Current Affairs - Polity & Governance

Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2021

Recently, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed by Lok Sabha.

About the Amendment

  • It seeks to replace the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021.
  • The Bill amends the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 to correct a drafting error in 2014 amendment.
  • Drafting Error: In 2014, the Act was amended and the clause number of the definition for such illicit activities was changed.However, the section on penalty for financing these illicit activities was not amended and continued to refer to the earlier clause number.The Bill amends the section on penalty to change the reference to the new clause number.This amendment will be deemed to have been in effect from May 1, 2014 (i.e., when the 2014 amendments came into effect).

New Protocol for Post-mortem Procedure

The Union Health Ministry has notified new protocol for post-mortem procedure.

After Sunset Clause

  • As per the new protocol, post-mortem can now be performed after sunset in hospitals having adequate infrastructure.
  • Video recording of post-mortem will be done for all post-mortem conducted in the night to rule out any suspicion.


  • Cases under categories such as homicide, suicide, rape, decomposed bodies, suspected foul play should not be subjected for post-mortem during night unless there is a law and order situation.


  • This move will promote organ donation and transplant.

Union Govt. brings Ordinances to Extend Tenure of CBI, ED Chiefs

The Government of India has promulgated two Ordinances to extend the tenure of Directors of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) up to 5 years. The chiefs of the central agencies currently have a two-year tenure.

The Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021

  • The ordinance inserts the provision in DSPE Act that “Provided that the period for which the Director holds the office on his initial appointment may, in public interest, on the recommendation of the Committee under sub-section (1) of section 4A and for the reasons to be recorded in writing, be extended up to one year at a time.” “Provided further that no such extension shall be granted after the completion of a period of five years in total including the period mentioned in the initial appointment”.

Appointment of CBI Director: The Director CBI is selected on the basis of the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Chief of Justice of India and the Leader of Opposition.

The Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Ordinance 2021

  • “Provided that the period for which the Director of Enforcement holds the office on his initial appointment may, in public interest, on the recommendation of the Committee under clause (a) and for the reasons to be recorded in writing, be extended up to one year at a time.
  • “Provided further that no such extension shall be granted after the completion of a period of five years in total including the "period mentioned in the initial appointment”.

Appointment of ED Director: The central government appoints the Director of ED on the recommendation of a committee chaired by the Central Vigilance Commissioner and members comprising of Vigilance Commissioners, Home Secretary, Secretary DOPT and Revenue Secretary.

Difference between Enforcement Directorate & CBI

  • Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) examines the corruption and high profile cases related white collar crimes or crime which is required by the Central or State to CBI to look into whereas Enforcement Directorate or ED is committed to prevent money laundering offences.
  • The CBI operates under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension whereas the ED is a part of Ministry of Finance.
  • Enforcement directorate cannot register a case on its own, it is required by the agencies such CBI or state police to register an offence based on which the an Enforcement Case Information Report is filed by Enforcement Directorate whereas the CBI can register a complaint on its own or by request of the Courts.

Draft Mediation Bill

On 5th November 2021, Government of India has released the Draft Mediation Bill for public consultation.

  • It is one of various policy initiatives of government for promotion and strengthening of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms.

Main Features of the Bill

  • The draft Bill proposes for pre-litigation mediation and at the same time safeguards the interest of the litigants to approach the competent adjudicatory forums/courts in case an urgent relief is sought.
  • The successful outcome of mediation in the form of Mediation Settlement Agreement (MSA) has been made enforceable by law. Since the Mediation Settlement Agreement is out of the consensual agreement between the parties, the challenge to the same has been permitted on limited grounds.
  • The mediation process protects the confidentiality of the mediation undertaken and provides for immunity in certain cases against its disclosure.
  • The registration of Mediation Settlement Agreement has also been provided for with State/District/Taluk Legal Authorities within 90 days to ensure maintenance of authenticated records of the settlement so arrived.
  • It provides for establishment of the Mediation Council of India.
  • It provides for community mediation.

Pardoning Power of Governor

On 3rd August, 2021, the Supreme Court held that the Governor of a State can pardon prisoners; including death row ones, even before they have served a minimum 14 years of prison sentence.

What the Court Said?

  • The Governor’s power to pardon overrides a provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure — Section 433A —which mandates that a prisoner’s sentence can be remitted only after 14 years of jail.
  • The court noted that the sovereign power of a Governor to pardon a prisoner under Article 161 is actually exercised by the State government and not the Governor on his own.
  • The action of commutation and release can thus be pursuant to a governmental decision and the order may be issued even without the Governor’s approval.

