Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Article –142
- DNA & face matching system
- Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020
- SIM Card
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Article –142
Context: The Supreme Court has used its extraordinary constitutional power to do complete justice for a 50-year-old man who fought for nearly three decades against the postal department’s refusal to give him a job despite his name figuring high on the merit list.
About the Case
- Ankur Gupta got selected for the vacancy of postal assistant in 1995 . He had even completed a 15-day induction training when the department dropped his name on the ground that he had completed his Class 12 in the vocational stream. The department said the rules had been amended to consider only candidates from the regular stream.
- A Bench of Justices Bela Trivedi and Dipankar Datta, in a recent judgment exercising its rarely resorted powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, ordered the postal department to appoint Mr. Gupta as a postal assistant on a probationary basis. He would have 10 years of service.
- The court held that while no one had any legal right to claim public employment, once the name of a person is in the merit list, he has limited right to be accorded a fair and non-discriminatory treatment. The court said Mr. Gupta had been discriminated against and “arbitrarily deprived of the fruit of selection”.
What is Article 142 of the Constitution?
- Article 142 of the Constitution deals with the Supreme Court’s power to exercise its jurisdiction and pass order for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it.
- It provides the apex court with a special and extraordinary power and is meant to provide justice to litigants who have suffered traversed illegality or injustice in course of legal proceedings
- Article 142 titled ‘Enforcement of decrees and orders of the Supreme Court and orders as to discovery, etc.’ has two clauses.
- Article 142(1) : The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order prescribe.
- Article 142(2): “Subject to the provisions of any law made in this behalf by Parliament, the Supreme Court shall, as respects the whole of the territory of India, have all and every power to make any order for the purpose of securing the attendance of any person, the discovery or production of any documents, or the investigation or punishment of any contempt of itself.”
Why was Article 142 included in the Constitution?
- While the makers of the Constitution of India ensured separation of powers of the legislative, executive and judiciary, Article 142 was envisaged to allow the Supreme Court the opportunity to provide ‘complete justice’ to even those who may have been wrongly sentenced or denied justice due to the intricacies or inefficacies of the legal justice system.
- It was believed that a disadvantaged judiciary could be the cause for many not being able to get justice or achieve their rights.
- With Article 142, the Supreme Court has been likened to an entity of ‘Natural Law’ which theoretically prevails over laws of the land. The article was meant to empower the apex court to deliver justice in exceptional cases without being hindered by legal or bureaucratic red tape
How have courts exercised this power?
- The powers under Article 142 are sweeping in nature,yet SC has defined its scope and extent through its judgments over time.
- In the Prem Chand Garg case, the majority opinion demarcated the contours for the exercise of the Court’s powers under Article 142(1) by saying that an order to do complete justice between the parties “must not only be consistent with the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, but it cannot even be inconsistent with the substantive provisions of the relevant statutory laws,” referring to laws made by Parliament. The seven-judge bench in ‘Antulay’ upheld the 1962 ruling in ‘Prem Chand Garg.’
- Notably, in the Bhopal gas tragedy case (‘Union Carbide Corporation vs Union of India’), the SC in 1991 ordered UCC to pay $470 million in compensation for the victims of the tragedy. In doing so, the Bench highlighted the wide scope of Article 142 (1), adding that it found it necessary to set at rest certain misconceptions in the arguments touching the scope of the powers of the Court under Article 142(1) of the Constitution.
- Deeming the power under Article 142 to be “at an entirely different level and of a different quality”, the court clarified that “prohibitions on limitations on provisions contained in ordinary laws cannot, ipso-facto, act as prohibitions or limitations on the constitutional powers under Article 142”.
What is the criticism of Article 142 and how have courts countered it?
- The sweeping nature of these powers has invited the criticism that they are arbitrary and ambiguous. It is also argued that the Court has wide discretion, and this allows the possibility of its arbitrary exercise or misuse due to the absence of a standard definition for the term “complete justice”. Defining “complete justice” is a subjective exercise that differs in its interpretation from case to case. Thus, the court has to place checks on itself.
- In 1998, the apex court in ‘Supreme Court Bar Association vs Union of India’ held that the powers under Article 142 are supplementary in nature and could not be used to supplant or override a substantive law and “build a new edifice where none existed earlier”.
- More recently, in its 2006 ruling in ‘A. Jideranath vs Jubilee Hills Co-op House Building Society’, the Supreme Court discussed the scope of the power here, holding that in its exercise no injustice should be caused to a person not party to the case.
- Another criticism of the powers under Article 142 is that unlike the legislature and the executive, the judiciary cannot be held accountable for its actions. The power has been criticised on grounds of the separation of powers doctrine, which says that the judiciary should not venture into areas of lawmaking and that it would invite the possibility of judicial overreach.
