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Current Affairs 20 February 2024

  1. Unlawful Activities Prevention Act
  2. Evolution of IPCC Assessment Reports
  3. Jnanpith Award
  4. Defence Acquisition Council
  5. Char Area
  6. Rip Currents
  7. Damselfly


Context:

Supreme Court Denies Bail in UAPA Case Recently, the Supreme Court rejected bail for an accused linked to an alleged Khalistan module, asserting that the principle of ‘bail is rule, jail is the exception’ does not apply under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Evolution of Bail Provisions under UAPA: Navigating Legal Shifts
  2. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967

Evolution of Bail Provisions under UAPA: Navigating Legal Shifts

2008 Amendment Act:

  • Introduced Section 43D (5), requiring the court to deny bail if there were reasonable grounds to believe the case was prima facie true.
  • Shifted the burden onto the accused to prove the unreasonableness of considering accusations as prima facie true, altering the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

2016 – Angela Harish Sontakke Case:

  • Despite Section 43D (5), the judiciary granted bail, emphasizing the balance needed between the alleged offence and the accused’s time in jail.

2019 – NIA v Zahoor Amhad Shah Watali:

  • Narrow interpretation of Section 43D (5), requiring the court to accept NIA’s version without delving into case merits, making bail harder after NIA frames charges.

2021 – Union of India v K.A. Najeeb:

  • Supreme Court highlighted the possibility of granting bail based on prolonged incarceration’s violation of Article 21 rights.

2021 – State of NCT of Delhi v Devangana Kalita:

  • Delhi High Court separated evidence from NIA inferences, granting bail due to NIA’s failure to establish a prima facie case.

2023 – Vernon Gonsalves v State of Maharashtra:

  • Supreme Court diverged from Watali ruling, emphasizing the need for evidence analysis in the “prima facie true” test for bail.

2023 (Recent Case):

  • A two-judge bench denied bail, following the Watali precedent, raising questions about consistency in applying UAPA bail provisions.

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967

  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) of 1967 is an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA (which lapsed in 1995) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act – POTA (which was repealed in 2004).
  • 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 Regionalisation to look into, the aspect of putting reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India.
  • The agenda of the NIC limited itself to communalism, casteism and regionalism and not terrorism.
  • However, the provisions of the UAPA Act contravenes the requirements of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Bill, 2019

  • The original Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, dealt with “unlawful” acts related to secession; anti-terror provisions were introduced in 2004.
  • It provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things.

Key Provisions of the Amendment

  • The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.
  • Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it:
    • commits or participates in acts of terrorism
    • prepares for terrorism
    • promotes terrorism
    • is otherwise involved in terrorism
  • The word “terror” or “terrorist” is not defined.
  • However, a “terrorist act” is defined as any act committed with the intent –
    • to threaten or likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security, economic security, or sovereignty of India
    • to strike terror or likely to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign country
  • The central government may designate an individual as a terrorist through a notification in the official gazette.
  • The Bill empowers the officers of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
  • Under the Act, an investigating officer can seize properties that may be connected with terrorism with prior approval of the Director General of Police.
Issues with UAPA
  • UAPA gives the state authority vague powers to detain and arrest individuals who it believes to be indulged in terrorist activities. Thus, the state gives itself more powers vis-a-vis individual liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • UAPA empowers the ruling government, under the garb of curbing terrorism, to impose indirect restriction on right of dissent which is detrimental for a developing democratic society. The right of dissent is a part and parcel of fundamental right to free speech and expression and therefore, cannot be abridged in any circumstances except for mentioned in Article 19 (2).
  • UAPA can also be thought of to go against the federal structure since it neglects the authority of state police in terrorism cases, given that ‘Police’ is a state subject under 7th schedule of Indian Constitution.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Since 1988, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has consistently delivered six assessment reports, serving as comprehensive guidelines for estimating greenhouse gas emissions and removal. These reports, collaboratively prepared by scientists from 195 countries within the UNFCCC, delve into the scientific foundations, consequences, adaptation strategies, vulnerability assessments, and mitigation aspects related to climate change.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the IPCC
  2. The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) and Beyond

About the IPCC

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1988.
  • IPCC was created to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.
  • IPCC assessments provide a scientific basis for governments at all levels to develop climate related policies, and they underlie negotiations at the UN Climate Conference – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • IPCC does not carry out original research. It does not monitor climate or related phenomena itself. However, it conducts a systematic review of published literature and then produces a comprehensive assessment report.

