Daily Current Affairs
Domestic Violence Act applies after divorce too
The Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that the Domestic Violence Act, intended to safeguard women against marital abuse, will apply even after divorce. The court observed that the act extends to all man-woman relationships, and also protects divorced women from their former husbands.
- The apex court has upheld Rajasthan High Court’s interpretation that ‘domestic relationship’ is not confined to the “relationship as husband and wife or a relationship in the nature of marriage, but it includes other relationship as well such as sisters, mother, etc.”.
What is Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005?
- It is an act to provide for more effective protection of the rights of Women guaranteed under the Constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
- Domestic Violence Act 2005 is the first significant attempt in India to recognise domestic abuse as a punishable offence, to extend its provisions to those in live-in relationships, and to provide for emergency relief for the victims, in addition to legal recourse. It extends to the whole of India except the State Jammu & Kashmir.
- It aims to protect women from physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic abuse at home.
Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP)
The Directorate General of Hyrdrocarbons (DGH) had recently announced the completion of the first round of bidding under its new Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP), a part of its revamped Hyrdrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) unveiled in March 2016.
The policy was brought out in June 2017 and marked a departure from the previous regime in terms of the geographical area that could be explored, the number of licences required, the manner in which proceeds are to be shared with the government, and the procedure to sell what is extracted. OALP is a part of HELP, which itself was a replacement to the New Exploration and Licensing Policy.
Key features of the new policy:
- The ‘open acreage’ in OALP refers to the fact that potential investors are now able to choose exactly which areas they want to explore and develop. Under OALP, investors choose the exact areas they are interested in, convey their interest to the government, which then places just those blocks up for bidding, typically twice a year.
- Under the new policy, developers don’t need to apply for separate licences for each of the hydrocarbons they want to extract from the block. They can obtain a single unified license that will allow them to extract and market oil, gas, coal bed methane, shale oil and shale gas.
- The new policy also does away with the earlier provision for a profit-sharing model with the government. Profit sharing as a policy led to a number of delays and complications over what exactly constituted the cost, and therefore profit, of the firm doing the exploring. The new policy hinges on revenue-sharing, doing away with this ambiguity.
What was the need for the new Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP)?
India is the 3rd largest consumer of crude oil and petroleum products with oil and gas contributing 34.4% to primary energy consumption. In 2015-2016, India’s crude oil import dependence rose to 81% from 78.5%. In last five years, India has seen overall decline in exploration and production of conventional resources. New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) created in 1997 ended the state dominance and created a competitive environment leading to liberalization of oil and gas exploration and production industry. However, it failed to keep the momentum of production growth and attracting the foreign investment. Bureaucratic hurdles like multiple approvals and sanctions, cost overruns, and disputes led to some oil majors leaving their awarded blocks and exit from the space.
Overcrowding in prisons
The Supreme Court has expressed concern about overcrowding in prisons across the country, in some cases beyond 150 per cent of the capacity, and asked all the high courts to consider the issue as it involves “violation of human rights”. The court has requested the chief justices of the high courts to take up the matter as a suo-motu writ petition.
- The Centre apprised the court that steps were being taken to encourage setting up of ‘open prisons’ and a model uniform rules for the administration of open correctional institutions have already been framed.
What are open prisons?
Semi-open prisons or open prisons allow convicts to work outside the jail premises and earn a livelihood and return in the evening. The concept was brought in to assimilate the convicts with society and reduce the psychological pressure and lack of confidence they faced lack of confidence in returning to lives outside prison.
Overcrowding is one of the biggest problems faced by prison inmates. It results in poor hygiene and lack of sleep among other problems. More than 65% of the undertrials spend three months to five years in jail before getting bail. A fourth of all the under trials have been under detention for more than a year.
Management of prisons: The management of prisons falls exclusively under the domain of the state government, as per the seventh schedule of the constitution. In every state, the prison administrative machinery works under the chief of prisons who is a senior ranking IPS officer.
Need for reforms:
- NHRC figures show that prisoners cut off from family and friends had a 50% more chance of committing suicide than those outside. The average suicide rate among the general public for this period is 11 (per 100,000) whereas the average suicide rate in prison is 16.9 (per 100,000). In other words, the average suicide rate in prisons is over 50% more than in normal conditions.
- Indian prisons face three long-standing structural constraints: overcrowding, thanks to a high percentage of undertrials in the prison population, understaffing and underfunding. The inevitable outcome is sub-human living conditions, poor hygiene, and violent clashes between the inmates and jail authorities.
- Besides, while 33% of the total requirement of prison officials still lies vacant, almost 36% of vacancy for supervising officers is still unfulfilled. In the absence of adequate prison staff, overcrowding of prisons leads to rampant violence and other criminal activities inside the jails
Indian jails have often been dubbed as a university for grooming criminals due to pathetic and inhumane conditions. In the absence of a robust Whistleblower Protection Act and structural changes to address the issues of overcrowding and understaffing, India’s prisons will continue to be heaven for politically connected criminals and hell for socio-economically disadvantaged undertrials, some regular media uproars notwithstanding.
