Daily Current Affairs : 18th September 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. National Human Rights Commission
  2. Queen’s Council
  3. Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA)
  4. Gilgit – Baltistan
  5. Telecom Network Security Audit

1 . National Human Rights Commission


Context : The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has ordered the Assam government to pay ₹1 lakh to a 48-year-old man who was thrashed more than a year ago in Biswanath district for selling cooked beef at his tea stall at a weekly market.

What is Human Rights

  • Section 2(1)(d) of the Protection of Human Rights Act defines Human Rights as the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.

About National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

  • The National Human Rights Commission, India has been set up to enquire into complaints of violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant. It was established on 12 October, 1993. 
  • The statute under which it is established is the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993 as amended by the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006.
  • It is in conformity with the Paris Principles, adopted at the first international workshop on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights held in Paris in October 1991, and endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations by its Regulations 48/134 of 20 December, 1993.

Autonomy of the Commission

  • Autonomy of the Commission derives, inter-alia, from the method of appointing its Chairperson and Members, their fixity of tenure, and statutory guarantees thereto, the status they have been accorded and the manner in which the staff responsible to the Commission – including its investigative agency – will be appointed and conduct themselves.
  • The financial autonomy of the Commission is also provided under the Act.
Composition of NHRC
The NHRC consists of The Chairman and Four members (excluding the ex-officio members) 
  • A Chairperson, who has been a Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court
  • One member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India, or, One member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court
  • Three Members, out of which at least one shall be a woman to be appointed from amongst persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights
  • In addition, the Chairpersons of National Commissions viz., National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Women, National Commission for Minorities, National Commission for Backward Classes, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights; and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities serve as ex officio members.
  • The sitting Judge of the Supreme Court or sitting Chief Justice of any High Court can be appointed only after the consultation with the Chief Justice of Supreme Court.

Appointment

  • The Chairperson and Members of the Commission are appointed by the President on the basis of recommendations of a Committee comprising the Prime Minister as the Chairperson, the Speaker of Lok Sabha, the Home Minister, the leaders of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha as Members.
  • Term of office for Chairperson and members of the NHRC term is three years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier. 
  •  Original Act allows for the reappointment of members of the NHRC and SHRCs for a period of five years but an amendment in 2019 removes the five-year limit for reappointment.   

Removal

  • They can be removed only on the charges of proved misbehavior or incapacity, if proved by an inquiry conducted by a Supreme Court Judge.
Functions

The Commission shall, perform all or any of the following functions, namely:-

  • Inquire, on its own initiative or on a petition presented to it by a victim or any person on his behalf, into complaint of-
    • Violation of human rights or abetment or
    • Negligence in the prevention of such violation, by a public servant;
  • Intervene in any proceeding involving any allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court with the approval of such court
  • Visit, under intimation to the State Government, any jail or any other institution under the control of the State Government, where persons are detained or lodged for purposes of treatment, reformation or protection to study the living condition of the inmates and make recommendations thereon
  • Review the safeguards by or under the Constitution or any law for the time being in force for the protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation;
  • Review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures;
  • Study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation;
  • Undertake and promote research in the field of human rights;
  • Spread human rights literacy among various sections of society and promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights through publications, the media, seminars and other available means;
  • Encourage the efforts of non – Governmental organizations and institutions working in the field of human rights;
  • Such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of human rights.

Powers of National Human Rights Commission

  • While inquiring into complaints under the Act, the Commission shall have all the powers of a civil court trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and in particular the following, namely;
    • Summoning and enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them on oath;
    • Discovery and production of any document;
    • Receiving evidence on affidavits;
    • Requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;
    • Issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents;
    • Any other matter which may be prescribed.

Steps after the inquiry

  • Where the inquiry discloses the commission of violation of human right or negligence in the prevention of violation of human rights by a public servant, it may recommend to the concerned Government or authority the initiation of proceedings for prosecution or such other action as the Commission may deem fit against the concerned person or persons;
  • Approach the Supreme Court or the High Court concerned for such directions, orders or writs as that Court may deem necessary;
  • Recommend to the concerned Government or authority for the grant of such immediate interim relief to the victim or the members of his family as the Commission may consider necessary.

What kind of complaints are not entertained by the Commission ?

  • Ordinarily, complaints of the following nature are not entertained by the Commission:
    • In regard to events which happened more than one year before the making of the complaints;
    • With regard to matters which are sub-judice;
    • Which are vague, anonymous or pseudonymous;
    • Which are of frivolous nature;
    • Which pertain to service matters.

