Legal Current Affairs

Students preparing for CLAT know that Current Affair plays a major role in securing a good rank in the exam. So they need to be in sync with the latest news and events happening across the globe. To help you with the Legal Current Affairs, here we have the list of some legal current affairs that took place in this week.

NDPS (Amendment) Bill, 2021

On December 13, 2021, Lok Sabha passed the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2021. It was an unusual amendment on just a sentence that alters the numbering of the provisions.

About the 2021 Amendment

  • 2021 Bill amends the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
  • It seeks to rectify a drafting anomaly, which was created by a 2014 amendment to the parent legislation.
  • Amendment comprises a legislative declaration about what one section refers to. According to it, Section 2 clause (viii a) corresponds to clause (viii b) in Section 27, since 2014.

What is section 27?

Section 27A of the NDPS Act 1985 contains punishment provisions for financing illicit traffic and harbouring offenders.

About 2014 amendment

  • The 2014 amendment to the NDPS Act 1985 allows better medical access to narcotic drugs.
  • It defined “essential drugs” under Section 2(viii) while under Section 9. It allowed the manufacture, transport, possession, sale, purchase, consumption, import inter-State, export inter-State, and use of essential narcotic drugs.

What was the issue with the 2014 amendment?

  • Section 2(viii)a was already there in the NDPS Act, containing a catalogue of offences for which punishment is prescribed in Section 27A.
  • While defining “essential drugs” in the 2014 amendment, section-2 of the act was re-numbered.
  • Thus, the catalogue of offences, which was originally listed under Section 2(viii)a, was now listed under Section 2(viii)b.

Background

This error was highlighted by a district judge in West Agartala. Tripura High Court had flagged the drafting error in June 2021 while hearing a reference made by the district court. It also urged the Centre to rectify it. In 2016, an accused had asked for bail before a special judge in West Tripura in Agartala, citing this omission.

Parliament passes HC & SC Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2021

Parliament passed the “High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2021” on December 13, 2021.

Key Points

Bill was passed with the Rajya Sabha returning it to the Lok Sabha following the discussion. Bill was returned to Lok Sabha since it was a money bill.

About the Bill

The Bill seeks to amend “Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958” as well as “High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954”. These Acts regulate the conditions of services and salaries of High Courts & Supreme court judges in India.

Provisions of the Bill

  • Bill provides for the additional quantum of pension or family pension. Under it, all the retired judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, including their family members, are authorised to a pension or family pension.
  • They are also authorised to an additional quantum of pension or family pension after they attain a certain age in line with a specified scale.
  • The specified scale comprises five age brackets, with a minimum age of 80, 85, 90, 95, and 100 years.
  • The additional quantum increases with increasing age, from 20% to 100% of the pension or family pension.
  • As per bill, a person will be authorised to the additional pension or family pension from the first day of that month in which they complete the minimum age under the concerned age bracket.

Steps taken by the central government to strengthen the judiciary

The government has approved the extension of the “Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary” for additional five years, from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2026, at the total cost of nine thousand crore rupees. This scheme will help in constructing Lawyer Halls, court halls & residential units for judicial officers of District and Subordinate Courts, and toilet complexes.

‘Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code’ in the News

On December 10, 2021, the Central government noted in Lok Sabha that there is no proposal under its consideration to do away with the sedition law.

Highlights

  • As per a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju stated that, on May 31, 2021, Supreme Court, in its order on a writ petition, had observed that “ambit & parameters of provisions of Sections 124A, 505 and 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 requires interpretation, especially with respect to the right of electronic & print media to communicate news”.
  • As per the minister, SC has also issued notice to the Centre on a plea in which petitioners have asked for an appropriate writ, order, or direction to declare Section 124A of IPC, 1860 unconstitutional and void.

What is Sedition law?

Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) deals with the Sedition Law. This section defines sedition as an offence committed when “any person attempts to excite disaffection towards government established by law, by means of spoken or written words, or by signs, or by visible representation. Such disaffection includes disloyalty and feelings of enmity. Sedition is a non-bailable offence. Its punishment ranges from imprisonment up to three years to a life term. Fines may also be added. A person charged with sedition law is barred from a government job, and they have to live without their passport.

