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6th August Current Affairs

Privilege of MPs does not extend to criminal cases, Rajya Sabha Chairman

(GS-II: Parliament- Structure, functioning and conduct of business, privileges to MPs etc)

In News:

Rajya Sabha Chairman clarified in the House that “MPs do not enjoy any immunity from being arrested in a criminal case during the Session or otherwise”.

Details:

In criminal matters, Members of Parliament (MPs) are “not on a different footing than a common citizen”.

Chairman’s observation came a day after Congress leader of house Mallikarjun Kharge raised the issue in the House that he was summoned by the Enforcement Directorate when the session was on.

Key Highlights:

Article 105: Under Article 105 of the Constitution, Members of Parliament enjoy certain privileges so that they can perform their parliamentary duties without let or hindrance.

One of the privileges is that a member of Parliament cannot be arrested in a civil case, 40 days before the commencement of the Session or Committee meeting and 40 days thereafter.

This privilege is already incorporated under section 135A of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.

Key Ruling on privileges:

Dr Zakir Hussain case(1966): In 1966 by Dr Zakir Hussain it mentioned that “Members of Parliament do enjoy certain privileges so that they can perform their duties”.

K Anandan Nambiar and another: The Supreme Court of India held that the true Constitutional position is that so far as a valid order of detention is concerned, a Member of Parliament can claim no special status higher than that of an ordinary citizen and is as much liable to be arrested, detained or questioned even during the Session.

State of Kerala Vs K. Ajith and Others: The Supreme Court in a recent case, State of Kerala Vs K. Ajith and Others, observed that “privileges and immunities are not gateways to claim exemptions from the general law of the land, particularly as in this case, the criminal law which governs the action of every citizen.

Monkeypox task force recommends sprucing up research infrastructure for developing indigenous vaccine

(GS-II & III: Issues related to development of infrastructure related to Health, monkeypox, smallpox etc)

In News:

With at least eight cases of the monkeypox virus reported out of India, a task force of the experts constituted by the Center has laid out plans to fund research in developing the critical infrastructure needed for preparing an indigenous vaccine.

Details:

The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak as a public health emergency, experts at a meeting reckoned that monkeypox was unlikely to immediately require mass vaccination.

Background:

JYNNEOS to be used for monkeypox: Danish biotech company, Bavarian Nordic, has developed a smallpox vaccine, called JYNNEOS, that has been tested for safety in people and effectiveness against monkeypox in the laboratory, and has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Lack of specific knowledge: In the case of SARS-CoV2, the genome of the virus was rapidly analyzed and deciphered from which scientists figured out the central role played by the spike protein in infecting healthy lung cells.

This served as the basis for subsequent vaccines, though they employed various approaches.

This level of specific knowledge isn’t yet available for a potential monkeypox vaccine.

Old vaccine not acceptable by modern standards: The old smallpox vaccines had a risk profile that wouldn’t be acceptable by modern standards.

A killed-virus is the easiest approach because the steps are known though we don’t yet know how effective this would be for monkeypox.

85 % genome matching: Officials said the genomic sequence of the Indian strain has a 99.85% match with the West African strain circulating globally.

New Ayush wings in Defense and Railway Hospitals

In News:

The Ministry of Ayush signed a MoU with the Ministry of Railway for Introduction of Ayush Systems in five Railways Hospitals resulting in establishment of Ayush units at 5 Railway zonal hospitals at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Guwahati.

Details:

The Ministry of Ayush has collaborated with the Ministry of Defense resulting in the establishment of Ayurveda OPDs at 12 AFMS (Armed Force Medical Services) Hospitals and 37 Cantonment Board Hospitals.

These facilities are successfully operational with effect from 1st week of June 2022.

The Ministry of Ayush had a Central Sector Scheme namely Champion Services Sector Scheme for Medical Value Travel.

There are three components of this scheme i.e.

  • Establishment of Ayush Super speciality Hospitals / Daycare Centers
  • Skill development in Ayush sector
  • Establishment of Ayush Grid.

The Ministry of Ayush has developed a Central Sector Scheme i.e.Ayurswasthya Yojana:

There is a component called Up-gradation of facilities to the Center of Excellence (CoE).

The main objective of the CoE component is to support establishment and upgradation of both functions and facilities of reputed institutions to strengthen Ayush professionals in education, technology, research & innovation and other fields necessary for promotion of Ayush at National as well International level.

Supreme Court moots verdict to help unmarried women gain ‘bodily autonomy’ under MTP Act

(GS-II: Judiciary, functioning of judiciary, MTP Act etc)

In News:

The Supreme Court on Friday said it may loosen the restrictive grip of a 51-year-old abortion law which bars unmarried women from terminating pregnancies which are up to 24 weeks old, saying the prohibition was “manifestly arbitrary and violative of women’s right to bodily autonomy and dignity”.

Details:

A Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and J.B. Pardiwala considered pronouncing a judgment which would put these unmarried women on par with anguished women with less than 20-week-old pregnancies who run the danger of suffering a mental breakdown because they had conceived due to the failure of “family planning devices or methods”.

Background:

Similar situations for unmarried women: The court noted that the Rules permit termination of pregnancies of up to 24 weeks in seven specific categories, including survivors of rape or sexual assault, minors, in case of physical disabilities and fetal malformation.

  • The court said that unmarried women whose pregnancy is over 20 weeks may have also conceived in a similarly vulnerable situation.

Pregnancy within and outside marriage: The legislature has not just used the word ‘husband’. It has also used the word ‘partner’.

  • So the legislature is not just concerned about women who undergo pregnancy within marriage, but outside marriage too.
  • Medical risk is the same for both married and unmarried women

Sec 3 of MTP Act: Section 3 (when pregnancies may be terminated by registered medical practitioners) of 1971 Act allows women who are less than 20 weeks’ pregnant to terminate if they had conceived due to the “failure of a family planning device”.

  • The law presumes that such a pregnancy would be a cause of mental anguish and constitute a “grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman”.