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Current Affairs 05 October 2022

 

Contents:

  1. Nobel Prize in Chemistry announced
  2. Split on method to name new Supreme Court judges
  3. EC proposes change in Model Code of Conduct 

Nobel Prize in Chemistry announced


Context:

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2022 has gone to Carolyn R Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and K Barry Sharpless, the latter winning the second Nobel of his career.

Relevance:

GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
  2. Significance
  3. What is Click Chemistry?
  4. Details about the work of Nobel laureates

About the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The three have been awarded for their work in ‘click chemistry’. They brought chemistry into the era of functionalism and laid the foundations of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry.

The award, announced on Wednesday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, is worth 10m Swedish krona (£804,000), and will be shared equally among the winners.

Significance:

  • Their work has applications in the field of medical science, including the treatment of cancer.
  • Click chemistry is utilised in the development of pharmaceuticals, for mapping DNA and creating materials that are more fit for the purpose.
  • Using bioorthogonal reactions, researchers have improved the targeting of cancer pharmaceuticals.
  • Bertozzi, meanwhile, has taken click chemistry to a new dime nsions and started utilising it in living organisms. Her bioorthogonal reactions take place without disrupting the normal chemistry of the cell.

What is Click Chemistry?

  • The term “click chemistry” is used to describe reactions that are fast, high-yielding and clean, meaning that they do not produce a lot of unwanted side-products.
  • It helps to develop “bioorthogonal” reactions that operate safely inside living organisms without disrupting their biochemistry.
  • The breakthrough allowed scientists to track the movement of biomolecules in cells and so tease apart the complex workings of life.

Details about the work of Nobel laureates:

  • Sharpless came up with the term ‘click chemistry’ and worked extensively on it,
  • Meldal, independently of Sharpless, came up with a special chemical structure called ‘triazole’ which has many significant applications
  • Bertozzi took the next step of developing click reactions that could work inside living organisms — ‘bioorthogonal’ reactions (a term she coined), take place living systems without interfering with native biochemical processes.
  • Bertozzi is only the eighth woman to win the chemistry prize in Nobel history.
  • While Nobel honours are rare enough, the prize puts Sharpless in the even more exclusive club of double winners. It is his second Nobel prize in chemistry, his first being in 2001 for work on “chirally catalysed oxidation reactions’.

 


Split on method to name new Supreme Court judges


Context:

With two of the five-member Supreme Court Collegium opposed to a proposal to recommend four new judges, including a Supreme Court lawyer, to the top court through a written note instead of a formal meeting, Chief Justice of India U U Lalit is learnt to have written to them again, seeking reconsideration of their stand.

Relevance:

GS-II: Governance, GS-II: Polity and Constitution

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key points
  2. What is the Collegium System?
  3. Working of the Collegium System and NJAC
  4. Appointment procedure of HC Judges
  5. Transfer procedure of HC Judges

Key points:

  • The CJI Lalit is due to retire in little over a month, leaving him with very little time for appointments.
  • As per convention, the government writes to the outgoing CJI before his retirement and the CJI recommends the name of the most senior judge as the successor about a month before retirement.
  • Once a new name is recommended, the incumbent CJI usually refrains from taking decisions on appointment of 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”.

Issues involved in appointment

  • Cumbersome Process: There are inordinate delays in the appointment of High Court judges and it leads to the pendency of cases.
  • Lack of Transparency: There is no objective criteria for selection and people come to know about judges only after selection. It also promotes nepotism in the judiciary. The consultations of the Collegium are also not discussed in any public platform.
  • Instances of Politicisation: In many cases, there is indication that due to the unfavorable judgments of certain judges the political executive hinders their appointments, elevation, or transfer. This reflects poorly on the concept of independence of the judiciary.
  • Improper Representation: Certain sections of societies have higher representation whereas many vulnerable sections have nil representation.

Appointment procedure of HC Judges

  • Article 217 of the Constitution: It states that the Judge of a High Court shall be appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India (CJI), the Governor of the State.
  • In the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of the High Court is consulted.
  • Consultation Process: High Court judges are recommended by a Collegium comprising the CJI and two senior-most judges.
  • The proposal, however, is initiated by the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned in consultation with two senior-most colleagues.
  • The recommendation is sent to the Chief Minister, who advises the Governor to send the proposal to the Union Law Minister.

Transfer procedure of HC Judges

  • Article 222 of the Constitution makes provision for the transfer of a Judge (including Chief Justice) froms one High Court to any other High Court. The initiation of the proposal for the transfer of a Judge should be made by the Chief Justice of India whose opinion in this regard is determinative.
  • Consent of a Judge for his first or subsequent transfer would not be required.
  • All transfers are to be made in public interest i.e., for promoting better administration of justice throughout the country.

