TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related JUDICIARY 1. Kerala HC to get 5 new judges SOCIAL JUSTICE 1. Over 900 prisoners get freedom C. GS3 Related ENVIRONMENT 1. Remove encroachments from waterbodies: HC DISASTER MANAGEMENT 1. Nine killed as Titli batters AP, Odisha HEALTH 1. 99 died of swine flu in Maharashtra this year D. GS4 Related E. Editorials SOCIAL JUSTICE: SEXUAL HARASSMENT 1. “#UsToo” and “Not without her consent” JUDICIARY 1. Has the SC missed a chance to keep criminals out of polls? F. Tidbits G. Prelims Fact 1. 1 in 5 Indian children ‘wasted’, says GHI H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
- The Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Thursday recommended three Kerala High Court lawyers and two judicial officers for appointment as judges of the Kerala High Court.
- The two judicial officers are N Anil Kumar, Registrar General, High Court; and T.V. Anilkumar, Director, Kerala Judicial Academy. The lawyers are V.G. Arun, N. Nagaresh and P.V. Kunhikrishnan.
- The High Court Collegium had submitted a proposal for the appointment of seven lawyers as judges of the High Court.
- The Supreme Court collegium interacted with all the recommended persons and found that three out of the seven are suitable for being appointed as judge of the High Court.
Related Concept – Appointment of Judges
- The Constituent Assembly adopted a consultative process of appointing judges to ensure that judges remain insulated from political influence.
- It avoided legislative interference and also the undemocratic provision of a veto to the Chief Justice.
- Instead, it vested in the President the power to both make appointments and transfer judges between high courts.
- The President (to act on the advice of the council of ministers) was however required to consult certain authorities such as the CJI or chief justice of the high court appropriately.
- ‘Consultation’ – The Supreme Court earlier ruled that the word “consultation” could not be interpreted to mean “concurrence”.
- Accordingly, the CJI’s opinion was not binding on the executive.
- Nevertheless, the executive could depart from the opinion only in exceptional circumstances and any such decision could be subject to judicial review.
- The system was thus fairly balanced and in the First Judges Case, 1981 the court once again endorsed this interpretation.
- Second Judges Case – In the famous Second Judges Case, 1993 the court, however, overruled its earlier decisions.
- It now held that “consultation” meant “concurrence”, and that the CJI’s view enjoys primacy.
- This is with the rationale that CJI could be best equipped to know and assess the “worth” of candidates.
- But, the CJI was to formulate the opinion only through a body of senior judges that the court described as the ‘collegium’.
- In the Third Judges Case, 1998 the court clarified that the collegium would comprise CJI and four senior-most colleagues, in appointments to the Supreme Court.
- And, the CJI and two senior-most colleagues in the case of appointments to the high courts.
- Additionally, for HCs, the collegium would consult other senior judges in the SC who had previously served in the HC concerned.
- On whether these views of the consultee-judges are binding on the collegium or not, the judgments are silent.
- NJAC – The government, through 99th constitutional amendment, sought to replace the collegium with the National Judicial Appointments Commission. The Supreme Court, however, struck NJAC down.
- The court’s rationale was that the NJAC law gave politicians an equal say in judicial appointments to constitutional courts.
- In what might now be called the Fourth Judges Case (2015), the court upheld the primacy of the collegium.
- More importantly, it declared collegium as part of the Constitution’s basic structure.
- And so its power could not be removed even through a constitutional amendment.
- But given the criticisms against the system, the judgment promised to consider appropriate measures to improve the collegium system.
- More than 900 prisoners were released from prisons across India under an amnesty scheme announced as part of the year-long celebrations to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi beginning October 2, the Home Ministry said on Thursday.
- The following categories of prisoners are eligible for special remission: women convicts of 55 years of age and above, who have completed half of their actual sentence period, transgender convicts aged 55 and above, who have served half of their actual sentence period, and male convicts aged 60 and above, who have completed 50% of their actual sentence period.
