#GS -2 # Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
- The Supreme Court protected Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and six senior journalists from arrest in multiple sedition FIRs registered against them for allegedly tweeting and sharing unverified news that a young farmer died at the hands of the police during the tractor rally held on Republic Day.
- A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India, stayed any coercive action or arrest.
Sedition, which falls under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, is defined as any action that brings or attempts to bring hatred or contempt towards the government of India and has been illegal in India since 1870.
Supreme Court’s observations
- In 1962, the Supreme Court decided on the constitutionality of Section 124A in Kedar Nath Singh v State of Bihar.
- It upheld the constitutionality of sedition, but limited its application to “acts involving intention or tendency to create disorder, or disturbance of law and order, or incitement to violence”.
- It distinguished these from “very strong speech” or the use of “vigorous words” strongly critical of the government.
- In 1995, the Supreme Court, in Balwant Singh v State of Punjab, held that mere sloganeering which evoked no public response did not amount to sedition.
Relevance of Sedition Law
- Freedom of speech often poses difficult questions, like the extent to which the State can regulate individual conduct.
- Since an individual‘s autonomy is the foundation of this freedom; any restriction on it is subject to great scrutiny.
- The constitution of India prescribes reasonable restrictions that can always be imposed on this right in order to ensure its responsible exercise and to ensure that it is equally available to all citizens.
- These restrictions are mentioned under Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India i.e. interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence
- Sedition law helps the government to curb secessionist movement and other atrocity propaganda.
Why sedition law should be repealed?
Sedition leads to a sort of unauthorised self-censorship, for it produces a chilling effect on free speech.
It suppresses what every citizen ought to do in a democracy - raise questions, debate, disagree and challenge the government’s decisions.
Sedition systematically destroys the soul of Gandhi’s philosophy that is, right to dissent.
Reforms needed in IPC
● Some of the concepts underlying the code are either problematic or have become obsolete.
✓ A re-examination of the sedition law, inserted in 1898, is necessary.
✓ The offence of blasphemy should have no place in a liberal democracy and, therefore, there is a need to repeal Section 295A, which was inserted in 1927.
✓ Criminal conspiracy was made a substantive offence in 1913.
■ The offence is objectionable because it was added to the code by the colonial masters to deal with political conspiracies.
✓ Under Section 149 on unlawful assembly, the principle of constructive liability is pushed to unduly harsh lengths.
✓ The distinction between “culpable homicide” and “murder” was criticised even by Stephen as the “weakest part of the code”, as the definitions are obscure.
✓ Sexual offences under the code reveal patriarchal values and Victorian morality.
✓ Though the outmoded crime of adultery gives the husband sole proprietary rights over his wife’s sexuality, it gives no legal protection to secure similar monopoly over the husband’s sexuality.
Madhav Menon Committee
- Menon Committee on criminal justice reforms submitted its report 2007.
- The four member panel was set up to draft a national policy paper on criminal justice system.
- It favours the complete revamp of the entire criminal procedure system.
- It has mooted creation of a fund to compensate victims who turns hostile from the pressure of culprits.
- It suggested setting up of separate authority at national level to deal with crimes threatening the country security
Malimath Committee Report
- Malimath Committee (2000) on reforms in the Criminal Justice System of India (CJS) submitted its report in 2003.
- It suggested 158 changes in the CJSI but the recommendations weren’t implemented.
- The Committee had opined that the existing system “weighed in favour of the accused and did not adequately focus on justice to the victims of crime.”
Special Marriage Act
#Gs-1 #Social Justice
- The Centre has objected to a petition seeking to discontinue with the provision of inviting objection from public while applying for marriage registration under the Special Marriage Act (SMA).
- In an affidavit filed before the Delhi High Court, the Ministry of Law and Justice said that the intention behind the provision in SMA was to “keep adequate safeguards to the interest of various parties involved”.
Section 5 of the Special Marriage Act
● Recently, the Allahabad High Court has struck down the provisions under Section 5 of the Special Marriage Act that required parties to give a 30-day mandatory public notice of their intention to marry. Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954
● The Special Marriage Act is a central legislation made to validate and register interreligious and inter-caste marriages in India.
