Current Affairs - Polity & Governance
On 24th July, 2023, the central government presented the National Nursing and Midwifery Commission Bill, 2023, and the National Dental Commission Bill, 2023, in Lok Sabha.
- Objectives: The bills aim to establish the National Nursing and Midwifery Commission and the National Dental Commission, respectively, to enhance regulation and education in the nursing and dental professions in India.
- National Nursing and Midwifery Commission Bill: The bill aims to create the National Nursing and Midwifery Commission (NNMC) to regulate and maintain standards of education and services provided by nursing and midwifery professionals.
- Repealing the Indian Nursing Council Act: The bill will repeal the Indian Nursing Council Act, 1947, with the objective of streamlining nursing education in India.
- Enhancing Access and Research: The NNMC is expected to improve access, research, development, and adoption of the latest scientific advancements in the field of nursing and midwifery.
- Number of Registered Nursing Personnel: As of 2022, there were approximately 33.41 lakh registered nursing personnel in India, according to records from the Indian Nursing Council.
- National Dental Commission Bill: The bill seeks to set up the National Dental Commission (NMC) to regulate the profession of dentistry in the country.
- Repealing the Dentists Act: The bill aims to repeal the Dentists Act, 1948, and replace it with the NMC to ensure quality and affordable dental education and accessible high-quality oral healthcare.
- Number of Registered Dentists: According to government data, there are approximately 2.89 lakh registered dentists in India.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has implemented a new digital time voucher system to facilitate political parties' access to government-owned electronic media like Doordarshan and All India Radio during election periods.
- Mandated Allotment of Airtime: During elections, the ECI mandates that Doordarshan and All India Radio must allocate a certain amount of free airtime to recognized political parties for broadcasting their campaign messages.
- Time Slot Allocation: The ECI determines the time slots for political parties based on various factors, including their previous electoral performance and representation in the legislative bodies. Each party is allocated fixed time slots for their broadcasts.
- Streamlining Media Access: The digital time voucher system serves as a permission mechanism, offering political parties specific time slots to broadcast or telecast their campaign messages on these media platforms. It streamlines the process and eliminates the need for physical collection of time slots.
- Enhancing Accessibility and Convenience: With the introduction of the digital time voucher system, political parties participating in election campaigns can now easily access and manage their allocated time slots, enhancing convenience and efficiency.
- Ensuring Fairness and Equitable Access: The digital time voucher system aims to ensure fairness and equitable access to government-owned media for all participating political parties, promoting democratic principles during election campaigns.
On 11th June, 2023, Prime Minister inaugurated the first-ever National Training Conclave at the International Exhibition and Convention Centre, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.
- The conclave is part of the National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB) - ‘Mission Karmayogi’.
Key Points of the Conclave
- Objectives: It seeks to foster collaboration among civil services training institutes and bolster the training infrastructure for civil servants across the country.
- The Conclave is being hosted by the Capacity Building Commission.
- PM emphasized Jan Bhagidari (People's Participation) and its significance on the Swachh Bharat Mission, Amrit Sarovar, while also highlighting the iGOT Karmayogi platform which offers training opportunities for government personnel at all levels.
- The Conclave will have eight-panel discussions, each focusing on key concerns related to Civil services training institutes such as faculty development, training impact assessment, and content digitisation.
On 3rd June, 2023, the Union Government of notified a Commission of Inquiry under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 to inquire into the incidents of violence in the state of Manipur.
- The Commission shall make inquiry with respect to the causes and spread of the violence, which took place in Manipur, and whether there were any lapses on the part of any of the responsible authorities or individuals.
About Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952
- The Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 was enacted after due consultation with State Governments to facilitate the setting up of commissions with requisite powers to inquire into and report on any matter of public importance.
- It consists of 12 sections.
- Section 2 defines, inter alia, 'appropriate Government' to mean the Central Government in relation to any matter relatable to any of the entries in List I or List II or List III in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, and the State Government in relation to any matter relatable to any of the entries in List II or List III in that Schedule.
