Current Affairs 28th September 2018

edited October 2018 in Daily Current Affairs

Aadhar verdict

The Supreme Court has upheld the Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid. The court also upheld the passage of the Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill.

The court ruled that the Aadhaar programme served the “larger public interest” in ensuring that the poor have access to resources. It found that the programme eliminated any chance of duplication and that enrolment was foolproof.
However, the apex court’s five-judge constitution bench also struck down several provisions in the Aadhaar Act.

Where Aadhaar is not needed?

Children cannot be denied any benefit due to not having Aadhaar. Hence, Aadhaar is not needed for school admissions.
Compulsory linking of mobile phone numbers to Aadhaar.
Aadhaar is not needed for opening a bank account and banking services.
CBSE, NEET, UGC cannot make Aadhaar mandatory to appear in entrance examinations.
No private entity can avail Aadhaar data which includes telecom companies and mobile wallets.

Where Aadhaar is mandatory?

Linking of PAN with Aadhaar.

Mandatory for filing of IT returns and allotment of Permanent Account Number.
Aadhaar must for availing facilities of welfare schemes and government subsidies.

Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act struck down:

Section 57 was used by the government to compel private companies to demand Aadhaar verification for services.
The Court accepted the argument that no rationale exists for this power and declared it invalid.
Consequently, the Court has struck downlinking of Aadhaar with mobiles and bank accounts. It has further directed that the data collected shall be deleted within six months.


What was the contention against Aadhaar before the Supreme Court?

The main questions raised during the hearing on Aadhaar were:

Is the Aadhaar Act, 2016, constitutionally valid given that it was passed in Parliament as a Money Bill?
Why does every citizen need one identity proof — a unique identification number — to acquire government benefits? Can’t this be done using other documents, like ration card or passport?
Does Aadhaar take away our right to privacy — upheld as a fundamental right by a nine-judge Constitution bench of the court in August last year.
What happens if Aadhaar data becomes a tool for mass surveillance by the state, as the movement and activities of users can be tracked by collecting metadata?

What did the government argue in favour of Aadhaar?

During the hearing, the government argued that Aadhaar would help weed out ghost beneficiaries of welfare schemes. The government argued that is using Aadhaar as an enabler of various facets of the right to life of teeming millions of Indian residents including their right to food, the right to livelihood, the right to receive pensions and other social assistance benefits like scholarships etc. by the genuine beneficiaries.”

The Supreme Court’s Right to Privacy verdict:

On August 24, 2017, a nine-judge Bench ruled that the right to privacy is a fundamental right, a shot in the arm for the petitioners. However, the court had also ruled that “besides national security, the State may have justifiable reasons for the collection and storage of data. In a social welfare state, the government embarks upon programmes which provide benefits to impoverished and marginalised sections of society. There is a vital State interest in ensuring that scarce public resources are not dissipated by the diversion of resources to persons who do not qualify as recipients.”

Justice B N Srikrishna report:

The Justice B N Srikrishna panel was appointed to recommend a data protection framework to the government. It submitted its recommendations in July this year. The Srikrishna data protection report highlighted individuals’ constitutional rights over their data and said efforts need to be made to protect data at any cost. It recommended steps for protection of personal information, defining obligations of data processors as also rights of individuals, and mooting penalties for violation.

Way ahead:

Stating that Aadhaar empowers the marginalised sections of society and gave them an identity, the SC asked the Central government to introduce a robust data protection law as soon as possible.

Aadhaar will undoubtedly be a game changer for the poor and the country as a whole. Every technology has some risks. A mature society must take measures to mitigate risks and not abandon the technology.

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of Aadhar, Money Bill.
For Mains: Features and significance of the verdict, Security concerns and ways to address them.


Section 497 of IPC

The Supreme Court has declared Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code as unconstitutional saying that the penal provision on adultery was manifestly arbitrary and dents the individuality of women.

Important observations made by the Supreme Court:

Adultery might not cause of an unhappy marriage, but it could be result of an unhappy marriage.
In case of adultery, criminal law expects people to be loyal which is a command which gets into the realm of privacy.
Adultery can be ground for civil issues including dissolution of marriage but it cannot be a criminal offence.
Any provision treating woman with inequality is not Constitutional.
Mere adultery can’t be a crime, unless it attracts the scope of Section 306 (abatement to suicide) of the IPC.

Why strike it down?

