Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Disqualification of MPs
- Radioactive Tsunami
- Verdict on Banned organization under UAPA
- Ethical Guidelines for AI in Healthcare
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Disqualification of MPs
Context: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified from the Lok Sabha, a day after he was convicted in a defamation case by a Surat court. A notice issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat said he stood disqualified from the House from March 23, the day of his conviction. Rahul Gandhi has to now move a higher court and get his conviction stayed.
Disqualification of a law makers
- Disqualification of a lawmaker is prescribed in three situations.
- First is through the Articles 102(1) and 191(1) for disqualification of a member of Parliament and a member of the Legislative Assembly respectively. The grounds here include holding an office of profit, being of unsound mind or insolvent or not having valid citizenship.
- The second prescription of disqualification is in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, which provides for the disqualification of the members on grounds of defection.
- The third prescription is under The Representation of The People Act (RPA), 1951. This law provides for disqualification for conviction in criminal cases.
Disqualification Under Representation of people’s Act?
- There are several provisions that deal with disqualification under the RPA. Section 9 deals with disqualification for dismissal for corruption or disloyalty, and for entering into government contracts while being a lawmaker. Section 10 deals with disqualification for failure to lodge an account of election expenses. A key provision, Section 11, deals with disqualification for corrupt practices.
- Section 8 of the RPA deals with disqualification for conviction of offences. The provision is aimed at “preventing criminalisation of politics” and keeping ‘tainted’ lawmakers from contesting elections.
Section 8 of the Representation of People’s Act
- Section 8 (1) – Disqualification is triggered for conviction under certain offences listed in Section 8(1) of The Representation of The People Act. This includes specific offences such as promoting enmity between two groups, bribery, and undue influence or personation at an election.
- Section 8(2) also lists offences that deal with hoarding or profiteering, adulteration of food or drugs and for conviction and sentence of at least six months for an offence under any provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act.
- Section 8(3) states: “A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.”
- Under the RPA, Section 8(4) ( Struck down by SC) stated that the disqualification takes effect only “after three months have elapsed” from the date of conviction. Within that period, lawmakers could file an appeal against the sentence before the High Court. However, in the landmark 2013 ruling in ‘Lily Thomas v Union of India’, the Supreme Court struck down Section 8(4) of the RPA as unconstitutional.
What is next step?
- The disqualification can be reversed if a higher court grants a stay on the conviction or decides the appeal in favour of the convicted lawmaker.
- In a 2018 decision in ‘Lok Prahari v Union of India’, the Supreme Court clarified that the disqualification “will not operate from the date of the stay of conviction by the appellate court.”
- Significantly, the stay cannot merely be a suspension of sentence under Section 389 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), but a stay of conviction. Under Section 389 of the CrPC, an Appellate Court can suspend the sentence of a convict while the appeal is pending. This is akin to releasing the appellant on bail.
2 . Radioactive Tsunami
Context: North Korea claimed it had tested an underwater nuclear attack drone able to unleash a “radioactive tsunami”, as it blamed recent U.S.-South Korea exercises for a deteriorating regional security situation.
About Radioactive Tsunami
- A nuclear-capable underwater drone is designed by North Korea to generate a gigantic “radioactive tsunami” that would destroy naval strike groups and ports
- A new weapon, which can be deployed from the coast or towed by surface ships, is built to stealthily infiltrate into operational waters and make a super-scale radioactive tsunami through an underwater explosion” to destroy enemy naval strike groups and ports
- The new weapon, called Haeil which means tsunami in Korean, can be deployed at any coast and port or towed by a surface ship for operation.
Other countries with Radiactive Tsunami weapons
- Russia appears to have developed a nuclear weapon capable of sneaking along the bottom of the sea and detonating along the coastline to flood the area with what one official described as “radioactive tsunamis.” The nuclear weapon, called the Poseidon 2M39 torpedo. The radioactive waves could potentially devastate coastal cities and render huge portions of land uninhabitable for long periods of time.