IPCC Assessment Reports

  • The IPCC Assessment Reports are published once in about 7 years – and they are the most comprehensive scientific evaluations of the state of Earth’s climate. The 6th such assessment report was published in 2021.
  • Prior to the AR6 in 2021, five assessment reports have been produced with the first one being released in 1990. The fifth assessment report had come out in 2014 in the run up to the climate change conference in Paris.
  • The Assessment Reports are prepared by three working groups of scientists:
    • Working Group-I – Deals with the scientific basis for climate change.
    • Working Group-II – Looks at the likely impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation issues.
    • Working Group-III – Deals with actions that can be taken to combat climate change.

The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) and Beyond:

Key Highlights of AR6:
  • Synthesis of Findings: AR6 synthesizes findings from three working groups and integrates evidence from three special reports during the sixth assessment cycle, beginning in 2015.
  • Finalization: The report was finalized at the IPCC’s 58th Session in Interlaken, Switzerland, in March 2023.
  • Warning: AR6 warns of the diminishing time to limit the rise of the world’s average surface temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius from the pre-industrial era, as agreed in the Paris Agreement.
  • Adaptation Limits: It notes that the world is nearing the limits of adaptation.
  • Strategies and Options: AR6 provides options and strategies to slow warming, enhance adaptation, and build resilience in natural and human-made systems.
Post AR6 Activities:
  • Seventh Assessment Cycle (AR7): Following the AR6 synthesis report, IPCC initiated its seventh cycle (AR7) with discussions on budgeting, timelines, and the work program in a meeting held in Turkey in January 2024.
Global Stocktake (GST):
  • GST is conducted every five years by UNFCCC countries to assess global progress toward Paris Agreement goals.
  • First GST: The first GST took place from 2022 to COP28 in 2023.
  • IPCC’s Role: Member countries request IPCC input for the second GST, scheduled for 2028, to measure progress against the state of the planet.
Challenges and Considerations:
  • Disagreement on the release date for AR7 assessment reports, with concerns about a shortened cycle compromising content and understanding the full extent of climate changes due to insufficient new research.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Jnanpith selection committee announced that the 58th Jnanpith Award will be given to two writers, Sanskrit scholar Jagadguru Rambhadracharya and Urdu poet and lyricist Gulzar, for 2023.

Relevance:

GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Jnanpith Award: Celebrating Literary Excellence
  2. Contributions of Gulzar and Jagadguru Rambhadracharya

Jnanpith Award: Celebrating Literary Excellence

Establishment:

  • Instituted in 1961, the Jnanpith Award is India’s oldest and highest literary honor.

Eligibility:

  • Considers outstanding contributions to literature in both English and other Indian languages.
  • Restricted to Indian citizens, and not conferred posthumously.

Presented by Bharatiya Jnanpith:

  • Established in 1944 by Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain and Rama Jain.
  • A distinguished literary and research organization headquartered in New Delhi, actively promoting literature and culture.

Cash Prize and Recognition:

  • Awardees receive a cash prize of Rs 11 lakh, a statue of Vagdevi, and a citation, recognizing their significant literary contributions.