- Physically challenged or disabled convicts with 70% disability and more who have completed 50% of their actual sentence period, terminally-ill convicts, convicted prisoners who have completed two-third (66%) of their actual sentence period are also eligible under the scheme.
- Special remission scheme is not available to prisoners who have been convicted for an offence for which the sentence awarded is death or where death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment, and in cases of convicts involved in serious and heinous crimes.
C. GS3 Related
- The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday observed that unless encroachments were removed from waterbodies the State would not be able to save them.
- A Division Bench of Justices T. Raja and Krishnan Ramasamy observed that waterbodies had to be saved for future generations. The court told the Collectors of Madurai, Dindigul, Sivaganga, Theni and Ramanathapuram, who were present on being summoned, that their presence was sought to seek their assistance to address the issue.
- The High Court, which was hearing a slew of petitions seeking removal of encroachments from waterbodies in Madurai, also took cognizance of the similar situation in the other four districts. It observed that measures had to be initiated on a war footing to restore the waterbodies.
Related Concept – Sustainable Development
- Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Thus, it takes into account both the present and future generations without over-exploitation of natural resources and environmental degradation.
Features of Sustainable Development:
- Sustained Rise in Real per Capita Income
- There should be a sustained rise in real per capita income and economic welfare on long-term basis.
- Rational Use of Natural Resources
- Sustainable development simply means that natural resources should be rationally used in a manner such that they are not overexploited.
- Preserving the natural resources for future generations
- Sustainable development aims at making use of natural resources and environment for raising the existing standard of living in such a way as not to reduce ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.
Sustainable Development Goals
- The documentary screened at the Rio+20 conference – “Future We Want” presented the idea of post 2015 development agenda.
- Sustainable development Goals (SDGs) is an intergovernmental agreement formulated to act as post 2015 Development agenda, its predecessor being Millennium Development Goals.
- It is a group of 17 goals with 169 targets and 304 indicators, as proposed by the United Nation General Assembly’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030. Post negotiations, agenda titled “Transforming Our World: the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development” was adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit. SDGs is the outcome of Rio+20 conference (2012) held in Rio De Janerio and is a non-binding document.
17 Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG 1: No Poverty
- SDG 2: Zero Hunger
- SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
- SDG 4: Quality Education
- SDG 5: Gender Equality
- SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
- SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy
- SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
- SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
- SDG 10: Reduced inequalities
- SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities
- SDG 12: Responsible production and Consumption
- SDG 13: Climate actions
- SDG 14: Conserve life below water
- SDG 15: Protect the life on land
- SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
- SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals
‘Save Ganga’ crusader Agarwal dead
- G.D. Agarwal, 86, who was on a fast to save the Ganga, died following a heart attack on Thursday
- Formerly a professor in the civil engineering department at IIT-Kanpur who had adopted the name Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, the environmentalist was vocal on disallowing hydroelectric projects in Uttarakhand along the Ganga.
- In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June, he declared his intention to go on a fast as several of his demands had not been met.
- Agarwal’s key demands included a special law to deal with pollution and encroachment on the Ganga, and maintaining the environmental flow of the river to prevent pollution.
- He was subsisting on a diet of honey, lemon and water and, according to a senior official in the Water Ministry who was abreast of his activities, had given up water in the last week.
Related Concept –Namami Gange Project
- Ministry/ Department: Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation
- Objective: Started in 2015 aims to clean and protect the Ganga river in a comprehensive manner
- Central government project (100% centrally funded)
- It is also known as Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission project
- It will cover 8 states & 12 rivers.
- Ministries of Environment, Urban Development, Shipping, Tourism, Drinking Water and Sanitation & Rural Development are coordinating with Water Resource ministry in it.
- Local people’s participation is envisaged in it.
