Fundamental Rights Current Affairs - 2019

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103rd Constitutional Amendment Act: Key Facts

President Ramnath Kovind has given the assent to the 124th constitutional Amendment Bill (which is now Constitution 103rd amendment Act) providing 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections.

Key Facts about the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act

The Important components of the 103rd constitutional Amendment are:

  • The amendment changed two fundamental rights, Article 15 and 16. The amendments provide for the advancement of the “economically weaker sections” of the society.
  • The amendment aims to fulfil the commitments of the directive principles of state policy under Article 46, to promote the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the society.

Criterion for Reservation

  • People who have an annual income of less than Rs.8 lakhs, or
  • People who own less than five acres of farm land, or
  • People who have a house lesser than 1,000 sq feet in a town (or 100 sq yard in a notified municipal area).
  • The constitutional amendment is yet to pass the judicial scrutiny since the Supreme Court had set the cap of 50% on reservations.
  • ‘Youth for Equality’ has questioned the constitutional validity of the 103rd constitutional amendment act which was passed by the both the Houses of Parliament after being presented as the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019.
  • The example of Tamil Nadu is been cited to propose that there are ways and means to protect the amendment from the Supreme Court declaring it unconstitutional.

Gujrat has become the first state to implement the 10% quota reserved for people from economically weaker sections proposed under the 103rd constitutional amendment act.

Kerala High Court makes notice mandatory for strike and Hartals

The High Court of Kerala has set a seven-day notice period for political parties and individuals to call for hartal and general strike in the State.

Why the 7 day notice period?

The Kerala High Court has provided the following reasons for setting a seven-day notice period:

  • To provide time for the citizens to approach the court with their objections and to enable courts to examine the legality of the hartal call on request of citizens.
  • To provide an opportunity for the State to be prepared for safeguarding the interests of the citizens.
  • Even though the court recognised the fundamental right of those who call for a strike to demonstrate their protests, it made it clear that the rights cannot be exercised in violation of the fundamental rights of other citizens.
  • The court made it clear that the fundamental right of the citizens to life and livelihood would outweigh the fundamental right of persons calling for strikes and hartals.
  • The court further said that since the call for hartals and general strikes denies the fundamental rights of traders, the general public, migrant labourers and those in unorganised sectors, those persons who call for hartals will be held responsible for the loses suffered due to the event.

Observations of the High Court

The court observed that Kerala’s economy had taken a severe hit during the recent devastating floods and the frequent strikes will only cause more sufferings for the economy of the state. Kerala’s economy is dependent on tourism and the travel advisories issued by foreign countries against visiting Kerala cannot be ignored.

The Court noted that in 2018, 97 hartals and strikes had taken place in the State and in 2019 one hartal was called on January 3, Trade unions have also called for a two-day strike starting January 8. Frequent strikes like these are a cause of concern.