Insights Daily Current Affairs, 21 April 2018
Topic: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
Process to impeach the Chief Justice of India
Context: The Congress and six other opposition parties have moved a notice for the impeachment of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra, accusing him of “misbehaviour” and “misusing” authority. So far, no Chief Justice has ever been impeached in India.
Procedure for removal of CJI:
Article 124(4) of the Constitution lays down the procedure for removal of a judge of the Supreme Court, including the CJI, who can be impeached on grounds of “misbehaviour or incapacity”.
- Step 1: A removal motion signed by 100 members of Lok Sabha or 50 members of Rajya Sabha has to be submitted to the Speaker of the Lower House or Chairperson (ie Vice President) of the Upper House. This can be in either of the Houses of Parliament.
- Step 2: The Speaker/Chairperson can either accept or reject the motion.
- Step 3: If the motion is admitted, then the Speaker/ Chairperson forms a three-member committee comprising a senior judge of the Supreme Court, a judge of a high court and a distinguished jurist to investigate the charges leveled against the CJI.
- Step 4: If the committee supports the motion, it can be taken up for discussion. It must be passed by a special two-third majority of MPs in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
- Step 5: After it is passed in both Houses, it is presented to the President, who can pass a Presidential Order for removal of the CJI.
Can CJI continue to work during this period?
Both the Constitution and the Judges (Inquiry) Act of 1968 are silent on whether a judge facing impeachment motion should recuse from judicial and administrative work till he is cleared of the charges against him.
- For Prelims: CJI- appointment and impeachment.
- For Mains: Judicial autonomy and issues associated.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Role of civil services.
Civil Services Day
Context: 12th Civil Services Day was celebrated on April 21st, 2018. It focussed on ‘Evolving Strategies for Transforming Aspirational Districts’.
About the Civil Services Day:
- The Government of India celebrates April 21 every year as ‘Civil Services day’ as an occasion for the civil servants to rededicate themselves to the cause of citizen and renew their commitments to public service and excellence in work.
- This date is chosen to commemorate the day when first Home Minister of Independent India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel addressed the probationers of Administrative Services Officers in 1947 at Metcalf House, Delhi.
- As part of Civil Servant Day, Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Administration are presented to Districts/Implementing Units for implementation of Priority programme and innovation categories.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Cabinet to discuss death penalty for rape of minors
Context: The Union Cabinet is planning on bringing an Ordinance to award death penalty to those convicted of sexually assaulting a child.
The criminal law amendment ordinance seeks to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to introduce a new provision to sentence convicts of such crimes punishment of death.
Law Ministry has approved a proposal received from the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, and a final decision on whether to bring it in the form of an Ordinance will be taken by the cabinet.
Why this may not be a good idea?
Tracking down sexual crimes has proved difficult because — as pointed out by National Crime Records Bureau reports since 2014 — in over 90% of such crimes, the perpetrators are known to the victim. A report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs noted that, “child sexual abuse and related crimes remain overwhelmingly under-reported due to the associated stigma and propensity of parents/guardians to not involve the police in these matters”. A study by the National Law School of India University (NLSUI) also reported that in 67% of child rape cases, the survivors gave up on the trial or changed their statement. Therefore, introducing the death penalty in the POCSO Act will aggravate this problem.
Is death penalty the only solution?
The demand for death penalty for sexual crimes stems primarily from a society’s desire for revenge, not redress. A growing body of literature now emphasises that the death penalty is not a deterrent against any kind of crime — better policing, social welfare and effective implementation of the due processes are. Also, separate courtrooms exclusively for child abuse cases should be established.
Facts for Prelims:
Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have passed a Bill providing for death penalty to those convicted of raping girls of 12 years and below.
- For Prelims: Death penalty bill by states.
- For Mains: Need for death penalty, alternatives available.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Issues related to health.
Context: With viral hepatisis becoming as serious health problem as the “big three” communicable diseases — HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis — in the country, the Union Health Ministry is ready to roll out a Rs 500 crore-three-year comprehensive integrated national action plan to check morbidity and mortality due to the disease that inflicts the liver.