- Main components: Expanding waste/sewage treatment; River Front Development; River surface cleaning; Bio-diversity; Afforestation; Public awareness; Industrial affluent monitoring; Ganga Gram; Emphasises sustainable agriculture; Application of bio-remediation method /in-situ treatment to treat waste water in drains; Setting up Ganga Eco-Task Force.
Interventions taken under Namami Ganga includes,
- Sustainable Municipal Sewage management (Coordination with Ministry of Urban Development).
- Managing Sewage from Rural Areas.
- Managing Industrial discharge and pollution abatement.
- Enforcing River Regulatory Zones on Ganga Banks, Restoration and conservation of wetlands, efficient irrigation methods.
- Ensuring ecological rejuvenation by conservation of aquatic life and biodiversity.
- Promotion of Tourism and Shipping in a rational and sustainable manner.
- Knowledge Management on Ganga through Ganga Knowledge Centre.
- The cyclonic storm ‘Titli’ that turned into “a very severe cylconic storm” before its landfall early on Thursday morning triggered intense rain and gales in parts of Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts of Andhra Pradesh.
- In Odisha’s Ganjam district, six persons are missing after a house was washed away in flash floods.
- Around 100 houses collapsed in Bhamini, Jalumuru, Kothuru, Narasannapeta, Palakonda, Polaki and other areas. Power supply to 4319 villages was affected.
Cyclones in India
- Cyclones are caused by atmospheric disturbances around a low-pressure area distinguished by swift and often destructive air circulation.
- Approximately 5700 km out of around 7516 kms of India’s coastline, its flat coastal terrain and high population density are extremely vulnerable to cyclones
- Recurrent cyclones account for a large number of deaths, loss of livelihood opportunities, loss of public and private property, and severe damage to infrastructure.
- Cyclones are associated with Strong Winds, Torrential rains and inland flooding and Storm Surge.
- Indian coasts are highly vulnerable to tropical cyclones and the consequent recurrent loss of life and property.
- Such weather events are a part of the climate system, and their impact in the form of economic losses could well be greater going forward, as development creates more assets in coastal cities.
Cyclone Disaster Management
- Prepare communities to deal with disasters in a manner that people’s lives and properties are protected, and to ultimately become resilient.
- Public awareness generation will serve to empower people with knowledge about the role and responsibilities of the state.
- Targeting schools, colleges and all educational institutions is a very important part of awareness.
- It has to be sustained through constant updating, upgrading and mock drills.
- Awareness will also help in induction of the constantly evolving knowledge of science and technology as well as research and development applications.
- To overcome the power cut it is important to have rooftop solar and battery storage systems as supplementary power sources for households and corporates.
- Planting trees with strong root systems and pruning the canopy ahead of cyclone season could reduce uprooting.
- The government should restore infrastructure and provide priority relief to the families of those who lost their lives, and the worst-hit communities.
- Efficient use of technology and implementation of the Sendai framework is the need to the hour.
- Collaboration with other countries in the region to strengthen the cooperation and efforts and to make a common fund for disaster management.
- Construction of multipurpose cyclone shelters, access roads, saline embankments and underground.
- By taking long and short term mitigation measures, the loss of life and property can be minimized.
- Swine flu has killed 199 people in the State between January and October. More than 16,000 patients with H1N1 like symptoms have been undergoing treatment in various hospitals. Health Minister Deepak Sawant said.
- Swine influenza, also called pig influenza, swine flu, hog flu and pig flu, is an infection caused by any one of several types of swine influenza viruses. Swine influenza virus (SIV) or swine-origin influenza virus (S-OIV) is any strain of the influenza family of viruses that is endemic in pigs.
- Influenza A (H1N1) virus is the subtype of influenza A virus that is the most common cause of human influenza.
- It is an orthomyxovirus that contains the glycoproteins haemagglutinin and neuraminidase. For this reason, they are described as H1N1, H1N2 etc. depending on the type of H or N antigens they express with metabolic synergy. Haemagglutinin causes red blood cells to clump together and binds the virus to the infected cell. Neuraminidase is a type of glycoside hydrolase enzyme which helps to move the virus particles through the infected cell and assist in budding from the host cells.
