- The Supreme Court hearing on a plea to strike down Section 377 of IPC.
2. Section 377:
- Section 377 of IPC — which came into force in 1862 — defines unnatural offences.
- 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 of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.
- It is rooted in the legacies of British colonial states where in it was introduced by Lord Macaulay in 1860 as a part of IPC.
- According to the section “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished”.
- Homosexual intercourse was made a criminal offense under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
2. While clearing its signal for decriminalizing gay sex, the apex court has made following arguments:
- Acceptance of gay relationship will help meet health concerns and control of HIV.
- Same sex couples living in denial with no access to medical care were more prone to contracting and spreading sexually transmitted diseases.
- The course of sexually transmitted disease is not sexual intercourse, but unprotected sexual intercourse.
- The Anti-trafficking Bill likely to be tabled in Parliament during monsoon session.
2. Key features of the draft Bill are given below:
- The Bill deals with trafficking and aggravated forms of trafficking.
- The trafficking category of crimes carry a jail term of seven to 10 years, while the aggravated form of trafficking carry a punishment of 10 years in jail to life imprisonment.
- Aggravated offences include trafficking for the purpose of forced labour, begging, trafficking by administering chemical substance or hormones on a person for the purpose of early sexual maturity, or where a survivor contracts HIV.
3. However, the activists and sex workers critising the Bill on the following grounds:
- It treats victims of human trafficking on par with adult persons in sex work
- It would lead to increase in violence against sex workers.
- If a sex worker is violated, she won’t be able to go to court because she will be immediately understood as exploited, trafficked and sent to rehabilitation.
- Failed to assure dignity to consenting adult sex workers.
- Forceful rehabilitation would deprive women of their source of livelihood.
- LGBTQ rights activist said “When a law prescribes life imprisonment for trafficking leading to AIDS or begging or injecting of hormones, it will ultimately lead to criminalization of trans-identities.”
- The Bill went against the basic tenets of rehabilitation as it did not distinguish between trafficking and sex work.
- It would be a roadblock in HIV prevention.
- Certain clauses in the Bill endanger freedom of expression.
4. Sex workers and activists demanding that the Bill should explicitly state that consenting adult workers will not be penalized under the new law.
- The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2018, will be introduced in the Lok Sabha in the monsoon season.
2. The Bill proposed to give the Centre the power to set the tenure and salaries of State and Central Information Commissioners.
3. he Amended Bill seeks to provide equal tenure of five years and salaries to Election Commissioners and Information Commissioners.
4. The decision to give the Information Commissioners a high stature and protected tenure is meant to ensure their independence.
5. Due to their differential positions, the status and service conditions need to be rationalized accordingly.
6. Election Commission is a constitutional body, while Information Commissions are statutory bodies.
7. The functions performed by the Election Commission of India and the Central and State Information Commissions are totally different.
8. Several political parties critising the Bill on the following grounds:
- The amendment will dilute the RTI law.
- Compromise the independence of the Information Commissions.
- The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) opposed the Bill and termed the move ridiculous.
- The amendments will completely destroy the autonomy of Information Commissions and fundamentally weaken the institution.
- The Centre “usurping” the power to decide the tenure and salaries of State Information Commissioners raised key issues of federalism.
- The Bill lacks transparency.
- The U.S. President Donald Trump’s summit with Russian counterpart held recently in Helsinki, Finland.
2. According to President Trump, meeting went even better than last week’s NATO meeting in Brussels.
3. However, President Trump critised by political leaders and strategic commentors for compromising American interest on Summit. Russia is America’s primary rivalry.
4. The main stream commentary has focused on the Presidential refusal to endorse the claim by American intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
5. At the same time, Russia’s political and media establishment heralded talks between two leaders as a victory for Russian president in breaking down western resolve to treat Russia as a pariah.
6. In Moscow, the summit did not produce any breakthroughs on issues such as Syria, Ukraine, or arms control.
7. The Kremlin, in the runup to the Summit, had played down expectations of major progress.
8. However, market analysts said the summit was a positive for Russian assets, offsetting the negative effect from a drop in oil prices.
