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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 21 April 2021


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

1. Explain the rationale behind extension of ordinance making power of the executives in our country. How has it is been often misused? Discuss with suitable examples. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The article throws light upon the ordinance making powers of the executive and its misuse.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain the rationale behind extension of ordinance making power of the executives in our country and with examples explain how this power has been often misused.

Directive:

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with what you understand by Ordinance making power of the government.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Discuss the constitutionality – The Constitution permits the central and State governments to make laws when Parliament (or the State Legislature) is not in session. As law making is a legislative function, this power is provided for urgent requirements, and the law thus made has an automatic expiry date. The Constitution states that the ordinance will lapse at the end of six weeks from the time Parliament (or the State Legislature) next meets.

Explain the issues and concerns associated – the point of promulgation and repromulgation.

Present the court judgments in this aspect to defend your side, explain the concerns in detail with recent examples such as – central government has repromulgated the ordinance that establishes a commission for air quality management in the National Capital Region, or the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2020.

Discuss points that prove its unconstitutionality.

Conclusion:

Conclude with solutions.

Introduction

Article 123 of the Constitution grants the President certain law-making powers to promulgate Ordinances when either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session. Similar powers are available to the governor under Article 213.

Body

Rationale for ordinance making power and checks and balances

  • The ordinance-making power is the most important legislative power of the President. It has been vested in him to deal with unforeseen or urgent matters.
  • An ordinance can be promulgated only when both Houses or either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session or when the state legislature is not in session in case of Governor’s ordinance making power.
  • An ordinance can be issued only on those subjects on which the Parliament can make laws.
  • An ordinance is subject to the same constitutional limitations as an Act of Parliament. Hence, an ordinance cannot abridge or take away any of the fundamental rights.
  • Every ordinance issued must be laid before both the Houses of Parliament or state legislature within six weeks from the reassembly of Parliament or state legislature and it ceases to exist if it is not approved within six weeks of reassembly.
  • President can make an ordinance only when he is satisfied that the circumstances exist that render it necessary for him to take immediate action. In Cooper case, (1970), the Supreme Court held that the President’s satisfaction can be questioned in a court on the ground of malafide.
  • Supreme Court in the D.C. Wadhwa case ruled that successive repromulgation of ordinances with the same text without any attempt to get the bills passed by the assembly would amount to violation of the Constitution and the ordinance so repromulgated is liable to be struck down.
  • It held that the exceptional power of law-making through ordinance cannot be used as a substitute for the legislative power of the state legislature or Parliament.

Misuse of ordinance making power

  • Ordinances appear to be a loophole that the ruling Governments have found to push laws without bringing much attention or spending time in Parliament.
  • In reality, many times ordinances are issued by the government for lack of consensus in Parliament.
  • If there is a possibility of a bill not being passed in the current session of Parliament, government can take the ordinance route pending its approval by the Parliament during a later session.
    • For instance, the farm laws were first promulgated via ordinance and then passed as Bills. It created a furore that is still ongoing as farm protests.
    • The governments are using its ordinance-making power as virtually an alternative tool of legislation.
  • Ordinances are used by governments to pass legislation which is currently pending in Parliament, as was the case with the Food Security Ordinance.
  • The power of the executive to issue ordinances goes against the principle of separation of powers as lawmaking is the domain of legislature.
  • Since independence, numerous ordinances have been issued which clearly shows that this power has been used quite regularly instead of being the last resort

Way Forward

  • The legal position is clear, and has been elucidated by constitution Benches of the Supreme Court. Ordinances are to tackle exigencies when the legislature is not in session, and expire at the end of six weeks of the next meeting of the legislature.
  • This time period is given for the legislature to decide whether such a law is warranted.
  • Repromulgation is not permitted as that would be a usurpation of legislative power by the executive.
  • As governments, both at the Centre and States, are violating this principle, the legislatures and the courts should check the practice.
  • That is what separation of powers and the concept of checks and balances means.
  • By not checking this practice, the other two organs are also abdicating their responsibility to the Constitution.

 

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

2. Critically examine the roles and responsibilities of National Human Rights Commission. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why the question:

The question is straightforward and is based on the theme of NHRC.

