126th Amendment Bill/104th Amendment Act 

Amendment to Article 334 

  • The 126th amendment of the constitution provides for extending reservation for SC and ST in the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas for a period of further 10 years, but makes no mention of the reservation for the Anglo Indian community. 
  • The Constitution provides for reservation of seats for SCs and STs and representation of the Anglo-Indian community by nomination, in Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies of states. 
  • This has been provided for a period of 70 years since the enactment of the Constitution and will expire on January 25, 2020. 
  • The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to extend the reservation for SCs and STs by another 10 years till January 25, 2030. 

Sedation 

News 

Large number of sedition cases have been filed against people for protesting against the CAA. Data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that 194 cases of sedition have been filed since the CAA was passed on December 11, 2019. More cases of sedition have been filed since December, 2019 than in the last three years put together, according to NCRB data. 

  • Even though Section 124A, the IPC section that makes sedition an offence, attracts either a three-year term or imprisonment for life, the trial court sentenced him to a somewhat lenient one-year jail term. 
  • Yet, it is a matter of concern that political speeches are criminalised to the point of being deemed an offence against the state. Further, the timing of a political leader being found guilty of sedition is quite inopportune. 
  • In recent years, there has been an alarming rise in sedition charges being used to quell political dissent. This conviction will needlessly send out a message that such provisions are necessary to protect the government against being brought into hatred and contempt. 
  • There is greater recognition now than in the past that Section 124A is neither relevant nor needed today. The Law Commission released a consultation paper highlighting arguments for its reconsideration. 
  • There is a body of opinion that a modern democracy does not need a free speech restriction based on political concepts such as disloyalty and disaffection towards the state. 
  • Britain, which introduced the offence of sedition in India in 1870 to check the use of speech and writing to criticise its colonial administration, has abolished it. 

Sedition as defined in Indian Penal Code under section 124A. 

  • Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection on wards the Government established by law in, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine. 

Explanations 

  • The expression “disaffection” includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity. 
  • Comments expressing disapprobation of the measures of the Government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means, without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section. 
  • Comments expressing disapprobation of the administrative or other action of the 
  • Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section. 
  • In KedarNath Singh vs State of Bihar,1962, a Constitution Bench had ruled in favour of the constitutional validity of Section 124A (sedition) in the IPC.  
  • The Court held that a person can be prosecuted for sedition only if his acts caused “incitement to violence or intention or tendency to create public disorder or cause disturbance of public peace”. Unless an act of a person does not incite violence or disturb public order cannot be booked under the dangerous section of sedition. 

Parliament proceedings: Lok Sabha suspends 7 Congress MPs for rest of Budget session 

Context - The Lok Sabha on Thursday suspended seven Congress members for the remaining period of the Budget session for ‘gross misconduct and utter disregard’ for House rules after papers from the Speaker’s table were snatched by the Opposition MPs. 

Power of speaker to ensure discipline in the house Force a member to withdraw from the House (for the remaining part of the day), or to place him under suspension. 

Rule 374 of the Rules of Procedure for the Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha. 

  • 374(1): The Speaker may, if he “deems it necessary, name a member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the House by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business thereof”. 
  • 374(2):If a member is so named by the Speaker, the Speaker shall, on a motion being made forthwith put the question that the member be suspended from the service of the House for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session. 

Important points 

  • The Speaker has authority to place a member under suspension. However the authority for revocation of this order is not vested in her. It is for the House to resolve on a motion to revoke the suspension. 
  • Unlike the Speaker, the Rajya Sabha Chairman does not have the power to suspend a member. 
  • The chairman can however direct any member, whose conduct is in his opinion grossly disorderly, to withdraw for the day from the House. 
  • In case of Rajya Sabha, house may adopt a motion suspending the member for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session. 

Expulsion of an MP 

  • Speaker appoints a committee to investigate the conduct and activities of MP, whether it is derogatory to the dignity of the House and inconsistent with the Code of Conduct. 
  • Committee on Ethics can also be asked to give its recommendations. Consequent to the findings of committee a motion is adopted by the house. 

There have been only three instances of expulsion 

  • Subramanian Swamy was expelled on 15 November 1976 
  • Dr. Chhattrapal Singh Lodha was expelled on 23 December 2005 
  • Dr. Swami Sakshi Ji Maharaj was expelled on 21 March 2006 

Pandit Ravi Shankar: 

  • He was an Indian musician and a composer of Hindustani classical music. 
  • He was the best-known proponent of the sitarin the second half of the 20th century and influenced many other musicians throughout the world. 
  • Shankar was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1999.  

Style of Music 

  • Shankar developed a style distinct from that of his contemporaries and incorporated influences from rhythm practices of Carnatic music. 
  • His performances begin with solo alap, jor, and jhala (introduction and performances with pulse and rapid pulse) influenced by the slow and serious dhrupad genre, followed by a section with tabla accompaniment featuring compositions associated with the prevalent khyal style. 
  • Shankar often closed his performances with a piece inspired by the light-classical thumri genre. 

Freedom in the World 2020 report ranks India among least free democracies 

Context: The Freedom in the World 2020 report ranks India at the 83rd position, along with Timor-Leste and Senegal. It is a U.S.-based watchdog, which has been tracking global political and civil liberties for almost half a century. 

Highlights of the Report 

  • As per the report, India has become one of the world’s least free democracies, according to a global survey, which warned that “the Indian government’s alarming departures from democratic norms under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP could blur the values-based distinction between Beijing and New Delhi”. 
  • The Freedom in the World 2020 report ranks India at the 83rd position, along with Timor-Leste and Senegal. This is near the bottom of the pile among the countries categorised as “Free”, with only Tunisia receiving a lower score. 
  • India’s score fell by four points to 71, the worst decline among the world’s 25 largest democracies this year. 

Reasons for low rating 

  • The annulment of autonomy and the subsequent shutdown of Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, as well as the crackdown on mass protests have been listed as the main signs of declining freedom in the report. 
  • The report slammed the Internet blackout in Kashmir, terming it the longest shutdown ever imposed by a democracy. It said freedom of expression was under threat in India, with journalists, academics and others facing harassment and intimidation when addressing politically sensitive topics.
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