IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


7th February, 2020


Simply Put: Sedition law — what courts said

A sessions court in Mumbai rejected the anticipatory bail application of a 22-year-old student booked under Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with 50 others.

About Section 124A:

-       It relates to the offence of sedition or exciting “disaffection” against the government.

-       It was first included in the Indian Penal Code in 1870 – 10 years after it was first enacted – ostensibly in response to the Wahabi movement in the 1860s.

-       The provision covers almost any form of expression: words, “either spoken or written”, signs, as well as “visible representation”.

-       It has at its foundation the belief that people are obligated to feel “affection” towards the government or else be punished.

Punishment for Sedition law:

-       It is non bailable offense.

-       The punishment can go from three years of imprisonment to life term.

-       Passport of the accused has to be surrendered.



Need of the sedition law:

-       It is needed to effectively combat anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements.

-       'Government established by law' is the visible symbol of the State. The very existence of the State will be in jeopardy if the Government established by law is subverted. Hence, there is need for sedition law.

-       Sedition law is needed to maintain the public order. In a developing country, challenges arise from within and outside the environment, which threatens the democratic polity of country.

-       Indian geographical position has terrorist nations nearby. Without having an effective law like sedition, it will be difficult to deal with their propaganda war.


-       Impedes on multiple human rights such as freedom of expression, the freedoms of association and assembly, and the right to a fair trial.

-       Elements of the offence are vague and over-broad, are open to subjective interpretations.

-       The vagueness in its text has also allowed sedition to be misused against political activists, human rights defenders and other individuals exercising or demanding their constitutional rights.

-       It leaves the door open to selective prosecution and interpretation, based on discriminatory policies of government officials and the personal predilections of judges.

Court Verdict:

Kedar Nath Singh Vs State of Bihar 1962: Only those speeches, which incite direct violence or threat to public order, can be tried under sedition law. Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of sedition law.

Indra Das vs. State of Assam & Arup Bhuyan vs. State of Assam: Advocating revolution or overthrow of government is not sedition. There should be imminent incite to violence for a speech to be sedition.

Maneka Gandhi case, 1978: Criticism against the govt policies which doesn’t incite the people are within the purview of freedom of speech.

Balwant Singh Case: Mere sloganeering or threat to Indian sovereignty through public speeches does not entitle sedition unless there is clear call for imminent violence. Incitement rather than advocacy is the critical element for sedition law.




Way Forward:

-       Needs to develop a liberal polity, which considers slogans by the youth not sedition. Focus should be on the fulfilling the aspirations of the society than curbing the voice of youth using sedition law.

-       Amendments need to be brought to make sedition law more compartmentalised than vague.

-       Prior approval of government can be made necessary before filing a sedition complaint.

-       The law needs to be amended to ensure that unless there is an imminent call for violence, no charges of sedition are registered.

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/simply-put-sedition-law-what-courts-said-6254972/


Reducing custodial deaths



Reasons behind custodial death:

-       The police feel that they have a power to manipulate evidence as the investigation is their prerogative and with such manipulated evidence, they can bury the truth.

-       Non accountability of the Police. In 2015, for instance, the police registered cases against fellow police officers in only 33 of the 97 custodial deaths. These deaths were labelled as suicide or natural deaths.

-       There is lack of transparency and poor communication to the family of the person.

-       Poor socio-economic background of accused also helps police to use their torture mechanism as they are unaware about the law.

-       Custodial deaths are also result of accused not able to fulfil the demands of local police.

-       Overcrowding of jails lead to higher no of deaths due to space crunch and lack of infrastructure.

-       Medical checkups are not done regularly.

-       No scientific investigation methods are followed by police. They still indulge in brute force method of interrogation.

-       Our police force is understaffed and overburdened. Continuous pressure to solve the crime on fast basis exhort them to employ such methods.

