Criminal justice reforms
(GS-II: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions)
Experts have expressed “serious concerns over the slow pace of reforms in the criminal justice system to ensure speedy justice”.
The delay in disposal of cases was leading to human rights violations of the under-trials and convicts.
Despite the Supreme Court’s directions on police reforms, there had been hardly any changes on the ground.
Court orders convicting a person are also taking years to implement.
Special laws and fast-track courts could replace certain offences under the Indian Penal Code in order to reduce the piling up of cases at every police station.
Digitisation of documents would help in speeding up investigations and trials.
The construction of new offences and reworking of the existing classification of offences must be guided by the principles of criminal jurisprudence which have substantially altered in the past four decades.
The classification of offences must be done in a manner conducive to management of crimes in the future.
The discretion of judges in deciding the quantum and nature of sentence differently for crimes of the same nature should be based on principles of judicial precedent.
Criminal law in India:
The Criminal law in India is contained in a number of sources – The Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
Criminal Justice System can impose penalties on those who violate the established laws.
The criminal law and criminal procedure are in the concurrent list of the seventh schedule of the constitution.
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay is said to be the chief architect of codifications of criminal laws in India.
Need for reforms:
Committee For Reform In Criminal Law:
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has constituted a national level committee for reform in criminal law.
The committee has been constituted under Ranbir Singh and several other members.
The committee would be gathering opinions online by consulting with experts and collating material for their report to the government.
Madhav Menon Committee: It submitted its report in 2007, suggesting various recommendations on reforms in the Criminal Justice System of India (CJSI).
Malimath Committee Report: It submitted its report in 2003 on the Criminal Justice System of India (CJSI).
(GS-II: India and its neighbours)
China recently flew 39 warplanes toward Taiwan in its largest such sortie of the new year, continuing a pattern that the island has answered by scrambling its own jets in response.
Rationale behind such acts:
China often mounts such missions to express displeasure at something Taiwan has done or at shows of international support for the democratically ruled island, especially by the United States, Taiwan’s main arms provider.
China has described its activities as necessary to protect the country’s sovereignty and deal with “collusion” between Taipei and Washington.
Chinese pilots have been flying towards Taiwan on a near-daily basis in the past year and a half, since Taiwan’s government started publishing the data regularly. The largest sortie was 56 warplanes on a single day last October.
What’s the issue?
China has ramped up military pressure, including repeated missions by Chinese warplanes near democratic Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own and has not ruled out taking by force.
The European Parliament’s first official delegation to Taiwan recently come in support of Taiwan and said that the diplomatically isolated island is not alone. It called for bolder actions to strengthen EU-Taiwan ties as Taipei faces rising pressure from Beijing.
Taiwan, which does not have formal diplomatic ties with any European nations except tiny Vatican City, is keen to deepen relations with members of the European Union.
China- Taiwan relations- Background:
China has claimed Taiwan through its “one China” policy since the Chinese civil war forced the defeated Kuomintang, or Nationalist, to flee to the island in 1949 and has vowed to bring it under Beijing’s rule, by force if necessary.
While Taiwan is self-governed and de facto independent, it has never formally declared independence from the mainland.
Under the “one country, two systems” formula, Taiwan would have the right to run its own affairs; a similar arrangement is used in Hong Kong.
Presently, Taiwan is claimed by China, which refuses diplomatic relations with countries that recognise the region.
Indo- Taiwan relations:
Although they do not have formal diplomatic ties, Taiwan and India have been cooperating in various fields.
India has refused to endorse the “one-China” policy since 2010.
Recognition/derecognition of political parties
(GS-II: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act)
A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to seize the election symbol or de-register a political party that promises or distributes “irrational freebies” from public funds before elections.
It said there should be a total ban on such populist measures to gain undue political favours from the voters as they violate the Constitution and the ECI should take suitable deterrent measures.
The plea urged the court to declare that the promise of irrational freebies from public funds before elections unduly influences the voters, disturbs the level playing field and vitiates the purity of the poll process.
This unethical practice is just like giving bribes to the electorate at the cost of the exchequer to stay in power and must be avoided to preserve democratic principles and practices.