Pardoning Power of the President and Governor


Under the Article 72, the President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence -

  • in all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a Court Martial;
  • in all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends;
  • in all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death.


  • Under the Article 161, the Governor of a State shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends.

Difference between Pardoning Powers of President and Governor

The power differs in the following two ways:

  • (i)The power of the President to grant pardon extends in cases where the punishment or sentence is by a Court Martial but Article 161 does not provide any such power to the Governor.
  • (ii)The President can grant pardon in all cases where the sentence given is sentence of death but pardoning power of Governor does not extend to death sentence cases.

(However, the pardoning power of President is NOT absolute. It is governed by the advice of the Council of Ministers. If the Council of Ministers decides against any change, the President has no option but to accept it.)

Landmark Verdict on Pardoning Power

Epuru Sudhakar Case (2006)

In this case, the Supreme Court held that it is a well-set principle that a limited judicial review of exercise of clemency powers is available to the Supreme Court and High Courts.

Granting of clemency by the President or Governor can be challenged on the following grounds:

  • The order has been passed without application of mind.
  • The order is malafide.
  • The order has been passed on wholly irrelevant considerations.
  • Relevant material has been kept out of consideration.
  • The order is arbitrary.

Kehar Singh vs Union of India (1989)

  • The court held that the grant of pardon by the President is an act of grace and, therefore, cannot be claimed as a matter of right.
  • The power exercised by the President being exclusively of administrative nature, is not justiciable.

Maru Ram vs Union of India (1980)

  • Here, the court held that the power under Article 72 is to be exercised on the advice of the Central Government and not by the President on his own at his discretion. And that the advice of the Government is binding on him.


  • The pardoning power of Executive is very significant as it corrects the errors of judiciary. It eliminates the effect of conviction without addressing the defendant’s guilt or innocence. The process of granting pardon is simpler but because of the lethargy of the government and political considerations, disposal of mercy petitions is delayed.
  • Therefore, there is an urgent need to make amendment in law of pardoning to make sure that clemency petitions are disposed quickly. There should be a fixed time limit for deciding on clemency pleas.

Types of Pardoning Powers of the President

  • Pardon: It removes both the sentence and the conviction and completely absolves the convict from all sentences, punishments and disqualifications.
  • Commutation: It denotes the substitution of one form of punishment for a lighter form. For example, a death sentence may be commuted to rigorous imprisonment, which in turn may be commuted to a simple imprisonment.
  • Remission: It implies reducing the period of sentence without changing its character. For example, a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for two years may be remitted to rigorous imprisonment for one year.
  • Respite: It denotes awarding a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded due to some special fact, such as the physical disability of a convict or the pregnancy of a woman offender.
  • Reprieve: It implies a stay of the execution of a sentence (especially that of death) for a temporary period. Its purpose is to enable the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation from the President.

Cabinet Committees Reconstituted after the reshuffle in Ministry

Under the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961, the Government has reconstituted Cabinet Committees recently after the reshuffle of ministry.

Why Cabinet Committees are formed?

  • Cabinet committees are established to reduce the workload of the Cabinet Ministers.

Types of Cabinet Committees

  • There are two types of cabinet committees - standing and ad-hoc.
  • Standing cabinet committees are permanent whereas ad-hoc cabinet committees are temporary and deals with special issues.

At present there are eight Cabinet committees:

  1. Appointments Committee of the Cabinet
  2. Cabinet Committee on Accommodation
  3. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs
  4. Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs
  5. Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs
  6. Cabinet Committee on Security
  7. Cabinet Committee on Investment and Growth
  8. Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development

Note: In the recently formed committees (out of the eight), the Prime Minister is not a member of two committees - Cabinet Committee on Accommodation and Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs.

About Cabinet Committees

  • The Cabinet Committees are not mentioned in the Constitution.
  • They are established under the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961 under which the executive in India works.
  • These Rules emerge out of Article 77(3) of the Constitution, which states: “The President shall make rules for the more convenient transaction of the business of the Government of India, and for the allocation among Ministers of the said business.”
  • The Prime Minister sets up different cabinet committees with selected members of the Cabinet and assigns specific functions to these committees.
  • The Prime Minister may even change the numbers of committees and modify the functions assigned to them.
  • If the Prime Minister is a member of any such committee, he acts as the head of the committee.

Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilisation, and Welfare) Bill, 2021

On World Population Day (11th July) the Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission released a draft of the Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilisation, and Welfare) Bill, 2021. It has invited suggestions on this Bill by 19 July 2021 from the public.

