Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Great Nicobar Project
- Basic Structure
- Data Protection Bill
- Jan Vishwas Bill
- Inter-Services Organisation (Command, Control and Discipline) Bill, 2023
- Parliamentary committee report on minimum age to contest the poll
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Great Nicobar Project
Context: The Union government’s ambitious ₹72,000-crore Great Nicobar Project may see 9.64 lakh, and not 8.5 lakh, trees felled to enable the construction of a trans-shipment port, an international airport, township development, and a 450 MVA gas and solar-based power plant in the Great Nicobar island, according to a response by Minister of State (Environment) Ashwini Kumar Choubey in the Rajya Sabha
- The Great Nicobar Project, which is likely to come up over 130 square km of pristine forest, has been accorded environmental clearance by an expert committee. However, this was challenged by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), following which the NGT constituted an expert committee in April to investigate aspects of the clearance.
- Though details of a project being appraised for environmental clearance are usually made available on a public portal, maintained by the Environment Ministry, details on the Great Nicobar Project have not been put up, it is learnt, following instructions from the Ministry of Home Affairs which has classified the project as one of “strategic importance”.
What is Great Nicobar Project?
- Great Nicobar Development Plan is a planned mega infrastructure project for the southern tip of Great Nicobar Island in Andaman Sea of India. The island is comes under the administration of the Indian Union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Island.
- Total project costing Rs. ₹75,000 crore (US$9.4 b in 2022), conceived by NITI Aayog & being developed by Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation (ANIIDC), with geostrategic importance for defence, logistics, commerce and industries, eco-tourism, coastal tourism, Coastal Regulation Zone, etc, has four components:
- The project has four components – an International Transhipment Port (ITP), Greenfield International Airport, a power plant and a new township that could constitute a Special Economic Zone. These four interlinked projects form the core of the new city and the holistic master plan.
- Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s Expert Appraisal Committee had already granted the environmental clearance in 2022 after considering the environmental risks and mitigation strategies.
What are the significance of the Great Nicobar?
- Great Nicobar Island covers 951 square km, making it the largest island in the Nicobar group of Islands, and is also the southernmost region of India. The island has a tropical monsoon climate with an annual rainfall of 372 cm.
- Mount Thulliar is the highest point on the island at 2,106 feet and is the source for several rivers such as Alexandra, Amrit Kaur, Dogmar and Galathea. The vegetation of the island is broadly divided into evergreen hill forest, tropical rainforest, littoral forest, and mangrove vegetation. It is also located in the Alpine-Himalayan seismic belt, considered to be one of the most highly seismically active belts of the world.
- The island comprises of unique and threatened tropical evergreen forest ecosystems. It is home to 650 species of angiosperms, ferns, gymnosperms, bryophytes, among others. In terms of fauna, there are over 1,800 species, some of which are endemic to this area.
- The region is noted for its rich biodiversity and fosters several rare and endemic species. The endemic species comprise of 11 species of mammals, 32 species of birds, 7 species of reptiles and 4 species of amphibians. Of these, the well-known Crab-eating Macaque, Nicobar Tree Shrew, Nicobar Megapode, are endemic and/or endangered.
- One of the most unique aspects of Great Nicobar is the southernmost point, the Galathea Bay, a nesting ground for the Leatherback Turtle.
- The primary human inhabitants of the island are the Shompen and Nicobarese tribes who have been living on the island for countless generations. The Shompen tribe are an aboriginal people of about 200 to 300 members who inhabit the interiors of Great Nicobar. This particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG) is a semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer community, practicing basic horticulture and pig rearing, who probably migrated around 10,000 years ago.
- They are a unique group, anthropologically completely distinct from the other PVTGs of the Andaman Island as well as from the Nicobarese. Their language, Shompanese, unrelated to any other existing language, seems to have adopted a few words from Nicobarese in the context of an existing, even if very limited, barter system between the two communities. Recent studies have found that, despite their small number, it is a heterogenous group within which different dialects are spoken in various sub-groups.
What are the concerns regarding the project?
- The scale of construction and operations proposed through the four-pronged “holistic development” scheme will be capable of wreaking irreversible damage to the biological and cultural heritage of the island.
