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20th October Current Affairs

Consent of AG on Contempt Proceedings

(GS-II: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure)

In News:

The Attorney General for India KK Venugopal recently declined to grant consent to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against the National President of Azad Samaj Party, Chandra Shekhar Azad for his comments levelling allegations against the judges of the Supreme Court.

Background:

The AG was considering a request to grant consent under Section 15(1)(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 to initiate contempt proceedings against Azad.

What is the law on contempt of courts?

The Contempt of Courts Act 1971 defines civil and criminal contempt, and lays down the powers and procedures by which courts can penalise contempt, as well as the penalties that can be given for the offence of contempt.

Contempt of court is the offense of being disobedient to or disrespectful toward a court of law and its officers in the form of behavior that opposes or defies the authority, justice and dignity of the court.

Why is the consent of the Attorney General required to initiate contempt proceedings?

The objective behind requiring the consent of the Attorney General before taking cognizance of a complaint is to save the time of the court.

This is necessary because judicial time is squandered if frivolous petitions are made and the court is the first forum for bringing them in.

The AG’s consent is meant to be a safeguard against frivolous petitions, as it is deemed that the AG, as an officer of the court, will independently ascertain whether the complaint is indeed valid.

Under what circumstances is the AG’s consent not needed?

The AG’s consent is mandatory when a private citizen wants to initiate a case of contempt of court against a person.

However, when the court itself initiates a contempt of court case the AG’s consent is not required.

This is because the court is exercising its inherent powers under the Constitution to punish for contempt and such Constitutional powers cannot be restricted because the AG declined to grant consent.

What happens if the AG denies consent?

If the AG denies consent, the matter all but ends.

The complainant can, however, separately bring the issue to the notice of the court and urge the court to take suo motu cognizance.

Article 129 of the Constitution gives the Supreme Court the power to initiate contempt cases on its own, independent of the motion brought before it by the AG or with the consent of the AG.

Geospatial Energy Map of India

(GS-III: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life)

In News:

NITI Aayog Launches Geospatial Energy Map of India.

What is it?

Geospatial Energy Map, enables visualisation of energy installations such as conventional power plants, oil and gas wells, petroleum refineries, coal fields and coal blocks, district-wise data on renewable energy power plants and renewable energy resource potential, etc through 27 thematic layers.

This comprehensive Geographic Information System (GIS) Energy Map of India has been developed by NITI Aayog in collaboration with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The GIS map provides a holistic picture of all energy resources of the country.

What will it do?

The map attempts to identify and locate all primary and secondary sources of energy and their transportation/transmission networks to provide a comprehensive view of energy production and distribution in a country.

Key features:

It is a unique effort aimed at integrating energy data scattered across multiple organizations and to present it in a consolidated, visually appealing graphical manner.

It leverages latest advancements in web-GIS technology and open-source software to make it interactive and user friendly.

The Geospatial Energy Map of India will be useful in planning and making investment decisions.

It will also aid in disaster management using available energy assets.

Significance of GIS-mapping:

GIS-mapping of energy assets will be useful for ensuring real-time and integrated planning of energy sector of India, given its large geographical distribution and interdependence. It will be advantageous to all concerned stakeholders and will help in accelerating the policy-making process.

International Solar Alliance General Assembly

(GS-II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests)

In News:

The fourth general assembly of The International Solar Alliance (ISA), is being held virtually.

It is presided over by Minister for Power, New and Renewable Energy, Government of India and the President of the ISA Assembly.

Highlights:

The Fourth Assembly of the ISA will deliberate on the key initiatives around the operationalisation of the OSOWOG initiative, the $1 trillion Solar Investment Roadmap for 2030, and approval of a Blended Financial Risk Mitigation Facility.

World leaders of ISA member countries will also discuss the strategic plan of the ISA for the next five years.

The ISA will also discuss the partnership with Global Energy Alliance (GEA) to scale up technical and financial support to LDCs and SIDS.

