IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


28th January, 2020


Explained: Why some states have Vidhan Parishads, why Andhra Pradesh doesn’t want one

The Andhra Pradesh Assembly passed a resolution to abolish the state’s Legislative Council, where the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has a majority.

About legislative councils:

-       India has a bicameral system i.e. two Houses of Parliament.

-       At the state level, the equivalent of the Lok Sabha is the Vidhan Sabha or Legislative Assembly; that of the Rajya Sabha is the Vidhan Parishad or Legislative Council.

Constitutional Provision for legislative councils:

-       Under Article 169 of the constitution, Parliament may by law create or abolish the second chamber in a state if the Legislative Assembly of that state passes a resolution to that effect by a special majority.

Strength of the councils:

-       Membership may vary, but the Legislative Council must not have more than a third of the total membership of the Assembly of that state and in no case fewer than 40 members.

-       About 1/3rd of members are elected by members of the Assembly, another 1/3rd by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and other local authorities in the state, 1/12th by an electorate consisting of teachers and 1/12th by registered graduates.

-       The remaining members are nominated by the Governor from among those who have distinguished themselves in literature, science, art, the cooperative movement, and social service.

-       Legislative Councils are permanent Houses and like Rajya Sabha, one-third of their members retire every two years.

Need of the legislative councils:

-       To act as a check on hasty actions by the popularly elected House.

-       To ensure that individuals who might not be cut out for the rough-and-tumble of direct elections too are able to contribute to the legislative process.

-       Having a second chamber would allow for more debate and sharing of work between the Houses.

Challenges in the functioning of legislative councils:

-       Superfluous legislative appendages: If a majority of the members in the upper house belong to the same party which holds majority in the lower house, the upper house will become a mere ditto chamber. 

-       Not an Effective Check:  Powers of the Legislative Councils are limited to the extent that they can hardly impose any effective check on the Assemblies. It can only delay a bill by four months.  

-       Backdoor Entrance of the Defeated Members: It is apprehended by the critics that a Legislative Council may be utilized to accommodate discredited party-men who may not be returned to the Assemblies. 

-       Costly Institution: Bicameralism in the States is an expensive experiment and a big drain on the State’s exchequer. 

-       A Heterogeneous Chamber: A blend of direct election, indirect election and nomination makes the Council a hotchpotch of representation. A chamber so heterogeneously constituted, neither serves the purpose of a revisory chamber nor acts as an effective brake against hasty legislation.

Councils in other states:

Besides Andhra Pradesh, five other states have Vidhan Parishads — Bihar (58 members), Karnataka (75), Maharashtra (78), Telangana (40), UP (100). Jammu and Kashmir had a Council until the state was bifurcated into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/why-some-states-have-vidhan-parishads-why-ap-doesnt-want-one-6238632/


CAA rules may seek ‘proof of religion’



Changes in the citizenship amendment rules:

-       They are expected to seek “proof of religion” as mentioned in government records.

-       They are likely to seek documents from applicants that they entered India before December 31, 2014

-       They belong to the six religions exempted under the Act.

Centre Statement:

-       States would have no role in implementation of the CAA, as citizenship was the domain of the Centre.

-       The only hiccup will come during the verification stage when the role of local police comes into play, even that can be conducted by central agencies.

-       All applications under the CAA would have to be made online and the final decision to grant citizenship rested with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Objections for the rules:

-       Opposition members had raised objections on means to prove that an applicant indeed was persecuted on religious grounds in the neighbouring countries.

-       CAA could be misused for infiltration in the country as “any person claiming to be of the six religions could simply apply in terms of the amended law, prove entry on/before the cut off date and be eligible for citizenship.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/caa-rules-may-seek-proof-of-religion/article30670875.ece



Govt. sweetens Air India offer, puts 100% stake on the table



Strategy for disinvestment of Air India:

-       The government has offered to hive off liabilities worth nearly Rs. 40,000 crores to sweeten the deal.

