IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 28th September 2018
Adultery is not a crime, rules SC; strikes it off IPC
Part of Prelims and mains II – Social justice, Rights
- A five-judge Constitution Bench held that adultery is not a crime and struck it off the Indian Penal Code.
- The bench observed that Section 497 (adultery) of the Code “commands” married couples to remain loyal to each other.
Court’s observations: A matter of choice
- Two individuals may part if one cheats, but to attach criminality to infidelity is going too far.
- There is no data to back claims that abolition of adultery as a crime would result in “chaos in sexual morality” or an increase of divorce.
- How married couples deal with adultery is “absolutely a matter of privacy at its pinnacle”.
- Loss of moral commitment in a marriage creates a dent in the relationship, but it is left to each individual to deal with the problem — some may forgive while others may seek divorce. Punishing each other or the wife’s lover is unlikely to re-kindle commitment.
- Section 497 treats a married woman as the commodity of her husband.
- Adultery is not a crime if the cuckolded husband connives or consents to his wife’s extra-marital affair.
- Section 497 treats a married woman as her husband’s “chattel”. The provision is a reflection of the social dominance of men prevalent 150 years ago.
Do you know?
Section 497 in The Indian Penal Code
- Adultery.—Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.
Rajasthan farmers benefited from solar water pumps: study
Part of Prelims and mains III – Agriculture, Environment, Conservation
- A scientific study conducted by Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani, has found mismatch between investment in solar energy sources and employment generation in the sector, but has stated that the farmers in Rajasthan have immensely benefited from the solar photovoltaic (SPV) water pumping systems.
- The study has also found a significant decline in the consumption of fuel in the agriculture sector.
- A micro-level analysis indicated that the SPV water pumping systems had provided some direct benefits to farmers, including the saving from diesel generators.
- ICSSR-funded BITS, Pilani project also found a significant decline in the consumption of fuel in the agriculture sector.
- Farmers used to operate diesel generators for 6 to 7 hours a day, consuming two litres of diesel per hour. The use of SPV pumps has resulted in a drastic reduction of fuel consumption, which was also a cause of greenhouse effect.
- While the grid-connected electricity is supplied to agriculture sector mostly during the night, the farmers can irrigate the land during daytime with the SPV system, making their access to water easy.
- The SPV system has been found to be cost effective because of the State government’s subsidy and the beneficiary’s share is recovered in about four years.
- Power supply to the agriculture sector in Rajasthan ranges between 5 and 6 hours a day.
- Facing challenges in the expansion of grid-connected power because of difficult geography, the Rajasthan government has been giving subsidy on SPV water pumping systems since 2011-12.
Don’t bring adultery back as crime: CJI Dipak Misra
Part of Prelims and mains II – Social justice, Freedom and empowerment
- If Parliament, as it had let adultery continue in the rule book, tries to bring it back, the move would affect Article 21 of the Constitution.
- It would violate the dignity of husband and wife and the privacy attached to a relationship between the two, the Chief Justice held.
- The government had argued that adultery should continue to be a crime to maintain the sanctity of marriage.
- “It [adultery] is better to be left as a ground for divorce,” the judgment observed.
- Section 497 (adultery) is unlike any other offences relating to matrimonial relationship.
- Several of these other offences are like Section 498-A (dowry harassment), the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, Sections 306 (abetment of suicide) or 304B (dowry death) or 494 (bigamy) of the Indian Penal Code.
Uzbek President to invite India to join Afghan rail project
Part of Prelims and mains II – International relations
- India will be invited to help with a key rail link in Afghanistan, during the visit of Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev early next week.
- The rail link of approximately 650 km, connecting the Afghan cities of Mazaar-e-Sharif and Herat, which may later be extended to Kabul, is a major project agreed to by President Ashraf Ghani and President Mirziyoyev last year.
- Uzbek support a greater presence of India in Central Asia, and hope for some benefits of that for Afghanistan. It will open a new page in bilateral relations.
- India’s involvement in railway construction is welcomed because of India’s proven record and experience, and because of its contribution to bringing peace to Afghanistan.
- The project, for which Uzbekistan has already committed $500 million, could become another major regional connectivity project for India, after its construction of the Zaranj-Delaram Highway in Afghanistan and the Shahid Beheshti port in Chabahar, Iran.
- India is also committed to building another rail route, from Chabahar to Zahedan on the Iran-Afghan border, and President Mirziyoyev is keen to join the transit trade agreement signed by India, Afghanistan and Iran.
- The rail route to Herat, if extended to Kabul, would also link to India’s “air corridor”, allowing trade, especially dry fruits and agricultural produce to travel along the routes from India to Central Asia and back in much shorter time.
- Uzbekistan has held talks with Iran, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and China, which is already running a rail route into Uzbekistan under the Belt and Road Initiative, for the same project in the past few months.
