Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Keezhadi Excavation
- Dickinsonia Fossil
- Law commission
- Social Stock Exchange
- Government Schemes for renewable energy sources
- Anti defection law
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Keezhadi Excavation
Context: Keeladi is a tiny hamlet in the Sivaganga district in south Tamil Nadu. It is about 12 km south-east to the temple city of Madurai and is located along the Vaigai river. The excavations here from 2015 prove that an urban civilisation existed in Tamil Nadu in the Sangam age on the banks of the Vaigai river.
- Keezhadi is located near Silaimaan east of Madurai, on the highway to Rameswaram. In a large coconut garden, called Pallichandai Tidal, the Archaeological Survey of India excavated an ancient town dating to the Sangam Age.
- Archaeological excavations have produced evidence for brick buildings, drainage, Tamil-Brahmi inscription on pottery, beads of glass, carnelian and quartz, pearl, iron objects, games pieces, and antimony rods. Further excavation may shed light on the nature of the craft production and the cultural activities undertaken at this settlement
How is Keeladi linked to Sangam age?
- The Sangam age is a period of history in ancient Tamil Nadu which was believed to be from the third century BCE to the third century CE. The name is derived from the renowned Sangam poets of Madurai from that time. Excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department (TNSDA) has pushed the Sangam age further back. In 2019, a TNSDA report dated the unearthed artefacts from Keeladi to a period between sixth century BCE and first century BCE. The findings in the TNSDA report placed Keeladi artefacts about 300 years earlier than the previously believed third century BCE. A recent ASI report by K. Amarnath Ramakrishna, the Superintendent Archaeologist who discovered Keeladi in 2015, has pushed the Sangam age to 800 BCE based on these archaeological findings.
- Keeladi could also provide crucial evidence for understanding the missing links of the Iron Age (12th century BCE to sixth century BCE) to the Early Historic Period (sixth century BCE to fourth century BCE) and subsequent cultural developments.
- After reports of possible links with the Indus Valley Civilisation, the third round (2017) of diggings by the ASI saw a delayed start. Superintending Archaeologist Amarnath Ramakrishna was transferred to Assam, allegedly in a perceived attempt to play down the excavation findings. Keeladi almost faded from public memory as there was no “significant finding” in the third round. This led to criticism that the excavation had been deliberately restricted to 400 metres. Tamil Nadu politicians criticised the BJP-led Union Government of trying to suppress information about an ancient Tamil civilisation that had flourished on the banks of the Vaigai river. On the intervention of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, the ASI permitted the TNSDA to take up further excavation on its own. Since then, the TNSDA has been carrying out excavations to unearth more about the history of Tamil civilisation.
Keezhadi vs Indus Valley civilization
- The unearthed Keeladi artefacts have led academics to describe the site as part of the Vaigai Valley Civilisation. The findings have also invited comparisons with the Indus Valley Civilisation while acknowledging the cultural gap of 1,000 years between the two places. Till now, the gap is filled with Iron Age material in south India, which serve as residual links. However, some of the symbols found in pot sherds of Keeladi bear a close resemblance to Indus Valley signs. A lot of digging and study has to be done to establish the links between these two civilisations.
- TNSDA affirms that Keeladi has all the characteristics of an urban civilisation, with brick structures, luxury items and proof of internal and external trade. It comes across as an industrious and advanced civilisation and has given evidence of urban life and settlements in Tamil Nadu during the Early Historic Period. Keeladi has also added to the credibility of Sangam Literature.
What has been unearthed so far?
- In the eight rounds of excavations, including the first three by the ASI, over 18,000 artefacts have been unearthed from the site.
- Unearthing of heaps of pottery suggest the existence of a pottery making industry, mostly made of locally available raw materials. Over 120 potsherds containing Tamil Brahmi inscriptions have been found. Keeladi, along with other Tamil Nadu sites which have over a thousand inscribed potsherds, clearly suggest the long survival of the script.
- Spindle whorls, copper needles, terracotta seal, hanging stones of the yarn, terracotta spheres and earthen vessels to hold liquid suggest various stages of a weaving industry. There also existed a dyeing industry and a glass bead industry.
