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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 10 March 2020

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Allahabad High Court orders removal of controversial ‘name and shame’ hoardings.

2. Petitions and safeguards:Understanding the delay convicts’ hanging.

3. Quota within quota for SCs in Haryana.

4. What is the Opec+?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Input Tax Credit.

2. Basmati GI tag.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. ‘Attukal Pongala’ fest.

2. CPCB

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Allahabad High Court orders removal of controversial ‘name and shame’ hoardings

What to study?

For Prelims: What is CAA? The recent act and what are the powers available to police ans executive under CrPC to issue such orders.

For Mains: Significance and implications of this judgment.

Context: Allahabad High Court has directed the Lucknow administration to remove forthwith the controversial ‘name and shame’ hoardings of those arrested during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

What’s the issue?

The police put up several hoardings across Lucknow identifying those accused of violence during the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in December last, triggering those named to fear for their safety.Later, the Allahabad High Court had taken suo motu notice of this act.

Important observations made by the Court:

  1. The action of the Stateis nothing but an unwarranted interference in privacy of people. The same hence, is in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
  2. The placement of personal data of selected persons “reflects colorable exercise of powers” by the government.
  3. There are certain provisions empowering the investigating agencies or other Executives to take picture of accused for the purpose of their identification and record but that too is not open for publication. The only time these photographs be published is to have assistance in the apprehension of a fugitive from justice.
  4. No power is available in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to police or the Executive to display personal records of a person to public at large.
  5. On the issue of court taking the case suo motu, it said “where there is gross negligence on part of public authorities and government, where the law is disobeyed and the public is put to suffering and where the precious values of the constitution are subjected to injuries, a constitutional court can very well take notice of that at its own.”

How the administration defended its move?

While accepting absence of any statute permitting executive authorities to put such banners, the govt had opposed the petition by submitting that the object of displaying personal details of the individuals “is to deter the mischief mongers from causing damage to public and private property.”

The State has also questioned the territorial jurisdiction of the court in Allahabad and argued that the court “erred in invoking public interest jurisdiction in the instant matter, that being available to under privileged section of the society only.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Constitutional Court vs Constitutional Bench?
  2. Territorial jurisdiction of High Courts and Supreme Court
  3. What is Judicial Activism?
  4. What is Judicial overreach?
  5. Examples of the above two.
  6. Article 21?

Mains Link:

What is Judicial activism? Discuss with examples.

Link:

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Petitions and safeguards: Understanding the delay convicts’ hanging

What to study?

For Prelims: Legal procedure to be followed while executing death sentences.

For Mains: Significance and the need for checks and balances, concerns over delay in execution.

Context: The mercy plea filed by one of the four convicts in 2012 Delhi gangrape case was recently rejected by the President. Now, they will be hanged on March 20.

The fresh date is in line with the requirement of a gap of 14 days between the date of rejection of the mercy petition and the date of hanging.

What is the regular legal procedure followed in death penalty cases?

The legal procedure by which a convict is sent to his death is complex, and packed with safeguards.

  1. First, a trial court may pronounce the death sentence only in the “rarest of the rare” cases.
  2. Such a sentence is automatically referred to the High Court for confirmation. A warrant of execution may only be issued once the sentence has been confirmed by the High Court.
  3. Next, the convict has the option of approaching the Supreme Court against the High Court’s decision.
  4. After the Supreme Court’s decision, the convict may file a review petition, and a separate curative petition before the Supreme Court. Both are standard legal processes, meant to rectify egregious errors in judgments.
  5. Thereafter, a mercy petition before the President may be filed. Such a petition is disposed of after a process involving a recommendation from the relevant state government, and sanction from the Home Ministry.
  6. The convict may then approach the Supreme Court again by filing a petition questioning the legitimacy of the President’s decision in the mercy petition.
  7. Finally, the disposal of this petition ends the process, and the death sentence may be executed thereafter.

In conclusion, four separate petitions are available to a convict even after the Supreme Court has confirmed the conviction. 

Need for such checks and balances:

Regular legal procedure in death penalty cases has multiple checks because of the realisation of past failures. This has resulted in the addition of an extra layer of protections for death row convicts.