Human Rights Violation by Armed Forces

  • The Commission may on its own motion or on the basis of petitions made to it on allegations of human rights violations by armed forces, seek a report from the Central Government. On receipt of the report, it may either not proceed with the complaint or, as the case may be, make its recommendations to the Government.
  • According to the Act, the Central Government shall inform the Commission of the action taken on the recommendations within three months or such further time as the Commission may allow.
  • It is further stipulated that the Commission shall publish its report together with its recommendations made to the Central Government and the action taken by that Government on such recommendations. A copy of the report so published will also be given to the petitioner.

2 . Queen’s Council


Context: India has suggested Pakistan to appoint a Queen’s Counsel for the Kulbhushan Jadhav case to ensure a free and fair trial.

About the News

  • India’s suggestion has come against the backdrop of negotiations between India and Pakistan to ensure a free and fair trial. 
  • The International Court of Justice had asked Pakistan to ensure a fair review of the death sentence.
  • But according to India Pakistan has not provided unimpeded access to Kulbhushan Jadhav till now.

Queen’s Counsel

  • As per its legal definition, Queen’s Counsel is a barrister, or advocate, appointed Counsel to the Crown on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor and is entitled to sit within the Bar of the court and wear a silk gown
  • The position originated in England. Some Commonwealth countries have either abolished the position, or re-named it so as to remove monarchical connotations, for example, ’Senior Counsel’ or ’Senior Advocate’.
  • Queen’s Counsel are retained in several Commonwealth realms where Queen Elizabeth II is head of state. Many countries still appoint from Queen’s counsel
  • In jurisdictions that have become republics, the office of Queen’s Counsel has sometimes been replaced with an equivalent, for example, Senior Advocate in Nigeria, India and Bangladesh; and President’s Counsel in Sri Lanka.

3 . Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA)


Context: The U.S. is keen that India sign the last foundational agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA), at the next India-U.S. 2+2 ministerial dialogue likely to held in October 2020.

About Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA)

  • Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA) will allow India to use US expertise on geospatial intelligence and to enhance military accuracy of automated hardware systems and weapons like cruise, ballistic missiles and drones.

Previous Agreements signed with US

  • India had signed three foundational agreements: the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) and the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).
  • An extension to the GSOMIA, is the Industrial Security Annex (ISA) that was signed at the last 2+2 dialogue in 2019.

Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)

  • LEMOA or Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement is another name for Logistics Support Agreement (LSA).
  • It is a Military agreement between Armed Forces of India and the USA.
  • LEMOA allows each military to avail logistics support facilities like fuel, spare parts, mechanics, etc. of the other while on joint training, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), and port calls. 
  • The agreement lays out the procedure for billing for these facilities as part of a larger accounting transaction, and details are contained in the clarifying protocols annexed to LEMOA.
  • Under LEMOA, while Indian logistics support will be available to the US military, Indian armed forces will benefit from access to a large number of US military bases globally, particularly while undertaking HADR missions in a diaspora crisis. 
  • It will allow India to respond promptly to emerging situations or humanitarian crises, and will expand Indian military’s operational environment globally.

Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)

  • COMCASA is meant to provide a legal framework for the transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India that would facilitate “interoperability” between their forces and potentially with other militaries that use US-origin systems for secured data links. 
  • The general agreement signed by the US is called the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) but the name was changed to COMCASA to reflect its India-specific nature.

Industrial Security Annex (ISA)

  • Industrial Security Annex (ISA) is an extension to the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). ISA was signed between India and the U.S. at the second 2+2 dialogue in Washington.
  • Industrial Security Annex (ISA) is an enabling agreement that will allow US defense manufacturers to do business with Indian private sector companies.
  • The agreement will open the door for U.S. defence companies to partner with the Indian private sector for several multi-billion dollar deals in the pipeline, especially the deal for 114 fighter jets.
  • The ISA is a part of the General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), which India signed with the U.S. long back.
  • It became critical as India opened up the defence sector to the private sector and the Strategic Partnership policy, which has few big military platforms and is reserved for the Indian private sector.

4 . Gilgit – Baltistan


Context: Pakistan has decided to elevate Gilgit-Baltistan’s status to that of a full-fledged province with all constitutional rights.

