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Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st March 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC PDF Download

State of the Global Climate 2023: WMO

Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st March 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Context: In recent news, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has published its State of the Global Climate 2023 report, underscoring the unprecedented rise in ocean heat content observed in 2023. Furthermore, the report sheds light on the exacerbation of weather and climate hazards, posing serious challenges to food security, population displacement, and vulnerable communities throughout the same year.

Key Highlights of the Report

Unprecedented Ocean Heat Content:

  • The report reveals a record-breaking surge in the heat content of the world's oceans in 2023, marking the highest level ever recorded.
  • This surge is primarily attributed to anthropogenic climate influences such as greenhouse gas emissions and alterations in land use.

Varied Heating and Cooling Patterns in the North Atlantic:

  • While most of the world's oceans experience warming trends, localized areas like the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean exhibit cooling phenomena.
  • This cooling trend is associated with the deceleration of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), a crucial ocean current system responsible for redistributing warm and cold waters.

Record-High Global Average Sea-Surface Temperatures:

  • Global average sea-surface temperatures soared to unprecedented levels in 2023, with several months surpassing previous records by significant margins.
  • Noteworthy heating occurred in various regions, including the eastern North Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, the North Pacific, and substantial portions of the Southern Ocean.

Marine Heatwaves and Ocean Acidification:

  • The global ocean witnessed a substantial increase in the extent of Marine Heatwaves, exceeding previous records.
  • By the end of 2023, a significant portion of the global ocean experienced heatwave conditions, with severe marine heatwaves particularly evident in the North Atlantic.
  • These heatwaves pose detrimental consequences for marine ecosystems and coral reefs, compounded by rising ocean acidification resulting from increased carbon dioxide absorption.

Highest Global Mean Near-Surface Temperature:

  • 2023 marked the warmest year on record, with the global mean near-surface temperature surpassing pre-industrial levels by 1.45 ± 0.12 °C.
  • Each month from June to December set new records for warmth, attributed to escalating greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

Escalating Glacial Retreat and Antarctic Sea Ice Loss:

  • Glaciers worldwide experienced unprecedented ice loss, primarily driven by extreme melting in western North America and Europe.
  • Antarctic sea ice extent reached a historic low for the satellite era, while Arctic sea ice remained significantly below normal levels.

Intensification of Extreme Weather Events:

  • Extreme weather events, including heatwaves, floods, droughts, wildfires, and tropical cyclones, inflicted substantial socio-economic damages across inhabited continents.
  • Notable events include Mediterranean Cyclone Daniel-induced flooding in Greece, Bulgaria, Türkiye, and Libya, as well as the impactful Tropical Cyclones Freddy and Mocha in various regions.

Surge in Renewable Energy:

  • Renewable energy generation witnessed a remarkable surge in 2023, with nearly a 50% increase in renewable capacity additions compared to the previous year.
  • This surge underscores the potential for achieving decarbonization objectives and transitioning towards clean energy sources to combat climate change.

Challenges in Climate Financing:

  • Despite a significant rise in global climate-related finance flows to nearly USD 1.3 trillion in 2021/2022, only about 1% of global GDP is represented by tracked climate finance flows.
  • There exists a substantial financing gap, especially concerning adaptation finance, which falls significantly short of the estimated needs for developing countries up to 2030.

What were the Socioeconomic Impacts of Weather and Climate Hazards?

Food Insecurity:

  • Extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, and storms led to crop and livestock production losses, exacerbating food insecurity globally.
  • The acute food insecurity more than doubled from 149 million people affected before the Covid-19 pandemic to 333 million in 2023.
  • This crisis is the largest in modern human history, indicating the profound impact of climate-related events on food availability and access.

Population Displacement:

  • Displacements occurred in regions like Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Somalia, and Pakistan where communities were already vulnerable due to conflict or previous climate-related events.
  • These displacements strain resources and exacerbate social tensions, contributing to instability in affected regions.
  • Displaced populations living in temporary shelters are particularly vulnerable to disease outbreaks, which can further strain healthcare systems already grappling with the impacts of climate-related disasters.

Economic Losses:

  • These losses include damage to infrastructure, agricultural productivity, and livelihoods.
  • The destruction of agricultural areas due to flooding and storms, as well as the disruption of supply chains, hinders economic recovery and exacerbates poverty in affected regions.

