across various categories such as Start-up policy leaders, incubation hubs, seeding innovation, scaling innovation, regulatory change champions, procurement leaders, communication champions, North-Eastern leader, and hill state leader.

On the basis of performance, the States have been recognised as the Best Performer, Top Performers, Leaders, Aspiring Leaders, Emerging States and Beginners, as follows:

1. Rat-Hole Mining

Context

• The collapse of a coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills, trapping at least 15 workers and killing few has thrown the spotlight on a procedure known as “rat-hole mining”.

What is it?

• Rat-hole mining involves digging pits ranging from 5 to 100 metres deep vertically into the ground, mostly on a hill side, like a narrow well, to reach the coal seam. These pits are so narrow that only one miner can enter at a time. A small room-sized area is dug out at the bottom. From this area, miners dig tunnels sideways to reach the coal seam and extract it.
• The coal from the tunnel or pit is taken out and dumped on nearby un-mined area from where it is carried to the larger dumping places near highways for its trade and transportation.
• These rat-hole mines are spread throughout Meghalaya, but are mostly concentrated in the Jaintia Hills, the South Garo Hills around the towns of Baghamara and Nangalbibra, and the area around Nongjri and Shallang in the West Khasi Hills.

Rat-hole mining is broadly of two types

• In side-cutting procedure, narrow tunnels are dug on the hill slopes and workers go inside until they find the coal seam. The coal seam in hills of Meghalaya is very thin, less than 2 m in most cases
• In the other type of rat-hole mining, called box-cutting, a rectangular opening is made, varying from 10 to 100 sq m, and through that is dug a vertical pit, 100 to 400 feet deep. Once the coal seam is found, rat-hole-sized tunnels are dug horizontally through which workers can extract the coal.

When was it banned, and why?

• The National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned it in 2014, and retained the ban in 2015, on grounds of it being unscientific and unsafe for workers.
• The state government has appealed the order in the Supreme Court.

Concerns

• Rat-hole mining in Meghalaya had caused the water in the Kopili river (it flows through Meghalaya and Assam) to turn acidic.
• The water is severely affected by acid mine drainage originating from mines and spoils, leaching of heavy metals, organic enrichment and silting by coal and sand particles.
• The water also has high concentration of sulphates, iron and toxic heavy metals, low dissolved oxygen (DO) and high BOD, showing its degraded quality
• Entire roadsides in and around mining areas are used for piling of coal which is a major source of air, water and soil pollution.
• Off road movement of trucks and other vehicles in the area causes further damage to the ecology of the area
• It is also informed that there are umpteen number of cases where by virtue of rat-hole mining, during the rainy season, water flooded into the mining areas resulting in death of many… individuals including employees/workers

Violation of Laws

• The state government has been mum about the fact that mine workers work in the most inhumane conditions.
• The NGT found that mine owners don’t implement the rules of safe mineral exploration in rat-hole mining, despite the increase in the number of reported deaths of labourers.
• Also, non-implementation of the mineral policy and relevant labour laws has enabled mine owners to completely ignore miners’ safety, all to make a quick buck.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

1. Addressing issues of vacancy in Lower Judiciary

Context

• The NITI Aayog in its report ‘Strategy for New [email protected]’, mooted the creation of an All India Judicial Service (AIJS) for making appointments to the lower judiciary through an all India judicial services examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in order to maintain “high standards” in the judiciary.

Why the idea of central recruitment by UPSC is faulty?

• The argument that the creation of the AIJS and a centralized recruitment process will help the lower judicial services is based on the assumption that the current federal structure, that vests the recruitment and appointment for the lower judiciary in the hands of State Governors, High Courts and State Public Service Commissions, is broken and inefficient.
• There are states which are working efficiently in recruitment process, while there are other states which lack the effectiveness it is here that the Govts needs to work on.
• In Maharashtra, of the 2,280 sanctioned posts, only 64 were vacant. In West Bengal, of the 1,013 sanctioned posts, only 80 were vacant. This means they are acceptable numbers.
• However, there are States such as Uttar Pradesh where the situation is shocking. Of the 3,204 sanctioned posts, 1,348 are vacant, i.e. 42% vacancies.
• These numbers show that the problem of vacancies is not uniform across different States. The solution is to pressure poorly performing States into performing more efficiently.
• Further, the argument that the centralisation of recruitment processes through the UPSC automatically leads to a more efficient recruitment process is flawed and not a guarantee of a solution.
• For example, the Indian Administrative Service — its recruitments are through the UPSC — reportedly has a vacancy rate of 22%,
• The Indian Army’s officer cadre, also under a centralised recruitment mechanism, is short of nearly 7,298 officers.

