Daily Current Affairs : 22nd January 2022

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

  1. Contempt of Court
  2. UNESCO Heritage tag
  3. Amar Jawan Jyoti and War Memorial
  4. All-India Tiger and Mega Herbivore Estimation
  5. Facts for Prelims

1 . Contempt of Court


Context : Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal gave consent to a plea to initiate contempt proceedings against Yati Narsinghanand, under arrest in the Haridwar hate speech case, over his derogatory remarks against the Constitution and the Supreme Court. The prior consent of the top law officer is mandated in law in order to file a criminal contempt petition in the Supreme Court.

Background of the Law

  • In England contempt of court is a common law principle that seeks to protect the judicial power of the king, initially exercised by himself, and later by a panel of judges who acted in his name. Violation of the judges’ orders was considered an affront to the king himself.
  • Over time, any kind of disobedience to judges, or obstruction of the implementation of their directives, or comments and actions that showed disrespect towards them came to be punishable.

Statutory basis for contempt of court

  • There were pre-Independence laws of contempt in India. Besides the early High Courts, the courts of some princely states also had such laws.
  • When the Constitution was adopted, contempt of court was made one of the restrictions on freedom of speech and expression.
  • Article 129 of the Constitution conferred on the Supreme Court the power to punish contempt of itself. Article 215 conferred a corresponding power on the High Courts.
  • The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, gives statutory backing to the idea.

What are the kinds of contempt of court?

The law codifying contempt classifies it as civil and criminal.

  • Civil contempt is committed when someone wilfully disobeys a court order, or wilfully breaches an undertaking given to court.
  • Criminal contempt consists of three forms:
    • (a) words, written or spoken, signs and actions that “scandalise” or “tend to scandalise” or “lower” or “tends to lower” the authority of any court
    • (b) prejudices or interferes with any judicial proceeding
    • (c) interferes with or obstructs the administration of justice.
  • Making allegations against the judiciary or individual judges, attributing motives to judgments and judicial functioning and any scurrilous attack on the conduct of judges are normally considered matters that scandalise the judiciary.
  • The rationale for this provision is that courts must be protected from tendentious attacks that lower its authority, defame its public image and make the public lose faith in its impartiality.
  • The punishment for contempt of court is simple imprisonment for a term up to six months and/or a fine of up to ₹. 2,000.

What does scandalizing or lowering the authority of court mean?

  • Scandalizing might manifest itself in various ways but in substance, it is an attack on individual judges in particular or the court as a whole, with or without reference to a particular case, by casting unwarranted and defamatory aspersions upon the character or the ability of the judges.
  • Such conduct is punished as criminal contempt for the reason that it tends to create distrust in the minds of common people and thereby shatters confidence of the people in the judiciary.

Initiation of criminal contempt?

  • The prior consent of the Attorney General is required for the Supreme Court to initiate criminal contempt action in a case.

Procedure for bringing a criminal contempt of court case against an individual

  • The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, lays down the law on contempt of court. Section 15 of the legislation describes the procedure on how a case for contempt of court can be initiated.
  • In the case of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General or the Solicitor General, and in the case of High Courts, the Advocate General, may bring in a motion before the court for initiating a case of criminal contempt.
  • However, if the motion is brought by any other person, the consent in writing of the Attorney General or the Advocate General is required.
  • The motion or reference made for initiating the case will have to specify the contempt of which the person charged is alleged to be guilty.

Why does the Attorney General have to grant consent

  • The procedure in cases of criminal contempt of court, which means the publication of material that scandalises or lowers the dignity of the court or prejudices or interferes with the proceedings of the court, the consent of the Attorney General is required under the law.
  • The objective behind requiring the consent of the Attorney General before taking cognizance of a complaint is to save the time of the court. Judicial time is squandered if frivolous petitions are made and the court is the first forum for bringing them in.
  • The AG’s consent is meant to be a safeguard against frivolous petitions, as it is deemed that the AG, as an officer of the court, will independently ascertain whether the complaint is indeed valid. 

Is the AG’s consent mandatory for all contempt of court cases

  • The AG’s consent is mandatory when a private citizen wants to initiate a case of contempt of court against a person. Before such a plea can be filed, the Attorney General must sign off on the complaint, determining if it requires the attention of the court at all.
  • However, when the court itself initiates a contempt of court case the AG’s consent is not required. This is because the court is exercising its inherent powers under the Constitution to punish for contempt and such Constitutional powers cannot be restricted because the AG declined to grant consent.

What happens if the AG denies consent

  • If the AG denies consent, the matter all but ends. The law has a limitation period of one year for bringing in action against an individual.
  • The complainant can, however, separately bring the issue to the notice of the court and urge the court to take suo motu (on its own motion) cognizance.
  • Article 129 of the Constitution gives the Supreme Court the power to initiate contempt cases on its own, independent of the motion brought before it by the AG or with the consent of the AG.
  • The Supreme Court shall be a court of record and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of itself,” Article 129 states.

