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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 26 March 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Supreme Court to Govt. on judicial postings & backlog
  2. Lok Sabha passes amendment to Juvenile Justice Act
  3. Lokpal: ‘Bringing Synergies in Anti-Corruption Strategies’
  4. States told to use DBT for BOC Workers
  5. Suez Canal temporarily halts navigation

SUPREME COURT TO GOVT. ON JUDICIAL POSTINGS & BACKLOG

Context:

  • The Supreme Court asked the government to clarify on the status of 55 recommendations made by the Collegium for judicial appointments to various High Courts even earlier than 2020 in some cases.
  • The Supreme Court also pushed for the appointment of retired judges to battle pendency of cases in High Courts.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Indian Judiciary)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Collegium System?
  2. Evolution of the Collegium system
  3. Working of the Collegium System and NJAC
  4. About the pending recommendations
  5. Regarding appointment of Retired judges to fill the vacancies
  6. Ad-hoc Judges

What is the Collegium System?

  • The Collegium System is a system under which appointments/elevation of judges/lawyers to Supreme Court and transfers of judges of High Courts and Apex Court are decided by a forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.’ There is no mention of the Collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments.
  • The recommendations of the Collegium are binding on the Central Government; if the Collegium sends the names of the judges/lawyers to the government for the second time.

Evolution of the Collegium system

  • In the First Judges case (1982), the Court held that consultation does not mean concurrence and it only implies an exchange of views.
  • In the Second Judges case (1993), the Court reversed its earlier ruling and changed the meaning of the word consultation to concurrence.

Third Judges Case, 1998:

  • In the Third Judges case (1998), the Court opined that the consultation process to be adopted by the Chief Justice of India requires “consultation of a plurality of judges”.
  • The sole opinion of the CJI does not constitute the consultation process. He should consult a collegium of four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court and even if two judges give an adverse opinion, he should not send the recommendation to the government.
  • The court held that the recommendation made by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) without complying with the norms and requirements of the consultation process is not binding on the government.
  • The Collegium system was born through the “Third Judges case” and it is in practice since 1998. It is used for appointments and transfers of judges in High courts and Supreme Courts.
  • There is no mention of the Collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments.

Working of the Collegium System and NJAC

  • The collegium recommends the names of lawyers or judges to the Central Government. Similarly, the Central Government also sends some of its proposed names to the Collegium.
  • Collegium considers the names or suggestions made by the Central Government and resends the file to the government for final approval.
  • If the Collegium resends the same name again then the government has to give its assent to the names. But the time limit is not fixed to reply. This is the reason that appointment of judges takes a long time.
  • Through the 99th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2014 the National Judicial Commission Act (NJAC) was established to replace the collegium system for the appointment of judges.
  • However, the Supreme Court upheld the collegium system and struck down the NJAC as unconstitutional on the grounds that the involvement of Political Executive in judicial appointment was against the “Principles of Basic Structure”. i.e., the “Independence of Judiciary”.

About the pending recommendations

  • The Supreme Court asked the Attorney General of India to enquire with the Union Ministry of Law and Justice and make a statement on the decision regarding the appointment of judges recommended by the collegium as the delay was a matter of grave concern.
  • The Supreme Court Bar Association said that there was a need to institutionalise a process for considering advocates practising in the top courts to judgeships in the High Courts.
  • The total sanctioned judicial strength in the 25 High Courts is 1,080. However, the present working strength is 661 with 419 vacancies as on March 1 2021.

Regarding appointment of Retired judges to fill the vacancies

  • The SC bench said that retired judges could be chosen on the basis of their expertise in a particular field of dispute and allowed to retire once the pendency in that zone of law was over.
  • The Bench said retired judges who had handled certain disputes and fields of law for over 15 years could deal with them faster if brought back into harness as ad-hoc judges.
  • The court said the appointment of ad-hoc judges would not be a threat to the services of other judges, as Ad-hoc judges will be treated as the junior most.
Supreme Court for posting retired judges to clear backlog in High Courts

Ad-hoc Judges

  • The appointment of ad-hoc judges was provided for in the Constitution under Article 224A (appointment of retired judges at sittings of High Courts).
  • Ad hoc judges can be appointed in the Supreme Court by “Chief Justice of India” with the prior consent of the President if there is no quorum of judges available to hold and continue the session of the court.
  • Only the persons who are qualified to be appointed as Judge of the Supreme Court can be appointed as ad hoc judge of the Supreme Court (Article 127).
  • Further, as per provisions of Article 128, Chief Justice of India, with the previous consent of the President, request a retired Judge of the Supreme Court High Court, who is duly qualified for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court, to sit and act as a Judge of the Supreme Court.
  • The salary and allowances of such a judge are decided by the president.
  • The retired Judge who sits in such a session of the Supreme Court has all the jurisdiction, powers and privileges of the Judges, but are NOT deemed to be a Judge.

