Daily Current Affairs : December 8th and 9th

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. The laws on rape & sexual crimes
  2. Creamy Layer Reservations
  3. Lokpal
  4. Tyre Pyrolysis
  5. Paika Rebellion
  6. Facts for Prelims : Typhoid, Measles, COPD, Pygmy Hog, Bird Walk Festival, Nirbhay Kadi

1 . The laws on rape and sexual crimes


Context:- After the rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad on November 28 and the burning of a rape survivor in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh,there has been an outcry for justice for the victims.

How does the law define rape?

  • Rape’ as a clearly defined offence was first introduced in the Indian Penal Code in 1860.
  • Section 375 of the IPC made punishable the act of sex by a man with a woman if it was done against her will or without her consent. 
  • The definition of rape also included sex when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested, in fear of death or of hurt.
  • Sex with or without her consent, when she is under 18 years is considered rape.
  • However, under the exception, sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.

Section 228A

  • During the trial of Mathura custodial rape case the sessions court acquitted both the policemen, the High Court reversed the order of acquittal. When the case reached the Supreme Court, it overturned the High Court verdict saying that “the intercourse in question is not proved to amount rape”.
  • The top court, in its 1978 verdict, said no marks of injury were found on the girl after the incident and “their absence goes a long way to indicate that the alleged intercourse was a peaceful affair”.
  • The controversial verdict sparked widescale protests across the country seeking a change in existing rape laws. 
  • This culminated into the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act of 1983. A new Section 114A in the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 was inserted which presumed that there is absence of consent in certain prosecutions of rape if the victim says so. This applied to custodial rape cases.
  • In the IPC, Section 228A was added which makes it punishable to disclose the identity of the victim of certain offences including rape.

Are the laws gender neutral?

  •  Rape law in India even today remains gender specific, as the perpetrator of the offence can only be a ‘man’, the 172nd report led to the amendments in the Indian Evidence Act in 2002. A new provision was inserted which barred putting questions in the cross-examination of the victim as to her general ‘immoral character’ in rape or attempt to rape cases.

Are rape laws stricter now?

  • Nirbhaya case in Delhi led to the passing of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act in 2013 which widened the definition of rape and made punishment more stringent.
  • These amendments were made on the recommendation of the Justice J.S. Verma Committee. Main provisions were as follows :
    • Increased jail terms in most sexual assault cases and also provided for the death penalty in rape cases that cause death of the victim or leaves her in a vegetative state.
    • It also created new offences, such as use of criminal force on a woman with intent to disrobe, voyeurism and stalking.
    • The punishment for gang rape was increased to 20 years to life imprisonment from the earlier 10 years to life imprisonment.
    • Earlier, there was no specifi c provision in law for off ences such as use of unwelcome physical contact, words or gestures, demand or request for sexual favours, showing pornography against the will of a woman or making sexual remarks. But, the 2013 Act clearly defi ned these off ences and allocated punishment. 
    • Similarly, stalking was made punishable with up to three years in jail. 
    • The offence of acid attack was increased to 10 years of imprisonment.

Offences against minors

  • Kathua rape case led to the passing of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 which for the first time put death penalty as a possible punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years; the minimum punishment is 20 years in jail.
  • Another new section was also inserted in the IPC to specifi cally deal with rape on a girl below 16 years. The provision made the off ence punishable with minimum imprisonment of 20 years which may extend to imprisonment for life.
  • The minimum jail term for rape, which has remained unchanged since the introduction of the IPC in 1860, was increased from seven to 10 years.

Under what law is sexual harassment at the workplace covered?

  • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act was passed in 2013.
  • It defines sexual harassment and lays down the procedures for a complaint and inquiry, and the action to be taken. It broadens the Vishaka guidelines, which were already in place.
  • Additionally, the Act mentions five circumstances that amount to sexual harassment — implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment; implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment; implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status; interference with her work or creating an offensive or hostile work environment; humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety.

What were the Vishaka guidelines?

  • These were laid down by the Supreme Court in a judgment in 1997. This was on a case filed by women’s rights groups, one of which was Vishaka. They had filed a public interest litigation over the alleged gang-rape of Bhanwari Devi, a social worker from Rajasthan. In 1992, she had prevented the marriage of a one-year-old girl, leading to the alleged gang-rape in an act of revenge.
  • Legally binding, these defined sexual harassment and imposed three key obligations on institutions — prohibition, prevention, redress.
  • The Supreme Court directed that they establish a Complaints Committee, which would look into matters of sexual harassment of women at the workplace.

