What is the project to redevelop Lutyens’ Delhi all about?

Headline : What is the project to redevelop Lutyens’ Delhi all about?

Details :

In News

  • The Central government has started its plan of redeveloping the three-km-long Central Vista and Parliament.
  • The plan also includes constructing a common Central secretariat for all ministries that are currently spread over many buildings across Delhi.
  • This follows calls from Members of Parliament to have their own offices at Parliament House, which only Ministers get as of now.
  • In October, the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) selected a Gujarat-based architecture firm, HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt. Ltd., to serve as its consultant for the project.
  • The work on the ground in Lutyen’s Delhi is expected to start by May 2020.

 

Why did the government feel the need for redeveloping the area?

  • The British built Parliament House and the North and South Blocks, which contain the offices of the Ministries of Finance, Home, Defence and External Affairs, between 1911 and 1931.
  • Post-1947, the government of independent India added office buildings such as ShastriBhavan, KrishiBhavan and NirmanBhavan.
  • According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs these buildings do not have the facilities and space required today.
  • While the British-built buildings are not earthquake-proof, the buildings that came up after 1947 are prone to fires.

What is the plan?

  • The huge rooms for Ministers and secretaries, with corridors lined with clerical staff would be replaced with modern workspaces.
  • The new buildings that come up would have a lifespan of 150 to 200 years, would be energy-efficient and would represent a “new India”.
  • While Parliament House and North and Sout Blocks will not be demolished, their usage may change, for example, they may be used as museums.
  • The rest of the buildings that came up post-Independence, including ShastriBhavan, KrishiBhavan, etc, are likely to be demolished.
  • Through this project the government will also save about ₹1,000 crore a year, which it spends currently on renting office premises for its ministries outside of Lutyens’ Delhi in the Capital.

 

What lies ahead?

  • According to the government’s deadlines, the new Parliament (either as a completely new building or a renovation of the existing one) has to be ready by March 2022, the 75th year of India’s Independence.
  • The revamped Central Vista, complete with public amenities and parking, has to be ready by November 2021 and the new common Central secretariat by March 2024.
  • But after the government’s plan became public in September, concerns about conservation of heritage and the environment have come up.
  • However, CPWD and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has clarified that the green cover and the history of New Delhi will not be damaged in the process of the revamp.
Section : Polity & Governance

Polity & Governance : People’s Plan Campaign, also known as Sabki Yojana Sabka Vikas

Headline : Coming, digital push to Gram Panchayats

Details :

In News:

  • The Union government has decided to start People’s Plan Campaign, also known as Sabki Yojana Sabka Vikas in September, after consultations with the representatives of 16 key ministries.
  • Earlier, from October to December, 2018, the government conducted a similar exercise in 2.48 lakh Gram Panchayats (GPs) across the country, which showed several GPs have improved vastly on many indicators while some have slipped. Therefore, a fresh survey is significant.

Telegram: https://t.me/SimplifiedIAS https://www.upscexpress.com

News Summary:

  • Sabki Yojana Sabka Vikas aims to draw up a development plan for each Gram Panchayat (GP) in the country and place it on a website where the development status can be viewed by anyone.
  • Gram Panchayats will be mandated for the preparation of Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) for economic development and social justice utilizing the resources available to them.

How the Gram Panchayat Development Plans will be created?

  • Each Gram Panchayat (GP) will be scored out of 100 based on an array of 48 indicators covering various aspects such as health and sanitation, education, agriculture, housing, roads, drinking water, electrification, poverty alleviation programmes, social welfare etc.
    • Out of 100 marks, 30 marks will be for infrastructure, 30 marks for human development, and 40 marks for economic activity.
  • Based on the marks scored, the GPs will be ranked and the score for each GP will reflect the local needs and priorities.
  • The ranking exercise will identify the gaps at the GP level, making an assessment of where it stands, and accordingly plan the interventions.
  • For example, for a drought-prone area, water conservation would be accorded the highest priority.
  • Within this ranking, households suffering the worst deprivations would be prioritised further.

