March & April – Polity & Social Issues



  • Central Information Commission includes 1 Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and NOT more than 10 Information Commissioners (IC) who are appointed by the President of India on the recommendations of a Committee, consisting of the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister. 

  • The COVID-19 pandemic may earn Governor’s rule for the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) in Assam. The State’s Governor is the constitutional head of the BTAD that falls under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and is administered by the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).   

  • As per Article 221 of the Constitution, High Court judges are paid salaries as determined by Parliament and they shall not be varied to their disadvantage after appointment.  n a letter to the State government, the High Court Registrar General said salaries and allowances of the Chief Justice and the judges cannot be varied or deferred by the State government thorough an executive order.   

  • The Inner Line Permit is an extension of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act 1873.Currently existing forArunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur & Nagaland.

  • The new Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) will be the only place in the country to undergo a delimitation exercise based on the population figures recorded in the 2011 census. The latest readjustment of boundaries of constituencies in the States and other Union Territories has been done on the basis of the 2001 census and in future, it will be carried out based on the 2031 census.  A senior Home Ministry official said the unique provision for J&K was enabled through an amendment introduced in the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019. The Act passed by Parliament on August 6 bifurcated the State of J&K into the Union Territories of J&K (with a legislature) and Ladakh (without legislature). The Act says the number of seats in the Assembly would be increased from 107 to 114. The delimitation will be done for 90 seats as 24 seats fall in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).  

  • The NPR is a database of usual residents in the country who have stayed in a local area for the past six months or more and who intend to remain in the same place for the next six months or more. The NPR is individual and identity specific unlike the Census which only provides information on the status of the residents of India and population swings. The NPR database was first created in 2010. The electronic database of more than 119 crore usual residents of the country has already been created under the NPR in English as well as the regional languages. The data collection is done under the aegis of the Office of the Registrar Generaland Census Commissioner of India. The NPR is undertaken under the provisions of The Citizenship Act, 1955 and The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. The NPR was last updated, except in Assam and Meghalaya, in 2015-16. The NPR 2020 enumeration exercise will be undertaken during April–September this year. Certain new information will be collected by enumerators in a house-to-house collection exercise such as Aadhaar, mobile, voter ID, passport and driving licence, if available with the residents on a voluntarily basis. Unlike in the 2010 NPR, the new format for NPR 2020 requires residents to disclose their mother tongue and the places and dates of birth of their parents even if they are not living in the same household at the time or not alive. Individuals have to disclose the districts and States of their parents’ birth.        

  • There are 24 Department-related Standing Committees (DRSCs), 8 of them are with the Rajya Sabha and remaining 16 with the Lok Sabha. Each of these committees have 31 members – 21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha. These members are to be nominated by the Speaker of Lok Sabha or the Chairman of Rajya Sabha respectively. The term of office of these committees does not exceed one year.     

  • The Central Board of Directors of RBI is the main committee of the central bank. The Government of India appoints the directors for a four-year term. The board consists of a governor, and NOT more than four deputy governors; four directors to represent the regional boards; two — usually the Economic Affairs Secretary and the Financial Services Secretaryfrom the Ministry of Finance and ten other directors from various fields. The bank is headed by the governor.  There are four deputy governors. Two of the four deputy governors are traditionally from RBI ranks and are selected from the bank’s executive directors. One is nominated from among the chairpersons of public sector banks and the other is an economist.    

  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) Bill seeks to protect successful bidders of insolvent companies from any risk of criminal proceedings for offences committed by previous promoters of the companies concerned. The Mines and Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill proposes to remove end-use restrictions for participating in coal mine auctions and will open up the coal sector fully for commercial mining for all domestic and global companies.      

  • The Delimitation Commission in India is a powerful body, whose orders have the force of law and cannot be called in question before any court.       

