The Union Home Ministry has clarified that
section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code known as the sedition law will not
The minister said that the section was
needed to effectively combat anti-national, secessionist and terrorist
Section 124-A deal with the offence of sedition. The
concept of sedition was introduced in the penal code in 1870.It was a colonial
law directed against strong criticism of the British administration.
The term sedition covers speech or writing
or any form of visible representation which brings the government into
hatred or contempt or excite disaffection towards the government or
attempts to do so. It is punishable with three years in prison or a life
It further states expressing disapproval
of government measures or actions with a view to getting them changed by
lawful means without promoting hatred or disaffection or contempt towards
the government will not come under this section.
The activists have been demanding the
scrapping of Section 124A on the grounds that the provision under the
section is overbroad which means it defines the offence in wide terms
threatening the liberty of citizens.
The Union Cabinet has approved the New
Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) Bill, 2019.
The Bill provides for setting up of an
independent autonomous body for institutional arbitration and to acquire
and transfer the undertakings of International Centre For Alternative
Dispute Resolution (ICADR) to New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC).
The proposed New Delhi International
Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) will be headed by a chairperson who has been a
judge of the Supreme Court or a judge of a high court or an eminent person
having special knowledge and experience in the conduct or administration
The salient features of the bill are
speedy appointment of arbitrators through designated arbitral tribunals
set up by the Supreme Court and high courts without having to reach court
in any matter.
The NDIAC will also provide (a) facilities
and administrative assistance for conciliation, mediation and arbitral
proceedings (b) maintain panels of accredited arbitrators, conciliators
and mediators (c) provide timely services for the conduct of arbitrations
and (d) promote studies in the field of alternative dispute resolution.
Arbitration is one of the methods of
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR is the procedure for settling
disputes without litigation. Arbitration is a procedure in which the
dispute is submitted to an arbitral tribunal which makes a decision on the
dispute that is binding on the parties.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has set up
a working group to review the regulatory and supervisory framework for
core investment companies (CIC).
The working group will examine (a) regulatory
framework (b) enhance onsite and offsite surveillance of these companies
(c) suggest changes in registration criteria including the practice of
multiple CIC within a group and (d) other such assessment to strengthen
the corporate governance framework.
The working group has also been tasked
with recommending appropriate measures to enhance RBI’s surveillance and
supervision over CICs.
CICs are Non-Banking financial companies (NBFC) with asset size of
₹100 crore and above which carry on the business of acquisition of shares
and securities subject to certain conditions.
CICs are allowed to accept public funds. They
can hold not less than 90% of their net assets in the form of investment
in equity shares, preference shares, bonds, debentures, debt or loans in group
The Union Cabinet has approved the Code on
Wages Bill which seeks to subsume existing laws related to workers’
The Code on Wages is one of the four codes
that would subsume 44 labour laws. The four codes will deal with (a) wages
(b) social security, (c) industrial safety and welfare and (d) industrial
The Code on Wages bill will replace the
(a) Payment of Wages Act, 1936, (b) Minimum Wages Act,1948 (c) Payment of
Bonus Act,1965 and the (d) Equal Remuneration Act,1976.
The bill provides that the Central
Government will fix minimum wages for certain sectors including railways
and mines while the states would be free to set minimum wages for other
category of employment.
The code also provides for setting up of a
national minimum wage. The Central Government can set a separate minimum
wage for different regions or states. The draft law also says that the
minimum wage would be revised every five years.
The Rajya Sabha is set to debate electoral
reforms following notices given by Opposition parties.
The ruling party is pushing for the
simultaneous elections idea whereas the Opposition wants to raise
discrepancies in the Electronic voting machines (EVM).
The Opposition parties have been demanding
that at least 50% of the voter verified paper trail (VVPAT) entries should
be tallied with the EVM counts in every constituency. And the VVPATs
should be counted first instead of the EVMs.
Other than the EVMs, the parties are
expected to ask for state funding for polls as recommended by the Indrajit
Gupta report of 1998.They will also raise the issue of misuse of social
media such as Facebook during the elections.
EVMs are electronic voting machines which
enable the voter with a button for each choice. It is attached by a cable
to an electronic ballot box. It comprises of two units – control unit and
The control unit is with the Election
Commission selected polling officer while the Balloting Unit is in the
voting section into which the voter enters to cast their vote.
Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)
is an independent system attached to an EVM that allows the voters to
verify that their votes are cast as intended. It helps to detect any
possible election fraud or malfunction of EVMs
The Central Government has informed the
Delhi High Court that it is opposed to making the existing definition of
rape under Section 375 (rape) gender-neutral.
The centre has said that this decision was
taken in view of the fact that victims of sexual harassment in the country
are predominantly women.
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 only
covers instances of rape of a woman by a man. While, Section 376 lists out
the punishment for the offence.
The petitioner has said that Section 375
violates Articles 14(right to equality),15(prohibition of discrimination
on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex) and 21 (right to life and
personal liberty) of the Constitution as it does not account for rape of
men and transgender persons.
Further, the petitioner said that sexual
crimes against boys under 18 years are covered under the POCSO Act but
once they become adults, they do not have any legal recourse.
Even Law Commission of India, in its 172th
report had recommended changes for widening the scope of rape law to make
it gender neutral by substituting the definition of ‘rape’ with that of
The central government has accorded the
Organised Group A Service status to senior officers of the Central Armed
Police Forces (CAPFs) that will ensure better service benefits for them.
The cabinet has also approved extension of
benefit of Non-Functional Financial Upgradation (NFFU) status to Group A
officers of the CAPF.
NFFU basically makes an officer eligible
for higher salary in case he is not promoted due to lack of vacancies
despite being eligible for promotion.
The move will benefit thousands of serving
officers and many others who have retired since 2006 from the five primary
CAPFs or paramilitary forces namely CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP and SSB.
The officers will now get better
deputation chances as they will be eligible to get empanelled under the
central staffing scheme, get enhanced facilities of transportation, house
rent allowance, travelling and dearness allowance.
This decision was taken by the Government
after the Supreme Court had upheld the Delhi High Court judgment granting
the status of organised group ‘A’ services to CAPF officers.
Government has announced the first ever
‘India International Cooperatives Trade Fair’ (IICTF) which will be held
in New Delhi.
The fair is being conducted with the
support of Network for Development of Agricultural Cooperatives (NEDAC), ministries,
four state governments and several apex levels Indian cooperative
The Trade Fair is aimed at promoting
cooperative to cooperative trade within India and abroad leading to
enhanced rural and farm prosperity.
This trade fair is conducted as
Cooperative sector has a big role to play in doubling agriculture exports
from present US $ 30 billion to US$ 60 billion+ by 2022 as envisaged in
the Agriculture Export Policy.
Towards this end a Cooperative Sector
Exports Promotion Forum has also been set up. An estimated 94% of the
Indian farmers are members of at least one cooperative institution.
Further, IICTF would be major platform to
promote exports by cooperatives with direct benefits to their members who
are mainly farmers, artisans, women, SC /ST among others.
Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs
chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the increase in the Minimum
Support Prices (MSPs) for 14 kharif crops for 2019-20 season.
The increase in MSP for Kharif crops is in
line with the principle of fixing the MSPs at a level of at least 1.5
times of the all India weighted average cost of production which was
announced in the Union Budget for 2018-19.
Cost of production varies in different
states on account of differences in levels of irrigation, resource
endowment, farm mechanization, land holding size, yield of crops. The
highest percentage return to farmers over their cost of production is for
Bajra (85%) followed by urad (64%) and tur (60%).
MSP is the minimum price paid to the farmers for procuring food
crops. It is announced by the Government at the beginning of the sowing
There are two objectives of the Minimum
Support Price system (a) To prevent distress sale by the farmers in case
of a bumper crop and (b) To procure the grains for public distribution by
fair price shops.
They are recommended by the Commission for
Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and approved by the Cabinet Committee
on Economic Affairs. Food Corporation of India(FCI) is the nodal agency
for procurement along with State agencies.
In India, there are two major cropping
seasons: a) Kharif and b) Rabi. Another cropping season Zaid i.e. summer
season (March to June). Examples of Zaid cops are watermelon, bitter gourd
The kharif cropping season is from July
–October during the south-west monsoon. Major Kharif crops include rice,
maize, sorghum, groundnut etc. Rabi cropping season extends from
October-March (winter).Major Rabi crops are wheat, barley, oats etc.
Indian Government has said that India’s
bilateral relations with Iran stand on their own and are not influenced by
India’s relations with any third country.
This statement came after an MP had asked
whether there is any pressure on the Indian Government from the United
States on stopping oil imports from Iran.
The government has said that it will deal
with the issue of US sanctions to buy oil from Iran based on three factors
which are (a) the country’s energy security (b)commercial consideration
and (c) economic interests.
However, during his bilateral meeting with
US President on the sidelines of G-20 in Japan, Indian Prime Minister had
said India had reduced the import of crude from Iran.
On this, Indian officials have said that
India has reduced imports but has not stopped oil imports completely.
Further, Iranian envoy has also alluded to
the possibility of using barter, rupee and European mechanisms for trade
in oil with India and other countries to circumvent the US sanctions.
Government has decided to enhance the
import limit on Tur Dal from two lakh metric tonne to four lakh metric
tonne for the year 2019 – 20.
The government has also decided to release
two lakh metric tonne of Tur Dal available in the buffer stock of pulses to
States and Union Territories under the Price Stabilization Fund.
Further, the Centre had also signed an MoU
with Mozambique 2016 to improve domestic availability and facilitate price
stability of Tur and other pulses.
The Price Stabilization Fund was
set up to help regulate the price volatility of important
agri-horticultural commodities like onions, potatoes and pulses were also
The fund primarily focuses on supporting
farmers during hard times arising due to excessive fall in the domestic
The Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) was
initially set up under the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation &
Farmers Welfare. But it was later transferred to the Department of
Consumer Affairs (DOCA) in 2016.
Further, the Government has also informed
that the country’s pulses output is estimated to be down at 232 lakh tonne
in the 2018-19 crop year (July-June) from 254.2 lakh tonne in the previous
The Supreme Court has issued notice to the
Central government on a petition which has challenged the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals Rules,2017. The rules were framed under the Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals Act,1960.
The petitioner has said that the rules
notified in 2017 are being used as a tool to seize and forfeit their
The 2017 rules allow a magistrate to
forfeit the cattle of an owner facing trial under the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals Act. The animals are then sent to infirmaries, gaushalas.
The authorities can further give such
animals for adoption. In short, a farmer or a traders loses his cattle
even before he is adjudged guilty of cruelty under the 1960 Act.
The petitioner has said that that the 2017
rules have travelled beyond the boundaries of the 1960 Act.
Under Section 29 of the 1960 Act, private
cattle can be forfeited only after the owner is convicted and had faced a
previous conviction. The other situations include the probability of
further cruelty from the owner if the cattle is left with him.
Besides, Section 38A of the PCA Act required
any rule made under the 1960 Act to be laid before the Parliament. This
has not been done with the 2017 Rules.
Invest India’ is India’s official agency
dedicated to investment promotion and facilitation. It is under Ministry
of Commerce and Industry.
It was formed in 2009 under Section 25 of
the Companies Act 1956
Invest India is set up as a joint venture
company between the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion
(DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Federation of Indian Chambers
of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), and State Governments of India.
Invest India provides sector-specific and
state-specific information to a foreign investor, assists in expediting
regulatory approvals, and offers hand-holding services.
It also assists Indian investors to make
informed choices about investment opportunities overseas.
Invest India also looks after India
Investment Grid (IIG). IIG is an online platform to showcase investment
opportunities in India to global investors.
It also handles a project called
Accelerating Growth of New India’s Innovations (AGNIi). AGNIi aims to support
the ongoing efforts to boost the innovation ecosystem in India. It
connects innovators across industry, individuals and the grassroots to the
market and help commercialise their innovative solutions.
The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park
authorities have rejected the National Centre for Coastal Research’s
(NCCR) proposal of using the Gulf of Mannar region for field tests.
NCCR had proposed dropping ‘melted plastic
rocks or slabs’ on the seabed for growing coral reefs and address the
problem of disposal of plastic waste.
The proposal has been rejected on the
grounds that corals in the GoM were already stressed and bleached under
climate change and field testing would further destroy the existing coral
The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park is
a protected area consisting of 21 small islands and adjacent coral reefs
in the Gulf of Mannar in the Indian Ocean. It lies off the east coast of
Tamil Nadu. It is the core area of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve.
In India, coral rehabilitation was first
initiated in Tuticorin coast of Gulf of Mannar in 2002 by Suganthi
Devadason Marine Research Institute (SDMRI) with the support from Ministry
of Environment and Forests and Coral reef Degradation in Indian Ocean
In India, coral reefs are located in 7
regions: Goa coast, Kerala coast, Palk Bay, Gulf of Kucch, Gulf of Mannar,
Lakshadweep islands, Andaman and Nicobar islands.
According to a report by UNESCO and the
Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), only 61% children with
disabilities between ages 5 and 19 attend any educational institution. The
report is based on 2011 Census data.
Report states that 12% of disabled
children had dropped out. 27% of the disabled children had never attended
any educational institution at all.
The report has also noted that there are
fewer girls with disabilities in school than boys.
Further, there are variations among
various types of disabilities. Only 20% of children with visual and
hearing impairments had never been in school. However, 50% of children
with multiple disabilities or mental illness never attended school
Right of Persons with Disabilities Act,
2016 mandates that every child with benchmark disability between the age
group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education.
It further states that Government funded
educational institutions as well as the government recognized institutions
will have to provide inclusive education to the children with
The report notes that there is incoherence
between RTE Act, 2009 and Disability Act 2016. The Right to Education Act
mandates enrolment, but not the provision of resources needed for the
actual education of a child with disabilities.
Thus, the report has recommended that
there should be amendments to the RTE Act, 2009 to make it align with the
Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
NASA has successfully demonstrated the
Orion spacecraft’s launch abort system.
The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle is a
US-European spacecraft intended to carry a crew of four astronauts to
The Orion spacecraft’s launch abort system
test was a part of NASA’s preparation for Artemis missions to the Moon.
The exercise aimed to test in almost
real-life conditions the evacuation of astronauts from the Orion capsule
in the event of an explosion or other problem shortly after launch of the
ARTEMIS stands for Acceleration,
Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction
with the Sun. It will be a manned moon mission, originally scheduled to be
launched in June 2020.
The Union Cabinet has approved the
introduction of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019. The Bill had been
passed by the last Lok Sabha but lapsed after dissolution of the House.
The objectives of the bill are to: a)
ensure effective regulation of surrogacy, b) prohibit commercial surrogacy
and c) allow ethical altruistic surrogacy to the needy infertile Indian
couples on fulfilment of conditions
The bill also prohibits exploitation of
surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy.
The Bill proposes to regulate surrogacy in
India by establishing a National Surrogacy Board at the central level and
state surrogacy boards and appropriate authorities in the state and Union
The 228th report of the Commission of
India has recommended prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing
altruistic surrogacy by enacting suitable legislation.
Surrogacy is the practice whereby one
woman carries the child for another with the intention that the child
should be handed over after birth
Altruistic surrogacy involves an
arrangement where the couple does not pay the surrogate mother any
compensation other than the medical and insurance expenses related to the
Commercial surrogacy includes compensation
(in cash or kind) paid to the surrogate mother, which exceeds the
reasonable medical expenses associated with the pregnancy
The Supreme Court has decided to make its
judgments available in regional languages on its official website.
Under the existing practice, judgements
are written in English and subsequently uploaded on the SC website
The Supreme Court’s verdicts will be made
available on its website in Hindi, Telugu, Assamese, Marathi, Kannada,
Odia and Tamil
However, unlike orders written in English
that are posted on the website on the day they are passed, the translated
versions would be uploaded a week later.
The rationale behind uploading judgements
in regional languages is to enable non-English speaking litigants to check
out the status of their cases without having to depend on lawyers.
To this end, the Chief Justice of India
Ranjan Gogoi have formally cleared a software indigenously developed for
the purpose by the Supreme Court’s “in-house” electronic software wing.
The app is similar to Google’s text translation.
The move to make Supreme Court judgments
multi-lingual is credited to President Ram Nath Kovind who in a 2017
conference held in Kochi, highlighted the need to render judgments in
regional languages for the benefit of non-English speakers.