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29th October Current Affairs

How are Rajya Sabha members punished for misconduct in the House?

(GS-II: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies)

In News:

More than two months after eight Ministers, at a joint press conference, accused the Opposition of assaulting security officials on the last day of the monsoon session of Parliament, there has been no disciplinary action against anyone.

What’s the issue?

On August 11, during the passage of the contentious Insurance Bill, which 22 Opposition parties had demanded be sent to a select committee for further scrutiny, there was a physical tussle between the Opposition members and the security staff.

The very next day, the eight Ministers accused the Opposition of “bringing anarchy from the streets to Parliament”.

The Rajya Sabha Secretariat has already completed its internal examination and studied the precedents of action taken in similar cases.

Basis for punishment:

Chairman has the power to conduct smooth proceedings of the house.

If any rules are violated, the Chairman has the power to initiate disciplinary action.

But the Rules of the House do not empower Parliament to inflict any punishment on its members other than suspension for creating disorder in the House.

Rule 256 of the Rajya Sabha’s Rules of Procedure:

Specifies the acts of misconduct:

Under this, an MP can be suspended for disregarding the authority of the Chair or wilfully abusing the rules or obstructing the business of the house.

However, the power to suspend an MP is vested in the house, not the chairman. The chairman only names the member, while the Parliamentary Affairs minister or any other minister moves the motion for suspending the member.

Procedure to be followed for suspension of Rajya Sabha MPs:

The Chairman may “name a Member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the Council by persistently and wilfully obstructing” business.

In such a situation, the House may adopt a motion suspending the Member from the service of the House for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session.

The House may, however, by another motion, terminate the suspension.

Terms of suspension:

The maximum period of suspension is for the remainder of the session.

Suspended members cannot enter the chamber or attend the meetings of the committees.

He will not be eligible to give notice for discussion or submission.

He loses the right to get a reply to his questions.

Appointment of the special committee:

These ad-hoc committees are appointed only to investigate serious misconduct by MPs outside the house.

These are usually appointed when the misconduct is very severe and the house is deciding to expel the member.

No special committee is required to go into what happens before the eyes of the presiding officer in the House. As per the rules of the House, they need to be dealt with then and there.

Centre proposes stricter regulations for CWC

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has proposed the draft amendments to Juvenile Justice Model Rules, 2016.

Details:

This follows the passage of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) (JJ) Amendment Bill, 2021, in Parliament.

As per the proposed amendments:

Individuals who receive foreign aid in their personal capacity or as members of an organisation will not be eligible for the membership of Child Welfare Committees (CWCs).

The central adoption agency CARA will be empowered to issue No Objection Certificates (NOC) for adoptions by NRIs and OCIs.

Overview of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021:

The District Magistrates have been further empowered under the Act to ensure its smooth implementation, as well as garner synergized efforts in favour of children in distress conditions.

It means that DMs and ADMs will monitor the functioning of various agencies under the JJ Act in every district- including the Child Welfare Committees, the Juvenile Justice Boards, the District Child Protection Units and the Special Juvenile Protection Units.

The DM will also carry out background checks of CWC members, who are usually social welfare activists, including educational qualifications, as there is no such provision currently.

The DMs are also to check possible criminal backgrounds to ensure that no cases of child abuse or child sexual abuse are found against any member before they are appointed.

The CWCs are also to report regularly to the DMs on their activities in the districts.

Serious offences will also include offences for which maximum punishment is imprisonment of more than seven years, and minimum punishment is not prescribed or is less than seven years.

Instead of the court, the District Magistrate (including Additional District Magistrate) will now issue adoption orders.

Child Welfare Committees:

As per the Section 27(1) of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act), Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) are to be constituted by State Government by notification in the Official Gazette for every district, for exercising the powers and to discharge the duties conferred on such Committees in relation to children in need of care and protection under JJ Act, 2015.

Composition of the committees: The Committee shall consist of a Chairperson, and four other members as the State Government may think fit to appoint, of whom atleast one shall be a woman and another, an expert on the matters concerning children.

Eligibility conditions: As per Rule of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Model Rules, 2016 framed under JJ Act, 2015 Chairperson and the members shall be above the age of thirty-five years and shall have a minimum of seven years of experience of working with children in the field of education, health, or welfare activities, or should be a practicing professional with a degree in child psychology or psychiatry or social work or sociology or human development or in the field of law or a retired judicial officer.

