SIT probing anti-Sikh riots to reopen cases
The Union Home Ministry has expanded the ambit of the probe into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases by enabling the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to reopen investigations in all the cases in which trial had been completed and the accused were discharged.
SIT is examining the number of such cases that will be reinvestigated and sent for trial again.
On legal opinion:
“We sought legal opinion and concluded that such cases pertaining to the 1984 Sikh riots, in which the accused were discharged or acquitted, could also be investigated again. The SIT is compiling the list”.
A year after the BJP came to power in 2014, the Home Ministry announced a three-member SIT for re-investigation of the anti-Sikh riot cases, mainly in Delhi. Its mandate was to “re-investigate the appropriately serious criminal cases which were filed in the National Capital Territory of Delhi in connection with the 1984 riots and hence since been closed.”
It was also asked to file fresh chargesheets if evidence was available.
GST collection dips below Rs. 1 lakh crore
Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections narrowly missed crossing the Rs. 1 lakh-crore mark in June 2019, coming in at Rs. 99,939 crore, according to data released by the government.
“Total gross GST revenue collected in June 2019 is Rs. 99,939 crore, of which CGST is Rs. 18,366 crore, SGST is Rs. 25,343 crore, IGST is Rs. 47,772 crore and Cess is Rs. 8,457 crore”.
While the collections in June 2019 are 4.5% higher than the collections in June 2018, they are still below collections in the first two months (April & May) of this financial year, and in the last month (March) of the previous financial year.
The government collected Rs. 1.06 lakh crore in March, Rs. 1.13 lakh crore in April — the highest-ever collection — and Rs. 1 lakh crore in May.
“The marginal dip in collections reinforces the point there is very little headroom at present for any further rate reductions”.
10% quota: SC to hear pleas for Constitution Bench
The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider on July 30 a batch of petitions to have a Constitution Bench examine the validity of a constitutional amendment providing 10% economic reservation in government jobs and educational institutions.
A Bench led by Justice S.A. Bobde said the pleas would be taken up for hearing on July 30, a non-miscellaneous day on which the case could be heard at length.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan made a strong pitch for referring the issue to a Constitution Bench.
Mr. Dhavan argued that the economic reservation violated the 50% reservation ceiling limit fixed by a nine-judge Bench in the Indra Sawhney case. Further, the 1992 judgment had barred reservation solely on economic criterion.
In a 6:3 majority verdict, the apex court, in Indra Sawhney, had held that “a backward class cannot be determined only and exclusively with reference to economic criterion… It may be a consideration or basis along with and in addition to social backwardness, but it can never be the sole criterion”. After a gap of 27 years, the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act of 2019 has provided 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the “economically backward” in the unreserved category.
The Act amends Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution by adding clauses empowering the government to provide reservation on the basis of economic backwardness. This 10% economic reservation is over and above the 50% reservation cap.
Pleas from Kerala:
The court on Monday also allowed a petition filed by Kerala Munnoka Samudaya Aikya Munnani, represented by advocate V.K. Biju, who argued against a stay of the constitutional amendment. Mr. Biju submitted that the “real situation of the social and educationally backward general category and their living condition in the country, especially in Kerala, is extremely poor, therefore there cannot be any stay at this stage without hearing all the aggrieved parties”.
Justice Bobde responded that a stay had not been sought for in this hearing.
The court also allowed a plea by P.K. Santhosh Kumar, general secretary of the Federation of Central Government SC & ST Employees of Kerala, represented by advocate Kaleeswaram Raj, who argued that the amendment clearly excluded the citizens belonging to OBC/SC/ST who are economically weaker.
MoD floats tenders for ships and crafts
The Defence Ministry has issued four shipbuilding Requests for Proposal (RFP) amounting to Rs. 15,000 crore for the acquisition of various ships and craft for the Navy and the Coast Guard.
“While the RFP for six next generation missile vessels has been issued to seven shipyards, the RFPs for eight fast patrol vessels and 12 Air Cushion Vehicles (ACVs) and eight missile-cum-ammunition Barges have been issued to shortlisted Indian shipyards,” the Ministry said in a statement on Monday. In addition, a few more RFPs for shipbuilding projects are likely to be issued in the next few months. The RFP for ACVs also includes the initial requirement for six ACVs of the Army.
The Ministry said an exercise undertaken leading to “rationalisation and promulgation of financial selection criteria has paved the way for issue of RFPs for a large number of shipbuilding projects that have been pending.”