Key Demand of the question:

One is expected to critically examine the roles and responsibilities of National Human Rights Commission.

Directive:

Critically examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with brief importance of NHRC in the country.

Body:

It is the watchdog of human rights in the country, i.e. the rights related to life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Indian Constitution or embodied in the international covenants and enforceable by courts in India.

Since the question states “Critically” one must bring out the shortcoming in the execution of the powers and responsibilities of the case.

Take hints from the article and explain the concerns associated in detail.

Conclusion:

Suggest solutions to address the issues and make the NHRC more powerful.

Introduction

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is a statutory body established on 12th October, 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993. The commission is the watchdog of human rights in the country. It works to protect the right to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the international covenants and enforceable by courts in India.

Body

Role of National Human Rights Commission

  • Investigation: Investigating complaints or failure of any public official regarding the rights violation, either suo moto or after receiving a petition.
    • Eg: Suo moto cognizance of Sonbhadra tribal killing in UP and sent a fact-finding mission.
  • Prevention and Safeguard: Monitoring the living conditions of the inmates in prisons and to make recommendations thereon. Reviewing statutory safeguards or treaties for the protection of human rights.
  • Research and promotion: Promoting research and encouraging NGOs in the field of human rights. While making an inquiry into the complaints, the commission enjoys the powers of a civil court. It also studies treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation.
  • Intervention: It intervene in any proceeding involving any allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court with the approval of such court.
    • Commission has awarded 11 cr compensation (recommendation) between 2012-17.
  • Human rights: NHRC review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures.
  • Awareness: NHRC spread human rights literacy among various sections of society and promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights through publications, the media, seminars and other available means.
  • Working with NGOs: It encourages the efforts of non-governmental organisations and institutions working in the field of human rights.

Criticism against NHRC

  • It can only ask the authority to approach the higher Courts to provide relief to the victims. The concerned authority has to implement its recommendations within one month or communicate reasons for not complying.
  • Even today atrocities against Dalits is continuing but the conviction rate is only 25.52%.
  • NHRC failed to provide evidence in the famous Kairana Migration Case (forced mass migration in UP between 2014-16) as a result of extortion threat.
  • If violation of human rights is by private parties, NHRC has no jurisdiction.
  • If the complaint is made after 1 year of occurrence, it cannot investigate into such matters.
  • NHRC has limited powers with regard to Armed forces and must accept a report from the centre in such cases.
  • It can only provide recommendations of remedy but cannot enforce it.

Conclusion

There is need for complete revamping of NHRC to make it more effective and truly a watchdog of human right violations in the country. NHRC efficacy can be enhanced by government if commission decisions are made enforceable. This would remove the infamous ‘toothless’ adjective from the commission’s reputation.

 

Topic: GS-2: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

GS-3: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, Nano-technology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

3. Examine the major reasons for abolition of Intellectual Property Appellate tribunal. Do you think it was a missed opportunity to develop the home-grown jurisprudence on patent law? (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The article is in the backdrop of abolition of the IP Appellate Board.

Key Demand of the question:

Examine the major reasons for abolition of Intellectual Property Appellate tribunal and explain in what way it proved to be a missed opportunity to not develop home-grown jurisprudence on patent laws.

 Directive:

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with some data on Patents and laws related to them in India.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Explain the major reasons for abolition of Intellectual Property Appellate tribunal.

Since its inception, the institution has been involved in controversies. Even though the IPAB has not been performing its adjudicatory function on the patent side regularly due to administrative reasons, it certainly has been the subject matter of judicial review before the various High Courts. These cases include a challenge to the constitutionality of the IPAB, petitions seeking filling up of vacancies before the High Court in Delhi and Chennai, and even a petition to the Supreme Court for extension of the term of the chairperson. Concerns regarding the judicial and institutional independence of the IPAB.

Explain why it proved to be a missed opportunity and what needs to be done.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

The IPAB was established in the year 2003 under the Trademarks Act, 1999 for the ‘speedy disposal of appeals’ including establishing a timeline of 3 months to file an appeal from the date the order passed by the Registrar of Trade Marks. The said provisions were adopted under the Patents Act, 1970, Copyright Act, 1957 and Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.