  • A reasoning or decision is “Wednesbury unreasonable” (or irrational) if it is so unreasonable that no reasonable person acting reasonably could have made it. The Wednesbury principle says that courts can intervene when the government has taken a decision without considering matters that lawfully must be considered.      

  • In its recent decision, in the Chief Information Commissioner v. High Court of Gujarat case, the Supreme Court, regrettably, barred citizens from securing access to court records under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Instead, the court held that such records can be accessed only through the rules laid down by each High Court under Article 225 of the Constitution. The Registry of the Supreme Court was litigating a similar case (Registrar, Supreme Court of India v. R.S. Misra) before the Delhi High Court for several years after the CIC had ordered it to provide copies of pleadings filed in a case, under the RTI Act, rather than insisting on litigants filing an application under the Supreme Court Rules. Though the particular decision taken earlier this month does not preclude the application of the RTI Act to the administrative side of the court, it does firmly slam the door shut on accessing, under the RTI Act, the millions of court records filed on the judicial side.         

  • The Supreme Court has reiterated that forcible dispossession of a person of his private property without due process of law is a violation of human rights. In a recent judgment by a Bench led by Justice S.K. Kaul, the court stressed that right to property is both a human right and a constitutional right — the latter under Article 300A of the Constitution.     

  • There are 12 Executive Directors in the RBI at present. To be eligible for the Deputy Governor’s post, a candidate must be below 60 years.  RBI has four Deputy Governors, of which two are promoted from within the ranks of RBI.  Of the other two, one is an economist and the other is a commercial banker.

  • The Centre notified an order under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 to declare 2 ply and 3 ply surgical masks, N95 masks and hand sanitisers as essential commodities till June 30, 2020. It has also issued an advisory under the Legal Metrology Act, so that States can ensure these items are not sold for more than the Maximum Retail Price (MRP).        

  • Applicants for jobs in railways, banks and lower levels of Central government will now write a Common Eligibility Test (CET) from 2021.  In a bid to streamline the hiring process for government agencies as well as the 2.5 crore candidates who apply each year, the Centre will set up an autonomous National Recruitment Agency (NRA) to conduct this online test, under which, candidates can apply through a common registration portal.  The CET will replace the first level tests conducted by the Staff Selection Commission, the Railway Recruitment Board and the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection.  NRA proposal would soon go for Cabinet approval.       

  • President nominated former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 80 of the Constitution of India.

  • Colourable exercise means that under the “colour” or “guise” of power conferred for one purpose, the authority is seeking to achieve something else which it is not authorized to do under the law in question then the action of the authority shall be invalid and illegal.                 

  • The Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2020, was passed. It gives Central status to the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan and Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth in Delhi and the Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth in Tirupati. 

  • Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory authority in charge of the waterways in India. It was constituted under IWAI Act-1985 by parliament of India Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP. It does the function of building the necessary infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration. 

  • Janta curfew or self-curfew is a self-imposed lockdown. The Janta curfew is followed by the people with their own conscience and will. There will be no penal actions on going outside of the house.

  • Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) prohibits public gathering. It gives the Executive Magistrate of a state or territory the right to send forth an order, preempting any gathering of four, five or more persons.   Once imposed, even a peaceful assembly of people who had taken prior permission can be termed “unlawful.”  In legal terms, according to Section 141 of the Indian Penal Code, an assembly of five or more persons is designated an “unlawful assembly”, if the common object of the persons in that assembly is unlawful. Section 144 can remain in force for a maximum of two months. No order under it should be extended beyond that period. However, the state government can extend the validity for two months and maximum up to half a year if it deems fit. A curfew is a regulation requiring people to stay indoors during a specific period of time. Section 144 of CrPC generally prohibits public gathering. And on the other hand, Curfew orders people to stay indoors for a specific time. Therefore, Curfew can be called as an extension of Section 144 of CrPC.    