- The island is not very far from Banda Aceh in Indonesia, which was the epicentre of the December 2004 earthquake and tsunami that caused unprecedented death and destruction. The coastline of Great Nicobar sank nearly four metres. Yet, there was no study or risk assessment of the location of the island on a highly seismic zone prone to frequent earthquakes.
- Technical Issues- Dredging during construction would involve blasting and breaking of several million cubic metre of under-water rock that would affect marine/aquatic fauna and flora through direct impact on sea-bottom habitats. Breakwaters and changes in water quality would result in sea-bottom contamination inside the port area and surroundings. Land reclamation from the sea would destroy bottom habitat and displace fishery resources and cause decrease in the number of species and its abundance.
- Piles, concrete surfaces, rubble mounds and other similar structures in water could form new habitats, introduce undesirable species and contamination of fishery and shellfishery resources. Millions of metric tons of granite stones would be required for the construction of the berths and other infrastructure in the Port. This would ravage whatever hills or mountains in the island.
- Legal Issues- almost all the approvals/exemptions given and denotifications issued under various special laws/rules protecting forests, tribal rights and coastal ecosystem are untenable and could be struck down when challenged in appropriate courts and Tribunals.
- In lieu of the trees being chopped, compensatory afforestation would be carried out in Haryana as “the scope of plantation in Andaman and Nicobar Islands is very limited,” the Minister noted. Planting trees in an “arid landscape” and in “the vicinity of the urban areas” would provide greater ecological value, he added. The government of Haryana has agreed to provide an area of 261.5 square km for compensatory afforestation.
International convention relates to the conservation of Bio-diversity
- Several recent occurrences should have discouraged the government from undertaking such a major environment-destroying project.
- The first is the decision taken on December 19, 2022, at the Conference of Parties for the Convention for Biological Diversity, at which it was agreed, among other things, to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. Also, specifically, to protect 30% of the world’s lands, inland waters, coastal areas and oceans with emphasis on areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and services.
- This decision which was ratified by nearly 200 countries, including India, specifically mentions ‘reducing to near zero the loss of areas of high biodiversity importance, including ecosystems of high ecological integrity’.
2 . Basic Structure of the Constitution
Context: The Supreme Court asked whether Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, is being equated to the Basic Structure of the Constitution.
Background of the News
- A Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud was reacting to senior advocate Kapil Sibal’s submission that there was no constitutional process available to abrogate Article 370, and the provision had attained a “permanent character” after 1957 when the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly dissolved, leaving the Article unchanged.
What is the basic structure doctrine?
- The Doctrine of Basic Structure is a form of judicial review that is used to test the legality of any legislation by the courts.
- The doctrine was evolved by the Supreme Court in the 1973 landmark ruling in Kesavananda Bharati v State of Kerala. In a 7-6 verdict, a 13-judge Constitution Bench ruled that the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution is inviolable, and could not be amended by Parliament
- If a law is found to “damage or destroy” the “basic features of the Constitution”, the Court declares it unconstitutional. The test is applied to constitutional amendments to ensure the amendment does not dilute the fundamentals of the Constitutional itself.
- The test is widely regarded as a check on majoritarian impulses of the Parliament since it places substantive limits on the power to amend the Constitution
How was the doctrine developed?
- The Kesavananda ruling was a culmination of a series of tussles between the judiciary and the executive led by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. After a reversal of key legislation including land reforms; nationalization of banks; abolition of the privy purse- the Parliament brought in a constitutional amendment to give itself the power to amend any part of the Constitution and passed a law that it cannot be reviewed by the courts.
- The Court had to then examine the scope of the Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution and the legality of the land reforms. The 13-judge bench gave 11 separate judgments, and the doctrine was culled out as the majority opinion in the case.
- The Court ruled that while Parliament has vast powers to amend the Constitution, it cannot amend certain “basic features.” On land reforms, the Court upheld the amendment that removed the fundamental right to property. The court ruled that in spirit, the amendment would not violate the “basic structure” of the Constitution.
- The origins of the basic structure doctrine are found in the post-war German Constitution law which, after the Nazi regime, was amended to protect some basic laws. Jurist Nanbhoy Palkhivala who appeared against the government relied on the writings of Professor Dietrich Conrad in support of the basic structure doctrine.