What happens after the AG has granted consent

  • Once the consent of the Attorney General is given in writing, a notice under The Contempt of Courts Act is served personally on the person against whom the proceedings are sought to be initiated by the court. If the court decides not to serve the notice personally, the law requires the court to record the reasons for it.
  • If the court is satisfied that the alleged contemnor is likely to abscond or evade judicial proceedings, it can order attachment of property of a value that it deems reasonable.
  • Once the notice is served, the alleged contemnor may file an affidavit in support of his defence, explaining the nature and circumstances of her remarks. The case is required under the Act to be heard by a Bench of at least two judges. The court then takes into account any evidence available to check the affidavit, and pass appropriate orders.

2 . UNESCO World Heritage tag


Context : The Zoological Survey of India has underlined some green rules for the living root bridges of Meghalaya to get the UNESCO World Heritage Site tag. CM Conrad K. Sangma pitched for UNESCO recognition as the hill State marked its 50th year of creation.

About Living Root Bridge

  • A living root bridge is like a suspension bridge formed by guiding the pliable roots of the rubber fig tree (Ficus elastica) across a stream or river and allowing the roots to grow and strengthen over time.
  • ZSI Director Dhriti Banerjee said faunal diversity and the preparation of health cards would be the prerequisites to earn the tag.

About World Heritage Site

  • A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. The sites are judged important to the collective interests of humanity.
  • To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria.

Benefits

  • It brings international attention to the need for the preservation and conservation of the site.
  • It brings tourism to the site, with its accompanying economic benefits to the host country and local area.
  • It can provide funds for restoration, preservation, and training. For example, in 2001, the Taliban destroyed two 6th century, 150-ft. statues of Buddha carved into the mountainside in the Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan. The site has received more than $4 million from UNESCO to help with reconstruction and to hire a sculptor to re-carve some of the damaged stone
  • It promotes national and local pride in the natural and man-made wonders of the country.
  • It promotes close ties with the United Nations system and the prestige and support it provides.
  • It provides access to global project management resources.
  • It facilitates creating partnerships between government, the private sector, and NGOs to achieve conservation goals.
  • The site is protected under the Geneva Convention against destruction or misuse during wartime.

Selection Criteria

  • To represent a masterpiece of human creative genius
  • to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
  • to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared
  • to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
  • to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
  • to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);
  • to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
  • to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
  • to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
  • to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

Types of World Heritage Sites

  • Cultural heritage sites include hundreds of historic buildings and town sites, important archaeological sites, and works of monumental sculpture or painting. 
  • Natural heritage sites are restricted to those natural areas that (1) furnish outstanding examples of Earth’s record of life or its geologic processes, (2) provide excellent examples of ongoing ecological and biological evolutionary processes, (3) contain natural phenomena that are rare, unique, superlative, or of outstanding beauty, or (4) furnish habitats for rare or endangered animals or plants or are sites of exceptional biodiversity.
  • Mixed heritage sites contain elements of both natural and cultural significance. 

Process of getting into the list

  • The first step involves creating a detailed dossier showing the outstanding universal value of the site, besides meeting a few other criteria.
  • Once the documentation is complete, it requires a push by the State party or the country where the site is located.
  • The property is then evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) then provides advice on conservation of the site, and training.
  • After all these steps, the World Heritage Committee evaluates the site and decides to inscribe it or send back the nomination.

3 . Amar Jawan Jyoti & National War Memorial


Context : The government has put out the eternal flame of the Amar Jawan Jyoti underneath India Gate and merged it with the one instituted at the National War Memorial in 2019 a few hundred meters away.

What was the Amar Jawan Jyoti and why was it constructed?

  • The eternal flame at the Amar Jawan Jyoti underneath India Gate in central Delhi was an iconic symbol of the nation’s tributes to the soldiers who have died for the country in various wars and conflicts since Independence.
  • Established in 1972, it was to mark India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 War, which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. The then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had inaugurated it on Republic Day 1972, after India defeated Pakistan in December 1971
  • The key elements of the Amar Jawan Jyoti included a black marble plinth, a cenotaph, which acted as a tomb of the unknown soldier. The plinth had an inverted L1A1 self-loading rifle with a bayonet, on top of which was a soldier’s war helmet. The installation had four urns on it, with four burners. On normal days one of the four burners were kept alive, but on important days like the Republic Day, all four burners were lit. These burners were what is called the eternal flame, and it was never allowed to be extinguished.

How was the eternal flame kept burning?

