GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana has recused himself from hearing a petition filed by Andhra Pradesh accusing Telangana of depriving its people of their legitimate share of water for drinking and irrigation.
Reason behind the recusal:
The Chief Justice said he recused from hearing because he hailed from both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
What’s the case?
Andhra Pradesh has accused Telangana of refusing to follow the decisions taken on river water management in the Apex Council constituted under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act of 2014. It said its neighbour also ignored the directions of the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB), constituted under the 2014 Act and directions of the Centre.
What is Judicial Disqualification or Recusal?
Judicial disqualification, referred to as recusal, is the act of abstaining from participation in an official action such as a legal proceeding due to a conflict of interest of the presiding court official or administrative officer.
Grounds for Recusal:
- The judge is biased in favour of one party, or against another, or that a reasonable objective observer would think he might be.
- Interest in the subject matter, or relationship with someone who is interested in it.
- Background or experience, such as the judge’s prior work as a lawyer.
- Personal knowledge about the parties or the facts of the case.
- Ex parte communications with lawyers or non-lawyers.
- Rulings, comments or conduct.
Are there any laws in this regard?
There are no definite rules on recusals by Judges.
- However, In taking oath of office, judges, both of the Supreme Court and of the high courts, promise to perform their duties, to deliver justice, “without fear or favour, affection or ill-will”.
What has the Supreme Court said on this?
Justice J. Chelameswar in his opinion in Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India (2015) held that “Where a judge has a pecuniary interest, no further inquiry as to whether there was a ‘real danger’ or ‘reasonable suspicion’ of bias is required to be undertaken”.
Concerns/issues associated with recusal:
- It allows litigants to cherry-pick a bench of their choice, which impairs judicial fairness.
- Undermines both independence and raises questions on impartiality of the judges.
- There are no rules to determine when the judges could recuse themselves. There are only different interpretations of the same situation.
- Recusal may cause obstruction and delay the proceedings of the Courts.
Do you know the concept of Waiver and Substitution? Read Here
- Grounds for Judicial Disqualification.
- Who administers oath to Supreme Court and High Court judges?
- Articles 127 and 128 of the Indian Constitution are related to?
- Tributaries of Krishna.
- Tributaries of Godavari.
- Interstate river water disputes- key provisions.
- Krishna and Godavari River Management Boards- formation, functions and orders.
Recusal has become a selective call of morality for Supreme Court judges. Discuss.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
Six Trinamool Congress MPs were ordered to leave the Rajya Sabha for rest of the day by the Rajya Sabha Chairman over “grossly disorderly” conduct, after they entered the well of the house and displayed placards while protesting over the Pegasus scandal.
Rule 255 of the General Rules of Procedure of the Rajya Sabha:
The Chairman invoked rule 255 to suspend them.
- Under Rule 255 (‘Withdrawal of member’) of the General Rules of Procedure of the Rajya Sabha, “The Chairman may direct any member whose conduct is in his opinion grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the Council and any member so ordered to withdraw shall do so forthwith and shall absent himself during the remainder of the day’s meeting.”
Rule 256 provides for ‘Suspension of Member’; whereas Rule 255 provides for lesser punishment.
- Under Rule 256, “the Chairman may, if he deems it necessary, suspend a member from the service of the Council for a period not exceeding the remainder of the Session.
Differences in powers of Speaker and Chairman of Rajya Sabha:
- Like the Speaker in Lok Sabha, the Chairman of 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.
- Unlike the Speaker, however, the Rajya Sabha Chairman does not have the power to suspend a Member.
Procedure to be followed for suspension of Rajya Sabha MPs:
- 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.
- 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.
- The House may, however, by another motion, terminate the suspension.
Efforts to bring order in the House:
As Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Vice-President Ansari had attempted several steps to bring order to the House. In 2013, he mooted a number of radical solutions to maintain decorum. This included:
- Naming and shaming MPs in the Rajya Sabha bulletin for stepping outside House rules.
- Those named were to include members who came into the Well, or indulged in other grossly disorderly behaviour.
- The telecast of proceedings to be deferred to prevent visuals of disorder from being made public.
How can suspension of MPs be justified? Isn’t this an extreme step to take in order to curb unruly behaviour?
The solution to unruly behaviour has to be long-term and consistent with democratic values.
- There can be no question that the enforcement of the supreme authority of the Presiding Officer is essential for smooth conduct of proceedings.
- However, a balance has to be struck. It must be remembered that the job of the Presiding Officer is to run the House, not to lord over it.
Though rules with regard to Suspension of MPs are similar in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, there are, however, a few changes. In Lok Sabha, under Rule 374A, there is a provision for “automatic suspension” of an errant member. When can this provision be invoked? Reference:
- Power to suspend MPs vs powers to revoke suspension.
- Difference in procedures followed by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in this regard.
- Appeals with regard to election of MPs.
- Rules in this regard.
The solution to unruly behaviour of MPs in Parliament has to be long-term and consistent with democratic values. Comment.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
The Cabinet has approved the continuation of 1,023 Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) for another two years, at an outlay of ₹1,572.86 crore.