Inequality:

  • Migration and displacement due to climate-related shocks and stresses affect people’s livelihoods which affect various Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
  • These include poverty (SDG 1) and hunger (SDG 2), direct threats to their lives and well-being (SDG 3), widening inequality gaps (SDG 10), limited access to quality education (SDG 4), water and sanitation (SDG 6) as well as clean energy (SDG 7).
  • Pre-existing gender and socio-economic inequalities mean women and girls are among the worst affected, impacting SDG5.

Global Economic Impact:

  • The socioeconomic impacts of climate-related disasters extend beyond individual countries and regions, affecting global economic stability.
  • Rising food prices, disruptions to supply chains, and increased humanitarian aid expenditures strain resources and contribute to economic uncertainty on a global scale.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st March 2024) Part - 1
Try yourself:
What was one of the key highlights mentioned in the State of the Global Climate 2023 report?
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RBI Integrated Ombudsman Scheme

Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st March 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC


Context: Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has disclosed a significant surge of 68.2% in complaints registered under its Integrated Ombudsman Scheme (RB-IOS) for the financial year 2023, reaching an alarming count of 703,000.

  • This spike represents a substantial escalation compared to previous years, with FY22 witnessing a 9.4% uptick and FY21 experiencing a 15.7% increase in complaints.

What Contributed to this Surge in Complaints?

The surge can be attributed to several factors:

Heightened Public Awareness:

  • The central bank's proactive public awareness campaigns have empowered individuals to voice their grievances and concerns.
  • As people become more cognizant of their rights and avenues for complaint resolution, they are increasingly inclined to report issues encountered with both banks and non-bank payment system participants.

Streamlined Complaint Process:

  • The introduction of a simplified and streamlined process for lodging complaints has made it more convenient for the public to report issues related to financial institutions.
  • When the complaint process is user-friendly and accessible, individuals are more likely to engage with it, resulting in a surge in complaint submissions.

Rise in Digital Transactions:

  • The burgeoning popularity of digital transactions, particularly in mobile and electronic banking, has increased the likelihood of encountering issues such as unauthorized or fraudulent transactions.
  • The convenience of digital banking, coupled with the potential for widespread impact in case of system glitches, has led to a higher volume of complaints as any disruptions affect a large number of users simultaneously.

What is an Ombudsman?

  • A government official who deals with complaints made by ordinary people against public organisations. This concept of the Ombudsman arrived from Sweden.
  • It means an officer appointed by the Legislature to handle complaints against a service or administrative authority.
  • In India an Ombudsman is appointed to resolve grievances in the following sectors.
  • Insurance Ombudsman
  • Income Tax Ombudsman
  • Banking Ombudsman

What is RBI Integrated Ombudsman Scheme (RB-IOS)?

About:

  • RB-IOS amalgamates three ombudsman schemes of RBI-banking ombudsman scheme of 2006, the Ombudsman scheme for NBFCs of 2018 and Ombudsman scheme of digital transactions of 2019.
  • The unified ombudsman scheme aims to provide redress of customer complaints involving deficiency in services rendered by RBI-regulated entities viz. banks, NBFCs (Non-banking Financial Companies) and pre-paid instrument players if the grievance is not resolved to the satisfaction of the customers or not replied within a period of 30 days by the regulated entity.
  • It includes non-scheduled primary co-operative banks with a deposit size of Rs 50 crore and above. The integrated scheme makes it a “One Nation One Ombudsman’ approach and jurisdiction-neutral.

Need:

  • The first ombudsman scheme was rolled out in the 1990s. The system was always viewed as an issue by consumers.
  • One of the primary concerns was the lack of maintainable grounds on which the consumer could challenge the actions of a regulated entity at the ombudsman or rejection of the complaint on technical grounds, resulting in a preference for the consumer court notwithstanding the extended timelines for redressal.
  • The move to integrate the systems (banking, NBFC, and digital payments) and expand the grounds for complaints is expected to see a positive response from consumers.