- Gold ornaments, copper articles, semi-precious stones, shell bangles, ivory bangles and ivory combs reflect the artistic, culturally rich and prosperous lifestyle of the Keeladi people. Agate and carnelian beads suggest import through commercial networks while terracotta and ivory dice, gamesmen and evidence of hopscotch have been unearthed revealing their pastime hobbies.
2 . Dickinsonia Fossil
Context: Fossils of an extinct species of animal that scientists reported in a sensational discovery from India’s Bhimbetka Rock Shelters in 2021 have been found to be a false alarm. Gregory Retallack, the lead author of the February 2021 paper that reported the discovery, has acknowledged to The New York Times that they are planning to correct their paper after a closer look at the site revealed the apparent fossil to really be wax smeared on a rock by a bee hive
What is Dickinsonia?
- In March 2020, Researchers have discovered three fossils of the earliest known living animal — the 550-million-year-old ‘Dickinsonia’ — on the roof of the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters, about 40 km from Bhopal.
- Dickinsonia is an extinct primitive animal that inhabited seabeds around what is today Australia, China, Russia, Ukraine, in the Ediacaran period, 600-500 million years ago. It was classified as an animal after discovery of cholesterol molecules in the fossils.
- Dickinsonia fossils are known only in the form of imprints and casts in sandstone beds. They are nearly bilaterally symmetric, segmented, round or oval in outline, slightly expanded to one end (i.e. egg-shaped outline). The rib-like segments are radially inclined towards the wide and narrow ends, and the width and length of the segments increases towards the wide end of the fossil. The segments are separated by a thin ridge or groove along the axis of symmetry into right and left halves. The segments are organized in an alternating pattern according to glide reflection symmetry rather than bilateral symmetry; thus, these “segments” are isomers. This glide reflection is also found in Spriggina, Yorgia, Andiva, Cephalonega and other relatives of a Dickinsonia from the extinct Phylum Proarticulata.
- The specimens found in Bhimbetka are around 17 inches long, where as the ones that have been found in other parts of the world exceeded four feet in length. The finding, published in the journal Gondwana Research, confirms close proximity of Australia and India, according to the researchers.
- Dickinsonia fossil was first discovered in 1947 in Flinders Ranges of South Australia. Its fossils have also been discovered in Ukraine, Russia and China.
- Palaeobiologists believe that these earliest living creatures were used to live in shallow warm seas, as early as 570 million years ago, and are representative of earliest complex life form in animal kingdom.
What are the discrepancies found in the findings?
- A new team of researchers from the University of Florida has found that the discovered purported fossil was nothing but an imprint of a recently decayed beehive.
- The team of researchers travelled to the site last December to confirm the ‘hiding in plain sight’ findings along with geologist Manoj Pandit from the University of Rajasthan. They said that the isolated occurrence of Dickinsonia at Bhimbetka is a case of “mistaken identity”. Instead, it appears to be a decayed imprint of a beehive
3 . Law Commission
Context: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved extension of the term of 22nd Law Commission up to August 31, 2024
- Since the third decade of the nineteenth century, Law Commissions were constituted by the Government from time to time and were empowered to recommend legislative reforms with a view to clarify, consolidate and codify particular branches of law where the Government felt the necessity for it.
- The first such Commission was established in 1834 under the Charter Act of 1833 under the Chairmanship of Lord Macaulay which recommended codification of the Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code and a few other matters.
- Thereafter, the second, third and fourth Law Commissions were constituted in 1853, 1861 and 1879 respectively which, during a span of fifty years contributed a great deal to enrich the Indian Statute Book with a large variety of legislations on the pattern of the then prevailing English Laws adapted to Indian conditions.
- The Indian Code of Civil Procedure, the Indian Contract Act, the Indian Evidence Act, the Transfer of Property Act. etc. are products of the labour of the first four Law Commissions.
- Though the Constitution stipulated the continuation of pre-Constitution Laws (Article 372) till they are amended or repealed, there had been demands in Parliament and outside for establishing a Central Law Commission to recommend revision and updating of the inherited laws to serve the changing needs of the country.
- The Government of India reacted favourably and established the First Law Commission of Independent India in 1955 with the then Attorney-General of India, Mr. M. C. Setalvad, as its Chairman.
- Since then twenty one more Law Commissions have been appointed, each with a three-year term and with different terms of reference.
