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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 12 August 2021

 

InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically. 

current affairs, current events, current gk, insights ias current affairs, upsc ias current affairs

 

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. What/who is a whip?

2. Termination of a Session of Parliament.

3. Consumer Dispute Redressal Panels.

4. Criminalisation of politics.

5. International Criminal Court.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. What are Special Economic Zones (SEZs)?

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Maharashtra announces Rajiv Gandhi Award in IT.


 

What/who is a whip?

GS Paper 2

Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

 

Context:

Congress has appointed MPs Syed Naseer Hussain and Chhaya Verma as Rajya Sabha whips.

  • The party now has the same number of whips and chief whips in the Upper House as in the Lok Sabha.

 

What is a whip?

A whip is an official of a political party who acts as the party’s ‘enforcer’ inside the legislative assembly or house of parliament.

  • Parties appoint a senior member from among their House contingents to issue whips — this member is called a Chief Whip, and he/she is assisted by additional Whips.
  • India inherited the concept of the whip from the British parliamentary system.

 

(Note: A whip in parliamentary parlance is also a written order that party members be present for an important vote, or that they vote only in a particular way.)

 

Role of whips:

They try to ensure that their fellow political party legislators attend voting sessions and vote according to their party’s official policy.

 

What happens if a whip is disobeyed?

A legislator may face disqualification proceedings if she/he disobeys the whip of the party unless the number of lawmakers defying the whip is 2/3rds of the party’s strength in the house. Disqualification is decided by the Speaker of the house.

 

Limitations of whip:

There are some cases such as Presidential elections where whips cannot direct a Member of Parliament (MP) or Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) to vote in a particular fashion.

 

Insta Curious: 

Did you know that there are three types of whips or instructions issued by the party? They are, One-line whip, two-line and three line whips. How are they different? Reference

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. 10th schedule of the Indian constitution is related to?
  2. What is a whip?
  3. Who is a chief whip?
  4. Overview of Supreme Court judgment in Kihoto Hollohan case of 1992.
  5. What happens if a whip is disobeyed?
  6. Limitations of whip.
  7. Types of whips.

Mains Link:

What is a whip? Discuss the roles and functions that a chief whip would play when a government faces no-confidence motion in the lower house?

Sources: the Hindu.

Termination of a Session of Parliament:

GS Paper 2

Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

 

Context:

The Lok Sabha was adjourned Sine Die two days ahead of its scheduled date of August 13, as the Opposition protested over the Pegasus snooping controversy, farm laws and other issues.

 

Performance/outcomes of the latest session:

  1. Zero Hour time allotted to individuals members to raise important issues — was most affected and Question Hour, too, witnessed disruptions on most of the days.
  2. The House managed to pass 20 Bills, mostly without debate or participation from the Opposition.

 

Termination of Session:

A sitting of Parliament can be terminated by adjournment or adjournment sine die or prorogation or dissolution (in the case of the Lok Sabha).

Adjournment: It suspends the work in a sitting for a specified time, which may be hours, days or weeks.

Adjournment sine die: It means terminating a sitting of Parliament for an indefinite period.

In other words, when the House is adjourned without naming a day for reassembly.

  • The power of adjournment as well as adjournment sine die lies with the presiding officer (Speaker or Chairman) of the House.

Prorogation: The President issues a notification for prorogation of the session after the business of a session is completed and the presiding officer declares the House adjourned sine die. The President can also prorogue the House while in session.

Dissolution: Only the Lok Sabha is subject to dissolution. Rajya Sabha, being a permanent House, is not subject to dissolution.

  • A dissolution ends the life of the existing House, and a new House is constituted after general elections are held.
  • The President is empowered to dissolve the Lok Sabha.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who summons the Houses of Parliament.
  2. Powers of President vs Powers of Chairperson.
  3. What is adjournment sine die?
  4. What is dissolution of the house?
  5. Why Rajya Sabha cannot be dissolved?

Mains Link:

What needs to be done to increase the productivity of both the houses of Parliament? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

Consumer Dispute Redressal Panels:

GS Paper 2

Topics Covered: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

Context:

The Supreme Court has given the Centre and the States eight weeks to fill the vacancies in the consumer disputes redressal commissions.

The Court has also asked the Centre to conduct a comprehensive “legislative impact study” on the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

 

Concerns expressed by the Court:

  1. The laws have been made for the benefit of people. But, states are defeating the purpose for which the consumer protection laws have been made.
  2. The court also questioned if governments, both at the Centre and in the States, had deliberately kept the vacancies pending to dissuade people from filing complaints.

 

Centre’s arguments on why it is being delayed?

There is litigation in the court regarding the tenure of tribunal members. The Centre is waiting for its outcome. Also, the to and fro of litigation and legislation had caused “confusion”, delaying appointments.

 

Dispute redressal under Consumer Protection Act, 1986:

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 provides for a 3-tier structure of the National and State Commissions and District Forums for speedy resolution of consumer disputes. They are quasi- judicial bodies.