Body

The Government of India issued an Ordinance “The Tribunals Reforms (Rationalization And Conditions Of Service)” on 4th April, 2021 by which the Intellectual Property IPAB (IPAB), has been quashed. All the cases pending before the IPAB are to now be transferred to the High Courts.

Background on IPAB constitution and working

  • Historically, appeals from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), rectification and revocation applications were heard by the various High Courts. Howe
  • ver, the Patents (Amendment) Act of 2002 divested these powers from the High Courts and extended it to the IPAB.
  • Though the patents side of the IPAB existed in theory since 2002, the Central government notified its functioning only in April 2007 after a rebuke from the Madras High Court.
  • The court was then hearing an appeal from the IPO regarding Novartis’ Glivec patent application which ought to have been heard by the IPAB.
  • After the notification, the High Court transferred Novartis’ petition and subsequently all other pending patent cases to the IPAB.
  • Since its inception, the institution has been involved in controversies. Even though the IPAB has not been performing its adjudicatory function on the patent side regularly due to administrative reasons, it certainly has been the subject matter of judicial review before the various High Courts.

Reasons for abolition of IPAB

  • One of the former chairpersons had publicly raised concerns regarding the judicial and institutional independence of the IPAB, and called for closing it.
  • Not only was the IPAB understaffed, with its administrative staff often being on deputation, it was also underpowered, at times quite literally. The tribunal had to bear the brunt of the summer power cuts in Chennai.
  • Even after establishing IPAB and appointing chairperson, technical member was not appointed which was crucial to hear patent cases.
  • The IPAB’s jurisdiction of cases was split between trademarks, patents, copyright, and geographical indication, where the predominant business pertained to trademarks. Thus, the workload of the IPAB was typically split between trademarks and patents with the former consuming much of the time.
  • Not only did the IPAB juggle its time with the different forms of IP, but it also had sittings in five different cities, with just one chairperson who had to fly between them at times.
  • The chairperson had to summon parties and papers to all these cities, which came at a substantial cost to the public.
  • The disposal rate for patents at the IPAB did not justify its continuance. There was a paltry disposal rate of about 20 patent cases a year. Nearly 70% of the patent cases filed were either pending at some stage or yet to be taken up for hearing.
  • Going by this disposal rate, it would have taken another decade to dispose of the pending applications, leave alone the new ones. The irony was that tribunals were established with the primary aim of speedy disposal of cases by specialised experts.
  • While we know the number of cases filed and disposed, we will never know the number of unjustified patents that went unquestioned for lack of an effective appellate mechanism.

Missed opportunity for developing patent law

  • India stands as a shining example for what it has done legislatively in patent law. Be it the retraction of product patents for pharmaceuticals and chemicals between 1970 and 2005, the anti-evergreening provisions or the robust compulsory licensing regime, it has offered the world a host of TRIPS-compliant flexibilities in its statute. But
  • when it came to developing a jurisprudence around these provisions – case laws from the highest courts on how these provisions will be worked – it has failed.
  • Barring a few bright spots, there has been a reluctance to extend the flexibilities in the Patents Act through judicial interpretation that expands the law.
  • The tenure of the IPAB will be remembered as a missed opportunity to develop the home-grown jurisprudence on patent law that is much lacking in India.

Conclusion

It remains to be seen how High Court deals matters of extremely technical nature since earlier dealing with the technical aspect of the case fell outside the purview of the High Courts; a duty that was carried out by the technical member of the IPAB. It will be interesting to see how Courts put necessary guidelines to deal with such proceedings.

Topic: GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

GS-3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

4. Present an analysis of the risks faced by children in a world increasingly powered by virtual reality and artificial intelligence (AI) and the safeguards to be put in place. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The opinion from The Hindu presents an analysis of the risks faced by children in a world increasingly powered by virtual reality and artificial intelligence (AI) and the safeguards to be put in place.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the concerns posed by the virtual reality and AI on children of the world and the need to put necessary safeguards in place.

Directive:

AnalyzeWhen asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with some facts related to virtual reality and AI in the current times.

