Here is todayâ€™s digest of important newspaper articles and quiz!
Draft Memorandum of Procedure for judicial appointments
The Supreme Court collegium , comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and four senior most judges will respond to government on the revised memorandum of procedure, a document to guide appointment of judges to the apex court and the high courts. The MoP consists of the following key recommendations.
1) The Attorney General at the Centre and Advocates General in the states should have a say in recommending candidates for appointment and elevation of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts. It also mandates that up to three judges in the Supreme Court should be from the Bar,
2) It proposes to establish a permanent secretariat for the collegium and a process to evaluate and deal with complaints against candidates. Besides, it mandates that a High Court should not remain without a Chief Justice for more than three months.
3) The MoP suggests that any dissent note to a recommendation be compulsorily be shared with the executive. This is necessarily to provide the existing collegium system with the much needed transparency that the Supreme Court had reprimanded it for lacking.
4) Collegium appointments have been decided to be kept out of the purview of the Right to Information Act, because of the apprehension that such a provision could lead to a flood of applications from aspirants and â€œinterested partiesâ€ seeking file notings and other details.
5) With regard to promotion as the Chief Justice of High Court, the MoP suggests that while seniority should be kept in mind, evaluation of judgments delivered by a High Court Judge during the last five years and initiatives undertaken for improvement of judicial administration should be the yardstick for promotion.
What were the Supreme Court guidelines? – The Court had issued following broad guidelines for consideration:
1) Eligibility criteria: The Memorandum of Procedure may indicate the eligibility criteria, such as the minimum age, for the guidance of the collegium (both at the level of the High Court and the Supreme Court) for appointment of Judges, after inviting and taking into consideration the views of the State Government and the Government of India (as the case may be) from time to time.
2) Transparency: The eligibility criteria and the procedure as detailed in the Memorandum of Procedure for the appointment of Judges ought to be made available on the website of the Court concerned and on the website of the Department of Justice of the Government of India. The Memorandum of Procedure may provide for an appropriate procedure for minuting the discussions including recording the dissenting opinion of the Judges in the collegium while making provision for the confidentiality of the minutes consistent with the requirement of transparency in the system of appointment of Judges.
3) Secretariat: In the interest of better management of the system of appointment of Judges, the Memorandum of Procedure may provide for the establishment of a Secretariat for each High Court and the Supreme Court and prescribe its functions, duties and responsibilities.
4) Complaints: The Memorandum of Procedure may provide for an appropriate mechanism and procedure for dealing with complaints against anyone who is being considered for appointment as a Judge.
5) Miscellaneous: The Memorandum of Procedure may provide for any other matter considered appropriate for ensuring transparency and accountability including interaction with the recommendee(s) by the collegium of the Supreme Court, without sacrificing the confidentiality of the appointment process.â€
Source: TheHindu, LiveLaw.in
HC allows legislative action in formation of NoRKs
The Kerala High Court has allowed the government to constitute a Non-Resident Indian (Keralites) Commission even while the model code of conduct is in force. HC has said that the government was free to constitute the commission as the model code of conduct would not apply to implementation of legislative actions.
The Act relating to the commission as well as the decision of the State Cabinet had been made prior to the coming into force of the poll code. However the Election Commission differs in its view of the decision to constitute the commission was taken a day before the coming into force of the model code of conduct. The Indians residing abroad could be enrolled in electoral rolls as overseas electors in terms of the Section 20A incorporated through an amendment to the Representation of the People Act.
The EC was, therefore, of the view that setting up a new commission for the welfare of the non-resident Keralites at this stage would be contrary to the spirit of the embargo placed on the ruling party under the model code of conduct.
What is the model code of conduct? – The model code of conduct is a set of norms which has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code in its letter and spirit. It comes into effect the moment Election Commission of India announces the election schedule for the polls Â and stays in force till the end of the electoral process.
Under the code, governments cannot do anything which may have the effect of influencing voters in favour of the party in power, and political parties and candidates are forbidden from indulging in any corrupt practices.
Source: Business Standard, The Hindu
Polio Vaccination Switch
Starting from 25th April India will switch to Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) with only two strains – type 1 and type 3. Earlier India was using the oral polio vaccine (OPV) with all three strains of the poliovirus (type 1, type 2 and type 3).
The global vaccine â€œswitchâ€, from trivalent to bivalent OPV, has been recommended by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) as a critical component of the polio endgame strategy.
In what has been labelled the largest, globally coordinated withdrawal of one vaccine and the roll-out of another into a routine immunization programme in history, 155 countries currently using trivalent OPV will make the switch. It began on April 17 and runs till May 1, 2016.
Why the switch? – Though polio cases caused by wild virus have reduced by 99.9 per cent since 1988 through immunisation using OPV, the vaccine can, under rare instances, cause polio in unprotected children. This because OPV contains live, weakened (attenuated) virus, which, on rare occasions, can turn virulent, continue to circulate in the community and cause vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV).
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative says wild poliovirus type 2 was eradicated in 1999. Since then, all type 2 polio cases have been caused only by vaccine-derived polioviruses. In fact, type 2 strain in the trivalent OPV has caused over 90 per cent of VDPV cases in the world in the last 10 years.
