- Prime Minister Modi calls for COVID-19 Emergency Fund for SAARC
- J&K will have a domicile policy
- New law in U.P. to recover costs for damaging property
- Lokpal expense plan overshot DoPT figure
- Labour Ministry yet to spend Rs. 2,053.59 cr. of 2019-20 Budget
Focus: GS-II International Relations, GS-III Science and Technology, Disaster Management, Prelims
Why in news?
- The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) should create a fund to fight the threat of COVID-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on 15th March 2020 – Addressing the first ever video conference among the heads of governments of the SAARC member countries.
- Foreign Secretary of India Harsh Vardhan Shringla and his counterparts from other member countries of SAARC should meet and decide the plan ahead for the creation of the SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund.
- Proposal from the South Asian leaders came days after the World Health Organisation (WHO) floated the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund with the help of corporate bodies, foundations and the UN Foundation.
- The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of states in South Asia
- Its member states are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
- SAARC maintains permanent diplomatic relations at the United Nations as an observer and has developed links with multilateral entities, including the European Union.
Political Issues in SAARC
- Lasting peace and prosperity in South Asia has been elusive because of the various ongoing conflicts in the region.
- Political dialogue is often conducted on the margins of SAARC meetings which have refrained from interfering in the internal matters of its member states.
- During the 12th and 13th SAARC summits, extreme emphasis was laid upon greater cooperation between the SAARC members to fight terrorism.
- The 19th SAARC summit scheduled to be held in Pakistan was called off as India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan decided to boycott it.
- It was for the first time that four countries boycotted a SAARC summit, leading to its cancellation.
SAARC Disaster Management Centre
- South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Disaster Management Centre (SDMC-IU) has been set up at Gujarat Institute of Disaster Management (GIDM) Campus, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India.
- Eight Member States, i.e., Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are expected to be served by the SDMC (IU).
- It is entrusted with the responsibility of serving Member States by providing policy advice, technical support on system development, capacity building services and training for holistic management of disaster risk in the SAARC region.
- The centre also facilitates exchange of information and expertise for effective and efficient management of disaster risk.
Focus: GS-II Governance
Why in news?
- Union Home Minister Amit Shah on 15th March 2020, assured members of the newly formed Apni Party of Jammu and Kashmir that the intention of the government was not to bring in any “demographic changes” in the region.
- Mr. Shah informed a party delegation that J&K would have a “better domicile policy than other States in the country”.
- On August 5, 2019, the Centre revoked the special status of J&K under Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution.
- The two revoked provisions had enabled the J&K Assembly to decide the “permanent residents” of the erstwhile State, prohibiting people from outside from buying property and ensuring job reservation for residents.
Special Status of States
- There are 12 States where provisions granting special status under Article 371 of the Constitution apply.
- The special provision for J&K will ensure protection to domiciles of J&K in government jobs, educational institutions and land rights.
States that have special provisions under Article 371(A-J):
Article 371 – Maharashtra and Gujarat
Governors of the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat are given special responsibilities to set up development boards in regions such as Vidarbha, Marathwada, Kutchh etc.
Article 371A – Nagaland
Article 371A of the Constitution mainly states that no act of Parliament would apply to the state of Nagaland in matter relating to religious or social practices of Nagas, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil or criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law and ownership and transfer of land and its resources. The Legislative Assembly of Nagaland must pass a resolution for an act to be applicable to the state.
The governor is given special responsibilities with respect to law and order in the state as well.
Article 371B – Assam
According to the special provision under Article 371B, the president may provide for the Constitution and functions of a committee of Legislative Assembly of the state consisting of members elected from the tribal areas of Assam.
Article 371C – Manipur
The special provision under Article 371C in the case of Manipur is similar to 371B for Assam. Here, too, the president may provide for the Constitution and functions of a committee of Legislative Assembly of the state, but consisting of members elected from the hill areas of Manipur.
