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21 October, 2019

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-II Two Panels set to amend the IPC
Rohingyas to be moved to Bhansan Char International Relations
The DNA technology (Use and Applications) bill,2019
GS-III Death of 2 Asiatic water buffaloes in Pobitora Wildlife sanctuary
GS-II :
Two Panels set to amend the IPC

 

Context:

Two committees comprising legal luminaries have been constituted by the Home Ministry to amend various sections of the IPC.

 

What is the Indian Penal Code?

 

  • The Indian Penal Code(IPC) is the official criminal code of India.
  • It is a comprehensive code intended to cover all substantive aspects of criminal law.
  • The code was drafted in 1860 on the recommendations of the first law commission of India under the chairmanship of Thomas Macaulay established in 1834 under the Charter Act of 1833.
  • It came into force in British India during the early British Raj period in 1862. However, it did not apply automatically in the Princely states, which had their own courts and legal systems until the 1940s.
  • After the partition of the British Indian Empire, the Indian Penal Code was inherited by its successor states, the Dominion of India.

                                                                                                          

Need for the amendment:

 

  • It is believed that amending the code introduced by the British in 1860 is necessary as it is primarily based on the spirit of “master and servant”.
  • Thomas Macaulay, in the five years he had on the Governor General’s Council, changed the face of India forever. He gave the IPC (Indian Penal Code).
  • The Independence movement knew the IPC well. The nationalist leaders suffered day in and day out from it. It was repressive. But when they came to power, they did nothing to remove the IPC or even amend its worst features.
  • The British have reformed their laws and their penal system. But India continues to follow this rusty 19th-century law.
  • The Criminal justice system based on century-old outdated laws has led to harassment of people by the government agencies and also put pressure on the judiciary.
  • There is uneven punishment for crimes of grievous nature. In some cases, the punishment is not commensurate with the gravity of the crime.
  • The Penal legal system that was established by the British Rule in India has still not undergone any substantial changes even after 70 years of independence while the entire Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) was amended in 1973. The biggest example could be Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that defines sedition and provides for its punishment.

 

Important Recommendations of Malimath Committee:

 

  • The 158 recommendations of the committee, arrived at after examining several national systems of criminal law, especially the continental European systems, essentially propose a shift from an adversarial criminal justice system, where the respective versions of the facts are presented by the prosecution and the defence before a neutral judge, to an inquisitorial system, where the objective is the “quest for truth” and the judicial officer controls the investigation of offences.
  • Its report has suggested the dilution of many of the pre-trial safeguards against violence in police custody that an accused has.
    • For instance, it seeks to double the 90-day period available for filing a charge-sheet after which an accused can be released on bail.
    • It also recommends that the permissible 15-day police remand of an accused be doubled for grave offences.
  • Malimath Committee seems to have concentrated on the rights of the victim. It mentions the need to formulate a witness protection programme, reclassify offences, and involve the victim in all stages of the trial.
  • On the question of making investigations more effective, it suggests the setting up of a State Security Commission, as recommended by the NPC, to insulate the police from political pressure.
  • It has expanded the definition of rape to include all forms of forcible penetration, are eclipsed by the indifference to most of the concerns of the women’s movements. The committee does not favor the death penalty for rapists. In fact, the report states that wherever the death penalty is a possible punishment it should be replaced with life imprisonment without commutation or remission.

 

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GS-II : International Relations
Rohingyas to be moved to Bhansan Char

Context:

Bangladesh is racing to turn an uninhabited and muddy Bay of Bengal island into home for 100,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled a military crackdown in Myanmar, amid conflicting signals from top Bangladeshi officials about whether the refugees would end up being stranded there.

 

News:

  • Bhansan Char island would be a “temporary arrangement” to ease congestion at the camps in Cox’s Bazar, refuge for nearly 700,000 who have crossed from the north of Myanmar’s Rakhine state .
  • Rohingyas would only be able to leave the island if they wanted to go back to Myanmar or were selected for asylum by a third country.
  • It’s not a concentration camp, but there may be some restrictions. We are not giving them a Bangladeshi passport or ID card.
  • British and Chinese engineers are helping prepare the island to receive refugees before the onset of monsoon rains, which could bring disastrous flooding to ramshackle camps further south that now teem with about 1 million Rohingya.
  • Selection of Rohingyas to be rehabilitated here would be on lottery-basis or on a volunteer-basis.
  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement: “We would emphasise that any relocation plan involving refugees would need to be based on and implemented through voluntary and informed decisions.”

