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Insights Daily Current Events, 02 May 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 02 May 2015

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Govt. buys more time, NGT extends stay

Acting on a request made by the government, the National Green Tribunal has again extended the stay on ban of 10-year-old diesel vehicles till May 18.

  • This is the second time the government has sought a stay.
  • Previously, NGT had asked the agencies concerned to come up with scientific views on checking vehicular pollution.
  • Before the order was passed the government, along with its various departments, were pulled up by the NGT for not coming up with suggestions on issues such as capping the number of vehicles on road, hike in parking charges, incentives for car pooling etc. as highlighted by the Court earlier in several hearings.

Details:

  • The move comes as a reprieve for the Delhi government, which is grappling with difficulties in implementing the ban.
  • It has also sought information on a cap on the number of vehicles to be registered in the NCR, Delhi with reference to sources of energy/fuel and incentives to those who adopt pool commutation/travel.

Why stay was necessary?

  • The government, Ministry of Environment and Forests and other stake holders submitted that the prohibitory orders of the NGT are causing serious concern and practical difficulties to the government and the authorities.
  • The Delhi government had also contended that the order was affecting supply of essential commodities like vegetables and basic amenities like waste collecting trucks were also being hit.

Background:

The National Green Tribunal had recently banned all diesel vehicles over ten years old from plying in Delhi and the National Capital Region and also cracked the whip on rampant construction activity adding dust to the air. The Supreme Court had said that diesel vehicles are major source of pollution in the ambient air quality.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Lay citizens cannot select judges, says SC

The Supreme Court has questioned the government’s attempt to include laymen as members of the National Judicial Appointments Commission, saying the idea may work well for appointments to entry-level courts but not for the highest judiciary.

Background issue:

  • Article 124A of the 99th Constitution Amendment Act, 2014 allows two “eminent persons” to be selected from civil society to be members of the NJAC.
  • The duo is selected by a three-member panel comprising the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha. The Article does not define term “eminent persons”.

A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court is hearing a batch of petitions challenging the legal validity of the new government’s twin laws that establish the NJAC and replace the existing in-house collegium system of appointing judges to the superior courts.

Other areas of concern as pointed out by Petitioners:

  • The statement of objects and reasons of the law states that the president of India may, if necessary, require the commission to reconsider the recommendation. However, if the commission makes unanimous recommendations on such a reconsideration, then the president shall make the appointment. This makes the NJAC fragile, fraught with mischief and places the judiciary in a position of vulnerability.
  • The petitioners also pointed out that the chief justice would be sandwiched between politicians and laypersons appointed by a majority of politicians in the process.
  • The issue of reservation was also raised. According to the eminent persons’ clause in the law, reservation is provided to women and other minority groups in filling up the two seats meant for them on the NJAC.

The Supreme Court too is not happy with the law. The Court has expressed its disquiet over the use of certain phrases, such as the law being intended to give a “meaningful role” to the judiciary in appointments and ensure “accountability” of participants in the selection process.

NJAC is a proposed body responsible for the appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary in India. It seeks to replace the collegium system of appointing the judges of Supreme Court and 24 High Courts with judicial appointments commission wherein the executive will have a say in appointing the judges.

The commission will consist of the following members:

  • Chief Justice of India (Chairperson, ex officio)
  • Two other senior judges of the Supreme Court next to the Chief Justice of India – ex officio
  • The Union Minister of Law and Justice, ex-officio
  • Two eminent persons (to be nominated by a committee consisting of the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister of India and the Leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha or where there is no such Leader of Opposition, then, the Leader of single largest Opposition Party in Lok Sabha), provided that of the two eminent persons, one person would be from the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes or OBC or minority communities or a woman. The eminent persons shall be nominated for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for re-nomination.

Sources: The Hindu, ET.

 

May Day celebrated

May Day, also known as Labour Day, was celebrated on 1st May.

  • It corresponds to the International Workers’ Day that is celebrated in many countries around the world proclaiming the international labour movement.

