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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 7 March 2020

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Delimitation of Constituencies.

2. The right of an accused to be defended.

3. How an MP is suspended from Lok Sabha by the Speaker?

4. Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill 2020.

5. Indian Ocean Commission.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. What causes coral bleaching at the Great Barrier Reef?

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. What is ‘mac-binding’, the condition specified for Internet use in J&K?

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topic covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Delimitation of Constituencies

What to study?

For prelims and mains: What is delimitation, why is it needed, how is it carried out and special provisions w.r.t to J&K.

Context: The government has constituted a Delimitation Commission, to be headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, to redraw Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies of the Union Territory Jammu and Kashmirand the northeastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland.

What next?

The Commission will delimit the constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, and of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland in accordance with the provisions of the Delimitation Act, 2002.

What is Delimitation?

Delimitation literally means the process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a state that has a legislative body.

Who carries out the exercise?

  1. Delimitation is undertaken by a highly powerful commission. They are formally known as Delimitation Commission or Boundary Commission.
  2. These bodies are so powerful that its orders have the force of law and they cannot be challenged before any court.
  3. Such commissions have been constituted at least four times in India — in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952; in 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962; in 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972 and last in 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002.
  4. The commissions’ orders are enforced as per the date specified by the President of India. Copies of these orders are laid before the Lok Sabha or the concerned Legislative Assembly. No modifications are permitted.

Composition of the Commission:

According to the Delimitation Commission Act, 2002, the Delimitation Commission appointed by the Centre has to have three members: a serving or retired judge of the Supreme Court as the chairperson, and the Chief Election Commissioner or Election Commissioner nominated by the CEC and the State Election Commissioner as ex-officio members.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  • Previous delimitation commissions- powers and functions.
  • Composition of the commission.

Mains Link:

How and why delimitation of constituencies is carried out? Discuss.

 

Sources: ET.

 

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

The right of an accused to be defended

What to study?

For Prelims: What rights do accused have? Important observations made by courts.

For Mains: Need for these rights and their significance, challenges.

Context: Recently, the Karnataka High Court observed that it is unethical and illegal for lawyers to pass resolutions against representing accused in court. This was after local bar associations had objected to four students arrested for sedition being defended in court.

This is not the first time that bar associations have passed such resolutions, despite a Supreme Court ruling that these are “against all norms of the Constitution, the statute and professional ethics”.

What does the Constitution say about the right of an accused to be defended?

Article 22(1) gives the fundamental right to every person not to be denied the right to be defended by a legal practitioner of his or her choice.

Article 14 provides for equality before the law and equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

Article 39A, part of the Directive Principles of state policy, states that equal opportunity to secure justice must not be denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities, and provides for free legal aid.

What has the Supreme Court said about such resolutions by bar associations?

Supreme Court observations in 2010A S Mohammed Rafi vs State of Tamil Nadu case:

  1. Such resolutions are wholly illegal, against all traditions of the bar and against professional ethics.
  2. Every person, however wicked, depraved, vile, degenerate, perverted, loathsome, execrable, vicious or repulsive he may be regarded by society has a right to be defended in a court of law and correspondingly, it is the duty of the lawyer to defend him.”
  3. Such resolutions were “against all norms of the Constitution, the statute and professional ethics”, called these “a disgrace to the legal community”, and declared them null and void.

How are professional ethics of lawyers defined?

The Bar Council of India has Rules on Professional Standards, part of the Standards of Professional Conduct and Etiquette to be followed by lawyers under the Advocates Act.

An advocate is bound to accept any brief in the courts or tribunals, at a fee consistent with his standing at the Bar and the nature of the case.The Rules provide for a lawyer refusing to accept a particular brief in “special circumstances”.

Last year, The Uttarakhand High Court clarified that these special circumstances refer to an individual advocate who may choose not to appear in a particular case, but who cannot be prohibited from defending an accused by any threat of removal of his membership of the bar association.

How frequent are resolutions not to defend an accused?

