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Sexual offence cases

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Why in the news?

  • Investigation into nearly half the sexual offences cases are not being completed within the stipulated 60-day period, according to an analysis of crime data of seven States
  • To check sexual crimes against women and children, the Centre approved the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 last year which prescribed the time-limit for completion of investigation.

What are the findings?

  • In many States, the fast-track courts designated to handle rape cases are also handling other criminal cases leading to delay in verdicts, an official said. As per the government data, there are already 664 dedicated special courts with 2,021 public prosecutors and another 1,023 courts are planned.
  • The Supreme Court noted last week that trial had been completed in only 4% of the 24,000 cases of sexual offences that were filed from January to June.
  • According to the ITSSO analysis in the seven States — Haryana, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh. Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand — final reports were submitted only in 26,343 of the 47,662 sexual assault cases within the mandatory period. The cases analysed were filed from April 21, 2018 to February 13, 2019.
  • In Uttar Pradesh, 592 of the 3,420 pending cases were pending for more than six months. In Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, the cases where the final report was not submitted by police for more than six months was in 122, 236, 155 and 606 cases respectively.

What is being done to address the issue?

  • The Empowered Committee on the Nirbhaya Fund approved ₹767.25 crore for setting up 1,023 fast-track courts in November last year, but 10 months later the final nod from the Expenditure Finance Committee is awaited.
  • 18 States have come on board to set up the new courts and it is now up to the Law and Justice Ministry to appoint judges and public prosecutors for them.

 

Law Commission of India

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

Why in the news?

The proposal to constitute a new Law Commission will be placed before the Cabinet soon.

What is the Law Commission?

  • It is an executive body appointed by the Union Government for a period of three years.
  • It is usually headed by a former Supreme Court Judge or a former Chief Justice of the High Court.
  • After independence, the Constitution of India with its Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy gave a new direction to law reform geared to the needs of a democratic legal order in a plural society. 
  • Though the Constitution stipulated the continuation of pre-Constitution Laws (Article 372) till they are amended or repealed, there had been demands in Parliament and outside for establishing a Central Law Commission to recommend revision and updating of the inherited laws to serve the changing needs of the country. The Government of India reacted favourably and established the First Law Commission of Independent India in 1955.

 

Kartarpur Corridor

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations

Why in the news?

  • The second round of talks with Pakistan on the modalities for operationalisation of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor was held at Wagah, Pakistan.
  • Pakistan agreed to give year long visa-free access for Indian pilgrims to the holy Gurudwara in Kartarpur

What is the Kartarpur Corridor?

  • It is a proposed border corridor between the neighbouring nations of India and Pakistan, connecting the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib (located in Punjab, India) and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur (in Punjab, Pakistan). 
  • The corridor is intended to allow religious devotees from India to visit the Gurdwara in Kartarpur, 4.7 kilometres from the Pakistan-India border, without a visa.

What were the issues discussed?

  • The Indian side conveyed concerns regarding the possible flooding of the Dera Baba Nanak and adjoining areas on the Indian side as a result of earth filled embankment road or a causeway that is proposed to be built by Pakistan on their side.
  • The Indian delegation shared detailed flood analysis with Pakistan to underscore these concerns. It was clearly conveyed that an earth filled embankment or a causeway will create problems for our people and should not be built even in the interim. 
  • Details of the bridge that India is building on its side were shared, and Pakistan side was urged to also build a bridge on their side. This would not only address the flooding related concerns, but also ensure smooth, hassle free, all-weather pilgrimage to the Holy Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib, throughout the year. 
  • Pakistan side agreed, in principle, to build a bridge at the earliest. Pending the construction of a bridge over the old Ravi creek by Pakistan on their territory, India offered to make interim arrangements for making the corridor operational in November 2019, given the historic importance of the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. 

 India urged Pakistan to take into consideration the sentiments of the pilgrims to have smooth, easy, unrestricted access throughout the year to be able to visit the Holy Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib. In this context, the following requests were reiterated: 

 

  • 5,000 pilgrims be allowed to visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the corridor everyday given the expected high demand on our side; 
  • 10,000 additional pilgrims be allowed to visit on special occasions; 
  • there should be no restrictions on the pilgrims in terms of their faith; 
  • not only Indian nationals, but also the Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) holding OCI cards be allowed to use the Kartarpur Corridor facility; 
  • the movement should be visa free and Pakistan should reconsider charging any fee or introducing any permit system; 
  • pilgrims should be allowed to visit throughout the year, seven days a week; 
  • pilgrims should have the choice to visit as individuals or in a group; 
  • pilgrims should have the choice to visit on-foot on pilgrimage to the holy shrine; 
  • provisions should be made for preparation and distribution of langar and prasad for the pilgrims. 

