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Current Affairs 18 April 2023


  1. Extra-Judicial Killings
  2. Central Government Health Scheme
  3. Polar crown prominence (PCP)
  4. Cycas pectinata
  5. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)

Extra-Judicial Killings


Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) has expressed its views on Extra-Judicial Killings (EJK) in India, after an Encounter in Uttar Pradesh, stating that the right to life as a Fundamental Right enshrined in the Constitution and EJKs are a violation of this right.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Extra Judicial Killing?
  2. Rights of Police and the Status of Extra Judicial Killings in India
  3. Causes of Extra Judicial Killings
  4. Guidelines Related to Encounters in India:

What is Extra Judicial Killing?

  • Extra judicial killing is the act of killing a person by the state or its agents without any legal or judicial proceedings.
  • This means that the person is killed without a trial, due process, or any legal justification.
  • Extra judicial killing can take various forms, including extrajudicial executions, summary executions, and enforced disappearances.
  • These acts are illegal and violate human rights and the rule of law.
  • Extra judicial killings are often carried out by law enforcement agencies or security forces in the name of maintaining law and order or combating terrorism.
Constitutional Provisions
  • Supremacy of Constitution: The Constitution of India intends that the country should be governed by the rule of law. This means that the Constitution is the supreme power, and the legislative and executive branches derive their authority from it.
  • Right to Life and Personal Liberty: The Constitution guarantees the Right to Life and Personal Liberty under Article 21, which is applicable to every person, and is considered non-negotiable.
  • Responsibility of Police: It is the responsibility of the police to follow the Constitution and protect the Right to Life of every individual, regardless of their guilt or innocence. This means that they must ensure that any actions they take are lawful and do not violate the fundamental rights of citizens.
  • Applicability to Everyone: The Right to Life and Personal Liberty under Article 21 is applicable to every person within the territory of India, including citizens, non-citizens, and foreigners. It cannot be suspended or restricted except by the procedure established by law.

Rights of Police and the Status of Extra Judicial Killings in India

  • Use of Force: The police have the right to use force, including lethal force, in self-defense or to maintain peace and order. This right is given to them under the law.
  • Right to Self-Defense: Every person has the right to self-defense under Section-96 of the Indian Penal Code. However, the use of force by the police must be proportional and necessary, and they should avoid excessive use of force.
  • Use of Force to Arrest: Section-46 of the Criminal Procedure Code allows the police to use force, including lethal force, to arrest someone accused of a serious crime. However, the use of force must be necessary and proportionate to the gravity of the offense.
  • Status of Extra Judicial Killings in India: India has seen a decline of 15% in the number of encounter killing cases registered between 2016-’17 and 2021-’22, but there has been a 69.5% increase in the last two years.
  • Number of Cases: In the last six years, India has registered 813 cases of encounter killings, with Chhattisgarh recording the most cases at 259, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 110 and Assam with 79.

Causes of Extra Judicial Killings

  • Lack of Faith in the Judicial System: Some people support extra judicial killings because they believe that the court system won’t provide timely justice. This public support makes the police bolder, leading to an increase in such killings.
  • Political Pressure: Many political leaders believe that more encounters will serve as their achievement in maintaining law and order in the state. This political pressure may lead to an increase in extra judicial killings.
  • Belief in Violence and Torture: Some police officials believe that using violence and torture is the only way to control crime and create a sense of fear among potential criminals. This belief may lead to excessive use of force and extra judicial killings.
  • Glorification of Violence: Extra judicial killings are often glorified by the public and media, portraying the police officers involved as heroes who are cleaning up society. This glorification creates a positive image of the police officers involved and may lead to an increase in such killings.
  • Low Conviction Rates: The police may not have enough resources to conduct thorough investigations, leading to low conviction rates. Encounters are seen as an easy way for the police to create a positive image of maintaining law and order in the area.

Guidelines Related to Encounters in India:

Supreme Court:
  • In 2014, the SC issued guidelines for investigating police encounters in cases of death in the case of “People’s Union for Civil Liberties v State of Maharashtra.”
  • The guidelines include mandatory registration of an FIR and a magisterial inquiry, involving the next of kin of the deceased in the inquiry, keeping written records of intelligence inputs, and having an independent agency like the CID investigate to ensure a fair and impartial investigation.
  • Information about the incident must be sent to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) or the State Human Rights Commission, although the NHRC’s involvement is not necessary unless there is serious doubt about independent and impartial investigation.
  • These guidelines must be strictly followed in all cases of death and grievous injury in police encounters and should be treated as law declared under Article 141 of the Constitution of India.
  • In 1997, the NHRC provided guidelines for police to register information about encounter deaths, allow independent investigation by the State CID, and grant compensation to the deceased’s dependents in case of police officers being convicted.
  • In 2010, these guidelines were amended to include registering an FIR, conducting a magisterial inquiry, and reporting all death cases to the NHRC within 48 hours by the Senior Superintendent of Police or Superintendent of Police.
  • After three months, a second report must be sent with the postmortem report, inquest report, and enquiry findings.

-Source: The Hindu

Central Government Health Scheme


The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently hiked consultation charges and room rents under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS).


GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. Central Government Health Scheme


  • The Health Ministry has announced the revision of Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) package rates for all CGHS beneficiaries in India.
  • The consultation fee for out-patient department (OPD) and in-patient department (IPD) has been increased to ₹350 from ₹150.
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU) charges have also been revised to ₹5,400.
  • The referral process under CGHS has been simplified, and a video call facility has been offered to the benefit of its employees.
  • The revision is expected to provide better health care services to CGHS beneficiaries and improve their experience with the scheme.
  • The increase in consultation fees, ICU charges, and room rent may lead to increased expenses for those availing of CGHS services.
  • Although the revision is intended to cover the rising costs of healthcare, it may negatively affect the affordability of healthcare for some.

Central Government Health Scheme

CGHS (Central Government Health Scheme) is a healthcare scheme provided by the Indian Central Government to its employees, pensioners, and their dependents. It was established in 1954 with the objective of providing comprehensive and quality healthcare services to government employees and their families.

The facilities provided by CGHS are:
  • Outpatient department (OPD) treatment at its wellness centers, including the issuance of medicines.
  • Specialist consultation at polyclinics, government hospitals, and CGHS-enrolled hospitals with a referral from CGHS.
  • OPD and inpatient treatment at government and enrolled hospitals with cashless treatment facilities for pensioners and identified beneficiaries in impaneled hospitals and diagnostic centers.
  • Reimbursement for treatment expenses incurred in government or private hospitals in case of an emergency.
  • Reimbursement for expenses incurred for the purchase of hearing aids, artificial limbs, and appliances after obtaining permission.
  • Maternity and child health services, family welfare, and medical consultation.
  • Dispensing of medicines in Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Unani, and Siddha system of medicines (AYUSH).

CGHS has approximately 42 lakh beneficiaries covered across 79 cities in India, and the scheme is continuously expanding to include more cities to improve accessibility to its services.

-Source: The Hindu

Polar Crown Prominence (PCP)


Recently, an Argentina-based astronomer captured a structure that looked like a wall of plasma on the surface of the sun.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Polar crown prominences (PCP):      
  2. Solar Prominences
  3. Solar Filaments

Polar Crown Prominences (PCP)

  • PCP are plasma loops ejected from the sun’s surface by magnetic fields, similar to normal solar prominences.
  • They occur at latitudes between 60 and 70 degrees North and South, near the sun’s magnetic poles.
  • PCP collapse back towards the sun due to the stronger magnetic fields near the poles.
  • They are also called “plasma waterfalls” due to their collapsing behavior.

Solar Prominences:

  • Solar prominences are large, loop-like structures visible on the edge of the solar disk against the dark background of space.
  • They are anchored to the Sun’s surface in the photosphere and extend into the corona.
  • They are cooler and denser than the surrounding plasma in the Sun’s corona and are shaped by the Sun’s magnetic field.
  • Prominences can extend for thousands of kilometers and can last for several days or up to several months.
  • Some prominences erupt and give rise to coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

Solar Filaments:

  • Sometimes, prominences are observed against the bright background of the Sun instead of at the edge of the Sun’s disk.
  • These prominences appear dark compared to the bright background of the Sun and are called solar filaments

-Source: The Hindu

Cycas Pectinata


Recently, a new study by five botanists has revealed that the Cycas pectinata plant’s existence in the Himalayan country is threatened by overcollection as an ornamental plant and habitat destruction.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Cycas pectinata
  2. Significance

Cycas pectinata:

  • Cycas pectinata belongs to the family Cycadaceae and is the only cycad species found in Bhutan.
  • It is an evergreen, palm-like plant.
  • Cycads are one of the most ancient gymnosperms, with a possible origin in the late Carboniferous period 300-325 million years ago.
  • Gymnosperms have open-to-air unfertilized seeds to be directly fertilized by pollination.
Conservation status:
  • Cycas pectinata is classified as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN.


  • Cycads contain valuable genetic information for scientific research and conservation efforts.
  • They are bridges in major evolutionary transitions in plants and remain indispensable for understanding the origin and subsequent evolution of seed plants.
  • Cycas pectinata has cultural and economic significance for native populations.
  • Some locals in northeast India use the plant for religious ceremonies.
  • Locals in some places (of Bhutan) use its seeds as a supplement to their diet, and young leaves are eaten as a substitute for vegetables.

-Source: The Hindu

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)


A recent study shows that Epstein-Barr virus that is primarily spread through saliva can evolve into cancer.


Facts for Prelims

About Epstein-Barr virus (EBV):

  • It is one of the most common human viruses in the world.
  • It spreads through bodily fluids, especially saliva (spit).
  • Symptoms: Fatigue, fever, inflamed throat, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, enlarged spleen, swollen liver, rash.
  • EBV is a cause of infectious mononucleosis and other infections
  •  Long-lasting latent infections are associated with several cancers and chronic inflammatory disorders.
  • Researchers at University of California San Diego have described how the virus exploits genomic weaknesses to cause cancer while reducing the body’s ability to suppress it.
  • The researchers found that the virus induces cleavage of human chromosome 11, which initiates genomic instability and potentially activates a leukemia-causing oncogene while inactivating a major tumor suppressor.
  • This is the first time that this mechanism has been described.
  • The findings shed light on how a virus can manipulate the human genome to cause cancer.
  • Senior study author Don Cleveland, PhD, stated that this research shows “how a virus can induce cleavage of human chromosome 11, initiating a cascade of genomic instability that can potentially activate a leukemia-causing oncogene and inactivate a major tumor suppressor.”

-Source: Hindustan Times

December 2023