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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 06 August 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 06 August 2019


Relevant articles from various news sources:

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Rajasthan Passes Bill mandating death penalty for ‘honour killing’

 

What to study?

For prelims: Key features of the bill.

For mains: Concerns over Recent honour killings, challenges and other measures necessary to prevent them.

 

Context: Bill mandating death penalty for ‘honour killing’ passed in Rajasthan Assembly.

The Rajasthan Prohibition of Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances in the Name of Honour and Tradition Bill, 2019 was passed by a voice vote.

 

 

Key provisions:

Punishment of death penalty or life imprisonment till natural death for killing a couple or either of them in the name of honour and with fine which may extend to ₹5 lakh.

If the couple or either of them is grievously hurt, the punishment will be from 10 years rigorous imprisonment to imprisonment for life and with fine of maximum ₹3 lakh, whereas the punishment will be three to five years imprisonment with fine which may extend to ₹2 lakh in case of simple injuries.

Sub Divisional Magistrate or the District Magistrate shall receive any request or information from any person or persons seeking protection from any unlawful assembly, or from any other person who is likely to or who have been objecting to any lawful marriage. 

No person or group shall assemble at any time with the view or intention to deliberate on or condemn any marriage, not prohibited by law, on the basis that such marriage has dishonoured the caste or community tradition or brought disrepute to all or any of the persons forming part of the assembly or the family or the people of the locality concerned. 

Such gathering shall be treated unlawful and every person convening or organising such assembly, and every member, thereof, participating therein directly or indirectly shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than six months, but may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to ₹1 lakh.

 

Significance:

The bill upholds Supreme Court judgement that adults are free to marry persons of their own choice and hurting couples, or summoning them before clan members, groups, or a khap, is absolutely illegal.

 

Need for stringent provisions:

  1. In the Past five years in the state, 71 cases of illegal diktat given by ‘Khap Panchayats’ (caste councils which function like kangaroo courts) were registered and 10 cases of honour killing occurred in which four men and eight women were killed. Such cases have increased in the past few years and have become hurdle in societal development
  2. Sections of the IPC and the CrPc were not adequate in dealing with such cases.
  3. Such crimes are also in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Womenwhich provide that women should have the right to freely choose a spouse.
  4. These actions of honour killing are also violative of certain fundamental rights in the Constitution of India, including the right to life, and liberty which includes the right to bodily integrity, and the right to choose whom to associate with.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

Rajasthan Protection from Lynching Bill, 2019

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the bill.

For Mains: Need for a legislation on lynching, Supreme Court guidelines.

 

Context: Rajasthan Assembly Passes Anti-Lynching Bill.

 

Key features of the bill:

  1. Definitions:

“Mob”– a group of two or more individuals.

Lynching“- “an act or series of acts of violence or those of aiding, abetting or attempting an act of violence, whether spontaneous or preplanned, by a mob on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation or ethnicity”.

 

  1. Punishment:

For the offence of an assault by mob, leading to the victim suffering grievous hurts, the Bill provides for jail terms up to 10 years and a fine of Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 3 lakh.

In cases of the victims suffering simple injuries, the Bill proposes imprisonment up to seven years and a fine up to Rs. 1 lakh.

For hatching a conspiracy of lynching or aiding, abetting or attempting such an offence, the Bill seeks to punish the offenders in the same manner as if he actually committed the offence of lynching.

 

  1. Prevention:

The Bill empowers the state police chief to appoint a state coordinator of the rank of inspector general of police to prevent the incidents of lynching in the state with the district superintendents of police acting as the district’s coordinator, to be assisted by a deputy superintendents of police, for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.

 

  1. Coverage:

The Bill also enlists various other offences related to the lynching such as dissemination of offensive materials, propagation of hostile environment and obstructing legal processes, which would be punishable with jail terms varying from three to five years.

 

  1. Compensation and rehabilitation:

The Bill also stipulates the provision of compensation to victims by the state government as per the Rajasthan Victim Compensation Scheme.

It also binds the state government to take necessary measures to rehabilitate the victims of mob lynching, suffering displacements from their native places.

