IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


15th January, 2020


Nirbhaya case: SC throws out curative pleas of 2 death row convicts

A five-judge Supreme Court Bench rejected the curative petitions of Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Singh, who were sentenced to death in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case.

About Curative petition:

-       Curative is a rare remedy devised by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in its judgment in the Rupa Ashok Hurra case in 2002.

-       A party can take only two limited grounds in a curative petition —

-       One, he was not heard by the court before the adverse judgment was passed

-       Two, the judge was biased.

-       A curative plea, which follows the dismissal of review petition, is the last legal resort.

About Review Petition:

-       According to constitution, a judgment of the Supreme Court (SC) becomes the law of the land.

-       Under Article-137, SC can review its own decision, which is known as review petition.

-       Under review petition, Court is not allowed to take fresh stock of the case but to correct grave errors that have resulted in the miscarriage of justice.

-       Any person aggrieved by a ruling can seek a review and file a review petition. However, court has its discretion to allow a review petition.

Conditions for Review petition:

-       To correct a “patent error” and not “minor mistakes of inconsequential import”.

-       A review can be accepted “only where a glaring omission or patent mistake or like grave error has crept in earlier by judicial fallibility”.

-       Mistake or error apparent on the face of the record.

-       Any other sufficient reason. It means a reason that is analogous to the other two grounds.

-       A review is not an appeal whereby an erroneous decision is reheard and corrected but lies only for patent error.

-       Possibility of two views on the subject cannot be a ground for review.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/nirbhaya-case-supreme-court-dismisses-curative-petitions-filed-by-two-death-row-convicts/article30565946.ece

Kerala files suit against CAA

Kerala became the first State to join citizens across the country's spectrum to challenge in the Supreme Court the constitutionality of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

Constitutionality of the suit:

-       The original suit has been filed under Article 131 of the Constitution, Which states Supreme Court has “original” jurisdiction in

-       Disputes between States or the Centre and State(s)

-       Matters regarding the enforcement of Fundamental Rights.

-       Any dispute between the Indian Government and one or more States on one side and one or more States on the other side.

-       Disputes between States.

-       Article 256:

-       The executive power of every State shall be so exercised as to ensure compliance with the laws made by Parliament and any existing laws, which apply in that State.

-       The executive power of the Union shall extend to the giving of such directions to a State as may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for that purpose.

Details in the suit:

-       States would be compelled under Article 256 to comply with the CAA, which was “manifestly arbitrary, unreasonable, irrational and violative of fundamental rights”.

-       There exists a dispute, involving questions of law and facts between the State of Kerala and the Union of India:

-       Regarding the enforcement of legal rights as a State

-       Enforcement of the fundamental, statutory constitutional and other legal rights of the inhabitants of the State of Kerala.


-       Whether a State can file an original suit under Article 131 to challenge the constitutionality of a central law.

Supreme Court Judgement on Article 256:

State of Madhya Pradesh vs Union of India:

-       States cannot challenge a central law under Article 131.

State of Jharkhand Vs State of Bihar:

-       Took the opposite view in 2015 and referred the question of law to a larger Bench of the Supreme Court for final determination.

Details of the Suit:

-       Besides the CAA, the suit also challenges other laws that affect citizenships, including Passport Rules and Foreign Order Amendments as “class legislations, which harp on the religious identity of an individual, thereby contravening the principles of secularism”.

-       It said that the CAA, by making concessions for grant of citizenship to illegal migrants who flee persecution from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh was discriminatory and irrational.

-       The law welcomes “illegal migrants” into India selectively on the basis of their religion and pointedly exclude Muslims.

-       They have contended that the CAA shares an “unholy nexus” with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and is against principles of secularism, right to equality and dignity of life enshrined in the Basic Structure of the Constitution.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-govt-moves-sc-challenging-caa/article30564866.ece

The long wait for empowered mayors

Metros have been deprived of empowered Mayors, who can raise efficiency, productivity and liveability.