-       Overcrowding of jails: due to high no of under trials around 68% of total as highlighted by recent prisons statistics India (NCRB)

About Custodial deaths:

-       Increased by 9% from 92 in 2016 to 100 in 2017, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

-       Since the enactment of Section 176(1A) in 2005, the National Human Rights Commission has recorded 24,043 custodial deaths/rapes between 2005-2006 and 2018-2019.

-       National Crimes Records Bureau’s annual reports from 2005 to 2017 state that judicial inquiry was not conducted in about 80% of the cases recorded by it.

-       With respect to 476 cases of “death or disappearance of persons remanded in police custody by court,” 266 cases were registered and 54 police officers were charge sheeted, but not a single police officer was convicted.

-       Out of the 827 cases of death or disappearance of persons in police custody without court remand, judicial inquiry was ordered only in 166 cases — 20% of the total cases.

Constitutional Provisions against Custodial death:

-       Article 21(1) provides that no person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed as soon as possible of the ground for such arrest.

-       Article 22(2) provides that every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of 24hours of such arrest.

-       Article 20 ensures that administration of the criminal justice system should not be so designed or implemented as to destroy the deeper and moral values of justice itself.

Court Judgement on Custodial death:

D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal:

-       The ubiquity of torture and third-degree methods in police investigations and lamented the ‘growing incidence of torture and deaths in police custody.

-       A crime-suspect must be interrogated – indeed subjected to sustained and scientific interrogation determined in accordance with the provisions of law.

-       He can’t however be tortured or subjected to third-degree methods or eliminated with a view to elicit information, extract confession or derive knowledge about his accomplices,weapons etc.

-       The burden of explaining a custodial death lay on the police rather than the victim.

-       The court granted compensation on the constitutional basis in public law for the infringement of fundamental rights.

-       Realizing the essential connection between the provisions of Articles 22(1) and 22(2), the courts have held that the provision of clauses (1) and (2) of Article 22 are mandatory.

Other Verdicts:

-       Punishment which has an element of torture is unconstitutional.

-       Prison restrictions amounting to torture, pressure or infliction and going beyond what the court order authorizes are unconstitutional.

-       As under-trial or convicted prisoner cannot be subjected to physical or mental restraint.

Measures to prevent Custodial death:

-       Ensuring presence of lawyer through contact to nearest legal aid committee as soon as person is taken into the custody.

-       The National Legal Services Authority should design processes that ensure lawyers are either stationed at police stations on a rotational basis or available on call.

-       Ensuring Accountability of Police - any such crime must be fast tracked within specified time period through Independent investigation Agency

-       Inculcation of scientific method of investigation in Police force and curtailing the practice of third degree torture

-       Strict Implementation of DK Basu case guidelines as well as NHRC guidelines by States

-       Behavioural change in Police force through training and awareness campaign

-       Encouraging civil societies, Human Rights’ NGO, NHRC & SHRCs to play active role in creating awareness and accountability of Police.

-       Implementation of SC’s recent directive to publish FIRs online within 24 hours

-       Video conferencing through prisons

-       Passing of the Prevention of Torture Bill.

Panel suggests steps to curb child porn

Parliamentary panel report for curbing Child Pornography:

-       Code of conduct for Internet service providers (ISPs)

-       Strengthening the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

-       Recommends a multi-pronged strategy detailing technological, institutional, social and educational as well as State-level measures.

-       Puts a greater onus on ISPs to identify and remove child sexual abuse material (CSAM)).

-       Report such content and those trying to access them to the authorities under the national cybercrime portal.

Institutional Solutions:

-        Strengthening the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) so that it can serve as the nodal body for curbing child pornography.

-       The capabilities required in the NCPCR should include technology, cyber policing and prosecution.

Technical Solutions:

-       Breaking end-to-end encryption to trace its distributors of child pornography,

-       Mandatory applications to monitor children’s access to pornographic content,

-       Employing photo DNA to target profile pictures of groups with CSAM.

Challenges to the Solutions:

-       Suggestion to break encryption may also just lead to traffic moving to different platforms.