 The importance for ensuring safe and secure environment for the pilgrims was underscored. In this context, concerns regarding individuals or organisations based in Pakistan who may try to disrupt the pilgrimage and misuse the opportunity to play with the sentiments of the pilgrims were shared. A dossier was handed over to Pakistan side to highlight concerns in the matter. The Indian delegation has also sought consular presence in Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara to be able to provide assistance to the pilgrims, if required. Pakistan side assured our delegation that no anti-India activity would be allowed. 

 

International Criminal Court (ICC)

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Why in the news?

  • The International Criminal Court convicted Bosco Ntaganda, known as “the terminator”, of 13 counts of war crimes and five of crimes against humanity. These relate to the 2002-03 ethnic conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After a 2006 indictment by the Hague court, it took seven more years for him to surrender and months more before the trial could start. 
  • The conviction follows the ICC’s 2012 sentencing of Thomas Lubanga, the first to be pronounced guilty under the Rome Statute, also pertaining to atrocities during the Congolese conflict. 

What is the International Criminal Court?

  • The International Criminal Court is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague, Netherlands. The ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression. 
  • It is intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore exercise its jurisdiction only when certain conditions are met, such as when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals or when the United Nations Security Council or individual states refer situations to the Court.
  • The ICC began functioning on 1 July 2002, the date that the Rome Statute entered into force. The Rome Statute is a multilateral treaty that serves as the ICC’s foundational and governing document. States which become party to the Rome Statute become member states of the ICC. As of March 2019, there are 122 ICC member states. 42 states are non-party, non-signatory states.
  • The ICC has four principal organs: the Presidency, the Judicial Divisions, the Office of the Prosecutor, and the Registry. The President is the most senior judge chosen by his or her peers in the Judicial Division, which hears cases before the Court. The Office of the Prosecutor is headed by the Prosecutor who investigates crimes and initiates proceedings before the Judicial Division. The Registry is headed by the Registrar and is charged with managing all the administrative functions of the ICC, including the headquarters, detention unit, and public defense office.
  • The Office of the Prosecutor has opened ten official investigations and is also conducting an additional eleven preliminary examinations. Thus far, 44 individuals have been indicted in the ICC, including Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony, former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo, and DR Congo vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba.
  • India is not a member of the ICC.

 

Gangetic Dolphin

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Why in the news?

  • Restricting the speeds of vessels and blowing sirens and horns is how the Ministry of Shipping plans to safeguard the population of the Ganges River Dolphin, in the country’s one dolphin reserve through which National Waterway-1 connecting Haldia to Varanasi passes.
  • The other mitigation measures, according to the Ministry, include fitting vessels with propeller guards and dolphin deflectors to minimise dolphin accidents and using non-toxic paints for painting vessels.
  • The Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS), from Sultanganj to Kahalganj on the Ganga in Bihar is the only dolphin sanctuary in the country. The Ministry in its response admitted that the Sultanganj-Kahalgaon stretch of National Waterway-1 passes through it.

About Gangetic Dolphin

  • The Gangetic Dolphin also known as the susu is an endangered species of dolphins found in the Ganges and its tributaries.
  • The Gangetic dolphin shows object-avoidance behavior in both the consistently heavily murky waters of its habitat and in clear water in captivity, suggesting that it is capable of using echolocation effectively to navigate and forage for prey.

 

Orchids of India: A Pictorial Guide

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Why in the news?

The Botanical Survey of India has come up with the first comprehensive census of orchids of India putting the total number of orchid species or taxa to 1,256. This was published in the book titled Orchids of India: A Pictorial Guide.

What are the findings of the census?

  • The highest number of orchid species is recorded from Arunachal Pradesh with 612 species, followed by Sikkim 560 species and West Bengal; Darjeeling Himalayas have also high species concentration, with 479 species.
  • While north-east India rank at the top in species concentration, the Western Ghats have high endemism of orchids.
  • There are 388 species of orchids, which are endemic to India of which about one-third (128) endemic species are found in Western Ghats. The publication points out that Kerala has 111 of these endemic species while Tamil Nadu has 92 of them. 
  • Among the 10 biogeographic zones of India, the Himalayan zone is the richest in terms of orchid species followed by Northeast, Western Ghats, Deccan plateau and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

 

Prelims Specific

  • Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences (ITSSO) is an analytical tool of the Ministry of Home Affairs under the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network (CCTNS) to monitor and track time-bound investigation.
  • Kovvada Nuclear Power Project is a 6600 MW project proposed in the state of Andhra Pradesh in Srikakulam District.
  • Swasraya Sanghom of Nellarachal tribal hamlet is a Women Self Help Group that is producing different varieties of bio agents to support organic farming under the guidance of Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) in Kerala.