Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding the development of judiciary system in India
1. The Supreme Court and the Sadar Adalats were merged into three High Courts at Calcutta, Bombay
and Madras in 1865.
2. The Government of India Act, 1935 provided for a Federal Court which could settle disputes
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both 1 and 2
D. Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Government of India Act, 1919
1. The Indian Legislative Council at the Centre was replaced by a bicameral system consisting of a
Council of State.
2. The Act separated for the first time the provincial and central budgets
3. Dyarchy in the provinces was abolished and provinces were given autonomy
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 and 2 only
B. 2 only
C. 3 only
D. 1, 2 and 3
Q.3 Consider the following statements.
1. In the first Lok Sabha, the single largest party in the opposition was the Swatantra Party.
2. The Bharatiya Jana Sangh was formed in 1951 with Deen Dayal Upadhyaya as its founder-President.
3. Congress won a majority of seats in all the states including Travancore-Cochin, Madras and Orissa
in first general elections
Select the correct answer using the code given below
A. 2 only
B. 2 and 3 only
C. 1 only
BODO PEACE PACT
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday advised the youth in central India’s Maoist belt and in Jammu and Kashmir to emulate the Bodos and shun the path of violence. He also allayed fears that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act would bring illegal foreigners to Assam
Through this pact, the (newly-created) BTR (Bodoland Territorial Region) will get strengthened. Everybody has won through this pact.
FIRST BODO ACCORD
The first accord, signed in 1993, was considered toothless. It led to the creation of the Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC) with some limited political powers.
SECOND BODO ACCORD
The second Bodo Accord, signed in 2003, led to the creation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), but Vajpayee, considered its catalyst, could not attend the ceremony to mark its formal signing that year.
THIRD BODO ACCORD 2020
- Bodoland Territorial Region would include the villages which are dominated by Bodos but are outside BTAD presently. Villages with non-Bodo population would be excluded from it.
- A committee will be formed to decide the exclusion and inclusion of new areas. Subsequently, the total number of Assembly seats will go up to 60, from the existing 40.
- Both the representatives of the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) and of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) will be present in the committee.
- Bodo-Kachari Welfare Council will be set up for focused development of Bodo villages outside BTAD.
- Bodos living in the hills would be conferred a Scheduled Hill Tribe status.
- Bodo language with Devanagari script would be the associate official language for the entire Assam.
- However, the agreement has not addressed the issue of “citizenship or work permit” for non-domiciles in the BTAD yet.
- Around 1500 cadres of NDFB will be rehabilitated and assimilated by the Central and the state governments.
- The criminal cases registered against factions of NDFB members for non-heinous crimes shall be withdrawn and the cases of heinous crimes will be reviewed.
- Comprehensive solutions have been made to redress the grievances of the people.
- Families of the people killed during the Bodo movement would get ₹5 lakh each.
- A Special Development Package of ₹1500 crore would be given by the Centre to undertake specific projects for the development of Bodo areas.
A day after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced measures to ease interest rates, the State Bank of India (SBI) and the Bank of India (BoI) have reduced their lending rates by cutting the marginal cost of fund-based lending rate (MCLR).
The SBI has reduced the MCLR by 5 bps across all maturities.
The marginal cost of funds based lending rateis minimum interest rate that a bank can lend at.
The Reserve Bank of India introduced the MCLR methodology for fixing interest rates from 1 April 2016. It replaced the base rate structurewhich had been in place since July 2010.
Under the MCLR regime, banks are free to offer all categories of loans on fixed or floating interest rates.
MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT
A total of 536 FIRs in connection with violations of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) were registered till Friday, a day before polls, read a statement issued by the Chief Electoral Officer.
Most of these cases have been filed over violations of the Defacement of Public Property Act under which 31 FIRs are against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), 10 against Congress, six against the BJP and the remaining against Independents, others and non-political parties.
WHAT IS MCC?
These are the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct.
AIM: To ensure free and fair elections.
WHEN DOES IT COMES INTO FORCE?
- The Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission.
- Election Commission (EC) has announced that Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately in states where legislative assemblies have been dissolved prematurely.
- The Code remains in force till the end of the electoral process.
