November 2019

Daily Current Affairs (17-11-19)

POLITY & GOVERNANCE

PLACES OF WORSHIP ACT, 1991

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Indian Constitution, Political System and Governance [Paper-I]: Indian Constitution and its salient features, Public Policy and Governance

News

In its Ayodhya verdict, the Supreme Court mentioned about the Places of Worship Act, 1991.

Context

  • When the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute was at its height, some organisations also laid claim to two other mosques — the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi and the Shahi Idgah in Mathura.
  • In this backdrop, the P.V. Narasimha Rao government, in September 1991, enacted a special law named Places of Worship Act, 1991.

Objective

  • The aim of the act was to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of such a place of worship as on August 15, 1947.
  • It was intended to prevent new claims by any group about the past status of any place of worship and attempts to reclaim the structures or the land on which they stood.
  • It was hoped that the legislation would help the preservation of communal harmony in the long run.

Main Features of the Act

  • The religious character of a place of worship shall continue to be the same as it was on August 15, 1947.
  • No person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.
  • It declares that all suits, appeals or any other proceedings regarding converting the character of a place of worship, which are pending before any court or authority on August 15, 1947, will abate as soon as the law comes into force.
  • The Act provides for imprisonment up to three years and a fine for anyone violating the prohibition.

Exceptions

These provisions will not apply to

  • Ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains that are covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958
  • Suit that has been finally settled or disposed
  • Any dispute that has been settled by the parties or conversion of any place that took place by acquiescence before the Act commenced
  • Place of worship commonly referred to as Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid in Ayodhya

Significance

This legislative obligation on the State to preserve and protect the equality of all faiths is an essential secular and basic feature of the Indian Constitution.

What SC said about the Act?

  • In its Ayodhya judgment, the Supreme Court commended the Act as one that preserved the constitutional value of secularism by not permitting the status of a place of worship to be changed.
  • The court observed that “non-retrogression is a foundational feature of the fundamental constitutional principles, of which secularism is a core component.”

[Source: The Hindu]

 

SURVEILLANCE LAWS IN INDIA

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Indian Constitution, Political System and Governance [Paper-I]: Indian Constitution and its salient features, Public Policy and Governance

Information and Communications Technology [Paper-II]: Cyber Security concerns

Context

  • On October 2019, many publications reported that phones of several dozen Indian journalists, lawyers and human rights activists had been compromised using an invasive Israeli-developed malware called Pegasus.
  • Messaging platform WhatsApp, through which the malware was disseminated, has reported that 121 individuals were targeted in India alone.

Is Surveillance illegal in India?

  • There are legal routes to surveillance that can be conducted by the government.
  • The laws governing this are the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, which deals with interception of calls and the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, which deals with interception of data.
  • Under both laws, under certain circumstances, only the government is permitted to conduct surveillance, and not private actors.
  • Hacking is prohibited under the IT Act. Section 43 and Section 66 of the IT Act cover the civil and criminal offences of data theft and hacking respectively.
  • Section 66B covers punishment for dishonestly receiving stolen computer resource or communication.

Checks and Balances

Indian Telegraph Act

  • In 1996, the Supreme Court noted that there was a lack of procedural safeguards in the Indian Telegraph Act.
  • It laid down some guidelines that were later codified into rules in 2007.
  • This included a specific rule that orders on interceptions of communication should only be issued by the Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000

  • IT (Procedures and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules were framed in 2009 under the IT Act.
  • The rules state that only the competent authority can issue an order for the interception, monitoring or decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource.
  • The competent authority is the Union Home Secretary or State Secretaries in charge of the Home Departments.

Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee

  • In July 2017, the Government of India appointed a 10-member Committee of Experts headed by Justice B.N. Srikrishna “to identify key data protection issues in India and recommend methods of addressing them”.
  • It held public hearings across India and submitted a draft data protection law in 2018 which Parliament is yet to enact.

