Everything about special courts for politicians

• The Centre has informed the Supreme Court that it will set up at least 12 special courts to try exclusively criminal cases involving MPs and MLAs.

Issues

• Criminalisation of politics has remained a key issue. In 2014, as many as 1,581 lawmakers were facing prosecution in a mind-boggling 13,500 cases.

• It took years, probably decades, to complete the trial against a politician and by this time, he or she would have served as a Minister or legislator several times over.

• On average, 4,200 cases are handled by each of the 17,000 subordinate courts hence there is need to set up special courts.

Special Courts

• The SC had in 2015 laid down that special courts to be set up exclusively to try criminal cases involving “political persons” on the lines of the fast track courts and decide cases within a year.

• However Centre argued that it is not averse to setting up special courts to try criminal cases/offences involving politicians. It was for the state governments to set up additional courts as the issue comes within their jurisdiction.

• Hence setting up special courts would depend on the availability of funds with the States. And this has delayed the overall process.

Recent SC direction

• In November-2017, hearing a PIL which sought a lifetime ban on all convicted politicians, Court made determined effort to cleanse politics of criminality and corruption.

• Countering Centre argument on fund availability for special courts, Supreme Court gave direction to the  government to frame a Central scheme for setting up special courts across the country.

• The scheme should give the details of the funds that are required to set up such courts.

• The court also directed the Centre to place before it details of 1,581 cases involving MPs and MLAs, as declared by the politicians at the time of filing their nominations during the 2014 general elections.

• Supreme Court would directly interact with the State governments on issues like the appointment of judicial officers, public prosecutors, court staff and other requirements of manpower and infrastructure for the special courts.

Centre’s response and Scheme

• In response to SC direction, the government, in an affidavit, said it had allotted ₹7.8 crore and framed a scheme to set up the special courts.

• The Centre told the SC today that it will start with 12 such special courts.

• Hence it also sought some time from the Supreme Court to collect data on cases pending against elected representatives across the country, so it can better decide on how many special courts it needs to set up in total.

Election Commission’s view

• SC also pulled up the EC for not taking a stand on the issue and asked how the commission could afford to be silent on it.

• In response, EC said, it had already recommended to the Centre to amend an existing law to incorporate a life ban provision against convicted lawmakers. The existing law calls for a six-year ban after the lawmaker has completed their sentence.

• EC said for the first time that convicted MPs and MLAs must be debarred from contesting polls – ever.

• However the Centre refused to take a stand on the issue and said that the the government was examining the recommendations of the Law Commission and EC for imposing a life ban on convicted MPs and MLAs from electoral politics.

• During a hearing, the EC told the court that a law was needed to curb the growing menace of criminalisation of politics.

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India Japan Strategic Relationship

Strategic partnership:

Defence ties

  • Both the countries have agreed to enhance exchanges between their forces with more bilateral exercises and exchanges in the field of technology at a time when India wants to increase domestic defence production.
  • The Armies of both nations will hold a joint exercise on anti-terrorism in 2018 for the first time.
  • The talks are on to include bilateral training between the two navies and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) training to expand cooperation.
  • Both the countries seek to strengthen cooperation between their Air Forces.

Cooperation in Defence and technology

  • There will be collaboration between Acquisition, Technology and Logistic Agency (ATLA) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for research in the areas of Unmanned Ground Vehicles and Robotics.

Malabar 2017

  • India-US-Japan successfully undertook this trilateral naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal. This is necessary to maintain freedom of navigation in the South China sea to counter Chinese hegemony.

Disaster relief

  • Japan has invited India to participate in a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise held by Japan Ground Self Defence Force as an observer.

Diplomacy

  • 2+2 dialogue between the Foreign Ministries and Defence ministries of both the nations will take place in 2018.

Infrastructure

  • Japan funds many road projects in the Northeast India to help bridge the gap between the strategically important Northeastern states. This would provide trade routes in the region and give it economic-push.
  • Bullet train: Japan is helping India in building bullet trains. It has invested $12 billion for India’s first bullet train from Ahmedabad to Mumbai.

Cooperation in Africa:

  • Japan and its banks are cooperating with India for investment in Africa. This is very important so as to counter China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR).