 

Issues:

  • The silt island is vulnerable to frequent cyclones and cannot sustain livelihoods for thousands of people.
  • Pirates roam the nearby waters to kidnap fishermen for ransom, residents of nearby islands say.
  • Residents of nearby Sandwip island, which is larger and less remote, say monsoon storms regularly kill people, destroy homes and cut contact with the mainland.
  • Many Rohingya also reject the idea of moving to an island even further from Myanmar, which many of them have called home for generations.

 

 

About Bhansan Char:

 

  • Bhasan Char - whose name means “floating island” - there were no roads, buildings or people.
  • Floating Island, which emerged from the silt only about 20 years ago, is about 30 km (21 miles) from the mainland.
  • Flat and shape-shifting, it regularly floods during June-September.
  • The latest unrest in Myanmar’s Rakhine state began on Aug. 25, when Rohingya insurgents attacked dozens of police posts and an army base, prompting an army counter-offensive that forced entire villages to flee. They joined about 300,000 Rohingya already in Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest and most crowded nations, who had fled previous bouts of violence.
  • Myanmar denies that ethnic cleansing has taken place and says it has been conducting legitimate operations against terrorists in northern Rakhine.

 

Chinese and British companies are working to build this Island:

  • Chinese construction company Sinohydro - better known for building China’s Three Gorges Dam - has begun work on a 13-km (8-mile) flood-defence embankment for the $280-million project.
  • HR Wallingford, a British engineering and environmental hydraulics consultancy, is advising the project on “coastal stabilization and flood protection measures
  • The coastal infrastructure design is expected to include a flood defense embankment protecting the development area to international standards, set back from the shoreline.
  • This is a silt island that only emerged into view recently.
  • The government was building cyclone shelters on the island.
  • There were salt-tolerant paddies and people living there could fish or graze cows and buffalo.

 

 

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GS-II :
The DNA technology (Use and Applications) bill,2019

Context:

The Ministry of Science and Technology has introduces The DNA technology (Use and Applications) bill,2019.

This Bill is identical to The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018. 

 

Provisions of the bill:

 

 The Bill provides for the regulation of use of DNA technology for establishing the identity of certain persons.  Note that the same Bill had been previously introduced in Lok Sabha in August 2018, but lapsed.    
 

  • Use of DNA Data: Under the Bill, DNA testing is allowed only in respect of matters listed in the Schedule to the Bill.  These include offences under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and for civil matters such as paternity suits.  Further, the Schedule includes DNA testing for matters related to establishment of individual identity.    
     
  • Collection of DNA: While preparing a DNA profile, bodily substances of persons may be collected by the investigating authorities.  Authorities are required to obtain consent for collection in certain situations.  For arrested persons, authorities are required to obtain written consent if the offence carries a punishment of up to seven years.  If the offence carries more than seven years of imprisonment or death, consent is not required.  Further, if the person is a victim, or relative of a missing person, or a minor or disabled person, the authorities are required to obtain the written consent of such victim, or relative, or parent or guardian of the minor or disabled person.  If consent is not given in these cases, the authorities can approach a Magistrate who may order the taking of bodily substances of such persons.   
     
  • DNA Data Bank: The Bill provides for the establishment of a National DNA Data Bank and Regional DNA Data Banks, for every state, or two or more states.  DNA laboratories are required to share DNA data prepared by them with the National and Regional DNA Data Banks.  Every Data Bank will be required to maintain indices for the following categories of data: (i) a crime scene index, (ii) a suspects’ or undertrials’ index, (iii) an offenders’ index, (iv) a missing persons’ index, and (v) an unknown deceased persons’ index.
     
