Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- EWS Quota
- Electoral Bond
- Early Warning System against
- Law Commission
- Facts for Prelims
1 . EWS Quota Verdict
Context : Recently, the Supreme Court, in a 3:2 majority, upheld the validity of the 103rd Constitutional Amendment which provides 10% reservation for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) among forward castes in government jobs and colleges across India.
About the News
- Supreme Court upheld the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act, which had introduced a 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS). The court was divided 3:2.
- According to the verdict reservation on economic basis does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution.
Background of the Case
- 103rd amendment to the Constitution provided a 10 per cent reservation to people of economically weaker sections in central government jobs and educational institutions. But the EWS category excluded those from the SC, ST and OBC categories.
- The petitioners, while challenging the amendment, had claimed that the grant of 10 per cent reservation to EWS violated the 50 per cent ceiling cap on quota.
- They also sought a decision on whether economic backwardness alone could be the sole criterion for granting quota in government jobs and educational institutions for those who were under the general quota.
Majority View in the Verdict
- Reservation is an affirmative action measure not only for socially and economically backward classes but for any disadvantaged section. Therefore, reservation solely on an economic basis does not violate the constitution.
- Poverty is an adequate marker of deprivation that the state can address through reservations
- Exclusion of SC/ST and OBCs from EWS reservations is constitutionally valid. Quotas for SC, ST, OBCs are limited to 50% and here 10% was being reserved for EWS without impacting the reservations granted to the three other groups. The 50% ceiling limit itself is flexible and only applies to castebased reservations. The court held that 50% cap can be breached under “extraordinary” situations.
- EWS quota finds an example in Right to Education Act, 2009 also.
Minority View in the Verdict
- Reservation is not a tool for financial upliftment. Reservation under Articles 15 and 16 is meant for rectifying the under-representation of socially and educationally backward classes, SCs and STs.
- The total and absolute exclusion of constitutionally recognised backward classes of citizens and SC and ST communities is nothing but discrimination which undermines the equality code.
- Permitting a breach of 50% would result in compartmentalisation and the rule of the right to equality will become the right to reservations.
- Article 46’s ambit of promoting educational and economic interests of SCs, STs and other weaker sections and protecting them from social injustice implies that they can’t be excluded from the EWS quota.
- Reservation wasn’t meant for groups not historically disadvantaged.
About EWS Quota
- Reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) is being implemented in respect of recruitment for Civil posts and services in government and admission in educational institutions.
- The 10% EWS quota was introduced under the 103rd Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2019 by amending Articles 15 and 16. It inserted Article 15 (6) and Article 16 (6).
- It enables both Centre and the states to provide reservation to the EWS of society.
- The EWS quota breaches the limit of 50% put up by the nine judge constitutional bench in Indira Sawhney case 1992, without even putting this issue into consideration.
Exemption from reservation
“Scientific and Technical” posts which satisfy all the following conditions can be exempted from the purview of the reservation orders by the Ministries/ Departments:
- The posts should be in grades above the lowest grade in Group A of the service concerned.
- They should be classified as “scientific or technical” in terms of Cabinet Secretariat [OM No. 85/11/CF-61(1) dated 28.12.1961], according to which scientific and technical posts for which qualifications in the natural sciences or exact sciences or applied sciences or in technology are prescribed and, the incumbents of which have to use that knowledge in the discharge of their duties.
- The posts should be ‘for conducting research’ or ‘for organizing, guiding and directing research’.
- Persons who are not covered under the scheme of reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs and whose family has gross annual income below Rs 8 (Rupees eight lakh only) are to be identified as EWSs for benefit of reservation. ( Currently disputed in Supreme Court)
- Income shall also include income from all sources i.e. salary, agriculture, business, profession, etc. for the financial year prior to the year of application.
- Also persons whose family owns or possesses any of the following assets shall be excluded from being identified as EWS, irrespective of the family income:
- 5 acres of agricultural land and above;
- Residential area of 1000 sq ft. and above;
- Residential plot of 100 sq. yards and above in notified municipalities;
- Residential, plot of 200 sq. yards and above in areas other than the notified municipalities.
- The property held by a “Family” in different locations or different places/cities would be clubbed while applying the land. or property holding test to determine EWS status.
