Daily Current Affairs : 18th November 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Article 32
  2. Online Education woes
  3. Fake news

1 . Article 32


Context : Recently a Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde observed that it is “trying to discourage” individuals from filing petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution. The observation came during the hearing of a petition seeking the release of journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested with three others while on their way to Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, to report on an alleged gangrape and murder.

What is Article 32?

  • It is one of the fundamental rights listed in the Constitution that each citizen is entitled.
  • Article 32 deals with the ‘Right to Constitutional Remedies’, or affirms the right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred in Part III of the Constitution.
  • It states that the Supreme Court “shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part”.
  • The right guaranteed by this Article “shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution”.
  • The Article is included in Part III of the Constitution with other fundamental rights including to Equality, Freedom of Speech and Expression, Life and Personal Liberty, and Freedom of Religion. Only if any of these fundamental rights is violated can a person can approach the Supreme Court directly under Article 32.
  • According to Dr B R Ambedkar “If I was asked to name any particular Article in this Constitution as the most important — an Article without which this Constitution would be a nullity — I could not refer to any other Article except this one. It is the very soul of the Constitution and the very heart of it…” He said the rights invested with the Supreme Court through this Article could not be taken away unless the Constitution itself is amended and hence it was “one of the greatest safeguards that can be provided for the safety and security of the individual”.
  • Others in the drafting committee also said that since it gives a person the right to approach the Supreme Court as a remedy if fundamental rights are violated, “it is a right fundamental to all the fundamental rights” guaranteed under the Constitution.
  • The Article cannot be suspended except during the period of Emergency.

Can High Courts be approached in cases of violation of fundamental rights?

  • In civil or criminal matters, the first remedy available to an aggrieved person is that of trial courts, followed by an appeal in the High Court and then the Supreme Court. When it comes to violation of fundamental rights, an individual can approach the High Court under Article 226 or the Supreme Court directly under Article 32. Article 226, however, is not a fundamental right like Article 32.
  • Both the High Courts and the Supreme Court can be approached for violation or enactment of fundamental rights through five kinds of writs:
    • Habeas corpus (related to personal liberty in cases of illegal detentions and wrongful arrests)
    • Mandamus — directing public officials, governments, courts to perform a statutory duty;
    • Quo warranto — to show by what warrant is a person holding public office;
    • Prohibition — directing judicial or quasi-judicial authorities to stop proceedings which it has no jurisdiction for; and
    • Certiorari — re-examination of an order given by judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative authorities.

What have been the Supreme Court’s recent observations on Article 32?

  • In the case of the journalist Siddique Kappan, the court asked why the petitioners could not go to the High Court. It has sought responses from the Centre and the UP government, and will hear the case later this week.
  • In many of the other recent cases the Bench has directed the petitioner to approach the High Court first.

And what have been its observations over the years?

  • In Romesh Thappar vs State of Madras (1950), the Supreme Court observed that Article 32 provides a “guaranteed” remedy for the enforcement of fundamental rights. “This Court is thus constituted the protector and guarantor of fundamental rights, and it cannot, consistently with the responsibility so laid upon it, refuse to entertain applications seeking protection against infringements of such rights,” the court observed.
  • During the Emergency, in Additional District Magistrate, Jabalpur vs S S Shukla (1976), the Supreme Court had said that the citizen loses his right to approach the court under Article 32.
  • Constitutional experts say that it is eventually at the discretion of the Supreme Court and each individual judge to decide whether an intervention is warranted in a case, which could also be heard by the High Court first.

2 . Online education woes


Context : A field study by the Azim Premji University on the efficacy and accessibility of e-learning has found that more than 60% of the respondents who are enrolled in government schools could not access online education.

About the Report

  • The study, titled “Myths of Online Education”, was undertaken in five States across 26 districts and covered 1,522 schools. More than 80,000 students study in these government schools.
  • The study examined the experience of children and teachers with online education.

Key Findings of the Report

  • The researchers noted that non-availability or inadequate number of smartphones for dedicated use or sharing, as well as difficulty in using apps for online learning, were the most important reasons why students were not able to access classes.
  • Children with disabilities in fact found it more difficult to participate in online sessions.
  • The researchers pointed out that 90% of the teachers who work with children with disabilities found their students unable to participate online.
  • The study also found out that almost 90% of parents of government school students surveyed were willing to send their children back to school. However, they said it would be a feasible option if the health of their children was taken care of when schools reopen.
  • Almost 70% of the parents surveyed were of the opinion that online classes were not effective and did not help in their child’s learnings.
  • Teachers, too, expressed frustration with online classes. More than 80% surveyed said they were unable to maintain emotional connect with students during online classes, while 90% of teachers felt that no meaningful assessment of children’s learning was possible.
  • Another significant finding was that nearly 50% of the teachers reported that children were unable to complete assignments shared during the online classes, which had led to serious gaps in learning. Only around half the teachers reported that they engaged with students daily through online classes. The survey also revealed that around 75% of the teachers spent, on an average, less than an hour a day on online classes for any grade.
  • Teachers also reported that they were ill-prepared for online learning platforms. According to the survey, more than half the teachers shared that their knowledge and user-experience on online platforms and modes of teaching were inadequate. Another hurdle that teachers found during the online classes was the one-way communication, which made it difficult for them to gauge whether students were understanding what was being taught

3 . Fake News


Context : The Supreme Court asked the Centre to explain its “mechanism” against fake news and bigotry on air, and to create one if it did not already exist.

About the Case

  • The case is based on petitions, including one by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, against the communal colour given by certain sections of the electronic media to the holding of a Tablighi Jamaat event in the National Capital during the lockdown.
  • The Jamiat petitions has sought a direction from the court to the Ministry to identify and take strict action against sections of the media that communalised the Tablighi incident.
  • Govt affidavit maintained that media coverage “predominantly struck a balanced and neutral perspective” in the past few months. It explained that as a “matter of journalistic policy, any section of the media may highlight different events, issues and happenings across the world as per their choice.” It was for the viewer to choose from the varied opinions offered by the different media outlets. Mr. Khare said the petitions in the court contained vague assertions against the media based on “fact-checking news reports.” Besides, he added, the government had already blocked 743 social media accounts and URLs spreading fake news on COVID-19.

Observation made by the court

  • “Why should we ask private entities like NBSA, etc, when you [the Centre] have the authority? If such an authority does not exist, create one… If you cannot, then we will hand it over to an outside agency,” Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre.

What is fake news?

  • The term fake news eludes to reports, images, and videos that are shared to purposefully spread misinformation i.e. information that is factually incorrect. These news items may appear authentic at first and attempt to attract attention, shock, or shape opinions. Fake news can be created by individuals or groups who are acting in their own interests or those of third parties. The creation of misinformation is usually motivated by personal, political, or economic agendas.

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