Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Goa Civil Code
- Laws Regulating Space Junks
- Photographs of the President of India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in advertisements
- PMLA Verdict
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Goa Civil Code
Context : A parliamentary panel has reviewed Goa’s uniform civil code, and some of its members feel that there are some peculiar and outdated provisions related to matrimony in it. The Goa Civil Code, a set of civil laws that governs all residents of the coastal State irrespective of their religion and ethnicity, has come under focus amid a call for the implementation of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) across the country.
Background of Goa Civil Code
- In 1867, Portugal enacted a Portuguese civil code and in 1869 it was extended to Portugal’s overseas provinces (that included Goa).
- The Goa Civil Code is in force since Portuguese times and is considered a Uniform Civil Code
- The Portuguese Civil Code in Goa continued in India by virtue of Section 5(1) of the Goa, Daman and Diu Administration Act, 1962, through which the new Indian Administration ruled that “all laws in force immediately before the appointed day (the day Goa was liberated on December 19, 1961) in Goa, Daman and Diu or any part thereof shall continue to be in force therein until amended or repealed by a competent legislature or other competent authority.”
- Because of this, the Portuguese civil code continues to be in force in Goa despite being replaced in Portugal, the country of its origin, with a more modern Portuguese civil code 1966.
Key Features of Goa Civil Code
- Goa’s Civil Code has four parts, dealing with civil capacity, acquisition of rights, right to property, and the breach of rights and remedies.
- It begins in the name of God and Dom Luis, King of Portugal and Algarves. India’s Constituent Assembly had rejected H V Kamath’s proposal of a similar invocation of God in the Constitution.
- The law provides for compulsory registration of marriages before a civil authority, ensuring that the wife is an equal inheritor and is entitled to half of the “common assets” including those inherited by her husband in the case of a divorce (in the absence of a prenuptial agreement stating otherwise) and that the parents must compulsorily share at least half of the property with their children including daughters.
- When it comes to marriages, the law uniformly mandates that there will be a two-stage process commonly referred to as the first and second signature. The first being the statement of intentions (and calling for objections) and the second signature being the formal marriage
- Law has many uniformly applicable provisions such as half of the property has to be given to a daughter and the will should have the consent of both the spouses. There is the unique concept of matrimonial property rights, which is not found in the personal laws of the rest of India. In Goa, if nothing is spelt out at the time of marriage, the default system is the regime of the communion of assets, which means that upon marriage, couples will hold whatever assets they have each or jointly acquired or inherited before or after marriage as co-owners of the property
Not so uniform Provisions
- There exist differences in how the law recognises a valid marriage when it comes to Roman Catholics and non-Catholics. While the first signature is common across all religions, the church ceremony is considered a valid ‘second signature’ for Catholics with the law recognising a Church marriage as valid for civil purposes. For non-Catholics, however, both signatures are required to be before a civil registrar.
- Similarly, a divorce granted by the ecclesiastical (Church) authorities is treated as a valid divorce for civil purposes, while non-Catholics have to secure a divorce before a civil court.
- Article 3 of the Decree of Gentile Hindu Usages and Customs of Goa, 1880 provides that a Hindu husband can take a second wife in the absence of an issue, if the wife has attained the age of 25, and also if she has attained age 30 without having a son. The provision is contrary to both the Indian Penal Code and the Hindu Marriage Act.
2 . Laws Regulating Space Junks
Context : Ending over a week of global anxiety and alarm, the debris from a large Chinese rocket – the Long March 5B — crashed to earth over the Pacific and the Indian oceans. As the 22-tonne core stage of the rocket hurtled uncontrollably back to earth, there were fears that it might hit a populated area. China, however, had dismissed these fears despite widespread criticism for rocket re-entry risks imposed by it on the world. The Long March 5B blasted off on July 24 to deliver a laboratory module to the new Chinese space station under construction in orbit, marking the third flight of China’s most powerful rocket since its maiden launch in 2020.
What is an uncontrolled re-entry?
- Generally, the core or first stage of a rocket is made up of heavy pieces that usually don’t reach orbit after liftoff, and fall back safely along a near-precise projected trajectory.
- If they do enter an orbit, then a costly de-orbit manoeuvre is required for a steered, controlled return using engine burn. Without a de-orbit manoeuvre, the orbital core stage makes an uncontrolled fall.
- Gigantic remnants from China’s Long March 5B rockets’ core stage are known to make such fiery, out-of-control descents back to earth. The reason is a difference in the mission sequence where the core stage reaches orbit, and then crashes back.