-       Asking ISPs to report content in addition to blocking and filtering may not be practical.

-       There can be over criminalisation in the society restricting freedom of expression.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/panel-suggests-steps-to-curb-child-porn/article30756641.ece


India to study air corridors for trade with Central Asian countries

Government Statement:

-       India would like to explore setting up “air corridors” between India and five Central Asian nations.

-       It would include regular cargo flights with special clearing and customs facilities to expedite the movement of goods, especially fresh fruit and other agricultural produce.

Need to enhance air corridors:

-       Availability of air corridors can boost trade in perishable goods, agricultural and food products.

-       It takes only 2 hours in travel.

-       Total trade between India and Central Asia is quite low at approximately $2 billion per year.

-       There is a lack of “overland connectivity” — a veiled reference to barriers to transit trade through Pakistan.

Trade through Chabahar route:

-       Chabahar route will be helpful in bypassing the blockade by Pakistan.

-       Chabahar will become the fulcrum of connectivity for Indian goods to reach Afghanistan and further north to Central Asian states.

-       Landlocked Central Asia will find access to ocean through this port.

-       The government has been seeking to develop more direct routes from Chabahar, a trilateral arrangement with Iran and Afghanistan, the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and becoming a part the Ashgabat Agreement.

Current Situation:

-       There is a lack of progress in infrastructure on Chabahar port.

-       Most of the trade between Central Asia goes via Bandar Abbas in Iran, northern Europe or China.

-       The rail-link between Chabahar and the crossover into Afghanistan is yet to be developed.

Trade with Central Asian countries:

-       $1.5 billion of the $2 billion trade with Central Asia is with Kazakhstan.

-       More than $1 billion of that comes from crude oil exports to India.

-       Apart from connectivity, visa procedures need to be streamlined further in order to grow services, especially medical tourism that brings hundreds of patients from Central Asia to India each year.

-       Especially in cases of life-saving treatment, like bone-marrow transplant patients and other organ transplant patients, we would like the government to help issue visas on priority basis.

-       The council also decided to establish four working groups including on energy, agro and food processing, tourism and pharmaceuticals for boosting the trade.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-to-study-air-corridors-for-trade-with-central-asian-countries/article30755281.ece

India, African countries resolve to fight terror

Joint deceleration adopted at the first India- Africa Defence Ministers conclave:

-       Terrorism constitutes a major threat to peace and security in the region.

-       Actions against terrorism include:

-       Rooting out terrorism in all forms and manifestations,

-       Breaking down terrorist safe havens and infrastructure,

-       Disrupting terrorist networks

-       Eliminating financing channels

-       Halting cross-border movement of terrorists.

-       No territory under countries control is used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries in any manner.

-       Need for increased sharing of information and intelligence.

-       Strengthening the UN Counter-Terrorism mechanisms

-       Ensure strict compliance with the UN Security Council sanctions regime on terrorism.

-       Maritime Security:

-       Pre-requisite for the development of blue or ocean economy.

-       Increase our cooperation in securing sea lines of communication

-       Preventing maritime crimes, disaster, piracy, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing through sharing of information and surveillance.

-       Defence Cooperation:

-       Strengthening cooperation and mutual capabilities in combating terrorism and extremism,

-       Keeping our cyberspace safe and secure

-       India offered offshore patrol vessels (opvs), fast interceptor boats, body and vehicle armour, night vision goggles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Dornier aircraft, and arms and ammunition.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-african-countries-resolve-to-fight-terror/article30755496.ece


RBI extends deadline for one-time debt recast for MSMEs

RBI Action:

-       The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has extended the deadline for one- time debt recast for MSME firms that are in default but have not been classified as non-performing.

-       Decided to extend the benefit of one-time restructuring without an asset classification downgrade to standard accounts of GST-registered MSMEs that were in default as on January 1, 2020.

-       This will benefit the eligible MSME entities which could not be restructured under the provisions of the circular dated January 1, 2019 as also the MSME entities which have become stressed thereafter.