Case Study:

Delhi government Chief Minister’s reputation is more as a super Mayor in a city-State. His works denotes what an empowered mayor can do.

-       Education budget is 27.8% and continues to tower over the States that average 15.8%.

-       For health, the allocation of 13.8% dwarfs the 5.2% that others spend on average.

-       Delhi is Mohalla Clinics — to provide coverage to all within a range of 1 km, are seen by public health researchers as a good model for a national universal health coverage programme.

Need for empowered mayor:

-       Empowered Mayors can raise efficiency, productivity and liveability.

-       The Economic Survey of 2017-18 notes that a third of the population now lives in urban areas, which produce three-fifths of the GDP.

-       India’s overflowing cities lack capacity, infrastructure and leadership.

-       Smart cities depend on good leaders.

-       Government departments will feel accountable for urban services and infrastructure only under the watch of an empowered leader, who enjoys the mandate of the city’s residents.

Reasons for underpowered Mayors:

-       Mayors in many global cities go on to lead their country, which possibly explains why they have been reduced to obscure, ceremonial figures by national parties in India.

-       Chief Ministers see a potential threat from a charismatic and empowered Mayor with progressive policies.

-       Empowered mayors could steal the limelight through spectacular successes, leaving Chief Ministers and legislators with little direct connect with urban voters.

-       States have used the excuse of poor performance of urban local bodies as a justification to replace direct election of Mayors with an indirect system.

-       Lack of authority with Mayors: Subjects devolved in Tamil Nadu in all these years is nine, and does not include the major municipal services, which continue to be run by parastatal authorities that answer to State governments.

-       Newer devices used to bypass local bodies and priorities are styled as special schemes, such as urban renewal and smart cities, directly supervised by the Central government and partnered by State governments.

Reality of Mayor Office:

-       The present system does not help directly elected Mayors.

-       The Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS) found 33% of medium and large cities with a provision for directly elected Mayors, but none in the mega cities.

-       A tenure of five years for Mayors is available only in a fifth of the biggest cities.

-       Half of urban Indians live in cities where Mayors can be in office for just two-and-a-half years.

Impact of underpowered mayors:

-       In some States, elections to urban local bodies have not been held for years, defeating the lofty goal of decentralised governance.

-       Lack of coherence in government is hindering better productivity and causing losses through pollution, congestion and poor outcomes on infrastructure investments.

-       Flawed priorities

-       Fragmented administration.

-       Low capacity of City administration.


  • In the coming decade, progress on Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the UN Habitat New Urban Agenda will come under close international scrutiny.
  • India’s cities need a new deal, one that is focused on development. Only elected, empowered and accountable Mayors can deliver on that.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/the-long-wait-for-empowered-mayors/article30569637.ece


Iran nuclear deal: EU launches dispute mechanism

Britain, France and Germany ratcheted up pressure on Iran to cease its violations of a landmark nuclear deal, stressing that they want to resolve differences through talks while starting the clock on a process that could result in a so-called “snapback” of United Nations sanctions.

2015 Nuclear deal:

-       The 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, seeks to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon by putting curbs on its atomic programme in exchange for economic incentives.

-       Under its dispute resolution mechanism, countries have 30 days to resolve their problem, though that can be extended.

-       If it cannot be solved, the matter could be brought before the U.N. Security Council and could then result in the snapback of sanctions that had been lifted under the deal.

Arguments of the Parties:

-       They had no choice but to trigger the deal’s “dispute mechanism,” given Iran’s ongoing transgressions.

-       The three nations rejected Tehran’s argument that Iran was justified in violating the deal because the U.S. broke the agreement by pulling out unilaterally in 2018.

-       The Europeans stressed that they want to “resolve the impasse through constructive diplomatic dialogue” and made no threat of sanctions in their statement.

