State, non-sate actors

  • The long battle against the extremists

    Synopsis: The long battle against Maoists is not providing the optimum results. Unusual wars are not fought just on the ground; They also require proper soft strategy.

    1. 22 jawans martyred on the April 3 encounter between security forces and the Maoists in Sukma.
    2. Also, one CoBRA jawan, Rakeshwar Singh Minhas held hostage by the extremists.
    3. After efforts from officials and non-officials, Maoists agreed to free him. A team of local people went deep into the forest area succeeded in releasing the jawan after discussion.
    4. The extremists wanted to portray themselves as not all violent and compassionate. Thus, they agreed to release the jawan.
    Reasons for prolonged extremist attacks since Independence:

    The frequency of attacks may vary depending upon the preparation of the Maoists and their strength of retaliation. But, the strategies of the Maoists have not really changed much. So, the analysts are confused about how Maoists are able to attack the security forces easily.

    • Firstly, they spread misinformation about the numbers of Maoists in a village and their location. Communication tools in government forces have not improved over the years. 
      • Horrible incidents like the recent one in Chhattisgarh happens because of a lack of intelligence and planning on the part of the government. 
    • Secondly, the fact that many states cannot give full attention to the task of eliminating extremism. This works to the advantage of Maoists.
    • Thirdly, governments often deploy more policemen and improve technology. But this has an effect only for a short period of time. 
    • Fourthly, the rapid economic development of the region might pull people away from extremist ideology. The state and central governments involved have taken the appeal seriously and implemented numerous development schemes in these areas.
      • However, this has helped only partially. Civil servants who have served in Andhra Pradesh say a dedicated leadership at the district and ground levels helped in transformation.
      • The inclusion of local youth into the security forces helps in fighting the extremists. For example, the Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh has controlled Extremist forces well.
      • Over-dependence on Central forces is counterproductive
    • Fifthly, economic scarcity and religious fundamentalism often capture the thinking processes of many in the region. The passion attached to the Maoists is therefore difficult to remove. Shared ideology and resources by like-minded groups lift their abilities.
    The present situation of extremism:
    • Unless the extremists face the depletion of resources and manpower, they are not going to accept everlasting peace. But that situation is not happening in the immediate future.
    • But if consider the situation for a decade, then there is a chance for gradual migration of younger extremists to other parts of the country. They might move for better living conditions, job opportunities, etc. This migration might start gradually but could increase over the next few decades. This will weaken the extremists in the long run.
    • The objective of the extremist attacks is to give a warning to the government that it has no option but to grant all the demands of the extremists. But they fail to understand that their demands are extremist in nature, which no constitutionally elected establishment will ever grant.

    Source: The Hindu

  • Centre Extends Ceasefire Agreements with Naga groups
    What is the News?

    The Central Government extends the ceasefire agreement with three insurgent Naga groups of Nagaland for one more year i.e. till April 2022.

    Which are those three insurgent groups of Nagaland?

    The ceasefire agreement is in operation between the Centre and the three insurgent groups of Nagaland namely:

    • National Socialist Council of Nagaland-NK (NSCN/NK)
    • National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Reformation (NSCN/R) and
    • National Socialist Council of Nagaland-K-Khango (NSCN/K-Khango).
    National Socialist Council of Nagaland — Isak-Muivah(NSCN-IM):
    • The Peace negotiations with NSCN-IM have been on since 1997 when the group signed the ceasefire agreement with the central government for the first time.
    • In 2015, the group signed a Framework Agreement in the presence of the Prime Minister to find a permanent solution.
    • The agreement recognised the uniqueness of the Naga history and culture of Nagaland.
    • However, the talks with the NSCN-IM seem to be heading nowhere presently. The group has been insisting on a separate Naga flag and constitution.
    National Socialist Council of Nagaland—Khaplang(NSCN-K)
    • The NSCN-K had signed a ceasefire agreement with the Centre in 2001. However,  it unilaterally abrogated it in 2015 when the group attacked a military convoy in Manipur in 2015 killing 18 soldiers.
    • In December 2020, the NSCN-K had again announced a ceasefire and said that the outfit has contacted the central government to initiate a peace dialogue.

    Source: PIB


  • Flaws in India’s Internal Security Management

    Synopsis:The recent attack in tekulgada area in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh exposed flaws in India’s internal security management. Hence, there is a need to bring robust reforms in the security architecture that can prevent attacks by Left Wing Extremists in the future. 

    • Recently a combing operation by local police and central police forces in the Bastar region turned into a grave Maoist attack. The attack took lives of around 22 security personnel while several others got wounded.
      • Combing operations involves searching a place or an area very carefully in order to find something.
      • The operation was carried on to find a local Maoist leader (Madvi Hidma) and his syndicates.
    • This has highlighted the flaws in India’s internal security management especially in the case of Left Wing Extremism (LWE).
    About Left Wing Extremism:
    • LWE or Naxal-Maoist insurgency is prevalent in India for decades in the region denoted by the red corridor. The corridor includes states from eastern, southern, and central India.
    • The Maoists aim to capture State power through a combination of armed insurgency, mass mobilization, and strategic alliances.
    • It is one of the 3 major internal security challenges. The other two being 
      • a proxy war and terrorism in Kashmir, 
      • sub-national separatist movements in the Northeast
    • The government has been able to contain these but little progress is achieved in the domain of combating Left Wing Extremism (LWE).
    • Around 15,000 lives have been lost due to LWE violence over the last three decades.  
    Rationale behind origin and sustenance of LWE:
    • First, the poor nature of governance has resulted in the persistent neglect of tribal populations in LWE regions. This has devoid them of the fruits of development.
    • Second, an oppressive/exploitative hierarchy of the state and society has pushed the residents in these regions to the margins of survival.
    Flaws in Internal Security Management:
    • Operational Challenges:
      • Leadership failure was seen in recent attacks. Security personnel left their dead comrades in the grip of Maoists rather than trying to regroup and attack the Maoists. 
      • Lacunae in the intelligence network were also unearthed as the security personnel got trapped in the plan of Maoists.
      • Use of large and diverse forces (CAPF, COBRA commandos, local police) adversely impacted the covert nature of the operation. It made detection easier.
    • Strategic Challenges:
      • There has been no meaningful policy review of the IS (internal security) challenge. However, LWE was recognized as the most important security challenge by the PM in 2005.
      • Further, there has been ignorance of Kargil review committee (1999) recommendations that show a deficiency in higher IS management.
        • The committee desired the restructuring of command, control, and leadership functions of paramilitary forces in situations of proxy war and large-scale terrorism.
        • Till date, many police officers inducted into leadership positions into paramilitary forces. They have good training to maintain law and order. However, they lack the skill set to manage an insurgent operation which results in grave tragedies like the recent Bastar attack.
    Way Forward:
    • Must carry out a detailed investigation to find out the real reason behind the tragedy.
    • There is a need to enhance cooperation between center and state government in the security domain. This will prevent such grave attacks in the future.
    • The political leadership of the country must realize its responsibility towards internal security challenges. They must inculcate a will to revamp the capacity of security personnel and usher in the desired reforms.

    Source: Indian Express 

    [Answered] Discuss the threat of Left Wing Extremism (LWE) to India. Briefly explain the Government of India’s approach to counter the challenges posed by LWE.

  • Tarrem attack – How Maoists Still Manage to Attack Security Forces?

    Synopsis: The tarrem attack points out that the declining Maoists remain a strong military threat.


    Over 20 paramilitary personnel died in an encounter with the Maoists in the Tarrem area near Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district. There is a long-running conflict in this remote tribal region. 