Examples from the states

• Several States currently provide for reservations in their lower judicial service.
• For example, at least 12 States, which include Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Kerala, provide for caste-based reservation in the direct recruitment examination for district judges from the bar.
• In addition, U.P., Karnataka, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh provide women with special reservations.
• Karnataka also recognizes two additional categories of reservation within caste-based reservation — for those from a rural background and those from Kannada medium backgrounds.
• Karnataka is an example of how States are best suited to assess the level of intersectional disadvantage of various communities residing in the State

AIJS leads to more representation from marginalized communities and women is flawed

AIJS it is said promotes provisions of reservations for the marginalized communities and women, will lead to a better represented lower judiciary but the facts say otherwise

• Unlike States, the Centre almost never provides reservation for women in the all India services.
• On the issue of caste, an AIJS may provide for SC/ST reservation along with reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) but it should be noted that a recent Supreme Court ruling has held that SC/STs can avail the benefit of reservation in State government jobs only in their home States and not when they have migrated. The same principle is usually followed even for OBC reservations.
• Thus, instituting an AIJS would mean that nationally dominant SC, ST and OBC groups would be at an advantage as they can compete for posts across the country, which they would otherwise be disqualified from because of the domicile requirement. Thus an AIJS will have consequences for State-level politics.

Constitutionality

• As originally enacted, Articles 233 and 234 of the Constitution vested all powers of recruitment and appointment with the State Public Service Commission and High Courts.
• During the Emergency, Parliament amended Article 312 of the Constitution to allow for the Rajya Sabha to pass a resolution, by two-thirds majority, in order to kick-start the process of creating an all India judicial service for the posts of district judge.
• Once the resolution is passed, Parliament can amend Articles 233 and 234 through a simple law (passed by a simple majority), which law will strip States of their appointment powers.
• This is unlike a constitutional amendment under Article 368 that would have required ratification by State legislatures. In other words, if Parliament decides to go ahead with the creation of the AIJS, State legislatures can do nothing to stop the process.

Conclusion

• Any move to structure this mechanism in the future will have to weigh the outcome on the basis of evidences, take due consent of state and involve multiple suggestions from the judicial luminaries as well as weaker sections.
• Balance of recruitment should be balanced by accommodating of weaker sections. If the AIJS can balance both then the move can be initiated or the idea of status quo should not be disturbed.

2. The case against surveillance (Right to Privacy Vs. Surveillance)

What’s in the news?

• Recently, a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notification authorising 10 Central agencies to intercept, monitor, and decrypt online communications and data had generated a reaction both Parliament and the wider civil society.
• The notification was described as an incremental step towards a surveillance state.
• Following the notification, the government’s defence was equally swift.

What was the Government’s reaction?: The Government protested that the notification created no new powers of surveillance. That the notification was only issued under the 2009 Information Technology Rules, sanctioned by the previous United Progressive Alliance government. The 10 agencies had not been given a blank check; rather, specific surveillance requests, the government contended, still had to be authorised by the MHA in accordance with law.

Editorial Analysis:

• Experts point out that the MHA notification lays bare the lopsided character of the surveillance framework in India, and highlights an urgent need for comprehensive reform.

A Look at the Present Problem:

• Experts point out that the existing surveillance framework is complex and confusing.
• To explain this simply, there are two statutes which control the field:
1. Telephone surveillance is sanctioned under the 1885 Telegraph Act (and its rules), while,
2. Electronic surveillance is authorised under the 2000 Information Technology Act (and its rules).

It is important to note that the procedural structure in both cases is broadly similar, and flows from a 1997 Supreme Court judgment. This 1997 Supreme Court judgement observes that surveillance requests have to be signed off by an official who is at least at the level of a Joint Secretary.

• There are three features about the current regime. They are as under mentioned:
1. Firstly, it is bureaucratised. Decisions about surveillance are taken by the executive branch (including the review process), with no parliamentary or judicial supervision; indeed, the fact that an individual will almost never know that she is being surveilled means that finding out about surveillance, and then challenging it before a court, is a near-impossibility.
2. Secondly, the surveillance regime is vague and ambiguous. For example, under Section 69 of the IT Act, the grounds of surveillance have been simply lifted from Article 19(2) of the Constitution, and pasted into the law. They include very wide phrases such as “friendly relations with foreign States” or “sovereignty and integrity of India”.
3. Thirdly, and flowing from the first two features, some experts point out that the regime is opaque. There is almost no information available about the bases on which surveillance decisions are taken, and how the legal standards are applied. As a matter of fact, a 2014 RTI request revealed that, on an average, 250 surveillance requests are approved every day. Thus, experts point out that it stands to reason that in a situation like this, approval resembles a rubber stamp more than an independent application of mind.

