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Current Affairs – 3 May 2021

Current Affairs (3rd May 2021)

International Labour Day, 2021

Context:

  • International Labour Day is celebrated on 1 May every year.

About:

  • The day, dedicated to workers and labourers across the world, is also called the International Day of Workers or International Labour Day.
  • May Day celebrates labourers and encourages them to be aware of their rights.
  • The International Labour Organization, a United Nations agency, works towards setting international labour standards.

Significance:

  • Honours the hard work of people across the world and celebrates their achievements.
  • The Day has its origins in the labour union movement in the United States in the 19th Century.
  • In 1889, a body of socialist groups and trade unions, in the US designated May 1 as a day for workers.
  • This was in rememberance of the Haymarket Riots in Chicago in 1886, when a labour protest rally turned violent after someone threw a bomb at the police. At least eight people died because of the violence that day.
  • May 1 in Europe has historically always been linked with rural traditional farmers’ festivals but later May Day became associated with the modern labour movement.

 

CEC and Madras HC

Context:

  • The Chief Election Commissioner of India (CEC) has filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court seeking legal protection against any action based on the oral comments being attributed to the judges of the Madras High Court on the Election Commission of India (ECI) and its officials.

Issue:

  • During the hearing of elections-related cases, the concerned bench of the Madras High Court has been reported to have made some oral comments against the ECI and its officials, portraying them as responsible for the surge in the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • It has also been reported that the judge called for concerned officers to be put up for murder charges.
  • The ECI has said the oral observations have led to the filing of a criminal complaint against the officer(s) of the ECI.
  • Following the reports in the media on the oral comments, ECI tried to obtain an order from the Madras High Court to gag the media from reporting oral observations made by judges. The High Court, however, refrained from passing any such order.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner of India has appealed to the Supreme Court against the oral comments.

Stand of ECI:

  • Given the derogatory nature of the oral comments, it would tarnish the image of an ECI (Constitutional body).
  • The oral comments would impact or lower the faith of the masses in the poll body and the democratic process.
  • The petition claims that the Bench of the HC should have given the ECI an opportunity to place the entire factual position on record before making the allegations orally.
  • It amounted to a violation of the principles of natural justice. The ECI has said the HC should have refrained from making such allegations without evidence.

What is Special Leave Petition?

  • The Constitution of India under Article 136 vests the Supreme Court of India, with a special power to grant special leave, to appeal against any judgment or order or decree in any matter or cause, passed or made by any Court/tribunal in the territory of India (except military tribunal and court martial).
  • In other words, the special leave petition urges the top court to direct the police not to register cases for murder against Election Commission officials or take any coercive action based on media reports on oral observations attributed to the High Court judges.
  • It is to be used in case any substantial constitutional question of law is involved, or gross injustice has been done.
  • It is discretionary power vested in the Supreme Court of India and the court may in its discretion refuse to grant leave to appeal.

 

Sedition Law

Context:

  • The Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre on a plea challenging the Constitutional validity of Section 124-A of the IPC that penalises sedition.

About Plea:

  • The plea was filed by two journalists who are facing sedition charges for comments made by them on social media against their respective state governments and central government.
  • Contention made: They contended that section 124-A infringes upon the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression, guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

Stand of the Supreme Court:

  • The constitutionality of sedition was challenged in the Supreme Court in Kedar Nath Vs State of Bihar (1962).
  • The Court upheld the law on the basis that this power was required by the state to protect itself.
  • However, it had added a vital caveat that “a person could be prosecuted for sedition only if his acts caused incitement to violence or intention or tendency to create public disorder or cause disturbance of public peace”.
  • The Supreme Court laid down that every citizen has a right to say or write about the government, by way of criticism or comment, as long as it does not “incite people to violence” against the government established by law or with the intention of creating public disorder.
  • In September 2016, the Supreme Court had reiterated these necessary safeguards and held that they should be followed by all authorities.

