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Current Affairs 21 March 2023


  1. Sealed cover jurisprudence
  2. India’s Sugar Export
  3. Active volcano found on Venus
  4. Global Terrorism Index 2023

Sealed Cover Jurisprudence


The Supreme Court on Monday (March 20) said it would not accept a “confidential” submission from the Centre on the disbursal of arrears to retired defence personnel under the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme.


GS II- Executive & Judiciary

Dimensions of the article::

  1. What is sealed cover jurisprudence? 
  2. When has it been done in the past? 
  3. Criticism
  4. About One rank, one pension

What is sealed cover jurisprudence? 

  • It is a practice used by the Supreme Court and sometimes lower courts, of asking for or accepting information from government agencies in sealed envelopes that can only be accessed by judges.
  • While a specific law does not define the doctrine of sealed cover, the Supreme Court derives its power to use it from Rule 7 of order XIII of the Supreme Court Rules and Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.
  • It is stated under the said rule that if the Chief Justice or court directs certain information to be kept under sealed cover or considers it of confidential nature, no party would be allowed access to the contents of such information, except if the Chief Justice himself orders that the opposite party be allowed to access it.

It also mentions that information can be kept confidential if its

  • publication is not considered to be in the interest of the public.
  • As for the Evidence Act, official unpublished documents relating to state affairs are protected and a public officer cannot be compelled to disclose such documents.
  • Other instances where information may be sought in secrecy or confidence is when its publication impedes an ongoing investigation, such as details which are part of the police’s case diary; or breaches the privacy of an individual.

When has it been done in the past? 

 Rafale fighter jet deal,
  • A Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in 2018, had asked the Centre to submit details related to deal’s decision making and pricing in a sealed cover. T
  • his was done as the Centre had contended that such details were subject to the Official Secrets Act and Secrecy clauses in the deal.
National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam,
  • The supreme court mandated coordinator of the NRC, Prateek Hajela, was asked by the apex court to submit period reports in sealed cover, which could neither be accessed by the government nor the petitioners.
In the 2014 BCCI reforms case
  • The probe committee of the cricket body had submitted its report to the Supreme Court in a sealed envelope, asking it not to make public the names of nine cricketers who were suspected of a match and spot fixing scam.
Bhima Koregaon case,
  • Activists were arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the Supreme Court had relied on information submitted by the Maharashtra police in a sealed cover.


  • Critics of this practice contend that it is not favorable to the principles of transparency and accountability of the Indian justice system.
  • It stands in contrast to the idea of an open court, where decisions can be subjected to public scrutiny.
  • It is also said to enlarge the scope for arbitrariness in court decisions, as judges are supposed to lay down reasoning for their decisions.
  • Besides, it is argued that not providing access to such documents to the accused parties obstructs their passage to a fair trial and adjudication.

About One rank, one pension

  • OROP means that any two military personnel retiring at the same rank, with the same years of service, must get an equal pension.
  • While this might appear almost obvious, there are several reasons why two military personnel who may have retired at the same rank with the same years of service, may get different pensions.
  • Military personnel across the three services fall under two categories,
    • the officers
    • the other ranks
  • The other ranks, which are soldiers, usually retire at age 35.
  • Unlike government employees who retire close to 60, soldiers can thus miss out on the benefits from subsequent pay commissions.
  • And since pensions are based on the last drawn salary, pensions too are impacted adversely.
  • Similarly, the age when officers in the military retire depends upon their ranks.
  • Uttar Pradesh and Punjab have the highest number of OROP beneficiaries.
  • Armed Forces Personnel who had retired till 30th june 2014 are covered under it.
  • The implementation of the scheme was based on recommendation of the Koshiyari committee.

-Source: Indian Express

India’s Sugar Export


India has gone from being a marginal sugar exporter five years ago to No. 2 in the world, behind only Brazil. Between 2017-18 and 2021-22, exports have soared from USD 810.9 million to USD 4.6 billion.