Fundamental rights of prisoners cannot be placed in the back-burner and the Centre and the states need to be more pro-active in sensitising staff about the need to treat prisoners as humanely as possible.
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act
The government is planning to bring an ordinance to overturn the Supreme Court verdict putting safeguards on arrests under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and subsequently introduce a bill to insulate it from further judicial scrutiny.
- The government is likely to introduce the bill in monsoon session of Parliament to incorporate the legislation in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, laws under which cannot be challenged in courts.
- The ordinance is an interim arrangement to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling on the issue. The proposed ordinance would make it clear that notwithstanding any judgement or any other law in force, the provisions of the act shall remain valid. Once promulgated, this would mean the ordinance would overturn the SC order.
- Also, once included in the Ninth Schedule, the legislation gets protection under Article 31-B (validation of certain Acts and Regulations) and is not subject to judicial scrutiny.
In its March 20 order, the apex court had laid down new guidelines for police officers on how to ensure that innocent people, especially public officials, are protected from false complaints under the act. The “dilution” triggered massive protests by various Dalit and political outfits.
About SC/ST Act:
- The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is popularly known as POA, the SC/ST Act, the Prevention of Atrocities Act, or simply the Atrocities Act. The SC/ST Act was enacted on September 9, 1989. The rules for the Act were notified on March 31, 1995.
- The SC/ST Act lists 22 offences relating to various patterns or behaviours inflicting criminal offences and breaking the self-respect and esteem of the scheduled castes and tribes community. This includes denial of economic, democratic and social rights, discrimination, exploitation and abuse of the legal process.
- According to the SC/ST Act, the protection is provided from social disabilities such as denial of access to certain places and to use customary passage, personal atrocities like forceful drinking or eating of inedible food sexual exploitation, injury etc, atrocities affecting properties, malicious prosecution, political disabilities and economic exploitation.
- For speedy trial, Section 14 of the SC/ST Act provides for a Court of Session to be a Special Court to try offences under this Act in each district.
- The prime objective of the SC/ST Act is to deliver justice to marginalised through proactive efforts, giving them a life of dignity, self-esteem and a life without fear, violence or suppression from the dominant castes.
South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN)
SAWEN recently its first ever meeting in India. Representatives of seven countries participated in the meeting and the members agreed on having an operational framework for strengthening the regional body to combat wildlife crime.
During the meet six proposals, including tracking of wildlife smuggling route, review of existing laws and a structure for the organisation were tabled.
- SAWEN is a regional network comprises eight countries in South Asia –Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
- It aims at working as a strong regional intergovernmental body for combating wildlife crimes by attempting common goals and approaches for combating illegal trade in the region.
Significance of SAWEN:
The South Asia region is very vulnerable to illegal traffic and wildlife crimes due to presence of precious biodiversity and large markets as well as traffic routes for wildlife products in the region. The collaboration in harmonising as well as enforcing the wildlife protection in the region is considered very important for effective conservation of biodiversity.
How will it help India?
India along with other member countries will take initiatives to bring “harmonisation and standardisation” in laws and policies to conserve fauna and flora and will also document the trend of poaching, illegal trade and related threats to the natural biodiversity.
This will also strengthen institutional responses to combat wildlife crime by promoting research and information sharing, training and capacity building, technical support, sharing experiences and outreach and to encourage member countries to prepare and implement their national action plans in curbing wildlife crime.
Merchandise Export from India Scheme
The Director General of Foreign Trade has said that the rates enhanced under the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS), a scheme to promote exports, would continue beyond June 30.
Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) under Foreign Trade Policy of India (FTP 2015-20) is one of the two schemes introduced in Foreign Trade Policy of India 2015-20, as a part of Exports from India Scheme.
Objective of Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) as per Indian Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20 (FTP 2015-20) is to offset infrastructural inefficiencies and associated costs involved in export of goods/products, which are produced/manufactured in India, especially those having high export intensity, employment potential and thereby enhancing India’s export competitiveness.
ISRO making green propellant
Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have reported progress in the development of an environment-friendly propellant to power satellites and spacecraft. The new propellant is a blend based on hydroxylammonium nitrate (HAN).
About the new propellant:
- The new HAN-based monopropellant is already being tested. A monopropellant is a chemical propulsion fuel which does not require a separate oxidizer. It is used extensively in satellite thrusters for orbital correction and orientation control.
- The in-house formulation consists of HAN, ammonium nitrate, methanol and water. While methanol was added to reduce combustion instability, the choice of AN was dictated by its capacity to control the burn rate and lower the freezing point of the propellant.
Need for a new propellant
Presently, hydrazine rocket fuel is being used. However, it is a highly toxic and carcinogenic chemical. Due to its high performance characteristics, hydrazine has dominated the space industry as the choice of propellant for over six decades, despite its environment and health hazards and the challenges faced in its manufacturing, storage, ground handling and transportation.