What are the basic features of the Indian Constitution?
- In the Kesavananda ruling, the Supreme Court cited several aspects of the Constitution that could be identified as “basic features” of the document but added that it was not an exhaustive list.
- For example, judicial review, rule of law, federalism, and democratic republic structure are identified as basic features.
- In the 2015 ruling where the Supreme Court struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act and the related Constitutional Amendment, “judicial independence” was identified as a basic feature of the Constitution.
- The five-judge bench struck down the amendment passed with an overwhelming majority by the Parliament (with just one member abstaining) by applying the basic structure doctrine.
About Kesavananda Bharati Case
- Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala & Anr., also known as the Kesavananda Bharati judgment, was a truly landmark decision of the Supreme Court of India that outlined the basic structure doctrine of the Indian Constitution.
- In February 1970, Kesavananda Bharati was compelled to take the Kerala Government to court, challenging the 1969 Land Reforms enacted by the then C. Achuta Menon government that had affected his Mutt. Through the land reforms, the government took away a large chunk of Edneer Mutt’s property, causing it severe financial difficulties.
- Bharati filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court challenging the land reforms. Along with his lawyer Nani Palkhivala, Kesvananda Bharati argued that the new laws violated his fundamental rights, specifically his fundamental right to religion (Article 25), freedom of religious denomination (Article 26), and the right to property (Article 31).
- Alongside Kesavananda Bharati, representatives of the coal, sugar, and other industries that were adversely affected by the land reforms also knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court with petitions of their own.
- The case, Kesavananda Bharati and Ors vs State of Kerala and Anr, went on for over three years before the top court. A 13-judge bench, the largest to be constituted in the history of the Supreme Court, heard the case for 68 working days.
What was the Judgment?
- On April 24, 1973, the 13-judge bench in a 7:6 majority concluded that the Constitution’s ‘basic structure’ is inviolable and cannot be altered by Parliament.
- Though the ‘Basic Structure’ itself was not strictly defined, allowing room for interpretation in future Supreme Court judgments, the following aspects of the Constitution were said to be part of the Basic Structure:
- Supremacy of the Constitution
- The Rule of law
- The Federal character of the Constitution
- The Separation of powers between the Legislature, the executive, and the judiciary
- The Protection of Fundamental Rights
- Basic Structure Doctrine– Through the judgment, the Supreme Court put in place the basic structure doctrine as a common law legal doctrine that the Constitution of a sovereign state has certain characteristics that cannot be erased by its legislature.
- Simply put, the doctrine establishes that the Constitution has a basic structure that cannot be altered by the Parliament through amendments.
- It is through the basic structure doctrine that the Supreme Court of India derives its powers to review and strike down constitutional amendments and acts enacted by Parliament that conflict with or seek to alter this “basic structure” of the Constitution.
- Signifiance of the case– The Kesavananda Bharati judgment is considered to be a landmark judgment that changed the constitutional history of India for two major reasons.
- First, it prevented the Indian Parliament from amending Part III of the Constitution, which deals with fundamental rights; and
- second, it established the supremacy of the judiciary in constitutional matter
Basic Features of the Constitution according to the Kesavanada verdict
- supremacy of the Constitution
- republican and democratic form of government
- secular character of the Constitution
- separation of powers between the legislature, executive and the judiciary
- federal character of the Constitution
- the mandate to build a welfare state contained in the Directive Principles of State Policy
- unity and integrity of the nation
- sovereignty of India
- democratic character of the polity
- unity of the country
- essential features of the individual freedoms secured to the citizens
- mandate to build a welfare state
- sovereign democratic republic
- parliamentary democracy
- three organs of the State
3 . Data Protection Bill
Context: The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2023 was introduced in the Lok Sabha, nearly six years after the Supreme Court held privacy a fundamental right under the Constitution.
About Data Protection Bill
- Data Protection Bill empower citizens to have a greater say in how their online data is used. The DPDP bill is the legislation that frames out the rights and duties of the citizen (Digital Nagrik) on one hand and the obligations to use collected data lawfully of the data fiduciary on the other hand.
- The Bill, which seeks to govern and safeguard the use of personal data, sets out the rights and duties of users, and the obligations on businesses.
