Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Role of Governor in summoning of a session
- Article 262 Inter State Water Dispute
- Judicial Review
- Bharat NCAP
- Fortified Rice
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Role of Governor in summoning of an Assembly session
Context : The 60-member Manipur Assembly failed to hold a Special Session on Monday to discuss the ongoing ethnic violence as the Raj Bhavan did not issue any notification to convene it despite a recommendation from the State Cabinet. Notification is required to be issued 15 days ahead of a session.
Who can summon a session of the Assembly?
- “The Governor shall from time to time summon the House or each House of the Legislature of the State to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit…” says Article 174 of the Constitution. The provision also puts on the Governor the responsibility of ensuring that the House is summoned at least once every six months.
- Although it is the Governor’s prerogative to summon the House, according to Article 163, the Governor is required to act on the “aid and advice” of the Cabinet. So when the Governor summons the House under Article 174, this is not of his or her own will but on the aid and advice of the Cabinet.
- Article 174 of the Constitution says: “The House or Houses of the Legislature of the State shall be summoned to meet twice at least in every year, and six months shall not intervene between their last sitting in one session and the date appointed for their first sitting in the next session.”
Can the Governor refuse the aid and advice of the Cabinet?
- There are a few instances where the Governor can summon the House despite the refusal of the Chief Minister who heads the Cabinet. When the Chief Minister appears to have lost the majority and the legislative members of the House propose a no-confidence motion against the Chief Minister, then the Governor can decide on his or her own on summoning the House.
- But the actions of the Governor, when using his discretionary powers can be challenged in court.
How have the courts ruled?
- A number of rulings by the Supreme Court has settled the position that the Governor cannot refuse the request of a Cabinet that enjoys majority in the House unless it is patently unconstitutional.
- The latest in the line of rulings is the landmark 2016 Constitution Bench ruling in which the Supreme Court looked into the constitutional crisis in Arunachal Pradesh after the Governor had imposed President’s Rule in the state.
- “In ordinary circumstances during the period when the Chief Minister and his council of ministers enjoy the confidence of the majority of the House, the power vested with the Governor under Article 174 to summon, prorogue and dissolve the house(s) must be exercised in consonance with the aid and advice of the chief minister and his council of ministers. In the above situation, he is precluded [from taking] an individual call on the issue at his own will, or in his own discretion,” the verdict said. The court read the power to summon the House as a “function” of the Governor and not a “power” he enjoys.
- Even the Sarkaria Commission of 1983, which reviewed the arrangements between the Centre and the states, had said that “so long as the Council of Ministers enjoys the confidence of the Assembly, its advice in these matters, unless patently unconstitutional must be deemed as binding on the Governor. It is only where such advice, if acted upon, would lead to an infringement of a constitutional provision, or where the Council of Ministers has ceased to enjoy the confidence of the Assembly, that the question arises whether the Governor may act in the exercise of his discretion”.
2 . Inter State Water Dispute
Context : Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud on August 21 assured Tamil Nadu that he would constitute a Bench “today itself” to hear the State’s plea for the release of its allotment of Cauvery river water for the month of August.
Inter-state water dispute
- Disputes arising among the states for sharing the water resources (Rivers) are called Interstate water disputes.
- According to Section 2(c) of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956, “Water Dispute” means any dispute or difference between two or more State Governments with respect to-
- The use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-state river or river valley; or
- The interpretation of the terms of any agreement relating to the use, distribution or control of such waters or the implementation of such agreement; or
- The levy of any water rate in contravention of the prohibition contained in
- A specific provision of Article 262 is provided by the Constitution to deal with the disputes relating to water. It states that Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the water of or in any inter-state river or river valley. Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, Parliament may by law provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint.
- States are empowered to enact legislation relating to water because it is a state subject as per Entry 17 which deals with matters relating to water like water supply, irrigation, water power, water storage, canal, drainage, embankments.
- Secondly, Entry 56 of the Union List provides power to the Centre for the regulation and development of inter-state river and river valleys to the extent declared by parliament to be expedient in the public interest.
- There are other possible ways of extending the centre’s control over the use of water resources. For example, the provisions of Entry 20 in the Concurrent list about economic and social planning requires state clearance from the centre for any project of water resource development (including the projects for irrigation, hydropower, flood control). These provisions allow the Center to be responsible for water resource development and also provide powers to regulate and control them.
Parliament has enacted two laws under Article 262 to meet the needs of an hour. They are as follows;
- River Board Act, 1956 : The purpose of this Act was to enable the Union Government to create Boards for Interstate Rivers and river valleys in consultation with State Governments. The objective of Boards is to advise on the inter-state basin to prepare development schemes and to prevent the emergence of conflicts. Though till now there have been no river boards constructed for the said reason.
