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9th July Current Affairs

Indemnity issues hold up U.S. vaccine donation

In News:

Vaccine donations from the US are being held up by regulatory issues over indemnity.

Background:

The U.S. announced the donation of 80 million doses of American-made COVID-19 vaccines to dozens of countries including India.

What is an indemnity clause?

In simple terms, indemnity means security against a loss or other financial stress.

In legal terms, it means a contractual obligation of one party to compensate another party due to the acts of the former.

The clause is commonly used in insurance contracts.

In the case of India, if the government gives an indemnity to foreign vaccine makers to roll out their vaccine in the country, the government, and not the vaccine maker, would be liable to compensate any citizen who claims to have side effects after taking the vaccine jab.

Are there any exceptions to indemnification?

There are a number of common exceptions to indemnification.

An indemnification provision may exclude indemnification for claims or losses that result from the indemnified party’s:

  • Negligence or gross negligence.
  • Improper use of the products.
  • Bad faith failure to comply with its obligations in the agreement.

Governors of States in India

In News:

The President appoints new Governors for 8 states.

Governors of States in India (Article 152-162):

A governor is a nominal head of a state, unlike the Chief Minister who is the real head of a state in India.

According to the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act 1956, the same person can be the Governor of two or more states.

The Governor of a State shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.

Removal:

The Governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President.

  • Can be terminated earlier by: Dismissal by the president, at whose pleasure the governor holds office or Resignation by the governor.
  • There is no provision of impeachment, as it happens for the president.

Some discretionary powers are as follows:

  • Can dissolve the legislative assembly if the chief minister advises him to do following a vote of no confidence. Following which, it is up to the Governor what he/ she would like to do.
  • Can recommend the president about the failure of the constitutional machinery in the state.
  • Can reserve a bill passed by the state legislature for the president’s assent.
  • Can appoint anybody as chief minister If there is no political party with a clear-cut majority in the assembly.
  • Determines the amount payable by the Government of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram to an autonomous Tribal District Council as royalty accruing from licenses for mineral exploration.
  • Can seek information from the chief minister with regard to the administrative and legislative matters of the state.
  • Can refuse to sign an ordinary bill passed by the state legislature.

Problems with constitutional design:

The governor is merely appointed by the president on the advice of the Central government.

Unlike the president, a governor does not have a fixed term. He/she holds office at the pleasure of the ruling party in the centre.

Both the manner of the appointment and the uncertainty of tenure conspire to make the incumbent an object of the Central government in politically charged circumstances.

Central Information Commission (CIC)

In News:

The Supreme Court has directed the Central government to place on record the latest information on the appointment of Information Commissioners, vacancies and pendency of cases in the Central Information Commission (CIC).

What’s the issue?

A plea has sought directions to the government authorities for implementing the top court’s directions in the 2019 judgment.

By its 2019 order:

The apex court had passed a slew of directions to the Central and State governments to fill vacancies across Central and State Information Commissions in a transparent and timely manner.

The court had given three months to the Centre to fill the vacancies that existed in the CIC.

Central Information Commission:

Established by the Central Government in 2005, under the provisions of the Right to Information Act (2005).

Members: The Commission consists of a Chief Information Commissioner and not more than ten Information Commissioners.

Appointment: They are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the leader of the single largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister.

Tenure: The Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner shall hold office for such term as prescribed by the Central Government or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.

They are not eligible for reappointment.

Power and Functions of CIC:

It is the duty of the Commission to receive and inquire into a complaint from any person regarding information requested under RTI, 2005.

The Commission can order an inquiry into any matter if there are reasonable grounds (suo-moto power).

While inquiring, the Commission has the powers of a civil court in respect of summoning, requiring documents etc.

Tele-Law programme

In News:

Recently, the Justice Department commemorated the milestone of crossing 9 lakh beneficiaries under its Tele-Law programme through Common Service Centres.

About Tele- Law Programme:

Launched by the Ministry of Law and Justice in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in 2017 to address cases at pre–litigation stage.

It is a service that uses video conferencing facilities and telephone services to connect lawyers to litigants who need legal advice.

The concept of Tele-Law is to facilitate delivery of legal advice through a panel of lawyers stationed at the state Legal Services Authorities (SALSA) and CSC.

This service aims to reach out to the needy, especially the marginalized and disadvantaged.

Benefits/significance:

Tele Law service enables anyone to seek legal advice without wasting precious time and money.

The service is free for those who are eligible for free legal Aid as mentioned under Section 12 of the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987. For all others a nominal fee is charged.

This initiative is in line with Sustainable Development Goal-16, which seeks to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.