• CJI: Colonial law of sedition
• Farmers and Digital Fertility Map
• Adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha
• China: Carbon Trading Scheme
• UMANG App
1. CJI: Colonial law of sedition
# GS 2# Government Policies & Interventions
? The Chief Justice of India (CJI) recently stated that the British used the colonial law of sedition to silence Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
? This remark came as the Supreme Court (SC) was hearing a petition filed by Major General (retired) SG Vombatkere, who is challenging Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deals with the offence of sedition.
? Vombatkere has challenged the constitutionality of the sedition law in his plea, claiming that it has a “chilling effect” on speech and imposes an unreasonable restriction on the fundamental right to free expression.
? The freedom of speech and expression of Indian citizens is guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
About Sedition Law
? The British government enacted the sedition law, which is codified in Section 124A of the IPC, in 1870 to combat dissent against colonial rule.
? This law was not included in the original draft of the IPC, which was enacted in 1860, and it was drafted by Thomas Babington Macaulay in 1970.
? Section 124A states:
? “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India shall be punished with life imprisonment, to which a fine may be added, or with imprisonment for three years, to which a fine may be added.”
? During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the law was primarily used to suppress the writings and speeches of prominent Indian nationalists and freedom fighters.
? The trial of newspaper editor Jogendra Chandra Bose in 1891 was the first known instance of the law being applied.
? Other major examples of the application of the law include the trials of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Abul Kalam Azad and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
? Trials of Tilak and Gandhi
? Gandhi was arrested on charges of sedition in Bombay in 1922 for participating in anti-colonial government protests and sentenced to six years in prison. However, due to medical reasons, he was released after two years.
? Tilak faced three trials in sedition-related cases and was imprisoned twice. In 1897, he was charged with sedition for publishing an article in his weekly publication, Kesari, and sentenced to a year in prison. In 1908, he was tried for the second time for his writings, and this time he was represented by Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Arguments in Support of Section 124A
? The IPC’s Section 124A is useful in combating anti-national, secessionist, and terrorist elements.
? It safeguards the elected government against attempts to destabilise it through violence and illegal means.
? The continued existence of the legally established government is a necessary condition for the State’s stability.
? Many districts in different states face a Maoist insurgency and rebel groups virtually run a parallel administration.
? These groups openly advocate the overthrow of the state government by revolution.
? As a result, the provision must be preserved in order to effectively combat anti-national, secessionist, and terrorist elements.
? The petition contended that the provision used by the British against Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak is still being “grossly abused” to stifle free speech and expression of those who choose to express dissent against policies of governments in power.
Arguments Against Section 124A
? Section 124A was dubbed “the prince among the political sections of the IPC designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen” by Mahatma Gandhi.
? Jawaharlal Nehru described the provision as “obnoxious” and “highly objectionable,” and stated that “the sooner we get rid of it, the better.”
? It is an impediment to the legitimate exercise of constitutionally protected freedom of speech and expression.
? Dissent and criticism of the government are essential components of a vibrant democracy’s public debate.
? The British, who instituted sedition in order to oppress Indians, have abolished the law in their own country.
? There is no reason why India should not repeal this provision.
? The sedition statute is being used to persecute political dissent.A wide and concentrated executive discretion is inbuilt into it which permits the blatant abuse.
Supreme Court’s Earlier Stand
? The sedition law has been challenged several times over the last few years but it has managed to survive all of the challenges against it.
? In the landmark Kedar Nath versus Union of India case (1962), the SC upheld the constitutional validity of the sedition law while trying to curtail its misuse.
? The Court upheld the law on the grounds that the state needed this power to protect itself.
? It had, however, included a crucial caveat: “a person could be prosecuted for sedition only if his acts caused incitement to violence or the intention or tendency to create public disorder or disturb public peace.”
? It also stated that, unless accompanied by a call to violence,criticism of the government cannot be labelled sedition.
? The Supreme Court ruled that every citizen has the right to criticise or comment on the government as long as it does not “incite people to violence” against the government established by law or with the intent of causing public disorder.
? In September 2016, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the importance of these safeguards and stated that they should be followed by all authorities.
Latest Ruling of Supreme Court
? A three-judge bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud condemned the indiscriminate use of the sedition law against critics, journalists, social media users, activists, and citizens for airing their grievances about the government’s Covid-19 management, or even for seeking assistance to obtain medical access, equipment, drugs, and oxygen cylinders, particularly during the pandemic’s second wave.
? The scope and parameters of Sections 124A, 153A, and 505 of the IPC 1860 would need to be interpreted, particularly in the context of the right of electronic and print media to communicate news, information, and rights, including those critical of the prevailing regime in any part of the country.