- The action plan has been developed with the key objective to provide an actionable framework of evidence based, priority interventions to support the national response for prevention, control and management of viral hepatitis in the country.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already recognised viral hepatitis as a serious public health problem in India which is home to over 52 million people infected with chronic hepatitis. This is placing a huge disease, social and economic burden on the affected families as well as the health system, as per the UN agency.
Latest assessment by WHO shows that in 2016, of the 400 million people infected by viral hepatitis globally, about 13% were Indians. A bigger concern is that most people infected with the virus are unaware and experts points out that with challenges such as awareness, accessibility, compliance and affordability, India can only eradicate hepatitis by 2080 (as against global goal of 2030) if they start acting now.
What is viral hepatitis?
Inflammation of liver is usually referred as hepatitis. Viral hepatitis is a widespread infectious disease normally caused by the hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D and E. The condition can progress to liver fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer. It can be caused by any of the known five hepatotropic viruses, namely — hepatitis A, B, C, D and E which are highly divergent in their structure, epidemiology, mode of transmission, incubation period, signs/symptoms, diagnosis, prevention and treatment options.
For Prelims and Mains: Viral hepatitis and the need for elimination of the disease.
Topic: e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.
Context: The central government has launched Central Project Monitoring Unit for e-Vidhan project at Parliament House Annexe.
About e-Vidhan project:
- e-Vidhan is a mission mode project to digitize and make the functioning of State Legislatures in India paperless.
- It is a part of the broader Digital India Programme of the Government and is likely to contribute to the cleanliness & environment by reducing the use of papers to a great extent.
- The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs is the Nodal Ministry for the project.
Facts for Prelims:
In 2014, Himachal Pradesh became the first state in the country to implement e-Vidhan as a pilot project.
- For Prelims: e- Vidhan project.
- For Mains: Digital India Programme and its significance.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
Context: India is all set to take part in Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, which has been scheduled for April 24. These are the first SCO meetings after India and Pakistan were admitted into the eight-member group.
What is it?
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, also known as the Shanghai Pact, is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organisation which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Apart from Uzbekistan, the other five countries have been a part of the Shanghai 5 since 1996. The cooperation was renamed to Shanghai Cooperation Organisation after Uzbekistan joined the organisation in 2001.
New members: India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members in June 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
The SCO counts four observer states, namely the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Republic of Belarus, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Mongolia.
The SCO’s main goals are: strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states; promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas; making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.
- For Prelims: SCO.
- For Mains: Need for regional cooperation and its significance.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP)
Context: Finland-headquartered Nokia has invoked the mutual agreement procedure (MAP) under the India-Finland Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement, to resolve the Rs 2,000-crore tax dispute with the Indian tax department.
Now, the competent authorities of the two countries — India and Finland — will sit at the negotiating table and decide how the dispute should be resolved.
What’s the issue?
Indian income tax department had slapped a Rs 2,000-crore tax demand on Nokia India over alleged default on tax deduction at source (TDS) on software-related payments made to Nokia Finland for six years. The IT department had concluded that payments made by Nokia India to Nokia Finland for software downloads — which got embedded in the Nokia handsets manufactured in India — were taxable in India as royalty.
What is MAP?
MAP is an alternative available to taxpayers to resolve disputes giving rise to double taxation, whether juridical or economic in nature. An agreement for avoidance of double taxation between countries would give authorisation for assistance of Competent Authorities (CAs) in the respective jurisdiction under MAP.
The main benefit of pursuing MAP is the elimination of double taxation (either juridical or economic). The MAP resolution, once accepted, eliminates protracted litigation.
For Prelims and Mains: MAP and DTAA.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Awareness in space.
Lunar ‘Gateway’ space station
Context: National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (Nasa) is planning to award its first contract for the lunar “Gateway” program in 2019.
About the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway:
- The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway is Nasa’s planned “staging” area intended for studies of the moon and the deep-space environment. Eventually, it will function as a way station for astronauts travelling to and from Mars.
- The Gateway would also further Nasa’s goal of another human landing on the moon and will help determine whether water near the surface could be used to manufacture propellant for deep-space missions.
- The moon’s gravity could also help a spacecraft reduce the blistering speeds used for six-month voyages back-and-forth to Mars, thus facilitating re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere.