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Article 370

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic:  Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Why in the news?

The Union Minister for Home Affairs introduced two bills and two resolutions regarding Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). These are as follows:

  1. Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order, 2019 {Ref. Article 370(1) of Constitution of India} – issued by President of India to supersede the 1954 order related to Article 370.
  2. Resolution for Repeal of Article 370 of the Constitution of India {Ref. Article 370 (3)}
  3. Jammu & Kashmir (Reorganisation) Bill, 2019 {Ref. Article 3 of Constitution of India}
  4. Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2019

What changes have been brought by the above Resolutions and Bills?

  • The resolution repeals the provisions under Article 370 of the Constitution of India, which granted a special status to the state of J&K. The provisions of Article 370 would cease to exist from the date that the President of India issues a notification in this regard, after the recommendation of the Parliament. Consequently, the Constitution of India would get applicable to J&K, on par with other states/UTs of the country.
  • Under article 370(3), there is a provision that President, on the recommendation of the Parliament, has the power to amend or cease the implementation of article 370, through a public notification. This has already happened on a number of occasions in the past. This provision has been used to introduce the resolutions.
  • Jammu and Kashmir has been bifurcated into two Union Territories (pending Parliamentary approval) – the first is Ladakh and the second is Jammu and Kashmir. Thus, the number of states in India will be reduced to 28, while Union Territories will increase to 9.
  • The Union Territory of Ladakh will not have a Legislature while the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature and provisions that apply to Puducherry under Article 239A will apply to the legislature of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The Governor of J&K has been re-designated as the Lieutenant Governor of J&K and Ladakh ( under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill). Five seats for the Lok Sabha to go to J&K and one to Ladakh.
  • Further, the Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2019 to amend the Jammu & Kashmir Reservation Act 2004 was also introduced. This bill seeks to extend the 10% quota to economically weaker sections of society in J&K in jobs and educational institutions.

What is the rationale behind the introduction of the given changes?

  • The Home Minister has stated that Article 370 had led to alienation of the people of the state and not allowed them to interact and engage with India properly. This had led to the development of militancy and the misguiding of the youth by the political elite of the state.
  • The provisions of the article had been discriminatory on the basis of gender, class, caste and place of origin.
  • He also said that because of article 370, democracy never took root in J&K, corruption flourished, widespread poverty took root and no socio-economic infrastructure could come up. It is the root cause of terrorism.
  • Further, 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution could not be applied to J&K due to article 370. Panchayat and Nagar Palika elections could not be held. 
  • Article 370 impedes people from outside the state to do business there. Absence of economic competition has prevented development and corruption flourished.Land prices are at rock bottom because no one from outside can buy land there. No industry, including tourism, is allowed to flourish there. People remain poor in perpetuity despite presence of abundant economic opportunities for the local populace. 
  • Rampant corruption is present, thus preventing external investment in the state.
  • Moreover, Article 370 was a temporary provision that had been included considering the special needs of the state when it merged with the Union of India. It is now time to repeal it to allow for its complete assimilation.

What are the concerns regarding the above move?

  • The people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir were not consulted in the making of the above changes thus undermining the basic tenets of democracy.
  • An atmosphere of fear had been created in the state with the deployment of a large number of security forces and the evacuation of non-residents. This was done without providing any reason for these steps.
  • The move is expected to negatively impact the culture of J&K which the people of J&K may no longer be able to preserve as influx of outsiders and subsequent intermingling will introduce changes.
  • Relations with Pakistan may become strained further and stoke the Pakistani cause in the Kashmir valley.
  • Using a provision of Article 370 to modify the Article itself is in violation of legal jurisprudence and will not stand the scrutiny of the courts.

 

Resource Assistance for Colleges with Excellence

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Why in the news?

  • A new higher education model has been launched in Rajasthan for distribution of faculties and movable assets among the government colleges at the district level to rationalise the availability of resources. The model will create a pool for sharing of facilities which will benefit the colleges lacking infrastructure.
  • The colleges in need will submit their requirements to the nodal college in the district, which will send the teachers on deputation, if needed, and provide the facilities such as projectors, digital libraries, equipment and technicians. The model will help the colleges situated in small towns facing shortage of faculties and infrastructure.
  • All the colleges would get equal opportunities for imparting quality education with the adoption of the new model.