Powers of Commission under the Act
A commission of inquiry has powers of a civil court are:
- summoning and enforcing attendance of any person from any part of India and examining her on oath.
- requiring discovery and production of nay document.
- receiving evidence on affidavits.
- requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office.
- issuing commissions for the examinations of witnesses or documents and
- any other matter, which may be prescribed.
On 7th November 2022, the Union Govt. has constituted the 22nd Law Commission of India.
- Chairman: Justice (retd.) Rituraj Awasthi, former Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, will head the Law Commission of India.
- Members (5): Justice KT Sankaran, Prof. Anand Paliwal, Prof. DP Verma, Prof.(Dr) Raka Arya and Shri M. Karunanithi
- The Commission shall, among other things, “identify laws which are no longer needed or relevant and can be immediately repealed; examine the existing laws in the light of Directive Principles of State Policy and suggest ways of improvement and reform and also suggest such legislations as might be necessary to implement the Directive Principles and to attain the objectives set out in the Preamble of the Constitution”; and “revise the Central Acts of general importance so as to simplify them and remove anomalies, ambiguities and inequities”.
- An official release at the time of Cabinet clearance had said the Commission would have a tenure of three years from the date of publication of the Order of Constitution in the Official Gazette.
About Law Commission of India
- The Law Ministry describes the Law Commission of India as an executive body that is constituted by a notification of the Government of India, with definite terms of reference to carry out research in the field of law.
- The Commission makes recommendations to the Government (in the form of Reports) as per its terms of reference.
Brief History of the Commission
- The first Law Commission was established during colonial rule in India, by the East India Company under the Charter Act of 1833, and was presided by Lord Macaulay.
- After that, three more Commissions were established in pre-independent India.
- The first Law Commission of independent India was established in 1955.
- The Chairman of this commission was Mr. M. C. Setalvad, who was also the First Attorney General of India.
- The last chairman of the Law Commission (21st) was retired Supreme Court judge, Justice B.S. Chauhan, who completed his tenure on 31 August 2018.
The Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 was introduced in the Parliament on 8th August, 2022.
- However, the Bill was later sent to the standing committee for further deliberation.
- The Electricity Act was passed by the Indian Parliament in 2003.
- It covers issues related to the generation, distribution, transmission, and trading of power in the country.
- It aims to bring reforms in India’s power sector. It proposes certain amendments to the Electricity Act, 2003.
- It seeks to delicense the power distribution and allow private sector companies to enter the sector and compete with state-owned firms.
Key Specifications of the Bill
- Choice Options: The bill proposes a framework to allow consumers to choose between different service providers.
- Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority:It provides for the formation of the Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority (ECEA), which will deal with contract-related disputes in the electricity sector.
- Renewable Energy Sources: It requires all licensees to purchase or produce a minimum specified quantity from renewable energy sources as a percentage of their total electricity consumption.
- Selection Committee: A selection committee would be constituted to appoint the chairperson and members of the Appellate Tribunal (APTEL), the central and state regulatory commissions (CERC, SERCs) and the ECEA, according to the bill.
- Graded Revision in Tariff It also seeks to amend section 62 of the Act to make provisions vis-à-vis graded revision in tariff over a year besides mandatory fixing of maximum ceiling and minimum tariff by the appropriate commission. It provides for amending section 166 to strengthen the functions that will be discharged by the regulators.
- Penalties:It proposes penalties in case of non-compliance by licensees in meeting the obligations.
Opposition of the Bill
- The bill faces criticism that it would dilute the power of the states and shift it to the Centre and its agencies.
- Critics further say the bill allows private players an easy entry into the electricity sector, thus granting them an undue advantage.
- Farmers have expressed concerns that the government may move away from giving them subsidised power or shift to a new system where they would be required to pay first and claim the subsidy later.
