Special Marriage Act
GS Paper: 2- Government policies and interventions
Prelims exam: Special Marriage Act, 1954
Mains exam: Special Marriage Act, 1954, Right to privacy
Why in News?
The Supreme Court sought the government’s response to pleas to allow solemnisation of same-sex marriage under the Special Marriage Act.
What is the case?
- A petition has been filed by a couple who said the non-recognition of same sex marriage amounted to discrimination that struck at the root of dignity and self-fulfillment of LGBTQ+ couples.
- “The Special Marriage Act, 1954” is ultra vires the Constitution to the extent it discriminates between same-sex couples and opposite sex couples, denying same-sex couples both legal rights as well as the social recognition and status that flows from marriage.
- The petitioners said the 1954 Act should grant same sex couple the same protection it allowed inter-caste and inter-faith couples who want to marry.
- Notice to the Government: The Bench issued separate notices to the Union of India and the Attorney General of India. It transferred various pending issues before various High Courts, including in Kerala and Delhi.
- The government had said in the High Courts that the issue should be taken up by the apex court.
Decriminalisation of Homosexuality
- A five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) unanimously held that criminalisation of private consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is clearly unconstitutional.
- The court, however, held that Section 377 will apply to “unnatural” sexual acts like bestiality. Sexual acts without consent continue to be a crime under the Section.
Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India
- The criminalization of consensual homosexual sex between adults under section 377 was deemed unconstitutional, irrational, indefensible, and manifestly arbitrary by the Supreme Court.
- Additionally, the court stated that Section 377 will remain in force for bestiality, non-consensual sex acts, and sex with minors.
KS Puttaswamy vs. Union of India, (2017) (Right to Privacy Judgement )
- In this case, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the right to privacy was a fundamental right under the Constitution. The bench ruled that “right to privacy is an intrinsic part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty under Article 21 and entire Part III of the Constitution“.
- It was determined that Section 377 violates Article 21 since it criminalises someone’s core identity solely because of their sexual orientation.
- Additionally, it stated that “sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy”.
About Special Marriage Act
- The Special Marriage Act (SMA) was passed in 1954 and it provides a civil form of marriage for couples who cannot marry under their personal law.
- In India, marriages can be registered under the respective personal laws, such as the Muslim Marriage Act of 1954, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, or the Special Marriage Act of 1954.
- The Special Marriage Act, 1954 is an Act of the Parliament of India that makes civil marriage legal for Indian citizens and all other Indian nationals abroad, irrespective of the religion or faith practised by either party.
Features of the Act
- Enables the marriage of individuals with two various religious origins in the union of marriage.
- Outlines the procedures for marriages where one or both partners are not Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, or Sikhs, as well as for marriages that are solemnised and registered.
- Being a secular Act, it is crucial in liberating people from the constraints of conventional marriage.
Prior notice: According to Section 5 of the Act, couples must give the marriage officer a notice 30 days prior to the wedding date that includes all necessary documentation.
- After the document submission for the publication of the public notice requesting objections, both parties must be present.
- Following the SDM has decided on any objections that may have been submitted within that time, registration is completed 30 days after the date of notice.
- On the day of registration, both parties and three witnesses are required to be present.
Continuous Marine Water Quality Monitoring System
GS Paper: 2- Government policies and interventions
Prelims exam: Continuous Marine Water Quality Monitoring Station (CMWQMS)
Mains exam: Continuous Marine Water Quality Monitoring Station (CMWQMS) and its importance.
Why in News?
Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) in association with the Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras, has developed a Continuous Marine Water Quality Monitoring Station (CMWQMS) & launched an Electric Environmental Monitoring Vehicle (EV).
About Continuous Marine Water Quality Monitoring Station (CMWQMS)
- In cooperation with the Department of Civil Engineering at IIT Madras, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority created the Continuous Marine Water Quality Monitoring Station (CMWQMS).
- The continuous water quality system and electric monitoring vehicle will assist in managing the marine water and air quality in the port area, regulating the environmental quality within the port area.
- Through this, JNPA will be able to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of vehicles, in addition to checking compliance with Environmental Quality around the port estate through water quality stations data, such as temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, ammonia, conductivity, nitrate, salinity, turbidity, and TDS of marine water a database on marine water quality is essential for maintaining hygienic standards in the marine environment.
- To control the quality of the area around the Jawaharlal Nehru Port, it will be used alongside in conjunction with the electric monitoring vehicle (used for air quality monitoring).
- Maintaining the hygienic standards of the maritime environment require such information and monitoring.
- CMWQMS is one of the various environmental upgradations and green port programmes of the JNPA.
Other initiatives of JNPA
JNPA has initiated various environmental upgradations and Green Port Initiatives like
- Development of Sewage Treatment Plant.
- Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Station (CAAQMS).
- Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Facility.
- Promoting LED adoption in the township and port area to reduce energy consumption.
