SC for curbs on powers of Speakers
The Supreme Court has asked Parliament to amend the Constitution to strip Legislative Assembly Speakers of their exclusive power to decide whether legislators should be disqualified under the anti-defection law.
What is the anti-defection law?
- The Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution in 1985. It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House.
- A legislator is deemed to have defected if he either voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or disobeys the directives of the party leadership on a vote.
- This implies that a legislator defying (abstaining or voting against) the party whip on any issue can lose his membership of the House.
- The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.
- The law initially stated that the decision of the Presiding Officer is not subject to judicial review. This condition was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1992, thereby allowing appeals against the Presiding Officer’s decision in the High Court and Supreme Court. However, it held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the Presiding Officer gives his order.
- The law does not specify a time-period for the Presiding Officer to decide on a disqualification plea. Given that courts can intervene only after the Presiding Officer has decided on the matter, the petitioner seeking disqualification has no option but to wait for this decision to be made.
- The anti-defection law seeks to provide a stable government by ensuring the legislators do not switch sides. However, this law also restricts a legislator from voting in line with his conscience, judgement and interests of his electorate.
Thirty Metre Telescope
India, a partner in the construction of one of the largest telescopes in the world, has said it wants the project to be moved out of the proposed site at Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii.
The proposed site is considered sacred to indigenous Hawaiians, and also has too many observatories for one more such massive establishment to come up.
About the project –
- The TMT or Thirty Metre Telescope, as it is called, is a joint venture ( JV) involving five countries – USA, Japan, India, Canada and China.
- The Thirty Meter Telescope is a new class of extremely large telescopes that will allow us to see deeper into space and observe cosmic objects with unprecedented sensitivity. With its 30 m prime mirror diameter, TMT will be three times as wide, with nine times more area, than the largest currently existing visible-light telescope in the world.
- TMT will allow astronomers to explore the mysterious period in the life of the universe when the first stars and galaxies were formed, providing information about the nature of “first-light” objects and their effects on the universe’s evolution.
India, Brazil to sign Strategic Action Plan
India and Brazil are planning to upgrade their strategic partnership with an “action plan” and sign a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT).
- The Strategic Partnership action plan will serve as an “umbrella agreement”, for plans between the two countries to increase defence cooperation, technology sharing and a logistics agreement.
- Brazil and India also plans to exchange a Social Security Agreement (SSA), first signed in March 2017, to allow investments in each other’s pension funds, to help business processes and encourage the flow of investment.
In 2018, Indian investments in Brazil were around $6 billion and Brazilian investments in India are estimated at $1 billion, the Ministry said, adding that bilateral trade stands at about $8 billion.
National Startup Advisory Council
The Central Government has notified the structure of the National Startup Advisory Council to advise the Government on measures needed to build a strong ecosystem for nurturing innovation and startups in the country to drive sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities.
- The National Startup Advisory Council will be chaired by Minster for Commerce & Industry.
- The Council will consist of the non-official members, to be nominated by Central Government, from various categories like founders of successful startups, veterans who have grown and scaled companies in India, persons capable of representing interests of investors into startups, persons capable of representing interests of incubators and accelerators and representatives of associations of stakeholders of startups and representatives of industry associations.
- The term of the non-official members of the Startup Advisory Council will be for a period of two years.
- The Council will suggest measures to foster a culture of innovation amongst citizens and students in particular, promote innovation in all sectors of economy across the country, including semi-urban and rural areas.
- It will support creative and innovative ideas through incubation and research and development to transform them into valuable products, processes or solutions to improve productivity and efficiency and create an environment of absorption of innovation in industry.
- It will also suggest measures to facilitate public organisations to assimilate innovation with a view to improving public service delivery, promote creation, protection and commercialisation of intellectual property rights, make it easier to start, operate, grow and exit businesses.