Various bar associations across the country have passed such resolutions over the years. Among the prominent cases:

  1. After the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai, a resolution was passed against representing Ajmal Kasab. A Legal Aid lawyer was assigned the brief but he refused, while another who agreed to defend Kasab faced threats. Subsequently, a lawyer was appointed and given police security.
  2. After the 2012 gangrape in Delhi, lawyers in Saket court passed a resolution not to defend the accused.
  3. In Hyderabad last year, the Bar Association passed a resolution against representing four men who had been arrested for the rape and murder of a veterinary doctor, and who were later killed in an alleged encounter.
  4. In 2017, the Supreme Court directed lawyers of the Gurgaon District Bar Association not to obstruct any lawyer defending the accused in the murder of a seven-year-old schoolboy.

Have lawyers faced action for such resolutions?

Uttarakhand High Court has previously held that, in such instances, the State Bar Council can initiate action against office-bearers of the Bar Association if such resolutions are passed.

It also said that action under Section 15(2) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, can be considered against advocates who interrupt court proceedings.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Various rights guaranteed under Article 20 and 21.
  2. Their relevance.

Mains Link:

What does the Constitution say about the right of an accused to be defended? Discuss.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

How an MP is suspended from Lok Sabha by the Speaker?

What to study?

For Prelims: Provisions wrt to suspension of MPs.

For Mains:  Need for and significance of these provisions, other measures necessary in this regard.

Context: Seven Congress members were recently suspended for unruly behaviour in the Lok Sabha. The motion was passed by a voice vote.

What is the reason for suspending an MP?

The general principle is that it is the role and duty of the Speaker of Lok Sabha to maintain order so that the House can function smoothly. This is a daunting task even at the best of times.

In order to ensure that proceedings are conducted in the proper manner, the Speaker is empowered to force a Member to withdraw from the House (for the remaining part of the day), or to place him/her under suspension.

What are the rules under which the Speaker acts?

Rule Number 373 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business says: “The Speaker, if is of the opinion that the conduct of any Member is grossly disorderly, may direct such Member to withdraw immediately from the House, and any Member so ordered to withdraw shall do so forthwith and shall remain absent during the remainder of the day’s sitting.”

To deal with more recalcitrant Members, the Speaker may take recourse to Rules 374 and 374A. Rule 374 says:

“(1) The Speaker may, if deems it necessary, name a Member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the House by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business thereof.

“(2) If a Member is so named by the Speaker, the Speaker shall, on a motion being made forthwith put the question that the Member (naming such Member) be suspended from the service of the House for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session: Provided that the House may, at any time, on a motion being made, resolve that such suspension be terminated.

“(3) A member suspended under this rule shall forthwith withdraw from the precincts of the House.”

What is the procedure for revocation of a Member’s suspension?

While the Speaker is empowered to place a Member under suspension, the authority for revocation of this order is not vested in her. It is for the House, if it so desires, to resolve on a motion to revoke the suspension.

What happens in Rajya Sabha?

Like the Speaker in Lok Sabha, the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is empowered under Rule Number 255 of its Rule Book to “direct any Member whose conduct is in his opinion grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately” from the House.

  1. “Any Member so ordered to withdraw shall do so forthwith and shall absent himself during the remainder of the day’s meeting.”
  2. The Chairman may “name a Member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the Council by persistently and wilfully obstructing” business.
  3. In such a situation, the House may adopt a motion suspending the Member from the service of the House for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session.
  4. The House may, however, by another motion, terminate the suspension.
  5. Unlike the Speaker, however, the Rajya Sabha Chairman does not have the power to suspend a Member.

Need of the hour:

A balance has to be struck. There can be no question that the enforcement of the supreme authority of the Speaker is essential for smooth conduct of proceedings. However, it must be remembered that her job is to run the House, not to lord over it.

The solution to unruly behaviour has to be long-term and consistent with democratic values.

A step in that same direction could be to discontinue the practice of herding people out of the visitors’ gallery when the House witnesses chaos.It has been suggested that it may perhaps be a good idea to let them be — and to also reserve a few blocks in the gallery for schoolchildren, who could see for themselves the conduct of Members.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Provisions wrt to Election and suspension of MPs.
  2. Relevant authorities.
  3. Appeals in this regard.

