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April 2, 2021
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3rd April Current Affairs

Corrective voice from top court against stereotyping women

In News:

in its latest judgement, the Supreme Court has:

Forbid judges from making gender stereotypical comments.

Stopped courts from trying to mandate marriage or compromise between a sex offender and his victim.

The judgment was based on an appeal against a Madhya Pradesh High Court order directing an alleged molester to “allow” his victim to tie a rakhi on him.

Need for:

The judgment came days after the court ran into a maelstrom of criticism after the Chief Justice of India (CJI), during a virtual hearing on March 1, reportedly asked an alleged rapist’s lawyer to enquire whether his client would marry the survivor.

Need for these measures:

Gender stereotypical comments by the top court diminish a sexual offence and tend to trivialise the survivor.

Even a solitary instance of such order or utterance in court, reflects adversely on the entire judicial system of the country, undermining the guarantee to fair justice to all, and especially to victims of sexual violence (of any kind from the most aggravated to the so-called minor offences).

Notable judgments which have lashed out at sex stereotyping include:

The framing of the Vishaka Guidelines on sexual harassment of women in working places.

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud’s historic judgment giving women Armed Forces officers equal access to Permanent Commission while debunking the establishment’s claim that women were physiologically weaker than men.

In the Anuj Garg case, the Supreme Court had rebuked “the notion of romantic paternalism”, which, “in practical effect, put women, not on a pedestal, but in a cage”.

Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)

In News:

The Election Commission has decided to use Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) along with Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) at all the Polling Stations in the upcoming assembly elections in four states and Union territory.

What is VVPAT?

Voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) is a method of providing feedback to voters using EVMs.

A VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their vote was cast correctly, and to provide a means to audit the stored electronic results.

It contains the name of the candidate for whom vote has been cast and symbol of the party/individual candidate.

Significance and the need for VVPATs:

  • The VVPAT helps to detect potential election fraud or malfunction in the Electronic Voting Machine.
  • It provides a means to audit the stored electronic results. It serves as an additional barrier to change or destroy votes.
  • The EVMs with VVPAT system ensure the accuracy of the voting system with fullest transparency and restores the confidence of the voters.
  • EVMs and VVPATs also speed up the election process as counting votes on EVMs takes much lesser time than counting paper ballots.

Places of Worship Act

In News:

A co-mutawalli of 350-year-old ”TeelyWali masjid” of Lucknow, Wasif Hasan, has approached the Supreme Court seeking intervention in the pending PIL challenging provisions of the Places of Worship Act.

Details:

The applicant has opposed the plea claiming that the petition is a mischievous one which aims at isolating the Muslim Community as a separate category from other religious communities in India.

What’s the issue?

A petition filed in the court challenged a special law — Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act of 1991 — which freezes the status of places of worship as it was on August 15, 1947.

The petitioner had termed the law as “arbitrary, irrational and retrospective”.

What are the objectives of the Act?

To freeze the status of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947.

To provide for the maintenance of the religious character of such a place of worship as on that day.

To pre-empt new claims by any group about the past status of any place of worship and attempts to reclaim the structures or the land on which they stood.

Key features:

The Act declares that the religious character of a place of worship shall continue to be the same as it was on August 15, 1947.

It says no person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.

It declares that all suits, appeals or any other proceedings regarding converting the character of a place of worship, which are pending before any court or authority on August 15, 1947, will abate as soon as the law comes into force. No further legal proceedings can be instituted.

Exceptions:

These provisions will not apply to:

Ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains that are covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.

A suit that has been finally settled or disposed of; and any dispute that has been settled by the parties or conversion of any place that took place by acquiescence before the Act commenced.

The Act also does not apply to the place of worship commonly referred to as Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. This law will have overriding effect over any other law in force.

Riyadh presents ceasefire plan to Yemen’s Houthis

In News:

Saudi Arabia presented a new peace initiative to end the war in Yemen.

The initiative includes:

A nationwide ceasefire under UN supervision and the reopening of air and sea links.

Reopening of Sana’a airport, and allowing fuel and food imports through Hodeidah port, both of which are controlled by Riyadh’s enemies, the Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

Restarting of political negotiations between the Saudi-backed government and the Houthis.

The war in Yemen: Background:

The conflict has its roots in the Arab Spring of 2011, when an uprising forced the country’s long-time authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to hand over power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

The political transition was supposed to bring stability to Yemen, one of the Middle East’s poorest nations, but President Hadi struggled to deal with various problems including militant attacks, corruption, food insecurity, and continuing loyalty of many military officers to Saleh.

Fighting began in 2014 when the Houthi Shia Muslim rebel movement took advantage of the new president’s weakness and seized control of northern Saada province and neighbouring areas.

The Houthis is a group of Zaidi Shia Muslims who ruled a kingdom there for nearly 1,000 years.

Why is Saudi Arabia in Yemen?

Saudi Arabia interfered in Yemen after the Shia Houthi rebels captured Sana’a, the capital city, and the internationally recognised government of President Hadi moved to the country’s south.

How bad is Yemen’s humanitarian situation?

Since the Saudi intervention in 2015, at least 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen, according to the WHO. The widespread damage caused to infrastructure by the coalition airstrikes and lack of supplies of food and medicines due to the blockade have pushed Yemen into a humanitarian catastrophe. About 12 million people are at the risk of starvation if aid doesn’t reach them fast. The country has also seen a massive cholera outbreak. A child dies every 10 minutes in Yemen from preventable causes, says UNICEF.