About Law Commission
- Law Commission of India is an executive body established by an order of the Government of India. Its major function is to work for legal reform.
- Its membership primarily comprises legal experts, who are entrusted a mandate by the Government.
- The Commission is established for a fixed tenure and works as an advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice
- The Reports of the Law Commission are considered by the Ministry of Law in consultation with the concerned administrative Ministries and are submitted to Parliament from time to time. They are cited in Courts, in academic and public discourses and are acted upon by concerned Government Departments depending on the Government’s recommendations.
- Former Supreme Court judge Balbir Singh Chauhan was appointed Chairman of the 21st Law Commission. The 21st commission, under Justice B.S. Chauhan (retd), had submitted reports and working papers on key issues such as simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies and a uniform civil code
22nd Law Commission
- On November 7, 2022, Justice Rituraj Awasthi (Former Chief Justice of Karnataka HC) was appointed as the chairperson of the 22nd Law Commission and Justice KT Sankaran, Prof. Anand Paliwal, Prof. DP Verma, Prof.(Dr) Raka Arya and Shri M. Karunanithi as members of the commission.
- The three-year term of the Commission headed by former Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Rituraj Awasthi ended on February 20. Justice Awasthi was appointed chairperson in November last year.
- The 22nd commission is tasked with
- identification of laws that are no longer relevant and can be done away with;
- suggesting new laws that may be necessary to implement the directive principles and to attain the objectives set out in the preamble of the Constitution;
- advising the government on any subject relating to law and judicial administration that may be routed through the ministry of law and justice (Department of Legal Affairs);
- considering the requests for providing research to any foreign countries as may be referred to it by the government through law ministry; and
- preparing reports on all issues, matters, studies and research undertaken by it and recommending such reports for effective measures to be taken by the central or state governments.
4 . Social Stock Exchange
Context: Leading bourse NSE said it had received the final approval from markets regulator SEBI to set up social stock exchange (SSE) as a separate segment on its platform.
What is Social Stock Exchange?
- Social Stock Exchange (SSE) is a separate segment of the existing Stock Exchange, that can help Social Enterprises to raise funds from public through the stock exchange mechanism.
- SSE will act as a medium between Social Enterprises and fund providers and that can help them to select those entities that are creating measurable social impact and reporting such impact.
- The Social Stock Exchange segment will provide new avenue for social enterprises to finance social initiatives, provide them visibility and bring in increased transparency in fund mobilisation and utilisation by social enterprises.
- Social Stock exchange will meet various social welfare objectives related to inclusive growth and financial inclusion.
- This will unlock funds from donors, philanthropic foundations and CSR spenders, in the form of zero coupon zero principal bonds.
- This will also help the SSE leverage existing infrastructure and client relationships of the exchanges to onboard investors, donors, and social enterprises [for-profit and non-profit].
What are the different types of Social Enterprises?
- Social enterprises are non-governmental organisations and are of two types —
- Non-profit organisations (NPOs) and
- For-profit social enterprises (FPEs).
- An NPO is a charitable trust or a charitable society not operating for profit, whereas an FPE is a company or corporate body in the social space, operating for profit.
- Under the rules, any social enterprise, non-profit organisation (NPO) or for-profit social enterprise (FPE), that establishes its primacy of social intent can get listed on the SSE segment.
- NPOs can initiate the fund mobilisation process by issuance of instruments such as zero coupon zero principal (ZCZP) through a public issue or private placement.
- For eligible NPOs, the first step for onboarding starts with the registration on the social stock exchange segment.
- Currently the regulations have prescribed the minimum issue size as ₹1 crore and minimum application size for subscription at ₹2 lakh for ZCZP issuance.
- For FPE, the process of issue and listing of securities would be same as applicable for issue and listing of securities under the extant processes of the exchange.
- The process of listing for SSEs works akin to normal initial public offerings (IPOs). However, instead of shares, the participants are allotted Zero Coupon Zero Principal (ZCZP) instruments. Also, in normal IPOs investors can sell their shares post listing and make profits but ZCZPs don’t yield any returns. In that sense, they are more like donations
What are zero coupon zero Principal securities?
- These are financial instruments that any non-profit organisation can use to raise funds. Usually, such organisations raise money through donations from individuals or corporates. Now, they can issue a zero-coupon, zero-principal security through a social stock exchange (SSE) and those willing to donate money to their cause can buy these securities.
