- “Neither under the Constitution nor under the statutory scheme it is contemplated that disqualification under the Tenth Schedule would operate as a bar for contesting re-elections,” a Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana said in a judgment.
- The court said Section 36 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, does not contemplate such disqualification.
- On the provisions introduced in the 91st Constitutional Amendment, the judgment said they were brought in specifically to ensure that a legislator disqualified for defection was not appointed as a government Minister or to any remunerative post from the date of his disqualification either till the expiry of his term of office or till he was re-elected to the legislature, “whichever is earlier”.
- In the light of the existing constitutional mandate, the Speaker is not empowered to disqualify any member till the end of the term. However, a member disqualified under the Tenth Schedule shall be subjected to sanctions provided under Articles 75(1B), 164(1B) and 361B of Constitution, which provides for a bar from being appointed as a Minister or from holding any remunerative political post from the date of disqualification till the date on which the term of his office would expire or if he is re-elected to the legislature, whichever is earlier,
- The Centre should revisit the provisions of the Finance Act.
- Tribunals have been conceptualized as a specialized body. Keeping this in mind, appointment is to be a legislative function.
- On April 10, the Constitution Bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justices Ramana, Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna had reserved judgment in the cases of Roger Mathew and Revenue Bar Association regarding the constitutionality of the provisions of Finance Act 2017 which affected the powers and structures of various judicial tribunals such as
- National Green Tribunal, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, National Company Law Appellate Tribunal. Finance Act, which is passed as a money bill, cannot change the composition of tribunals, argued the petitioners.
WHO initiative to boost insulin access
- The World Health Organization on Wednesday said it had begun an initiative that would cut prices and dramatically increase insulin access for diabetics.
- The UN health agency voiced alarm ahead of World Diabetes Day on Thursday at the soaring prevalence of diabetes in the world, with nearly three times more diabetics today than 35 years ago.
- There are currently more than 420 million diabetic adults in the world, up from 180 million in 1980, WHO statistics show.
- And according to the International Diabetes Federation, the number could swell to 629 million by 2045. “Diabetes is on the rise globally, and rising faster in low-income countries,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
- Prequalification norms
- “Too many people who need insulin encounter financial hardship in accessing it, or go without it and risk their lives,” he warned, adding that “WHO’s prequalification initiative for insulin is a vital step towards ensuring everyone who needs this life-saving product can access it”.
- The initiative involves the evaluation of insulin developed by manufacturers to ensure their quality, safety, efficacy and affordability.
- Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death and a major cause of debilitating complications like heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and lower limb amputations.
- WHO has launched Diabetes Atlas (8th Edition) recently
- India had the largest number of patients (11.43 cr.) followed by China (7.29 cr.) in 2017.
(A) Only 1
(B) Only 2
WHO initiative to expand access to affordable insulin
- It is available in only 1 in 3 of the poorest countries
- Ahead of the World Diabetes Day on November 14, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is launching an initiative to expand access to affordable insulin. Stating that more than 420 million people worldwide, mostly in low- and middle-income countries, live with diabetes, the WHO noted that many who require insulin do not have access to it, often due to high costs.
- The global report on diabetes shows that essential medicines and technologies, including insulin, are generally available in only 1 in 3 of the poorest countries.
- According to the International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas (7th Edition), China had the largest number of patients (11.43 cr.) followed by India (7.29 cr.) in 2017.
- As per the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, 5.8% women and 8.0% men in India are having blood sugar level above 140 mg/dl, in the age group of 15-49 years.
- “The Health Ministry is focused on creating awareness for behavior and life-style changes, screening and early diagnosis of persons with high level of risk factors and their treatment and referral (if required) to higher facilities for appropriate management for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), including diabetes,’’ noted a senior health official. WHO initiative to expand access to affordable insulin It is available in only 1 in 3 of the poorest countries
- The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is an umbrella organization of over 240 national diabetes associations in 168 countries and territories. It represents the interests of the growing number of people with diabetes and those at risk. The Federation has been leading the global diabetes community since 1950. IDF’s mission is to promote diabetes care, prevention and a cure worldwide. IDF is engaged in action to tackle diabetes from the local to the global level ― from programmes at community level to worldwide awareness and advocacy initiatives.