● It allows two individuals to solemnise their marriage through a civil contract.
● No religious formalities are needed to be carried out under the Act
Provisions of the Special Marriage Act
There are certain conditions laid down in Section 4 of the Act:
✓ It says that neither of the parties should have a spouse living.
✓ Both the parties should be capable of giving consent; should be sane at the time of marriage.
✓ The parties shall not be within the prohibited degree of relations as prescribed under their law.
✓ While considering the age, the male must be at least 21 and the female be 18 at least.
Section 5 and 6:
✓ Under these sections, the parties wishing to marry are supposed to give a notice for their marriage to the Marriage Officer in an area where one of the spouses has been living for the last 30 days.
✓ Then, the marriage officer publishes the notice of marriage in his office.
✓ Anyone having any objection to the marriage can file against it within a period of 30 days.
✓ If any such objection against the marriage is sustained by the marriage officer, the marriage can be rejected.
Observations made by Allahabad High Court
● The provision for mandatory publication of notice, derived through “simplistic reading” of the particular law, “would invade the fundamental rights of liberty and privacy, including within its sphere freedom to choose for marriage without interference from state and non-state actors, of the persons concerned”.
● The court also noted that despite the secular law for marriage, a majority of marriages in the country happen as per religious customs.
● It said that when marriages under personal law do not require a notice or invitation for objections, such a requirement is obsolete in secular law and cannot be forced on a couple.
● Publishing marriage details made optional: The court made it optional for the parties to the intended marriage to make a request in writing to the Marriage Officer to publish or not to publish a notice under Section 5 and 6 of the Act of 1954.
Directives for Marriage officer: In case the parties do not make such a request for publication of notice in writing, the Marriage Officer shall not publish any such notice or entertain objections to the intended marriage and proceed with the solemnization of the marriage.
✓ However, in case the officer has any doubt, he could ask for appropriate details/proof as per the facts of the case.
Issue related to the verdict
- Doing away with the public notification of the marriage could increase the cases of cheating, for example cases of duping by a married spouse.
- It can facilitate anti social activities such as forceful conversion.
Lokpal And Lokayukta
#GS-2 # POLITY # Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
- The Centre has refused to disclose the minutes of the Lokpal selection committee’s meetings, and its decision has now been upheld by the Central Information Commission (CIC).
- A Right to Information (RTI) activist intends to appeal against the CIC’s order in court, pointing out the irony that the Lokpal itself a body meant to augment transparency in governance.
Lokpal Search Committee
- Under the Lokpal Act of 2013, the DoPT is supposed to put together a list of candidates interested to be the chairperson or members of the Lokpal.
- This list would then go to the proposed eight-member search committee, which would shortlist names and place them before the selection panel headed by the Prime Minister.
- The selection panel may or may not pick names suggested by the search committee.
- In September 2018, the government had constituted a search committee headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai.
- The 2013 Act also provides that all states should set up the office of the Lokayukta within one year from the commencement of the Act.
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2016
- This Bill was passed by Parliament in July 2016 and amended the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013.
- It enables the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha to be a member of the selection committee in the absence of a recognized Leader of Opposition.
- It also amended section 44 of the 2013 Act that deals with the provision of furnishing of details of assets and liabilities of public servants within 30 days of joining the government service.
- The Bill replaces the time limit of 30 days, now the public servants will make a declaration of their assets and liabilities in the form and manner as prescribed by the government.
- It also gives an extension of the time given to trustees and board members to declare their assets and those of their spouses in case of these are receiving government funds of more than Rs. 1 crore or foreign funding of more than Rs. 10 lakh.
"Public authority" means any authority or body or institution of self government established or constituted –
✓ by or under the Constitution;
✓ by any other law made by Parliament/State Legislature.
✓ by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any –
- body owned, controlled or substantially financed;
- Non-Government organisation substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government.
