- The government has said that it will not contest section 377 and will leave it to the ‘wisdom of the court’.
- Laws Criminalizing Homosexuality
- Section 377 of IPC criminalises homosexuality. It says whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine.
- Andhra Pradesh (Telangana Area) Eunuchs Act criminalises transgender persons.
- Section 36A of the Karnataka Police Act of 1963, criminalised transgender persons .The Act was recently amended in 2016
- Criminal Tribals Act:
- Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 considered a number of marginalised population groups like transgender as “innately criminal”.
- The Criminal Tribes Act was repealed in 1949. However, Section 377 exists
- Petitioners argue that Section 377 violates Articles 15 (discrimination on sex), 14 (equality), 19 (liberty) and 21 (life and dignity) of the Constitution.
- SC Judges Remarks:
- Justice Chandrachud said that the hearing deals with understanding the nature of a relationship and bring it under the protection of Article 21 (fundamental right to life) of the Constitution.
- Chief Justice Misra said the court is considering the issue of protecting the relationship. He said that the court is not dealing with LGBTQ or sexual orientation.The court is looking into the aspect of two consenting adults who should not be liable for criminal action for their relationship.
- Recently, the Centre contended that adultery should remain a crime to protect the institution of marriage
- The Centre has opposed a petition before the Supreme Court that challenges the constitutionality of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code
- The petition challenges the validity of Section 198 (1) and (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which states that that only a husband can be an aggrieved party in adultery and only he can go to court
- According to Section 497 if a man has sexual intercourse with another’s wife without the husband’s “consent or connivance”, he is guilty of the offence of adultery and shall be punished”.
- Critics of the Section 497 opine that the provision undermines individual independent identity of a woman as it treats woman as a mere property of her husband. This leads to subordination of a woman while the Constitution confers women equal status
- Recently, the Centre has made Aadhaar mandatory for beneficiaries under the National Health Protection Mission or Aayushman Bharat Programme
- About National Health Protection Mission:
- As part of National Health Protection Mission, the Centre has announced an insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh per year for hospitalisation to 10 crore families
- Adhaar card is not mandatory for availing services but it has been made mandatory as proof of enrolment, or request for enrolment
- Anyone who wants to avail benefits under the Scheme, but is not yet enrolled for Aadhaar has to apply for Aadhaar by 31st March 2019
- Till the Aadhaar is assigned to the individual, benefits will be provided subject to the production of his/her Aadhaar Enrolment ID slip or a copy of the request made for Aadhaar enrolment and a document provided along with such as Voter Id, Passbook etc
- NITI Aayog professionals Abhinav Trivedi and Anurag Mishra discuss about sustainable cooking fuel choices
- Factors influencing cooking fuel choice:
- household income
- price of fuel
- education and awareness,
- culture or lifestyle, government policies
- Cooking fuel and Indoor air pollution:
- Cooking fuels emit toxic pollutants such as respirable particles, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and sulphur, benzene, formaldehyde and polyaromatic compounds
- These substances contribute to indoor air pollution. In households with limited ventilation these pollutants can lead to severe health problems.
- Best Cooking Fuel options:
- Various cooking fuel options include firewood, pellet, biogas, kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas or LPG, piped natural gas or PNG
- Among the available cooking fuel options biogas accounts for the lowest effective greenhouse gas emission followed by PNG and LPG
- A comparison based on the cost of various fuels, annual life cycle emission per household (kg/CO2 equivalent) and extent of in-house air pollution indicates that biogas and PNG are the best cooking fuel options.
- Importance of clean energy fuel for India:
- In India, a household spends an average of 5-6% of its total expenditure
- Affordable, reliable and clean energy is essential to reduce environmental and health impacts. Further, it is also important for women empowerment
- Government Initiatives:
- The government had introduced the National Project on Biogas Development (NPBD) for promoting biogas as an affordable and clean cooking fuel in rural areas
- However, the programme suffered from major issues such as: corruption, poor construction material, a lack of maintenance, misrepresentation of achievements and a lack of accountability and follow-up services.
- The government launched Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna in 2016 with the objective of providing LPG connections to more than eight crore families.
- Further, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) has been holding auctions across cities for distribution of gas for cooking through PNG.
- LPG has been promoted and subsidised over the years and consequently its preference has been on a rise
- However, LPG import along with large subsidies is a burden on government resources which hamper the focus on other social development programmes.
- Promotion of biogas:
- There is a need to promote biogas in rural and semi-urban areas- A service-based enterprise model with suitable resource availability should be adopted
- Such a model is being successfully implemented in Hoshiarpur, Punjab using a 100 cubic meter biogas plant. The plant supplies clean and piped cooking biogas to households and a school every day.
- Such models can also generation employment significantly at the grass-root level
- Promotion of PNG:
- PNG should be promoted in urban areas starting from Tier-I and Tier-II/III cities
- LPG should be made just one of the options to choose from rather than giving it primacy over others
- The cost of LPG must be set as the upper-cost ceiling
- PNGRB should focus only on the setting up of safety regulations, with distribution rights being given to distributors.
- Way Forward:
- Consumption-based subsidies need to be replaced with a functional subsidy that is provided on the basis of household income levels and local variables.
- Issue of leakages should be addressed
- Citizens should be made aware of the cooking fuel options
- The energy choices should be based on the nature of the fuel and not because of socio-economic constraints.
- Conservationist Meghana Sanka argues that allowing private forests would lead to illegal activities and can change the natural behaviour of wildlife
- About Private Conservancy Rules drafted by Karnataka:
- Aim: Increase forest area through private land.
- Provisions: Anyone who has a minimum of 100 acres of land bordering a national park can convert it to a “Wildlife Private Conservancy”. 5% of this land can be used to construct buildings for ecotourism. The remaining has to be kept for flora and fauna.
- The initiative of creating private forests has faced widespread criticism. The author opines that the private forest could be used for illegal activities and can modify natural behaviour of wildlife.
- South Africa- A case study:
- In South Africa, agricultural land can be converted into wildlife reserves.
- The government first specifies how much land is required for each animal. After that, purchases are made and then animals are introduced in the area
- In some game reserves hunting is legal. Hunting rights for specific animals are regularly auctioned
- However, these private reserves have been criticised for poor management and exploitation of wildlife.
- Further, these reserves have induced behavioural changes among animals since these are fenced
- Some reserves have two sections: one with lions and one without. There have also been problems of overpopulation of particular species in an area.
- These private forests are also subjected to poaching. Rhinos are regularly poached for their horns
According to a recent study published in Ecological Engineering, Niligiri tahrs could lose approximately 60% of their habitats from the 2030s
- Highlights of the study:
- To predict affect of climate change on tahr habitats, scientists had mapped tahr distribution
- Next they had used using climatic factors of these locations to predict where tahrs would be able to survive, given current and future climate change scenarios.
- They found that areas such as Chinnar, Eravikulam and Parambikulam in Kerala where there is high tahr population will still be stable habitats under different climate change scenarios.
- However, regions such as Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu and the wildlife sanctuaries of Peppara, Neyyar, Schenduruny and Srivilliputhur, could experience severe habitat loss from 2030s onwards.
- Status of Nilgiri Tahr:
- 2500 left in wild
- Vulnerable to local extinction
- According to IUCN, their population shows a decreasing trend
- Conservation Efforts:
- Scientists of National Board for Wildlife had drafted a tahr recovery plan in 2010.
- However, only the Eravikulam and Mukurthi National Parks stress on tahr-centred conservation activities in their management plans. However, the progress in implementation has been questioned by environmentalists
- Environmentalists have called for a comprehensive species management plan for conservation of tahr