[op-ed snap] Just recompense

Mains Paper 2 : Executive & Judiciary |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Compensation to victims should be institutuionalised.


CONTEXT

Compensation for Bilkis Bano underlines the state’s obligation for horrific crimes. In ordering the Gujarat government to pay ₹50 lakh to Bilkis Yakoob Rasool Bano, a gang-rape survivor of the 2002 communal pogrom in the State who has bravely fought her case, the Supreme Court has endeavoured to achieve restitutive justice.

Compensation to victim

  • Less recognised in Criminal Justice System – Compensation to victims is a relatively less recognised component of criminal justice.
  • State’s obligation to victims – In a system that focusses mainly on the accused, an order of compensation is as recognition of the state’s obligation to victims of crime, especially horrific acts.
  • Handing over the fine amounts paid by the accused as part of their sentence is one aspect of such justice; another aspect is for the court to ask the government to compensate the victim from its own coffers.

Judgement by the court in Bilkis Bano Case

The court was told that she was leading an itinerant, hand-to-mouth existence. It is in these circumstances that the Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi awarded her ₹50 lakh, besides asking the State government to provide her with a government job and a house.

Background of the case

  • Ms. Bano’s case is indeed a rare one: criminal prosecution resulted in conviction and life sentences to 11 persons.
  • The sentences were upheld by the Bombay High Court.
  • Inaction on the part of the police – Further, the court found deliberate inaction on the part of some police officers and that the autopsies were perfunctory and manipulated.
  • The Supreme Court has asked for the pension benefits of three police officers to be withdrawn.
  • State’s Inaction – In short, this is a concrete instance of state inaction and negligence that would normally justify the payment of a hefty compensation.

Existing provision  on Victim Compensation

  • Not every crime would have a similar set of circumstances.
  • While convictions are not easy to come by in cases of mob violence, victim compensation may often be the only way to ensure some justice.
  • Section 357A – The Code of Criminal Procedure was amended in 2008 to insert Section 357A under which every State government has to prepare a scheme to set up a fund from which compensation can be paid to victims of crime and their dependants who have suffered loss and injury and who may require rehabilitation.
  • Central Victim Compensation Fund – The Centre has a Central Victim Compensation Fund.
  • Compensation Scheme – On Supreme Court directions, the National Legal Services Authority has prepared a compensation scheme for women victims and survivors of sexual assault and other crimes. Many States have notified schemes on these lines.

Conclusion

While on paper there is a mechanism to assess rehabilitation needs and pay compensation, there is a need to streamline the schemes and ensure that the compensation process is not done in an ad hoc manner, but is based on sound principles.

 

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed snap] Taking advantage of BRI

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BRI

Mains level : Reasons why should India Participate in BRI


CONTEXT

The China-led initiative’s global reach signals the advent of a new order led by Asia, which cannot exclude India.

Reasons To participate in BRI

  1. Rise of Asian Century
  • The defining feature of the 21st century is that Asia, not China, is at the centre of the world.
  • The BRI is part of a transformation triggered by colonialism and industrial capitalism from the 1840s and influenced by the UN institutions and global rules from the 1950s.
  • Of the estimated $30 trillion increase in middle-class consumption growth estimated by 2030, only $1 trillion is expected to come from Western economies and most of the rest from Asia.
  • China’s population is nearly one-third of the total population of Asia but by 2050 its population of working age will shrink by 200 million people while in India the working-age population will increase by 200 million.
  • Asians are not subscribing to a “China-led Asia”, which would imply returning to the colonial order.

2. Change of Global Order

  • The global spread of the BRI signals the political end of the old order where the G7 shaped the economic agenda.
  • Italy, a member of the G7, is joining the BRI, despite the publicly voiced objection of the U.S., just as Britain joined the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank in 2015. Asians are gravitating to the new as it better meets their needs, not because the old is crumbling.

