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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 22 January 2021

22 January 2021 Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam

Contents

  1. T.N. Governor to decide on Perarivalan’s plea
  2. Telangana to implement 10 per cent EWS quota
  3. India, Singapore defence ministers dialogue

T.N. GOVERNOR TO DECIDE ON PERARIVALAN’S PLEA

Context:

Tamil Nadu Governor informed the Supreme Court that the decision on plea for release filed by A.G. Perarivalan, who is undergoing life imprisonment for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, will be taken soon.

This comes after a prolonged legal battle by one of the convicts, A. G. Perarivalan, who had moved the apex court seeking release from the jail.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Background: Timeline of the legal battle for Perarivalan’s release
  2. President’s Pardoning Power: Article 72
  3. Governor’s Pardoning Power: Article 161
  4. Types of Pardon’s by the Governor
  5. Difference between Pardoning Powers of Governor and the President

Background: Timeline of the legal battle for Perarivalan’s release

  • A pardon plea was filed by Perarivalan before the Tamil Nadu Governor in 2015.
  • In 2018, the SC asked the Governor to decide the pardon plea as he “deemed fit”.
  • The Tamil Nadu Cabinet had recommended to the Governor to release Perarivalan and six others in 2018 itself.
  • The cabinet decision to remit sentences of all seven convicts, including Perarivalan, was welcomed by all political parties in the state.
  • But the Governor chose to take time and hence the cabinet’s decision is pending.
  • In 2020, the Madras High Court said that Tamil Nadu Governor cannot sit on the state government’s recommendation for so long and reminded that there is no time limit prescribed for the constitutional authority (Governor) to decide on such issues only “because of the faith and trust attached to the constitutional post”.

What the arguments for Perarivalan to apply for Pardon Plea?

  • Perarivalan had been pleading for release citing that he was 19 when he was arrested citing the retired CBI officer’s admission about lapses in recording his confession statement that handed out maximum punishment in his case.
  • Perarivalan cannot be called innocent before the law as he continues to be a convicted prisoner serving imprisonment, but the CBI officer who interrogated and took the crucial confession statement revealed that he had altered Perarivalan’s statement in custody.

President’s Pardoning Power: Article 72

Under Article 72 of the Constitution, the President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence where the sentence is a sentence of death.

Important Points regarding Pardoning power of the President of India

  • The President cannot exercise his power of pardon independent of the government.
  • In several cases, the Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that the President has to act on the advice of the Council of Ministers while deciding mercy pleas. These include Maru Ram vs Union of India in 1980, and Dhananjoy Chatterjee vs State of West Bengal in 1994.
  • Although the President is bound by the Cabinet’s advice, Article74 (1) empowers him to return it for reconsideration once. If the Council of Ministers decides against any change, the President has no option but to accept it.

Governor’s Pardoning Power: Article 161

Similar to the Pardoning Power of the President, pardoning power of the Governor grants the following:

  1. Pardon
  2. Respite
  3. Remission
  4. Reprieve
  5. Commute

Article 161:

The Governor of a State shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or 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.

Types of Pardon’s by the Governor

Pardon

  • When the Governor pardons, both the sentence and the conviction of the convict completely absolve the sentences, punishments and disqualifications.
  • The Governor cannot pardon the punishment by court-martial.
  • The Governor cannot pardon the death sentence which only the Indian President can do.

Respite

  • When the Governor uses his pardoning power of ‘Respite’, he chooses to award a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded to the convict.
  • For example, due to some special fact, such as the physical disability of a convict or the pregnancy of a woman offender, the President can use this power.

Reprieve

  • When the Governor chooses the pardoning power of ‘Reprieve’; he stays the execution of a sentence (especially that of death) for a temporary period.
  • By doing this, he enables the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation from him.

Remit   

  • When the President chooses the pardoning power of Remit, he acts to reduce the period of the sentence but the character of the sentence remains the same.
  • For example, a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for two years may be remitted to rigorous imprisonment for one year but the imprisonment remains rigorous.

Commute

  • Governor can commute the punishment or sentence of any person convicted of any offence against a state law or he can commute a death sentence.

Difference between Pardoning Powers of Governor and the President

PARDONNING POWER OF THE PRESIDENTPARDONING POWER OF THE GOVERNOR
He can pardon a sentence of the convict given by the court-martial or the military courtGovernor does not have the power to pardon the sentence inflicted by the court-martial on the convict
The President can also pardon the death sentence through commutation or in its entirety.Governor cannot pardon the death sentence even if the said sentence has been prescribed under the state law. However, he can suspend, remit or commute the death sentence by using these pardoning powers.
His pardoning powers are granted for the cases where the convict has committed an offence against a Union lawHis pardoning powers are granted for the cases where the convict has committed an offence against a state law

Hence, the scope of the pardoning power of the President under Article 72 is wider than the pardoning power of the Governor under Article 161

-Source: The Hindu


TELANGANA TO IMPLEMENT 10 PER CENT EWS QUOTA

Context:

Telangana government has decided to implement a 10 per cent reservation to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the state.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Is it up to the States to provide 10% EWS quota?
  2. 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act
  3. Provision of the 103rd Amendment
  4. The rationale: Understanding Economic Inequality vs Social Inequality

Is it up to the States to provide 10% EWS quota?

  • The Centre informed the Supreme Court that it would be the States’ prerogative to provide 10% economic reservation in government jobs and admission to education institutions in 2020.
  • Whether or not to provide reservation to the economically weaker section in appointment to State government jobs and admission to State government educational institutions, as per provisions of the newly inserted Articles 15(6) and 16(6) of the Constitution, is to be decided by the State government concerned.
  • The Centre said its Department of Social Justice and Empowerment “has no role in deciding the reservation policy of any State government”.