Contributions of Gulzar and Jagadguru Rambhadracharya

Gulzar:
  • Born on August 18, 1934, in Dina, Jhelum district of undivided India.
  • Respected figure in cinema and literature, considered one of the finest Urdu poets.
  • Notable Awards: Sahitya Akademi Award (2002), Dadasaheb Phalke Award (2013), Padma Bhushan (2004), National Film Awards.
  • Invented the ‘Triveni’ genre in poetry.
  • Iconic Works: “Jai Ho” for “Slumdog Millionaire,” winning an Oscar (2009) and Grammy Award (2010).
Jagadguru Rambhadracharya:
  • Born in 1950 in Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh; speaks 22 languages.
  • Polyglot, Hindu spiritual leader, poet, and writer.
  • Authored over 240 books in languages like Sanskrit, Hindi, Awadhi, and Maithili.
  • Awarded Padma Vibhushan in 2015.
  • Founder of Tulsi Peeth in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh, a leading publisher of Hindu religious literature.
  • Head of Tulsi Peeth and one of the four Jagadguru Ramanandacharyas since 1982.
  • Leader of the Ramanandi Sampradaya, emphasizing worship of Rama, Vishnu, and other incarnations.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), under the chairmanship of Defence minister cleared capital acquisition proposals worth Rs 84,560 crore. This has been done to boost the capabilities of the Armed Forces and the Indian Coast Guard.

Relevance:

GS III: Defence

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Defence Acquisition Council’s Project Approvals for Armed Forces Enhancement
  2. Defence Acquisition Council (DAC)

Defence Acquisition Council’s Project Approvals for Armed Forces Enhancement

Key Decisions by DAC:

  • The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for projects totaling ₹84,560 crore, marking the initial step in the procurement process.
  • AoN, though, doesn’t guarantee the final placement of orders.

Approved Proposals:

  • 15 maritime reconnaissance and multi-mission maritime aircraft for the Navy and Coast Guard.
  • Six flight refueller aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
  • New generation anti-tank mines for the Army.
  • Heavy weight torpedoes (HWT) for the Navy’s Scorpene-class submarines.

Amendments to DAP 2020:

  • DAC endorsed changes to the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020, addressing benchmarking, cost computation, payment schedules, and procurement quantities.
  • These amendments aim to facilitate the procurement of advanced technologies from start-ups and Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
  • Special emphasis is laid on sourcing various equipment from Indian vendors.

Significance of Approvals:

  • The approved aircraft will significantly enhance maritime surveillance capabilities, complementing the existing P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft.
  • The introduction of refuellers will address a critical capability gap in the IAF’s inventory, serving as a vital strategic asset and a force multiplier.
  • The procurement of software-defined radios for the Coast Guard aligns with the need for high-speed communication, ensuring secure networking and seamless information exchange between the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the Navy.

Defence Acquisition Council (DAC):

Overview:

  • DAC serves as the apex decision-making body within the Ministry of Defence.
  • Its jurisdiction includes formulating policies and authorizing capital acquisitions for the Indian military—Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
  • Headed by the Defence Minister.

Responsibilities:

  • Primarily tasked with procuring weapons, equipment, armored vehicles, advanced communication systems, and surveillance gear.
  • Approves projects through three categories: Buy (outright purchase), Buy and Make (purchase followed by licensed production or indigenous development), and Make (indigenous production and R&D).
Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020:
  • DAP 2020 aligns with the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, focusing on enhancing self-reliance in defence manufacturing.
  • Aims to simplify acquisition processes, institutionalize monitoring mechanisms, and ensure transparent and competitive equipment selection.

Salient Features:

  • Positive indigenisation lists notification to discourage imports for specific weapons/platforms.
  • Prioritization of procurement under Buy (Indian-Indigenous Design, Development & Manufacture [IDDM]) category.
  • Reservation for MSMEs and small shipyards for orders up to Rs 100 crore/year.
  • Augmented Indigenous Content (IC) in various procurement categories.
  • Introduction of Buy (Global-Manufacture in India) category to promote ‘Make in India’.
  • Indigenisation of imported spares through Make-III Process for import substitution.
About ‘Make’ Category:
  • The ‘Make’ category focuses on indigenous capability building, involving both public and private sectors.
  • ‘Make-I’ involves government-funded projects.
  • ‘Make-II’ encompasses industry-funded projects.
  • ‘Make-III’ includes military hardware that may not be designed domestically but can be manufactured in the country for import substitution.
  • Collaboration with foreign partners is allowed for Indian firms to manufacture these items.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

