25th March Current Affairs
March 25, 2021
27th March Current Affairs
March 27, 2021
Show all

26th March Current Affairs

Framework for water quality testing, monitoring

In News:

Jal Shakti Ministry launches framework for water quality testing, monitoring.

Key facts:

The framework is part of the Centre’s flagship Jal Jeevan Mission. Of the ₹3.6 lakh crore Jal Jeevan budget, 2% has been earmarked for quality monitoring.

The guidelines mandate a network of the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accredited labs to be set up in every State, district and block over the next year.

At the panchayat level, teams of women in the village water and sanitation committees will be given field testing kits.

State governments can include private players as part of the network, but the Centre has capped tariffs to ensure that they remain within the reach of the common man.

Apart from voluntary tests by members of the public, officials have been mandated to do regular inspections. All results of testing will be fed into the Water Quality Information Management System.

The basic water quality parameters prescribed under the guidelines are:

pH value, total dissolved solids, turbidity, chloride, total alkalinity, total hardness, sulphate, iron, total arsenic, fluoride, nitrate, total coliform bacteria, e.coil or thermo-tolerant coliform bacteria.

How Election Commission decides on party symbols?

In News:

The Supreme Court had upheld Kerala High Court’s confirmation of an Election Commission order declaring a group led by Jose K. Mani as the official Kerala Congress (Mani) and granting it the official election symbol of ‘Two Leaves’.

Background:

The Kerala High Court had, in November 2020, dismissed the petitions challenging the Election Commission’s order declaring the group led by Jose K Mani as the official Kerala Congress (M) and granting it the official election symbol of “two leaves”.

The Court said it cannot, in the exercise of the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, interfere with the finding of the Commission.

How are symbols allotted to political parties?

As per the guidelines, to get a symbol allotted:

A party/candidate has to provide a list of three symbols from the EC’s free symbols list at the time of filing nomination papers.

Among them, one symbol is allotted to the party/candidate on a first-come-first-serve basis.

When a recognised political party splits, the Election Commission takes the decision on assigning the symbol.

Powers of Election Commission:

The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 empowers the EC to recognise political parties and allot symbols.

Under Paragraph 15 of the Order, it can decide disputes among rival groups or sections of a recognised political party staking claim to its name and symbol.

The EC is also the only authority to decide issues on a dispute or a merger. The Supreme Court upheld its validity in Sadiq Ali and another vs. ECI in 1971.

How many types of symbols are there?

As per the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) (Amendment) Order, 2017, party symbols are either:

Reserved: Eight national parties and 64 state parties across the country have “reserved” symbols.

Free: The Election Commission also has a pool of nearly 200 “free” symbols that are allotted to the thousands of unrecognised regional parties that pop up before elections.

National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021

In News:

The bill was recently moved in Lok Sabha.

The Bill:

Proposes to amend Sections 21, 24, 33 and 44 of the 1991 Act.

Proposes that the “government” in the National Capital Territory of Delhi meant the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi.

Gives discretionary powers to the L-G even in matters where the Legislative Assembly of Delhi is empowered to make laws.

Seeks to ensure that the L-G is “necessarily granted an opportunity” to give her or his opinion before any decision taken by the Council of Ministers (or the Delhi Cabinet) is implemented.

Adds that the L-G’s opinion shall be obtained before the government takes any executive action based on decisions taken by the Cabinet or any individual minister.

Bars the Assembly or its committees from making rules to take up matters concerning day-to-day administration, or to conduct inquiries in relation to administrative decisions.

How is Delhi currently administered?

Delhi is a Union Territory with a legislature and it came into being in 1991 under Article 239AA of the Constitution inserted by the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991.

As per the existing Act, the Legislative Assembly has the power to make laws in all matters except public order, police and land.

What’s the issue now?

The Bill has revived the dispute on the distribution of powers between the elected government and the Lieutenant Governor (L-G).

The Supreme Court too had intervened in the matter and delivered its verdict in 2018.

Supreme Court’s 2018 verdict:

L-G’s concurrence is not required on issues other than police, public order and land.

Decisions of the Council of Ministers will, however, have to be communicated to the L-G.

The L-G was bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers.

The status of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi is not that of a Governor of a State, rather he remains an Administrator, in a limited sense, working with the designation of Lieutenant Governor.

Concerns:

By making it mandatory for the elected government to route all its files through the L-G, the amendments will essentially take away the government’s autonomy and the dream for full statehood for the state.

NOTA (None Of The Above)

In News:

The Supreme Court has asked the Centre and the Election Commission of India to respond to a plea that fresh elections should be conducted in constituencies where the highest number of votes polled are NOTA (None Of The Above).

Petitioner’s demands:

Candidates ‘rejected’ by voters should not be fielded again in the fresh polls.

The electorate will be armed with the “right to reject” and this shall provide a better choice of candidates to pick from.

Challenges:

If voters kept rejecting candidates, Parliament/Assembly seats would continue to remain vacant, affecting legislative functioning.

Political parties could also influence voters to not vote in a particular constituency.

The use of NOTA in elections:

The option of NOTA for Lok Sabha and assembly elections was prescribed by the SC in 2013. Thus, India became the 14th country to institute negative voting.

Why have NOTA if there’s ‘no electoral value’?

NOTA gives people dissatisfied with contesting candidates an opportunity to express their disapproval.

This, in turn, increases the chances of more people turning up to cast their votes, even if they do not support any candidate, and decreases the count of bogus votes.

Also, the Supreme Court has observed that negative voting could bring about “a systemic change in polls and political parties will be forced to project clean candidates”.

NOTA in Rajya Sabha:

The Supreme Court, in 2018, held that the NOTA option is meant only for universal adult suffrage and direct elections and not for polls held by the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote as done in the Rajya Sabha.

The court held that making NOTA applicable in Rajya Sabha elections is contrary to Article 80(4) of the constitution and the Supreme Court’s judgment in PUCL v Union of India (2013).

It is because NOTA defeats the fairness in indirect elections, it ignores the role of an elector in such an election and destroys democratic values and encourages malpractices like defection and corruption.