• President Ram Nath Kovind has removed Kiran Bedi as Puducherry Lieutenant Governor.
• Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan has been given the additional charge of Puducherry.
Powers and sources of LG of Puducherry:
• Puducherry is a union territory that is governed by Article 239A of the Constitution.
• The Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 provides for a Legislative Assembly of Puducherry, with a Council of Ministers to govern the UT.
• The same Act says that the UT will be administered by the President of India through a Lieutenant Governor.
• Section 44 of the Act allows the LG to “act in his discretion” in the matter of lawmaking, even though the Council of Ministers has the task of aiding and advising him.
• In case of a difference of opinion between the LG and his Ministers on any matter, the Administrator is bound to refer it to the President for a decision and act according to the decision given by the President.
• However, the Administrator can also claim that the matter is urgent, and take immediate action as he deems necessary.
• Under Section 22 of the Act, prior sanction of the Administrator is required for certain legislative proposals.
• These include Bills or amendments that the Council of Ministers intends to move in the Legislative Assembly, and which deal with the “constitution and organization of the court of the Judicial Commissioner”, and “jurisdiction and powers of the court of the Judicial Commissioner concerning any of the matters in the State List or the Concurrent List”.
• Section 23 of the Act also makes it obligatory on the part of the UT government to seek the “recommendation” of the LG before moving a Bill or an amendment to provide for “the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax”, “the amendment of the law concerning any financial obligations undertaken or to be undertaken”, and anything that has to do with the Consolidated Fund of the UT.
• Once the Assembly has passed a Bill, the LG can either grant or withhold his assent; or reserve it for the consideration of the President.
• He can also send it back to the Assembly for reconsideration.
• How the LG functions vis-à-vis the elected government is also spelt out in the Rules of Business of the Government of Pondicherry, 1963, issued on June 22, 1963.
• Under Rule 47, which deals with persons serving in the UT government, the Administrator exercises powers regulating the conditions of service of such persons in consultation with the Chief Minister.
• In case the LG has a difference of opinion with the Chief Minister, he can refer the matter to the central government for the decision of the President.
Comparison with powers of LG of Delhi:
• The powers of the LG of Puducherry are different from the ones of the LG of Delhi, the other UT that has an elected legislature and government.
• The LG of Delhi has “Executive Functions” that allow him to exercise his powers in matters connected to public order, police, and land “in consultation with the Chief Minister if it is so provided under any order issued by the President under Article 239 of the Constitution”.
• The LG of Delhi enjoys greater powers than the LG of Puducherry.
• While the LG of Delhi is also guided by the Government of NCT of Delhi Act, 1991, and the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules, 1993, the LG of Puducherry is guided mostly by the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963.
• Articles 239 and 239AA of the Constitution, as well as the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, clearly underline that Delhi is a UT, where the Centre, whose eyes and ears are the LG, has a much more prominent role than in Puducherry.
• Under the constitutional scheme, the Delhi Assembly has the power to legislate on all subjects except law and order and land.
• However, the Puducherry Assembly can legislate on any issue under the Concurrent and State Lists.
• However, if the law conflicts with a law passed by Parliament, the law passed by Parliament prevails.
• The Lt. Governor is appointed by the President for a term of five years
• The WHO has identified three new variants of coronavirus originating in the UK, Brazil, and now in South Africa.
What is the concern?
• Of the three, the latest South African variant known as 20H/501Y.V2 or B.1.351, is different from the one in Britain and appears to be more infectious than the original virus.
• The South African variant carries a mutation called N501Y that appears to make it more contagious or easy to spread
• Also, the WHO has said this variant “is less susceptible to antibody neutralization” than previous variants.
Why do viruses mutate?
• A mutation just means a difference or a letter change in the genome.
• Mutations in viruses are a natural part of evolution.
• The pressure on the virus to evolve is increased by the fact that so many millions of people have now been infected.
• In the case of SARS-CoV-2, which is a Ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus, a mutation means a change in the sequence in which its molecules are arranged.
• A mutation in an RNA virus often happens when the virus makes a mistake while it is making copies of itself.
• The International Criminal Court recently ruled that it has jurisdiction over war crimes or atrocities committed in the Palestinian territories.
• This ruling has paved the way for a criminal investigation of Israeli actions.
• Judges said their decision was based on jurisdictional rules in its founding documents and does not imply any attempt to determine statehood or legal borders.
What has the ICC said?
• It ruled that Palestine is a state party to the Rome Statute establishing the ICC.
• It ruled that Palestine qualifies as the state on the territory in which the “conduct in question” occurred and that the court jurisdiction extends to East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.
Response by Israel:
• Israel is not a member of the ICC.
• As a non-member, it cannot appeal the recent ruling but its attorney general has argued all along that only a sovereign state can delegate authority to the ICC and that the areas in question were not a Palestinian sovereign state.
About International Criminal Court:
• The International Criminal Court (ICC), located in The Hague, is the court of last resort for prosecution of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
• It is the first permanent, treaty-based, international court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.
• Its founding treaty, the Rome Statute, entered into force on July 1, 2002.
• Although the Court expenses are funded primarily by States Parties, it also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organizations, individuals, corporations, and other entities.
Composition and voting power:
• The Court management oversight and legislative body, the Assembly of States Parties, consists of one representative from each state party.
• Each state party has one vote and “every effort” has to be made to reach decisions by consensus.
• If consensus cannot be reached, decisions are made by vote.
• The Assembly is presided over by a president and two vice-presidents, who are elected by the members to three-year terms.