Current Affairs - Polity & Governance
- On 9th August, 2019, the President gave assent to the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2019, in an attempt to regulate and improve road safety across the country.
- The new act replaces the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
- It aims to make Indian roads safer, reduce corruption and use technology to overhaul the country's transportation system.
Need for the Amendment:
- According to the road transport and highways ministry,maximum road accidents in the world occurred in India. Nearly half a million accidents are reported in India every year resulting in loss of precious lives.
Salient Features of the Act:
- It is an effort to overhaul the country’s transportation laws by addressing crucial issues such as road safety, reducing deaths due to road accidents, imposing stiffer penalties on violation of rules, and weeding out corruption, thereby transforming India’s road transport system.
- It will help the government to meet its international commitments under the Brasilia Declaration of 2015(under which the government intends to reduce traffic fatalities by 50% by 2020)and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 3.6).
Hurdles to Road Safety in India:
- Civilians Irresponsibility and Negligence Attitude:Its only human factor that contribute significantly to increasing number of road accidents in India. Drunken driving is one of the major reasons causing road traffic accidents largely among commercial vehicle drivers on highways. Reckless, over speeding, absence of seats belts, use of mobile phone increases the chance of fatal injuries for car occupants from near zero to almost 100%.
- Awful Condition of Roads:Another reason for road accidents in India is pathetic conditions of the road. Most of them have potholes, without road signs or under construction for a long period. All these lead to road accidents. Roads are built without giving much consideration to its functionality.
- Vehicle Design below International Standard:Indian vehicles design as well as safety normsdo not match up to the International Standards, leading to increasing number of road related casualties.
- Improper Implementation of Road Safety Standards:Mostly Indian road are not well informed with the markings and signals.Most of the primary and secondary traffic signals are either not functioning as per the prescribed standards or wrongly installed. Road barriers and other related equipments are seen dwindling here and there on the roads. According to a study by Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) in Delhi, about 75% of road signs did not meet requirements under the Indian Roads Congress (IRC) Code and the insertion of a regulatory or warning sign with another colour board
- Lack of Emergency Services:Indian roads lack any provision for emergency services. In case of an accident there is no provision for first aid treatment near the intersections. Victims have to cost their lives as due to unavailability of doctors and hospitals nearby.
Government Initiatives Towards Road Safety
National Road Safety Policy(2017)
National Road safety Council
4 ‘E’s Strategy:
30th National Road Safety Week(4th – 10th February-2019):
National Highway Accident Relief Service Scheme:
Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety, 2015
- Road safety is an issue that requires a multi-pronged solution. Recognition of road safety as the joint responsibilityof decision makers and road users, coupled with political action and legislative reform at all levels of government will be essential to bring about long-term improvement.
- Such changes, accompanied by increased participation from the civil society and private players can push India to achieve its target of 50 percent reduction in road traffic fatalities in the foreseeable future.
- Time is ripe to rethink our strategies to overcomechallenges and focus on creating a road safety revolutionin the country. There is a need for political commitmentlike ‘Swacch Bharat’ to ensure this road safety revolutiontowards a ‘Suraksha Bharat’.
- On 8th August, 2019, the President gave assent to the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2019.
- With this, it repealed the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 that led to the formation of the Medical Council of India (MCI).
- To provide for a medical education system that improves access to quality and affordable medical education,ensures availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals in all parts of the country.
- To promote national health goal and equitable and universal healthcare that encourages community health perspective across the country.
- Medical Council of India (MCI) was dissolved in 2010 following corruption charges against its president Ketan Desai by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
- An earlier version of this Bill was introduced in the 16thLokSabha, which got lapsed at the end of the term of the LokSabha.
Key Features of the Bill
- Establishment of National Medical Commission(NMC): ANMC will be set up in place of MCI that will have responsibilities such as approving and assessing medical colleges, conducting common MBBS entrance and exit examinations and regulating medical course fees. The Commission shall consist of the following persons to be appointed by the Central Government, namely:
- a Chairperson
- ten ex officio Members
- twenty-two part-time Members
- State Medical Council: States will establish their respective State Medical Councils within three years. These Councils will have a role similar to the NMC, at the state level.
