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August 25, 2021
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August 25, 2021
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18th August Current Affairs

Need for a separate security force to protect judiciary, courts

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

The Supreme Court had taken suo motu cognisance of the attacks on judges along with petitions pending since 2019 seeking better protection for the judiciary and in courts.

Details:

The turning point was the recent murder of a judge in Jharkhand, Uttam Anand, in broad daylight.

The court had asked the Centre’s opinion on forming a central security outfit in the manner of the Railway Protection Force to protect courts and judges.

Latest updates:

During the latest hearing, Union government has told the Supreme Court that:

It is “not advisable” to form a Central security force to protect the judiciary and court complexes. Security of courts was “better left to the States”.

It is because problems of security vary from State to State. So, the State police would be better equipped to gauge the deployment needs in local courts and take care of logistics of transporting criminals and protecting witnesses, among other crucial functions within court complexes.

Moreover, ‘police’ is a State subject under the Constitution.

What did the court say?

Several States had not bothered to file affidavits detailing the security arrangements in place for courts. Others who had filed affidavits presented a “lazy picture” of the security arrangements.

The court allowed the States to file their affidavits in 10 days subject to paying ₹1 lakh each as costs.

The court warned that Chief Secretaries would be summoned in case of non-compliance.

Need for:

Independence of the judiciary is an integral part of the basic structure of our Constitution. Judges are entrusted with an onerous job.

It is their responsibility to ensure that justice is done.

Popular sentiment requires them to act in a manner depicting that justice is not only done, but also appears to be done.

They make big decisions that require them to act fearless and impartially. When judges are fearful, it impedes their ability to do their jobs”.

Absence of bias is fundamental to judicial integrity.

Any influence on the judiciary by either the State or the litigants, adversely impacts the fair administration of justice.

An independent judiciary free from any pressures, inducements, enticements or intimidations is the cornerstone of any Constitutional democracy.

Concerns/challenges:

Judges face security threats both inside as well as beyond their courtrooms. Their job requires them to routinely deal with antisocial elements. This makes them as well as their family members susceptible to attacks. The recent murder of an Additional District Judge from Jharkhand, Uttam Anand, highlights the vulnerability of judicial officers.

What are Foreigners’ Tribunals?

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

Assam government’s Political Department has issued a notification ordering the State police’s Border wing not to forward any case against Gurkhas to the Foreigners’ Tribunals under the Foreigners’ Act of 1946.

Background:

The Border wing is tasked with identifying people of doubtful citizenship and serving them notices for a Foreigners’ Tribunal — a quasi-judicial establishment — to take over.

How many Gurkhas are there in the state?

According to the 2011 census, Assam has more than 5 lakh Gurkhas, most of whom came as members of armed forces under the British administration.

About 22,000 Gurkhas were left out of the draft National Register of Citizens published on August 31, 2019.

Implications of the latest move:

The cases of some 2,500 Gurkhas are pending in a few of the 100 Foreigners’ Tribunals in Assam. All such cases are to be withdrawn.

Who is a declared foreigner?

A declared foreigner, or DF, is a person marked by Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) for allegedly failing to prove their citizenship after the State police’s Border wing marks him or her as an illegal immigrant.

What is a Foreigners tribunal?

Foreigners’ Tribunals are quasi-judicial bodies established as per the Foreigners’ Tribunal Order, 1964 and the Foreigners’ Act, 1946.

Composition: Advocates not below the age of 35 years of age with at least 7 years of practice (or) Retired Judicial Officers from the Assam Judicial Service (or) Retired IAS of ACS Officers (not below the rank of Secretary/Addl. Secretary) having experience in quasi-judicial works.

Who can setup these tribunals?

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has amended the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, and has empowered district magistrates in all States and Union Territories to set up tribunals (quasi-judicial bodies) to decide whether a person staying illegally in India is a foreigner or not.

Earlier, the powers to constitute tribunals were vested only with the Centre.

Who can approach?

The amended order (Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 2019) also empowers individuals to approach the Tribunals.

Earlier, only the State administration could move the Tribunal against a suspect.

RoDTEP scheme

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

The Centre has notified the rates and norms for the Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) scheme.

A budgetary allocation of ₹12,454 crore has been made for 2021-22 under the scheme which covers 8,555 tariff lines, accounting for about 75% of traded items and 65% of India’s exports.

About the scheme:

The scheme was announced in 2020 as a replacement for the Merchandise Export from India Scheme (MEIS), which was not compliant with the rules of the World Trade Organisation.

The scheme would refund to exporters the embedded central, state and local duties or taxes that were so far not being rebated or refunded and were, therefore, placing India’s exports at a disadvantage.

Key features:

To enable zero rating of exports by ensuring domestic taxes are not exported, all taxes, including those levied by States and even Gram Panchayats, will be refunded under the scheme.

The rebates under RoDTEP is WTO-compliant as per legal advice, range from 0.5% to 4.3% of the Free On Board value of outbound consignments.

The lowest rate is offered on items like chocolates, toffees and sugar confectionary, while yarns and fibres have been granted the highest rate.

Steel, pharma and chemicals have not been included under the scheme because their exports have done well without incentives.

Significance:

Indian exporters will be able to meet the international standards for exports as affordable testing and certification will be made available to exporters within the country instead of relying on international organizations.

Also under it, tax assessment is set to become fully automatic for exporters. Businesses will get access to their refunds for GST via an automatic refund-route.

This would increase the economy for the country and working capital for the enterprise.

World’s second-largest refurbished gene bank at New Delhi

(GS-III: Biotechnology related issues)

In News:

The world’s second-largest refurbished state-of-the-art National Gene Bank was inaugurated recently at the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), Pusa, New Delhi.

What are Gene Banks?

People save money in banks, in case of an emergency. Genetic banks serve a similar purpose for farmers and scientists who work to conserve rare plants and animals.

Significance:

Researchers or farmers can withdraw samples from these “gene” banks to help rebuild populations of rare plant varieties and animal breeds or to help increase genetic diversity within species.

Gene banks also preserve cells or organisms that host unusual gene variants — genes with special traits. Those genes might later prove useful when some disease epidemic strikes, when the climate changes or when other factors threaten the survival of plants or animals.

Farmers could use the banked deposits — stored cells or tissues — to restore genetic diversity or to introduce traits from other breeds or varieties.

About the National Gene Bank:

Established in 1996 to preserve the seeds of Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) for future generations.

It has the capacity to preserve about one million germplasm in the form of seeds.

It stores different crop groups such as cereals, millets, medicinal and aromatic plants and narcotics, etc.

Presently, the National Gene Bank has been protecting 4.52 lakh accessions, of which 2.7 lakh are the Indian germplasm while the rest have been imported from other countries.

NGB has four kinds of facilities to cater to long-term as well as medium-term conservation namely:

  • Seed Gene bank (- 18°C).
  • Cryo gene bank (-170°C to -196°C).
  • In-vitro Gene bank (25°C).
  • Field Gene bank.

Why is there a need for Gene Bank?

It will make the farmers of the country self-reliant and the government has been making every effort in that direction.