- Most nations’ rockets, separate the launcher from the payload before leaving the atmosphere. An extra engine then gives the payload a final boost. But China’s 5B series does not use a second engine and pushes right into orbit
- In May 2020, Long March 5B debris had apparently fallen in Ivory Coast; and a year later in May 2021, remains of a Chinese rocket had dived uncontrolled into the Indian Ocean near Maldives.
Why is it difficult to track uncontrolled descents?
- The variables involved make it difficult to precisely track the re-entry time and drop zone of rocket debris in uncontrolled descents. The factors that make this prediction extremely challenging include atmospheric drag, variations in solar activity, angle and rotational variation of the object among others.
- A miscalculation of even a minute in re-entry time could result in the final resting place of the debris changing by hundreds of kilometres.
Laws regulating space junk?
- The Space Liability Convention of 1972 defines responsibility in case a space object causes harm. The treaty says that “a launching State shall be absolutely liable to pay compensation for damage caused by its space objects on the surface of the earth or to aircraft, and liable for damage due to its faults in space. The Convention also provides for procedures for the settlement of claims for damages.”
- However, there is no law against space junk crashing back to earth. In April this year, suspected debris from a Chinese rocket was found in two Maharashtra villages.
- In 1979, re-entry of NASA’s 76-ton Skylab had scattered debris over uninhabited parts of Australia, and the space agency was fined $400 for littering by a local government.
- The only settlement using the Liability Convention was between the erstwhile Soviet Union and Canada over debris of Soviet Cosmos 954 falling in a barren region.
- Canada was paid CAD 3 million in accordance with international law for cleaning up the mess.
3 . Photographs of the President of India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in advertisements
Context : The Madras High Court directed the Tamil Nadu government to include the photographs of the President of India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in advertisements on the 44th Chess Olympiad underway in Chennai. The HC relied on a 2015 Supreme Court ruling that issued guidelines on government spending on advertisements.
What was the 2015 ruling?
- In Common Cause v Union of India, the Supreme Court sought to regulate the way the government spends on advertisements. It essentially regulated the 2007 New Advertisement Policy of the Government of India. The petitioners had argued that there is arbitrary spending on advertisements by the government. The allegations ranged from wastage of public money for political mileage to using advertisements as a tool to manipulate media.
- “Since the primary cause of government advertisement is to use public funds to inform the public of their rights, obligations, and entitlements as well as to explain Government policies, programs, services and initiatives, however, when these requisites are not fulfilled in a government advertisement then the whole purpose would be frustrated,” the court said.
- “Patronization of any particular media house(s) must be avoided and award of advertisements must be on an equal basis to all newspapers who may, however, be categorized depending upon their circulation. The DAVP (Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity) guidelines do not deal with the said aspect of the matter and hence the necessity of incorporating the same in the present directions to ensure the independence, impartiality and the neutrality of the fourth estate which is vital to the growth and sustenance of democracy will have to be weighed and considered by us,” it said.
- A three-judge Bench comprising then Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam, and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana had set up a committee to suggest a better policy.
What did the committee suggest?
The three-member committee — comprising Prof N R Madhava Menon, former Director, National Judicial Academy, Bhopal; T K Viswanathan, former Secretary General, Lok Sabha, and senior advocate Ranjit Kumar — suggested a fresh policy — the Government Advertisements (Content Regulation) Guidelines 2014 with five broad principles:
- Advertising campaigns are to be related to government responsibilities
- Materials should be presented in an objective, fair manner and designed to meet objectives of the campaign
- Advertisements must not directed at promoting political interests of a party
- campaigns must be justified and undertaken in a cost-effective manner
- Advertisements must comply with legal requirements and financial regulations
What did the Supreme Court rule?
- It largely accepted the committee report except on a few issues — the appointment of an ombudsman to oversee the implementation of the guidelines, a special performance audit of government spending, and an embargo on publication of advertisements on the eve of elections.
- The ruling mandated that government advertisements will not contain a political party’s symbol, logo or flag and are required to be politically neutral and must refrain from glorifying political personalities.
What about photographs in advertisements?
- The Supreme Court agreed with the committee’s suggestion “that photographs of leaders should be avoided and only the photographs of the President/ Prime Minister or Governor/ Chief Minister shall be used for effective government messaging”.
- Then Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had opposed the recommendation arguing that if the PM’s photograph is allowed in the advertisement, then the same right should be available to his cabinet colleagues as the PM is the “first among the equals”.