- Establishment of Autonomous Board: It proposes to set up four autonomous boards under the supervision of the NMC. Each board will consist of a President and four members (of which two members will be part-time), appointed by the central government (on the recommendation of a search committee). These bodies are:
- The Under-Graduate Medical Education Board
- The Post-Graduate Medical Education Board
- The Medical Assessment and Rating Board
- The Ethics and Medical Registration Board
- National Exit Test (NEXT): It proposes a common final-year MBBS examination, known as NEXT, for admission to post-graduate medical courses and for obtaining a license to practice medicine, which will also serve as a screening test for foreign medical graduates. Currently, foreign students with MBBS degrees are automatically entitled to practice in India.
- Fee Regulation:It proposes to regulate the fees and other charges of 50 percent of the total seats in private medical colleges and deemed universities.
- Community Health Providers:It provides for the NMC to grant limited license to certain mid-level practitioners called community health providers, connected with the modern medical profession to practice medicine. These mid-level medical practitioners may prescribe specified medicines in primary and preventive healthcare.
Need for National Medical Commission
- Help to Curb Corruption: It may prove helpful in fighting corruption, which had affected MCI.Unlike MCI, the members of NMC will have to declare their assets at the time of assuming office and when they leave. They will also have to submit a conflict of interest declaration.
- Availability of More Practitioners: Also, the World Health Organization prescribes a doctor to patient ratio of 1:1,000, but as reports indicate, India is far from achieving that target. Allowing Community Health Providers to practise medicine is likely to plug this shortage to some extent.
- Multiple Benefits: It will help reduce the burden on students, ensure probity in medical education, bring down costs of medical education, simplify procedures, ensure quality education, and provide wider access to people to quality healthcare.
Why is the NMC Act being protested by the Medical Fraternity?
- The Indian Medical Association(IMA) has raised concerned over license being provided to 5 lakhs non-medical persons or Community Health Providers to practice modern medicine. According to the IMA, this may open the door for persons with inadequate training in modern medicine to practice, putting patients at risk and lowering standards of healthcare.
- It has been termed as 'anti-poor and anti-public' since making NEXT mandatory before NEET can reduce the chances of people from economically weaker section entering the medical sector.
- The Act allows the commission to frame guidelines for determination of fees and all other charges in respect of 50 percent of seats in private medical institutions and deemed to be universities. This increases the number of seats for which private institutes will have the discretion to determine fees. At present, in such institutes, state governments decide fees for 85 per cent of the seats.
- Another objection is regarding the power it grants to the central government to give policy and other directives to the NMC and its autonomous boards which will be binding and final. This is contradictory to the very concept of autonomy of the four boards. The central government has also been empowered to give directives to state governments for implementing provisions of the act, which will also be binding, reflecting the anti-federal character of the Bill.
On 31st July, 2019, the LokSabha passed a bill designed to speed up the resolution of long-festering inter-state water disputes by establishing a single central tribunal in place of the numerous existing ones.
The Bill aims at amending the Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 to make the adjudication of inter-state river water disputes more efficient and smooth.
- In 2002, the 1956 Act was amended with a target of five years for resolution of any river water dispute. However, the purpose of moving forward with the amendment was not fulfilledowing to the extensions given to the tenure of tribunals.
- A bill similar to this was brought to LokSabha in 2017 which was then referred to the standing committee, but the draft law lapsed as the term of the 16th LokSabha had ended.
Key Features of the Bill
- Provision for Single Tribunal: A key feature of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Amendment Bill, 2019 is the constitution of a single tribunal with different benches, and the setting up of strict timelines for adjudication.
- Two-Tier Resolution Mechanism: Itputs forward a provision for a two-tier dispute resolution mechanism. When a dispute emerges, it would be referred to a Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) which is to be headed by a secretary-level officer of the central government along with experts from relevant fields. If cases where the committee fails, the dispute will move to a centralised (single standing) tribunal with various benches - instead of the multiple tribunals that currently exist.
All the existing tribunals would be dissolved with the setting up of such a tribunal to which all the pending cases will be transferred to it.