3.Meeting infrastructure needs

  • The Asian Development Bank, not China, drew global attention to infrastructure as the key driver of economic growth in Asia and the financing gap of $26 trillion.
  • The most visible feature of the BRI is the network of physical and digital infrastructure for transport, energy transmission and communications, harmonised with markets for advanced manufacturing and innovation-based companies.
  • Two-thirds of the countries funded by the initiative have sovereign debt ratings below investment grade, and their being part of supply chains is a catalyst for growth.
  • A recent analysis identified only eight out of 68 countries at risk of debt default, which does not affect the overall viability of the $3 trillion reserves of China for potential investment.
  • There are cases of excess debt, political corruption and policy shifts following change in governments but overall the BRI remains popular.
  • For example, Nepal has just chosen the Chinese gauge over the Indian one for its rail network.

4. Towards Multilateralism

  • The BRI, faced with criticism over lack of transparency and insensitivity to national concerns, is evolving towards standards of multilateralism, including through linkages with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The International Monetary Fund describes it as a “very important contribution” to the global economy and is “in very close collaboration with the Chinese authorities on sharing the best international practices, especially regarding fiscal sustainability and capacity building”.

5.Strategic Objective

  • For the BRI to have strategic objectives is not unusual.
  • The Marshall Plan in the 1950s also required recipients to accept certain rules for deepening trade and investment ties with the U.S. Chinese control over supply-chain assets like ports provides the ability to project naval power, which will however remain minuscule compared to that of the U.S. — comprising 800 overseas bases.
  • The BRI’s commercial advantage has certainly increased China’s international weight and India needs to shape the new standards to benefit Indian technology companies .

Indo-Pacific Picture

  • India’s China dilemma, as it ends its ambivalence towards China, revolves around assessment of the extent the Asian giants need each other for the Asian century.
  • Prime Minister has declared a cooperative vision of the ‘Indo-Pacific’, contrary to the containment-based view of the United States.
  • Need for India’s support – China also recognises the difficulties inherent in the interlinked international and domestic agenda of the BRI, and needs India’s support for reform of global governance, which was an important part of last year’s discussion at Wuhan.
  •  Pakistan-occupied Kashmir Concerns –India should respond to the strategic complexity arising from the BRI, a key part of which cuts through Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, through three related but distinct diplomatic initiatives.

Way Forward

  • Highlight Territorial Concerns – India needs to highlight that a British-led coup by the Gilgit Scouts led to Pakistani occupation of this territory and seek appropriate text recognising India’s sovereignty — a drafting challenge but not an insurmountable one.
  • South Asian Character to BRI – New Delhi should give a South Asian character to the two BRI corridors on India’s western and eastern flanks, by linking them with plans for connectivity in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. Third, India needs work towards ‘multilateralising’ the BRI with a set of rules.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] In defence of hung House

Mains Paper 2 : Indian Constitution - historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Coalition Government Can be stable when operate with consultation.


CONTEXT

Campaign planners the world over have woven veritable fables and fictions around themes like “chaotic coalitions” and virtues of “strong” leaders. Which is more preferable — unstable minority governments or elected dictatorship?

Political History of coalition Government

  • Were all the previous minority regimes so weak and indecisive?
  • 1991 Economic Reforms – In 1991, economic reform was launched by the Narasimha Rao government, which at that point of time did not even enjoy a legislative majority.
  • Pokhran 2 – Pokhran 2 was ordered by a minority PM who also stood up to the rigours of the subsequent US embargo.
  • Kargil War – The Kargil war was fought in 1999 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a caretaker PM without the backup of surgical strikes.
  • Nuclear Deal – The contentious nuclear deal with US was valiantly pushed by a “weak” PM. In the process, the lacklusture PM managed to stage Indian political history’s darkest cloak and dagger operation to rope in the most difficult anti-Congress politician.
  • The millennium’s first decade was India’s golden era of investment and growth.
  • It happened under two politically-riven coalitions.

Reasons for the desirability of the coalition –

1.Political Consensus Culture

  • What makes minority governments desirable is that they prevent extremes and create a culture of political consultation and consensus.
  • A crippling demonetisation or surgical bravado might not have happened under the constraints of a hung Parliament.

2.More federal – By their very nature, the coalitions tend to be more federal and allow wider scrutiny of the executive’s decisions.