    • Reports point out a Maoist surprise attack on the paramilitary personnel.
    • Forces were performing search operations in Maoist strongholds. The timing of these search operations matches with the Maoists’ attempt to disrupt the construction of a road near Silger-Jagargunda.
    How has the Maoist presence evolved over the years in the impacted area?

    The Maoist insurgency first began as the Naxalite movement in the 1970s and then intensified after 2004. Later two prominent insurgent groups merged together and this remains a mindless guerrilla-driven militant movement. 

    Security forces managed to clear the majority of the areas of the Maoists. The majority of their leaders are either killed or caught. However, their stronghold in the south Bastar is still intact. It is due to the following reasons:

    1. First, there is a lack of road and telecommunications infrastructure in these remote areas. Maoists are able to use the terrain to their advantage.
    2. Second, These groups still manage to recruit people from these remote areas. People living in these tribal areas either untouched by welfare or there are discontents due to state repression.
    3. Third, Maoists also know that state crackdown after the violence provides them with more recruits. Thus, violence is useful for them.
    • The State also knows that the route to violence provides Maoists with new supporters. Thus, we require methods other than the crackdown.
    • Before Tarrem attacks came right after a recent peace march held by civil society activists. They were asking for a dialogue between the Maoists and the Chhattisgarh government to end the violence. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal the violence has claimed more than 10,000 lives since 2000 alone.
    • Thus, the Civil Society’s call for peace should not be ignored. This is the only way for lasting peace in the region.

    Source: click here

    Left Wing Extremism in India – Explained, Pointwise

Social Media

  • Rationale behind New Information Technology Rules, 2021


    Social media is a direct product of the globalized internet, which connects people all over the globe. It significantly impacts economic, social, and political discourse in a country. Hence, the government formulated new Information Technology Rules, 2021 to regulate them and prevent their misuse.

    • The internet has revolutionized the world, and we are now in the process of a transition from the industrial to the internet age. 
    • This transition would affect how we see economics, politics, society, governance, democracy, and our fundamental rights. Therefore, it becomes imperative to improve the regulatory framework over the internet and social media. 
    • It is in this context that new Information Technology Rules, 2021 were formulated by the Government of India.
    About Social Media:
    • Social media is a direct product of the globalised internet which connects people all over the globe. 
    • It allows people to converse with each other through profiles both known and anonymous. It allows the transmission of information in real-time across the world. 
    Information Technology Rules, 2021 related to Social Media:
    • Social media companies are prohibited from hosting or publishing any unlawful information. 
      • Information obtained in relation to the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, public order, friendly relations with foreign countries, etc. can be deemed unlawful. The government can order takedown of such information within 24 hours.
    • The user should be given a notice before its content is taken down.
    • The government can direct messaging platforms to tie the identity of the user with the message transmitted by him/her for strengthening traceability.
    • The rules call for social media companies to publish a monthly compliance report as well.
    • Social media platforms are classified into two categories – social media intermediaries and significant social media intermediaries, the latter being platforms with a large user base.
    • The significant social media intermediaries will be obliged to follow some additional measures like:
      • Appointing a Chief Compliance Officer, Nodal Contact Person, and a Resident Grievance Officer in India. All of them should be Indian Residents.
        • The chief Compliance Officer shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and Rules.
        • Nodal Contact Person will do 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies.
        • Resident Grievance Officer shall receive and resolve complaints from users. The officer must acknowledge the complaint within 24 hours, and resolve it within 15 days of receipt.
      • These platforms should also have a physical contact address in India, which should be notified on the website and apps.
    Rationale behind New Social Media Rules:
    1. First, the rules invoke a minimum regulatory standard on social media. This brings it to par with newspapers, magazines, and websites that are responsible for the content published over them. 
      • The companies are still considered as an intermediary and continue to enjoy immunity under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act.
        • Section 79 states that an intermediary shall not be liable for any third-party information hosted by it if it duly follows the guidelines released by the government.
      • Further, they have screening teams that can duly remove objectionable content. 
        • For instance, Twitter deleted some tweets of former US President Donald Trump in January 2021 and later suspended his account.
    2. Second, the freedom of speech enjoyed over social media is derived from Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution. It is subject to the restriction of Article 19(2) that includes public order, security of the state, defamation, etc. grounds. Hence, due restrictions can be imposed on social media.
    3. Third, social media has become a public square in which the most important conversations on politics and society are discussed. Therefore, its regulation becomes imperative for overall societal wellbeing.
    4. Fourth, social media is a commercial product that is being offered with the objective of money-making. Hence, it should be regulated like other commercial products.
      • The fact that a commercial product could be used for a social purpose does not make the product a social good.
    5. Fifth, the big social media companies sometimes attempt to regulate the policies of the government as per their will. This may grow into economic exploitation and political intervention on a grand scale if not duly regulated. 
      • Large-scale intervention can lead to disastrous results, as was shown by the East India Company’s dominant control in the past which led to India’s colonisation.

    Source: Click Here    

     Read Also :-New social media rules – an analysis

  • “Safe Harbour Protection” for Twitter Withdrawn

    What is the News?

    According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY), Twitter has failed to comply with the Information Technology (IT) Rules, 2021. This means the “Safe Harbour” Protection under Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act is withdrawn for Twitter.

    What is “Safe Harbour” Protection under Section 79  of IT Act?
    • Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act provides for the Safe Harbour protection to social media giants.
    • It says that any intermediary shall not be held legally or otherwise liable for any third-party information, data, or communication link made available on its platform.
    • However, the intermediary should not involve any way in initiating the transmission of the message in question, select the receiver of the transmitted message, and do not modify any information of the transmission.
    • This means that as long as a platform acts just as the messenger carrying a message from point A to point B, it will be safe from any legal prosecution due to the transmission of a message. However, it should be without any interference with its content in any manner,
    How the removal of Safe Harbour Protection impacts Twitter?
    • It opens up the platform to the possibility of any type of legal action which was not possible before, as a publisher of content.
    • This means that Twitter will be accountable if someone’s content on Twitter leads to some form of violence or violates any Indian law.
    • Then not only the person that has put out the tweet but also Twitter will be legally liable for the content as it no longer has the protection.

    Source: Indian Express

  • G7 accommodates Indian stand on the need for “Internet shutdown”
    What is the News?

    The G7 countries statement on the Internet Shutdown was amended after India objected to the original language criticising “Internet shutdowns”.

    Internet Shutdowns all over the world:
    • According to a report by digital rights and privacy organisation Access Now, of the total 155 internet shutdowns globally in 2020, India alone accounted for 109.
    • The next highest Internet Shutdowns was in Yemen, with six. It was followed by Ethiopia with four.
    Examples of Internet Shutdowns in India:
    • Jammu and Kashmir had Internet and mobile telephony shutdown since Article 370 was amended in 2019.
    • Internet shutdowns were also witnessed in Delhi during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act during 2019-2020 and the farmer’s protest in 2020.

    Read Also :-The value of the SC’s Kashmir order

    What was the original G7 statement on Internet Shutdown?
    • The G7 Countries had issued a statement expressing concerns over actions by states to intentionally disrupt their own populations’ access to data online.
    • The statement noted that internet shutdowns had undermined civic space both online and offline. They also noted that the shutdowns unjustifiably limited access to information and the rights of peaceful assembly, association and freedom of expression online.
    • Moreover, the statement also referred to “Politically Motivated Internet Shutdowns” which indirectly addresses Internet blackouts in various parts of the world including India.
    What were India’s objections to the G7 statement?
    • India has asked for a change in the original language criticising “Internet shutdowns”.
    • Further, India has objected to the Politically Motivated Internet Shutdowns. India has also said that national security and public order concerns as an exception should be added to the statement.
    Was the G7 statement on Internet shutdown changed then?
    • Yes, it was changed. The statement clarified that Internet shutdowns to protect the national security and public order concerns as an exception to the need for Internet freedoms.