- Appointments: The tribunal would have a chairman, a vice-chairman and six members - three judicial and three experts. They would be appointed by the central government on the recommendation of a selection committee, which would comprise of the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and ministers for law and justice and Jal Shakti.
- Retirement: The term of office of the chairperson and vice-chairperson would be five years or until the age of 70 years. That of the other members would be co-terminus with adjudication of dispute or until 67 years.
- Time Limit: The maximum time allowed for the DRC would be one-and-half years, for the tribunal three years and for reconsideration another one-and-half years - taking the total to six years.There would be no requirement of publication of the tribune's report.
- Basin-Wise Data:It also provides for a transparent data collection system at the national level for each river basin, the lack of which has been felt for a long time.
Need for Such Amendment
- Much Delay in Award: The existing tribunals dealing with inter-state river water disputes are legendary for the time they take to give awards. Under the 1956 Act, nine tribunals have so far been set up. Only four of them have given their awards. One of these disputes, over Cauvery waters between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, took 28 years to settle. The Ravi and Beas Waters Tribunal was set up in April 1986 and it is still to give the final award.
According to the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, there are five major causes for the delays:
- No strict time limit for adjudication as the central government kept extending tenure of the tribunals indefinitely, even though they were to resolve disputes within 5 years
- No limit for publishing the report of a tribunal
- no upper limit for retirement of the chairperson or other members
- In case of any vacancy, the Chief Justice of India to nominate a person which took time and caused considerable delays
- Absence of data on river basins.
- Increasing Inter-water Disputes:The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill says the number of inter-state water disputes is on the rise due to an increase in demand for more water by states. Though the existing Inter-State River Water Disputes Act of 1956 provides for a legal framework to address such disputes, it suffers from many drawbacks, which this Bill seeks to address.
- Saving of Manpower and Money as Well:The multiplicity of tribunals has led to an increase in bureaucracy, delays, and possible duplication of work. The replacement of five existing tribunals with a permanent tribunal is likely to result in a 25 per cent reduction in staff strength, from the current 107 to 80, and a saving of Rs 4.27 crore per year.
- It seeks to streamline the adjudication of such disputes and make the present legal and institutional architecture robust to overcome these challenges.
- The timely resolution of river water disputes will bring development of both the states as well as the country.
Constitutional Provision for Inter State Water Disputes
Inter-State Water Disputes and States Involved
- Narmada Water Dispute- Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan
- Mahi River Dispute- Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh
- Ravi and Beas Water Dispute- Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi
- Cauvery Water Dispute- Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka
- Krishna Water Dispute- Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh
- Godavari River Water Dispute- Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh
Reasons for Water Disputes
Water disputes have humanitarian dimensions which include agrarian problems that are worsened by drought and monsoon failures. There must be a sense of responsibility in states to consider these aspects. The disputes should be depoliticised and there must be political will to make the institutional mechanisms work, contributing to overall development of country.
- On July, 27th, 2019, the Nagaland Government constituted a commission to frame the modalities of creating the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN).
- The commission shall have access to all records and documents that may be relevant to the subject and shall also be free to associate any government official or any person as it may deem fit for successful completion of the task assigned.
- The Commission is required submit its report within three months.
- It included headed by retired Chief Secretary Banuo Z. Jamir as chairman and T. Kiheto Sema and S. Chingwang Konyak as members.
- Justice (Retd.) Zelre Angami will function as the advisor to the Commission.
- The Home Commissioner and the Commissioner Nagaland will be ex-officio members of the panel.
- To chalk out modalities for the RIIN exercise.
- To study and examine all issues related to the exercise and submit its recommendations to government.
- Issues like eligibility criteria to be an indigenous inhabitant, relevant authority to authenticate claims, place of registration and nature of documents needed to substantiate claims will be studied and finalised by the commission.
Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN)
- In June, 2019, the Nagaland Government decided to set up a Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) with the aim of preventing fake indigenous inhabitant’s certificates. The RIIN will be the master list of all indigenous inhabitants of the state.
- The government began the process of preparing the RIIN on July 10, 2019.
- Only those whose names figure in the RIIN will be issued indigenous inhabitant certificates and all other certificates would become invalid after the preparation of the final register.