 

Need:

  1. While the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code have provisions to deal with the cases of mob lynching incidents, they are not adequate. Accordingly, the government has brought the Bill to provide for stricter punishment to curb such incidents.
  2. After 2014, 86% cases of mob lynching reported in the country happened in Rajasthan.
  3. Legislation fixes command responsibility for communal incidents. It recognises that targeted communal violence disproportionately victimises minorities and it creates a mechanism to insulate investigations of communal violence from political interference.

 

SC guidelines:

  1. There shall be a “separate offence” for lynching and the trial courts must ordinarily award maximum sentence upon conviction of the accused person to set a stern example in cases of mob violence.
  2. The state governments will have to designate a senior police officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.
  3. The state governments need to identify districts, sub-divisions and villageswhere instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the recent past.
  4. The nodal officersshall bring to the notice of the DGP about any inter-district co-ordination issues for devising a strategy to tackle lynching and mob violence related issues.
  5. Every police officer shall ensure to disperse the mob that has a tendency to cause violence in the disguise of vigilantism or otherwise.
  6. Central and the state governments shall broadcast on radio, television and other media platformsabout the serious consequences of mob lynching and mob violence.
  7. Despite the measures taken by the State Police, if it comes to the notice of the local police that an incident of lynching or mob violence has taken place, the jurisdictional police station shall immediately lodge an FIR.
  8. The State Governments shall prepare a lynching/mob violence victim compensation schemein the light of the provisions of Section 357A of CrPC within one month from the date of this judgment.
  9. If a police officer or an officer of the district administration fails to fulfill his duty, it will be considered an act of deliberate negligence.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

 

Transgender Rights Bill

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Definitions included and key features of the bill.

For Mains: Significance of the bill, criticisms and the need for a comprehensive review.

 

Context:  Lok Sabha approves The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2019.

 

Impact:

The Bill will benefit a large number of transgender persons, mitigate the stigma, discrimination and abuse against this marginalized section and bring them into the mainstream of society. This will lead to inclusiveness and will make the transgender persons productive members of the society. 

 

Background:

Transgender community is among one of the most marginalized communities in the country because they don’t fit into the stereotypical categories of gender of ‘men’ or ‘women’. Consequently, they face problems ranging from social exclusion to discrimination, lack of education facilities, unemployment, lack of medical facilities and so on. The Bill shall empower the transgender community socially, educationally and economically. 

 

New definition:

According to the new definition, a transgender person is somebody “whose gender does not match the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-men or trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons having socio-cultural identities such as kinnar, hijras, aravani, and jogta”.

 

Highlights of the Bill:

  1. The Bill aims to stop discrimination against a transgender person in various sectors such as education, employment, and healthcare. It also directs the central and state governments to provide welfare schemes for them.
  2. The Bill states that a person will be recognised as transgender on the basis of a certificate of identity issued through the district screening committee. This certificate will be a proof of identity as transgender and confer rights under this Bill.
  3. Going by the bill, a person would have the right to choose to be identified as a man, woman or transgender, irrespective of sex reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy.
  4. It also requires transgender persons to go through a district magistrate and “district screening committee” to get certified as a transperson.
  5. The committee would comprise a medical officer, a psychologist or psychiatrist, a district welfare officer, a government official, and a transgender person.

 

Criticisms:

  1. The Bill is silent on granting reservations to transgender persons.
  2. The bill has prescribed punishments for organised begging. However, the Bill doesn’t provide anything to better to condition in those areas, it doesn’t provide for reservation.
  3. The Transgender Bill does not mention any punishments for rape or sexual assault of transgender persons as according to Sections 375 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, rape is only when a man forcefully enters a woman.

 

Need of the hour:

The Bill must recognise that gender identity must go beyond biological; gender identity is an individual’s deep and personal experience. It need not correspond to the sex assigned at birth. It includes the personal sense of the body and other expressions such as one’s own personal inducing proceeds.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Relevant articles from PIB:

GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019

 

What to study?

For prelims: key features of the bill.

For mains: need for regulation, concerns and issues associated with surrogacy.

 

Context: The Lok Sabha has passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 by a voice vote. 

 

Key features of the bill:

Regulation of surrogacy: The Bill prohibits commercial surrogacy, but allows altruistic surrogacy.