  • Removal of DNA profiles: The Bill states that the criteria for entry, retention, or removal of the DNA profile will be specified by regulations.  However, the Bill provides for removal of the DNA profiles of the following persons: (i) of a suspect if a police report is filed or court order given, (ii) of an undertrial if a court order is given, and (iii) on written request, for persons who are not a suspect, offender or undertrial, from the crime scene or missing persons’ index.    
     
  • DNA Regulatory Board: The Bill provides for the establishment of a DNA Regulatory Board, which will supervise the DNA Data Banks and DNA laboratories.  The Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, will be the ex officio Chairperson of the Board.  The Board will comprise additional members including: (i) experts in the field of biological sciences, and (ii) Director General of the National Investigation Agency and the Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation.
     
  • Functions of the Board: The functions of the Board include: (i) advising governments on all issues related to establishing DNA laboratories or Data Banks, and (ii) granting accreditation to DNA laboratories.  Further, the Board is required to ensure that all information relating to DNA profiles with the Data Banks, laboratories, and other persons are kept confidential. 
     
  • DNA laboratories: Any laboratory undertaking DNA testing is required to obtain accreditation from the Board.  The Board may revoke the accreditation for reasons including, failure to: (i) undertake DNA testing, or (ii) comply with the conditions attached to the accreditation.  If the accreditation is revoked, an appeal will lie before the central government or any other authority notified by the central government.  Further, every DNA laboratory is required to follow standards for quality assurance in collection, storing, and analysis of DNA samples.  After depositing the DNA profile for criminal cases, the laboratory is required to return the biological sample to the investigating officer.  In all other cases, the sample must be destroyed.   
     
  • Offences: The Bill specifies penalties for various offences, including: (i) for disclosure of DNA information, or (ii) using DNA sample without authorization.  For instance, disclosure of DNA information will be punishable with imprisonment of up to three years and fine of up to one lakh rupees.

 

Issues associated with this bill:

 

Data can be misused: 

Information from DNA samples can reveal not just how a person looks, or what their eye colour or skin colour is, but also more intrusive information like their allergies, or susceptibility to diseases. As a result, there is a greater risk of information from DNA analysis getting misused.

Safety issues: 

There’s also the question of whether the DNA labs accredited by the Regulatory Board are allowed to store copies of the samples they analyse. And if so, how the owners of those samples can ensure the data is safe or needs to be removed from their own indices.

Storage issues: 

It’s not clear if DNA samples collected to resolve civil disputes will also be stored in the databank (regional or national), although there is no index specific for the same. If they will be stored, then the problem cascades because the Bill also does not provide for information, consent and appeals.

 

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GS-III :
Death of 2 Asiatic water buffaloes in Pobitora Wildlife sanctuary

Context:

Anthrax has caused death of two Asiatic water buffaloes in central Assam’s Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

Pobitora Wildlife sanctuary:

  • Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the state of Assam.
  • It is located about 30 km east of Guwahati.
  • The Sanctuary is mainly famous for its great Indian one-horned rhinoceros. Besides rhinoceros, the other animals are leopard, wild boar, Barking deer, wild buffalo.
  • It has the highest density of Indian one horned Rhino in the world.

 

What is Anthrax ?

 

  • Anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis.
  • Anthrax can be found naturally in soil and commonly affects domestic and wild animals around the world.
  • Contact with anthrax can cause severe illness in both humans and animals.
  • Anthrax is not contagious, which means you can’t catch it like the cold or flu.

 

 

How animals get infected?

Domestic and wild animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, antelope, and deer can become infected when they breathe in or ingest spores in contaminated soil, plants, or water. 

 

How people are infected?

  • Working with infected animals or animal products
  • Eating raw or undercooked meat from infected animals
  • Injecting heroin
  • People get infected with anthrax when spores get into the body. When anthrax spores get inside the body, they can be activated.
  • When they become active, the bacteria can multiply, spread out in the body, produce toxins (poisons), and cause severe illness.
  • This can happen when people breathe in spores, eat food or drink water that is contaminated with spores, or get spores in a cut or scrape in the skin.

 

 

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