Significant cases where Article 142 was invoked
Babri Masjid Case
- The article was used in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case and was instrumental in the handover of the disputed land to a trust to be formed by the union government. The SC put aside the judgement of the Allahabad High Court and, being the final arbiter, refused to make two divisions of the 2.77 acres of contested land, all of which was handed to the temple trust.
- Article 142 had also been invoked to transfer the criminal trials of BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi and LK Advani from Rae Bareli to Lucknow in relation the Babri demolition case.
Bhopal Gas Tragedy
- The Supreme Court awarded a compensation of $470 million to the victims and held that “prohibitions or limitations or provisions contained in ordinary laws cannot, ipso facto, act as prohibitions or limitations on the constitutional powers under Article 142
- In the case of Perarivalan, the Supreme Court invoked Article 142(1) held that it was not a fit case to be remanded to the Governor for his consideration under Article 161 of the Constitution.
Other significant instances
- Apart from these significant verdicts, the SC has also used powers vested in it by Article 142 to justify divorce due to the breakdown of marriage in the Munish Kakkar vs Nidhi Kakkar case.
- With a view to reducing drunk driving, it invoked the Article to order a ban on the sale of alcohol within a distance of 500 metres of national or state highways. SC has used Article 142 to order a probe into the 2013 IPL match-fixing controversy.
- A five-judge or constitution bench of the Supreme Court Monday in 2023 held that a court can can directly grant divorce under Article 142 in cases where the marriage has irretrievably broken down, without referring the parties to a family court first, where they must wait for 6-18 months for a decree of divorce by mutual consent.
2 . DNA and face matching system
Context: More than a year after the Criminal Procedure Identification Act was passed by Parliament, the Centre is all set to roll out “DNA and face-matching” systems at 1,300 police stations across the country.
About the News
- Law that enables police and Central investigating agencies to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples, including retina and iris scan of arrested persons, was passed by the Parliament in April 2022.
- The rules were notified in September 2022. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a Central body tasked with rolling out the Act was assigned with finalising the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to be followed by police officials while recording the measurements.
- Though the Act and rules do not explicitly mention the collection of DNA samples and face matching procedure, in subsequent meetings with State police officials, the NCRB informed that the said measures will be rolled out in around 1,300 locations spread across police districts, commissionerate and Special Investigation Units at State headquarters.
What is Facial Recognition System
- A facial recognition system is a technology potentially capable of matching a human face from a digital image or a video frame against a database of faces.
- Such a system is typically employed to authenticate users through ID verification services, and works by pinpointing and measuring facial features from a given image
What is automated facial recognition?
- AFRS works by maintaining a large database with photos and videos of peoples’ faces. Then, a new image of an unidentified person — often taken from CCTV footage — is compared to the existing database to find a match and identify the person. The artificial intelligence technology used for pattern-finding and matching is called “neural networks”.
- A senior former Home Ministry official said current facial recognition in India is done manually. While fingerprints and iris scans provide far more accurate matching results, automatic facial recognition is an easier solution especially for identification amongst crowds, he said.
Are there any automated facial recognition systems in use in India?
- It is a new idea the country has started to experiment with. On July 1, the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s “DigiYatra” using facial recognition for airport entry was trialled in the Hyderabad airport. State governments have also taken their own steps towards facial recognition. Telangana police launched their own system in August 2018.
- A DNA matching system, also known as a DNA database or DNA profiling system, is a technology and database used to match and identify individuals based on their unique DNA profiles.
- DNA samples are collected from individuals, typically through non-invasive means such as a cheek swab or the collection of a small blood sample. In forensic contexts, DNA may be obtained from crime scenes, evidence, or biological materials.
- The collected DNA samples undergo laboratory analysis. During this process, specific regions of the DNA, known as short tandem repeats (STRs), are examined. These STRs are highly variable among individuals and are used for DNA profiling.
- The DNA analysis generates a DNA profile, which is a unique set of numbers representing the lengths of the STRs at specific loci (locations) on the DNA. This profile serves as a genetic fingerprint for the individual.
- When a DNA sample is obtained from a crime scene or from an unidentified person, it can be compared to the profiles stored in the DNA database. Software and algorithms are used to compare the genetic markers in the obtained DNA with those in the database.
- If there is a match or a significant similarity between the obtained DNA and a profile in the database, it can lead to the identification of the individual associated with that DNA sample. This can be crucial in criminal investigations, missing persons cases, and other situations where DNA evidence is relevant.
Issues with the technology
- Privacy Concerns: The collection and analysis of DNA data for the purpose of creating facial images raise significant privacy concerns. DNA is a highly sensitive and personal form of data, and individuals may not consent to having their genetic information used in this manner.