-       On the table is a 100% stake in AI, 100% stake in AI Express Limited (AIXL) and all of the government’s 50% stake in AISATS, which is a joint venture with the Singapore-based ground handling company SATS Limited.

-       The new buyer will get a total of 146 aircraft, 56% of which are owned by the airline group, while the remaining are on lease.

-       It will also benefit from as much as 50% of the international market share held by Indian airlines as well as the airline’s 4,400 airport slots at airports in the country and 3,300 slots in 42 countries.

-       As many as 9,617 permanent employees, including pilots and cabin crew with deep technical and operational expertise.

-       Any private or public limited company, a corporate body and a fund with a net value of Rs. 3,500 crore will be eligible to bid.

-       The government will absorb Rs. 56,334 crore in liabilities, including Rs. 36,670 crore of debt.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/govt-sweetens-air-india-offer-puts-100-stake-on-the-table/article30670868.ece


Centre, Assam govt. sign accord with Bodo groups

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Assam government and Bodo groups signed an agreement to redraw and rename the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) in Assam, currently spread over the four districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri.

Bodo Agreement:

-       Villages dominated by Bodos that were presently outside the BTAD would be included and those with non-Bodo population would be excluded.

-       Bodos living in the hills would be granted Scheduled Hill Tribe status.

-       As of now, the agreement had not addressed the issue of “citizenship or work permit” for non-domiciles in the BTAD, to be renamed as the Bodoland Territorial Region.

-       Around 1,500 cadres of National Democratic Front of Bodoland will be rehabilitated by Centre and Assam Government.

-       They will be assimilated in the mainstream and will surrender on January 30.

Bodo demands:

-       They have been demanding a separate land for the ethnic community since 1972.

-       They have been demanding better social, political and economic conditions since independence.

-       The Bodos feel that they have been neglected and exploited by the Assamese.

Bodo Insurgency:

-       The All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) was formed in 1967 to represent the Bodo cause.

-       The BSF (Bodo Security Force), later renamed the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), resorted to terrorism in order to secure an ‘independent Bodo nation’ north of the river Brahmaputra.

-       A very large proportion of violent activities in the State, including killings, explosions, arson and attacks on police stations have been carried out by the NDFB.

-       This is an organised and well-trained militant group with a strength of about 900.

-       Large scale attacks were carried out against Santhal tribals in May 1996, displacing tens of thousands of people.

Early Accord:

-       An accord was signed on February 20, 1993, between the Government of India, the Government of Assam and Bodo leaders, creating the Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC) within Assam.

-       However, since Bodo villages are not contiguous, the demarcation of the jurisdiction of the BAC has remained a problem.

-       Both the NDFB and the BLTF have condemned the Bodo Accord, and have, since the mid-1990s, been engaged in a campaign of violence directed against other ethnic groups within ‘Bodo areas’.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/centre-signs-accord-with-bodo-groups/article30670873.ece


Major gaps in our knowledge of coronovirus origin: report

Findings of the report:

-       The 2019-nCoV infection caused clusters of severe respiratory illness similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and was associated with ICU admission and high mortality.

-       Most of the infected patients were men, less than half had underlying diseases including diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular ailments.

-       Also 27 (66%) of the 41 patients had been exposed to Huanan seafood market.

-       Common symptoms at onset of illness were fever, cough and fatigue with less common ones being sputum production, headache and diarrhoea.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/gaps-in-our-knowledge-of-coronavirus-origin/article30670782.ece


Why is a certificate needed to identify a transperson?’

Court observation:

-       The Supreme Court asked the government to explain why a law meant to protect the transgender community requires a magistrate’s certificate as a prior condition for the State to even identify a transperson.

Petitioner’s argument:

-       Right to self-identification forms part of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

-       The Transgender (Protection of Rights) Act of 2019 “instead of furthering or protecting the fundamental rights of transpersons, violates and facilitates the violation of their rights to life, privacy and equality”.

-       The Act provides for a method of state-identification of transpersons by a process of certification by the District Magistrate. This is violation of privacy.

