1)Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020:
Context: The central government introduced the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020, in LokSabha, seeking the control to regulate assisted reproductive technology services across the country to ensure ethical practices.
Provisions of the bill?
- On the commencement of the Act, a National Board will be constituted, which shall lay down code of conduct to be observed by persons working at clinics, to set the minimum standards of physical infrastructure, laboratory and diagnostic equipment and expert manpower to be employed by clinics and banks.
- The States and Union Territories shall constitute the State Boards and State Authorities within three months of the notification by the Central Government.
- A National Registry and Registration Authority to maintain a Central database and assist the National Board in its functioning will be set up.
- It intends to make Pre-Genetic Implantation Testing mandatory for the benefit of the child born through assisted reproductive technology.
- This test allows doctors to test embryos for any possible abnormal chromosomes before they are transferred to the uterus, hence avoid any genetic diseases in the infants born through these technologies.
- Egg donor needs to be supported by insurance cover and protected from multiple embryo implantations.
- Children born through ART should be provided all the rights equivalent to biological children.
- It proposes a stringent punishment for those practising sex selection, sale of human embryos or gametes, running agencies/ rackets/organisations for such unlawful practices.
- A fine of Rs 10 lakh at first instance is proposed for those involved in trafficking and sale of embryos and in second instance the person could be imprisoned for up to 12 years.
Restrictions prescribed by the bill?
- A national registration authority will register such clinics and banks which is mandatory.
- National and state boards will be set up to monitor the clinics.
- The facility can be availed of by any woman above the age of marriage but less than 50 years and in the case of men, it is 55.
- Only the married women with a child aged 3 years can donate eggs for once in her lifetime.
What is Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)?
- Assisted reproductive technology is the procedure to address infertility as a prime focus. It could also be called as fertility treatment.
- The egg of a female and the sperm of a male are mixed to create embryos and it is then planted to the woman’s body.
How will the bill impact society?
- The practice of ART has been increasing day by day in India. And the legal, ethical, and social issues have also increased.
- The bill will ensure women’s reproductive rights and protect the rights of the child by smoothening the process through standardization of protocols.
2) 20th Amendment of Srilanka:
Context: The Sri Lankan government is revisiting the draft 20th Amendment to the Constitution, in the light of public concerns.
- The newly drafted 20th Amendment envisages enhancing Presidential powers, along with immunity, while significantly reducing the Prime Minister’s role and powers.
- It follows the ruling Rajapaksa brothers’ election pledge to repeal the preceding 19th Amendment — introduced by the former government in 2015 — that imposed curbs on presidential powers, while empowering Parliament and independent commissions.
- The Amendment also found mention in the statement made by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the ongoing Human Rights Council in Geneva
- Referring to Sri Lanka in her global human rights update, High Commissioner Bachelet said: Among other developments, the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution may negatively impact on the independence of key institutions, including the National Human Rights Commission.
3) Phosphine on Venus:
Context: Traces of a rare molecule known as phosphine have been found in the hellish, heavily acidic atmosphere of Venus
- Providing a clue about the possibility of life.
- Phosphine molecules found on Earth are primarily a result of human industry or the actions of microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments.
- The researchers are not claiming life has been detected on the second planet from the sun. But the observations suggest at least the possibility of microbial activity in the upper layers of Venus’ atmosphere, well away from the planet’s inhospitable surface.
- Phosphine gas on Earth is made by microorganisms that live in oxygen-free environments. And so there is a chance that we have detected some kind of living organism in the clouds of Venus.”
- Apart from being produced in industrial processes, phosphine, a colourless but smelly gas, is known to be made only by some species of bacteria that survive in the absence of oxygen.
- There are some other ways in which this chemical might be produced, for example, in the underbelly of volcanoes or meteorite activity
4) Atacama large Millimetre or Submillimeter Array (ALMA):
- Astronomical interferometer of 66 radio telescopes in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile which observes electromagnetic radiation at millimetre and submillimeter wavelengths.
