Daily Current Affairs – 24-05-2023

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    Ordinances: Promulgation and Repromulgation

    Syllabus: GS-2/Indian Polity

    In Context

    • In May 2023, the central government promulgated an Ordinance that undid the Supreme Court Verdict, which gave the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of Delhi control over the transfer and posting of officials in the National Capital Territory (NCT), except with regard to public order, police, and land.

    What is Ordinance?

    • Under the Constitution, the power to make laws rests with the legislature. However, in cases when Parliament is not in session, and ‘immediate action’ is needed, the President can issue an ordinance. 
    • An ordinance is a law, and could introduce legislative changes. 

    Ordinance making powers of the President

    • Article 123 of the Constitution deals with the “Power of President to promulgate Ordinances during recess of Parliament”.
    • An Ordinance “shall have the same force and effect as an Act of Parliament”. 
    • The President can only promulgate an Ordinance when either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session. 
    • Since the President acts on the advice of the Council of Ministers, it is in effect the government that decides to bring the Ordinance. The President may return the recommendation of the Cabinet once if he/she feels it warrants reconsideration; if it is sent back (with or without reconsideration), he/she has to promulgate it.
    • An Ordinance is valid for six weeks, or 42 days, from the date on which the next session starts. If the two Houses start their sessions on different dates, the later date will be considered.

    Lapsing of Ordinance

    • The government is required to bring an Ordinance before Parliament for ratification — and failure to do so will lead to its lapsing “at the expiration of six weeks from the reassembly of Parliament”.
    • The Ordinance may lapse earlier if the President withdraws it — or if both Houses pass resolutions disapproving it. (Rejection of an Ordinance would, however, imply the government has lost majority.)
    • Ordinance will also cease to operate in case resolutions disapproving the Ordinance are passed by both the Houses.
    • Also, if an Ordinance makes a law that Parliament is not competent to enact under the Constitution, it shall be considered void.

    Ordinance making powers of the Governor 

    • Just as the President of India is constitutionally mandated to issue Ordinances under Article 123, the Governor of a state can issue Ordinances under Article 213, when the state legislative assembly (or either of the two Houses in states with bicameral legislatures) is not in session. 
    • The powers of the President and the Governor are broadly comparable with respect to Ordinance making.  
    • However, the Governor cannot issue an Ordinance without instructions from the President in cases where the assent of the President would have been required to pass a similar Bill.

    Limitations on Ordinance making power

    • Following limitations exist with regard to the Ordinance making power of the executive: 
    • RC Cooper vs. Union of India (1970): The Supreme Court held that the President’s decision could be challenged on the grounds that ‘immediate action’ was not required; and the Ordinance had been passed primarily to by-pass debate and discussion in the legislature.
    • AK Roy vs. Union of India (1982): The Supreme Court argued that the President’s Ordinance making power is not beyond the scope of judicial review. However, judicial review should be exercised only when there were substantial grounds to challenge the decision, and not at “every casual and passing challenge”.

    Repromulgation of Ordinance

    • If, for whatever reason, an Ordinance lapses, the only option for the government is to reissue or repromulgate it. 
    • DC Wadhwa vs. State of Bihar (1986):
      • The supreme court was examining a case where the state government (under the authority of the Governor) continued to re-promulgate ordinances instead of laying them before the state legislature.  A total of 259 Ordinances were re-promulgated, some of them for as long as 14 years. 
      • The Supreme Court held that the legislative power of the executive to promulgate Ordinances is to be used in exceptional circumstances and not as a substitute for the law making power of the legislature. If Ordinance making was made a usual practice, creating an ‘Ordinance raj’, the courts could strike down re-promulgated Ordinances.
    • Krishna Kumar Singh and Another v. State of Bihar (2017):
      • The Supreme Court examined a case where the state of Bihar re-promulgated an Ordinance several times without placing it before the legislature. 
      • It reiterated that legislation should normally be done by the legislature, and the Governor’s power to issue an Ordinance is in the nature of an emergency power.
      • There might be circumstances permitting the re-promulgation of an Ordinance,  however, repeated re-promulgations without bringing the Ordinance to the legislature would usurp the legislature’s function, and will be unconstitutional.

    Source: IE

    Telangana-Andhra Pradesh Water Dispute

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government Policies & Interventions

    Context

    • The dispute over the water share of the Krishna river between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana remains unresolved, even nine years after the bifurcation of the combined State.