- The tsunami bomb was an attempt during World War II to develop a tectonic weapon that could create destructive tsunamis. The project commenced after US Navy officer E.A. Gibson noticed small waves generated by explosions used to clear coral reefs. The idea was developed by the United States and New Zealand military in a programme code named Project Seal. The weapons concept was deemed feasible, but the weapons themselves were never fully developed or used. A related concept, the bouncing bomb was developed and used in World War II, to be dropped into water as a means to destroy German dams and cause loss of industrial capacity and widespread flooding.
3 . Verdict on Banned organization under UAPA
Context: A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court on Friday clarified that a person who “is or continues to be” even a “mere member” of a banned organisation is liable to be found criminally liable under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for acting against the sovereignty and integrity of India.
Recent Verdict on Banned Organisation Under UAPA
- In a significant verdict, the Supreme Court overruled its 2011 judgments which held that mere membership of a banned association is not sufficient to constitute an offence under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 or the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, unless it is accompanied with some overt violent.
- While deciding a reference made by a two-judge bench, held that mere membership of a banned organization would make a person criminal and liable to be prosecuted under provisions of UAPA. The bench said the subsequent decisions passed by high courts pursuant to its two-judge verdicts in 2011 on membership of banned outfits are bad in law and overruled.
- While allowing petitions of the Centre and the Assam government seeking review of the apex court’s 2011 verdicts on membership of banned outfits, the court said the Union government was required to be heard when a provision enacted by Parliament is read down.
- The top court said the 2011 verdicts were passed while relying on American court decisions which cannot be done without considering the condition prevailing in India. “In India right to freedom of speech and expressions is not absolute and is subject to reasonable restriction. However, decisions of the American court can be guiding light”
- On February 9, the top court while reserving its verdict on a batch of review pleas had noted that the Union of India was not heard by its two-judge benches when the 2011 verdict was passed reading down section 3(5) of Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 (now repealed).
About 2011 Verdict on Banned Organization under UAPA
- The top court on February 3, 2011, had acquitted suspected ULFA member Arup Bhuyan, who was held guilty by a TADA court on the basis of his alleged confessional statement before the Superintendent of Police, and said mere membership of a banned organisation will not make a person a criminal unless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence or creates public disorder by violence or incitement to violence.
- Similar views were taken by the apex court in two other verdicts of 2011in Indra Das versus State of Assam and state of Kerala versus Raneef, where the bench relied upon the three US Supreme Court decisions which have rejected the doctrine of ‘guilt by association’.
Freedom of Association
- Article 19(1) (c) of the Constitution of India guarantees to all its citizens the right “to form associations, or unions or Co-Operative Societies.” Under clause (4) of Article 19, however, the State may by law impose reasonable restrictions on this right in the interest of public order or morality or the sovereignty and integrity of India.
Grounds on which this freedom gets restricted:
1. Sovereignty and Integrity of India: To safeguard the sovereignty of the country the freedom to form associations can be restricted. This freedom will also be restricted if it causes any disturbance or affects the oneness of the country.
2. Public Order: To maintain the safety, public peace, order, and tranquillity of the country, the right to form an association can be restricted.
3. Morality: This freedom can be restricted if any of the individual’s activities involve indecency or obscenity.
- The right to form association includes the right to form companies, societies, partnerships, trade union and political parties. The right guaranteed is not merely the right to form association but also to continue with the association as such. The freedom to form association implies also the freedom to form or not to form, to join or not to join , an association or union.
4 . Ethical Guidelines for AI in Healthcare
Context: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has released the country’s first Ethical Guidelines for Application of Artificial Intelligence in Biomedical Research and Healthcare, aimed at creating “an ethics framework which can assist in the development, deployment, and adoption of AI-based solutions” in the fields specified.
Ethical Guidelines for Application of Artificial Intelligence in Biomedical Research and Healthcare
What is Artificial Intelligence?
- Artificial intelligence (AI) is defined as “a system’s ability to correctly interpret external data and to use those learnings to achieve specific goals and tasks through flexible adaption”. AI uses complex computer algorithms to emulate human cognition albeit with far-reaching capabilities of analysing large datasets. The central goal for such systems should be to make the AI-assisted platforms available for the benefit of largest section of common people with safety and highest precision possible.
What is the purpose of this ethical guidelines?