Brief History:

  • The history of May/Labour Day goes back to 1886 in Chicago, USA, when a gathering of people during a general strike for the eight-hour workday became violent. A bomb was thrown into the crowd, police began to shoot and dozens of people were killed or injured.
  • Over the next few years, an international movement began with demonstrations and riots occurring each year on May Day. In 1904, the International Socialist Conference met in Amsterdam and called on “all Social Democratic Party organisations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on May First for the legal establishment of the eight-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.”
  • In India, the first Labour Day, or May Day, was celebrated in 1923 in Chennai.

1st May is also celebrated as Maharashtra Day and Gujarat Day to mark the date in 1960, when the two western states attained statehood after the erstwhile Bombay State was divided on linguistic lines.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, publicholidays.in.

 

Maharashtra to file FIR against Snapdeal

Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that it has ordered an FIR to be filed against the CEO and the directors of Internet shopping company Snapdeal for allegedly selling prescription drugs online.

  • The FDA found that 45 of the displayed drugs were with objectionable claims which contravened the provisions of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954.

What the law says?

Selling of drugs without prescription contravenes Section 18 (c) 18 A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

What the Snapdeal says?

The Snapdeal’s argument is that it cannot be held responsible for what merchants sell although it says it takes precautions and educates sellers about following rules.

Sources: The Hindu, ET.

 

Moderate quake hits Andaman

An earthquake of moderate intensity hit Andaman Islands yesterday afternoon.

  • The earthquake measured 5.4 on the Richter scale. Its epicentre was at latitude 10.8 degrees north. The depth of the earthquake was measured as 10.
  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands is a seismically active region as it is located in a subduction zone where the Indian Plate is going underneath the Burmese Plate.

Andaman Islands fall under Zone V which is the most seismically active region.

Earthquake Prone Zones:

Bureau of Indian Standards, based on the past seismic history, has grouped the country into four seismic zones, viz. Zone-II, -III, -IV and –V.

Of these, Zone V is the most seismically active region, while zone II is the least.

Seismic Zone Intensity on Modified Mercalli (MM) intensity scale associated with various zone is as follows:

 

  • II (Low intensity zone)                                   VI (or less)
  • III (Moderate intensity zone)                         VII
  • IV (Severe intensity zone)                             VIII
  • V (Very severe intensity zone)                      IX (and above)

Different zones:

  • Zone-V comprises of entire northeastern India, parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, parts of North Bihar and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
  • Zone-IV covers remaining parts of Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, Union Territory of Delhi, Sikkim, northern parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, parts of Gujarat and small portions of Maharashtra near the west coast and Rajasthan.
  • Zone-III comprises of Kerala, Goa, Lakshadweep islands, and remaining parts of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and West Bengal, parts of Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Karnataka.
  • Zone-II covers remaining parts of the country.

Sources: PIB.

Messenger crashes into Mercury

NASA’s Messenger spacecraft has crashed into the surface of Mercury, ending its historic 11-year mission that provided valuable data and thousands of images of the planet.

Details:

  • Messenger, launched on August 3, 2004, began orbiting Mercury on March 18, 2011. The spacecraft completed its primary science objectives by March 2012. It was the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury.
  • Because Messenger’s initial discoveries raised important new questions and the payload remained healthy, the mission was extended twice.
  • With no way to increase its altitude, Messenger was unable to resist the perturbations to its orbit by the sun’s gravitational pull and slammed into Mercury’s surface at around 14,000 kmph, creating a crater up to 52 feet wide.

The MESSENGER mission was designed to study the characteristics and environment of Mercury from orbit.

Sources: The Hindu, NASA.

Sherpas face uncertain future after avalanche

The Nepal Earthquake, which had triggered a massive avalanche in the Himalayan Region, has affected the lives of Sherpas who live there.

  • Sherpas are the people living in the high-altitude regions of the Himalayas who support climbing teams as porters, guides, rope-fixers, cooks and cleaners.

Regions with significant Sherpa populations: Nepal, China (Tibet), Bhutan and India.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

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