Besides, it is a principle of criminal law that it is preferable to exonerate 10 criminals to condemning even a single innocent.

InstaLink:

PrelimsLink:

  1. Various pleas and petitions mentioned – Curative vs Review Petitions
  2. Limitations of Trial Courts in awarding Death Penalty
  3. Power of SC to review its own orders.
  4. President’s powers – w.rt. to Death Penalty

MainsLink:

It is preferable to exonerate 10 criminals to condemning even a single innocent. Critically comment.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

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

Quota within quota for SCs in Haryana

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview of the Bill, key provisions, important SC groups in the state.

For Mains: Relevance and significance of this Bill, rationale behind this move, SC’s observations on the matter.

Context: The Haryana cabinet has recently approved the draft bill ‘The Haryana Scheduled Castes (Reservation in Admission in Educational Institutions) bill, 2020.’

This bill provides quota within quota for SCs in the state.

Key provisions and highlights of the Bill:

  1. The bill provides reservation of 50% seats to the deprived scheduled castes, out of the total 20% reserved for SC in the graduation and postgraduation courses.
  2. This will cover all educational institutions maintained by the government or receiving aid out of the state funds.It also includes government and government-aided technical and professional institutions. 
  3. Here, deprived SC includes all 36 castes which were part of Block A including Valmiki, Bazigar, Sansi, Deha, Dhanak, and Sapera.

Why this was necessary?

  • As per employees data collected, the total number of the SC employees in the state is nearly 22% of the total strength. However, in respect of representation in various services, the erstwhile Block A scheduled castes representation in Group-A, Group-B and Group-C services is only 4.7 per cent, 4.14 per cent and 6.27 per cent respectively, though their population is about 11% of the total state population.
  • The Block A scheduled castes or the deprived scheduled castes were not so educationally qualified as the data from SECC 2011 indicates. Only 2.13% population of the deprived SCs is graduate, 3.78% of them are senior secondary and 6.74% are matriculate. Besides, 33.63% of them are illiterate. This makes them a distinct class of citizens who are deprived of their constitutional right of equality due to lack of education. Thus, it was decided to provide such reservation in admission to candidates belonging to deprived SCs.

Are states empowered to make such decisions?

Article 15(5) of the Constitution authorises the State to make special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for SCs/STs for admission to educational institutions.

Criticisms:

This move is being criticised on the ground that it creates division within a class. Instead of this, critics say, the government should have offered special package or scholarship to Block A to upgrade their educational status.

What has the Supreme Court said in such matters?

The Supreme Court of India in the case of E.V. Chinnaiah Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh (2004(9) SCALE) has held that the castes etc. specified as Scheduled Castes under Article 341 of the Constitution is a homogeneous group for the purpose of the Constitution.

The court said that the benefits of reservation are available to members of all such castes which have been specified as Scheduled Caste in relation to a State/Union Territory.

This case deals with the issue that whether the schedule caste can further be sub-divided so that the benefit of reservation can reach to the outreach.

The main part of the judgement of the Court is heavily relied upon the argument that when the groups are been notified by the President in the list under Article 341 of the Constitution, the same take the shape of a homogenous class and thus there cannot be any further classification of the class.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Overview of Articles 14, 15, 16 and 341.
  2. Comparison of Chainnaiah with that of Sawhney case.
  3. Other states which provide reservations with reservation.

Mains Link:

Write a note on the evolution of creamy layer concept in India.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

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

What is the Opec+?

What to study?

For Prelims: What is OPEC, OPEC+?

For Mains: Oil crisis, reasons for fall in demand and the crisis, impact on other countries, way ahead.

Context: Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, plans to raise its crude oil production significantly above 10 million barrels per day (bpd) in April, after the collapse of the OPEC+ supply cut agreement with Russia.

 What’s the issue?

A three-year pact between OPEC and Russia ended in acrimony recently after Moscow refused to support deeper oil cuts to cope with the outbreak of the coronavirus and OPEC responded by removing all limits on its own production.

