News: A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously declared a Maharashtra law, which provides reservation benefits to the Maratha community taking the quota limit in the State in excess of 50%, unconstitutional.
The Bench, led by Justice Ashok Bhushan, found there was no “exceptional circumstances” or “extraordinary situation” in Maharashtra, which required the State government to break the 50% ceiling limit to bestow quota benefits on the Maratha community.
The Supreme Court struck down the findings of the Justice M.G. Gaikwad Commission, which led to the enactment of the Maratha quota law, and set aside the Bombay High Court judgment which validated the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act of 2018.
The Bombay High Court, in June 2019, reduced the quantum of reservation for Marathas from the 16% recommended by the Gaikwad Commission to 12% in education and 13% in employment.
In fact, the Supreme Court held that a separate reservation for the Maratha community violated Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (due process of law).
Most important, the top court declined to revisit its 1992 Indra Sawhney judgment, which fixed the reservation limit at 50%. “The judgment of Indra Sawhney has stood the test of time and has never been doubted by any judgment of this court.
About Indra Sawhney & Others V/s Union of India Case:
Indra Sawhney & Others v. Union of India (also known as the Mandal verdict) was an Indian public interest litigation case.
The constitution recognized social and educational backwardness, but not economic backwardness. The court upheld separate reservation for OBC in central government jobs, but excluded these to the “creamy layer” (the forward section of a backward class, above a certain income). At no point should the reservation exceed 50%.
The genesis of the debate was in 1980, when the Second Backward Classes Committee, headed by BP Mandal, submitted its report. The report recommended 27 percent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and 22.5 percent for the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes.
The Central government, however, acted on the report a decade later, by issuing an office memorandum (OM), providing 27 percent vacancies for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes to be filled by direct recruitment.
On 16 November 1992, the Supreme Court, in its verdict, upheld the government order, being of the opinion that caste was an acceptable indicator of backwardness. Thus, the recommendation of reservations for OBCs in central government services was finally implemented in 1992. The Supreme Court of India gave verdict that 27% central government reservation for OBCs is valid. However, some states denied the existence of the creamy layer, and a report commissioned by the supreme court was not implemented.
It is to be noted there that while determining annual income, salaries and agricultural land income should not be clubbed together.
Who forms a Creamy layer?
Creamy layer is a term used in Indian politics to refer to some members of a backward class who are highly advanced socially as well as economically and educationally.
Income: More than 6 Lakh per annum (Gross Annual income of parents from all sources).
Job Profile: Parents or either of them are Class 1 officer(s). In Armed forces if they are in or above the rank of Colonel.
Private Profession: If parents are in any professional business like doctor, lawyer, sports person, computer specialist etc.
2. PRADHAN MANTRI GARIB KALYAN ANNA YOJANA
News: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave ex-post facto approval to the allocation of additional foodgrains to beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana for May and June.
About Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana:
Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana is a food security welfare scheme announced by the Government of India in March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
The program is operated by the Department of Food and Public Distribution under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
The scheme aims to feed the poorest citizens of India by providing grain through the Public Distribution System, to all the priority households (ration card holders and those identified by the Antyodaya Anna Yojana scheme).
PMGKAY provides 5 kg of rice or wheat (according to regional dietary preferences) per person and 1 kg of dal to each family holding a ration card.
The scale of this welfare scheme makes it the largest food security program in the world.
About One Nation, One Ration Card:
This system will enable migrant workers and their family members to access PDS benefits from any Fair Price Shop in the country.
Under the National Food Security Act, 2013, about 81 crore persons are entitled to buy subsidized foodgrain — rice at Rs 3/kg, wheat at Rs 2/kg, and coarse grains at Re 1/kg — from their designated Fair Price Shops (FPS) of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
In the present system, a ration cardholder can buy foodgrains only from an FPS that has been assigned to her in the locality in which she lives. However, this will change once the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ system becomes operational nationally.
The new system, based on a technological solution, will identify a beneficiary through biometric authentication on electronic Point of Sale (ePoS) devices installed at the FPSs, and enable that person to purchase the quantity of foodgrains to which she is entitled under the NFSA.
3. TRIPS AGREEMENT
News:S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he had not made a decision on whether the U.S. would support an Indian and South African initiative at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to facilitate the production of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics around the world.
About TRIPS Agreement:
The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international legal agreement between all the member nations of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
It establishes minimum standards for the regulation by national governments of different forms of intellectual property (IP) as applied to nationals of other WTO member nations.
TRIPS was negotiated at the end of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) between 1989 and 1990 and is administered by the WTO.
The TRIPS agreement introduced intellectual property law into the multilateral trading system for the first time and remains the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property to date.
In 2001, developing countries, concerned that developed countries were insisting on an overly narrow reading of TRIPS, initiated a round of talks that resulted in the Doha Declaration.
The Doha declaration is a WTO statement that clarifies the scope of TRIPS, stating for example that TRIPS can and should be interpreted in light of the goal “to promote access to medicines for all.”
Specifically, TRIPS requires WTO members to provide copyright rights, covering authors and other copyright holders, as well as holders of related rights, namely performers, sound recording producers and broadcasting organisations; geographical indications; industrial designs; integrated circuit layout-designs; patents; new plant varieties; trademarks; trade names and undisclosed or confidential information.
TRIPS also specifies enforcement procedures, remedies, and dispute resolution procedures.
Protection and enforcement of all intellectual property rights shall meet the objectives to contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations.
4. CENTRAL DRUGS STANDARD CONTROL ORGANISATION
News: Roche India on Wednesday said the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation has given it emergency use authorization for the antibody treatment that was given to former US President Donald Trump after he was diagnosed with covid-19, offering doctors in India another option to treat those infected by the coronavirus.
About Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO):
The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) is India’s national regulatory body for pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
The Indian government has announced its plan to bring all medical devices, including implants and contraceptives under a review of the Central Drugs and Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).
Within the CDSCO, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) regulates pharmaceutical and medical devices and is positioning within the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The DCGI is advised by the Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) and the Drug Consultative Committee (DCC).
Divided into zonal offices, each one carries out pre-licensing and post-licensing inspections, post-market surveillance, and drug recalls (where necessary).
Manufacturers who deal with the authority required to name an Authorized Indian Representative (AIR) to represent them in all dealings with the CDSCO in India.
Though the CDSCO has a good track record with the World Health Organization, it has also been accused of past collusion with independent medical experts and pharmaceutical companies.
News: SpaceX has received more than 500,000 preorders for its Starlink satellite internet service and anticipates no technical problems meeting the demand, founder Elon Musk said.
Starlink is a satellite internet constellation being constructed by SpaceX providing satellite Internet access.
The constellation will consist of thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), working in combination with ground transceivers.
SpaceX plans to sell some of the satellites for military, scientific, or exploratory purposes.
The SpaceX satellite development facility in Redmond, Washington houses the Starlink research, development, manufacturing, and orbit control.
As of September 2020, SpaceX was launching up to 60 satellites at a time, aiming to deploy 1,584 of the 260 kg (570 lb) spacecraft to provide near-global service by late 2021 or 2022.
SpaceX started a private beta service in the Northern United States in August 2020 and a public beta in October 2020, service beginning at high latitudes between 44° and 52° North.