Source of data on the indicators: The data on the 48 indicators would come from:

  • Census 2011 (for physical infrastructure),
  • Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 (for Household-level deprivation data), and
  • Fresh survey starting September that will be carried out by local facilitators.

GPs performance in 2018:

  • A majority of the GPs scored between 41 per cent and 50 per cent on a scale of 100: This shows glaring deficiencies.
  • Merely 0.1 per cent and 0.6 per cent GPs fell in the high 91-100 and 81-90 score respectively.
  • Top Scorers:
    • Kerala
    • Tamil Nadu
    • Andhra Pradesh
  • Bottom Performers:
    • Jharkhand
    • Assam
    • Bihar
    • Madhya Pradesh

Section : Polity & Governance

Polity: Federalism- Debate, landmark cases, Types of Federalism, J&K and more

Headline : The forms of federalism in India

Details :

Why in News?

  • The Union government has withdrawn the special status conferred on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) under Article 370 of the Constitution. It has also divided the State into two regions and declared them as Union Territories.

Telegram: https://t.me/ShubhraRanjanPSIR

The debate concerning with federalism:

Nations are described as ‘federal’ or ‘unitary’, depending on the way in which governance is organized.

  • In a unitary set-up, the Centre has plenary powers of administration and legislation, with its constituent units having little autonomy.
  • In a federal arrangement, the constituent units are identified on the basis of region or ethnicity, and conferred varying forms of autonomy or some level of administrative and legislative powers.

As the current political status of J&K — as two Union Territories — is a form of demotion from the sort of autonomy it enjoyed, it becomes an issue concerning federalism.

Is India a federal state?

Article 1 of the Constitution states, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States”. While the Constitution doesn’t mention the term “federal”, it does provide for a governance structure primarily federal in nature. It provides for separate governments at the Union and in the states. Further, it specifies and demarcates the powers, functions and jurisdictions of the two governments. Last, it details the legislative, administrative and financial relations between the Union and the states.

S.R. Bommai v. Union of India, it has been held that “Democracy and federalism are essential features of our constitution and are part of its basic structure”. With increased political decentralization, India was ripe to evolve from a “union of states” to a “federation of states”.

There exist certain provisions in the Constitution which are considered to be going against the principle of federalism.

  • For example, article 200 of the constitution in which it is said that certain bills passed by state legislatures may be reserved by the governors for the consideration of the president of India.
  • The another article which is considered to be a deviation from the principle of federalism is Articles 356, 352 and 360 which gives the power to the president to declare emergency, which can transform federal system into a unitary system.
  • There are many circumstances in which the central government has used this power to dissolve the state governments of the opposite parties and to remain in power at the centre.

A disconcerting trend has been observed since 1950. While the Union and Concurrent Lists have expanded, the State List seems to have shrunk. This has led many to question the structure of Indian federalism and to propose its remodeling.

Why India is called ‘quasi-federal’:

The Supreme Court has commented on the nature of the Indian Union in several judgments. It has noted that the essence of a ‘federation’ is the existence of the Union of the States, and the distribution of powers between them.

  • In India, on the other hand, Parliament has the power to admit new States, create new States, alter their boundaries and their names, and unite or divide the States. The concurrence of States is not needed for the formation and unmaking of States and Union Territories.
  • Several provisions of the Constitution allow the Centre to override the powers of the States. For example existence of Concurrent List in Legislature.
  • In India, the residuary powers of legislation, that is the power to make law in a field not specified in the Constitution, is vested in Parliament, whereas in the U.S., residuary powers are with the States.
  • Further, in fiscal matters, the power of the States to raise their own resources is limited, and there is a good deal of dependency on the Centre for financial assistance.

Even though the States are sovereign in their prescribed legislative field, and their executive power is co-extensive with their legislative powers, it is clear that “the powers of the States are not coordinate with the Union”. This is why the Constitution is often described as ‘quasi-federal’.

