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27th December Current Affairs

‘Right to be Forgotten’

(GS-II: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure)

In News:

Last week, the Centre told the Delhi High Court that the “right to be forgotten” is part of the fundamental right to privacy, but added it has no significant role to play in the matter.

Details:

Petitions across courts have been seeking enforcement of this “right” — a legal principle that is not yet backed by statute in India.

What is the right to be forgotten?

It allows a person to seek deletion of private information from the Internet. The concept has found recognition in some jurisdictions abroad, particularly the European Union.

What is the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ in the Indian context?

The Right to be Forgotten falls under the purview of an individual’s right to privacy, which is governed by the Personal Data Protection Bill that is yet to be passed by Parliament.

In 2017, the Right to Privacy was declared a fundamental right (under Article 21) by the Supreme Court in its landmark verdict (Puttuswamy case).

The court said at the time that “the right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution”.

Need for its recognition:

At least eight petitions are pending before Delhi High Court seeking removal of private information from the Internet, court records of previous convictions and proceedings, and news reports of past events. Only a few have been able to get that relief from courts so far.

Which countries have such laws?

European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Russia in 2015 enacted a law that allows users to force a search engine to remove links to personal information on grounds of irrelevancy, inaccuracy and violation of law.

The right to be forgotten is also recognised to some extent in Turkey and Siberia, while courts in Spain and England have ruled on the subject.

NASA’s DART mission

(GS-III: Awareness in space)

In News:

Just two weeks after its launch, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft has opened its “eye” and returned its first images from space — a major operational milestone for the spacecraft and DART team.

DART will reach its target on September 26, 2022.

About DART Mission:

The main aim of the mission is to test the newly developed technology that would allow a spacecraft to crash into an asteroid and change its course.

DART is a low-cost spacecraft, weighing around 610 kg at launch and 550 kg during impact.

It also carries about 10 kg of xenon which will be used to demonstrate the agency’s new thrusters called NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster–Commercial (NEXT-C) in space.

The spacecraft carries a high-resolution imager called Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical Navigation (DRACO). Images from DRACO will be sent to Earth in real-time and will help study the impact site and surface of Dimorphos.

DART will also carry a small satellite or CubeSat named LICIACube (Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids). LICIACube is expected to capture images of the impact and the impact crater formed as a result of the collision. It can also capture images of any dust cloud formed during the impact.

Which asteroid will be deflected?

The target of the spacecraft is a small moonlet called Dimorphos (Greek for “two forms”). It is about 160-metre in diameter and the spacecraft is expected to collide when it is 11 million kilometres away from Earth.

Dimorphos orbits a larger asteroid named Didymos (Greek for “twin”) which has a diameter of 780 metres.

The plan:

The spacecraft will navigate to the moonlet and intentionally collide with it at a speed of about 6.6 kilometres per second or 24,000 kilometres per hour. The collision is expected to take place between September 26 and October 1, 2022.

Good Governance Index 2021

(GS-I: Development and related issues)

In News:

Good Governance Index 2021 was launched on the occasion of the Good Governance Day (December 25).

About the GGI:

Prepared by the Department of Administration Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG).

The objectives of GGI are to provide quantifiable data to compare the state of governance in all states and union territories, enable them to formulate and implement suitable strategies for improving governance and shift to result oriented approaches and administration.

The GGI 2021 framework covered 10 sectors and 58 indicators:

The sectors are agriculture and allied sectors, commerce and industries, human resource development, public health, public infrastructure and utilities, economic governance, social welfare and development, judicial and public security, environment and citizen-centric governance.

The GGI 2020-21 categorizes states and union territories into four categories:

Other states – Group A; other states – group B; North-East and hill states and union territories.

Performance of various states:

Gujarat has topped the composite ranking, followed by Maharashtra and Goa.

As many as 20 states have improved their composite GGI scores in 2021.

Delhi has topped the union territories category composite ranking.

Among the sectors, Uttar Pradesh secured top position in the commerce and industry sector.

