9 PM Daily Brief – August 18th,2020

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

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9 PM for Main examination


  1. Contempt of court: The ultimate power of the Judiciary
  2. India’s geopolitical interests in Arab
  3. Jurisdictional conflict in Delhi
  4. New NEP 2020-Re-Defining teaching structure

9 PM for Preliminary examination


1.Contempt of court: The ultimate power of the Judiciary

Source: Indian Express , The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2- Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

Context: Judgement against Prashant Bhushan in Contempt of Court case has opened the pandora’s box regarding unbridled power of Court.

Contempt of Court:

According to Section 2 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971-

  1. “Contempt of court”means civil contempt or criminal contempt;
  2. “Civil contempt”means willful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or willful breach of an undertaking given to a court;
  3. “Criminal contempt”means the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which—
  1. scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or
  2. prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or
  3. interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.

Article 129 of the Constitution of India:

It provides that the Supreme Court of is a “court of record” and it has all the powers of such a court including power to punish for contempt of itself. Therefore, it is a constitutional power which cannot be taken away. Even the constituent power of judiciary itself may not do so otherwise basic structure of constitution will be offended.

Defense available against Contempt of Court

  1. Fair criticism- If a person publishes any fair comment on the merits of any case which has been heard and finally decided then it does not amount to contempt of court.
  2. Accurate report- If a person publishes a fair and accurate report of a judicial proceeding or any stage thereof then it does not amount to contempt of court..

Raising voice against the Judiciary: Criticism or Contempt

People believe that the right to free speech is near absolute. However, there is a thin line separating criticism and contempt. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right guaranteed to every Indian citizen under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution which is also subject to reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2).

Supreme Court’s Judgement

  • The Supreme Court has held that if a comment is made against the functioning of a judge, it would have to be seen whether the comment is fair or malicious.
  • If the comment is made against the judge as an individual, the Court would consider whether the comment seeks to interfere with the judge’s administration or is simply in the nature of libel or defamation.
  • The Court would have to determine whether the statement is fair, bona fide, defamatory or contemptuous. If statements which affect the functioning of courts amount to criminal contempt since public perception of the judiciary plays a vital role in the rule of law.

Landmark Judgments-

  1. S Mugolkar  v. Unknown (1978)

The Supreme Court held that the judiciary cannot be immune from fair criticism and contempt action is to be used only when an obvious misstatement with malicious intent seeks to bring down public confidence in the courts or seeks to influence the courts.

  1. Justice Sabyasachi Mukherjee (1988)

Speaking for the Supreme Court, Justice Sabyasachi Mukherjee said if antisocial elements and criminals have benefited by decisions of the Supreme Court, the fault rests with the laws and the loopholes in the legislation. The Courts are not deterred by such criticisms.

  1. Indirect Tax Practitioners Association  v. R.K. Jain (2010)

The Supreme Court held that truth is also a defense in matters of criminal contempt if is bona fide and made in public interest.

  1. Arundhati Roy  vs.  Unknown (2002)

The Supreme Court held that a statement that the court willingly issued notice on an unsubstantiated petition affected the reputation and credibility of the court before the public and therefore held her guilty of contempt.

Way Forward:

Judiciary should consider the contempt proceedings carefully and only conclude after examining its facts and the circumstances.

2.India’s geopolitical interests in Arab

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: Gs2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. 

Context: Recently, UAE and Israel made an agreement on the normalisation of relations.