How does the 2013 Act broaden these?

  • It mandates that every employer constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at each office or branch with 10 or more employees. It lays down procedures and defines various aspects of sexual harassment, including aggrieved victim — a woman “of any age whether employed or not”, who “alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment”, which means the rights of all women working or visiting any workplace, in any capacity, are protected under the Act.

How does it define sexual harassment?

  • Sexual harassment includes “any one or more” of the following “unwelcome acts or behaviour” committed directly or by implication:
    • Physical contact and advances
    • A demand or request for sexual favours
    • Sexually coloured remarks
    • Showing pornography
    • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

Is there a time-frame within which the complaint has to be made?

  • The Act states the complaint of sexual harassment has to be made “within three months from the date of the incident”. For a series of incidents, it has to be made within three months from the date of the last incident.
  • However, this is not rigid. The internal complaints committee (ICC)can “extend the time limit” if “it is satisfied that the circumstances were such which prevented the woman from filing a complaint within the said period”. The ICC is to record these reasons.

What happens if a complaint is found to be false?

  • Section 14 of the Act deals with punishment for false or malicious complaint and false evidence.
  • In such a case, the ICC “may recommend” to the employer that it take action against the woman, or the person who has made the complaint, in “accordance with the provisions of the service rules”.
  • The Act, however, makes it clear, that action cannot be taken for “mere inability” to “substantiate the complaint or provide adequate proof”. 

2. Reservation in Promotion


Context :-The Central government asked the Supreme Court of India to refer to a seven judge Bench the question whether the creamy layer concept should apply (or not) to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes while giving them reservation in promotions. 

About the issue?

  • A five judge Bench of the Supreme Court in Jarnail Singh versus Lachhmi Narain Gupta agreed with its 12­ year­ old verdict in the M. Nagaraj case that the creamy layer applied to SCs and STs in order to prevent the socially advanced in a backward community or class from taking undue advantage of the reservation thereby leaving the weak among the backwardard class impoverished.

Stand of the Govt

  • The government believes that the ‘creamy layer’ will become a method to deprive the backward classes of the benefi t of reservation. 
  • The Attorney­General of India, K.K. Venugopal, said the SC/ST community as a whole still continues to bear the yoke of centuries’ old backwardness.

About the creamy layer concept

  • The ‘means­-test and creamy layer‘ first finds expression in the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in Indra Sawhney versus Union of India, delivered by a nine­judge Bench in 1992. 
  • The judgment recorded lawyers describing the ‘creamy layer’ as some members of a backward class who are highly advanced socially as well as economically and educationally… They constitute the forward section of that particular backward class — as forward as any other forward class member. They lap up all the benefits of reservations meant for that class, without allowing benefits to reach the truly backward members of that class.
  • The Indra Sawhney judgment had upheld the government’s move, based on the Mandal Commission report, to give 27% reservation to Other Backward Classes. But it held that the creamy layer (socially advanced persons) can be and must be excluded from backward classes. The court said “economic criterion could be adopted as an indicium or measure of social advancement” in order to identify members of a creamy layer in a class or a group. The court asked the Central government to fix the norms for income, property and status for identifying the creamy layer.

Timeline of the issue

  • The Indra Sawhney verdict had held there would be reservation only in initial appointments and not promotions. 
  • The Centre introduced Article 16(4A) through the Constitution (Seventy­seventh Amendment) Act to overcome the eff ect of this judgment and continue with its policy of extending quotas for SCs and STs in promotions, reasoning that their representation in States’ services has not reached the required level.
  • Article 16(4B)was also introduced in the Constitution to carry forward unfi lled vacancies in subsequent years and not apply the 50% cap on reservation to these vacancies. 
  • Article 335 of the Constitution was amended in 2001 to allow relaxations in qualifying marks and lowering of standards in favour of SCs/STs. 
  • The amendments were challenged in the Supreme Court and referred to a fi ve judge Bench in the M. Nagaraj case.

M. Nagaraj case

  • In 2006,the five­ judge Bench, in Nagaraj, laid down three conditions for promotion of SCs and STs in public employment
  • The court held that the government cannot introduce quota in promotion for its SC/ST employees unless it proves that…
    • the particular community was backward,
    • inadequately represented
    • providing reservation in promotion would not affect the overall efficiency of public administration. 
  • The opinion of the government should be based on quantifiable data.
  • The judgment in Nagaraj also held that the creamy layer was applicable to SCs and STs in government promotions.

What happened in the ‘Jarnail Singh’ judgment(2018)?

