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16th February, 2024

1Electoral Bond SchemeGS. 2: Governance – Electoral Funding
2Original Jurisdiction of Supreme CourtGS. 2: Indian Polity – Centre-State Relations
3Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991GS.1 & GS.2: Indian Society & Indian Polity
4Bar Council of India (BCI)GS.2:  Legal Education – Important Bodies
5Anti-Defection Law  (10th Schedule)GS.2: Indian Polity – Disqualification of MLA
6GST Appellate TribunalGS.3: Indian Economy: Tax Reforms
7Windfall TaxGS.3: Indian Economy: Types of Taxes
8GSLV-F14 & INSAT-3DSGS.3: Space Science: ISRO’s Missions in News
9Ethical Concerns related to Artificial IntelligenceGS. 4: Ethics & Essay –  Artificial Intelligence


Syllabus: GS. 2: Governance – Electoral Funding

Why it’s in the News: The Supreme Court of India has declared the electoral bonds scheme unconstitutional and manifestly arbitrary. Led by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, a five-judge Bench struck down the scheme, which provided anonymity to political donors, along with legal amendments permitting unlimited political donations from wealthy corporations.

Key Points of the Supreme Court Judgment:

  • Unconstitutionality:
    • The court found that the scheme and associated amendments violated voters’ right to information about political funding under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
  • Corruption Concerns:
    • The scheme’s lack of transparency regarding political funding was deemed to foster corruption and a culture of quid pro quo with ruling parties, allowing for unrestrained corporate influence in the electoral process.
  • Corporate Influence:
    • The judgment highlighted the significant influence of corporations in politics, noting that contributions were viewed as business transactions aimed at securing benefits, overshadowing smaller individual donations.
  • Legal Repercussions:
    • This decision marks a significant legal development, addressing concerns about transparency, accountability, and the integrity of the electoral process by striking down the scheme and associated amendments.
  • Violation of Privacy:
    • The judgment underscored the fundamental right to privacy in political affiliations, emphasizing the potential misuse of such information by the state to suppress dissent, discriminate in employment, and manipulate electoral outcomes.


  • The verdict marks a significant step towards transparency and accountability in political funding, ensuring that citizens can exercise their democratic rights without fear of manipulation or undue influence.
  • By striking down the electoral bonds scheme, the Supreme Court has upheld the sanctity of democracy and reinforced the principle of political equality.
  • However, questions remain about the scheme’s past impact and the need for interim measures to mitigate its effects on governance and electoral integrity.
NEWS PLUS About the Electoral Bonds Scheme? Electoral bonds are interest-free bearer bonds or financial instruments purchasable by companies and individuals in India from authorized branches of the State Bank of India (SBI). These bonds are issued in various denominations ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1 crore and serve as a means for making donations to political parties. How do Electoral Bonds Work? Electoral bonds can be purchased through a KYC-compliant account and are to be encashed by political parties within a specified time frame.The anonymity of donors is maintained as their information is not entered on the instrument.There are no limits on the quantity of electoral bonds that can be purchased by individuals or companies. Government Amendments and Introduction The Electoral Bond Scheme was introduced through amendments to four Acts via the Finance Act of 2016 and 2017, including the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the Companies Act, 2013, the Income Tax Act, 1961, and the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act, 2010. Eligibility and Procedures for Political Parties Political parties meeting certain criteria, such as securing at least 1% of the votes polled in recent elections and being registered under the RPA, can receive funding via electoral bonds. The bonds are to be deposited in verified accounts within 15 days of purchase, and the amounts received are then encashed and deposited into designated funds.


Syllabus: GS. 2: Indian Polity – Centre-State Relations

Why it’s in the News: Kerala Finance Minister expressed dissatisfaction after a discussion with the Centre regarding revenue devolution. The Centre suggested withdrawing the case filed in the Supreme Court, prompting ongoing discussions.

About Original Jurisdiction under Article 131

  • Article 131 grants the Supreme Court original jurisdiction, enabling it to hear cases for the first time. This extends to disputes between the Government of India and the States, or between different states.
  • The Supreme Court, as a federal court, adjudicates matters concerning various components of the Indian Federation.
  • It holds exclusive original jurisdiction over disputes involving:
    • The Government of India and one or more States, or between different states.
    • Cases where the existence or extent of a legal right depends on a question of law or fact.
    • However, Article 131 does not apply to disputes involving citizens or private bodies alongside the State or Government of India.
  • Exclusion of Original Jurisdiction
    • The original jurisdiction of the SC does not extend to following matters:
      • In dispute arising out of treaty, agreement, covenant etc.
      • Inter-state water dispute.
      • Matters referred to Finance Commission under Article 280.
      • The adjustment of certain expenses under Article 290.
      • The validity of central laws can be challenged through Article 32 and no recourse is normally permitted under Article 131 (State of MP v. UOI 2012).