-Source: The Hindu


LOK SABHA PASSES AMENDMENT TO JUVENILE JUSTICE ACT

Context:

The Lok Sabha passed a Bill to amend the Juvenile Justice Act 2015 with the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021 in order to strengthen and streamline the provisions for protection and adoption of children.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues Related to Children, Governance and Government Policies, Issues Arising Out of Design & Implementation of Policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015
  2. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015

  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 replaced the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 to comprehensively address children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection.
  • The Act changes the nomenclature from ‘juvenile’ to ‘child’ or ‘child in conflict with law’.
  • Also, it removes the negative connotation associated with the word “juvenile”.
  • It also includes several new and clear definitions such as orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children; and petty, serious and heinous offences committed by children.
  • The 2015 law also included special provisions to tackle child offenders committing heinous offences in the age group of 16-18 years.
  • It mandates setting up Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees in every district. Both must have at least one-woman member each.
  • A separate new chapter on Adoption to streamline adoption procedures for an orphan, abandoned and surrendered children,
  • Also, the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) was granted the status of a statutory body to enable it to perform its function more effectively.
  • All Child Care Institutions, whether run by State Government or by voluntary or non-governmental organisations are to be mandatorily registered under the Act within 6 months from the date of commencement of the Act.

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021

  • Now, “Serious offences” will also include offences for which maximum punishment is imprisonment of more than seven years, and minimum punishment is not prescribed or is of less than seven years. [Serious offences are those for which the punishment under the Indian Penal Code or any other law for the time being is imprisonment between three and seven years.]
  • The Juvenile Justice Board inquiries about a child who is accused of a serious offence.
  • The Bill amends the present act to provide that an offence which is punishable with imprisonment between three to seven years to be non-cognizable (non-cognizable where arrest is allowed without warrant).
  • Presently, the adoption order issued by the court establishes that the child belongs to the adoptive parents. The Bill provides that instead of the court, the District Magistrate (including Additional District Magistrate) will issue such adoption orders.
  • The Bill provides that any person aggrieved by an adoption order passed by the District Magistrate may file an appeal before the Divisional Commissioner, within 30 days from the date of passage of such order.

 

Changes to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC)

  • The amendment provides Additional Functions of the District Magistrate as the supervising the District Child Protection Unit, and also mandates the District Magistrate to conduct a quarterly review of the functioning of the Child Welfare Committee.
  • The amendments include authorizing District Magistrate including Additional District Magistrate to issue adoption orders under Section 61 of the JJ Act, in order to ensure speedy disposal of cases and enhance accountability.It provides that a person will not eligible to be a member of the CWC if he/she:
  1. has any record of violation of human rights or child rights,
  2. has been convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude,
  3. has been removed or dismissed from service of the central government, or any state government, or a government undertaking,
  4. is part of the management of a child care institution in a district.

-Source: The Hindu


LOKPAL: ‘BRINGING SYNERGIES IN ANTI-CORRUPTION STRATEGIES’

Context:

Lokpal of India organized a webinar on ‘Bringing Synergies in Anti-Corruption Strategies’ and it was emphasized that “Corruption whenever present has to be nipped in the bud”.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional and Non-Constitutional Bodies, Policies and Interventions on Transparency and Accountability in governance)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Lokpal
  2. Other Important Points regarding the Lokpal
  3. Lokpal (Complaint) Rules, 2020
  4. Exception for Prime Minister
  5. Other Provisions for Fighting Corruption

About Lokpal

  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 establishes Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States (Statutory Bodies) to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries.

Composition: Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members, of which 50% shall be judicial members and 50% shall be from SC/ST/OBCs, minorities and women.

Appointment process: It is a two-stage process.

  1. A search committee which recommends a panel of names to the high-power selection committee.
  2. The selection committee comprises the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India (or his nominee) and an eminent jurist (nominated by President based on the recommendation of other members of the panel).

President will appoint the recommended names.

The jurisdiction of Lokpal extends to:

  1. Anyone who is or has been Prime Minister, or a Minister in the Union government, or a Member of Parliament, as well as officials of the Union government under Groups A, B, C and D.
  2. The chairpersons, members, officers and directors of any board, corporation, society, trust or autonomous body either established by an Act of Parliament or wholly or partly funded by the Centre.
  3. Any society or trust or body that receives foreign contribution above Rs. 10 lakhs.

