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21st September Current Affairs

Criminalisation of politics

In News:

The Supreme Court had sought the amicus report on pending cases against legislators on the basis of a petition.

The report was recently filed by the apex court’s amicus curiae and senior advocate Vijay Hansaria.

Key findings:

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.

Plea for ‘legal entity’ status to animals

In News:

The Supreme Court has agreed to examine a petition seeking “legal entity” status to the entire animal kingdom.

What’s the demand?

The demand is to give animals a “legal personality”. This means bestowing on animals, by judicial direction, the capacity to sue and be sued in courts of law.

This mainly stems from SC’s interpretation of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution, with the effect the word “life” includes “all forms of life, including animal life, which are necessary for human life.”

Why this demand?

While referring to recent reported incidents of cruelty on animals in the country, the plea has said that such incidents have enraged many and raised a question as to whether existing laws are sufficient enough to protect animals from possible abuse and cruelty.

It alleged the rights of animals exist only on paper due to their lack of implementation and enforcement.

Besides, the plea said that legal status has been accorded to animals in two recent verdicts rendered by the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Uttarakhand High Court.

What Next?

The Court has issued notices to the Centre and others seeking their replies on the petition.

What is a legal entity?

A legal entity means entity which acts like a natural person but only through a designated person, whose acts are processed within the ambit of law.

Previous Instances:

In 2018, a bench presided over by justice Sharma had accorded the status of “legal person or entity” to animals in Haryana.

In Uttarakhand high court, justice Sharma was part of a bench in 2017, which declared the Ganga and Yamuna as living entities, a verdict that was later stayed by the Supreme Court.

In 2018, Uttarakhand high court declared the entire animal kingdom, including birds and aquatic animals, as a legal entity.

In June 2019, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had ruled that all animals, birds and aquatic life in Haryana would be accorded the status of legal persons or entities.

What are Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDP) and VPRP?

In News:

With the current Covid-19 situation, DAY-NRLM has designed an online training program to train all State Missions across the country on Village Poverty Reduction Plans (VPRP), in partnership with Kudumbashree (National Resource Organisation), National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR), Hyderabad and Ministry of Panchayati Raj.

What are Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDP)?

GPDP is conducted from 2nd October to 31st December, every year across the country, under the People’s Plan Campaign (PPC).

Local bodies, across the country are expected to prepare context specific, need based GPDP.

It brings together both the citizens and their elected representatives in the decentralized planning processes.

What are Village Poverty Reduction Plans (VPRP)?

PPC guidelines and the joint advisory issued by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Ministry of Rural Development, has mandated Self Help Groups and their federations under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) to participate in the annual GPDP planning process and prepare the Village Poverty Reduction Plan (VPRP).

VPRP is a comprehensive demand plan which needs to be integrated with the Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP).

The VPRP is presented in the Gram Sabha meetings from Oct. to Dec. every year.

Demands under VPRP are categorized into five major components:

Social inclusion – plan for inclusion of vulnerable people/household into SHGs under NRLM

Entitlement – demand for various schemes such as MGNREGS, SBM, NSAP, PMAY, Ujjwala, Ration card etc.

Livelihoods – specific demand for enhancing livelihood through developing agriculture, animal husbandry, production and service enterprises and skilled training for placement etc.

Public Goods and Services – demand for necessary basic infrastructure, for renovation of the existing infrastructure and for better service delivery

Resource Development – demand for protection and development of natural resources like land, water, forest and other locally available resources

Social Development – plans prepared for addressing specific social development issues of a village under the low cost no cost component of GPDP.

InstaFact:

The Article 243G of the Constitution intended to empower the Gram Panchayats (GPs) by enabling the State Governments to devolve powers and authority in respect of all 29 Subjects listed in the Eleventh Schedule for local planning and implementation of schemes for economic development and social justice.