  • In Jarnail Singh, another five­ judge Bench upheld the 2006 verdict’s reasoning that the creamy layer principle was based on the right to equality. 
  • The court held that quota benefits should go to the weakest of the weak and not be snatched away by members of the same class who were in the “top creamy layer”. 
  • Justice Rohinton F. Nariman,in the Jarnail Singh case, said the creamy layer concept ensured that only the genuinely deserving members of an SC/ST community get reservation benefi ts.
  • The judgment said that when the court applied creamy layer to SCs and STs in the Nagaraj case, it did not tinker with the Presidential List under Articles 341 or 342 of the Constitution. The caste, group or sub­group named in the List had remained intact.

Should reservation based on caste be determined by economic criteria?

  • Reservation is, by definition, a means to ending discrimination based on caste which has been a feature of the Indian society for thousands of years. It is not a remedy for economic backwardness. This is why there is no reservation for low-income members of the upper castes.
  • Reservation is meant to ensure that backward castes are fairly represented in public services, educational institutions and legislatures, and get a share in state power – something denied to them throughout Indian history.
  • Indian leaders all along have been very clear about determining reservation by caste alone. In 1937, when the British Raj reserved legislative seats for Dalits according to a pact between Mohandas Gandhi and BR Ambedkar, it did not specify income criteria. Neither did independent India’s first government place such restrictions on Dalit and Adivasi reservation.
  • Many commentators have argued that mandating an economic ceiling for reservation misunderstands how caste works: Dalits and Adivasis face discrimination even if they are well-off or educated.

Will excluding the creamy layer really benefit the poorer in their community?

  • This contention of the Supreme Court is disputed by many activists and experts.
  • They point out that far from seats being corned by a small clique, Dalits and Adivasis are so disadvantaged it is difficult to even fill the seats reserved for them.
  • In July 2018, for example, the highly sought-after Delhi University did not manage to fill its reserved category seats. This is true of government jobs as well.

3 . Lokpal


Context:- Almost six years after the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, was signed into law, several key provisions need­ed for the anti­-corruption ombudsman to function have still not been operation­alised. 

Criticisms regarding implementation of the Lokpal Act

  • Only in 2019 almost more than five years after implementation of the act the first chairperson and mem­bers of the Lokpal were ap­pointed.
  • Section 60 of the Act gives the Lokpal the power to make regulations on “the manner and procedure of conducting preliminary in­quiry or investigation”. It al­so deals with making regula­tions on the website display of the status of all complaints — pending or disposed — along with records and evi­dence. Till now, no regula­tions have been made by the Lokpal under Section 60.
  • Process of constitution of Prosecution Wing of Lokpal is yet to be initiated in consultation with the government of India as mandated by the act
  • Regula­tions for how to conduct pre­liminary investigations have not been made.
  • The rules for the disclo­sure of assets and liabilities by public servants have not been notified. This is a key provision as the amass­ing of assets disproportion­ate to the known sources of income is often the basis for a complaint.

About the Lokpal Act

  • The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, is an anti-corruption Act which “seeks to provide for the establishment of the institution of Lokpal to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain important public functionaries.

Who appoints the Lokpal

  • A five-member panel comprising the Prime Minister, the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India and an eminent jurist nominated by the President, selects the Lokpal.

Composition of Lokpal

  • Under the 2013 Act, the Lokpal should consist of a chairperson and such number of members, not exceeding eight, of whom 50% should be judicial members. The selection procedure for these posts is the same as that for the chairperson. A search committee will prepare a panel of candidates, a selection committee will recommend names from among this panel, and the President will appoint these as members.
  • The Act states that not less than 50% of the members of the Lokpal should be from among persons belonging to the SCs, the STs, OBCs, minorities and women. The same rules apply members of the search committee. Salaries, allowances and service conditions of the Lokpal chairperson will be the same as those for the Chief Justice of India; those for other members will be the same as those for a judge of the Supreme Court.

What are the powers of Lokpal?

  • The Lokpal will have the power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by the ombudsman.
  • As per the Act, the Lokpal can summon or question any public servant if there exists a prima facie case against the person, even before an investigation agency (such as vigilance or CBI) has begun the probe. Any officer of the CBI investigating a case referred to it by the Lokpal, shall not be transferred without the approval of the Lokpal.
  • An investigation must be completed within six months. However, the Lokpal or Lokayukta may allow extensions of six months at a time provided the reasons for the need of such extensions are given in writing.
  • Special courts will be instituted to conduct trials on cases referred by Lokpal.
  • The Lokpal can award fine up to Rs. 2 lakh for “false, frivolous or vexatious” complaints.

