IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 30th October, 2015
General Studies 1 : Social Issues
General Studies 2:Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Increased child rape: Failure of criminal justice system in India
The responses from different parts of the country to recent incidents of child sexual abuse have been identical in their demand for higher and more stringent punishment.
While the Delhi chief minister wants to consider legal reforms to enhance the punishment for the rape of minors and treat juveniles over 15 involved in rape and murder as adults, the Madras High Court recommended castration of offenders found guilty of child sexual abuse.
These hasty responses, however, completely overlook and distract public attention from the utter failure of the executive and judicial machinery to ensure justice for child victims.
Provisions of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (Pocso Act):
Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (Pocso Act) was passed in an effort to address growing rates of child sexual abuse and poor rates of conviction.
The act provides for
Establishment of a special court.
Appointment of special public prosecutors (SPPs) and compensation.
Specifies timelines for recording evidence and completing trial as well as child-friendly procedures to be followed during investigation, evidence-recording and medical examination.
It also provides for several care and protection measures for victims.
The act also enhances the punishment for such crimes, stringently imposes long minimum sentences and affords no discretion to the special court to impose lesser punishment in cases of serious crimes such as penetrative sexual assault, aggravated penetrative sexual assault, sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault.
The law further clarifies that in cases where an act is a sexual offence under the Indian Penal Code and the Pocso Act, the higher punishment must be imposed.
Despite such dramatic reforms, “Crime in India 2014” reveals that the conviction rate under the Pocso Act is a measly 24.6 per cent and the pendency rate is an alarming 95.1 per cent.
This barely inspires confidence in the criminal justice system that is projected as the panacea for crimes against children.
Critical assessment of implementation of Posco Act:
According to The Centre for Child and the Law at the National Law School of India University study on the implementation of Posco Act, the following are some problems which result in poor implementation of the act and resulting in negative outcomes in the case.
The special courts for trying these cases are seldom “special”. Instead, they are regular sessions courts that also try offences under anti-terror laws, narcotics laws, etc.
The judges assigned to these special courts in Delhi are expected to maintain a child-friendly atmosphere within the courtrooms — while simultaneously dealing with alleged hardened criminals charged under draconian laws. At a practical level, judges find it difficult to switch from one mindset to another.
The act prohibits the prosecutor and defence lawyer from questioning children directly, only the judge is allowed to ask the child questions, this is rarely followed. There is virtually no training on child psychology, appropriate methods of questioning children, or maintaining a child-friendly atmosphere.
The Pocso Act also requires the courts to deploy translators, interpreters and special educators wherever necessary and it is the duty of the executive to make this list available to courts and ensure adequate funding. However, they are rarely found in the courts.
How about stricter punishments like castration?
Proponents of stricter penalties should bear in mind that higher sentences have invariably resulted in more acquittals.
The S. Verma Committee consciously rejected the death penalty for sexual offences as well as the lowering of the age of the juvenile, given the credible research that showed the poor deterrent effect and counterproductive outcomes of these measures.
While the legislature has done its bit, the executive and the judiciary have to join hands to ensure the effective implementation of the Pocso Act.
Need for an effective criminal justice delivery in India:
Shortcomings in our criminal justice system:
Serious human resource crunch in police personnel :
According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) ,the number of police personnel per one lakh people in India is only 138, compared to 525 in Spain and 196 in USA. Out of the 71 countries for which data is available for 2013, India ranks 67.
Low conviction and high under-trial rates:
According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, the conviction rate for Indian Penal Code crime cases during 2013 was a mere 40.2%. On the other hand, NCRB prison statistics for 2013 show that more than 67% of the prisoners were undertrials.
Overburdened and understaffed judiciary :
According to National Court Management System of the Supreme Court for 2011, more than 26 lakh cases are pending in India, in which almost 25% of the cases are more than five years old.
Politicization of the police force is another biggest reason for underperformance of criminal justice system in India.
The criminal investigation system needs higher standards of professionalism and it should be provided with adequate logistic and technological support.
The number of Forensic Science Institutions with modern technologies such as DNA fingerprinting technology should be enhanced.
Citizen’s confidence in the police administration should be enhanced so as to co- operate in criminal investigation.
The legal services authorities in the States should set up committees with the participation of civil society for bringing the accused and the victims together to work out compounding of offences.
Understaffing in police and judiciary should be done away with.