- Some strains of H1N1 are endemic in humans and cause a small fraction of all influenza-like illness and a small fraction of all seasonal influenza. Other strains of H1N1 are endemic in pigs (swine influenza) and in birds (avian influenza).
Related Concept – Avian Influenza (H5N1)
- H5N1 is a type of influenza virus that causes a highly infectious, severe respiratory disease in birds called avian influenza (or “bird flu”).
- Human cases of H5N1 avian influenza occur occasionally, but it is difficult to transmit the infection from person to person.
- When people do become infected, the mortality rate is about 60%.
- Almost all cases of H5N1 infection in people have been associated with close contact with infected live or dead birds, or H5N1-contaminated environments.
- The virus does not infect humans easily, and spread from person to person appears to be unusual.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
Note to Students:
This coverage is a combination of two sections released in the Editorials of The Hindu newspaper. These articles are namely: “#UsToo” and “Not without her consent”.
This is an important topic to cover for UPSC aspirants as there has been much coverage on different channels such as social media and print media. Students must also look at this topic also from the perspective of the legislations enacted by Parliament to protect the interests of women. We shall look into the different facets of this topic taking into account a larger background as well as the editorial as featured in The Hindu.
What is Sexual Harassment?
- Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexually defined behaviour which can range from misbehaviour of an irritating nature to the most serious forms such as sexual abuse and assault, including rape.
- The Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 defines sexual harassment to include any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication) namely:
- Physical contact and advances
- A demand or request for sexual favours
- Making sexually coloured remarks
- Showing pornography
- Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
What is sexual harassment at workplace?
Sexual harassment at the workplace is any unwelcome sexually defined behaviour which has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, abusive or offensive working environment.
The Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 states that if the following circumstances occur or are present in relation to, or connected with any act or behaviour of sexual harassment, it may amount to sexual harassment at the workplace:
- Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment in her employment; or
- Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment; or
III. Implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status; or
- Interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for her; or
- Humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety.
Taking a look at some important questions:
- Can an aggrieved file a civil suit in a case of sexual harassment in the workplace?
Yes, a civil suit can be filed for damages under tort laws. The basis for filing the case would be mental anguish, physical harassment, loss of income and employment caused by the sexual harassment.
- Under what circumstances can complaints be filed?
Complaints may be filed under the following circumstances:
- Cases involving individuals from the same organization
- Cases that concern third party harassment, which implies harassment from an outsider.
- Where can I file a complaint?
o Internal Complaints Committee – if you are an aggrieved woman who has a relationship of work with that specific organization
o Local Complaints Committee – if you are an employee from an establishment where the Internal Complaints Committee has not been constituted due to having less than 10 workers. In the case that the complaint is against the employer himself/herself and the individual feels that the case may be compromised, she can also lodge the complaint in the LCC
o For instances where the LCC may not be immediately accessible, the Act instructs the District officer to designate one nodal officer in every block, taluka and tehsil in rural or tribal area and ward or municipality in the urban area, who will receive the complaint and forward it to the concerned LCC within 7 days.
o Local police station, in case provisions under the Indian Penal Code are applicable.
An Indian Context:
- India has signed and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
- In 1997 as part of the Vishaka judgment, the Supreme Court drew upon the CEDAW and laid down specific guidelines on the prevention of sexual harassment of women at the workplace.
- The Vishaka guidelines defined sexual harassment and codified preventive measures and redressal mechanisms to be undertaken by employers.
- Actor Tanushree Dutta’s had made allegations, in an interview in end-September, of harassment at the hands of actor Nana Patekar on a film set a decade ago.
