National News-Daily Digest: 6 Key Updates
1. Delhi Govt vs Lieutenant Governor power struggle: Supreme Court reins in Delhi L-G
In a landmark verdict that came as a shot in the arm for the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government in its tussle with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal for control of Delhi, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court ruled that decisions of the elected government of Delhi do not require the concurrence of the Lt Governor who only needs to be informed.The court ruled that the status of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi is not that of a Governor of a State, rather he remains an Administrator, in a limited sense, working with the designation of Lieutenant Governor.
The judges ruled that “the scheme that has been conceptualised by the insertion of Articles 239AA and 239AB read with the provisions of the GNCTD (Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi) Act, 1991 and the corresponding TBR (Transaction of Business Rules), 1993 indicates that the Lieutenant Governor, being the Administrative head, shall be kept informed with respect to all the decisions taken by the Council of Ministers”.
2. Cabinet clears MSP increase, highest-ever for paddy crop
The Cabinet approved the highest absolute hike ever in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for paddy, and a significant hike for other Kharif crops. The new MSP rates will ensure that farmers get at least 150 per cent of the cost of production for each crop estimated by the Commission for Agricultural Prices and Production (CACP).
The MSP for common grade paddy has been increased from Rs 1,550 per quintal to Rs 1,750 per quintal, an increase of nearly 13 per cent.
Paddy is the country’s main Kharif crop, and the government would ensure that the crop is bought at the MSP across the country.
With an increase of Rs 525 for every quintal, taking the MSP to Rs 1,950, Bajra will now give a return of 97 per cent over the input costs estimated by the CACP.
The MSP hike will cost the exchequer more than Rs 15,000 crore in the current fiscal. The CACP’s estimates for the input costs taken into account is as per the A2+FL formula, which covers actual paid-out costs plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour.
3. Animal are legal entities with rights, duties and liabilities of a living person: Uttarakhand HC
Upholding the rights of the “entire animal kingdom”, the Uttarakhand High Court, declared all animals, including avian and aquatic species as legal entities, with the “rights, duties and liabilities of a living person”.
The order further declared all Uttarakhand citizens as “ as the human face for the welfare and protection of animals”.
The Division Bench was hearing a PIL by Narayan Dutt Bhatt, filed in the year 2014 where the petitioner had sought directions to restrict the movement of horse carts, or tongas between Indian and Nepal through Banbasa in Uttarakhand’s Champawat district.
However, the High Court enlarged the scope of the petition in larger public interest to promote the protection and welfare of the animals. The judgment was reserved on June 13 and was delivered on Wednesday. The Court directed the state that no animal, including horses moving between India and Nepal, carries excess weight. It also banned the use of any “sharp equipment” throughout the state, “to avoid bruises, swelling, abrasions or severe pain” to animals.
Adding to this, the Uttarakhand government was also directed to ensure “that in an area where the temperature exceeds 37 degrees Celsius between 11 am and 4 pm in summers and when the temperature is below 5 degrees Celsius between 5 am to 7 am and between 10 pm to 5 am in winter season no person is permitted to keep any animal used for the purpose of drawing vehicles”.
The municipal bodies in the state must provide suitable shelters to horses, and bullocks. The court order also gave directions on transportation of animals.
The court directed the state government to ensure that “every animal to be transported should be healthy and in good condition. A certificate of a veterinary doctor in respect of each animal to be transported is made compulsory as per Rule 4 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Transport of Animals on Foot) Rules, 2001”. Also, all veterinary doctors across Uttarakhand must treat the animals brought to them by the citizens of the state. If the animal cannot be brought to the doctor, then the doctor must “personally visit and attend the stray cattle, or animal without delay”.
4. Punjab CM Amarinder Singh orders annual drug test for all government employees
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh issued orders mandating an annual drug test for all government employees, including new recruits. The matter will be discussed in the Cabinet soon, it is learnt, and the Chief Secretary has been directed to work out the modalities and get the order notified.
According to the new order, employees will be tested for drugs before being considered for promotion and it will be conducted apart from the annual medical check.
The Punjab government has drawn sharp criticism over the last few days after a spate of deaths attributed to drug overdose. The drugs issue, which was put on the backburner after setting up a police special task force to combat the menace, has assumed centre-stage once again.
5. Election Commission to issue braille voter ID cards to visually challenged voters
The Election Commission will soon issue braille voter identity cards to visually-challenged electors across the country.
The commission has decided to establish auxiliary polling stations during elections for the people with disabilities. A mobile app will be developed in-house for such voters to facilitate their participation in the election process.
Braille voter ID cards will be distributed to all visually challenged voters across the country. “Disability coordinators” will be appointed at the assembly constituency, district and state levels.
For the use of the hearing-impaired voters, sign language windows will be provided in all audio-visual training and awareness content of the commission.
6. Step away from extinction, four endangered species on rescue list
Four species that are one step away from becoming extinct in the wild have been included in the Centre’s Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species.
They are Northern Indian Terrapin (Batagur baska), Clouded Leopard, Arabian Sea Humpback Whale and Red Panda.
Under the International Union for Conservation of Species (IUCN), Critically Endangered Species are those facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, and the centre’s recovery programme charts out species-specific plan to salvage the animals’ numbers. The programme, which already covers 17 species across the country, includes legal sanction against hunting, financial assistance to states to protect the species, creation of sanctuaries, and even the CBI’s assistance in prosecuting the poachers.
The four species were recommended to be included by the Wildlife Division of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), and was approved recently by the Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) last month. The recommendations were made from chief wildlife wardens of east and northeast regions of India.
Norther River Terrapin, which is a species of riverine turtle found in the rivers that flow in Eastern India, is hunted for its meat and carapace. It is a native of Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Clouded Leopard, found in the Himalayan foothills, is threatened due to habitat loss, poaching for its skin and is also as a live pet trade. “The IUCN has categorized the species as ‘Vulnerable’ and indicates a ‘declining trend in its population, as per its Red List assessment of 2016,” noted the minutes of the meeting.
Arabian Sea Humpback Whale is a species found in all of major oceans but ship strikes, unforgiving fishing gear and siesmic exploarations pose grave threat to it.
Red Panda which is closely associated with montane forests with dense bamboo-thicket, is found Sikkim, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh. It is poached for its meat, and for use in medicines, and as a pet. The IUCN has categorized Red Panda as ‘Endangered’ and as per their Red List assessment of 2015, the population of the species is ‘decreasing,”.