History of the Sedition Laws

Sedition laws were enacted in the 17th century. During that time, lawmakers believed that only good opinions towards government should survive because bad opinions were detrimental to government and monarchy. Laws were first drafted by Thomas Macaulay in 1837. Original laws were inexplicably omitted when IPC was enacted in 1860.

Role of Governors in State Universities

Recently, a controversy has erupted in Kerala on the reappointment of Gopinath Ravindran as Vice-Chancellor of Kannur University. Governor of Kerala Arif Mohammed Khan stated that he approved the decision against his better judgement as Chancellor.

What role do Governors play in the state universities?

The Governor of the state acts as the ex-officio chancellor of the universities in most of the cases. The powers and functions of the Governor as the Chancellor are provided in statutes governing the universities under any particular state government.

Contradicting Role

  • The role of the Governor in appointing the Vice-Chancellors has often led to disputes with political executives.
  • In Kerala, there is a dispute over the role of the governor. Governor’s official portal in Kerala provides that “as Governor he functions with the aid & advice of the Council of Ministers, on the other hand as Chancellor he acts independently of the Council of Ministers & free to make his own decisions on all University matters”.
  • The role of governor in Kerala is in contrast to the role in Rajasthan, where the official portal provides that “Governor appoints the Vice-Chancellor in consultation with the State Government”.

Kerala Controversy

In the month of December 2021, Gopinath Ravindran was re-appointed as VC in Kannur University for another four years. He is above 60, while according to Kannur University Act, no person aged above 60 shall be appointed as VC. Furthermore, the state government had recently amended the University Act, under which provisions related to powers of Governor as Chancellor to make appointments for University Appellate Tribunal were removed.

Governors of the states

Governors of the states have similar powers and functions as the President of India at the state level. Governors exist in the states, while Lieutenant Governors or Administrators are there in union territories. The Governor acts as the nominal head in states while real power lies with the Chief ministers of the states.

Rajya Sabha passed Pharmaceutical Education Bill

The Rajya Sabha passed the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021, on December 9, 2021.

Key Facts

  • Under this bill, six more institutes of pharmaceutical education and research, other than an institute at Mohali, will be accorded the status of institute of national importance.
  • In these institutes, undergraduate and diploma courses will be introduced, and an advisory council will be set for them.
  • This Bill was cleared by a voice vote in Lok Sabha on December 6.

Background

In Lok Sabha, the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021, was introduced on March 15, 2021. The bill seeks to amend the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research Act, 1998. This act established the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research in Punjab and declared it an Institution of National Importance.

Key provisions of the Bill

  1. Bill declares more of six National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research as the Institutions of National Importance. These institutes are located in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Hajipur, Raebareli Kolkata, and Guwahati.
  2. It provides for a Council to coordinate activities among institutes in a bid to ensure the development of pharmaceutical education, research, and maintenance of standards.
  3. Important functions of the Council are:
  • Advising on matters like course duration, and admission standards in the institutes
  • Formulating policies for recruitment, fees, and conditions of service
  • Examining and approving development plans for the institutes
  • Examining annual budget estimates for institutes
  1. Council will include the following members:
  • Chairperson: Minister in charge of Ministry or department of the central government, who has administrative control of pharmaceuticals (ex officio)
  • Vice Chairperson: Minister of State of the Ministry or department of the central government, who has administrative control of the pharmaceuticals (ex officio)
  • Chairperson of each Board of Governors (ex officio)
  • Director of every institute (ex officio)

Stay tuned for more updates on legal current affairs and tips on CLAT preparation.

References: 

  1. https://www.gktoday.in/current-affairs/ndps-amendment-bill-2021/ 
  2. https://www.gktoday.in/current-affairs/parliament-passes-hc-sc-judges-salaries-and-conditions-of-service-amendment-bill-2021/ 
  3. https://www.gktoday.in/current-affairs/section-124a-of-the-indian-penal-code-in-the-news/ 
  4. https://www.gktoday.in/current-affairs/role-of-governors-in-state-universities/ 
  5. https://www.gktoday.in/current-affairs/rajya-sabha-passed-pharmaceutical-education-bill/