- Artificial intelligence (AI) has made inroads into every sector and healthcare is no exception. Recognising this, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has released Ethical Guidelines for AI in Healthcare and Biomedical Research to “guide effective yet safe development, deployment and adoption of AI-based technologies”.
- The purpose of the Guideline is to provide an ethics framework which can assist in the development, deployment, and adoption of AI-based solutions for biomedical research and healthcare delivery.
- Since AI cannot be held accountable for the decisions it makes, so “an ethically sound policy framework is essential to guide the AI technologies development and its application in healthcare. Further, as AI technologies get further developed and applied in clinical decision making, it is important to have processes that discuss accountability in case of errors for safeguarding and protection
What are the recognised applications of AI in Healthcare?
- Diagnosis and screening, therapeutics, preventive treatments, clinical decision-making, public health surveillance, complex data analysis, predicting disease outcomes, behavioural and mental healthcare and health management systems are among the recognised applications of AI in healthcare.
- For example, Computed Tomography (CT) scans can be automatically read by AI as well as radiologists. Tuberculosis screening can be done by AI using Chest X-Rays with comparable performance as molecular testing, and mammography scans can be used to predict the onset of breast cancer before visual signs appear. As a result, AI for health has been recognized as one of the core areas by researchers as well as the governments.
- Ethical guidelines outlined 10 key patient-centric ethical principles for AI application in the health sector for all stakeholders involved. These are accountability and liability, autonomy, data privacy, collaboration, risk minimization, and safety, accessibility, and equity, optimization of data quality, non-discrimination and fairness, validity, and trustworthiness.
- The autonomy principle ensures human oversight of the functioning and performance of the AI system. Before initiating any process, it is also critical to attain consent of the patient who must also be informed of the physical, psychological and social risks involved.
- The safety and risk minimization principle are aimed at preventing “unintended or deliberate misuse”, anonymized data delinked from global technology to avoid cyber-attacks, and a favorable benefit-risk assessment by an ethical committee among a host of other areas.
- The accountability and liability principle underlines the importance of regular internal and external audits to ensure optimum functioning of AI systems which must be made available to the public.
- The accessibility, equity and inclusiveness principle acknowledges that the deployment of AI technology assumes widespread availability of appropriate infrastructure and thus aims to bridge the digital divide.
- Trustworthiness is the most desirable quality of any diagnostic or prognostic tool to be used in AI healthcare. Clinicians need to build confidence in the tools that they use and the same applies to AI technologies. In order to effectively use AI, clinicians and healthcare providers need to have a simple, systematic and trustworthy way to test the validity and reliability of AI technologies.
- Data privacy- AI-based technology should ensure privacy and personal data protection at all stages of development and deployment. Maintaining the trust of all the stakeholders including the recipient of healthcare over the safe and secure use of their data is of prime importance to the successful and widespread deployment of AI. Data privacy must aim to prevent unauthorized access, modification, and/ or loss of personal data
- The guidelines also outlined a brief for relevant stakeholders including researchers, clinicians / hospitals / public health system, patients, ethics committee, government regulators and the industry.
- As per the guidelines, the ethical review process for AI in health came under the domain of the ethics committee which assess a host of factors including data source, quality, safety, anonymization, and/or data piracy, data selection biases, participant protection, payment of compensation, possibility of stigmatisation among others.
- The body is “responsible for assessing both the scientific rigour and ethical aspects of all health research and should ensure that the proposal is scientifically sound and weigh all potential risks and benefits for the population where the research is being carried out,” the document notes.
- Informed consent and governance of AI tools in the health sector are other critical areas highlighted in the guidelines where the latter is still in preliminary stages even in developed countries.
5 . Facts for Prelims
GST Appellate Tribunal
- Lok Sabha cleared changes in the Finance Bill to pave the way for setting up of an appellate tribunal for resolution of disputes under GST. Currently, taxpayers are filing writ petitions before high courts in the absence of the appellate tribunal.
- Important features of the Bill- As per the amendments proposed in the Finance Bill 2023, which was passed by Lok Sabha, benches of the GST Appellate Tribunal would be set up in every state while there will be a principal bench in Delhi which will hear appeals related to ‘place of supply’.
