13 November, 2019

20 Min Read

Maharashtra placed under President’s Rule

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

News: President Ram Nath Kovind has approved a proclamation imposing President’s Rule in Maharashtra under Article 356(1) of the Constitution, following a recommendation from Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.

Prelims focus: What is President’s rule? Implications of the rule.

Mains focus: Controversies over the misuse of this power and measures to address them.

  • In his report to the President, the governor said a situation had arisen in which it was impossible to constitute or form a stable government in the State, and the government could not be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

  • The Assembly will be kept under suspended animation.

Issue: In the recent elections to the 288-member Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, the BJP got 105 seats, the Shiv Sena got 56, NCP 54 and the Congress 44 seats. Although the BJP and Shiv Sena had fought the election as an alliance, after the results, the alliance fell apart on the issue of who will be the chief minister. No single party got a majority in the House, and no alliance could be formed claiming a majority. Hence the governor of the state recommended President’s Rule, which was imposed.

About the President’s Rule

Article 356 of the Constitution of India gives President of India the power to suspend state government and impose President’s rule of any state in the country if “if he is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution”.

  1. Upon the imposition of this rule, there would be no Council of Ministers. The Vidhan Sabha is either dissolved or prorogued.
  2. The state will fall under the direct control of the Union government, and the Governor will continue to be head the proceedings, representing the President of India – who is the Head of the State.
  3. The imposition of the President’s rule requires the sanction of both the houses of Parliament.
  4. If approved, it can go on for a period of six months. However, the imposition cannot be extended for more than three years, and needs to be brought before the two houses every six months for approval.

How does it affect the people of the state?

While day to day operations of the state will not be affected, President’s rule would mean that for the next six months no major government decisions will be made. No projects will be sanctioned, and no major policy decisions including subsidies and others will be made — keeping the progress in a can until the next government is formed.


  1. A proclamation of President’s Rule may be revoked by the President at any time by a subsequent proclamation. Such a proclamation does not require parliamentary approval.
  2. This happens, in case, the leader of a party produces letters of support from a majority of members of the Assembly, and stakes his claim to form a government.

Why is the governor’s move being criticised?

When the governor of Maharashtra could not find any party or combination of parties that appeared to have a majority in the Assembly, before recommending imposition of President’s Rule, he should have sent a message to the House under Article 175(2), after summoning it under Article 174(1), asking the House to assemble, deliberate and then inform him within a reasonable period of time in whom it has confidence, so that he could be appointed chief minister.

In S.R. Bommai’s case, it was held that imposition of President’s Rule was a very serious step, and is a last option, to be resorted to only when all other recourses have failed. Hence without resorting to the options available, recommending imposition of President’s Rule straightaway is clearly seen as unconstitutional.

Source: The Hindu

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Pardoning powers of President

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

News: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sent a letter to the Punjab government to commute the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted for the assassination of former Chief Minister Beant Singh.

Prelims focus: About pardoning powers of President and Governor.

Mains focus: Concerns and issues associated.

  • The MHA took an “in principle” decision to commute the sentence as a “humanitarian gesture” ahead of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.

  • Based on the replies received by the Centre, the President can commute the death sentence under Article 72 of the Constitution.

Powers of the President under article 72:

It says that the President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence.

  1. Pardon–A pardon completely absolves the offender from all sentences and punishment and disqualifications and places him in the same position as if he had never committed the offence.
  2. Commutation– Commutation means exchange of one thing for another. In simple words to replace the punishment with less severe punishment. For example for Rigorous imprisonment-simple imprisonment.
  3. Reprieve– Reprieve means temporary suspension of death sentence. For example- pending a proceeding for pardon or commutation.
  4. Respite– Respite means awarding a lesser punishment on some special grounds. For example- the Pregnancy of women offender.
  5. Remissions– Remission means the reduction of the amount of sentence without changing its character, for example, a sentence of 1 year may be remitted to 6 months.

The President can exercise these powers:

  1. In all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a court martial;
  2. In all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends;
  3. In all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death.