Why is it said that India has asymmetric federalism:

  • The main forms of administrative units in India are the Centre and the States. But there are other forms, too, all set up to address specific local, historical and geographical contexts.
  • Besides the Centre and the States, the country has Union Territories with a legislature and Union Territories without a legislature. Parliament has overriding powers over any law made by the Assembly in the Union Territories.
  • Just as the Centre and the States do not have matching powers in all matters, there are some differences in the way some States and other constituent units of the Indian Union relate to the Centre. This creates a notable asymmetry in the way Indian federalism works.

Special status for J&K and how it worked:

The foremost example of asymmetry among Centre-State ties was in the way J&K related to India until August 6, 2019.

  • Under Article 370, the State was allowed to have its own Constitution, its own definition of ‘permanent residents’, the right to bar outsiders from holding property, and the privilege of not having any Indian law automatically applicable to its territory.
  • Indian laws had to be specifically permitted by its Assembly before it could operate there. It was allowed to have its’ own Penal and Criminal Procedure Codes.
  • The President was empowered to notify, from time to time, the provisions of the Constitution that could be extended to the State, with or without modifications.

What does Article 371 provide?

Special status is not unique to Kashmir. However, the sort of asymmetry seen in J&K’s relationship to the Centre is not seen in other States. The ‘special provisions’ applicable to some other States are mainly in the form of empowering the Governors to discharge some special responsibilities. These States are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

  • Article 371 says the Governor of Maharashtra has a special responsibility to establish separate development boards for Vidarbha, Marathwada, and the rest of the State, while the Governor of Gujarat has a similar responsibility towards Saurashtra, Kutch and the rest of Gujarat. The responsibilities cover equitable allocation of funds for development expenditure, and providing facilities for technical education and vocational training.
  • Article 371A confers special status on Nagaland. Under this provision, no law made by Parliament in relation to Naga customary law and procedure, including civil and criminal justice matters, and ownership or transfer of land and resources will apply to Nagaland, unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland decides so. Further, the Governor of Nagaland has a ‘special responsibility’ regarding law and order in the State.
  • Article 371B contained a special provision for Assam under which a committee of legislators from the tribal areas was formed to look after their interest. The tribal areas later became Meghalaya State.
  • Under Article 371C, the Hill Areas of Manipur ought to have a committee of legislators. The Governor has a special responsibility to make an annual report to the President on the administration of the Hill Areas. The Centre is empowered to give directions to the State as far as these areas were concerned.
  • Article 371D is a detailed provision under which the President can pass an order to provide equitable opportunities and facilities to people belonging to different parts of Andhra Pradesh in public employment and education. In particular, the President can create local cadres in various classes of employment and allot civil posts to specified local cadres only.
  • Article 371F incorporated special provisions after the addition of Sikkim to India. One major objective was to grant protection to existing laws in Sikkim so that they are not declared unconstitutional after being brought under the Constitution of India.
  • Article 371G contains special provisions to preserve the religious and social practices of Mizos in Mizoram and their customary law and procedure and administration of criminal and civil justice, besides ownership of land.
  • Article 371H vests a special responsibility on the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh with respect to law and order. It makes clear that the Governor shall discharge this function after consulting the Council of Ministers, but exercise his individual judgment as to the action taken.

Other examples of decentralization of power:

There is another significant tier of administration under the larger framework of asymmetric federalism.

  • The Sixth Schedule to the Constitution contains provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. These create autonomous districts and autonomous regions administered by District Councils and Regional Councils respectively. These Councils can make laws with respect to allotment, occupation and use of land, management of forests other than reserve forests and water courses. Besides they can regulate social customs, marriage and divorce and property issues.
  • In Assam, the Karbi-Anglong Autonomous Council, Dima Hasao Autonomous District Council and the Bodoland Territorial Council have been set up under the Sixth Schedule. Another six autonomous councils have been formed by Acts of the legislature.
  • Ladakh has two autonomous hill development councils (Leh and Kargil).
  • The Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council is in West Bengal.