- According to the Judgeme“We are… of the view that in departure to the views of the Committee which recommended permissibility of publication of the photographs of the President and Prime Minister of the country and Governor or Chief Minister of the State along with the advertisements, there should be an exception only in the case of the President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of the country who may themselves decide the question. Advertisements issued to commemorate the anniversaries of acknowledged personalities like the father of the nation would of course carry the photograph of the departed leader,” the court said.
- In 2018, the Centre and states including Karnataka, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Chattisgarh sought a review of the verdict on the ground that not permitting the publication of the CM’s photograph would violate the federal structure. An SC Bench comprising Justices Gogoi and P C Ghose relaxed the bar, allowing pictures of Union ministers, Chief Ministers, Governors and State ministers in government advertisements.
What are the takeaways from the SC and HC verdicts?
- The SC ruling stepped into content regulation, which is a facet of the right to freedom of speech and expression, and was also in the domain of making policy. This raised questions on the judiciary stepping on the executive’s domain.
- The SC ruling did not mandate publication of the photograph of the PM and President, but only restricts publication of photos of government officials other than the President, PM, CJI, CM and the Governor.
- In an opposition-ruled state such as Tamil Nadu, exclusion of the PM’s photos is seen as a political move. The Tamil Nadu government told the court that since the Presidential elections had not concluded, it did not include the photos of the President and that there was a delay in receiving consent from the PM’s office on including his photograph. The HC said that considering the “national interest” in the issue, the “excuses taken by the state” cannot be accepted.
4 . Recent Supreme Court Verdict Regarding PMLA
Context : A 545-page judgment of the Supreme Court which upheld provisions of an anti-money laundering law rendering bail virtually impossible contrasts with the anxious urging of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Union Law Minister to make justice easy for undertrials.
What is the verdict broadly based on?
- Since the mid-1980s, there has been global concern over the proceeds of criminal activities such as drug-trafficking being ‘laundered’ or and used in financing terrorism. The UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances adopted in Vienna in 1988 (Vienna Convention) was the first treaty that called upon nations to adopt domestic laws to combat drug trafficking.
- As part of these laws, countries were asked to prohibit the conversion or transfer of property gained through dealing in narcotics to conceal its illicit origin. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was established in the G-7 Summit in Paris in 1989 in response to mounting concern over money-laundering.
- The Task Force made recommendations from time to time to strengthen laws on the subject. The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime of 2000 (Palermo Convention) also advocated legislative and other measures to combat organised crime, and specifically called for ‘criminalising the laundering of proceeds of crime’.
- The PMLA was enacted in 2002 but came into force in 2005. Its provisions gave effect to India’s obligations to abide by international conventions.
- The Union government used this background to argue that PMLA provisions as well as subsequent amendments were valid and necessary to fulfil the country’s obligations to combat the menace of money-laundering. In its verdict, the Supreme Court agreed with the government’s contention.
What was a key issue over defining money-laundering?
- The offence under this law is mainly the laundering of money made through a crime. It has a three-part schedule of offences (or ‘predicate offences’) listing the various crimes such as terrorism, drug-trafficking, corruption and cheating that give rise to tainted money.
- A major issue raised by the petitioners arose from an explanation added in 2019 to clarify the scope of the definition of money-laundering under Section 3. They said the original wording meant that only the projection of tainted money as untainted, and its integration into the economy would constitute the offence. The ED, they argued, was registering money-laundering case solely on the basis of the original crimes without any proof that their proceeds were laundered. As a result, even transactions that date back years before the PMLA came into force were being probed for laundering.
- The court rejected the challenge, holding that the explanation does not expand the scope of the original definition, and it is only clarificatory. It aims to capture every process and activity dealing with the proceeds of crime. The generation of money through crime and its integration with the formal economy are independent offences. It will be wrong to say that only upon the latter activity that the offence of money-laundering is complete. In this context, the court interpreted the conjunction ‘and’ — used between a part that spoke of ‘possession, acquisition or use’ of proceeds of crime with the part ‘projecting or claiming as untainted’ — to mean ‘or’. This reading will render holding or using the proceeds of crime as much as an offence as the projecting or converting of the proceeds into legal money or property.
- At the same time, the court clarified that the offence of money-laundering is dependent on illegal gain through the original crime (the scheduled offence). If a person is discharged or acquitted in respect of the original offence, or gets the case quashed through a competent court, there can be no case of money-laundering.