103rd Constitutional Amendment Act

  • It introduced an economic reservation (10% quota) in jobs and admissions in education institutes for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) by amending Articles 15 and 16. It inserted Article 15 (6) and Article 16 (6).
  • It was enacted to promote the welfare of the poor not covered by the 50% reservation policy for SCs, STs and Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC).
  • It enables both Centre and the states to provide reservation to the EWS of society.

Provision of the 103rd Amendment

  • The terms Economically Weaker Section (EWS) and Economically Backward Class (EBC) are not meant to be confused with each other in India.
  • The definition of EWS has been defined by the Government of India whereas the definition of EBC and Most Economically Backward Class (MEBC) vary in different states as well as institutions.
  • There is no official figure for the percentage of the Indian population who belong to the EWS category, but they were given 10 percent reservation.
  • The eligibility to get the EWS certificate is not only purely based on annual family income but also based on the held property.
  • The income limit has been set by the central government for admission to central government-owned colleges and jobs offered by the central government.
  • State governments are given the authority to change the eligibility criteria and also to extend the income limit further for candidates seeking reservation under EWS category which will be valid only in state-owned colleges and state government’s jobs as deemed fit for the respective states.

The rationale: Understanding Economic Inequality vs Social Inequality

  • In our country, certain sections of people have been particularly denounced to such an extent that their social advancement has historically lagged behind (Socially backward).
  • Hence the communities which had the privilege of being considered genuine at that time, certainly have made a lot of progress both in the social as well as an educational arena.
  • Dr. B.R Ambedkar in his speech clearly acknowledged the fact that there is an absence of socio-economic equality which is rooted in the system of our society.
  • Hence, the Constitution provided reservation of seats in the educational institutions and in public employment to three categories of people -Persons who are socially and educationally backward classes of citizens, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
  • Thus, it is an evident fact that the intention was to enhance these under-represented categories on the basis of their caste.
  • It is a common criticism that caste-based reservation encourages inefficient bureaucracy and promotes sub-nationalism, creating a kind of division among society.
  • But one cannot deny that the purpose of the reservation policy was started to promote social upliftment and not economic upliftment.
  • It tends to remove the caste characteristic monopoly in every kind of institution.
  • The present amendment however, is solely based on the economic criteria for the purpose of reservation.

-Source: The Hindu


INDIA, SINGAPORE DEFENCE MINISTERS DIALOGUE

Context:

The joint statement issued after the fifth Defence Ministers’ Dialogue between India and Singapore stated that defence and security engagements between the two countries have broadened significantly across all three services of the armed forces, defence industry and technology

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the India – Singapore Defence Ministers’ Dialogue
  2. India–Singapore relations

Highlights of the India – Singapore Defence Ministers’ Dialogue

  • Both the countries conveyed their full support towards the early conclusion of agreements to facilitate conduct of live firings and to establish reciprocal arrangements for the cross-attendance of military courses.
  • They welcomed the initiatives to expand bilateral defence cooperation including the implementing agreement on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) cooperation in August 2020.
  • The cyber agencies of both armed forces have also stepped-up engagements.
  • Both the countries successfully conducted the 27th edition of Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) and also participated in the second edition of the Singapore-India-Thailand Maritime Exercise (SITMEX), both held in November 2020.

India–Singapore relations

History of India-Singapore Relations

  • India and Singapore share long-standing cultural, commercial and strategic relations, with Singapore being a part of the “Greater India” cultural and commercial region. Greater India, or the Indian cultural sphere is an area composed of many countries and regions in South and Southeast Asia that were historically influenced by Indian culture.
  • Following its independence in 1965, Singapore was concerned with China-backed communist threats as well as domination from Malaysia and Indonesia and sought a close strategic relationship with India, which it saw as a counterbalance to Chinese influence and a partner in achieving regional security.
  • Singapore had always been an important strategic trading post, giving India trade access to the Far East.
  • Diplomatic relations between India and Singapore were established in 1965 right after Singapore’s independence.
  • Military relations between the two nations had been limited due to foreign policy differences in the Cold War era, as Singapore was allied with NATO, whilst India established itself as a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Relations with Singapore related to Defence and Security

  • In 2003, India and Singapore signed a bilateral agreement on expanding military cooperation, conducting joint military training, developing military technology and achieving maritime security.
  • The Singaporean Navy and the Indian Navy have conducted joint naval exercises and training since 1993 such as SIMBEX and MILAN near India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • India and Singapore have also expanded their cooperation in fighting terrorism.

Trade Relations with Singapore

  • Singapore is the 8th largest source of investment in India and the second largest amongst ASEAN member nations.
  • Total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from Singapore into India till 2018 was 19% of total FDI inflow.
  • Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) singed between India and Singapore was the first comprehensive agreement covering trade in goods, services and investments signed by India with any of its trading partners.

Indian Diaspora and Culture in Singapore

  • More than 500,000 people of Indian origin live in Singapore.
  • Singapore’s large Indian diaspora through a number of cultural societies and Singapore’s official support sustains a high level of cultural activity in Singapore.
  • Ethnic Indians constitute about 9.1% or around 3.5 lakhs of the resident population of 3.9 million in Singapore.
  • ASEAN-India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) was held in Singapore on 6-7 January 2018 as part of commemoration of 25 years of ASEAN-India Partnership.
  • Singapore celebrated the 4th International Day of Yoga (IDY) through 173 yoga sessions and attended by approx. 8000 people.
  • Even on Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, celebrations were launched with a projection of Gandhiji’s video on the world’s largest HD video screen at Suntec Convention Centre.

-Source: The Hindu

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