Daily Current Affairs for 7th August 2020

  1. Home
  2. »
  3. Current Affairs August 2020
  4. »
  5. Daily Current Affairs for 7th August 2020

SC to hear petition against contempt law on August 10


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

Why in News:

  • The petition has challenged the legality of Section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Court Act and the chilling effect it has on free speech and right to dissent.
  • Section 2(c) (i) holds it is criminal contempt if a person publishes, by words spoken or written or by any other act, anything “which scandalises or tends to scandalise or lowers or tends to lower the authority of any court.”

Contempt of Court:

  • Contempt of court, is the offence of being disobedient to or disrespectful towards a court of law and its officers in the form of behaviour that opposes or defies the authority, justice and dignity of the court.
  • Contempt of court, as a concept, seeks to protect judicial institutions from motivated attacks and unwarranted criticism, and as a legal mechanism to punish those who lower its authority.

How did the concept of contempt come into being?

  • The concept is several centuries old.
  • In England, it is a common law principle that seeks to protect the judicial power of the king, initially exercised by himself, and later by a panel of judges who acted in his name.
  • Over time, any kind of disobedience to judges, or obstruction of the implementation of their directives, or comments and actions that showed disrespect towards them came to be punishable.

What is the statutory basis for contempt of court?

  • There were pre-Independence laws of contempt in India.
  • When the Constitution was adopted, contempt of court was made one of the restrictions on freedom of speech and expression.
  • Separately, Article 129 of the Constitution conferred on the Supreme Court, the power to punish contempt of itself.
  • Article 215 conferred a corresponding power on the High Courts.
  • Statutory backing to this power is provided by the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

What are the kinds of contempt of court?

  • The law codifying contempt classifies it as civil and criminal.
  • Civil contempt: It is committed when someone willfully disobeys a court order, or wilfully breaches an undertaking given to the court.
  • Criminal contempt: It consists of three forms:
  • Words, written or spoken, signs and actions that “scandalise” or “tend to scandalise” or “lower” or “tends to lower” the authority of any court.
  • Prejudices or interferes with any judicial proceeding.
  • Interferes with or obstructs the administration of justice.

What is the rationale behind the provision?

  • Making allegations against the judiciary or individual judges, attributing motives to judgments and judicial functioning and any scurrilous attack on the conduct of judges are normally considered matters that scandalise the judiciary.
  • The rationale for this provision is that courts must be protected from tendentious attacks that lower its authority, defame its public image and make the public lose faith in its impartiality.

What is the punishment?

  • The punishment for contempt of court is simple imprisonment for a term up to six months and/or a fine of up to ₹ 2,000.

What is not contempt of court?

  • Fair and accurate reporting of judicial proceedings will not amount to contempt of court.
  • Any fair criticism on the merits of a judicial order after a case is heard and disposed of is not contempt.

Is truth a defence against a contempt charge?

  • For many years, truth was seldom considered a defence against a charge of contempt. There was an impression that the judiciary tended to hide any misconduct among its individual members in the name of protecting the image of the institution.
  • The Act was amended in 2006 to introduce truth as a valid defence, if it was in public interest and was invoked in a genuine manner.

Pompeo against vote for Cuba on Human Rights Council


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

Why in News:

U.S. Secretary of State has urged UN members not to support Cuba’s bid to join the organisation’s Human Rights Council.

Key Details:

  • He has accused Cuba of being a brutal dictatorship that traffics its own doctors under the guise of humanitarian missions and urged that no country should vote Cuba onto the council.
  • Under President Donald Trump, Washington has reversed an opening with Cuba initiated by former President Barack Obama, hardening a trade embargo in effect since 1962.
  • Cuba, which sat on the UNHRC in 2014-2016 and 2017-2019, has applied to fill one of the regional vacancies for 2021-2023.

UNHRC Membership:

  • UNHRC is a subsidiary of the General Assembly and the General Assembly elects the members of UNHRC.
  • The Council is made of 47 Member States.
  • The seats are distributed geographically and are awarded for a period of three years.
  • Members are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.
  • Seats are distributed as follows:
  • African States: 13 seats
  • Asia-Pacific States: 13 seats
  • Latin American and Caribbean States: 8 seats
  • Western European and other States: 7 seats
  • Eastern European States: 6 seats

Recent update:

The U.S. withdrew from the council in 2018, with Ambassador Nikki Haley calling it a cesspool of political bias and a hypocritical and self-serving organisation that makes a mockery of human rights.

EIA norms will make polluter pay heavy penalty: Javadekar


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

Union Environment Minister has said that one of the key motives of the proposed Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2020 (EIA 2020) was to bring environmental violators under a regulatory regime by imposing a heavy penalty on them.

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.
  • But it was only after the Bhopal gas leak disaster in 1984 that the country legislated an umbrella act for environmental protection in 1986.
  • 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.”

Concerns being raised:

Critics opine that the new draft is riddled with problems.

