June 2018
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Nagaraj Judgment: The law on SC/ST promotions


Mains Paper 2: Indian Constitution | Significant provisions and basic structure

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of all the Judgments mentioned, Various Amendments related to the Issues

Mains level: Issue of Reservations of SCs/STs in Promotions


What is the background of Nagaraj, and what did the court say in its verdict?

  1. Responding to the government’s complaint that promotions were at a “standstill” because of verdicts by the High Courts of Delhi, Bombay, and Punjab & Haryana, the Supreme Court said the government was “not debarred” from making promotions so long as they were “in accordance with the law”
  2. While the court did not specify which law it was referring to, the law that currently applies is the one laid down by the five-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India M Nagaraj & Others vs Union Of India & Others, 2006
  3. The court dealt with a challenge to constitutional amendments aimed at nullifying the impact of judgments including that in the famous Mandal case, on reservations in promotions for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe employees

Questions before Supreme Court

The petition challenged the constitutional validity of:

  1. The Constitution (Seventy-Seventh Amendment) Act, 1995, which inserted Clause 4A in Article 16 (equality of opportunity in matters of public employment);
  2. The Constitution (Eighty-First Amendment) Act, 2000, which inserted Clause 4B in Article 16;
  3. The Constitution (Eighty-Second Amendment) Act, 2000, which inserted a proviso to Article 335 (claims of SCs and STs to services and posts); and
  4. The Constitution (Eighty-Fifth Amendment) Act, 2001, which changed the wording of Article 16(4A).

Indra Sawhney and Others vs Union of India and Others (Mandal case)

  1. In these cases, the Supreme Court observed that reservation under Article 16(4) — which allows the state to make provisions for “reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens” — did not apply to promotions.
  2. This affected SC and ST employees, and in order to ensure that reservations in promotions continued, Clause 4A was introduced: “Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for reservation in matters of promotion… in favour of the SCs and the STs which, in the opinion of the State, are not adequately represented in the services under the State.”
  3. Clause 4B was inserted to ensure that while calculating the quota for a particular year — capped at 50% by Indra Sawhney — the unfilled or ‘carried forward’ quota from the earlier year was not clubbed with the regular quota of that year.

Qualification and Seniority

  1. The 82nd Amendment Act noted that the Supreme Court had, in both cases ruled that relaxation of qualifying marks and standards of evaluation for reservation in the promotion were not permissible under Article 16(4) in view of the command contained in Article 335.
  2. To restore the relaxations, the 82nd Amendment added a proviso to Article 335, allowing “relaxation in qualifying marks in any examination or lowering the standards of evaluation, for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of services or posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State”.
  3. The 85th Amendment noted that the SC judgments had affected the interests of SC/ST employees “in the matter of seniority on promotion to the next higher grade”.
  4. The amendment introduced the words “with consequential seniority” after “in matters of promotion” in Article 16(4A).

The Nagaraj judgment

  1. The petitioners argued that the four amendments were aimed at reversing the judgments in Indra Sawhney and other cases, that Parliament had arrogated to itself judicial powers, and had, therefore, violated the basic structure of the Constitution.
  2. The court upheld the constitutional validity of the 77th, 81st, 82nd, and 85th Amendments.
  3. It, however, ruled that if the state wished to exercise their discretion and make a provision for reservation in promotions for SCs/STs, the State has to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment in addition to compliance of Article 335
  4. Also, even if the State has a compelling reason it will have to see that its reservation provision does not breach the ceiling-limit of 50% or obliterate the creamy layer or extend the reservation indefinitely.
Minority Issues – Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

[pib] Election Commission Of India Launches its online RTI Portal


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Online Portal

Mains level:  Step towards ensuring fare elections and election related grievances redressal


Online RTI portal for ECI

  1. The portal can be accessed by general public on the Home Page of the Commission’s website `eci.nic.in’ by clicking on `Online RTI’. 
  2. There is also online payment gateway for making payment of requisite fees under the RTI Act. 
  3. The portal also facilitates online reply to applications and also for making first appeal and reply thereto. 
  4. There will be timely notification alerts to RTI applicant via SMS and E-Mail.