In the Northeast and Hill States category, Mizoram, and Jammu and Kashmir have registered an overall increase of 10.4 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively over GGI 2019.

Limitations of the Good Governance Index:

The limitations of the index are determined largely by the availability of data, which can be overcome with time as data becomes available from authentic and reliable government sources.

While agreeing the importance of input and process based indicators, the framework is also limited by its focus only on outcome/output based indicators.

Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA)

(GS-III: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention)

In News:

The Centre has decided to constitute a committee to study the possibility of withdrawing the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from the State.

Details:

The committee will be headed by the Additional Secretary (Northeast) in the Union Home Ministry and will include Nagaland’s Chief Secretary and Director-General of Police.

The committee would submit its report within 45 days.

The withdrawal of the “disturbed area” notification and the AFSPA from Nagaland will be based on the recommendations of the committee.

What’s the issue?

A group of daily wage workers who were returning to their village were killed by 21 Para Commando unit, reportedly after information that some NSCN(K) terrorists were travelling in the area.

Following the killings, the Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had demanded the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

Rio criticised the Union Government for extending the “disturbed area” tag for Nagaland every year.

He reminded the Centre of the criticism India had earned globally for the “draconian Act”.

How has the Centre responded to the incident?

A court of enquiry will initiate disciplinary proceedings against the Army unit and Army personnel, who are directly involved in the Oting incident. The identified persons who will face the enquiry will be placed under suspension with immediate effect.

The State government would provide jobs to the next of kin of the deceased.

Government jobs will be given on compassionate grounds on the basis of eligibility.

Background:

The Ministry of Home Affairs had, in Jube 2021, declared the entire State of Nagaland as a “disturbed area” for six more months under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).

MHA said the area comprising the whole of Nagaland is in such a “disturbed and dangerous condition” that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.

What does the AFSPA mean?

In simple terms, AFSPA gives armed forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”.

Powers given to armed forces:

They have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area, can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law.

If reasonable suspicion exists, the army can also arrest a person without a warrant; enter or search premises without a warrant; and ban the possession of firearms.

Any person arrested or taken into custody may be handed over to the officer in charge of the nearest police station along with a report detailing the circumstances that led to the arrest.

What is a “disturbed area” and who has the power to declare it?

A disturbed area is one which is declared by notification under Section 3 of the AFSPA. An area can be disturbed due to differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.

The Central Government, or the Governor of the State or administrator of the Union Territory can declare the whole or part of the State or Union Territory as a disturbed area.

Has there been any review of the Act?

On November 19, 2004, the Central government appointed a five-member committee headed by Justice B P Jeevan Reddy to review the provisions of the act in the north eastern states.

The committee submitted its report in 2005, which included the following recommendations: (a) AFSPA should be repealed and appropriate provisions should be inserted in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967; (b) The Unlawful Activities Act should be modified to clearly specify the powers of the armed forces and paramilitary forces and (c) grievance cells should be set up in each district where the armed forces are deployed.

The 5th report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission on public order has also recommended the repeal of the AFSPA.

Naga killings point to AFSPA pitfalls:

The AFSPA gives the armed forces the licence to kill. And when they carry out such shameful operations without keeping the local police in the loop, as has been the practice for long, it gives the message that the Centre just does not care about the peace process.

Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights vs Union of India- SC’s 1997 verdict laid down guidelines for use of AFSPA:

The 1997 judgment of a Constitution Bench held that the power under Section 4(a) of the AFSPA to use deadly force should be employed only under “certain circumstances”.

The court noted that the “power to cause death is relatable to maintenance of public order in a disturbed area and is to be exercised under definite circumstances”.

These preconditions include a declaration by a high-level authority that an area is “disturbed”. The officer concerned decides to use deadly force on the opinion that it is “necessary” to maintain public order. But he has to give “due warning” first.

The persons against whom the action was taken by the armed forces should have been “acting in contravention of any law or order for the time being in force in the disturbed area”.