Sedition Law under Indian Penal Code (IPC)

  • As per section 124A of IPC, Sedition is an act that brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise.
  • It provides for punishment of imprisonment for life or imprisonment upto 3 years with fine.

Views on Sedition law:

Various verdicts in Romesh Thappar case, Kedar Nath Singh Case, Kanhaiya Kumar case re-defined a sedition act only if it had essential ingredients such as:

  • Disruption of public order.
  • Attempt to violently overthrow a lawful government.
  • Threatening the security state or of public.

 

Attorney General of India (AGI)

Context:

  • Soli Sorabjee (1930 – 2021)passed away due to COVID-19.

About him:

  • In 1971, Sorabjee was designated a senior advocate of the Bombay High Court.
  • He served as Solicitor-General of India from 1977 to 1980.
  • He served as Attorney-General for India from 1989 to 1990, and again from 1998 to 2004.
  • In 2002, he received the Padma Vibhushan for his defence of the freedom of expression and the protection of human rights. He worked on the Citizen’s Justice Committee which represented the 1984 anti-Sikh riots victim’s pro bono.
  • Some of the other cases in which he appeared include:
    • Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala,
    • Maneka Gandhi v Union of India,
    • R. Bommai v. Union of India,
    • R. Coelho v. State of Tamil Nadu.
  • He also appeared in the case of B.P. Singhal v. Union of India, in which the Supreme Court held that state governors could not be dismissed without due cause.
  • He worked for the Sikh community pro bono after the Sikh riots of 1984.

AGI:

  • Highest law officer
  • Part of the Union Executive
  • Assisted by two Solicitor Generals and four Additional Solicitor Generals
  • Article 76 mentions about AGI.
  • Article 165 mentions about the Advocate General of the States.
  • The Constitution has not fixed the tenure of the AGI.
  • AGI is appointed by the President on the advice of the Government.
  • AGI does not have the Right to Vote in the House proceedings or in committee he/she might be a member of.
  • AGI should not advise against or hold a brief against the Government.
  • AGI holds the office during the pleasure of the President and can be removed by the President at any time.However, the Constitution does not mention the grounds for the removal of AGI or the procedure for it.

 

Olive Ridleys

Context:

  • Experts say that Olive Ridleys staying away from Rushikulya rookery in Odisha’s Ganjam is a natural phenomenon.
  • Rushikulya river mouth is considered the second-biggest rookery in India after Gahirmatha.

About:

  • The Olive ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world, inhabiting warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
  • These turtles are carnivores and get their name from their olive coloured carapace.
  • They are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
  • The olive ridley turtles turn up in millions for mass nesting along the Odisha coast every year namely at three river mouths: Dhamara, Devi and Rushikulya.
  • Gahirmatha beach off Bay of Bengal coast in Kendrapara district is acclaimed as the world’s largest nesting ground of these turtles.
  • It extends from Dhamra River mouth in the north to Brahmani river mouth in the south.
  • The wetland is represented by 3 Protected Areas, the Bhitarkanika National Park, the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary.
  • The species is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List, Appendix 1 in CITES, and Schedule 1 in Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • They are extensively poached for their meat, shell and leather, and their eggs.
  • However, the most severe threat they face is the accidental killing through entanglement in trawl nets and gill nets due to uncontrolled fishing during their mating season around nesting beaches.
  • To reduce accidental killing in India, the Odisha government has made it mandatory for trawls to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs),a net specially designed with an exit cover which allows the turtles to escape while retaining the catch.
  • Coast Guard has launched the ‘Operation Oliva’ exercise to ensure the safe mid-sea sojourn of breeding Olive Ridley sea turtles.

 

Marine Turtles

Five species of sea turtles are known to inhabit Indian coastal waters and islands.

  • Olive Ridley turtle
  • Green turtle
  • Hawksbill turtle
  • Loggerhead turtle
  • Leatherback turtle

Except the Loggerhead, the remaining four species nest along the Indian coast.

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