-       They also specifically distanced themselves from sanctions imposed by the U.S., which Washington has said is part of a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/iran-nuclear-deal-eu-launches-dispute-mechanism/article30569438.ece

Raisina Dialogue: World leaders discuss challenges like US-Iran tensions, climate change

India’s flagship global conference on geopolitics, the Raisina Dialogue, began with seven former heads of state or government sharing their perspectives on challenges facing the world, including the US-Iran tensions, Afghan peace initiatives and climate change.

5th Edition of Raisina dialogue:

-       The fifth edition of the prestigious Raisina Dialogue is jointly organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation.

-       It will bring together 700 international participants from over a 100 countries, in one of the largest gathering of its kind.

-       The three-day conference will see participation of 12 foreign ministers, including from Russia, Iran, Australia, Maldives, South Africa, Estonia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Latvia, Uzbekistan and the EU.

-       The valedictory address will be delivered by Vice President of the European Commission and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, European Union, Josep Borrell.

-       The Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Secretary General of the Commonwealth will also attend the conference.

-       Forty per cent of the speakers at the Dialogue are women.

-       Themes:

-       The nationalist impulses challenging global institutions and collective action

-       Debate on the global trading architecture

-       Role of technologies in determining political, economic and military power

-       Global development agenda

-       The state-individual relationship in the age of digital communities and cyberspace.

About Raisina Dialogue:

-       The Raisina Dialogue is a multilateral conference committed to addressing the most challenging issues facing the global community.

-       It is a multilateral conference held annually in India.

-       Every year, global leaders in policy, business, media and civil society are hosted in New Delhi to discuss cooperation on a wide range of pertinent international policy matters.

-       The conference is hosted by the Observer Research Foundation, an independent think tank, in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs of India.

-       It is designed to explore prospects and opportunities for Asian integration as well as Asia’s integration with the larger world.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/raisina-dialogue-world-leaders-discuss-challenges-like-us-iran-tensions-climate-change/article30568803.ece


Centre eases CRZ rules for ‘Blue Flag’ beaches

The Environment Ministry has relaxed Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules that restrict construction near beaches to help States construct infrastructure and enable them to receive ‘Blue Flag’ certification.

Details of the news:

-       In 2019, the Ministry selected 13 beaches in India to vie for the certificate.

-       The earmarked beaches are — Ghoghala beach (Diu), Shivrajpur beach (Gujarat), Bhogave beach (Maharashtra), Padubidri and Kasarkod beaches (Karnataka), Kappad beach (Kerala), Kovalam beach (Tamil Nadu), Eden beach (Pondicherry), Rushikonda beach (Andhra Pradesh), Miramar beach (Goa), Golden beach (Odisha), Radhanagar beach (Andaman & Nicobar Islands) and Bangaram beach (Lakshadweep).

-       The Blue Flag certification, requires beaches to create certain infrastructure — portable toilet blocks, grey water treatment plants, a solar power plant, seating facilities, CCTV surveillance and the like.

-       However, India’s CRZ laws do not allow the construction of such infrastructure on beaches and islands. In the recent order, the Environment Ministry eased these restrictions for the “purposes of Blue Flag certification”.

-       The certification is accorded by the Denmark-based Foundation for Environment Education, with 33 stringent criteria under four major heads for the beaches, that is, (i) Environmental Education and Information (ii) Bathing Water Quality (iii) Environment Management and Conservation and (iv) Safety and Services.

About Blue Flag Certification:

-       This Certification is accorded by an international agency “Foundation for Environment Education, Denmark”.

-       It is  based on 33 stringent criteria in four major heads i.e.

 (i) Environmental Education and Information

 (ii) Bathing Water Quality

 (iii) Environment Management and Conservation

 (iv) Safety and Services in the beaches.

-       The Blue Flag Programme started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987 and in areas outside Europe since 2001, when South Africa joined.