- There has also been the recent development where at last count, Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar has been accused of sexual harassment by at least 10 women journalists. These accusations with respect to Nana Patekar fall in a large spectrum that range from inappropriate behaviour to acts of physical impropriety, while some date back to more than 15 years.
- In the immediate aftermath of this development, women have been speaking of their experiences and the trauma, mostly on Twitter and Facebook.
- The testimonies that have so far been expressed have mostly concerned the film world and the mainstream media, and cover both the workplace and private spaces.
- These testimonies range from stories of assault to propositioning, suggestiveness to stalking.
- Currently, in India, many questions arise. What is perhaps of even greater disquiet is that for so long an official silence was kept around what were, in many instances, open secrets.
Origins of the MeToo Movement:
- The MeToo hashtag gained currency a year ago in the U.S.
- In the U.S., women came out one after another to first corroborate allegations of sexual assault against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
- There were many allegations levelled and each further account made it clear that there was a systemic pattern of abuse and silence.
A Note on the Due Process:
- Experts believe that there has been an utter failure of due process.
- Unfortunately, victims have written formal complaints and have also tried to get their organisations to act, but they have mostly found themselves facing a system that prefers to be complicit with the perpetrators.
- A couple of cases further illustrate this:
- In the case of the former TERI chairman, R.K. Pachauri, for instance, despite the victim filing a police complaint and compelling the organisation to initiate an inquiry, he not only continued in TERI for another year but was publicly supported by the board members.
- There is another case of rape that one can sight against the former Editor of Tehelka, Tarun Tejpal. In spite of being a “fast track” case, five years on, it has only seen a series of adjournments, with no sign of justice on the horizon.
It is important to note that these events, when added to the daily news cycle of multiple rapes, stalking, and harassment from all across the country, have resulted in victims of sexual crimes entirely losing faith in the justice system.
Experts believe that the failure of due process is the success of #MeToo. After decades of witnessing the impunity of the perpetrators, #MeToo is fuelled by an impunity of sorts of the ‘victims’.
Certain areas that need clarity:
- Currently, the floodgates have been opened and various kinds of stories are getting expose. These stories range from awkward flirting to physical assault.
- One other factor that is dividing the discussion into two is the nature of consent.
- It is important to note that what needs consent is often a function of society. For example, many aspects of intersexual behaviour especially in the workplace that were acceptable 30 years ago, needless to say, are not tolerated any more.
- However, we observe that with the advent of smartphones and instant messaging, interpersonal behaviour and the definition of consent have undergone a major change in the last decade.
- Thus, stemming from this, it is imperative at this point to understand that consent is not static, but needs to be continuous and incremental.
- It is important to identify the exact transgression in the various cases that are being expressed, and to ensure that action is taken with due process.
- Further, it is important to note that no one can be deemed guilty only because he had been named and any punishment must be proportionate to the misdemeanour.
- It is also important to consider that many people, especially men, have raised concerns regarding false accusations. This remains valid, and there have been instances of this even in the last 10 days.
- No movement is perfect, and all battles have a certain amount of collateral damage.
- It is important that men be active allies in making the due process a fair and functional one in which all victims, including those of false allegations, can seek justice.
- It is imperative now that the building of a new, fair system that delivers brisk justice, critical to everyone’s interests is initiated.
- In conclusion, we should note that there has been a systemic disregard for making workplaces and common spaces free of harassment.
- What is disturbing is that a thread that binds so many allegations now coming out is that many women thought that their words and feelings would be dismissed, their careers would suffer, or their families would pull them back into the safety of home.
- It is this fear of making a complaint that needs to be overcome in all workspaces, not only the media and the film industry.
- All of society needs to internalise a new normal that protects a woman’s autonomy and her freedom from discrimination at the workplace.
Note to the Students:
- In a recent development, the Honourable Supreme Court of India left the matter of disqualification of politicians carrying criminal charges against them, to the Parliament saying that the court cannot add to the grounds of disqualification.
- This is an analysis-based article which presents different perspectives to the reader on this issue as features in The Hindu newspaper.