? Section 153 A: Punishes acts promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.
? Section 505: Makes the publication and circulation of content which may cause ill-will or hatred between different groups an offence.
? The court acknowledged the argument that the media was well within its rights to air critical programmes about a prevailing regime without attracting sedition.
? India, as the world’s largest democracy, must safeguard its essential ingredients of free speech and expression. Expressions or thoughts that are contrary to the policies of the current government should not be considered sedition.
? “An expression of frustration over the state of affairs cannot be treated as sedition,” the Law Commission correctly stated.There is no difference between the pre- and post-independence eras if a nation is not open to positive criticism.
? It is also critical to safeguard national integrity. Given the legal opinion and the government’s support for the law, Section 124A is unlikely to be repealed anytime soon. However, it should not be abused as a tool to stifle free expression.
2. Farmers and Digital Fertility Map
#GS 3#Major Crops & Cropping Patterns of India
Farmers are concerned about a digital fertility map that was recently installed in Bihar’s Kishanganj.
Digital Fertility Map
? It was created by scientists at Bihar Agriculture University (BAU), Sabour, in the district of Bhagalpur.
? It is made up of data and maps compiled from field surveys, which are backed up by remote sensing and other environmental data, expert opinion, and laboratory analysis.
? Agricultural experts are becoming increasingly concerned. As a result, farmers are concerned about the increasing digitalisation of agriculture.
? Farmers can now easily decide which crops to grow in specific areas for maximum profit.
? They can easily introduce new crops and diversify their crop portfolios.
? They can also determine the exact dose of fertiliser to use once they know the fertility level of their soil. As a result, it prevents agricultural land fertility from declining.
? The soil fertility level assists farmers in making crop selection decisions based on rainfall and climate.
? 300 days of farmer employment: If private players are involved, they will pursue crop diversification, which will provide farmers with at least 300 days of employment.
? Private companies could profit from the data: The increasing digitisation of land records and fertility details could be used by private companies and large corporate houses for a variety of purposes, including land acquisition and predatory lending, putting farmers in jeopardy.
? Farmers will be the most affected and may be forced to give up their land: Marginal farmers fear having their agricultural land taken away by the government because they rely on farming for a living.
? Crop Pattern Disruption: Crop patterns will be determined by Corporate Companies, who will not prioritise welfare because profits are their primary goal.
? Leaving behind traditional crops isn’t always a good thing: Kishanganj is known for two traditional crops: jute farming and paddy cultivation. Recently, however, efforts have been made to transform it into a tea and pineapple plantation hub.
? Issue of Water Management: Kishanganj and Bihar’s entire north-eastern region have been facing flood devastations every year and the first priority of the government should be better water management and flood control.
? Such Contract farming will lead to ownership fights: This would lead to a fight for land ownership after the companies had acquired farmers’ land.
? Low market price: Crop overproduction will result in farmers receiving low market prices for farm produce.
? Farmers lacked awareness: Farmers were impoverished despite owning large plots of land because they lacked resources and expertise.
? Farmers and all stakeholders must be involved in confidence-building measures.
? The data protection regime should be strengthened so that land-related data is not misappropriated by corporations.
? Farmers must be made aware of the issues at hand.
? Robust grievance redressal mechanisms need to be established at the District level
3. Adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha
#GS 2#Indian Constitution#Parliament & State Legislatures
Recently, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has decided to move an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha against the government on the three controversial farm laws.
? Last year, Parliament passed the “Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020,” the “Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020,” and the “Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.”
? There have seen sustained protests from farmers groups at the doorstep of Delhi and the Central government has held several rounds of talks, which have been unsuccessful at breaking the logjam.
? It is regarded as an extraordinary device because it interrupts the normal business of the House and needs the support of 50 members to be admitted in the Parliament.
? To draw the attention of the House to a recent matter of urgent public importance having serious consequences.
Censure against the Government:
? Because it involves the element of censure against the government, Rajya Sabha is not permitted to use this option.
? The matter raised is definite, factual, urgent and of public importance.
? It relates to a specific matter of recent occurrence.
? It does not raise the issue of privilege.
? It does not reintroduce a topic that has already been discussed in the same session.
? It has nothing to do with a case that is currently in court.
? It does not raise any question that, under the Constitution or the Rules, can be raised only on a separate substantive motion.
? The Government of India bears direct or indirect responsibility in this matter.
? Motions are procedural devices to raise a discussion in the House on a matter of general public interest.
? The term “motion” refers to any proposal presented to the House in order to elicit its decision.
? Every issue in the House is decided by a question from the Chair on a motion made by a member and resolved either affirmatively or negatively.
? Private members can move motions.