Everything about Ordinance

What is an ordinance and who makes it?

  • Article 123 of the Indian Constitution grants the President of India to Promulgate Ordinances when either of the two Houses of the Parliament is not in session which makes it impossible for a single House to pass and enact a law.
  • Ordinances may relate to any subject that the parliament has the power to make law, and would be having same limitations.

When an ordinance can be issued?

  • When legislature is not in session.
  • When immediate action is needed: Here the Supreme Court has clarified that the legislative power to issue ordinances is ‘in the nature of an emergency power’ given to the executive only ‘to meet an emergent situation’.

How parliament exercises control over ordinance making power of President? 

  • The constitution provides two parliamentary checks vis-a-vis the promulgation of ordinance [Art 123(2) (a)]:
  • The power of parliament to pass resolutions disapproving the provisions of the ordinance.
  • The automatic expiry of the ordinance within six weeks of the reassembly of the houses of the parliament unless passed by the parliament; this gives a chance for the parliament to debate on the ordinance and review it accordingly.

Ordinance making powers of the Governor

  • Just as the President of India is constitutionally mandated to issue Ordinances under Article 123, the Governor of a state can issue Ordinances under Article 213, when the state legislative assembly (or either of the two Houses in states with bicameral legislatures) is not in session.
  • The powers of the President and the Governor are broadly comparable with respect to Ordinance making.
  • However, the Governor cannot issue an Ordinance without instructions from the President in certain cases where the assent of the President would have been required to pass a similar Bill.

Key debates relating to the Ordinance making powers of the Executive.

  • There has been significant debate surrounding the Ordinance making power of the President (and Governor).
  • Constitutionally, important issues that have been raised include:
  • Judicial review of the Ordinance making powers of the executive;
  • The necessity for ‘immediate action’ while promulgating an Ordinance;
  • And the granting of Ordinance making powers to the executive, given the principle of separation of powers.

Important Cases:

  • In 1970, RC Cooper vs.Union of India Case the Supreme Court, held that the President’s decision on Ordinance could be challenged on the grounds that ‘immediate action’ was not required; and the Ordinance had been passed primarily to by-pass debate and discussion in the legislature.
  • In 1980, AK Roy vs.Union of India case the Court argued that the President’s Ordinance making power is not beyond the scope of judicial review.

What is Article 35A of Constitution: Jammu and Kashmir 

Article 35A

  • Article 35A gives the Jammu and Kashmir legislature the power to define the “permanent residents” of the state and provide them with special rights and privileges.
  • Article 35A offers special privileges to state subjects of J&K in matters related to employment, acquisition of immovable property, settlements and scholarships in relation to Article 370 of the Constitution.
  • The provision bars citizens from other parts of the country from acquiring immovable property in the state, taking up jobs with the state government, availing of state-sponsored scholarships or settling permanently anywhere in the Valley.

WRITS Under Article 32

Literal Meaning

  • Habeas Corpus – to have the body of
  • Mandamus – command/order to do the duty to public official
  • Prohibition – to forbid higher court to lower court – prevent from exceeding the jurisdiction (in between the trial)
  • Certiorari – to be certified – superior court to inferior court to squash the order or transfer the case (at the end of the trial)
  • Quo Warranto – By what warrant – Authority or claim of a person to office

 

Writs – Constitutional Meaning

  • Habeas Corpus 
    • Have the body of
    • Produce the detainee
  • Mandamus 
    • Command
    • Against public authority
    • To have him do duty
  • Prohibition
    • Forbid
    • HC to lower court
    • To stop trail
    • Against judicial and quasi judicial
    • preventive
  • Certiorari
    • Certified
    • HC to lower
    • Transfer or squash judgment
    • Preventive and curative
    • Judicial + quasi judicial + administrative
  • Quo Warranto 
    • Authority or warrant
    • Against state – public authority