Offline Mode to continue

  1. The online RTI applications made in the past in the Portal of DOPT were downloaded and all such applications barring a few have been disposed of by giving suitable reply to the applicants. 
  2. The remaining applications and First Appeals will be disposed of shortly
Electoral Reforms In India

Chalukyan sculpture of Siva found in Andhra Pradesh


Mains Paper 1: Arts and Culture | Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Every bit of Chalukyan Arts and Architecture

Mains level: Salient features of temple architecture in Chalukyan Empire.


Sandstone sculpture shows Siva as a physician

  1. A rare sculpture of Lord Siva and Goddess Parvati dating back to the 7th century was discovered at a Chalukyan temple in Satyavolu village of Prakasam district, Andhra Pradesh.
  2. The red sandstone sculpture portrays Lord Siva as the therapeutic physician (Rudra Bhaishajana) — as described in Rigveda — in which he holds a bowl in his left hand, which contains medicine from herbs to revive the ailing horse lying at his feet.
  3. Siva was fairly represented in sculptural art of ancient India in many forms right from the Indus Valley civilization to the late medieval period.

Iconographic form

  1. Such a highly exceptional iconographic form of Lord Siva had not been discovered so far.
  2. The sculpture belongs to early 7th century Chalukyan School of Art.
  3. The vertical stone slab prominently illustrates Siva and Parvati. The Lord is gracefully seated on a pedestal with the left leg on the seat, the other with knee bent and resting on the ground.
  4. Two locks of hair falling over his shoulders, he wears neatly entangled hair with a protrusion over the left of his head and knotted in a mountain dweller fashion.


Chalukyan Architecture (5th – 8th CE)

    1. The temples under the Chalukyas are a good example of the Vesara style of architecture.
    2. This is also called the Deccan style or Karnataka Dravida or Chalukyan style. It is a combination of Dravida and Nagara styles.
    3. The building material they used was reddish-golden Sandstone found locally.
    4. The temples had beautiful mural paintings also.
    5. The temples are located on the banks of River Tungabhadra and Malprabaha in Karnataka and Alampur in Andhra Pradesh.
    6. Aihole temples: Ladh Khan temple (Surya Temple), Durga temple, Huchimalligudi temple, Jain temple at Meguti by Ravikirti..
    7. Badami temples: Virupaksha temple and Sangameshwara Temple are in Dravida style. Papanatha temple is in Nagara style.
    8. Pattadakkal: is a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are ten temples here – 4 in Nagar style and 6 in Dravida style.
Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

[op-ed snap] Life in plastic: on waste management framework


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

Mains level: This article critically analyses policy vacuum in India in plastic waste management.


Dismal Framework on Paper only

  1. The Solid Waste Management Rules and the Plastic Waste Management Rules of 2016, which built on previous regulations, mostly remain on paper.
  2. The Centre’s somewhat liberal estimate shows over 60% of about 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste generated daily is collected.
  3. That essentially means a staggering 10,000 tonnes of trash is being released into the environment, a lot of it going into the sea. Also, not every piece of plastic collected by the system is scientifically processed.
  4. It is no surprise, therefore, that the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna river system is on the UN map of 10 rivers worldwide that collectively carry the bulk of the plastic waste into the oceans.
  5. The effects are evident: they threaten marine life and the well-being of people, as microplastics are now found even in drinking water.

Outreaching with Environment (Protection) Act: Need of the hour

  1. In their response to the crisis, communities and environmentally minded individuals are ahead of governments and municipal authorities.
  2. But, valuable as they are, voluntary efforts cannot achieve what systemic reform can.
  3. It is the Centre’s responsibility to ensure that the Environment (Protection) Act, the overarching law that enables anti-pollution rules to be issued, is implemented in letter and spirit.
  4. Ideally, regulation should help stop the manufacture of single-use plastic articles such as carry bags and cutlery, and encourage the use of biodegradable materials.

