Polity & Governance
- J&K loses its special status, divided into two UTs
Government Schemes & Policies
- Bill Mandating Death Penalty for ‘Honour Killing’ Passed in Rajasthan Assembly
- Rajasthan Assembly passes anti lynching Bill
- Transgender Persons bill passed in Lok Sabha
- Lok Sabha passes Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Bihar: Centre approves Rs 4,900-crore project to link Kosi, Mechi rivers
Art & Culture
- 65th Foundation Day of Lalit Kala Akademi
Key Facts for Prelims
- Mission Shakti sports initiative
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Polity & Governance
J&K loses its special status, divided into two UTs
Ending Jammu & Kashmir’s special status in the Indian Union, the government extended all provisions of the Constitution to the State in one go, downsized the State into two Union Territories and allowed all citizens to buy property and vote in the State.
To know all about Article 370, refer our Mains Article ‘Article 370 scarped: What’s next?’. Click to here: https://www.iastoppers.com/article-35a-scrapped-mains-article/
Government Schemes & Policies
Bill Mandating Death Penalty for ‘Honour Killing’ Passed in Rajasthan Assembly
The Rajasthan Assembly passed Bill against honour killing, making stringent provisions of punishment for these offences that were made cognisable and non-bailable.
About the Rajasthan Prohibition of Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances in the Name of Honour and Tradition Bill, 2019
- As per the bill, the honour killing will be punishable with death sentence and those convicted of lynching will be punished with life imprisonment and a fine of up to ₹5 lakhs.
- If the couple or either of them is grievously hurt, the punishment will be from 10 years rigorous imprisonment to imprisonment for life and with fine of maximum ₹3 lakh, whereas the punishment will be three to five years imprisonment with fine which may extend to ₹2 lakh in case of simple injuries.
- Sub Divisional Magistrate or the District Magistrate shall receive any request or information from any person or persons seeking protection from any unlawful assembly, or from any other person who is likely to or who have been objecting to any lawful marriage.
- No person or group shall assemble at any time with the view or intention to deliberate on or condemn any marriage, not prohibited by law, on the basis that such marriage has dishonoured the caste or community tradition or brought disrepute to all or any of the persons forming part of the assembly or the family or the people of the locality concerned.
- Such gathering shall be treated unlawful and every person convening or organising such assembly, and every member, thereof, participating therein directly or indirectly shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than six months, but may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to ₹1 lakh.
- In the last five years, 71 incidents of diktat by khap panchayats (caste panchayats) and 10 cases of honour killings were reported. Such cases have increased in the past few years and have become a hurdle in development of Rajasthan.
- Sections of IPC and CrPc, which are very general in nature, are not adequate to deal with such cases.
What is Honor killing?
- An honor killing is the murder of a member of a family, due to the murderer’s belief that the victim has brought shame/dishonour upon the family, has violated the principles of a community or a religion, usually for reasons such as divorcing, refusing to enter an arranged marriage, being in a relationship that is disapproved by their family, having premarital or extramarital sex, becoming the victim of sexual assault, etc.
Existing Penalties under Indian Penal Code:
- Sections 299-304: Penalises any person guilty of murder and culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The punishment for murder is life sentence or death and fine. The punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder is life imprisonment or imprisonment for upto 10 years and fine.
- Section 307: Penalises attempt to murder with imprisonment for upto 10 years and a fine. If a person is hurt, the penalty can extend to life imprisonment.
- Section 308: Penalises attempt to commit culpable homicide by imprisonment for upto 3 years or with fine or with both. If it causes hurt, the person shall be imprisoned for upto 7 years or fined or both.
- Section 120A and B: Penalises any person who is a party to a criminal conspiracy.
- Sections 107-116: Penalises persons for abetment of offences including murder and culpable homicide.
- Section 34 and 35: Penalises criminal acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.
Rajasthan Assembly passes anti lynching Bill
The Rajasthan legislative assembly passed a Bill providing for life imprisonment and a fine from ₹1 lakh to ₹5 lakhs to those convicted in cases of mob lynching leading to victim’s death.
- With the passage of this Bill, Rajasthan become the second State after Manipur to have a dedicated legislation that criminalises mob lynching as a special offence.