  • 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic the Cabinet Secretary of India on 11 March 2020 announced that all states and Union territories should invoke provisions of Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 invoked by the Central and State governments to combat the impending threat of COVID-19 is a special law, empowering the government to adopt special measures and enforce stringent policies, so as to prevent the outbreak of any dangerous epidemic disease.This legislation, which empowers the government to imprison any person found to be in violation of the prescribed measures, was first enacted to control the Bubonic plague, spread across the then presidency of  Bombay in 1896. Notably, the Epidemic Diseases Act does NOT define what an epidemic disease is. The definition or description of a “dangerous epidemic disease” is NOT provided in the Act.  

  • The Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde used its extraordinary powers under Article 142 to lift the limitation period for all cases across tribunals and courts in the country until further notice.         

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman moved an amendment to the Finance Bill, 2020, to raise the limit up to which the government can raise special excise duty on petrol and diesel to Rs.18 per litre and Rs.12, respectively.  ‘Finance Bill’ means the Bill ordinarily introduced in each year to give effect to the financial proposals of the Government of India for the following financial year and includes a Bill to give effect to supplementary financial proposals for any period. A Finance Bill is a Bill that, as the name suggests, concerns the country’s finances — it could be about taxes, government expenditures, government borrowings, revenues, etc.     

  • A “nation state” is a state in which a great majority shares the same culture and is conscious of it. The nation state is an ideal in which cultural boundaries match up with political ones. According to one definition, “a nation state is a sovereign state of which most of its subjects are united also by factors which defined a nation such as language or common descent.” It is a more precise concept than “country“, since a country does not need to have a predominant ethnic group.  

  • The Parliamentary committees are of two kinds – Standing or permanent committees and Ad hoc committees. The former are elected or appointed periodically and they work on a continuous basis. The latter are created on an ad hoc basis as the need arises and they are dissolved after they complete the task assigned to them. Standing Committees are of the following kinds :
  • Financial Standing Committees (FSC)
  • Department Related Standing Committees (DRSC)
  • Others Standing Committees (OSC)
  • There are 24 Department-related Standing Committees (DRSCs). Each of these committees have 31 members21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha. These members are to be nominated by the Speaker of Lok Sabha or the Chairman of Rajya Sabha respectively. The term of office of these committees does not exceed one year. These committees are serviced either by Lok Sabha secretariat or the Rajya Sabha secretariat depending on who has appointed the chairman of that committee.  

  • The Article 142 provides that “Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it”.       

  • The newly instituted PM-CARES Fund (Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund) help fight the novel coronavirus. PM-Cares Fund accepts micro-donations too. As per a PIB statement, the fund will be a public charitable trust under the name of ‘Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund’. The Prime Minister is the Chairman of this trust and members include the Defence Minister, Home Minister and Finance Minister. There is already a Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund for identical purpose.

  • On March 25, the day nationwide lockdown was announced by PM, the Centre for the first time invoked the provisions of the National Disaster Management Act, 2005, to prepare national plans and uniform management to combat COVID-19 as “health and law and order” are State subjects.
  • The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) is a government regulatory agency that controls the prices of pharmaceutical drugs in India. It acts as an attached office of the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers as an independent Regulator for pricing of drugs and to ensure availability and accessibility of medicines at affordable prices.       

  • The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (abbreviated to EPFO), is an organization tasked to assist the Central Board of Trustees, Employees’ Provident Fund a statutory body formed by the Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 and is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Labour and Employment. The EPFO’s apex decision making body is the Central Board of Trustees (CBT). The organisation is administered by a Central Board of Trustees, composed of representatives of the Government of India, State governments, Employers and Employees. The board is chaired by the Union Labour Minister of India.   

ü Disaster Management Act, 2005 – The Act calls for the establishment of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), with the Prime Minister of India as chairperson. The NDMA may have no more than nine members including a Vice-Chairperson. The tenure of the members of the NDMA shall be five years. The Act under Section 8 enjoins the Central Government to Constitute a National Executive Committee (NEC) to assist the National Authority. The NEC is composed of Secretary level officers of the Government of India in various Ministries. Home secretary serving as the Chairperson, ex officio. The Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, is an ex officio member of the NEC. The NEC under section of the Act is responsible for the preparation of the National Disaster Management Plan for the whole country and to ensure that it is “reviewed and updated annually.    