-Source: The Indian Express


EC proposes change in Model Code of Conduct 


Context:

The Election Commission of India recently notified the political parties to spell out ways and means of raising additional resources to finance the promises, and the impact it would have on the fiscal sustainability of the state or the Central government.

Relevance:

GS Paper – 2: Polity and Governance, Government Policies & Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key points
  2. Existing guidelines
  3. About Election Commission of India
  4. Structure of the Election Commission
  5. Issues with ECI
  6. Powers of EC
  7. Other powers handled by the Election Commission of India are as follows:

Key points:

  • The EC wrote to all the recognised national and state parties prescribing a standardised disclosure proforma for them to declare quantification of the physical coverage of the schemes promised, financial implications of the promise and availability of the financial resources.
  • This gains significance in the backdrop of raging debate on the financial implication of freebies promised by political parties during elections.
  • This move by the EC will bring in standardisation in the nature of information and help voters compare and make an informed decision.
  • To make these steps mandatory, the EC plans to propose an amendment to the relevant clauses in the Model Code of Conduct.
  • Details looked out for by the EC:
    • The extent and expanse of the coverage of the promised scheme
    • Quantification of physical coverage
    • Financial implications
    • Availability of financial resources
    • Ways and means of raising resources for meeting the additional expenditure to be incurred in fulfilling the promises.
    • The impact of the additional resource raising plan for fulfilling the promises on fiscal sustainability of the State or the Union Government

Existing guidelines:

  • The existing guidelines under the Model Code of Conduct require the political parties and candidates to explain the rationale for promises made as well as possible ways and means to finance such promises.
  • The declaration by the political parties are found to be quite routine, ambiguous and do not provide adequate information to voters to exercise informed choice in an election.
  • These declarations are also not submitted by most of the political parties in time.

About Election Commission of India

  • The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
  • The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
  • It is the Commission that decides the election schedules for the conduct of elections, whether general elections or by-elections.
  • ECI decides on the location of polling stations, assignment of voters to the polling stations, location of counting centers, arrangements to be made in and around polling stations and counting centres and all allied matters.
  • In the performance of its functions, the Election Commission is insulated from executive interference.
  • Part XV of the Indian constitution deals with elections, and establishes a commission for these matters.
  • The Election Commission was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950, hence it is a constitutional body. Article 324 to 329 of the constitution deals with powers, function, tenure, eligibility, etc., of the commission and the member.

Structure of the Election Commission

  • Originally the commission had only one election commissioner but after the Election Commissioner Amendment Act 1989, it has been made a multi-member body.
  • The commission consists of one Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
  • The secretariat of the commission is located in New Delhi.
  • At the state level election commission is helped by Chief Electoral Officer who is an IAS rank Officer.
  • The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.
  • They have a fixed tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through a process of removal similar to that of a Supreme Court judge for by Parliament.

Issues with ECI

  • Flaws in the composition: The Constitution doesn’t prescribe qualifications for members of the EC. They are not debarred from future appointments after retiring or resigning.
  • No security of tenure: Election commissioners aren’t constitutionally protected with security of tenure.
  • Partisan role: The EC has come under the scanner like never before, with increasing incidents of breach of the Model Code of Conduct in the 2019 general elections.
  • Political favor: The opposition alleged that the ECI was favoring the ruling party by giving clean chit to the model code of conduct violations made by the PM.
  • Non-competence: Increased violence and electoral malpractices under influence of money have resulted in political criminalization, which ECI is unable to arrest.

Powers of EC:

  • The Election Commission of India is considered the guardian of free and reasonable elections.
  • It issues the Model Code of Conduct in every election for political parties and candidates so that the decorum of democracy is maintained.
  • It regulates political parties and registers them for being eligible to contest elections.
  • It publishes the allowed limits of campaign expenditure per candidate to all the political parties, and also monitors the same.
  • The political parties must submit their annual reports to the ECI for getting tax benefit on contributions.
  • It guarantees that all the political parties regularly submit their audited financial reports.

Other powers handled by the Election Commission of India are as follows:

  • The Commission can repress the results of opinion polls if it deems such an action fit for the cause of democracy.
  • The Commission can recommend for disqualification of members after the elections if it thinks they have violated certain guidelines.
  • In case, a candidate is found guilty of dishonest practices during the elections, the Supreme Court and High Courts consult the Commission.
  • The Commission can postpone candidates who fail to submit their election expense accounts timely.

-Source: The Indian Express


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