-       The Act actually sets the clock back and negated even the protections secured to transpersons by the Supreme Court through its 2014 judgment in the NALSA case.

-       Provisions in the Act, intended to grant the right against non-discrimination were completely toothless.

-       The Act provided “as little as six months’ imprisonment” for person found guilty of endangering the life of or for sexual abuse of a transperson.

-       The provision violates the right to life of transpersons by prescribing grossly inadequate punishment for heinous acts.

-       The act didn’t provide for any measure to provide reservation to the transgenders person despite having court ruling for it.

Transgender protection act:

-       It defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth, which includes trans-men, trans-women, persons with intersex variations and gender-queers.

-       It prohibits discrimination against transgender persons in educational institutions, government establishments and while renting or purchasing property receiving healthcare and using public services.

-       Right of residence is granted to every transgender person. If immediate family is unable to provide care then on court orders a transgender person may be placed in a rehabilitation centre.

-       A transgender person may make an application to the District Magistrate for a certificate of identity. In case person undergoes a sex reassignment surgery, then one must apply for another certificate to change their gender identity.

-       Causing harm of any kind, including physical or sexual abuse, to a transgender person could attract punishment from six months and extend up to two years.

-       National Council for Transgender Persons will be formed to advise the government on formulating policies for the community monitor its implementation and will address grievances

-       Centre will provide healthcare services, including sex reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy.

-       Educational institutions funded or recognised by the relevant government shall provide inclusive education, sports and recreational facilities for transgender persons

Muslim personal law a cultural issue: AIMPLB

AIMPLB arguments:

-       The Muslim personal law, which allows practices like polygamy and nikah halala, is a “cultural issue” and inextricably interwoven with the religion of Islam.

-       Constitution allows the continuance of the different practices of various religions until the state succeeds in its endeavour to secure a Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

-       Personal laws did not derive their validity from legislature or any other competent authority. Their sources are the scriptural texts of their respective religions.

-       The personal law does not fall within the definition of ‘laws’ under Article 13 of the Constitution.

-       The validity of a personal law cannot be challenged on the basis of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.

-       The petition is a push for a judicial pronouncement to bring the UCC.

-       Even Article 44 of the Constitution only says the state should try for bringing UCC.

-       Article 44, by necessary implication recognises the plurality of faiths and permits their continuance.

-       Court in its 1997 judgment in the Ahmedabad Women Action Group case, had already refused to examine whether polygamy in Muslim personal law is illegal and an act of cruelty.

-       Board said the rights of Muslim women were already secure under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act of 1986.

Petitioner’s argument:

-       The petition wants the court to declare polygamy and nikah halala mentioned in the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.

-       Ban on polygamy and nikah halala has been the need of the hour to secure basic rights and in the interest of public order, morality and health.

About Uniform Civil Code:

-       It is an European concept. In Europe, nations have adopted the concept of universal citizenship, which also led to the adoption of UCC.

-       The guiding theme was the protection of minorities and to protect them from any sort of discrimination.

-       State will adopt the principle of religious neutrality. Religion of citizen will not be a criteria for the state.

-       The idea of UCC gets linked with

1. Idea of secularism

2. Idea of nationalism .

In practice, UCC implies state getting rights to intervene in the religious practices, customs and traditions.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/muslim-personal-law-a-cultural-issue-aimplb/article30670789.ece


Speaker seeks to stall EU debate on CAA

Speaker Comment:

-       As members of the Inter Parliamentary Union, we should respect the sovereign processes of fellow legislatures, especially in democracies.

Government comment:

-       The resolutions critical of India is driven by “Left parties”.

-       It reiterated that the law was India’s “internal matter”.

EU Position:

-       European Union’s Foreign office said it did not represent the official EU position.

-       These texts are only drafts tabled by various political groups in the European Parliament.

-       The opinions expressed by the European Parliament and its members do not represent the official position of the European Union.

-       France said that Paris continues to believe the CAA is “India’s internal political matter”.

European Parliament is “an institut