According to Pratap Singh Rane, a six-time Chief Minister of Goa and a legislator for 50 years, the High Court of Bombay has remarked that debatable arguments have been presented in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the “lifetime status of the rank of Cabinet minister.”
According to the PIL, Goa has a 12-member Cabinet, and conferring Cabinet status to Rane brings the total number of Cabinet levels to 13, which exceeds the constitutional limit of 13.
The Indian Constitution’s 91st Amendment) Act, 2003 established this limit.
The Constitution (91st Amendment) Act of 2003 added clause 1A to Article 164, which states that “the total number of Ministers in the Council of Ministers in a State, including the Chief Minister, shall not exceed 15% of the total number of members of the Legislative Assembly of such State.”
It further stated that the total number of ministers in a state, including the Chief Minister, must not be less than twelve.”
Article 75 was likewise amended in a similar way.
According to it, the President appoints the Prime Minister, and the President appoints the other Ministers on the Prime Minister’s advice.
The entire number of ministers in the COM, including the Prime Minister, must not exceed 15% of the Lok Sabha’s total strength.
The 91st Amendment was enacted to prevent jumbo Cabinets and the associated drain on the public purse.
The status of the council of ministers is addressed in Article 74 of the Constitution, while the appointment, tenure, responsibility, qualification, oath, and salaries and allowances of ministers are addressed in Article 75.
Cabinet ministers, ministers of state, and deputy ministers are the three types of ministers in the COM. The Prime Minister is in charge of all of these ministers.
Cabinet Ministers: These are the people in charge of the central government’s major ministries, including as home, defence, finance, and foreign affairs.
The Cabinet is the central government’s main policy-making body.
Ministers of State: These individuals can be given independent charge of ministries or departments, or they can be attached to cabinet ministers.
Deputy Ministers: They work alongside cabinet ministers or ministers of state to help them with administrative, political, and parliamentary responsibilities.
Public Interest Litigation (PIL) refers to litigation filed in a court of law to protect “Public Interest” issues such as pollution, terrorism, road safety, construction hazards, and so on.
Any matter affecting the general public’s interest can be resolved in a court of law by filing a Public Interest Litigation.
There is no definition of public interest litigation in any statute or act. It has been interpreted by judges to take into account the general public’s intent.
The power granted to the public by courts through judicial activism is known as public interest litigation.
However, the person filing the petition must demonstrate to the court’s satisfaction that the petition is being filed in the public interest and not simply as frivolous litigation by a busy body.
The court may take cognizance of the matter and proceed on its own initiative, or cases may be initiated on the petition of any public-spirited individual.
Justice P.N. Bhagawati heralded the era of the PIL movement in the case of S.P. Gupta vs. Union of India in 1981.
In this case, it was determined that “any member of the public or social action group acting in good faith” can seek Writ Jurisdiction from the High Courts (under Article 226) or the Supreme Court (under Article 32).
Through a PIL, anyone can seek redress for a violation of their legal or constitutional rights, even if they are unable to approach the Court due to a social, economic, or other disability.
In its most recent annual report for 2020-21, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) stated that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 is compassionate and ameliorative legislation that does not deprive any Indian of citizenship.
The CAA, which aims to grant citizenship to migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Pakistan who belong to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian communities, was notified on December 12, 2019, and went into effect on January 10, 2020.
Protests erupted across the country in response to the legislation.
There are concerns that the CAA, which will be followed by a nationwide compilation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), will benefit non-Muslims who are not on the proposed citizens’ register, while excluded Muslims will have to prove their citizenship.
Problems in the North East: It contradicts the Assam Accord of 1985, which states that illegal migrants from Bangladesh arriving after March 25, 1971, regardless of religion, will be deported.
There are an estimated 20 million illegal Bangladeshi migrants in Assam, and they have irreversibly altered the state’s demography while also putting a significant strain on the state’s resources and economy.
Critics argue that it violates Article 14 of the Constitution (which guarantees the right to equality and is applicable to both citizens and foreigners) and the principle of secularism enshrined in the constitution’s preamble.
Other refugees in India include Tamils from Sri Lanka and Hindu Rohingya from Myanmar. They are not protected by the Act.
The government will have a difficult time distinguishing between illegal migrants and those who are persecuted.
The Act sheds light on religious oppression that has occurred and continues to occur in these three countries, potentially jeopardizing our bilateral relations with them.
Indian citizens are exempt from this provision: Indian citizens are not covered by the CAA. As a result, it in no way diminishes or restricts the rights of any Indian citizen.
The Legal Procedure for Obtaining Indian Citizenship Remains Unaltered: Furthermore, the current legal process for acquiring Indian citizenship by any foreigner of any category, as provided in the Citizenship Act of 1955, is fully operational, and the CAA makes no changes to this legal position in any way.
As a result, legal migrants of any religion from any country will continue to obtain Indian citizenship if they meet the eligibility requirements for registration or naturalization already outlined in the law.
The annual report attempted to allay fears in the Northeast about the legislation by stating that the exclusion of areas covered by the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and those covered by the Inner Line Permit regime would ensure the protection of the region’s indigenous and tribal populations.
The notification of its rules, which is required for the law to be implemented, is still pending, with no commitment from the government as to when it will occur.
As a result, MHA should notify the CAA rules in the most transparent manner possible, dispelling any concerns about CAA.
The Tamil Nadu Assembly recently passed two Bills that seek to delegate to the state government the Governor’s power to appoint Vice-Chancellors (VC) of 13 state universities.
Previously, the Maharashtra and West Bengal governments made similar provisions for the governor to appoint Vice-Chancellors of Universities.