GS III: Agriculture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Sugar Industry in India: Current Status and Geographical Conditions
  2. Issues with the Sugarcane Industry
  3. Status of Sugar Exports from India

Sugar Industry in India: Current Status and Geographical Conditions

  • The sugar industry in India plays a crucial role in the country’s agro-based economy, providing livelihood to millions of sugarcane farmers and workers.
  • In the 2021-22 season, India became the world’s largest producer and consumer of sugar and the second-largest exporter.
Geographical Distribution:
  • The sugar industry in India is concentrated in two major regions: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, and Punjab in the north, and Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh in the south.
  • The southern region has a tropical climate that is suitable for higher sucrose content, resulting in a higher yield per unit area as compared to the northern region.
Geographical Conditions for Sugar Growth:

The following conditions are ideal for the growth of sugar in India:

  • Temperature: The ideal temperature for sugarcane growth is between 21-27°C with a hot and humid climate.
  • Rainfall: An annual rainfall of around 75-100 cm is required.
  • Soil Type: The deep, rich loamy soil is suitable for the growth of sugarcane.

Issues with the Sugarcane Industry

  • Sugarcane has to compete with several other food and cash crops like cotton, oil seeds, rice, etc. This affects the supply of sugarcane to the mills and the production of sugar also varies from year to year causing fluctuations in prices leading to losses in times of excess production due to low prices.
  • India’s yield per hectare is extremely low as compared to some of the major sugarcane producing countries of the world. For example, India’s yield is only 64.5 tonnes/hectare as compared to 90 tonnes in Java and 121 tonnes in Hawaii.
  • Sugar production is a seasonal industry with a short crushing season varying normally from 4 to 7 months in a year. It causes financial loss and seasonal employment for workers and lack of full utilization of sugar mills.
  • The average rate of recovery of sugar from sugarcane in India is less than ten per cent which is quite low as compared to other major sugar producing countries.
  • High cost of sugarcane, inefficient technology, uneconomic process of production and heavy excise duty result in high cost of manufacturing.

Status of Sugar Exports from India


  • Until 2017-18, India’s sugar exports were mainly limited to low-quality white sugar with an ICUMSA value of 100-150.
  • However, India had hardly exported any raw sugar (produced after the first crystallization of cane juice).

Current Status:

  • In the 2021-22 season, India exported a total of 110 lakh tonnes of sugar, out of which raw sugar accounted for 56.29 lakh tonnes.
  • Indonesia, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Malaysia were the biggest importers of Indian raw sugar.

Reasons for Rising Exports:

There are several reasons behind the rise of India’s raw sugar exports, including:

  • Free of Bacterial Compound:
    • Indian raw sugar is free of dextran, a bacterial compound that forms when sugarcane stays in the sun for too long after harvesting.
    • Indian cane is crushed within 12-24 hours of harvesting while it takes around 48 hours in Brazil.
  • High Sucrose Content:
    • Indian raw sugar has a higher polarization (98.5-99.5%) compared to other producers like Brazil, Thailand, and Australia, making it easier and cheaper to refine.

-Source: Indian Express

Active volcano found on Venus


For years, scientists have thought that Venus is geologically dead. But a new research paper indicates that a volcano on the planet’s surface is still active.


GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. New Discovery on Venus Volcano: What are the findings?
  2. About Venus

New Discovery on Venus Volcano: What are the findings?

  • Scientists discovered new information about the Atla Regio area of Venus where two of the planet’s largest volcanoes, Ozza Mons and Maat Mons, are located.
  • During the examination of images taken by NASA’s Magellan spacecraft between 1990 and 1992, a vent on the north side of a domed shield volcano was found to have changed significantly in shape and size between February and October 1991.
  • The vent appeared nearly circular and deep with steep walls covering 2.6 sq km in the February image, but in the images taken eight months later, the same vent had become irregular in outline, shallower and nearly filled, covering about 3.9 sq km, indicating an eruption or flow of magma beneath the vent.
Challenges in Discovering:
  • Magellan spacecraft’s radar images used for this discovery had lower resolution and were relatively coarse compared to images taken by cameras attached to spacecraft today.
  • Also, Magellan changed its viewing geometry each time it flew over Venus, making it difficult to distinguish real changes from changes caused by different viewing geometry.
Future Implications:
  • Volcanoes act as windows to provide information about a planet’s interior.
  • The discovery takes scientists a step further to understand the geological conditions of Venus and other exoplanets.
  • It also sets the stage for three new Venus missions, including the European EnVision orbiter and NASA’s DAVINCI and VERITAS missions, in the next decade. Herrick is part of both EnVision and VERITAS missions.