3. Voice to Civil Society

  • Such governments allow more say to the members of civil society and social activists.
  • Initiatives like the RTI, RTA and Land Acquisition Act might not have been possible under an all-powerful supremo.

Why did coalition Governments fall in the past?

  • Coalitions are not inherently unstable and growth is not synonymous with strong leader.
  • The fall of the Deve Gowda government was not due to the dissensions in the UF.
  • It was triggered by outside supporter Sitaram Kesri’s prime ministerial aspirations.
  • The Congress pulled down the I K Gujral government in the hope of a return to office in 1998 on an elusive Rajiv sympathy wave.
  • Yet all the 14 UF parties stood together with their two PMs and went to the next elections as an alliance.
  • Rainbow coalitions under Atal Bihari Vajpayee (six years) and Manmohan Singh (10 years) together held office from 1998 to 2014.
  • This was a credible achievement.
  • The dispute resolution mechanism under the 20-month UF of federal and left parties calls for a deeper appraisal for its institutionalised functioning founded on pre-decision consultations and consensus.
  • Vajpayee worked under constant pressure from Chandrababu Naidu, J Jayalalithaa and Mamata Banerjee.
  • Within his Parivar, the RSS under K S Sudarshan, an ardent adherent of swadeshi economics, tried to put hurdles to Vajpayee’s reform initiatives.
  • It objected to privatisation, labour reform, the patents bill and FDI in retail and insurance. Yet Vajpayee was hailed as a successful liberaliser.

Working of Populism And Authoritarianism

  • In India, populism meant bestowing preferred vote banks with economically unjustifiable freebies.
  • It is not so in the global context.
  • Elected dictators world over display a tendency to short-circuit the functioning democratic institutions to establish a direct communication with voters.
  • They avoid making a statement on floor of the House, but address people directly.
  • Constitutional bodies are treated as hurdles and must be seized or rendered comatose.
  • Media control is their forte.

 

Electoral Reforms In India

Explained: What happens when judges face allegations?

Mains Paper 2 : Executive & Judiciary |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Grounds for removal of SC Judges

Mains level : Grounds for removal of SC Judges


News

Background

  • Recently allegations of sexual harassment were made by a former employee of the Supreme Court against the CJI.
  • However it was later claimed by a litigant that he was offered to “frame” the CJI.
  • While judges indeed require powerful protection against motivated accusations, due process demands that an expeditious, thorough, fair and impartial probe is carried out in the matter.
  • The extraordinary developments at the country’s highest seat of justice offer an opportunity to revisit some larger questions around its accountability.

The question of ‘good behaviour’

  • Constitution protects judges against the will of the masses, of Parliament, and of the all-powerful executive.
  • A judge of the SC cannot be removed except by an order of the President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting has been presented to the President in the same session.
  • Such removal can be initiated on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.

The question of ‘good behaviour’

  • The Constitution does not define ‘misbehavior’ and ‘incapacity’.
  • The Judges (Inquiry) Bill, 2006 sought to establish a National Judicial Council to inquire into allegations of incapacity or misbehavior of judges of the HC and SC.
  • It defined misbehavior as willful or persistent conduct which brings dishonour or disrepute to the judiciary; or willful or persistent failure to perform the duties of a judge; or wilful abuse of judicial office, corruption, lack of integrity; or committing an offence involving moral turpitude.
  • The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010, tried to lay down enforceable standards of conduct for judges.
  • It proposed to widen the definition of ‘misbehaviour’ by adding “corruption or lack of integrity which includes delivering judgments for collateral or extraneous reasons, making demands for consideration in cash or kind”, or “any other action… which has the effect of subverting the administration of justice”.
  • Failure to declare assets and liabilities, or wilfully giving false information was also included within the definition of ‘misbehaviour’.

No single definition yet on ‘misbehaviour’

  • In C Ravichandran Iyer vs Justice A M Bhattacharjee & Ors (1995), the Supreme Court said ‘misbehaviour’ could not have a straitjacketed definition.
  • But if the conduct of a judge leads to the credibility of the judiciary being called into question, it should be considered misbehaviour.
  • Misconduct prior to assuming office is not exempt — in 2009, Rajya Sabha passed an impeachment motion against Justice Soumitra Sen of Calcutta High Court for allegedly misappropriating funds several years before he became a judge.

