Daily Current Affairs – 2019
Topic: For Prelims and Mains
SC upholds disqualification
14th November 2019
Why in news?
The Supreme Court recently upheld the disqualification of 17 dissident Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) legislators by then Karnataka Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) but held that their ouster was no bar to contesting repolls.
What is anti-defection law?
- The Tenth Schedule of Indian Constitution is popularly known as the Anti-Defection Act.
- Original constitution had no such provisions. It was included in the Constitution in 1985 by the Rajiv Gandhi government.
- The main intent of the law was to deter “the evil of political defections” by legislators motivated by the lure of office or other similar considerations.
What are the grounds for disqualification under the Anti-Defection Law?
- If an elected member voluntarily gives up his membership of a political party;
- If he votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party or anyone authorised to do so, without obtaining prior permission.
As a pre-condition for his disqualification, his abstention from voting should not be condoned by his party or the authorised person within 15 days of such incident.
91st amendment act, 2003 – Relates to the anti defection laws and Restricting the size of the council of ministers to aid and advice the President.
About 91st amendment act :
- 91st amendment act sates that the size of the council of ministers and in the respective state governments should not be more than 15% (Fifteen Percent) of the total members of lower house (i.e. 15% strength of Lok Sabha in the parliament and 15% strength of lower houses of respective states legislatures (the minimum strength in the case of small states (Sikkim, Mizoram, Goa) is being 12 due to lower strength of the Legislative assembly of that states) Sikkim – 32, Mizoram – 40, Goa – 40.
- 91st Amendment act of Indian constitution also states that person who is disqualified under anti-defection law (Schedule 10th of Indian constitution) shall not be appointed as a minister nor hold and remunerative political post from the period of disqualification.
‘Office of Chief Justice of India comes under RTI Act’
Why in news?
The office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) is a ‘public authority’ under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, a five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi declared recently.
- RTI stands for Right to Information and has been given the status of a fundamental right under Article 19(1) of the Constitution Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005 mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information by various Public Authorities under the government of India as well as the State Governments.
- The law imposes a penalty for willful default by government officials. Citizens can ask for anything that the government can disclose to Parliament.
Significant Provisions under Right to Information Act, 2005
Section 2(h): Public authorities means all authorities and bodies under the Constitution or any other law, and inter alia includes all authorities under the Central, state governments and local bodies. The civil societies substantially funded, directly or indirectly, by the public funds also fall within the ambit.
Section 4 1(b): Maintain and proactively disclose information.
Section 6: Prescribes simple procedure for securing information.
Section 7: Fixes time limit for providing information(s) by PIOs.
Section 8: Only minimum information exempted from disclosure.
Section 19: Two tier mechanism for appeal.
Section 20: Provides penalties in case of failure to provide information on time, incorrect, incomplete or misleading or distorted information.
Section 23: Lower courts are barred from entertaining suits or applications. However, the writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and high courts under Articles 32 and 225 of the Constitution remains unaffected.
Achievements of Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005
- The answer keys of civil service examination and IIT-JEE are now available on the websites of the Union Public Service Commission and IIT-JEE respectively, helping students to find out their scores even before the official announcement.
- Assets and wealth declaration of all public servants – PM and his entire council of ministers, civil servants — are now in the public domain.
Criticism of Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005
- Poor record-keeping practices within the bureaucracy results in missing files.
- Lack of infrastructure and staff for running Information Commissions.
- Dilution of supplementary laws such as the one for whistleblower protection.
- Lack of Proactive declaration of information by the government as stipulated in RTI law increase applications.
- Need to put all RTI replies on government websites to curb unnecessary applications.
- Increasing frivolous RTI applications. (Public authorities have also complained some applicants of using RTI for blackmail).
How does Right to Information (RTI) Act work?
Every citizen has freedom of speech and expression. Therefore, Citizens have a right to know how the governments, meant to serve them, are functioning.
The Right to Information Act (RTI), 2015 is an Act of the Parliament of India – to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens. ”Simply put, it allows citizens of the country to request information from any public authority about its work, actions, etc”
Facts for Prelims
World Congress on Rural and Agricultural Finance:
- The 6th World Congress is being held in New Delhi.
- It is co-hosted by NABARD and the Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA) and supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India.
- Theme: ‘Rural and Agricultural Finance: Critical Input to Achieve Inclusive and Sustainable Development’.
- Aim: To bring member institutions and all interested development sector partners together to discuss the topics that define the future of the flow of finance to the rural and agricultural sector and to bring a powerful message to the worldwide policymaking community.
- APRACA, representing 81 member institutions from 21 countries, is a regional association that promotes cooperation and facilitates mutual exchange of information and expertise in the field of rural finance.
- Introduced by Amazon.
- To block selling of counterfeit goods on its platform.
- The aim is to ensure that customers receive authentic goods when shopping on Amazon.
- It introduces additional proactive mechanisms and powerful tools to identify, block and remove counterfeits.