Current Scenario:

  • Deterioration of Arab and Pakistan relations:
    • However, the last six there is significant deterioration of Pakistan’s relations with the region, especially with the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
    • Pakistan has been angry with UAE’s invitation to India to address the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in early 2019 and the reluctance of Saudi Arabia to convene a meeting to condemn Indian actions in Kashmir.
    • Pakistan’s foreign minister threatened to convene a meeting of foreign ministers of Islamic nations, outside of the OIC, to attack India’s Kashmir policy.
    • Saudi Arabia called back part of its generous recent loan to Pakistan and threatened to suspend the credit facility for oil purchases.
  • Instability in the region:
    • There is emerging contradiction between Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the one hand and Pakistan on the other.
    • Sharpening existential threats to UAE and Saudi from both the Sunni Muslim brotherhood backed by Turkey and Shiite Iran’s regional expansionism.
  • Formation of new alliance:
    • Pakistan is trying to form a new regional alliance with Turkey and Iran.
    • Involvement of outside powers:rising China and an assertive Russia will both support this new geopolitical formation as part of their own efforts to oust America from the Middle East.
    • Idea of Non-Arab Alliance is not new: For instance, Pakistan enthusiastically embraced the Baghdad Pact that the British stitched together with Iran, Iraq and Turkey in 1955.
    • It was named CENTO after Iraq walked out and later it was wound up after Islamic revolution.
  • Significance of new alliance:
    • For Turkey and Iran, the new non-Arab alliance backed by Russia and China is an instrument to advance their role in the Arab world.
    • For Turkey: restoring the Ottoman domination over the Arab world.
    • For Iran:It wants to wrest the mantle of Islamic leadership from Saudi Arabia.
    • For Pakistan:America is on its way out of the Middle East, and that its all-weather strategic partnership with a rising China would give Pakistan new leverage in the changing Middle East.

Way forward: India needs to renew its relation with Arab region:

  • Push for moderate Arab: India’s geopolitical interests are in close alignment with those in the moderate Arab Centre — including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman.
  • Play active role: India needs to play active role in the unfolding geopolitical realignment in West Asia.
    • the incipient alliance — Turkey, Malaysia and China — have challenged India’s territorial sovereignty in Kashmir.
    • The Qatar-based Al Jazeera spews more poison against India than Pakistani media outlets.
  • Engage with middle east: India needs to stand up for Arab sovereignty and oppose the forces of regional destabilisation
    • Make efforts to reconcile with non-Arab neighbours, including Israel, Turkey and Iran.
    • Oppose foreign interventions in the Arab world.
    • Extend support to Arab economic integration, intra-Arab political reconciliation and the strengthening of regional institutions.

3.Jurisdictional conflict in Delhi

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS2: Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure

Context: Recently, Delhi government objected to LG’s ‘intervention’ in appointment of special public prosecutors in Delhi riot cases.

Difference of opinion between LG and State Government:

  • Rationale behind objection: Government has stated that only a panel of lawyers selected by its government should be appointed and not the one recommended by the police or the Centre as the force has faced “serious allegations” on its response to the riots.
  • Bone of contention:
    • As per the High Court and the Supreme Court, the appointment of prosecutors is exclusively within the purview of the State government.
    • Using Article 239AA(4) Lt. Governor appointed all the prosecutors whose names were submitted by the Delhi Police and thus the State government’s list was rejected.
  • Constitutional provisions for Union Territory of Delhi:Delhi’s democratic and representative form of government is established through articles 239AA and 239AB.

Articles 239 to 241 in Part VIII of the Constitution deal with the union territories. Even though all the union territories belong to one category, there is no uniformity in their administrative system.

Issues involved:

  • Supreme Court guidelines in Government of NCT of Delhi vs. Union of India (2018):SC directed the Lt. Governor not to refer to the President normal administrative matters as that would disturb the concept of Constitutional governance, principles of collaborative federalism and the standards of Constitutional morality.
    • SC clarified that there is no requirement of the concurrence of the Lt. Governor and that he has no power to overrule the decisions of the State government.
    • Faultline: the Court did not specify the matters which can be referred by the Lt. Governor to the President in the event of a difference of opinion between the Lt. Governor and the State government.
    • For State Government: SC said, Delhi is a special category Union Territory and lays down the parameters to enabling the harmonious functioning of the government and the Lt. Governor.
Article 239AA (4):  It says that in the case of a difference of opinion between the Lt. Governor and his Ministers on any matter, the Lt. Governor shall refer it to the President for decision and act according to that decision.
  • The Union Government is not empowered to exercise executive authority on a matter which comes within the exclusive jurisdiction of the State government like the appointment of Prosecutors.
  • LG’s interference in daily administrative matter against SC judgement:SC stated, the words ‘any matter’ employed in the proviso to Article 239AA (4) cannot be inferred to mean ‘every matter’.
    • Only exceptional Circumstances: The only occasion when the Union Government can overrule the decision of the State government is when the Lt. Governor refers a matter to the President under the proviso to clause (4).

