IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 15th January 2018
China ends India’s monopoly in providing internet access to Nepal
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- International relations
- China recently became Nepal’s second internet service provider, breaking India’s monopoly in providing internet access to the Himalayan Kingdom.
- So far, Nepal had been linked to the global internet network through Indian telecom operators, using optical fiber connections in Biratnagar, Bhairahawa and Birgunj, among others.
- A new terrestrial fiber cable will now connect Nepal and China through the Jilong (Rasuwagadhi) border gateway.
- The Chinese side views its Nepal venture as part of a larger digital network of countries along the New Silk Road.
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Face Authentication for Aadhaar users
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Government interventions in various sectors
- The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) recently announced the addition of facial recognition-based authentication for Aadhaar users, especially those who have problems with other forms of biometric verification such as fingerprint or iris.
- It will be launched by July 1 this year.
- It will help all elderly or other facing issues with fingerprint authentication.
- UIDAI provides the fingerprint and iris biometric authentication at select Authentication User Agencies (AUAs), similarly Face Authentication shall also be allowed on need basis.
- The UIDAI’s latest feature comes after the agency last week announced a two-layer security mechanism to protect the privacy of users (Virtual IDs).
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GOVERNANCE AND INTERNAL SECURITY
General Studies 2:
- Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure.
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability and institutional and other measures.
General Studies 3:
- Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate
Police Complaints Authority (PCA): It’s time to have on in each State/UT
Recently, Delhi High Court has asked the Centre and Delhi government to finalise a scheme for a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) for the national capital by January 2018.
While Delhi Police routinely tops the charts in the number of complaints against police personnel, residents have been denied an effective and independent body to respond to their complaints.
In 2006, the Supreme Court (SC) ordered all states and Union Territories to set up PCAs as one of seven directives to usher in police accountability.
What would be the role of PCA?
A PCA is intended to be a free-standing, absolutely independent adjudicator with diverse membership, intended to act as a remedy for the public and a corrective mechanism for the police.
In the court’s scheme, a PCA is envisaged as a body to address complaints filed by the public against police officials in cases ranging from custodial death, torture, illegal detention, and even land grabbing.
Complaints authorities are to be set up at both the state and district levels and their recommendations should be binding.
In 2012, the Delhi government with the approval of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), extended the mandate of the existing Public Grievances Commission (PGC) in the city to respond to complaints against the police. At present, there are individuals who act “as the PCA” within the PGC. This is in violation of the court’s directive.
Issues and Way ahead:
A memo issued by the MHA directing the setting up of PCAs in the Union Territories. The MHA’s memo is in violation of the court’s directive with several gaps impeding both the independence and potential effectiveness of the agency.
- Delhi police is among the largest police departments in the country with a 82,000-strong force. The MHA’s memo sets up a single complaints authority for Delhi, presumably with jurisdiction over all complaints and police ranks. But a single-window PCA for Delhi simply cannot work given the scale of the metropolis and the volume of complaints against the police.
SOlution- One PCA at the city-level to inquire into complaints against police officers of and above the rank of deputy commissioner of police, and a complaints authority at each of the six ranges to receive complaints against police officers of and below the rank of assistant commissioner of police.
At both levels, their mandates should cover both serious misconduct and lesser misconduct, properly defined and delineated.
- The MHA memo neglects to lay down a selection process to select the chair and members of the PCA.
This contravenes the court’s prescription of an independent selection panel to shortlist candidates to avoid politicised appointments.
Solution- The process has to be participatory and transparent with an independent selection panel. The process can be made transparent by advertising vacancies inviting applications from eligible candidates.
- The memo is also silent on providing independent investigators for the PCA — this is needed to keep the complaints authority at arm’s length from both the police and the government.
- The memo dilutes the binding nature of the PCA’s final orders by empowering the administrator — in this case, Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor — to overturn the PCA’s orders in the case of disagreement. Allowing the administrator the leeway to reverse or amend its decisions, when he is also directly in charge of the Delhi Police, dilutes the PCA’s efficiency and creates a de facto appeals body.
Holding an inclusive public consultation with citizens of Delhi, on the PCA they want, would be important.
Connecting the dots:
- A memo has been issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs directing the setting up of Police Complaints Authorities (PCAs) in the Union Territories. This has been done based on the directive given by Supreme court in 2006. Discuss the issues with the memo and way ahead.
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