Features:

  • The Scheme defines ‘deficiency in service’ as the ground for filing a complaint, with a specified list of exclusions.
  • Therefore, the complaints would no longer be rejected simply on account of “not covered under the grounds listed in the scheme”.
  • The scheme is jurisdiction-neutral and a centralised receipt and processing centre has been set up in Chandigarh for initial handling of complaints in any language.
  • RBI had created a provision for the use of Artificial Intelligence tools so that banks and investigating agencies could coordinate in a better way in the fastest time possible.
  • The bank customers will be able to file complaints, submit documents, track their status, and give feedback through a single email address.
  • There will also be a multilingual toll-free number that will provide all relevant information on grievance redress.
  • The regulated entity will not have any right to appeal in cases where an award is issued by the ombudsman against it for not furnishing satisfactory and timely information.

Appellate Authority:

  • RBI’s Executive Director in charge of the Consumer Education and Protection Department would be the Appellate Authority under the integrated scheme.

Significance:

  • This will help in improving the grievance redress mechanism for resolving customer complaints against RBI's regulated entities.
  • It is expected to ensure uniformity and streamlined user-friendly mechanisms which will add value to the scheme and bring customer delight and financial inclusion.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st March 2024) Part - 1
Try yourself:
What is the purpose of the RBI Integrated Ombudsman Scheme (RB-IOS)?
View Solution


India's Push for Security Council Reform: The G4 Model

Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st March 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC


Context: India has played a pivotal role in the Intergovernmental Negotiations concerning Security Council reform by presenting a comprehensive model on behalf of the G4 nations at the United Nations.

  • The model proposes significant changes to the composition and functioning of the Security Council, demonstrating a willingness to address longstanding issues of representation and decision-making within the UN's principal organ.

Key Features of the G4 Proposed Model:

Addressing Under-representation:

  • The model underscores the pressing need to rectify the "glaring under-representation and un-representation" of key regions within the Security Council, which currently undermines its legitimacy and efficacy.

Membership Expansion:

  • Advocating for an increase in the Security Council's membership from 15 to 25-26 members, the model suggests adding 6 permanent and 4 or 5 non-permanent members.
  • This expansion would include two new permanent members each from African and Asia-Pacific states, one from Latin American and Caribbean states, and one from Western European and Other states.

Flexibility on Veto:

  • Departing from the existing framework where only the five permanent members possess veto powers, the G4 model offers flexibility on this issue.
  • New permanent members would initially abstain from exercising the veto until a decision is reached during a review process, signaling a readiness for constructive dialogue and compromise.

Democratic and Inclusive Election:

  • The proposal emphasizes that the selection of member states to occupy the new permanent seats would be determined through a democratic and inclusive election conducted by the UN General Assembly.

United Nations Security Council Overview:

  • The United Nations Security Council, established in 1945 under the UN Charter, serves as one of the organization's principal organs.
  • Comprising 15 members, it includes 5 permanent members (P5) and 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year terms.
  • The permanent members—United States, Russian Federation, France, China, and the United Kingdom—were granted their status based on their significance in the aftermath of World War II.
  • India has previously participated in the Security Council as a non-permanent member during several intervals, including 1950-51, 1967-68, 1972-73, 1977-78, 1984-85, 1991-92, 2011-12, and 2021-22.

Why does the UN Security Council Need to be Reformed?

  • Representation and Legitimacy: The Security Council plays a crucial role in peacekeeping and conflict resolution, with binding decisions that impact all member states.
    • To ensure these decisions are respected and implemented universally, the Council must possess the necessary authority and legitimacy, which requires representation reflecting the current global landscape.
  • Outdated Composition: The current composition of the Security Council, based on the geopolitical situation of 1945 and expanded marginally in 1963/65, no longer accurately represents the world stage.
    • With 142 new countries joining the United Nations since its inception, regions like Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean lack adequate representation, necessitating adjustments to the Council's composition.
  • Recognition of Contributions: The UN Charter acknowledges that countries making substantial contributions to the organisation should have a role in the Security Council.
    • This recognition underscores the candidacy of nations like India, Germany and Japan for new permanent seats, reflecting their meaningful contributions to the UN's mission.
  • Risk of Alternative Decision-Making Forums: Without reform, there's a risk that decision-making processes could shift to alternative forums, potentially diluting the Security Council's effectiveness.
    • Such competition for influence is counterproductive and not in the collective interest of member states.
  • Misuse of Veto Power: The utilisation of veto power has consistently faced criticism from numerous experts and the majority of states, labelling it as a "self-selected group of privileged nations" that lacks democratic principles and hinders the Council's ability to take essential decisions if it conflicts with the interests of any of the P-5 members.
    • In today's global security landscape, relying on exclusive decision-making frameworks is deemed unsuitable.