    Source: The Hindu

    Read Also :-“G7 Foreign Ministers Summit” Held

  • Securing privacy and data rights in the age of social audio

    Synopsis: Privacy and data rights remain out of focus on social audio. 

    The clubhouse is a new social networking app based around audio rooms. It crossed over 2 million Android downloads last month. The main feature of the app is the unique audio medium through which its users interact.

    • This feature makes clubhouse different from other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, WhatsApp, and YouTube. These apps use text, images, video, or a combination of three.
    • The app does not have separate texting features or the option to create online profiles. Its focus is purely on audio-based interaction.

    What are the issues with such apps?

    The nature of the app raises questions on privacy and data rights. Audio rooms bring new challenges for data regulators. As they have not yet found ways to control traditional social media platforms.


      • Firstly, audio-based exchanges are faster and in real-time. Thus, traditional methods of content moderation may not work here. Cyber-bullying and trolling, driven by sexism, racism and communalism, can be more damaging on apps like a clubhouse.
      • Secondly, anyone can join any room that their friends are a part of, this makes stalking easier. The app even sends notifications to its followers.
      • Thirdly, the experience on Clubhouse includes a constant awareness about how every action is being shown to followers. This awareness and the fear of being judged will limit people from exploring the app’s content.
        • This is opposite to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter which allow browsing in invisibility.
      • Fourthly, Clubhouse temporarily records the audio in a room while the room is live, this is a major concern. It says that it deletes the recording when the room ends. The app lacks end-to-end encryption, which makes the data still potentially accessible. This recording is done without the consent of the user.
        • Privacy expert Alexander Hanff says the platform’s practices are violating many provisions of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
        • A report by the Stanford Internet Observatory stated that the backend infrastructure of Clubhouse is given by a Chinese start-up called Agora. The report mentions a risk of the Chinese government accessing raw audio and other security flaws.
      • Fifthly, India does not have a strict data protection law: This makes its users more vulnerable to data breaches and privacy violations. The lack of end-to-end encryption in Clubhouse could also make it an easy tool for government surveillance.
      • Lastly, Clubhouse takes permission to access users’ contacts, which is a significant privacy concern. It gives the app information about people who are not even on the app. The contact list can be shared with app developers and with people in a user’s contact list. This affects privacy and contributes to the harassment culture.

     Read Also :-Privacy Issues in government backed Apps

    How will the dominant companies in similar space react?

    The clubhouse is one of the numerous apps that have grown popular during the COVID-19 as people are looking for new methods to communicate with each other. 

    As the popularity of Clubhouse grows, Twitter has launched ‘Spaces’, and Facebook is working on a similar feature. LinkedIn, Discord, Reddit and Spotify are doing the same.

    The conclusion
    Clubhouse might seem like a lightweight app, but it does not offer much in terms of securing privacy and data rights. It is not very different from traditional platforms. Social audio won’t truly progress until innovation is balanced with respect for privacy, security and data rights.

    Source: click here

Crime and smuggling

  • Turmeric in India

    Turmeric in India

    Source: The Hindu

    News: Sri Lankan police have seized 20,000 kg of turmeric smuggled by sea, reportedly from India amid a shortage persisting since Sri Lanka banned imports to support local farmers in the pandemic year.


    • Turmeric (Curcuma longa): It is a perennial herbaceous plant of the ginger family. The plant’s underground stems or rhizomes have been used as a spice, dye, medicine, and religious maker since antiquity.
    • Significance: The spice’s color comes mainly from curcumin, a bright yellow phenolic compound that has been in the news for its ostensible potential to fight cancer. As a result, the demand for turmeric with high curcumin content has risen.
    • Climate: It requires temperatures between 20 and 30 °C (68 and 86 °F) and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive.
    • Largest Producer: India is the largest producer and exporter of turmeric in the world. Turmeric occupies about 6% of the total area under spices and condiments in India.
    • Largest Producer State: Telangana was the leading producer of turmeric in India during 2018. Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu were second and third in the ranking that year.
  • Smuggling in India Report 2019-20

    Source : Click here

    News: Union Finance Minister released the Smuggling in India Report 2019-20.


    • Prepared by: The report has been compiled by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).
    • Aim: To analyse organised smuggling trends on Gold and Foreign Currency, Narcotic Drugs, Security, Environment and Commercial Frauds.

    Key Takeaways:

    • The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence detected 412 cases of smuggling resulting in the seizure worth ₹1,949 crore in 2019-20. It arrested 837 economic offenders and also unearthed 761 complex cases of Customs duty evasion amounting to ₹2,183 crore.

    Additional Facts:

    • Directorate of Revenue Intelligence(DRI): It is the apex anti-smuggling agency of India working under the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India
  • Decriminalising Marijuana in India

    This article is based on the two Indian Express articles (links Indian Express, Indian Express) published today and in October, 2020 respectively.

    Why in News

    • US President Biden promises decriminalising the use of marijuana and also gave assurance to clearing out the past convictions related to it during his election campaign.
    • In India also Recent case of wide spread drug usage among Bollywood actors and actresses created a wide debate on whether to legalise Marijuana or not?

     What is Cannabis?

    • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cannabis is a generic term used to denote marijuana, hemp, weed etc and several other psychoactive preparations of the plant Cannabis sativa and other plants in Cannabis super family.
    • In general Cannabis family has two major components
    1. CBD (cannabidiol): It is a does not cause intoxication or psychoactive side effects and it is proven as effective chronic pain relief drug
    2. Delta-9 Tetra Hydro Cannabinol (THC) is the major psychoactive constituent in cannabis

    The WHO says that cannabis is by far the most widely cultivated, trafficked and abused illicit drug in the world.

    What is Marijuana and the other terms associated with cannabis?


    • Marijuana has high THC levels and intense psychoactive effects
    • Hydrophonic weed refers to a soilless medium of cultivation of marijuana whereby instead of being grown in a field, it is grown at home without soil.


    • It has lesser THC levels and has low psycho active effects compare to Marijuana.
    • Generally, it is procured from the extract of the Marijuana leaves
    • It has wide level of medicinal benefits and industrial uses.
    • It is known as Ganja in Hindi.


    • It is an edible preparation of cannabis, which is ‘consumed either in the form of a drink or smoked’

    ‘Charas’ is the separated resin extracted from the cannabis plant.

    The unpollinated female plants are called hashish. Cannabis oil (hashish oil) is a concentrate of cannabinoids

    How the Cannabis/Marijuana is regulated in India?