-       The Ministry has embarked upon a programme for ‘Blue Flag’ Certification for select beaches in the country.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-eases-crz-rules-for-blue-flag-beaches/article30568967.ece


Janak Raj may be RBI’s third internal member in MPC

The Reserve Bank of India’s principal adviser in the monetary policy department, Janak Raj, is likely to be the third internal member of the central bank in the monetary policy committee (MPC), which sets interest rates.

About Monetary Policy Committee:

-       The Monetary policy committee (MPC) comprises of six members – three officials of the Reserve Bank of India and three external members nominated by the Government of India.

-       The external members will hold office for a period of four years from the date of appointment while the other three members are official.

-       The current mandate of the committee is to maintain 4% annual inflation until 31 March 2021 with an upper tolerance of 6% and a lower tolerance of 2%. The term of the present committee will end in 2021.

-       The MPC considers the headline inflation as the basis for inflation targeting.

-       The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is a committee constituted by India’s RBI (Reserve Bank of India), led by its Governor.

-       The MPC is required to meet at least four times in a year.

-       The quorum for the meeting of the MPC is four members.

-       Each member of the MPC has one vote, and in the event of an equality of votes, the Governor has a second or casting vote.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/janak-raj-may-be-rbis-third-internal-member-in-mpc/article30569524.ece



Annual Status of Education Report flags poor learning outcomes in schools

Only 16% of children in Class 1 in 26 surveyed rural districts can read text at the prescribed level, while almost 40% cannot even recognise letters, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2019, released by NGO Pratham.



Method of ASER survey:

-       ASER surveyors visited almost 37,000 children between 4 and 8 years in 26 rural districts across 24 States.

-       They asked each child to do a variety of tasks testing cognitive skills — sort images by colour and size, recognise patterns, fit together a four-piece animal puzzle.

-       Social and emotional development was tracked through activities using cards with faces showing happiness, sadness, anger and fear.

Findings of the ASER survey:

-       The solution is not to spend longer hours teaching children the 3Rs.

-       A focus on cognitive skills rather than subject learning in the early years can make a big difference to basic literacy and numeracy abilities.

-       Children’s performance on tasks requiring cognitive skills is strongly related to their ability to do early language and numeracy tasks.

-       Focussing on play-based activities that build memory, reasoning and problem-solving abilities are more productive than an early focus on content knowledge.

-       The quality of early childhood education has a crucial impact on the development and long-term schooling of a child.

-       Large number of factors determine the quality of education received at this stage:

-       The child’s home background, especially the mother’s education level;

-       The type of school, whether anganwadis, government schools or private pre-schools;

-       The child’s age in Class 1.

-       Permitting underage children into primary grades puts them at a learning disadvantage, which is difficult to overcome.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/aser-flags-poor-learning-outcomes-in-schools/article30569671.ece

Hallmarking made must for gold jewellery

Consumer Affairs Minister has announced that no jeweller will be allowed to sell gold jewellery or artefacts without hallmark from the Bureau of Indian Standards from January 15, 2021 onwards.


-       If jewellery or artefacts made of 14, 18 and 22-carat gold are sold without a BIS hallmark, then the jeweller could face a huge penalty and even imprisonment.

-       The penalty may be worth five times the cost of the object and the imprisonment up to one year.

-       Jewellers have been given a year’s time to register themselves with the BIS.

About Gold Hallmarking:

-       Gold hallmarking is a purity certification of the precious metal and is voluntary in nature at present.

-       The BIS is already running a hallmarking scheme for gold jewellery since April 2000 and around 40% of gold jewellery is being hallmarked currently.

-       Instead of 10 grades earlier, hallmarked gold jewellery will now be available in three grades of 14 carat, 18 carat and 22 carat.

About BIS:

-       The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the national Standards Body of India working under the aegis of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, and Government of India.

-       The Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986, establishes it.

-       The Minister in charge of the Ministry or Department having administrative control of the BIS is the ex-officio President of the BIS.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/hallmarking-made-must-for-gold-jewellery/article30569602.ece