- However, the Nagaland government has put on hold the enrolments for the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) as it announced the formation of a three-member commission to study the exercise amid concerns by civil society groups and political parties.
- The RIIN would provide protection to genuine citizens who are permanent settlers of Nagaland and non-Nagas will not be harassed during preparation of the list of indigenous citizens.
- It will help identify the citizens who settled in Nagaland prior to December 1, 1963, the day it became a full-fledged State.
How will the list be prepared?
- The RIIN list will be based on an extensive survey. It will involve official records of indigenous residents from rural and (urban) wards and would be prepared under the supervision of the district administration.
- Designated teams of surveyors will be formed within seven days from the date of publication of the notification, and thereafter these teams will be sent across each village and ward.
How will the survey be done?
- The designated teams comprising Sub-Divisional Officers (SDO), Block Development Officers (BDO), Headmasters and other nominated members, will make a list of indigenous inhabitants in the state.
- The database will note each family’s original residence, current residence as well as the concerned Aadhaar numbers.
What will the unique identity look like?
- Based on the adjudication and verification, a list of indigenous inhabitants will be finalised and each person will be given a unique ID. The final list or the RIIN will be created and its copies will be placed in all villages and ward. Electronic copies of the list will also be stored in the State Data Centre.
- A mechanism or electronic and SMS-based authentication will be put in place. All indigenous inhabitants of the state would be issued a barcoded and numbered Indigenous Inhabitant Certificate. The process will be conducted across Nagaland and will be done as part of the online system of Inner Line Permit (ILP), which is already in force in Nagaland.
Inner Line Permit (ILP)
How will the RIIN be updated?
Once the RIIN is finalised, no fresh indigenous inhabitant certificates will be issued except to newborn babies born to the indigenous inhabitants of Nagaland.
What about those excluded from the list?
In case anyone who is left out of the RIIN, he/she will need to file an application before Home Commissioner who will get the matter verified and take necessary action for updating the RIIN if needed.
Challenges to RIIN Initiative
Definition of Indigenous Inhabitants:
- One the major challenge is to decide the indigeneity of the inhabitant because there is no clear definition of who is an indigenous inhabitant; although the State has 16 recognised tribes. Attempts to arrive at a conclusion have failed because of a Naga customary law that allows adoption of other communities.
- An example is that of the Gurkhas who settled in the State before December 1963. They have been recognised as indigenous.
Cut-off Date Issue:
- Though the official notification on RIIN has not mentioned a cut-off date to compile the proposed register, the authorities in Nagaland have till date issued indigenous inhabitant certificates using December 1, 1963 as the cut-off date.
- Since 1977, to be eligible to obtain a certificate of indigenous inhabitants of Nagaland, a person has to fulfill either of the below conditions:
- the person must be settled permanently in Nagaland prior to December 1, 1963
- his or her parents or legitimate guardians were paying house tax prior to the cut-off date (December 1, 1963)
- the applicant, or his/her parents or legitimate guardians, acquired property and a patta (land certificate) prior to this cut-off date
- If the Nagaland government goes ahead with a compilation of RIIN with this cut-off date, then all Naga people who have migrated to the State from the neighbouring States of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and elsewhere in India after this day will have to be excluded.
Adopted non-Naga Children:
- The compilation of RIIN involves the complexities of deciding on the claims of the children of non-Naga fathers as well as non-Naga children adopted by Naga parents.In such case, all Naga people who have migrated to the State after this day will have to be excluded.These include migrants from the neighbouring Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and elsewhere in India.
Inner Line Permit Issue:
- As the Nagaland government has begun a consultation process on RIIN, it will be under pressure to de-link the work of streamlining the ILP mechanism from the proposed register.
- The RIIN proposal may require large numbers of non-indigenous inhabitants to obtain an ILP to carry out day-to-day activities.Notably, most of them are migrated ones from other States and have been carrying out trade, business and other activities for decades. It will hit the economy of the state.
- Further, the complexities that may arise in streamlining the ILP mechanism due to non-issuance of domicile certificates or permanent residence certificates to a large number of non-Naga, non-indigenous inhabitants could also make the task even more difficult for the Nagaland government.