- zero-coupon, zero-principal structure resembles a debt security like a bond. When an entity takes a loan by issuing regular debt security like a bond, it has to make interest payments and the principal when the bond matures. But with this new financial instrument, when an entity issues these securities and raises money, it is not a loan but a donation. So, the borrowing entity does not have to pay interest—therefore zero coupon—and it does not have to pay the principal (zero principal) either.
5 . Government Schemes for renewable energy sources
Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the potential of renewable energy resourches in India is no less than any gold mine or oil field for our private sector.
Government schemes for renewable energy sources
- Pradhan Mantri Kisaan Urja Suraksha Evam Mahabhiyan
- Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Surakshaevam Utthaan Mahabhiyan Yojana (PM-KUSUM Scheme) was launched in March 2019 by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), to subsidize farmers to install solar irrigation pumps for cultivation. Each farmer will receive a 60% subsidy to set up tube wells and pump sets. They will also get 30% of the total cost as a loan from the Government.
- This scheme is aimed at ensuring energy security for farmers in India, along with honouring India’s commitment to increase the share of installed capacity of electric power from non-fossil-fuel sources to 40% by 2030 as part of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)
- Objectives of the scheme
- The primary objective of the PM KUSUM Scheme is to make cutting-edge technology available to farmers and provide sources for de-dieselized irrigation to the agricultural sector.
- The main objectives of this scheme are:
- The solar pumps assist farmers in much more effective and eco-friendly irrigation as these are capable of generating safer energy.
- In addition, the pump sets comprise an energy power grid that generates more energy than diesel-driven pumps. Farmers will be able to sell the extra power to Government directly to enhance their income.
- Components of the scheme :
- Component A: Install a total of 10GV grid-connected stilt-mounted decentralized solar plants and other renewable energy-based power plants. Each plant is sized up to 500KW to 2MV.
- Component B: Install stand-alone solar pumps of up to 7.5HP individual capacity and worth 17.50 lakh.
- Component C: Provide financial support to Solaris 10 lakh grid-connected agricultural pumps of 7.5HP of capacity e
- The Indian Government initiated the construction of solar plants that can generate an aggregate of 28,250 MW of power.
- The Government will subsidize 60% and provide a loan of 30% of the total cost. This leads farmers to bear only 10% of the total cost to install solar plants and solar pumps.
- As per the KUSUM Scheme details, Government will provide subsidies to install state-of-the-art solar pumps. They improve irrigation as they hold 720MV of capacity.
- This scheme offers farmers an opportunity of selling the extra power generated by the plants directly to Government. This ensures the scope of increase in the income of farmers.
- A landholder in a rural area can get a stable source of income by utilizing barren and uncultivated land for solar plant implementation for 25 years.
- The solar plants will be set up above a minimum height in cultivable lands. This way farmers will be able to continue with cultivation after installing the plants.
- KUSUM Scheme ensures increasing use of renewable energy helps to mitigate pollution in farms and opens a gateway to eco-friendly cultivation
- An individual farmer, A group of farmers, FPO or Farmer producer organization, Panchayat, Co-operatives, Water User Associations are eligible for this scheme
- Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme
- Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme was launched in January, 2003. The programme sought to promote the use of alternative and environment friendly fuels and to reduce import dependency for energy requirements.
- The Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP) seeks to achieve blending of Ethanol with motor sprit with a view to reducing pollution, conserve foreign exchange and increase value addition in the sugar industry enabling them to clear cane price arrears of farmers.
- Government has been implementing Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme throughout the country except Union Territories of Andaman Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands, wherein OMCs sell petrol blended with 10% ethanol.
- To increase indigenous production of ethanol the Government since 2014 took multiple interventions like:-
- Re-introduction of administered price mechanism;
- Opening of alternate route for ethanol production;
- Amendment to Industries (Development & Regulation) Act, 1951 which legislates exclusive control of denatured ethanol by the Central Government for smooth movement of ethanol across the country;
- Reduction in Goods & Service Tax (GST) on ethanol meant for EBP Programme from 18% to 5%;
- Differential ethanol price based on raw material utilized for ethanol production;
- Extension of EBP Programme to whole of India except islands of Andaman Nicobar and Lakshadweep wef 01st April, 2019;
- Interest Subvention Scheme for enhancement and augmentation of the ethanol production capacity by Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD);
- Publication of Long Term Policy on ethanol procurement.
Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) have achieved over 10% ethanol blending in petrol during Ethanol Supply Year (ESY) 2021-22. Government has amended the National Policy on Biofuels – 2018 which has advanced the target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol to ESY 2025-26 from 2030.
What is Ethanol?
- Ethanol, an anhydrous ethyl alcohol having chemical formula of C2H5OH, can be produced from sugarcane, maize, wheat, etc which are having high starch content. In India, ethanol is mainly produced from sugarcane molasses by fermentation process. Ethanol can be mixed with gasoline to form different blends. As the ethanol molecule contains oxygen, it allows the engine to more completely combust the fuel, resulting in fewer emissions and thereby reducing the occurrence of environmental pollution. Since ethanol is produced from plants that harness the power of the sun, ethanol is also considered as renewable fuel.
Why is ethanol blended with petrol?
- Ethanol is an organic compound, also known as Ethyl Alcohol, which is produced from biomass. The reason it is blended with petrol is its higher-octane number than gasoline, which contributes to improving the octane number of petrol. Ethanol has insignificant amount of water in it.
What is octane number?
- Octane number is a measuring parameter indicative of any fuel’s ability to endure compression before it detonates. The two variable are inversely proportionate i.e the higher the octane number the greater is the ability to withstand compression
Why is ethanol mixing important ?
- India has put forward the audacious goal of considerable cutting in carbon footprint. However, in pursuit of the goal, its dependency on fossil fuel is a major roadblock. According to 2021 data published by NITI Aayog in report titled ‘Roadmap for Ethanol blending in India 2020-25’, 98 per cent of the fuel requirement in the road transportation sector is currently met by fossil fuels and while only 2% by biofuels
- As ethanol supports complete combustion, the report points out that higher reductions in carbon monoxide emissions were observed with E20 fuel–50% lower in two-wheelers and 30% lower in four-wheelers. Hydrocarbon emissions scaled down by 20%, but nitrous oxide emissions did not show a substantial trend as it depended on the vehicle/engine type and engine operating conditions.
- India is highly dependent on other countries to fulfil its energy demand. The report states that of the total oil requirement in the transportation sector, 85 percent need to be imported.
- On the other hand, there is a continuous rise in vehicles. The vehicle population in the country is around 22 crore two and three wheelers and around 3.6 crore four-wheelers, which is estimated to increase at around 8-10% per annum as estimated by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
- Apart from these, the alternative use-case of sugarcane will help the farmers realise more income on their produce. Also, the surplus and damaged rice procured by the Food Corporation of India can be used to produce ethanol.
Problems in adoption of Ethanol blending fuel
- Availability of sufficient raw material sustainably is required. Sugarcane is a water intensive crop, so promoting its cultivation may deplete our groundwater. Research on non-sugarcane derived ethanol needs to be undertaken.
- Sugarcane is locally available in only some parts of India, thus the supply chain needs to be strengthened to accomplish the Interstate movement of ethanol.
- There is a need for the development of infrastructure to extract ethanol. It requires ethanol compliant dispensing units and additional storage tanks for ethanol at marketing terminals / depots.
- National Hydrogen Mission
- The National Hydrogen Mission was launched on August 15, 2021, with a view to cutting down carbon emissions and increasing the use of renewable sources of energy.
- The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) will formulate the scheme guidelines for implementation.
- The Mission will result in the following likely outcomes by 2030:
- Development of green hydrogen production capacity of at least 5 MMT (Million Metric Tonne) per annum with an associated renewable energy capacity addition of about 125 GW in the country Over Rs.
- Eight lakh crore in total investments Creation of over Six lakh jobs Cumulative reduction in fossil fuel imports over Rs.
- One lakh crore Abatement of nearly 50 MMT of annual greenhouse gas missions.
- Making India a leading producer and supplier of Green Hydrogen in the world
- Creation of export opportunities for Green Hydrogen and its derivatives
- Reduction in dependence on imported fossil fuels and feedstock Development of indigenous manufacturing capabilities
- Attracting investment and business opportunities for the industry Creating opportunities for employment and economic development.
