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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 10 March 2018
Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
Karnataka govt. unveils State flag
Context: Karnataka government has unveiled the State flag for Karnataka. If approved by the Centre, Karnataka will be the second State to have a flag after Jammu and Kashmir. The proposal will be now sent to the Union Home Ministry for approval since a State has no powers to announce its own flag.
- The red-white-yellow flag has the State emblem at the centre. The State flag will fly below the national flag as prescribed.
- In the tri-colour Stage flag, white symbolises peace with State emblem. While yellow symbolises the auspiciousness and well-being of Kannadigas, the red colour symbolises courage.
Are states permitted to have their own flags?
In S.R. Bommai v/s Union of India (Supreme Court 1994) case, the Supreme Court has declared that federalism is a basic feature of the Constitution and States are supreme in their sphere. This being the Constitutional position, there is no prohibition in the Constitution for the State to have its own flag. However, the manner in which the State flag is hoisted should not dishonour the national flag. It has to be always below the national flag. The national flag code specifically authorises use of other flags subject to the regulation by the court. So, State flag is not unauthorised.
- For Prelims: State flag of Karnataka.
- For Mains: State flags- need, issues and challenges, are states permitted to have their own flags.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Passive Euthanasia legalised by Supreme Court
Context: The Supreme Court has delivered a landmark judgment allowing “living will” where, an adult in his conscious mind, is permitted to refuse medical treatment or voluntarily decide not to take medical treatment to embrace death in a natural way. In Its judgment, the court has laid down a set of guidelines for “living will” and defined passive euthanasia and euthanasia as well.
Passive Euthanasia: When doctors don’t provide, or remove patients from, lifesustaining treatment. Includes: Disconnecting life-support machines, feeding tubes, not carrying out life-saving operations, not providing life-extending drugs, Non-treatment not seen as cause of death; patient understood to have died because of underlying condition.
Guidelines laid down by the court:
What is advance medical directive or living will?
It is a medical power of attorney that allows an individual to appoint a trusted person to take health care decisions when the patient is not able to take such decisions. The trusted person is allowed to interpret the patient’s decisions based on their mutual knowledge and understanding. The trusted person can decide on the patient’s behalf how long the medical treatment should continue when the patient in unconscious or in a coma state is not in a position to decide.
Who is allowed to execute or draw up the will?
- According to the Supreme Court rules, it can be executed only by an adult who is of a sound and healthy state of mind and in a position to communicate, relate and comprehend the purpose and consequences of executing the document.
- It must be voluntarily executed and should have characteristics of an informed consent given without any undue influence or constraint.
- It shall be stated clearly as to when medical treatment may be withdrawn or no specific medical treatment shall be given which will only have the effect of delaying the process of death that may otherwise cause the patient pain, anguish and suffering and further put him or her in a state of indignity.
- In order to overcome the difficulty faced in case of patients who are unable to express their wishes at the time of taking the decision, the concept of advance medical directives emerged in various countries.
What should the will speak about?
- It should indicate the decision relating to the circumstances in which withholding or withdrawal of medical treatment can be resorted to.
- Be in specific terms and the instructions must be absolutely clear and unambiguous.
- Mention that the executor may revoke the instructions/authority at any time.
- Disclose that the executor has understood the consequences of executing such a document.
- Specify the name of a guardian or close relative who, in the event of the executor becoming incapable of taking decision at the relevant time, will be authorized to give consent to refuse or withdraw medical treatment in a manner consistent with the advance directive.
- In the event that there is more than one valid living will, none of which have been revoked, the most recently signed advance directive will be considered as the last expression of the patient’s wishes and will be given effect to.
How should the will be recorded, preserved?
- The document should be signed by the executor in the presence of two attesting witnesses, preferably independent, and counter-signed the jurisdictional Judicial Magistrate of First Class (JMFC) so designated by the concerned district judge.
- The JMFC shall preserve one copy of the document in his office, keep another in digital format, forward one copy of the document to the registry of the jurisdictional district court, inform the immediate family members of the executor.
- A copy be handed over to the competent officer of the local body. A copy of the directive be handed over to the family physician, if any.
When and by whom can it be given effect to?
In the event the executor becomes terminally ill and is undergoing prolonged medical treatment with no hope of recovery and cure of the ailment, the treating physician, when made aware about the advance directive, shall ascertain the genuineness and authenticity thereof from the jurisdictional JMFC before acting upon the same.
- The document should be given effect to only after being fully satisfied that the executor is terminally ill and is undergoing prolonged treatment or is surviving on life support and that the illness of the executor is incurable or there is no hope of him/her being cured.
- The physician or hospital where the executor has been admitted for medical treatment shall constitute a medical board that shall visit the patient and form an opinion whether to certify or not to certify carrying out the instructions of withdrawal or refusal of further medical treatment.