- Inter-State Water Dispute Act, 1956 According to the Act, if a particular state(s) approaches the Union Government for the constitution of the tribunal, the Central Government should try to resolve the matter by consultation among the aggrieved states. If it does not work, then it may constitute the tribunal. It is to be noted that the Supreme Court shall not question the Award or formula given by the tribunal but it can question the working of the tribunal. The River Water Tribunal is constituted of the Chief Justice of India and the sitting judge of the Supreme Court and the other two judges who can be from the Supreme Court or High Court. In India, the present mechanism to resolve such disputes is by tribunal and whose decision is final
3 . Judicial Review
Context : Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud on Monday said some parts of a draft Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) prepared by the Centre to tailor judicial conduct in government-related cases read as if the Centre wants to dictate the exercise of judicial review by courts
What is Judicial Review
- Judicial review is the process by which the court declares any law which goes against the constitution as void. We have adopted this feature from the United States Constitution.
- Judicial Review can be of Constitutional Amendments, Legislative actions and of Laws made by the legislature.
- The power to interpret the Constitution of India to its full extent lies within the Judiciary. It is the protector of the Constitution of India. Power of Judicial Review is vested in many articles such as 13, 32,131-136, 143, 226, 145, 246, 251, 254 and 372.
- Under Article 13(2) of the Constitution of India, any law made by the parliament that abridges the right conferred to the people under Part 3 of the constitution is void-ab-initio. Article 13(2) further talks about any law made by the parliament after the commencement of the constitution shall be declared null and void by the Court.
- Article 372(1) talks about Judicial review of the pre-constitutional laws that were in force before the commencement of the Constitution of India.
- The Supreme Court and High Court are said to be the guarantors of Fundamental given by the constitution. If any person’s Fundamental right is violated he/she can approach the court under Article 32 or Article 226 of the constitution.
- Article 251 and 254 states that if there is any inconsistency between the union and state law, the law of union shall prevail and the state law shall be deemed void.
What are the court’s powers in regard to staying enacted law?
- Under the broad framework of judicial review under the Constitution, the Supreme Court and High Courts have the power to declare any law unconstitutional, either because it is ultra vires (or, contrary to any provision of the Constitution) or it violates any of the fundamental rights, or invalid because it is repugnant to a central law on the same subject or has been enacted without legislative jurisdiction.
- However, interim orders staying or suspending laws enacted by the legislature are frowned upon by constitutional courts and legal scholars.
- The general argument is that unless there are compelling reasons such as flagrant lack of constitutional validity, or absence of legislative competence (that is, the legislative body concerned lacks the jurisdiction to enact the law in question), a law ought not to be stayed.
Why is it considered unusual for a court to suspend a law or its operation?
- The main principle is that suspending a law made by the legislature goes against the concept of separation of powers.
- Courts are expected to defer to the legislature’s wisdom at the threshold of a legal challenge to the validity of a law. The validity of a law ought to be considered normally only at the time of final adjudication, and not at the initial stage.
- The second principle is that there is a presumption that every law enacted by any legislature is constitutional and valid. The onus is on those challenging it to prove that it is not. Therefore, courts are circumspect when hearing petitions seeking suspension of a law pending a detailed adjudication.
What is the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution?
- The Ninth Schedule contains a list of central and state laws which cannot be challenged in courts. Currently, 284 such laws are shielded from judicial review.
- The Schedule became a part of the Constitution in 1951, when the document was amended for the first time (First Amendment Act). It was created by the new Article 31B, which along with 31A was brought in by the government to protect laws related to agrarian reform and for abolishing the Zamindari system.
Are laws in the Ninth Schedule completely exempt from judicial scrutiny?
- While the Ninth Schedule provides the law with a “safe harbour” from judicial review, the protection is not blanket.
- When the Tamil Nadu law was challenged in 2007 (I R Coelho v State of Tamil Nadu), the Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous nine-judge verdict that while laws placed under Ninth Schedule cannot be challenged on the grounds of violation of fundamental rights, they can be challenged on the ground of violating the basic structure of the Constitution.
- The court clarified that the laws cannot escape the “basic structure” test if inserted into the Ninth Schedule after 1973, as it was in 1973 that the basic structure test was evolved in the Kesavananda Bharati case as the ultimate test to examine the constitutional validity of laws.
4 . Bharat New Car Assessment Programme (Bharat NCAP)
Context : Come October 1, car manufacturers can volunteer to get their models tested under an indigenous programme and get a star rating indicating their safety in a crash.
About New Car Assessment Programs (NCAP)
- The Bharat New Car Assessment Programme (Bharat NCAP) is modelled on the Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP), a project of the Towards Zero Foundation, which is a U.K.-registered charity that promotes the universal adoption of the United Nation’s motor vehicle safety standards worldwide.
- The new programme will be applicable to passenger vehicles with not more than eight seats in addition to the driver’s seat with a gross vehicle weight not exceeding 3,500 kg.
- It will be based on the soon-to-be published Automotive Industry Standard 197, which lays down testing protocols. Officials of the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry said manufacturers had offered 30 models for testing.
- New Car Assessment Programs (NCAP) provide reliable information about the crash safety of a vehicle based on certain common criteria and procedures. This then helps vehicles acquire a foothold in international markets.
- Bharat NCAP would assign vehicles between one and five stars on parameters such as Adult Occupant Protection (AOP), Child Occupant Protection (COP) and Safety Assist Technologies (SAT).
