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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd July 2022

  • IASbaba
  • July 22, 2022
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Retirement age of Judges of Higher Judiciary

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Polity
  • Mains – GS 2 (Polity – Judiciary)

In News: Union Minister for Law and Justice told the Parliament that there is no proposal to increase the retirement age of Supreme Court and High Court judges.

  • The Constitution (114th Amendment) Bill was introduced in 2010 to increase the retirement age of high court judges to 65. However, it was not taken up for consideration in Parliament and lapsed with the dissolution of the 15 Lok Sabha
  • According to Article 124(2) of the Constitution, the age of retirement for Supreme Court judges is 65.
  • As per Article 217(1) of the Constitution, High Court judges retire at 62.

Why should it be increased?

Pendency of cases

  • As of September 15, 2021, over 5 crore cases were pending across all courts in India. Of these, 87.6% cases were pending in subordinate courts and 12.3% in High Courts.
  • The Supreme Court’s statistics show that 70,362 cases are pending with it as of April 1, 2022.

Judge-population ratio

  • The judge-population ratio in India is among the lowest with 21.03 as on December 31 2021, while In 2016, the K. had 51 judges per million people, the U.S. had 107, Australia had 41, and Canada had 75.

Other appointments

  • Moreover, legislations provide for retired High Court and Supreme Court judges to man tribunals till the age of 70 as chairman and 65 as members. There is no reason why these judges should be retired so early.

Recommendations

  • In 1974, the 58th report of the Law Commission recommended bringing parity between age of retirement of judges of High Court and Supreme Court.
  • In 2002, Justice Venkatachaliah Report – the report of National Commission to review the working of the Constitution – also recommended that the age of retirement should be increased for judges of High Courts and Supreme Court to 65 and 68, respectively.

Other countries

  • A retirement age of around 70 for judges is commonplace in most Western liberal democracies. Some of them even opt for tenures for life.
  • In the Supreme Court of the United States, and in constitutional courts in Austria and Greece, judges are appointed for life.
  • In Belgium, Denmark, Ireland and Australia, the retirement age for judges is 70 years.

Impacts

  • It will address the problem of mounting arrears.
  • It will ensure the continued presence of a strong talent pool of experienced judges.
  • Faster delivery of justice
  • It will render post-retirement assignments unattractive and, as a consequence, strengthen the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

Increasing the age of Judges will certainly help in addressing many issues. The retirement age of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts could be increased, but with the option of quitting before reaching the age of superannuation – a practice prevailing in Zimbabwe, where a top court judge is appointed to retire at 65 years but can opt to continue till 70.

Source: Indian Express

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Consider the following statements: (2019)

  1. The motion to impeach a Judge of the Supreme Court of India cannot be rejected by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha as per the Judges (Inquiry) Act 1968.
  2. The Constitution of India defines and gives details or what constitutes ‘incapacity and proved misbehaviour’ of the Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
  3. The details of the process of impeachment of the Judges of the Supreme Court of India are given in 4 the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968.
  4. If the motion for the impeachment of a Judge is taken up for voting, the law requires the motion to be backed by each House of the Parliament and supported by a majority of total membership of that House and by not less than two-thirds of total members of that House present and voting.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 3 only
  3. 3 and 4 only
  4. 1, 3 and 4

NITI Aayog’s India Innovation Index 2021

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Current Affairs
  • Mains – GS 3 (Economy – Growth & Development)

In News: The third edition of the India Innovation Index 2021 was released by NITI Aayog.

India Innovation Index

  • Prepared by NITI Aayog and the Institute for Competitiveness, the India Innovation Index is a comprehensive tool for the evaluation and development of the country’s innovation ecosystem.
  • It seeks to rank the states and union territories based on their relative performance of supporting innovation, and to empower them to improve their innovation polices by highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.
  • The third edition highlights the scope of innovation analysis in the country by drawing on the framework of the Global Innovation Index.
  • The number of indicators has increased from 36 in 2020 to 66 2021.
  • The indicators are now distributed across 16 sub-pillars, which, in turn, form seven key pillars.

Enablers

  • Human Capital
  • Investment
  • Knowledge Workers
  • Business Environment
  • Safety and Legal Environment

Performance

  • Knowledge Output
  • Knowledge Diffusion

Rankings

  • Karnataka (Major States), Manipur (North East and Hill States) and Chandigarh (Union Territories and City States) have topped in their respective categories in the third edition of NITI Aayog’s India Innovation Index.

Source: PIB

Previous Year Question

Q.1) “Rule of Law Index” is released by which of the following? (2018)

  1. Amnesty International
  2. International Court of Justice
  3. The Office Of UN Commissioner for Human Rights
  4. World Justice Project


River Kali Bein

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Geography
  • Mains – GS 3 (Environment)

About River Kali Bein

Origin

  • The 165-km rivulet starts from Hoshiarpur, runs across four districts and meets the confluence of the rivers Beas and Sutlej in Kapurthala.

