1.Merger Under Tenth Schedule
Why in News
Recently, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has issued a whip in Rajasthan Assembly and asked all its six Member of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) to vote against Indian National Congress (INC) government on floor test.
- However all six BSP MLAs had joined the INC by announcing the merger in September 2019.
- The BSP argued that a state unit of a national party cannot be merged without the party being merged at the national level. It has termed the merger of six MLAs as illegal and unconstitutional.
- It has cited two decisions of the Supreme Court to support its arguments:
Jagjit Singh v State of Haryana 2006 case.
- In this case, four legislators from single-member parties in the Haryana Assembly, who said their parties had split and later joined the Congress. The court upheld the Speaker’s decisions disqualifying them.
Rajendra Singh Rana And Ors vs Swami Prasad Maurya 2007 case.
- In the 2002 Uttar Pradesh elections, 37 MLAs — one-third of the BSP strength — “split” from the party after its government fell, to support Samajwadi Party. The SC ruled that the split cannot be recognized primarily because not all these MLAs split at once.
- It can be noted that the above two cases were prior to the 91 Constitutional Amendment of 2003 which deleted the Paragraph 3 of the Tenth Schedule.
- This amendment was made as the one-third split rule was grossly misused by parties to engineer divisions and indulge in horse-trading. One-third was regarded as an easy target to achieve and the law now exempts defection only when it is at two-thirds (in a merger).
Constitutional Experts on Merger:
- According to D.T. Achary, merger under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) can take place only between two original political parties.
- There are two conditions that need to be fulfilled for a merger under the Tenth Schedule:
- There should be a merger between two original political parties.
- Subsequently, 2/3 of the members of that House belonging to that party should accept the merger. If 2/3 of the members do not accept it, then the merger doesn’t happen as per the law.
- According to Achary, the anti-defection law basically aims at protecting the party system and not just at curbing defection. Subhash C. Kashyap also agreed with D.T. Achary by saying that for a merger, the party which sets up candidates for the election is the party which has to merge under the Tenth Schedule.
- And one of the requirements for this is that 2/3 MLAs of that party should agree to the merger.
- However, Faizan Mustafa disagreed with the above position and questioned the concept of merger between two original parties.
- According to him, this would mean that the legislative party will not have any right to merge with anybody in any state.
- He referred to the definition of ‘Legislature Party’ under the Tenth Schedule, which is defined as a ‘group consisting of all the members of that House’.
- According to him, the merger has to be seen “locally” and not at the national level. Mustafa also pointed out that nowhere does the Tenth Schedule talk about how a ‘national party’ should split or a ‘regional party’ should split.
Previous Similar case:
- In June 2019, the Vice President issued orders to “merge” the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) with the ruling BJP in Rajya Sabha after four of TDP’s five MPs defected.
- Although TDP still has a presence in the Upper House through its lone MP, the party was deemed to have merged only for the purpose of not attracting penalty under the Tenth Schedule for the four MPs who defected.
- The TDP, too, raised arguments similar to what BSP is now claiming that a “merger” can only take place at an organisational level of the party and not in the House.
- In 2016, 12 out of 15 of TDP MLAs joined the ruling TRS. The Speaker recognised the defection as a merger since more than two-thirds had moved.
World Hepatitis Day
Why in News
World Hepatitis Day is observed each year on 28 July to enhance awareness of viral hepatitis. The theme for the year 2020 is “Hepatitis-free future”, with a strong focus on preventing hepatitis B among mothers and newborns.
- The word hepatitis refers to any inflammation of the liver — the irritation or swelling of the liver cells from any cause.
- It can be acute (inflammation of the liver that presents with sickness — jaundice, fever, vomiting) or chronic (inflammation of the liver that lasts more than six months, but essentially showing no symptoms).
- Usually caused by a group of viruses known as the “hepatotropic” (liver directed) viruses, including A, B, C, D and E.
- Other viruses may also cause it, such as the varicella virus that causes chicken pox. SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19 may injure the liver, too.
- Other causes include drugs and alcohol abuse, fat buildup in the liver (fatty liver hepatitis) or an autoimmune process in which a person’s body makes antibodies that attack the liver (autoimmune hepatitis).
- Hepatitis A and E are self-limiting diseases (i.e. go away on their own) and require no specific antiviral medications. For Hepatitis B and C, effective medications are available.
- Hepatitis B and C together are the most common cause of deaths, with 1.3 million lives lost each year.
- In 2016, 194 governments across the globe adopted WHO’s global strategy which aims at eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030.
- 40 million people are chronically infected with Hepatitis B virus and 6 to 12 millionwith Hepatitis C virus.
- In 2018, the government launched the National Viral Hepatitis Program. The program is the largest program for Hepatitis B and C diagnosis and treatment in the world.
- Hepatitis B is included under India’s Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) which provides free of cost vaccination against eleven (excluding Hepatitis B) vaccine-preventable diseases e. Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Pneumonia and Meningitis due to Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib), Measles, Rubella, Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Rotavirus diarrhoea.
- Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Thailand became the first four countries in the World Health Organization’s Southeast Asia region to have successfully controlled Hepatitis B.
- Recently, an automated coronavirus testing device named ‘COBAS 6800’ was launched which can also detect viral Hepatitis B & C, among others.
- It can be noted that only for four diseases viz. HIV-AIDS (1 December), TB (24 March), Malaria (25 April), and Hepatitis, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially endorses disease-specific global awareness days.
At 2,967 tigers, India’s capacity at peak
Why in news
Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change released an updated report on India’s Tiger Survey from 2018.
- Released ahead of the International Tiger Day that is observed every year on 29 July, the report assesses the status of tigers in terms of spatial occupancy and density of individual populations across India.
- India hosts 70% of the world’s tigers.
- The Tiger Survey 2018 had put India’s tiger population at 2,367 — unchanged from the government’s estimate last year.
- With the increasing tiger population, India is a global exemplar in tiger conservation.
- According to the report on the condition of all 50 tiger reserves, Madhya Pradesh has the maximum number of tigers followed by Karnataka.
- At 2,967, experts say, India may slowly be approaching its peak carrying capacity of tigers.
- The study reveals that nearly a third of India’s tigers are living outside tiger reserves and nearly 17 of the 50 reserves are approaching the peak of their capacity at sustaining their populations
- Sources and sinks: The reserves, by definition, are a source and suitable for nourishing a growing tiger population because of prey availability and territory.
- When reserves get too crowded, tigers venture out further from sources and form “sinks”.
- Much of wildlife population dynamics is about understanding this source-sink relationship.
- Generally, there’s a 60-40 split in tigers from source-sink, but this varies.
- For the first time, there is an attempt to segregate how many tigers are largely present within the reserves and how many flitted in and out and were dependent on the core reserve for sustenance. This was to guide conservation policy.
- With many Tiger Reserves approaching the maximum capacity, the focus should be on developing under-utilised reserves and not over-nourish those that have a good population.
- India counts its tigers once in four years
- There are currently 13 tiger range countries — India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.