What should be the standard of proof for ‘misbehaviour’?

  • While rejecting the Opposition’s notice for impeachment of CJI, RS chairman cited the “lack of substantial merit”, and said the charges had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
  • But impeachment is not a criminal trial.
  • In all civil matters, the standard of proof is the “preponderance of probabilities”.
  • In Australia and South Africa, this is the standard of proof in the impeachment process of judges.
  • India does not currently have a statutory mechanism to examine the misconduct of judges, and short of the complex process of impeachment, there is no mechanism available to make judges accountable.

Allegations against judges

  • While no judge has so far been removed by impeachment, several have faced allegations of corruption, and a couple of them of sexual harassment as well.
  • An allegation of corruption or sexual harassment, if proved, ought to count as misbehaviour or misconduct.

Addressing Sexual harassment at Courts

  • In 1997, the Supreme Court noted that “the present civil and penal laws in India do not adequately provide for specific protection of women from sexual harassment in work places”, and laid down the ‘Vishakha Guidelines’.
  • Sixteen years later, Parliament enacted The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
  • The Supreme Court has a Gender Sensitization and Internal Complaints Committee headed by a woman judge, with a majority of woman members.
  • The committee has a laid-down procedure for dealing with complaints of sexual harassment on the premises of the court.
  • But it has no power to deal with complaints against the CJI or judges. In respect of misconduct by judges, the in-house process can be initiated only by the CJI.
  • The Regulations are silent on a situation where the allegation is against the CJI himself.

Accountability must persist with conscience

  • In K Veeraswami vs Union Of India And Others (1991) the Supreme Court ruled that in case of an allegation of corruption against a judge of the Supreme Court, the President would order an investigation in consultation with the CJI.
  • And, if the allegation is against the CJI himself, the President would consult other judges and act on their advice.
  • Prior to this judgment, the Prevention of Corruption Act was applicable only to public servants.
  • Justice K Jagannatha Shetty wrote: “The judiciary has no power of the purse or the sword. It survives only by public confidence.
  • The judge whose character is clouded and whose standards of morality and rectitude are in doubt may not have judicial independence and may not command the confidence of the public.
  • He must voluntarily withdraw from the judicial work and administration.
  • Veeraswami was only about allegations of corruption, but it is being followed for all allegations, including the commission of crimes against judges of constitutional courts.

No man is above the Law

  • The rule of law demands judicial accountability. Accountability makes the exercise of power more efficient and effective.
  • The British constitutional theorist A V Dicey wrote that “no man is above the law [and] every man, whatever be his rank or condition, is subject to the ordinary law of the realm and amenable to the jurisdiction of the ordinary tribunals”.
  • Legal equality is the cardinal principle of the rule of law, and everyone including judges, must respect it.

Should CJI undergo trial?

  • To place judicial performance beyond scrutiny would be myopic, as liberty without accountability is freedom of the fool.
  • Power without responsibility is the anti-thesis of constitutionalism. Accountability of public officials, including judges, is the very essence of a mature democracy.

Way Forward

  • Judicial accountability promotes at least three discrete values: the rule of law, public confidence in the judiciary, and institutional responsibility.
  • Both judicial independence and judicial accountability are purposive devices designed to serve greater constitutional objectives.
  • Though the independence of the judiciary is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution, it is not an end in itself.
  • In fact, it is an instrumental value defined by the purposes it serves.
Judiciary Institutional Issues

Worlds first Malaria Vaccine: RTS,S (Mosquirix)

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the vaccine

Mains level : Malaria and its incidence in India


News

  • The WHO welcomed a pilot project in Malawi of administering a malaria vaccine to children below the age of 2 years.

RTS,S vaccine (Mosquirix)

  • The vaccine has been developed by GSK — the company is donating about 10 million doses of the product for the pilot.
  • It was created in 1987 by GSK, and was subsequently developed with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • RTS,S aims to trigger the immune system to defend against the first stages of malaria when the Plasmodium falciparum parasite enters the human host’s bloodstream through a mosquito bite and infects liver cells.
  • The vaccine is designed to prevent the parasite from infecting the liver, where it can mature, multiply, re-enter the bloodstream, and infect red blood cells, which can lead to disease symptoms.
  • In 2014, the vaccine cleared phase III clinical trials which certified that it was both effective and safe for use in humans.

