Provisions in the Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill, 2013:
The Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill, 2013, provides for the setting up of a Judicial Appointments Commission by inserting Article 124 (A) in the Constitution and amending Articles 124(2), 217(1) and 222(1).
According to the proposal approved by the Cabinet, while new Article 124 A of the Constitution will define the composition of the JAC, Article 124 B will define its functions.
The JAC Bill seeks to set up a six-member body under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of India for recommending names to the President of individuals with outstanding legal acumen and impeccable integrity and credibility for judgeship in the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
It would also recommend transfer of judges of one High Court to another.
The structure and functions of the proposed commission are provided in the JAC Bill.
Present issues & Recommendations of the Parliamentary Panel:
According to the parliamentary panel, the present process adopted by the collegium of judges is plagued with its own problem of opacity and non-accountability, besides excluding the Executive entirely in the collaborative and consultative exercise for appointment of judges.
Because of inherent deficiencies in the collegium, as many as 275 judge posts in various High Courts are lying vacant. This has a direct bearing on the justice delivery system and thereby affecting the judiciary.
The committee had recommended that, there should be three eminent persons in the commission, instead of two as provided for in the present Bill, and at least one out of them should be an SC/ST/OBC/woman/minority, preferably by rotation.
Considering the responsibility of the JAC to select 800-odd judges to 24 High Courts, and also the fact that constitutional and other functionaries are involved at the State-level in the process of appointment, it suggested State-level commissions also.
What is the existing system of appointment of Judges of SC & HC in India? What are the issues with the present system? How do you think JAC would solve the issue?
Constitution Amendment – procedure and conditions followed?
Union Government to have powers to resolve water-sharing disputes in new States
The Union Govt. will have the powers to decide the sharing of water resources and assets in the river basins (Krishna and Godavari) between Andhra Pradesh and proposed Telangana after the bifurcation, if the two are unable to do so through a mutual agreement within specified time.
If the two States, after the bifurcation, are unable to resolve sharing of utilisable water in the river basins within one year, the Centre will be empowered to take the decision unilaterally by the end of the second year. In the case of projects running in these basins, the States would get two years to arrive at the sharing formula in consultation with the Centre failing which, again the Union government would step in to do so unilaterally in the third year after creation of the State (the sharing of water resources has been one of the most contentious points in the creation of the Telangana State.)
The Centre also proposed to set up a river management board. The board will be funded by the two State governments on the basis of a formula that would be decided on the benefit-sharing ratios.
This board would regulate the implementation of the benefit-sharing agreement struck either between the States or by the Centre either on water supply or on power generated.
The board shall hold powers to regulate irrigation, water supply, hydro-power, navigation and terms of industrial use of river resources. In order to avoid any enduring battle between the two States over specific projects or critical water resources, the centre would have the veto in case dispute arises between the States on the powers of the board.
This would provide the way to resolve ownership and benefit-sharing issues that the Centre believes could emerge in case of large, controversial and on-going projects such as the multi-purpose Polavaram irrigation project.
Panel wants minimum wage linked to MGNREGA levels
A committee set up by the Ministry of Rural Development to revise wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has come up with suggestions that would likely provide solutions to the long-standing issues relating to disparity in earnings under the scheme.
Currently, MGNREGA wages are lower than the minimum wages in several States, including in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
The committee was constituted to ‘suggest a proper index for revising the MGNREGA wage rates every year, by protecting the wages against inflation.’
Any State which raises the minimum wages arbitrarily will have to bear the extra cost from its own resources. However, this increase will be taken into account once the base index is revised every five years. It would be better to link the wages to an established index rather than trying to create a new one.
The significant issue is to link the minimum wages in States to MGNREGA wages. This will even sort out the issues between the Centre and State governments
While the committee is yet to finalise whether to continue with Consumer Price Index (Agricultural Labourers(AL)) or pitch for Consumer Price Index (Rural (R)), or even CPI (Rural Labourers(RL)), it has recommended that the MGNREGA wages be made equivalent to minimum wages in States.
