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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

A demarcation in the interest of public order

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Separation of role of District Magistrate and Police Commissioner

The article analyses how could the duel role assigned to an official leads to the problems in certain situations and so suggest the separation of the roles.

Context

  • Delhi Police, having magisterial powers under the Criminal Procedure Code to take preventive action has been criticised for failing to maintain public order and prevent riots in Delhi.

Issue with delegation: Confusion powers with the role

  • The distinction between independent actions, for which no political clearance is needed, by the District Magistrate to maintain public order and by the police to investigate crime and make arrests, was ignored.
  • Maintaining public order requires the District Magistrate to make hard choices but there can be no justification for lack of effective police action.
  • The District Magistrate is expected to consider protest as legitimate.
  • In Delhi, the police did not distinguish between wider political support and violence caused by a few.

Distinction between “law and order” and “public order”

  • The Supreme Court has made a distinction between law and order, relating to individual crime, and public order.
  • Law and order consists of the analysis made by police of the situation in an area and their commitment to firm action and penalties under criminal law.
  • Public order is a duty imposed on the District Magistrate to assess whether it is necessary to rush to the spot where law and order has been breached to prevent violence.
  • The District Magistrate’s role is important in exceptional situations — for example, to prevent a breach of peace at a particular place.
  • If an official is allotted a dual role, this could lead to the displacement of one goal in favour of the other.

Supreme Court’s guidelines

  • The Supreme Court has formulated certain guidelines and rules when it comes to these distinct duties.
  • 1) In Ram Manohar Lohia vs. State of Bihar, in 1965, the Supreme Court held that in the case of ‘public order’, the community or the public at large have to be affected by a particular action as it “embraces more of the community than ‘law and order’, which affects only a few individuals”.
  • 2) In the Madhu Limaye case, the Bench reiterated that “the emergency must be sudden and the consequences sufficiently grave” for imposition of restrictions.
  • 3) In Anuradha Bhasin vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court held that prohibitive orders should not prevent legitimate expression of opinion or grievance or exercise of democratic rights.
  • The Supreme Court has also specifically recognised the importance of the assessment of the role of the District Magistrate, distinct from that of the police.

Way forward

  • Judicial review of roles and proportionality of decisions for maintaining public order requires a policy rethink.
  • Prevention through grievance redress and reliance on the least blunt instruments are critical for legitimacy.
  • The National Police Commission also recognises the coordinating role of the District Magistrate, having more leverage than the police.

Conclusion

The role of the District Magistrate needs to be clearly differentiated from the role of the Police Commissioner.

Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

Code on Wages 2019

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2-Issues with the Code on the Wages

The article discusses the issues in the Code on Wages (yet to be notified) 2019 and how it fails to achieve what it seeks to achieve.

Code on Wages 2019

  • The Code on Wages, 2019 seeks to consolidate and simplify four pieces of legislation into a single code. These 4 legislations are-
  • 1) Payment of Wages Act, 1936.
  • 2) Minimum Wages Act, 1948.
  • 3) Payment of Bonus Act, 1965.
  • 4) Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.
  • Its object and reasons stated that even the Second National Commission on Labour- 2002 suggested consolidating all labour laws into four codes.

Issues with the consolidation

  • While the previous four pieces of legislation had a total of 119 sections, the new Code has 69 sections.
  • Any consolidation will impact the length of the sections.
  • Further, all requirements for enforcing the Act, have been relegated to the Rules.
  • As a result, the delegated pieces of legislation (Rules) will be bigger than the Code; this is no way to condense prior pieces of legislation.
  • All the four repealed pieces of legislation were enacted historically at different points in time and to deal with different situations.
  • The combining of asymmetrical laws into a single code is not an easy task and will only create its own set of new problems.
  • The central government will have the power to fix a “floor wage”.
  • Once it is fixed, State governments cannot fix any minimum wage less than the “floor wage”.
  •  The concept should be for a binding minimum wage and not have dual wage rates — a binding floor wage and a non-binding minimum wage.
  • Neither the Code nor the Rules (presently, draft Rules) prescribe the qualifications and experience required for appointment of competent authority.
  • Anew provision (Section 52) has been introduced where an officer will be notified with power to impose a penalty in the place of a judicial magistrate.
  • An essential judicial function is now sought to be vested with the executive in contravention of Article 50 of the Constitution.

