UAPA, Sedition

#GS2 #Governance

  • The Delhi police on Thursday issued notices to 40 farmers’ leaders for violating the terms and conditions agreed upon for holding tractor rallies on Republic Day.
  • The Police Special Cell also registered a case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and sedition in connection with violence during the tractor parades, said a police officer.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act

  • It was passed in 1967 with the objective to prevent unlawful activities in the country (any action to disrupt the territorial integrity and sovereignty of India) 
  • The Act provides greater power to the central government since the vague provisions Enables the government to define anything as unlawful activity. 
  • UAPA includes serious punishments like death penalty and life imprisonment
  • Both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged under UAPA. Even when the crime is committed on a foreign land, the law is applicable exactly in the same manner.
  • The UAPA is in a way an extended version of the certain repealed laws: 
  1. TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act), which lapsed in 1995. 
  2. Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), which was repealed in 2004. 

Sedition

  • Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code provides for Sedition. 
  • Any action that brings or attempts to bring hatred or contempt towards the government of India is considered as sedition under this act. 
  • This is a colonial era act that has been used to counter our freedom fighters. 
  • Sedition is illegal in India since 1870.

Supreme Court’s take on sedition:

  • In Kedar Nath Singh v State of Bihar, the Supreme Court confirmed on the constitutionality of Section 124A 
  • But, according to the court, “acts involving intention or tendency to create disorder, or disturbance of law and order, or incitement to violence” should be considered as sedition. 
  • In Balwant Singh v State of Punjab, the Supreme Court gave the verdict that mere sloganeering which evoked no public response did not amount to sedition.

Should we repeal sedition law?

  • Sedition law is a hit on free speech. 
  • It takes away from citizens basics rights available in a democracy: 
  1. Right to raise questions 
  2. Debate
  3. Disagree and challenge the government’s decisions

 

 

Joint Sitting in Parliament, Presidential Address

#GS2 #Polity #Constitution

  • As many as 18 Opposition parties announced their decision to boycott President’s address to the joint sitting of Parliament at the start of the Budget session. 
  • This is in solidarity with the farmers protesting against the three farm laws. 

Joint Sitting in the Parliament

  • In the Indian legislature, a bill has to be passed by both Houses of the Parliament (Rajya Sabha & Lok Sabha) and then, the President has to give his/her assent.
  • In case there is a deadlock between both Houses of Parliament, a constitutional mechanism is provided to solve the issue: joint sittings.
  • The joint sitting is summoned by the President. The Speaker presides. If the Speaker is absent, the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha presides over it. If not him, according to the order, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha will preside.
  • If none of them are available, any Member of Parliament can preside over the sitting. But there should be consensus of both Houses regarding this.
  • The quorum (minimum number of members present) required to summon a joint sitting is 1/10th of the total number of members of the House.

Joint Sitting Constitutional Provision

  • Article 108 of the Indian Constitution contains provisions for a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament. 
  • Accordingly, a joint session can be summoned:
  1. If after a bill is passed by one House and transmitted to the other House, and the other House rejects this bill, or
  2. The Houses do not agree on the amendments made to the bill, or
  3. More than six months elapse with the bill being received by the other House without it being passed.
  • Then, the President is supposed to summon a joint sitting unless the bill had elapsed because of the Lok Sabha’s dissolution.

Presidential Address

  • As per Article 87(1): 
  1. President shall address both Houses of Parliament in a joint sitting.  
  2. He should inform Parliament of the causes of its summons. 
  3. This must be done at the commencement of the first session(budget session) after each general election to the House of the People and at the commencement of the first session of each year. 
  • Originally, the Constitution required the President to address both Houses of Parliament at the commencement of every session. This requirement was changed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
  • The President’s speech oversees the government’s policies and objectives for the following year. This speech, drafted by the Cabinet, provides a broad framework of the government’s plans. 
  • The Presidential address is followed by a debate session on the issues of governance in the country. This is followed by discussion on the Budget.
  • The President do not have the option to deny providing the speech as this will be refusal to perform the constitutional duty. 

 

 

POCSO Act

#GS2 #Governance

The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court on Thursday held that “the acts of ‘holding the hands of the prosecutrix’ [female victim] or ‘opened zip of the pant’ did not fit in the definition of ‘sexual assault’”, and quashed the conviction of a man under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act

  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 came into existence to counter sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.
  • The Act defines “Children” as individuals aged below 18 years. 
  • The POCSO Act is gender neutral.
  • Unlike existing laws, most types of sexual abuse including sexual harassment, pornography, penetrative & non-penetrative assault are defined and penalised in the Act.
  • Sexual assault is deemed to be aggravated under certain circumstances. For example, when the child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by the person in a position of trust such as a doctor, teacher, policeman, family member etc. 
  • Proper provisions are in place to avoid re-victimization of the Child during judicial scrutiny. The Act also assigns a cop as the protector of child during the investigation process.
  • The Act promotes child-friendly investigation and speedy-redressal. i.e., the case has to be disposed of within one year from the date of reporting of the offence.
  • The Act includes provisions for forming Special Courts for the trial of such offences.
  • Section 45 of the POCSO Act empowers central government to make rules.
  • Statutory bodies like the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) are the designated authority to monitor the implementation of the Act.
  • According to Section 42 A of the POCSO Act, if there is any inconsistency with provisions of any other law, the POCSO Act shall override such provisions.
  • The Act also calls for mandatory reporting of sexual offences. It also has provisions to penalise false complaint with intent to defame a person. 

 

 

UNSC seat

#GS2 #InternationalRelations

In response to a question on whether India, Germany and Japan should become permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), U.S. President Joe Biden’s pick for UN Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield said discussions on the subject were under way.

G4 Countries

  • G-4 is a group of four countries i.e. Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan which support each other’s bids for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)
  • They highlight the need for the increasing importance of developing countries and their major contributors to the United Nations to make the UNSC more legitimate, effective, and representative.
  • India and Brazil are major developing countries in G-4 grouping that deserves a seat along with China, which is the only developing country in the UNSC.

India’s Claims

  • India is home to one-sixth of the global population.
  • India is one of the founding members of the U.N.
  • India made significant contribution for the UN Peace Keeping Force.
  • India is an emerging economic power.
  • An independent foreign policy which is very often not in sync with that of the five permanent members of UNSC (P5). Ex.: At first, India opposed authorising the use of force in Libya and then abstained from voting on the matter.
  • A substantially increasing international clout.
  • Victory at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) election in which the UK lost for the first time.
  • International day of Yoga which was celebrated by 177 countries.

Other Candidates:

  • India, Germany, Japan and Brazil together became G4 to voice a collective campaign for UNSC membership. 

China’s constant disapproval:

  • Diplomats have blamed China for having quietly carried out a campaign to stop India’s efforts at the UNSC.
  • Apart from its own economic and territorial aspirations, this is also in support to its all-weather ally Pakistan. 
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