  • India’s Supreme Court holds significant authority and jurisdiction, particularly in matters concerning Centre-State relations.
  • While it plays a crucial role in upholding fundamental rights and interpreting the Constitution, it also faces limitations in certain types of disputes.
  • The ongoing discussions between Kerala and the Centre underscore the complexities of fiscal federalism and the need for robust legal frameworks to address such issues.


Syllabus: GS.1 & GS.2: Indian Society & Indian Polity: Act in News

Why in News: Efforts to transfer the Gyanvapi mosque to Hindus persist despite appeals to safeguard the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act of 1991, ensuring preservation of religious character since August 15, 1947.

About the Places of Worship Act, 1991

  • The 1991 Act provides a guarantee for the preservation of the religious character of places of public worship as they existed on August 15, 1947.
  • It seeks to uphold the secular fabric of India and protect the rights and interests of all religious communities.
  • It is described as “An Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August 1947, and for matters connected there with or incidental thereto. 
  • Section 4(1) of the Act declares that the religious character of a place of worship “shall continue to be the same as it existed” on 15th August 1947.
  • Exemption
    • The disputed site at Ayodhya was exempted from the Act. Due to this exemption, the trial in the Ayodhya case proceeded even after the enforcement of this law.
    • The Act also exempts any place of worship classified as an ancient or historical monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, suits already settled, and disputes resolved or conversions through acquiescence before its commencement.
  • Criticism
    • It has been questioned by some critics who argue that it ignores the historical injustices and encroachments suffered by some religious groups before August 15, 1947. They assert that the Act denies them the opportunity to reclaim and restore their places of worship.
    • The law has been challenged on the ground that it bars judicial review, which is a basic feature of the Constitution, imposes an “arbitrary irrational retrospective cutoff date,” and abridges the right to religion of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs.
  • About the Gyanvapi Mosque dispute
    • The Gyanvapi Mosque dispute revolves around its alleged construction over the demolished Vishweshwar temple by Aurangzeb in 1669.
    • Descendants of the temple’s priests initiated the case in 1991, seeking its return.
    • The Muslim side disputes the court’s jurisdiction under the Religious Places Act of 1991, which prohibits converting places of worship and limits litigation before August 15, 1947, except for the Ayodhya dispute. The petition was dismissed in 1998, but it resurfaced in 2019 after the Ayodhya verdict by the Supreme Court.
    • Hindu groups sought prayer rights, leading to court battles.
    • Varanasi lawyer Vijay Shankar Rastogi filed a petition alleging illegalities in mosque construction, prompting an archaeological survey.
    • The discovery of a ‘Shivling’ during surveys intensified the dispute.
    • The Allahabad High Court permitted a survey, but the Supreme Court temporarily halted it.
    • Despite legal back-and-forth, the ASI conducted surveys, submitting reports to the Varanasi court.
    • The controversy, entangled in legal and religious intricacies, underscores tensions over historical religious sites, with ongoing debates surrounding the mosque’s status and heritage preservation.
  • Way Forward
    • The Places of Worship Act, 1991, serves as a vital safeguard for religious harmony and secularism in India.
    • While preserving the religious character of places of worship, it ensures equal respect for all faiths.
    • However, it’s essential to address concerns raised by critics regarding historical injustices.
    • Through transparent dialogue and inclusive policies, we can navigate disputes like the Gyanvapi Mosque case, fostering communal harmony and upholding democratic principles.


Syllabus: GS.2:  Legal Education – Important Bodies

Why it’s in the News: The Hindu editorial discusses a report on legal education in India, highlighting the need for improvement. It suggests limiting Bar Council of India’s powers, promoting research, changing leadership mindsets, and ensuring academic freedom.

