Ahead of the Republic Day weekend, we’re waiting for a clear response around the Citizenship Amendment Act, the promised Mumbai 24*7 and a strategic collaboration with Brazil. Meanwhile, from a UPSC aspirant’s perspective, the Supreme Court may be looking into a constitutional change.
Here the top 5 news items you need to know to keep a track of today’s current affairs.
Supreme Court to listen to 144 pleas on CAA:
A 3-judge bench will hear an approx 144 petitions both in favor and against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) today. This bench, led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A Bobde will take a decision on which petitions would be kept, which ones discarded and a way ahead on the act.
CAA fast-tracks an Indian citizenship for ‘illegal’ immigrants who have fled religious persecution from our neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The act singles out immigrants from six, specific religious communities, other than Muslims, for this citizenship by naturalisation process.
The Act, since its was passed by the parliament on Dec 11, 2019 has led to massive protests and agitations across the country, from a wide range of groups. The clear exclusion of immigrants from the Muslim community is one sore point, while the settlement of these immigrants in specific pockets like West Bengal and Assam is another.
Protests against the act have occurred in Shaheen Bagh, Delhi, Gaya, MP and countless other cities. Non-BJP states like Rajasthan, Punjab and Kerala have passed resolutions against the Act already.
Meanwhile, there have also been protests in support of the act, led by the ruling party and several right-wing groups. Home minister Amit Shah has announced that the act will not be rolled back.
India and Brazil to sign a Strategic Action plan
Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro, who is the Chief Guest for the 71st Republic Day celebrations, is expected to take part in strategic, bilateral trade talks for the two countries and ink a strategic action plan while he’s here.
The Brazilian president will visit India from January 24-27.
India and Brazil last met each other at a joint commission meeting in 2015. This time the two sides are expected to sign agreements and MOUs in various fields. These include food security, energy security,
agriculture, investment and defence. Specialists have also urged India to take note of Brazil’s universal healthcare coverage program and build its own piece on its lines.
The duo share close ties based on a common global vision, democratic values and a commitment to boost faster economic growth between the two countries.
Bolsonaro will also address business leaders from both countries in a business forum on Monday, January 27.
Supreme Court for curbs on powers of speakers
In what could become a constitutional amendment, the Supreme Court has asked the Parliament to take away an assembly speaker’s decisive power to disqualify legislators under the anti-defection law. Speakers in legislative assemblies have the exclusive power to decide whether a legislator can be removed from their seat or not.
The SC wants this decision to be made by an independent tribunal instead.
Powers, privileges, duties and responsibilities for constitutional positions like the speaker are clearly spelled out and enshrined in the constitution. Such a move will involve a constitutional amendment which needs to debated, deliberated and decided upon by both houses of the parliament.
This demand by the Court is the second time that the matter has been highlighted by the apex judicial body. The 31-page judgement has questioned why a speaker, who belongs to a political party and can be influenced by the same, should decide on the disqualification of a defecting legislator.
This had come up in November as well, when a three-judge bench led by Justice NV Ramana had said that if a Speaker cannot stay aloof from pressures and wishes of his political party, then he does not deserve to occupy the constitutional chair.
This judgement has come after Congress legislator Keisham Meghchandra filed a petition against the Manipur assembly speaker for disqualifying Minister T Shyamkumar after he had switched sides to favour the BJP.
Iran acknowledges Russian made missiles targeted Ukraine jet
Iran has confirmed that its armed forces fired two Russian anti-aircraft missiles at Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 on January 8, mistaking it for an American fighter plane.
The passenger aircraft had crashed shortly after it took off from Tehran’s International airport on January 8, killing all 176 people onboard. Initially, Iran had blamed the crash on engine failure or technical malfunction after which it had conceded to the deed.
The crash occurred at a high point amid US-Iran tensions after US forces killed Iran’s military general Solemani in a drone strike. Iran had resorted to missile attacks on US bases in neighbouring Iraq on that day.
US, Canada and later Ukraine suspected Iran for the attack, after which Iran’s armed forces said anti aircraft missiles from the country’s paramilitary revolutionary guard has downed the flight.
Reports identified the missile that was fired was from TOR-M1 which is one among the 29 units that Iran bought from Russia in 2017.The contract of $700 million was signed for the deal.
The two minute footage shows a missile exploding near the plane after striking in the sky which is closely followed by another missile being fired. After few seconds, a ball of flames then fell from the sky.
Census 2020: Respondents can fill up data online
The second phase for the Census exercise, due to begin from February 2021, will allow respondents to fill up their details on their own, through an online self-enumeration facility.
Respondents can register online, fill details and share the reference number with the enumerators when they arrive.
The decennial exercise provides data which enables India to take policy-level decisions regarding the population. It is conducted by 30 lakh enumerators, who take data from 650-800 people each.
The online option would make the task easier, though it would not be a part of the first phase - due from April 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020. This phase is the House listing or the Housing census.
The NPR, currently under contention due to its ties with the National Register of Citizens and CAA, will be filled simultaneously in the first phase as well.
All The Best To All The UPSC 2020 Aspirants !