- The term “Family” for this purpose will include the person who seeks benefit of reservation, his/her parents and siblings below the age of 18 years as also his/her spouse and children below the age of 18 years.
2 . Electoral Bonds
Context : A day after the Centre approved the issuance of the 23rd tranche of electoral bonds which will open for sale on Wednesday with the Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat Assembly elections around the corner, the move came under fire from the Opposition, civil society groups and activists.
About Electoral Bonds
- Electoral bonds are an instrument through which anyone can donate money to political parties.
- Such bonds, which are sold in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh, and Rs 1 crore, can be bought from authorised branches of the State Bank of India.
- As such, a donor is required to pay the amount — say Rs 10 lakh — via a cheque or a digital mechanism (cash is not allowed) to the authorised SBI branch.
- There is no limit on the number of electoral bonds that a person or company can purchase.
- The donor can then give this bond (just one, if the denomination chosen is Rs 10 lakh, or 10, if the denomination is Rs 1 lakh) to the party or parties of their choice.
- The political parties can choose to encash such bonds within 15 days of receiving them and fund their electoral expenses. On the face of it, the process ensures that the name of the donor remains anonymous.
- Every party registered under section 29A of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and having secured at least one per cent of the votes polled in the most recent Lok Sabha or State election has been allotted a verified account by the Election Commission of India.
- The bonds go for sale in 10-day windows in the beginning of every quarter, i.e. in January, April, July and October, besides an additional 30-day period specified by the Central Government during Lok Sabha election years.
- The central idea behind the electoral bonds scheme was to bring about transparency in electoral funding in India.
Why have electoral bonds attracted criticism?
- The central criticism of the electoral bonds scheme is that it does the exact opposite of what it was meant to do: bring transparency to election funding.
- Critics argue that the anonymity of electoral bonds is only for the broader public and opposition parties.
- The fact that such bonds are sold via a government-owned bank (SBI) leaves the door open for the government to know exactly who is funding its opponents.
- This, in turn, allows the possibility for the government of the day to either extort money, especially from the big companies, or victimise them for not funding the ruling party — either way providing an unfair advantage to the party in power.
- Critics have noted that more than 75 per cent of all electoral bonds have goes to the ruling party in the centre.
- Further, one of the arguments for introducing electoral bonds was to allow common people to easily fund political parties of their choice but more than 90% of the bonds have been of the highest denomination (Rs 1 crore).
- Moreover, before the electoral bonds scheme was announced, there was a cap on how much a company could donate to a political party: 7.5 per cent of the average net profits of a company in the preceding three years. However, the government amended the Companies Act to remove this limit, opening the doors to unlimited funding by corporate India, critics argue.
3 National Population Register
Context : Context: The Union Home Ministry in its 2021-22 annual report has said that there is a need to update the National Population Register (NPR) again to incorporate the changes due to birth, death and migration for which demographic and other particulars of each family and individual are to be collected.
About National Population Register (NPR)?
- The NPR is a database containing a list of all usual residents of the country. Its objective is to have a comprehensive identity database of people residing in the country.
- It is generated through house to house enumeration during the “houselisting” phase of the census, which is held once in 10 years.
- A usual resident for the purposes of NPR is a person who has resided in a place for six months or more, and intends to reside there for another six months or more
- NPR was first compiled in 2010 and updated in 2015, the new questions were part of a trial exercise involving 30 lakh respondents in September 2019.
- While similar data is collected through Census, according to Section 15 of the Census Act, 1948, all individual level information collected in Census are confidential and “only aggregated data are released at various administrative levels.”
- The NPR already has an electronic database of more than 119 crore residents. Along with Census, NPR will also be updated digitally for the first time. A mobile application for enumerators has been developed where the existing database will be uploaded. Respondents can also self enumerate.
What is the NPR format of 2010?
- Fifteen identity particulars of the individual members of the household are sought in the 2010 format.
- These include name, relationship to the head of the household, sex, date of birth, marital status, educational qualification, occupation/activity, names of parents, place of birth (of everybody staying in the household at the time), nationality, present address of usual residence, duration of stay at the present address and permanent residential address.