Body:

Discuss the risks faced by children in a world increasingly powered by virtual reality and Artificial Intelligence (AI) such as – digital divide; two-thirds of the world’s children do not have access to the Internet at home. “Honeypots” for child predators: Video games and chat forums being misused. Digital addiction, Digital manipulation: through fake news, conspiracy theories, hype, hubris, online bullying, hate speech and the likes etc.

Explain the genuineness of the concerns and suggest solutions to address these problems.

Conclusion:

Conclude that Just as India proactively helped shape the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and gave the world the principle of Ahimsa, it could also galvanize the international community around, ensuring an ethical AI for Generation AI.

Introduction

We are now living among history’s very first “AI” generation. From the Alexas they converse with, to their robot playmates, to the YouTube wormholes they disappear into, the children and adolescents of today are born into a world increasingly powered by virtual reality and artificial intelligence (AI).

Body

Artificial Intelligence and risks faced by children

  • Digital divide: According to UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as many as two-thirds of the world’s children do not have access to the Internet at home. AI will radically amplify societal inequalities among children of different races, socio-economic background, genders, and regions.
  • Safety of children: While video gaming and chat forums like Fortnite: Battle Royale, to name one popular example, offer an online space for children to socialise with their friends, multiple reports identify such virtual playgrounds as “honeypots” for child predators.
  • Less parental control: Short of banning screen time entirely, parents are hard-pressed to keep tabs on just what their kids are doing online, and with whom. With online homework, this has become even more difficult.
  • Addiction: It does not help that the AI systems driving many video games and social networks are designed to keep children hooked, both through algorithms and gimmicks like “streaks”, “likes”, infinite scroll, etc.
  • Decreasing real world interaction: Right when they need to be learning concentration skills, emotional and social intelligence, their attention is being spliced into ever-thinner slices, and their social interactions increasingly virtualised.
  • Echo chambers: They are being sucked into virtual deep space, including the universe of fake news, conspiracy theories, hype, hubris, online bullying, hate speech and the likes.

Safeguards needed

  • The next phase of the fourth Industrial Revolution must include an overwhelming push to extend Internet access to all children.
  • Governments, private sector, civil society, parents and children must push hard for this now, before AI further deepens the pre-existing inequalities and creates its own disparities.
  • And on mitigating on-line harms, we need a multi-pronged action plan. We need legal and technological safeguards, greater awareness among parents, guardians and children on how AI works behind the scenes; we need tools, like trustworthy certification and rating systems, to enable sound choices on safe AI apps.
  • We need to ban anonymous accounts and need enforceable ethical principles of non-discrimination and fairness embedded in the policy and design of AI systems.
  • There is also a need “do no harm” risk assessments for all algorithms that interact with children or their data. In short, we need safe online spaces for children, without algorithmic manipulation and with restricted profiling and data collection.
  • And we need online tools (and an online culture) that helps prevent addiction, that promotes attention-building skills, that expands children’s horizons, understanding and appreciation for diverse perspectives, and that builds their social emotional learning capabilities.
  • The Government of India has put in place strong policies to protect the rights and well-being of children, including a legislative framework that includes the Right to Education.
  • Laws and policies to prevent a range of abuses and violence, such as the National Policy for Children (2013), can be extended for children in a digital space.

Conclusion

But much more needs to be done, here in India and around the world. And in this interconnected world, the more we can agree upon multilaterally and by multi-stakeholder groups, the easier it may be to implement nationally and locally. Just as India proactively helped shape the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and gave the world the principle of Ahimsa, this great country could also galvanise the international community around ensuring an ethical AI for Generation AI.

 

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

5. The problems of Prevention of Corruption Act (PoCA), 1988 was only partially addressed by the amendments of 2018. There is a need for a delicate balancing act between probity and economic activity. Critically examine. (250 words)

Reference:  Live Mint

Why the question:

The article explains the need for a delicate balancing act between probity and economic activity in the PoCA.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the problems of the PoCA and need for a delicate balancing act between probity and economic activity.

Directive:

Critically examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with brief background of the coming of PoCA.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Explain in detail the problems with the original PoCA.

Discuss PoCA amendments 2018: explain how it has been a refreshing change on multiple counts.