What is the Procedure of UN Security Council Reforms?

UN Security Council reform requires an amendment to the Charter of the United Nations. The relevant procedure as set out in Article 108 involves a two‑stage process:

  • First Stage: The General Assembly, where each of the 193 member states holds one vote, must endorse the reform with a two-thirds majority, equivalent to at least 128 states.
  • This stage does not grant the right of veto, as per Article 27 of the Charter.
  • Second Stage: Upon approval in the first stage, the United Nations Charter, considered an international treaty, undergoes amendment.
  • This amended Charter requires ratification by at least two-thirds of the member states, including all five permanent Security Council members, adhering to their respective national procedures.
  • In this stage, the ratification process can be influenced by the parliaments of the permanent members, potentially affecting the entry into force of the amended Charter.

Way Forward

  • Promoting Engagement and Consensus Building: Encouraging inclusive dialogues and consultations among member states, with a particular focus on amplifying the voices of historically underrepresented regions such as Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
    • Seeking common ground and fostering consensus regarding the principles and objectives of Security Council reform, underscoring the significance of representation, legitimacy, and efficacy.
  • Amending the UN Charter: Advocating for collaboration and coordination among all stakeholders, including the five permanent members, to streamline the ratification process and ensure that any amendments to the Charter reflect contemporary global dynamics.
  • Addressing the Issue of Veto Power: Exploring avenues for reforming the application of veto power within the Security Council, while considering proposals that strike a balance between the necessity for decisive action and concerns regarding fairness and inclusivity.
    • Promoting transparency and accountability in the utilization of veto power, ensuring alignment with the Council's mandate to uphold international peace and security.
  • Enhancing Council Effectiveness: Bolstering the Council's ability to promptly and efficiently respond to emerging global challenges, encompassing conflicts, humanitarian crises, and threats to international stability.
    • Facilitating cooperation and coordination with other UN entities, regional organizations, and pertinent stakeholders to harness expertise and resources for peacekeeping and conflict resolution endeavors.

Global Methane Tracker 2024

Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st March 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC


Context: The latest report from the International Energy Agency's Global Methane Tracker 2024 reveals that methane emissions from fuel consumption in 2023 reached nearly record-breaking levels, showing a slight uptick compared to the previous year.

Key Findings from the Global Methane Tracker 2024:

  • Overview of Methane Emissions: In 2023, methane emissions stemming from fossil fuel usage amounted to almost 120 million tonnes (Mt). Additionally, bioenergy, primarily derived from biomass, contributed approximately 10 Mt of methane emissions, maintaining a consistent level since 2019.
  • Increase in Major Methane Emissions Events: The report indicates a surge of over 50% in major methane emissions events in 2023 compared to 2022. These events included significant fossil fuel leaks globally, totaling more than 5 million metric tons of methane emissions. Notably, a major well blowout in Kazakhstan persisted for over 200 days, marking one of the prominent incidents.
  • Top Emitting Countries: Nearly 70% of methane emissions from fossil fuels originate from the top 10 emitting countries. The United States stands out as the largest emitter of methane from oil and gas operations, closely trailed by Russia. China leads in methane emissions from the coal sector.
  • Significance of Reducing Methane Emissions: It's imperative to cut methane emissions from fossil fuels by 75% by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The IEA estimates that achieving this goal would necessitate approximately USD 170 billion in investment, which is less than 5% of the fossil fuel industry's earnings in 2023. Around 40% of fossil fuel emissions in 2023 could have been mitigated at no net cost.

Understanding Methane:

  • Methane, the simplest hydrocarbon with one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms (CH4), is the primary component of natural gas. It is odorless, colorless, and lighter than air, burning with a blue flame in complete combustion.
  • Contribution to Global Warming: Methane ranks as the second most significant greenhouse gas (GHG) after carbon dioxide (CO2). Its 20-year global warming potential (GWP) of 84 indicates that it traps 84 times more heat per mass unit than CO2 over a 20-year period. Despite its potency, methane has a shorter atmospheric lifespan than CO2, categorizing it as a short-lived GHG. Methane contributes significantly to global warming, accounting for approximately 30% of the temperature increase since the preindustrial era and also plays a role in ground-level ozone formation.