Registration of political parties:
Registration of Political parties is governed by the provisions of Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
A party seeking registration under the said Section with the Election Commission has to submit an application to the Commission within a period of 30 days following the date of its formation as per guidelines prescribed by the Election Commission of India in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 324 of the Commission of India and Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
To be eligible for a ‘National Political Party of India:
It secures at least six percent of the valid votes polled in any four or more states, at a general election to the House of the People or, to the State Legislative Assembly.
In addition, it wins at least four seats in the House of the People from any State or States.
It wins at least two percent seats in the House of the People (i.e., 11 seats in the existing House having 543 members), and these members are elected from at least three different States.
To be eligible for a ‘State Political Party:
It secures at least six percent of the valid votes polled in the State at a general election, either to the House of the People or to the Legislative Assembly of the State concerned.
In addition, it wins at least two seats in the Legislative Assembly of the State concerned.
It wins at least three percent (3%) of the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the State, or at least three seats in the Assembly, whichever is more.
If a party is recognised as a State Party’, it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it in the State in which it is so recognised, and if a party is recognised as a `National Party’ it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it throughout India.
Recognised `State’ and `National’ parties need only one proposer for filing the nomination and are also entitled for two sets of electoral rolls free of cost at the time of revision of rolls and their candidates get one copy of electoral roll free of cost during General Elections.
They also get broadcast/telecast facilities over Akashvani/Doordarshan during general elections.
The travel expenses of star campaigners are not to be accounted for in the election expense accounts of candidates of their party.
Amid Ukraine crisis, NATO sends planes, ships to eastern Europe
(GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate)
Amid the rising tensions over Russia’s military buildup around Ukraine, NATO allies have put forces on standby and sent ships and fighter jets to bolster Europe’s eastern defences.
What is the conflict all about?
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia, both former Soviet states, escalated in late 2013 over a landmark political and trade deal with the European Union. After the pro-Russian then-President, Viktor Yanukovych, suspended the talks, weeks of protests in Kiev erupted into violence.
Then, in March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, an autonomous peninsula in southern Ukraine with strong Russian loyalties, on the pretext that it was defending its interests and those of Russian-speaking citizens.
Shortly afterwards, pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions declared their independence from Kiev, prompting months of heavy fighting. Despite Kiev and Moscow signing a peace deal in Minsk in 2015, brokered by France and Germany, there have been repeated ceasefire violations.
The United States, NATO and Ukrainian officials have been making statements for nearly two weeks, referring to what they say are unusual Russian troop movements in the proximity of Ukraine.
Russia has stationed more than 1,00,000 troops at its border with aspiring NATO member Ukraine.
What’s the issue? What are the demands by Russia?
Russia stated that only if NATO withdraws their forces from all countries in Europe that joined the alliance after May 1997, would they de-escalate the military build-up.
This would effectively mean that NATO cannot operate in any of the Baltic nations that border Russia (Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania), central European states such as Poland, Hungary, and the Czech republic, and Balkan states such as Croatia and Slovenia.
Russia also wants NATO to drop plans of any further ‘enlargement’, which means committing to not accepting Ukraine and Georgia as members. Another demand is that NATO must not hold drills in eastern Europe, Ukraine and Georgia without prior approval from Russia.
Need for international attention:
Fourteen thousand people have died in the battle between Kiev and pro-Russia rebels in the east of the country. Out of these, 3,393 deaths were of civilians, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’s October 2021 report.
About North Atlantic Treaty Organization:
Since its founding, the admission of new member states has increased the alliance from the original 12 countries to 30. The most recent member state to be added to NATO was North Macedonia on 27 March 2020.
NATO membership is open to “any other European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area.”
Minsk I: Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists agreed a 12-point ceasefire deal in the capital of Belarus in September 2014.
Its provisions included prisoner exchanges, deliveries of humanitarian aid and the withdrawal of heavy weapons.
The agreement quickly broke down, with violations by both sides.
Minsk II: In 2015, an open conflict was averted after the ‘Minsk II’ peace agreement was signed, under the mediation of France and Germany.
It was designed to end the fighting in the rebel regions and hand over the border to Ukraine’s national troops.