Currently, wages under the rural job scheme are indexed to the CPI (AL), which has a larger share of the food component and reflects food inflation. The other option before the committee is to index wages to CPI (R).
Both CPI (AL) and CPI (RL) are estimated by the Labour Ministry and the Labour Bureau, while CPI (R) is calculated by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO).
For more information on CPI index refer our ‘INSIGHTS CURRENT EVENTS Magazine (October 2013))
Minimum Wages Act
The Minimum Wages Act, 1948 is an Indian legislation enacted by the Parliament of India for statutory fixing of minimum wages to be paid to skilled and unskilled labours.
The Indian Constitution has defined a ‘living wage’ that is the level of income for a worker which will ensure a basic standard of living including good health, dignity, comfort, education and provide for any contingency.
To know more about this, refer the below link-
MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National rural employment guarantee act)
The MGNREGA is designed to provide job guarantee for at least 100 days in rural parts of the country. Through this scheme, all the adult members (at least 18 years of age) of the any family in rural part of the country are given non-skilled work.
The Mahatma Gandhi Nationwide Non-urban Career Assurance Act (MGNREGA) is an Indian job guarantee program, presented by regulation on Aug 25, 2005. The program provides a legal guarantee for one hundred days of occupation in every financial year to mature associates of any rural family willing to do public work-related inexperienced guide perform at the legal lowest salary of 120 Rs per day last year prices.
Courtesy – http://www.mgnrega.co.in/
Plan to give Juvenile Justice Boards more powers to try children draws flak
The Ministry of Women and Child Development’s plan to empower the Juvenile Justice Boards to try under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) children involved in heinous crimes, such as murder and rape, has come under criticism.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has said it was not taken into confidence before the plan was drafted. And according to Child rights organizations have the plan would lead to violating the right to life, liberty and equality of children.
At present, the Juvenile Justice Boards, which try children in conflict with law, can prescribe a maximum punishment of up to three years. But the draft of the proposal says children aged above 16 can be tried under the IPC if they are involved in heinous crimes. This can only be done by amending the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
Significance of the proposal:
The proposal is significant, given that the juvenile involved in the December 16 gang rape in New Delhi got away with a light punishment, even after the victim declared him the most gruesome among all perpetrators.
According to the plan, the Juvenile Justice Boards will not hand down death and life sentences; nor will the age of the juvenile be reduced to 16 years as was planned earlier. The Juvenile Justice Boards will decide on what falls under the category of heinous crimes the gravity of the crime or repeated offences. This has been done in keeping with India’s commitment to the United Nations Convention on Child Rights (UNCRC), which defines a child as anyone aged less than 18 years.
In July, 2013 the Supreme Court rejected petitions for lowering the age of juvenility from the existing 18 years. NCPCR’s argument is also on these lines that there should be no compromise on the age of a child as defined in the UNCRC, which India has ratified.
The Ministry too has retaliated that it has considered this clause and there was no move to lower the age of juveniles.
Earlier, the Verma Committee was constituted to recommend amendments to the criminal law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for those accused of sexual assault against women.
The Indian laws relating to children have evolved over several years and are the product of an extensive research and understanding of the issue, and therefore it is essential that any review of the child rights jurisprudence should take place only after an exhaustive deliberation on the pros and cons of the subject.
Power Grid to launch air patrolling of networks
Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL) is planning to introduce air-patrolling to keep a watch on some of its installations, located in remote or difficult destinations. The move will eventually help reduce power theft, tripping and unplanned outages. This would also enhance system efficiency and power trippings.
The plan is to cover first the national capital region (NCR), followed by the West, the South and then the East.
The public sector PGCIL is India’s largest electric power transmission company, owning and operating over 90% of India’s inter-state transmission system. The 12th Five Year Plan aims to achieve a national power grid with inter-regional power transfer capacity of approximately 65,550 MW, which would primarily include PGCIL’s transmission system.
Communal violence Bill
The Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011 was crafted by the National Advisory Council (NAC).