- ALMA is expected to provide insight on Star birth during the early stelliferous era and detailed imaging of star and Planet formation
- It is an international partner among Europe, United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Chile.
- It began scientific observations in the second half of 2011 and it is fully operational since 2012
Context: The National Green Tribunal has directed the Central Pollution Control Board to finalise a standard operating procedure (SOP) for eateries along highways, within two months.
Stating that existing environmental norms cannot be diluted or relaxed by any authority, the Bench said, the compensation regime has to be as per polluter pays principle which requires the compensation to be adequate to cover the cost of restoration of the environment and has to be deterrent.
NGT said, Let CPCB finalise an appropriate SOP integrating its guidelines already prepared and incorporating such of the provisions in the policy as are found appropriate so that the SOP prepared by CPCB will cover the entire field.”
What is National Green Tribunal (NGT)?
- It is a specialised body set up under the National Green Tribunal Act (2010) for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
- With the establishment of the NGT, India became the third country in the world to set up a specialised environmental tribunal, only after Australia and New Zealand, and the first developing country to do so.
- NGT is mandated to make disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
- The NGT has five places of sittings, New Delhi is the Principal place of sitting and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are the other four.
Powers & Jurisdiction
- The Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil cases involving substantial question relating to environment (including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment).
- Being a statutory adjudicatory body like Courts, apart from original jurisdiction side on filing of an application, NGT also has appellate jurisdiction to hear appeal as a Court (Tribunal).
- The Tribunal is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, but shall be guided by principles of ‘natural justice’.
- While passing any order/decision/ award, it shall apply the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle.
- NGT by an order, can provide
– relief and compensation to the victims of pollution and other environmental damage (including accident occurring while handling any hazardous substance),
– for restitution of property damaged, and
– For restitution of the environment for such area or areas, as the Tribunal may think fit.
- An order/decision/award of Tribunal is executable as a decree of a civil court.
- The NGT Act also provides a procedure for a penalty for non compliance:
-Imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years,
-Fine which may extend to ten crore rupees, and
-Both fine and imprisonment.
- An appeal against order/decision/ award of the NGT lies to the Supreme Court, generally within ninety days from the date of communication.
Structure of NGT
- The Tribunal comprises of the Chairperson, the Judicial Members and Expert Members. They shall hold office for term of five years and are not eligible for reappointment.
- The Chairperson is appointed by the Central Government in consultation with Chief Justice of India (CJI).
- A Selection Committee shall be formed by central government to appoint the Judicial Members and Expert Members.
- There are to be least 10 and maximum 20 full time Judicial members and Expert Members in the tribunal.
6) Unlawful activities prevention act UAPA, 1967:
Context: JNU student leader Umar Khalid was arrested under the unlawful activities Prevention Act UAPA,
- Unlawful activities Prevention Act, Is aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associated with in India
- Its main objective was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the Integrity and Sovereignty of India
- The National Integration Council appointed a committee on National Integration and Regionalization to look into the aspect of putting reasonable restrictions in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India
- Pursuant to the acceptance of recommendations of the committee the constitution 16 Amendment Act 1963 was enacted to impose by law reasonable restrictions in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India it was amended in 2019 allowing the government to designate an individual as a terrorist without trial.
- UAPA will allow the government to designate an individual as a terrorist without trial earlier
- The government can declare organisations only as a terrorist organisation.
- It empowers the National Investigation Agency to seize properties which previously required permission from the Director General of Police
- It allows an NIA officer of the rank of Inspector or about to investigate cases before Assistant Commissioner of Police or above could do so
In the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India are
- Freedom of speech and expression
- Right to assemble peacefully and without arms
- Right to form associations and unions
Though these are part of fundamental rights but the fundamental rights are not absolute
Concerns about the act:
- UAPA must be Fair, non discriminatory and used in a balanced manner.
- Invoking it in cases of protest will have a chilling effect on democratic rights
UPA is about Terrorism and not about anyone violating the normal law of the land, there is CrPC for someone who is violating the normal law of the land as UAPA should be applied under special circumstances