On 19th July, 2019, the Lok Sabha passed the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bill amends the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
The proposed amendments will enable both the Commission as well as the State Commissions to be more compliant with the Paris Principles concerning its autonomy, independence, pluralism and wide-ranging functions in order to effectively protect and promote human rights.
Salient Features of the Bill:
·Supreme Court Judge: It provided that a person who has been the Chief Justice of India, or a Judge of the Supreme Court will be the chairperson of the National Human Right Commission (NHRC). As per the 1993 Act, only a person who has been the Chief Justice of India can be made the NHRC chairperson.
·High Court Judge: It proposes to enable any person who has been a judge of a High Court to be the chairperson of State Human Right Commission (SHRC).
·Human Right Experts to be Member: It provides for two persons having knowledge of human rights to be appointed as members of the NHRC.
·Provision of Women Member: It increases the number of members from two to three and that of three members of the commission; at least one will be a woman.
·Reduction of Term of Office: It reduces the term of office of chairpersons and members of NHRC and SHRC to three years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier. The 1993 Act states that the chairperson and members of the NHRC and SHRC will hold office for five years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.
·Reappointment Provisions: It also allows for the reappointment of chairpersons of the NHRC and SHRCs.
·Members from Various Commissions: It also provided to include Chairperson of the National Commission for Backward Classes, Chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as deemed Members of the Commission.
·Powers of Secretary-General: It allows the Secretary-General and Secretary to exercise all administrative and financial powers (except judicial functions), subject to the respective chairperson’s control.
·Union Territories: Now the central government may confer on a SHRC human rights functions being discharged by Union Territories. Functions relating to human rights in the case of Delhi will be dealt with by the NHRC.
The amendment will ensure transparency in the appointment of chairman and members of the commission and better performance of functions and duties.
Human Rights Issues in India:
Custody death, torture in custody and custodial rape has been subjects of much concern. The incidence of custody deaths demonstrates more undeniably the brutalisation of the processes of law enforcement by the police and armed forces.
Project displacement for the construction of large dams or for power projects, for instance, has led to protest movements directly involving the affected people. Human rights issues that arise include displacement, rehabilitation, impoverishment that results from displacement, for e.g. Narmada Bachao Andolan was started in 1985 to stop indigenous people being deprived of their land and livelihood.
Refugees Human Rights Issue
India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and also it does not have a domestic legislation in place. Despite this, it continues to be a host to the largest number of refugees across South East Asia. India has adopted an ad hoc administrative policy to accord protection to refugees ever since independence. This poses problems of human right abuses of refugees, lack of basic amenities and discrimination between refugees themselves, for e.g. ongoing crisis over Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. The exclusion of asylum-seekers and refugees adds up to violation of India’s duty under customary international law, which restricts governments from returning people to a territory where they are vulnerable to serious human rights violations.
Right over Resources
The 2006 Forest Rights Act gave tribal’s right to live on and protect the land that they had been cultivating within forest boundaries. But in February 2019, the Supreme Court ordered the eviction of more than a million forest-dwelling and tribal families across 16 states, depriving them from their rights over forest resources.The next Supreme Court hearing in the case will be on 24 July, 2019, when the court may once again order the eviction of millions of people. This comes at a time when India’s tribal peoples are facing an unprecedented assault on their rights.
Sexual Harassment at Workplace
Sexual harassment at workplace is a universal issue whether it be a developed nation or a developing nation or an underdeveloped nation, cruelties and abuse against women is common everywhere. It is seen to be occurring more with women as they are viewed as the most vulnerable section of the society. Registered cases of sexual harassment at Indian workplaces increased 54% from 2014 to 2017. Sexual harassment violates the fundamental right of a woman to gender equality under Article 14 of the Constitution of India and her right to life and live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Fake Encounters (Extra-judicial killings)
In India, extra-judicial killings by the police or the security forces are called encounter killings. The killing by the state forces is most often declared to be defensive, cases of attempted murder and other related offences are registered against the victims, and the cases closed without further investigation.