- It is based on six principles of the data economy of which the first one talks about the collection and usage of the personal data of citizens of India. The collection and usage of personal data should be lawful, must be protected from breach and transparency should be maintained.
- The second principle talks about data collection exercises that must be for a legal purpose and the data should be safely stored till the purpose is served.
- The next principle talks about data minimization which says that only relevant data should be collected of individuals and serving the pre-defined purpose should be the only aim.
- The fourth principle is regarding Data Protection and Accountability while the fifth talks about the accuracy of data. The last principle lays down the rules regarding reporting a data breach. In case of a data breach, it should be reported in a fair, transparent, and equitable manner to the Data Protection Boards.
- The legislation has undergone multiple iterations – having started out as a draft legislation that espoused the broader tenets of Europe’s privacy protections, which empower citizens to have a greater say in how their online data is used. Midway through the journey, there was an infusion of provisions that diluted some proposals to satisfy companies and promote competition, somewhat on the lines of the US legislation.
What the DPDP bill proposes?
- It proposes data protection legislation that allows the transfer and storage of personal data in some countries while raising the penalty for violations.
- Also, it proposed legislation stipulates consent before collecting personal data and provides for stiff penalties of as much as ₹500 crore on persons and companies that fail to prevent data breaches including accidental disclosures, sharing, altering, or destroying personal data.
Applicability and Scope of DPDP bill:
- The bill applies to the processing of ‘Digital Personal Data’ and excludes from its ambit both non-personal data and data in non-digital formats
- This applies to processing digital personal data within the Indian territory and processing digital personal data outside India if such processing is in connection with any profiling or offering goods or services to data principals within India.
- However, it doesn’t apply to non-automated processing, processing for domestic or personal purposes by individuals, and personal data about individuals contained in records that have been in existence for at least 100 years, quoted the report.
- As per the bill, the personal data of an individual can only be processed for a lawful purpose for which the concerned individual has given consent or is deemed to have given her consent. It mentions the consent should be free, specific, informed, and unambiguous. Though a clause of deemed consent has been added, that refers to situations where consent is not expressly needed.
Data Localisation and Cross-Border Transfer:
- According to the current bill, cross-border data flow to certain countries and territories has been permitted, along with relaxations in data localization requirements.
- To determine non-compliance and imposition of penalty, Data Protection Board will be set up, which will be ‘digital by design’ and will also accept voluntary undertakings.
- The Bill permits data fiduciaries to retain personal data for ‘Business Purposes’ even after the purpose for collection is no longer served by its retention.
Personal Data Breach Penalty:
- In the bill, a penalty is proposed of ₹200 crore if the data fiduciary or the data processor fails to report a personal data breach to the Data Protection Board and affected individuals.
- Also, for failure to ensure reasonable security safeguards, the Data Fiduciary or Processor can be penalized up to ₹250 crores.
- In case of the Board, under an inquiry, determines that non-compliance by a person is significant then it may impose a penalty as specified in Schedule 1 of the Bill, not exceeding ₹500 Crores in each instance
What are the criticism against the Bill?
- The bill progressively weakens the Data Protection Authority of India – the body that is supposed to be the key regulator and enforcer of the law
- Multiple exemptions to the central government and its agencies entities, which were among the most criticised provisions of the previous draft.
- The Centre was also empowered to appoint members to the data protection board, raising concerns over the control it could potentially exert on the institution in cases where it was an interested party.
- Other features include provisions for the central government to bypass norms around seeking express consent from citizens and the right to exempt “any instrumentality of the state” from adverse consequences citing national security, relations with foreign governments, and maintenance of public order among other things, are where the Bill comes in closer to the Chinese version, than the EU legislation that the whole exercise started out with.
- Government stand– The government has maintained that it needs some exemptions and cannot be treated at par with private entities in all cases for various reasons. The government needs certain exemptions because it deals with issues including terrorism, law and order, and public health emergencies. as far as data breaches are concerned, the rules will apply equally to the government and its institution
About India’s Multi Prolonged approach to the Internet:
- While comparisons have been initially drawn with the EU’s landmark General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, which has substantially influenced legislations adopted by nearly 160 countries, the Government of India’s view is that its version of the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill is only one of the pieces that form part of its larger policy vision for the entire digital economy.