Other Important Points regarding the Lokpal

  1. Salaries, allowances and service conditions: Salaries, allowances and other perks of the Lokpal chairperson will be the same as those for the Chief Justice of India; those for other members will be the same as those for a judge of the Supreme Court.
  2. Inquiry wing and prosecution wing: Inquiry Wing for conducting preliminary inquiry and Prosecution Wing for the purpose of prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act.
  3. Power with respect to CBI: Power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by Lokpal. Transfer of officers of CBI investigating cases referred by Lokpal would need approval of Lokpal.
  4. Timelines for enquiry, investigation: Act specifies a time limit of 60 days for completion of inquiry and 6 months for completion of investigation by the CBI. This period of 6 months can be extended by the Lokpal on a written request from CBI.
  5. Suspension, removal of Chairperson and member of Lokpal: The Chairperson or any Member shall be removed from his office by order of the President on grounds of misbehaviour after the Supreme Court report. For that a petition has to be signed by at least one hundred Members of Parliament. Special Court shall be setup to hear and decide the cases referred by the Lokpal.

Lokpal (Complaint) Rules, 2020

  • Complaint can be filed with the Lokpal against the sitting Prime Minister, Union Ministers, MPs, bureaucrats, among others.
  • A complaint filed against a sitting or former prime minister shall be decided by full bench of Lokpal comprising of its Chairman and all members in admission stage.
  • If such complaint is dismissed by the full bench, records of enquiry are not to be published.
  • A complaint against Union Minister/ MP is to be looked into by bench of not less than three members.

Exception for Prime Minister

  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 does not allow a Lokpal inquiry if the allegation against the PM relates to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.
  • Complaints against the PM are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of inquiry and at least 2/3rds of the members approve it.
  • Such an inquiry against the PM (if conducted) is to be held in camera and if the Lokpal comes to the conclusion that the complaint deserves to be dismissed, the records of the inquiry are not to be published or made available to anyone.

Other Provisions for Fighting Corruption

  1. Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 provides for penalties in relation to corruption by public servants and also for those who are involved in the abetment of an act of corruption.
  2. The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 aims to prevent instances of money laundering and prohibits use of the ‘proceeds of crime’ in India.
  3. The Companies Act, 2013 provides for corporate governance and prevention of corruption and fraud in the corporate sector.
  4. The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 regulates the acceptance and use of foreign contributions and hospitality by individuals and corporations.

Along with the above legal frameworks, the Indian Penal Code, 1860 sets out provisions which can be interpreted to cover bribery and fraud matters, including offences relating to criminal breach of trust and cheating.

-Source: PIB


STATES TOLD TO USE DBT FOR BOC WORKERS

Context:

In a recently issued order, the Ministry of Labour and Employment has directed the State Welfare Boards (SWBs) not to distribute articles and household items to the BOC workers and instead provide monetary assistance through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) into the workers’ bank accounts.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues relating to the development and management of Social Sector/Services), GS-II: Polity and Governance (Policies and interventions for Transparency & Accountability in governance)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT)?
  2. Categories of Schemes covered under DBT
  3. Advantages of DBT
  4. Disadvantages od DBT
  5. Why is DBT recommended for Building and Other Construction (BOC) Workers now?

What is Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT)?

  • In the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) program benefit or subsidy is directly transferred to citizens who eligible to receive the support.
  • The primary aim of this Direct Benefit Transfer program is to bring transparency and terminate pilferage from the distribution of funds sponsored by the Central Government of India.
  • The Central Plan Scheme Monitoring System (CPSMS), being implemented by the Office of Controller General of Accounts, acts as the common platform for routing DBT.

There are more than 300 schemes under DBT and DBT has shown promising results in pilot schemes being run in different parts of the country, which include:

  1. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY),
  2. National Food Security Mission (NFSM),
  3. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY),
  4. Atal Pension Yojana (APY),
  5. Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY),
  6. Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY),
  7. Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sammann Nidhi (PM-KISAN),
  8. Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM),
  9. Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) and
  10. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) payments in Jharkhand, Bihar, etc.

Categories of Schemes covered under DBT

The scope of DBT include all welfare/subsidy schemes operated by all the Ministries/ Departments of Government of India directly or through implementing agencies, which involve cash / kind benefits’ transfers to individuals.