Various wings under Lokpal

  • It will have an “Inquiry Wing, headed by the Director of Inquiry, for the purpose of conducting preliminary inquiry into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988”. It will also have a “Prosecution Wing, headed by the Director of Prosecution, for the purpose of prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act

What kind of public servants will come under the purview of these wings?

  • A wide range of public servants — from the Prime Minister, ministers and MPs, to groups A, B, C and D employees of the central government — various rules are in place.
  • If a complaint is filed against the Prime Minister, the Act says, “Lokpal shall inquire or cause an inquiry to be conducted into any matter involved in, or arising from, or connected with, any allegation of corruption made in a complaint”. However, certain conditions will apply.
  • The Act does not allow a Lokpal inquiry if the allegation against the Prime Minister relates to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.
  • Also, complaints against the Prime Minister are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of an inquiry and at least two-thirds of the members approve it. Such an inquiry against the Prime Minister (if conducted) is to be held in camera and if the Lokpal comes to the conclusion that the complaint deserves to be dismissed, the records of the inquiry are not to be published or made available to anyone.

How is an inquiry to proceed?

  • The Lokpal may, after receiving a complaint against any public servant, order a preliminary inquiry (to be completed with in 90 days) or investigation by any agency.
  • After receiving the report of the preliminary inquiry, the Lokpal may order an investigation by any agency or departmental proceedings or any other appropriate action against the concerned public servants by the competent authority, or it can order closure of the proceedings.

What are the Lokayuktas mentioned in the Act?

  • Every State shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta for the State, if not so established, constituted or appointed, by a law made by the State Legislature, to deal with complaints relating to corruption against certain public functionaries, within a period of one year from the date of commencement of this Act,” states Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act.
  • This means establishment of the institution of the Lokayukta including any appointment therein falls within the domain of the states.

4 . Tyre Pyrolysis


Context : The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has pulled up 270 tyre pyrolysis units in 19 States for employing technology that is polluting and harmful to the health of workers employed.

About Tyre Pyrolysis

  • Tyre pyrolysis refers to a technique of breaking down used tyres in the absence of oxygen. 
  • Shredded tyres, at temperatures between 250o C and 500o C, produce liquid oil and gases.
  • While this is considered a safer technique than burning tyres, pyrolysis leaves fine carbon matter, pyro­gas and oil as residue and the inadeq­uate management of these by­products poses health risks.
  • India is also a recipient of used tyres from Australia and the U.K., which are sent for recycling and disposal.

5 . Paika Rebellion


About Paika Rebellion

  • Paikas were essentially the peasant militias of the Gajapati rulers of Odisha who rendered military service to the king during times of war while taking up cultivation during times of peace.
  • They unfurled the banner of rebellion against the British under the leadership of Baxi Jagandhu Bidyadhara as early as 1817 to throw off the British yoke. 
  • Rulers of Khurda were traditionally the custodians of Jagannath Temple and ruled as the deputy of lord Jagannath on earth. They symbolised the political and cultural freedom of the people of Odisha.

Background

  • The British, having established their sway over Bengal Province and Madras Province to the north and south of Odisha, occupied it in 1803.
  • The Gajapati King of Odisha Mukunda Deva-ll was a minor then and initial resistance by Jai Rajguru, the custodian of Mukunda Deva-II, was put down brutally and Jai Rajguru was torn apart alive.

Note : In 2017 MHRD announced that Paika rebellion (Paika Bidroha) of 1817 will be named as First War of Independence against British Rule in history books from next academic session.

About the Rebellion

  • A few years later, it was the Paikas under Baxi Jagabandhu, the hereditary chief of the militia army of the Gajapati King, who rose in rebellion, taking support of tribals and other sections of society.
  • The rebellion started in March 1817 and spread quickly. Though Paikas played a larger role in the rebellion against the British, it was by no means a rebellion by a small group of people belonging to a particular class.
  • The tribals of Ghumusar (part of present day Ganjam and Kandhmal Districts) and other sections of the population actively took part in it. In fact, the Paika Bidroha got the opportune moment to spread when 4OO tribals of Ghumsar entered Khurda protesting against the British rule.
  • The Paikas attacked British symbols of power, setting ablaze police stations, administrative offices and the treasury during their march towards Khurda, from where the British fled.
  • The Paikas were supported by the rajas of Kanika, Kujang, Nayagarh and Ghumusar and zamindars, village heads and ordinary peasants. The rebellion quickly spread to Purl, Pipli Cuttack and other parts of the province.
  • The British were initially taken aback and then tried to regain lost ground but faced stiff resistance from the rebelling Paikas. Many a battle ensued with some victories to the rebels, but the British finally managed to defeat them within three months. 
  • Widespread suppression followed with many killed and imprisoned. Many more were tortured.
  • Some rebels fought a guerilla war till 1819 but were captured and killed. Baxi Jagabandhu was finally arrested in 1825 and died in captivity in 1829.

