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26th August Current Affairs

India and Israel New Cultural Agreement

Why in News:

India and Israel signed a new cultural agreement to strengthen people-to-people exchanges. This agreement was signed by India’s Ambassador to Israel, Sanjeev Singla and Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

Key Points of the Agreement:

The new cultural agreement will be a three year programme on cultural cooperation from 2020-23.

The areas of cooperation under the agreement are exchange of culture and art experts; organizing literature fests and book fairs as well as promoting the translation of famous works in each other’s languages; enhancing cooperation in the protection of cultural heritage and archaeology with the help of Israel Antiquities Authority (IIA) and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The agreement also includes encourage direct contacts between national libraries and book publishers; student exchanges through scholarships.

Co-operation in co-production in the field of cinema and audio-visual is also highlighted in the agreement. This co-operation on co-production was agreed by the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, during his visit to India in 2018.

Also, major emphasis will be laid to bring the youth of both the countries together through participation in festivals, sharing experiences, knowledge, etc.

Israel also signed a cooperation agreement with the Uttar Pradesh government on August 20 for resolving water crisis in Bundelkhand region.

Curative Petition

Why in News:

Recently, the Supreme Court held Prashant Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt of court for his tweets against the CJI S.A. Bobde and against the judiciary.

About Curative Petition:

The concept was first evolved by the Supreme Court of India in Rupa Ashok Hurra vs. Ashok Hurra and another case (2002) on the question whether an aggrieved person is entitled to any relief against the final judgement/order of the Supreme Court, even after the dismissal of a review petition.

The court used the Latin maxim “actus curiae neminem gravabit”,which means that an act of the court shall prejudice no one. It’s objectives are twofolds- avoid miscarriage of justice and to prevent abuse of process.

Related Constitutional provisions:

The concept of the curative petition is supported by Article 137 of the Indian Constitution.

It provides that in the matter of laws and rules made under Article 145, the Supreme Court has the power to review any judgement pronounced (or order made) by it.

Procedure:

  • A curative petition may be filed after a review plea against the final conviction is dismissed.
  • It can be entertained if the petitioner establishes that there was a violation of the principles of natural justice, and that he was not heard by the court before passing an order.
  • It must be rare rather than regular.
  • A curative petition must be first circulated to a Bench of the three senior-most judges, and the judges who passed the concerned judgment, if available.
  • Only when a majority of the judges conclude that the matter needs hearing should it be listed before the same Bench.
  • The Bench at any stage of consideration of the curative petition can ask a senior counsel to assist it as amicus curiae (Friend of the court).
  • A curative petition is usually decided by judges in the chamber unless a specific request for an open-court hearing is allowed.

Domicile-based job quota

Why in News:

The Madhya Pradesh government’s recent decision to reserve all government jobs for “children of the state” raises questions relating to the fundamental right to equality.

About Issue

Reservation solely based on place of birth would raise constitutional questions.

What does the Constitution say?

Article 16 of the Constitution, which guarantees equal treatment under law in matters of public employment, prohibits the state from discriminating on grounds of place of birth or residence.

Article 16(2) states that “no citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect or, any employment or office under the State”. The provision is supplemented by the other clauses in the Constitution that guarantee equality.

Enabling provisions:

However, Article 16(3) of the Constitution provides an exception by saying that Parliament may make a law “prescribing” a requirement of residence for jobs in a particular state. This power vests solely in the Parliament, not state legislatures.

Why does the Constitution prohibit reservation based on domicile?

When the Constitution came into force, India turned itself into one nation from a geographical unit of individual principalities and the idea of the universality of Indian citizenship took root.

As India has common citizenship, which gives citizens the liberty to move around freely in any part of the country, the requirement of a place of birth or residence cannot be qualifications for granting public employment in any state.

What has the Supreme Court said on reserving jobs for locals?

The Supreme Court has ruled against reservation based on place of birth or residence.

In 1984, ruling in Dr Pradeep Jain v Union of India, the issue of legislation for “sons of the soil” was discussed. The court expressed an opinion that such policies would be unconstitutional but did not expressly rule on it as the case was on different aspects of the right to equality.

In a subsequent ruling in Sunanda Reddy v State of Andhra Pradesh (1995), the Supreme Court affirmed the observation in Pradeep Jain to strike down a state government policy that gave 5% extra weightage to candidates who had studied with Telugu as the medium of instruction.

In 2002, the Supreme Court invalidated appointment of government teachers in Rajasthan in which the state selection board gave preference to “applicants belonging to the district or the rural areas of the district concerned”.

In 2019, the Allahabad High Court struck down a recruitment notification by the UP Subordinate Service Selection Commission which prescribed preference for women who are “original residents” of the UP alone.

How do some states then have laws that reserve jobs for locals?

Exercising the powers it has under Article 16(3), Parliament enacted the Public Employment (Requirement as to Residence) Act, aimed at abolishing all existing residence requirements in the states and enacting exceptions only in the case of the special instances of Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh.

Constitutionally, some states also have special protections under Article 371.

Andhra Pradesh under Section 371(d) has powers to have “direct recruitment of local cadre” in specified areas.

In Uttarakhand, class III and class IV jobs are reserved for locals.

Some states have gone around the mandate of Article 16(2) by using language.

States that conduct official business in their regional languages prescribe knowledge of the language as a criterion. This ensures that local citizens are preferred for jobs. For example, states including Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu require a language test.

Myanmar Government and Armed Groups signed Ceasefire Implementation

In News:

Myanmar Government and ten armed ethnic groups in the country signed National Ceasefire Agreement at the Union Peace Conference.

Particulars:

The peace accord signed between the armed groups and Myanmar government is called the Union Peace Accord. It contains 15 provisions to implement the National Ceasefire Agreement. It includes troop deployment and protocol to deal with skirmishes between government troops.

Background:

The peace process in Myanmar was started in 2011 to end the long-standing conflict between the ethnic armed forces and Myanmar Government.

What is the issue?

Myanmar is a multi-ethnic country that is composed of seven ethnically designated states and regions. They are Shans, Rakhines, Karens, Chins, Kachins, Was, Karenni, Nagas, Palaungs, etc. The Burmans, mostly Buddhists constitute to 68% of the total population.

These ethnic groups are demanding for separate lands. The 2008 Constitution of Myanmar provided six self-administered zones such as Naga, Pa-O, Laung, Danu, Kokang and Wa respectively.

In order to fix these issues, agreements are being signed between the Myanmar Government and the ethnic groups.

Rohingya Conflict:

Rohingyas are the Muslims living in the state of Rakhine of Myanmar. According to the United Nations, they are the most persecuted minorities in the world. The ethnic Rakhine want the Rohingyas Muslims completely evacuated from the state.

Internal Conflicts:

The Internal conflicts in Myanmar are a series of insurgencies in Myanmar after the country gained independence from United Kingdom in 1049.

Kachin:

The Kachin people are the major ethnic minority in Myanmar. They inhabit the mountains of Kachin. In 2012 alone, the conflict between these people and the Myanmar Government resulted in 2,500 casualties.

Karenni:

They are the largest insurgent group inhabiting the Kayah state. They have formed the Karenni army and are fighting to obtain independence.

Karen:

The Karen people are the third largest ethnic group in Myanmar. They form 7% of country’s total population.

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