    • Bhang, charas and ganja were regulated by the state excise departments and legally sold till 1985.
    • In 1985 The Narcotic Drugs and Psychoactive Substances (NDPS) Act has been enacted central level commercial cultivation of cannabis by production, possession, sale/purchase, transportation, interstate import/export or any other forms is punishable. The Act has been amended three times – in 1988, 2001, and most recently in 2014.
    • While CBD oil manufacturing is licenced under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 can be legally used and sold. Some Indian websites do sell. But to purchase it one needs a prescription and many even facilitate it.
    • Similarly, Bhang, ganja and charas are enlisted in the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 for use in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani
    Important Provisions of NDPS Act:
    • There are no restrictions on cultivation and procurement of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes.
    • The legislature left seeds and leaves of the cannabis plant out of the ambit of the NDPS Act.
    • The Act establishes Narcotics Control Bureau as the apex drug law enforcement agency and empowers them to oversee the implementation of of NDPS Act and also the other International conventions related to the it..
    • For holding a small quantity, the prescribed punishment is rigorous imprisonment for up to six months, fine of Rs. 10,000 or both.
    • For holding more than a small quantity but less than the commercial quantity, the prescribed punishment is rigorous imprisonment for up to 10 years, fine of Rs. 1 lakh, or both.
    • For holding commercial quantity, the prescribed punishment is rigorous imprisonment for up to 10-20 years, fine of Rs. 1-2 lakh, or both.
    • The Act covers three broad classes of substances:
    1. narcotic drugs, that is, those covered under the 1961 UN single Convention on Narcotic drugs;
      • Hashish, resin or charas, ganja, any mixture of charas or ganja is prohibited.
      • Bhang or the cannabis leaf is excluded from the act, but regulated through state excise laws.
      • leaf; derivatives include cocaine and any preparation containing 0.1% of cocaine
      • Opium: Poppy based products, preparations with 0.2% morphine
    2. psychotropic substances or those covered under the 1971 UN Convention on psychotropic substances as well as other psychoactive substances such as ketamine which are not yet classified under international conventions; and
    3. “Controlled substances” that are used to manufacture narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances, for example precursor chemicals such as acetic anhydride, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.
    • ‘Manufactured substances’ category includes drugs such as Amphetamines, methamphetamines, LSD’s
    What are the significant aspects of the Act?
    • The Act prescribes quantity-based punishment. The Act differentiates between small and commercial quantities of various drugs such as:
      • Heroin: 5 grams-250 grams
      • Cocaine: 2 grams-100 grams
      • Hashish or Charas: 100 grams-1 kg
      • Opium: 25 grams-2.5 kg
      • Ganja: 1kg-20 kg
    • The Act Criminalize people who use drugs and provide treatment for their relief from National Fund for the Control of Drug Abuse.

    Why Marijuana should be legalised?

    • Historic significance of Marijuana in India:
      • In later Vedic literature Atharva Veda mentions Bhang plant as one of the 5 sacred plants and usage of Bhang since ancient times is common during the Hindu festivals of Holi and Mahashivaratri.
      • Indian Hemp Drugs Commission in 1894 recommended against complete ban and found the usage as ancient and religious.
      • In 1961, India opposed the inclusion of marijuana in the UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs, citing its role in social and religious customs
    • WHO study concluded Marijuana is not as unhealthy compared to alcohol and tobacco products.
      • It implies that the harms associated with marijuana use were greatly overestimated and society should respond to its use through progressive public health policies rather than ban.
    • Magnitude of substance use in India: This is a survey released by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in 2019, it states that about 2.8 percent of Indians aged 10–75 years (3.1 crore people) were using cannabis in one form or other. (for source)
    • Burden on Executive and Judiciary:
      • Narcotics Control Bureau investigate, interrogate and arrest people with small or miniscule amounts of marijuana and produce them in front of judiciary. It requires huge man power and state exchequer to control small or miniscule amounts of drug usage.
      • It leads to wide scope of corruption at lower level of executive which harass people even for petty crimes.
      • By legalising it India can release many young people landed in overcrowded jails whose only crime was using marijuana for fun and free up precious police time and go after the big drug mafias.
    • International wave of legalization of cannabis, based on its medicinal properties and commercial utilities Ex. Uruguay became the first country to fully legalize marijuana in 2013. Then Canada followed the path.Now many states in USA legalised marijuana.
    Why Marijuana should stay Illegal? (Financial Express)
    • Short- and long-term side effects of Marijuana
      • Short term side effects may include a short-term memory loss, impaired motor skills, dry mouth and feelings of paranoia or anxiety.
      • In long term addiction, decreased mental ability and behavioural problems in children (when mothers used marijuana during pregnancy)
    • Marijuana is a gateway drug
      • A private study found more than 40% who used marijuana also used other ‘Hard’ drugs.
    • Against the Directive Principles of Article 47 which specifically calls for the prohibition of intoxicating drinks and drugs that are injurious to health
    • Against International Conventions such as 1961 and 1971 UN conventions against Narcotic drugs and Psychotropic substances respectively and also International Opium Convention’ (1925).
    • Difficulty in regulation: The fallouts of pharmaceutical product divergence into cattle market and drugs without prescription can continue in Marijuana too and put India’s younger generation at risk
    • Not have completely proven medical records. For Ex., there is no evidence that cannabis is beneficial when used in diseases such as Crohn’s disease, sleep disorder, glaucoma, etc.

    Way forward:

    Instead of banning, India at present needs a progressive public health policy which control their use and reduce the harms by focusing on health education, age restrictions for buying, taxation policies, limiting the dose of the active ingredients and access to counselling for those who wish to stop is the need of the hour.

  • Operation Thunder 2020

    News: India Customs intercepted an 18-tonne shipment of red sandalwood destined for the United Arab Emirates, during “Operation Thunder 2020”.


    • Operation Thunder: It is coordinated by the INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization(WCO) involving law enforcement agencies in 103 countries against environmental crime.

    Additional Facts:

    • World Customs Organization (WCO): It is an independent intergovernmental body established in 1952 to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations. Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium.
    • International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL): It is an intergovernmental organization established in 1923 with the aim to facilitate worldwide police cooperation and crime control in around 194 countries.Headquarters: Lyon, France.

    COVAX program

Security Forces

  • Why Indian Military doctrine Should include both Sun Tzu & Kautilya?


    Synopsis – In a recent address PM has called for indigenization of the national security system including that of doctrines, procedures, and customs. This shift towards indigenization shouldn’t lead to the complete ignorance of foreign strategic thoughts.

    • A recent, PM address at the Commanders’ Conference stressed the importance of indigenization of the national security system, not just in sourcing equipment and weapons but also in the military doctrines, procedures, and customs practiced in the armed forces i.e. the Indian armed forces doctrine.
    • But, this doesn’t mean that India should reject the ideas of any foreign military strategist. A balanced approach is the need of the hour.
    Evolution of Indian armed forces
    • Indian armed forces have evolved from the British military. Hence, they have absorbed certain legacies and war-fighting strategies from it.
    • Moreover, in modern times Indian armed forces have learned equally from their large-scale interactions with armies of other countries.
    • Training academies too have reformed with time. Professional military education (PME) is also upgraded after few years.

    What is PME?

    PME is the bedrock of military doctrine.

    • It is the fundamental set of principles that guides military forces. Being a flexible concept, the doctrine evolves over time. Post-implementation, the strategies in the doctrine are refined and streamlined.
    • It equips officers with the intellectual tools to analyze strategic problems.
    • Its aim is to shape leaders at most levels of leadership to be able to ‘think strategically’.
    Professional military Education in India

    Issue with PME

    • The major issue is that the up-gradation of PME is not happening consistently or with required diligence especially related to cyberspace.
    Challenges and concerns
    • Indigenization is good, but there is a concern that while encouraging indigenous strategic thought, inputs from “foreign” writings could be ignored.
    • Producing a new indigenous doctrine at this stage would be challenging. Many developments have taken place very recently, such as: –
    Also Read: Ultimate Military Strength Index
    Global best practices

    Military strategy doctrines of major developed countries in the world include lessons from diverse foreign resources, irrespective of their nationality.

    • UK Joint doctrine: The 2014 UK Joint Doctrine 0-01 starts with a Sun Tzu quote:
      • Thus, it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory is won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and then looks for victory”. This is timeless and not country-specific.
    • US Doctrine: Similarly, the US Army ADP1-01 Doctrine Primer commences with a quote of J F C Fuller, the British military historian,
      • The central idea of an army is known as its doctrine, which to be sound must be based on the principles of war, and which to be effective must be elastic enough to admit of mutation in accordance with change in circumstances. In its ultimate relationship to the human understanding this central idea or doctrine is nothing else than common sense—that is, action adapted to circumstances.
    Describes Indian Military Doctrine
    Framing the Indian Military Doctrine

    Thus, India should also not emphasise for a military doctrine that is solely based on indigenous ideas.