- Inaccuracies: The technology’s accuracy in predicting facial features is currently limited. It can provide rough estimates but is not capable of producing highly accurate or detailed facial reconstructions.
- Ethical Considerations: There are ethical concerns about the potential misuse of this technology. For example, it could be used for racial profiling or stereotyping based on predicted features, leading to discrimination.
- False Identification: There is a risk of false identification. If the technology is used as the sole basis for identifying individuals in criminal investigations, there is a potential for wrongful accusations or arrests.
- Data Security: The storage and security of genetic data are critical issues. DNA data must be safeguarded to prevent unauthorized access or breaches that could compromise individuals’ privacy.
- Informed Consent: The issue of informed consent is crucial. Individuals should be fully aware of how their DNA data will be used and have the option to consent or decline to participate.
- Bias and Stereotyping: There is a risk of perpetuating bias and stereotypes in the creation of facial images. Predictive algorithms may be influenced by existing societal biases, leading to inaccurate or unfair representations.
3 . Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020
Context: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has recommended the use of quick response (QR) codes on food products for accessibility by persons with visual disabilities, stating that this would ensure access to safe food for all, including those with special needs.
About QR Codes
- QR codes, or Quick Response codes, are two-dimensional barcodes that store information in a format that can be easily scanned and read by a smartphone, tablet, or QR code reader.
- QR codes can be made accessible to visually impaired individuals through various means like Text-to-Speech Apps, Large and High-Contrast Codes, Braille Labels etc making digital information more inclusive.
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is a statutory body established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
- The FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which is a consolidating statute related to food safety and regulation in India.
- It is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety.
- The FSSAI is headed by a non-executive chairperson, appointed by the Central Government, either holding or has held the position of not below the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.
About the Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020
- The regulations require food products to use color-coded labels for better consumer awareness and healthier food choices.
- The labels will include information on calories, saturated and trans fats, salt, added sugar, and the portion of daily energy intake.
- The FSSAI has also altered the vegetarian food symbol from a green circle to a green triangle for better recognition by color-blind individuals.
- The products exceeding specified limits in calories, fats, trans-fats, sugar, and sodium per serving will be marked in red.
- It mandates certain new requirements like mandatory declaration of allergen information, per serve contribution of nutrients to recommended dietary allowances (RDA), expiry date (by making best before declaration optional), new logo and symbols for non-veg and food items not meant for human consumption, etc.
- e-commerce platforms are required to provide for mandatory labelling of food products offered for sale through their platform with certain exceptions.
- Further the new regime has also brought restaurant operators with large chain of networks within its scope.
- Front of the pack labelling- As a departure from the established practice where statutory declarations were required to be provided only in the Principal Display Panel(PDP) , the FSSAI has stepped in this time prescribing the manner of declaration of product name at the front panel of the pack.
- The FSSAI in a move to bolster its commitment to provide safe food to all class of consumers, has now mandated food business operators (FBOs) to provide allergen information in the PDP if certain foods or ingredients like peanuts, tree nuts, cereals containing gluten, soybeans, milk, egg, fish, etc., are used during preparation of the product.
- The FSSAI has made it mandatory in packaged foods to declare name and complete address of brand owner.
4 . SIM Card
Context: In 2021, there were more than 14 billion cellular devices in the world even though there were only seven billion people. The ubiquity of these devices — but especially smartphones — has come to define the contemporary era together with climate change, antimicrobial resistance, and war. But for smartphones’ outsize mark on history, one essential component of theirs has flown somewhat under the radar: the SIM card.
What is a SIM card?
- ‘SIM’ stands for ‘subscriber identification module’. Specifically, it is an integrated circuit, or a microchip, that identifies the subscriber on a given network.
- Each cellular network in a city is identified by a number, called the international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI). The SIM card is a subscriber’s ID card in this city. When someone wishes to contact a subscriber in this city, the network uses the subscriber’s SIM card to find them and confirm their identity.
- In order for a mobile phone to connect to any cellular network that follows the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) standard, a SIM card is mandatory. This relationship is established using a unique authentication key — a piece of data that a user needs to ‘unlock’ access to the network. Every SIM card stores this data and it is designed such that the user can’t access it through their phone. Instead, signals sent by the phone into the network are ‘signed’ by the key, and the network uses the signature to understand whether the phone’s connection is legitimate.
- It is possible to duplicate a SIM card by accessing its key and storing it in multiple cards.
- SIM cards also store information about its own ID number (the integrated circuit card identifier), the IMSI, the subscriber’s location area identity (their current location), a list of preferred networks (to whom the subscriber can connect when roaming), emergency numbers, and — depending on the space available — the subscriber’s contacts and SMS messages.
How does a SIM card work?
