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7th February Current Affairs

SC to weigh between ‘national security’, judicial scrutiny

(GS-II: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions)

In News:

The Supreme Court is all set to examine whether the Centre can expect a free pass on matters pertaining to national security.

What’s the issue?

The question whether the state can use ‘national security’ as a ground to limit judicial scrutiny has come up for scrutiny in the MediaOne TV channel case.

The government has cited national security reasons in the Kerala High Court for canceling telecast permission to the Malayalam news channel.

Recently, in its Pegasus snooping case order, the Supreme Court observed that the Centre cannot expect a ‘free pass’ from the courts as soon as it raises the ‘spectre of national security’.

Observations made by the supreme court on this matter:

Scope of judicial review is limited in matters involving national security. However, this does not mean that the state gets a free pass every time the spectre of ‘national security’ is raised.

What harm can this cause?

One of the major concerns raised by citizens recently is the “chilling effect” such state actions endure to have on free speech, especially in the media.

What has the Supreme Court said in the Anuradha Basin case?

Anuradha Bhasin case concerned Internet restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir in the backdrop of the abrogation of Article 370.

The court had ruled that any order of the state which restricts the fundamental rights of speech or expression should be backed by reasons.

The courts should be convinced that the state acted in a responsible manner and did not take away rights in an “implied fashion or a casual or cavalier man.

Other related cases:

In Government of India v. Cricket Association of Bengal and Shreya Singhal v. The Union of India cases, the court has observed that there is no dispute that freedom of speech and expression includes the right to disseminate information to as wide a section of the population as is possible. The wider range of circulation of information or its greater impact cannot restrict the content of the right nor can it justify its denial.

What is Judicial Review?

Judicial review is the power of Judiciary to review any act or order of Legislative and Executive wings and to pronounce upon the constitutional validity when challenged by the affected person.

Judicial review present in India:

The power of Judicial Review comes from the Constitution of India itself (Articles 13, 32, 136, 142 and 147 of the Constitution).

The power of judicial review is evoked to protect and enforce the fundamental rights guaranteed in Part III of the Constitution.

Article 13 of the Constitution prohibits the Parliament and the state legislatures from making laws that “may take away or abridge the fundamental rights” guaranteed to the citizens of the country.

The provisions of Article 13 ensure the protection of the fundamental rights and consider any law “inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights” as void.

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana

(GS-II: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections)

In News:

The Government has clarified that Aadhaar of Husbands is not mandatory under the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, PMMVY, to facilitate the inclusion of single mothers and abandoned mothers.

About PMMVY:

It is a Maternity Benefit Programme that is implemented in all the districts of the country in accordance with the provision of the National Food Security Act, 2013.

The direct benefit cash transfer is to help expectant mothers meet enhanced nutritional requirements as well as to partially compensate them for wage loss during their pregnancy.

The scheme was announced on December 31, 2016. It is being implemented in all districts of the country with effect from 1st January, 2017.

Beneficiaries:

All Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW&LM), excluding those who are in regular employment with the Central Government or the State Governments or PSUs or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being in force.

All eligible Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers who have their pregnancy on or after 1st January 2017 for the first child in the family.

Benefits:

Beneficiaries receive a cash benefit of Rs. 5,000 in three installments on fulfilling the following conditions:

Early registration of pregnancy:

Ante-natal check-up.

Registration of the birth of the child Completion of the first cycle of vaccination for the first living child of the family.

The eligible beneficiaries also receive cash incentive under Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY). Thus, on an average, a woman gets Rs. 6,000.

Proposed reforms:

The Centre is likely to soon extend the benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) — currently applicable to eligible pregnant women and lactating mothers for the first child in the family to the second one — only if the child born is a girl.

Move aimed at discouraging pre-birth sex selection.

100 Years for ‘Chauri Chaura’ incident

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

In News:

Recently, the Prime Minister paid tribute to the heroes of freedom struggle on completion of the hundred years of Chauri Chaura incident.

What is Chauri Chaura incident?

The incident (4th February, 1922) occurred at Chauri Chaura in the Gorakhpur district of the United Province, (modern Uttar Pradesh) in British India.

During this incident, a large group of protesters, participating in the Non-cooperation movement, clashed with police, who opened fire.

The demonstrators attacked and set fire to a police station in retaliation, killing all of its occupants.

In response to this, Mahatma Gandhi, who was strictly against violence, halted the Non-cooperation Movement on the national level on 12 February 1922, as a direct result of this incident.

Background:

On 1th August, 1920, Gandhiji had launched the Non-Cooperation Movement against the government.

It involved using swadeshi and boycott of foreign goods, especially machine made cloth, and legal, educational and administrative institutions, “refusing to assist a ruler who misrules”.

Reaction by Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders:

He condemned the crime of the policemen’s killing.

A Chauri Chaura Support Fund was set up to demonstrate “genuine sympathy” and seek atonement.

Gandhi bent the Congress Working Committee to his will, and on 12th February, 1922, the satyagraha (movement) was formally suspended.

Jawaharlal Nehru and other leaders leading the Non-Cooperation movement were shocked that Gandhiji had stopped the struggle when the civil resistance had consolidated their position in the freedom movement.

Other leaders like Motilal Nehru and CR Das recorded their dismay at Gandhi’s decision and decided to establish the Swaraj Party.

The disillusionment resulting from the suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement nudged many of the younger Indian nationalists towards the conclusion that India would not be able to throw off colonial rule through non-violence.

Pakistan Occupied Kashmir

(GS-II: India and neighbourhood relations)

In News:

The people of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) have condemned Pakistan for observing February 5 as Kashmir Solidarity Day and on the contrary marked it as “Fraud Day”.

Details:

Several protest rallies are held across PoK in areas like Bagh, Mong and Hajira where the people lambasted Islamabad for its double standards on Kashmir (The region does not have proper healthcare and educational facilities compared to Islamabad).

Present position of PoK:

PoK is called “Azad Jammu & Kashmir” (“AJK” in short).

It came into being after the 1949 ceasefire between India and Pakistan.

It comprises the parts of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir that were occupied by the Pakistani forces.

Pakistan’s constitutional position on PoK is that it is not a part of the country, but the “liberated” part of Kashmir.

However, Article 257 of Pakistan’s Constitution says: “When the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir decide to accede to Pakistan, the relationship between Pakistan and the State shall be determined in accordance with the wishes of the people of that State.”

Political structure and how is it administered?

The constitution of Pakistan lists the country’s four provinces — Punjab, Sind, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

For all practical purposes, PoK is run by the Pakistan government through the all-powerful Kashmir Council, a nominated 14-member body headed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The Assembly has a five-year term. The legislators elect a “prime minister” and a “president” for the territory.

While PoK is ostensibly an autonomous, self-governing territory, the Pakistan Army is the final arbiter on all matters Kashmir.

India’s stand on PoK:

The fact that PoK is an integral part of India has been our consistent policy ever since 1947.

India has also made clear to the world that any issue related to PoK is the internal matter of India.

Please note that Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) is part of the newly created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, while Gilgit-Baltistan is in the UT of Ladakh in the fresh maps released by the government.