State laws in Karnataka, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan emphasise the need for cooperation between the state and the Governor.
In most cases, the terms “concurrence” or “consultation” do not appear in state legislation.
The Tamil Nadu Bills emphasise that “every appointment of the Vice-Chancellor shall be made by the Government from a panel of three names” recommended by a search-cum-selection committee.
Currently, the Governor has the authority to select a VC from a list of candidates in his capacity as Chancellor of state universities.
The Bills also seek to give the state government the final say on the removal of VCs, if necessary.
The removal will be carried out based on the findings of an investigation conducted by a retired High Court judge or a bureaucrat who has served at least as a Chief Secretary.
Education is covered by the Concurrent List, but Union List entry 66 — “coordination and determination of standards in institutions for higher education or research and scientific and technical institutions” — gives the Centre significant authority over higher education.
Even in the case of appointments in universities and colleges, the University Grants Commission serves as a standard-setter.
The University Grants Commission recently issued the Regulations on Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Higher Education Institutions to Offer Joint Degree, Dual Degree, and Twinning Programs, 2022.
These regulations will allow collaborating institutes to offer three types of programmes: twinning, joint degrees, and dual degrees.
The UGC (Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and Other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and Other Measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education) Regulations, 2018, state that the “Visitor/Chancellor” — usually the Governor in states — shall appoint the VC from a panel of names recommended by search-cum-selection committees.
Higher education institutions, particularly those receiving UGC funds, are required to abide by its rules.
In the case of central universities, these are usually followed without difficulty, but in the case of state universities, the states may object.
In various decisions, the Supreme Court held that “any appointment as a Vice Chancellor contrary to the provisions of the UGC Regulations can be said to be in violation of the statutory provisions, warranting a writ of quo warranto.”
In the event of a conflict between state and central legislation, central legislation shall take precedence, as education is included in the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
In most cases, the Governor of the state serves as the ex-officio chancellor of the state’s universities.
While he functions as Governor with the Council of Ministers’ assistance and advice, as Chancellor he acts independently of the Council of Ministers and makes his own decisions on all University matters.
The President of India shall be the Visitor of a central university under the Central Universities Act, 2009, and other statutes.
Chancellors in central universities are titular heads appointed by the President in his capacity as Visitor, with their role limited to presiding over convocations.
The Visitor also appoints the Vice Chancellor from panels of names chosen by search and selection committees formed by the Union government.
According to the Act, the President, as Visitor, has the authority to authorise inspections of academic and non-academic aspects of universities, as well as to institute inquiries.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recommended that India be designated a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) for the third time in a row in its 2022 Annual Report.
The ‘Country of Particular Concern’ (CPC) is the government category that performs the worst on religious freedom criteria.
The CPCs are governments that either engage in or tolerate “particularly severe violations” of religious freedom.
[“Specially severe violations” of religious freedom are defined as systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of the internationally recognised right to religious freedom.]
The Special Watch List is another designation for less serious violations (SWL).
CPCs – For 2022, 15 countries have been recommended for the CPC designation based on religious freedom conditions in 2021.
India, Pakistan, Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, and Vietnam are among them.
Algeria, Cuba, Nicaragua, Azerbaijan, Central African Republic, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Turkey, and Uzbekistan are among the countries recommended for SWL designation in 2022.
Legality – The decision of the USCIRF is not binding on the US government.
Typically, the USCIRF recommends more countries for CPC labelling than the State Department will designate.
This occurs because when the USCIRF makes a recommendation, it is solely concerned with the state of religious freedom.
However, in addition to religious freedom, the State Department and its Office of International Freedom (IRF) consider other diplomatic, bilateral, and strategic concerns before making a CPC designation.
According to the USCIRF, religious freedom conditions in India will deteriorate significantly by 2021.
It was noted that India had policies, including those promoting a Hindu-nationalist agenda, that harmed Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and other religious minorities.
It emphasised the application of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) to those who document religious persecution and violence.
It is an independent bipartisan US federal government commission established by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998.
Its mandate is to monitor religious freedom violations around the world and make policy recommendations to the US President, Secretary of State, and Congress.
It is dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief around the world.
It is a Congressionally mandated entity, not an NGO or advocacy group.
It is led by nine part-time commissioners appointed by the President and the leaders of both political parties in the House and Senate.
According to IRFA, the USCIRF must identify countries that deserve to be designated as CPCs on an annual basis.
A one-year-old male spotted deer was discovered dead in Tamil Nadu’s Ranipet district.
The most common deer species in Indian forests is the spotted deer (Axis axis), also known as Axis Deer or chital.
It can be found in India and Sri Lanka’s grasslands and forests.
The golden-rufus colouring of the deer is speckled with white spots, and it has a white underbelly.
Its curved, three-pronged antlers are nearly three feet long and shed once a year.
The spotted deer has a long mating season because the year-round warm weather allows females to remain fertile and give birth to fawns at any time of year.
Males do not have synchronised antler cycles because of the tropical conditions.
Spotted deer are most commonly found in herds of 10 to 50 individuals, with one or two males and several females and young.
They eat mostly grasses and vegetation, but they will also eat their shed antlers for nutrients.
It is Telangana’s state animal. The IUCN classification is Least Concern.
In the midst of an increase in cyber attacks on India’s networks, the government has yet to implement the National Cyber Security Strategy, which has been in the works since 2020.
The Data Security Council of India (DSCI), led by Lt General Rajesh Pant, conceptualised the National Cyber Security Strategy.
This report focuses on 21 areas to ensure India’s cyberspace is safe, secure, trusted, resilient, and vibrant.