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30th March Current Affairs

Delimitation Commission

(GS-II: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure)

In News:

A plea has been moved in the Supreme Court by two Kashmir residents challenging the Centre’s decision to constitute the delimitation commission for redrawing the assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies in Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

What’s the issue?

The plea sought declaration that the increase of number of seats from 107 to 114 (including 24 seats in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) in Jammu & Kashmir is Ultra vires the Constitutional Provisions such as Articles 14, 81, 82, 170, 330 and 332 and Statutory Provisions particularly under Section 63 of the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.

The plea said that while Article 170 of the Constitution of India provides that the next delimitation in the country will be taken up after 2026 then why has the UT of Jammu and Kashmir been singled out?

When the was Delimitation Commission set up?

On March 6, 2020, the Union Government, Ministry of Law and Justice (Legislative Department) had issued a notification in exercise of power under Section 3 of the Delimitation Act, 2002, constituting a Delimitation Commission, with former Supreme Court judge (Retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai as Chairperson, for the purpose of delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the state of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland, for a period of one year.

Constitutional Provisions:

Under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.

Under Article 170, States also get divided into territorial constituencies as per Delimitation Act after every Census.

BRICS

(GS-II: Important International institutions)

In News:

Leading media groups from the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have put together a three-month long training programme for journalists.

The programme was an initiative of the BRICS Media Forum.

About the BRICS Media Forum:

The Forum was established in 2015 by media organisations from the five countries, including The Hindu, Brazil’s CMA Group, Russia’s Sputnik, China’s Xinhua and South Africa’s Independent Media.

The Forum was “conceived and developed so that it can function as an independent initiative and set of practical activities undertaken within the broad framework of BRICS cooperation”.

What is BRICS?

BRICS is the group composed of the five major emerging countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

It together represents about 42% of the population, 23% of GDP, 30% of the territory and 18% of the global trade.

The acronym BRIC was coined by economist ‘Jim O’Neill’ of Goldman Sachs in 2001 to indicate the emerging powers that would be, alongside the United States, the five largest economies of the world in the 21st century.

In 2006, BRIC countries started their dialogue, which since 2009 takes place at annual meetings of heads of state and government.

In 2011, with South Africa joining the group, the BRICS reached its final composition, incorporating a country from the African continent.

Assam-Meghalaya border dispute

(GS-III: Internal security related issues)

In News:

Assam and Meghalaya have partially resolved a 50-year-old border dispute in six of the 12 sectors along their 885-km boundary.

Details:

Both states signed a “historic” agreement for a closure in six disputed sectors that were taken up for resolution in the first phase.

The six disputed sectors are:

Tarabari, Gizang, Hahim, Boklapara, Khanapara-Pillangkata and Ratacherra under the Kamrup, Kamrup (Metro) and Cachar districts of Assam and the West Khasi Hills, Ri-Bhoi and East Jaintia Hills districts of Meghalaya.

What’s the dispute?

Assam and Meghalaya share an 885-km-long border. Meghalaya was carved out of Assam under the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, a law that it challenged, leading to disputes.

As of now, there are 12 points of dispute along their borders. These include the areas of Upper Tarabari, Gazang reserve forest, Hahim, Langpih, Borduar, Boklapara, Nongwah, Matamur, Khanapara-Pilangkata, Deshdemoreah Block I and Block II, Khanduli and Retacherra.

Langpih:

A major point of contention between Assam and Meghalaya is the district of Langpih in West Garo Hills bordering the Kamrup district of Assam.

Langpih was part of the Kamrup district during the British colonial period but post-Independence, it became part of the Garo Hills and Meghalaya.

Assam considers it to be part of the Mikir Hills in Assam. Meghalaya has questioned Blocks I and II of the Mikir Hills -now Karbi Anglong region – being part of Assam. Meghalaya says these were parts of erstwhile United Khasi and Jaintia Hills districts.

Efforts to solve the dispute:

Both Assam and Meghalaya have constituted border dispute settlement committees.

Recently, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad Sangma decided to set up two regional committees to resolve the border disputes in a phased manner.

Sarma recently said five aspects were to be considered in resolving the border dispute. They are historical facts, ethnicity, administrative convenience, mood and sentiments of the people concerned and the contiguity of the land.

Assam and border issues:

The states of the Northeast were largely carved out of Assam, which has border disputes with several states. Assam’s border disputes with Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland are pending in the Supreme Court.

Assam’s border disputes with Meghalaya and Mizoram are currently in the phase of resolution through negotiations. The border dispute with Mizoram recently turned violent, leading to intervention from the Centre.

National Commission for Women

(GS-II: Important Statutory Organizations)

In News:

In a move to make legal aid more accessible for women, the National Commission for Women (NCW) in collaboration with Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) has launched a legal aid clinic which will act as a single-window facility for resolving grievances of women by offering them free legal assistance.

NCW is also planning to set up similar legal services clinics in other State Commissions for Women.

About the legal aid clinic:

Under the new legal aid clinic, counseling will be provided for walk-in complainants, women in distress will be given legal assistance, advice and information on various schemes of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA)/ DSLSA, assistance in mahila jansunwai, free legal aid, hearings in matrimonial cases and other complaints registered with the Commission will be provided among other services.

About NCW:

Set up in 1992 under the National commission Act.

It was established to review the constitutional and legal safeguards for women.

It enjoys all the powers of a civil court.

Presentation of Reports:

It table reports to the central government, every year and at such other times as the commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards.

Suo motu notice:

It looks into complaints, and takes Suo Motto notice of matters relating to – deprivation of women’s rights, Non-implementation of the laws and Non-compliance of the policy decisions guaranteeing the welfare for women society.

Major limitations of National Commission for Women making it toothless:

The NCW is only recommendatory and has no power to enforce its decisions.

Commission lacks constitutional status, and thus has no legal powers to summon police officers or witnesses.

It has no power to take legal actions against the Internal Complaint Committees that prevent grievance redressal of women facing harassment.

Financial assistance provided to the Commission is very less to cater to its needs.

It does not have the power to choose its own members. The power selecting members is vested with the Union government leading to political interference at various levels.