  • It enables a sweeping clearance system to a number of critical projects that previously required an EIA of special rigour. They will, under the new notification, be subject to less demanding processes. These include aerial ropeways, metallurgical industries, and a raft of irrigation projects, among others.
  • It proposes to bolster the government’s discretionary power while limiting public engagement in safeguarding the environment.
  • While projects concerning national defence and security are naturally considered strategic, the government gets to decide on the “strategic” tag for other projects.
  • The 2020 draft says no information on “such projects shall be placed in the public domain”.
  • The new draft exempts a long list of projects from public consultation.
  • Linear projects such as roads and pipelines in border areas will not require any public hearing.
  • The border area (is defined as “area falling within 100 kilometres aerial distance from the Line of Actual Control with bordering countries of India) would cover much of the Northeast, the repository of the country’s richest biodiversity.
  • All inland waterways projects and expansion/widening of national highways will be exempt from prior clearance.
  • These include roads that cut through forests and dredging of major rivers.
  • It also does away with the need for public consultation for a slew of different sectors, negating a redeeming feature of the 2006 notification.
  • The two most significant changes in the new draft are the provisions for post-facto project clearance and abandoning the public trust doctrine.
  • Projects operating in violation of the Environment Act will now be able to apply for clearance.
  • All a violator will need are two plans for remediation and resource augmentation corresponding to 1.5-2 times the ecological damage assessed and economic benefit derived due to violation.
  • In an order, the Supreme Court held “ex post facto environmental clearances” contrary to law.
  • Violations have to be reported either by a government authority or the developers themselves. There is no scope for any public complaint about violations.

RBI keeps key policy rates unchanged


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

Why in News:

The third review of the monetary policy by the Reserve Bank of India since the COVID-19 pandemic spread in the country.

Key Policy Decisions:

Key Details:

  • The RBI has left the key policy rates unchanged in the face of rising inflation pressures.
  • It has asserted that propping up economic recovery has assumed primacy.
  • The moratorium on loan repayments offered to borrowers has not been extended beyond August 31.
  • Banks have been allowed to restructure loans from large corporates, micro, small and medium enterprises as well as individuals.
  • This will help stem the rising stress on incomes and balance sheets.
  • Also, banks are free to decide if they want to extend the moratorium on instalment repayments.
  • Rs 10,000-crore facility has been offered to the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and the National Housing Bank (NHB) to boost rural lending and affordable housing.
  • It is expected to ease liquidity concerns at the bottom of the pyramid.
  • The facility to the NHB is to shield the housing sector from liquidity disruptions and augment the flow of finance to the sector through housing finance companies.
  • Funds to NABARD will help ameliorate the stress being faced by smaller NBFCs and microfinance institutions in obtaining access to liquidity.
  • Banks have been allowed to restructure individual borrowers’ loans by December 31, 2020, permitting a maximum extension of two years.
  • Limits for loans against gold have been enhanced.
  • Banks are required to assign 40% of adjusted net bank credit or credit equivalent amount of off-balance sheet exposure, whichever is higher, to priority sector, including agriculture and micro-enterprises.
  • The scope of priority sector lending (PSL) has been broadened by including start-ups and enhancing borrowing limits for renewable energy sectors.
  • The targets for lending to ‘small and marginal farmers’ and ‘weaker sections’ under the PSL will also be increased.

Credit discipline: current account norms tightened


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

Why in News:

To curb misuse, norms for opening current accounts have been tightened.

Key Details:

  • The RBI has stated that no bank can open a current account for a customer who has already availed himself of credit facilities from the banking system. All transactions should be routed through the CC/OD account.
  • This is to ensure that customers do not open current accounts even while availing themselves of credit facilities through cash credit (CC)/overdraft (OD) accounts across multiple banks.
  • Currently, banks must ensure that they do not open current accounts of entities that enjoy credit facilities from the banking system without specifically obtaining a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from the lending bank(s). But many banks do not follow such due diligence.
  • Credit balances in such accounts cannot be used as margin for availing any non-fund-based credit facilities.
  • Restrictions have been placed on debits from the CC/OD account in certain cases.
    • If a bank’s exposure to a borrower is less than 10 percent of the total exposure of the borrower in the banking system, then debits from the borrower’s CC/OD account can only be for credit to another CC/OD account of that borrower with a bank that has 10 percent or more of the exposure.
    • However, credits are freely permitted.

For instance, if a borrower enjoys credit facilities of ₹100 crore across several banks: of this, if Bank A has given a facility of ₹8 crore (under 10 percent of the total exposure) and Bank B has provided ₹92 crore, then debits from Bank A can only be for transfer of funds to Bank B (and not for other vendor payments).


  • It can help check diversion of funds and frauds.
  • The measures will also help discipline collective actions by creditors to speed up the resolution of accounts, critical in the implementation of the new restructuring framework.

Current Affairs

Recent Posts