Need for such Bill

  • The draft of the population control bill says it is necessary to control and stabilise the population of the state for the promotion of sustainable development with more equitable distribution.


  • The Bill aims to revitalize efforts and provide for measures to control, stabilize and provide welfare to the population of the State by implementation and promotion of two-child norm and for matters connected therewith.

Regulation for those who fail to follow the Act (after implementation)

  • After the commencement of the Act, in contravention of two-child norm procreates more than two children shall be ineligible to the following:-
    • Contest elections to the local authority or any other body of the local self-government;
    • Apply for government jobs under the State Government;
    • Get promotion in government services;
    • Receive any kind of government subsidy.
    Also, the regulation has provisions for
    • Limit of ration card units up to four.
    • Debarring from the benefit of Government-sponsored welfare schemes.

Some other Features of the Draft Bill

  • Reward: A couple living below the poverty line, having only one child and undergoes voluntary sterilization operation upon himself or spouse shall be eligible for payment from the Government for a one-time lump-sum amount of rupees eighty thousand if the single child is a boy, and rupees one lakh if the single child is a girl.
  • Education: It shall be the duty of the government to introduce a compulsory subject relating to population control in all secondary schools.
  • Provision of Contraceptives: It shall be the duty of the government to ensure that contraceptives are available at reasonable rates at all sub-health centres in the State.
  • Insurance for Post-Sterilization Pregnancy: The State Government shall as soon as possible after the commencement of this Act take steps for group insurance, at Government expense, of all qualified allopathic surgeons carrying on sterilization operations on men or women and of other staff and of hospital authorities concerned to cover claims for compensation to be paid to a couple where the woman operated on or the wife of the man operated on becomes pregnant even after such operation.

The Bill on Public Servants

Public servants under the control of the State Government who adopt the two-child norm by undergoing voluntary sterilization operation upon himself or spouse shall be given the following benefits:

  • Increment: Two additional increments during the entire service;
  • Subsidy: Towards the purchase of plot or house site or built house from Housing Board development Authority, as may be prescribed;
  • Rebate: On charges for utilities such as water, electricity, water, house tax, as may be prescribed; [also available for the general public];
  • Leave: Maternity or as the case may be, paternity leave of 12 months, with full salary and allowances; [also available for the general public];
  • Health Care: Free health care facility and insurance coverage to the spouse.

Ministry of Co-Operation: A New Ministry to achieve Prosperity through Cooperation

On 6th July 2021, a separate ‘Ministry of Co-operation’ has been created by the Union Government for realizing the vision of ‘Sahkar se Samriddhi’ meaning prosperity through cooperation.


  • In our country, a Co-operative based economic development model is very relevant where each member works with a spirit of responsibility.


  • This ministry will provide a separate administrative, legal and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movement in the country.
  • It will help deepen Co-operatives as a true people based movement reaching upto the grassroots.
  • The Ministry will work to streamline processes for ‘Ease of doing business’ for co-operatives and enable development of Multi-State Co-operatives (MSCS).

National Authority For Recycling Of Ships

  • On 15th October, 2020, the Central Government notified the Directorate General (DG) of Shipping as National Authority for Recycling of Ships under the section 3 of the Recycling of Ships Act, 2019.

About National Authority for Recycling of Ships(NARS)

  • NARS will be set up in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
  • The location of the office will benefit the Ship Recycling yard owners situated in Alang, Gujarat which is home to Asia’s largest ship breaking and ship recycling industry in the world.


  • As an apex body, DG Shipping is authorized to administer, supervise and monitor all activities relating to Ship Recycling.
  • It will look after the sustainable development of the Ship Recycling industry, monitoring the compliance to environment-friendly norms and safety and health measures for the stakeholders working in the ship recycling industry.
  • It will be the final authority for the various approvals required by the Ship-Recycling yard owners and State Governments.

The Recycling of Ships Act, 2019

  • On 13th December, 2019, the Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 received the President's assent and became an Act.

Key Features

  • It restricts and prohibits the use or installation of hazardous materials, which applies irrespective of whether a ships meant for recycling or not.
  • Restriction or prohibition on use of hazardous materials would not be applied to warships and non-commercial ships operated by the Government.
  • Ship recycling facilities are required to be authorized and ships shall be recycled only in such authorized ship recycling facilities.
  • The Act also provides that ships shall be recycled in accordance with a ship-specific recycling plan.
  • It imposes a statutory duty on ship recyclers to ensure safe and environmentally sound removal and management of hazardous wastes from ships.

