Basic Structure Doctrine
(GS-II: Indian Judiciary)
Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar criticised the Supreme Court for using the Basic Structure Doctrine to strike down constitutional amendments by Parliament, such as the NJAC Act.
Previously, the VP had called the striking down of the NJAC Act a “severe compromise” of parliamentary sovereignty and disregard of the “mandate of the people”
About Basic Structure Doctrine:
The Doctrine of Basic Structure is a form of judicial review that is used to test the legality of any legislation by the courts.
The doctrine was evolved by the Supreme Court in the 1973 landmark ruling in Kesavananda Bharati v State of Kerala. In a 7-6 verdict, a 13-judge Constitution Bench ruled that the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution is inviolable, and could not be amended by Parliament.
Basic Structure Doctrine (BSD) test:
If a law is found to “damage or destroy” the “basic features of the Constitution”, the Court declares it unconstitutional.
The test is applied to constitutional amendments to ensure the amendment does not dilute the fundamentals of the Constitutional itself.
The test is widely regarded as a check on majoritarian impulses of the Parliament since it places substantive limits on the power to amend the Constitution.
Origin of Basic Structure Doctrine:
The origins of the basic structure doctrine are found in the post-war German Constitution law which, after the Nazi regime, was amended to protect some basic laws.
After a reversal of key legislation including land reforms; nationalization of banks; abolition of the privy purse- the Parliament brought in a constitutional amendment to give itself the power to amend any part of the Constitution and passed a law that it cannot be reviewed by the courts.
The Court had to then examine the scope of the Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution and the legality of the land reforms.
What are the basic features of the Indian Constitution?
The content of the doctrine is derived from the several judgements of the court e.g. judicial review, rule of law, federalism, and democratic republic structure are identified as basic features.
Significance of Basic Structure:
It is a testimony to the theory of Constitutionalism to prevent the damage to the essence of COI by the brute majority of the ruling majority.
It saved the Indian democracy as it acts as a limitation of constituent power or else unlimited power of parliament might have turned India into a totalitarian regime.
It helps us to retain the basic tenets of our constitution so meticulously framed by the founding fathers of our Constitution.
It strengthens our democracy by delineating a true separation of power where the Judiciary is independent of the other two organs.
Being dynamic in nature, it is more progressive and open to changes in time, unlike the rigid nature of earlier judgements.
Why is the doctrine criticised?
It is not found in the text of the original Constitution itself and therefore by inventing this test the judiciary is encroaching on the Parliament’s powers.
Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran: The power of “unelected judges” to strike down amendments to the Constitution on the basis of this doctrine is “anti-democratic and counter-majoritarian.”
However, the doctrine rests on a sound structural interpretation of the Constitution. Many of the critics of the basic structure such as Justice YV Chandrachud, former Chief Justice of India found himself in the minority in the Kesavananda Bharati ruling. However, in subsequent rulings where the Court applied the test, Justice Chandrachud applied the doctrine to limit Parliament’s powers.
Global Risk Report 2023
(GS-III: Disaster management)
World Economic Forum (WEF) has released Global Risk Report 2023
In the next 2 years: Cost of living; Natural disasters and extreme weather events; Geoeconomic confrontation
In the next 10 years: Failure to mitigate climate change; Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse
Major risks to India: Digital inequality; geopolitical confrontation for resources, the rising cost of living, debt crisis, natural disasters and extreme weather events
Technologies such as AI, Quantum and Biotechnology are going to exacerbate the inequalities and digital divide ( if no action is taken to mitigate it)
Economic and geopolitical risks:
Covid-19 and Ukraine war has resulted in rising inflation, rapid normalization of monetary policies, low-growth and low-investment era
A miscalibration between monetary and fiscal policies will raise the likelihood of liquidity shocks, signalling a more prolonged economic downturn and debt distress on a global scale.
Geopolitical fragmentation will drive geoeconomic warfare and heighten the risk of multi-domain conflicts
Concurrent shocks, deeply interconnected risks and eroding resilience are giving rise to the risk of polycrises (one crisis leading to another and the overall impact far exceeds the sum of each part)
Food, fuel and cost crises exacerbate societal vulnerability while declining investments in human development erode future resilience
As volatility in multiple domains grows in parallel, the risk of polycrises accelerates
Registrar General of India (RGI)
The Office of the Registrar-General of India (RGI) is following the set of criteria set out by the Lokur Committee nearly 60 years ago to define any new community as a Scheduled Tribe
The criteria of the Lokur Committee for recognition of any community under the ST list are:
However, over the years, the criteria have come under severe criticism.
Previously Central government has called these criteria “obsolete”, “condescending”, “dogmatic”, and “rigid” and it was considering a proposal to change the criteria for scheduling new communities as STs.
The Office of the RGI’s nod is mandatory for the inclusion of any community in ST lists, as per the procedure for scheduling tribes.
GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) Status
India has sought restoration of the preferential access to the US market that was revoked by Washington in 2019.
About GSP status:
GSP is the largest and oldest U.S. trade preference program. Established by the Trade Act of 1974, GSP promotes economic development by eliminating duties on thousands of products when imported from one of 119 designated beneficiary countries and territories.
Origin of GSP:
It was 1st instituted by the UNCTAD conference in 1971.
Why US terminated India’s GSP status?
President Donald Trump has terminated India’s designation as a beneficiary developing nation under the key GSP trade programme due to India’s failure to provide the United States with assurances that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets in numerous sectors.
How has the termination of GSP impacted India?
India was the largest beneficiary of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) status in 2017, with $5.7 billion worth of imports into the US given duty-free status. About 2,000 products including auto parts and textile materials were allowed to enter the US duty-free.
Current Indo-US trade:
Bilateral trade between India and the US rose to $119.5 billion in 2021-22 from $80.5 billion in 2020-21