    Way forward

    Read Also :-Basic structure Doctrine

    When it comes to learning, it should not matter whether the source of that learning is national or foreign. Hence, PM’s address definitely didn’t mean a complete rejection of foreign strategic thought. It simply meant to also include the teachings of our own strategic thinkers in India’s military doctrine. It is true that indigenous teachings have not received proper attention in Indian military thoughts, but it would be equally illogical to exclude the teachings of foreign strategists.

    • Timeless wisdom, be it from Chinese strategist Sun Tzu or the German thinker Clausewitz, are equally valuable as Kautilya’s Arthshastra or Thiruvalluvar’s Kurals
      • Kural: a classic Tamil language text consisting of 1,330 short couplets of seven words each, or kurals.

    There needs to be a conscious effort to ensure that the Indian military doctrine is not affected by triumphalism (delighting too much regarding over one’s success or achievements especially in a political context) with regard to history.

    Read Also :-Wisdom at Wuhan 

    Article The Indian Express

  • NSA commissions offshore Patrol Vessel “ICGS Sajag”
    What is the News?

    The National Security Advisor(NSA) has commissioned the Offshore Patrol Vessel(OPV) ICGS Sajag. (ICGS- Indian Coast Guard ship)

    About ICGS Sajag:
    • Firstly, Goa Shipyard Limited has indigenously designed and built the Indian Coast Guard Ship Vessel “Sajag”.
    • Secondly, Purpose: The ship is fitted with advanced technology equipment, weapons and sensors. It is also capable of carrying a twin-engine helicopter and four high-speed boats.
    • Thirdly, Significance: The ICGS Sajag is the third in a series of five offshore patrol vessels under Samarth Class.
    About Offshore Patrol Vehicles(OPVs):
    • Offshore Patrol Vehicles(OPVs) are long-range surface ships. They are capable of operation in maritime zones of India including island territories with helicopter operation capabilities.
    About Indian Coast Guard(ICG):
    • Firstly, the Indian Coast Guard was formally established through an Act of Parliament in 1978. It operates under the Ministry of Defence.
    • Secondly, Purpose: It is the maritime law enforcement and search and rescue agency of India. They have jurisdiction over territorial waters including its contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone.
    • Thirdly, Origin: The concept of forming the Coast Guard was conceived after the 1971 war. It was when it was assessed that maritime borders are equally vital as land borders.
    • Fourthly, Committee: The blueprint for the formation of the Indian Coast Guard was conceived by the Rustamji Committee.
    • Fifthly, Significance: Indian Coast Guard has emerged as the fourth largest in the world with almost 160 ships and 62 aircraft.

    Source: The Hindu

  • VIP Security Cover to West Bengal MLAs – Associated Issues

    The Ministry of Home Affairs recently extended security cover to all 77 BJP MLAs in the West Bengal assembly. It appears to be a politically motivated and unprecedented move. It should be reconsidered as it is suffering from multiple issues. 

    • The BJP MLAs were facing a threat of persecution post the West Bengal assembly verdict. The party lost the elections and became the opposition party by winning only 77 seats in 294 member assembly.
    • The MHA has ordered a security cover of X- category security to 61 MLAs while the remaining 16 will get or are already enjoying a higher cover.  
    About Security Cover:
    • There are six kinds of central security covers: X, Y, Y plus, Z, Z plus, and SPG. 
    • The Special Protection Group protects only the Prime Minister while the other type of securities can be provided to anyone based on the Centre’s assessment.
    • The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) are the two forces tasked with providing security to VIPs.
    How is a security cover provided?
    • An MHA committee decides regarding the security cover. 
    • It comprises officials from the Home Ministry, the Intelligence Bureau, Delhi Police, and senior officials of the Central Armed Police Forces.
    • The Intelligence Bureau prepares the list of persons under threat and the degree of threat. Whereas the committee decides on the force to be deployed depending upon the place where the person is located.
    • The threat perception of every person is discussed one by one and not collectively for any group.
    Issues in the recent decision:
    1. Firstly, it appears to be a politically motivated decision as threat perception for each person was not discussed.
    2. Secondly, the degree of threat was not large enough to provide such a big security cover. For instance, such blanket covers were given in the past in the case of the Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir elections. These regions were witnessing militant unrest at that time.
    3. Thirdly, such actions deteriorate Centre-State relations as law and order is a state subject. Further, the order also questions the integrity of West Bengal police officers of being aligned to a particular political party.
    4. Fourthly, the forces are already over deployed in the protection of VIPs. In 2019, 66,043 police and CAPF personnel were deployed to protect 19,467 Ministers, MPs, judges, and bureaucrats. Although the sanctioned strength was 43,556 personnel as per the Data on Police Organisations.
    5. Fifthly, constant deployment impacts the training schedule of CAPF personnel. After the initial eight-week training for VIP protection, the forces have to take a periodic two-week refresher training for improving their skills.

    Thus, there is a need to charge a fee for the security personnel deployed to protect legislators and other prominent persons. This would curb the tendency of unnecessarily demanding security personnel around themselves.

    Source: The Hindu

  • “Emergency Financial Powers” to Armed Forces to tackle pandemic
    What is the News?

    The Union defence ministry has granted emergency financial powers to the country’s armed forces. This is to empower their efforts against the Covid-19 pandemic.

    About Emergency Financial Powers to Armed Forces:
    • The Emergency Financial Powers will allow armed forces to establish and operate quarantine facilities and hospitals.
    • Besides, it will also help them to operate and procure equipment and resources to perform any required urgent tasks.
    • The armed forces will be able to perform all these operations without the usual clearances.
    Who has these powers?
    • Vice Chiefs of the armed forces including the Chief Of Integrated Defence Staff, Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee(CISC) and General Officer Commanding-in-Chiefs(GOC-in-Cs) have these powers. Further, similar equivalents of all three Services have been given full powers.
    • Further, Corps Commanders and Area Commanders have been delegated powers up to ₹50 lakh per case
    • Also, Division Commanders, Sub Area Commanders and equivalents have been delegated powers up to ₹20 lakh per case.
    • These powers have been devolved initially for three months from May 1 to July 31, 2021.
    • These are in addition to the emergency powers delegated to the medical officers of the armed forces.
    Other Organizations contribution during the pandemic:
    • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is arranging big size oxygen cylinders for fulfilling requirements of different hospitals.
    • The Navy has sent a 76-member medical contingent from five Naval hospitals to the 900-bed COVID hospital in Ahmedabad. This is to bolster the availability of trained manpower.
    • The Cantonment Boards have extended support to civil administration in various parts of the country to fight over the increase in Covid-19 cases.

    Source: The Hindu

Cyber security

  • Need of Strengthening Cyber Resilience of Civilian infrastructure

    Synopsis: Cyber-attacks are increasing on civilian targets and infrastructure around the globe. Thus, there is a critical need to strengthen the Cyber resilience of civilian infrastructure.

    • Cyber, which is regarded as the fifth dimension of warfare, is now largely being employed against civilian targets.
    • For instance, several high-profile cyberattacks were reported from the United States during the past several months.
    • These attacks were all primarily on civilian targets that were of critical importance.
    • Hence, there is a need to defending civilian targets, and more so critical infrastructure, against cyberattacks such as ransomware, phishing, spear phishing, Zero-day software, etc.,

     Recent cyberattacks on Civilian infrastructure reported from the United States

    1. SolarWinds: It was believed to be sponsored by Russia. It involved data breaches across several wings of the U.S. government, including defence, energy, and state.
    2. Hafnium: Aggressive cyberattack, by a Chinese group. It exploited serious flaws in Microsoft’s software.
    3. DarkSide: Ransomware attack by Russia/East Europe-based cybercriminals. Attacked the Colonial Pipeline, the main supplier of oil to the U.S. East Coast, compelling the company to temporarily shut down operations.
    4. Nobellium: Russia-backed group. A phishing attack on 3,000 e-mail accounts, targeting USAID and several other organisations.

