Daily Current Affairs for 18th August 2020

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SC to study context of charges against judges


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

  • The Supreme Court decided to launch a detailed examination into the circumstances under which a person can make public allegations of corruption against the judiciary.
  • A three judge Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra also decided to hear arguments on laying down procedure to be adopted if such statements of corruption are made in public against sitting as well as retired judges.


Prashant Bhushan case

  • The Bench framed the two questions while hearing a contempt case initiated against advocate Prashant Bhushan for his remarks on corruption in judiciary in an interview to Tehelka magazine published in 2009.
  • The two most important question which arises are “In what circumstances can such statements [on judicial corruption] be made? Under what circumstances can these allegations need to be made public?

1992 judgment

  • The 1992 judgment had laid down the procedure to deal with allegations against a sitting judge.

(Justice J.S. Verma for a Constitution Bench in 1992 concerning the removal of Justice V. Ramaswami, a Supreme Court judge.)

  • The judge had to be given a fair opportunity to be heard before an inquiry committee formed under the Judges Inquiry Act of 1968.
  • The dominating spirit of the 1992 judgment was to “preserve the right, interest and dignity of the judge, which is commensurate with the dignity of all the institutions and functionaries involved in the process”.

What is contempt of court?

Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 defines criminal contempt as the publication of any matter or the doing of any other act which scandalises or lowers the authority of any court; or prejudices or interferes with the due course of any judicial proceeding; or obstructs the administration of justice.

Constitutional Provisions:

  • Article 129 and 215 of the Constitution of Indiaempowers the Supreme Court and High Court respectively to punish people for their respective contempt.
  • Section 10 of The Contempt of Courts Act of 1971defines the power of the High Court to punish contempt’s of its subordinate courts.
  • The Constitution also includes contempt of court as a reasonable restriction to the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19, along with elements like public order and defamation.

ED launches probe into ‘hawala’ racket involving Chinese firms


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has initiated a money laundering probe into a “hawala” racket allegedly involving some Chinese companies and shell entities that was unearthed by the Income Tax Department.

What Is Hawala?

  • Hawala is an informal method of transferring money without any physical money actually moving. Interpol’s definition of hawala is “money transfer without money movement.”
  • Another definition is simply “trust.” Hawala is used today as an alternative remittance channel that exists outside of traditional banking systems.
  • Transactions between hawala brokers are made without promissory notes because the system is heavily based on trust and the balancing of hawala brokers’ books.

How do Hawala transactions work?

  • Article 10 of the FEMA act states that “The Reserve Bank may, on an application made to it in this behalf, authorize any person to be known as authorized person to deal in foreign exchange or in foreign securities, as an authorized dealer, money changer or off-shore banking unit or in any other manner as it deems fit. This means that if any person wants to act as a dealer in foreign exchange, he has to be registered with the RBI.
  • Hawala is used by a number of the Indian diaspora in African & Middle East countries to send money home. This is because it is cheaper than the formal remittance services, and many migrants (some of them illegal) do not have access to banks.

Example: if “Mr. A” NRI working in UAE wants to send 1,000 AED to his family member in Mumbai. If he sent this money through Authorized dealer, he receives rupees at prevailing exchange rate (regulated b Reserve Bank of India) of INR 19/AED. The exchange rate for the same in uncontrolled (black) is INR 22/AED.

Mr. A contacts a Hawala operator in UAE and gives AED 1,000 to him. The UAE Hawala operator’s counterparty in India, pays INR 22/AED to the family members of NRI in Mumbai. The transaction between Hawala dealer in AED and his counterparty India are not done through authorized dealers and there is no official record of this transaction.

About Enforcement Directorate (ED);

  • The Enforcement Directorate was established in the year 1956. Its Headquarters is situated at New Delhi.
  • ED is responsible for enforcement of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA),and certain provisions under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
  • The Directorate is under the administrative control of the Department of Revenue (under the Ministry of Finance) for operational purposes.
  • The Directorate enforced regulations under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973 but later on, FERA is being replaced by the FEMA.
  • Enforcement Directorate has 10 Zonal offices each of which is headed by a Deputy Director and 11 sub Zonal Offices each of which is headed by an Assistant Directors.

NGT tells States to monitor Ganga rejuvenation


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed Chief Secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and West Bengal to periodically monitor the rejuvenation of the Ganga, while observing that it was a “pity” that pollutants were still being discharged into the river despite several directions of various courts.

Key Takeaways:

  • Periodic joint meetings of Chief Secretaries of the States concerned to consider vital issues like pooling of human resources and sharing best practices for rejuvenation of Ganga, particularly preventing discharge of sewage and other pollutants directly or in its tributaries.
  • Holistic approach for rejuvenation of the river is required.
  • NGT remarked “Pollution free Environment is the constitutional right of every citizen and constitutional obligation of States”. To this extent, the States are certainly failing in discharging their constitutional obligation.
  • The NGT had constituted a Central Monitoring Committee to prepare and enforce a national plan to make over 350 river stretches in the country pollution free.

National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)

  • The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) was implemented by the National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga also known as the National Ganga Council. This mission was established in 12th August 2011 under the Societies Registration Act,1860 as a registered society.
  • The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) under National Ganga Council is supported by the State level Programme Management Groups (SPMGs) in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
  • It is an initiative taken by the Government of India to address the pollution of river Ganga by providing financial and technical assistance.

