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

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

Objectives of Ayush Mission

The Government has launched the National AYUSH Mission with the objectives of:

 providing cost effective AYUSH Services, with a universal access through upgrading AYUSH

Hospitals and Dispensaries,

 co-location of AYUSH facilities at Primary Health Centres (PHCs), Community Health Centres

(CHCs) and District Hospitals (DHs),

 strengthening institutional capacity at the state level through upgrading AYUSH educational

institutions, State Govt. ASU&H Pharmacies, Drug Testing Laboratories and ASU & H enforcement

mechanism,

 supporting cultivation of medicinal plants by adopting Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) so as to provide sustained supply of quality raw-materials and support certification mechanism for quality standards,

 Good Agricultural/Collection/Storage Practices and supporting setting up of clusters through convergence of cultivation, warehousing, value addition and marketing and development of infrastructure for entrepreneurs.

What are the various forms in which gender based violence manifests. Discuss the causes that lead to it. Do you agree that it remains biggest impediment to the advancement of women in India?

Approach:
● Introduce with what gender violence is
● Talk about various forms of violence – preferably under different categories
● Talk about the causes – can break it into various categories.
● Discuss aspects of women development that get affected by gender violence
● Conclude by summarizing and giving brief suggestions to end gender violence.

Answer:
Gender based violence is primarily used to refer to acts of violence committed against women.
A result of unequal distribution of power in society between women and men, it gets
manifested throughout the entire lifecycle of the women- right from the womb of the mother till death.

Takes place in many forms:
Gender based violence takes place in many forms, including physical violence – through assault, domestic violence, honour killings; sexual violence – groping, workplace harassment, sexual assault; verbal violence – through use of abusive and filthy language; social violence – like humiliating a woman or her family in public; emotional violence– by depriving women of love , care , concern; financial violence – by depriving basic financial means.

Various causes of gender based violence includes:
Socio-Cultural factors:
● The patriarchal notions of ownership over women’s bodies, sexuality, labor,
reproductive rights, mobility and level of autonomy encourage violence against women.
● Dogmatic religious beliefs with deep-rooted ideas of male superiority are also used to
legitimize control over women.
Economic factors:
● Poverty, lack of education and livelihood opportunities, and inadequate access to basic
services like shelter, food, water can increase exposure to gender violence, including
forced prostitution or survival sex.
Legal-Administrative factors:
● Inadequate legal framework, State’s inability to enforce laws, unequal access to justice,
gender bias in legal institutions and mechanisms, slow justice system result in culture of
impunity for violence and abuse .
Individual factors:
● Threat/fear of stigma, isolation and social exclusion and exposure to further violence at
the hands of the perpetrator, the community or the authorities, including arrest,
detention, ill-treatment and punishment force women to suffer silently.
Yes, gender violence is one of the biggest hurdles in women’s advancement due to following factors:
● It seriously affects all aspects of women’s health- physical, sexual and reproductive,
mental and behavioural health, thus prevents them from realizing their full potential.
● Violence and threat of violence affects women’s ability to participate actively, and as
equals, in many forms of social and political relationships.
● Workplace harassment and domestic violence has an impact on women’s participation
in workforce and their economic empowerment.
● Sexual harassment limits the educational opportunities and achievements of girls.
Thus, half of our human capital will not be able to realize its true potential till gender violence is curbed in all its forms. The underlying causes must be addressed though adequate legal framework and its strict enforcement, building institutional capability, along with gender sensitization campaigns to change attitudes towards women.

Everything about Umang App (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG)

Umang (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG) app:

• It is a unified app to serve e-governance through mobile devices.

• It is developed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and National e-Governance Division (NeGD).

• It is to offer services of the central, state, local bodies and various government agencies right on Android and iOS based mobile devices.

• It will provide over a hundred citizen-centric services.

• At the back-end, these services will be catered for by many different departments of the Union and State Governments.

• This integrated approach will add an automatic layer of ‘peer performance pressure’, in the working of these departments.

