UPSC Civil Services Daily Current Affairs 8th February 2022
Topics for the day :
- Police action on social media posts
- Marital rape
- Kerala lokayukta
- PM cares Fund
- Iran nuclear deal talks to resume in Vienna
- RBI’s digital currency plans
Police action on social media posts
- Supreme Court on Monday orally accused the Tripura police of harassing people who take to social media on the communal violence that occurred in the State
More on the news :
- The Bench noted that the police, have continued to issue notices to people for their social media posts despite a protective order from the court earlier.
- The court order was passed in the case of some lawyers and journalists who were booked under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act) for their social media posts
What is the UAPA ?
- Enacted in 1967 The law aims at effective prevention of unlawful activities and associations in India.
- Later on it was modelled as an anti-terror law in 2004. It gives absolute power to the central government and has death penalty and life imprisonment as highest punishments.
- In order to deal with the unlawful crimes, it deviates from ordinary legal procedures and creates an exceptional regime where constitutional safeguards of the accused are curtailed.
- Recent changes to the law(In August 2019)
- Includes the provision of designating an individual as a terrorist Prior to this amendment, only organizations could be designated as terrorist organizations
- The Act empowers the Director General of National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by the said agency.
- The Act empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases of terrorism in addition to those conducted by the DSP or ACP or above rank officer in the state.
Marital Rape :
- Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Centre to clarify in two weeks its stand on the issue of criminalising rape within marriage
- In India, marital rape is not defined in any statute or law hence there is an exception granted to husbands under Indian rape law
- The exception to Sec 375 of IPC says sexual intercourse by a man with his wife aged 15 years or above is not rape even if it is without her consent(recently SC changed the age to 18 years in a judgement)
- Against Basic Rights of Women: This exception clause violates the women’s fundamental right to equality, freedom of speech and expression, and most of all the right to life and personal liberty.
- Inaccurate method of collection of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data
- Doctrine of Coverture: Non-Criminalised nature of Marital rape emanates from the British era. At the time the IPC was drafted in the 1860s, a married woman was not considered an independent legal entity.
- Inconsistent Provision: A husband may be tried for offences such as sexual harassment, molestation, voyeurism of other women but not own wife
Arguments of the Govt :
- Destabilising Effect on Institution of Marriage: Until now, the government has said on multiple occasions that criminalising marital rape will threaten the institution of marriage and will also impinge the right to privacy.
- Misuse of Legal Provisions: There is a growing misuse of Section 498A (harassment caused to a married woman by her husband and in-laws) of IPC and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
Way forward :
- JS VERMA committee recommendations :
- To make amendments to the Criminal Law for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for sexual assault of women – surety over severity
- Widening the definition of rape and including even marital rape as a crime
Kerala lokayukta :
- Kerala governor approved an Ordinance seeking to amend the Kerala Lok Ayukta Act, 1999.
More on the ordinance :
- The proposed ordinance envisages to limit the powers of the anti-corruption watchdog.
- The proposal sought to give the government powers to “either accept or reject the verdict of the Lokayukta”.
- By this ordinance, the quasi-judicial institution will turn into a toothless advisory body, whose orders will no longer be binding on the government.
What is lokayukta ?
- Lokayukta is an ombudsman created to deal with complaints relating to corruption against public functionaries at the state level
- Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 states: “Every state shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta for the State, if not so established, constituted or appointed, by a law made by the State Legislature”
- States have the autonomy to frame their own lokayukta laws, and the Lokayukta’s powers vary from state to state on various aspects, such as tenure, and need of sanction to prosecute officials.
- chief minister is included within the jurisdiction of lokayukta in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, while he is excluded from the purview of loka-yukta in the states of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Orissa
PM cares Fund
- The PM CARES Fund collected Rs.10,990 crore since its inception in March 2020 until March 2021. It spent Rs.3,976 crore during the 2020-21 ?nancial year, according to the audited ?nancial statement posted on its website
More about the fund :
- The Fund was set up to deal with “any kind of emergency or distress situation, like the one posed by the COVID19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the a?ected.”