Recent Developments:

Typically, two opposite forces seem to operate: cooperative federalism and competitive federalism. Promoting both cooperative and competitive federalism has been an overarching theme of the government.

  • Cooperative federalism implies the Centre and states share a horizontal relationship, where they “cooperate” in the larger public interest.
  • Competitive federalism gained significance in India post the 1990s economic reforms.
  • The disbandment of the Planning Commission (PC) and its replacement by the NITI Aayog is specifically designed to promote cooperative federalism.
  • Institutional innovations such as the NITI Aayog and the GST council that now dominate Centre-state deliberations, and India today has a new framework for negotiating Centre-state relations.

Way Forward:

  • Cooperative and competitive federalism may be two sides of the same coin. Their complementarities are contingent on many affirmative steps.
  • Efforts at cooperative federalism have commenced but need to be strengthened.
  • An institutional mechanism like Inter-State Council must be reactivated where important issues are appropriately discussed with states for better policy coordination.

Section : Polity & Governance

SC reserves verdict on changes to SC/ST law

Headline : SC reserves verdict on changes to SC/ST law

Details :

The News

  • Recently, the Supreme Court has reserved its judgment on a batch of petitions challenging the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018.

 

The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

  • Objective: to prevent atrocities against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
  • A person accused of such a crime cannot get anticipatory bail, but soon after his arrest, he can get regular bail even in offences where the punishment is just six months.

 

Timeline

  • On 20 March 2018, Supreme Court gave its judgment banning registration of criminal cases and automatic arrests under the SC/ST Act and allowing anticipatory bail to those booked for committing atrocities against the SCs and the STs
  • The verdict triggered a nationwide protest by the Dalit community costing loss of lives and property.
  • The government filed a review petition and subsequently amended the 1989 Act back to its original form through the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018.
  • Several petitions were filed last year challenging the amendments. However, the Supreme Court had refused to stay the implementation of the amendments.

 

Changes in Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 after the March 20 Supreme Court Judgement

  • The top court banned registration of criminal cases and automatic arrests under the SC/ST Act.
  • The public servants cannot be prosecuted without the approval of the appointing authority and private citizens can be arrested only after an inquiry under the law.
  • A preliminary inquiry under the Act would be conducted by the Deputy Superintendent of Police to be certain that the allegations are not superficial.
  • The amendment in the law was a bid to protect honest public servants discharging bona fide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the Act.
  • Earlier provisions in the Act provided for taking immediate action in respect of any complaint relating to harassment of a victim, informant or witness, etc. Any such complaint shall be tried separately from the main case and be concluded within two months.

 

The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018

  • The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018 nullified a controversial March 20 Supreme Court judgment.

For amendment Act : There had been no decrease in the atrocities committed on the SCs/STs despite the laws meant to protect their civil rights and they continue to face the same social stigma, poverty and humiliation. Thus it is necessary to safeguard their rights by restoring original act.

Against amendment act: Article 21, the fundamental right of an individual cannot be protected if an innocent is jailed on a complaint without its prior scrutiny.

 

 

Section : Polity & Governance

In Brief: Undertrials and Covicts: Fundamental Right, Right to equality, Right to Constitutional Remedies

Headline : Plea in SC on voting rights of undertrials and convicts

Details :

The News

  • Recently a plea has been filed in the Supreme Court under Article 32 challenging an electoral law denying undertrials and convicts their right to vote.

 

Provision violating the right to equality

  • Section 62(5) of the Representation of People Act of 1951 : The provision deprives any person confined to a prison of the right to vote at any election.
  • Issues:
    • In addition to convicts (a person found guilty of a criminal offence and serving a sentence of imprisonment), the law prohibits voting right to even under-trials (a person who is being held in custody awaiting trial for a crime ) , whose innocence or guilt has not been conclusively determined.
    • Moreover, a convicted person on bail still enjoys his voting right.
  • Since Section 62(5) deprive any confined person of the right to vote in an arbitrary manner, it violates the rights to equality(Article 14) and vote (Article 326).