The G7 or ‘Group of Seven’
#GS -2 # Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
- It consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
- It is an intergovernmental organisation that was formed in 1975 as an informal forum to discuss pressing world issues.
- Initially it focussed on economic issues but later it focussed on the several challenges such as the oil crashes of the 1970s, terrorism, arms control, and drug trafficking,etc.
- The group does not have a formal constitution or a fixed headquarters.
- The decisions taken by leaders during annual summits are non-binding.
- The G7 nations meet at annual summits that are presided over by leaders of member countries on a rotational basis.
India at the G7 Summit
- India had attended the G7 summit of 2019 at Biarritz in France as a special guest of French President.
- India has attended the G8 five times as special guests by various hosts of the G8 Summit in the past.
India-EU Strategic Partnership
India-EU Strategic Partnership: A Roadmap to 2025 has been endorsed between India and EU as a common roadmap to guide joint action and further strengthen the Strategic Partnership over the next five years.
Same Values: India and EU both are "unions of diversity", sharing values of democracy, rule of law and human rights.
✓ Both are equally convinced of the necessity to preserve the rules-based international order and effective multilateralism.
Common Interests: Both have a common interest in each other's security, prosperity and sustainable development.
✓ They can contribute jointly to a safer, cleaner and more stable world.
Govt. to clarify e-com FDI rules
# GS -2 #Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues,
- The Centre plans to issue a clarification on the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy for the e-commerce sector in the wake of investigations into some foreign players’ operations following complaints about malpractices.
- The government had sought information from the online marketplaces as part of a probe into ‘certain complaints from consumers and small retailers about certain practices of e-commerce companies’.
- Stressing that e-commerce platforms could only act as a service provider, the minister warned players ‘who break the law’ that they would have to correct their business practices at the earliest.
E-commerce rules 2020
The recent rules relating to e-commerce, issued by the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution, under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 needs some changes.
What the recent rules specify
- The Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, notified on July 23, regulate all commercial transactions sold over a digital or electronic network.
- The e-com rules currently recognise two e-commerce business models, namely, marketplace model and inventory-based model.
- The rules have separate specified provisions for marketplace- and inventory-based entities.
- The e-com rules require that all information on the return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment of the goods or services being sold, including their country of origin, be provided on the platform.
Such details enable consumers to make an informed decision.
What the new rules seek to achieve
- The country of origin requirement is significant as India and several other countries are currently re-negotiating their free trade agreements.
- E-com rules prohibit unfair trade practices by entities and sellers on marketplaces and manipulation of price.
- The entities are prohibited from manipulating the price of the goods or services to gain unreasonable profit by imposing unjustified price or charges on consumers.
Issues with the rules
- It remains unclear as to what would constitute price manipulation.
- It also remain unclear how the e-commerce entities and sellers are expected to navigate these roadblocks without falling foul of such provisions.
- Both the marketplace entity and sellers are now required to set up a grievance redressal mechanism, small businesses may not be in a position to comply.
- The rules also prohibit an e-commerce entity from levying a charge for cancellation post confirmation.
- While the provisions may be intended as safeguards that ensure a level-playing field, some of these conditions are impractical.
- Applying identical rules does not convey a business-friendly approach.
- The Foreign Exchange Management (Non-debt Instruments) Rules, 2019 currently recognise the marketplace and inventory model.
- It permit 100% FDI under the automatic route to marketplace entities as also to those engaged in single-brand retail.
- Foreign investments, up to 51%, are permitted in multi-brand retail with prior government approval.
- As per the non-debt rules, entities engaged in single-brand retail are permitted to undertake retail trading through e-commerce.
- However, single-brand retail trading through e-commerce has to open a brick-and-mortar store within two years from the date it commences online retail.
- Retail trading, in any form, by means of e-commerce, is not permissible for entities engaged in inventory-based multi-brand retail trading and having foreign investment.
Bengaluru scientists develop a new marigold variety
#Gs-2 # Gs-3 # Economic Development
Generally, flowers lose their value if they get spoilt either due to rain or delay in harvest.