About the Bar Council of India (BCI):

  • Establishment and Mandate:
    • Founded in 1961 under Section 4 of the Advocates Act by Parliament.
    • Statutory body entrusted with regulating and representing the Indian legal profession.
  • Regulatory Functions:
    • Formulates and enforces norms of professional conduct and etiquette.
    • Exercises disciplinary authority over members to uphold professional standards.
  • Government Oversight:
    • Subject to oversight by the Ministry of Law and Justice.
    • Ensures alignment with legal frameworks and national policies.
  • Corporate Structure and Authority:
    • Operates as a body corporate with perpetual succession.
    • Empowered to acquire, hold, and contract both movable and immovable property.
  • Legal Identity and Jurisdiction:
    • Each Bar Council operates under the name of the respective High Court.
    • Provides a legal identity for actions in legal matters.
  • Operational Efficiency:
    • Regular meetings convened to ensure smooth functioning and effective governance.
    • Facilitates collaboration and addresses pertinent issues within the legal profession.
  • Recent Developments
    • BCI has recently expanded law practice in India to include foreign lawyers and law firms through the ‘Bar Council of India Rules for Registration of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2021’.
  • History
    • The idea of BCI originated from the ‘All India Bar Committee’ in March 1953, aiming to create state-level bar councils and an all-India apex body.
    • The Advocates Act of 1961 formalized these recommendations, leading to the establishment of the BCI.
  • Functions
    • Setting standards of professional conduct, disciplinary procedures, and safeguarding advocates’ rights.
    • Promoting law reform, legal education, and recognizing foreign qualifications.
    • Providing legal aid to the underprivileged and managing the council’s funds.
  • Structure
    • Comprised of members elected from state bar councils, along with ex officio members like the Attorney General and Solicitor General of India.
    • The council elects its chairman and vice-chairman every two years, with the chairman serving as the chief executive.
  • Conclusion
    • The BCI plays a pivotal role in regulating and advancing legal practice and education in India. Efforts towards transparency, inclusivity, and continuous improvement are essential for its effective functioning and fulfilling its mandate.


Syllabus: GS.2: Indian Polity – Disqualification of MLA

Why it’s in the News:     Maharashtra Assembly Speaker declares Ajit Pawar’s NCP faction legitimate due to majority support, dismisses disqualification petitions. The context revolves around the political turmoil within the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra, specifically concerning a split between two factions led by Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar.

About Anti-Defection Law (10th Schedule of Indian Constitution)

  • In 1985, the Indian legislature implemented the anti-defection statute through the 52nd Amendment Act.
  • This pivotal addition found its place within the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, known colloquially as the Anti-Defection law.
  • Its essence lies in delineating the conditions under which a Member of the Legislative Assembly or Member of Parliament forfeits their status as an elected representative of a particular party, thus becoming ineligible for party affiliation.

Top of Form

Provisions of the Anti-Defection Law

  • Disqualification Criteria for Party Members
    • Members of Parliament and state legislatures are subject to disqualification under the Tenth Schedule if they:
      • Voluntarily renounce their party membership.
      • Vote against their party’s directives without prior permission, which remains uncondoned for 15 days.
      • This rule ensures adherence to party affiliation and directives for elected representatives.
      • Regulations for Independent and Nominated Members
      • Independent members are disqualified upon election if not nominated by any party.
      • Nominated members face disqualification if they join a political party after six months in office, promoting initial independence before party allegiance.
  • Authority for Disqualification
    • The Speaker or Chairman of the House holds final decision-making power on defection matters.
    • In cases involving the Speaker or chairperson, a House member must adjudicate.
    • Disqualification proceedings are treated as legislative proceedings.
  • Rule-Making Authority
    • Presiding officers can enact rules to implement the Tenth Schedule’s requirements, subject to House approval within 30 days.
    • Violations are treated akin to breaches of House privilege.
  • Judicial Process
    • The presiding officer must provide the accused member an opportunity to defend against complaints.
    • Cases may be referred to a privileges committee for investigation, ensuring fair treatment and thorough examination.
  • Exceptions
    • Two-thirds party merger exempts members from disqualification.
    • Chairpersons or Speakers may resign from their party without disqualification.
  • Advantages
    • Promotes political stability by discouraging party switching.
    • Facilitates democratic realignment through party mergers.
    • Reduces political corruption and unnecessary election expenses.
    • Ensures party allegiance among elected representatives.
  • Issues
    • Blurs distinction between disagreement and defection, limiting legislative independence.
    • Allows wholesale defections while prohibiting retail defections.
    • Fails to address party-related activities outside the legislature.
    • Implies illogical distinction between independent and nominated members.
    • Criticized presiding officers’ decision-making authority for potential bias and lack of expertise.
  • Suggested Reforms
    • Various committees and commissions proposed reforms to enhance the law’s effectiveness, including defining key terms, restricting the use of whips, and empowering independent bodies for adjudication.
  • Important Supreme Court Judgments
    • Key court rulings clarified the scope and limitations of the law, emphasizing the finality of Speaker/Chairman decisions, interpreting the phrase “voluntary giving up membership,” and holding Speakers accountable for inaction.