 

Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Why in the news?

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 was passed by the Lok Sabha.

What are the major provisions of the Bill?

  • The Bill defines surrogacy as a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple with the intention to hand over the child after the birth to the intending couple.
  • Regulation of surrogacy: The Bill prohibits commercial surrogacy, but allows altruistic surrogacy.  Altruistic surrogacy involves no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance coverage during the pregnancy.  Commercial surrogacy includes surrogacy or its related procedures undertaken for a monetary benefit or reward (in cash or kind) exceeding the basic medical expenses and insurance coverage.
  • Purposes for which surrogacy is permitted: Surrogacy is permitted when it is: (i) for intending couples who suffer from proven infertility; (ii) altruistic; (iii) not for commercial purposes; (iv) not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation; and (v) for any condition or disease specified through regulations.
  • Eligibility criteria for intending couple: The intending couple should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority.
  • A certificate of essentiality will be issued upon fulfilment of the following conditions: (i) a certificate of proven infertility of one or both members of the intending couple from a District Medical Board; (ii) an order of parentage and custody of the surrogate child passed by a Magistrate’s court; and (iii) insurance coverage for a period of 16 months covering postpartum delivery complications for the surrogate.
  • The certificate of eligibility to the intending couple is issued upon fulfilment of the following conditions: (i) the couple being Indian citizens and married for at least five years; (ii) between 23 to 50 years old (wife) and 26 to 55 years old (husband); (iii) they do not have any surviving child (biological, adopted or surrogate); this would not include a child who is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from life threatening disorder or fatal illness; and (iv) other conditions that may be specified by regulations.
  • Eligibility criteria for surrogate mother: To obtain a certificate of eligibility from the appropriate authority, the surrogate mother has to be: (i) a close relative of the intending couple; (ii) a married woman having a child of her own; (iii) 25 to 35 years old; (iv) a surrogate only once in her lifetime; and (v) possess a certificate of medical and psychological fitness for surrogacy.  Further, the surrogate mother cannot provide her own gametes for surrogacy.
  • Appropriate authority: The central and state governments shall appoint one or more appropriate authorities within 90 days of the Bill becoming an Act.  The functions of the appropriate authority include; (i) granting, suspending or cancelling registration of surrogacy clinics; (ii) enforcing standards for surrogacy clinics; (iii) investigating and taking action against breach of the provisions of the Bill; (iv) recommending modifications to the rules and regulations.
  • Registration of surrogacy clinics: Surrogacy clinics cannot undertake surrogacy related procedures unless they are registered by the appropriate authority.  Clinics must apply for registration within a period of 60 days from the date of appointment of the appropriate authority.
  • National and State Surrogacy Boards: The central and the state governments shall constitute the National Surrogacy Board (NSB) and the State Surrogacy Boards (SSB), respectively.  Functions of the NSB include, (i) advising the central government on policy matters relating to surrogacy; (ii) laying down the code of conduct of surrogacy clinics; and (iii) supervising the functioning of SSBs.
  • Parentage and abortion of surrogate child: A child born out of a surrogacy procedure will be deemed to be the biological child of the intending couple.  An abortion of the surrogate child requires the written consent of the surrogate mother and the authorisation of the appropriate authority. This authorisation must be compliant with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.  Further, the surrogate mother will have an option to withdraw from surrogacy before the embryo is implanted in her womb.
  • Offences and penalties: The offences under the Bill include: (i) undertaking or advertising commercial surrogacy; (ii) exploiting the surrogate mother; (iii) abandoning, exploiting or disowning a surrogate child; and (iv) selling or importing human embryo or gametes for surrogacy.  The penalty for such offences is imprisonment up to 10 years and a fine up to 10 lakh rupees. The Bill specifies a range of offences and penalties for other contraventions of the provisions of the Bill.