Issue of MGNREGA wages

  • There were cases as to whether the Minimum Wages Act would have an over-riding effect over the provisions of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005.
  • Several High Courts have placed the Minimum Wages Act to override MGNREGA.
  • That has been set to rest by excluding MGNREGA from the purview of the Code on Wages.
  • That has been set to rest by excluding MGNREGA from the purview of the Code on Wages.

Conclusion

The Code on Wages (yet to be notified) has neither succeeded in consolidation of laws nor will it achieve the expansion of the coverage of workers in all industries in the unorganised sector.

Tax Reforms

Lessons to learn from Vodafone ruling

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Retrospective legislation

Mains level : Paper 3-Implications of Vodafone tax case ruling

Context

  •  An Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunal has ruled that India’s imposition of tax liability amounting to ₹22,000 crore on Vodafone is in breach of India-Netherlands bilateral investment treaty obligations.

Background of the case

  • This case arose after the Indian Parliament in 2012 amended the Income Tax Act.
  • As per the amendment, income deemed to be accruing to non-residents, directly or indirectly, through the transfer of a capital asset situated in India is taxable retrospectively with effect from April 1, 1962.
  • This amendment was carried out to override the Supreme Court ruling in favour of Vodafone.
  • This amendment dented India’s reputation as a country governed by the rule of law, and shook the faith of foreign investors.

Key lessons from Vodafone case

  • 1) All the three organs of the Indian state — Parliament, executive, and the judiciary — need to internalise India’s BIT and other international law obligations.
  • These organs need to ensure that they exercise their public powers in a manner consistent with international law, or else their actions could prove costly to the nation.
  • 2) India should learn that being a country that values the rule of law is an important quality to win over the confidence of foreign investors and international goodwill.
  • 3) It is likely that the government might challenge the award at the seat of arbitration or resist the enforceability of this award in Indian courts alleging that it violates public policy.
  •  It would mean that India does not honour its international law obligation.
  • 4) This ruling might have an impact on the two other ISDS claims that India is involved in with Cairn Energy and Vedanta on the imposition of taxes retrospectively.
  • 5) It is quite possible that India might use this award to further harden its antagonistic stand against ISDS and BITs.
  • India unilaterally terminated almost all its BITs after foreign investors started suing India for breaching BITs.
  • But the fact is that this case and several others are a result of bad state regulation.
  • 6) This decision shows the significance of the ISDS regime to hold states accountable under international law when in case of undue expansion of state power.
  • The case is a reminder that the ISDS regime, notwithstanding its weaknesses, can play an important role in fostering international rule of law.

Consider the question “What were the issues involved in the Vodafone tax case? What are the implication of Investor-State Dispute Settlement ruling for India?”

Conclusion

If government is serious about wooing foreign investment, India should immediately comply with the decision.

Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

Maharashtra modifies Forest Rights Act

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Fifth Schedule

Mains level : Forest dwellers role in its conservation

Maharashtra government has issued a notification modifying the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 that will enable tribals and other traditional forest dwelling families to build houses in the neighbourhood forest areas.

Try this question for mains:

Q.Forest dwellers are integral to the very survival and sustainability of the forest ecosystem. Analyse.

Historical Background

1878: The Forest Act of 1878 was introduced and it truncated the centuries-old traditional use by communities of their forests and secured the colonial governments control over the forestry. The provision of this Act established a virtual State monopoly over the forests in a legal sense on one hand, and attempted to establish, on the other, that the customary use of the forests by the villagers was not a ‘right’, but a ‘privilege’ that could be withdrawn at will.

1927:  The Indian Forest Act, 1927. In continuance with the forest use policy of 1878, this landmark law – India’s main forest law, had nothing to do with conservation. It was created to serve the British need for timber. It sought to override customary rights and forest management systems by declaring forests state property and exploiting their timber.

1952: ‘National interests’ overrode all interests and forests were viewed as a national asset. It was made clear that local priorities and interests and claims of the communities around forest areas should be subservient to larger national interests

About the FRA, 2006

  • The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, is a key piece of forest legislation in India.
  • It has also been called the Forest Rights Act, the Tribal Rights Act, the Tribal Bill, and the Tribal Land Act. In the colonial era, the British diverted abundant forest wealth of the nation to meet their economic needs.
  • While the procedure for settlement of rights was provided under statutes such as the Indian Forest Act, 1927, these were hardly followed.
  • As a result, tribal and forest-dwelling communities, who had been living within the forests in harmony with the environment and the ecosystem, continued to live inside the forests in tenurial insecurity, a situation which continued even after independence as they were marginalised.
  • The symbiotic relationship between forests and forest-dwelling communities found recognition in the National Forest Policy, 1988.
  • The FRA, 2006, was enacted to protect the marginalised socio-economic class of citizens and balance the right to the environment with their right to life and livelihood.

