16th July 2021 Daily Current Affairs

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Consider the following statements with respect to Karman Line

It is an imaginary boundary between the Earth’s Atmosphere and the Outer Space, 100 kilometers above the mean sea level. .

It has been recognised as the legal boundary in the Outer Space Treaty adopted in 1967.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

a.   1 only

b.   2 only

c.   Both 1 and 2

d.   Neither 1 nor 2

2)Gravelyia Boro, recently in news, is related to?

a.   It is a newly discovered virus that affects Asiatic Lions

b.   It is a newly discovered tree frog in Arunachal Pradesh

c.   It is a newly discovered fish species discovered in Mizoram

d.   It is a newly discovered burrow spider in Assam

Prelims Specific News Items

1) What is Gram Nyayalayas Act and provisions?

Gram Nyayalayas were established for speedy and easy access to the justice system in the rural areas across the country.

The Gram Nyayalayas Act came into force on October 2, 2009.

In terms of Section 3(1) of the Act, it is for the State Governments to establish Gram Nyayalayas in consultation with the respective High Courts.

The Act authorizes Gram Nyayalaya to hold a mobile court outside its headquarters.

Some major reasons behind the non-enforcement include financial constraints, the reluctance of lawyers, police and other government officials.

Features of the Gram Nyayalayas

Gram Nyayalaya is established generally at headquarter of every Panchayat at the intermediate level or a group of contiguous panchayat in a district where there is no panchayat at an intermediate level.

The Gram Nyayalayas are presided over by a Nyayadhikari, who will have the same power, enjoy the same salary and benefits of a Judicial Magistrate of First Class.

Such Nyayadhikari is to be appointed by the State Government in consultation with the respective High Court.

Jurisdiction:-

A Gram Nyayalaya have jurisdiction over an area specified by a notification by the State Government in consultation with the respective High Court.

The Court can function as a mobile court at any place within the jurisdiction of such Gram Nyayalaya, after giving wide publicity to that regard.

The Gram Nyayalayas have both civil and criminal jurisdiction over the offences and nature of suits specified in the First, Second and Third schedule of the Act.

The pecuniary jurisdiction of the Nyayalayas are fixed by the respective High Courts.

Appeals in criminal matter can be made to the Sessions Court in the respective jurisdiction and in civil matters to the District Court within a period of one month from the date of judgment.

2)Lt Governor has dismissed 11 Jammu and Kashmir government employees for alleged terror links under provisions of Article 311(2)(c) of the Constitution.

What is Article 311?

Article 311 of the Constitution deals with ‘Dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed in civil capacities under the Union or a State’.

Under Article 311(2), no civil servant can be “dismissed or removed or reduced in rank except after an inquiry in which he has been informed of the charges and given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of those charges’’.

Subsection (c) of the provision, however, says this clause shall not apply “where the President or the Governor, as the case may be, is satisfied that in the interest of the security of the State it is not expedient to hold such inquiry”.

Remedy available

The only available remedy to a terminated employee is to challenge the government’s decision in the High Court.

3)Article 340

Article 340 of the Indian Constitution lays down conditions for the appointment of a Commission to investigate the conditions of the backward classes.

The President may by order appoint a Commission consisting of such persons as he thinks fit to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within the territory of India.

4)Sedition Law and its discontents :-

The CJI is now convinced that sedition law (IPC 124A) is being misused by the authorities to trample upon citizens’ fundamental rights of free speech and liberty.

What does Section 124A of the IPC say?

  • The section deals with the offence of sedition, a term that covers speech or writing, or any form of visible representation, which brings the government into hatred or contempt, or excites disaffection towards the government, or attempts to do so.
  • It is punishable with three years in prison or a life term.
  • “Disaffection”, it says, includes disloyalty and feelings of enmity.
  • However, it also says expressing disapproval of government measures or actions, with a view to getting them changed by lawful means, without promoting hatred or disaffection or contempt towards the government will not come under this section.

What is its origin?

  • Colonial past: Sedition was introduced in the penal code in 1870, a decade after the Indian Penal Code came into force.
  • It was a colonial law directed against strong criticism of the British administration.
  • Putting curb on Freedom fighters: Its most famous victims included Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Gandhi called it “the prince among the political sections of the IPC designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen”.

Is it constitutionally valid?

  • Violative of FRs: Two high courts had found it unconstitutional after Independence, as it violated the freedom of speech and expression.
  • Reasonable restrictions: The Constitution was amended to include ‘public order’ as one of the ‘reasonable restrictions’ on which free speech could be abridged by law.
  • Kedar Nath Case: Thereafter, the Supreme Court, in Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar (1962) upheld its validity.
  • At the same time, it limited its application to acts that involve “intention or tendency to create disorder” or incitement to violence.
  • Thus, even strongly worded remarks, as long as they do not excite disloyalty and enmity, or incite violence, are not an offence under this section.

Why the controversy now?

  • Frequent use: In recent times, the resort to this section is seen as disturbingly frequent.
  • Curbing dissent: Activists, cartoonists and intellectuals have been arrested under this section, drawing criticism from liberals that it is being used to suppress dissent and silence critics.
  • Misuse for propaganda: Authorities and the police who invoke this section defend the measure as a necessary step to prevent public disorder and anti-national activities.
  • Irrelevance: Many of them have also been detained under the National Security Act and UAPA.

What is being debated about it?

  • Liberals and rights activists have been demanding the scrapping of Section 124A.
  • It is argued that the provision is “overbroad”, i.e., it defines the offence in wide terms threatening the liberty of citizens.
  • The Law Commission has also called for a reconsideration of the section.
  • It has pointed that Britain abolished it more than a decade ago and raised the question of whether a provision introduced by the British to put down the freedom struggle should continue to be law in India.
  • Some argue that a presumption of constitutionality does not apply to pre-constitutional laws as those laws have been made by foreign legislature or bodies.

