Q.1) Why should India have a strong Witness Protection Scheme? Name some famous cases where the accused were let out after the witnesses turned hostile?
Recently, Supreme Court has approved Witness Protection Scheme and asked the states to enforce it.
Need for Witness Protection Scheme:
- Victims and witnesses of serious crimes are particularly at risk when the perpetrator is powerful, influential, or rich and the victims or witnesses belong to a socially or economically marginalised community.
- Girls and women who report sexual violence are often even more vulnerable and face extreme pressure or direct threats from the accused.
- It is rule of law that no rights of the witness should be prejudiced by way of threats, intimidation or corruption therefore, to allow him to testify for or against the case which he had been a witness to with full liberty.
- It is the responsibility of the State to impart adequate protection to the witness. This would encourage more witness to come forward
- Sohrabuddin Shaikh alleged fake encounter trial : 45th witness turned hostile
- In Best Bakery case Zahira Sheikh had first disclosed to the social activists that she and other witnesses turned hostile under threat
Q.2) What is RTI? What has been its impact on Indian Democracy?
As per the RTI Act 2005, every citizen has the right to receive a timely response from the government for any information that is sought by them with respect to the functioning of the government.
Impact on democracy:
- Accountability of the government to the public
- Empowerment of the citizens by making them aware of the happenings in government. An informed citizen is better equipped to have a better vigilance on the instruments of governance.
- Transparency is promoted as government is bound to reveal information to public
- Reduced corruption as the decision making procedures and outcomes are open for scrutiny
- It enables better realisation of the freedom of speech under Art 19 as speech is inherently related to information
- It transform the relationship between the citizen and government from one of master slave to equal partners in development
Q.3) What is leprosy? What is the cause of leprosy? What steps has the government taken to reduce the stigma associated with leprosy?
Leprosy is a chronic, progressive bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae.
- close and repeated contact with nose and mouth droplets from someone with untreated leprosy.
- Poor detection of cases
- India is currently running one of the largest leprosy eradication programs in the world, the National Leprosy Eradication Program (NLEP)
- National Health Policy 2017 (NHP) has elimination of Leprosy as a national level target
- Leprosy Case Detection Campaign (LCDC) is being implemented by the Union Health Ministry
- SPARSH Leprosy Awareness Campaign (SLAC) was launched on 30th January 2017 to promote awareness and address the issues of stigma and discrimination.
- Supreme Court ruling
a) Supreme Court asked the Centre, states and Union Territories to undertake a campaign to spread awareness about the curability of leprosy so that those suffering from it are not discriminated
b) It recommended for repealing archaic provisions from 119 statutes that stigmatise leprosy patients
c) No government hospital shall decline treatment to leprosy patients
d) People suffering from leprosy also have the right to live with human dignity
e) Programs should be telecast on All India Radio and Doordarshan
f) The campaign should be done even at ‘gram panchayat’ level to help end ‘discrimination and ostracisation’ of those suffering from leprosy
Q.4) What do you mean by fake news? What steps were taken by the government and the social media giants after the fatal consequences of fake news?
Fake news is a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media.
- Recent I&B ministry’s guidelines on fake news
a) Anyone can file a complaint about instances of fake news.
b) If the complaint is about a print publication, it will be referred to the Press Council of India. If it relates to an electronic organisation, it goes to the News Broadcasters Association.
c) These agencies are expected to determine whether the item is fake news within 15 days. This is an overly optimistic timeline, given the histories of these two organisations.
d) As soon as the complaint is registered, if the journalist is accredited by the government’s Press Information Bureau, that accreditation will be suspended until the validity of the complaint is established.
e) If the fake news is confirmed, accreditation will be cancelled for six months after the first violation, one year after the second violation and permanently after a third.
- Google and Facebook are creating systems that will filter fake news. These efforts are relatively new.
- Users creating hate content and sharing it can be booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
- Bringing in some basic regulation for digital media outlets like compulsory and online registration of details.
a) Protections to prevent people from adding others back into groups they had left.
b) Enables administrators to decide who gets to send messages within individual groups.
c) A new label highlights when a message has been forwarded and not composed by the sender.
d) During the recent Presidential election in Mexico, WhatsApp worked closely with the news consortium Verificado. Users sent thousands of rumours to Verificado’s WhatsApp account and in turn were provided regular updates on what was accurate.