- This larger policy framework includes a comprehensive Digital India Act that would eventually replace the existing IT Act, the new data protection Bill that has just been unveiled, a policy to govern non-personal data and the new draft telecom Bill that was put in the public domain last year.
- Data Protection law in other geographies- An estimated 137 out of 194 countries have put in place legislation to secure the protection of data and privacy, with Africa and Asia showing different levels of adoption – with 61 and 57% of countries respectively having adopted such legislations, according to data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, an intergovernmental organisation within the United Nations Secretariat. The share in the least developed countries is only 48%.
Different Models of data protection bill-
- EU Models- The GDPR focuses on a comprehensive data protection law for the processing of personal data. It has been criticised for being excessively stringent, and imposing many obligations on organisations processing data, but is the template for most of the legislation drafted around the world.
- In the EU, the right to privacy is enshrined as a fundamental right that seeks to protect an individual’s dignity and her right over the data that she generates.
- The European Charter of Fundamental Rights recognises the right to privacy as well as the right to protection of personal data and is backed by a comprehensive data protection framework, which applies to processing of personal data by any means, and to processing activities carried out by both the Government as well as the private entities.
- There are certain exemptions such as national security, defence, public security, etc, but they are clearly defined and seen as exclusions on the periphery.
- The US model – Privacy protection is largely defined as a “liberty protection” — focused on the protection of the individual’s personal space from the government, and, therefore, is viewed as being somewhat narrow in focus by virtue of enabling the collection of personal information as long as the individual is informed of such collection and use. The US template has been viewed as inadequate in key respects of regulation.
- Unlike the EU’s GDPR, there is no comprehensive set of privacy rights or principles that collectively address the use, collection and disclosure of data in the US.
- Instead, there is limited sector-specific regulation. The approach towards data protection in the US is different for the public and private sectors.
- The activities and powers of the Government versus personal information are, however, sufficiently well-defined and addressed by broad, sweeping legislations such as the Privacy Act; the Electronic Communications Privacy Act etc. For the private sector, there are some sector-specific norms.
The China model:
- New Chinese laws issued over the last 15 months on data privacy and security include the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), which came into effect in November 2021. It gives Chinese data principals new rights as it seeks to prevent the misuse of personal data.
- The Data Security Law (DSL), which came into force in September 2021, requires business data to be categorised by different levels of importance and puts new restrictions on cross-border transfers. These regulations will have a significant impact on how companies collect, store, use and transfer data, but are essentially focused on giving the government overreaching powers to both collect data and regulate private companies that collect and process information.
- According to an EY analysis of China’s PIPL, the legislation is deemed to be “similar” to the EU’s GDPR, in that it gives Chinese consumers the right to access, correct and delete their personal data gathered by businesses, but credibly impacts offshore data processors that deliver goods and services or analyse individuals in China. The law includes stringent penalties, with fines that can be as much as $7 million or up to 5% of a company’s turnover from the previous financial year. Companies that mishandle data under the DSL face severe penalties.
4 . Jan Vishwas Bill
Context: The Jan Vishwas Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha will amend two provisions of the law governing manufacture, storage, and sale of medicines in India. One of the amendments has led to a debate on whether manufacturers of substandard medicines would be let off easy – by paying a fine instead of imprisonment.
What are the Key features of the Bill?
- Through The Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023, a total of 183 provisions are being proposed to be decriminalized in 42 Central Acts administered by 19 Ministries/Departments. Decriminalization is proposed to be achieved in the following manner: –
- Both Imprisonment and/or Fine are proposed to be removed in some provisions.
- Imprisonment is proposed to be removed and fine retained in few provisions.
- Imprisonment is proposed to be removed and Fine enhanced in few provisions.
- Imprisonment and Fine are proposed to be converted to Penalty in some provisions.
- Compounding of offences is proposed to be introduced in few provisions.
- For effective implementation of the above, the bill proposes measures such as :
- Pragmatic revision of fines and penalties commensurate to the offence committed
- Establishment of Adjudicating Officers
- Establishment of Appellate Authorities
- Periodic increase in quantum of fine and penalties
Benefits of the Amendment Bill
- The Amendment Bill will contribute to rationalizing criminal provisions and ensuring that citizens, businesses and the government departments operate without fear of imprisonment for minor, technical or procedural defaults.
