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06 May Current Affairs

Zero pendency Court project

It is the pilot project of the Delhi High Court.

It is one of its kind project in India aimed to study the life cycles of cases to come up with optimal timelines for cases.

The primary goal of the project was to study the flow of cases in the absence of backlog.

The aim of project is to provide information on the judicial time required to dispose of a case together with the gathering stage wise details in each case.

It was undertaken in certain subordinate courts of Delhi to identify benchmarks for different types of cases timelines, number of judges required, case flow management rules and a host of other relevant factors.

Highlights of the report:

Need more judges: Delhi needs 43 more Judges above the current strength of 143 to clear all pending cases in one year.

More criminal cases: The number of criminal cases in Delhi is far more than the number of civil cases. As on March 2019, there were 5.5 lakh criminal cases and 1.8 lakh civil cases pending in subordinate courts in Delhi.

Most time spent: The highest amount of time per hearing on average was spent on the final arguments stage followed by the final order or judgement. A considerable amount of time is taken on dictation, researching on case laws etc. before pronouncing the final judgement. Thus, a lot of time is spent on each of the hearings.

Reasons for delays:

  • The absence of witness.
  • Unnecessary Adjournments sought by the advocates or the parties at various stages in the case.
  • There is also a delay in the service of summons, especially outstation parties.

Concerns expressed:

Increase in workload: With the lesser number of judges, the workload of an individual judge could increase.

Credibility issue: With persisting delays the system becomes less credible as litigants have to wait for the decades to get their cases resolved.

Increase in pendency: With an increase in the number of filings, the pendency of cases is bound to increase if no proper targeted steps are taken to overcome the issue.

Need of the hour:

Arrive at an optimal judge strength to handle the cases pending in the system. Increase the current strength of judges from 143 to an ideal 186 judges to clear all the pending cases in one year.

Source: The Hindu

Prepaid payment instruments

In News:

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed a monetary penalty on five Pre-Paid Payment Instrument (PPI) issuers for violating its regulatory guidelines under provisions of payment and settlement Systems act 2007.

Background:

As per RBI directions, PPI issuers were required to complete the KYC process by February 28, 2019. PPIs or mobile wallets were mandated by the banking regulator in October 2017 to capture all information required under the know-your-customer (KYC) guidelines by end February.

What are PPIs?

Prepaid payment instruments are those which facilitate purchase of goods and services against the value stored on such instruments. Value stored on them is paid by the holder using a medium (cash, debit card, credit card etc).

These are generally issued in the form of smart cards, mobile wallets, paper vouchers, internet accounts/wallets.

Features:

Prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) come with a pre-loaded value and in some cases a pre-defined purpose of payment.

They facilitate the purchase of goods and services as well as inter-personal remittance transactions such as sending money to a friend or a family member.

These payment instruments are licensed and regulated by the Reserve Bank of India.

There are three types of PPIs—closed system PPIs, semi-closed system PPIs and open system PPIs.

The most common example of a closed system PPI is a brand-specific gift card. Such cards, physical or otherwise, can be used only at specific locations, and cannot be used to transfer funds from one account to another.

Source: The Hindu

UK Parliament declares climate change emergency

In News:

A national climate emergency has been declared by the UK Parliament. The UK is the first national government to declare such an emergency.

Details:

This proposal, which demonstrates the will of the Commons on the issue but does not legally compel the government to act, was approved without a vote.

What is a climate emergency?

There is no single definition of what that means but many local areas say they want to be carbon-neutral by 2030. It’s a much more ambitious target than the UK government’s, which is to reduce carbon emissions by 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050.

Why declare an emergency?

The United Nations says we could have just 11 years left to limit a climate change catastrophe. It’s not just about reducing carbon emissions on a local scale, but also raising awareness about climate change and trying to convince MPs so that changes can be made.

The national government needs to declare an emergency and put resources in place to enable councils to help reduce carbon emissions. It’s the first step to radical action.

Way ahead:

With the planet to experience further warming from the heat held by the oceans, there is increasing international focus on meeting the United Nation’s Paris Agreement which was signed by 197 countries in 2016. This ground-breaking agreement has the ambitious global aim of preventing global temperatures from reaching 2˚C above pre-industrial levels (the late nineteenth century) by 2100, and ideally should be no more than 1.5˚C.

A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) has suggested that meeting this target means annual global carbon emissions must effectively halve between now and 2030, and then fall to zero by 2050. This is a target the UK opposition party Labour are now calling for.

Source: The Hindu

Aditya- L1 mission

In News:

The Indian Space Research Organization is planning to launch Aditya- L1 mission to study the sun early in 2020.

About Aditya- L1 mission:

It is India’s first solar mission.

Objectives: It will study the sun’s outer most layers, the corona and the chromospheres and collect data about coronal mass ejection, which will also yield information for space weather prediction.

Significance of the mission: The data from Aditya mission will be immensely helpful in discriminating between different models for the origin of solar storms and also for constraining how the storms evolve and what path they take through the interplanetary space from the Sun to the Earth.

Position of the satellite: In order to get the best science from the sun, continuous viewing of the sun is preferred without any occultation/ eclipses and hence, Aditya- L1 satellite will be placed in the halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 (L1) of the sun-earth system.

What are Lagrangian points and halo orbit?

Lagrangian points are the locations in space where the combined gravitational pull of two large masses roughly balance each other. Any small mass placed at that location will remain at constant distances relative to the large masses. There are five such points in Sun-Earth system and they are denoted as L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5. A halo orbit is a periodic three-dimensional orbit near the L1, L2 or L3.

