Current Affairs Analysis

16th March 2016 Current Affairs Analysis

By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
March 16, 2016


Polity & Governance

  • Constitution Bench to decide on National Court of Appeal


  • Medical devices now get a voluntary certification scheme

Science & Technology

  • ICANN submits Internet transition plan to US government
  • Kakrapar leak a ‘Level-1’ nuclear mishap, says AERB
  • Fracking technique

Polity & Governance

Constitution Bench to decide on National Court of Appeal

The Supreme Court has recently decided to set up a Constitution Bench to debate the establishment of a National Court of Appeal (NCA) with regional benches to act as final courts of justice in criminal and civil cases.

  • The apex court has noted that equal access to justice for all is a fundamental right under the Constitution.
  • Now the apex court would judicially pronounce on whether there is a need to bifurcate the higher judiciary, with the Supreme Court exclusively hearing constitutional and public law cases.
  • Secondly, the apex court seems to introspect on its own role as the single, final court situated in the national capital dealing with an increasing load of cases — from criminal and civil appeal to constitutional questions of law.


  • The Supreme Court, in February 2016, admitted a Chennai lawyer’s petition for setting up a National Court of Appeal with regional benches to act as the final courts of justice in criminal and civil cases.

About National Court of Appeal:

  • A National Court of Appeal, with benches in Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata, is meant to act as final courts of justice in dealing with appeals from decisions of the High Courts and tribunals within their region in civil, criminal, labour and revenue matters.

The government is opposing the move on following three grounds:

  1. The Supreme Court always sits in Delhi as per the Constitution.
  2. The Chief Justices of India in the past have consistently opposed the idea of a National Court of Appeal or regional Benches to the Supreme Court.
  3. A National Court of Appeal would require an amendment in Article 130 of the Constitution of India which is impermissible as this would change the Constitution of the Supreme Court completely.

Legal experts also feel that setting up of regional benches will dilute the constitutional superiority of the Supreme Court.

Petitioner’s arguments:

  • The petitioner submits that establishment of a ‘National Court of Appeal’ as suggested in the case of Bihar Legal Support Society would rectify the inequality in the state of affairs in as much as the said National Court of Appeal would have benches in all possible regions of the country.
  • This would also considerably reduce the cost of litigation and would enable the litigants to have the services of the lawyer who appeared for them before the High Court.
  • The petitioner also argues that the Supreme Court was never intended to be a regular court of appeal against orders made by the high court or the sessions court or the magistrates. It was created as an apex court for the purpose of laying down the law for the entire country.
[Ref: Hindu]


Medical devices now get a voluntary certification scheme

Quality Council of India (QCI) had recently organized an event to introduce Indian Certification of Medical Devices Scheme (ICMED), a voluntary quality certification for domestically-produced medical devices.


  • The scheme launched has two options for certification –
  • ‘ICMED 9000 certification’ for low-risk medical devices and
  • ‘ICMED 13485 certification’ for medium and higher risk devices. 
  • A voluntary certification scheme for medical devices was rolled out in a bid to address lack of quality assurance for products manufactured in the country. 
  • The joint initiative by the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AIMED), the Quality Council of India and the National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB) seeks to ensure availability of quality products to end-users. 
  • During the event, pharma produces were also asked to adopt WHO standards to reassure the world that Indian drugs are not only cost-effective but are also of good quality.

Government’s steps to boost pharma sector:

While India is known as pharmacy of the world it is lagging behind in producing medical devices.

  • Hence, it was recently decided by the government to increase import duties on medical devices imported from other countries as a corrective step to create an ecosystem for manufacturing them locally.

Pharma sector in India:

  • It is estimated that the Indian pharmaceutical industry is estimated to grow at 20% compound annual growth rate over the next 5 years.
  • Pharmaceutical industry in India is also expected to outperform the Global pharmaceutical industry, which is set to grow at annual rate of 5% over the next five years.
  • Presently the market size of the pharmaceutical industry in India stands at $20 billion.
  • Besides, by 2020 India is likely to be on the top 3 pharmaceutical markets by incremental growth and sixth largest Market globally in absolute size.
  • India’s cost of production is also significantly lower than that of the US and almost half of that of Europe. This gives India A competitive edge over other countries.

About Quality Council of India (QCI):

Quality Council of India (QCI) was set up in 1997 as an autonomous body.