- Uzbekistan’s role in regional security is likely to grow as it will take over the Secretary Generalship of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in January 2019.
- They expressed that SCO is a good platform for India and Pakistan to talk at and to maybe work with other countries on how to bring peace.
- President Mirziyoyev is scheduled to arrive in Delhi on Sunday, and will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bilateral talks on Monday.
- Officials said more than 30 documents and agreements are expected to be signed during the visit, including trade agreements, media and educational partnerships, and MoUs linking Andijan-Gujarat states, Samarkand-Agra and Bukhara-Hyderabad.
Short-term rates fall as RBI eases SLR norms
Part of: Prelims and mains III – Indian economy, banking
- Rates on short-term paper was eased after the RBI decided to free up funds for the commercial banks to tide over the present liquidity crunch.
- Rates for three-month commercial paper fell after the RBI eased liquidity coverage ratio norms for banks.
- Following the fund crunch triggered by the crisis at infrastructure financier IL&FS at the beginning of the month, rates on short-term papers rose by more than 100 bps (basis points) with mutual funds becoming reluctant to lend to the non-banking finance companies.
- To ease the situation, the central bank had been infusing liquidity through open market operations.
- Earlier in the day, RBI decided to allow banks to dip into their statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) reserves by another two percentage points to meet liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) norms.
Do you know?
- Statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) is the proportion of funds that banks have to maintain as cash or government securities out of the total deposits that they hold.
- Open market operations (OMO) refer to the buying and selling of government securities in the open market in order to expand or contract the amount of money in the banking system.
- Commercial paper is an unsecured, short-term debt instrument issued by a corporation, typically for the financing of accounts receivable and inventories, and meeting short-term liabilities. Maturities on commercial paper rarely range longer than 270 days.
Aadhaar gets thumbs up from Supreme Court
Part of Prelims and mains II – constitution, govt. services, governance
The Supreme Court, in a majority opinion upheld Aadhaar as a reasonable restriction on individual privacy that fulfils the government’s “legitimate aim” to provide dignity to a large, marginalised population living in abject poverty.
- “The Constitution does not exist for a few or minority of the people of India, but ‘We the People’,” the Supreme Court observed.
- The majority view declared Aadhaar a “document of empowerment.” An “unparalleled” identity proof. A document that cannot be duplicated unlike PAN, ration card, and passport.
- “It is better to be unique than the best. The best makes number one, but unique makes you the only one.”
- Technology had become a vital tool for ensuring good governance in a social welfare state.
- Schemes like PDS, scholarships, mid-day meals, LPG subsidies, involve a huge amount of money and “fool-proof” Aadhaar helped welfare reach the poor.
- The majority opinion upheld the PAN-Aadhaar linkage, but declared linking Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile SIM cards unconstitutional.
- The Supreme Court, in its majority opinion, said the remedy was to plug the loopholes rather than axe Aadhaar.
- The court further directed the government and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to bring in regulations to prevent rightfully entitled people from being denied benefits.
Resolution of privacy, Data protection and other issues
- The statute only sought “minimal” biometric information, and this did not amount to invasion of privacy.
- Upholding the passage of the Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill, the Supreme Court said neither were individuals profiled nor their movements traced when Aadhaar was used to avail government benefits under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act of 2016.
- The court insulated children from the Aadhaar regime. The card was not necessary for children aged between six and 14 under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan as right to education was a fundamental right.
- Statutory bodies like CBSE and UGC cannot ask students to produce their Aadhaar cards for examinations like NEET and JEE.
- Permission of parents and guardians was a must before enrolling children into Aadhaar.
- Children once they attained the age of majority could opt out of Aadhaar.
- It said it was not trivialising the problem of exclusion faced by the elderly, the very young, the disabled and several others during the authentication process.
- Authentication was found to be only having a .232% failure, it was accurate 99.76% times. Dismantling the scheme would only disturb this 99.76%.
- Countering the argument that the Aadhaar regime would facilitate the birth of a “surveillance state”, Justice Sikri wrote that Aadhaar exhibited no such tendencies.
- Authentication transactions through Aadhaar did not ask for the purpose, nature or location of the transaction.
- Besides, information was collected in silos and their merging was prohibited. The authentication process was not expanded to the Internet.
- The collection of personal data and its authentication was done through registered devices.
- The Authority did not get any information related to the IP address or the GPS location from where authentication was performed.
Aadhaar Act: Judicial Scrutiny (IMAGE)
- The Supreme Court quashed or read down several provisions in the Aadhaar Act in order to de-fang any possibility of the state misusing data.
- For one, the court held that authentication records should not be retained for more than six months.
- It declared the archiving of records for five years as “bad in law.” It also prohibited the creation of a metabase for transactions.