What has the apex court observed?

  • Justice D.Y. Chandrachud had flagged the indiscriminate use of the sedition law against people who aired their grievances about the government’s COVID management.
  • People have been charged even for seeking help to gain medical access, equipment, drugs and oxygen cylinders, especially during the second wave of the pandemic.
  • Justice U.U. Lalit, in his recent judgment, quashed a sedition case against a person for his alleged remarks about the PM and the Union Government.

Way forward

  • The time is long past when the mere criticism of governments was sufficient to constitute sedition.
  • The right to utter honest and reasonable criticism is a source of strength to a community rather than a weakness, the CJI has recorded.

6) Simpler drone rules in the offing :-

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has released Draft Drone Rules, 2021, for public consultation.

Details:

  • The rules will replace the Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2021 notified in March 2021.
  • The intent is to make the rules user-friendly and to encourage drone research and development. 

Key takeaways from the Draft Drone Rules, 2021:

  • The number of forms to be filled to seek authorisation before operating a drone has been reduced from 25 to six.
  • Fee reduced to nominal levels. No linkage with the size of the drone.
  • Safety features like ‘No permission – no take-off’ (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing, etc. to be notified in future. A six-month lead time will be provided for compliance.
  • Digital sky platform would be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system.
  • No pilot licence required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drones and for R&D organisations.
  • No restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India.
  • Import of drones and drone components to be regulated by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade. This is in order to encourage indigenous manufacturing.
  • No security clearance required before any registration or licence issuance.
  • Coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg. This will cover drone taxis also.
  • Directorate General of Civil Aviation shall prescribe training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot licences online.
  • Maximum penalty under Drone Rules, 2021 reduced to INR 1 lakh.
  • Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.
  • Drone promotion council to be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.
  • The Union government may specify certain standards for obtaining a certificate of airworthiness for drones, which will promote the use of made-in-India technologies, designs, components and drones; and India’s regional navigation satellite system named Navigation with Indian Constellation.

7) About Gira Sarabhai :- Gira Sarabhai, architect, designer, founder of the National Institute of Design (NID) and creator of the Calico Museum of Textiles, died in Ahmedabad Thursday afternoon. She was 97 and died of age-related illness.

Born as the youngest of the eight children of Ambalal and Sarla Devi Sarabhai in 1923, Gira who trained under American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in Wisconsin, returned to India with an understanding and sense of space that were instrumental in realising the vision that she and Gautam shared for the building of the NID on the banks of the Sabarmati river.

Ambalal founded the Calico Mills, one of Ahmedabad’s oldest mills, and the textile museum housed in the former Sarabhai home- The Retreat- was named after it.

8) Jaishankar meets Ghani, discusses Taliban :-

What’s in News?

India’s External Affairs Minister discussed the situation in and around Afghanistan with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, the U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser, Special Envoy as well as other Foreign Ministers.

  • The meeting was focused on the rapid developments and advances by the Taliban within days of the U.S. and NATO troops’ pull-out from the Bagram airbase.
  • Besides, the Ghani government is conducting a review of the Afghanistan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) military strategy, which could see it shift tactics in dealing with the Taliban that has claimed several key towns and border check post areas.

9) Negative Supply Shock is the Reason for increase in prices and inflation := A supply shock is an unexpected event that changes the supply of a product or commodity, resulting in a sudden change in price. A positive supply shock increases output causing prices to decrease, while a negative supply shock decreases output causing prices to increase.

Editorial of the Day

Editorial 01 : Interference an investigating officer can do without

Context

Instances of judiciary directing the investigating officer point to the need for restraint from the judiciary.

Challenging the discretion of investigating officer

  • There have been growing instances of subordinate judicial officers, and even High Courts sometimes, directing the investigating officer to effect the arrest of a particular individual.
  • To deal with the issue, the Supreme Court of India recently made the observation that courts have no authority to direct an investigating officer to in turn direct the arrest of any particular individual connected with a crime
  • This points to the need for a slightly kindlier view of police conduct and more latitude to them in the standard operating procedures which they follow, especially when they investigate a complicated crime.
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) vests sufficient discretion in the investigating officer to take such decisions as arrests and searches.

Issues with court’s directions

  • Court observations that smack of a lack of faith in police ability and integrity will make grass-root level policemen even more arbitrary than now and force them into carrying out questionable actions that will cast aspersions on an officer’s ability to think for himself.
  • Court interference in the day-to-day investigation is not only undesirable but is also not sanctioned by law.
  • Only the Supreme Court, has been vested with enormous authority and discretion by the Constitution, the lesser courts shall not give directions in the matter of arrests and searches.

Safeguard against police misconduct

  • We need to educate the Executive and the common man that it is now well-established law that the police have to register an FIR.
  • It is mandatory that every police station in the land should register a complaint under the relevant sections of a statute the moment a cognisable offence is made out in the complaint
  • There is another safeguard against police misconduct.
  • The CrPC makes it obligatory for the investigating officer to write a diary that details the action taken every day following registration.
  • When in doubt, the competent court, which already has a copy of the first information report, can demand to see the case diary.
  • Courts should remember that the police are a well-established hierarchy that is obligated to ensure objectivity during a criminal investigation.
  • Every investigation is supervised by at least two immediate senior officers.

Conclusion

Judicial interference in an investigation is counterproductive to the idea of justice. Therefore, there is a need for allowing more freedom to the investigating officers in the standard operating procedure that they follow.

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