Recently, in January, 2019, the officials from the Office of the High Commissioner for United Nations Human Rights (OCHR) raised concerns on extra judicial killing by Uttar Pradesh police. Most of the cases which the OHCHR has raised with the Indian government pertain to Muslim victims.
Child Rights Issues
According to the UNICEF, there are about 10.1 million children employed in child labour in India today. That amounts to nearly 13% of our workforce, or in other words, 1 in every 10 worker in India is a child; a child who is promised protections under the Indian Law, and guaranteed education and mid-day meals, till the age of 14 is being robbed off their rights.
Prisons Related Issues
The conditions in jails, solitary confinement, the inhuman treatment of prisoners, overcrowding of prisons are some of serious issues that have been raised repeatedly against human rights violation.
Recently released NCRB data in May, 2019, presents a pathetic condition of Indian prisons and prisoners. According to it, the number of unnatural deaths in prisons doubled between 2015 and 2016; the rate of suicide among prisoners also increased by 28%. A phenomenal rise in the number of people held under administrative (or ‘prevention’) detention laws in Jammu and Kashmir (a 300% increase) was also noted.
Minorities Rights Violation
Religious minorities, especially Muslims, have come under increasing threat of harassment and violence in recent years. Mobs have lynched many people from marginalized groups throughout India, especially Muslims often over suspicions of cow slaughter and religious fundamentalism.
On 10th July, 2019, the Cabinet approved the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2019, replacing the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Ordinance introduced in February, 2019.
It aims at plugging gaps in existing laws and giving powers to the government to prohibit companies from taking such funds from the public.
Salient Features of Bill:
Need for Such a Scheme:
- Absence of Regulatory Framework: The menace of increasing Ponzi schemes across the country has exposed the inadequacy of the existing legal and regulatory framework in ensuring that entities that run and manage such schemes are held accountable.
- Rising Number of Fraud Cases: In the past four years, 146 cases of illegal deposits had been investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation, 56 by the Enforcement Directorate, 32 cases involving 223 companies by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and the Serious Fraud Investigation Office and 978 cases were referred to various investigating enforcement agencies by the State Coordination Committees.
- Indeed, one of the factors that led to the introduction of the Banning of Unregulated Deposits Scheme was the controversies in relation to Ponzi schemes such as Rose Valley and Saradha scam in West Bengal.
What is a Ponzi Scheme?
- Curbing the Illicit Deposits Activities: It will help tackle the menace of illicit deposit taking activities in the country, which at present are exploiting regulatory gaps and lack of strict administrative measures to dupe poor and vulnerable people of their hard earned money.
- Boosting Investor’s Confidence: With such banning and regulatory framework, it will further help boosting the confidence of investors in dealing with deposit schemes across the country.
On 2nd July 2019, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment said in the Rajya Sabha that shifting of 17 Other Backward Classes (OBCs) to the Schedule Caste list is unconstitutional, and a transgression of Parliament’s jurisdiction.
Relevance of the News: The news clarifies the procedure for shifting of backward classes into the reserved lists.
Details of the News:
- In June 2019 the UP government directed District Magistrates and Commissioners to issue caste certificates to the 17 OBCs, Kashyap, Rajbhar, Dhivar, Bind, Kumhar, Kahar, Kewat, Nishad, Bhar, Mallah, Prajapati, Dhimar, Batham, Turha, Godia, Manjhi and Machua.
- UP government’s decision refers to an order of the Allahabad High Court (dated March 29, 2017) which laid that “in the event, any caste certificates are issued pursuant to the order impugned, those certificates shall be subject to the outcome of the writ petition.”
- But the Union Minister disapproved the UP government’s decision to issue caste certificates to these communities terming it neither appropriate nor “constitutional”.
- It is the Parliament’s prerogative to remove an SC, ST or OBC caste from one group and include in another.
- Article 341(1) of the Constitution prescribes the procedure for regarding castes as “Scheduled Castes”
- Under Article 341(2) of the Constitution, the power to make changes in the SC list lies only with Parliament.
Similar Attempts in the Past:
- Similar attempts in the past have been rejected by the SC. In 2005, the Mulayam government amended the Uttar Pradesh Public Services Act, 1994, to include 17 OBC castes in the SC list. The Allahabad High Court quashed the amendment, terming it unconstitutional, since only Parliament has the power to make such an inclusion.
