Daily Current Affairs for 4th September 2020

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SC rejects women Army officers’ plea

Why in news

The Supreme Court declined to hear a plea by a batch of Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers seeking benefits of permanent commission (PC) in the Army.

Key Details:

  • The SSC women officers who were seeking benefits of PC completed 14 years of service only in March.
  • The court had held that only women officers who had completed 14 years of service before or by February 17 would be considered for permanent commission.
  • The court pointed to that the plea amounted to a review of the court’s verdict itself.
  • As per apex court, Any relief granted to this batch would open the floodgates for more such petitions.


  • On February 17, the SC had directed the Centre to consider within three months, all serving SSC women officers for PC irrespective of them having crossed 14 years or, as the case may be, 20 years of service.
  • The Supreme Court in a landmark judgement of Ministry of Defence vs Babita Puniya and others, granted permanent commission (PC) to women officers while adding that the officers will be now eligible for command posting

What is Permanent Commission (PC) and Short Service Commission (SSC)

  • Permanent Commission Officers continue to serve till the age of superannuation.
  • Permanent commission allows an officer to serve in the Army for 20 years, which is the minimum pensionable service, and beyond that.
  • Short Service Commission (SSC) scheme allows women officers into the Army for a period of 10 years, extendable up to 14 years.

What was not allowed before the Apex Court’s Judgment:

  • Women were restricted to specific responsibilities such as Corps of Engineers, Army Education Corps, Corps of Signals and Intelligence Corps.
  • SSC scheme doesn’t allow women officers in combat roles like armoured corps and infantry.
  • On the other hand, SSC provides an option to male army officers to opt for permanent commission at the end of ten years of service.
  • Women officers were not allowed for permanent commission.
  • Women officers could not qualify for a government pension.

What has changed now:

  • All women serving as SSC are now entitled to opt for PC — they are qualified for permanent commission as much as all male SSC officers are entitled to opt for the PC.
  • Applies to women in all services of the Army — 10 streams of the Army on a par with their male counterparts in all respects.
  • Officers, who have been serving and completed more than 14 years of service, can now serve until 20 years and retire with full pension benefits.
  • Those who served 20 or more years, whether or not they got a PC, will be entitled to pension benefits.
  • Command is now open to women officers — this doesn’t necessarily mean commanding to fight battalions, but that women can rise to the colonel level. A command can also be of a non-fighting unit.

Clause in secular marriage law violates right to privacy, says plea

Why in news

  • A secular marriage law that makes accessible to all and sundry the personal details, including mobile phone numbers, of adults who want to enter wedlock has come under challenge in the Supreme Court.

Key details

  • The Special Marriage Act is intended to help consenting adults, especially those who belong to different religions or castes, to marry. But certain provisions of the Act, like Section 6, require the personal details of the couple to be published for 30 days at the Marriage Registrar’s office.
  • The details include their names, date of birth, age, occupation, parents’ names and details, address, pin code, identity information, and phone number.
  • The provisions in the Act allow anyone to submit objections to the marriage if they come to know of it through this public notice.
  • The publication of private details is a violation of the privacy of couples.
  • Couples are asked to waive the right to privacy to exercise the right to marry. This infringes the rights of autonomy, dignity and the right to marry, of various couples as per the Plea.

Special Marriage Act, 1954

  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to provide a special form of marriage for the people of India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of the religion or faith followed by either party.
  • Marriages solemnized under Special Marriage Act are not governed by personal laws.
  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 replaced the old Act III, 1872. The new enactment has 3 major objectives: To provide a special form of marriage in certain cases, to provide for registration of certain marriages and, to provide for divorce.

‘India is abusing national security, colluding with U.S.

Why in news

  • China accuses India’s move to ban 118 Chinese apps, accusing New Delhi of “abusing the concept of national security”.
  • China also criticised U.S. Deputy Secretary of State’s comments earlier this week on the border row, accusing the U.S. of “meddling”.

Key details

  • The government banned 118 applications – a majority being Chinese, including popular ones such as PUBG, WeChat Work, stating that these were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of State and public order”.
  • In June 2020, the government had banned 59 Applications citing threat to national security and sovereignty.
  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) said it was invoking its power under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009.
  • The announcement comes amid renewed tensions between India and China owing to the stand-off on the disputed boundary in Ladakh that has been on since May 2020.
  • It is asserted that the decision is a targeted move to ensure safety, security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.

What is the legal basis for India’s action?

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) invoked its power under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009.
  • Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 deals with “Power to issue directions for blocking for public access of any information through any computer resource”): “Where the Central Government or any of its officers specially authorised by it, is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient so to do, in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above.
  • it may, by order, direct any agency of the Government or intermediary to block for access by the public or cause to be blocked for access by the public any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource.”

Experts flag concerns on EIA notification

Why in News?

  • A group of Special Rapporteurs to the United Nations has written to the Centre expressing concern over the proposed Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2020.
  • The group has sought the government’s response on how the provisions of the notification are consonant with India’s obligations under international law.

Special Rapporteurs to the United Nations

  • Special Rapporteurs are independent experts working on behalf of the United Nations.
  • They work on a country or a thematic mandate specified by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

What is Environment Impact Assessment?

  • Environmental Impact Assessment or EIA is the process or study which predicts the effect of a proposed industrial/infrastructural project on the environment. It prevents the proposed activity/project from being approved without proper oversight or taking adverse consequences into account.

Environment Impact Assessment in India:

  • A signatory to the Stockholm Declaration (1972) on Environment, India enacted laws to control water (1974) and air (1981) pollution soon after.
  • Under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, India notified its first EIA norms in 1994, setting in place a legal framework for regulating activities that access, utilise, and affect (pollute) natural resources.
  • Every development project has been required to go through the EIA process for obtaining prior environmental clearance ever since.
  • The 1994 EIA notification was replaced with a modified draft in 2006.
  • The 2006 draft attempted to decentralise the process. It increased the number of projects that required an environmental clearance, but also created appraisal committees at the level of both the Centre and States, the recommendations of which were made a qualification for a sanctioning. The programme also mandated that pollution control boards hold a public hearing to glean the concerns of those living around the site of a project.
  • In early 2020, the government redrafted it again to incorporate the amendments and relevant court orders issued since 2006, and to make the EIA “process more transparent and expedient.”

Assam Rifles asked to shift base from Aizawl

Why in News?

  • Mizoram Chief Minister has asked the Assam Rifles to shift its base from the heart of the state capital Aizawl to Zokhawsang about 15 km away at the earliest besides stepping up vigil along the border with Myanmar to check drug trafficking.
  • Mizoram shares a 404 km-long international border with Myanmar.

Key Details:

  • One of the battalions of the Assam Rifles had moved to the state capital in 2019.
  • The Mizo National Front government had, in 1988, asked the Assam Rifles to shift from Aizawl after the killing of 12 civilians in an encounter.
  • The stand-off between the Mizoram government and the Assam Rifles began in August 2020.

Assam Rifles

  • The Assam Rifles (AR) is a Central Para Military Force (CPMF).
  • However, only the Assam Rifles functions under the administrative control of the Union Home Ministry.
  • The Assam Rifles was formed under the British in 1835 by the name of Cachar Levy and had a number of names — the Assam Frontier Police (1883), the Assam Military Police (1891) and Eastern Bengal and Assam Military Police (1913), before finally becoming the Assam Rifles in 1917.
  • It is India’s oldest paramilitary force.
  • It fulfils the dual role of maintaining internal security in the north-eastern region and guarding the Indo-Myanmar border.

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