The Trade-off between Right to Privacy and Surveillance:

• It is important to note that the right to privacy is not absolute.
• Some experts point out that surveillance is essential to ensure national security and pre-empt terrorist threats, and it is in the very nature of surveillance that it must take place outside the public eye. Consequently, the step taken by the Government is justified as it strikes a pragmatic balance between the competing values of privacy and security.

• It is important to take the perspective of the fact that Right to Privacy is not absolute. As a matter of fact, even the staunchest civil rights advocates will not deny that an individual reasonably suspected of planning a terrorist attack should be placed under surveillance. Thus, the debate, therefore, is not about ‘whether surveillance at all’, but about ‘how, when, and what kind of surveillance’.

A Closer Look at Surveillance:

Experts point out that a heavily bureaucratised and minimally accountable regime of surveillance does nothing to enhance security, but does have significant privacy costs.

• For example, while examining the U.S. National Security Agency’s programme of mass surveillance, an American court found that out of more than 50 instances where terrorist attacks had been prevented, not even a single successful pre-emption was based on material collected from the NSA’s surveillance regime.
• It is also important to note that such a system often has counterproductive effects: a government that is not checked in any meaningful way will tend to go overboard with surveillance and, in the process, gather so much material that actually vital information can get lost in the noise.
• Thus, experts point out that in the ‘privacy-security trade-off’, it is exceedingly important to assess the balance on the basis of constitutional principles and fundamental rights, rather than blindly accepting the government’s rhetoric of national security.

The legal perspective:
• After the Supreme Court’s 2017 judgment in K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (‘the right to privacy case’), experts point out  that the constitutional contours within which the questions of ‘how, when, and what kind’ have to be answered have been made clear, and that any impingement upon the right to privacy must be proportionate.
• As a matter of fact, one of the factors of the proportionality standard is that the government’s action must be the least restrictive method by which a state goal is to be realised. In other words, if the same goal — i.e., protecting national security — can be achieved by a smaller infringement upon fundamental rights, then the government is constitutionally bound to adopt the method that does, indeed, involve minimal infringement.
• Under these parameters, there is little doubt that on the three counts described above a) its bureaucratic character, b) its vagueness, and c) its opacity, that the existing surveillance framework is unconstitutional, and must be reconsidered.
• To start with, experts point out that it is crucial to acknowledge that every act of surveillance, whether justified or not, involves a serious violation of individual privacy; and further, a system of government surveillance has a chilling effect upon the exercise of rights, across the board, in society.
• As a consequence, given the seriousness of the issue, a surveillance regime cannot have the executive sitting in judgment over the executive: there must be parliamentary oversight over the agencies that conduct surveillance.
• They cannot simply be authorised to do so through executive notifications. There are a few noteworthy perspectives:
• All surveillance requests must necessarily go before a judicial authority, which can apply an independent legal mind to the merits of the request, in light of the proportionality standards discussed above.
• Secondly, experts point out that judicial review will not achieve much if the grounds of surveillance remain as broad and vaguely worded as they presently are. Therefore, every surveillance request must mandatorily specify a probable cause for suspicion, and also set out, in reasonably concrete terms, what it is that the proposed target of surveillance is suspected of doing. As a corollary, evidence obtained through unconstitutional surveillance must be statutorily stipulated to be inadmissible in court.
• Lastly, this too will be insufficient if surveillance requests are unopposed — it will be very difficult for a judge to deny a request that is made behind closed doors, and with only one side presenting a case. There must exist, consequently, a lawyer to present the case on behalf of the target of surveillance — even though, of course, the target herself cannot know of the proceedings.

Concluding Remarks:

– Experts point out that to implement the suggestions above, what is required is a comprehensive reform of the surveillance framework in India.
• Such a reform is long overdue. However, this is also the right time: across the world, there is an increasingly urgent debate about how to protect basic rights against encroachment by an aggressive and intrusive state, which wields the rhetoric of national security like a sword.
• In India, for example, we have the Supreme Court’s privacy judgment, which has taken a firm stand on the side of rights.
• Citizens’ initiatives such as the Indian Privacy Code have also proposed legislative models for surveillance reform. We now need the parliamentary will to take this forward.