List of services:

• The Umang app bundles a list of Digital India services, including Aadhaar, DigiLocker and PayGov.

• The app provides citizens with all the major government services provided through app, web, SMS and IVR channels.

• The citizens can use the app to access their income tax filing, LPG cylinder bookings and Provident Fund account.

• Parents can use the Umang app to access CBSE results.

Multilingual support:

• The app has multilingual support with as many as 13 languages and includes a payment-based transaction access.

Social media integration

• The app has social media integration that allows to connect your Facebook, Google, and Twitter accounts and enable one-touch login process.

• The interface of the Umang app appears to be convenient for novices.

• The app comes with features like favourites and push notification alerts.

It is easier to build a boy than to mend a man. Discuss this statement in the light of selecting an individual for public office. 150 words

The basis of the statement lies in two elements: firstly, that it is possible to
change behavior but very difficult to change attitudes; secondly, that as one ages,attitudes become more rigid and difficult to change. Thus, the earlier we introduce interventions to correct or improve behaviours and attitudes, the greater the chances of a meaningful impact.
With regard to selecting an individual for pubic office, this emphasizes the
importance of the recruitment and training programs. The lower the age at entry, the more the possibility that the interventions will have the desired impact since it becomes easier to training the individual, with minimal resistance.
Similarly, the recruitment policy must ensure that the selected individuals are
genuinely pubic-spirited. This would ensure that their acceptance of the
organizational ethos is greater and attitudinal resistance is minimal.

H1N1 Flu:

H1N1 Flu:

  • It is a respiratory disease caused by a strain of the influenza type A virus known as H1N1.
  • H1N1 Flu is also known as swine flu.
  • It is called swine flu because in the past the people who caught it had direct contact with pigs.
  • It can be transmitted from one person to another by coughing and sneezing.
  • Its symptoms are similar to those of standard, seasonal flu like fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and chills.
  • The vulnerable groups include pregnant women, children under five, the over-65s and those with serious medical conditions.
  • The virus first appeared in Mexico in 2009 and rapidly spreaded around the world.
  • In 2009, H1N1 was spreading fast around the world, so the World Health Organisation called it a pandemic.

What makes Maharashtra, particularly vulnerable?

  • Urbanisation and overcrowding: More the number of people, more are the chances of spreading the disease.
  • Good surveillance system: Presence of good surveillance system helps in tracking of all the cases. The increased number of cases is a reflection of good surveillance system.
  • Antigenic shift: It is a process in which two or more strains of a virus combine to form a new subtype. It is observed at regular intervals which is the main reason why there has been a spurt in the cases.
  • Failure to detect on time: The symptoms of disease such as fever, a runny nose and a sore throat are often ignored and self-treated. By the time patients consults the doctor two or three days have been wasted.
  • Faded effect of vaccination: Vaccine against H1N1 was administered to the patients in 2015 when major cases were reported. The vaccine gives immunity for about 8-9 months. This could be the reason why state of Maharashtra did not have many cases in 2016 but now see a rise in number of cases.

About the Direct Benefit Transfer

  • The program aims to transfer subsidies directly to the people through their bank accounts.
  • Crediting subsidies directly into bank accounts help reduce leakages, delays, etc.
  • DBT has now extended to most of the government schemes.

DBT has two components:

  • Subsidy: When a government meets a part of the cost of providing a good or service to a beneficiary.
  • Income transfer: When a government provides income support to a beneficiary.
  • This is a pure transfer payment unrelated to the cost of providing any good or service.

Pros and Cons of DBT

Positives:

  • Better targeting of the beneficiary: In case of physical delivery of subsided products there are numerous reports of leakages, diversion of supplies, black marketing etc.
  • By the use of DBT there is an assured transfer of the subsidy to the beneficiary.
  • Also the problems like product adulteration, delay in supplies are eliminated.
  • There is no need to have an elaborate administrative apparatus maintained at huge cost to manage the rationing of subsidized commodities.
  • DBT brings in transparency and efficiency, and enables beneficiaries to get their entitlements directly to them without any delay.
  • Direct transfer increases the circulation of money that will help in increasing the demand in the economy. Thus, keeping the growth cycle viable.