What is the purpose of an NCAP?
- New Car Assessment Programs (NCAPs) provide globally reliable information about the crash safety of a vehicle based on certain common criteria and procedures. This then helps vehicles acquire a foothold in international markets. They are separate from country-specific motor standards in the sense that the latter restricts itself to assessing the vehicle’s roadworthiness and not necessarily how it would ensure safety in a collision. However, a zero rating in an NCAP cannot prevent a car from being sold in any geography.
- Global NCAP is a standardised platform establishing cooperation and coordination among NCAPs internationally whereas regional NCAPs take into account specific local conditions. A car may have attained a good rating elsewhere but it might not be the case in another geography because of potentially separate manufacturing origins and quality.
- The nature of the domestic markets also matter — consumers may prefer a car with reduced safety specifications for there is greater insistence on affordability.
How would the vehicles be evaluated?
- The voluntary Bharat NCAP would assign vehicles between one and five stars on parameters such as Adult Occupant Protection (AOP), Child Occupant Protection (COP) and Safety Assist Technologies (SAT). It would study frontal impact, side impact and the possibility of a door opening after a crash. The potential impact is studied with the help of dummies, of pre-specified measurements, placed inside the vehicle. The car is crashed into an aluminium deformable barrier impersonating an opposing force of the same magnitude — a crash-like situation, with a 40% overlap.
- Bharat NCAP would conduct its frontal offset crash testing at 64 kmph instead of the prevailing 56 kmph norm. Offset collisions are those where one side of a vehicle’s front and not the full width hits the barrier. Even though the existing regulations adhere to United Nations Regulation 94 for collision testing, its absence in domestic testing norms, and inadequate side protection in vehicles (such as airbags), has been often cited as reasons for the poor performance of Indian vehicles at NCAPs.
- After the test collision, to assess adult protection, the dummy would be checked for injuries on the head, neck, chest, knee, pelvis area, lower leg, foot and ankle. Whether the airbags protect the occupant’s head that moves forward reflexively in the aftermath of a collision would be evaluated. There must not be any rib compression or injury to the knee joint. Additionally, full or partial ejection of an occupant because of a door opening is negatively marked.
- For assessing child protection, the NCAP would evaluate the impact to a child restraint system (CRS) and airbag safety. CRS are portable seats designed to protect children during vehicle collisions. Vehicles that can accommodate a broad variety of child seats available in the domestic market would be rewarded. The child must not be ejected from the CRS and his/her head must be contained within the shell of the CRS preventing any outside blow following a crash.
- Higher ratings would be accorded to vehicles with a permanent warning label on frontal airbags. Sudden braking may propel a child in the front row towards the dashboard, against an airbag which is inflating at an immense speed and having huge volume, causing injury or death. Cars must have manual switches to disable airbags which should not be within the child’s reach.
5. Rice Fortification
Context : Ministry was on track to achieve the target of 100% distribution of fortified rice across all rice-consuming districts in the country. He said the third phase of the programme was in progress and the entire public distribution system would be covered with fortified rice.
- Fortification is the process of adding Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK), containing FSSAI prescribed micronutrients (Iron, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12) to normal Rice (Custom Milled Rice) in the ratio of 1:100 (Mixing 1 Kg of FRK with 100 Kg custom milled rice).
- Fortified rice is nearly identical to traditional rice in aroma, taste, and texture. This process is done in the rice mills at the time of milling of rice.
- Fortification of rice is found to be a cost-effective and complementary strategy to increase vitamin and mineral content in diets with low turnaround time (TAT) and a step towards nutritional security and helps in fighting anaemia and malnutrition in the country.
- FSSAI the regulatory/licensing authority for food fortification, has drafted Standards for FRK, Pre-mix and provided the direction to all the stakeholders for operationalization of draft standards with immediate effect.
- Bureau of Indian Standards has also notified the standards for FRK, Pre-Mix (vitamins and minerals), Machineries (Blenders, Extruders and other allied machineries etc.)
- Efforts are being made to educate the public about the nutritional benefits of fortified rice through IEC campaigns, involving FSSAI, experts and Development Partners.
6 . Facts for Prelims
Lander Hazard Detection and Avoidance Camera (LHDAC)
- Lander Hazard Detection and Avoidance Camera (LHDAC) assists in locating a safe landing area — without boulders or deep trenches — during the descent
- It is developed by Ahmedabad-based Space Applications Centre (SAC), a major research and development centre of ISRO.
Yasuni National Park
- Yasuni National Park is in Ecuador
- It is between the Napo and Curaray Rivers in Napo, Pastaza, and Orellana Provinces in Amazonian Ecuador.
- The national park lies within the Napo moist forests ecoregion and is primarily rain forest. The park is about 250 km from Quito and was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1989.
- It is within the claimed ancestral territory of the Huaorani indigenous people. Yasuni is also home to two uncontacted indigenous tribes, the Tagaeri and the Taromenane.
Pirola and EG.5 (Eris)
- Eris (EG.5) and Pirola (BA 2.86) are sub-variants of the Omicron corona virus, , hailing from the notorious XBB lineage of Omicron.