Purposes for which surrogacy is permitted: Surrogacy is permitted when it is: (i) for intending couples who suffer from proven infertility; (ii) altruistic; (iii) not for commercial purposes; (iv) not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation; and (v) for any condition or disease specified through regulations.

Eligibility criteria for intending couple: The intending couple should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority.

A certificate of essentiality will be issued upon fulfilment of the following conditions: (i) a certificate of proven infertility of one or both members of the intending couple from a District Medical Board; (ii) an order of parentage and custody of the surrogate child passed by a Magistrate’s court; and (iii) insurance coverage for a period of 16 months covering postpartum delivery complications for the surrogate.

The certificate of eligibility to the intending couple is issued upon fulfilment of the following conditions: (i) the couple being Indian citizens and married for at least five years; (ii) between 23 to 50 years old (wife) and 26 to 55 years old (husband); (iii) they do not have any surviving child (biological, adopted or surrogate); this would not include a child who is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from life threatening disorder or fatal illness; and (iv) other conditions that may be specified by regulations.

Eligibility criteria for surrogate mother: To obtain a certificate of eligibility from the appropriate authority, the surrogate mother has to be: (i) a close relative of the intending couple; (ii) a married woman having a child of her own; (iii) 25 to 35 years old; (iv) a surrogate only once in her lifetime; and (v) possess a certificate of medical and psychological fitness for surrogacy.  Further, the surrogate mother cannot provide her own gametes for surrogacy.

Appropriate authority: The central and state governments shall appoint one or more appropriate authorities within 90 days of the Bill becoming an Act.  The functions of the appropriate authority include; (i) granting, suspending or cancelling registration of surrogacy clinics; (ii) enforcing standards for surrogacy clinics; (iii) investigating and taking action against breach of the provisions of the Bill; (iv) recommending modifications to the rules and regulations.

Registration of surrogacy clinics: Surrogacy clinics cannot undertake surrogacy related procedures unless they are registered by the appropriate authority.  Clinics must apply for registration within a period of 60 days from the date of appointment of the appropriate authority.

National and State Surrogacy Boards: The central and the state governments shall constitute the National Surrogacy Board (NSB) and the State Surrogacy Boards (SSB), respectively.

Functions of the NSB include, (i) advising the central government on policy matters relating to surrogacy; (ii) laying down the code of conduct of surrogacy clinics; and (iii) supervising the functioning of SSBs.

Parentage and abortion of surrogate child: A child born out of a surrogacy procedure will be deemed to be the biological child of the intending couple.  An abortion of the surrogate child requires the written consent of the surrogate mother and the authorisation of the appropriate authority.  This authorisation must be compliant with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.  Further, the surrogate mother will have an option to withdraw from surrogacy before the embryo is implanted in her womb.

Offences and penalties: The offences under the Bill include: (i) undertaking or advertising commercial surrogacy; (ii) exploiting the surrogate mother; (iii) abandoning, exploiting or disowning a surrogate child; and (iv) selling or importing human embryo or gametes for surrogacy.  The penalty for such offences is imprisonment up to 10 years and a fine up to 10 lakh rupees.  The Bill specifies a range of offences and penalties for other contraventions of the provisions of the Bill.

 

Need for regulation:

India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from other countries and there have been reports concerning unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy, and rackets involving intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes. The 228th report of the Law Commission of India has recommended prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing altruistic surrogacy by enacting suitable legislation.


GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Conservation related issues.

 

Kosi-Mechi Interlinking project 

 

What to study?

For prelims: Key features and geographical position of the project.

For mains: Interlinking of rivers- need, challenges, significance and potential.

 

Context: Union Government has approved Rs 4,900 crore Kosi-Mechi Interlinking project for interlinking of Kosi and Mechi rivers of Bihar. This is the second major river interlinking project in the country to be approved by Central Government after the Ken-Betwa project in Madhya Pradesh.