What were the issues concerning investigation by the ED?
- The ED works on the basis of an internal manual. It registers an ‘Enforcement Case Information Report’ (ECIR), the equivalent of an FIR in ordinary cases. The manual is not a public document, and the ED does not share the ECIR with the accused. Therefore, why and how a money-laundering probe is initiated is unknown. When a summons is issued to a person, he is unaware of the reason, but must, nevertheless, attend and answer all questions and submit the documents asked for.
- The petitioners argued that this left any investigation, issue of summons and decision to order a search, seizure or arrest completely at the whim of ED officials. Unlike in other criminal cases, there is no judicial oversight of the process, and the accused are forced to seek bail after arrest without knowing the exact nature of the charges against them.
- The court rejected all these contentions. Its conclusions were that: the ECIR cannot be equated with an FIR; that there are sufficient safeguards in the entire process of survey, search, seizure and arrest, in as much as the law requires the officer responsible to record reasons in writing at every stage. A copy of the ECIR need not be given to the accused, but at the time of arrest, the grounds of arrest should be conveyed. In any case, the Special Court can examine the documents to decide whether the detention of the accused needs to be continued.
- The court suggested that the ED may consider the desirability of informing the public through its website the scope of the authority under the Act, the measures adopted by its functionaries and the options or remedies available to the accused.
What did the court say on ED summons?
- When a person is summoned by a police officer, it is known whether it is for giving a statement as a witness or an accused. However, the ED has the power of a civil court to enforce the attendance of a person summoned under Section 50. Giving a statement and producing documents are mandatory obligations and it is an independent offence not to do so, and giving a false statement amounts to perjury. Also, such a statement should be signed by the person summoned and it can be used against him in a trial. This was challenged on the ground that the section is unconstitutional as it forces people to be witnesses against themselves, something prohibited by Article 20 of the Constitution.
- However, the court rejected the idea that this amounts to testimonial compulsion. Rather, ED officers were not police officers, and the proceedings related to summons, being only an inquiry related to proceeds of crime, do not amount to an investigation. Therefore, it was open to the ED to gather material without treating the person as an accused, but nevertheless prosecute him later, if the information gleaned disclosed a money-laundering offence.
How did the Court uphold the stringent bail provision?
- The petitioners had challenged the validity of the ‘twin conditions’ laid down in Section 45 of PMLA for grant of bail: that the court must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accused is not guilty of an offence; and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.
- In 2018, the Supreme Court had struck down this section, as it was originally worded, on the ground that the conditions only applied to those offences listed in Part A of the Schedule attracting a prison term of three years and more, but not for the offence of money-laundering itself.
- However, Parliament re-enacted the section with a change: that the conditions would apply to all cases under PMLA, without any reference to the scheduled offence. The court upheld Parliament’s power to enact a provision to cure a defect highlighted by the Supreme Court. It also ruled that given the gravity of the offence of money-laundering such stringent provisions related to bail are valid.
- The court did not examine arguments based on the fact that some of the amendments were introduced in the form of Money Bills, as the issue concerning the scope of Money Bills is being separately considered by a seven-judge Bench.
5 . Facts for Prelims
- After the success of CoWin as a platform for the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination, the Union government is looking to repurpose the technology for more healthcare requirements.
- First he platform will be considered for Universal immunisation proggramme and then will be extended to the use-cases of blood donation and organ donation in the months to come,
- CoWin is an extension of the electronic vaccine intelligence network eVIN that is used to collect real-time data on the vaccination programmes. CoWIN is a cloud-based IT solution for planning, implementing, monitoring, and also evaluating Covid19 vaccination in India. This platform not only tracks vaccinations on a real-time basis, but also the wastage of doses.
AL Najah – IV
- India and Oman will carry out a 13-day military exercise , with a focus on counter-terror cooperation.
- “The fourth edition of India-Oman joint military exercise ‘AL NAJAH-IV’ between contingents of Indian Army and the Royal Army of Oman is scheduled to take place at the Foreign Training Node of Mahajan Field Firing Ranges from August 1 to 13
- A 60-member team from the Royal Army of Oman has arrived at the site. The Indian Army will be represented by troops from the 18 Mechanised Infantry Battalion.
- The previous edition of the exercise was organised in Muscat in March 2019.
- Scope of the exercise includes “professional interaction, mutual understanding of drills and procedures, the establishment of joint command and control structures and elimination of terrorist threats”.