Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Political Parties as Public Authorities
- Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
- Recommendations of an expert committee on the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)
- Indian Forest Act 2019
- Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA)
1 . Political Parties as Public Authorities
Context : Despite a June 2013 ruling from the Central Information Commission (CIC) that they fall within the ambit of the transparency law, parties insist that they cannot be considered public authorities under the Act. Six years on, with another Lok Sabha election in the offing, the Supreme Court is set to adjudicate on the issue
- ADR had filed RTI applications, seeking information regarding contributions received by the various political parties in October 2010; all political parties except CPI refused to disclose information, saying they did not come under RTI Act.
- Subsequently, a complaint was filed with CIC in March 2011, requesting that political parties should be declared public authorities. The hearing in the case took place on September 26, 2012 and November 1, 2012.
Decision of CIC
- In a landmark order, the Central Information Commission (CIC) in 2013 said that all political parties come under the ambit of the Right To Information (RTI) Act, and directed all parties to designate public information officers and appellate authorities at their headquarters in six weeks time.
- We hold that INC, BJP, CPI(M), CPIO, NCP and BSP have been substantially financed by the Central Government under section 2(h)(ii) of the RTI Act.
- The criticality of the role being played by these political parties in our democratic set up and the nature of duties performed by them also point towards their public character, bringing them in the ambit of section 2(h).
- The constitutional and legal provisions discussed herein above also point towards their character as public authorities
2 . Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
Context : The eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Wednesday offered to smoothen a bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan so that the two countries can resolve their differences, following last month’s terror attack in Kashmir.
About Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
- The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai (China) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.
- The Heads of State Council (HSC) is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO. It meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the organisation. The SCO Heads of Government Council (HGC) meets once a year to discuss the organisation’s multilateral cooperation strategy and priority areas, to resolve current important economic and other cooperation issues, and also to approve the organisation’s annual budget. The SCO’s official languages are Russian and Chinese.
- The organisation has two permanent bodies — the SCO Secretariat based in Beijing and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent. The SCO Secretary-General and the Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO RATS are appointed by the Council of Heads of State for a term of three years. Rashid Alimov (Tajikistan) and Yevgeny Sysoyev (Russia) have held these positions, respectively, since 1 January 2016.
- Strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states
- Promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas;
- Making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region
- Moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.
- SCO comprises eight member states, namely the Republic of India, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan
- SCO counts four observer states, namely the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Republic of Belarus, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Mongolia
- • the SCO has six dialogue partners, namely the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Armenia, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, the Republic of Turkey, and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
3 . Recommendations of an expert committee on the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)
Context : Indian Statistical Institute(ISI) today presented its Report on the sample size of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slip counting
- ISI is one of the most prominent and reputed national institution devoted to research, teaching and application of statistics and sampling methodology in the country.
- Keeping in view their domain expertise and subject specialization, the Commission decided to engage the Institute in arriving at mathematically sound, statistically robust and practically cogent solutions to the issue of a number/percentage of VVPAT slip counts to done during the elections.
- In view of demands from various political parties to increase the percentage of the VVPAT slip counted during elections, the Commission had engaged the ISI to examine the issue of matching the slips with the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) results.
4 . Indian Forest Act 2019
Context: The Indian Forest Act, 2019 is envisaged as an amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and is an attempt to address contemporary challenges to India’s forests. The draft law has been sent to key forest officers in the States for soliciting comments and objections until June 7, says an accompanying note by the Union Environment Ministry.
About the Indian Forest Act 2019
- Under the draft, the definition of ‘forest’ includes any government or private or institutional land recorded or notified as forest/forest land in any government record and the lands managed by government/community as forest and mangroves. It also covers any land which the central or state government may by notification declare to be forest for the purpose of this Act.
- The ‘production forest’, as introduced in the draft, will be forests with specific objectives for production of timber, pulp, pulpwood, firewood, non-timber forest produce, medicinal plants or any forest species to increase production for a specified period
- “Village forests”, according to the proposed Act, may be forestland or wasteland, which is the property of the government and would be jointly managed by the community through the Joint Forest Management Committee or Gram Sabha.
- Amendment proposed to provide indemnity to Forest-officer using arms etc, to prevent the forest offence. Forest-officer not below the rank of a Ranger shall have power to hold an inquiry into forest offences and shall have the powers to search or issue a search warrant under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Any Forest-officer not below the rank of a Forester may, at any time enter and inspect any land within his area of jurisdiction
- In effect, the aim is to strengthen the forest bureaucracy in terms of deciding on how to decide on [title claims] over forest land, what parts to declare [off-limits] for conservation, checking encroachments
5 . Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA)
Context : The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday banned separatist Yasin Malik’s Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) under the anti-terror law, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA)
- In 2004, the government chose to strengthen The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. It was amended to overcome some of the difficulties in its enforcement and to update it in accordance with international commitments. By inserting specific chapters, the amendment criminalised the raising of funds for a terrorist act, holding of the proceeds of terrorism, membership of a terrorist organisation, support to a terrorist organisation, and the raising of funds for a terrorist organisation. It increased the time available to law-enforcement agencies to file a chargesheet to six months from three.
The law was amended in 2008 after the Mumbai attacks, and again in 2012. The definition of “terrorist act” was expanded to include offences that threaten economic security, counterfeiting Indian currency, and procurement of weapons, etc. Additional powers were granted to courts to provide for attachment or forfeiture of property equivalent to the value of the counterfeit Indian currency, or the proceeds of terrorism involved in the offence.
What is Unlawful Activity as per the Act
- Section 2(o) of UAPA as it stands today, defines “unlawful activity”
- Unlawful activity, in relation to an individual or association, means any action taken by such individual or association (whether by committing an act or by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise),—
- which is intended, or supports any claim, to bring about, on any ground whatsoever, the cession of a part of the territory of India or the secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union, or which incites any individual or group of individuals to bring about such cession or secession; or
- Which disclaims, questions, disrupts or is intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India; or
- Which causes or is intended to cause disaffection against India;