The Vice President of India recently inaugurated National Stakeholders Conference on Localization of Sustainable Development Goals organized by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
- The Ministry is organising the Iconic Week from 11th April to 17th April, 2022, to commemorate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM) as a Jan-Utsav in the spirit of Jan-Bhagidari.
- The theme of Iconic Week is “Panchayaton ke Navnirman ka Sankalpotsav”.
- The Vice President released the Logo of Localisation of Sustainable Development Goals and Compendium of Joint Advisories to the States on Operationalisation of Localisation of Sustainable Development Goals and Compendium of Thematic Presentations.
Key Highlights of the Vice President’s Address
- The Union Government and various States should facilitate the devolution of the 3 Fs, i.e., Funds, Functions and Functionaries to Panchayati Raj Institutions for efficient and effective functioning of local self-governments for the holistic development in rural areas and to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- The Rural Local Bodies have to be revitalised and rejuvenated by strengthening and empowering them.
- People’s participation is must for the development of the country. To make the country poverty free we must start with villages and provide connectivity, education, employment opportunity and entertainment for the development of villages and stop migration.
- Given that nearly 70% of India is rural India (68.84% as per the 2011 census), attainment of Sustainable Development Goals at the national level will require actions at the grassroots level, i.e., at the Panchayat level.
- The legal framework on the number of Gram Sabhas to be held in a year is necessary and needs to be formulated.
- Called for people’s participation in implementation of all the schemes and programmes at the grassroots level.
- Stressed the need for concerted efforts from all stakeholders to ensure comprehensive and all-round development of the Panchayats and achieve various targets in local context.
- Called for bringing all Panchayats onto e-GramSwaraj platform to meet the digital mission of governance.
- Empowering villages is the crux of development. Panchayats have a pivotal role to play in integrated rural development by focusing on the 17 SDGs which are subsumed under nine themes to ensure poverty-free, clean, healthy, child-friendly, and socially secured well-governed villages.
Recently, concerns have been raised over Kerala High Court’s verdict to uphold the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s order that revoked the broadcasting licence of Malayalam news channel Media One after the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA)denied it security clearance.
- It is argued that the court’s decision “was based on a ‘sealed cover’ envelope provided by the MHA, the contents of which were not shared” with Media One, which was a “gross violation” of the principles of natural justice.
About Sealed Cover Jurisprudence
- It is a practice used by the Supreme Court(SC) and sometimes lower courts, of asking for or accepting information from government agencies in sealed envelopes that can only be accessed by judges.
- The SC derives its power to use it from Rule 7 of order XIII of the Supreme Court Rules and Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.
- It is stated under the said rule that if the Chief Justice or court directs certain information to be kept under sealed cover or considers it of confidential nature, no party would be allowed access to the contents of such information, except if the Chief Justice himself orders that the opposite party be allowed to access it.
- It also mentions that information can be kept confidential if its publication is not considered to be in the interest of the public.
- As for the Evidence Act, official unpublished documents relating to state affairs are protected and a public officer cannot be compelled to disclose such documents.
Previous Instances of Sealed-Cover Jurisprudence by SC
- Documents were examined in sealed cover in multiple prominent cases during the tenure of the former Chief Justice of India, Rajan Gogoi.
- In the case pertaining to the controversial Rafale fighter jet deal, a Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in 2018, had asked the Centre to submit details related to deal’s decision making and pricing in a sealed cover. This was done as the Centre had contended that such details were subject to the Official Secrets Act and Secrecy clauses in the deal.
- In the matters related to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, the supreme court mandated coordinator of the NRC, Prateek Hajela, was asked by the apex court to submit period reports in sealed cover, which could neither be accessed by the government nor the petitioners.
- In the case where CBI’s former director Alok Verma and the national agency’s former special director Rakesh Asthana had made counter allegations of corruption against one another, the Supreme Court had asked the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to submit its preliminary report in a sealed cover.