Take hints from the article and elaborately explain the above points.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

India’s rank has slipped six places to 86th among 180 countries in Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released by Transparency International. India experienced slow progress in anti-corruption efforts, with several government commitments to reform not yet materialising effectively. Corruption shifts public spending away from essential public services. Countries with higher levels of corruption, regardless of economic development, tend to spend less on health. Hence needs to be tackled effectively.

Body

Features of Prevention of Corruption Act amendment in 2018

  • Its aim was to enhance transparency and accountability of the government and also to make the provisions under the law stringent.
  • Bribe giving also is an offence.
    • It makes a provision for providing protection to ‘coerced’ (forced to pay a bribe) bribe-givers if the matter is reported to the concerned law enforcement agencies within a week (7 days).
    • The amendment has removed the provision which protected a bribe-giver from prosecution for statements made by him/her during corruption trials.
    • It covers bribe-giving commercial organisations to be liable for punishment or prosecution. However, charitable institutions have been left out of its ambit.
  • Imprisonment: Those convicted of taking bribes can be imprisoned for three to seven years besides being fined under the provisions of the Bill.
    • Bribe-givers have also been included in the legislation for the first time and they can be punished with imprisonment for up to seven years, a fine or both.
  • The amendment also redefines criminal misconduct and will now only cover misappropriation of property and possession of disproportionate assets.
    • Misappropriating of property entrusted to the banker
    • Amassing assets disproportionate to known sources of income
  • The amendment proposes a ‘shield’ for government servants, including those retired, from prosecution by making it mandatory for investigating agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation to take prior approval from a competent authority before conducting an enquiry against them.
    • However, it states that such permissions shall not be necessary for cases involving the arrest of a person on the spot on the charge of accepting or attempting to accept any undue advantage for himself or for any other person.
    • Another relief that the Act provides to a public servant is that in any corruption case against him or her, the factor of “undue advantage” will have to be established.
    • According to PRS Legislative Research, the Bill provides powers and procedures for the attachment and forfeiture of a corruption-accused public servant’s property.
  • Trial: According to the Act, the trial in cases pertaining to the exchange of bribe and corruption should be completed within two years. Further, even after reasoned delays, the trial cannot exceed four years.
  • Forfeiture of property: This section was introduced for the Special Court to attach and confiscate property, which was earlier done under a 1944 ordinance through civil courts.
  • Sanction for prosecution: A sanction is needed for prosecuting former officials for offences done while in office. The decision on sanction request is to be made under three months which may be extended by a month. Centre may notify about the guidelines.

Shortcomings and criticism

  • Narrow definition: The older law had a broad definition of a corrupt public official, defining it simply as any person who, while holding office as a public servant, obtains for any person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage without any public interest.
    • The amendments narrow this definition significantly, by adding the test of intention, meaning prosecuting agencies will have to prove a conspiracy to carry out corrupt acts, rather than simply pointing to disproportionate assets or questionable actions.
  • The amendments seek to define criminal misconduct more narrowly, by including just two clauses.
    • If the public servant dishonestly or fraudulently misappropriates or otherwise converts for his own use any property entrusted to him or any property under his control as a public servant or allows any other person so to do or if he intentionally enriches himself illicitly during the period of his office.
    • This means that if a public servant cannot account for assets or property disproportionate to their known sources of income, then they are presumed to have intentionally enriched themselves illicitly.
    • The changed clauses however, do not account for assets that have been illicitly procured for other people.
  • The amendment Bill has not mentioned who the concerned authority is for providing sanctions for investigating a public official.
  • Some existing important provisions in the old law are being dropped. These new terms will take decades for getting their interpretations from the Supreme Court.
    • Sections 7, 8, 9 and 10 of the existing Act have been deleted and replaced by completely new provisions, with completely new definitions and words. It may now take decades before the new provisions are properly interpreted and settled by judiciary.
  • The provision under Section 13(1)(d) has been deleted. This is the provision which is used for involving senior bureaucrats and ministers in corruption cases, since direct acceptance of bribe by them was generally not possible.
    • Further, the maximum punishment for this would now be only 7 years imprisonment as against the existing punishment for 10 years.
  • Prior permission of the Government or the competent authority will now be required for registering certain corruption offences. Previously, the provision for taking such permission was quashed and set aside by the Supreme Court in 2014 in a writ petition.
    • This permission will give immunity to corrupt Government officers.
    • Even sanction for prosecution of corrupt public servants would now be needed even after their retirement, giving them one more level of immunity or protection.