  • For 50 years the eternal flame had been burning underneath India Gate, without being extinguished. But on Friday, the flame was finally put off, as it was merged with another eternal flame at the National War Memorial.
  • Since 1972, when it was inaugurated, it used to be kept alive with the help of cylinders of liquified petroleum gas, or LPG. One cylinder could keep one burner alive for a day and a half.
  • In 2006 that was changed. Though a project that cost around Rs 6 lakh the fuel for the flames was changed from LPG to piped natural gas, or PNG. It is through this piped gas that the flame marking the tribute to Indian soldiers had been kept alive eternally.

Why was it placed at India Gate?

  • The India Gate, All India War Memorial, as it was known earlier, was built by the British in 1931. It was erected as a memorial to around 90,000 Indian soldiers of the British Indian Army, who had died in several wars and campaigns till then. The inscription on the monument reads:
  • Names of more than 13,000 dead soldiers are mentioned on the memorial commemorating them.
  • As it was a memorial for the Indian soldiers killed in wars, the Amar Jawan Jyoti was established underneath it by the government in 1972.

What is the National War Memorial and when was it made?

  • The National War Memoria inaugurated in February 2019, was built to commemorate all the soldiers who have laid down their lives in the various battles, wars, operations and conflicts of Independent India. There are many independent memorials for such soldiers, but no memorial existed commemorating them all at the national level.
  • The architecture of the memorial is based on four concentric circles. Largest is the Raksha Chakra or the Circle of Protection which is marked by a row of trees, each of which represent soldiers, who protect the country.
  • The Tyag Chakra, the Circle of Sacrifice, has circular concentric walls of honour based on the Chakravyuh. The walls have independent granite tablets for each of the soldiers who have died for the country since Independence. A tablet is added every time a soldier is killed in the line of duty.
  • This Veerta Chakra, the Circle of Bravery, has a covered gallery with six bronze crafted murals depicting the battles and actions of our Armed Forces.
  • The final is the Amar Chakra, the Circle of Immortality, which has an obelisk, and the Eternal Flame. The flame from the Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate will be merged with this flame, which has been kept burning since 2019 when the memorial was unveiled. The flame is a symbol of the immortality of the spirit of the fallen soldiers, and a mark that the country will not forget their sacrifice.
  • Busts of the 21 soldiers who have been conferred with the highest gallantry award of the country, Param Vir Chakra, are also installed at the memorial.

4. All-India Tiger and Mega Herbivore Estimation.


Context : Tiger census will commence at Bandipur on Saturday and at Nagarahole on Sunday as part of the All-India Tiger and Mega Herbivore Estimation.

About All India Tiger and Mega Herbivore Estimation

  • This is part of the nation-wide enumeration that is held once in four years and is the fifth such exercise being taken up — the earlier ones being held in 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018.
  • This year’s enumeration exercise entails the use of MSTRIPES (Monitoring System for Tigers Intensive Protection and Ecological Status) app and apart from the tiger counts, the exercise will also throw up data on mega herbivores, including elephants and gaurs.
  • The use of apps ensures that the data is not only digitised but is uploaded on a real-time basis and is robust.

About M Stripes

  • M-Stripes is a software monitoring system built by the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Wildlife Institute of India
  • The system consists of two components
    • Field based protocols for patrolling, law enforcement, recording wildlife crimes and ecological monitoring
    • A customized software for storage, retrieval, analysis and reporting.

Benefits

  • Earlier law enforcement and ecological monitoring are being done, but the information generated is ad hoc and rarely available in a format for informed decision making.
  • The “MSTrIPES” addresses this void and is a tool for adaptive management. The system uses a holistic approach by integrating ecological insights obtained through the standardized tiger, prey, and habitat assessment protocols (Phase I) to guide protection and management.
  • It allows patrol teams to keep a better tab on suspicious activity while also mapping their own patrolling, location, routes and timings for better accountability.
  • The system performs statistical computations of occupancy, precision, sample size, and assesses trends over desired time and spatial scales for tigers, other carnivores, prey populations, human impacts, illegal activities, and law enforcement investments.
  • MSTrIPES produces easily interpretable reports and maps that are useful for management and policy decisions.
  • The system reduces the response time to detrimental events like poaching or habitat degradation and becomes a comprehensive tool to keep the pulse of a tiger reserve.

5 . Facts for Prelims


Blizzards

  • Blizzards are dangerous winter storms that are a combination of blowing snow and wind resulting in very low visibilities. While heavy snowfalls and severe cold often accompany blizzards, they are not required. Sometimes strong winds pick up snow that has already fallen, creating a ground blizzard.

Apple Producing states in India

  • The top apple producing states of India are Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand & Arunachal Pradesh with their respective shares of 77.71%, 19.19%, 2.52% and 0.3%.
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