About the Protection from Lynching Bill, 2019
- It defines lynching as an act of violence by a mob on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation and ethnicity.
- The Bill provides for appointment of a nodal officer of the rank of Inspector-General of Police to prevent lynchings and establishment of relief camps in safe zones for the victims.
- The Bill also enlists various other offences related to the lynching such as dissemination of offensive materials, propagation of hostile environment and obstructing legal processes.
- The Bill also stipulates the provision of compensation to victims by the State government as per the Rajasthan Victim Compensation Scheme.
- In cases of the victims suffering simple injuries, the Bill proposes imprisonment up to seven years and a fine up to ₹1 lakh.
- For the offence of an assault by mob, leading to the victim suffering grievous hurts, the Bill provides for jail terms up to 10 years and a fine of ₹25,000 to ₹3 lakh.
- After 2014, 86% cases of mob lynching reported in the country happened in Rajasthan.
Criticism of of Protection from Lynching Bill, 2019
- Indian Penal Code already had sufficient provisions to penalise the offenders. The Bill unnecessarily changed an important definition by describing just two persons as a mob.
- In 2018, The Supreme Court urged Parliament to enact a law to deal with the crime that threatens rule of law against mob lynching.
Direction given by supreme court for the enactment of law against mob lynching:
- The state governments shall designate a senior police officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.
- The state governments shall immediately identify areas where instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the recent past.
- It shall be the duty of every police officer to cause a mob to disperse, which has a tendency to cause violence in the disguise of vigilantism or otherwise.
- Governments should broadcast on radio, television and other media platforms that lynching and mob violence shall invite serious consequence.
- Curb dissemination of irresponsible messages other material on various social media platforms.
- Ensure that there is no further harassment of the family members of the victims.
- State governments shall prepare a lynching/mob violence victim compensation scheme.
- Cases of lynching and mob violence shall be specifically tried by designated court/fast track courts earmarked for that purpose in each district. The trial shall preferably be concluded within six months.
- The trial court must ordinarily award maximum sentence upon conviction of the accused person.
- If it is found that a police officer or an officer of the district administration has failed to fulfill his duty, it will be considered as an act of deliberate negligence.
Transgender Persons bill passed in Lok Sabha
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2019 was passed by the Lok Sabha which provides a mechanism for social, economic and educational empowerment of transgenders.
Highlights of the bill:
Definition of a transgender person:
- The Bill defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth. It includes trans-men and trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities, such as kinnar and hijra.
- Intersex variations is defined to mean a person who at birth shows variation in his or her primary sexual characteristics, external genitalia or hormones from the normative standard of male or female body.
Prohibition against discrimination:
- The Bill prohibits the discrimination against a transgender person, including denial of service or unfair treatment in relation to education, employment, to reside, rent, or otherwise occupy property, opportunity to hold public or private office etc.
Right of residence:
- Every transgender person shall have a right to reside and be included in his household.
- If the immediate family is unable to care for the transgender person, the person may be placed in a rehabilitation centre, on the orders of a competent court.
- The government must take steps to provide health facilities to transgender persons including separate HIV surveillance centres, and sex reassignment surgeries.
- The government shall review medical curriculum to address health issues of transgender persons, and provide comprehensive medical insurance schemes for them.
Certificate of identity for a transgender person:
- A transgender person may make an application to the District Magistrate for a certificate of identity, indicating the gender as ‘transgender’.
- A revised certificate may be obtained only if the individual undergoes surgery to change their gender either as a male or a female.
Welfare measures by the government:
- The Bill states that the relevant government will take measures to ensure the full inclusion and participation of transgender persons in society.
- It must also take steps for their rescue and rehabilitation, vocational training etc.
National Council for Transgender persons (NCT):
- It also proposes to Set up a National Council for Transgender persons to advise the central government on policies and legislation related to transgender persons as well as redress the grievances of transgender persons.
- The Bill will benefit a large number of transgender persons, mitigate the stigma of discrimination and abuse against them and bring them into the mainstream of society.
- This will lead to inclusiveness and will make the transgender persons productive members of the society.
- Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill was earlier proposed in 2016. However, due to criticism, it was passed in Lok Sabha in 2018 with several amendments.