Features

  • Odhra rivulet, and Mukerian Hydel Channel are the main source of water for Kali Bein.
  • The ChhotiBein is a tributary of the Kali Bein.
  • The Kanjli Wetland, a Ramsar site (a wetland site designated of international importance under the Ramsar Convention), is supported by the Kali Bein.

Pollution

  • Wastewater from cities and towns as well as industrial waste used to flow into the rivulet via a drain, turning its waters black, hence the name Kali Bein (black rivulet).
  • In the wake of the Green Revolution, the Kali Bein became progressively polluted until it was cleaned and rejuvenated in a mass action led by Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal in the 2000s.
  • The ‘Kali Bein Model’ was cited as the blueprint for the National Mission for Clean Ganga.

Significance for Sikhs

  • The first Guru, Nanak Dev, is said to have got enlightenment
  • When Guru Nanak Dev was staying at Sultanpur Lodhi with his sister BebeNanki, he would bathe in the Kali Bein.
  • He is said to have disappeared into the waters one day, before emerging on the third day. This marks the beginnings of Sikhism and the start of Nanak’s teachings.
  • The first thing he recited was the “Mool Mantra” of the Sikh religion (Ik Onkar).
  • Gurudwara Ber Sahib, the principal shrine at Sultanpur, is situated on the bank of the rivulet Kali Bein.
  • It is built by the side of an old ber tree which is believed to be the one under which Guru Nanak would sit in meditation.

Source: The Indian Express

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Consider the following rivers: (2021)

  1. Brahamani
  2. Nagalwali
  3. Subarnarekha
  4. Vamsadhara

Which of the above rise from the Eastern Ghats?

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 4
  3. 3 and 4
  4. 1 and 3

World Press Freedom Index

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Current Affairs
  • Mains – GS 2 (Polity & Governance)

Context: India is ranked at 150 among 180 nations in the World Press Freedom Index 2022 report.

  • The 20th World Press Freedom Index was published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
  • Norway (1st) Denmark (2nd), Sweden (3rd) Estonia (4th) and Finland (5th) grabbed the top positions, while North Korea remained at the bottom of the list of the 180 countries and territories ranked by the Reporters Without Borders

Scoring Criteria:

  • The Index’s rankings are based on a score ranging from 0 to 100 that is assigned to each country or territory, with 100 being the best possible score (the highest possible level of press freedom) and 0 the worst.

Evaluation Criteria:

  • RSF developed a new methodology to compile the 20th World Press Freedom Index.
  • The new methodology defines press freedom as “the effective possibility for journalists, as individuals and as groups, to select, produce and disseminate news and information in the public interest, independently from political, economic, legal and social interference, and without threats to their physical and mental safety.”
  • In order to reflect press freedom’s complexity, five new indicators are now used to compile the Index: the political context, legal framework, economic context, sociocultural context, and security.

The Indian Government’s Response

  • The report described India as “one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media” and noted that “journalists are exposed to all kinds of physical violence, including police violence, ambushes by political activists and deadly reprisals by criminal groups or corrupt local officials.”
  • Indian government does not agree with the conclusions drawn by the organisation for various reasons, including “very low sample size, little or no weightage to fundamentals of democracy, adoption of a methodology which is questionable and non-transparent”.
  • Government is committed to ensure the right to freedom of speech and expression enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution.
  • The Press Council of India (PCI) has been set up under the Press Council Act, 1978 mainly to preserve the freedom of the press and improve the standards of newspapers and news agencies in the country PCI looks into the complaints filed ‘by the Press’ regarding curtailment of press freedom.
  • Index Monitoring Cell (IMC)
  • Set up by: Information and Broadcasting Ministry
  • Objective: To improve India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index and to evolve an objective yardstick to gauge media freedom.
  • It is a 15-member committee.
  • It has four journalists and government functionaries.
  • Chaired by: Kuldeep Singh Dhatwalia, Principal Director General of the Press Information Bureau

Must Read: On regulation of Digital media + Section 66A

Source: The Indian Express


Hate Speech

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 1 (Social Issues)

In News: The Supreme Court the Union Home Ministry to file a report within three weeks on whether states have complied with the court’s earlier verdicts on curbing hate speech.

  • The court was referring to earlier rulings in which, it said, it had passed “preventive, corrective and remedial” measures to deal with such situations.
  • In a 2018 ruling, Tehseen Poonawala v Union of India, the Supreme Court had condemned the “sweeping phenomenon” of lynching and mob violence in the country.
  • In Shakti Vahini v Union of India verdict in 2018, in which petitioners sought the court’s intervention in curbing honour killing, the top court ruled that any attempt by khap panchayats, or any other assembly, to scuttle or prevent two consenting adults from marrying is absolutely ‘illegal’.

