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19th September Current Affairs

What is an “office of profit”?

In News:

President Ram Nath Kovind has rejected a plea seeking disqualification of YSR Congress leader V Vijaisai Reddy as Rajya Sabha member on the grounds of holding ‘office of profit’ as special representative of the Andhra Pradesh government in the national capital.

The order of the president is based on the Election Commission’s unanimous opinion given in June.

What’s the issue?

A petition was filed seeking disqualification of Vijaysai Reddy as a member of the Upper House of Parliament alleging that the post of special representative of the Andhra Pradesh government at the Andhra Pradesh Bhawan being held by the YSR Congress Party MP  was an office of profit.

However, the EC had held that since no pecuniary gain was derived from the said office and Reddy was not entitled to any other perks or remuneration other than enjoying the status of a ‘state guest’ during his travels to Andhra Pradesh in connection with performance of his duties as special representative, he did not incur disqualification under Article 102(1) (a) of the Constitution of India”.

What are the basic criteria to disqualify an MP or MLA?

Basic disqualification criteria for an MP are laid down in Article 102 of the Constitution, and for an MLA in Article 191.

They can be disqualified for: a) Holding an office of profit under government of India or state government; b) Being of unsound mind; c) Being an undischarged insolvent; d) Not being an Indian citizen or for acquiring citizenship of another country.

What is an ‘office of profit’?

If an MLA or an MP holds a government office and receives benefits from it, then that office is termed as an “office of profit”.

A person will be disqualified if he holds an office of profit under the central or state government, other than an office declared not to disqualify its holder by a law passed by Parliament or state legislature.

What is the underlying principle for including ‘office of profit’ as criterion for disqualification?

Makers of the Constitution wanted that legislators should not feel obligated to the Executive in any way, which could influence them while discharging legislative functions.

In other words, an MP or MLA should be free to carry out her duties without any kind of governmental pressure. The intent is that there should be no conflict between the duties and interests of an elected member.

The office of profit law simply seeks to enforce a basic feature of the Constitution- the principle of separation of power between the legislature and the executive.

Reason for controversies:

The expression “office of profit” has not been defined in the Constitution or in the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

It is for the courts to explain the significance and meaning of this concept. Over the years, courts have decided this issue in the context of specific factual situations.

But, articles 102 (1) and 191(1) which give effect to the concept of office of profit prescribe restrictions at the central and state level on lawmakers accepting government positions.

Role of Judiciary in defining the ‘office of profit:

The Supreme Court in Pradyut Bordoloi vs Swapan Roy (2001) outlined the four broad principles for determining whether an office attracts the constitutional disqualification.

First, whether the government exercises control over appointment, removal and performance of the functions of the office

Second, whether the office has any remuneration attached to it

Third, whether the body in which the office is held has government powers (releasing money, allotment of land, granting licenses etc.).

Fourth, whether the office enables the holder to influence by way of patronage.

‘Health in India’ report

Published by?

National Statistical Organisation (NSO).

The report is based on the 75th round of the National Sample Survey (July 2017-June 2018) on household social consumption related to health.

Key findings in the latest report:

Across the country, only 59.2% of children under five years are fully immunised.

Roughly, two out of five children do not complete their immunisation programme.

About 97% of children across the country received at least one vaccination — mostly BCG and/or the first dose of OPV at birth.

However, only 67% of children are protected against measles.

Only 58% got their polio booster dose, while 54% got their DPT booster dose.

Among States, Manipur (75%), Andhra Pradesh (73.6%) and Mizoram (73.4%) recorded the highest rates of full immunisation.

In Nagaland, only 12% of children received all vaccinations, followed by Puducherry (34%) and Tripura (39.6%).

What is immunisation?

Immunization is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease.

What is full immunisation?

Full immunisation means that a child receives a cocktail of eight vaccine doses in the first year of life.

Need for proposed immunisation:

Currently, India accounts for 5 lakh deaths due to vaccine-preventable diseases, which is more than half of the total estimated infants’ deaths annually.

In India, diseases such as measles-rubella, diarrhoea, pneumonia and the like cause most of the infant deaths every year.

Latest reports by the World Health Organization reveal that a total of 1.5 million deaths could be avoided globally if there is an improvement in the global vaccination coverage.

Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvIT) model

In News:

Cabinet approves asset monetization of subsidiaries of Power Grid Corporation of India limited through infrastructure investment trust.

This is the first time any PSU in Power Sector will undertake asset recycling by monetising its assets through the InvIT model and using the proceeds to fund the new and under-construction capital projects.

What is InvIT model?

It is a Collective Investment Scheme similar to a mutual fund, which enables direct investment of money from individual and institutional investors in infrastructure projects to earn a small portion of the income as return.

The InvITs are regulated by the SEBI (Infrastructure Investment Trusts) Regulations, 2014.

About Powergrid:

It is a public limited company under the administrative control of the Ministry of Power, Government of India.

It started its commercial operation in the year 1992-93 and is today, a Maharatna company, engaged in the business of power transmission.

Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha

In News:

Congress has renewed its campaign seeking the Deputy Speaker’s position in the Lok Sabha.

The Lok Sabha has not had a Deputy Speaker for the last 15 months. Instead, a panel of MPs has been assisting the Speaker.

About Deputy Speaker:

Article 93 of the Constitution provides for the election of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.

The constitutional office of the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha is more symbolic of parliamentary democracy than some real authority.

There is no need to resign from their original party though as a Deputy Speaker, they have to remain impartial.

Roles and functions:

They act as the presiding officer in case of leave or absence caused by death or illness of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

Election:

Usually, the Deputy Speaker is elected in the first meeting of the Lok Sabha after the General elections from amongst the members of the Lok Sabha.

It is by convention that position of Deputy Speaker is offered to opposition party in India.

Tenure and removal:

They hold office until either they cease to be a member of the Lok Sabha or they resign.

They can be removed from office by a resolution passed in the Lok Sabha by an effective majority of its members.

InstaFact:

There is a constitution-mandated panel of 10 members to preside over the proceedings of the Lok Sabha in the absence of Speaker.