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21 June Current Affairs

Flag Satyagraha

In News:

The Ministry of Culture on 18th June had organised a programme to observe the Flag Satyagraha in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.

What is Flag Satyagraha?

The Flag Satyagraha movement by the freedom fighters shook the British government and it infused a new life into the freedom movement.

Also called the Jhanda Satyagraha, it was held in Jabalpur and Nagpur in 1923.

The news of flag hoisting in Jabalpur spread like fire in the country and after flags were hoisted at several places across the country.

Significance:

It is a campaign of peaceful civil disobedience that focused on exercising the right and freedom to hoist the nationalist flag and challenge the legitimacy of the British Rule in India through the defiance of laws prohibiting the hoisting of nationalist flags and restricting civil freedoms.

Outcomes:

The arrest of nationalist protestors demanding the right to hoist the flag caused an outcry across India especially as Gandhi had recently been arrested.

Nationalist leaders such as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Jamnalal Bajaj, Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Vinoba Bhave organised the revolt and thousands of people from different regions traveled to Nagpur and other parts of the Central Provinces to participate in civil disobedience.

In the end, the British negotiated an agreement with Patel and other Congress leaders permitting the protestors to conduct their march unhindered and obtaining the release of all those arrested.

Recusal of Judges

In News:

Justice Indira Banerjee has recused herself from hearing a petition filed by the families of two BJP activists killed allegedly in the post poll violence in West Bengal.

Background:

The petition alleged that there was “indiscriminate” killing of innocent people in West Bengal following the election results by the “vengeful” ruling party in the State.

What is Judicial Disqualification or Recusal?

Judicial disqualification, referred to as recusal, is the act of abstaining from participation in an official action such as a legal proceeding due to a conflict of interest of the presiding court official or administrative officer.

Grounds for Recusal:

  • The judge is biased in favour of one party, or against another, or that a reasonable objective observer would think he might be.
  • Interest in the subject matter, or relationship with someone who is interested in it.
  • Background or experience, such as the judge’s prior work as a lawyer.
  • Personal knowledge about the parties or the facts of the case.
  • Ex parte communications with lawyers or non-lawyers.
  • Rulings, comments or conduct.

Are there any laws in this regard?

There are no definite rules on recusals by Judges.

However, In taking oath of office, judges, both of the Supreme Court and of the high courts, promise to perform their duties, to deliver justice, “without fear or favour, affection or ill-will”.

What has the Supreme Court said on this?

Justice J. Chelameswar in his opinion in Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India (2015) held that “Where a judge has a pecuniary interest, no further inquiry as to whether there was a ‘real danger’ or ‘reasonable suspicion’ of bias is required to be undertaken”.

How are poll results challenged, and when courts have set them aside?

In News:

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has filed an election petition in the Calcutta High Court challenging the Assembly election result of Nandigram constituency, where she had contested and lost.

What’s the issue?

She has sought that Suvendhu Adhikari’s election be declared void on grounds of corrupt practice and discrepancies in the counting procedure conducted by the Returning Officer.

What is an election petition?

Post results, an election petition is the only legal remedy available to a voter or a candidate who believes there has been malpractice in an election.

An election petition submitted to the High Court of the state in which the constituency is located.

Such a petition has to be filed within 45 days from the date of the poll results; nothing is entertained by courts after that.

Although the Representative of the People Act of 1951 suggests that the High Court should try to conclude the trial within six months, it usually drags on for much longer, even years.

Under Section 100 of the RP Act, an election petition can be filed on the grounds that:

  • Section 123 of the RP Act has a detailed list of what amounts to corrupt practice, including bribery, use of force or coercion, appeal to vote or refrain from voting on grounds of religion, race, community, and language.
  • Improper acceptance of the nomination of the winning candidate or improper rejection of a nomination.
  • Malpractice in the counting process, which includes improper reception, refusal or rejection of any vote, or the reception of any vote which is void.
  • Non-compliance with the provisions of the Constitution or the RP Act or any rules or orders made under the RP Act.

What happens if the court finds that a contention of malpractice is correct?

The verdict on an election petition, if found in favour of the petitioner, may result in a fresh election or the court announcing a new winner.

Famous examples:

There are many examples, the most famous being the Allahabad High Court verdict of 1975 which set aside Indira Gandhi’s election from Rae Bareli constituency, four years earlier, on grounds of corrupt practice.

Another high-profile case was that of Congress leader C P Joshi’s loss in the Rajasthan Assembly elections in 2008, by one vote.

Corporatization of ordnance factory board

In News:

The Union Cabinet has approved a plan to corporatize the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).

Ordnance Factory Board (OFB):

It is an umbrella body for the ordnance factories and related institutions, and is currently a subordinate office of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The first Indian ordnance factory was set up in the year 1712 by the Dutch Company as a GunPowder Factory, West Bengal.

OFBs will be responsible for different verticals of the products such as the Ammunition and Explosives group will be engaged in production of ammunition while a Vehicles group will engage in production of defence mobility and combat vehicles.

What Will Change?

According to the plan, the 41 companies will reportedly be grouped under the new entities that will function like any other existing defence public sector undertaking (DPSU) like Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) or Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).

What Necessitated The Restructuring?

As per Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the ordnance factories:

Production in factories continued to fall short of targets and that the various ordnance factories could achieve targets for only 49 per cent of items in 2017-18.

A significant quantity of Army’s demand for some principal ammunition items remained outstanding as of 31 March 2018 which may adversely affect their operational preparedness.

Thus, inefficiencies in production and delays can be deemed to be a primary reason behind the overhaul of OFB.

Significance of new structure:

The restructuring is aimed at transforming the ordnance factories into productive and profitable assets, deepen their specialisation in product range, enhance competitiveness and improve quality and cost-efficiency.

The restructure would help in overcoming various shortcomings in the existing system of the OFB by eliminating inefficient supply chains and provide these companies incentive to become competitive and explore new opportunities in the market.

It will allow these companies autonomy as well as help improve accountability and efficiency.

Concerns/Shortcomings of corporatization:

Corporatisation would eventually lead to privatisation.

The new corporate entities would not be able to survive the unique market environment of defence products that has very unstable demand and supply dynamics.

Restructuring will result in greater autonomy and lesser government control over the corporation but there is a fear of job loss.