- The International Diabetes Federation is divided into seven regions, with the aim of strengthening the work of national diabetes associations and enhancing the collaboration between them.
- The Federation’s activities aim to influence policy, increase public awareness and encourage health improvement, promote the exchange of high-quality information about diabetes, and provide education for people with diabetes and their healthcare providers. IDF is associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations and is in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Two-thirds of people with diabetes are of working age (327 million)
- Two-thirds of people with diabetes live in urban areas (279 million)
- Over 1 million children and adolescents have type 1 diabetes
- 1 in 6 births is affected by hyperglycaemia in pregnancy
- 1 in 2 adults with diabetes is undiagnosed (212 million)
- 1 in 11 adults has diabetes (425 million)
Aligning to global changes
- We welcome the statement made by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in Osaka about the importance of strengthening the dialogue within BRICS, which will enable the BRICS countries to make the best use of ongoing global changes.
- Today, alignment of efforts of our countries is particularly important. Global politics continues to reel. Various regions of the planet still retain significant conflict potential. The arms control architecture is deliberately undermined — the U.S.’s unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was a rather dangerous step. Structural imbalances in the world economy are yet to be overcome. A serious threat to global economic growth is posed by such unfair competition practices as unilateral economic sanctions, trade wars and flagrant abuse of the U.S. dollar status as the world reserve currency. The international community is yet to find effective responses to a whole number of critical challenges of our time — from terrorism to climate change.
- It got to the situation when there are attempts to replace the international legal system, established after the Second World War with the UN Charter remaining as its main source, with the so-called “rules-based order”, where “rules” were being invented in secret, in “small groups”, and then, depending upon a political situation, imposed on the whole world.
- “Multipolarity is not a recipe for competition and chaos in international relations”, as some of our critics say. On the contrary, this is the only order attuned to present-day realities, which should promote the comprehensive development of all states — both big and small — and enhanced mutually beneficial cooperation among us on the basis of shared interests.
- Russia, as other BRICS countries, rejects diktat and pressure, blackmail and threats, let alone the use of force without the UNSC’s decision. In contrast, it proposes to follow the path of a mutually respectful dialogue aimed to reach the consensus that takes into account the interests of all actors in interstate relations. We are convinced that any agreements on most important issues on the global agenda should be reached with the widest and equal participation of all stakeholders and be based on universally recognised legal norms. The BRICS countries are firmly committed to democratisation of international life and its development under the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, the principles of respect for cultural and civilizational diversity of the world, and the right of peoples to forge their destiny themselves.
- It is of fundamental importance that our approaches to key global and regional issues are the same or rather similar. We have consistently called for a peaceful and politico-diplomatic settlement of crises and conflicts in various regions of the world. We continue to be engaged in a comprehensive dialogue in such fields as counter-terrorism, international information security and the fight against organised crime and corruption.
- We can state with confidence that having entered the second decade of its activity, BRICS, being one of the pillars of the emerging fairer polycentric world order, plays an important stabilising role in global affairs, for which it has all the necessary capacity. The group accounts for almost a third of global GDP at purchasing power parity. Last year, BRICS even outperformed the G7 on this indicator.
- BRICS is becoming a magnet for many emerging economies. They are looking at us because the group protects values of multilateralism, supports transparent, non-discriminatory, open, free and inclusive international trade, and rejects unilateral economic restrictions and protectionist measures in developing international economic ties. In their statement following the meeting on the margins of the G20 Summit in Osaka last June, the BRICS leaders explicitly indicated their willingness to protect the pillars of the equitable multilateral trading system and the role of the World Trade Organization as its centre, and to advocate International Monetary Fund reform.
- The New Development Bank (NDB) created by the BRICS countries — one of the promising multilateral development institutions — works successfully. Only this year, the NDB Board of Directors has approved 12 new investment projects in the BRICS countries. And since the start of its operation in 2015, 42 investment projects worth over $11 billion have been approved.
- The work to strengthen the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) is ongoing. Its total capital of $100 billion is to be a guarantor of the BRICS financial stability in case of crisis.