- In the 2014 BCCI reforms case, the probe committee of the cricket body had submitted its report to the Supreme Court in a sealed envelope, asking it not to make public the names of nine cricketers who were suspected of a match and spot fixing scam.
- In the Bhima Koregaon case, in which activists were arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the Supreme Court had relied on information submitted by the Maharashtra police in a sealed cover.
- Critics contend that it is not favorable to the principles of transparency and accountability of the Indian justice system, standing in contrast to the idea of an open court, where decisions can be subjected to public scrutiny.
- Besides, it is argued that not providing access to such documents to the accused parties obstructs their passage to a fair trial and adjudication.
- Also, sealed covers are dependent on individual judges looking to substantiate a point in a particular case rather than common practice. This makes the practice ad-hoc and arbitrary.
The central government is celebrating Good Governance week from December 20 to December 26, 2021.
Every year 25th December is celebrated as ‘Good Governance Day’ to mark the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
- To translate the vision of the Prime Minister for Next Generation Administrative Reforms during the Amrit Kaal period across all Districts and Tehsils of India.
- “Prashasan Gaon Ki Aur”
- It is being organized by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) in collaboration with Ministry of External Affairs, Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Department of Personnel & Training, Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare and Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Rural Development is celebrating Good as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebration.
- A Nation-wide campaign for Redressal of Public Grievances and Improving Service Delivery will be held in all Districts, States, and Union Territories of India.
- Over 700 Districts Collectors will be participating in “Prashasan Gaon Ki Aur” and during the weeklong event will visit Tehsil/Panchayat Samiti Headquarters to provide timely grievance redressal and improve service delivery.
- The “Prashasan Gaon Ki Aur” campaign during the Good Governance Week will create a National Movement for good governance and inspire future generations.
What is Good Governance?
- Good Governance is an approach to government that is committed to creating a system founded in justice and peace that protects individual’s human rights and civil liberties.
- It can be used in several contexts such as corporate governance, international governance, national governance and local governance.
8 Major Characteristics of Good Governance
- Rule of Law
- Consensus Oriented
- Equity and Inclusiveness
- Effectiveness and Efficiency
- Good Governance promotes the rule of law.
- It ensures that political, social, and economic priorities are based on broad consensus in society and that the voices of the poorest and the most vulnerable are heard in decision making over the allocation of development resources.
Recently, the National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha.
It seeks to prohibit doping in sports and establish a National Anti-Doping Agency, which will replace the existing National Anti-Doping Agency.
Prohibition of Doping
- Prohibits athletes, athlete support personnel and other persons from engaging in doping in sport.
- Support personnel include the coach, trainer, manager, team staff, medical personnel, and other persons working with or treating or assisting an athlete.
National Anti-Doping Agency
- The Bill provides for constituting this National Anti-Doping Agency as a body corporate.
- It will be headed by a Director General appointed by the central government.
- Functions of the Agency include: (i) planning, implementing, and monitoring anti-doping activities, (ii) investigating anti-doping rule violations, and (iii) promoting anti-doping research.
National Board for Anti-Doping in Sports
- It establishes a National Board for Anti-Doping in Sports to make recommendations to the government on anti-doping regulation and compliance of international commitments on anti-doping.
- The Board will oversee the activities of the Agency and issue directions to it.
- The Board will consist of a Chairperson and two members appointed by the central government.
- If any athlete requires a prohibited substance or method due to a medical condition, they may apply to the National Anti-Doping Agency for a therapeutic use exemption.
Consequences of Violations
- Anti-doping rule violation by an individual athlete or athlete support personnel may result in: (i) disqualification of results including forfeiture of medals, points, and prizes, (ii) ineligibility to participate in a competition or event for a prescribed period, (iii) financial sanctions, and (iv other consequences as may be prescribed.
Dope Testing Laboratories
- The existing National Dope Testing Laboratory will be deemed to be the principal dope testing laboratory.
- The central government may establish more National Dope Testing Laboratories.