Oil prices plunged 10% as the development revived fears of a 2014 price crash, when Saudi Arabia and Russia fought for market share with U.S. shale oil producers, which have never participated in output-limiting pacts.

What next?

Effects now could quickly flood global markets at a time when demand has already weakened substantially.

What is the Opec+?

Opec+ refers to the alliance of crude producers, who have been undertaking corrections in supply in the oil markets since 2017.

OPEC plus countries include Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan and Sudan.

What are their goals?

The Opec and non-Opec producers first formed the alliance at a historic meeting in Algiers in 2016.

The aim was to undertake production restrictions to help resuscitate a flailing market.

What is OPEC?

  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was founded in Baghdad, Iraq, with the signing of an agreement in September 1960 by five countries namely Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. They were to become the Founder Members of the Organization.
  • It is a permanent, intergovernmental organization.
  • Currently, the Organization has a total of 13 Member Countries.
  • OPEC’s objective is to co-ordinate and unify petroleum policies among Member Countries, in order to secure fair and stable prices for petroleum producers; an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consuming nations; and a fair return on capital to those investing in the industry.
  • It is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.
  • OPEC membership is open to any country that is a substantial exporter of oil and which shares the ideals of the organization.

Why is OPEC+ more influential than OPEC?

OPEC’s 13 members control nearly 35 percent of global oil supplies and 82 percent of proven reserves. With the addition of the 10 Non-OPEC nations, notable among them Russia, Mexico and Kazakhstan, those shares increase to 55 percent and 90 percent respectively. This affords OPEC+ a level of influence over the world economy never seen before.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Founder members of OPEC
  2. Top oil producers?
  3. India’s crude oil imports?
  4. Components and refining of crude oil.
  5. Crude oil storage facilities in India?
  6. Geographical location of OPEC members.
  7. Type of Crude oil produced by OPEC and non-OPEC members

Mains Link:

How groups, such as OPEC, influence oil prices across the world? Discuss.

Break_through

(Please ignore Ecuador in the above map as it has recently(on 1 Jan 2020) left OPEC)

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

Input Tax Credit

What to study?

For Prelims: ITC- meaning, objectives and key features.

For Mains: Need for and significance, concerns over it’s misuse and need for reforms.

Context: Restrictions imposed on the input tax credit, used by business establishments to reduce their tax liability, on inward supplies under the Central Goods and Services Tax Act have been challenged in the Rajasthan High Court with the plea that the amendment made to a rule to introduce the provision had imposed “unreasonable and arbitrary” conditions.

What’s the issue?

The amended Rule 36 (4) of the CGST Rules, 2017, provides that the input tax credit can be availed only when a supplier of goods updates and uploads online the details of supplies through each of the bills. The petition now contended that the right to avail of credit could not be taken away by imposing the restrictions contained in the provisions of Section 43A of the Act, which was yet to be notified, through rules.

Input_credit

What is Input Tax Credit (ITC)?

It is the tax that a business pays on a purchase and that it can use to reduce its tax liability when it makes a sale.

In simple terms, input credit means at the time of paying tax on output, you can reduce the tax you have already paid on inputs and pay the balance amount.

Exceptions: A business under composition scheme cannot avail of input tax credit. ITC cannot be claimed for personal use or for goods that are exempt.

Concerns over its misuse:

  1. There could be possibility of misuse of the provision by unscrupulous businesses by generating fake invoices just to claim tax credit.
  2. As much as 80% of the total GST liability is being settled by ITC and only 20% is deposited as cash.
  3. Under the present dispensation, there is no provision for real time matching of ITC claims with the taxes already paid by suppliers of inputs.
  4. The matching is done on the basis of system generated GSTR-2A, after the credit has been claimed. Based on the mismatch highlighted by GSTR-2A and ITC claims, the revenue department sends notices to businesses.
  5. Currently there is a time gap between ITC claim and matching them with the taxes paid by suppliers. Hence there is a possibility of ITC being claimed on the basis of fake invoices.

Need of the hour- real time updates:

To fill the gap, a new return filing system has been proposed. Once it becomes operational, it would become possible for the department to match the ITC claims and taxes paid on a real time basis. The revenue department would then analyse the large number of ITC claims to find out if they are genuine or based on fake invoices and take corrective action.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is GST?
  2. What is composition scheme?
  3. What is Input tax credit?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Input tax credit.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: IP related issues.