Tehseen S. Poonawalla case

  • In July 2018 judgment in the Tehseen S. Poonawalla case, the SC gave the government full freedom to stop/curb dissemination of “irresponsible and explosive messages on various social media platforms, which have a tendency to incite mob violence and lynching of any kind.”

Shakti Vahini v Union of India verdict in 2018

  • The judgment came on a petition filed by NGO Shakti Vahini to curb honour crimes.
  • The court held that the consent of the family, community or clan is not necessary for marriage.
  • This is to safeguard young couples under threat for marrying outside their caste or religion.
  • The Court also issued a set of guidelines for the authorities, to stop interference by khap panchayats.

Hate Speech (Reasons, legal provisions and way forward)

Source: Indian Express


In Pegasus battle, the fight for surveillance reform

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 2 (Polity – Privacy); GS 3 (Cybersecurity)

Context: A year has passed since the disclosures about the Pegasus Project revealed the threat to India’s democracy.

  • A study reported that the cellphones of at least 300 Indians had been hacked with Pegasus, the spyware from the Israel-based NSO Group.
  • The court constituted a committee, overseen by former Supreme Court judge Justice R.V Raveendran, to look into the charges and accordingly submit a report.

What were the objectives of the committee?

  • The committee was mandated to inquire, investigate and determine, among other things, if Pegasus was used to eavesdrop on phones and other devices of Indian citizens.
  • Details were sought on whether the government had taken any action after reports emerged in 2019 about WhatsApp accounts being hacked by the same spyware and if the government had indeed acquired such a suite.

What is Pegasus

How was it used in India?

  • At least 40 journalists, Cabinet Ministers, and holders of constitutional positions were possibly subjected to surveillance using Pegasus.
  • Since Pegasus is graded as a cyberweapon and can only be sold to authorised government entities as per Israeli law, most reports have suggested that the governments in these countries are the clients.

Surveillance Laws in India

Communication surveillance in India takes place primarily under two laws

  • Telegraph Act deals with interception of calls
  • IT Act was enacted to deal with surveillance of all electronic communication

Telegraph Act

  • Section 5(2) of The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, states that the government can intercept a “message or class of messages” on certain situations.
  • Certain situations — the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order, or for preventing incitement to the commission of an offence
  • These are the same restrictions imposed on free speech under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.
  • These restrictions can be imposed only when there is a condition precedent — the occurrence of any public emergency, or in the interest of public safety.

The operational process and procedures for Interception

  • Under Rule 419A, surveillance needs the sanction of the Home Secretary at the Central or State level, but in “unavoidable circumstance” can be cleared by a Joint Secretary or officers above, if they have the Home Secretary’s authorisation.
  • In the K.S. Puttaswamy vs Union of India verdict of 2017, the Supreme Court further reiterated the need for oversight of surveillance, stating that it should be legally valid and serve a legitimate aim of the government. 
  • The court also said the means adopted should be proportional to the need for surveillance, and there should be procedures to check any abuse of surveillance.

Information Technology Act, 2000

  • Section 69 of the IT Act, 2000 deals with electronic surveillance.
  • It facilitates government “interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource” if it is in the interest of the “sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order” or for preventing or investigating any cognizable offence.

Challenges to overcome

  • An overhaul of surveillance laws is necessary to prevent the indiscriminate monitoring of people and entities by the state and private actors.
  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 which empower the Government to surveil, concentrate surveillance powers in the hands of the executive, and do not contain any independent oversight provisions, judicial or parliamentary.
  • These legislations are from an era before spyware such as Pegasus were developed, and, thus, do not respond to the modern-day surveillance industry.
  • Lack of legislative proposals by the Union Government for surveillance reform:
  • The proposed data protection law does not address these concerns
  • Instead, the proposed law provides wide exemptions to the Government relating to select agencies from the application of the law; one which might be used to exempt intelligence and other law enforcement agencies.
  • This gap in the surveillance framework has led to severe harm being caused to India’s democratic ideals.

Conclusion

From targeting activists and journalists for civil and political purposes, to the targeting of litigants for commercial benefits, the surveillance industry is becoming increasingly accessible, and the nature of surveillance, exponentially intrusive.

In the absence of immediate and far-reaching surveillance reform, and urgent redress to those who approach authorities against unlawful surveillance, the right to privacy may soon become obsolete.

Note: What is a zero-click attack?

Source: The Hindu

The Hindu


Fake News

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Current Affairs
  • Mains – GS (Polity & Governance)

In News: Government stated that in 2021-22, the Government blocked 94 YouTube channels, 19 social media accounts and 747 uniform resource locators (URLs) engaged in anti-India activities.

  • These actions have been taken under the Section 69A Information Technology Act 2000.

Statutory and institutional mechanisms to fight fake news

The Government has the statutory and institutional mechanisms in place to combat fake news.