The governor must submit an annual report to the president regarding the administration of hill areas as well.
Article 371D & E – Andhra Pradesh
Article 371D, which was added to the Constitution in 1974, provides equitable opportunities and facilities for the people of the state and safeguards their rights in matters of employment and education. The state government may organise civil posts or direct recruitment to posts in local cadre as required.
Article 371E states that the Parliament may by law provide for the establishment of a University in Andhra Pradesh.
Article 371F – Sikkim
Article 371F was incorporated into the Constitution in 1975. It states that the Legislative Assembly shall consist of not less than 30 members. In order to protect the rights and interests of the different sections of the population in the state of Sikkim, seats in the assembly are provided to people of these different sections.
Article 371G – Mizoram
The Legislative Assembly of the state of Mizoram must consist of not less than 40 members. In addition, following the same provisions as Nagaland, an act of Parliament would not apply to Mizoram in matters relating to religious or social practices of Mizo, Mizo customary law and procedure, administration of civil or criminal justice involving decisions according to Mizo customary law, ownership and transfer of land and its resources.
Article 371H – Arunachal Pradesh
The Legislative Assembly of the state of Mizoram must consist of not less than 30 members. The governor will have special responsibility with respect to law and order in the state.
Article 371I – Goa
The Legislative Assembly of the state of Goa must consist of not less than 30 members.
Article 371J – Hyderabad-Karnataka region
Article 371J grants special status to six backward districts of Hyderabad-Karnataka region. The special provision requires that a separate development board be established for these regions (similar to Maharashtra and Gujarat) and also ensures local reservation in education and government jobs.
- In law, domicile is the status or attribution of being a lawful permanent resident in a particular jurisdiction.
- A person can remain domiciled in a jurisdiction even after he has left it, if he has maintained sufficient links with that jurisdiction or has not displayed an intention to leave permanently (i.e. if that person has moved to a different state but has not yet formed an intention to remain there indefinitely).
NEW LAW IN U.P. TO RECOVER COSTS FOR DAMAGING PROPERTY
Focus: GS-II Governance
Why in news?
- The Uttar Pradesh government on 15th March 2020, notified the ‘Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damage to Public and Private Property Ordinance’, 2020, promulgated by the Governor – which is a stringent new law to recover compensation from those who damage public and private property during protests and riots.
- Claims for compensation will be decided by designated ‘Claims Tribunals’ that will be authorised to investigate complaints and assess the damage.
What is an Ordinance?
- An ordinance is a law that is promulgated by the President of India only when the Indian parliament is not in session. President promulgates an ordinance on the recommendation of the union cabinet.
- Similarly, Governor of Indian states can also initiate ordinances only when a legislative assembly is not in session when it is a unicameral legislature and when legislative assembly along with legislative council both are not in session when it is the bicameral legislature.
Powers of the Governor
- The Constitution confers upon the Governor the power to nominate one member to the Lower House and some members to the Upper House of the State. He can nominate one member from the Anglo-Indian community to the State Legislative Assembly, if in his opinion this community is not adequately represented in that House. In a State with a Legislative Council, the Governor nominates one-sixth of the total number of its members.
- The Governor can summon the State Legislature, prorogue either House or dissolve the Legislative Assembly.
- The Constitution gives the Governor the right to address the House or Houses of the state Legislature separately or jointly. At the beginning of each new session and immediately after a general election to the Assembly, he has to deliver an address to the Legislature in which he lays down the policy of his Government for ensuing year.
- The Governor can also send messages to any House of the State Legislature. The Constitution lay down that a House to which any message is so sent shall consider any matter required by the message to be taken into consideration.
- Every Bill passed by the
State Legislature has to receive the Governor’s assent before it can
become a law. The Governor has three alternatives before him with respect
to such a Bill:
- he can give his assent to the Bill; or
- withholds assent; or
- he may reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President; or
- he can return it to the Legislature, if it is not a Money Bill, for reconsideration, suggesting alterations and modifications in part or in the whole. But such Bills when passed again by the Legislature must receive the assent of the Governor, which means that the Governor cannot withhold his assent to a bill if it is passed a second time by the State Legislature (Article 200).
