Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 12 January 2023

Delegated legislation in SC verdict

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

In upholding the Centre’s 2016 decision on demonetisation, one of the key questions to decide for the Supreme Court was whether Parliament gave excessive powers to the Centre under the law to demonetise currency. While the majority ruling upheld the validity of the delegated legislation, the dissenting verdict noted that excessive delegation of power is arbitrary. What is delegated legislation?

What is delegated legislation?

  1. Parliament routinely delegates certain functions to authorities established by law since every aspect cannot be dealt with directly by the law makers themselves.
  2. This delegation of powers is noted in statutes, which are commonly referred to as delegated legislations.
  3. The delegated legislation would specify operational details, giving power to those executing the details.
  4. Regulations and by-laws under legislations are classic examples of delegated legislation.
  5. A 1973 Supreme Court ruling explains the concept as: “The practice of empowering the Executive to make subordinate legislation within a prescribed sphere has evolved out of practical necessity and pragmatic needs of a modern welfare State.
  6. At the same time it has to be borne in mind that our Constitution-makers have entrusted the power of legislation to the representatives of the people, so that the said power may be exercised not only in the name of the people but also by the people speaking through their representatives.
  7. The role against excessive delegation of legislative authority flows from and is a necessary postulate of the sovereignty of the people.”

What was the delegation of power in the demonetisation case?

  1. Section 26(2) of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 essentially gives powers to the Centre to notify that a particular denomination of currency ceases to be legal tender.
  2. The provision reads: “On recommendation of the Central Board the Central Government may, by notification in the Gazette of India, declare that, with effect from such date as may be specified in the notification, any series of bank notes of any denomination shall cease to be legal tender.”
  3. Here, Parliament, which enacted the RBI Act, is essentially delegating the power to alter the nature of legal tender to the central government.
  4. The Centre exercised that power by issuing a gazette notification, which is essentially the legislative basis for the demonetisation exercise.

 The ozone layer is on track to repair itself

GS Paper - 3 (Environment)

The ozone ‘hole’, once considered to be the gravest danger to planetary life, is now expected to be completely repaired by 2066, a scientific assessment has suggested. In fact, it is only the ozone layer over Antarctica — where the hole is the most prominent — which will take a long time to heal completely. Over the rest of the world, the ozone layer is expected to be back to where it was in 1980 by 2040 itself, a UN-backed scientific panel has reported.

More about the scientific assessment

  1. The recovery of the ozone layer has been made possible by the successful elimination of some harmful industrial chemicals, together referred to as Ozone Depleting Substances or ODSs, through the implementation of the 1989 Montreal Protocol.
  2. The assessment has reported that nearly 99 per cent of the substances banned by the Montreal Protocol have now been eliminated from use, resulting in a slow but definite recovery of the ozone layer.
  3. The depletion of the ozone layer, first noticed in the early 1980s, used to be the biggest environmental threat before climate change came along. Ozone (chemically, a molecule having three Oxygen atoms, or O3) is found mainly in the upper atmosphere, an area called stratosphere, between 10 and 50 km from the Earth’s surface.
  4. It is critical for planetary life, since it absorbs ultraviolet rays coming from the Sun. UV rays are known to cause skin cancer and many other diseases and deformities in plants and animals.
  5. Though the problem is commonly referred to as the emergence of a ‘hole’ in the ozone layer, it is actually just a reduction in concentration of the ozone molecules.

Improvement in the situation

  1. The ozone hole has been steadily improving since 2000, thanks to the effective implementation of the Montreal Protocol.
  2. The latest scientific assessment has said that if current policies continued to be implemented, the ozone layer was expected to recover to 1980 values by 2066 over Antarctica, by 2045 over the Arctic, and by 2040 for the rest of the world.
  3. The elimination of ozone-depleting substances has an important climate change co-benefit as well.
  4. These substances also happen to be powerful greenhouse gases, several of them hundreds or even thousands of times more dangerous than carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas and the main driver of global warming.
  5. The report said that global compliance to the Montreal Protocol would ensure the avoidance of 0.5 to 1 degree Celsius of warming by 2050. This means that if the use of CFCs and other similar chemicals had continued to grow the way it did before they were banned, the world would have been 0.5 to 1 degree Celsius warmer than it already is.
  6. In fact, it was with this climate change objective in mind that the Montreal Protocol was amended in 2016 to extend its mandate over hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, that have replaced the CFCs in industrial use. HFCs do not cause much damage to the ozone layer — the reason they were not originally banned — but are very powerful greenhouse gases.
  7. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol seeks to eliminate 80-90 per cent of the HFCs currently in use by the year 2050. This is expected to prevent another 0.3 to 0.5 degree Celsius of global warming by the turn of the century.