Basmati GI tag

What to study?

For Prelims: What is GI tag, GI tag for Basmati.

For Mains: Relevance and significance of GI tag.

Context: Madhya Pradesh government’s struggle to join the elite ‘basmati’ league has failed once again as the Madras high court has dismissed the state’s plea seeking geographical indication (GI) tag for basmati rice grown in areas falling under the state.

What has the Court said?

Two GI certificates of registration for a same produce cannot be issued.

The petitioners have an alternative and efficacious remedy available by filing an application to the registrar of trademark seeking to cancel or vary the GI certificate issued to APEDA.

What’s the issue?

In May 2010, GI status was given to basmati grown only in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand and parts of western Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.

But, Madhya Pradesh demanded that its 13 districts be recognised as traditional Basmati growing regions.

However, GI registry had rejected Madhya Pradesh’s claim as being the original and unique basmati growing region. It had observed that the documents and evidence filed by Madhya Pradesh show the importance, special characters of rice cultivated in Madhya Pradesh but not the basmati cultivation in the traditional growing area.

What’s the concern now?

Madhya Pradesh says non-inclusion of the state in the basmati growing areas would have an adverse effect on the lives of farmers who mainly depend upon basmati cultivation and it will also affect the export potential, which will indirectly reduce the country’s turnover from the export of basmati.

About GI tag:

What is it?

A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.

Significance of a GI tag:

Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.

Security:

Once the GI protection is granted, no other producer can misuse the name to market similar products. It also provides comfort to customers about the authenticity of that product.

Who is a registered proprietor of a geographical indication?

Any association of persons, producers,organisation or authority established by or under the law can be a registered proprietor.

Their name should be entered in the Register of Geographical Indication as registered proprietor for the Geographical Indication applied for.

How long the registration of Geographical Indication is valid?

The registration of a geographical indication is valid for a period of 10 years.

It can be renewed from time to time for further period of 10 years each.

What is the difference between a geographical indication and a trademark?

A trademark is a sign used by an enterprise to distinguish its goods and services from those of other enterprises. It gives its owner the right to exclude others from using the trademark.

A geographical indication tells consumers that a product is produced in a certain place and has certain characteristics that are due to that place of production. It may be used by all producers who make their products in the place designated by a geographical indication and whose products share typical qualities.

Who accords and regulates Geographical Indications?

At the International level: Geographical Indications are covered as a component of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. GI is also governed by the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO’s) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

In India, Geographical Indications registration is administered by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 which came into force with effect from September 2003. The first product in India to be accorded with GI tag was Darjeeling tea in the year 2004-05.

Insta Link:

  1. What is GI tag?
  2. Who grants?
  3. GI products in India and their geographical locations.
  4. Other IPRs.

Mains Link:

What is a Geographical Indication (GI) tag? Discuss it’s significance.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


 

‘Attukal Pongala’ fest:

‘Attukal Pongala’ is one of the largest religious congregations of women.

Preparing ‘pongala’ (a sweet offering) is considered an auspicious all-women ritual as part of the annual festival of the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, which is popularly known as the “Women’s Sabarimala”.

As per local legend, the Pongala festival commemorates the hospitality accorded by women in the locality to Kannagi, the heroine of the Tamil epic Silappadhikaram while she was on her way to Kodungallur in Kerala, after destroying Madurai city to avenge the injustice to her husband Kovalan.

Attukal Temple is called the “Women’s Sabarimala” as only women perform rituals, just as predominantly men undertake the pilgrimage to the shrine of Lord Ayyappa.

 

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB):

  • It is a statutory organisation.
  • Constituted in September, 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
  • It was also entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
  • It is the apex organisation in country in the field of pollution control, as a technical wing of MoEFC.
  • The board is led by its Chairperson, who is generally a career civil servant.

Why in News?

CPCB has said that there are 128 sites in India contaminated by toxic and hazardous substances. West Bengal led the list with 27 sites followed by Odisha at 23.