Section 497 perpetuates subordinate status of women, denies dignity, sexual autonomy, and is based on gender stereotypes. Section 497 based on women as chattel, seeks to control sexuality of woman, hits the autonomy and dignity of woman. Besides, Section 497 perpetrates subordinate nature of woman in a marriage.

Therefore, it should be struck down for violation of Articles 14, 21.

Here are the problems with Section 497 which the petitioners wanted to be addressed:

The petitioners want the adultery law to be made gender neutral. This is because the law calls for the man to be punished in case of adultery, but no action is suggested for the woman.
As per Section 497, a woman whose husband has had sexual intercourse with another woman cannot file a complaint because the law makes no such provision for her.
Moreover, the adultery law in IPC reduces women to an object because no consent of the married woman is required for a man to have sexual intercourse with her. As per Section 497, if the woman’s husband agrees, the act is not a crime. This is the reason many have called this law an anti-women law.

What is Section 497?

Section 497 of the 158-year-old IPC says, “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.”

Past Supreme Court judgements on adultery:

The adultery law had come up in court thrice in the past — in 1954, in 1985, and in 1988.

In 1954, the SC rejected that Section 497 violated the right to equality.
In 1985, it said that women didn’t need to be included in the law as a party which can make complaints.
In 1988, the Supreme Court said that the adultery law was a “shield rather than a sword”.

What to study?

For Prelims: What is Section 497?
For Mains: Why was it struck down and the significance of the verdict.


Agmark online system

The government has launched an online platform for processing applications related to quality certification mark ‘Agmark’ for agricultural products.

Key facts:

It is being implemented across the country to conduct quality control functions.
It will be available 24×7.
It will make process of application is simple, quick, transparent.
Through this online system, certificate of authorisation (domestic), permission of laboratories (domestic), permission of printing press and services related to laboratory information management system will be provided online.

Significance:

The online system will make processes easy, reliable and cost effective. It also has provisions for online receipt of fees from the applicants as payments can be received in digital mode through bharatkosh.gov.in website.

What is Agmark?

Agmark is certification mark that assures conformity to set of standards approved by Government agency Directorate of Marketing and Inspection.
It is legally enforced by Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act of 1937 (and ammended in 1986).
The present AGMARK standards cover quality guidelines for 205 different commodities spanning variety of cereals, pulses, vegetable oils, essential oils, fruits & vegetables, and semi-processed products like vermicelli.

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features of Agmark and Agmark online system.


WAYU- Air Pollution Mitigation Device

Air pollution control device WAYU (Wind Augmentation Purifying Unit) for traffic junctions was recently inaugurated in Delhi.

About WAYU (Wind Augmentation Purifying Unit):

WAYU is developed by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research – National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI) as a part of Technology Development Project funded by Department of Science and Technology.
The device has the capacity to purify air in an area of 500 meter square. The device consumes only half a unit of electricity for 10 hours of running and has a maintenance cost of only Rs. 1500 per month.

How it works?

The device works on two principles mainly Wind generation for dilution of air pollutants and Active Pollutants removal.
The device has filters for Particulate Matter removal and activated carbon (charcoal) and UV lamps for poisonous gases removal such as VOCs and Carbon Monoxide.
The device has one fan and filter for sucking and removing Particulate Matter. There are two UV lamps and half kg of activated carbon charcoal coated with special chemical Titanium Dioxide.

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Features, significance and utility of the device.

Umbrella scheme of Border Infrastructure and Management (BIM)

The Centre has approved ₹8,606 crore for 60 projects being implemented under the umbrella scheme of Border Infrastructure and Management (BIM) to meet special development needs of people living in those areas.

Highlights of the scheme:

The projects are being implemented in 17 states having the international borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The projects are implemented in 111 border districts to meet special development needs of border population with focus on people living within 50 kms of the international border.
The schemes include construction of roads, schools, primary health centres, promotion of rural tourism, border tourism, promotion of sports activities, cleanliness mission, protection of heritage sites, supply of drinking water, community centres, connectivity, drainage, to enable sustainable living in border areas.
Construction of helipads in remote and inaccessible hilly areas which do not have road connectivity, skill development training to farmers for the use of modern and scientific technique in farming, organic farming are some of the other areas where the projects are being implemented.

Key facts for Prelims:

India shares borders with Pakistan (3,323 km), China (3,488 km), Nepal (1,751 km), Bhutan (699 km), Myanmar (1,643 km) and Bangladesh (4,096 km).

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Features and significance of the scheme, challenges in border areas.




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