- The Centre’s share of ₹971.70 crore will come from the Nirbhaya Fund.
About the scheme:
- Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) are being setup as a part of the National Mission for Safety of Women (NMSW).
- The scheme was started in October 2019.
- Implemented by the Department of Justice of the Ministry of Law and Justice.
- It is a Centrally sponsored scheme for expeditious trial and disposal of pending cases of rape and offences against children under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012.
Features of the FTSCs scheme:
- The decision on extension of the scheme beyond one year will depend on the recommendations in the external evaluation.
- The scheme does not intend to create any permanent infrastructure. The courts will be made functional in suitable premises taken on lease or as decided by the States/UTs and respective High Courts.
- Composition: Each FTSC will have one Judicial Officer and seven staff members. States/UTs may engage judicial officers and court staff on contractual basis where sufficient manpower is not available. Services of retired judicial officers with relevant experience may also be engaged to dispose of cases in the FTSCs.
Benefits and significance of the scheme:
- The scheme includes 389 FTSCs exclusively for POCSO
- Each FTSC is expected to dispose of 41-42 cases in each quarter and at least 165 cases in a year.
- At the time the scheme was launched, the government had set a target of disposing of 1,66,882 cases of rape and POCSO Act cases pending trial in various courts.
Performance of the scheme:
So far, only 597 fast track courts out of the total 1,023 had been set up in the country and expressed its concern at the delay in implementing the scheme.
The offences of rape and gang rape of women and children require effective deterrence through fast and time-bound completion of trials relating to sexual offences.
Do you know about the Palermo Protocol? Read Here
- About POCSO.
- About FTSCs.
Discuss the need for and significance of FTSCs.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
The Union government has said that it is not considering any proposal to restore Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds for FY21 and FY22.
The government had in April, 2020 decided not to operate MPLADS for the Financial Years 2020-21 and 2021-22; and place the MPLADS funds for these two-years at the disposal of the Ministry of Finance to meet the emergent needs of people.
- From ₹5,012 crore spent during 2018-19, an expenditure of just ₹2,491.45 crore was taken up under the scheme in 2019-20.
How was this fund utilised?
The government has said that the funds saved from the MPLAD Scheme have been utilised to enhance the allocation of funds for improving health infrastructure, provide free ration under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, and free vaccination for the people.
About MPLAD scheme:
- Launched in December, 1993.
- Seeks to provide a mechanism for the Members of Parliament to recommend works of developmental nature for creation of durable community assets and for provision of basic facilities including community infrastructure, based on locally felt needs.
- The MPLADS is a Plan Scheme fully funded by Government of India.
- The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is Rs. 5 crore.
- MPs are to recommend every year, works costing at least 15 per cent of the MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by S.T. population.
Release of Funds:
- Funds are released in the form of grants in-aid directly to the district authorities.
- The funds released under the scheme are non-lapsable.
- The liability of funds not released in a particular year is carried forward to the subsequent years, subject to eligibility.
- The MPs have a recommendatory role under the scheme.
- The district authority is empowered to examine the eligibility of works, sanction funds and select the implementing agencies, prioritise works, supervise overall execution, and monitor the scheme at the ground level.
- At least 10% of the projects under implementation in the district are to be inspected every year by the district authority.
Recommendation of works:
- The Lok Sabha Members can recommend works in their respective constituencies.
- The elected members of the Rajya Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the state from which they are elected.
- Nominated members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select works for implementation anywhere in the country.
- How is MPLADS connected to Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana?
- Where can nominated MPs recommend their works?
- Is there any special focus on SC and ST Welfare?
- Difference between grants and loans?
- Implementing agencies.
Critically examine whether MPLADS has helped in bridging the gaps in provisioning of public services?
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
The Bill was recently passed by Rajya Sabha. The Bill amends the Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) Act, 2008.
Basic objectives, key Provisions and focus of the Bill:
- The aim is to facilitate the Ease of Doing Business and encourage startups across the country.
- The current law has 24 penal provisions, 21 compoundable offences and 3 non-compoundable ones. The bill seeks to decriminalise 12 of these offences.
- Adjudicating Officers: Under the Bill, the central government may appoint adjudicating officers for awarding penalties under the Act. These will be central government officers not below the rank of Registrar. Appeals against orders of the Adjudicating Officers will lie with the Regional Director.
- Special courts: The Bill allows the central government to establish special courts for ensuring speedy trial of offences under the Act.
- Appeals to Appellate Tribunal: Under the Act, appeals against orders of the NCLT lie with the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT). The Bill adds that appeals cannot be made against an order that has been passed with the consent of the parties. Appeals must be filed within 60 days (extendable by another 60 days) of the order.
- The Bill provides for formation of a small LLP where: (i) the contribution from partners is up to Rs 25 lakh (may be increased up to five crore rupees), (ii) turnover for the preceding financial year is up to Rs 40 lakh (may be increased up to Rs 50 crore).
