Daily Current Affairs : 22nd August 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Election Commissioner
  2. Chora (Kariye) museum’s
  3. Mulgaonkar principle
  4. Dragonfly festival
  5. Facts for Prelims

1 . Election Commissioner

Context : Former Finance Secretary Rajiv Kumar has been appointed as Election Commissioner by the Centre.

About Election Commission

  • The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
  • The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
  • The Election Commission was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950.
  • Originally the commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner. It currently consists of Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.

Chief Election Commissioners and Election Commissioners

  • The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.
  • They have tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
  • All Election Commissioners have equal say in the decision making of the Commission. Decisions are taken by majority vote by majority vote.
  • The CEC can be removed from office only by the order of the President, just like a judge of the Supreme Court. However, the same constitutional provision is silent about the procedure for removal of the two Election Commissioners. It only provides that they cannot be removed from office except on the recommendation of the CEC.

Advisory Jurisdiction & Quasi-Judicial Functions

  • Under the Constitution, the Commission also has advisory jurisdiction in the matter of post election disqualification of sitting members of Parliament and State Legislatures.
  • Further, the cases of persons found guilty of corrupt practices at elections which come before the Supreme Court and High Courts are also referred to the Commission for its opinion on the question as to whether such person shall be disqualified and, if so, for what period. The opinion of the Commission in all such matters is binding on the President or, as the case may be, the Governor to whom such opinion is tendered. 
  • The Commission has the power to disqualify a candidate who has failed to lodge an account of his election expenses within the time and in the manner prescribed by law.
  • The Commission has also the power for removing or reducing the period of such disqualification as also other disqualification under the law.

Judicial Review

  • The decisions of the Commission can be challenged in the High Court and the Supreme Court of the India by appropriate petitions.
  • By long standing convention and several judicial pronouncements, once the actual process of elections has started, the judiciary does not intervene in the actual conduct of the polls.
  • Once the polls are completed and result declared, the Commission cannot review any result on its own. This can only be reviewed through the process of an election petition, which can be filed before the High Court, in respect of elections to the Parliament and State Legislatures. In respect of elections for the offices of the President and Vice President, such petitions can only be filed before the Supreme Court.

Political Parties & the Commission

  • Political parties are registered with the Election Commission under the law.
  • The Commission ensures inner party democracy in their functioning by insisting upon them to hold their organizational elections at periodic intervals. Political Parties so registered with it are granted recognition at the State and National levels by the Election Commission on the basis of their poll performance at general elections according to criteria prescribed by it.
  • The Commission, as a part of its quasi-judicial jurisdiction, also settles disputes between the splinter groups of such recognised parties.
  • Election Commission ensures a level playing field for the political parties in election fray, through strict observance by them of a Model Code of Conduct evolved with the consensus of political parties. 
  • The Commission holds periodical consultations with the political parties on matters connected with the conduct of elections; compliance of Model Code of Conduct and new measures proposed to be introduced by the Commission on election related matters. 

2 . Chora (Kariye) museum’s

Context: Turkey’s government has decided to convert another Byzantine monument in Istanbul, which has been a museum for over 70 years, into a working mosque. This is another ancient Orthodox church after Hagia Sophia that has become a mosque.

About the news

  • This decision to transform the Kariye Museum into a mosque has come a month after the conversion of the UNESCO World Heritage-recognised Hagia Sophia.
  • Turkey’s top administrative court had approved the museum’s conversion into a mosque in November 2019.
  • Late last year, the Council of State, the highest administrative court in Turkey, had removed legal hurdles for the Chora (Kariye) museum’s reconversion into a mosque.
  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose Islamist AK Party has long called for the reconversion of the Ottoman-era mosques that were secularised by Kemalists, signed a decree, transferring the management of the medieval monument to the Directorate of Islamic Affairs.
  • This decision has increased tensions further between Turkey and Greece.

About Chora Museum

  • Chora museum was built as a Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora in the 4th century. It was a medieval Byzantine Greek Orthodox church.
  • The church was decorated with 14th-century frescoes of the Last Judgment that remain treasured in the Christian world.
  • In the 16th century, during the Ottoman era, the church was converted into a Kariye mosque.
  • After the Second World War as Turkey pushed ahead with the creation of a more secular new republic out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire the Kariye Mosque became Kariye museum.
  • Chora is also known as Kariye in Turkish and the mediaeval Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora.

What does the conversion of museums to mosque signify?

  • Both changes reflect Mr. Erdogan’s efforts to galvanise his more conservative and nationalist supporters at a time when Turkey is suffering a new spell of inflation and economic uncertainty caused by the virus.

3 . Mulgaonkar principle

Context : In the criticism against the Supreme Court’s ruling that held advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court, his counsel has invoked the ‘Mulgaonkar principles’, urging the court to show restraint.

What are the Mulgaonkar principles?

  • S Mulgaonkar v Unknown (1978) is a case that led to a landmark ruling on the subject of contempt.
  • By a 2:1 majority, the court held Mulgaonkar, then editor of The Indian Express, not guilty of contempt although the same Bench had initiated the proceedings. Justices P Kailasam and Krishna Iyer formed the majority going against then Chief Justice of India M H Beg.
  • Justice Iyer’s counsel of caution in exercising the contempt jurisdiction came to be called the Mulgaonkar principles.

What was the case about?