- The Commission issued the code for the first time in 1971(5th Election) and revised it from time to time. This set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit.
- The MCC is not enforceable by law. However, certain provisions of the MCC may be enforced through invoking corresponding provisions in other statutes such as the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and Representation of the People Act, 1951.
- The Election Commission has argued against making the MCC legally binding; stating that elections must be completed within a relatively short time (close to 45 days), and judicial proceedings typically take longer, therefore it is not feasible to make it enforceable by law.
THE MAIN POINTS OF THE CODE ARE:
- Government bodies are not to participate in any new recruitment process during the electoral process.
- The contesting candidates and their campaigners must respect the home life of their rivals and should not disturb them by holding road shows or demonstrations in front of their houses. The code tells the candidates to keep it.
- The election campaign rallies and road shows must not hinder the road traffic.
- Candidates are asked to refrain from distributing liquor to voters. It is a widely known fact in India that during election campaigning, liquor may be distributed to the voters.
- The election code in force hinders the government or running party leaders from launching new welfare programmes like construction of roads, provision of drinking water facilities etc. or any ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
- The code instructs that public spaces like meeting grounds, helipads, government guest houses and bungalows should be equally shared among the contesting candidates. These public spaces should not be monopolised by a few candidates.
BANNING OF FOOD IMPORTS FROM CHINA
In view of the outbreak of novel coronavirus, the Manipur government has banned the import of packaged food items from China, Myanmar and Southeast Asian countries which do not comply with FSSAI regulations, officials said here on Friday.
Manipur shares a 398-km international border with Myanmar and Moreh serves as a major trade hub between India and her eastern neighbour.
ABOUT CORONA VIRUS
- Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
- Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
- the air by coughing and sneezing.
- close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
- touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
- rarely, fecal contamination
Governors of Telangana and Himachal Pradesh Tamilisai Soundararajan and Bandaru Dattatreya and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao visited Medaram village in Mulugu district and offered prayers to the tribal deities at the Sammakka-Sarakka Jatara on Friday.
The four-day mega tribal festival began on February 5.
About Medaram Jatara
- Medaram Jatara is a festival of tribal origin in Telangana.
- It is a festival of honouring the goddesses Sarakka celebrated in the state of Telangana.
- The festival is held every two years at in Medaram Village in the heart of the thick forests of Jayashankar Bhupalpally district.
- The festival honors tribal folk goddess Sammakka and Saralamma.
- It has become a major pilgrimage in the recent decade and is believed to attract the largest number of devotees in the country after Kumbha Mela.
The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) on Friday handed over Sharang, the first 130mm M-46 artillery gun upgraded to 155mm to the Indian Army.
It was formally handed over by OFB Chairman Hari Mohan to Army Chief Gen. Manoj Naravane at the ongoing Defexpo.
The gun’s range has now gone from 27km to over 36km with the upgrade. It also has more explosive capability and hence and more damage potential, the official stated. In all, OFB will upgrade 300 130mm guns to 155mm and the contract will be completed in four years.
This step will reduce the logistic trail of the Army as it does away with the need to carry 130mm shells and support equipment as the mainstay of the Army’s long range artillery is 155mm guns. As part of the development and validation, OFB had ‘upgunned’ six guns for testing. An artillery regiment of the Army consists of 18 guns.
The Army inducted its first modern artillery guns system in November 2018. These include M-777 Ultra Light Howitzers (ULH) from the U.S. and K9 Vajra-T self-propelled artillery guns. The Army has the older, battle-proven Bofors 155mm guns in service. The 155mm Dhanush towed gun system, developed based on the Bofors guns, is under induction.
DECLINE IN LEOPARD POPULATION
India’s leopard population may be only a tenth of what it was a little over a century ago, experiencing catastrophic declines due to human pressures.
Given the threats the animal faces – conflicts with humans, poaching, habitat loss and availability of prey – a group of scientists with new insights on loss of leopard abundance say that an initiative similar to ‘Project Tiger’ is required for the cat.
The leopard population, perceived to be stable due to broad geographic distribution, suffered a possibly human-induced population decline of 75% to 90% between 120 and 200 years ago
Genetic analyses showed four sub-populations — Western Ghats, Deccan Plateau-Semi Arid, Shivalik and Terai region with high genetic variation.