Note: Section 62(5) of the RPA, exempt a person held under preventive detention.

Article 14: Article 14 of the Constitution of India provides for equality before the law or equal protection within the territory of India.

Article 326: Article 326 of the Constitution provides for elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assemblies of States to be on the basis of universal adult suffrage.

 

About Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)

  • Article 32 gives right to an individual to move to the Supreme Court for the enforcement of fundamental rights, including the writs of:
    • Habeas corpus
    • Mandamus
    • Prohibition
    • Certiorari
    • Quo warento
  • It has been referred as the “soul of the constitution and very heart of it” by Dr. Ambedkar.
  • Supreme Court has included it in basic structure doctrine, which cannot be abridged or taken away even by the way of Constitutional amendment.
  • However, the right is suspended at the time of national emergency (Article 359).

Note: The High Courts also have the power to issue writs under article 226.

Section : Polity & Governance

Ensuring access to justice Editorial 2nd Apr’19 TheHindu

Headline : Ensuring access to justice Editorial 2nd Apr’19 TheHindu

Details :

 Justice system in India is not accessible to many:

  • The justice system in any democracy is set up, under the Constitution to serve the public, and judges are supposed to act without “fear or favour, affection or ill-will”.
  • However, judges through lack of prescience, and many lawyers through their dishonesty in many forms, have stopped access to justice to the people.

 

SC has not favoured having benches at other places as justice might get diluted:

  • The Central government has a few times requested the Supreme Court to sit in other places in the country under Article 130 of the Constitution.
  • However, so far, the Chief Justice of India and the advising judges have not favoured it, as they felt that the authority of the Supreme Court would get diluted.

But High Courts have benches without justice getting diluted:

  • The reasoning that justice might get diluted with SC benches at various places is fallacious.
  • Many High Courts in this country have different Benches for meting out justice without ‘justice’ being ‘diluted’.
    • For example, the Bombay High Court has four Benches — in Mumbai, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Panaji (Goa) — and the quality of its decisions or status have certainly not been diluted thereby.
  • The number of Benches depends on the size of the State, the idea being to facilitate easier access to justice.

 

Problems of SC sitting only in Delhi:

  1. Many good lawyers not getting to argue in SC:
  • The Supreme Court sitting only in Delhi has resulted in excellent lawyers from other High Courts not appearing before the Supreme Court.
  • One of the major reasons for this is because it puts too large a monetary burden on their clients, many of whom are impoverished.
  1. Many ordinary lawyers are practising in SC while just a few good lawyers are dominating:
  • Some of the good lawyers who have settled down in Delhi they have established a monopoly, and charge huge fees from clients.
  • Also, all lawyers, whatever their calibre or competence, who happen to be in Delhi now appear in the Supreme Court.
  1. SC in Delhi has been reduced to hearing all sorts of frivolous cases:
  • The Supreme Court in Delhi has been flooded with work and been reduced to a District Court instead of a Court of Final Appeal and Constitutional Court as envisaged under the Constitution.

 

Major problem of unethical lawyers leading to denial of justice to people

  • The fault in actually denying access to justice to citizens is majorly the fault of unethical lawyers.
  • Lawyers are mostly dishonest, and often act as dishonest brokers and middle-men between judges and the litigating public.
  • According to a study carried out by a research organisation, Vidhi, in the Delhi High Court, more than 70% of the delays in the disposal of cases are attributable to lawyers, a major reason being sometimes unjust pleas for adjournments.

Examples of unethical practices:

  • Victims cheated out of victim compensation:
    • Some of the lawyers specialising in victim compensation cases do not charge any fees for their services and render services free of cost.
    • They generally obtain a blank cheque from the victim which is filled in after credit of the compensation to the bank account of the victim.
    • Some of the lawyers specialising in victim compensation cases thus take huge money as a percentage of compensation amount awarded towards victim compensation.
    • Such a practice is frustrating the whole purpose of victim compensation.
  • Accident claim cases:
    • Some advocates dealing with Motor Accident Claim Cases under Section 166 (application for compensation) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 agree to conduct the cases without a fee, but in the event of compensation being granted by the court, the advocates get a certain percentage.
    • This is an illegal agreement.