Polio, including vaccine-derived polio, can be eradicated only when oral polio vaccine is eventually withdrawn after wild polio transmission has been stopped. The withdrawal of type 2 strain from OPV in April by switching over to a bivalent OPV is the â€œfirst major stepâ€ of this withdrawal process.
Why the synchronised switch? – If the switch is not implemented in a synchronised manner there is a risk of importing type 2 VDVP from another country that continues to use trivalent OPV.
What is Global Polio Eradication Initiative? – The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a public-private partnership led by national governments and spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United Nations Childrenâ€™s Fund (UNICEF). Its goal is to eradicate polio worldwide.
What is Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013â€“2018? – The Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013â€“2018 (see below) is a comprehensive, long-term strategy that addresses what is needed to deliver a polio-free world by 2018.
The plan was developed by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in consultation with national health authorities, global health initiatives, scientific experts, donors and other stakeholders, in response to a directive of the World Health Assembly.
Source: TheHindu, GPEI
Kerala working on ban on e-cigarettes
After Punjab and Maharashtra, Kerala could be moving towards imposing a ban on e-cigarettes.
Alarmed by the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes or Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) in Kerala, the state is contemplating to take steps to ban the sale of e-cigarettes in the State under the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics (D&C) Act and Rules.
What is an e-cigarette? – E-cigarettes or Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) consist of a battery-powered heating element and a replaceable cartridge containing nicotine and other chemicals, and an atomiser. The atomiser, when heated, delivers a vapourised form of nicotine in the cartridge to the lungs.
E-cigarettes are marketed in the country as a â€œhealthier alternativeâ€ to conventional cigarettes and as an aid to help quit smoking. The misconception that e-cigarettes are â€œhealthyâ€ stems from the fact that they are smokeless and do not expose the user to the harmful effects of tar like conventional cigarettes.
But doctors have been saying there is nothing healthy about e-cigarettes, which is an electronic form of delivering a mixture of nicotine, glycerine and ethylene glycol, which could in fact be as addictive and harmful as cigarettes.
What are the rules regarding e-cigarettes? – The ENDS devices are being sold in the country at present without the mandatory permission from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), which in itself is a violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics (D&C) Act and Rules.
In 2013, at the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control for South-East Asia Region, WHO called for a ban on all smokeless products, including e-cigarettes.
Copper Plate reveals battle date
Researchers from the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI), which houses South Asiaâ€™s largest collection of manuscripts and rare texts, claim to have fixed the date of Emperor Harshavardhanâ€™s defeat to the Chalukya King Pulakeshin II by decoding a copper plate.
The date of Pulakeshinâ€™s great triumph over Harsha in a battle fought primarily with elephants on the banks of the Narmada, can be fixed at 618 A.D.
What is the history of the war? – Pulakeshin, ruled from the Chalukyan capital of Badami, challenged Harshaâ€™s conquests. The former had established himself as the supreme ruler of the south, as Harsha had of the north.
Unwilling to tolerate the existence of a powerful rival in the south, Harsha had marched from Kanauj with a huge force. Conquests were part of Harshaâ€™s strategy to consolidate his position. But such was Pulakeshinâ€™s efficiency in guarding the passes of the Narmada that Harsha was compelled to accept the river as the demarcation and retire from the field of battle after losing a major part of his elephant force.
Pulakesin won the battle. He received the title Dakshinapatheshvara (Lord of the South) at around the same time.
Source: TheHindu, Wikipedia
NGT halts Tawang hydro power project
The National Green Tribunal has suspended the Union Environment Ministryâ€™s clearance for the Rs. 6,400-crore hydro power project in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh granted in 2012. The clearance, the court noted, didnâ€™t consider the impact of the hydro project on the habitat of the black-necked crane, a species that breeds on the Tibetan plateau and migrates to Tawang for the winter. The bird, most commonly found in China, is legally protected in Bhutan and India and is considered sacred to certain Buddhist traditions.
Other species that are found in the region include the red panda, the snow leopard and the Arunachal macaque Macaca munzala, a recently-described primate species in the area. The project is planned on the Nyamjang Chhu river and is the largest of 13 hydro power projects to be built in the Tawang basin. With the NGTâ€™s order, project developers will need to revisit their environmental clearance process.
What is the status of Black necked Crane? – The black-necked crane is rated as â€˜vulnerableâ€™ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of endangered species and is listed in Indiaâ€™s Wildlife Act as a Schedule 1 species, which gives animals and birds the highest legal protection.
It is revered in Buddhist traditions and culturally protected across much of its range. A festival in Bhutan celebrates the bird while the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir considers it as the state bird.
Source: TheHindu, Wikipedia
China to launch core module for space station
China will launch a â€œcore moduleâ€ for its first space station around 2018 as part of a plan to have a permanent manned space station in service around 2022. The â€œcore moduleâ€ for the space station would be called the â€œTianhe-1â€, the Chinese word for galaxy or Milky Way.
What is a space station? – A space station, also known as an orbital station or an orbital space station, is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew, which is designed to remain in space (most commonly as an artificial satellite in low Earth orbit) for an extended period of time and for other spacecraft to dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by lack of major propulsion or landing systems. Instead, other vehicles transport people and cargo to and from the station.
As of April 2016 two space stations are in orbit: the International Space Station, which is permanently manned, and China’s Tiangong-1 (which successfully launched on September 29, 2011), which is unmanned most of the time.
Source: TheHindu, Wikipedia
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