- The Indian leopard is one of the big cats occurring on the Indian subcontinent, apart from the Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, snow leopard and clouded leopard.
- Scientific Name: Panthera pardus.
- Common Name: Indian leopard or Common leopard.
A nocturnal animal, the leopard hunts by night.
- Melanism is a common occurrence in leopards, wherein the entire skin of the animal is black in colour, including its spots.
- A melanistic leopard is often called black panther or jaguar, and mistakenly thought to be a different species.
Habitat: In India, the leopard is found in all forest types, from tropical rainforests to temperate deciduous and alpine coniferous forests. It is also found in dry scrubs and grasslands, the only exception being desert and the mangroves of Sundarbans.
- Distribution: It shares its territory with the tiger in 17 states. Its range stretches from the Indus river in the west, the Himalayas in the north, and all the way to the lower course of the Brahmaputra in the east.
- Listed on a par with Tigers under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972.
- Listed in Appendix I of CITES.
- Listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
TYPES OF COAL MINING
There are four main mining methods: underground, open surface (pit), placer, and in-situ mining.
Underground mines are more expensive and are often used to reach deeper deposits.
Surface mines are typically used for more shallow and less valuable deposits.
Placer mining is used to sift out valuable metals from sediments in river channels, beach sands, or other environments.
In-situ mining, which is primarily used in mining uranium, involves dissolving the mineral resource in place then processing it at the surface without moving rock from the ground
FIRST EDITORIAL: EXTENDING THE DETENTION OF FORMER CM’S IN J&K
On Thursday, the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) was invoked against former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, among others. They were in preventive detention without charges until then. The 83-year-old Farooq Abdullah, another former CM, had earlier been detained under the PSA, and he remains in detention.
The PM defended the indefinite and arbitrary detention of people as essential, and accused the former CMs of making “unacceptable” statements.
FULL INTEGRATION WITH J&K
Editorial highlights that it seems that whole of India has been completely integrated with J&K where there is crackdown on legitimate political activities, the vilification of leaders critical of the government as anti-India, and high-handed policing that is not merely condoned but glorified.
WHY SUCH A MOVE IS DANGEROUS?
EXECUTIVE BECOMES THE JUDICIARY: If the executive were to draw boundaries on what statements are ‘acceptable’ and arrogate to itself the authority to punish unacceptable ones, it would be dangerous for a constitutional democracy.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?
At least at this late hour, the Centre must make an honest approach to restart a political process in the Valley. Indiscreet moves such as attempts to graft an inorganic layer of leaders into Valley politics are destined to fail. With all their follies, regional outfits and their leaders remain India’s best bet in J&K. Their continuing detention betrays a perturbing lack of awareness of this basic fact in decision-making in New Delhi.
LEAD ARTICLE: HIGH COST OF RAISING TRADE WALLS
Author highlights that India is now turning protectionist.
WHY CHARGE OF PROTECTIONISM?
ANNOUNCEMENT IN THE BUDGET
Laying out the Budget for the year, Ms. Sitharaman made several references to the problems with free trade and preferential trade agreements (FTAs and PTAs), raised tariffs on the import of more than 50 items, and changed the Customs Act provisions substantially to penalise imports suspected to originate from third countries.
“It has been observed that imports under Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are on the rise. Undue claims of FTA benefits have posed threat to domestic industry. Such imports require stringent checks and highlighted that government will ensure that all FTAs “are aligned to the conscious direction of our policy”.
WALKING AWAY FROM RCEP
The government’s problem with FTAs was a key theme in its decision to walk out of the RCEP negotiations (of 16 countries) in November 2019, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and members of his cabinet cited the rise in trade deficits with FTA partners. The government says it will now review all those agreements, in particular TAs signed with the 10-nation ASEAN grouping (FTA), Japan (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or CEPA) and South Korea (CEPA), and wants to “correct asymmetry” in negotiations with new partners.
Author highlights that with such move it will be difficult for India to sign bilteral trade agreements with other countries be it Australia or UK or Japan.