What does the updated manual of 2020 say?
- According to “National Population Register 2020”, the respondent will have to specify the “name of State and district” if the place of birth of father and mother is in India and mention the country’s name if not born here.
- The form will collect details on 14 parameters of all family members. The sub-heads include passport number, relationship to head of the family, whether divorced/widowed or separated, mother tongue, if non-worker, cultivator, labourer, government employee, daily wage earner among others. The form also has a column on Aadhaar, mobile phone, voter ID and driver’s licence number, which are to be provided if available with the respondent.
- Several State governments such as Kerala, West Bengal, Punjab have already objected to the implementation of NPR 2020, saying it is a harbinger for a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) to identify illegal migrants.
- State governments are nervous that the NPR data would be used to target citizens on the basis of their identity and deprive them of their citizenship.
- The NPR 2020 Manual says “date of birth is one of the important items of information being collected in the NPR”. But in a country where a large part of the population is underprivileged and where people have not been able to formalise their birth due to lack of access to health care, the task of disclosing the exact birth and place of birth, especially of their aged parents and orphans, would prove to be a daunting task
- The workforce for updation of NPR 2020 has to be provided by the State governments. With more States objecting to the new format and its contentious clauses, the exercise may reach an impasse. Widespread doubts about the intentions behind the NPR may also affect the smooth conduct of the Census.
Difference between Census & NPR
- The census involves a detailed questionnaire — there were 29 items to be ﬁlled up in the 2011 census — aimed at eliciting the particulars of every person, including age, sex, marital status, children, occupation, birthplace, mother tongue, religion, disability and whether they belonged to any Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.
- NPR collects basic demographic data and biometric particulars. Once the basic details of the head of the family are taken by the enumerator, an acknowledgement slip will be issued. This slip may be required for enrolment in NPR, whenever that process begins. And, once the details are recorded in every local (village or ward), subdistrict (tehsil or taluk), district and State level, there will be a population register at each of these levels. Together, they constitute the National Population Register.
- The census is legally backed by the Census Act, 1948 while the NPR is a mechanism outlined in a set of rules framed under the Citizenship Act, 1955.
Conflict between NPR & Aadhaar
- There is a possibility of conflict as both involves gathering of personal particulars, including biometric data. So,it was agreed that the databases of NPR & UIDAI will exist with diﬀerent objectives, and that each will use the other’s biometric data.
- Those already enrolled for Aadhaar need not give their biometric details again during NPR. At the same time, data captured for NPR would be sent to UIDAI for deduplication.
- In case of discrepancy between Aadhaar and NPR data, the latter would prevail.
Legal basis for the NPR
- While the census is legally backed by the Census Act, 1948, the NPR is a mechanism outlined in a set of rules framed under the Citizenship Act, 1955.
- Section 14A was inserted in the Citizenship Act, 1955, in 2004, providing for the compulsory registration of every citizen of India and the issue of a “national identity card” to him or her. It also said the Central government may maintain a “National Register of Indian Citizens”.
- The Registrar General India shall act as the “National Registration Authority” (and will function as the Registrar General of Citizen Registration). Incidentally, the Registrar General is also the country’s Census Commissioner.
4 . Law Commission
Context : Days after the Gujarat government announced setting up a committee on the implementation of the uniform civil code (UCC) and the BJP promising UCC in poll-bound Himachal Pradesh, the Union Law Ministry finally made appointments to the 22nd Law Commission that is likely to examine the issue in detail.
- 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
5 . Facts for Prelims
- Ex Garuda VII between Indian Air Force (IAF) and French Air and Space Force (FASF) witnessed combined flying by Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) of IAF and Chief of the Air Staff of FASF.
- Ex Garuda VII is also the first occasion for the LCA Tejas and the recently inducted LCH Prachand to participate in any international exercise.
- The exercise, which is due to culminate on 12 November 22, includes four FASF Rafale fighters and one A-330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft. Apart from the LCA and LCH, the IAF contingent consists of Su-30 MKI, Rafale and Jaguar fighter aircraft, as well as Mi-17 helicopters. The IAF contingent also includes Combat Enabling Assets like Flight Refuelling Aircraft, AWACS, AEW&C and Garud Special Forces.