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2nd August Current Affairs

Section 66A of the Information Technology Act

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

In News:

The Centre has said that the Ministries of Information and Technology and Home Affairs had done their best to disseminate knowledge about the Supreme Court judgment in Shreya Singhal case on Section 66A. Despite this, many cases have been registered under this section.

The Centre has made the following observations:

Since the police and public order were “State subjects” under the Constitution, the onus lies with the states to implement the apex court’s 2015 judgment quashing the ‘draconian’ section 66A of Information and Technology Act.

Law enforcement agencies share equal responsibility to comply with the apex court judgment. They take action against cyber crime offenders as per the law.

What has happened?

On July 5, the Supreme Court had expressed shock and dismay over police continuing to register cases under section 66A despite it being quashed six years ago.

As of March 2021, a total of 745 cases are still pending and active before the district courts in 11 states, wherein the accused persons are being prosecuted for offences under Section 66A of the IT Act.

What is Section 66A?

Section 66A defines the punishment for sending “offensive” messages through a computer or any other communication device like a mobile phone or a tablet.

A conviction can fetch a maximum of three years in jail and a fine.

It empowered police to make arrests over what policemen, in terms of their subjective discretion, could construe as “offensive” or “menacing” or for the purposes of causing annoyance, inconvenience, etc.

Why did SC strike down section 66A?

The SC had noted that Section 66A arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech, under article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution, and upsets the balance between such right and the reasonable restrictions that may be imposed on such right and the definition of offences under the provision was open-ended and undefined.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021

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

In News:

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021, which seeks to amend the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, was recently passed in Rajya Sabha.

As per the amendments:

The District Magistrates have been further empowered under the Act to ensure its smooth implementation, as well as garner synergized efforts in favour of children in distress conditions.

It means that DMs and ADMs will monitor the functioning of various agencies under the JJ Act in every district- including the Child Welfare Committees, the Juvenile Justice Boards, the District Child Protection Units and the Special Juvenile Protection Units.

The DM will also carry out background checks of CWC members, who are usually social welfare activists, including educational qualifications, as there is no such provision currently.

The DMs are also to check possible criminal backgrounds to ensure that no cases of child abuse or child sexual abuse are found against any member before they are appointed.

The CWCs are also to report regularly to the DMs on their activities in the districts.

Serious offences will also include offences for which maximum punishment is imprisonment of more than seven years, and minimum punishment is not prescribed or is less than seven years.

Instead of the court, the District Magistrate (including Additional District Magistrate) will now issue adoption orders.

Significance:

The changes give increased powers and responsibilities to District Magistrates.

This has increased protection of children at the district level, with checks and balances in place, and will also speed up the adoption processes in the country.

What is the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015?

The Act was introduced and passed in Parliament in 2015 to replace the Juvenile Delinquency Law and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act) 2000.

It allowed the trial of juveniles in conflict with law in the age group of 16-18 years as adults, in cases where the crimes were to be determined.

The nature of the crime, and whether the juvenile should be tried as a minor or a child, was to be determined by a Juvenile Justice Board.

It received impetus after the 2012 Delhi gangrape in which one of the accused was just short of 18 years, and was therefore tried as a juvenile.

The Act streamlined adoption procedures for orphans, abandoned and surrendered children and the existing Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has been given the status of a statutory body to enable it to perform its function more effectively.

Integrated theatre commands

(GS-III: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate)

In News:

A table-top war-gaming exercise was held recently among the three services of the armed forces (Navy, Army and Airforce).

Aim:

The aim of this exercise was to evolve a consensus among the three services on the reorganisation of the forces into integrated tri-service theatre commands and fine-tune the model.

Background:

India currently has 19 military commands with 17 of them service-oriented. While both the Army and the Air Force have seven commands each, the Navy has three.

India also has a Tri-Service Command — Andaman and Nicobar Command — besides the Strategic Forces Command (SFC), which looks after the country’s nuclear stockpile.

What are integrated theatre commands?

An integrated theatre command envisages a unified command of the three Services, under a single commander, for geographical areas that are of strategic and security concern.

The commander of such a force will be able to bear all resources at his disposal — from the Army, the Indian Air Force, and the Navy — with seamless efficacy.

The integrated theatre commander will not be answerable to individual Services.

Why does India seek theatre commands?

This will help in better planning and military response and also bring down cost.

While the cost may go up in the immediate future since all theatres would have to be armed with sufficient systems, it will prove to be cost-effective in the long term as all acquisitions will be a unified one.

It will provide a unified approach to fighting the future wars.

Proposals in this regard:

The need for a unified approach to war fighting was brought out in the deliberations after the 1999 Kargil battle.

The Kargil Review Committee and the then Group of Ministers besides the Naresh Chandra Committee had called for structural changes in higher defence management.

It was the Shekatkar committee, headed by Lt Gen. (retd) D.B. Shekatkar, which had recommended the creation of the post of CDS and theatre commands.

India assumes UNSC presidency

(GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate)

In News:

India has assumed the rotating Presidency of the United Nations Security Council for the month of August.

Details:

This is India’s tenth tenure.

This is also India’s first presidency in the UNSC during its 2021-22 tenure as a non-permanent member of the UNSC.

About Security Council Presidency:

The presidency of the Council is held by each of the members in turn for one month, following the English alphabetical order of the Member States names.

It rotates among the 15 member-states of the council monthly.

The head of the country’s delegation is known as the President of the United Nations Security Council.

The president serves to coordinate actions of the council, decide policy disputes, and sometimes functions as a diplomat or intermediary between conflicting groups.

About UNSC:

The United Nations Charter established six main organs of the United Nations, including the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

The Security Council has the power to make decisions that member states are then obligated to implement under the Charter.

Permanent and Non-Permanent Members: The UNSC is composed of 15 members, 5 permanent and 10 non-permanent.

Each year, the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members for a two-year term.

Proposed UNSC reforms:

Reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) encompasses five key issues: categories of membership, the question of the veto held by the five permanent members, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council and its working methods, and the Security Council-General Assembly relationship.

Case for Permanent Membership of India in UNSC:

India is the founding member of the UN.

Most significantly, India has almost twice the number of peacekeepers deployed on the ground than by P5 countries.

India is also the largest democracy and second-most populous country.

India’s acquired status of a Nuclear Weapons State (NWS) in May 1998 also makes India a natural claimant as a permanent member similar to the existing permanent members who are all Nuclear Weapon States.

India is the undisputed leader of the Third world countries, as reflected by its leadership role in Non-Aligned Movement and G-77 grouping.