What empowers the Governor?

  • The notification has been issued by the Governor using his powers under subparagraph (1) of paragraph 5 of the Schedule V of the Constitution, according to a statement issued by Raj Bhavan.
  • PESA rules in the State have given recognition to many habitations as villages, but there is no provision for land for house-building.

Significance of the move

  • The decision is likely to provide a major relief to Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest-dwelling families residing in the scheduled areas of the State.
  • The urban areas get increased FSI, the rural areas (on revenue lands) get the same too, but tribal villages (on forest lands) have no legal space for building houses.
  • The move aims to prevent the migration of forest-dwelling families outside their native villages and provide them with housing areas by extending the village site into forest land in their neighbourhood.

Back2Basics: Fifth Schedule of the Constitution

  • It deals with the administration and control of Scheduled Areas as well as of Scheduled Tribes residing in any State other than the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram (ATM2).
  • In Article 244(1) of the Constitution, expression Scheduled Areas means such areas as the President may by order declare to be Scheduled Areas (SA).

The President may at any time by order-

  1. direct that the whole or any specified part of SA shall cease to be a SA or a part of such an area;
  2. increase the area of any SA in a State after consultation with the Governor of that State;
  3. alter, but only by way of rectification of boundaries, any Scheduled Area;
  4. on any alteration of the boundaries of a State on the admission into the Union or the establishment of a new State, declare any territory not previously included in any State to be, or to form part of, a SA;
  5. rescind, in relation to any State of States, any order or orders made under these provisions and in consultation with the Governor of the State concerned, make fresh orders redefining the areas which are to be SA.
  • The Governor may, by public notification, direct that any particular Act of Parliament or of the Legislature of the State shall or shall not apply to a SA or any part thereof in the State, subject to such exceptions and modifications, as specified.
  • The Governor may make regulations for the peace and good government of any area in the State which is for the time being a SA. Such regulations may
  1. prohibit or restrict the transfer of land by or among members of the Scheduled Tribes in such area;
  2. regulate the allotment of land to members of the STs in such area;
  3. regulate the carrying on of business as money-lender by persons who lend money to members of the STs in such area.

In making such regulations, the Governor may repeal or amend any Act of Parliament or of Legislature of the State or any existing law after obtaining the assent of the President.

The Crisis In The Middle East

What’s behind the Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Causacus region mapping

Mains level : Usual crisis in the middle east and caucasus region

Fresh clashes erupted on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, threatening to push the countries back to war 26 years after a ceasefire was reached.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Turkey is located between-

(a) The Black Sea and Caspian Sea

(b) The Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea

(c) Gulf of Suez and the Mediterranean Sea

(d) Gulf of Aqaba and the Dead Sea

The conflict

  • The largely mountainous and forested Nagorno-Karabakh, home for some 150,000 people, is at the centre of the conflict.
  • Nagorno-Karabakh is located within Azerbaijan but is populated, mostly, by those of Armenian ethnicity (and mostly Christian compared to the Shia Muslim majority Azerbaijan).
  • The conflict can be traced back to the pre-Soviet era when the region was at the meeting point of Ottoman, Russian and the Persian empires.

A legacy of soviet era

  • Once Azerbaijan and Armenia became Soviet Republics in 1921, Moscow gave Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan but offered autonomy to the contested region.
  • In the 1980s, when the Soviet power was receding, separatist currents picked up in Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • In 1988, the national assembly voted to dissolve the region’s autonomous status and join Armenia.
  • But Baku suppressed such calls, which led to a military conflict.
  • When Armenia and Azerbaijan became independent countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the clashes led to an open war in which tens of thousands of people were killed.
  • The war lasted till 1994 when both sides reached a ceasefire (they are yet to sign a peace treaty and the border is not clearly demarcated).

