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Insights Daily Current Events, 23 May 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 23 May 2015

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L-G well within his powers to appoint officials, says Centre

Amid the impasse over division of powers in Delhi, the centre has unequivocally backed Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung, saying it was not mandatory for him to consult Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on matters such as appointment of officials.

Details:

  • A Gazette notification, issued by the Union Home Ministry has said that the Lieutenant-Governor would have jurisdiction over matters connected with services, public order, police and land.
  • It left matters pertaining to services of bureaucrats to be settled by the Lieutenant-Governor, allowing him discretionary powers to seek the opinion of the Chief Minister as and when the former deemed it fit.
  • The notification has barred the Delhi government from registering any case against officers and political functionaries of the Union government, reiterating the fact that by a July 2014 notification, the Anti-Corruption Branch of the Delhi government could file cases against only its officials and not against those of the Union government.

The Delhi Assembly, in March, passed a unanimous resolution against the July 2014 notification, alleging that it diluted the powers of the said anti-graft body.

Background:

  • The tussle started when Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung appointed Shakuntala Gamlin as acting chief secretary without consulting the Council of Ministers of Delhi Government.

What Laws says?

  • Section 41 of the Government of National Capital Territory Act of Delhi says that Lt. Governor can use his discretion only in matters which fall outside the purview of the Legislative Assembly.
  • Article 239AA (3) (a) of the Constitution reserves some matters under the State List which allows the LG to use his discretionary powers – public order, police and land. This Article was incorporated into the Constitution by the 69th Amendment in 1991, by which the Union Territory of Delhi was called the ‘National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi’ with the Lt. Governor as its administrator.
  • Section 44 of the 1991 Act has left it to the President to frame the procedure in case there is a “difference of opinion” between the LG and the Council of Ministers. The same provision provides that “all executive action of Lieutenant Governor whether taken on the advice of his Ministers or otherwise shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the Lieutenant Governor.”
  • Section 45 mandates that it is the duty of the Chief Minister to communicate to the Lieutenant Governor all decisions of the Council of Ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the Capital and proposals for legislation.

Who deals with matters related to Land and Police?

  • In matters of police and land, the Union Ministries of Home Affairs and Urban Development are in direct charge.
  • The Lt Governor is the chairperson of the Delhi Development Authority or DDA, and he does not act in tandem with the Chief Minister, but uses his discretion.

Since NCT of Delhi does not have its own State Public Services, the central government, through notification, has said that matters related Services are dealt by Lt Governor. And hence matters related to services fall outside the purvies of the Delhi Legislative Assembly.

Sources: The Hindu, BS, PIB.

 

Trial run of Dhaka-Guwahati bus service

The Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati bus service had its first trial run recently. It is expected to be flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina early next month.

  • The trial was to check the overall infrastructure on the 550-km route.
  • The direct service would offer businesses an enormous opportunity. It would open up a new window for Bangladesh and India’s north-eastern States.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Law panel moots joint custody of minors of divorced parents

The Law Commission, in its report, has recommended joint custody of minors to both parents in case of a divorce, saying that Indian custody laws must change with the times.

  • The commission’s recommendations assume significance as in India the idea of shared parenting is still new to custody jurisprudence.

Details of the Report:

  • In its 257th report on ‘Reforms in Guardianship and Custody Laws in India’, the commission said the change in laws will let courts to consider awarding joint custody of children in circumstances beneficial to the welfare of the child. Or in exceptional circumstances award custody to one, with visitation rights to the other.
  • The report says that neither the father nor the mother of a minor can, as of a right, claim to be appointed by the court as the guardian unless such an appointment is for the welfare of the minor.
  • It also says, wherever possible, courts should now grant joint custody of minors. Recommending changes in the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act and the Guardians and Wards Act, the panel said even after the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Gita Hariharan v. Reserve Bank of India case, the mother can become a natural guardian during the lifetime of the father only in exceptional circumstances.
  • The Law Commission has suggested amendments to the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 and the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, to bring them in tune with modern social considerations.
  • The commission has recommended involving trained mediators specialising in dispute resolution.
  • The report also gives discretion to courts to extend child support from the existing age of 18 to 25 while considering the child’s academic and health needs. In case of a disability, child support can be extended up to whole life.
  • The report also introduces several other new concepts such as submitting parenting plans to court, recognising grandparents’ rights by allotting visitation rights and guidelines for relocation of parents.

The commission said the amendments were necessary in order to bring these laws in tune with modern social considerations. The two draft Bills proposed by the panel to amend the existing laws also deal with removal of preference for the father as the natural guardian under Hindu law.

Present scenario:

At present, courts in India award a minor’s custody to one parent or the other depending on who they think will ensure the child’s welfare, though the legal position is different in Hindu law, which considers the father the natural guardian, and other secular laws, which consider the mother the natural guardian of a child.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

 

SC panel sets deadline for road safety directives

The Road Safety Committee formed by the Supreme Court to check lax enforcement of road laws has set the States a June 30 deadline to enforce 13 of its directives.

  • The committee is headed by the former Supreme Court judge K.S. Radhakrishnan.

Other details:

  • The panel has asked the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry to introduce uniform crash tests for all categories of vehicles so that manufacturers do not discriminate between the base and higher models in the provision of safety features.
  • The committee has directed that every State government has to formulate a road safety policy and set up a road safety council by June 30. The States have to draw up a protocol to identify black spots (where accidents are frequent) on roads and remove them. States should strengthen law enforcement to prevent drunk driving, speeding and jumping of signals and ensure use of helmet and seatbelt laws.
  • The directives issued by the committee include tightening of road patrols on highways, setting up of a road safety fund to which a portion of traffic fines would go to finance road safety expenses and removal of encroachments on pedestrian paths. Another directive is to introduce automatic headlights for two-wheelers. They also include removal of roadside advertisements and posters that obstruct the view of drivers or distract them and a ban on sale of liquor on National and State highways.
  • The panel has pointed out serious lapses by the States in the implementation of safety laws, leading to a rise in number of road fatalities. With just 1% of the vehicles in the world, India accounts for a staggering 10 per cent of deaths related to road accidents.
  • The Committee has also pointed out that More than 75% of privately owned vehicles including two wheelers do not have insurance cover.

Background:

The committee was formed in April, 2014, on a public interest litigation petition to monitor implementation of road safety laws.

Sources: The Hindu.

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