- Another attempt by the Akhilesh government in 2013 met a similar fate.
Nagaland on 29th June announced starting of its own National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Relevance of the News: The news highlights the importance of NRC and its gradual acceptability among other states.
- Nagaland Home Commissioner R. Ramakrishnan issued a notification for the setting up of the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN).
- RIIN is aimed at preparing a master list of all indigenous peoples in Nagaland and curbing the fake indigenous inhabitant certificates issued to people.
- Once the process is complete the database would be updated with latest photographs and other details every five years.
- There would be a complete ban on issue of fresh indigenous inhabitant certificates once the final RIIN is notified.
The process of Nagaland NRC:
- Designated teams will move out to villages and urban wards from July 10, less than a month before Assam is to publish the final NRC.
- There is a 60-day deadline for collecting information on locals and non-locals. This exercise will be monitored by the Home Monister.
- Claims and objections can be filed for a period of 30 days, i.e. on or before October 10, 2019. Once new genuine indigenous inhabitants are issued certificates and RIIN is notified, all existing indigenous inhabitants certificates issued by any authority will become invalid.
- The list will be prepared under the supervision of each district administration. Only those persons who names will figure in the RIIN will be issued indigenous inhabitant certificate.
Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill 2019, has been re-introduced in the parliament by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill 2019:
- The proposed amendments to Aadhaar Act 2016 will:
- Provide for voluntary use of Aadhaar number in physical or electronic form by authentication or offline verification with the consent of Aadhaar number holder.
- It will also pave the way for use of alternate virtual identity number to keep hidden the actual Aadhaar number of the person.
- It seeks to allow entities to perform authentication only when they are compliant with the standards of privacy and security defined by the UIDAI.
- The amendment will also prevent denial of services for refusing to, or being unable to, undergo authentication.
- Give a child an option to exit from the biometric ID programme on attaining 18 years of age.
- Impose stiff penalties for violation of norms set for the use of Aadhaar and violation of privacy. A civil penalty of up to Rs 1 crore on violation of provisions, and additional fine of up to Rs 10 lakh per day in case of regular non-compliance.
- Unauthorised use of identity information by a requesting entity would be punishable with imprisonment of up to three years with a fine that may extend to Rs 10,000 or in case of a company with a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh.
- Punishment for unauthorised access to the Central Identities Data Repository as well as data tampering is proposed to be extended to 10 years each from the current three years.
- The proposed Bill will replace the ordinance already in place issued in March 2019.
Opposition to the Amendment bill:
Various oppositions have been raised to the provisions of the amendment act, which include:
- The bill allows private companies to access data without laying safeguards for data protection as mandated by Supreme Court thus infringing the Right to Privacy of citizens.
- The Data Protection Bill should be passed either simultaneously with the Bill or before the amendment bill is passed.
- The amendment contravenes the Supreme Court’s judgement that restricted the use of Aadhaar for only such things which have the colour of a subsidy and which are paid out of the Consolidated Fund of India. The amendment allows Aadhaar to be used for verification, phone connections etc.
The Prime Minister had called for an all-party meet on ‘one nation, one election’.
Relevance of the News: It highlights the concept of one election for the country i.e. simultaneous elections for centre, states and local bodies.
One Nation One Election:
- Ahead of the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha, PM addressed leaders of the Opposition at an all-party meeting. All party meeting is convened at the beginning of every session to ensure smooth functioning of the parliament.
- The meeting has been called to discuss “one nation, one election” issue along with other issues of national importance.
- Simultaneous elections refer to holding elections to Lok Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, Panchayats and Urban local bodies simultaneously, once in five years.
Challenges Associated with Simultaneous Elections:
- Achieving political consensus for this idea seems to be difficult.
- Regional parties will be more opposed to the idea than national parties because there is always a tendency for voters to vote the same party in power in the state and at the Centre in case the Lok Sabha polls and the state elections are held together.
- If implemented the plan will get disrupted every time a state assembly is dissolved in the midst of 5 years which will again distort the alignment of centre and state elections.