  • The Anti-Defection Law, enshrined in the Tenth Schedule, is a cornerstone of India’s legislative framework, aiming to uphold democratic principles and ensure political stability.
  • While it has deterred party-switching and promoted allegiance, challenges persist.
  • Reform efforts, suggested by expert committees and judicial rulings, seek to enhance procedural fairness and strengthen the law’s effectiveness.
  • As India evolves democratically, ongoing reforms to the Anti-Defection Law are essential to safeguard political representation’s integrity and uphold parliamentary accountability.


Syllabus: GS.3: Indian  Economy – Tax Reforms

Why it’s in the News: The Department of Revenue on Thursday kicked off the process to set up the long-awaited Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT) by inviting applications for 96 posts of Judicial and Technical members.

  • Currently, taxpayers resort to filing writ petitions directly to the High Court due to the absence of GST Appellate Tribunals. This adds strain to already burdened High Courts, which might lack specialized benches for GST matters.
  • The absence of the GST Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT) results in a significant backlog of cases, delaying justice for aggrieved taxpayers.
  • Without a dedicated tribunal, taxpayers have no alternative but to wait for justice while revenue authorities continue to pursue their orders aggressively.

About GST Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT):

  • Section 109 of the Goods and Service Tax Act, 2017 (CGST Act) mandates the establishment of a GSTAT and its Benches.
  • GSTAT serves as a specialized authority to resolve disputes related to GST laws at the appellate level.
  • The principal bench of GSTAT will be situated in New Delhi, while the number of benches or boards for each state will be determined with GST council approval.
  • Composition:
    • Each bench will comprise two judicial members and two technical members, with the selection panel including a senior judicial member from the respective State High Court.
    • The Tribunal is expected to be headed by a former Supreme Court judge or a former Chief Justice of a High Court.
  • Powers of the Appellate Tribunal:
    • Empowered by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, GSTAT holds equivalent powers as the court and is deemed a Civil Court for case adjudication.
    • It possesses the authority to hear appeals, issue orders and directions, enforce orders, rectify mistakes, impose penalties, revoke or cancel registrations, and ensure compliance with GST laws.
    • The framework may allow the resolution of disputes involving dues or fines of less than Rs. 50 lakh by a single-member bench, facilitating efficient dispute resolution.


  • The establishment of Goods and Services Tax (GST) Appellate Tribunals marks a significant step towards efficient resolution of taxpayer disputes under the GST regime.
  • With specialized benches and empowered adjudication, these tribunals promise to alleviate the burden on High Courts, expedite justice delivery, and ensure fair treatment for taxpayers while enhancing compliance with GST laws.


Syllabus: GS.3: Indian Economy: Types of Taxes

Why it’s in the News: The government of India has announced an increase in the windfall tax imposed on domestically produced crude oil, as well as the Special Additional Excise Duty (SAED) on the export of diesel.

About the Windfall Tax

  • A Windfall Tax is a fiscal measure implemented by governments to address sudden and extraordinary profits earned by specific industries.
  • It aims to regulate windfall gains that are not directly attributable to the efforts or strategies of the companies involved.
  • This tax is typically imposed when there is a notable and unforeseen surge in revenue within an industry.
  • It is important to note that these increased profits should not be the result of the company’s deliberate actions, such as strategic business decisions or expansions.
  • Instead, Windfall Tax targets windfall gains generated by external factors beyond a company’s control.
  • Rationale behind Windfall Tax:
    • Redistribution of Unexpected Gains: One primary rationale behind the imposition of a Windfall Tax is to redistribute unexpected gains. In instances where high prices benefit producers disproportionately at the expense of consumers, this tax serves as a mechanism to ensure a fairer distribution of wealth within the economy.
    • Funding Social Welfare Schemes: Governments often utilize revenue generated from Windfall Tax to finance social welfare programs and initiatives. By channeling these additional funds towards social causes, such as healthcare, education, or poverty alleviation, policymakers aim to address societal needs and promote equitable development.
    •  Supplementary Revenue Stream: The imposition of Windfall Tax provides governments with an additional revenue stream. This supplementary income can bolster public finances, allowing authorities to finance essential services, infrastructure projects, and other governmental expenditures without solely relying on traditional taxation methods.
    • Addressing Trade Deficits: In some cases, Windfall Tax serves as a strategic tool for governments to mitigate widened trade deficits. By taxing industries experiencing extraordinary profits, authorities can generate revenue that contributes towards balancing trade imbalances and strengthening the overall economic stability of the nation.
  • Conclusion:
    • In essence, Windfall Taxation represents a targeted approach by governments to address unforeseen profit windfalls within specific industries.
    • By imposing this tax, policymakers aim to promote fairness, support social welfare objectives, diversify revenue streams, and enhance economic stability.
    • It underscores the role of fiscal policy in mitigating disparities, fostering social cohesion, and achieving sustainable development goals.