ü An orphan drug is a pharmaceutical agent developed to treat medical conditions which, because they are so rare, would not be profitable to produce without government assistance. The conditions are referred to as orphan diseases.  The assignment of orphan status to a disease and to drugs developed to treat it is a matter of public policy in many countries and has yielded medical breakthroughs that might not otherwise have been achieved, due to the economics of drug research and development Search Results. WHO defines rare disease as a disease or condition with a prevalence of ≤1/1000 population. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an orphan drug is defined as one “intended for the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of a rare disease or condition, which is one that affects less than 200,000 persons in the United States.      

ü India does not have laws on orphan drugs . “Orphan Drugs have been defined in the New Drugs & Clinical Trial Rules 2019 (“New Drugs & CT Rules”) as a drug “intended to treat a condition which affects not more than five lakh (500,000) persons in India”. There is NO definition of “rare diseases” in India.  

  • CDSCO is under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.  The Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules 1945 have entrusted various responsibilities to central & state regulators for regulation of drugs & cosmetics.  

  • National Accreditation Board for Testing & Calibration Laboratories (NABL) provides accreditation to Conformity Assessment Bodies (Laboratories).  NABL is a constituent board of Quality Council of India which is an autonomous body setup under Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT),Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.   

  • “Infectious disease” is in the Concurrent List and the Government of India has invoked the National Disaster Management Act, devolving the national duty onto District Magistrates. While the Army and the police forces are ‘deployed’, the District Magistrate has to identify, bring together the needed resources and ‘improvise’. The subject of ‘health’ must be transferred to the Concurrent List of the Indian Constitution from the State List, the high level group (HLG) formed for the health sector by the 15th Finance Commission has said.         

  • The MHA issued the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Order, 2020, through which it amended 109 laws and repealed 29 laws of the erstwhile State and inserted the “domicile” clause in the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services Decentralisation and Recruitment Act, 2010. Under the 2010 Act, the clause for “permanent resident of the State” has been substituted by “Domicile” of the Union Territory. The Act pertained to employment in the civil services, comprising “district, divisional and State” cadre posts. Only permanent residents of J&K were eligible to apply for the gazetted and non-gazetted posts. The amendment allows non-domiciles to apply to these posts.The order defines a domicile as one “who has resided for a period of 15 years in the UT of J&K or has studied for a period of seven years and appeared in Class 10th /12th examination in an educational institution located in the UT of J&K or who is registered as a migrant by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants).’’  “Children of Central Govt. officials, All India Services, PSUs, autonomous body of Centre, Public Sector Banks, officials of statutory bodies, Central Universities, recognised research institutes of Centre who have served in J&K for a total period of 10 years” will be domiciles. The domicile status applies to “children of such residents of J&K who reside outside J&K in connection with their employment or business or other professional or vocational reasons but their parents should fulfil any of the conditions provided”. Another official said, “All posts that are up to the rank of junior assistant and below are open only to domiciles, the entire non-gazetted services has been reserved.

  • In law, an “en banc session” (French for “in bench”) is a session in which a case is heard before all the judges of a court (before the entire bench) rather than by a panel of judges selected from them.   

  • ‘Primum non nocere’ is the primary, guiding principle of bioethics. Every health-care worker is oriented on the principle of ‘First, do no harm’ during their training.    

  • National Board for Wildlife is a “Statutory Organization” chaired by the Prime Minister, constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.  Its roles is “advisory” in nature and advises the Central Government on framing policies and measures for conservation of wildlife in the country. The NBWL Standing Committee is chaired by the Union Minister, Environment & Forests.   