About Pakistan Occupied Kashmir

  • Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is an area of 13,297 sq km, which was under the control of the Pakistani forces when the ceasefire line came into effect on January 1, 1949.
  • That was after a 14-month period of hostilities between India and Pakistan, which began with an invasion of Kashmir by Pashtun tribesmen, and later its Army, to seize Kashmir.
  • PoK has a population of over 40 lakh, according to a census carried out in 2017. It is divided into 10 districts: Neelum, Muzaffarabad, Hattian Bala, Bagh, and Haveli bordering areas in Kashmir, and Rawlakot, Kotli, Mirpur, and Bhimber bordering areas in Jammu. The capital of PoK is Muzaffarabad, a town located in the valley of the Jhelum river and its tributary Neelum (which Indians call Kishanganga) to the west and slightly north of Srinagar.
  • In 1963, through an agreement, Pakistan ceded to China over 5,000 sq km of J&K land under its control, in the Shaksgam area, in northern Kashmir, beyond the Karakoram.

And what is Gilgit Baltistan?

  • This is a picturesque, hilly region to the north of PoK and east of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
  • The British sold it, along with the rest of Jammu and Kashmir, to the Dogra ruler of Jammu, Gulab Singh, after defeating the Sikh army in 1846, but retained controlled over the area through a lease extracted from the Maharaja. This lease was last renewed in 1935.
  • In 1947, a British army officer of the rank of Colonel imprisoned Maharaja Hari Singh’s governor in the region, and handed over the area for accession to Pakistan.
  • Gilgit Baltistan (GB) is spread over 72,871 sq km, and is five-and-a-half times the size of PoK. But it is sparsely populated, with just under 20 lakh people.
  • GB is divided into three administrative divisions and 10 districts. Gilgit, Hunza, Ghizer and Nagar are in the Gilgit administrative division; Ghanche, Shigar, Kharmang and Skardu are in the Baltistan division; and Diamer and Astore are in the Diamer division.
  • It borders China in the North, Afghanistan in the west and Kashmir in the south east.

What is the administrative status in GB?

  • Though both PoK and GB are ruled directly from Islamabad, neither is officially listed as the territory of Pakistan, which has just four provinces: Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (which now includes the Federally Administered Tribal areas or FATA), Balochistan, and Sindh.
  • PoK and GB are both “autonomous territories”. Pakistan has kept this fiction going, as incorporating these areas into its map would damage its international position in the United Nations and elsewhere that the entire Jammu and Kashmir is “disputed”.
  • For India, on the other hand, as per the resolution passed by Parliament in 1994, PoK and GB are both part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession to India in 1947.

Gilgit-Baltistan – a Pakistani Province

  • After elevation as of Gilgit-Baltistan as a Pakistani Province it would be given adequate representation on all constitutional bodies, including the National Assembly and the Senate.
  • Gilgit-Baltistan will also be given constitutional rights.

India’s stand

  • India has clearly conveyed to Pakistan that the entire union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of the country by virtue of its fully legal and irrevocable accession.
  • India has stated the Government of Pakistan or its judiciary has no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it.
  • India has completely rejected such actions and continued attempts to bring material changes in Pakistan occupied areas of the Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor

  • The work on the Moqpondass Special Economic Zone would begin under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

5 . Telecom Network Security Audit


Context: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is all set to direct telecom companies to undertake an “information security audit” of their networks and submit the report by October end.

What is an information security audit for telecom networks?

  • An information security audit is a step-by-step assessment of the complete network infrastructure which checks for the equipment installed and the latest upgrades done in order to prevent any data leakages. 
  • The auditors also check the data storage and security policies of the company and check whether all sections of the company adhere to the norms set by the company itself.
  • Some auditing agencies also launch a controlled bug into the network of the company to check for vulnerabilities, and see what all systems are being impacted.
  • The objective of the audit is also to check for ‘backdoor’ and ‘trapdoor’ vulnerabilities
  • A ‘backdoor’ or a ‘trap door’ is a bug installed in the telecom hardware which allows companies to listen in or collect data being shared on the network.

Why does the DoT want telcos to do this audit?

  • One of the main reasons for the DoT asking telecom companies to get this external audit done by an agency empanelled with the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert-IN) is to check for any ‘backdoor’ or ‘trapdoor’ bugs installed on their networks as there are reports from other parts of the world of such bugs being installed in telecom networks
  • The audit is likely to increase the scrutiny on Chinese vendors Huawei Telecommunication Company and ZTE, which have been alleged to spy for the Chinese government.
  • For example, in January 2020, the US had released a report in which it had stated that Huawei had inserted ‘backdoors’ in telecom networks it had helped build in mobile phone networks in the US and across the world.
  • Apart from the US, other countries such as the UK and Australia have also banned both the Chinese companies on “national security” concerns with the same allegations.
  • Nearly all the countries that have barred the operations of these companies have cited the same law which requires Chinese firms to cooperate with Chinese intelligence agencies no matter where they are located in the world.
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