Conclusion

There should be a comprehensive package to fight against corruption. The government must strengthen existing laws like whistle-blower protection act, lokpal act etc. There should be an equal focus on judicial reform and police reform to create a deterrence.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

6. Differentiate the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020 from the existing EIA Notification, 2006.  Does it compromise the existing principles of environmental sustainability? Comment. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The question is premised on the theme of EIA.  

Key Demand of the question:

Differentiate the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020 from the existing EIA Notification, 2006.  And discuss the shortcomings if any.

Directive:

Comment– here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start your answer by mentioning the context of the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020.

Body:

Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has proposed a draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2020 that seeks to replace the current EIA notification which goes back to 2006.

Highlight major differences between the draft and current notification; Post-Facto Approval, Public Consultation Process, Compliance Report Issue, Diluting EIA Process etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude that the draft EIA rule 2020, envisages consolidating the existing EIA rules and has the potential of alleviating some ambiguity in the present law. However, it must not compromise the existing principles of environmental sustainability.

Introduction

India legislated an umbrella Act for environmental protection in 1986 i.e. the EPA after being signatory to the Stockholm Declaration (1972) on Environment and Bhopal gas leak disaster in 1984. Under the Act, the country notified its first EIA norms in 1994 setting in place a legal framework for regulating activities that access, utilise, and affect (pollute) natural resources.

Body

Difference between EIA 2006 versus EIA 2020

  • Public consultation period: The draft notification provides for a reduction of the time period from 30 days to 20 days for the public to submit their responses during a public hearing for any application seeking environmental clearance.
  • Inspection: The 2006 notification required that the project proponent submit a report every six months, showing that they are carrying out their activities as per the terms on which permission has been given. However, the new draft requires the promoter to submit a report only once every year.
  • Categorization: Through the draft notification, the central government gets the power to categorise projects as “strategic.”
  • Once a project is considered as strategic, the draft notification states that no information related to such projects shall be placed in the public domain. Violations can only be reported suo motu by the project proponent, or by a government authority, appraisal committee, or regulatory authority. This is against the principles of natural justice.

Impact on environment sustainability

  • Reduction in public consultation can particularly pose a problem to those affected people who are forest dwellers or otherwise do not have access to information and technology and those that are not aware of the process itself.
  • Unless a public hearing is meaningful, the whole EIA process would lack transparency and credibility.
  • Wide discretionary powers to government: It also allows the central government to declare some areas as “economically sensitive areas” without a public hearing or environmental clearance, and several “red” and “orange”-classified toxic industries could now operate as close as 0-5 km from a Protected Area.
  • It opens a window for summary clearance for any project deemed strategic without having to explain why.
  • Provisions for post-facto project clearance: Projects that have commenced operations – by way of construction, installation, excavation, production, etc – without obtaining necessary clearances can be legalised after payment of a penalty.
  • Post facto clearance is the violation of the fundamental principles of environmental jurisprudence and is contrary to both the precautionary principle as well as the need for sustainable development.
  • Extended period of clearances: The increased validity of the environment clearances for mining projects (50 years versus 30 years currently) and river valley projects (15 years versus 10 years currently) raises the risk of irreversible environmental, social and health consequences on account of the project remaining unnoticed for long.
  • Exemptions: The new draft exempts a long list of projects from public consultation and prior clearance. For example, linear projects such as roads and pipelines in border areas will not require any public hearing. All inland waterways projects and expansion/widening of national highways including roads that cut through forests and dredging of major rivers, will be exempt from prior clearance.
  • Baseline data: The latest draft EIA notification does away with the need to carry out studies covering all seasons in a year. This will lead to less reliable data and projections for pollutants affecting air and water, according to several experts.
  • Private consultation: The notification allows project proponents to engage private consultants for preparing the EIA reports propelling a situation where expertise and technicalities would be adopted to obscure the process and make it difficult to understand – something that should have been open and comprehensible to the communities for the process to be remotely transparent.
  • Compliance Report Issue: Reducing monitoring to 1 year frequency, leads to certain irreversible environmental, social or health consequences that go unnoticed.