WHY BILATERAL TRADE AGREEMENTS ARE REQUIRED?
NO SECURITY NET: While the absence of a TA with any country does not mean that trade will not grow, other changes in the world trading order may become significant hindrances when added to this present scenario. The decline of multilateralism, accelerated by retrenchment of the U.S. and China’s intransigence have all meant the World Trade Organization (WTO) has lost steam as a world arbiter. This leaves states that are not part of arrangements without a safety net on dispute settlement mechanisms.
RISE OF REGIONAL FTA: It is clear that most of the world is now divided into regional FTAs, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for North America, the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR for its Spanish initials) for South America, the EU, the Eurasian Economic Union (Russia and neighbours), the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) FTA in West Asia, and now the biggest of them all, RCEP, which minus India, represents a third of the world’s population and just under a third of its GDP.
India’s demographic might is certainly attractive for international investors, but only if that vast market has purchasing power and is not riven by social unrest and instability. Historically, the decline of colonial powers and more ancient empires can be traced to times when they turned inward and disengaged from foreign trade. It flows logically that in the modern, economically interconnected and technologically inseparable world, India’s global rise cannot but be accompanied by an open mind on trade as well.
SECOND ARTICLE: FAIRNESS IN DEATH SENTENCE
WHY IN NEWS?
NIRBHAYA CASE: Mukesh Kumar Singh, Pawan Kumar Gupta, Akshay Kumar Singh and Vinay Kumar Sharma have been given seven days to exercise all their legal rights, after which they will, in all probability, be hanged to death for the rape and murder of a young woman in Delhi in December 2012.
Author’s central argument in this article is that CULPRITS SHOULD BE GIVEN FAIR TRIAL RIGHTS.
It is important to realise that judicial processes demand dispassionate fairness that gives due regard to substantive requirements of sentencing. Failure to meet these demands raises serious concerns about fair trial rights of the accused, which is as important during sentencing as it is at conviction.
A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab (1980) laid down the sentencing framework in capital cases, requiring sentencing courts to consider the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the offence and the offender when deciding the question of punishment. Courts also have to discharge the burden of meaningfully considering whether the alternative option of life imprisonment has been unquestionably foreclosed. The death sentence can only be imposed in exceptional cases involving extreme culpability, and such exceptionalism cannot solely be rooted in the brutality of the crime.
Irrespective of the brutal nature of the crime, the circumstances of the convicts are crucial to the sentencing exercise and have to inform the punitive outcome.
Author highlights that Supreme Court’s decision to itself hear on the question of sentence and not send the case back to the trial court for a fresh sentencing hearing took away the right of the convicts to be heard on the issue of sentence by courts at three different levels.
SC SATISFYING THE PUBLIC DEMAND
Confirming the death sentences for all, two concurring opinions remarked that the crime was bound to “shock the collective conscience” and any punishment lesser than the death penalty would “shake the confidence of the public” in the criminal justice system. After an unreasoned dismissal of individual circumstances of the convicts, the Supreme Court also failed to sufficiently answer why life imprisonment was unquestionably foreclosed. The Court failed to discharge any of these burdens.
The execution of the four convicts after exhaustion of their legal remedies may give their case a semblance of due process. However, concerns about the fairness of the sentencing process remain unanswered. While the public has very little patience to appreciate such nuances of the law, courts are duty-bound to maintain a high degree of fidelity to these processes. This should hold true especially in a case such as this which has seen loud and repeated calls for “hanging the rapists”.
SECOND EDITORIAL: ACQUITTAL OF US PRESIDENT
The acquittal of U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday, of impeachment charges in the Senate, has brought an end to the months-long acrimonious proceedings in Congress that exposed the American political class’s deep partisan divisions.
WHY WAS TRUMP IMPEACHED?
Mr. Trump was impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Mr. Trump’s decision to delay critical military aid to Ukraine in return for Kiev launching investigations against Joe Biden, the former Vice-President and a key Democratic presidential candidate, and his son, Hunter Biden, that triggered the impeachment proceedings.
WHY SUCH A PROCESS WOULD BENEFIT TRUMP?
Mr. Trump has already launched a tirade and would definitely turn the acquittal into another campaign issue that would fit into his “witch hunt” narrative.