-       Asked commercial banks to link pricing of loans for the medium-sized enterprises to an external benchmark effective April 1, 2020.

-       The step was taken with a view to further strengthening monetary transmission.

About the Original Scheme:

-       The original scheme was applicable for standard MSME accounts as of January 1, 2019, while the restructuring was to be implemented by March 31, 2020.

About the MSME:

Definitions of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises In accordance with the provision of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) Act, 2006 the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) are classified in two Classes:

-       Manufacturing Enterprises-he enterprises engaged in the manufacture or production of goods pertaining to any industry specified in the first schedule to the industries (Development and regulation) Act, 1951) or employing plant and machinery in the process of value addition to the final product having a distinct name or character or use.

-       The Manufacturing Enterprise are defined in terms of investment in Plant & Machinery.

-       Service Enterprises: The enterprises engaged in providing or rendering of services and are defined in terms of investment in equipment.


Investment in plant & machinery

Manufacturing Sector

Micro Enterprises

Does not exceed twenty five lakh rupees

Small Enterprises

More than twenty five lakh rupees but does not exceed five crore rupees

Medium Enterprises

More than five crore rupees but does not exceed ten crore rupees


Service Sector

Micro Enterprises

Does not exceed ten lakh rupees:

Small Enterprises

More than ten lakh rupees but does not exceed two crore rupees

Medium Enterprises

More than two crore rupees but does not exceed five crore rupees


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/rbi-extends-deadline-for-one-time-debt-recast-for-msmes/article30755078.ece

Rates to fall despite RBI’s status quo

Monetary Policy Committee Recommendations:

-       Kept the interest rates unchanged in the wake of a rise in inflation

-       Emphasised that there would be space for rate reduction.

-       Decision was unanimous among all six members of the MPC.

-       The central bank took two measures that could ease lending rates further.

-       It opened a window to extend รขโ€šยน1 lakh crore to the commercial banks at the repo rate, which is 5.15%.

-        Banks have been exempted from maintaining the cash reserve ratio — which is 4% of the net demand and time liabilities now — for home, auto and MSME loans that are extended from January 31 to July 31.

-       It is an effort to ensure better monetary policy transmission.

-       The outlook for the consumer price index-based inflation has been revised upward to 6.5% for the fourth quarter of the current financial year and 5.4-5.0% for the first half of 2020-21.



About Monetary Policy Committee:

-       The Monetary policy committee (MPC) comprises of six members – three officials of the Reserve Bank of India and three external members nominated by the Government of India.

-       The external members will hold office for a period of four years from the date of appointment while the other three members are official.

-       The current mandate of the committee is to maintain 4% annual inflation until 31 March 2021 with an upper tolerance of 6% and a lower tolerance of 2%. The term of the present committee will end in 2021.

-       The MPC considers the headline inflation as the basis for inflation targeting.

-       The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is a committee constituted by India’s RBI (Reserve Bank of India), led by its Governor.

-       The MPC is required to meet at least four times in a year.

-       The quorum for the meeting of the MPC is four members.

-       Each member of the MPC has one vote, and in the event of an equality of votes, the Governor has a second or casting vote.

About Monetary Policy:

-       Monetary policy is the macroeconomic policy laid down by the central bank.

-       It involves management of money supply and interest rate and is the demand side economic policy used by the government of a country to achieve macroeconomic objectives like inflation, consumption, growth and liquidity.

-       Monetary policy of the Reserve Bank of India is aimed at managing the quantity of money in order to meet the requirements of different sectors of the economy and to increase the pace of economic growth.

-       The RBI implements the monetary policy through open market operations, bank rate policy, reserve system, credit control policy, moral persuasion and through many other instruments.

-       Monetary policy can be expansionary and contractionary in nature. Increasing money supply and reducing interest rates indicate an expansionary policy. The reverse of this is a contractionary monetary policy.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/rbi-opts-for-long-term-repos-crr-exemption-to-lower-rates/article30755075.ece