Issue over control

  • By that time, Armenia had taken control of Nagorno-Karabakh and handed it to Armenian rebels. The rebels have declared independence, but have not won recognition from any country.
  • The region is still treated as a part of Azerbaijan by the international community, and Baku wants to take it back.

What is the strategic significance of the region?

  • The energy-rich Azerbaijan has built several gas and oil pipelines across the Caucasus (the region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea) to Turkey and Europe.
  • This includes the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline (with a capacity of transporting 1.2 billion barrels a day), the Western Route Export oil pipeline, the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline and the South Caucasus gas pipeline.
  • Some of these pipelines pass close to the conflict zone (within 16 km of the border). In an open war between the two countries, the pipelines could be targeted, which would impact energy supplies.

What’s Turkey’s role?

  • Turkey has historically supported Azerbaijan and has had a troublesome relationship with Armenia.
  • In the 1990s, during the war, Turkey closed its border with Armenia and it has no diplomatic relations with the country.
  • The main point of contention between the two was Ankara’s refusal to recognise the 1915 Armenian genocide in which the Ottomans killed some 1.5 million Armenians.
  • On the other end, the Azeris and Turks share strong cultural and historical links. Azerbaijanis are a Turkic ethnic group and their language is from the Turkic family.

Where does Russia stand?

  • Moscow sees the Caucasus and Central Asian region as its backyard. But the current clashes put President Vladimir Putin in a difficult spot.
  • Russia enjoys good ties with both Azerbaijan and Armenia and supplies weapons to both.
  • But Armenia is more dependent on Russia than the energy-rich, ambitious Azerbaijan. Russia also has a military base in Armenia.
  • But Moscow, at least publicly, is trying to strike a balance between the two. Like in the 1990s, its best interest would be in mediating a ceasefire between the warring sides.

Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Obesity in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Obesity

Mains level : Obesity in India

Adults in urban India consume much more fat than those in rural areas, found the latest survey by the Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Nutrition.

Do you know?

Over-nutrition is also a form of malnutrition.

‘What India Eats’ Survey

  • Adults in India’s urban centres consumed 51.6 grammes fat per day per head on an average. The volume was 36 g in rural areas, according to the survey report What India Eats.
  • The report categorised fat into two groups:
  1. Visible or added fat, comprising oils and fat in preparing food, in fried food and those derived from meat and poultry
  2. Invisible fat, including fat/oils from rice, pulses, nuts and oilseeds

Urban-Rural data

  • 84 per cent of the rural population secured their energy (E) per day requirement from total fats/oils, or visible / added fats.
  • On the other hand, less than 20 per cent of the urban population derived their E / day from this category.
  • In urban areas of the country, northern India had the highest intake of added fat with 45.9 g / day.
  • Southern India reported the lowest per capita consumption of added fat/oils with 22.9 g / day in this segment of the population.
  • In the urban region of north India, fat intake (67.3 g) was among the highest; and overweight, obesity and abdominal obesity were highest when compared to other regions.

Coronavirus – Disease, Medical Sciences Involved & Preventive Measures

Cat Que Virus

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cat Que Virus

Mains level : Not Much

In a study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, scientists have noted the presence of antibodies against the Cat Que virus (CQV) in two human serum samples.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Which one of the following statements is not correct?

(a) Hepatitis B virus is transmitted much like HIV.

(b) Hepatitis B, unlike Hepatitis C, does not have a vaccine.

(c) Globally, the number of people infected with Hepatitis B and C viruses is several times more than those infected with HIV.

(d) Some of those infected with Hepatitis B and C viruses do not show the symptoms for many years.

What is the Cat Que Virus?

  • For CQV, domestic pigs are considered to be the primary mammalian hosts.
  • Antibodies against the virus indicate that the virus has formed a “natural cycle” in the local area and has the ability to spread in pigs and other animal populations through mosquitoes.
  • CQV belongs to the Simbu serogroup and infects both humans and economically important livestock species.
  • It was first isolated in 2004 from mosquitoes during the surveillance of arbovirus activity in northern Vietnam.
  • In this study, researchers reported a CQV strain (SC0806), which was isolated from mosquito samples collected in China in 2006 and 2008.

Impact on humans

  • Humans can get infected through mosquitoes as well.
  • In the study, scientists note that because of positivity in human serum samples and the replication capability of CQV in mosquitoes, there is only a “possible disease-causing potential” of CQV in the Indian scenario.