Different pollsters suggest that the President’s approval rating jump (43.5% to 49%) is near his highest level since he entered the office.
SATURDAY STORY: GROUND REALITY OF PM MATRU VANDANA YOJANA IN GUJARAT
About Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana
The scheme promises a total sum of ₹5,000, to be given in three instalments to pregnant women and lactating mothers. Those who receive similar benefits from their employers and government employees are excluded from the scheme.
The benefit is provided only for the first live birth and the money is to be credited to the beneficiary’s Aadhaar-linked savings account in different intervals over a period of nearly 14 months. Each instalment is paid after the mothers meet certain conditions — the first instalment after early registration of pregnancy; the second instalment after six months of pregnancy on the completion of at least one ante-natal check-up; and the third instalment after the registration of child-birth and the first cycle of immunisation of the child.
PROBLEMS WITH THE SCHEME
- No timely disbursement of funds
- Paucity of Funds
- Process is tedious and makes it very difficult for women to claim the benefits. Those few who are able to finish the documentation work have to often wait for several months, at times for years after their child is born, before they receive the cash benefit.
- The lengthy documentation work includes filling up six documents, totalling 32 pages — an application form to be filled for each of the three instalments; an application for linking the Aadhaar card with bank account; another one for linking the Aadhaar card with the post office account; and a feedback form. Applicants have to also submit at least nine other documents for verification. These include an Aadhaar card (or enrolment slip when there is no card), an identity proof, a voter ID card (as age proof). Each of these documents have to be submitted by the woman beneficiary and her husband. Apart from these, there must be a copy of the ration card issued to the husband’s family, a bank passbook and the maternal and child protection card. To top it all, the woman’s Aadhaar card must have the husband’s name on it. Most young mothers have their first child in the first year of their marriage. Just collecting the documents can take six to seven months.
WHAT COULD BE DONE?
The PMMVY needs to be brought in line with the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, by removing the arbitrary restriction that permits a cash benefit only for the first-born.
Second, the amount of cash benefit also needs to be increased. Both of the above are violations of the NFSA. In fact, the government should emulate the example of Tamil Nadu, which offers ₹18,000 under its State scheme.
Third, mandatory use of Aadhaar should be removed. Any government identity document should be acceptable so that beneficiaries are not forced to run from pillar to post.
Instead, make the banking system more robust and widespread. NEFT is an effective way to transfer money electronically, whereas linking Aadhaar with bank accounts has created new problems.
LACK OF CYBER SECURITY IN INDIA
A whopping 98% out of a large packet of sensitive credit and debit card details, that have been put up for sale on the dark net, are those of Indian customers, Group-IB — a Singapore-based cybersecurity company — has revealed.
According to Group-IB’s statement released on Friday, the stash of 4,61,976 card payment details went up for sale on Wednesday on Joker’s Stash, one of the most secretive portals on the dark net for buying such information. Group-IB has already informed Indian authorities about the leak.
The company has also observed that the data is suspected to have been collected from phishing rackets, which are on the rise in India over the last few years.
Group-IB’s threat Intelligence Team has found that the details are comprehensive in nature, and include card numbers, expiration dates, CVV/CVC codes and, in this case, some additional information such as cardholders’ full names, their emails, phone numbers and addresses.
In October 2019, Group-IB Threat Intelligence team had detected the first such database of over 1.3 million credit and debit card records, mostly of Indian customers.
TIME LINE OF CORONA VIRUS ATTACK
IMPROVING ACCOUNTABILITY OF AUDITORS
The government has proposed significant amendments to existing regulations to enhance independence and accountability of auditors.
Against the backdrop of instances of many auditors and auditing entities coming under the regulatory lens for alleged misdoings, the government has come out with a consultation paper on proposed legal changes regarding audit.
The paper has suggestions for curbing five “threats” for the independence of auditors. The threats pertain to self-interest, self-review, advocacy, familiarity and intimidation.
The deadline for submitting comments on the paper to “examine the existing provisions of law and make suitable amendments therein to enhance audit independence and accountability” is February 28.
The Corporate Affairs Ministry is responsible for implementing the Companies Act.