- Shore power supply.
- Rejuvenation of Water Body near Sheva Temple and Sheva Foothill at JNPA.
- Increasing the amount of greenery in the port region, managing the mangroves.
- Installation of Solar Panels of around 4.10 MWp.
About Jawaharlal Nehru Port
- The Jawaharlal Nehru port was established on 26 May 1989.
- Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) or JLN Port, also known as Nhava Sheva Port, is the second largest container port in India after Mundra Port.
- It is the second largest container port in India after Mundra Port.
- Located in Navi Mumbai’s Raigad district, this port on the Arabian Sea is accessed via Thane Creek.
- This port is also the terminal of Western Dedicated Freight Corridor.
FTA with Gulf Cooperation Council
Gs Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims exam: Structure and function of Gulf Cooperation Council, FTA
Mains exam: India’s relation with GCC
Why in news
Both sides agreed to expedite conclusion of the requisite legal and technical requirements for formal resumption of the FTA negotiations.
India- GCC FTA
- India and GCC signed a Framework Agreement for enhancing and developing economic cooperation between the two sides in New Delhi in August 2004.
- Till now Two rounds of talks for finalizing aspects like tariff rules, rules of origin, etc have been held.
Significance of India-GCC FTA
- The FTA is envisaged to be a modern, comprehensive Agreement with substantial coverage of goods and services.
- This FTA will create new jobs, raise living standards, and provide wider social and economic opportunities in India and all the GCC countries.
- It will help in expanding and diversifying the trade basket in line with the enormous potential that exists on account of the complementary business and economic ecosystems of India and the GCC.
- Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a bloc of six gulf countries namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE.
- Council aims at coordinating, cooperation, and integration between them and achieving Arab regional unity.
- GCC member nations constitute a total GDP of in excess of 3.464 trillion USD along with a population of 54 million people living under their umbrella.
Significance of GCC for India
- The Gulf constitutes the “immediate” neighbourhood of India separated only by the Arabian Sea. India, therefore, has a vital stake in the stability , security and economic well being of the Gulf.
- The Indian diaspora in the Middle East accounts for around 7.6 million people
- With UAE at 3,41,000 followed by Saudi Arabia with 25,94,957, Kuwait hosts 10,29,861 Indians, Oman 7,79,351 and Qatar 7,56,062.
- According to the RBI report remittances that this diaspora sends is around 30% of the total remittances received by India.
- However, earlier this figure used to be 50%.
- The GCC has emerged as a major trading partner of India. It has vast potential as India’s investment partner for the future.
- The GCC’s substantial oil and gas reserves are of utmost importance for India’s energy needs.
Economic and Commercial Relations
- India enjoys traditionally cordial relations and cooperation with the GCC.
- India’s old, historical ties with GCC States, coupled with increasing imports of oil and gas, growing trade and investment, and presence of approximately 6.5 million Indian workers in the region, are of vital interest to India.
- India’s economic linkage with the GCC have increased steadily, especially due to growth in oil imports.
- GCC is currently India’s largest trading partner bloc with bilateral trade in FY 2021-22 valued at over USD 154 billion with exports valued at approximately USD 44 billion and imports of around USD 110 billion (non-oil exports of USD 33.8 Billion and non-oil imports of USD 37.2 Billion).
- Bilateral trade in services between India and the GCC was valued at around USD 14 billion in FY 2021-22, with exports valued at USD 5.5 Billion and imports at USD 8.3 Billion.
- GCC countries contribute almost 35% of India’s oil imports and 70% of gas imports.
- India’s overall crude oil imports from the GCC in 2021-22 were about $48 billion, while LNG and LPG imports in 2021-22 were about $21 billion.
- Investments from the GCC in India are currently valued at over USD 18 billion.
- India and GCC share the desire for political stability and security in the region. The common political and security concerns of India and GCC translate into efforts for peace, security and stability in the Gulf region and South Asia.
- Areas for cooperation are also widening beyond investments, trade & commerce and sharing & development of human resources to security.
- India has bilateral defence cooperation with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Qatar for military training, intelligence sharing, combating terrorism and money laundering. This is a paradigm shift in relations which have been dominated by oil and energy trade while security ties remained dormant.
- China Factor: India considers growing Chinese influence in Gulf region a challenge to its economic and strategic interests. China has become a significant partner for GCC states in several fields, such as infrastructure investment, trade in goods and services, digital technology, and defense.
- Growing multipolarity: One important change affecting India-GCC relations is the growing multipolarity among the external powers engaged in the Middle East.
- The United States is downsizing its regional role and Russia is returning in force, all while China’s importance continues to increase.
- These changes bring unpredictability and will spur increased Indian engagement with GCC to directly protect India’s interests and gain influence with GCC governments.
- The Gulf region is a volatile place because of prevalent threats to internal and external security to nations found in the area. The Gulf region has been going through massive strategic realignments in the aftermath of Arab Spring in 2011.