Initiatives towards Clean Ganga

Some of the major initiatives taken by the Government of India before the implementation of this mission are discussed below:

  • Ganga Action Plan: It was announced in 1985 by the Ministry of Environment & Forests. This was the first River Action Plan that was introduced for the improvement of water quality through interception, diversion and treatment of domestic sewage. The plan aimed in preventing the entry of toxic and industrial chemical wastes to the river.
  • National River Conservation Plan: This conservation plan was developed as an extension for the Ganga Action Plan with an aim to cover all the major rivers of India.
  • National River Ganga Basin Authority (NRGBA):Controlled by the Prime Minister of India, the National River Ganga Basin Authority was formed under Section-3 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 by the Central Government in 2009. It declared the Ganga as the ‘National River’ of India.
  • Government clean-up campaignwas started in 2010 to prevent the entry of untreated municipal sewage or industrial runoff into the river.

What is Namami Gange?

  • The Namami Gange Yojana is implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga along with its State Programme Management Groups (SPMGs).
  • implementation of Namami Gange was announced on 10 July 2014.
  • This programme was established as a conservation mission with a budget of Rs. 20,000 crores.
  • Namami Gange aims at reducing the pollution of the river Ganga along with the conservation and rejuvenation of the river banks.
  • It is a flagship programme under the Union Government. The main pillars of the Namami Gange are:
  1. Sewerage Treatment Infrastructure & Industrial Effluent Monitoring.
  2. Development of river-front as well as river-surface cleaning.
  3. Bio-Diversity & Afforestation.
  4. Public Awareness.

National Ganga Council – Replaces NGRBA

  • National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga, also known as National Ganga Council replaced National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA).
  • NGBRA was dissolved from 7th October, 2016.

National Green Tribunal (NGT)

  • National Green Tribunal (NGT) was established on 18th October 2010 under the NGT Act of 2010 as a specialized body for handling any environmental disputes that involve multi-disciplinary issues.
  • It was formed by replacing the National Environment Appellate Authority.
  • It also draws an inspiration from Article 21 of the India Constitution which assures to provide a healthy environment to the citizens of India.

India, Nepal talk projects on river from Kalapani


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

  • Nepal and India discussed on projects in Nepal being assisted by the Indian government which includes the Pancheshwar multipurpose project and motorable bridges over the Mahankali (Kali, Sharda) river which originates in the Kalapani area, at the centre of a boundary dispute which peaked in May and froze bilateral dialogue.

Key Details:

  • The conversation was “positive” and “productive “although the boundary dispute was not discussed.
  • The meeting focused on border infrastructure projects and a cross-border oil pipeline.

Kali River

  • The Kalapani region derives its name from the river Kali. Nepal’s claims to the region are based on this river.
  • It is also known as Sharda river or Kali Ganga in Uttarakhand.
  • It joins Ghagra river in Uttar Pradesh, which is a tributary of Ganga.
  • River Projects: Tanakpur hydro-electric project, Chameliya hydro-electric project, Sharda Barrage.


  • More than the outcome of the meeting, the two sides interacted at a time when ties have plummeted is being seen as a thaw that could lead to further meaningful dialogue between the two neighbors.

Border dispute between two countries:

  • The inauguration of the “new road to Mansarovar”on May 8 by India’s defence minister has strained the relations between Nepal and India.
  • Nepal claims that a section of the road passes through the territory of Nepal and links with the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China through the Lipu Lekh pass in Nepal.
  • The borders of Nepal, India and China intersect in this area.
  • Lipu Lekh pass is 4 km northwest and Limpiyadhura53 km west of Tinker pass.
  • The 1816 Sugauli Treaty between Nepal and British Indiaplaced all the territories east of the Kali (Mahakali) river, including Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipu Lekh at the northwestern front of Nepal, on its side.

Challenges to govt’s target to raise bio-ethanol blending of petrol


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

  • The government has set targets of 10 per cent bioethanol blending of petrol by 2022 and to raise it to 20 per cent by 2030 under the ethanol blending programme to curb carbon emissions and reduce India’s dependence on imported crude oil.
  • 1G and 2G bioethanol plants are set to play a key role in making bio-ethanol available for blending but face challenges in attracting investments from the private sector.


  • Biofuel is the product of blending a fossil fuel with a certain percentage of ethanol.
  • This ethanol is generally extracted from crops, oilseeds and waste, and mixed in a ratio that doesn’t affect the properties of the fossil fuel while reducing the amount of greenhouse gases it emits when combusted.

1G and 2G biofuel plants:

  • 1G bioethanol plants utilise sugarcane juice and molasses, byproducts in the production of sugar, as raw material, while 2G plants utilise surplus biomass and agricultural waste to produce bioethanol.

Why are Indian plants not able to meet the demand for bio-ethanol?

  • Financial Stability: Many sugar mills which are best placed to produce bioethanol do not have the financial stability to invest in biofuel plants and there are also concerns among investors on the uncertainty of the price of bio-ethanol in the future.
  • Government intervention: The prices of both sugarcane and bio-ethanol are set by the central government. the price of obtaining agricultural waste required for the production of bio-ethanol at 2G plants was currently too high for it to be viable for private investors in the country.
  • Lack of Infrastructure: State governments needs to set up depots where farmers could drop their agricultural waste and that the central government should fix a price for agricultural waste to make investments in 2G bioethanol production an attractive proposition. Lack of infrastructure from both state and central government is one the loophole.
  • Domestic production: Domestic production of bioethanol is not sufficient to meet the demand for bio-ethanol for blending with petrol at Indian Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs).

Ways to boost investment in bioethanol production:

  • Government could provide greater visibility on the price of bioethanol that sugar mills can expect by announcing a mechanism by which the price of bio-ethanol would be decided.
  • The impetus for bioethanol uptake was driven by government worldwide, and a target that a certain percentage of ethanol blending be done using ethanol generated from 2G plants would help boost investment in the area.

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