- The annual reports of various bodies like State Public Service Commission (Article 323), State Finance Commission, he may decide a matter relating to the disqualification of a member of the Legislature if that member’s election is challenged through a petition by some voter of his State (Article 192).
- He can issue an Ordinance when one or both Houses of the State Legislature are not in session, having the force of a law.
- The Governor is authorized to promulgate Ordinance when is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take action immediately.
- However, the Governor is prohibited from promulgating Ordinances that contain provision, which under the Constitution require the previous sanction of the President for introduction in the State Legislature or which are to be reserved for the assent of the President.
- In such cases, the Governor can promulgate an Ordinance after obtaining permission from the President.
- An Ordinance issued by the Governor ceases to be in operation six months and six weeks, as is to the ordinance issued by the President. The Governor may withdraw an Ordinance any time before it expires.
- No Money Bill and Financial Bill can be introduced in the State Legislative except on Governor’s recommendation.
- No demand for a grant can be made in the Legislative Assembly except on his recommendation.
- It is the duty of the Governor to get prepared and introduced in the State Legislature the annual budget showing the estimated revenue and expenditure of the State for that year and, if necessary, the supplementary budget for the State.
- The Governor can also make advances out of the Contingency Fund of the State in case of unforeseen expenditure, pending its authorization by the Legislature.
- He constitutes a Finance commission after every five years to review the financial position of the Panchayats and the municipalities.
- Pardoning Power (Art. 161): Under Article 161, the Governor can grant pardons, reprieves, respites and remission of punishment or suspend, remit and commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence, against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the state extends. However, the pardoning power of the Governor differs from that of the President in the manner that the President can pardon death sentence whereas the governor is deprived of this pardoning power. The Governor does not have the power that could empower him to par-don sentences inflicted by court martial as this power is entitled only to the President of India.
- Judicial Appointments: The Governor is consulted by the President, the Governor of the State appoints the judges of the concerned State High Court. And with the consultation of the State High Court, he makes appointments, State High Court and the State High Court and the State Public Service Commission he appoints persons to the judicial service of the state other than the district judges.
- The Governor has the power to make a report to the President, whenever he is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which Government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution (Article 356), thereby, inviting the President to assume to himself the functions of the Government of the State or any of them.
- When the President’s rule is imposed in a State, an important change in the position of the Governor takes place.
- Instead of being a constitutional head of the State, who is guided by his Council of Ministers in the discharge of his duties, he becomes the “agent of the Union Government in the State”.
- He takes over the reins of administration directly into his own hands and runs the State with the aid of the civil services.
- Thus, during the period of emergency, the executive power of the State is exercised by the Governor in accordance with the instructions received from the President.
Discretionary Powers of the Governor
- If any question arises whether any matter is a matter on which the Governor can use discretionary power, the decision of the Governor is final.
- The functions which are specially required by the Constitution to be exercised by the Governor in his discretion are:
- The Governor of a State as the administrator of an adjoining Union Territory can exercise his functions as such administrator, independently of his Council of Ministers.
- Some of the Governors may have to discharge certain special responsibilities also under the articles 371 to 371 J. In the discharge of such special responsibility, the Governor has to act according to the directions issued by the President from time to time, and subject, therefore, he is to act “in his discretion”.
In such cases, the Governor shall seek the advice of his Council of Ministers, but he is not bound by the advice tendered by his Council of Ministers
Focus: GS-II Governance
Why in news?
- The overall proposed revised estimate of expenditure under various heads for the Lokpal office this financial year, as on January 15, had exceeded the figure recommended by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), according to a reply provided under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
- The total expenditure for the Lokpal office stood at ₹11.61 crore as on January 15, when there was an additional committed liability of about ₹6.09 crore. The total requirement was then about ₹17.7 crore.