 

Disciplinary jurisdiction over lawyers

Was originally with courts:

  • The disciplinary jurisdiction over lawyers was originally with the courts.
  • As far as the older High Courts are concerned, this is clear from the respective Letters Patents under which the courts were set up.

Later power given to lawyers:

  • This continued till the power was taken away by the Advocates Act, 1961.

But Bar Council has not been effective in disciplining lawyers:

  • The disciplinary powers over lawyers available to Bar Councils both in Delhi and in States are more often than not ineffective.
  • Some are politically motivated and some States do not have disciplinary committees at all.

 

The way forward

  • There is a need to kick out the corrupt lawyers from the system at all levels so that justice may be truly rendered to the public.
  • Certain measures can be considered in this regard:
    • SC benches in states: The Supreme Court should reconsider setting up Benches in different States in keeping with the recommendations of the Law Commissions (125th Report and 229th Report).
    • Disciplinary jurisdiction over lawyers to the courts: The Bar Council of India should exercise its powers under the Advocates Act, 1961 more effectively. If not, the disciplinary jurisdiction must be returned to the judiciary as was the position prior to the Advocates Act, 1961 by repealing the 1961 Act.
    • Greater mediation: Lawyers should be made irrelevant by referring more cases to trained mediators, as the Supreme Court has done in the Ayodhya dispute.

 

Importance:

GS Paper II: Polity & Governance

 

Section : Editorial Analysis

Everything about About anti-defection law

Headline : What is anti-defection law, why it won’t apply to two MGP MLAs who switched to BJP

Details :

Context:

  • Recently, two of the three MLAs of a Goan political party (MGP) have joined another party (BJP) while also merging their party’s legislative wing.
  • Now, as two out of the three MLAs have merged the legislative wing, they are saved from inviting the anti-defection law.

 

About anti-defection law:

  • The anti-defection law was added to the Constitution as the Tenth Schedule by the 52nd amendment in 1985.
  • The anti-defection law sought to prevent political defections which may be due to reward of office or other similar considerations.
  • It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature, based on a petition by any other member of the House.

Conditions of disqualification under the anti-defection law :

  • Political Party members
    • If he either voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or
    • Disobeys the directives of the party leadership on a vote
  • Independent Members
    • If he / she joined a political party
  • Nominated Members
    • Nominated members who were not members of a party could choose to join a party within six months; after that period, they were treated as a party member or independent member, as the case might be.

Exceptions:

  • The anti-defection law makes it mandatory that at least two-thirds of the strength of a party should agree for a ‘merger’ with another political party without getting disqualified under the anti-defection law.
  • There will be no disqualification if a person is elected as speaker or chairman, and he resigns from his party.

 

Deciding authority:

  • The Chairman or the Speaker of the House takes the decision to disqualify a member. However, if the complaint is against the defection of the Chairman or Speaker, a member of the House elected by that House shall take the decision.

Note: The law does not specify a time-period for the Presiding Officer to decide on a disqualification plea.

 

Why anti-defection law is not applicable in the recent case?

  • The total strength of the legislators of the MGP is three members and as two of them merged with BJP, which constitute 2/3rd of the members.
  • According to the Tenth Schedule, it requires at least two-third members of a legislature party to form a new political group or ‘merge’ with another political party without getting disqualified under the anti-defection law.
  • Thus, the two MGP members cannot be disqualified under the anti-defection law.

 

Note:

  • Previously, Tenth Schedule recognised a ‘split’ (from the previous party) if at least one-third members of the legislature party decided to form or join another political party. However, this provision was removed by the 91st amendment to the Constitution in 2003.
  • The amendment in January 2004, does not recognise a ‘split’ in a legislature party and instead, it recognises a ‘merger.
Section : Polity & Governance