  • There is NO category as, or definition for National Calamity in the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DM Act), though certain natural calamities are often called/described as national calamity by media houses based on the perceived magnitude of its impact.  National Calamity does not mean a calamity whose impact is spread over more than one state. What is defined in the guidelines published by National Disaster Management Authority is “calamity of a severe nature. As per the DM Act 2005 and 14th Finance Commission recommendations, any notified calamity of a severe nature will qualify for assistance from National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).  Further, “NO specific criterion” is given in the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) or National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) guidelines for declaring a natural calamity as a “calamity of severe nature”. However, based on the intensity and magnitude of losses to life, property and infrastructure caused by the calamity, or when the situation caused by a calamity becomes unprecedented, beyond the coping capacity of the State Government and extremely difficult to handle through a normal rescue and relief operation, the Central government treats it as a calamity of severe nature. This is mostly based on the recommendations of the Inter Ministerial central Team (IMCT), made in its report based on field observations subsequent to the said natural calamity.

  • The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 was amended in 2006 to provide for constituting the National Tiger Conservation Authority(NTCA) responsible for implementation of the Project Tiger plan to protect endangered tigers. The National Tiger Conservation Authority is set up under the Chairmanship of the Minister for Environment and Forests.   

  • In copyright law, related rights (or neighbouring rights) are the rights of a creative work not connected with the work’s actual author. It is used in opposition to the term “authors’ rights”. Copyright protects all creations of the human mind whatever their form or merit and regardless of the audience they are destined for. Protection is generally immediate and no formal procedure is required as long as the piece of work is original. Neighbouring rights, also known as rights neighbouring to copyright, were created for three categories of people who are not technically authors: performing artists, producers of phonogrammes, and those involved in radio and television broadcasting. Both copyright and neighbouring rights are similar to those granted by IP titles, but the moral right is of greater importance for copyright and neighbouring rights than for other IPRs as it protects the integrity of a work.  

  • Refoulement is the forcible return of refugees or asylum seekers to a country where they are liable to be subjected to persecution.      

  • Special safeguards were guaranteed to the minorities and incorporated under Article 30 with a view to instill in them a sense of confidence and security. However, due to recent developments in Delhi and elsewhere, this confidence stands eroded even though, in the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973), minority rights were held to be the part of “basic structure of the Constitution”. In the latest judgment on minority rights, a two-judge bench of Justice U.U. Lalit and Justice Arun Mishra upheld the West Bengal Board of Madrasah Education Act, 1994, and the West Bengal Madrasah Service Commission Act, 2008, both of which take away the autonomy of madrasas in the State. The appointment of teachers in these theological institutions shall now be made by a board nominated by the government.

  • Framers of the Constitution in their wisdom did not include any restrictions under Article 30 (unlike in the case of other fundamental rights). Hence, the Article 30 right is absolute though minority institutions are very much subject to health, sanitary and municipal regulations.     

  • Per incuriam”, literally translated as “through lack of care“, refers to a judgment of a court which has been decided without reference to a statutory provision or earlier judgment which would have been relevant.

  • The National and State Human Rights Commissions are examples of what we now call “fourth branch institutions.” According to the classical account, democracy is sustained through a distribution of power between three “branches” — the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary, with each branch acting as a check and a balance upon the others. However, the complexity of governance and administration in the modern world has necessitated the existence of a set of independent bodies, which are charged with performing vital functions of oversight. Some of these bodies are constitutional bodies — established by the Constitution itself. These include, for instance, the Election Commission and the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General. Others have been established under law: for example, the Information Commission under the Right to Information Act, and Human Rights Commissions under the Protection of Human Rights Act.