? Substantive Motion: It is a self-contained independent proposal dealing with very important matters like the impeachment of the President or removal of the Chief Election Commissioner.
? Substitute Motion: it is a motion that is moved in substitution of an original motion and proposes an alternative to it. If adopted by the house, it supersedes the original motion.
? Subsidiary Motion: It is a motion that, by itself, has no meaning and cannot state the decision of the house without reference to the original motion or proceedings of the house.
It is divided into three subcategories:
a. Ancillary motion: It is used as the regular way of proceeding with various kinds of business.
b. Superseding Motion: It is moved in the course of the debate on another issue and seeks to supersede that issue.
c. Amendment: It seeks to modify or substitute only a part of the original motion.
Types of Motions:
? Closure Motion: It is a motion moved by a member to cut short the debate on a matter before the House.
? Privilege Motion: It is concerned with the breach of parliamentary privileges by a minister.
? It is moved by a member when he feels that a minister has committed a breach of privilege of the House.
? Calling Attention Motion: It is introduced in the Parliament by a member to call the attention of a minister to a matter of urgent public importance, and to seek an authoritative statement from him on that matter.
? No-Confidence Motion: Article 75 of the Constitution says that the council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha.
4. China:Carbon Trading Scheme
#GS2: International relations # GS3: Climate change
China has just launched its long-awaited emissions trading system.
• It is a system that would establish the world’s largest carbon market and more than double the proportion of global emissions covered by such programmes.
What distinguishes the carbon trading scheme?
• The carbon market will assist the country in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
• It will assist China in meeting its targets of reaching peak emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality, or net zero emissions, by 2060.
• The programme will initially involve 2,225 power companies, which are responsible for one-seventh of global carbon emissions from fossil-fuel combustion.
• Emitters such as power plants and factories are given a set amount of carbon to release each year under the trading programme. They can then buy and sell the allowances. This forces emitters to consider controlling and reducing emissions through the lens of a market.
• The market is expected to expand to seven additional high-emissions industries over the next three to five years: petrochemicals, chemicals, building materials, iron and steel, nonferrous metals, paper, and domestic aviation.
• Rather than being subject to absolute emission caps as in other trading programmes, Chinese companies will begin with allowances based on previous years’ performances which can be traded by negotiation or auction.
What are India’s Initiatives to Reduce Emissions?
? India shifted from Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) to Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) emission standards on April 1, 2020, which were previously scheduled to be implemented by 2024.
? It has distributed over 360 million LED bulbs through the UJALA scheme, resulting in energy savings of approximately 47 billion units of electricity per year and a reduction of 38 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
? International Solar Alliance: An Indian initiative envisioned as a coalition of solar-resource-rich countries addressing their unique energy needs.
? The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC): Launched by the Central Government in 2008, it aims to raise awareness about the threat posed by climate change and the steps that can be taken to mitigate it.
? Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC), 2017: Developed by the Power Ministry and BEE, the ECBC aims to promote low-carbon growth by incorporating renewable energy sources into building design.
? Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA): It assesses a building’s environmental performance holistically over its entire life cycle, providing a definitive standard for what constitutes a green building
5. UMANG App
#GS2 and GS3#E-Governance
? Map services have recently been enabled in the UMANG (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance) App by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
? Citizens will be able to find government facilities near them, such as mandis and blood banks, and will be able to see these on India’s most detailed and interactive street and village level maps (created by MapmyIndia).
? The UMANG mobile app is a Government of India all-in-one single, unified, secure, multi-channel, multi-lingual, multi-service mobile app.
? It provides access to high impact services of various organisations of Centre and States. It currently has over 2000 services.
? UMANG’s goal is to accelerate mobile governance in India.
? UMANG facilitates citizens’ ‘Ease of Living’ by providing easy access to a wide range of Indian government services, including healthcare, finance, education, housing, energy, agriculture, transportation, and even utility and employment and skills.
? Employee Provident Fund Organization, Direct Benefit Transfer scheme departments, Employee State Insurance Corporation, Ministries of Health, Education, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, and Staff Selection Commission are UMANG’s key partners (SSC).
? UMANG was created by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s National e-Governance Division (NeGD).
? It is a ‘Digital India’ initiative.
? The international version called ‘UMANG International’ was launched in 2020 to mark three years of UMANG.
? The international version is only available in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand.
? It will make it easier for Indian international students, NRIs, and Indian tourists to access Government of India services abroad at any time.
? It will also aid in introducing India to the rest of the world through the ‘Indian Culture’ services available on UMANG, as well as generating interest amongst the general public.
? UMANG attained ‘Best m-Government service’ award at the 6th World Government Summit held at Dubai, UAE in February 2018.