IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


18th January, 2020


Nirbhaya killers to hang on February 1

A Delhi court issued a fresh death warrant for Nirbhaya gang rape convict to hang all four convicts in Tihar jail at 6 a.m. on February 1.

Court observation:

-       Why the other three convicts had not yet appealed against the death warrant or exhausted their legal remedies. Would it not be delaying tactics? How far it can be stretched?

-       Prison rule: If the sentence of death has been passed on more than one person in the same case, and if an appeal or an application is made by or on behalf of only one or more but not all of them the execution of the sentence shall be postponed in the case of all such persons (prisoner sentenced to deaths).

-       Two convicts have exhausted their option of a curative petition before the Supreme Court against the death sentence, while the other two — Pawan Gupta and Akshay Singh — are yet to approach the apex court.

Death penalty numbers in India:

-       Trial courts in India delivered 102 death sentences in 2019.

-        It is 60% fewer than the 162 death sentences passed in 2018.

-       The proportion of death sentences imposed for murders involving sexual offences was at a four-year high in 2019 at 52.94% (54 out of 102 sentences).

-       2019 also saw the highest number of confirmations by High Courts in four years.

-       The NLU’s Death Penalty Research Project had noted that there are no reliable numbers of the total number of death row prisoners in India

-       There is also no official record of the total number of prisoners executed since Independence.



Supporting Arguments for Death Penalty

-       Punishment is not arbitrary because, it comes out of a judicial process.

-       It is being implemented in the “rarest of the rare” cases (last 13 years-only 4 people executed).

-       The hanging of Ajmal Kasab and Yakub Memon strongly affirms India’s commitment to the protection of life

-       Criticizing it on arbitrariness, irreversibility and human rights are not valid arguments.

-       Its constitutionality is upheld, even in liberal democracies like U.S. It is not reflection of uncivilised society.

-       India has troubled borders and its relations with neighbouring countries are not peaceful; unlike Scandinavia (is a region in northern Europe). Also, India does not belong to any group of countries, like European Union.

Countering Arguments to abolish Death Penalty

-       It unfairly targets poor and marginalised, that means, those without money & power.

-       Executions occurred in 5.2 cases for every 1-lakh murders, which it very irrational.

-       Punishment should not imitate crime.

-       Most of the civilised world abolished it. Death penalty has not deterred terrorism, murder or even theft.

-       2000-2015, SC imposed 60 death sentences. It subsequently admitted that it had erred in 15 of them (25%).

-       The Police are not known for its probity or efficiency in our country.

-       How does killing a person who has killed a person show that killing is wrong?

-       No study has shown that the death penalty deters murder more than life imprisonment.

-       Death penalty is impossible to administer fairly or rationally.’

Supreme Court judgement on Death Penalty:

-       Every death penalty case before the court deals with a human life that enjoys certain constitutional protection.

-       If life is to be taken away, then the process must adhere to the strictest and highest constitutional standards.

-       Five-judge constitution bench in Bachan Singh versus State of Punjab in 1980, had already held the constitutional validity of death penalty provided in Indian Penal Code.

-       The society's perspective is generally formed by the emotionally charged narratives. Such narratives need not necessarily be legally correct, properly informed or procedurally proper.

-       The court plays a counter-majoritarian role in protecting individual rights against majoritarian impulses.

Rajendra Prasad case:

-       The special reason should be recorded for imposing death penalty in a case.

-       The death penalty must be imposed only in extraordinary circumstances.

Bachan Singh Case:

-       Death penalty, as an alternative punishment for murder is not unreasonable and hence not violative of articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

-       It also enunciated the principle of awarding death penalty only in the ‘rarest of rare cases’.

Machii Singh Case: It laid down the broad outlines of the circumstances when death sentence should be imposed.

-       Manner of Commission of murder – When the murder is committed in an extremely brutal manner so as to arouse intense and extreme indignation in the community.

-       Motive – When the murder is committed for a motive, which evinces depravity and meanness e.g. a hired assassin, a cold-blooded murder to inherit property, or gain control over property of a ward.

-       Anti-social or socially abhorrent nature of the crime – where a scheduled caste or minority community person is murdered in circumstances, which arouse: social wrath; or bride burning for dowry, or for remarriage.

-       Magnitude of the Crime – Crimes of enormous proportion, like multiple murders of a family or persons of a particular caste, community or locality.


-       Since 1991, India’s murder rate has declined continuously and is at present the lowest in our recorded history except for 1963.

-       Studies show that equal sex ratio has more to do with declining murder rates than killing murderers.

-       In Law commission of India’s 35th Report correctly called for its retention in order to see its impact on a new republic, the more recent 262nd Report could not recommend the punishment’s absolute abolition.