  1. Cash Transfer to Individual Beneficiary – This category includes schemes or components of schemes wherein cash benefits are transferred by Government to individual beneficiaries. Example PAHAL, MGNREGA, NSAP etc.
  2. In-kind Transfer from Government to Individual Beneficiary – This category includes schemes or components of schemes wherein kind benefits are given by the Government to individuals through an intermediate agency.
  3. Other Transfers – Apart from these two categories of schemes, there is another category of transfers from the government to different non-government functionaries who help in facilitation of various government schemes till the last mile. This category includes transfers made to the various enablers of government schemes like community workers, NGOs, in the form of honorarium, incentives, etc. for successful implementation of the schemes.

Advantages of DBT

  1. Middlemen will be eliminated in the due course of transfer of benefits. Hence “leakages” in transfer of funds will be reduced.
  2. As Aadhar card is based on biometric identification, fake & duplicate beneficiaries will be eliminated.
  3. DBT scheme allows time-bound transfers hence avoids delays in transferring money, which is one of the biggest problems that beneficiaries are facing.
  4. This scheme eliminates intermediaries and rents for ‘fair price shops’ because subsidies and benefits of welfare schemes are transferred directly. This will help Indian economy in the long run as the structural expenditure will be reduced.
  5. Transparency in the distribution of benefits.
  6. As everyone can purchase goods at market price, there will be healthy competition between the sellers in the market. The problem of middlemen diverting subsidized grains to markets will be eliminated.
  7. It encourages people to have bank account.
  8. The problem of food grains storage and spoilage in the process can be eliminated.
  9. Circulation of money will be increased, which can lead to a significant increase in the GDP.
  10. It will help India to transform itself into cashless economy.

Disadvantages od DBT

  1. Even now there are many rural & tribal areas, which don’t have banking facility and road connectivity.
  2. Currently, only 3% Indians pay income tax. Therefore, determining the income of the rest of the citizens is still a challenge hence making it difficult to identify the deserving beneficiaries.
  3. Most of the banks appoints Business Correspondents to enroll beneficiaries in rural areas. They may open more than one account for each beneficiary for incentive. And there are many complaints that they are not giving passbooks to the beneficiaries making them unaware of the scheme. Illiterate beneficiaries are more vulnerable in this case.
  4. Direct cash may not be used for intended purpose and can be used in unhealthy ways. For example, the cash instead of food subsidy may be spent on drinking and smoking as most of beneficiaries’ families’ heads are men.
  5. Micro ATMs, which were set up to deliver cash benefits at door step are not present in many areas hence many beneficiaries have to travel long to withdraw money.
  6. Most of the beneficiaries’ families’ heads are men. This will be a disadvantage to women as there is no guarantee that they will get their share of the cash.

Why is DBT recommended for Building and Other Construction (BOC) Workers now?

  • It had come to the notice of the Ministry of Labour and Employment that some State Welfare Boards were issuing tenders or incurring expenditure on distribution of household items such as lanterns, blankets, umbrellas, tool-kits and similar articles instead of on tangible welfare measures such as life insurance, health insurance and old-age pensions etc., for the workers.
  • Since the procurement process adds layers to the entire process, with apprehension of leakages both at the procurement stage and at the distribution end – it was mandated that the State Welfare Boards (SWBs) not to distribute articles and household items to the BOC workers.
  • Transfer of money in the form of cash has been completely stopped by the instant order and any monetary assistance has to be necessarily given through DBT.
  • The recent order mentions that no benefit can be provided in-kind except in extra-ordinary circumstances such as natural calamities, epidemics, fire, accidents caused due to occupational hazard or similar other crisis and only with the prior approval of the State Government.

-Source: Indian Express


SUEZ CANAL TEMPORARILY HALTS NAVIGATION

Context:

Egypt had to suspend navigation through the Suez canal, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, as a 400-metre-long vessel that veered off course and ran aground blocking the canal.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-I: Geography (World Geography, Mapping)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Suez Canal

About the Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level waterway running north to south across the Isthmus of Suez in Egypt, to connect the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea and also separates the African continent from Asia.

It is one of the world’s most heavily used shipping lanes, carrying over 12% of world trade by volume, and acting as a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo being shipped from East to West.

It provides the shortest maritime route between Europe and the lands lying around the Indian and western Pacific oceans.

The Suez Canal is the first canal that directly links the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, which was opened in November 1869 and controlled by British and French interests in its initial years until it was nationalized in 1956 by Egypt.

Suez Canal | All Places And Travel & Tourism Directory | Suez, Geography  map, Middle school geography

-Source: The Hindu

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