Major Sources of Methane Emissions:

  • Natural Sources: Wetlands, both natural and human-made, contribute to methane emissions due to anaerobic decomposition of organic matter.
  • Agricultural Activities: Methane emissions occur from growing paddy fields and livestock farming due to enteric fermentation.
  • Combustion and Industrial Processes: Methane emissions stem from burning fossil fuels, biomass, and industrial activities such as landfills and wastewater treatment plants.

Efforts to Combat Methane Emissions:

  • India: Initiatives like Harit Dhara (HD), BS VI Emission Norms, and the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
  • Global: Initiatives such as the Methane Alert and Response System (MARS), the Global Methane Pledge, the Global Methane Initiative (GMI), and MethaneSAT aim to address methane emissions on a global scale.

What is the Global Methane Pledge?

  • About: The Global Methane Pledge was launched at UNFCCC COP26 in November 2021 to catalyse action to reduce methane emissions. Led by the US and the EU, the Pledge now has 111 country participants who together are responsible for 45% of global human-caused methane emissions.
  • It aims for a 30% reduction in global methane emissions from 2020 levels by 2030.
  • India has opted not to sign the Global Methane Pledge.

Key Reasons for this Decision Include:

  • India contends that the primary contributor to climate change remains CO2, with a long lifespan of 100-1000 years.
  • The Pledge shifts focus to methane reduction, which has a shorter lifespan of just 12 years, thus altering the burden of CO2 reduction.
  • Methane emissions in India primarily stem from agricultural activities like enteric fermentation and paddy cultivation, affecting small, marginal, and medium farmers whose livelihoods would be jeopardised by the Pledge.
  • This contrasts with industrial agriculture prevalent in developed countries.
  • Also, given India's significant role as a rice producer and exporter, signing the Pledge could affect trade and economic prospects.
  • India hosts the world's largest cattle population, supporting the livelihoods of many.
  • However, Indian livestock's contribution to global enteric methane is minimal due to their diet rich in agricultural by-products and unconventional feed materials.

Way Forward

  • Improved Agricultural Practices: Encouraging and adopting sustainable agricultural practices such as precision farming, conservation tillage, and integrated crop-livestock systems can help reduce methane emissions from agricultural activities.
  • Methane-Capturing Technologies: Implementing methane capture technologies in livestock operations and landfills can capture methane before it is released into the atmosphere, converting it into usable energy or other products.
  • Rice Cultivation Techniques: Promoting practices like System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and Direct Seeded Rice (DSR) mentioned earlier can significantly reduce methane emissions from rice paddies.
  • Biogas Production: Encouraging the production and use of biogas from organic waste can provide a renewable energy source while mitigating methane emissions from waste decomposition.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st March 2024) Part - 1
Try yourself:
What is the main objective of the G4 proposed model for Security Council reform?
View Solution


Fair Share for Health and Care Report

Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st March 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC


Context: The recent release of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Fair Share for Health and Care report sheds light on the gender gap prevalent in global healthcare.

Key Highlights from the Report:

Gender Disparities in Health and Care Workforce:

  • Women constitute 67% of the paid global health and care workforce, and they undertake approximately 76% of all unpaid care activities, showcasing significant gender imbalances in both paid and unpaid care sectors. Women in low- or middle-income countries could see a USD 9 trillion improvement in their economic standing if their pay and access to paid work were on par with men's.

Underrepresentation in Decision-Making:

  • Women are inadequately represented in decision-making roles, with a majority in lower-status positions such as nursing and midwifery. Leadership roles and medical specialties remain predominantly male-dominated.

Underinvestment in Health Systems:

  • Persistent underinvestment in health and care work perpetuates a cycle of unpaid care responsibilities, limiting women's engagement in paid labor markets, hindering economic empowerment, and impeding gender equality.

Devaluation of Care Work:

  • Caregiving, primarily carried out by women, often faces undervaluation, resulting in lower wages, poor working conditions, decreased productivity, and negative economic repercussions for the sector.