The primary responsibility of execution of the Act and Rules lies with the State/UTs.

What is the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015?

The Act was introduced and passed in Parliament in 2015 to replace the Juvenile Delinquency Law and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act) 2000.

It allowed the trial of juveniles in conflict with law in the age group of 16-18 years as adults, in cases where the crimes were to be determined.

The nature of the crime, and whether the juvenile should be tried as a minor or a child, was to be determined by a Juvenile Justice Board.

It received impetus after the 2012 Delhi gangrape in which one of the accused was just short of 18 years, and was therefore tried as a juvenile.

The Act streamlined adoption procedures for orphans, abandoned and surrendered children and the existing Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has been given the status of a statutory body to enable it to perform its function more effectively.

Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)

(GS-II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora)

In News:

Key lawmakers continue to voice their support for a sanctions waiver for India for its purchase of the S-400 missile defence system from Russia.

What’s the issue?

India is likely to begin taking delivery of the S-400 in November, potentially activating U.S. sanctions under a 2017 law, Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

What is CAATSA, and how did the S-400 deal fall foul of this Act?

Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)‘s core objective is to counter Iran, Russia and North Korea through punitive measures.

Enacted in 2017.

Includes sanctions against countries that engage in significant transactions with Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors.

What sanctions will be imposed?

  • prohibition on loans to the sanctioned person.
  • prohibition of Export-Import bank assistance for exports to sanctioned persons.
  • prohibition on procurement by United States Government to procure goods or services from the sanctioned person.
  • denial of visas to persons closely associated with the sanctioned person.

What is the S-400 air defence missile system? Why does India need it?

The S-400 Triumf is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia.

It is the most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world, considered much ahead of the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).

Sabarmati Ashram revamp

(GS-I: The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country)

In News:

Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi has moved the Gujarat High Court against the Gujarat government’s ₹1,200-crore plan to redevelop Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad.

Issues with the project:

The redevelopment plan involves extending its area from five to 55 acres by relocating residents to nearby areas.

Tusha Gandhi says, this plan is diametrically opposed to the personal wishes of Mahatma Gandhi.

The project would lead to the reduction of the shrine and memorial of the freedom movement and turning the ashram into a commercial tourist attraction spot.

How does the government defend its move?

The Gujarat government has maintained that it would not change or alter any building on the ashram campus. All heritage buildings would be restored as per Gandhian ethos.

The government has also maintained that the proposal to redevelop the ashram was not aimed at a takeover but to redevelop it by expanding the areas and creating a minimum infrastructure.

About Sabarmati Ashram:

Mahatma Gandhi set up the ashram and lived there from 1917 to 1930.

It was from his base here that Gandhi led the Dandi march also known as the Salt Satyagraha on 12 March 1930.

Originally called the Satyagraha Ashram, reflecting the movement toward passive resistance launched by the Mahatma, the Ashram became home to the ideology that set India free.

Its role in freedom struggle:

Experiments in living. farming, animal husbandry, cow breeding, Khadi and related constructive activities. For Gandhi freedom did not just mean no British rule, but freedom from social evils and freedom to live a satyagrahi lifestyle. He developed those in Sabarmati.

Idea of Dignity in Labour: Intrinsic to the independence movement was upliftment of the masses. Campaigns for cleanliness became a part of the Gandhian idea of a new India and In Sabarmati Ashram both Gandhi Ji and Kasturbaji cleaned the Ashram themselves.

Schools: While at the Ashram, Gandhi formed a school that focused on manual labour, agriculture, and literacy to advance his efforts for self-sufficiency. During the freedom struggle many Indian schools were opened as an alternate to British schools.

Dandi March: From the Ashram, on 12 March 1930, Gandhi launched the famous Dandi march (with 78 companions) in protest of the British Salt Law.

Home to leaders: Vinoba Bhave lived here as did Miraben.

Ashram’s relevance today:

The Ashram reminds us to be hopeful and optimistic. It tells us to not thwart the vision of the Mahatma even in the face of immense adversity. The Ashram embodies the true memory of Gandhi, his pure truth and his utmost humility as his way of life.

The Ashram still personifies the ideals of truth and humility of a man who once lived there and lived for a nation and died for a nation. A man who wanted these high ideals to be held high always by a nation so great as India.