  • For print media, Press Council of India (PCI), a statutory autonomous body set up under the Press Council Act, 1978.
  • PCI has framed “Norms of Journalistic Conduct” for adherence by the media, which includes specific norms to refrain print media from publication/ dissemination of fake/false news.
  • For electronic media (television), all TV channels are required to adhere to the programme code under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.
  • For digital news, the government has notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 under the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Information Technology Act, 2000

  • The Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, governs all activities related to the use of computer resources.
  • It covers all ‘intermediaries’ who play a role in the use of computer resources and electronic records.

Section 69A of the IT Act:

  • It confers on the Central and State governments the power to issue directions to intercept, monitor or decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource.

The grounds on which these powers may be exercised are:

  • In the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state.
  • Friendly relations with foreign states.
  • Public order, or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to these.
  • For investigating any offence.

Process of Blocking Internet Websites:

  • Section 69A, for similar reasons and grounds (as stated above), enables the Centre to ask any agency of the government, or any intermediary, to block access to the public of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored or hosted on any computer resource.
  • Any such request for blocking access must be based on reasons given in writing.

Fake News

  • Fake news is news, stories or hoaxes created to deliberately misinform or deceive readers.
  • Usually, these stories are created to influence people’s views, push a political agenda or cause confusion and can often be a profitable business for online publishers.

Causes of Spread of Fake News

Erosion of Media Ethics:

  • News media is no longer seen as an arbitrator of the ‘real news’.
  • Media is alleged to be echo-chamber of the dominant political class.
  • Thus News Media have lost credibility due to motivated reporting, which has become a source of fake news.

Social Media:

  • The advent of social media has decentralized the creation and propagation of fake news.
  • The vastness of the internet and social media users makes tracing the origin of fake news almost impossible.

Polarization of society:

  • Increasing divide in the society on ideological lines has made the job of spreading fake news easier.

Lack of legislation:

  • There is no specific law to deal with fake news in India.

Difficult to achieve balance:

  • The efforts to control fake news should not threaten to cramp legitimate investigative and source-based journalism or freedom of expression as guaranteed in Article 19 of the Constitution.

Remedies available to tackle this menace

  • The Press Council of India: It is created by an Act of Parliament, is a statutory body and keeps vigil on fake news. It can warn, admonish or censure the newspaper, the news agency.
  • IPC Sections 153A and 295: Under this action can be initiated against someone creating or spreading fake news if it can be termed as hate speech.
  • Indian Broadcast Foundation (IBF): This body was created in 1999 to look into the complaints against content aired by 24×7 channels.
  • The Information Technology (IT) Act – Section 69A – It imposes an obligation on intermediaries such as search engine giant to remove any objectionable content pursuant to takedown notices by law enforcement agencies.

Way Forward

  • Bring out policy – The government should bring out a policy with the inputs from various stakeholders of controlling fake news.
  • Regulatory mechanism – The PCI needs to be reformed and empowered in a way so as to enable it to strike a balance between the freedom of media and speech on the one hand, and the right to know on the other.
  • Educating the end-users to be more discerning consumers of news by informing them of verification tools so that they can ascertain the accuracy of a news item before sharing it.
  • De-anonymizing all social media accounts for tracking the ‘source’ of fake news.

Source: Financial Express


Crimes against Vulnerable sections

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 2 (Governance)

In News: Cases of crime against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have risen progressively in the years between 2018 and 2020, according to figures tabled by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Lok Sabha

  • The figures were sourced from the National Crime Records Bureau.
  • Cases registered for crime against SCs rose from 42,793 in 2018 to over 50,000 in 2020, and of crime against STs from 6,528 to 8,272 in the same period.

Source: Indian Express


Daily Practice MCQs

Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) India Innovation Index is published by?

  1. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
  2. Ministry of Corporate Affairs
  3. NITI Aayog
  4. Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

Q.2) Consider the following statements about River Kali Bein

  1. It is a rivulet that starts from Hoshiarpur, Punjab and meets the confluence of the rivers Beas and Sutlej in Kapurthala.
  2. The Kanjli Wetland, a Ramsar site is supported by the Kali Bein.
  3. The first Guru, Nanak Dev, is said to have got enlightenment here.

Choose the incorrect statements:

  1. 2 only
  2. 2 and 3
  3. None
  4. 3 only

Q.3) Kaliningrad region, recently in news belongs to which of the following country?

  1. Poland
  2. Lithuania
  3. Russia
  4. Ukraine

Comment the answers to the above questions in the comment section below!!

ANSWERS FOR ’22nd JULY 2022 – Daily Practice MCQs’ will be updated along with tomorrow’s Daily Current Affairs.


ANSWERS FOR 21st JULY 2022 – Daily Practice MCQs

Answers- Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) – b

Q.2) – b

Q.3) – d

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