About Venus

  • Venus is the second planet from the Sun and as the brightest natural object in Earth’s night sky after the Moon, Venus can cast shadows and can be, on rare occasions, visible to the naked eye in broad daylight.
  • In Venus, the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east, because it rotates in the opposite direction (East to West/Clockwise) to all but Uranus.
  • It has the densest atmosphere of the four terrestrial planets, consisting of more than 96% carbon dioxide. Because of this, the greenhouse effect on Venus is so strong that even though Mercury is closer to the Sun, Venus has the hottest surface of any planet in the Solar System.
  • The atmospheric pressure at the planet’s surface is about 92 times the sea level pressure of Earth.
  • Venus is shrouded by an opaque layer of highly reflective clouds of sulfuric acid, preventing its surface from being seen from space in visible light.
  • The water has probably photo dissociated, and the free hydrogen has been swept into interplanetary space by the solar wind because of the lack of a planetary magnetic field.
  • As one of the brightest objects in the sky, Venus has been a major fixture in human culture for as long as records have existed.

Observations and explorations of Venus

  • Due to its proximity to Earth, Venus has been a prime target for early interplanetary exploration.
  • It was the first planet beyond Earth visited by a spacecraft (Mariner 2 in 1962), and the first to be successfully landed on (by Venera 7 in 1970).
  • Venus’s thick clouds render observation of its surface impossible in visible light, and the first detailed maps did not emerge until the arrival of the Magellan orbiter in 1991.
  • Plans have been proposed for rovers or more complex missions, but they are hindered by Venus’s hostile surface conditions.
  • Observations of the planet Venus include those in antiquity, telescopic observations, and from visiting spacecraft. Spacecraft have performed various flybys, orbits, and landings on Venus, including balloon probes that floated in the atmosphere of Venus.
  • After the Moon, Venus was the second object in the Solar System to be explored by radar from the Earth.
  • Ten Soviet probes have achieved a soft landing on the surface, with up to 110 minutes of communication from the surface, all without return.
  • U.S.’s missions to Venus: Mariner series 1962-1974, Pioneer Venus 1 and Pioneer Venus 2 in 1978, Magellan in 1989.
  • Russia’s mission to Venus: Venera series of space crafts 1967-1983, Vegas 1 and 2 in 1985.
  • Japan’s Akatsuki was launched in 2010, however, the orbital insertion maneuver failed and the spacecraft was left in heliocentric orbit.
  • Venus Express was a mission by the European Space Agency to study the atmosphere and surface characteristics of Venus from orbit.
Significance of Exploring Venus
  • It will help to learn how Earth-like planets evolve and what conditions exist on Earth-sized exoplanets (planets that orbit a star other than our sun).
  • It will help in modelling Earth’s climate, and serves as a cautionary tale on how dramatically a planet’s climate can change.

-Source: Indian Express

Global Terrorism Index 2023


The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) recently corrected its report related to Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2023 after the Communist Party of India (CPI) was wrongly included in the list of deadliest terror groups of 2022.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Global Terrorism Index
  2. Highlights of Global Terrorism Index 2023

About Global Terrorism Index:

The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) is an annual report that provides a detailed analysis of the trends and patterns of terrorism worldwide. Here are some key points about the GTI:

  • Published by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP): The GTI is published annually by the IEP, a global think tank based in Sydney, Australia.
  • Covers 15 years of terrorism data: The index provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism over the past 15 years.
  • Ranks 163 countries: The report ranks 163 countries, which represent 99.7% of the world’s population, on the impact of terrorism.
  • Uses multiple indicators: The GTI uses several indicators to measure the impact of terrorism, including the number of terrorist incidents, fatalities, injuries, and hostages.
  • Data sources: The GTI is produced using data from TerrorismTracker of Dragonfly, which provides event records on terrorist attacks since January 1, 2007, and other sources.

Key Highlights of the Global Terrorism Index 2023

  • Afghanistan tops the list again: Afghanistan has retained the top spot on the list of countries impacted by terrorism for the fourth year in a row.
  • India ranks 13th: India has been ranked 13th on the index, indicating a marginal decrease from the previous year.
  • Pakistan’s terror-related fatalities increased: Pakistan saw the second-largest increase in terror-related fatalities globally last year, with a total of 643 deaths.
  • Military personnel impacted significantly: Military personnel made up at least 55% of all casualties of terrorism.

-Source: Times of India

July 2024