9. Future perspective of the meeting:
- The summit may have opened windows of opportunity for some areas of cooperation that would serve American and world security interest.
- Both leaders emphasized the importance of working together to stop Jihadist terrorism, stop nuclear proliferation, and control the dangers of existing nuclear arsenals.
- Recently, the Supreme Court ordered the Center and the State to take immediate steps to stop the dissemination of fake news, which has a tendency to whip up a mob frenzy.
2. While condemning the recent spate of lynchings as “horrendous acts of mobocracy” , the apex court held following observations on the subject:
- The court has asked the Parliament to make lynching a separate offence.
- The Bench provide the reasons for mob violence such as:
- By the apathy of the bystanders.
- Numbness of mute spectators.
- Inertia of the Police
- Grandstanding of the incident by the perpetrators of the crimes on social media.
3. The apex court ordered the following measures to prevent the mob violence cases.
- The court ordered the State governments to have a task force to procure intelligence on people likely to spread hate speeches in each district.
- The district level nodal officers should hold regular meeting with their local intelligence units to identify the existence of the tendencies of vigilantism and mob violence.
- Prohibits instances of dissemination of offensive material on social media.
- Nodal officers in districts shall take steps to eradicate a hostile environment against any community or caste.
- The police shall register an FIR under Section 153A(promoting enmity) of the IPC against the suspects.
- If found guilty, a person faces up to five years of imprisonment.
- The trials shall be held in a fast-track court on day-to-day basis and completed within six months.
- The maximum sentence should be granted to the guilty.
- The court directed the Central government to issue appropriate directions to the States to reflect the gravity of the situation.
- While giving the above suggestions, the apex court said” the primary obligation of the government is to protect all individuals irrespective of race, caste, class or religion.” The Court described lynching and mob violence as “creeping threats”.
- Samir Nazareth, author, highlight the key arguments made in favour of the recent proposal to ban beer bottles in Goa.
2. The puts three key arguments in this regard:
- Most bottlers do not collect empty bottles.
- Shards of glass injure people at beaches.
- The staff at waste facilities injure themselves
3. The author gave following suggestions to debunk these arguments if Goa is to become garbage free by 2020.
a) For Most bottlers do not collect empty bottles: To handle this following suggestions are made:
- The government can introduce companies to initiate bottle collection schemes. The government needs to ask companies to include all types of outlets, and consumers in such a scheme.
- A refundable deposit should be levied on the outlets and on the customers to encourage return of bottles.
- The deposit charged on the outlets should be the same as they charge on customers.
b) Shards of glass injure people at beaches: To handle this , following suggestions are made.
- If shards of glass are injuring people on the beach, this is a symptom of lack of civic sense and the absence of an effective waste management system.
- Prevent drinking in the open.
- Need to bring behavioural change and provide better infrastructure to collect waste.
- A proper policing system should be put in place to deter, sensitise and punish people who litter.
c) The staff at waste facilities injure themselves: To handle this, following suggestions are made.
- Workers in waste collection facilities need to be provided gloves for handling waste.
- The latest data of the Wholesale Price Index show a sharp surge in wholesale inflation in June.
2. The data, show a 54-months high of 5.77%, are a cause of concern.
3. The reasons for high inflation are given below:
- Rising crude oil prices.
- Inflation in the fuel and power group has quickened every month since February to June.
- Inflation in food articles, especially vegetables.
- Manufacturing products are also worrying wider inflationary trend.
4. Higher WPI inflation will have following implications:
- It will add pressure on the RBI to raise interest rates.
- Undermine the pace of GDP growth.
- The WPI is not primary focus in the RBI’s inflation targeting approach to monetary policy formulation now.
- The role of consumer price index remains economically significant.
- The measure of wholesale price gains is the key deflator in computing the index of industrial production.
- Wholesale price index is also used to deflate gross domestic product at current prices.