- UPSC aspirants would benefit from these points as they can use much of this content to present answers on the topic in case it is asked in the UPSC Mains Examination, be it as a part of the General Studies- II paper or the Essay paper. The topic that is essentially being discussed here is that of “Criminalisation of politics”.
Background to the Issue:
- Criminalisation of politics is the focus of public debate when discussion on electoral reforms takes place.
- This issue gets amplified when data highlights an increasing number of candidates with criminal cases contesting elections. Candidates who win from jail bring out the stark reality of our electoral politics.
- The Honourable Supreme Court of India and the Election Commission of India have called out for a change in our electoral laws to prevent candidates facing criminal cases from contesting elections.
- It is important to note that the issue of the quality of candidates contesting elections becomes important because it is at the root of our governance challenges.
- The individuals we elect represent us in our legislative institutions and make laws that govern our society. Dr Rajendra Prasad, President of the Constituent Assembly, reflected on this issue while moving the motion for the passing of our constitution.
He said, “If the people who are elected are capable and men of character and integrity, then they would be able to make the best of even of a defective constitution. If they are lacking in these, the constitution cannot help the country. After all, a constitution like a machine is a lifeless thing. It acquires life because of the men who control it and operate it, and India needs today nothing more than a set of honest men who will have the interest of the country before them…It requires men of strong character, men of vision, men who will not sacrifice the interests of the country at large for the sake of smaller groups and areas…We can only hope that the country will throw up such men in abundance.”
A Look at Certain Specifics:
- The Constitution of India does not specify what disqualifies an individual from contesting in an election to a legislature.
- It is the Representation of People Act which specifies what can disqualify an individual from contesting an election.
- The law does not bar individuals who have criminal cases pending against them from contesting elections.
- It is important to note that an individual punished with a jail term of more than two years cannot stand in an election for six years after the jail term has ended. If a lower court has convicted an individual, he cannot contest an election unless a higher court has overturned his conviction.
- Simply filing an appeal against the judgment of the lower court is not enough. In 2013, the apex court ruled that a sitting MP and MLA convicted of a jail term of two years or more would lose their seat in the legislature immediately. This judgment led to Lalu Prasad Yadav losing his membership to the Lok Sabha in the same year.
The points mentioned here are in agreement with the view that the SC has missed a chance to keep criminals out of polls.
It is important to note that Parliament, regardless of the party of coalition in power, has not been playing its own legitimate role.
According to Article 102(1) of the Constitution, the Parliament of India is obliged to make a law on the matter.
However, if history is any indicator, there is a slim chance, if any, that legislative action will follow the Supreme Court judgment.
A Look at Specifics:
- Although the directions given by the Honourable Supreme Court of India are welcome, but they have some practical issues.
- Let’s look at some of these practical issues: The apex court has instructed political parties to put on their respective websites information on candidates having criminal antecedents.
However, how many people are capable of accessing websites? Also, both the candidate and the political party are required to publicise the information. A critical question to ask here is: why would they actively publicise anything that goes against their interests?
- Thirdly, experts also point out that the EC is asked to publicise the candidates’ background.
- It is important to note that the EC already displays these details, given in the candidates’ affidavits, on its website. The only difference this time is that these details are to be given in bold. It is believed that any more advertising by the EC will create problems, like inviting allegations of subjectivity, bias and partiality.
- Further, Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, bans convicted politicians from contesting. However, those facing trial, no matter how serious the charges, are free to contest.
- In fact, political parties appear to be competing to field criminal candidates, as their ‘winnability’ is proven to be more.
- A look at statistics puts things into better perspective: The past three Lok Sabhas have seen an increasing number of legislators with criminal background — 128 in 2004, 162 in 2009 and 184 in 2014.
- A proposal made by the Election Commission of India to bar candidates accused of an offence punishable with at least five years of imprisonment from contesting elections, after charges are framed against them by a court, has been opposed by many parties.