Mains Link:

How an MP is suspended from Lok Sabha by the Speaker? Write a note on various provisions in this regard.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

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

Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill 2020

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Overview of the Bill, how is coal mining regulated in India? Current challenges and ways to address them.

Context: The Lok Sabha has given its nod to the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill.

The Bill amends the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act) and the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 (CMSP Act).

Under the Bill:

  1. Allocation of coal/lignite blocks for composite prospecting licence cum mining lease has been provided.
  2. Requirement of previous approval in cases where allocation of blocks was made by Central Govt has been dispensed with.
  3. Removal of restriction on end-use of coal: Companies will be allowed to carry on coal mining operation for own consumption, sale or for any other purposes, as may be specified by the central government.
  4. Transfer of statutory clearances to new bidders: The Bill provides that the various approvals, licenses, and clearances given to the previous lessee will be extended to the successful bidder for a period of two years.During this period, the new lessee will be allowed to continue mining operations.
  5. Advance action for auction: Under the MMDR Act, mining leases for specified minerals (minerals other than coal, lignite, and atomic minerals) are auctioned on the expiry of the lease period.  The Bill provides that state governments can take advance action for auction of a mining lease before its expiry.

Significance:

This will speed up the process of implementation of projects, ease of doing business, simplification of procedure and benefit all the parties in areas where minerals are located.

Background:

  • In 2018, the government had allowed commercial mining by private entities but non-coal companies couldn’t participate in the auction.
  • In August 2019, the government announced 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) under the automatic route in coal mining for open sale, besides creating associated infrastructure, such as washeries.

Implications of this move- significance:

  • This opens up the sector to players outside steel and power as well as removes end-use restrictions.
  • It will create an efficient energy market and bring in more competition as well as reduce coal imports. India imported 235 million tonnes (mt) of coal last year, of which 135 mt valued at Rs 171,000 crore could have been met from domestic reserves.
  • It might also put an end to Coal India Ltd’s monopoly in the sector.
  • It would also help India gain access to high-end technology for underground mining used by miners across the globe.

New mining target:

In 2018, the government allowed commercial mining by private entities and set a mining target of 1.5 billion tonnes by 2020. Out of this, 1 billion tonnes was set to be from Coal India, while 500 million tonnes was to be from non-Coal India entities. This target has now been revised to 1 billion tonnes by 223-24.

Who grants permission for mining?

The state governments grant permission for mining, known as mineral concessions, for all the minerals located within the boundary of the state, under the provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and Mineral Concession Rules, 1960.

However, for minerals specified in the First Schedule to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, Central government approval is necessary before granting the mineral concession.

Minerals specified under the First Schedule include hydrocarbons, atomic minerals and metallic minerals such as iron ore, bauxite copper ore, lead precious stones, zinc and gold.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are major and minor minerals?
  2. How they are regulated?
  3. Who grants permissions?

Mains Link:

Write a note on Mines and Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Indian Ocean Commission

What to study?

For Prelims: IOC- composition, objectives and functions.

For Mains: Benefits of IOC membership for India, challenges ahead.

Context: India was recently accepted as an observer in the Indian Ocean Commision, getting a seat at the table of the organization that handles maritime governance in the western Indian Ocean.

India’s entry is a consequence of its deepening strategic partnership with France as well as its expanding ties with the Vanilla Islands.

Indian_Ocean

Significance of this status for India:

  1. India will get an official foothold in a premier regional institution in the western Indian Ocean, boosting engagement with islands in this part of the Indian Ocean.
  2. These island nations are increasingly important for India’s strategic outreach as part of its Indo-Pacific policy. 
    This move would enhance ties with France which is the strong global power in the western Indian Ocean.
  3. It lends depth to India’s SAGAR (security and growth for all in the region) policy unveiled by PM Modi in 2015.
  4. The movewould lead to greater security cooperation with countries in East Africa.
  5. The move also strengthens western flank of the Indo-Pacific and is a stepping stone to security cooperation with East Africa. 

About IOC:

It is an intergovernmental organization created in 1982.

It was institutionalized in 1984 by the Victoria Agreementin Seychelles. 