  • It was set up jointly by the Government of India and the Indian Industry represented by the three premier industry associations i.e.
  1. Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM),
  2. Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and
  3. Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
  • It aims to establish and operate national accreditation structure and promote quality through National Quality Campaign.
  • The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, is the nodal ministry for QCI.
  • QCI is registered as a non-profit society with its own Memorandum of Association.
  • QCI is governed by a Council of 38 members with equal representations of government, industry and consumers.
  • Chairman of QCI is appointed by the Prime Minister on recommendation of the industry to the government.
[Ref: Hindu, BS]

Science & Technology

ICANN submits Internet transition plan to US government

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) recently submitted the plan for the global stewardship of the internet to the US government for review.

Key facts of the plan:

  • The plan aims to maintain Internet governance under a “multi-stakeholder” model which avoids control of the online ecosystem by any single governmental body.
  • The plan is the result of an inclusive, global discussion among representatives from government, large and small business, technical experts, civil society, researchers, academics and end users.
  • It provides a comprehensive package to transition the US Government’s stewardship of the internet’s key technical functions, called the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), and proposes ways to enhance ICANN’s accountability as a fully independent organization.


On 14 March 2014, the US National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) announced its desire to transition its stewardship of the IANA functions to the global multi-stakeholder community. The transition is the final step in the long-anticipated privatization of the internet’s domain name system, first outlined when ICANN was incorporated in 1998.

What’s next?

  • The US government will now review the package to ensure that it meets NTIA’s criteria.
  • If approved, implementation of the plan is expected to be completed prior to the expiration of the contract between NTIA and ICANN in September 2016.

About ICANN:

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the global body that oversees operation and administration of the Internet domain name system.

  • ICANN was formed in 1998. It is a not-for-profit partnership of people from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers.
  • ICANN doesn’t control content on the Internet. It cannot stop spam and it doesn’t deal with access to the Internet. But through its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet.
  • It is responsible for coordinating the maintenance and methodologies of several databases, with unique identifiers, related to the namespaces of the Internet – and thereby, ensuring the network’s stable and secure operation.
  • ICANN is governed by an internationally diverse Board of Directors overseeing the policy development process. ICANN’s President directs an international staff, working from three continents, who ensure that ICANN meets its operational commitment to the Internet community.
[Ref: Hindu]

Kakrapar leak a ‘Level-1’ nuclear mishap, says AERB

India’s atomic energy regulatory body, AERB, has classified recent nuclear reactor leak at the Kakrapur atomic power station (KAPS) as a Level-1, or the lowest in seven-rung classification scheme internationally used to rate the severity of nuclear mishaps.

Classification scheme:

The severity of nuclear mishaps was measured on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event (INES) scale.

INES is developed by the International Atomic Energy Authority.

IASToppers-16th March

Various levels:

  • Level 1 is treated as an anomaly in the plant.
  • Levels 1-3 are termed ‘incidents’.
  • Levels 4-7 are termed as ‘accident.

By comparison, the nuclear accidents in Fukushima, Japan in 2011 and Chernobyl, Russia in 1986 were Level 7 incidents.


  • A power generation unit at Kakrapar Atomic Power Station was recently shut down after leakage of heavy water.
  • The power station is located in Gujarat. The power station has two units of Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR).

About AERB:

  • The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) was constituted on November 15, 1983 by the President of India by exercising the powers conferred by Section 27 of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 to carry out certain regulatory and safety functions under the Act. Its headquarters is in Mumbai.
  • The regulatory authority of AERB is derived from the rules and notifications promulgated under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 and the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986.

 [Ref: Hindu, Wiki]

Fracking technique

Fracking is shorthand for hydraulic fracturing, a type of drilling that has been used commercially for 65 years.

  • Fracking /Hydraulic fracturing (also called as hydrofracturing or fraccing) is a well-stimulation technique in which rock is fractured by a hydraulically pressurized liquid.
  • The hydraulic fracturing technique is commonly applied to wells for shale gas, tight gas, tight oil, and coal seam gas.

Its operation:

  • Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.
  • The process can be carried out vertically or, more commonly, by drilling horizontally to the rock layer and can create new pathways to release gas or can be used to extend existing channels.
  • When the hydraulic pressure is removed from the well, small grains of hydraulic fracturing particles (either sand or aluminium oxide) hold the fractures open once the deep rock achieves geologic equilibrium. Some hydraulic fractures form naturally—certain veins or dikes are examples.

Fracking in U.S.

  • Top U.S. shale producers are pushing fracking technology to new extremes to get more oil out of their wells, as they weather lower-for-longer oil prices.
  • While the impact of the techniques may be scarcely noticeable on the current U.S. output with so few wells in operation, it could mean drillers are able to accelerate production more fiercely than ever once prices recover.

 [Ref: Hindu, BBC]