    About the Krishna water dispute

    • Beginning – Gentlemen’s Agreement:
      • The dispute dates back to the formation of Andhra Pradesh in November, 1956. 
      • Before the formation of Andhra Pradesh, four senior leaders each from different regions of Andhra, including the Rayalaseema Region and the Telangana region, signed a Gentlemen’s Agreement on February 20, 1956
    • Protection of Telangana’s interests and needs:
      • Among others, one of the provisions of the agreement was the protection of Telangana’s interests and needs with respect to the utilisation of water resources with equitable distribution based on treaties followed globally
    • Issue:
      • However, the focus of the combined dispensation with respect to irrigation facilities was on Andhra, which already had systems developed by the British at the cost of in-basin drought-prone areas in Telangana — a fact which was argued by the leaders of the latter region from the beginning.
    • Bachawat Tribunal (KWDT-I):
      • In 1969, the Bachawat Tribunal (KWDT-I) was constituted to settle the dispute around water share among the riparian States of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh (before bifurcation). 
      • Allocation of water:
        • The Tribunal allocated 811 tmcft dependable water to Andhra Pradesh
          • The Andhra Pradesh government later apportioned it in the 512:299 tmcft ratio between Andhra (including parts of Rayalaseema which comprise the Krishna Basin) and Telangana, respectively, based on the command area developed or utilisation mechanism established by then. 
      • Tungabhadra dam:
        • The Tribunal had also recommended taking the Tungabhadra Dam ( a part of the Krishna Basin) water to the drought-prone Mahabubnagar area of Telangana
          • However, this was not followed through, giving birth to discontent among the people. 
          • Telangana had time and again reiterated how it had been met with injustice in Andhra Pradesh when it came to the matter of distributing water resources.

    Arrangement for water sharing after the bifurcation

    • Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014:
      • There is no mention of water shares in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, since the KWDT-I Award, which was still in force, had not made any region-wise allocation. 
    • Ad hoc arrangement:
      • At a meeting convened by the then Ministry of Water Resources in 2015, the two States had agreed for sharing water in the 34:66 (Telangana:A.P.) ratio as an ad hoc arrangement with the minutes clearly specifying that it has to be reviewed every year. 
      • The arrangement in the Act was only for the management of water resources by setting up two Boards, 
        • The Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) and 
        • The Godavari River Management Board (GRMB).
    • Demand of equal share:
      • In October 2020, Telangana raised its voice for an equal share, till water shares are finalised. 
      • At a Board meeting held earlier this month, Telangana refused to continue the existing arrangement. 
        • Unable to convince the member States, the river Board has referred the matter to the Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS).

    What does each State claim?

    • Telangana’s demand:
      • Telangana has been asking the Centre to finalise water shares from day one of its formation. 
      • Citing treaties and agreements followed globally in sharing river waters, Telangana has been arguing that as per the basin parameters, it is entitled for at least a 70% share in the allocation of the 811 tmcft. 
      • Besides, it has been highlighting how Andhra Pradesh has been diverting about 300 tmcft water to the areas outside the basin from fluoride-affected and drought-prone areas within the basin in Telangana.
    • Andhra Pradesh’s claim:
      • On the other hand, Andhra Pradesh has also been staking claim for a higher share of water to protect the interests of command areas already developed.

    Centre’s stand

    • The Centre has convened two meetings of the Apex Council comprising the Union Minister and Chief Ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in 2016 and 2020 without making any attempt to deal with the issue. 
      • Following a suggestion made by the MoJS in 2020, Telangana has withdrawn its petition over the issue in the Supreme Court as the Ministry had assured to refer the matter of water shares to a Tribunal. 
      • However, the Centre has yet to resolve the issue for over two years now even as the two States continue to spar over the matter day in and day out.

    Constitutional Provisions 

    • Article 262 of the Constitution deals with the adjudication of water disputes. The provisions in this regard are:
      • Article 262 (1) Parliament may, by law, provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-State river or river valley.
      • Article 262 (2) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, Parliament may, by law, provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint as is referred to in clause (1).
    • Parliamentary Legislations:
      • The Parliament has enacted the two laws, the River Boards Act (1956) and the Inter-State Water Disputes Act (1956).
      • The River Boards Act provides for the establishment of river boards by the Central government for the regulation and development of inter-state river and river valleys.
        • The Inter-State Water Disputes Act empowers the Central government to set up an ad hoc tribunal for the adjudication of a dispute between two or more states in relation to the waters of an inter-state river or river valley.
        • Neither the Supreme Court nor any other court is to have jurisdiction in respect of any water dispute which may be referred to such a tribunal under this Act.

    Krishna River

    • The Krishna is an east-flowing river.
    • Originates at Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra and merges with the Bay of Bengal
    • Flows through Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh
    • Together with its tributaries, it forms a vast basin that covers 33% of the total area of the four states.
    • The principal tributaries joining Krishna are the Ghataprabha, the Malaprabha, the Bhima, the Tungabhadra and the Musi
    • Most of this basin comprises rolling and undulating country, except for the western border, which is formed by an unbroken line of the Western Ghats
    • The important soil types found in the basin are black soils, red soils, laterite and lateritic soils, alluvium, mixed soils, red and black soils and saline and alkaline soils.