Negatives:

  • DBT is dependent on the banking system, which is backbone of the system.
  • Hence, anyone without a bank account will not be able to avail subsidies.
  •  In India, we still have the rural pockets where bank facilities has not reached yet.
  • Now, the government in its move to provide universal financial inclusion is taking the initiative to provide each household with at least one bank account under Jan Dhan Yojna. Linking of the two systems i.e. DBT and financial inclusion is now actively pursued.

Related Scheme:

PAHAL (PratyakshHanstantritLabh):

  • The Direct Benefit transfer of LPG (DBTL) scheme is PAHAL.
  • Consumers who wish to join the scheme will have to either link their Aadhaar number into their bank account.
  • DBTL is designed to ensure that the benefit meant for the genuine domestic customer reaches them directly and is not diverted.

Smart Cities

what are Smart Cities?

  • A ‘smart city’ is an urban region that is highly advanced in terms of overall infrastructure, sustainable real estate, communications and market viability.
  • It is a city where information technology is the principal infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents.
  • There are many technological platforms involved, including but not limited to automated sensor networks and data centres.
  • In a smart city, economic development and activity is sustainable and rationally incremental by virtue of being based on success-oriented market drivers such as supply and demand.
  • They benefit everybody, including citizens, businesses, the government and the environment.

What are the core infrastructure in a Smart City?

  • According to the documents released on the Smart Cities website, the core infrastructure in a smart city would include:
  • Adequate water supply
  • Assured electricity supply
  • Sanitation, including solid waste management
  • Efficient urban mobility and public transport
  • Affordable housing, especially for the poor
  • Robust IT connectivity and digitalisation
  • Good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation
  • Sustainable environment
  • Safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly
  • Health and education

Everything about Surrogacy

What is surrogacy?

  • Surrogacy is where a woman becomes pregnant with the intention of handing over the child to someone else after giving birth.
  • Generally, she carries the baby for a couple or parent who cannot conceive a child themselves – they are known as “intended parents”.
  • There are two forms of surrogacy.
  • In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother’s egg is used, making her the genetic mother.
  • In gestational surrogacy, the egg is provided by the intended mother or a donor.
  • The egg is fertilised through in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and then placed inside the surrogate mother.

Is surrogacy legal?

  • It varies from country to country.
  • Countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Bulgaria prohibit all forms of surrogacy.
  • In countries including the UK, Ireland, Denmark and Belgium, surrogacy is allowed where the surrogate mother is not paid, or only paid for reasonable expenses.
  • Paying the mother a fee (known as commercial surrogacy) is prohibited.
  • Commercial surrogacy is legal in some US states, and countries including, Russia and Ukraine.

Where do people go for surrogacy?

  • countries popular with parents for surrogacy arrangements are the US,  Thailand, Ukraine and Russia.
  • Mexico, Nepal, Poland and Georgia are also among the countries described as possibilities for surrogacy arrangements.
  • Costs vary significantly from country to country, and also depend on the number of IVF cycles needed, and whether health insurance is required.

Cambodia the new destinations:

  • While Cambodia has become popular among people — both Indians and from other parts of the world — countries such as Ukraine and Kenya are attracting doctors from India.
  • India is no longer on the surrogacy map and after Bangkok and Thailand stopped surrogacy, Cambodia opened up.
  • As in the early days of surrogacy in India, the lack of proper laws or guidelines in Cambodia has proved a big attraction.
  • There is growth in surrogacy in Cambodia since last year.
  • There is a huge pressure building and Cambodia is ill-prepared to handle it.
  • Besides, there are no laws in place in Cambodia.
  • Doctors who offered surrogacy service in India are aware of the new hubs.