    Possible motives behind Cyberattacks

    Data has become the world’s most precious commodity and reportedly, we create more than three quintillion bytes of data every day.  With the growth in the digital world, attacks on data and data systems are bound to intensify for various following reasons,

    • One, for nation-states involved in Cyber-attacks, their primary aim is to transform the existing Geopolitical situation in their favor.
    • Two, for cybercriminals and for terror groups, the motive is to earn increased profits.
    • Three, some companies encounter ‘insider threats’  due to discontent with the management or for personal reasons.
    Why the cyber resilience of Civilian infrastructure needs to be strengthened?

    Nations around the globe are concentrating on cyber defences to protect military and strategic targets, whereas the priority to protect civilian infrastructure is being overlooked. This needs to be changed for the following reasons.

    • One, the use of ‘Zero-day software’ that earlier existed only for the military domain now exists outside the military domain too.
      • A zero-day attack (also referred to as Day Zero) is an attack that exploits a potentially serious software security weakness that the vendor or developer may be unaware of.
      • It has the capability to cripple a system and could lie undetected for a long time. The most infamous Zero-day software is Stuxnet. It almost crippled Iran’s uranium enrichment Programme.
    • Two, the distinction between military and civilian targets is increasingly getting erased. For instance, the 2012 cyberattack on Aramco, employing the Shamoon virus, had wiped out the memories of 30,000 computers of the Saudi Aramco Oil Corporation.
    • Three, cyberattacks on unconventional sectors have increased. For instance, Banking and financial services were most prone to ransomware attacks, but oil, electricity grids, and lately, health care, have begun to figure prominently.
    • Four, the number of cyberattacks on healthcare systems is increasing. Compromised ‘health information’ is proving to be a vital commodity for use by cybercriminals. The available data aggravates the risk not only to the individual but also to entire communities.
    What needs to be done?

    Already, Cyber professionals are now engaged in building a ‘Zero Trust-Based Environment’ by employing software-defined solutions.  However, much needed to be done

    Read Also :-Cyber Attacks on critical Infrastructure

    • One needs to build deep technology in cyberspace. New technologies such as artificial intelligence, Machine learning, and quantum computing, presents new opportunities in this regard.
    • Two, officials in the public domain and company boards should carry out regular vulnerability assessments and create necessary awareness of the growing cyber threat.

    Source:  The Hindu

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  • Need of Global Rules to protect the Cyberspace

    The 21st century is going to be an era of data revolution wherein almost all the activities would be carried on in cyberspace. This calls for creating some global rules to protect cyberspace as their absence has failed to prevent cyberattacks even on powerful countries like the U.S.

    • The US created cyberspace as a free, open, decentralized, distributed, and self-governing platform.
    • In the current scenario, the domain has gained utmost importance as our critical systems like power, financial or military etc. are connected to it through data.
      • Further, the introduction of 5G technology and the Internet of Things would turn everything into a networked object. It would lead to an exponential expansion of data. 
    • This high usage of data would ease the governance process but would also make the system more prone to cyber-attacks.
    Reasons behind Cyberattacks:
    • Economic Benefits: A cyberattack gives a hacker access to critical economic data that can be sold for millions in the grey market.
      • For instance, a Chinese attack on the weapon design system of the US allows it to develop a competitive advanced defence system. It enables the country to save millions of dollars and years of research and development.
    • Ideological Conflict: The free and decentralised structure of cyberspace goes against the ideology of authoritarian countries like Russia and China. This induces them to launch attacks on democratic countries like U.S and India. They have also built firewalls to protect their societies from freedom.
    • Geopolitical Interest: One country attacks another country’s data to serve its geopolitical interest in the region. The attack is aimed to cripple the governance structure in another country and induce it to act in a favourable way.
      • For instance, IP theft costs the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars annually and reduces US companies’ R&D investment and innovation. The reduced investment and rising losses diminish its geopolitical position.
    Factors fueling Cyberattacks:
    • No Global Order: Countries have domestic laws and agencies to punish cyber offenders. However, it is difficult to punish if the attacker is located in another country as there are no global rules on cyberspace.
    • Low Entrance Threshold: It enables a curious person to learn and become a hacker. This allows him/her to get into infrastructure, financial or military systems without leaving a trace.
    • Synergy between State and Non-State Actors: Rogue states and well-organised digital terrorist groups use footloose hackers to invade diplomatic and strategic plans.
      • For instance, the October 2020 cyberattack shut down the electrical grid of Mumbai. The New York Times claimed this to be an attack carried out by China with the support of non-state actors.
    • Traceability: The advancement in technology has made the traceability of hackers very difficult.
      • For instance, the hacking group demanded ransom in bitcoins in the May 7 ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, one of America’s largest fuel suppliers. However, the countries can’t trace transactions in cryptocurrency.
    Way Forward:
    • The countries should realise the inefficiencies of domestic laws and institutions in combating cyber attacks.
      • For instance, the US has a National Security Agency that conducts surveillance under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
      • Similarly, it has a dedicated Cyber Command but still, it was unable to prevent the May 7 ransomware attack on the colonial pipeline.

    Thus, the countries must work together to develop global law and technology to implement more aggressive measures against cyberattacks. The focus should be on developing foolproof encryption to protect the nation’s data.


    Source: Click Here 

  • “Cybercrime Volunteer Programme” – No Centralised list of Volunteers Maintained

    What is the News?

    Union Home Ministry has said that it does not maintain a centralised list of volunteers enrolled under the cybercrime volunteer programme. The ministry also said that it is because the police is a “State subject” under the 7th Schedule of the Constitution.

    What is the issue?

    • A Right to Information Act(RTI) application was filed to know the total number of volunteers applied under the Cybercrime Volunteer Programme.
    • But the Union Home Ministry replied to claim for such information directly to the respective States and Union Territories. As it does not maintain a centralised list of volunteers enrolled under the cybercrime volunteer programme.
    • Further, the Ministry said that “police” and “public order” were State subjects in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. Hence, the States were primarily responsible for the prevention, detection and investigation of crimes through their law enforcement agencies(LEAs).
     About Cybercrime Volunteer Programme:
    • Firstly, the Ministry of Home Affairs launched the Cybercrime Volunteer programme.
    • Secondly, the programme aims to bring together citizens to contribute to the fight against cybercrime in the country. The scheme also aims to assist State/UT in their endeavour to curb cybercrimes.
    • Thirdly, under the programme, citizens can register themselves as Cyber Crime volunteers. They will help the law enforcement agencies in identifying, reporting and removing illegal/unlawful online content.
    • Fourthly, the program is a constituent of the National Cybercrime Ecosystem Management Unit. This unit is in turn a part of the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre(I4C) scheme.

    Click Here to Read more about Cyber Volunteers Programme

    Concerns against the Programme:
    • Culture of Surveillance: Internet Freedom Foundation(IFF), a digital rights group has said that the programme enables a culture of surveillance. The IFF also mentions that the programme could create a potential social distrust by encouraging civilians to report the online activities of other citizens.
    • Chances of Misuse: There is no information available on how the Ministry will ensure that the program is not misused to extract misguided personal or political vendettas.

    Source: The Hindu

  • “Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace” – Microsoft Urges India to Join in
    What is the News?