- The nature of penal consequence of an offence committed should be commensurate with the seriousness of the offence. This bill establishes a balance between the severity of the offence/violation committed and the gravity of the prescribed punishment. The proposed amendments ensure the adherence to law by businesses and citizens, without losing the rigor of the law.
- The criminal consequences prescribed for technical/procedural lapses and minor defaults, clog the justice delivery system and puts adjudication of serious offences on the back burner. Some of the amendments proposed in the Bill are to introduce suitable administrative adjudication mechanisms, wherever applicable and feasible. This would go a long way in reducing undue pressure on the justice system, reduce the pendency of cases and help in a more efficient and effective justice dispensation.
- Decriminalization of provisions which affect citizens and certain categories of government employees will help them live without the fear of imprisonment for minor violations.
- The enactment of this legislation would be a landmark in the journey of rationalizing laws, eliminating barriers and bolstering growth of businesses. This legislation would serve as a guiding principle for future amendments in various laws. Consolidated amendments in various laws with a common objective will save time and cost for both Government and Businesses alike.
What are the key issues in the Bill?
- The Bill omits all offences under the Indian Post Office Act, 1898. This raises two questions. First, since several offences under this Act can only be committed by post office officials, it is not clear how deleting those offences is relevant to the stated objective of improving ease of living and doing business. Second, the omitted offences include the unlawful opening of postal articles. Removing punishments for this offence may lead to unjustified invasions of privacy.
- The Adjudicating Officers appointed to award penalties for environmental offences are senior officials of the Executive branch. They may lack the required technical and judicial competence to decide on such penalties.
- The Bill creates an Environmental Protection Fund for education, awareness, and research for environment protection. The reasons for creating this fund are unclear given the overlap between its purpose and that of existing funds of the Central and State Pollution Control Boards.
- The Bill decriminalises offences under the High Denomination Bank Notes (Demonetisation) Act, 1978. This Act was used to remove high-value banknotes as legal tender on January 16, 1978. This deadline also applied to regulatory compliances under that Act. Therefore, amending punishments under this Act after 45 years may not be relevant.
5 . Inter-Services Organisation (Command, Control and Discipline) Bill, 2023
Context: As momentum gains for the proposed reorganisation of the Indian military into integrated theatre commands, the Lok Sabha passed the Inter-Services Organisation (Command, Control and Discipline) Bill, 2023.
Key provisions of the Bill
- The Bill seeks to empower Commander-in-Chief and Officer-in Command of Inter-Services Organisations (ISOs) with all disciplinary and administrative powers in respect of the personnel serving in or attached to such organisations.
- Inter-services Organisation: Existing Inter-services Organisations will be deemed to have been constituted under the Bill. These include the Andaman and Nicobar Command, the Defence Space Agency, and the National Defence Academy. The central government may constitute an Inter-services Organisation which has personnel belonging to at least two of the three services: the army, the navy, and the air force. These may be placed under the command of an Officer-in-Command. These organisations may also include a Joint Services Command, which may be placed under the command of a Commander-in-Chief.
- Control of Inter-services Organisations: Presently, the Commander-in-Chief or Officer-in-Command of Inter-services Organisations are not empowered to exercise disciplinary or administrative powers over the personnel belonging to other services. The Bill empowers the Commander-in-Chief or the Officer-in-Command of an Inter-services Organisation to exercise command and control over the personnel serving in or attached to it. He would be responsible for maintaining discipline and ensuring proper discharge of duties by the service personnel.
- The superintendence of an Inter-services Organisation will be vested in the central government. The government may also issue directions to such organisations on grounds of national security, general administration, or public interest.
- Other forces under central government: The central government may notify any force raised and maintained in India to which the Bill will apply. This would be in addition to army, navy, and air force personnel.
- Commander-in-Chief: The officers eligible to be appointed as the Commander-in-Chief or Officer-in-Command are: (i) a General Officer of the regular Army (above the rank of Brigadier), (ii) a Flag Officer of the Navy (rank of Admiral of the Fleet, Admiral, Vice-Admiral, or Rear-Admiral), or (iii) an Air Officer of the Air Force (above the rank of group captain).