The bill aims at creating a framework for preventing pogroms such as the attacks on Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, and the provision of relief for victims of such violence. It has kicked up a storm with some people criticizing it as “draconian” and “anti-Hindu” and others dismissing it as “toothless and meaningless”.
Broadly, the bill targets acts that result in injury and were directed against persons because of their affiliation to any group. Such acts include sexual assault, hate propaganda, torture and organized communal violence.
The bill creates a National Authority for Communal Harmony, Justice, and Reparation, charged with preventing acts of communal violence and monitoring investigations into incidents.
It also covers the punishment of officials who fail to discharge their duties in an unbiased manner during outbreaks of such violence.
According to the Bill, only violence against a minority community is considered communal violence. Hence critics argue why not violence against the majority community should not be considered as communal.
The bill’s attempt to correct institutional bias against religious and linguistic minorities has drawn fire from Hindu nationalists, who see it as evidence of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s appeasement of Muslims.
The Bill is viewed as a threat to India’s communal harmony
State Govt’s argue that ‘law and order’ and ‘public order’ are State subjects, and several provisions of this Bill encroach on the federal structure of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court regretted that national game (Hockey) has fallen victim to private interest as businessmen headed these sports bodies. (India could not even qualify for the next Olympics).
With regard to a petition filed by the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) on a dispute with Hockey India (HI), it said that, sports officials were only interested in visiting foreign countries and not in promoting the game. This showed the sad state of affairs.
IHF had earlier appealed to restrain HI from participating in the proceedings of 3-member committee appointed by International Hockey Federation (FIH) to find out which body controlled hockey in India.
IHF’s plea for restraining HI to attend proceedings before the FIH’s 3-member committee was based on the fact that the Delhi High Court had ruled in its favour, thus making it (IHF) the sole body to represent Indian hockey in the international arena. HI had appealed against this order in apex court.
(IHF is similar to Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), a registered society which administers the game of cricket).
Union Govt. rejects demand for ILP in Meghalaya
The Union Govt. has rejected the demand for introduction of Inner Line Permit (ILP) system in Meghalaya, saying the Constitution does not provide for expanding the special provision to new areas.
The centre justified its stand saying that it was bound by Article 19 (d) of the Constitution, according to which an Indian citizen has the freedom to move throughout the territory of the country. Moreover the Constitution does not allow introduction of ILP in any new area.
In a communication to the Meghalaya government, the Union Home Ministry has conveyed that it was bound by Article 19 (d) of the Constitution which allows any Indian citizen to move freely throughout the territory of the country.
What is Inner Line Permit (ILP) system?
ILP is an official travel document issued by an empowered State government to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected/restricted area for a limited period.
It is obligatory for Indian citizens from outside those States to obtain permit for entering the protected State.
The document is an effort by the government to regulate movement to certain areas located near the international borders.
Currently, ILP is in force in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.
Various organisations in Meghalaya have been demanding introduction of ILP claiming the demography of the State has been changed due to the unabated influx.
DoT making inventory of networks for switch to IPv6
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has started compiling an inventory of all computer networks used by government departments, State and Central public sector undertakings and banks across Tamil Nadu for finalising a plan for transition to the next generation Internet address, IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6).
The DoT’s road map envisaged complete migration to IPv6 by 2017-end as the address capacity of IPv4 had been exhausted.
What is an IP address?
An IP address is like a telephone number or a street address. When you connect to the Internet, your device (computer, smartphone, tablet) is assigned an IP address, and any site you visit has an IP address.
To send data from one computer to another through the web, a data packet must be transferred across the network containing the IP addresses of both devices.
Without IP addresses, computers would not be able to communicate and send data to each other. It’s essential to the infrastructure of the web.
IPv4 stands for Internet Protocol version 4. It is the underlying technology that makes it possible for us to connect our devices to the web. Whenever a device access the Internet (whether it’s a PC, Mac, smartphone or other device), it is assigned a unique, numerical IP address such as 126.96.36.199.