- Start-up LLPs: The central government may also notify certain LLPs as start-up LLPs.
- Standards of accounting: The central government may prescribe the standards of accounting and auditing for classes of LLPs, in consultation with the National Financial Reporting Authority.
What is an LLP?
A Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) is a partnership in which some or all partners have limited liability. It therefore exhibits elements of partnerships and corporations. In an LLP, one partner is not responsible or liable for another partner’s misconduct or negligence.
Salient features of an LLP:
- An LLP is a body corporate and legal entity separate from its partners. It has perpetual succession.
- Being the separate legislation (i.e. LLP Act, 2008), the provisions of Indian Partnership Act, 1932 are not applicable to an LLP and it is regulated by the contractual agreement between the partners.
- Every Limited Liability Partnership shall use the words “Limited Liability Partnership” or its acronym “LLP” as the last words of its name.
Every LLP shall have at least two designated partners being individuals, at least one of them being resident in India and all the partners shall be the agent of the Limited Liability Partnership but not of other partners.
Need for and significance LLP:
- LLP format is an alternative corporate business vehicle that provides the benefits of limited liability of a company but allows its members the flexibility of organizing their internal management on the basis of a mutually arrived agreement, as is the case in a partnership firm.
- This format would be quite useful for small and medium enterprises in general and for the enterprises in the services sector in particular.
- Internationally, LLPs are the preferred vehicle of business particularly for service industry or for activities involving professionals.
Do you know about the Company Law Committee (CLC), setup by the Corporate Affairs Ministry (MCA)? What were its objectives? Reference:
- Difference between LLP and companies.
- Difference between LP and LLP.
- What is a body corporate?
- Roles and functions of LLP partners.
Write a note on limited liability partnerships.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3:
Topics Covered: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
Since 2019, the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) administration has booked over 2,300 people in more than 1,200 cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and 954 people under the Public Safety Act (PSA).
- Of these, 46 per cent of those booked under UAPA and about 30 percent of those detained under PSA are still in jail, both inside and outside J&K.
About the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act:
Passed in 1967, the law aims at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
The Act assigns absolute power to the central government, by way of which if the Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.
- It has death penalty and life imprisonment as highest punishments.
Under UAPA, both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged.
- It will be applicable to the offenders in the same manner, even if crime is committed on a foreign land, outside India.
- Under the UAPA, the investigating agency can file a charge sheet in maximum 180 days after the arrests and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court.
As per amendments of 2019:
- The Act empowers the Director General of National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by the said agency.
- The Act empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases of terrorism in addition to those conducted by the DSP or ACP or above rank officer in the state.
- It also included the provision of designating an individual as a terrorist.
Delhi High Court defines the contours of UAPA:
In June 2021, delivering a judgment defining the contours of the otherwise “vague” Section 15 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, (UAPA), the Delhi High Court laid down some important principles upon the imposition of Section 15, 17 & 18 of the Act.
Sections 15, 17 and 18 of UAPA:
- S. 15 engrafts the offence of ‘terrorist act’.
- S. 17 lays-down the punishment for raising funds for committing a terrorist act.
- S. 18 engrafts the offence of ‘punishment for conspiracy etc. to commit a terrorist act or any act preparatory to commit a terrorist act’.
Key observations made by the court:
- “Terrorist Act” Should not be used lightly so as to trivialise them.
- Terrorist activity is that which travels beyond the capacity of law enforcement agencies to deal with under ordinary penal law (Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Hitendra Vishnu Thakur).
- Definition of unlawful activity.
- Powers of Centre under the act.
- Is judicial review applicable in such cases?
- Changes brought about by amendments in 2004 and 2019.
- Can foreign nationals be charged under the act?
Do you agree that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act could prove catastrophic for fundamental rights? Is sacrificing liberty for national security justified? Discuss and provide for your opinion.
Sources: Indian Express.
GS Paper 3:
Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
The Bill to formalise the Commission for Air Quality Management For National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas was recently cleared by Lok Sabha.
We have Covered this article in-detail recently. There are no further developments on this. Hence, we request you to kindly go through this link to understand about the Bill.
Facts for Prelims:
Anaimalai flying frog:
- Scientific name: Racophorus pseudomalabaricus.
- Other names: false Malabar gliding frog and false Malabar tree frog.
- It is a critically endangered frog species.
- Endemic to the southern part of the Western Ghats, the numbers of these frogs have declined rapidly due to the loss of habitat.
- This species is known from at least two protected areas, Indira Gandhi National Park and Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.
The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In):
- It is an organisation of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India, with the objective of securing Indian cyberspace.
- Established in 2004.
- It is the nodal agency which deals with cybersecurity threats like hacking and phishing.
- The Information Technology (Amendment) Act 2008 designated CERT-In to serve as the national agency to perform certain functions.
CERT-In tracks 6.07 lakh cybersecurity incidents in the first six months of 2021, of which about 12,000 were related to government organisations.
Articles to be covered tomorrow:
1. RTE entitlements to be paid through cash transfers.