-       Violent terror cases are constant reminders of the need to protect national stability by ensuring appropriate responses to such actions, and the death penalty forms part of the national response.

-       The fundamental right to life and dignity enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution also means the right to die with dignity

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/nirbhaya-killers-to-hang-on-february-1/article30590725.ece








Plea in SC says Internet access should be a right

Petitioner’s argument:

-       Arbitrary and unreasonable Internet shutdowns by the government is a violation of the fundamental rights to information, education and free speech protected by the Constitution.

-       Right to access Internet is a fundamental right under right to education and the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.

-       Suspension and shutdown of the Internet and communication services is an infringement of the freedom and rights guaranteed and safeguarded under Articles 19 and 21.

-       Recent Supreme Court judgement on suspension of internet facility in Kashmir had held that right expression and free speech on internet is a fundamental right.

-       However, it has not declared right to internet as fundamental right. The petition seeks to achieve right to internet as fundamental right.

Access to Internet is a fundamental right, which cannot be taken away arbitrarily, a single bench of Justice PV Asha’s of  the Kerala high court has ruled. The Human Rights Council of the UN has also found right to access to Internet is a fundamental freedom and a tool to ensure right to education

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/plea-in-sc-says-internet-access-should-be-a-right/article30590664.ece


GSAT-30 gives India a communication boost

About GSAT-30:

-       It will replace INSAT-4A, which was launched in 2005.

-       It is equipped with 12 normal C band and 12 Ku band transponders.

-       It will provide DTH [direct to home] television services, connectivity to VSATs [that support working of banks] ATMs, stock exchange, television uplinking and teleport services, digital satellite news gathering and e-governance applications.

-       It was a foreign launch as the GSAT-30 is much heavier than the 2,000-kg lifting capacity of its geostationary launch vehicle GSLV-MkII.

About Communication Satellites:

-       A communications satellite is an artificial satellite that relays and amplifies radio telecommunications signals via a transponder

-       It creates a communication channel between a source transmitter and a receiver at different locations on Earth.

-       Communications satellites are used for television, telephone, radio, internet, and military applications.

-       They are in geostationary orbit 22,236 miles (35,785 km) above the equator, so that the satellite appears stationary at the same point in the sky

-       The satellite dish antennas of ground stations can be aimed permanently at that spot and do not have to move to track it.

-       The Indian National Satellite (INSAT) system is one of the largest domestic communication satellite systems in Asia-Pacific region with nine operational communication satellites placed in Geo-stationary orbit.


-       Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark II (GSLV Mk II) is the largest launch vehicle developed by India, which is currently in operation.

-       This fourth generation launch vehicle is a three-stage vehicle with four liquid strap-ons.

-       The indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS), which is flight proven, forms the third stage of GSLV Mk II.

-       GSLV's capability of placing up to 5 tonnes in Low Earth Orbits broadens the scope of payloads from heavy satellites to multiple smaller satellites.

-       GSLV's primary payloads are INSAT class of communication satellites that operate from Geostationary orbits and hence are placed in Geosynchronous Transfer Orbits by GSLV.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/gsat-30-gives-india-a-communication-boost/article30590658.ece

Citizens can skip question on place of birth of parents in NPR form, says Centre

Officials of non-BJP-ruled States has asked the Registrar General of India (RGI) to remove the column on “place of birth of mother and father” in the proposed National Population Register (NPR) to be updated simultaneously with the Census exercise in April-September.

Government clarifications:

-       Respondents could skip the questions in the NPR form if they wanted.

-       Answering them was not mandatory but ‘voluntary’.

-       No documents are required to be shown by people during the NPR and Census exercise. People can give the details they want to.

-       NPR should not be linked to the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

State government challenge:

-       Many State governments objected to the new fields (in NPR) particularly the place of birth of parents.

-       Sometimes in villages and even in cities people are not aware about their own place of birth.

-       What is the purpose and objective of adding such a column?

About National Population Register:

-       The National Population Register (NPR) is a Register of usual residents of the country.

-       The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country. The database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars.

-       It is being prepared at the local (Village/sub-Town), sub-District, District, State and National level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.

-       It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.

-       Definition: A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.

-       The NPR database would contain demographic as well as biometric details.

-       As per the provisions of the NPR, a Resident Identity Card (RIC) will be issued to individuals over the age of 18. This will be a chip-embedded smart card containing the demographic and biometric attributes of each individual. The UID number will also be printed on the card.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/citizens-can-skip-question-on-place-of-birth-of-parents-in-npr-form-says-centre/article30590730.ece


Last NDFB faction in Assam calls truce

Centre and Assam governments and the NDFB’s Saoraigwra faction, or NDFB-S, signed a tripartite agreement in New Delhi for the cessation of operations.