About the ISA Assembly:

The Assembly is the apex decision-making body of International Solar Alliance (ISA), in which each member country is represented.

This body makes decisions concerning the implementation of the ISA’s Framework Agreement and coordinated actions to be taken to achieve its objective.

The Assembly meets annually at the Ministerial level at the seat of the ISA, assesses the aggregate effect of the programmes and other activities in terms of deployment of solar energy, performance, reliability, as well as cost and scale of finance.

International Solar Alliance (ISA):                                             

International Solar Alliance was launched in 2015.

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of more than 122 countries initiated by India.

ISA is a coalition of solar resource rich countries lying fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn to specifically address energy needs by harnessing solar energy.

The Paris Declaration establishes ISA as an alliance dedicated to the promotion of solar energy among its member countries.

ISA brings together countries with rich solar potential to aggregate global demand, thereby reducing prices through bulk purchase.

It facilitates the deployment of existing solar technologies at scale, and promoting collaborative solar R&D and capacity building.

Secretariat:

India and France jointly laid the foundation stone of ISA Headquarters.

They inaugurated the interim Secretariat of the ISA in National Institute of Solar Energy campus, Gurugram, Haryana.

Objectives:

The ISA’s major objectives include global deployment of over 1,000GW of solar generation capacity and mobilisation of investment of over US$ 1000 billion into solar energy by 2030.

The ISA envisions to enable the full ecosystem for availability and development of technology, economic resources, and development of storage technology, mass manufacturing and innovation.

Need for:

The reduced cost of technology would enable the undertaking of more ambitious solar energy programmes.

Solar is key source of affordable and reliable energy. Successful project implementation could play significant role in achieving the universal energy access goal (SDG 7).

ISA’s six programmes could be a game changer for the conservation of environment Solar Applications for Agricultural Use, Affordable Finance at Scale, Mini Grids, and Solar Rooftops and Solar E-mobility & Storage and Large-Scale Solar Parks.

Criminalisation of politics

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

In News:

Ahead of UP Elections, political parties are now having a rethink on aligning with those who have a criminal background but also enjoy influence in their areas.

Background:

The Supreme Court had warned the Parliament about the advent of criminals in politics and also imposed fines on major political parties for covering up from voters the criminal past of the candidates they fielded in the Bihar Assembly poll last year.

What had the Court said in its February 2020 judgement?

The Supreme Court had directed political parties to publish the criminal history, if any, of their election candidates on the homepage of their websites under the caption ‘Candidates with criminal antecedents’ within 48 hours of their selection.

Why is this a cause for concern?

There are a total 4,442 cases pending against legislators across the country. Of this, the number of cases against sitting Members of Parliament and members of State legislatures was 2,556.

The cases were pending in various special courts exclusively set up to try criminal cases registered against politicians.

The cases against the legislators include that of corruption, money laundering, damage to public property, defamation and cheating.

A large number of cases were for violation of Section 188 IPC for wilful disobedience and obstruction of orders promulgated by public servants.

There are 413 cases in respect of offences, which are punishable with imprisonment for life, out of which in 174 cases sitting MPs/ MLAs are accused.

A large number of cases were pending at the appearance stage and even non-bailable warrants (NBWs) issued by courts have not been executed.

Highest number of cases are pending in Uttar Pradesh.

What does the RPA say on this?

Currently, under the Representation of Peoples (RP) Act, lawmakers cannot contest elections only after their conviction in a criminal case.

Section 8 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951 disqualifies a person convicted with a sentence of two years or more from contesting elections. But those under trial continued to be eligible to contest elections.

Main reasons for Criminalization:

  • Corruption
  • Vote bank.
  • Lack of governance.

What is the way out?

Political parties should themselves refuse tickets to the tainted.

The RP Act should be amended to debar persons against whom cases of a heinous nature are pending from contesting elections.

Fast-track courtsshould decide the cases of tainted legislators quickly.

Bring greater transparency in campaign financing.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) should have the power to audit the financial accounts of political parties.