    The Microsoft president urged India and the U.S. to join the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace. The Paris call for Trust and Security now has 75 countries on board. It deals with the new cybersecurity threats faced in the world.

    About Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace:
    • The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace was announced in 2018 by the French President. It was announced during the Internet Governance Forum held at UNESCO and the Paris Peace Forum.
    • Purpose: It is a non-binding declaration. It calls states, private sector and civil society organizations to work together to promote security in cyberspace, counter disinformation. Also, it aims to address new cyber threats endangering citizens and infrastructure.

    Nine Principles: The Paris Call is based on nine common principles. Such as:

    1. Firstly, Protect Individuals and Infrastructure: Prevent and recover from malicious cyber and digital activities. As it threatens or causes significant, indiscriminate or systemic harm to individuals and critical infrastructure.
    2. Secondly, Protect the Internet: Prevent activity that intentionally and substantially damages the general availability or integrity of the public core of the Internet.
    3. Thirdly, Defend Electoral Processes: Strengthen capacity to prevent interferences by foreign actors. Especially those aimed at undermining electoral processes through malicious cyber activities and disinformation.
    4. Fourthly, Defend Intellectual Property: Prevent information and communications technology-enabled theft of intellectual property. Such as trade secrets or other confidential business information. It provides a competitive advantage to info. Holder.
    5. Fifthly, Non-Proliferation: Develop ways to prevent the proliferation of malicious software and practices intended to cause harm.
    6. Sixthly, Lifecycle Security: Strengthen the security of digital processes, products, and services, throughout the lifecycle and supply chain.
    7. Seventhly, Cyber Hygiene: Support efforts to strengthen advanced cyber hygiene for all actors.
    8. Eighthly, No Private Hack Back: Take steps to prevent non-State actors, including the private sector, from hacking back for their own purposes.
      • Hacking back: It means giving corporations and other hack victims, the permission to counter-attack cyber-threats. The Hacking back can be more aggressive against perpetrators as it is a retaliatory attack.
    9. Ninthly, International Norms: Promote the widespread acceptance and implementation of international norms of responsible behavior. It also aims to generate confidence-building measures in cyberspace.

    Source: The Hindu


  • Balancing Civil rights and Anti-terror laws

    Synopsis: The objective of UAPA is to check terrorism, and its misuse is against the ethos of democracy.

    • Recently, Delhi High Court granted bail to activists who were undertrial for their alleged involvement in the 2020 Delhi riots.
    • The judgment is a judicial opposition to the authoritarian regime of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (“UAPA”).
    • Also, the UAPA is one of the most abused laws in India today.
    How UAPA is being misused?
    1. Firstly, it restricts the right to bail of the accused. Section 43(D)(5) of this Act prevents the release of any accused person on bail if:
      • The court is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accusation against such a person is prima facie true (what appears to be true at first).
    2. Secondly, the adversarial system of criminal justice causes further delays in overburdened courts.
      • It is based on the testing of evidence through cross-examination.
      • The court considers which side’s evidence is more persuasive.
      • In higher profile cases such as the Delhi riots case, where the record is bulky, trials can take many years. It leaves the accused in prison for years.
    3. Thirdly, section 43(D)(5) is against natural justice and rule of law.
      • In ordinary cases, both sides produce evidence and the court cross-examine them. But when Section 43(D)(5) is applied, the court looks at the prosecution’s evidence, which requires that bail be denied.
      • It forces the court to make decisions on guilt or innocence based on one side’s unchallenged story.
      • It deprives individuals of their freedom for years.

    That is why in the case of Section 43(D)(5) when police prepare the charge sheet, it is highly difficult to get bail until there are no internal contradictions.

    Why the judgment holds significance?
    1. Firstly, pendency in courts and increasing burden leaves under-trials in prison.
      • That is why bail is the only safeguard and guarantee of the constitutional right to liberty.
    2. Secondly, the Bench of Justices observed that Section 43(D)(5) is against the basic principles of criminal justice.
    3. Thirdly, the court suggested that criminal offenses must be specific in their terms, to protect the innocent.
      • To attract the provisions of the UAPA, the charge sheet must reveal factual, individualised, and particular allegations against the individual.
      • It should specifically link the accused to terrorist activities.
    4. Fourthly, UAPA applications should be limited to terrorism-related cases only.
      • Court also said “Terrorism” is a term of art, and not a word that can be thrown around loosely.
    5. Lastly, the court also highlighted the significance of the right to protest and to dissent

    Indian courts have to play an important role in finding a balance between citizens’ civil rights and anti-terrorism legislation. It is the responsibility of the judiciary to keep a check on the executive’s tyranny.

    Source: The Hindu

  • Protecting the right to dissent from UAPA

    Synopsis: The Delhi High Court granted bail to young student and activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita, Asif Tanha. The present judgement of Delhi HC will go a long way in strengthening the most important pillar of our democracy – right to protest and dissent.

    • The three young students and activists were imprisoned for over a year in connection with the riots in North-east Delhi, and the anti-CAA-NRC protests.
    • They were arrested under some serious charges including those under UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act).
    • Delhi HC granted them bail and explicitly stated that the foundations of our nation is unlikely to be shaken by a protest, howsoever well-organized by a tribe of college students.
    • Those arrested under UAPA generally languish in jail for years without trial. If this judgment is upheld in the Supreme Court (Delhi Police has gone to the Supreme Court on appeal against the verdict) then it’ll help other dissenters arrested under UAPA without sufficient evidence.
    Also read: UAPA explained from UPSC perspective – All you need to know!
    What are the problems faced by courts in granting bail under UAPA?

    Under UAPA, the accused does not have the option of anticipatory bail. It presumes the accused guilty solely on the basis of the evidence collected. Courts usually face these two problems:

    • Legal bar on granting bail: Firstly, Under Section 43D(5) of UAPA, there is a legal bar on granting bail if the court is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accusation against those held is prima facie true.
    • No detailed examination of evidence at bail-stage: Secondly, the burden to demonstrate to the court that the accusation is untrue lies with the accused only. This has been made more problematic due to a 2019 Supreme Court judgment. This judgment bars a detailed analysis of the evidence at the bail stage and rules that bail can be denied on “the broad probabilities” of the case.
    Also read: Status of UAPA in 2019
    How Delhi HC got around these two problems?

    The High Court ruled that

    • Available evidence can be examined: The bail court can look at the available evidence to satisfy itself about the prima facie truth of the case. In other words, there is no statutory invincibility to the prosecution case merely because the UAPA has been invoked
    Other important remarks by the court

    Delhi HC remarked that,

    • Riots are matters concerning public order and not the security of the state. The court observed that the state, in its anxiety to suppress dissent, has blurred the line between the constitutionally guaranteed right to protest and “terrorist activity”.

    Delhi HC judgment makes a clear distinction between those accused of offenses against the country’s integrity and security on the one hand, and protesters or dissenters arrested unjustifiably under the criteria of terrorism. This distinction shall help secure citizens two of the most sacred rights in a democracy: the right to protest and the right to dissent.

    Source: Click here

  • “Safe Harbour Protection” for Twitter Withdrawn

    What is the News?

    According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY), Twitter has failed to comply with the Information Technology (IT) Rules, 2021. This means the “Safe Harbour” Protection under Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act is withdrawn for Twitter.