Why fear Malaria?

  • Malaria is a potentially life-threatening parasitic disease caused by the parasites Plasmodium viviax (P.vivax), P.falciparum, P.malariae, and P.ovale transmitted by the female Anopheles mosquito.
  • Malaria, according to the WHO, remains one of the world’s leading killers, claiming the life of one child every two minutes.
  • Children under the age of 5 are at greatest risk from its life-threatening complications.

Why trials in Malawi?

  • A total 3, 60,000 children across three African countries — Malawi, Ghana and Kenya — will be covered every year with the vaccine.
  • Most of these deaths are in Africa, where more than 2,50,000 children die from the disease every year.
  • Malaria is a constant threat in the African communities where this vaccine will be given. The poorest children suffer the most and are at highest risk of death.

How badly is India affected by malaria?

  • India ranks very high in the list of countries with a serious malaria burden.
  • In 2018, 3,99,134 cases of malaria and 85 deaths due to the disease were reported in the country, according to data from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme.
  • Six states — Odisha (40%), Chhattisgarh (20%), Jharkhand (20%), Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and Mizoram (5-7%) — bear the brunt of malaria in India.
  • These states, along with the tribal areas of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, account for 90% of India’s malaria burden.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

[pib] Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF)

Mains Paper 3 : Mobilization Of Resources |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IEPF

Mains level : Investers education


News

  • In a major success, the IEPF Authority has been able to enforce a company to transfer deposits worth about Rs 1514 Cr to IEPF.
  • This depositor’s money was pending with the company for the last 15 years.

Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF)

  • IEPF is a fund where unclaimed dividend, refunded application money, matured company deposits and debentures, as well as the interest on them, is used, provided it is not claimed within seven years.
  • It is a fund set up under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to help promote investor awareness and protection of investor interests.

About IEPF Authority

  • IEPF Authority has been set up under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India as a statutory body under Companies Act 2013 to administer the IEPF with the objective of promoting Investor’s Education, Awareness and Protection.
  • The Authority takes various initiatives to fulfil its objectives through Investor Awareness Programmes and various other mediums like Print, Electronic, Social Media, and Community Radio etc.
  • Secretary Ministry of the Corporate Affairs is the Chairperson of the Authority.
  • Joint Secretary Ministry of the Corporate Affairs is the Chief Executive Officer of the Authority.
Capital Markets: Challenges and Developments

Global Deal for Nature (GDN)

Mains Paper 1 : Climatic Change |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GDN, Mass extinction

Mains level : Climate change and associated threats


News

  • Saving the diversity and abundance of life on Earth may cost $100 billion a year, say scientists who have proposed a policy to prevent another mass extinction event on the planet.
  • There have been five mass extinctions in the history of the Earth.

Global Deal for Nature (GDN)

  • Scientists have proposed new science policy to reverse the tide, called A Global Deal for Nature (GDN).
  • It is a time-bound, science-based plan to save the diversity and abundance of life on Earth.
  • The GDN campaign is being driven by One Earth, an initiative of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation that aims to gather support from international institutions, governments, and citizens of planet Earth to support ambitious conservation goals.
  • The policy’s mission is to save the diversity and abundance of life on Earth — for the price tag of $100 billion a year.

WHat would GDN do?

  • Societal investment in the GDN plan would, for the first time, integrate and implement climate and nature deals on a global scale to avoid human upheaval and biodiversity loss.
  • The study outlines the principles, milestones and targets needed to avoid the disastrous extinction threats of a two degrees Celsius global warming forecast.

Why GDN?

  • Scientists now estimate that society must urgently come to grips this coming decade to stop the very first human-made biodiversity catastrophe.

Goals

  • To protect biodiversity by conserving at least 30% of the Earth’s surface by 2030;
  • Mitigate climate change by conserving the Earth’s natural carbon storehouses; and
  • Reduce major threats.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.