Composition: Each District Forum is headed by a person who is or has been or is eligible to be appointed as a District Judge and each State Commission is headed by a person who is or has been a Judge of High Court.

 

Ambit:

  • The provisions of this Act cover ‘goods’ as well as ‘services’. The goods are those which are manufactured or produced and sold to consumers through wholesalers and retailers.
  • The services are in the nature of transport, telephone, electricity, housing, banking, insurance, medical treatment, etc.

 

How is Grievance redressal carried out?

  1. A written complaint can be filed before the District Consumer Forum/State Commission/ National Commission in respect of defects in goods and or deficiency in service.
  2. However, no complaint can be filed for alleged deficiency in any service that is rendered free of charge or under a contract of personal service.
  3. The remedy under the Consumer Protection Act is an alternative in addition to that already available to the aggrieved persons/consumers by way of civil suit.
  4. In the complaint/appeal/petition submitted under the Act, a consumer is not required to pay any court fees but only a nominal fee.

 

Appeals:

  • If a consumer is not satisfied by the decision of a District Forum, he can appeal to the State Commission. Against the order of the State Commission a consumer can come to the National Commission.
  • In order to help achieve the objectives of the Consumer Protection Act, the National Commission has also been conferred with the powers of administrative control over all the State Commissions by calling for periodical returns regarding the institution, disposal and pendency of cases.

 

Latest Amendment:

  1. As per the latest Consumer Protection Act , 2019  dispute redressal Commissions will be set up at District, State and National level, with pecuniary jurisdiction up to Rs one crore, Rs one crore to Rs 10 crore, and above Rs 10 crore, respectively.
  2. In case of unfair contracts, the State Commissions will hear complaints where the value is up to Rs 10 crore, and National Commissions will hear complaints above that value.
  3. These Commissions can declare unfair terms of such contracts to be null and void.

Consumer_Protection

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that the Consumer Protection Act provides for reference to mediation by Consumer Commissions wherever scope for early settlement exists and parties agree for it? How are these mediation cells established and what is their composition? Read here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. National vs State Commissions vs District Dispute redressal Forums, their compositions.
  2. Ambit, jurisdiction of the courts and Appeals.
  3. Can CCPA file suo motu cases?
  4. Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission- jurisdictions.
  5. Appeals from the National CDRC.
  6. Consumer definition and rights defined under the act.

Mains Link:

Write a note on consumer dispute redressal mechanism under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986.

Sources: the Hindu.

Criminalisation of politics

GS Paper 2

Topics Covered: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

 

Criminalisation of politics

Context:

The Supreme Court has warned the Parliament about the advent of criminals in politics and also imposed fines on major political parties for covering up from voters the criminal past of the candidates they fielded in the Bihar Assembly poll last year.

 

What had the Court said in its February 2020 judgement?

The Supreme Court had directed political parties to publish the criminal history, if any, of their election candidates on the homepage of their websites under the caption ‘Candidates with criminal antecedents’ within 48 hours of their selection.

 

What next?

In a series of directions to make the right of information of a voter “more effective and meaningful”, the court has ordered:

  • The Election Commission of India launched a dedicated mobile app for voters to get details of the criminal history of the candidates at the touch of a button.
  • The Commission to form a separate cell to monitor political parties on their compliance with the court’s judgment.

 

According to a September 2020 report filed by the apex court’s amicus curiae:

  1. There are a total 4,442 cases pending against legislators across the country. Of this, the number of cases against sitting Members of Parliament and members of State legislatures was 2,556.
  2. The cases were pending in various special courts exclusively set up to try criminal cases registered against politicians.
  3. The cases against the legislators include that of corruption, money laundering, damage to public property, defamation and cheating.
  4. A large number of cases were for violation of Section 188 IPC for wilful disobedience and obstruction of orders promulgated by public servants.
  5. There are 413 cases in respect of offences, which are punishable with imprisonment for life, out of which in 174 cases sitting MPs/ MLAs are accused.
  6. A large number of cases were pending at the appearance stage and even non-bailable warrants (NBWs) issued by courts have not been executed.
  7. Highest number of cases are pending in Uttar Pradesh.

 

What does the RPA say on this?

Currently, under the Representation of Peoples (RP) Act, lawmakers cannot contest elections only after their conviction in a criminal case.

Section 8 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951 disqualifies a person convicted with a sentence of two years or more from contesting elections. But those under trial continued to be eligible to contest elections.

 

Main reasons for Criminalization:

  1. Corruption
  2. Vote bank.
  3. Lack of governance.

 

What is the way out?

  1. Political parties should themselves refuse tickets to the tainted.
  2. The RP Act should be amended to debar persons against whom cases of a heinous nature are pending from contesting elections.
  3. Fast-track courtsshould decide the cases of tainted legislators quickly.
  4. Bring greater transparency in campaign financing.
  5. The Election Commission of India (ECI) should have the power to audit the financial accounts of political parties.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Section 8 of the RP Act.
  2. SC guidelines in this regard.
  3. ECI- composition and functions.
  4. CEC- appointment.
  5. Powers of Election Commission on matters related to election of candidates.