Politicization of police should be kept at minimal by implementing Supreme Court decision in Prakash Singh case.
Connecting the dots:
Critically analyse the shortcomings of criminal justice system in India, with special focus on the state police forces.
Critically examine the drawbacks in implementation of Posco Act in India.
What is your opinion on imposing stricter penalties like castration etc for sex offenders in India? Substantiate.
Judicial independence from Executive is the need of the hour, to overcome the shortcomings of criminal justice system. Critically analyse.
General Studies 3 :Conservation of Energy
General Studies 2:Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
A Green New Deal
The need to ensure universal access to the modern energy services and attaining the rate of improvement in the energy efficiency at double the rate of its share has escalated both productivity and environmental concerns.
There exists an emerging consensus on transforming the world energy system but that calls for a carefully designed policy (for sustainability and reducing the amount of resources needed to achieve it), behavioural changes, and large investments to fuel their growth towards a sustainable future.
The ‘Carbon Bubble’ possesses the capacity to lead another financial crisis, resting on the backdrop of overvaluation of present fossil assets. A green new deal is thus, pertinent in addressing needs to mitigate climatic change, improving energy security and working on the yardstick of competitiveness in the global energy order.
A global shift from a “carbon credit” to a “green credit” for clean production is one of the immediate needs and this can be realised by using alternate sources of renewable energy.
In India, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) in slated to achieve grid-connected solar power and is one of the components involved, to fulfil the commitment of a 40% non-fossil fuel energy to be adopted by 2030.
Eg:The coal sector remains the most inefficient and least open to private investment, despite coal being the country’s primary source of fuel and thus, monopoly should be destructed and private participation in coal-mining on a level playing field with state entities should be allowed.
With a break from the high price of petroleum products to the possibility of storing the energies (solar, wind, geothermal), technology is making it possible to increase the widespread usage of the existing abundance in an innovative way.
An effective management of the demand and supply chain and technological innovation is set to involve higher efficiency in bringing down the energy costs. Different approaches and technologies need to be applied inconsideration to the varying conditions of industry and companies and their objectives (synergy)
Legislations & Initiatives:
India is the world’s fourth largest energy consumer and exhibits the fastest growing energy needs that are certain to dramatically impact the global economy and its energy market. There is, thus, a need to majorly overhaul the business models to tackle the global risks involved in the energy crisis.
A proper and a timely policy involving all the major stakeholders, and a creation of synergy between cutting down on reliance over imports and effective policy implementation is the need of the hour.
Access to energy is a major issue and logistical problems plague the system, making it costly and difficult to manage. Energy players need to be commercially viable, with access to adequate financial resources and the pricing mechanisms in the energy sector must ensure commercial viability and send proper signals to the market.
Embracing the Renewable Energy Future:
Poor infrastructure is at the core of the issue of poorly developed power infrastructure of India and decentralised power resources (wind energy, biomass energy, geothermal energy, etc) can be leveraged to meet the energy requirements at a large scale.
Incomes can be increased and poverty reduced, thereby leading the rural economy towards self-sufficiency. Better electricity coverage and better equipment like solar water pumps, mini solar cold storages, solar lanterns etc. can boost the rural economy and help create jobs
Tackling Carbon Emissions
Promotions of non-fossil fuels can help cut greenhouse gas emissions and thus improve air quality. Also, dependence on kerosene (causing indoor air pollution) and spending on subsidies can be greatly reduced.
The Indian government as a whole plays an indispensable role in the energy sector through state-owned enterprises, public policy and market regulation, personal networks and collaboration with energy players and thus, to tame the exploding demand and insufficient supply the country faces, it needs integrated and consistent energy policy to guide and direct country’s energy needs.
Strong political will is a prerequisite to successfully cope with energy sector challenges which can be tackled with the objective: energy access, energy security and mitigation of climate change.
India must expand its energy supply to provide universal access to modern energy and maintain economic growth and this should be complemented with alignments of India’s energy institutions and policies with global practices.
Lastly, public perception should be shifted to accept that energy is not an entitlement, but a commodity to be valued and taken care of.
Connecting the Dots:
“We need to graduate from energy security to energy independence”. Discuss
“No power is as expensive as no power”. Do you agree with the statement? Give reasons.
Animals caught in the headlights – Sophisticated mapping technology can ensure that roads steer clear of wildlife areas, but the government has been reluctant to address the issue of highways passing through forests