Cabinet approves to promote UPI

GS Paper -3 (Scheme and Banking)

The Union Cabinet approved an outlay of 2,600 crore to promote payments using RuPay cards and the Unified Payments Interface (UPI. Banks will be provided this incentive money to promote such digital payments.

More about the news

  1. The fund will be paid to banks in view of the lack of a Merchant Discount Rate (MDR), a commission on digital transactions, for UPI and RuPay transactions.
  2. Cabinet says this regime has led to complaints from the RBI and banks, which have worried about the sustainability of building digital payments infrastructure in the absence of payments needed to scale and maintain them.
  3. The scheme will also promote UPI Lite and UPI 123PAY as economical and user-friendly digital payments solutions and enable further deepening of digital payments in the country.
  4. It refers to payment systems recently introduced by the National Payments Corporation of India to reduce the load on banking networks for small transactions, and to allow payments over older feature phones.

NRIs can also set up UPI on international mobile numbers

  1. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has issued new guidelines allowing NRIs in ten countries to access UPI services using their international mobile numbers for banks accounts which are classified as Non Resident External (NRE) or Non Resident Ordinary (NRO) accounts.
  2. According to the guidelines, NRIs in these countries will now have the option of activating a UPI account with the mobile number they use in the particular country with an international country code.

3.    According to NPCI’s order, member banks will need to ensure the UPI account is only allowed as “per the extant FEMA regulations and adherence to the guidelines/instructions issued by the concerned regulatory departments of Reserve Bank of India from time to time.

4.    All the “necessary Anti-Money Laundering (AML)/ Combating of Financing of Terrorism (CT) checks and compliance validation/account level validations as per the extent” need to be applicable to these bank accounts.

  1. It plans to extend the UPI facility for other country codes in near future. The list of countries supported is: Singapore, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Oman, Qatar, USA, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom.

Delay in the decennial Census

GS Paper -3 (Economy)

The decennial Census of 2021 has been pushed forward yet again and is unlikely to start till September 2023, at least. The Additional Registrar General of India, without specifying a reason that the date of freezing of administrative boundaries has been extended till June 30.

More about the news

  1. The Census can only begin three months after the boundaries have been frozen, and the completion of the Census in its two phases takes at least 11 months.
  2. Even if started in an urgent fashion from October this year, the possibility of its fruition in 2023 or early 2024 is ruled out, as general elections are due in March-April 2024.

How is the Census conducted?

  1. India’s first proper or synchronous Census, one which begins on the same day or year across regions of the country, was carried out in 1881 by the colonial administration and has since happened every 10 years, except that was supposed to be carried out in 2021.
  2. The decennial census is carried out by lakhs of enumerators empanelled and trained by the government in two phases.
  3. The first phase is the housing Census, where data on housing conditions, household amenities and assets possessed by households are collected.
  4. The second phase is where data on population, education, religion, economic activity, Scheduled Castes and Tribes, language, literacy, migration and fertility are collected.
  5. The freezing of boundary limits of administrative units such as districts, sub-districts, tehsils, and police stations, happens between two consecutive censuses as State administrations often create new districts or merge, or reorganise the existing units.

How many times has the 2021 Census been delayed?

  1. The Census is conducted under the Census Act of 1948, which predates the Constitution; the Act does not bind the government to conduct the Census on a particular date or to release its data in a notified period.
  2. The Centre’s intent to conduct the 2021 Census was notified in the Gazette of India on March 28, 2019.
  3. The freeze on administrative boundaries was to be effective from January 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

About Digital Census:

  1. The upcoming Census will also be the first Census both in digital mode and through paper schedules (questionnaires/forms).
  2. In 2022, the Union government amended the Census Rulesframed in the year 1990 to allow the details to be captured and stored in an electronic form and also make a provision enabling self-enumeration by respondents.
  3. The Home Ministry informed the Parliament in December that mobile and web applications for the collection of data and a portal (CMMS) for management and monitoring of various Census-related activities had been developed at a cost of ₹24.84 crore so far.

 

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