Impact of Gender Pay Disparities:

  • Gender pay gaps restrict women's ability to invest in their families and communities, where they are more likely to reinvest. Globally, women allocate 90% of their earnings toward family well-being, compared to 30-40% for men.

Heightened Levels of Violence:

  • Women in healthcare experience disproportionately higher rates of gender-based violence, with estimates suggesting that a quarter of workplace violence worldwide occurs in healthcare settings. Additionally, at least half of healthcare employees report experiencing violence in the workplace at some point.

Snapshot of the Indian Scenario:

  • In India, women spend approximately 73% of their daily working time on unpaid work, in contrast to men's 11%. During the Covid-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, nearly 4.5 million people engaged in unpaid work, of which 59% were women.

Global Crisis in Care:

  • Decades of underinvestment in health and care work contribute to a global crisis in care, hampering progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and burdening women with unpaid care responsibilities.

Delhi Excise Policy Case

Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st March 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC


Context: A Magistrate Court in Delhi has recently remanded the Chief Minister of Delhi to the custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the Excise Policy Case.

  • The CM of Delhi is accused by the ED of being the "kingpin and key conspirator" in the Delhi excise scam.

Insights into the Delhi Excise Policy Case:

Overview:

The Delhi Excise Policy Case revolves around the formulation and implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22, which came into effect in November 2021 but was later scrapped in July 2022 due to allegations of procedural lapses, corruption, and financial losses to the exchequer.

Key Allegations:

  • Arbitrary Decisions: The case highlights arbitrary and unilateral decisions made by Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister and Excise Minister, leading to alleged financial losses exceeding Rs 580 crore, as outlined in the report by Delhi's Chief Secretary.
  • Conspiracy and Kickbacks: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) accuses the CM of Delhi of orchestrating a conspiracy to ensure a 12% profit margin for select private companies in the alcohol business, allegedly involving a 6% kickback.
  • Cartel Formation and Preferential Treatment: The ED asserts that deliberate loopholes in the policy facilitated cartel formations and favored leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Preferential treatment, including discounts and waivers, was allegedly granted to alcohol business entities in exchange for kickbacks.
  • Influence on Elections: The kickbacks purportedly received through this scheme are alleged to have been utilized to sway Assembly elections in Punjab and Goa in early 2022.
  • The case underscores significant allegations of corruption and misuse of power, implicating high-ranking officials in the government.

Can an Incumbent Chief Minister Govern the State/UT Administration from Jail?

Constitutional Morality and Good Governance:

  • The Indian Constitution doesn't explicitly address the issue of whether a Chief Minister (CM) can run the government from jail.
  • However, judgments by various courts have emphasised the importance of constitutional morality, good governance, and public trust in holding public office.

CM Not Immune as President or Governor:

  • President of India and Governors of states are the only constitutional post holders who are immune from civil and criminal proceedings until his/her term ends, as per the law.
  • Article 361 of the Constitution says that the President of India and Governors of states are not answerable to any court of law for “any act done in discharge of their official duties".
  • The Administrator or Lt. Governor (LG) of a Union Territory is not immune under Article 361, unlike the Governor and President who have immunity.
  • But the immunity doesn't cover the Prime Ministers or Chief Ministers who are treated as equals in front of the Constitution that advocates the Right to Equality before the law.
  • Yet, they are not disqualified just by an arrest.

Legal Framework:

  • As per the law, a Chief Minister can only be disqualified or removed from office when he is convicted in any case.
  • In the case of Arvind Kejriwal, he has not been convicted yet.
  • The Representation of the People Act, 1951 has disqualification provisions for certain offences but a conviction of anyone holding the office is mandatory.
  • The Chief Minister can lose the top job under only two conditions - loss of majority support in the assembly or through a successful No-Confidence Motion against the government in power that the Chief Minister leads.

Basic Norms for Holding Public Office:

  • As mentioned by the Supreme Court in Manoj Narula versus Union of India Case, 2014, the basic norms for holding a public office include constitutional morality, good governance, and constitutional trust.
  • Public officials are expected to act in a manner consistent with these principles.
  • Court has recognised that citizens expect persons in power to uphold high standards of moral conduct.
  • This expectation is particularly high for positions like Chief Minister, which are seen as the repository of public faith.