- On what is this opposition based on? The opposition is based on two grounds:
- ruling politicians will misuse this against the Opposition; and
- the law of the land assumes everyone to be innocent till proven guilty or convicted.
What are the safeguards that the Election Commission of India has in this regard?
- The Election Commission of India has a few safeguards in this area and they are crystal clear.
- Firstly, all criminal cases will not invite a ban; only those concerned with heinous offences like rape, dacoity, murder and kidnapping will.
- Secondly, the case should be registered at least six months before the elections.
- Thirdly, a court must have framed the charges.
- Further, it is important to note that assertions regarding a candidate being “innocent until proven guilty” are debatable.
- After all, there are about 2.7 lakh prisoners in jails still under trial and hence innocent. Yet, they are denied fundamental rights like right to liberty, freedom of movement, freedom of occupation and right to dignity.
It is important to take note of the fact that contesting elections is not even a fundamental but a statutory right.
The recent judgement has arrived as a disappointment when seen in the context of the need for untainted parliamentarians.
It is important to note that it was ‘Judicial activism’ that saved this country many times when the executive and the legislature were not willing to do their job.
The points mentioned here are of the view that the order is in line with the principles of natural justice and separation of powers.
- The Honourable Supreme Court of India has ruled that any move to disqualify candidates charged with crimes (as opposed to those convicted) would require an amendment to the Representation of the People Act.
- Since that is the domain of the legislature, it is Parliament that should take action.
- It should be further noted that in terms of natural justice, disqualifying persons from contesting elections at the stage of framing of charges is a blatant violation of due process. Extending this further, it can easily lead to abuse, with politicians filing false cases in order to disqualify their opponents.
- It is important to note that the political class has already taken certain measures that will help clean up the system. For example, fast-track courts have recently been established to try cases involving politicians speedily.
- It must be remembered that if a citizen is convicted of a crime, finality is not arrived at until all appeals are exhausted. However, public officials are judged by a higher standard.
- The situation politicians experience:
The moment they are convicted and sentenced to more than two years in jail by a lower court, lose their seats and are debarred from contesting for some period. This higher standard prevails despite the possibility of convictions being overturned and political careers being unjustly derailed.
- If Parliament does not act, there are two potential ways to keep potential criminals out of the electoral arena. These are as follows:
- Political parties can choose to not give tickets to aspirants charged with heinous crimes; and
- Voters can reject such candidates at the polls.
- However, we witness an unfortunate trend:
Political parties often choose to field chargesheeted candidates if they are deemed to be ‘winnable’.
- In conclusion, while seeking solutions towards decriminalising politics, we must acknowledge that there are inherent structural issues which need to be addressed.
- We as a society need to face up to the costs of democracy and allow candidates and parties to raise and spend money legally and transparently.
- However, we witness an unfortunate trend:
- It is believed that a measure of public funding of elections will also enable cleaner candidates to reach the threshold of resources needed to out-compete their crooked and criminal competitors.
- Finally, we must resist the temptation to treat all politicians as potential criminals. The Supreme Court has shown us the way with its recent pronouncement.
The points mentioned here question whether conviction being a basis for disqualification would serve as an effective deterrent.
- Both the Law Commission and the Election Commission of India have said that candidates who have committed heinous crimes like rape and murder, and against whom charges are being framed, should be disqualified.
- However, The Representation of People Act (RPA), 1951 says that only those convicted of crimes mentioned in the act are barred from contesting elections.
- It is important to note that the Law Commission and the Election Commission’s suggestions are aimed at plugging a crucial loophole in the RPA.
- Moreover, the job of the legislature is to make laws and the judiciary is tasked to interpret the laws. It is not the job of the judiciary to formulate legislation, and therefore, in light of this, the Supreme Court, has very wisely refrained from amending the concerned section of the RPA and it is not difficult to understand the court’s position on the matter.