Further, to encourage smaller shipyards, participation in the projects with the anticipated annual outflow of less than Rs. 75 crore has been restricted to those having an average annual turnover less than Rs. 500 crore.
The RFP for ACVs also has a feature to encourage joint development of design by Indian shipyards in collaboration with a foreign design house or by sourcing the design for construction of ACVs with substantial Indian content, the statement added.
‘Thermal plants are wasting water’
With the monsoon nearly a third less than normal in June and the government on Monday launching a massive awareness campaign on water conservation water, key thermal plants across the country are wasting water and contravening a 2015 order by the Union Environment Ministry to use water efficiently, according to a compilation of Right To Information queries by the activist group Manthan.
“Just about 51% of the plants were found to be in compliance with the regulations. Out of the total 156 plants/units, 66 claimed they complied with the water consumption limits, while 30 admitted that they were non-compliant,” Manthan said in a statement.
“For another 46 plants, either data was not available, or replies were ambiguous or the plants were closed. As other 14 plants were using sea water, they are exempted from the regulations,” the statement said.
Thermal power plants consume, on an average, 5-7 cubic metres/MWh of water. Every reduction of 0.5 cubic metres/MWh in a 1000 MW plant could save enough water in a year to irrigate 700 ha of land; or provide drinking and domestic use water to 68,000 people for an entire year, said a Central Electricity Authority report from 2012.
5G trials: China urges India to include Huawei
Calling for India to include Huawei in its 5G trials despite the U.S. government’s opposition to the Chinese telecommunications major, a senior Chinese official said New Delhi must not be “exclusive” in its choice.
“Huawei enjoys cutting edge technologies and I think it will best facilitate India’s realisation of its dream of building a digital economy,” said Yang Yanyi, former diplomat and a current Committee Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the 13th CPCC (Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) National Committee.
“We need to guard against the attempt of forces in the west to keep control of science [and] technology, and they cannot stomach the fact that developing countries can also excel in technology”.
Pointing out that Huawei already employs more than 8,000 Indians at its plant and R&D facilities in India, Zhu Feng, an academic accompanying Ms. Yang, said Indians “must not over react” to reports on security threats to India.
AFSPA in Nagaland extended
The Centre has declared the entire State of Nagaland a “disturbed area” for six more months under the controversial AFSPA, which empowers security forces to conduct operations anywhere and arrest anyone without notice.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said the Central government is of the opinion that the area is in such a “disturbed and dangerous condition” that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.
INS Shivalik and INS Sindhukirti
These are the Indian Navy’s indigenously conceived design and constructed frontline stealth frigate. INS Shivalik is the Shivalik-class advanced, stealth-minded, guided-missile frigate warship. It is the first stealth warship built by India at Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai s part of the Indian Navy’s Project 17. It is equipped with a wide range of electronics and sensors.
In addition, it uses HUMSA (hull-mounted sonar array), ATAS/Thales Sintra towed array systems. It is equipped with a mix of Russian, Indian and Western weapon systems. It also has improved stealth and land attacking features over the preceding Talwar-class frigates. It is the first Indian navy ship to use the CODOG (COmbined Diesel Or Gas) propulsion system.
INS Sindhukirti is the seventh Sindhughosh-class, diesel-electric submarine of the Indian Navy, built at the Admiralty Shipyard and Sevmash in the Soviet Union. It is among the oldest operational submarines in the Navy. It has been virtually rebuilt with modern sensors weapons and systems which make it “a hole in the water” for the Navy.
Japanese Encephalitis has been recently reported in Assam. It is a mosquito-borne viral infection. It is a flavivirus family related to dengue, yellow fever and West Nile viruses.
It is the leading cause of viral encephalitis in Asia. It will not spread from one person to another. There is no cure for the disease. Treatment is focused on relieving severe clinical signs and supporting the patient to overcome the infection.
Most JEV infections have mild (fever and headache) or without apparent symptoms. Approximately 1 in 250 infections results in severe clinical illness. The incubation period is between 4-14 days. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent JE.
‘SA 14-14-2’ vaccine become the most widely used vaccine in endemic countries, and it was prequalified by WHO. Since the recent outbreak in Assam, all 27 districts of Assam were covered under the JE vaccination campaign for those aged between 1 to 15 years. Migratory birds along with pigs in the community play an important role in the transmission of JE from one area to another.