IPv4 would be in future replaced with IPv6 (sixth revision )since the Internet is running out of available IPv4 address space (IPv4 uses 32 bits for its Internet addresses), and IPv6 provides an exponentially larger pool of IP addresses (IPv6 utilizes 128 bit addresses)
‘None of the Above (NOTA)’ is an option given to the voters for the 1st time to reject all contestants.
Though there has been a difference in opinion on the impact and relevance of NOTA across the political group, in the tribal areas the actual impact of NOTA could be felt.
While in Chhattisgarh, 3.07% of the valid votes went to NOTA the highest among the four States in which elections were held; Delhi recorded 0.63 %.
In Chhattisgarh even a marginal difference in vote share makes or mars government formation. This time, the difference is less than 0.75% between the winning BJP and the Congress.
Following the trend, it would be realized that the political parties should put up acceptable candidates and avoid dubious ones; though some may disagree, as it has made less impact on the outcome of the elections. For instance Delhi recorded a meager 0.63% and in Mizoram very few exercised the choice, with figures ranging from 36 to less than 200 hits.
According to a leader of a political party, “All NOTA has done is to give voters a right to exercise, which is a fundamental right; but there was neither clarity on what it meant nor its consequences.
However, going through the results for every State, it is obvious that in more than 60 % of the constituencies, the third highest number of votes went to NOTA. This suggests that the option attracted those who never go to vote, possibly out of disenchantment with the system and has provided voters with an opportunity to express themselves rather than abstaining.
Facts & Figures:
The NOTA’s figures in the Left Wing Extremists-dominated areas of Bastar may as well be an expression of disenchantment with electoral politics, as espoused by the Maoists, as it may be an individual voter’s dislike for the candidates in fray in places like Chitrakot, where more than 10,000 voters chose the option. In the Konta constituency in Chhattisgarh, where CPI candidate Manish Kunjam secured third position, the difference of votes was just 2,100, whereas 4,000 voters chose NOTA.
Interestingly, the percentage of NOTA voters was high in the tribal belts of Rajasthan, compared with urban areas. The total percentage of NOTA in the State was 1.92 %.
A global report by the World Food Project (WFP) for 2013 on 169 countries has said that India has the largest school feeding programme in the world, catering to over 114 million children, but stands 12th among 35 lower-middle-income countries covering 79% of its total number of school-going children.
The report “State of School Feeding Worldwide, 2013” draws from a global survey conducted by WFP in 2012.
The report lauds India’s mid-day meal scheme as a ‘good example of a mixed implementation approach’ with two procurement processes-
for food grains, which are subsidized Centrally through the government-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI), and
for other items like fresh fruits or vegetables, procured at the State level.
The report notes that gross primary enrolment grew between 2001-2002 and 2007-2008 in India, following the implementation of the mid-day meal programme, particularly among Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
However, the report adds an important rider – “school feeding can only help if the other major elements that are prerequisites for learning such as teachers, textbooks, curriculum and an environment conducive to learning are also in place.” It warns that care should be taken to avoid using teachers or education staff to prepare food, since this merely taxes the system that school-feeding programmes aim to enhance.
The report also says that the nutritional impact of the programme is yet to be evaluated. The links with health and nutrition could be strengthened considerably by better coordination between sectors. Other weaknesses remain, such as insufficient allocation of budget for food transportation and infrastructure. Add to it, even late disbursement of government funds too has a negative impact.
In a significant recommendation, the report proposes linking the programme to the agriculture sector which ‘can potentially benefit the entire community as well as the children.’ Countries like Brazil, Chile and Scotland have demonstrated the effectiveness of purchasing school food locally in order to simultaneously “feed children better and stimulate the local economy.”
More about Mid-day meal Scheme:
The Mid Day Meal Scheme is a multi-faceted programme of the Government of India that, among other things, seeks to address issues of food security, lack of nutrition and access to education on a pan nation scale.
It involves provision for free lunch on working days for children in Primary and Upper Primary Classes in Government, Government Aided, Local Body, Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and Alternate Innovative Education (AIE) Centres, Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Schools run by Ministry of Labour.