3. Implementing NOTA in the right spirit

Note to Students:

In the following sections, we take a look at ‘NOTA’ which is an important topic coming under the chapter, ‘Elections’ in the GS Paper 2 (Polity) syllabus. Specifically, taking into account recent articles that have featured in the Hindu, we will examine the relevance of NOTA in the electoral process, by citing various viewpoints, and looking at a few recently concluded state assembly elections in the country. We will also look at the observations made by the Supreme Court and a few State Election Commissions in the past on the matter.

Larger Background:

• The main objective of the ‘NOTA’ option is to enable electors who do not wish to vote for any of the candidates to exercise their right not to vote for any candidate without violation of the secrecy of their decision.
• The symbol for ‘None of the Above (NOTA)’ option has been designed by National Institute of Design (NID) Ahmedabad.

The NOTA symbol

A Closer Perspective:

• Experts have opined that ever since voters have been provided the ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option if they do not want to vote for any of the candidates in the fray, political parties now cite many voters having chosen NOTA as a reason for losing an election.
• This may be true in very close contest, when voters are in small numbers and the margin of victory and defeat is rather small. However, overall, there has hardly been any election in India where NOTA has been instrumental in altering an electoral verdict.

A Look at the numbers:

• It is important to note that in the recent round of elections to five State Assemblies (Telangana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Chhattisgarh), where the margin of votes between the main contenders, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was narrow —for example only 0.1% in Madhya Pradesh and about 0.5% in Rajasthan — the BJP cited NOTA voting as among the main reason for its defeat. However, had the Congress been in the BJP’s position, it too would have blamed NOTA. Thus NOTA is a convenient political scapegoat.

• Even voters have started to believe that NOTA has become a very important factor in Indian elections.

• As a matter of fact, in the recent State Assembly elections, the results indicate a decline in NOTA votes in four States, Telangana being the only exception. The decline was from 1.9% to 1.4% in Madhya Pradesh; 1.9% to 1.3% in Rajasthan; 3.0% to 1.9% in Chhattisgarh; and 0.6% to 0.4% in Mizoram. In Telangana, there was a marginal increase from 0.7% to 1.0%. The data show no bigger attraction for NOTA in these five States in the last five years. It is the same in States other than these five which have gone to the polls in recent years.
• In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, only 1.08% voters opted for NOTA nationally. Further, there was hardly any significant NOTA vote except in Puducherry where 3% voters opted for it and 2.8% in Meghalaya. In a number of States, the NOTA votes were in the range of 1-1.5% of the total votes polled. When the average size of a Lok Sabha constituency is about 27 lakh voters, it is difficult to imagine that a small percentage of votes could alter electoral outcomes in a large number of constituencies.

• It is widely believed, and true to some extent, that NOTA could be a useful tool (such as in a local body election) if constituencies are smaller in size, with fewer voters.

• But this is still not seen as a viable option among voters even in a State Assembly election. The preference for NOTA in Assembly constituencies reflects the trend of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

NOTA and Electoral Outcomes:

• It is important to note that an average Assembly constituency in a State in the Hindi heartland has about 4-5 lakh voters; a small number of voters opting for NOTA will hardly affect the overall electoral outcome.

• It is important to note that there may be instances of a significant number of constituencies where NOTA votes may be higher than the margin of victory, but, normally, such seats are also divided between various political parties in proportion to their share of victories.
• As a matter of fact, there was such a situation in these Assembly elections.
• For example, in Madhya Pradesh, there were at least 23 Assembly constituencies where NOTA votes were more than the margin of victory. Of these, 10 were won by the BJP while 12 went to the Congress. The Burhanpur Assembly seat was won by an independent. In Rajasthan, in the close contest between the Congress and the BJP in 16 Assembly seats, NOTA votes were higher than the victory margin, but these seats were evenly distributed between both parties. Of these 16 Assembly seats, eight went to the BJP and seven to the Congress. An independent candidate won the Marwar Junction seat by 251 votes. In Chhattisgarh, there were eight such Assembly seats, with three going to the BJP, two to the Congress and three to the Janta Congress Chhattisgarh.

A Look at the numbers from the Previous election:

• It is important to factor in the 2013 Assembly elections in Rajasthan as well. Here, even when the BJP led the Congress by 12% votes there were 11 Assembly seats where NOTA votes were more than the victory margin (six went to the BJP, three to the Congress and two by National People’s Party). It was not different in Madhya Pradesh in the same year when the BJP led the Congress by 8% votes .
• Of the 26 Assembly seats where NOTA votes were higher than the victory margin, 14 went to the BJP, 10 to the Congress, one to the Bahujan Samaj Party while the Sehore seat was won by an independent. Even in Chhattisgarh, that year, of the 15 Assembly seats where NOTA votes were more than the victory margin, eight went to the BJP and seven to the Congress.
• Thus an important question arises: Can we say that NOTA is more important in these elections compared to the past?