- Supporting R&D projects
- The Mission will support pilot projects in other hard-to-abate sectors like steel, long-range heavy-duty mobility, shipping, energy storage etc. for replacing fossil fuels and fossil fuelbased feedstocks with Green Hydrogen and its derivatives.
1. SIGHT Programme: Under the Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition Programme (SIGHT), two distinct financial incentive mechanisms – targeting domestic manufacturing of electrolysers and production of Green Hydrogen – will be provided under the Mission.
2. Pilot projects: The Mission will also support pilot projects in emerging end-use sectors and production pathways. Regions capable of supporting large scale production and/or utilization of Hydrogen will be identified and developed as Green Hydrogen Hubs.
3. R&D Projects: Public-Private Partnership framework for R&D (Strategic Hydrogen Innovation Partnership – SHIP) will be facilitated under the Mission. R&D projects will be goal-oriented, time bound, and suitably scaled up to develop globally competitive technologies.
4. Skill Development: A coordinated skill development programme will also be undertaken under the Mission.
GREY, BLUE AND GREEN HYDROGEN
- Hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant element in the universe. It is rarely found in nature in its elemental form and must always be extracted from other hydrogen-containing compounds.
- Depending on the nature of the method of its extraction, hydrogen is categorised into three categories, namely, Grey, Blue and Green.
1. Grey Hydrogen:
- It is produced via coal or lignite gasification (black or brown), or via a process called steam methane reformation (SMR) of natural gas or methane (grey). These tend to be mostly carbon-intensive processes.
2. Blue Hydrogen:
- It is produced via natural gas or coal gasification combined with carbon capture storage (CCS) or carbon capture use (CCU) technologies to reduce carbon emissions.
3. Green Hydrogen:
- It is produced using electrolysis of water with electricity generated by renewable energy. The carbon intensity ultimately depends on the carbon neutrality of the source of electricity (i.e., the more renewable energy there is in the electricity fuel mix, the “greener” the hydrogen produced)
India’s Progress Towards Green Hydrogen
- Transform India into an energy independent nation by 2047 where green hydrogen will play an active role as an alternate fuel to petroleum/ fossil-based products.
- In 2020, India’s hydrogen demand stood at 6 million tonnes (MT) per year. It is estimated that by 2030, the hydrogen costs will be down by 50 per cent.
- The demand for hydrogen is expected to see a five-fold jump to 28 MT by 2050 where 80 per cent of the demand is expected to be green in nature.
6 . Anti defection law
Context: The Election Commission of India (ECI) allotted the name ‘Shiv Sena’ and the party’s Bow and Arrow symbol to Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s faction, in effect recognising it as the original party founded by Balasaheb Thackeray. The crisis has thrown the spotlight once again on the anti-defection law, whose purpose is to prevent political defections.
Background of Anti Defection Law
- Indian political scene was besmirched by political defections by members of the legislature. This situation brought about greater instability in the political system.
- Legislators used to change parties frequently, bringing about chaos in the legislatures as governments fell. In sum, they often brought about political instability. This caused serious concerns to the right thinking political leaders of the country.Several efforts were made to make some law to curb defections
- Finally, in 1985, the Rajiv Gandhi government brought a Bill to amend the Constitution and curb defection.
- Through 52nd constitutional amendment act 10th Schedule of the Constitution, which contains the anti-defection law, was added to the Constitution.
About Anti Defection Law
- The purpose of the law is to curb political defection by the legislators.
- The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.
- There are two grounds on which a member of a legislature can be disqualified.
- If the member voluntarily gives up the membership of the party, he shall be disqualified. Voluntarily giving up the membership is not the same as resigning from a party. Even without resigning, a legislator can be disqualified if by his conduct the Speaker/Chairman of the concerned House draws a reasonable inference that the member has voluntarily given up the membership of his party.
- If a legislator votes in the House against the direction of his party and his action is not condoned by his party, he can be disqualified.
About Speaker’s Power under Anti Defection Law
- The ultimate evaluator in the case of disqualification under the Tenth Schedule is the Speaker of the House.
- The Speaker can disqualify a member-only if a claim of disqualification is made before him under Para 2 of the Tenth Schedule.
- Under the light of Articles 102 and 191 of the Constitution and the Tenth Schedule, the Speaker’s exercise is of judicial nature as he can take a decision only after a member files a disqualification petition.