Source: ToI

Arsenic contamination

In News:

Arsenic is toxic to almost all life forms, but now researchers at the University of Washington have discovered that some microbes in the Pacific Ocean not only tolerate the stuff, but actively breathe it. The discovery has implications for how life may adapt to a changing climate, as well as where we might find it on other planets.

Relevant topic:

Arsenic in groundwater:

Arsenic in ground water is a geogenic contaminant i.e. caused by natural geologic processes.

Concerns: Incidence of high arsenic in groundwater reported from various parts of the country, particularly in the Ganga- plains is a serious threat to the health of human being.

Arsenic occurrences in ground water in these areas is highly sporadic in nature and all the sources in these areas are not necessarily contaminated.

Key facts:

Arsenic is naturally present at high levels in the groundwater of a number of countries.

Arsenic is highly toxic in its inorganic form.

Contaminated water used for drinking, food preparation and irrigation of food crops poses the greatest threat to public health from arsenic.

Long-term exposure to arsenic from drinking-water and food can cause cancer and skin lesions. It has also been associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In utero and early childhood exposure has been linked to negative impacts on cognitive development and increased deaths in young adults.

Measures:

Technological options to combat arsenic menace, in groundwater, to ensure supply of arsenic free water, in the affected areas can be in-situ remediation of arsenic from aquifer system, ex-situ remediation of arsenic from tapped groundwater by arsenic removal technologies, use of surface water source as an alternative to the contaminated groundwater source, tapping alternate safe aquifers for supply of arsenic free groundwater or combination of above techniques.

What’s the difference between organic arsenic and inorganic arsenic?

Atoms of arsenic bond with other elements to form molecules — if carbon is one of these elements, then the arsenic compound is an organic compound. If there is no carbon present, then the arsenic compound is in an inorganic compound.

Inorganic arsenic is a known human carcinogen — it is this form of arsenic that is linked with increased risks of cancer and other health effects.

Source: The Hindu

Dissent in the Election Commission – what the rules say

In News:

Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa has dissented with the opinion of his colleagues in the Election Commission in five different matters pertaining to alleged violations of the Model Code of Conduct.

Details:

Section 10 (Disposal of business by Election Commission) of The Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991, lays down that “all business of the Election Commission shall, as far as possible, be transacted unanimously”.

Dissent is, however, provided for in the Act itself, which says: “If the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and other Election Commissioners (ECs) differ in opinion on any matter, such matter shall be decided according to the opinion of the majority”.

Background:

The CEC and ECs are appointed by the President to a tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.

They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as judges of the Supreme Court of India.

The Election Commission of India draws its authority from the Constitution itself. Under Article 324, the powers of “superintendence, direction and control of elections” is to be vested in an Election Commission.

Has the EC always been a multi- member body?

The Constitution does not fix the size of the Election Commission. Article 324(2) says that “the Election Commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and such number of other Election Commissioners, if any, as the President may from time to time fix”.

From the beginning, the Election Commission of India consisted of just the Chief Election Commissioner.

However, on October 16, 1989, the Congress government of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi appointed two more Election Commissioners, making the Election Commission a multi-member body.

On January 2, 1990, the National Front government of Prime Minister VP Singh amended the rules, making the Election Commission a single-member body again.

However, on October 1, 1993, the government of Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao promulgated an Ordinance to provide for the appointment of two more Election Commissioners.

The Election Commission has had three members ever since. The Ordinance was subsequently replaced by The Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Conditions of Service) Amendment Act, 1993, which came into effect on January 4, 1994.

Source: The Hindu

Last captive White tiger

In News:

The last captive white tiger named Bajirao died recently at Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai.

Details:

The tiger was born at National Park in 2001.

White tigers are not a separate sub species of Tiger. The White colour is basically due to a pigmentation The White colour is due to lack of red or yellow pheomelanin pigment and the presence of unique recessive genes.

White tigers were once found in Madhya Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Bihar. Now there are no white tigers in the wild.

The last white tiger reported in wild was captured in Rewa forest Madhya Pradesh.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park is in Maharashtra. It is located in Mumbai. It has a protected archaeological site called Kanheri caves.

King Rama X

In News:

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn has formally taken the formal title King Rama X, the 10th king in the Chakri dynasty.

Details:

In a tradition dating to the 18th century, the Chakri kings have held the formal title Rama, after an avatar of Hindu god Vishnu in the ancient Indian epic the Ramayana.

Key facts:

Thailand has a constitutional monarchy, but royal family is highly respected by Thais and holds considerable power.

The country also has strict laws, known as ‘lese majeste’, which bans public criticism of monarchy. It thus shields royal family from public view and scrutiny.

The coronation comes at a time of political uncertainty. A general election was held on 24th March, the first since the army took control in a coup in 2014, but a new government has yet to be declared.

Gujarat Shops and Establishments Act

‘Gujarat Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 2019’ came into force from May 1.

It allows that shops, commercial establishments and businesses running in state can now remain open round the clock (24X7).

It replaces ‘Gujarat Shops and Establishments Act of 1948’ which prohibited shops and other businesses from remaining open between 12 am to 6 am.

Now shops and commercial establishments employing less than ten persons will need no registration and those employing more than 10 workers will require one-time registration with no need for annual renewal.

Working hours for women employees can be only between 6 am and 9 pm. It could be relaxed if after considering safety issues authorities make a written request.

INS Ranjit

It is Indian Navy’s missile destroyer.

It was third of five Kashin- class destroyers built by former USSR.

It is first of five Rajput class destroyer to go out of service.

It will be decommissioned.

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