Editorial Analysis:

• It is important to note that in People’s Union For Civil Liberties v. Union Of India (September 27, 2013), the Supreme Court had ruled that a None of the Above (NOTA) option “may be provided in EVMs” so that voters are able to exercise their “right not to vote while maintaining their right of secrecy”.
• Further, on October 29, 2013, the Election Commission of India (ECI) said that if a situation arose where the number of NOTA votes exceeded the number of votes polled by any of the candidates, the candidate with the highest number of votes would be declared winner. This, it said, was in accordance with Rule 64 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961.
• Experts opine that this provision made the NOTA option almost redundant.
• While it ensured confidentiality for a voter who did not want to choose any of the candidates and yet wished to exercise her franchise, the provision clarified that a NOTA vote would not have any impact on the election result, which is what interests candidates, political parties, and voters.
• Soon after this, candidates began campaigning against NOTA, telling voters that choosing the option meant wasting a vote.

Encapsulating the spirit of the judgment:

• “For democracy to survive, it is essential that the best available men should be chosen as people’s representatives… This can be best achieved through men of high moral and ethical values, who win the elections on a positive vote. Thus, in a vibrant democracy, the voter must be given an opportunity to choose NOTA…, which will… compel the political parties to nominate a sound candidate”
• “Democracy is all about choice. This choice can be better expressed by giving the voters an opportunity to verbalize themselves unreservedly and by imposing least restrictions on their ability to make such a choice. By providing NOTA button in the EVMs, it will accelerate the effective political participation in the present state of democratic system and the voters… will be empowered. We are of the… view that in bringing out this right to cast negative vote at a time when electioneering is in full swing, it will foster the purity of the electoral process and also fulfil one of its objectives, namely, wide participation of people”
• “When the political parties will realize that a large number of people are expressing their disapproval with the candidates… there will be a systemic change and the political parties will be forced to accept the will of the people and field candidates who are known for their integrity.”

Two reasoned orders

The State Election Commission (SEC) of Maharashtra was the first to understand the spirit of the judgment. It issued a reasoned order saying,

“If it is noticed while counting, that NOTA has received highest number of valid votes, then the said election for that particular seat shall be countermanded and fresh elections shall be held for such post.”

Experts have pointed out that this was commendable, but it stopped short of giving NOTA the teeth that the court wanted. It meant that the same candidates could contest the new election, which meant that the result could be the same as earlier.

– However, it was not long before the final correction came forth. The SEC of Haryana, stated that if “all the contesting candidates individually receive lesser votes than… NOTA,” then not only would “none of the contesting candidates be declared as elected,” but “all such contesting candidates who secured less votes than NOTA shall not be eligible to re-file the nomination/contest the re-election.”

– It is important to note that the two SECs are within the ambit of the Constitution and various Supreme Court judgments to issue these orders for various reasons: they have powers identical to the ECI for elections that take place in their jurisdictions; they have plenary powers to issue directions in areas related to the conduct of elections where there is no specific legislation, till such time as Parliament or the State Assembly enacts such legislation; and there is no specific legislation pertaining to NOTA.

Concluding Remarks:

• Experts have opined that with two SECs showing the way, the remaining SECs and the ECI should follow suit so that political parties are compelled to nominate sound candidates, and are forced to accept the will of the people, as desired by the highest court in the land.

F. Tidbits

1. Nawaz Sharif gets jail for 7 years in corruption case

G. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements about Tax Terrorism

1. It is the practice adopted by the Government to impose large unjustified taxes.
2. Retrospective taxation is also considered as Tax terrorism.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

1. Only 1
2. Only 2
3. Both 1 and 2
4. None of the above

See

Question 2. Read the following statements carefully and choose the incorrect answers by using the
codes given below:

1. Sampoorna Bima Gram (SBG) Yojana provides affordable life insurance services to people, particularly those living in rural areas of the country
2. Ministry of Rural development launched the scheme
3. The benefits of Postal life Insurance will be confined to government and semi-government employees only

Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?

1. Only 1 and 2
2. Only 2 and 3
3. Only 1 and 3
4. All of the above

See

Question 3. With reference to ‘Aquila’, in the news, which of the following statement is/are correct?
1. It is an initiative of Google launched in collaboration with Tata Trusts to educate women in rural India on the benefits of using the Internet.
2. Rather than use under-ground fibre optic cables or construct cell towers to connect users, it will use balloons that float in the stratosphere.

See