- Funds were disbursed for COVID vaccine purchase and testing, ventilators, hospitals, testing labs, oxygen generation plants and migrant welfare
- The Fund is a public charitable trust with the Prime Minister as its Chairman
- Contributions by companies towards the PM-CARES Fund will count towards mandatory Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
- Under the Companies Act, 2013, companies with a minimum net worth of Rs 500 crore or turnover of Rs 1,000 crore, or net profit of Rs 5 crore are required to spend at least 2% of their average profit for the previous three years on CSR activities every year
- It is not subject to CAG audit, not under public scrutiny, and doesn’t come under the ambit of Right to Information (RTI)
- Also contributions made to it are 100% tax-free. This would encourage donations.
- However it does not get any budgetary support.
- Questions arise over the need for establishing a new fund when PMNRF already exists.
- There is opacity surrounding the PM-CARES fund as the trust deed has not been made public. It is not known whether all members of the trust have voting rights or not
- The government’s decision to accept foreign donations for PM CARES was also critically viewed as the government in the past had refused foreign donations to deal with the domestic crisis ex.during the 2018 kerala floods foreign funds from middle east were not accepted.
Iran nuclear deal talks to resume in Vienna
- Iran nuclear deal talks will resume in Vienna on Tuesday, diplomats said on Monday, after negotiators in recent weeks have cited progress in seeking to revive the 2015 landmark accord
- The Iran nuclear deal is also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
- The JCPOA was the result of prolonged negotiations from 2013 and 2015 between Iran and P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union, or the EU).
- Under the deal, Tehran agreed to significantly cut its stores of centrifuges, enriched uranium and heavy-water, all key components for nuclear weapons
- President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the accord in 2018. Besides, he opted for a “maximum pressure” campaign by imposing sanctions and other tough actions.
- In January 2020, following the drone strike on Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Iran announced that it would no longer observe the JCPOA’s restraints
Current situation :
- Under president Biden USA has held it is ready to “re-engage in meaningful diplomacy” on the issue
- USA intends to rejoin the deal but insists that Iran must return to full compliance with the agreement first
- Iran has insisted that the US must lift all of its unilateral sanctions first.
- Parties to the deal have been negotiating in Vienna since 2021 with indirect U.S. participation
Significance of the deal for India:
- Removing sanctions may revive India’s interest in the Chabahar port, Bandar Abbas port, and other plans for regional connectivity.
- This would further help India to neutralize the Chinese presence in Gwadar port, Pakistan.
- Restoration of ties between the US and Iran will help India to procure cheap Iranian oil and aid in energy security.
RBI’s digital currency plans
- In the Budget presented for 2022-23, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the introduction of India’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) and that the digital rupee would give a ‘big boost’ to digital economy
- She had indicated that technologies such as blockchain would be used by the Reserve Bank of India to issue the currency
What is digital currency ?
- A CBDC is no different from physical cash, except that it would exist in a digital form
- The CBDC will be held in a digital wallet that is supervised by the RBI.
- RBI’s digital rupee will not directly replace demand deposits held in banks. Physical cash will continue to be used by banks for deposits and withdrawals.
Why central bank digital currency ?
- Central banks claim that there is an increasing demand for digital currencies this can be seen from rise of private digital currencies such as bitcoin and also to the increasing use of digital payments as examples of this trend.
- Central bank digital currencies are promised as reliable, sovereign backed alternatives to private currencies which are volatile and unregulated
- There exists more flexibility when it comes to digital currency as opposed to hard cash in terms of usage
- Central banks also believe that the cost of issuing digital currencies is far lower than the cost of printing and distributing physical cash as it is done electronically.
- It is also better for faster transmission of the monetary policy ex.transmission of cheap money policy by reducing the repo rate.
- Physical cash is hard to trace, while digital currency that is monitored by the RBI can be more easily tracked and controlled by the Central bank. This could have several benefits such as controlling inflation, reducing black money etc.
Criticism of central bank digital currency
- The demand for private currencies comes primarily from people who have lost faith in ?at currencies issued by Central banks. Governments across the world have been printing currency in excessive amounts, thus forcing many to switch to private currencies whose supply is limited.
- Hence just the digital version of a national currency like the rupee or the U.S. dollar is unlikely to reduce the demand for private currencies like bitcoin.
- However Central bank digital currencies come at the cost of privacy due to transparency. This is unlikely to reduce demand for private digital currencies.
UPSC Civil Services Daily Current Affairs 8th February 2022
Watch Our Videos on YouTube