CJI writes to PM for removal of Allahabad High Court judge
Topic: GS –II: Constitution and Polity
Months after an in-house panel found an Allahabad High Court judge, Justice S.N. Shukla, guilty of misconduct, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to initiate a motion for his removal.
More in news:
- A three-judge committee, in January 2018 concluded there was sufficient substance in the allegations in the complaint against Justice Shukla and that the aberrations were serious enough to call for initiation of proceedings for his removal.
- Following the committee’s report, the then Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, in accordance with the relevant in-house procedure, advised Justice Shukla either to resign or seek voluntary retirement.
On long leave
- After he refused to do so, Chief Justice Misra asked the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court to withdraw judicial work from him with immediate effect, after which he reportedly went on a long leave.
- On March 23, Justice Shukla wrote to Chief Justice Gogoi, requesting that he be allowed to discharge judicial work in the High Court.
- When the CJI writes to the President and the PM for removal of a High Court judge, the Rajya Sabha Chairperson appoints a three-judge inquiry committee in consultation with the CJI to look into the allegations.
| Removal of Judges from Office
· A judge may be removed from office through a motion adopted by Parliament on grounds of ‘proven misbehaviour or incapacity’.
· While the Constitution does not use the wor only by an order of the President, based on a motion passed by both Houses of Parliament.
· The procedure for removal of judges is elaborated in the Judges Inquiry Act, 1968.
· The Act sets out the following steps for removal from office:
· Under the Act, an impeachment motion may originate in either House of Parliament. To initiate proceedings: (i) at least 100 members of Lok Sabha may give a signed notice to the Speaker, or (ii) at least 50 members of Rajya Sabha may give a signed notice to the Chairman.
· The Speaker or Chairman may consult individuals and examine relevant material related to the notice. Based on this, he or she may decide to either admit the motion or refuse to admit it.
· If the motion is admitted, the Speaker or Chairman (who receives it) will constitute a three-member committee to investigate the complaint. It will comprise: (i) a Supreme Court judge; (ii) Chief Justice of a High Court; and (iii) a distinguished jurist. The committee will frame charges based on which the investigation will be conducted. A copy of the charges will be forwarded to the judge who can present a written defence.
· After concluding its investigation, the Committee will submit its report to the Speaker or Chairman, who will then lay the report before the relevant House of Parliament. If the report records a finding of misbehaviour or incapacity, the motion for removal will be taken up for consideration and debated.
· The motion for removal is required to be adopted by each House of Parliament by: (i) a majority of the total membership of that House; and (ii) a majority of at least two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting. If the motion is adopted by this majority, the motion will be sent to the other House for adoption.
· Once the motion is adopted in both Houses, it is sent to the President, who will issue an order for the removal of the judge.
Plants may be spreading superbugs to humans
Topic: GS–II: Health
Plant-based foods can transmit antibiotic resistance to the microbes living in our gut, a study has found.
More in news:
- Antibiotic-resistant infections are a threat to global public health, food safety and an economic burden.
- To prevent these infections, it is critical to understand how these bacteria are transmitted.
- Spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs from plants to humans is different from outbreaks of diarrheal illnesses caused immediately after eating contaminated vegetables. Superbugs can asymptomatically hide in (colonize) the intestines for months or even years, and while escaping, cause an infection.
- The researchers developed a novel, lettuce-mouse model system that does not cause immediate illness to mimic consumption of superbugs with plant-foods.
- They grew lettuce, exposed it to antibiotic-resistant E. coli, and fed it to mice. Later, they analysed their faecal samples over a period of time.
Brain treats information, money the same way
Topic: GS–II: Health
New information acts on the brain’s reward system in the same way as money or food, according to a study that explains why people can’t stop checking their phones, even when they are not expecting any important messages.
- The research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrates that the brain converts information into same common scale as it does for money.
- It also lays the groundwork for unravelling the neuroscience behind how we consume information — and perhaps even digital addiction.
- To the brain, information is its own reward, above and beyond whether it’s useful. And just as our brains like empty calories from junk food, they can overvalue information that makes us feel good but may not be useful — what some may call idle curiosity.
MEA rejects U.S. report on state of religious freedom in India
Topic: GS –II: International relations
Foreign governments do not have the right to criticize India’s vibrant democracy and dedication to rule of law, said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), after the U.S. State Department’s annual report on religious freedom pointed out India’s failure to protect minority communities.
More in news:
- The 2018 Report on International Religious Freedom referred to multiple instances of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre and various State governments of the Bharatiya Janata Party having taken steps that hurt the Muslim community.
- Apart from the murders and lynching by cow vigilante groups, the report pointed out that there were several attempts to undermine minority institutions and change the names of cities that reminded one of the pluralistic nature of India.
- In this regard, the report highlighted the change of the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj.
Southwest monsoon’s current rainfall deficit is 38%, says IMD
Topic: GS -III: Economic Development
With the southwest monsoon running late, the country faces a 38% current rainfall deficit, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
More in news:
- The IMD said the country, as a whole, received 70.9 mm rainfall so far this monsoon season, whereas the long period average is 114.2 mm. This leaves a shortfall of 38%.
- The rain deficit has depleted reservoirs, besides delaying sowing of summer foodgrain crops. Parts of central and peninsular India are staring at a drought for the second successive year.
- Farmers’ groups are demanding that the government declare drought in affected areas immediately, so that relief measures can begin this month.
- Out of 36 meteorological divisions, only six have received normal rainfall or more. In terms of districts, 47% face large deficiencies (at least 60% below normal) or no rainfall at all. In total, almost 80% of districts face a rainfall deficit of at least 20% below normal. The Vidarbha region, with an 89% monsoon deficit, is worst affected. Regions like Marathwada and Madhya Maharashtra are also facing drought-like situations, especially as they faced deficits in pre-monsoon rainfall as well.
- According to the Central Water Commission (CWC), 80% of the country’s 91 major reservoirs have below-normal storage. In fact, 11 reservoirs have no water at all.
- Summer or kharif sowing is lagging behind as a result of the tardy monsoon, with just over half of the area usually sown with foodgrain crops covered so far. Out of almost 32 lakh hectares that have usually been sown by foodgrains by this time, farmers have only planted 17 lakh hectares so far. Since this is early in the season, the gap is expected to close if the monsoon picks up steam
- The biggest delays are in pulses and oilseeds, which are dryland crops completely dependent on monsoon rains. Rice, which is usually sown in irrigated land, is only slightly slower than usual. Sugarcane, a water-guzzling cash crop, has actually been sown on a larger amount of land than usual.
Scientists decode genome of ‘miracle plant’
Topic: GS -III: Bio-diversity
Scientists from the University of Kerala have decoded the genetic make-up of Arogyapacha (Trichopus zeylanicus), a highly potent medicinal plant endemic to the Agastya hills in the southern Western Ghats.
More in news:
- This ‘miracle plant’ is known for its traditional use by the Kani tribal community to combat fatigue.
- Studies have also proven its anti-oxidant, aphrodisiac, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory anti-tumour, anti-ulcer, hepatoprotective and anti-diabetic properties
- The lack of a reference genome, which hindered extensive research on Arogyapacha, prompted the researchers to sequence the whole genome.
- “The project is bound to open up a new window to the plant’s molecular secrets,” says Achuthsankar S. Nair, head of the Department of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics.
- The manuscript on the genome has been accepted for publication in G3: Genes, Genomes and Genetics, a scientific journal published by the Genetics Society of America.
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