G-4 for UN Security Council reform, multilateralism
Part of Prelims and mains II – International organisations and groupings
- India and other Group-4 (G-4) countries reaffirmed their commitment to multilateralism and called for the early reform of the UN Security Council (UNSC).
- The current composition of the UNSC does not reflect the changed global realities and they stressed that Security Council reform is essential to address today’s complex challenges.
- Given the American disinterest in the UN and other multilateral bodies, China, one of the five permanent members of the UNSC, has slowed down the move to expand the body, according to diplomats tracking the process.
- The U.S. has no active opposition to the demand of these four countries to be included as permanent members of the UNSC, but the Trump administration has taken a benign approach to the proposed reform.
- G-4 Ministers noted that despite an overwhelming majority of UN member states supporting Security Council reform, the negotiations launched in 2009 have not produced substantive progress over the 10 years.
- While there is no active American support for reform, Mr. Trump’s call for other countries to step up and share the responsibility of managing the UN might support the reform, even in the face of active Chinese opposition.
- Germany and Japan contribute one-fifth of the UN budget while the four countries together have one-fifth of the world population.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Indian Constitution and Governance
- Govt. Policies and issues arising out of their design and implementation
- In a recent judgement by the Supreme Court of India, four out of five judges on a Constitution Bench ruled that the law enabling the implementation of the unique identification programme (Aadhar) does not violate the right to privacy of citizens.
- The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and clarified areas in which it cannot be made mandatory.
- The court is of the view that the project empowers marginalised sections and procures dignity for them along with services, benefits and subsidies by leveraging the power of technology.
Do you know?
It is important to note that the Aadhaar Act was passed as a money bill. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha had classified this bill as a money bill.
What is a Money Bill?
- According to Article 110 of the Indian Constitution, a Bill is said to be a Money Bill if it only contains provisions related to taxation, borrowing of money by the government, expenditure from or receipt to the Consolidated Fund of India. Bills that only contain provisions that are incidental to these matters would also be regarded as Money Bills.
- A Money Bill may only be introduced in Lok Sabha. This is done so on the recommendation of the President.
- It must be passed in Lok Sabha by a simple majority of all members present and voting. Following this, it may be sent to the Rajya Sabha for its recommendations, which Lok Sabha may reject if it chooses to.
- If such recommendations are not given within 14 days, it will deemed to be passed by Parliament.
Concerns related to Aadhaar
- In recent times, the unique identification programme was projected by sceptics, detractors and activists as an intrusion on citizens’ privacy.
- Many sceptics were of the opinion that the Aadhar was a grand project to appropriate personal data for commercial exploitation by private parties and profiling by the state.
- Last year, 2017, a nine-judge Bench had unanimously ruled that privacy is a fundamental right.
- Ever since this decision by the Supreme Court, opinion began to spread that the unique identification programme was vulnerable in the face of judicial scrutiny.
Analysis of the judgment
- On studying this judgement, one draws the conclusion that the Supreme Court has restored the original intent of the programme, which is to plug leakages in subsidy schemes and to have better targeting of welfare benefits.
- Over the past few years, the Aadhaar came to play a large role in the lives of ordinary people.
- The Aadhaar has acquired the shape of a basic identity document that was required to access services, such as: birth and death certificates, SIM cards, school admissions, property registrations and vehicle purchases, etc.
- The recent judgment of the Supreme Court narrows the scope of Aadhaar but provides a framework within which it can work.
- This judgement has two views, The majority opinion and The dissenting opinion.
The majority opinion:
- The majority opinion has sought to limit the import of the scheme to aspects directly related to welfare benefits, subsidies and money spent from the Consolidated Fund of India.
- Relying on official statistics, the majority favoured the scheme’s continuance for the sake of the 99.76% of people included under the scheme, rather than show anxiety over the 0.24% who were excluded because of authentication failure.
- The Bench made an important statement by saying that “The remedy is to plug the loopholes rather than axe the project.”
- The various controversial circulars and rules making it mandatory to link mobile phone numbers and bank accounts to Aadhaar numbers have been declared unconstitutional.
- Further, Section 57 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery Of Financial And Other Subsidies, Benefits And Services) Act, 2016, has been struck down to the extent that it authorised body corporates and individuals to use the Aadhaar number to establish someone’s identity.
- Schools have been barred from making the submission of the Aadhaar number mandatory to enrol children.
- A few other provisions have also been read down or clarified.
- Justice DY Chandrachud in his dissenting judgement said that the “Aadhaar allows constructing profiles of individuals, which is against the right to privacy and enables potential surveillance.”
- Justice Chandrachud said: “Bypassing Rajya Sabha to pass Aadhaar Act amounts to subterfuge and the law can be struck down.”