The pardoning power of President is wider than the governor and it differs in the following two ways:

  • The power of the President to grant pardon extends in cases where the punishment or sentence is by a Court Martial but Article 161 does not provide any such power to the Governor.

  • The President can grant pardon in all cases where the sentence given is sentence of death but pardoning power of Governor does not extend to death sentence cases.

Additional Info:

  • This power of pardon shall be exercised by the President on the advice of Council of Ministers.
  • The constitution does not provide for any mechanism to question the legality of decisions of President or governors exercising mercy jurisdiction.
  • But the SC in Epuru Sudhakar case has given a small window for judicial review of the pardon powers of President and governors for the purpose of ruling out any arbitrariness.

Source: The Hindu

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Chhattisgarh brings law to protect journalists

Syllabus subtopic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

News: A draft bill has been prepared by a committee to safeguard media persons in Chhattisgarh from harassment, intimidation and violence.

Prelims focus: Key provisions in the draft.

Mains focus: Need for and significance of the law.

  • The committee was set up in March to draft a law to foster an atmosphere wherein journalists could perform their work fearlessly.

The draft Chhattisgarh Protection of Media persons Act:

  1. It proposes that within 30 days of enactment of the law: “the government shall constitute a Committee for the Protection of Mediapersons to deal with complaints of harassment, intimidation or violence, or unfair prosecution and arrests of media persons”.
  2. Composition: The State-level committee would comprise a police officer not below the rank of the Additional Director General of Police, Head of the Department of Public Relations, three media persons of at least 12 years’ standing each, at least one of whom should be a woman.
  3. Punishment: In case an official wilfully neglects duties stipulated by the Act, he could be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to one year. And the offences, cognizable but bailable, would be investigated by a police officer not below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police.
  4. At the district-level, the Collector would head a Risk Management Unit. On receipt of a complaint, a member would have to immediately relay it to the Collector or the Superintendent of Police. Emergency protection measures would be put in place and within 24 hours, the unit would decide on further protection measures based on the threat perception.
  5. According to the draft Bill, “Person Who Requires Protection” means all registered media persons facing threats of harassment, intimidation or violence and includes other persons facing such threats on account of their connection with the registered media person.

Protecting the journalists:

According to the not-for-profit organization, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), between 1992 and 2017, 28 journalists were murdered in a premeditated or spontaneous act in direct relation to their work in India. These figures do not include those killed in military crossfire or while covering deadly assignments such as violent demonstrations.

  • Among the major economies of the world belonging to the G-20 group, India has witnessed the fourth highest number of such killings related to journalistic work, behind Mexico (38), Russia (38), and Brazil (37).
  • More worryingly, India features in the list of 13 high-impunity countries where an overwhelmingly large proportion of such murders have remained unsolved, according to a 2016 CPJ report. Keeping India company in this list are countries such as Somalia, Iraq, and Pakistan. Most journalists who have been murdered for their work covered politics and corruption.

Need of the hour:

To stop the assaults on journalists and writers, and to ensure justice when such assaults do take place, the country requires legal and institutional reforms as well as measures to plug weaknesses in policing. But above all, this requires greater political commitment to protect free speech and the freedom of the press.

Source: Indian Express

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World Pneumonia Day 2019

World Pneumonia Day 2019

Syllabus subtopic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

News: Since 2009, November 12 has been observed as World Pneumonia Day to raise awareness about the infection

Prelims and mains focus: about Pneumonia - burden, symptoms, spread, vulnerability and treatment.

About Pneumonia:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies pneumonia is the single largest cause of death in children worldwide.

Every year, it kills an estimated 1.4 million children under the age of five years, accounting for 18% of all deaths of children under five years old worldwide, according to the WHO. This, despite pneumonia being preventable and treatable.


Infectious agents may include bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in children, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is the second most common cause of bacterial pneumonia. Respiratory syncytial virus is the most common viral cause of pneumonia.

Air sacs in an infected individual’s lungs (alveoli) become inflamed due to deposits of fluid and pus, making it painful and difficult for them to breathe.

Children and the elderly above the age of 65 years are especially vulnerable.


Symptoms include high fever and chills, cough with phlegm, physical weakness and a feeling of being unwell, shortness of breath and rapid breathing, and a racing pulse.