Conclusion

Various provisions of Draft EIA aimed at facilitating the government’s doctrine of “ease of doing business”. Though the Environmental regulation must balance damage to the environment with sustainable development and possible benefits. Government must incorporate the concerns of all stakeholder before finalising the regulation

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and nonpartisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections.

7. Why certain values like anonymity are important for civil servant and not for politicians? Explain with examples. (250 words)

Reference:  Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon Publications

Why the question:

The question is based on the values of civil servants.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain why certain values like anonymity are important for civil servant and not for politicians.

Directive:

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with general importance of values to civil servants.

Body:

The anonymity of the civil service is linked to two concepts: permanence and neutrality. Civil servants, many of whom remain in their jobs whilst serving numerous governments, are thus likely to have to give advice to governments of different political parties, who may have different attitudes to policy.

The advice they give needs to be given to ministers both freely and also without fear of adverse public or political reactions and without fear of future career damage. This is tied into the concept of ministerial responsibility, whereby the convention is for the minister to accept responsibility for their actions and decisions and those of their departments.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance.

Introduction

Civil servants are compared to the fourth lion of the Ashoka emblem, which remains invisible “yet makes its presence felt at all times. PM Modi, while addressing the officer trainees said that, Anonymity is the biggest strength of civil servants.

Body

Importance of anonymity for civil servants

  • The anonymity of the civil service is linked to two concepts which are permanence and neutrality. Civil servants, many of whom remain in their jobs whilst serving numerous governments, are thus likely to have to give advice to governments of different political parties, who may have different attitudes to policy.
  • The advice they give needs to be given to ministers both freely and also without fear of adverse public or political reactions and without fear of future career damage.
  • This is tied into the concept of ministerial responsibility, whereby the convention is for the minister to accept responsibility for their actions and decisions and those of their departments.
  • The principle of anonymity is to be distinguished from the rule of neutrality and that of impersonality. The rule of neutrality expects the civil servant to be politically neutral.
  • He has to give loyalty to the minister irrespective of the political party to which his government belongs.
  • The doctrine of impersonality expects the civil servant to follow the prescribed laws, rules and regulations irrespective of his own person in case he has taken up the charge of his particular post from another civil servant or irrespective of the person to whom the case pertains.
  • The rule of anonymity operates in the case of legal and proper acts of the civil servants. They are not required to come out in public or face parliament in case of such acts; it is the minister who then faces the people of the parliament. For illegal personal acts both the civil servants and the ministers can be held guilty.

Relevant provisions in India

  • The civil servants in Britain are often given the simile of the fountains in the Trafalgar Square (London) who are silent observers of the political events in the cabinet and the parliament whose sites are located nearby.
  • Similar norms are applicable to the relationship in India between the ministers and the civil servants. The Indian Constitution does not spell out the terms and conditions of this relationship, this is left to the conventions to be evolved since the inauguration of the Constitution.
  • The Indian Constitution gives security of tenure to the service of the members of the Indian Administrative Service, other All India and Central and State Civil Services and those holding civil posts under the union or a state, except for reasons of criminal charge, reasonable practicability or security of the state (Article 311).
  • The relevant rules issued by the executive define the terms ‘civil servant’ and ‘civil post’ in terms of the master-servant relationship marked by the method of employment and the mode of removal from service.
  • The normal relationship between the minister and a civil servant is based on mutual satisfaction of obligations to each other.
  • Civil servants are to render advice lo the minister in respect of policies, plans and programmes as well as Iaws and rules to put these into action, on the basis of their expertise.
  • They are not to act in these respects to suit their advice to the personal or partisan ends of the minister.
  • Once the advice is given, the civil servant’s function in this behalf is over, He has then to implement the policies and programmes and the laws and rules as framed by the executive whether his advice has been accepted by it or not.
  • The minister in turn is not expected to interfere in the execution of the government’s policies, plans, programmes, laws and rules.

 Conclusion

The All-India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968 prescribe that the civil servants have to avoid occasions of self-publicity, entertainment, association with a political party-or its activities, etc., so that their anonymity is preserved.


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