Ivory is ‘government property’
The Supreme Court, in Wild Life Warden v Komarrikkal Elias case, has held that elephant tusk is a property of the Government. The Supreme Court observed that there is a clear “declaration” in the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 on elephant tusks being government property.
Section 39(1) (c) of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 says that an ivory imported into India and an article made from such ivory in respect of which any offence against this Act or any rule or order made thereunder has been committed, shall be deemed to be the property of the state government, and where such animal is hunted in a sanctuary or national park declared by the Central Government, such animal or any animal article, trophy, uncured trophy or meat derived from such animal shall be the property of the Central Government.
Also known as the castle law or the defense of habitation law, this refers to a doctrine in the common law tradition which states that a person who acts in self defence against an intruder into his personal property has the right to legal immunity for his actions.
A person who is defending his home against an intruder can use deadly force to protect himself and still be exonerated for his actions under the law. The defendant employing the castle doctrine will have to justify his action with sufficient evidence and also explain the use of deadly force as an appropriate and reasonable response to the particular threat that was facing him.
What is Thalassemia
- Thalaseemia is a chronic blood disorder. It is a genetic disorder due to which a patient cannot make enough hemoglobin found in Red Blood Cells (RBC’s). This leads to anemia and patients also require blood transfusions every two to three weeks to survive.
- Thalassemias are inherited disorders passed from parents to children through genes. Each red blood cell can contain between 240 and 300 million molecules of haemoglobin. The severity of the disease depends on the mutations involved in the genes, and their interplay.
- India is the thalassaemia capital of the world with 40 million carriers and over 1,00,000 thalassaemia majors under blood transfusion every month.
Development and upgradation of Botanic Garden in Noida
- Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change laid the foundation-stone for the development and up gradation of the Botanic Garden of Indian Republic (BGIR) at Noida recently.
- The Garden is being developed and upgraded with the objectives of collection of plant species, research, training, environment education, public awareness, aesthetics and entertainment through the protection of plant biodiversity
- It is to be developed as a centre of excellence in the preservation of Rare, Endangered and Threatened (RET) and local plant species.
- A gene bank, seed bank, herbarium unit, orchid house, cactus house, nursery, plant biodiversity, research facility, education and maintenance will be developed in the Botanic Garden.
- At present, more than 10,500 individuals of about 900 plant species brought from 23 states of the country have been conserved in the garden.
- They are conserved under various sections/areas like Economic Plant, Green Belt/Woodland, Fruit, Medicinal Plant, Cactus & Succulents, Nurseries and Water bodies.
Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi
- At a time when the British ruled India, Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi became India’s first woman doctor.
- Joshi was born as Yamuna in Kalyan (in present-day Maharashtra) on March 31, 1865.
- At the age of nine, she was married to Gopalrao Joshi, who renamed her as Anandi.
- Her husband supported education for women and he encouraged Joshi to pursue education.
- Anandibai Joshi from India, Kei Okami from Japan, and Tabat M.Islambooly from Ottomon/Syria were students in Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania.
- All three were the first woman from their respective countries to obtain a degree in Western medicine.
- Government of India is planning to propose a ban over burning petroleum coke as a fuel nationwide to comply with a Supreme Court request.
- It is seen as a part of a long-running case to clean the country’s air.
- Petroleum coke or petcoke is an oil refinery by-product.
- It is used as a fuel because of its higher energy content than coal.
- It releases larger amounts of carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide, which can cause lung disease and acid rain.
- Government may allow petcoke to be used in the limestone and cement industries.
- More than half of India’s petcoke demand of 27 million tones is imported, mostly from the United States.
- India is the world’s biggest consumer of petcoke.
- The prevalence of sleep paralysis in India is unknown, as sleep medicine is an under-researched faculty in India.
- Sleep paralysis is defined as a disturbing temporary inability to perform voluntary movements at sleep-wake transitions.
- Despite being awake and conscious of the sleeping environment, it is impossible for subjects to move their limbs or even open their eyes.
- Sleep paralysis is thought to occur due to a Rapid Eye Movement -intrusion into wakefulness, i.e. the body is still in REM sleep, while the brain has woken up.
- REM sleep is the stage in which dreams occur which is characterized by a complete paralysis of the voluntary muscles of the body.
- This prevalence appears to be higher among students, and those with psychiatric illness.
- The Kangara fort is located on a steep hill about 20 km from Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh.
- It occupies a narrow strip of land between the the Banganga and Majhi river.
- The kot (fort) was earlier called Nagarkot or fort of the city or Kot Kangra.
- It was built by the royal Rajput family of Kangra State (the Katoch dynasty).
- The highest point in the fort is occupied by the palace courtyard.
- Below the palace courtyard there is a large courtyard containing the stone carved temples of Laxmi Narayan, Ambika Devi and the Jain Temple.
Tag:Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi, Development and upgradation of Botanic Garden, Domestic Violence Act, ISRO making green propellant, Ivory is ‘government property’, Kangara fort, Merchandise Export from India Scheme, Overcrowding in prisons, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Sleep Paralysis, South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN), Thalassemia