  • The Nirbhaya Fund Framework provides for a non-lapsable corpus fund for safety and security of women to be administered by the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) of the Ministry of Finance (MoF) of the Government of India. Further, it provides for an Empowered Committee (EC) of officers chaired by the Secretary, Ministry of Women & Child Development (MWCD) to appraise and recommend proposals to be funded under this framework. It also provides for the concerned Ministry/ Department to seek approval of the designated competent financial authority, as well as of the DEA for funding of such proposals under the Nirbhaya Framework. As per this framework, the MoF through DEA is the nodal Ministry for any accretion into and withdrawal from the corpus, and the MWCD is responsible to review and monitor the progress of sanctioned projects/ schemes in conjunction with the concerned Central Ministries/ Departments. Budget allocations against approved projects are made in the budget of the respective Ministries/ Departments through Demands or Supplementary Demands for Grants.     

  • In urban planning, a transit-oriented development (TOD) is a type of urban development that maximizes the amount of residential, business and leisure space within walking distance of public transport. It promotes a symbiotic relationship between dense, compact urban form and public transport use.      

  • Domestic violence against women is already widespread and under-reported in India. Now, at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations recognises domestic violence against women as a “shadow pandemic”.        

  • National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC) was set up in January 1997 as a non-profit company under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India to empower the Scavengers, Safai Karamcharis and their dependents to break away their traditional occupation, depressed social condition and poverty and leverage them to work their own way up the social and economic ladder with dignity and pride. Its head office is currently located in Greater Kailash Enclave Part-II, New Delhi.      

  • The Civil Defence personnel are supplementing the local administration in conducting surveillance of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases. Civil Defence operates under the Civil Defence Act and associated rules and regulations. The Act was amended in 2009 and a notification was issued in 2010 to include disaster management as an additional role. Civil Defence aims at saving life, minimising damage to the property and maintaining continuity of industrial production in the event of an hostile attack. At the national level, the Director General, Civil Defence under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is responsible for formulating Civil Defence policies and for coordination. In the states, the Civil Defence set- up is headed by a senior police officer designated as the Director, Civil Defence. At the district level, the District Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) of a district is designated Controller of Civil Defence.

  • A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held it unconstitutional to provide 100% reservation for tribal teachers in schools located in Scheduled Areas across the country.  It is an obnoxious idea that tribals only should teach the tribals. When there are other local residents, why they cannot teach is not understandable. The action defies logic and is arbitrary. Merit cannot be denied in toto by providing reservation. The court held that 100% reservation is discriminatory and impermissible. The opportunity of public employment is not the prerogative of few. A 100% reservation to the Scheduled Tribes has deprived Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes also of their due representation. The court referred to the Indira Sawhney judgment, which caps reservation at 50%.  The case stemmed from a legal challenge to January 10, 2000 order issued by the erstwhile State of Andhra Pradesh Bench providing 100% reservation to the Scheduled Tribe candidates, out of whom 33.1/3% shall be women, for the post of teachers in schools located in the Scheduled Areas of the State. The court said the 2000 notification was “unreasonable and arbitrary”.       

  • A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that both the Central and State governments have the power to fix the price of sugarcane under the Concurrent List of the Constitution. However, the five-judge Bench, said that even though a State cannot fix a “minimum price” if the Centre has already fixed it, the State is always welcome to fix the “advised price”.        

  • The Industrial Relations Code, 2019 is an amalgamation of three laws — the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Trade Unions Act, 1926, and the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946. The Parliamentary Committee on Labour, in its report on the Industrial Relations Code, 2019, submitted, has recommended that “in case of natural calamities, payment of wages to the workers until the re-establishment of the industry may be unjustifiable”.  

  • The first law on medical isolation was passed by the Great Council in 1377, when the plague was rapidly ruining European countries. Detention for medical reasons was justified and disobedience made a punishable offence. The law prescribed isolation for 30 days, called a ‘trentino’. Subsequently, many countries adopted similar laws to protect the people. When the duration of isolation was enhanced to 40 days, the name also changed to ‘quarantine’ by adopting the Latin quadraginta, which referred to a 40-day detention placed on ships.     