  • An article by A G Noorani in the newspaper about certain judicial decisions during the Emergency period, especially the Habeas Corpus case, had displeased then CJI Beg.
  • The Habeas Corpus case, often referred to as the “Supreme Court’s darkest hour” upheld the detention law, citing that even the right to life can be suspended during an emergency.
  • Justices A N Ray, Beg, Y V Chandrachud and P N Bhagwati formed the majority while Justice H R Khanna was the sole dissenter.
  • Initially, the SC Registrar wrote to the editor seeking a retraction and an apology, which did not happen.
  • “Instead of publishing any correction of the mis-statement about the conduct of Judges of this Court, the Editor offered to publish the whole material in his possession, as though there was an issue to be tried between the Editor of the newspaper and this Court and the readers were there to try it and decide it,” Justice Beg wrote in the judgment explaining why contempt proceedings were initiated. 

What did Iyer’s ruling say?

  • Justice Iyer said he agreed in initiating contempt proceedings as CJI Beg was anguished but did not agree with pursuing it. Underlining his reasons for not exercising the court’s power to punish for contempt, Justice Iyer said the first rule in the branch of power is a “wise economy of use by the Court of this branch of its jurisdiction”.
  • “The Court will act with seriousness and severity where justice is jeopardized by a gross and/or unfounded attack on the judges, where the attack is calculated to obstruct or destroy the judicial process. The court is willing to ignore, by a majestic liberalism, trifling and venial offenses-the dogs may bark, the caravan will pass. The court will not be prompted to act as a result of an easy irritability,” he wrote.
  • He argued in favour of harmonising “the constitutional values of free criticism, the fourth estate included, and the need for a fearless curial process and its presiding functionary, the judge”.
  • While CJI Beg’s opinion was that Mulgaonkar’s response to the Registrar was as if the case was between the newspaper and people, and not between the newspaper and the court, Justice Iyer said that the people will have the last word.
  • “Justice is not hubris; power is not petulance and prudence is not pusillanimity, especially when judges are themselves prosecutors and mercy is a mark of strength, not whimper of weakness. Christ and Gandhi shall not be lost on the judges at a critical time when courts are on trial and the people (‘We, the People of India’) pronounce the final verdict on all national institutions,” he wrote.

4 . Dragonfly festival

Context: The first-ever State Dragonfly Festival, named Thumbimahotsavam 2020 will be organized by the WWF-India Kerala unit and the Society for Odonate Studies (SOS).

About the festival

  • WWF-India State unit has joined hands with the Society for Odonate Studies (SOS) and Thumbipuranam for the first-ever State Dragonfly Festival in Kerala, christened Thumbimahotsavam 2020.
  • The events will be a part of a National dragonfly festival organised by the WWF India, Bombay Natural History Society and the Indian Dragonfly Society in association with the National Biodiversity Board, United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Development Programme and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  • Pantalu’ is the official mascot of the festival. 
  • A ‘dragonfly backyard watch’ has been announced to enhance the participation of people and improve their observation skills, and this will turn into a citizen science project during COVID-19 restrictions.


  • A dragonfly is an insect belonging to the order Odonata, infraorder Anisoptera
  • The Odonata are an order of flying insects that includes the dragonflies and damselflies.

5 . Facts for Prelims

Section 4 of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and Sec 5 of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) 1981,

  • Section 4 of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and Sec 5 of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) 1981, there is provision for appointment of full time member secretary and nomination of full time or part time chairman by the State government.

Investments via P-notes soar to ₹63,000 cr.

  • According to the SEBI data, investments through participatory notes (P-notes) in the domestic capital market soared to ₹63,288 crore till July-end. This has become the fourth consecutive monthly rise.
  • P-Notes or Participatory Notes are Overseas Derivative Instruments that have Indian stocks as their underlying assets.
  • They allow foreign investors to buy stocks listed on Indian exchanges without being registered.
  • The instrument gained popularity as FIIs, to avoid the formalities of registering and to remain anonymous, started betting on stocks through this route.

Project Lightspeed

  • US Pharma giant Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech’s are testing four vaccine candidates for Covid-19 as part of Project Lightspeed
  • They released the phase-1 data for one of these, being tested in the US.
  • The project with four vaccine candidates is based on BionTech’s proprietary mRNA-based technology platforms. It began in mid-January after the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 was made public.
  • Two of these four candidates — BNT162b1 or BNT162b2 — have gone into human trials so far. Both are in Phase 1/2 human trials in the United States and Germany.
  • BNT162b2 : It is a single nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) vaccine candidate. It is made of a short segment of genetic material — the messenger RNA — which provides instructions for a human cell to make a harmless version of a target protein, in this case the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, in order to activate an immune response against the protein.
  • According to the trial both younger and older adults, by BNT162b1 and BNT162b2 elicited similar immune responses. However, BNT162b2 was associated with less systemic reactogenicity, particularly in older adults. This effectively means that BNT162b2 generates an even lower adverse reaction among the vulnerable population, making it the safer candidate of the two.

 Gorumara National Park

  • Gorumara National Park is located in northern West Bengal, India.
  • Located in the Dooars region of the Himalayan foothills, it is a medium-sized park with grasslands and forests.
  • It is primarily known for its population of Indian rhinoceros.
  • The park has been declared as the best among the protected areas in India by the Ministry of Environment and Forests for the year 2009

Leave a comment

error: Content is protected !! Copying and sharing on Social media / websites will invite legal action