- We appreciate the efforts of the Brazilian chairmanship to implement five-party initiatives in economy, science, innovations and health. We take a positive note of the systematically increased density of humanitarian exchanges — cooperation in the areas of culture, education, sport and youth policy is gaining momentum and people-to-people contacts are developing
Russia’s turn next
- In 2020, Russia will take the helm of BRICS. We intend to ensure continuity and harmonious transition from the Brazil chairmanship to the Russian one. We will continue the policy of progressive and comprehensive enhancement of the strategic partnership of the BRICS countries. Certainly, we are interested in increasing financial and economic cooperation among the participating countries, effective industrial interaction and practical cooperation in developing and implementing new joint energy, telecommunications and high-tech projects. Our priorities include enhanced foreign policy coordination within leading multilateral fora, primarily in the UN, which will turn 75 next year.
- I am confident that in the storming ocean of world politics, the BRICS ‘ship’ will steer a steady course and further contribute significantly to maintaining international stability and ensuring global economic growth. The Brasilia Summit is aimed to be another important milestone in pentalateral cooperation and on its way to new prospects.
- In conclusion, I would like to wish peace, health, well-being and all the best to readers and to all nationals of the BRICS countries.
A balancing act
- Information flow can be facilitated without compromising privacy rights or national security
- The Supreme Court has decided to transfer to itself from several High Courts all the cases concerning the decryption of WhatsApp messages and the tracing of their original senders, along with the cases demanding the linkage of Aadhaar and social media profiles.
- The court acted on the plea of Facebook, the parent company of WhatsApp, that different High Courts could have contrarian views and therefore the Supreme Court should hear the cases. Facebook also argued that only the apex court could exercise jurisdiction with credibility on issues that may have a global impact.
- Meanwhile, the government has notified the Supreme Court that it plans to finalise by January 2020 laws regulating social media. These laws are expected to include provisions that would require intermediaries, i.e., the entities that store or transmit data on behalf of other persons, to deploy automated tools and make their platforms subject to observation of various probe agencies to ensure that any unlawful content can be identified and removed, and the original source of such content duly recognised.
- Privacy advocates believe that these steps would be the harbinger of a surveillance state. Nonetheless, the encryption features and the right to privacy are not intended to be shields for unlawful agents ranging from terrorists and drug peddlers to the propagators of fake news, slander and child pornography to enable them to act with impunity in the digital space.
- It is worth remembering that more than half of India’s electorate received some variant of misinformation via social media outlets in the month leading to the 2019 general election. There have been incidents of mob violence resulting from the spread on WhatsApp of digital disinformation on issues such as cattle smuggling and child abduction.
- Facebook still opposes the government’s demands with the view that the compliance requires it to make significant and expensive alteration of its product from a technology standpoint. It also fears that the decryption of WhatsApp’s secure messaging service would make it a less trusted source of communication and argues that the steps compromise on the safety and privacy of users. This could dent its bottom line, Facebook argues.
- The linkage of Aadhaar to social media profiles is expected to be challenged, especially because the current Aadhaar Act only allows unique personal identification for schemes and subsidies funded out of the Consolidated Fund of India. Along with this, the Supreme Court in 2018 had allowed the mandatory usage of Aadhar only for verifying PAN numbers and Income Tax returns. The government can overcome these legal hiccups with minor amendments. Nevertheless, it should not be overlooked that all the popular social media platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, and Tik Tok are foreign-owned. These technology giants with an international market spread cannot be expected to prioritise India’s security or privacy concerns.
- The government has aggressively tried to make Aadhaar mandatory wherever it is possible. But the linkage of hundreds of millions of the unique 12-digit numbers to social media accounts serves no useful purpose. Attempting to do that in the absence of operational data protection and localisation laws would be counterproductive, and will only create newer avenues for data security breaches.
- The government should not shy away from its responsibilities and should bring in the proposed intermediary guidelines. Meanwhile, any thoughts on linking these intermediary accounts to Aadhaar or any other government ID should be discarded.
- This is to ensure that the mass communication and social media apps operating within India facilitate information flow, without compromising civil and privacy rights or national security.