Syllabus: GS.3: Space Science: ISRO’s Missions in News

Why it’s in the News: The GSLV-F14 carrying INSAT-3DS is scheduled for a launch at 5.35 p.m. on Saturday from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

  • According to the ISRO, the satellite is an exclusive mission designed for enhanced meteorological observations, monitoring of land and ocean surfaces for weather forecasting and disaster warning.
  • The primary objectives of the mission are to monitor Earth’s surface, carry out oceanic observations, provide the vertical profile of various meteorological parameters of the atmosphere and provide satellite aided search and rescue services.

About Insat-3DS:

  •  Insat-3DS represents a pioneering collaboration between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the India Meteorological Organisation (IMD), marking a significant milestone in advancing climate observation capabilities.
  • This mission forms an integral part of a comprehensive series of climate observatory satellites dedicated to elevating climate services worldwide.
  • Notably, the constellation includes three dedicated Earth observation satellites, including the renowned INSAT-3D and INSAT-3DR satellites, which are already operational in orbit.
  • The deployment of Insat-3DS will be facilitated by the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F14), a cutting-edge rocket renowned for its utilization of liquid propellant technology.
  • Distinguished by its enhanced capacity and the utilization of cryogenic liquid propellants across all three stages, GSLV-F14 epitomizes a sophisticated engineering marvel, enabling a substantially higher lift-off weight capacity than its predecessors.

What is GSLV-F14?

  • The GSLV-F14 is the 16th flight of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), and the 10th flight with the indigenous cryo stage. This is the seventh operational flight of the GSLV with an indigenous cryogenic stage.
  • GSLV-F14 epitomizes the next generation of rocketry, harnessing the power of liquid propellants to achieve unparalleled performance in space launch endeavors.
  • This advanced rocket platform stands out for its utilization of cryogenic liquid propellants across all stages, setting a new standard in propulsion technology and enabling remarkable lift-off weight capacities.


Syllabus: GS. 4: Ethics & Essay – Artificial Intelligence

The Hindu Opinion Page – Friday Debate:

  • The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to recreate the voices of deceased singers in the Tamil film Lal Salaam has sparked a debate among artists. While some, like Sai Shravanam, find it nostalgic and appreciate the technology’s ability to revive “timeless voices,” others, like Haricharan Seshadri, express concerns about its ethical implications. They discuss the balance between technological advancement and artistic integrity, emphasizing the importance of consent, compensation, and regulation in AI’s role in music production.

Ethical Concerns Related to AI:

  • Ethical AI encompasses principles and standards guiding the development and deployment of artificially intelligent systems.
  • UNESCO’s ‘Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence’ emphasizes human rights, dignity, transparency, fairness, and societal well-being.
  • Key Concerns:
    • Lack of Transparency: AI systems often lack transparency, hindering user trust and awareness.
    • Unemployment: Automation driven by AI may lead to job loss, impacting societal well-being.
    • Digital Divide: Unequal access to AI exacerbates societal disparities, especially among marginalized populations.
    • Misuse of Data: Malicious use of AI, like deep fakes and targeted propaganda, threatens social cohesion.
    • Black Box Problem: Incomprehensible decision-making processes in AI systems pose challenges in understanding and predicting outcomes.
  • Global Regulatory Landscapes:
    • EU Model: Prioritizes fundamental rights and balances competing interests in AI regulation.
    • Singapore Model: Emphasizes privacy and security under consolidated laws.
    • USA Model: Prioritizes fairness and non-discrimination in AI regulation.
  • Steps Taken by India:
    • TRAI Recommendations: Advocate for global collaboration and domestic statutory authority for responsible AI.
    • Digital India Bill: Proposes tailored regulations for online intermediaries, including AI-based platforms.
    • NITI Aayog Papers: Address responsible AI regulation and growth in India.
    • Microsoft’s Blueprint: Offers AI governance suggestions and expertise sharing with the Indian government.
  • Recommendations by TRAI:
    • Establishing a global agency for responsible AI use.
    • Creating a domestic statutory authority, AIDAI, for AI regulation.
    • Regulating high-risk AI use cases through legally binding obligations.
    • Defining principles of responsible AI and overseeing AI lifecycle phases.
    • Forming a multi-stakeholder advisory body including government agencies and experts.

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in music production, as seen in the recreation of deceased singers’ voices, sparks ethical concerns. Transparency, consent, regulation, and societal well-being are crucial in navigating AI’s impact on various domains.

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