- SIM cards are designed according to the ISO/IEC 7816 international standard maintained by the International Organisation for Standardisation and the International Electrotechnical Commission. It applies to electronic identification cards, including smart cards.
- In this standard, the card itself consists of the integrated circuit, which is glued to a silicon substrate on the top side. On the other side of the substrate are metal contacts, which form the gold-coloured side of the SIM card. Wires connect the integrated circuit from its bottom side to the metal contacts on the top side, and the contacts interface with the phone’s data connectors.
- The metal contacts have a segmented appearance. Each segment is called a pin and has a specific purpose.
- On the network side, the SIM helps a phone establish its place within a cellular network. When a subscriber dials a recipient’s number, the phone sends data via the network , signed by the key on the SIM card , to a telephone exchange. If the recipient is connected to the same exchange, the network establishes their identity and the call is routed to them. If the recipient is ‘located’ elsewhere, a computer connected to the network routes the call there according to the most optimum route.
How have SIM cards changed?
- SIM cards are a type of smart card, and the history of smart cards begin in the late 1960s, when West German engineer Helmut Gröttrup first had the idea to stick an integrated circuit in a plastic panel the size of a credit card. The size and architecture of this microchip evolved in leaps and bounds in the subsequent decades, following Moore’s law.
- The SIM card itself evolved according to the standards that defined the networks to which its users wished to connect.
- The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) prepared the GSM Technical Specification 11.11 regarding the SIM card.
- GSM concerns the second generation of cellular networks. After developing the 11.11 standard, ETSI transferred some of its responsibilities to an international consortium of seven organisations called 3GPP (the Telecommunications Standards Development Society in India is one). 3GPP subsequently developed the standards for the third (3G), fourth (4G), and fifth generation (5G) of networks.
- Until 2G networks, the term ‘SIM card’ denoted both the hardware and the corresponding software. This changed with the advent of the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System with 3G networks, when ‘SIM’ became only the software; the hardware was called the Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC).
- The software was also upgraded to an application called Universal SIM, or USIM, which could be modified to be compatible with the identification and security requirements of 3G, 4G, and 5G networks. As a result, a UICC loaded with both SIM and USIM applications can work with networks of all generations.
- Over the years, the SIM card has shrunk from the SIM to the mini SIM to the micro SIM to the nano SIM. The latest on this path is the eSIM, with specifications defined by the GSM Association.
What is an eSIM?
- In the eSIM paradigm, the SIM software is loaded on to a UICC that is permanently installed in the mobile equipment in the factory itself, that it can’t be removed. (This is called the eUICC.)
- Users using mobile equipment with this capability don’t have to bother with physically replacing their SIM cards when they join or switch networks. Instead, the network operator simply has to reprogram the eSIM, which can also be done remotely.
- An eSIM has two immediate advantages. First, it is considered to be environmentally friendlier than a physical SIM: its reprogrammability means no need for more plastic and metal for a new SIM. Second, if a malicious person gains access to your phone, they won’t be able to separately access the SIM application nor be able to duplicate it.
- There are also at least two disadvantages. First, in some countries, including the U.S., eSIMs can be programmed by subscribers themselves. But this process might be difficult for those with low digital literacy, such as the elderly. Second, an eSIM can in theory allow network operators to track subscribers’ data, including inside apps on the device, especially in the absence of data privacy laws.
5 . Facts For Prelims
- Deterministic chaos means that the future can be predicted only if the present is known to a great degree of accuracy.
- However, if the present is known only approximately, the future can’t be predicted.
- This is what ‘butterfly effect’ stands for: that some system is highly sensitive to its starting conditions. Even a small change in these conditions can produce very large changes in the way the system evolves.
- In mathematics, the Lyapunov time is the characteristic timescale on which a dynamical system is chaotic.
- It is named after the Russian Mathematician Aleksandr Lyalunov.
- The Lyapunov time mirrors the limits of the predictability of the system.
- Quantum chaos is generally referred to as the study of quantum manifestations or fingerprints of nonlinear dynamical and chaotic behaviors in the corresponding classical system, an interdisciplinary field that has been active for about four decades.
The Rydberg atom
- A Rydberg atom is an excited atom with one or more electrons that have a very high principal quantum number, n .
- The higher the value of n, the farther the electron is from the nucleus, on average.
- Rydberg atoms have a number of peculiar properties including an exaggerated response to electric and magnetic fields,long decay periods and electron wavefunctions that approximate, under some conditions, classical orbits of electrons about the nuclei.
- The core electrons shield the outer electron from the electric field of the nucleus such that, from a distance, the electric potential looks identical to that experienced by the electron in a hydrogen atom.
- It is like a link that connects the classical and the quantum domains. If such an atom is made to exhibit chaotic behaviour, it could help scientists provide important clues about the uncharted areas of quantum chaos.