 

Need and significance:

  • The river Kosi is an international river originating from Tibet and flowing through Nepal in Himalayan Mountains and the lower portion through plains of North Bihar.
  • To overcome the acute problem of shifting of course of Kosi river, heavy sediment load, flooding etc. and to alleviate the severe suffering of the people of Bihar, the then His Majesty’s Government of Nepal and The Government of India signed an agreement on 25th April 1954 for implementation of Kosi project. The present proposal is an extension of Eastern Kosi Main Canal (EKMC) system upto river Mechi, a tributary of river Mahananda.
  • The aim of extension of EKMC upto Mechi river is mainly to provide irrigation benefits to the water scarce Mahananda basin command in the districts of Araria, Kishanganj, Purnea and Katihar during kharif season depending upon the pondage available in Hanuman Nagar barrage.
  • This intrastate link scheme will thus transfer part of surplus water of Kosi basin to Mahananda basin. In view of irrigation benefit from the link canal, the project is fully justified.

 

Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Bill-2019

 

Context: Ending Jammu & Kashmir’s special status in the Indian Union, the government has extended all provisions of the Constitution to the State in one go, downsized the State into two Union Territories and allowed all citizens to buy property and vote in the State.

In this regard, Union Minister for Home Affairs, Shri Amit Shah, introduced two bills and two resolutions regarding Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). These are as follows:

  1. Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order, 2019 {Ref. Article 370(1) of Constitution of India} – issued by President of India to supersede the 1954 order related to Article 370.
  2. Resolution for Repeal of Article 370 of the Constitution of India {Ref. Article 370 (3)}.
  3. Jammu & Kashmir (Reorganisation) Bill, 2019 {Ref. Article 3 of Constitution of India}.
  4. Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2019.

 

Background:

So far, the Parliament had only residuary powers of legislation in J&K. This included enacted of laws to prevent terror and secessionist activities, for taxation on foreign and inland travel and on communication. 

 

Key changes:

  1. The President had used his powers under Article 370 to fundamentally alter the provision, extending all Central laws, instruments and treaties to Kashmir. However, the drastically altered Article 370 will remain on the statute books.
  2. While the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature, the one in Ladakh will not.
  3. The notification by the president has effectively allowed the entire provisions of the Constitution, with all its amendments, exceptions and modifications, to apply to the area of Jammu and Kashmir.
  4. The Bill proposes wide powers to the Lieutenant Governor of the proposed Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and makes it the “duty” of the Chief Minister of the Union Territory to “communicate” all administrative decisions and proposals of legislation with the LG.
  5. All Central laws and State laws of J&K would apply to the new Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
  6. Assets and liabilities of J&K and Ladakh would be apportioned on the recommendation of a Central Committee within a year.
  7. Employees of State public sector undertakings and autonomous bodies would continue in their posts for another year until their allocations are determined.
  8. The police and public order is to be with the Centre.
  9. The notification amends the expression “Constituent Assembly”, contained in the proviso to clause (3) of Article 370, to mean “Legislative Assembly”.

 

Legislative powers of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir:

  1. The Legislative Assembly may make laws for the whole or any part of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the state list except on subjects “public order” and “police” which will remain in the domain of the Centre vis-a-vis the LG.
  2. In case of inconsistencies between laws made by Parliament and laws made by the Legislative Assembly, earlier law shall prevail and law made by the Legislative Assembly shall be void.
  3. The role of the Chief Minister will be to communicate to the L-G all decisions of the Council of Ministers relating to the administration of affairs of the Union Territory and proposals for legislation and to furnish such information relating to the administration of affairs as the L-G may call for.

 

Role and powers of the Lieutenant Governor:

  1. The Bill specifies that the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territory of Ladakh will have a common Lieutenant Governor.
  2. Appointment of L-G in Ladakh: The President shall appoint the L-G under article 239. The L-G will be assisted by advisors appointed by the Centre since the Union Territory will not have a Legislative Assembly.
  3. In the case of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the L-G shall “act in his discretion” on issues which fall outside the purview of powers conferred on the Legislative Assembly, in which he is required to exercise any judicial functions, and/or matters related to All India services and the Anti-Corruption Bureau
  4. The Chief Minister shall be appointed by the L-G who will also appoint other ministers with the aid of the CM. The L-G shall also administer the oath of office and of secrecy to ministers and the CM.
  5. The L-G will have the power to promulgate ordinances which shall have the same force and effect as an act of the Legislative Assembly assented by the L-G.