Practical Difficulties of Functioning from Jail:

  • The practical challenges of a Chief Minister running the government from jail are significant.
  • For example, they may face restrictions on accessing official documents or communicating with government officials.
  • There may also be questions about whether they can effectively fulfill their duties while in custody.

Precedents and Case Law:

  • In S. Ramachandran versus V. Senthil Balaji Case, 2023, the Madras High Court considered whether a Minister accused of a financial scandal had forfeited their right to hold office.
  • The Madras HC judgment highlighted the practical difficulties of being a Minister while in custody.
  • Even if it's technically possible for a Chief Minister to run the government from jail, there may be concerns about the legitimacy and effectiveness of their leadership under such circumstances.
  • The High Court raised a question, whether an individual should receive a salary from the public exchequer while occupying a public office without performing any associated duties.

President’s Rule:

  • Since it is impractical for any CM to run a government from the jail, the Lt. Governor can cite 'failure of constitutional machinery in the state,' a strong reason for the President's rule in Delhi under Article 239AB of the Constitution and pave the way for the CM to resign.
  • The President's rule will bring that national capital under the Union government's direct control.

What is the Enforcement Directorate (ED)?

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is a multidisciplinary organization tasked with investigating money laundering offenses and violations of foreign exchange laws. It operates under the Department of Revenue within the Ministry of Finance. As a leading financial investigation agency of the Government of India, the ED conducts its operations in strict adherence to the Constitution and laws of India.

Structure:

  • Headquarters: The ED, headquartered in New Delhi, is overseen by the Director of Enforcement. It comprises five regional offices located in Mumbai, Chennai, Chandigarh, Kolkata, and Delhi, each headed by Special Directors of Enforcement.
  • Recruitment: Officers are recruited directly or transferred from other investigation agencies. The workforce includes officers from various civil services such as the Indian Revenue Service (IRS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Administrative Service (IAS), encompassing roles like Income Tax officers, Excise officers, Customs officers, and police personnel.
  • Tenure: The standard tenure for officers is two years, although directors may receive extensions up to five years through annual renewals. Amendments to the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Act, 2003, allow for a one-year extension beyond the initial two-year term.

Functions:

  • Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 (COFEPOSA): The Directorate has authority under COFEPOSA to propose cases of preventive detention concerning violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
  • Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA): FEMA serves as a civil law aimed at regulating foreign exchange transactions and promoting the orderly development of the foreign exchange market in India. The ED investigates suspected contraventions of FEMA, adjudicates penalties, and imposes sanctions on violators.
  • Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA): PMLA was enacted following Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations. The ED is responsible for executing PMLA provisions by investigating money laundering, tracing assets derived from crime proceeds, attaching property, prosecuting offenders, and confiscating assets through Special Courts.
  • Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 (FEOA): Introduced to combat economic offenders evading Indian law, FEOA empowers the ED to attach properties of fugitive offenders who flee the country to avoid arrest. The ED facilitates the confiscation of their assets for the Central Government.

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FAQs on Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st March 2024) Part - 1 - Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

1. What is the current state of the global climate according to the WMO report?
Ans. The WMO report provides an update on the current state of the global climate, including information on temperature trends, extreme weather events, and greenhouse gas concentrations.
2. What are the key features of the RBI Integrated Ombudsman Scheme?
Ans. The RBI Integrated Ombudsman Scheme aims to provide a single point of contact for addressing grievances related to banking and financial services, with features such as online complaint filing and dispute resolution mechanisms.
3. How does India propose to reform the UN Security Council through the G4 model?
Ans. India, along with Brazil, Germany, and Japan, advocates for an expanded UN Security Council with permanent seats for the G4 countries, based on principles of equality, transparency, and accountability.
4. What information does the Global Methane Tracker 2024 provide?
Ans. The Global Methane Tracker 2024 offers insights into methane emissions worldwide, including sources of methane, trends in emissions, and potential mitigation strategies to address this potent greenhouse gas.
5. What are the key findings of the Fair Share for Health and Care Report?
Ans. The Fair Share for Health and Care Report highlights the importance of equitable global health financing, with key findings on funding gaps, resource allocation, and recommendations for achieving fair and sustainable health outcomes.
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