    Source: TH

    Forum Shopping

    Syllabus: GS2/ Indian Polity, Judiciary

    In News

    • Recently, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud condemned ‘forum shopping’.

    What is Forum shopping?

    • When litigants or lawyers attempt to deliberately move their case to a particular judge or Court where they think the judgment could be more favourable, they are said to be “forum shopping.”
    • This practice involves choosing a court that is likely to provide the most favourable outcome, rather than following the standard legal process.
    • Lawyers think about which is the right forum to approach as part of their litigation strategy. For example, one could directly approach the Supreme Court via a public interest litigation case instead of the concerned High Court because the issue could get more eyeballs.

    Issues with Forum Shopping

    • It cited the injustice caused to the other party in the case and overburdening some courts over others and interfering with judicial process.
    • It circumvents the normal course of justice and may increase the workload on the courts.
    • A number of writers recognize that forum shopping may lead to an undesirable lack of decisional uniformity.
    • It has no sanction in the law and gives unfair advantage to one party. 

    SC judgements on ‘Forum Shopping’

    • Chetak Construction Ltd. vs. Om Prakash (1998): A litigant cannot be permitted choice of the forum,” and that every attempt at forum shopping “must be crushed with a heavy hand.
    • Union of India & Ors. vs. Cipla Ltd (2017): SC laid down a “functional test” to be adopted for forum shopping.
    • Vijay Kumar Ghai vs. State of W.B (2022): SC termed forum shopping as a “disreputable practice by the courts” that “has no sanction and paramountcy in law”.

    Bench Hunting

    • “Bench hunting” refers to petitioners managing to get their cases heard by a particular judge or court to ensure a favourable order.

    Source: IE

    Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism

    Syllabus: GS3/Biodiversity and Environment

    In News

    • Recently the  co-legislators at the European Commission signed the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). 

    About

    • It has been described as a “landmark tool” to put a “fair price” on the carbon emitted during the production of carbon intensive goods that are entering the EU, and to encourage cleaner industrial production in non-EU countries.
    • The reporting system under the regulation would be enforced from October 1 for certain goods to facilitate a smooth roll out and dialogue with third countries. Importers would start paying the financial levy from 2026.

    What is the CBAM?

    • CBAM is one of the elements of the EU Green Deal, the goal of which is to reduce GHG emissions by 55% by 2030. 
    • CBAM is aimed at equalizing the price of carbon paid for EU products operating under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and imported goods.
      • It refers to a phenomenon where a EU manufacturer moves carbon-intensive production to countries outside the region with less stringent climate policies. Its primary objective is to avert ‘carbon leakage’
    • The CBAM will initially apply to imports of the following goods, these sectors have a high risk of carbon leakage and high carbon emissions.
      • Cement
      • Iron and steel
      • Aluminium
      • Fertilisers
      • Electricity
    • EU importers will have to buy carbon certificates corresponding to the carbon price that would have been paid in the EU, if the goods had been produced locally.
    • The price of the certificates would be calculated according to the auction prices in the EU carbon credit market. 
    • Once a non-EU producer can show that they have already paid a price for the carbon used in the production of the imported goods in a third country, the corresponding cost can be fully deducted for the EU importer.
    • CBAM will apply on: In principle, imports of goods from all non-EU countries will be covered by the CBAM. Certain third countries who participate in the ETS or have an emission trading system linked to the Union’s will be excluded from the mechanism. This is the case for members of the European Economic Area and Switzerland.

    Didn’t the EU already have a mechanism in place?

    • The gradual introduction of the CBAM would be in parallel with the phasing out of the allocation of free allowances given out under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), which was also aimed at supporting the decarbonisation of the region’s industries.
    • The ETS had set a cap on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that can be released from industrial installations in certain sectors.

    Significance

    • CBAM will avert the possibility of carbon leakage alongside encouraging producers in non-EU countries to green their manufacturing processes. 
    • Moreover, it will ensure a level playing field between imports and EU products. This would also form part of the continent’s broader European Green Deal which endeavours to achieve 55% reduction in carbon emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2030 and become a climate neutral continent by 2050.

    How will it impact other countries?