- He further observed that the Aadhaar cannot be treated as money bill and passing a bill as money bill which is not a money bill is a fraud on the Constitution,”.
- Justice Chandrachud said if Aadhaar is seeded with every database then there is chance of infringement of right to privacy. He said there was absence of regulatory mechanism to provide robust data protection.
- He went on to add that allowing private players to use Aadhaar will lead to profiling which could be used to ascertain political views of citizens.
- Having said this, he agreed with the majority decision that mobile companies cannot insist on Aadhaar.
- He also highlighted that biometric authentication failures have led to denial of rights and legal entitlements. He sighted the reason for such failures in the project’s inability to account for and remedy flaws in its network and design.
- It is important to note that while a dissenting judgement has no force of law, it leaves open the possibility of being referred to a larger bench at a later stage.
- He further ruled that the denial of benefits arising out of any social security rights is “violative of human dignity and impermissible under our constitutional scheme”.
- He also observed that there was no institutional responsibility of the UIDAI to protect the data of citizens.
Finally, it was the arguments in favour of benefits to the poor and the practical consequences of abandoning the scheme that won the day. Aadhaar possibly was simply too big to fail.
Connecting the dots:
- Discuss the verdict of Supreme Court with respect to Aadhar and the implications of the verdict?
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Governance and social justice
- Government policies and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Not a crime: on Supreme Court’s adultery ruling
The cleansing of the statute books of provisions that criminalise consensual relations among adults continues, with the Supreme Court finally striking down a colonial-era law that made adultery punishable with a jail term and a fine.
- In four separate but concurring opinions, a five-judge Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, finally transported India into the company of countries that no longer consider adultery an offence, only a ground for divorce.
- They have removed provisions related to adultery in the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Gender biased provision
- According to Section 497 of the IPC, which now stands struck down, a man had the right to initiate criminal proceedings against his wife’s lover.
- In treating women as their husband’s property, as individuals bereft of agency, the law was blatantly gender-discriminatory; aptly, the Court also struck down Section 198(2) of the CrPC under which which the husband alone could complain against adultery.
- Till now, only an adulterous woman’s husband could prosecute her lover, though she could not be punished; an adulterous man’s wife had no such right.
- In a further comment on her lack of sexual freedom and her commodification under the 158-year-old law, her affair with another would not amount to adultery if it had the consent of her husband.
- “The history of Section 497 reveals that the law on adultery was for the benefit of the husband, for him to secure ownership over the sexuality of his wife,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud wrote. “It was aimed at preventing the woman from exercising her sexual agency.”
- The challenge before the court was not to equalise the right to file a criminal complaint, by allowing a woman to act against her husband’s lover.
- It was, instead, to give the IPC and the CrPC a good dusting, to rid it of Victorian-era morality.
- It is only in a progressive legal landscape that individual rights flourish — and with the decriminalisation of adultery India has taken another step towards rights-based social relations, instead of a state-imposed moral order.
- That the decriminalisation of adultery comes soon after the Supreme Court judgment that read down Section 377 of the IPC to decriminalise homosexuality, thereby enabling diverse gender identities to be unafraid of the law, is heartening.
- It is a matter of concern that refreshing the statute books is being left to the judiciary, without any proactive role of Parliament in amending regressive laws.
- The shocking message here is not merely that provisions such as Section 497 or 377 remained so long in the IPC, it is also that Parliament failed in its legislative responsibility to address them.
Connecting the dots?
- Refreshing the statute books is being left to the judiciary, without any proactive role of Parliament in amending regressive laws. Comment in context of recent SC judgments of Section 377 and Section 497 of IPC.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Route 606, also known as Delaram-Zaranj Highway connects which of the following countries?
- India and Myanmar
- India and Bhutan
- Iran and Afghanistan
- China and Pakistan
Q.2) Consider the following terms
- Currency Deposit Ratio- Ratio of money held by public in currency to that they hold in bank deposits.
- Reserve Deposit Ratio- Proportion of the total deposits commercial banks keep as reserves.
- Statutory Liquidity Ratio- Policy instrument by RBI, which specifies the fraction of their deposits that bank must keep with RBI.
- Cash Reserve Ratio- Policy instrument by RBI, which requires the banks to maintain a given fraction of their total demand and time deposits in the form of specified liquid assets.
Select the INCORRECT statement/s:
- 1 and 3
- 2 and 4
- 3 and 4
- None of the above
Q.3) If the RBI implements an expansionist open market operations policy, this means that it will?
- Buy securities from non-government holders
- Offer commercial banks more credit in open market
- Sells G-securities (government securities) in open market
- Openly announces to the market that it intends to expand its credit
Finding an equilibrium
Should the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi case be released?
Verdict as first word
A UN for the People
A new twist in global politics
Time for Aadhaar to get back to basics