Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Section 125 of RPA Act
- Herbicide tolerant Cotton
- Grievance appellate committee
- One nation one uniform
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Section8 & Section 125 of RPA Act
Context: The conviction of senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader by a local court in Rampur and his subsequent disqualification from the Uttar Pradesh Assembly have created a flutter on the ground.
- In his order, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate found the SP leader guilty of violating Sections 153A and 505 (1) of the IPC and Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951.
- The order said the accused was a law graduate, a former Cabinet Minister and a member of the Legislative Assembly when he made the hate speech.
- They could have divided society and led to a breach of law and order, and peace.
- The words were used with the intent to humiliate the government and the administration and sought to generate hatred against the government.
- In its order of disqualification, the Assembly Secretariat cited the Supreme Court judgment of 2013 in Lily Thomas vs. Union of India case (along with Lok Prahari vs. Union of India), wherein the apex court ruled that any Member of Parliament, Member of the Assembly or Member of the Legislative Council who is convicted of a crime and given a minimum of two years’ imprisonment, loses membership of the House with immediate effect.
- Earlier, the convicted members used to hold on to their seats until they exhausted all the available judicial remedies.
- Now, the only relief possible is that SP leader contests the by-election from the Rampur Assembly constituency if the conviction order is stayed by the Allahabad High Court.
Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951
- This section provides penalties for filing false affidavit, etc.
- It says: a candidate who himself or through his proposer, with intent to be elected in an election:
- Fails to furnish information relating to sub-section (1) of section 33A; or
- Gives false information which he knows or has reason to believe to be false; or
- Conceals any information, in his nomination paper delivered under sub-section (1) of section 33 or in his affidavit which is required to be delivered under sub-section (2) of section 33A, as the case may be, shall, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force
- He/she is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.
Section 8 of RPA Act
- Section 8 of the RPA deals with disqualification on conviction for certain offences: A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for varying terms under sections 8 (1) (2) and (3) shall be disqualified from the date of conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his/her release.
2 . Herbicide Tolerant Cotton
Context: After Delhi University’s transgenic hybrid mustard, GEAC is set to recommend the “environmental release” of a genetically modified (GM) cotton of German multinational company Bayer AG that allows farmers to spray the herbicide glyphosate.
About the News
- Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) had constituted an expert sub-committee to conduct a detailed review of the application by Mahyo Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai, the licensee for the BG-II RRF technology in India.
- The panel has given its approval for said genetically modified (GM) crop event.
- The review was completed last week, and the sub-committee’s report will be taken up at the next meeting of the GEAC.
- GEAC is a body under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change that appraises GM products for their testing and commercialisation (environmental release).
The transgenic cotton
- The transgenic cotton — Bollgard II Roundup Ready Flex (BG-II RRF) — contains three alien genes.
- The first two (‘cry1Ac’ and ‘cry2Ab’) being isolated from a soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt, and coding for proteins toxic to the American bollworm, spotted bollworm and tobacco caterpillar insect pests.
- The third gene, ‘cp4-epsps’, is sourced from another soil bacterium, Agrobacterium tumafaciens.
- Its incorporation into cotton makes the crop “tolerant” to glyphosate.
- This herbicide cannot be applied on normal cotton, as the chemical does not distinguish between the crops and weeds.
- BG-II RRF cotton had already undergone biosafety research and field trials by 2012-13.
- The dossier containing the results of these trials were submitted by its original developer, Monsanto, to the GEAC in March 2013.
- Amid the regulatory uncertainty and no decision being taken, the American company withdrew its application seeking environmental release of the herbicide-tolerant GM cotton product.
- In 2018, Monsanto was acquired by Bayer, following which the latter, through Mahyco, resubmitted its application early this year.
3 . Grievance Appellate Committees
Context: The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has notified amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021). The amendments call for the institution of Grievance Appellate Committees (GAC).
What are the IT Rules, 2021?
- World over, governments are grappling with the issue of regulating social media intermediaries (SMIs).
- Given the multitudinous nature of the problem — the centrality of SMIs in shaping public discourse, the impact of their governance on the right to freedom of speech and expression, the magnitude of information they host and the constant technological innovations that impact their governance — it is important for governments to update their regulatory framework to face emergent challenges.
- In a bid to keep up with these issues, India in 2021, replaced its decade old regulations on SMIs with the IT Rules, 2021 that were primarily aimed at placing obligations on SMIs to ensure an open, safe and trusted internet.
About Grievance Appellate Committees (GAC)
- Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) has been introduced for hearing appeals against decisions of Grievance Officer appointed by the intermediary,”
- It is a three-member council out of which one member will be a government officer (holding the post ex officio) while the other two members will be independent representatives.
- Users will be able to appeal with the GAC against the decisions taken by the grievance officers of the intermediaries such as Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, Youtube and others.