Mains Link:

Discuss the concerns associated criminalisation of politics and what the Supreme Court done to address these concerns?

Sources: the Hindu.

International Criminal Court

GS Paper 2

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

 

Context:

Sudan has decided to hand long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court along with other officials wanted over the Darfur conflict.

 

Background:

Mr. Bashir has been wanted by the ICC for more than a decade over charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Sudanese region.

 

What is Darfur conflict?

  • The Darfur war broke out in 2003 when non-Arab rebels took up arms complaining of systematic discrimination by Bashir’s Arab-dominated government.
  • The United Nations says 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced in the Darfur conflict.

 

About ICC:

  • The International Criminal Court (ICC), located in The Hague, is the court of last resort for prosecution of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
  • It is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.
  • Its founding treaty, the Rome Statute, entered into force on July 1, 2002.

 

Funding:

Although the Court’s expenses are funded primarily by States Parties, it also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.

 

Composition and voting power:

The Court’s management oversight and legislative body, the Assembly of States Parties, consists of one representative from each state party.

  • Each state party has one vote and “every effort” has to be made to reach decisions by consensus. If consensus cannot be reached, decisions are made by vote.
  • The Assembly is presided over by a president and two vice-presidents, who are elected by the members to three-year terms.

Icj_vs_ICC

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know about the Arbitration Council of India? What are its composition and functions? Read here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Differences between ICJ and ICC.
  2. Geographical locations of these organisations and overview of surrounding countries.
  3. Doha accord between US and Taliban.
  4. What is Rome statute?
  5. Location of Afghanistan.
  6. US taliban peace deal- overview.

Mains Link:

Write a note on ICC.

Sources: the Hindu.

What are Special Economic Zones (SEZs)?

GS Paper 3

Topics Covered: Infrastructure related issues.

 

Context:

The government has proposed to free up unused built-up area worth about ₹30,000 crore and idle land inside Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for other economic activity.

 

Need for:

SEZs account for about 30% of India’s exports. But, there is 10 crore square feet of space idle in built-up accommodation in over 250 SEZs. In money terms, at ₹3,000 per square foot, that is ₹30,000 crore of built-up area idle, which can be brought into play for anything else.

 

What are SEZs?

  • Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are geographically delineated ‘enclaves’ in which regulations and practices related to business and trade differ from the rest of the country and therefore all the units therein enjoy special privileges.
  • The basic idea of SEZs emerges from the fact that, while it might be very difficult to dramatically improve infrastructure and business environment of the overall economy ‘overnight’, SEZs can be built in a much shorter time, and they can work as efficient enclaves to solve these problems.

 

Objectives of the SEZ Act:

  1. To create additional economic activity.
  2. To boost the export of goods and services.
  3. To generate employment.
  4. To boost domestic and foreign investments.
  5. To develop infrastructure facilities.

 

Facilities and incentives for SEZs:

  1. Duty-free import/domestic procurement of goods for development, operation and maintenance of SEZ units.
  2. 100% Income tax exemption on export income for SEZ units under the Income Tax Act for first 5 years, 50% for next 5 years thereafter and 50% of the ploughed back export profit for next 5 years.  (Sunset Clause for Units are effective from 01.04.2020)
  3. Exemption from Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT). (withdrawn w.e.f. 1.4.2012)
  4. Exemption from Central Sales Tax, Exemption from Service Tax and Exemption from State sales tax. These have now subsumed into GST and supplies to SEZs are zero rated under IGST Act, 2017.
  5. Other levies as imposed by the respective State Governments.
  6. Single window clearance for Central and State level approvals.

 

Concerns with present SEZ:

  1. SEZs in India have not been as successful as their counterparts in many other countries. Several Asian economies, particularly China, Korea, Malaysia, and Singapore, have greatly benefited from these zones.
  2. Most of India’s new generation SEZs came up not for exporting, but for avoiding taxes. Large fiscal sops, in the form of a bunch of reliefs from central and state taxes, lured developers into building SEZs.
  3. Most manufacturing SEZs in India have performed below par due to their poor linkages with the rest of the economy. Weak connections of coastal SEZs with their hinterlands inhibited these zones from utilising their full potential.
  4. Many states did not match the central SEZ Act with State-level legislation, which rendered the single window system ineffective.
  5. Lack of a robust policy design, efficient implementation and effective monitoring have seriously jeopardize India’s effort to industrialise through SEZs.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that the Special Economic Zones Act was passed in 2005? However, SEZs were operational in India from 2000 to 2006 (under the Foreign Trade Policy).

Did you know that the Baba Kalyani led committee was constituted by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to study the existing SEZ policy of India? What are its recommendations? Reference

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Facts for Prelims:

 

Maharashtra announces Rajiv Gandhi Award in IT:

  • The Maharashtra government has announced Rajiv Gandhi Award for Excellence in Information Technology.
  • The award would be announced on August 20, the birth anniversary of the former Prime Minister.

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