18th December – Prelims Booster

RTI ‘abuse’ led to ‘fear’ among officials : CJI

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde has said that the unbridled use of the Right to Information (RTI) Act had created a sense of “paralysis and fear” in the government and norms were needed to “filter” the requests.

About RTI Act –

  • Article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution specifies that the Right to Information (RTI)  is a part of the fundamental rights. It says that every citizen has freedom of speech and expression.
  • In 1976, in the Raj Narain vs the State of UP, it was held by the Supreme Court that people cannot speak unless they know. Hence the Right to Information is embedded in Article 19. It was also said in the same case that the in the Indian democracy, people are the masters which give them the right to know about the functioning of the government. RTI Act provides machinery for exercising this fundamental right.
  • As per the RTI Act 2005, every citizen has the right to receive a timely response from the government for any information that is sought by them with respect to the functioning of the government.

Increase LS seats to 1,000, says Pranab

Former President Pranab Mukherjee made a case for raising the number of Lok Sabha constituencies to 1,000 from the existing 543 and for a corresponding increase in the Rajya Sabha’s strength, arguing that India has a “disproportionately large size” of electorate for elected representatives.

He said the last time the strength of the Lok Sabha was revised was in 1977, which, he noted, was based on the 1971 census that put the population at 55 crore.

Relevance –

Points towards the topic of ‘delimitation of constituencies’.

What is delimitation?

Delimitation literally means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country to represent changes in population.

How delimitation is carried out?

  • Under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Under Article 170, States also get divided into territorial constituencies as per Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Once the Act is in force, the Union government sets up a Delimitation Commission.
  • The first delimitation exercise was carried out by the President (with the help of the Election Commission) in 1950-51.
  • The Delimitation Commission Act was enacted in 1952.
  • Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.
  • There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses.

Delimitation in the past –

  • The Constitution mandates that the number of Lok Sabha seats allotted to a state would be such that the ratio between that number and the population of the state is, as far as practicable, the same for all states.
  • This provision is intended to make sure that states that took little interest in population control could end up with a greater number of seats in Parliament. The southern states that promoted family planning faced the possibility of having their seats reduced.
  • To allay these fears, the Constitution was amended during Emergency era in 1976 to suspend delimitation until 2001.
  • Although the freeze on the number of seats in Lok Sabha and Assemblies should have been lifted after the 2001 Census, another amendment postponed this until 2026. This was justified on the ground that a uniform population growth rate would be achieved throughout the country by 2026.
  • The last delimitation exercise — started in July 2002 and completed on May 31, 2008 — was based on the 2001 Census and only readjusted boundaries of existing Lok Sabha and Assembly seats and reworked the number of reserved seats.

Amitabh Bagchi wins 2019 DSC prize

The 8th edition of the IME Nepal Literature Festival, held from December 13-16 at Pokhara, concluded with the announcement of the winner of DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2019.

The $25,000 award went to Amitabha Bagchi for his 2018 novel, ‘Half the Night is Gone’.

About DSC Prize –

  • The DSC Prize, instituted in 2010, awards fiction from the South Asian region, which includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as from the diaspora.
  • The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature is an international literary prize awarded annually to writers of any ethnicity or nationality writing about South Asia themes such as culture, politics, history, or people. It is for an original full-length novel written in English, or translated into English.

Congress MP for privilege proceedings against Smriti

Congress member of the Lok Sabha Manickam Tagore has given a notice of privilege against Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani for allegedly misleading the House on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s remarks about rape.

About Privilege Motion –

  • Parliamentary privileges are certain rights and immunities enjoyed by members of Parliament, individually and collectively, so that they can ‘effectively discharge their functions’.
  • When any of these rights and immunities are disregarded, the offence is called a breach of privilege and is punishable under law of Parliament.
  • A notice is moved in the form of a motion by any member of either House against those being held guilty of breach of privilege.
  • Each House also claims the right to punish as contempt actions which, while not breach of any specific privilege, are offences against its authority and dignity.
  • Rule No 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha and correspondingly Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook governs privilege.
  • The Speaker/Chair is the first level of scrutiny of a privilege motion. The Speaker/Chair can decide on the privilege motion himself or herself or refer it to the privileges committee of Parliament. If the Speaker/Chair gives consent under Rule 222, the member concerned is given an opportunity to make a short statement.
  • Lok Sabha – Privilege Committee consists of 15 members, nominated by Speaker. Rajya Sabha – Deputy Chairperson heads the committee of privileges, consisting of 10 members.

RBI asks banks to waive off NEFT charges

The Reserve Bank of India has asked all the banks to waive charges levied for National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) for online transactions, with a view to boost digital payments.

What is NEFT?

  • Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) and National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) are the bank transfer devices that allow an individual to transfer funds electronically from one account to another.
  • RTGS is meant for large-value instantaneous fund transfers while the National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) System is used for fund transfers up to Rs 2 lakh.
  • The minimum amount that can be remitted through RTGS is Rs 2 lakh, and there’s no upper ceiling. While NEFT does not have a minimum transfer limit, the limit per transaction is Rs 10 lakh with no upper limit on the number of transactions.
  • Recently. NEFT has been made operational for 24 hours.

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