    • In 2021, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had concluded that Russia, China and Turkey were most exposed to the mechanism. 
    • Considering the level of exports to the union in these sectors, it stated India, Brazil and South Africa would be most affected among the developing countries. Mozambique would be the most exposed least-developing country. 
    • Countries in the EU combined represent about 14% of India’s export mix for all products, steel and aluminium included.
    • EU being India’s third largest trade partner and given the latter’s projected growth trajectories, the size of exports (including in the CBAM sectors) will invariably rise. 
    • CBAM’s scope would expand beyond its current ambit to include other sectors as well. 
    • Given India’s products have a higher carbon intensity than its European counterparts, the carbon tariffs imposed will be proportionally higher making Indian exports substantially uncompetitive. 
    • And finally, international climate policies (including CBAM) will compel other countries to impose similar regulation eventually translating to “a significant impact” on India’s trading relationships and balance of payments.

    Source: TH

    People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR)

    Syllabus: GS-3/Environment

    News

    • The National Campaign for Updation and Verification of People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR) was launched in Goa.

    National Campaign for Updation and Verification of People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR)

    • The campaign was launched by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
    • It was launched with the objective of documentation and preservation of India’s rich biological diversity.

    People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR)

    • The People’s Biodiversity Register serves as a comprehensive record of various aspects of biodiversity, including the conservation of habitats, preservation of land races, folk varieties and cultivars, domesticated stocks and breeds of animals and micro-organisms. 
    • As per the Biological Diversity Act 2002, Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) are created for “promoting conservation, sustainable use and documentation of biological diversity” by local bodies across the country. 
    • BMCs have been constituted by the local bodies in the States and Union Territories and are entrusted with preparation of the People’s Biodiversity Registers (PBRs), in consultation with local communities.

    Source: PIB

    Axolotls

    GS-3/Environment

    News 

    • Scientists are studying the ability of axolotls to regenerate limbs, gills and parts of their eyes and brains. This might give clues on how to replicate the same in Humans.

    About 

    • Scientific Name: Ambystoma mexicanum.
    • Family: The axolotl is a species of salamander (lizard-like amphibians).
    • Habitat: Even though they are amphibians, axolotls remain aquatic throughout their lives. Hence, the common name, ‘axolotl’, of Aztec origin, has been variously interpreted as ‘water dog’, ‘water twin’, ‘water sprite’, or ‘water slave’.
    • Distribution: They were originally found in Lake Xochimilco, near Mexico City. But, they are now almost extinct in the wild. Their gene pool survives among individuals bred in captivity for the pet trade and for aquaria.
    • Status: It is listed as critically endangered in the wild by IUCN and is listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
    • Threats: Axolotl faces threats due to urbanization in Mexico City and consequent water pollution, as well as the introduction of invasive species such as tilapia and perch.

    Source: TH

     

    The India SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG)

    Syllabus: GS2/Health

    In News

    • Sequencing genomes of COVID-19 variants has dipped because fewer samples are being made available to network-labs.

    About

    • India appears to have slowed down on sequencing genomes of COVID-19 variants. 
    • The India SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), has not published a single bulletin since March 27.
    • Earlier, the agency would publish reports once a week. Bulletins provided information on the circulating variants of COVID-19, States that were seeing a surge in the contagious variants and information on whether SARS-CoV-2 variants linked to major outbreaks internationally had been found in India.

    The India SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG)

    • INSACOG is a joint programme initiated by the Union Health Ministry of Health and the Department of Biotechnology with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). 
    • It is a consortium of 54 laboratories to monitor the genomic variations in SARS-CoV-2.
    • It is a multi-laboratory, multi-agency, pan-India network tasked with sequencing, and keeping an eye out for new, threatening SARS-CoV-2 variants.

    The International Pathogen Surveillance Network (IPSN)

    • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that countries should not look away from COVID-19 and launched IPSN, a global network to help protect people from infectious disease threats through the power of pathogen genomics.
    • IPSN will provide a platform to connect countries and regions, improving systems for collecting and analysing samples, using these data to drive public health decision-making, and sharing that information more broadly.

    Source: TH

    Smart Cities Mission

    Syllabus: GS3/Infrastructure

    In News

    • More than 90% of the funds allocated under the Smart Cities Mission have been utilised till now and 73% of the projects have been completed.

    About Smart Cities Mission

    • It was launched in 2015, aimed at providing core infrastructure, clean and sustainable environment and a decent quality of life to their citizens through the application of ‘smart solutions’. 
    • The Union Ministry of Urban Development is responsible for implementing the mission in collaboration with state governments.
    • The Mission aims to drive economic growth and improve quality of life through comprehensive work on social, economic, physical and institutional pillars of the city. 
    • The focus is on sustainable and inclusive development by creation of replicable models which act as lighthouses to other aspiring cities. 
    • 100 cities have been selected to be developed as Smart Cities through a two-stage competition.
    • The Mission is operated as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
    • There is no standard definition or template of a smart city. The six fundamental principles on which the concept of Smart Cities is based are:

    Source: TH