    What is “Safe Harbour” Protection under Section 79  of IT Act?
    • Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act provides for the Safe Harbour protection to social media giants.
    • It says that any intermediary shall not be held legally or otherwise liable for any third-party information, data, or communication link made available on its platform.
    • However, the intermediary should not involve any way in initiating the transmission of the message in question, select the receiver of the transmitted message, and do not modify any information of the transmission.
    • This means that as long as a platform acts just as the messenger carrying a message from point A to point B, it will be safe from any legal prosecution due to the transmission of a message. However, it should be without any interference with its content in any manner,
    How the removal of Safe Harbour Protection impacts Twitter?
    • It opens up the platform to the possibility of any type of legal action which was not possible before, as a publisher of content.
    • This means that Twitter will be accountable if someone’s content on Twitter leads to some form of violence or violates any Indian law.
    • Then not only the person that has put out the tweet but also Twitter will be legally liable for the content as it no longer has the protection.

    Source: Indian Express

  • UAPA or Unlawful Activities Prevention Act – Explained, Pointwise

    The Delhi High Court recently granted bail to 3 students, accused of conducting riots and anti CAA protests in North East Delhi. This case highlights another instance of misuse of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA),1967.

    The UAPA was formulated to strengthen the security framework of the country and preserve the unity and integrity of the nation. Nonetheless, it has currently become a tool to curb free speech and political dissent in our country. The cases filed under the law have been rising for a few years, while the conviction rate is going down. It was merely 2.2% between 2016-19.

    Therefore, it is imperative to do a comprehensive review of the concerning provisions that make it prone to misuse by the authorities.

    What was the case?
    • The Delhi High Court granted bail to Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita, and Asif Tanha. They were imprisoned for over a year in connection with the riots in northeast Delhi and the anti-CAA-NRC protests under the UAPA act.
    • The Delhi HC orders applied the Watali precedent. It placed the burden of making out a prima facie case on the police instead of the court itself.
    • The court pointed towards the blurred line between the constitutionally guaranteed right to protest and terrorist activity done by an individual. 
      • This blurring has allowed the government to suppress dissent and undermine the right to protest under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.
      • In Anita Thakur, 2016, the SC recognised the right to protest as a fundamental right, flowing from Article 19 (1) (b) of the Constitution.
    • The bail was granted by resorting to the Sanjay Dutt case. Under this, the SC said that people who are not covered by the express language of the law, shouldn’t be included by stretching the law.
    About Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,1967
    • It is primarily an anti-terror law aimed at effective prevention of certain unlawful activities of individuals and associations.
    • Its main objective is to empower the state for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
    • The Act assigns absolute power to the central government. It can declare an activity as unlawful, by way of an Official Gazette.
    • The act has the death penalty and life imprisonment as the highest punishments.
    • Under the act, both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged. It will be applicable to the offenders in the same manner, even if the crime is committed on foreign land, outside India.
    • The investigating agency can file a charge sheet within a maximum of 180 days after the arrests. This duration can be extended further after information to the court.
    • 2004 amendment:
      • It added “terrorist act” to the list of offences, to ban organisations for terrorist activities.
      • Till 2004, “unlawful” activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory. Following the 2004 amendment, the “terrorist act” was added to the list of offences.
    • 2019 amendment:
      • The amendment empowers the Central Government to designate individuals as terrorists on certain grounds.
      • It empowers the Director-General, National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is under investigation by the agency.
      • It also empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases of terrorism. Earlier, the power to investigate was with the officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police only.
    The rationale behind the law
    • Maintaining Sovereignty and Integrity: It was initially promulgated to enable the government to curb secessionist activities.
      • For instance, states of Nagaland and Tamil Nadu were demanding a separate nation for them during the 1960s.
      • Similarly, during the 1962 war with China, there were few political parties that were supporting China and raising demands for forming a separate nation.
    • Supporting investigation agencies: The law provides greater powers of search, seizure, and detention that are beneficial for aiding the investigation and preventing the occurrence of a bigger crime. 
    • Constitutional support: In 1963, Article 19(2) of the Constitution was amended for the last and final time. The words ‘the sovereignty and integrity of India’ were inserted in it as one more exception to the right to free speech. This enabled the parliament to enact the UAPA based on this exception.
    • International Scenario: Countries across the world have formulated stringent laws for effectively protecting the security framework in their jurisdiction. 
      • For instance, the United States, Israel, China, Pakistan, and European Union have dedicated laws to declare ‘individuals’ as terrorists.

    However, the act is criticized for its Draconian provisions, which makes it susceptible to misuse.

    Draconian provisions of the UAPA
    • The definition of terrorism in Section 15 of UAPA is indefinite and comprehensive, as it covers almost every kind of violent act, be it political or non-political.
    • Under section-43A and section-43B of UAPA, the police are empowered to search, seize and arrest any person involved in unlawful activities without a warrant. 
    • Under section-43D police are empowered to detain the accused in police custody for 30 days and in judicial custody for a period of 180 days without the charge sheet. 
    • The police can get the police custody of the accused from the judicial custody with the permission of the court.
    • Under UAPA, the accused does not have the option of anticipatory bail. It presumes the accused guilty solely on the basis of the evidence collected. 
    • Under section-44, secret witnesses are allowed during the case proceedings.
    Issues associated with UAPA
    • Misuse for Curbing Political Dissent: The wide provisions of the act have been used by the government to curb political dissent rather than to prevent sovereignty and integrity.
      • For instance, many people were booked under UAPA for conducting the North East Delhi riots. However, this was a localized offence and didn’t pose a threat to the unity and integrity of India as a whole. 
      • Further, many innocent protestors were also booked thereby undermining their free speech under Article 19 of the constitution.
    • Against Principle of Natural Justice: The principle calls for assuming every person innocent unless proven guilty and hence a pre-trial imprisonment is a violation of this principle. 
      • However, UAPA allows the Court to deny bail for a terrorist act if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accusation is prima facie true.
    • Violation of Human Rights: The wide powers given to police for search and arrest is a clear violation of an individual’s right to privacy. It is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian constitution as deduced by court in K.S puttaswamy versus Union of India.
    • Undermines Federalism: Some experts feel that it is against the federal structure since it neglects the authority of state police in terrorism cases. However, ‘Police’ is a state subject under the 7th schedule of Indian Constitution.
    • Frivolous Filing: The wide and ambiguous provisions of the act enables the state to impose frivolous charges on innocent individuals. This is testified by a mere 2.2% conviction rate between 2019-2019.
      • The total number of persons arrested and convicted under UAPA was 5,922 and 132 respectively.
    • Data Deficit: The NCRB does not maintain UAPA data on the basis of religion, race, caste or gender. This creates a barrier in identifying the vulnerable groups who face greater abuse under the act.
    Suggestions for UAPA
    • The Parliament should rectify the anomalies with a suitable amendment and vague provisions for improving the interpretation. 
      • Currently, the act punishes an individual who is a member of a banned organisation under the first schedule of UAPA. However, it fails to define what constitutes membership.
    • The court should also strike down the inappropriate provisions of UAPA especially the ones which undermine fundamental rights. 
      • The SC had done this in the past as well.  For instance, in Shreya Singhal Case, Section 66A of the IT Act was held as unconstitutional due to its vagueness that undermined the right to free speech.
    • The government needs to educate the Law enforcement authorities to prevent the problem of misuse. The enforcement authorities should be trained regarding the application and non-application cases of UAPA. Further, they should be made sensitive towards Right of Dissent in a democratic setup.
    • The record of cases filed under UAPA must be subcategorised on the basis of religion, race, caste, or gender. This will help in the identification of the groups/communities who are most prone to abuse under the act.

    UAPA gives unfettered powers to the government and leaves a person vulnerable in front of the government. This Act compromises with constitutional values such as freedom of speech, personal liberty and the right to a fair trial. However given the evolving nature of crime and terrorist activities, it is not possible to completely abandon the law. Hence focus must be placed on balancing the security interests with fundamental freedoms granted by the constitution.