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Insights Daily Current Events, 28 March 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 28 March 2015

Govt. decides to re-issue ordinance before April 5

The Union Government has decided to re-promulgate the contentious Land Acquisition Ordinance before it lapses on April 5, even though it will mean taking on a virtually united opposition.

Ordinance:

What are they?

Ordinances are temporary laws which can be issued by the President when Parliament is not in session.

Details:

  • Ordinances are issued by the President based on the advice of the Union Cabinet.
  • The President has been empowered to promulgate Ordinances based on the advice of the central government under Article 123 of the Constitution. This legislative power is available to the President only when either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session to enact laws. Additionally, the President cannot promulgate an Ordinance unless he ‘is satisfied’ that there are circumstances that require taking ‘immediate action’.

Approval by the Parliament:

Ordinances must be approved by Parliament within six weeks of reassembling or they shall cease to operate. They also cease to operate in case resolutions disapproving the Ordinance are passed by both Houses.

Why are they issued?

  • The purpose of Ordinances is to allow governments to take immediate legislative action if circumstances make it necessary to do so at a time when Parliament is not in session.
  • Often, ordinances are used by governments to pass legislation which is currently pending in Parliament.
  • Governments also take the Ordinance route to address matters of public concern as was the case with the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013, which was issued in response to the protests surrounding the Delhi gang rape incident.

Repromulgation:

  • Repromulgation of Ordinances raises questions about the legislative authority of the Parliament as the highest law making body.

Supreme Court’s observations on Repromulgation:

In the 1986 Supreme Court judgment of D.C. Wadhwa vs. State of Bihar, the SC observed:

“The power to promulgate an Ordinance is essentially a power to be used to meet an extraordinary situation and it cannot be allowed to be “perverted to serve political ends”. It is contrary to all democratic norms that the Executive should have the power to make a law, but in order to meet an emergent situation, this power is conferred on the Governor and an Ordinance issued by the Governor in exercise of this power must, therefore, of necessity be limited in point of time.”

History of Ordinances:

  • Ordinances were incorporated into the Constitution from Section 42 and 43 of the Government of India Act, 1935, which authorised the then Governor General to promulgate Ordinances ‘if circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action’.
  • Most democracies including Britain, the United States of America, Australia and Canada do not have provisions similar to that of Ordinances in the Indian Constitution. The reason for an absence of such a provision is because legislatures in these countries meet year long.

Some Members of the Constituent Assembly emphasised that the Ordinance making power of the President was extraordinary and issuing of Ordinances could be interpreted as against constitutional morality.

Sources: The Hindu, prsindia.org, PIB.

 

Rajasthan passes bill on eligibility for panchayat polls

Rajasthan became the first State in the country to fix a minimum educational qualification for contesting elections to the Panchayati Raj Institutions.

Details:

  • The Assembly recently passed the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj (amendment) Bill, 2015, which makes Class VIII pass mandatory for the post of sarpanch — except in tribal reserved areas, where the minimum qualification is Class V — and Class X for Zila Parishad or Panchayat Samiti elections.
  • The amendments to Section 19 of the Rajasthan Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 also make a functional toilet mandatory in the house of a contestant.

Background:

An ordinance was promulgated prescribing minimum educational qualifications to contest in local body elections in Rajasthan, and effectively keep out illiterate persons from the democratic process.

  • The ordinance stipulated that a member of a zila parishad or panchayat samiti should have acquired secondary education. While the panchayat sarpanch of a Scheduled area should have passed Class 5, his counterpart in Non-Scheduled areas should have cleared Class 8.
  • It was being argued that the ordinance violates the inclusive spirit of the 73rd and 74th Amendments and served as an “exit for illiterate people”.

Why was it done?

  • According to the government, an elected representative with a basic education will be better placed to stop the embezzlement of funds at the panchayat level.
  • Supporters also claim that this is a progressive step and ensures that dummy/proxy candidates are not fighting elections which come from local families who are traditionally in politics in villages.

Opposition:

The political opposition, local communities and civil society groups have been arguing that the change in law is discriminatory to a large section of the rural population, particularly women.

Literacy level in Rajasthan:

  • 2001 Census shows that 82.5 percent of the people above 20 years of age in rural Rajasthan did not have formal education beyond class 5 or primary level.
  • Rural literacy rates in Rajasthan are 76.16 per cent for men, and an abysmal 45.8 per cent for women.
  • In Rajasthan, the literacy rate of women in rural areas is only 45.8 per cent, which is lower than the national literacy rate of 57.93 per cent.
  • In tribal areas, the situation is even worse, with the literacy rate of women being 25.22 per cent.

The ordinance has been challenged in court by social activists and political parties.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, Wiki.

 

IAEA for more autonomy to India’s nuclear regulatory board

The U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency recently, after completing a 12-day review of India’s nuclear safety standards, said that India has a strong commitment to safety but the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) needs more independence and separation from the government.

  • The IAEA’s review report also called for the Indian government to allow more on-site inspections at the nuclear power plants (NPPs) under international safeguards.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA):

The IAEA is the world’s centre of cooperation in the nuclear field. It was set up as the world´s “Atoms for Peace” organization in 1957 within the United Nations family. It also seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.

  • It is not under direct control of the UN. Though established independently of the United Nations through its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute, the IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.
  • The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.
  • The IAEA Secretariat is headquartered at the Vienna International Centre in Vienna, Austria.
  • The IAEA serves as an intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear technology and nuclear power worldwide.
  • The IAEA has 164 member states.

IAEA Mission & Programmes

The IAEA’s mission is guided by the interests and needs of Member States, strategic plans and the vision embodied in the IAEA Statute.

  • Three main pillars/areas of work – underpin the IAEA’s mission: Safety and Security; Science and Technology; and Safeguards and Verification.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, iaea.org, UN.

 

 

ISRO honoured with Gandhi Peace Prize

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been selected for the Gandhi Peace Prize for 2014 for its contribution to the country’s development through space technology and satellite-based services.

  • The award, comprising Rs.one crore and a citation, was decided after the jury for the prize met under the chairmanship of Prime Minister recently.

About the Prize:

  • The Gandhi Peace Prize for social, economic and political transformation through non-violence was instituted in 1995.
  • A jury consisting of the Prime Minister of India, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India and two other eminent persons decides the awardee each year.
  • It is open to all persons regardless of nationality, race, creed or sex.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

 

 

Garg panel submits report

The Justice T.P. Garg Commission recently submitted its report to the Haryana Government.

Why was it appointed?

  • It was appointed to probe the massacre of 32 Sikhs at Hondh Chillar village in Rewari district of Haryana on November 2, 1984 in the wake of the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

In all, the Commission has recommended for additional compensation to be given by the state government.

Sources: The Hindu.

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