- Although the revised definition of transgender is better than what was stipulated in 2016 bill, current definition of transgender is prone to ambiguous and illiberal interpretation.
- The Bill also incorrectly assumes that all persons with intersex variations are transgender
- There is no provision for the reservation of trans genders even after National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) said that the trans people should be considered socially and economically backward.
- The 2014 NALSA judgement stated that transgender persons had the right to gender self-identification and that a trans person could choose to identify as a male, female or third gender. However, to be identified as male or female, one will have to undergo surgery and then get a certificate identifying one’s gender.
Lok Sabha passes Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill
The Lok Sabha passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 that seeks to ban commercial surrogacy and provides for constituting a National Surrogacy Board, State Surrogacy Boards, and the appointment of appropriate authorities for the regulation of the practice and process of surrogacy.
What is surrogacy?
- The Bill defines surrogacy as a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an eligible couple and agrees to hand over the child after the birth to them.
Highlights of the Bill:
Regulation of surrogacy:
- The Bill prohibits commercial surrogacy, but allows altruistic surrogacy.
- Altruistic surrogacy involves no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance coverage during the pregnancy.
- Commercial surrogacy includes surrogacy or its related procedures undertaken for a monetary benefit or reward (in cash or kind) exceeding the basic medical expenses and insurance coverage.
Purposes for which surrogacy is permitted:
- Surrogacy is permitted when it is: (i) for intending couples who suffer from proven infertility; (ii) altruistic; (iii) not for commercial purposes; (iv) not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation; and (v) for any condition or disease specified through regulations.
Eligibility criteria for intending couple:
The intending couple should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority.
A certificate of essentiality will be issued upon fulfilment of the following conditions:
- a certificate of proven infertility of one or both members of the intending couple from a District Medical Board;
- an order of parentage and custody of the surrogate child passed by a Magistrate’s court;
- insurance coverage covering postpartum delivery complications for the surrogate.
The certificate of eligibility to the intending couple is issued upon fulfilment of the following conditions:
- The couple being Indian citizens and married for at least five years
- Between 23 to 50 years old (wife) and 26 to 55 years old (husband)
- They do not have any surviving child (biological, adopted or surrogate); this would not include a child who is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from life threatening disorder or fatal illness
Eligibility criteria for surrogate mother:
To obtain a certificate of eligibility from the appropriate authority, the surrogate mother has to be:
- A close relative of the intending couple
- A married woman having a child of her own
- 25 to 35 years old
- A surrogate only once in her lifetime
- Possess a certificate of medical and psychological fitness for surrogacy
- The surrogate mother cannot provide her own gametes for surrogacy
- The central and state governments shall appoint one or more appropriate authorities within 90 days of the Bill becoming an Act.
- The functions of the appropriate authority include granting, suspending or cancelling registration of surrogacy clinics, enforcing standards for surrogacy clinics etc.
Registration of surrogacy clinics:
- Surrogacy clinics cannot undertake surrogacy related procedures unless they are registered by the appropriate authority.
National and State Surrogacy Boards:
- The central and the state governments shall constitute the National Surrogacy Board (NSB) and the State Surrogacy Boards (SSB), respectively.
Parentage and abortion of surrogate child:
- An abortion of the surrogate child requires the written consent of the surrogate mother and the authorisation of the appropriate authority.
- This authorisation must be compliant with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.
Offences and penalties:
- The offences under the Bill include: (i) undertaking or advertising commercial surrogacy; (ii) exploiting the surrogate mother; (iii) abandoning, exploiting or disowning a surrogate child; and (iv) selling or importing human embryo or gametes for surrogacy.
- The penalty for such offences is imprisonment up to 10 years and a fine up to 10 lakh rupees.
- The Bill specifies a range of offences and penalties for other contraventions of the provisions of the Bill.
- The 228th report of the Law Commission of India has recommended for prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing ethical altruistic surrogacy by enacting a suitable legislation.
For more information, refer to IASTopper’s Editorial on ‘How to make the Surrogacy Bill more inclusive?’ Click here: https://www.iastoppers.com/editorial-notes-surrogacy-bill/[Ref: The Hindu]
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Bihar: Centre approves Rs 4,900-crore project to link Kosi, Mechi rivers
The Centre has approved a project worth Rs 4,900-crore Kosi-Mechi river interlining project, providing a major lease of life to Bihar’s Seemanchal region.