  • The Centre is using powers under the Indian Telegraph Act to “fetch information” from telecom companies every 15 minutes to track COVID-19 cases across the country.  The government has tested an application that triggers e-mails and SMS alerts to an authorised government agency if a person has jumped quarantine or escaped from isolation, based on the person’s mobile phone’s cell tower location. The “geo-fencing” is accurate by up to 300 m, a government communication said. Kerala was one of the first States to use geo-fencing to track COVID-19 cases. On March 29, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) shared a standard operating procedure (SOP) with all telecom service providers regarding the application called COVID-19 Quarantine Alert System (CQAS).  The system will collate phone data, including the device’s location, on a common secured platform and alert the local agencies in case of a violation by COVID-19 patients under watch or in isolation. The States have been asked to seek the approval of their Home Secretaries under the provisions of Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, for the specified mobile phone numbers to request the DoT to provide information by email or SMS in case of violation of “geo-fencing”.        

  • A Social Management System is a set of processes and procedures that allow a company to analyse control and reduce the social impacts of its activities.  The rise of digital autocracies could lead to digital repression, and in the age of AI-powered surveillance, create a capacity for predictive control, or what is often referred to as ‘social management’.      

  • Section 2(4) of the Indian Forest Act 1927 defines only “forest-produce”. Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is a subset of forest produce and got a definition only in 2007 when the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, was enacted. Section 2(i) of the said Act defines a Minor Forest Produce (MFP) as all non-timber forest produce of plant origin and includes bamboo, brushwood, stumps, canes, Tusser, cocoon, honey, waxes, Lac, tendu/kendu leaves, medicinal plants and herbs, roots, tuber and the like.  Thus, the definition of “minor forest produce” includes bamboo and cane, thereby changing the categorization of bamboo and cane as “trees” under the Indian Forest Act 1927.  The Parliament in 2017 passed a Bill to exclude bamboo from the definition of tree under the Indian Forest Act, claiming it would improve the earnings of tribals and dwellers living around forests.     

  • Power System Operation Corporation Limited (POSOCO) is a wholly owned Government of India enterprise under the Ministry of Power. It is responsible to ensure the integrated operation of the Grid in a reliable, efficient, and secure manner. It consists of 5 Regional Load Despatch Centres and a National Load Despatch Centre (NLDC). India’s grid is connected as a wide area synchronous grid nominally running at 50 Hz.        

  • Civil Defence Act 1968 – “Civil Defence” includes any measures, not amounting to actual combat, for affording protection to any person, property, place or thing in India or any part of the territory there of against any hostile attack, whether from air, land, sea or other places, or for depriving any such attack of the whole or part of its effect, whether such measures are taken before, during, at or after the time of such attack, or any measure taken for the purpose of disaster management, before, during, at, or after any disaster.   
  • As per DM Act 2005, it is mandatory for NDMA to ensure Civil Defence Preparedness for disaster Management. In the light of Section 10(p) of DM Act 2005, i.e. to promote general education & awareness related to disaster management, suggested roles of Civil Defence in various phases of disaster are enumerated below for information and necessary action.

  • “Inter-State migration and quarantine” are under the “Union List”, while the “prevention of infectious diseases, moving from one State” to another is under the “Concurrent List”. This can only mean that while States have the power to impose border restrictions, the responsibility to prevent a breakdown of inter-State relations over such disputes is on the Centre.   

  • Independent India inherited a legal system which was designed to control the colonised. Caught in the relentless grip of COVID-19, several State governments have invoked the Epidemic Diseases Act, first drafted to deal with bubonic plague that swept Maharashtra in 1897. The Act prohibited public gatherings, and regulated travel, routine screening, segregation, and quarantine. The government was given enormous powers to control public opinion.  In June 1897, the brothers, Damodar Hari Chapekar and Balkrishna Hari Chapekar, assassinated W.C. Rand, the plague commissioner of Poona, and Lieutenant Charles Egerton Ayerst, an officer of the administration.        
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