International Electrotechnical Commission(IEC)
Gs Paper 2: International organisations
Prelims exam: IEC
Why in news?
India wins the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Vice Presidency and Standardization Management Board (SMB) Chair for the 2023-25 term.
What is IEC?
- The IEC is a global, not-for-profit membership organization that brings together more than 170 countries.
- The IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) saw its beginnings at the International Electrical Congress in St. Louis in 1904.
- It is an international standard setting body that publishes international Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies.
- Its work underpins quality infrastructure and international trade in electrical and electronic goods.
- IEC facilitates technical innovation, affordable infrastructure development, efficient and sustainable energy access, smart urbanization and transportation systems, climate change mitigation, and increases the safety of people and the environment.
- The IEC publishes around 10 000 IEC International Standards which together with conformity assessment provide the technical framework that allows governments to build national quality infrastructure and companies of all sizes to buy and sell consistently safe and reliable products in most countries of the world.
- IEC International Standards serve as the basis for risk and quality management and are used in testing and certification to verify that manufacturer promises are kept.
- India joined IEC in 1929.
Standardization Management Board (SMB)
- It is an apex governance body of IEC responsible for technical policy matters.
- The IEC Board delegates to the Standardization Management Board (SMB) the management of the standards work of the Commission.
- The SMB takes any action it considers necessary to ensure the proper and expeditious operation of the standards work.
Mission of IEC
IEC’s mission is to achieve worldwide use of IEC International Standards and Conformity Assessment Systems to ensure the safety, efficiency, reliability and interoperability of electrical, electronic and information technologies, to enhance international trade, facilitate broad electricity access and enable a more sustainable world.
Rupee, Dirham trade
GS Paper: 3- International treaties
Prelims exam: Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), Free trade agreement (FTA)
Mains exam: Bilateral trade between India and UAE
Why in News?
The Central banks of India and UAE are discussing a concept paper on promoting bilateral trade in rupee and dirham with a view to reduce transaction cost.
Bilateral trade between India and UAE
- India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a bilateral “comprehensive” trade pact in February 2022, during the India-UAE Virtual summit.
- Bilateral trade between India and the UAE stood at $43.3 billion in 2020-21. Exports were worth $16.7 billion and imports aggregated at $26.7 billion in 2020-21. The two-way commerce stood at $59.11 billion in 2019-20.
- India and the UAE had already signed a free trade agreement (FTA) to give a fillip to bilateral trade and economic ties.
- The free trade agreement was aimed at providing significant benefits to Indian as well as UAE businesses, including enhanced market access and reduced tariffs.
- The objective of promoting bilateral trade in rupee and dirham is to reduce the cost of transactions.
- Following the free trade pact, bilateral trade is expected to increase from the current USD 60 billion to USD 100 billion in the next five years.
- The initiative would open new routes for regional trade and connectivity and advance “collective interests” of India, Israel, the UAE and the United States.
- India will benefit from preferential market access provided by the UAE on over 97 % of its tariff lines which account for 99% of Indian exports to the UAE in value terms particularly from labour-intensive sectors such as Gems and Jewellery, Textiles, leather, footwear, sports goods, plastics, furniture, agricultural and wood products, engineering products, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and Automobiles.
- Gems & Jewellery sector contributes a substantial portion of India’s exports to the UAE and is a sector that is expected to benefit significantly from the tariff concessions obtained for Indian products under the India-UAE trade pact.
What is CEPA?
- It is a form of free trade agreement that includes discussions about investment, trade in services, and other aspects of economic cooperation.
- It might even take into account negotiating in areas like IPR, competition, and customs cooperation for commerce.
- More comprehensive than free trade agreements are partnership or collaboration agreements.
- The CEPA includes a regulatory agreement and examines the regulatory aspect of trade.
- India has CEPAs with Japan and South Korea.
Types of trade agreement
Free trade agreement (FTA)
- It is an agreement wherein two or more nations agree to grant the partner nation favourable trade conditions, tariff concessions, etc.
- India has signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with a number of nations, including Sri Lanka, and several commercial organisations, like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
- The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is an existing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) involving the 10 ASEAN member states and Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, India, and New Zealand.
Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA):
- In this sort of contract, two or more partners grant specific items preferential entry rights. This is accomplished by lowering taxes on a predetermined number of tariff lines.
- Potentially in a PTA, some products’ tariffs could even be eliminated. Afghanistan and India have a PTA.
Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA):
- Only TRQ (Tariff Rate Quotas) rates and trade tariffs are typically covered under CECA. It is not as extensive as CEPA. With Malaysia, India has signed the CECA.
Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT)
- A bilateral agreement known as a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) allows two nations to jointly decide the terms for private investments by their citizens and businesses.
Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA)
- It is a trade agreement between two or more nations that creates a framework for increasing trade and resolving unresolved international conflicts.