About the Kosi-Mechi river interlining project
- The Kosi-Mechi project is India’s second major river interlinking project after Ken-Betwa of Madhya Pradesh.
- This project is an extension of Eastern Kosi Main Canal (EKMC) up to river Mechi (tributary of river Mahananda). This project envisages diversion of part of surplus water of Kosi river through existing Hanuman Nagar barrage to the Mahananda basin.
- The aim of the project is to provide irrigation benefits to the water scarce Mahananda basin command in the districts of Araria, Kishanganj, Purnea and Katihar during kharif season depending upon the pondage available in Hanuman Nagar barrage.
- It will also relieve large areas of north Bihar from the menace of recurring floods.
- It has yet not received the status of ‘National Project’, however, on the lines of the Ken-Betwa project in MP, it has potential to qualify for the status.
- To overcome the acute problem of shifting of course of Kosi river and to alleviate the severe suffering of the people of Bihar, Nepal and India signed an agreement in 1954 for implementation of Kosi project.
- The Kosi project includes a barrage namely Hanuman Nagar barrage across river Kosi located near Hanuman Nagar town close to Indo-Nepal border, Western Kosi Main Canal (WKMC) system in Nepal, Eastern Kosi Main Canal (EKMC) system in India.
National Project Scheme
- It is a scheme of Ministry of Jal Shakti.
- These projects will be provided financial assistance by the Government in the form of Central grant which will be 90% of the estimated cost of such projects.
Criteria for selection of National Projects:
- International projects where usage of water in India is required by a treaty or where planning and early completion of the project is necessary in the interest of the country.
- Inter-State projects which are dragging on due to nonresolution of Inter-State issues relating to sharing of costs, rehabilitation, aspects of power production etc., including river interlinking projects.
- Intra-State projects with additional potential of more than 2,00,000 hectare (ha) and with no dispute regarding sharing of water and where hydrology is established
About River Kosi
- The river Kosi is an international river originating from Tibet and flowing through Nepal in Himalayan Mountains and the lower portion through plains of North Bihar.
- It originates in Gosainath peak in Tibet.
- In Nepal, this river is commonly referred as ‘Sapta Kosi’ meaning ‘Seven River’. This is because of its seven tributaries — Tamar Koshi, Sun Kosi, Indravati, Dudh Kosi, Arna Kosi, Likhu and Tamur. These tributaries meet at Triveni, from where they are known as ‘Sapta Kosi’.
- It merges with river Ganga at Bhagalpur (Bihar).
- The alluvial cone of the Kosi is one of the biggest in the world.
- In India, it is known as the “Sorrow of Bihar” as the annual floods affect fertile agricultural lands thereby disturbing the rural economy.
- The Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve and the Sagarmatha National Park are situated on the riverbanks of the Kosi River.
- Corn (maize) is extensively cultivated on the sandy soils of the Kosi’s basin.
Art & Culture
65th Foundation Day of Lalit Kala Akademi
Recently, the 65th Foundation Day of Lalit Kala Akademi was celebrated on August 5th, 2019.
About Lalit Kala Akademi:
- Also called as National Academy of Art, Lalit Kala Akademi is India’s national academy of fine arts.
- It is autonomous organisation It was established in 1954 to promote and propagate understanding of Indian art, in and outside the country.
- It provides scholarships and fellow program and sponsors and organises exhibitions in India and overseas.
- It publishes bilingual journal. It is funded by Ministry of Culture.
Objectives of Lalit Kala Akademi:
- Promote and propagate understanding of Indian art, in and outside the country especially in the field of visual arts such as painting, sculpture and graphics etc.
- Preserve glorious traditions of the past and enrich them with the works of the modern artist.
- Promote cooperation among artists and art associations and development of such associations.
- Encourage, where necessary, the establishment of Regional Art Centers.
- Publish and promote publication of literature on art including monographs, journals etc.
Key Facts for Prelims
Mission Shakti sports initiative
- It is Maharashtra government’s initiative to train athletes from tribal areas for international sports events such as Olympics.
- It will help Maharashtra government to hunt for talented athletes in remote areas of Chandrapur and Gadchiroli.