6 . Facts for Prelims


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease(COPD)

  • It’s an irreversible lung congestion caused by long term  exposure to organic dust.The disease is preventable, but not curable.
  • As per the WHO Global Report on Tobacco  Attributable Mortality, 2012, within non-communicable diseases group, 28% of deaths caused by COPD are due to tobacco use.
  • Exposure to  indoor air pollution caused by cooking and heating could aggravate the incidence especially among women.

Measles

  • Measles is a highly contagious virus and spreads rapidly in unvaccinated children, causing symptoms from rash to blindness, pneumonia to death.  Measles is caused by infection with a virus from the paramyxovirus family.
  • Rubella, also called German measles or three-day measles, is a contagious viral infection best known by its distinctive red rash. Rubella virus is the primary cause of congenital rubella syndrome leading to abortions and children born with birth defect of heart, eye and brain. 
  • Rubella is not the same as measles (rubeola), though the two illnesses do share some characteristics, including the red rash. However, rubella is caused by a different virus than measles, and is neither as infectious nor usually as severe as measles.
  • Measles and rubelaa can be prevented through vaccination. 2 doses of measles vaccine, either alone, or in a measles-rubella (MR), measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) combination are the globally accepted standard for all national immunization programmes.
  • At 2.3 million, India has the second highest number of children who are not vaccinated against measles,the report published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) says. With 204 million, Nigeria has the most number of unvaccinated children

Typhoid

  • Typhoid fever is caused by highly contagious SalmonellaTyphi bacteria
  • The bacteria spread through contaminated food and water.
  • A new typhoid vaccine (Typbar TCV) developed by the Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech has shown 81.6% efficacy in preventing typhoid fever at 12 months in a phase 3 clinical trial.
  • The Typbar TCV typhoid vaccine is a conjugate vaccine. Conjugate vaccine is one in which the antigen (which is a polysaccharide in this case) is chemically linked to a carrier protein.

Typhoid Fever Cases by Drug Resistance

Pygmy Hog

  • The smallest member of the pig family, the pygmy hog (porcula salvania), is a critically endangered species. It is designated as a Schedule I species in India
  • Once found along a narrow strip of tall and wet grassland plains on the Himalayan foothills – from Uttar Pradesh to Assam, through Nepal’s terai areas and Bengal’s duars – it was thought to have become extinct in the 1960s.
  • But in 1971 it was “re-discovered” with a small population in the Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • The only viable population of the pygmy hog in the wild is in the Manas Tiger Reserve in Assam.

Nirbhay Kadi (BOLD BUD)

  • District administration of Ganjam has recently been awarded by the state Women and Child Development department for its achievements in restricting child marriages through an innovative approach.
  • The district administration had launched a special scheme ‘Nirbhay Kadi’ under which it has been utilising the services of all the frontline workers to track the dropout schoolchildren, make a database of them and engage all the adolescent population especially the dropped out in the drive.
  • This section of the girl children which are most vulnerable to child marriages are also counselled about the biological hazards of early marriages.
  • The adolescent girls are informed about the harmful effects of early child marriage on their health like increased chances of stillbirth and other harms to their body. They are also apprised of the existing laws. This drive has empowered the kids with adequate knowledge to reason with their kin on why they should be married before legal age.They also have formed local committees named  Bal Bibah Pratirodh Mandal.

Bird Walk Festival

  • Telangana is all set to organise a Bird Walk Fes­tival on December 14 and 15. The Bird Walk tour includes a visit to the scenic habitat of the Long­billed vultures in Penchikalpet range, the scavenger bird be­ing the flagship species. The habitat is located in a beauti­ful setting at a bend in the Peddavagu stream close to where it joins the Pranahita river on the Inter­ state bor­der with Maharashtra near Motlaguda village.
  • About Long Billed Vultures / Indian Vultures : The Indian vulture is an Old World vulture native to India, Pakistan and Nepal. It has been listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2002, as the population severely declined.  The cause of this has been identified as poisoning caused by the veterinary drug diclofenac.
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