- He will be empowered to exercise all disciplinary and administrative powers vested in: (i) General Officer Commanding the Army, (ii) Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of a Naval Command, (iii) Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of an Air Command, (iv) any other officer/authority specified in the service Acts, and (v) any other officer/authority notified by the government.
- Commanding Officer: The Bill provides for a Commanding Officer who will be in command of a unit, ship, or establishment. The officer will also perform duties assigned by the Commander-in-Chief or Officer-in-Command of the Inter-services Organisation. The Commanding Officer will be empowered to initiate all disciplinary or administrative actions over the personnel appointed, deputed, posted, or attached to that Inter-services Organisation.
What are the significance of the Bill?
- The ‘ISO Bill-2023’ is essentially an ‘enabling Act’ and it does not propose any change in the existing Service Acts/Rules/Regulations which are time-tested and have withstood judicial scrutiny over the last six decades or more.
- The Bill would also pave the way for much greater integration and jointness amongst the three Services.
6 . Minimum age to contest the Poll
Context: Holding that young individuals can be “reliable and responsible” political participants, a Parliamentary Standing Committee has recommended reducing the age for contesting Lok Sabha and Assembly elections to 18 years, which is the minimum age of voting in India.
Background of the News
- A parliamentary committee recommended for reducing the minimum age to contest Lok Sabha and assembly elections, saying it would give the youth equal opportunities to engage in democracy.
- According to the present legal framework, a person should be at least 25 years old to contest Lok Sabha and assembly polls. The minimum age to become a member of Rajya Sabha and state legislative council is 30 years.
- At present, the age at which a person can register as a voter is 18 years.
What are the recommendation of the committee?
- After examining various countries’ practices, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, the Committee observes that the minimum age for candidacy in national elections needs to be 18 years. These nations’ examples demonstrate that young individuals can be reliable and responsible political participants.
- For the US House of Representatives, the minimum age is 25 years and for the US Senate it is 30 years, while for the UK, Canada, Australia, South Africa France and Japan, it is 18 years.
- Referring to surveys indicating that youth globally have significant political awareness and knowledge and that is evident through movements like ‘Fridays for Future’ and ‘March for Our Lives’, the panel also suggested reducing the minimum age requirement for candidacy in Assembly polls.
- This came even as the Election Commission has felt that the minimum age for contesting elections should remain “unchanged” unless there are compelling reasons to do so. It also suggested “reducing the minimum age requirement for candidacy in assembly elections”.
- Views of Election Commission – According to the Election Commission, unless compelling reasons exist to alter a provision of the Constitution, it should remain unchanged.
- The Commission has already considered the issue of aligning the minimum age for voting and contesting elections to Parliament, state legislature, and local bodies and has found that it is unrealistic to expect 18-year-olds to possess the necessary experience and maturity for these responsibilities. Therefore, the minimum age for voting and contesting elections is appropriate. The Commission does not favour reducing the age requirement for membership of Parliament and state legislatures and still maintains this view.
7 . Facts for Prelims
Directorate General of Foreign Trade
- The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) is the agency of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the Government of India responsible for administering laws regarding foreign trade.
- DGFT provides a complete searchable database of all exporters and importers of India.
- The Central Government appoints any person to be the Directorate General of Foreign Trade. Normally a member of the Indian Administrative Service having rendered 30 or more years is appointed to the post of the Director-General of Foreign Trade.
- The Director-General heads an attached office under the administrative control of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the Government of India.
- The Director-General is an Ex-Officio Additional Secretary to the Government of India. The Director-General advises the central Government in the formulation of Foreign Trade Policy and is responsible for carrying out that Policy.
Himalayan vulture (Gyps himalayensis)
- The Himalayan vulture (Gyps himalayensis ) or Himalayan griffon vulture is an Old- World vulture native to the Himalayas and the adjoining Tibetan Plateau.
- It is one of the two largest Old-World vultures and true raptors. It is not to be confused with the griffon vulture, which is a similar species
- Categorized as ‘Near Threatened’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species, the Himalayan vulture is a common winter migrant to the Indian plains, and a resident of the high Himalayas.
- Researchers have recorded the first instance of captive breeding of the Himalayan vulture (Gyps himalayensis) in India at the Assam State Zoo, Guwahati.