 

Impact:

  1. The tabling of the proposed Reorganisation Bill is also proof that the long reign of the 1954 Order has ended. The 1954 Order had introduced a proviso to Article 3, namely that “no Bill providing for increasing or diminishing the area of the State of Jammu and Kashmir or altering the name or boundary of that State shall be introduced in Parliament without the consent of the Legislature of that State“. That power of the State Legislature to give prior consent does not exist anymore. This has provided a free hand to the Centre to table the Reorganisation Bill.
  2. With the removal of the 1954 Order, the power of the State Legislature ceases to exist and Parliamentary laws, including that of reservation, would apply to Jammu and Kashmir as it does in other parts of the country.
  3. The government called this the end of “positive discrimination” and the closing of the “chasm” between residents of J&K and citizens of other parts of the country.
  4. The removal of the 1954 Order further also negates a clause which was added to Article 352. The Order had mandated that no proclamation of Emergency on grounds “only of internal disturbance or imminent danger shall have effect” in the State unless with the concurrence of the State government.

 

Rationale behind this move:

  1. Article 370 has prevented J&K to merge with India rather than being a basis of its merger.
  2. Article 370 was seen as discriminatory on the basis of gender, class, caste and place of origin.
  3. Post the repeal of the Article 370, doors to private investment in J&K would be opened, which would in turn increase the potential for development there.
  4. Increased investments would lead to increased job creation and further betterment of socio-economic infrastructure in the state.
  5. Opening of buying of lands would bring in investments from private individuals and multinational companies and give a boost to the local economy.

 

Criticism:

  1. The mechanism that the government used to railroad its rigid ideological position on Jammu and Kashmir through the Rajya Sabha was both hasty and stealthy. This move will strain India’s social fabric not only in its impact on Jammu and Kashmir but also in the portents it holds for federalism, parliamentary democracy and diversity.
  2. The passing of legislation as far-reaching as dismembering a State without prior consultations has set a new low.
  3. The entire exercise of getting Article 370 of the Constitution effectively abrogated has been marked by executive excess.
  4. A purported process to change the constitutional status of a sensitive border State has been achieved without any legislative input or representative contribution from its people.

 

Challenges ahead:

  1. The move will be legally challenged on grounds of procedural infirmities and, more substantively, that it undermines the basic feature of the compact between Delhi and Srinagar that was agreed upon in 1947.
  2. The President’s power under Article 370 has been used both to create an enabling provision and to exercise it immediately to modify the Order, thereby dispensing with the role envisaged for the State Assembly.
  3. While it is true that in 1961 the Supreme Court upheld the President’s power to ‘modify’ the constitutional provisions in applying them to J&K, it is a moot question whether this can be invoked to make such a radical change: a functioning State has now been downgraded and bifurcated into two Union Territories.
  4. But beyond the legality, the real test will be on the streets of Srinagar, Jammu and Delhi once the security cordon is lifted from the State.
  5. What was unbecoming is the unwillingness to enter into consultation with the mainstream political leaders; in no other State would former Chief Ministers have been dealt with so cavalierly.

 

Conclusion:

The special status of J&K was meant to end, but only with the concurrence of its people. The Centre’s abrupt move disenfranchised them on a matter that directly affected their life and sentiments. Moreover, that this was done after a massive military build-up and the house arrest of senior political leaders, and the communications shutdown reveals a cynical disregard of democratic norms. Whatever its intent in enabling the full integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India, this decision to alter the State’s status could have unintended and dangerous consequences.

Difference between states and UTs:

  1. States have their own elected government, but in Union Territory (UT) is administered by the Central Government.
  2. The state is administered by Cheif minister, whereas UT is administered by Administrator appointed by President.
  3. The states have the Governor as its executive head, in UTs, President is its executive head.
  4. A state mandatorily has its own Legislative Assembly and make law for the state, for UT, it is not mandatory to have a Legislative Assembly.
  5. Powers in states are distributed through Federal mode that is powers divided between states and center. Whereas, in case of UTs, powers are Unitary in nature that is power is in the hands of the Center.