Hong Kong Convention for Ship Recycling

  • Also known as the Hong Kong Convention (HKC), it was adopted at a Diplomatic Conference held in Hong Kong, in May 2009.
  • Under Ship Recycling Act, 2019, India has acceded to Hong Kong Convention for Ship Recycling under International Maritime Organization (IMO).
  • DG Shipping is India's representative in IMO and all the conventions of IMO are being enforced by DG Shipping.

Status of Recycling of Ships Industry in India

  • India is home to one of the largest ship breaking facilities in the world with over 150 yards along its coast.
  • On an average, close to 6.2 Million GT is scrapped in India every year, which accounts for 33% of the total scrapped tonnage in the world.

Issues with Ship Recycling Industry in India

Safety Issues

  • Inadequate safety controls, badly monitored work operations and high risk of explosions create very dangerous work situations.
  • Lack of coordination for work procedures, basic risk-reducing or eliminating measures are often ignored and ultimately accidents occur.

Health Related Issues

  • Exposure to other heavy metals found in many parts of ships such as in paints, coatings, anodes and electrical equipment can result serious health issues such as cancers.
  • Workers have very limited access to health services and inadequate housing, welfare and sanitary facilities which further exacerbate the plight of the workers.

Waste Management Issues

  • Management of solid wastes generated in ship breaking is a major concern in India.
  • Although these wastes constitute only around 1% of dead weight of a ship, the total amount in millions of tonne, make these wastes difficult to handle, posing a major risk both to health and environment.

Water Pollution

  • Water body, primarily the marine environment gets polluted in terms of suspended solids, nitrates, phosphate, heavy metals, oil and grease from bilge water.

Air Pollution

  • Various air pollutants like furans and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), fine particulates are released during the breaking process of ship.
  • It further contributes to air pollution from various ship breaking processes.

Way Forward

  • Given the current high human and environmental costs, it seems likely that ship owners and breakers, state mechanisms and international legislation will each need to continue to evolve and increase their cooperation to fill the gaps.
  • Ship owners from their side need to incorporate a sustainable social and ecological responsibility as well when it comes to the recycling of their vessels.
  • A well balanced global list of compliant facilities can only remain when the facilities on it receive a good and constant flow of end-of-life vessels.
  • With the back drop of sustainability issues, this industry has the potential to be the prime economic activity in India.

Fame India Scheme Phase-II

  • On 26th September, 2020, the government has sanctioned 670 electric buses and 241 charging stations to boost the electric mobility in the country under Phase-II of FAME India Scheme.

About FAME-India Scheme

  • The FAME(Faster Adoption and Manufacture of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles) was launched by the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises in 2015 to incentivize the production and promotion of eco-friendly vehicles including electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles.
  • It is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan.
  • The vehicles such as two wheelers, three wheelers, electric and hybrid cars and electric buses obtained the subsidy benefit of the scheme.
  • It also covers electric and Hybrid technologies like Mild Hybrid, Strong Hybrid, Plug in Hybrid & Battery Electric Vehicles

Two phases of FAME-India

  • Phase I: started in 2015 and was completed on March 31st, 2019
  • Phase II: started from April 1st, 2019, will be completed by March 31st, 2022

Focus Areas

  • Technology Development
  • Demand Creation
  • Pilot Projects
  • Charging Infrastructure

FAME Scheme-II

  • It aims to encourage faster adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles by way of offering upfront incentive on purchase of Electric Vehicles (EV) and by way of establishing necessary charging infrastructure for EV.
  • It offers incentives to manufacturers, who invest in developing electric vehicles and its components, including lithium-ion batteries and electric motors.


  • Pollution Control: Adoption of EVs in the country will help in addressing the issue of air pollution, due to the indiscriminate use of fossil fuels.
  • Sustainable Use of Fossil Fuels: It provide fuel security as it helps to lessen the dependency on fossil fuels thereby paving the path of sustainable and efficient use of fossil fuels.

National Electric Mobility Mission Plan(NEMMP)

  • The plan was launched by the Government of India in 2013 with the objective of achieving national fuel security by promoting electric and hybrid vehicles in the country.
  • There is an ambitious target to achieve 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles year on year from 2020 onwards.
  • It is a composite scheme using different policy-levers such as-
  • -Demand side incentives to facilitate the acquisition of hybrid/electric vehicles.
  • -Promoting R&D in technology including battery technology, power electronics, motors, systems integration.
  • -Promoting charging infrastructure.
  • -Supply side incentives.
  • -Encouraging retro-fitment of on-road vehicles its hybrid kit.
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