- A certain step taken by the Honourable Supreme Court appears to raise a few questions.
- The Court puts forward certain conditions to cleanse politics. It directs political parties to mention past criminal charges of candidates being fielded in elections.
- Currently, as the law stands, the candidate has to file an affidavit.
- But the Honourable Supreme Court of India has directed political parties to publish criminal antecedents of their candidates in newspapers.
- The parties also have to give publicity in the electronic media. However, this suggestion is not without certain drawbacks.
- Experts believe that the measure can result in the public shaming of candidates but can also be subject to misuse — it can also be deployed to scuttle a candidate’s chances.
- In conclusion, disqualification of a candidate at the time of the framing of charges will be a reasonable solution to the problem of criminalisation of politics.
- However, it must be said that it is the Parliament, not the Supreme Court, which is the appropriate constitutional authority authorised to proceed on this.
- Since the legislature has chosen not to act on this so far, it is imperative that Parliament now amend the RPA to provide such punitive measures. This would dissuade political parties from fielding candidates with questionable credentials in the future.
Nothing here for today!!!
G. Prelims Fact
- At least one in five Indian children under the age of five are ‘wasted,’ which means they have extremely low weight for their height, reflecting acute under-nutrition, according to the Global Hunger Index 2018
- The only country with a higher prevalence of child wasting is the war-torn nation of South Sudan, says the report, which was released on Thursday.
- Overall, India has been ranked at 103 out of 119 countries in the Index, with hunger levels in the country categorised as “serious”.
- India’s ranking has dropped three places from last year, although the Index says its results are not accurately comparable from year to year and instead provides a few reference years for comparable data. The 2018 scores reflect data from 2013-2017.
- Four main indicators are used to calculate hunger levels in the report, which is a peer-reviewed publication released annually by Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide.
- The International Food Policy Research Institute was also involved with the publication until this year.
- The first indicator is undernourishment, which is the share of the population which is undernourished and reflects insufficient caloric intake.
- The next three indicators use data for children under five: child wasting (low weight for height), reflecting acute under-nutrition; child stunting (low height for age), reflecting chronic under-nutrition; and child mortality.
India and Global Hunger Index 2018
- India has shown improvement in three of the indicators over the comparable reference years. The percentage of undernourished people in the population has dropped from 18.2% in 2000 to 14.8% in 2018. The child mortality rate has halved from 9.2% to 4.3%, while child stunting has dropped from 54.2% to 38.4% over the same period.
- However, the prevalence of child wasting has actually worsened in comparison to previous reference years. It stood at 17.1% in 2000, and increased to 20% in 2005. In 2018, it stands at 21%. South Sudan’s child wasting prevalence is at 28%.
- Child wasting is high across South Asia, constituting a “critical public health emergency”, according to UN organisations. The report notes that wasting rates are highest for infants aged 0 to 5 months, suggesting that attention to birth outcomes and breastfeeding is important.
- Also, child wasting in the region is associated with a low maternal body mass index, suggesting the need for a focus on the nutritional status of the mother during pregnancy.
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. “Saubhagya Portal” is related to which of the following government schemes?
- The Rashtriya Mahila Kosh
- Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
- Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana
Question 2. India holds “Malabar Naval Exercise” with which of the following nations?
- USA and Japan
- Japan and Australia
- USA and Australia
Question 3. ‘State of the World’s Children Report’, recently in the news, is published by
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- World Health Organisation (WHO)
- The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
- Child Rights and You (CRY)
I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam
- What does each of the following quotations mean to you in the present context?
(a) “The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject anything, is not whether it has any evil in it; but whether it has more evil than good. There are few things wholly evil or wholly good. Almost everything, especially of governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded. ”Abraham Lincoln (150 words)
(b) “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding. “ _ Mahatma Gandhi (150 words)
(c) “Falsehood takes the place of truth when it results in unblemished common good.” _ Tirukkural
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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