Prevention and treatment:

Preventive measures include maintaining hygiene and getting vaccinations against certain pneumonia causing bacteria.

Saving a child from pneumonia requires urgent treatment, that usually involves the administration of antibiotics, which typically do not cost much. On average, treatment lasts for about five to seven days.

Disease burden

According to UNICEF, a child dies of pneumonia every 39 seconds, which translates to roughly 8,00,000 children every year, and over 2,200 every day, including 1,53,000 newborns.

Source: The Hindu

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Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010

Syllabus subtopic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

News: More than 1,800 NGOs and academic institutes found to be violating laws pertaining to foreign funding have been banned by the government from receiving overseas funds this year.

Prelims focus: FCRA guidelines on foreign funding to NGOs, eligibility.

Mains focus: Misuse of foreign funds, issues and the need for stringent measures to prevent the misuse of foreign funds.

About FCRA:

  • The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 and rules framed under it (the “FCRA” or “Act”) regulate the receipt and usage of foreign contribution by non-governmental organisations (“NGOs”) in India. Since the Act is internal security legislation, despite being a law related to financial legislation, it falls into the purview of Home Ministry and not the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Scope and objective of FCRA:

  1. The intent of the Act is to prevent use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activity detrimental to the national interest.
  2. It has a very wide scope and is applicable to a natural person, body corporate, all other types of Indian entities (whether incorporated or not) as well as NRIs and overseas branches/subsidiaries of Indian companies and other entities formed or registered in India. It is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

In order to achieve the above objective, the Act:

  1. Prohibits acceptance and use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by a certain specified category of persons such as a candidate for election, judge, journalist, columnist, newspaper publication, cartoonist and others.
  2. Regulates the inflow to and usage of foreign contribution by NGOs by prescribing a mechanism to accept, use and report usage of the same.
  3. It defines the term ‘foreign contribution’ to include currency, article other than gift for personal use and securities received from foreign source. While foreign hospitality refers to any offer from a foreign source to provide foreign travel, boarding, lodging, transportation or medical treatment cost.
  4. The Act permits only NGOs having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme to accept foreign contribution, that too after such NGOs either obtain a certificate of registration or prior permission under the Act.

Registration and prior approval under FCRA:

  1. In order to be registered under the FCRA, an NGO must be in existence for at least three years and must have undertaken reasonable activity in its field for which the foreign contribution is proposed to be utilised. Further, it must have spent at least INR 1,000,000 over three years preceding the date of its application on its activities.
  2. The registration certificate is valid for a period of five years and must be thereafter renewed in the prescribed manner.
  3. NGOs not eligible for registration can seek prior approval from FCRA for receiving foreign funding. This permission is granted only for a specific amount of foreign funding from a specified foreign source for a specific purpose. It remains valid till receipt and full utilisation of such amount.

The Act imposes various conditions on the use of foreign funds:

  1. All funds received by an NGO must be used only for the purpose for which they were received.
  2. Such funds must not be used in speculative activities identified under the Act.
  3. Except with the prior approval of the Authority, such funds must not be given or transferred to any entity not registered under the Act or having prior approval under the Act.
  4. Every asset purchased with such fund must be in the name of the NGO and not its office bearers or members.

Reporting requirement:

Every NGO registered or having prior approval under the Act must file an annual report with the Authority in the prescribed form. This report must be accompanied by an income and expenditure statement, receipt and payment account, and balance sheet for the relevant financial year. For financial years where no foreign contribution is received, a ‘NIL’ report must be furnished with the Authority.

Ensuring transparency

A National Accreditation Council consisting of academicians, activist, retired bureaucrats should be made to ensure compliance by NGOs.

There should be better coordination between Ministries of Home Affairs and Finance in terms of monitoring and regulating illicit and unaccounted funds.

A regulatory mechanism to keep a watch on the financial activities of NGOs and voluntary organizations is the need of the hour.

Citizens today are keen to play an active role in processes that shape their lives and it is important that their participation in democracy go beyond the ritual of voting and should include promotion of social justice, gender equity, inclusion etc.

Source: Indian Express

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