- The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Appellate Tribunal is likely to be headed by a former Supreme Court judge or a former Chief Justice of a High Court and its framework may permit the resolution of disputes involving dues or fines of less than Rs. 50 lakh by a single-member bench.
- An amendment made in Section 109 of the CGST Act would help the government in setting up of the GST tribunal in a time-bound manner.
- Significance – The establishment of the appellate tribunal would result in lower burden on high courts, Supreme Court and at the same time, would also provide taxpayers the much-needed reprieve.
- It would also enable the principal bench to take certain important decisions such as distribution of cases amongst the state benches, referring of case to other members if there is a difference in views within the same bench or otherwise. These would help in expediting the decision-making process
- It will bring to an end the long wait by the industry and help streamline pending litigations.
- The power to hear the appeal should now vest with the principal bench which would likely aid in better decision making
- Currently, taxpayers aggrieved with ruling of tax authorities are required to move high courts. The resolution process takes longer time as high courts are already burdened with backlog of cases and do not have a specialised bench to deal with GST cases.
- Setting up of state and national level benches would pave the way for faster dispute resolution.
PM YOUNG ACHIEVERS SCHOLARSHIP AWARD SCHEME FOR VIBRANT INDIA FOR OBCs AND OTHERS (PM -YASASVI)
- PM Young Achievers Scholarship Award Scheme for Vibrant India (YASASVI) will provide continuous education to bright students of underprivileged section of society.
- Scheme focus on socio-economic development of Other Backward Class (OBC), Economically Backward Class (EBC), De-Notified, Nomadic & Semi-Nomadic Tribes (DNT/SNT) community through Scholarship to students under YASASVI scheme.
- This combined scheme covers Scholarship fees and Hostel fees. There are five sub-schemes under the scheme. Some main schemes are
- Pre-Matric Scholarship for OBC,EBC and DNT Students.
- Post-Matric Scholarship for OBC,EBC and DNT Students.
- Top Class School Education for OBC,EBC and DNT Students.
- Top Class College Education for OBC,EBC and DNT Students.
- Students in class IX and class XI, full time in government schools can apply.
- Currently students need to apply through YASASVI entrance test (YET) conducted by National Testing Agency (NTA).
- Students availing this scheme are not eligible for any other government educational scholarship scheme.
- Students will be registered on National Scholarship Portal/ State Scholarship Portal and their database will be maintained by concerned School/Institution.
- Attendance ( minimum 75%) and performance will be monitored by institutions through Portal and Aadhaar Based Attendance System.
- State Government shall pay the scholarship amount directly to beneficiary’s linked account.
- 30% fund for girls and 5% for students with disability is allotted.
- Objective of the scheme is to support and empower weaker sections of society through education thereby helping them to live productive, safe and dignified life.
- It facilitates the completion of education of most vulnerable sections of society.
- It can help bring the drop-outs back to school for secondary/ higher education.
- Common Name- Sarus crane
- Scientific Name- Grus antigone
- Population- Estimated to be 15,000-20,000 individuals in India
- Conservation status- Listed in Schedule IV of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and as Vulnerable on IUCN Red List
- The Sarus crane is the tallest flying bird in the world standing 152-156 cm tall with a wingspan of 240cm.
- It has a predominantly grey plumage with a naked red head and upper neck and pale red legs.
- It is a social creature, found mostly in pairs or small groups of three or four.
- Nests are constructed on water in natural wetlands or in flooded paddy fields. Usually, a clutch has only one or two eggs, which are incubated by both parents for a period of 26 to 35 days. The juveniles follow their parents from the day of birth.
- In the Indian subcontinent, it is found in northern and central India, Terai Nepal and Pakistan. It was once a common site in the paddy fields of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Assam. Their population is now on the decline with only 15,000-20,000 found in India, a majority of which are in Uttar Pradesh.
- The Sarus crane is known for its ability to live in association with humans, inhabiting open, cultivated, well-watered plains, marshlands and jheels. These areas suit them well for foraging, roosting and nesting.
- A guillotine is an apparatus designed for efficiently carrying out executions by beheading.