The COI is composed of five African Indian Ocean nations: Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion (an overseas region of France), and Seychelles. 

COI’s principal mission is to strengthen the ties of friendship between the countries and to be a platform of solidarity for the entire population of the African Indian Ocean region.

The Commission has a Secretariat which is located in Mauritius and headed by a Secretary General. 

The Commission has four observers — China, EU, Malta and International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF). 

Objectives:

  • Political and diplomatic cooperation,
  • Economic and commercial cooperation
  • Sustainable development in a globalisation context, cooperation in the field of agriculture, maritime fishing, and the conservation of resources and ecosystems
  • Strengthening of the regional cultural identity, cooperation in cultural, scientific, technical, educational and judicial fields.

ReCoMAP:

The COI has funded a number of regional and national conservation and alternative livelihoods projects through ReCoMAP, Regional Programme for the Sustainable Management of the Coastal Zones of the Countries of the Indian Ocean (PROGECO in French). This project ended in 2011. 

Way ahead for India:

For India, engagements with this region will become critical as the Navy begins to strengthen its presence under its mission based deployments. Engagements with the region, especially with the islands- given their geo-strategic location- could become key in supporting Indian naval presence as well as furthering Delhi’s Indian Ocean engagement.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Geographical location of IOC members and their neighbours.
  2. Projects launched by IOC.
  3. Overview of Sagarmala project.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Indian Ocean Commission.

Sources: ET.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

What causes coral bleaching at the Great Barrier Reef?

What to study?

For Prelims:Coral bleaching- causes, effects, concerns and measures to prevent.

For Mains: Bleaching in Great Barrier Reef, measures to prevent bleach.

Context: Scientists have warned that the Great Barrier Reef will face a critical period of heat stress over the coming weeks, following the most widespread coral bleaching the natural world has ever endured.

About Great Barrier Reef:

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which spreads across a length of over 2,300 km and is roughly the size of Italy, is home to about 3,000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, 1,625 type of fish, 133 varieties of shark and rays and 600 types of soft and hard corals.

It is a world heritage site.

great_barrier_reef

What are Coral reefs?

Coral reefs are important hotspots of biodiversity in the ocean. Corals are animals in the same class (Cnidaria) as jellyfish and anemones. They consist of individual polyps that get together and build reefs.

Significance:

Coral reefs support a wide range of species and maintain the quality of the coastal biosphere.

Corals control the level of carbon dioxide in the water by converting it into a limestone shell. If this process does not take place, the amount of carbon dioxide in the ocean water would increase significantly and affect ecological niches.

Threats:

  • Coral reefs are threatened by climate change.
  • When the sea surface temperature increases beyond a tolerable limit, they undergo a process of bleaching.

What is bleaching?

Basically bleaching is when the corals expel a certain algae known as zooxanthellae, which lives in the tissues of the coral in a symbiotic relationship. About 90% of the energy of the coral is provided by the zooxanthellae which are endowed with chlorophyll and other pigments. They are responsible for the yellow or reddish brown colours of the host coral. In addition the zooxanthellae can live as endosymbionts with jellyfish also.

When a coral bleaches, it does not die but comes pretty close to it. Some of the corals may survive the experience and recover once the sea surface temperature returns to normal levels.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Great Barrier Reef, location and significance.
  2. What is a World Heritage site?

Mains Link:

What is Coral bleaching? How it is affecting coral reefs across the world. Discuss.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims


 

What is ‘mac-binding’, the condition specified for Internet use in J&K?

Context: According to a recent order issued by the government, Internet has been restored in Jammu and Kashmir, but the connectivity will be made available “with mac-binding”.

What is Mac-binding?

Every device has a Media Access Control (MAC) address, a hardware identification number that is unique to it. While accessing the Internet, every device is assigned an IP address.

  • Mac-binding essentially means binding together the MAC and IP addresses, so that all requests from that IP address are served only by the computer having that particular MAC address.
  • In effect, it means that if the IP address or the MAC address changes, the device can no longer access the Internet. Also, monitoring authorities can trace the specific system from which a particular online activity was carried out.

Note: Some articles of today’s Current Affairs will be covered on Monday.