Everything About the Rajya Sabha

Rajyasabha

  • Our Parliament comprises of the President and the two Houses—Lok Sabha (House of the People) and Rajya Sabha (Council of States).
  • The origin of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) can be traced to the Montague-Chelmsford Report of 1918.
  • The Government of India Act, 1919 provided for the creation of a ‘Council of State’ as a second chamber of the then legislature with a restricted franchise which actually came into existence in 1921. The Governor-General was the ex-officio President of the then Council of State.
  • The Government of India Act, 1935, hardly made any changes in its composition.
  • The Constituent Assembly, which first met on 9 December 1946, also acted as the Central Legislature till 1950, when it was converted as ‘Provisional Parliament’.
  • During this period, the Central Legislature which was known as Constituent Assembly (Legislative) and later Provisional Parliament was unicameral till the first elections were held in 1952.
  • Extensive debate took place in the Constituent Assembly regarding the utility or otherwise of a Second Chamber in Independent India and ultimately, it was decided to have a bicameral legislature for independent India mainly because a federal system was considered to be most feasible form of Government for such a vast country with immense diversities.
  • A single directly elected House, in fact, was considered inadequate to meet the challenges before free India.
  • A second chamber known as the ‘Council of States’, therefore, was created with altogether different composition and method of election from that of the directly elected House of the People.
  • It was conceived as another Chamber, with smaller membership than the Lok Sabha (House of the People).
  • It was meant to be the federal chamber i.e., a House elected by the elected members of Assemblies of the States and two Union Territories in which  States were not given equal representation.
  • Apart from the elected members, provision was also made for the nomination of twelve members to the House by the President.
  • The minimum age of thirty years was fixed for membership as against twenty-five years for the Lower House.
  • The element of dignity and prestige was added to the Council of State House by making the Vice-President of India ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha who presides over its sittings.
  • Article 80 of the Constitution lays down the maximum strength of Rajya Sabha as 250, out of which 12 members are nominated by the President and 238 are representatives of the States and of the two Union Territories.
  • The present strength of Rajya Sabha, however, is 245, out of which 233 are representatives of the States and Union territories of Delhi and Puducherry and 12 are nominated by the President.
  • The members nominated by the President are persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service.
  • The Fourth Schedule to the Constitution provides for allocation of seats to the States and Union Territories in Rajya Sabha.
  • The allocation of seats is made on the basis of the population of each State.
  • Consequent on the reorganization of States and formation of new States, the number of elected seats in the Rajya Sabha allotted to States and Union Territories has changed from time to time since 1952.

Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status

What is Most Favoured Nation’ (MFN) status? 

  • The WTO as the trade-promoting body has certain key principles or philosophical themes for its working.
  • One such principle is non-discrimination which is well scripted in Most Favored Nation (MFN) treatment.
  • The MFN is a status or treatment given by one country to another in trade matters.
  • It means that the recipient country of MFN will nominally get equal trade advantage as the ‘most favoured nation’ by the country granting the treatment.
  • Though the MFN status says the receiving country is the most favoured by the issuing country; the meaning is slightly different.
  • The real meaning is that the receiving country will not be treated disadvantageously by the issuing country in trade matters vis a vis other countries.
  • Under WTO, countries cannot normally discriminate between their trading partners.
  •  If a special favour is granted to a particular country, it should be extended to all other WTO members.
  • In this respect, the MFN is so important that it is the first article of the GATT, which governs trade in goods.
  • The MFN status was accorded to Pakistan by India in 1996 as per India’s commitments as a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
  • Pakistan, a founding member of the WTO like India, is yet to grant the MFN tag to India (and Israel).

Exceptions for MFN: 

  • MFN at the same time allows some exemptions as well.
  • One such exemption is the right to engage in Free Trade Agreements.
  • This means members can participate in regional trade agreements or free trade agreements where there is discrimination between member countries and non member countries.
  • Another exemption is that members can give developing countries special and differential treatment like greater market access.
  • This special concession are in different forms like reduced tariff rates from developing country imports, concessions that allows developing countries to give subsidies to their production sectors etc.
  • All these exceptions are subjected to strict conditions.
  • In general, MFN means that every time a country lowers a trade barrier or opens up a market, it has to do so for the same goods or services from all its trading partners — whether rich or poor, weak or strong.
  • Each member treats all the other members equally as “most-favoured” trading partners.