The Real Challenge

  1. The provisions of the Plastic Waste Management Rules require manufacturers of compostable bags to get a certificate from the Central Pollution Control Board, but this has not stopped counterfeit products from entering the market.
  2. Local bodies mandated under rules to ensure segregation, collection and transfer of waste to registered recyclers have spectacularly failed to fulfil their responsibilities.
  3. The State Level Monitoring Committees provided for under the rules have not been made accountable. The waste management framework is dysfunctional, and India and the world face a plastics crisis.
  4. Solving it will take more than slogans
Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Commerce ministry sets up panel to make SEZ policy compatible with WTO rules


Mains Paper 3: Indian Economy| Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: MAT, SEZ Policy (2005), Propositions of the new rules

Mains level:  US has been consistently dragging India at WTO against various subsidies offered by it. The panel so set is a small move to put forth India’s genuine interests protecting its domestic exporters.


Defending the Export Subsidy

  1. India argues that it should not be singled out just because it is growing faster, and should be given a chance to phase out export subsidies over a period of eight years, as was the case with other countries.
  2. The commerce ministry has set up a committee headed by Bharat Forge chairman Baba Kalyani to make its special economic zone (SEZ) policy compatible with WTO rules after the US challenged India’s export subsidy programme at the multilateral trade body.
  3. The commerce ministry has been consistently lobbying with the finance ministry to exempt units in the SEZs from the minimum alternate tax, or MAT, imposed on them in 2011.

The US Challenge

  1. The US on 14 March challenged almost India’s entire export subsidy regime in the WTO including:
  • merchandise exports from India scheme
  • export oriented units scheme and sector specific schemes,
  • including electronics hardware technology parks scheme;
  • special economic zones;
  • export promotion capital goods scheme and
  • Duty-free imports programme for exporters.
  1. Both sides engaged in consultations but failed to resolve the matter bilaterally.
  2. The WTO has even set up a dispute panel to give its verdict on the matter.


India’s SEZ Policy

  1. The Special Economic Zones Act, 2005, was passed by Parliament in May, 2005.
  2. After extensive consultations, the SEZ Act, 2005, supported by SEZ Rules, came into effect in, 2006, providing for drastic simplification of procedures and for single window clearance on matters relating to central as well as state governments.
  3. The main objectives of the SEZ Act are:
  • generation of additional economic activity
  • promotion of exports of goods and services
  • promotion of investment from domestic and foreign sources
  • creation of employment opportunities
  • development of infrastructure facilities
  1. The SEZ Rules provide for different minimum land requirement for different class of SEZs. Every SEZ is divided into a processing area where alone the SEZ units would come up and the non-processing area where the supporting infrastructure is to be created.
  2. The functioning of the SEZs is governed by a three tier administrative set up. The Board of Approval is the apex body and is headed by the Secretary, Department of Commerce.
WTO and India

Maternal mortality ratio in the country drops from 167 to 130


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: MMR stats and performance by states

Mains level: Improvements in healthcare for women & children


Decline in MMR

  1. The latest Sample Registration System (SRS) data indicating the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) has brought glad tidings.
  2. As per the data, MMR, (number of maternal deaths per 1,00,000 live births) has dropped from 167 in (2011-2013, the last SRS period) to 130 for the country.
  3. This 28% drop is an achievement arising from painstakingly reducing the MMR in each of the States.
  4. The SRS segments States into three groups:
  • Empowered Action Group (EAG) – Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh/Uttarakhand and Assam;
  • Southern States – Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu; and
  • Others – the remaining States and union territories.
  1. Kerala remains at the top with an MMR of 46 (down from 61).
  2. Maharashtra retains its second position at 61, but the pace of fall has been much lower, dropping from 68 during 2011-13.
  3. Tamil Nadu at 66 (79), is in the third position.

The Way Forward: Hitting SDG Target

  1. India has bettered the MDG target of 139 for 2014-2016.
  2. This is the outcome of systematic work undertaken by the Centre and States under the NHM that has resulted in saving 12,000 more lives in 2015.
  3. Three States have already achieved the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of MMR 70.
  4. Still fresh impetus is required to bring the MMR below 30 for all States except EAG, which might strive to bring it down to 12-140
Mother and Child Health – Immunization Program, BPBB, PMJSY, PMMSY, etc.