Way forward:

  • Need to pay attention that, the executive power of the Union does not extend to any of the matters which come within the jurisdiction of the Delhi Assembly.
    • Parliament can legislatefor Delhi on any matter in the State List and the Concurrent List but the executive power in relation to Delhi except the ‘Police’, ‘Land’ and ‘Public Orders’ vests only in the State government headed by the Chief Minister.
    • clause (4) explicitly grants to the Government of Delhi executive powers.
  • Act as a facilitator:Governor should not emerge as an adversary having a hostile attitude towards the Council of Ministers of Delhi.

4.New NEP 2020-Re-Defining teaching structure

Source- Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Context – Despite the best efforts of educationists, governments and other stakeholders, schools are struggling to meet the evolving needs of students and their future employers. New National Education Policy 2020 [NEP] can restructure higher education system with focus on delivering better education, nurturing student’s skill and preparing them for the future.

New National Education Policy 2020–Recently cabinet approved a new national education policy which will refine and re-engineer classroom transactions with an aim to:

1. To reduce the curriculum content – It will enhance essential learning, critical thinking and more holistic experiential, discussion and analysis-based learning.

2. New pedagogical structure –It also talks about a revision of the curriculum and the pedagogical structure from a 10+2 system to a 5+3+3+4 system design in an effort to optimize learning for students based on cognitive development of children. The new model likely look like this-

    1. Foundational stage – Students in the age group of 3-8 years will be part of the foundational stage. This stage will be split into two parts, Three years of playschool/anganwadi and two years in primary school.
    2. Preparatory Schooling Stage- For children between 8-11 years of age in grades 3 to 5. There will be a greater emphasis on experiential learning across the sciences, mathematics, arts, social sciences, and humanities.
    3. Middle school-For students between 11-14 years in grades 6 to 8. The thrust for this level will be to have a subject-oriented pedagogical learning style.
    4. Secondary level-The final stage is for students between 14-18 years. This stage is again split into two sub-stages: covering grades 9 and 10 in one cohort and grades 11 and 12 in another.

3. New assessment pattern –It will compel educators to make pedagogical practices more child-centered. Such an approach will allow students to make mistakes, take risks, be creative and move away from rote learning.

4. Building soft skills- Envisaging more towards empathy, resilience, conflict resolution and relationship building skills, which offer the key to success in a rapidly changing world.

Challenges to implement NEP

  1. Teacher’s training-Teachers need to have an understanding of the method in which this extremely creative curriculum has to be transacted. A large number of teachers and principals, even in the urban areas do not have the skills required for such changes.
  2. Lack of Resources –This will require heavy infrastructure coupled with a large teaching faculty and a lot of funds. Partial privatization of this sector as private players are better equipped in terms of resources to cater to the ever-varying needs of the education sector.

Pilot programme

  • The Central board of secondary education [CBSE] can start with pilot programmes to ensure the efficacy of this policy.
  • It already has integrated many of the concepts mentioned in the NEP ,had conducted programmes and launched initiatives on competency-based education, joyful and experiential learning, art education, school quality assessments and a variety of other innovative pedagogies

Way Forward

We need to first put in place a system that will equip knowledge facilitators to understand the nuances of this novel system. Mapping of resources and skillsets of teachers before the policy is actually rolled out.Consistent inter and intra school training is needed.

9 PM for Preliminary examination

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