● But the new variety of marigold developed by the Hessarghatta based Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) will fetch money even if they get spoilt as it can be used for extraction of crude carotene, which is mainly used in the pharmaceutical sector.
Demand FOR MARIGOLD CULTIVATION
● All marigolds have a carotene content of up to 1.4%. However, the Arka Shubha variety of marigold has a carotene content of 2.8%, which is the highest content from a plant source.
● These flowers can be sold for ornamental purpose too. Farmers consider this variety purely for extraction of carotene.
● There is always a high demand for carotene in the pharma sector.
● Presently, India imports most of its carotene from China and other countries.
● It is better to take up the carotene extraction venture through farmers’ groups as a large area is needed for marigold cultivation. This also provides scope for exports, she says.
● The Arka Shubha variety is of use in the poultry sector as well. Its petals could be used as feed to get quality yolk. It is used as feed for sheep too.
● Arka Shubha is on display at the ongoing national horticulture fair on the IIHR campus.
Marigold farming: Uses and benefits of this ubiquitous flower
- Marigolds are plants known for having some of the most widely recognized benefits in the world, besides being extremely versatile in religious ceremonies and decorative purposes.
- Be it in shades of yellow, orange, or red, marigold flowers can beautify any dull or drab garden space, the marigold farming makes it look aesthetically pleasing.
- There exist over 50 species of marigolds and some of the popular ones include Mexican marigolds, French marigolds, and signet marigolds.
- Marigold flowers hold a special cultural significance in India since they form a staple in the ‘puja’ rituals of many temples as well as in garlands for any auspicious occasion or festive celebration.
Key benefits and uses of cultivating marigolds
Easy to grow -They are highly adaptable and adjust very well with almost any soil type with the only requisite being an abundance of sunlight and adequate water supply.
Marigolds perform the job of a natural pesticide - Many varieties of marigolds have a chemical substance in the roots which when secreted, kill off nematodes.
✓ Nematodes, also known as roundworms and are also called soil pests.
✓ It provides a natural defense against the ill-effects of such notorious farming pests.
✓ It has been noted that French marigolds, especially the Tangerine kind are most effective for this type of work.
- Attracts bees and other pollinating species - Marigolds have a long blooming season and hence, it attracts bees and other pollinators across the length of the growing season and adds value to marigold farming.
- Attracts certain useful insects - Marigolds also lure in important predatory insects like hoverflies, parasitic miniwasps, and ladybugs, that eat aphids and other pests, which prevents them from damaging the plant/crop in any way.
- Suitable companion plant - Marigolds are frequently used as companion plants in vegetable gardens and they work well with cabbage, eggplants, basil, gourds, and tomatoes.
- Functions as an excellent trap crop - In many cases, marigolds get planted along the edges or boundaries of the main bed as a lure which hosts many pests and sacrifices itself for the overall health of the garden and/or farm.
Specialty Steel’ included under the Production Linked Incentive
Government has approved inclusion of ‘Specialty Steel’ under the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme with a 5-year financial outlay of Rs 6322 Cr to promote the manufacturing of 'Specialty Steel' within the country
- By attracting capital investment, generate employment and promote technology up-gradation in the steel sector.
- This would help in improving availability of 'Specialty Steel' in the country by making the country Atmanirbhar in meeting the domestic demand.
- In a deregulated, open market scenario, domestic steel price is determined by market forces of demand and supply, trends in prices of raw materials and is also influenced by global steel trade conditions.
Assistance under component schemes of PMKSY
A total of 3323 application were received for assistance under component schemes of Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana(PMKSY) of Ministry of Food Processing Industries.
The component schemes of PMKSY include-
- Mega Food Parks,
- Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure,
- Infrastructure for Agro processing Clusters,
- Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages
- Creation / Expansion of Food Processing & Preservation Capacities,
- Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure(FTL),
- Human Resources and Institutions- Research & Development and Skill Development
- Operation Greens.
Officers of the level of Joint Secretary do coordination and monitoring of the projects assisted under each component scheme of PMKSY. The Ministry has also engaged professional agencies as Program Management Agencies for assistance in implementation of the schemes.