- Amending the intermediary guidelines and digital media ethics code, that were issued last year, the government has given complainants 30 days to appeal a decision made by the grievance officer, and another 30 days for the appellate committee, comprising of three members that will be appointed by the Centre, to resolve the matter.
Why the need for a Grievance Appellate Committees?
- Prior to the IT Rules, 2021, platforms followed their own mechanisms and timelines for resolving user complaints.
- The IT Rules uniformed this by mandating that all social media platforms should have a grievance officer who would acknowledge the receipt of a complaint within 24 hours and dispose it within 15 days.
- However, the performance of the current grievance redressal mechanism has been sub-optimal.
- First, as evidenced by the transparency reports of SMIs, such as Facebook and Twitter, there is no common understanding of what is meant by resolution of the complaint. For example, Facebook records only mention the number of reports where “appropriate tools” have been provided. These “appropriate tools” could just mean the automated replies pointing out the tools available on the platform that have been sent to the complainants.
- Furthermore, transparency reports show that the number of user complaints continue to be quite low when compared to the content against which the platform acts proactively or is obligated to remove due to governmental or court orders.
- This may be because users are either not aware of this facility or find it futile to approach the platform for complaint resolution.
- It might also be because, even in cases where action has been taken on the content, there is no way to assess whether the complainant has been satisfied with the resolution of the complaint.
- Moreover, the extant framework does not provide for any recourse if the complainant is dissatisfied with the grievance officer’s order. Possibly, the only course available to the complainant is to challenge the order under the writ jurisdiction of the High Courts or Supreme Court. This is not efficacious given that it can be a resource and time intensive process.
4 . One nation One Uniform
Context: Prime Minister mooted the idea of ‘one nation, one police uniform’ while addressing the State Home Ministers’ conference on internal security issues in Faridabad, Haryana.
- On the lines of ‘one nation, one ration card’; ‘one nation, one mobility card’; ‘one nation, one sign language’, PM proposed the idea of one nation, one police uniform’.
- This will benefit the police personnel as quality products will be available.
- The production of belts, caps and uniforms will be on a mass scale.
- Just like post boxes could be identified from a distance even by unlettered persons, a common uniform would ensure a distinct identity to the police.
- Most police forces adorn shades of khaki, a few such as the police in Kolkata, Tamil Nadu and Goa don white uniforms.
Law and order in India
- The Indian Constitution puts police forces under the jurisdiction of state governments, and each of the 28 states have their own police force.
- Both ‘public order’ and the ‘police’ are placed in List II (State List) of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, which deals with the division of powers between the Union and States.
- While police personnel in India are often associated with the colour khaki, their uniforms do differ in varying degrees in different regions.
- Since state governments and even an individual force can decide the uniform their personnel wear, there are at times inconsistencies in their official attire. For example:
- The Kolkata Police wear white uniforms.
- Puducherry Police constables wear bright red caps with their khaki uniforms.
- Delhi Traffic Police personnel wear white and blue uniforms.
5 . Facts for Prelims
- The Counter-Terrorism Committee is a subsidiary body of the United Nations Security Council.
- In the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1373, which, among its provisions, obliges all States to criminalize assistance for terrorist activities, deny financial support and safe haven to terrorists and share information about groups planning terrorist attacks.
- The 15-member Counter-Terrorism Committee was established at the same time to monitor implementation of the resolution.
- While the ultimate aim of the committee is to increase the ability of States to fight terrorism, it is not a sanctions body nor does it maintain a list of terrorist groups or individuals.
- It act as a broker between those states or groups that have the relevant capacities and those in the need of assistance.
- Seeking to revitalize the committee’s work, in 2004 the Security Council adopted Resolution 1535, creating the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) to provide the CTC with expert advice on all areas covered by resolution 1373.
- CTED was established also with the aim of facilitating technical assistance to countries, as well as promoting closer cooperation and coordination both within the UN system of organizations and among regional and intergovernmental bodies.
- During the September 2005 World Summit at the UN, the Security Council – meeting at the level of Heads of States or Government for just the third time in its history – adopted Resolution 1624 concerning incitement to commit acts of terrorism.
- The resolution also stressed the obligations of countries to comply with international human rights laws.
Valdai discussion club
- The Valdai Discussion Club is a Moscow-based think tank and discussion forum that is closely associated with President Vladimir Putin.
- It has been described by Western commentators as part of the Russian propaganda effort.
- It was established in 2004 and is named after Lake Valdai, which is located close to Veliky Novgorod, where the Club’s first meeting took place.
- In 2014, the management of the Club was transferred to the Valdai Club Foundation, established in 2011 by the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, the Russian International Affairs Council, Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and the Higher School of Economics.
- Professors and scholars from major world universities and think tanks participate in Valdai
- The Valdai Club also operates regional programmes – Asian, Mid-Eastern and Euro-Atlantic Dialogues.
- The Club also holds a special session at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and the Eastern Economic Forum.