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13th October Current Affairs

Ecosystem services

In News:

According to a study by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the annual economic value of ecosystem services provided by the Delhi zoo works out to be ₹426 crore.

The study was commissioned by the Central Zoo Authority.

Key findings:

These ‘ecosystem services’ constitute heads such as biodiversity conservation, employment generation, education and research, carbon sequestration and recreational and cultural contributions.

When one-time ecosystem services are considered, such as carbon storage, the surrogate value of land and land value of Delhi zoo, their contribution climbs to nearly ₹55,209 crore.

Significance of the study:

The ‘first-of-its-kind’ study in India gave a “powerful baseline assessment” of the important ecosystem services provided by the zoo.

These estimates could be used to compute value provided by zoos across India.

What are Ecosystem Services?

They are “the benefits people derive from ecosystems”. Besides provisioning services or goods like food, wood and other raw materials, plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms provide essential regulating services such as pollination of crops, prevention of soil erosion and water purification, and a vast array of cultural services, like recreation and a sense of place.

These services can further be classified into:

  • Provisioning services.
  • Regulating services.
  • Support services.
  • Cultural services.

Bodoland poll gets Assam Cabinet nod

In News:

Assam Cabinet has decided to request the State Election Commission to schedule the Bodoland Territorial Council election in December.

Background:

The elections to 40 seats in the council were to have been held on April 4 but were deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The council has been under the Governor’s rule since its dissolution on April 27.

What are Autonomous District Councils?

As per the Sixth Schedule, the four states viz. Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram contain the Tribal Areas which are technically different from the Scheduled Areas.

Though these areas fall within the executive authority of the state, provision has been made for the creation of the District Councils and regional councils for the exercise of the certain legislative and judicial powers.

Each district is an autonomous district and Governor can modify / divide the boundaries of the said Tribal areas by notification.

The Governor may, by public notification:

(a) Include any area.

(b) exclude any area.

(c) create a new autonomous district.

(d) increase the area of any autonomous district.

(e) diminish the area of any autonomous district.

(f) alter the name of any autonomous district.

(g) define the boundaries of any autonomous district.

Constitution of District Councils and Regional Councils:

(1) There shall be a District Council for each autonomous district consisting of not more than thirty members, of whom not more than four persons shall be nominated by the Governor and the rest shall be elected on the basis of adult suffrage.

(2) There shall be a separate Regional Council for each area constituted an autonomous region.

(3) Each District Council and each Regional Council shall be a body corporate by the name respectively of the District Council of (name of district) and the Regional Council of (name of region), shall have perpetual succession and a common seal and shall by the said name sue and be sued.

Who is a star campaigner?

In News:

The Election Commission has revised norms for star campaigners for polls during the pandemic.

Changes proposed:

Maximum number of star campaigners reduced from 40 to 30 for a recognised party.

For unrecognised registered parties, the number of star campaigners has been reduced from 20 to 15.

Besides, they now require permission from the district election official 48 hours prior to campaigning.

Who are star campaigners?

They can be described as persons who are nominated by parties to campaign in a given set of Constituencies. These persons are, in almost all cases, prominent and popular faces within the Party. However, there are no specific definitions according to law or the Election Commission of India.

Benefits:

The expenditure incurred on campaigning by such campaigners is exempt from being added to the election expenditure of a candidate. However, this only applies when a star campaigner limits herself to a general campaign for the political party she represents.

What if a star campaigner campaigns specifically for one candidate?

If a candidate or her election agent shares the stage with a star campaigner at a rally, then the entire expenditure on that rally, other than the travel expenses of the star campaigner, is added to the candidate’s expenses.

Even if the candidate is not present at the star campaigner’s rally, but there are posters with her photographs or her name on display, the entire expenditure will be added to the candidate’s account.

This applies even if the star campaigner mentions the candidate’s name during the event. When more than one candidate shares the stage, or there are posters with their photographs, then the expenses of such rally/meeting are equally divided between all such candidates.

Contempt of Court

In News:

Gujarat HC holds lawyer guilty in criminal contempt case.

What is Contempt?

While the basic idea of a contempt law is to punish those who do not respect the orders of the courts, in the Indian context, contempt is also used to punish speech that lowers the dignity of the court and interferes with the administration of justice.

Contempt of court can be of two kinds:

Civil, that is the willful disobedience of a court order or judgment or willful breach of an undertaking given to a court.

Criminal, that is written or spoken words or any act that scandalises the court or lowers its authority or prejudices or interferes with the due course of a judicial proceeding or interferes/obstructs the administration of justice.

Relevant provisions:

Article 129 and 215 of the Constitution of India empowers the Supreme Court and High Court respectively to punish people for their respective contempt.

Section 10 of The Contempt of Courts Act of 1971 defines the power of the High Court to punish contempts of its subordinate courts.

The Constitution also includes contempt of court as a reasonable restriction to the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19, along with elements like public order and defamation.

SC: public places cannot be occupied indefinitely

In News:

On March 23, the Shaheen Bagh sit-in protest against the citizenship law was cleared by Delhi police after curbs were imposed on assembly and movement of people in wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The protest had been on for more than 100 days.

Even the apex court had appointed interlocutors to hold talks with the protesters and report back on the ground situation.

What has the Supreme Court ruled now?

The judgment upheld the right to peaceful protest against a law but made it unequivocally clear that public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied, and that too indefinitely.

It is the duty of the administration to remove such road blockades.

Dissent and democracy go hand in hand but protests must be carried out in designated area.

Restrictions on Fundamental Rights:

Fundamental rights do not live in isolation. These rights are subject to reasonable restrictions imposed in the interest of sovereignty, integrity and public order.

Right to Protest peacefully:

The right to protest peacefully is guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

Articles 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(b) give to all citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression, and to assemble peaceably and without arms.

However, under Articles 19(2) and 19(3), the right to freedom of speech is subject to “reasonable restrictions”.

These include the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

Powers of state:

The legal provisions and avenue available to police for handling agitations, protests, and unlawful assemblies are covered by the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, and The Police Act, 1861.