Recently, the Chief Minister of Assam said his government would undertake a mission to reclaim the chars from encroachers to safeguard the “ecological integrity” of the Brahmaputra Valley.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Char Area
  2. Issues with Char Area

About Char Area:

  • Refers to the riverine areas, islands, or “Char/Chapori” formed by the river Brahmaputra.
  • Characterized by a unique migration pattern influenced by erosion and deposition dynamics.
  • Migration typically occurs downstream due to erosion upstream, impacting char geometry and location during floods.

Issues with Char Area:

  • Migration Dynamics: The constant threat of erosion during the rainy season leads to migration downstream.
  • Communication Challenges: Lack of all-weather communication with the main banks hinders connectivity.
  • Mobility Constraints: Inadequate means of intra and inter-char mobility pose challenges.
  • Infrastructure Gaps: Limited development of transport, surface roads, health services, drinking water facilities, farm input delivery, marketing, agro-services, electricity, and education.
  • Unique Problems: The constant threat from floods and erosion presents unique challenges in the Char Areas.
  • Segregation: Land masses are segregated and isolated, making major schemes for communication, irrigation, power supply, or educational institutions difficult to implement.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have embarked on a project to continuously monitor and issue operational forecast alerts of rip currents.

Relevance:

GS I: Geography

About Rip Currents:

  • Definition: Strong flows of water running from a beach back to the Open Ocean, sea, or lake.
  • Coastal Hazards: Among the most well-known coastal hazards on beaches worldwide.
Formation:

Beach Topography Influence:

  • Formed by the topography of a beach, whether it’s hard-bottom (rocky) or soft-bottom (sand or silt).
  • Includes both outside and inside water areas, encompassing dunes, marshes, sandbars, piers, and reefs.
  • Rip currents often form around gaps between sandbars, piers, or parts of a reef.

Wave Obstacles:

  • Underwater obstacles, like sandbars, piers, and reefs, block waves from washing directly back to the sea.
  • Feeder waves, water from these waves, run along the shore until finding an opening around the obstacle.
Function:
  • Object Movement: Rip currents do not pull a person down or hold them underwater.
  • Floating Objects: They carry floating objects, including people, just beyond the zone of breaking waves.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

A team of researchers have discovered a new species of damselfly at the Ponmudi hills in Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key facts about the new species of damselfly
  2. About Ponmudi Hills

Key facts about the new species of damselfly

  • Name: Cliffside Bambootail (Phylloneura rupestris).
  • Group: Belongs to a group known as bambootails, characterized by a long abdomen resembling bamboo stalks.
  • Habitat: Lays eggs in moss beds located in seasonal rills that flow over rock cliffs.
  • Significance: The discovery is notable because, for over 160 years, the genus Phylloneura was considered monotypic, having only one described species, the Myristica Bambootail.
Myristica Bambootail:
  • Population associated with myristica swamps, earning it the common name Myristica Bambootail.
  • Sole described species of the genus Phylloneura.
  • Considered near-threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • Endemic to the Western Ghats, recorded only in the area between the Nilgiri Hills and Sharavathi Valley, north of the Palghat Gap.

About Ponmudi Hills:

  • Location: Ponmudi, translating to ‘Golden Hill’ or ‘Golden Peak,’ is situated in the state of Kerala, India.
  • Geography: It forms part of the Western Ghats mountain range, running parallel to the Arabian Sea, and is situated at an altitude of 1100 meters above sea level.
  • Agasthyamalai Landscape: Ponmudi hills are integral to the Agasthyamalai landscape, located at the southernmost tip of the Western Ghats.
  • Biodiversity: The hills are renowned for their rich biodiversity, and they recently became notable for the discovery of the third species of damselfly within this region.

-Source: The Hindu


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