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11th March Current Affairs

Registration of political parties

(GS-II: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act)

In News:

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is the only big winner apart from the BJP this election, with the party, going by trends, set to form the government in Punjab with a lead in 91 seats and opening its account in Goa with two seats and a vote share of 6%.

Can AAP claim to be a national party?

Not yet. For a party to be recognised as a ‘national party’ it needs to meet one of the three criteria – and the AAP doesn’t meet any of those.

Registration of political parties:

Registration of Political parties is governed by the provisions of Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

A party seeking registration under the said Section with the Election Commission has to submit an application to the Commission within a period of 30 days following the date of its formation as per guidelines prescribed by the Election Commission of India in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 324 of the Commission of India and Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

To be eligible for a ‘National Political Party of India:

It wins at least two percent seats in the House of the People (i.e., 11 seats in the existing House having 543 members), and these members are elected from at least three different States.

Get at least six per cent votes in four states in addition to four Lok Sabha seats.

Be recognised as a ‘state party’ in four or more states.

To be eligible for a ‘State Political Party:

It must secure six per cent of the votes during the Assembly elections and two Assembly seats; or

Six per cent of votes in the Lok Sabha from the state and an MP from the state; or

Three per cent of total Assembly seats or three seats (whichever is greater); or

One MP from every 25 Lok Sabha seats or eight per cent of total votes in the state during the Lok Sabha election from the state or the Assembly polls.

Benefits:

If a party is recognised as a State Party’, it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it in the State in which it is so recognised, and if a party is recognised as a `National Party’ it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it throughout India.

Recognised `State’ and `National’ parties need only one proposer for filing the nomination and are also entitled for two sets of electoral rolls free of cost at the time of revision of rolls and their candidates get one copy of electoral roll free of cost during General Elections.

They also get broadcast/telecast facilities over Akashvani/Doordarshan during general elections.

The travel expenses of star campaigners are not to be accounted for in the election expense accounts of candidates of their party.

“Species richness” survey

(GS-III: Conservation related issues)

In News:

Every year, the Wildlife Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation, Punjab, conducts waterbirds census exercise in six major and most biodiverse wetlands, which include the Nangal Wildlife Sanctuary, the Ropar Conservation Reserve, the Harike Wildlife Sanctuary, the Kanjli Wetland, the Keshopur-Miani Community Reserve and the Ranjit Sagar Conservation Reserve.

However, the census could not be done this year on account of dense fog conditions. Instead a “species richness” survey was conducted by the Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation with the support from the WWF-India.

What are waterbirds?

According to Wetlands International (WI), waterbirds are defined as species of birds that are ecologically dependent on wetlands. These birds are considered to be an important health indicator of wetlands of a region.

Highlights of the survey:

91 species of waterbirds were recorded from the six protected wetlands.

The waterbird count was highest in the Harike Wildlife Sanctuary followed by the Keshopur–Miani Community Reserve, Ropar Conservation Reserve and Nangal Wildlife Sanctuary.

Wetlands like Keshopur–Miani and Shallpattan are the only wetlands in Punjab to host the migratory population of common crane and resident population of the Sarus crane.

The Ropar and Nangal wetlands host the three migratory water species of the family Podicipedidae i.e., black-necked Grebe, Horned Grebe and Greater Crested Grebe along with the resident Little Grebe.

Eurasian Coot was one of the most common waterbirds spotted in almost all protected wetlands of Punjab during the survey.

The species of high conservation significance recorded during the survey include:

Bonelli’s Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Northern Lapwing, Peregrine Falcon, Steppe Eagle, Western Black-tailed Godwit, Black-headed Ibis, Sarus Crane, Painted Stork, Woolly-necked Stork, Common Pochard, Common Crane, Ferruginous Pochard, Pallid Harrier, River Tern, Indian Spotted Eagle, River Lapwing, Oriental Darter, and Eurasian Curlew.

Central Asian flyway:

Every winter, the birds make their way to India through the central Asian flyway, which covers a large continental area of Europe–Asia between the Arctic and the Indian Oceans.

What is migration? Why is it significant?

Migration is an adaptation mechanism to help birds overcome weather adversities and unavailability of food in colder regions.

The importance of bird migrations on the health of the ecosystems is well-established.

Saving migratory birds means saving the wetlands, terrestrial habitats and saving of an ecosystem, benefiting communities dependent on wetlands.

Challenges faced by migratory birds:

Accelerated habitat loss globally during the last decade.

Decreased area under water bodies, wetlands, natural grasslands and forests.

Increased weather variability, and climate change have resulted in loss of biodiversity for the migratory birds.

What is a flyway?

A flyway is a geographical region within which a single or a group of migratory species completes its annual cycle – breeding, moulting, staging and non-breeding.

About the Central Asian Flyway:

Central Asian Flyway (CAF) covers a large area of Eurasia between the Arctic and Indian Oceans.

Including India, there are 30 countries under the Central Asian Flyway.

The CAF comprises several important migration routes of waterbirds, most of which extend from the northernmost breeding grounds in Siberia to the southernmost non-breeding wintering grounds in West Asia, India, the Maldives and the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Why do countries need to protect Flyways?

Approximately one in five of the world’s 11,000 bird species migrate, some covering enormous distances. Conserving migratory birds requires cooperation and coordination along the entire flyway between countries and across national boundaries.

Safeguarding flyways means protecting the birds from poachers, rejuvenating wetlands among others. Saving the wetlands, terrestrial habitats help in fulfilling the bigger purpose of saving an ecosystem.

Women in Judiciary

(GS-II: Appointments to various constitutional posts)

In News:

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana has dubbed it “unfortunate” that only 17 of 37 women recommended by the Supreme Court collegium were appointed as judges in high courts while the rest still remain pending with the government.

Suggestions made by the CJI:

The appointment of women judges should not be reduced to a mere “symbolic” gesture.

Women judges add rich experience and bring to the table a nuanced understanding of the differing impacts that certain laws may have on both men and women.

Status of women in Indian judiciary:

In the 71 years of history of the SC, there have been only 11 women judges (Source: Wikipedia) — the first was Justice Fathima Beevi, who was elevated to the bench after a long gap of 39 years from the date of establishment of the SC.

The 25 high courts in the states have 81 women among 677 judges – five of them do not have a single female judge.

Benefits of diversity and gender representation in Supreme court:

Increased Transparency, inclusiveness, and representation.

By their mere presence, women judges enhance the legitimacy of courts, sending a powerful signal that they are open and accessible to those who seek recourse to justice.

By elucidating how laws and rulings can be based on gender stereotypes, or how they might have a different impact on women and men, a gender perspective enhances the fairness of the adjudication.

Women judges bring those lived experiences to their judicial actions, experiences that tend toward a more comprehensive and empathetic perspective.

Improving the representation of women could go a long way towards a more balanced and empathetic approach in cases involving sexual violence.

Challenges to women’s entry into judiciary:

The eligibility criteria to take the entrance exams:

  • Lawyers need to have seven years of continuous legal practice and be in the age bracket of 35-45.
  • This is a disadvantage for women as many are married by this age.

Further, the long and inflexible work hours in law, combined with familial responsibilities, force many women to drop out of practice and they fail to meet the requirement of continuous practice.