Exception from Disqualification
- The 10th Schedule says that if there is a merger between two political parties and two-thirds of the members of a legislature party agree to the merger, they will not be disqualified.
- When it was enacted first, there was a provision under which if there occurs a split in the original political party and as a result of which one-third of the legislators of that party forms a separate group, they shall not be disqualified.
- This provision resulted in large scale defections and the lawmakers were convinced that the provision of a split in the party was being misused. Therefore, they decided to delete this provision.
- Now, the only provision which can be invoked for protection from disqualification is the provision relating to the merger
Is the law, as it stands now, open to interpretation?
- The first ground for disqualifying a legislator for defecting from a party is his voluntarily giving up the membership of his party. This term “voluntarily giving up the membership of his party” is susceptible to interpretation. As has been explained earlier, voluntarily giving up the membership is not the same as resigning from a party.
- The Supreme Court has clarified this point by saying that the presiding officer (Speaker), who acts as a tribunal, has to draw a reasonable inference from the conduct of the legislator.
- The law certainly has been able to curb the evil of defection to a great extent. But, of late, a very alarming trend of legislators defecting in groups to another party in search of greener pastures is visible.
- The recent examples of defection in state Assemblies and even in Rajya Sabha bear this out. This only shows that the law needs a relook in order to plug the loopholes if any. But it must be said that this law has served the interest of the society. Political instability caused by frequent and unholy change of allegiance on the part of the legislators of our country has been contained to a larger extent.
- The anti-defection law seeks to provide a stable government by ensuring the legislators do not switch sides. However, this law also restricts a legislator from voting in line with his conscience, judgement and interests of his electorate. Such a situation impedes the oversight function of the legislature over the government, by ensuring that members vote based on the decisions taken by the party leadership, and not what their constituents would like them to vote for.
- Political parties issue a direction to MPs on how to vote on most issues, irrespective of the nature of the issue. Several experts have suggested that the law should be valid only for those votes that determine the stability of the government (passage of the annual budget or no-confidence motions
- Various expert committees have recommended that rather than the Presiding Officer, the decision to disqualify a member should be made by the President (in case of MPs) or the Governor (in case of MLAs) on the advice of the Election Commission.
- This would be similar to the process followed for disqualification in case the person holds an office of profit (i.e. the person holds an office under the central or state government which carries a remuneration, and has not been excluded in a list made by the legislature).
7 . Facts for Prelims
Scan & Share service
- The National Health Authority (NHA) under its flagship scheme Ayushman Bharat Digital introduced the Scan & Share service for faster outpatient department (OPD) registrations in October 2022
- NHA has introduced QR-Code based solution in ABDM empanelled facilities to enable patients to scan QR code of the facility and share their demographic details and health records. This minimises the problem of long queues at health facilities and entry of incomplete and inaccurate data.
- This process drastically reduces the wait time for patients, ensure accurate data entry into HMIS, doing away with the need for patient to stand in incessantly long queues. Patients only visit the counter for any applicable payments and availing their OPD card.
- The QR-code-based instant registration service has helped over five lakh patients save time by drastically reducing the wait times in the OPD registration areas of the participating hospitals
Corrupt practices’ under the RPA, 1951
- Section 123 of the Act defines ‘corrupt practices’ to include bribery, undue influence, false information, and promotion or attempted promotion of “feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, race, caste, community, or language” by a candidate for the furtherance of his prospects in the election.
- Section 123 (2) deals with ‘undue influence’ which it defines as “any direct or indirect interference or attempt to interfere on the part of the candidate or his agent, or of any other person, with the consent of the candidate or his election agent, with the free exercise of any electoral right.” This could also include threats of injury, social ostracism and expulsion from any caste or community. Moreover, convincing a candidate or an elector that they will become “an object of divine displeasure or spiritual censure” will also be considered an interference “with the free exercise of the electoral right of such candidate or elector.”
- Section 123 (4) extends the ambit of “corrupt practices” to the intentional publication of false statements which can prejudice the outcome of the candidate’s election.
- Under the provisions of the Act, an elected representative can be disqualified if convicted of certain offences; on grounds of corrupt practices; for failing to declare election expenses; and for interests in government contracts or works.