-       The National Democratic Front of Boroland is an armed separatist outfit, which seeks to obtain a sovereign Boroland for the Bodo people. It is designated as a terrorist organisation by the Government of India. NDFB traces its origin to Bodo Security Force, a militant group formed in 1986.

-       The NDFB-S is the third and last faction of the outfit that was formed more than three decades ago for establishing a sovereign homeland for the Bodos — the largest plains tribe in the Northeast.

-       The truce was signed within a week of 50 members of the NDFB-S crossing over to India from their hideouts in Myanmar.

-       Bhutan used to be the base of the unified NDFB until December 2003 when a joint India-Bhutan military operation flushed their cadre out.

-       The peace deal with NDFB-S leaves the ULFA-Independent as the only recognised extremist group in Assam.

-       The ULFA-Independent is headed by Paresh Baruah, who is believed to be operating from the Ruili area on the Myanmar-China border.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/last-ndfb-faction-in-assam-calls-truce/article30590737.ece


Fact Check: How 2019 amendment changed 2008 NIA Act

The central leadership of the Congress has backed the legal challenge mounted by the party’s government in Chhattisgarh to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, 2008, enacted when the UPA was in power.

Chhattisgarh arguments:

-       Chhattisgarh has filed its suit under Article 131 of the constitution. Article 131 provides that whenever there is a dispute between Centre and state government or between two or more states, then both the State government and Union government can approach the top court if the dispute involves a question of fact or law on which the existence of a legal right depends

-       NIA Act is beyond “legislative competence of the Parliament”.

-       It is against the “federal spirit” of the Constitution. Since police is a state subject, the Centre cannot be given police powers. As “Police” was placed under List- II as the subject matter of State, with power to investigate, and equally significant fact that no such entry of “Police” or even any incidental or ancillary entry was provided in List 1 i.e., Centre List.

-       The provisions of this Act go against state sovereignty.

-       The state has asked the Supreme Court to either declare the Act unconstitutional, or say that Sections 6, 7, 8 and 10 of the Act are ultra vires.

-       It has conferred “unfettered, discretionary and arbitrary powers” on the Centre.

-       The provisions of the Act leave no room of coordination and pre-condition of consent, in any form whatsoever.

About NIA act:

-       The Act makes the National Investigation Agency the only truly federal agency in the country, along the lines of the FBI in the United States, more powerful than the CBI.

-       It gives the NIA powers to take suo-motu cognisance of terror activities in any part of India.

-       It allows registering a case, to enter any state without permission from the state government, and to investigate and arrest people.

-       Section 6 allows agency to investigate the case and any police officer of the State Government investigating the offence will not proceed with the investigation and will forthwith transmit the relevant documents and records to the Agency.

-       Section 8 allows power to investigate connected cases.

-       Section 7 deals with Power to transfer investigation to State Government.

Amendment in the NIA act:

-       The amended Act empowered the agency to investigate offences committed outside India, subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.

-       The NIA can investigate and prosecute offences under the Acts specified in the Schedule of the NIA Act. The Schedule originally had The Atomic Energy Act, 1962, The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, and The Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982, among other entries. The amendment has allowed the NIA to investigate, in addition, cases related to (i) human trafficking, (ii) counterfeit currency or banknotes, (iii) manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, (iv) cyber-terrorism, and (v) offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.

-       The 2019 amendment allowed the central government to designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences under the Act.

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/fact-check-ground-reality-how-2019-amendment-changed-2008-nia-act-6222247/


Kathak dancer’s performance stopped in U.P.

Noted Kathak exponent Manjari Chaturvedi was in for a shock when her qawwali performance was stopped midway by officials of the Uttar Pradesh government during an official cultural programme at a Lucknow hotel.

About Kathak:

-       One of the eight forms of India's classical dances, Kathak, meaning “story teller,” originated in northern India.

-       It is characterized by fast, rhythmic footwork, became sophisticated court entertainment with the advent of Mogul culture in northern India.

-       Natya Shastra was the root for both Bharata Natyam and Kathak, as both are of the same period.

-       The sound and the expression depicts the feeling of love or anger and hence the entire katha can be presented.

-       Muslim invasion brought with them the tawaifs, who, along with the existing kathakas or storytellers, gave Kathak its flavour.

-       In the Hindu period, the dancers used to wear ghagras or saris. At the Muslim court they had to adopt the durbar dress, which was the Peshwaz worn over churidhars, seen in the Mughal paintings.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/kathak-dancers-performance-stopped-in-up/article30591022.ece