- A Lokpal is an anti-corruption authority or body of ombudsman who represents the public interest in the Republic of India.
- The current Chairperson of Lokpal is Pinaki Chandra Ghose. The Lokpal has jurisdiction over central government to inquire into allegations of corruption against its public functionaries and for matters connected to corruption.
- The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was passed in 2013 with amendments in parliament, following the Jan Lokpal movement led by Anna Hazare in 2011.
- The Lokpal is responsible for enquiring into corruption charges at the national level while the Lokayukta performs the same function at the state level.
- Minimum age of Lokpal (chairperson or member) on the date of assuming office as the chairperson or member should not be less than 45 years.
- The Lokpal Bill provides for the filing, with the ombudsman, of complaints of corruption against the prime minister, other ministers, and MPs.
- The first Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) recommended the enacting of the Office of a Lokpal, convinced that such an institution was justified, not only for removing the sense of injustice from the minds of citizens, but also to instill public confidence in the efficiency of the administrative machinery.
Structure of Lokpal
- Lokpal is a multi-member body, that consists of one chairperson and a maximum of 8 members and the Chairperson of the Lokpal should be either the former Chief Justice of India or the former Judge of Supreme Court or an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.
- Out of the maximum eight members, half will be judicial members and minimum 50% of the Members will be from SC/ ST/ OBC/ Minorities and women.
- The judicial member of the Lokpal either a former Judge of the Supreme Court or a former Chief Justice of a High Court.
- The non-judicial member should be an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.
- The term of office for Lokpal Chairman and Members is 5 years or till the age of 70 years.
- The members are appointed by the president on the recommendation of a Selection Committee.
- The selection committee is composed of the Prime Minister who is the Chairperson; Speaker of Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India or a Judge nominated by him/her and One eminent jurist.
- For selecting the chairperson and the members, the selection committee constitutes a search panel of at least eight persons.
LABOUR MINISTRY YET TO SPEND RS. 2,053.59 CR. OF 2019-20 BUDGET
Focus: GS-II Governance
Why in news?
- The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour in its March 13 report has flagged the under-utilisation of funds by the Union Labour and Employment Ministry, which was yet to spend almost 20% of its 2019-2020 Budget (revised estimate) as on February 10.
- The Committee, which is chaired by Biju Janata Dal MP Bhartuhari Mahtab, wrote in its report that was presented in both Houses of Parliament on March 13, that the Ministry had utilised 81.64% of the ₹11,184.09 crore allocated to its in the revised estimate.
- The report noted that utilisation of funds for the National Career Services (NCS) scheme of the Ministry, which facilitates job-seekers, was the worst compared to other schemes.
- The committee added that it was satisfied with the fact that physical targets for the NCS and welfare of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe job-seekers through coaching etc. had been met for the last three years.
Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana
- The PMRPY Scheme aims to incentivise employers for employment generation by the Government paying the full employers’ EPS contribution of 12% , for the new employees, for the first three years of their employment and is proposed to be made applicable for unemployed persons that are semi-skilled and unskilled.
- The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Employment and is operational since August, 2016.
- The Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY) is a scheme to incentivise employers registered with the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) for job creation by the Government paying the full contribution of employers to the Employee Pension Scheme (EPS) and Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) in respect of new employees having a new Universal Account Number (UAN).
Pradhan Mantri Karam Yogi Man Dhan Yojana
- Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan is a social welfare scheme launched by the Ministry of Labour and Employment (India) of Government of India in February 2019 for poor laborers in the unorganised sector from minimum 18 years of age to maximum 40 years.
- Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan is available to unorganized workers between 18 to 40 years of age.
- To avail the scheme, the concerned person has to visit the Community Service Center. Aadhar and Jan Dhan Bank account are necessary.