- The Chairman of the board nominated by the collector, that is, the Chief District Medical Officer, shall convey the decision of the board to the jurisdictional JMFC before giving effect to the decision to withdraw the medical treatment administered to the patient.
- The JMFC shall visit the patient at the earliest and, after examining all aspects, authorise the implementation of the decision of the board.
- It will be open to the executor to revoke the document at any stage before it is acted upon and implemented.
What if the board refuses the permission?
If permission to withdraw medical treatment is refused by the Medical Board, it would be open to the patient or his family members or even the treating doctor or the hospital staff to approach the high court and its chief justice will have to constitute a division bench to decide upon case.
Right to Die:
Right to die peacefully is part of Fundamental Right to Life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. Article 21 provides that “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Rajasthan passes Bill to give death penalty for child rape
Context: Rajasthan has passed a Bill providing for death penalty to those convicted of raping girls of 12 years and below. The State Assembly passed the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2018 seeking to amend the Indian Penal Code with the insertion of new provision by voice vote.
- The Bill is aimed at protecting the girl child by laying down a deterrent punishment, including death sentence, to the offenders.
- The Bill provides for capital punishment or rigorous imprisonment ranging between 14 years and lifelong incarceration.
- It also makes a similar provision for gang-rape of a girl child, while laying down death penalty or imprisonment from 20 years to lifelong incarceration for those convicted of the offence. Each of the persons constituting the gang will be deemed to be guilty of the offence.
- The Bill will become a law after it gets the Presidential assent.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s 2016 report, the cases of crimes against children have seen a steady increase in Rajasthan. The State recorded 4,034 such cases in 2016, which was 3.8% of the crimes against children registered across the country. In 2015, the State had registered 3,689 cases of crimes against children.
Facts for Prelims:
Rajasthan has become the second State, after Madhya Pradesh, to pass a Bill providing for death penalty to those convicted of raping girls of 12 years and below.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
International Solar Alliance
Context: India, a founding member of the International Solar Alliance, has said that membership of the body will be thrown open to all countries that want to join the grouping, with no restrictions on duration of sunlight or geographical location.
Who were eligible so far?
When the International Solar Alliance was announced in 2015, 121 nations situated between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn and receiving 300 days of sunlight were deemed eligible for membership.
The Paris Declaration establishes ISA as an alliance dedicated to the promotion of solar energy among its member countries.
- The ISA’s major objectives include global deployment of over 1,000GW of solar generation capacity and mobilisation of investment of over US$ 1000 billion into solar energy by 2030.
- The alliance is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization.
- The alliance is also called International Agency for Solar Policy and Application (IASPA).
- The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is headquartered in India.
For ISA, the clock started on December 6, 2017, when the International Solar Alliance Framework Agreement came into force. It is now an intergovernmental body registered with the United Nations under Article 102 of the UN Charter. The alliance now must focus on delivering on its promise to serve as a facilitator to ensure that large swathes of the un-served and underserved population have access to adequate, predictable, and cheap energy.
- For Prelims: ISA.
- For Mains: Harnessing solar energy- potential, challenges and international collaborations.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas.
First ever ‘crime-free zone’ along international border launched
Context: In a first for both countries, the director generals of the Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) have declared an 8.3 km stretch of the Indo-Bangladesh border as a ‘crime-free zone’.
The Crime-free zone:
The stretch covers the Gunarmath and Kalyani Border Out Posts (BOPs) in India and the Puthkhali and Daulatpur BOPs across the border. This stretch is one of the most vulnerable with cattle smuggling and other criminal activities prevalent.
How this zone works?
Both border guarding forces with the help of the civil administrations of the two countries, NGOs and the local populance will help in ensuring that no crime takes place along the stretch. Both the forces will work together to ensure that no crime or anti-social activity occurs along this stretch.
This is a pilot project that will be reviewed after 5-6 months. The stretch will be extended to other trouble-prone areas. The idea is to target the more difficult areas along the 913 km of Indo-Bangladesh border under the BSF’s South Bengal Frontier.
Bangladesh and India share a 4,156 km long international border. This includes 262 km in Assam, 856 km in Tripura, 180 km in Mizoram, 443 km in Meghalaya, and 2,217 km in Bengal.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Diu becomes the first and only Union Territory to be 100% solar energy efficient:
Context: In a major boost for utilisation of renewable energy in the country, Diu has become the first and only Union Territory to be fully solar energy efficient.
Key facts: Diu’s geographical area is limited only to 42 square kilometers, however, despite the shortage of land, solar power plants have been installed at over 50 acres of land. A total of 13 megawatts of electricity from the solar power-generating systems is generated, with 3MW generated by rooftop solar plants and 10MW by other solar power plants.