- It consists of a large, weighted blade that is raised to the top of a tall, erect frame and released to fall on the neck of a condemned person secured at the bottom of the frame, executing them in a single, clean pass. The origin of the exact device as well as the term can be found in France.
- The design of the guillotine was intended to make capital punishment more reliable and less painful in accordance with new Enlightenment ideas of human rights. Prior to use of the guillotine, France had inflicted manual beheading and a variety of methods of execution, many of which were more gruesome and required a high level of precision and skill to carry out successfully.
- The guillotine is most widely associated with the French Revolution, when it became popular with the revolutionaries meting out capital punishment to members and supporters of the Ancient Regime, including King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. It was a method of execution in France until the country stopped capital punishment in 1981.
- In legislative parlance, to “guillotine” means to bunch together and fast-track the passage of financial business. It is a fairly common procedural exercise in Lok Sabha during the Budget Session.
- After the Budget is presented, Parliament goes into recess for about three weeks, during which time the House Standing Committees examine Demands for Grants for various Ministries, and prepare reports. After Parliament reassembles, the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) draws up a schedule for discussions on the Demands for Grants. Given the limitation of time, the House cannot take up the expenditure demands of all Ministries; therefore, the BAC identifies some important Ministries for discussions.
- It usually lists Demands for Grants of the Ministries of Home, Defence, External Affairs, Agriculture, Rural Development and Human Resource Development. Members utilise the opportunity to discuss the policies and working of Ministries
- Once the House is done with these debates, the Speaker applies the “guillotine”, and all outstanding demands for grants are put to vote at once. This usually happens on the last day earmarked for the discussion on the Budget. The intention is to ensure timely passage of the Finance Bill, marking the completion of the legislative exercise with regard to the Budget.
Liberalised Remittance Scheme
- The Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) is part of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) 1999 which lays down the guidelines for outward remittance from India.
- Under LRS, all resident individuals, including minors, are allowed to freely remit up to USD250,000 per financial year (April – March). This can be for any permissible current or capital account transaction, or a combination of both.
- Only individual Indian residents are permitted to remit funds under LRS. Corporates, partnership firms, HUF, trusts, etc are excluded from its ambit. However, it is available to minors, provided that Form A2 is countersigned by the minor’s natural guardian.
- Under LRS, the following types of transactions are expressly prohibited:
- Transactions not permissible under Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999
- Remittance for margins or margin calls to overseas exchanges or overseas counterparty
- Remittances for any purpose specifically prohibited under Schedule I or any item restricted under Schedule II of Foreign Exchange Management (Current Account Transaction) Rules, 2000
- Capital account remittances to countries identified by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as non-co-operative countries and territories or as notified by RBI
- Remittances directly or indirectly to those individuals and entities identified as posing significant risk of committing acts of terrorism as advised separately by RBI to the banks.
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
- With the tagline “Swachh Indhan, Behtar Jeevan“, Union Government has launched a social welfare scheme “Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana” (PMUY) on 1st May 2016
- The scheme envisages of smoke free Rural India and aims to benefit five crore families especially the women living below poverty line (BPL) by providing concessional LPG connections to entire nation by 2019.
- The scheme will increase the usage of LPG and would help in reducing health disorders, air pollution and deforestation.
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana will provide 5 crore LPG connections to BPL families, with the financial support of Rs 1600.
- Connections will be issued on the name of women beneficiaries. EMI facility will also be provided for stove and refill cost.
- It is complimentary to Prime Minister’s Give It Up campaign under which 75 lakh middle class and lower middle class households have voluntarily given up their cooking gas subsidy
- This scheme was replaced by Ujjwala 2.0 in 2021
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was launched to safeguard the health of women and the household from consumption of unhealthy fuels by providing them with clean cooking fuel in the form of LPG.
- The scheme is designed to protect the health of the women by curbing health issues that result from consuming fossil fuels and other fuels used for cooking. Moreover it also reduces casualties that occur as a result of unclean fuels and control respiratory issues due to consumption of unhealthy fuels.
- Apart from furthering the health of women, this scheme also seeks to empower women in rural India by issuing connections under the name of the women in the household.