Supreme Court verdict on Privacy

SC in a landmark decision in August, 2017 (Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs Union of India and Others) unanimously upheld right to privacy as a fundamental right under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.

Global Scenario

  • In October 2019, the U.K.-based security firm Comparitech conducted a survey of 47 countries to see where governments are failing to protect privacy or are creating surveillance states.
  • They found that only five countries had “adequate safeguards” and most countries are actively conducting surveillance on citizens and sharing information about them.
  • China and Russia featured as the top two worst offenders on the list.
  • India was featured as the third worst offender because the country’s data protection bill is yet to take effect and there isn’t a data protection authority in place.
[Source: The Hindu]

 

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

SAANS CAMPAIGN

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Science and Technology [Paper-II]: Public Health and Community Medicine, Health Care

News

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare launched Social Awareness and Action to Neutralise Pneumonia Successfully (SAANS) campaign.

About SAANS Campaign

  • It is aimed at reducing child mortality due to pneumonia, which contributes to around 15% deaths annually of children under the age of five.
  • It was launched to mobilise people to protect children from pneumonia, and train health personnel and other stakeholders to provide prioritised treatment to control the disease.
  • Under the campaign, a child suffering from pneumonia will be treated with pre-referral dose of anti-biotic amoxicillin by ASHA workers.
  • Health and wellness centres will use pulse Oximeter (device to monitor oxygen saturation) to identify low oxygen levels in the blood of a child, and if required, he will be treated by use of oxygen cylinders.
  • A Mass awareness campaign will be launched about the most effective solutions for pneumonia prevention like breast feeding, age appropriate complementary feeding, immunization, good quality air etc.

Pneumonia in India

  • As per Health Management Information System (HMIS) data, under-five mortality rate in the country is 37 per 1000 live births, of which 5.3 deaths are caused due to pneumonia.
  • The HMIS data ranked Gujarat second in the number of child deaths due to pneumonia, after Madhya Pradesh.
[Source: PIB, The Hindu]

 

FACTS OF THE DAY

FIRST NIGHT TRIAL OF AGNI-II MISSILE
  • India has successfully conducted the first night trial of surface-to-surface medium-range missile Agni-II from Dr Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast.
  • Agni-II, an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), has already been inducted into the armed forces.
  • This was the first time that the sophisticated missile was testfired at night.
  • The entire trajectory of the trial was tracked by a battery of sophisticated radars, telemetry observation stations, electro-optic instruments and two naval ships located near the impact point in the down-range area of Bay of Bengal.
  • The two-stage ballistic missile can carry a payload of 1000 kg over a distance of 2000 km.
NATIONAL PRESS DAY
  • National Press Day is observed on 16th November every year and is symbolic of a free and responsible press.
  • It was on this day the Press Council of India started functioning as a moral watchdog to ensure that the press maintains high standards and is not fettered by any influence or threats.
  • Press Council of India was first set up in the year 1966 by the Parliament on the recommendations of the First Press Commission.
  • The present Council functions under the Press Council Act 1978 and is a statutory, quasi judicial body.
NCDEX AGRIDEX
  • National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) has launched India’s first agri index ‘NCDEX Agridex’, for easy reference to price variations in agricultural commodities.
  • Launched with a composition of 10 leading liquid contracts on the NCDEX platform at present, the index is now available as ‘indicative’.
  • It will be made tradable after being approved from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
  • NCDEX’s index launch is in continuance with SEBI’s plan to broaden its horizon in commodities trading through the introduction of a new set of players and products.
  • Leading commodities such as guar seed, guar gum, soybean, chana, mustard seed, and jeera, etc, will be the index’s constituents.
  • These contracts will be cash-settled, in accordance with the regulator’s guidelines.
  • As the index represents a diverse basket of commodities, it is less risky and more predictable, compared to individual commodities.
  • Futures trading on Agridex will also enhance overall liquidity on the exchange platform.

About the author

Talent KAS