GS Paper 2: Indian Constitution, Provision
Prelims exam level: Article 72
Mains level exam: Pardoning power of President and Case related to it
Why in news
The Supreme Court held that the Centre was “bound to advise” the President to remit the life sentence of gangster Abu Salem in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case on completion of 25 years of his jail term in view of the national commitment made to Portugal during his extradition.
Article 72 of Indian Constitution
The President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence
• in all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a court Martial;
• in all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends;
• in all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death;
• Pardon: It removes both the sentence and the conviction and completely absolves the convict from all sentences, punishments and disqualifications.
• Commutation: It denotes the substitution of one form of punishment for a lighter form. For example, a death sentence may be commuted to rigorous imprisonment, which in turn may be commuted to a simple imprisonment.
• Remission: It implies reducing the period of sentence without changing its character. For example, a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for two years may be remitted to rigorous imprisonment for one year.
• Respite: It denotes awarding a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded due to some special fact, such as the physical disability of a convict or the pregnancy of a woman offender.
• Reprieve: It implies a stay of the execution of a sentence (especially that of death) for a temporary period. Its purpose is to enable the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation from the President.
Supreme Court Intervention
Maru Ram v Union of India 1980
• In this case, the constitutional validity of section 433A of the code of criminal procedure, 1973 was challenged on the ground that it violates provision of Article 14, 20(1), 72 and 161 of the constitution of India.
• The court held that the power under Article 72 is to be exercised on the advice of the Central Government and not by the President on his own, and the advice of the government is binding on the head of the Republic.
• The Governor’s power to pardon under Article 161 runs parallel with presidential power under Article 72. It has been also observed that all power including constitutional power, should not be exercised arbitrarily or malafide.
• In order to save this Section 433A from constitutional infirmity, the court held that the Section will have only prospective operation (the date in which the Section came into force).
• It was also held that Section 433A restricts the appropriate government to exercise its powers under Section 432 Crpc, but cannot restrict the Constitutional power under Article 72 and 161 of the constitution of India.
What is the Difference Between Pardoning Powers of President and Governor?
The scope of the pardoning power of the President under Article 72 is wider than the pardoning power of the Governor under Article 161
which differs in the following two ways:
• Court Martial: The power of the President to grant pardon extends in cases where the punishment or sentence is by a Court Martial but Article 161 does not provide any such power to the Governor.
• Death sentence: The President can grant pardon in all cases where the sentence given is the sentence of death but the pardoning power of the Governor does not extend to death sentence cases.
Although the President is bound by the Cabinet’s advice, Article 74(1) empowers him to return it for reconsideration once. If the Council of Ministers decides against any change, the President has no option but to accept it.
GS Paper 3: Space Technology
Prelims exam level: IS4OM
Mains level exam: Not much
Why in news
Recently the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology has launched the “ISRO System for Safe & Sustainable Operation” (IS4OM) at ISRO Control Centre, Bengaluru.
• As the threats from space debris continue to rise in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) as more and more satellites, rockets and hardware is launched, the India Space Research Organisation (Isro) is ready for the challenge.
• IS4OM is ISRO’s holistic approach to ensure the safety of space assets and thus, sustains the utilization of outer space for national development.
• This system has been developed In response to ever-growing space object population and the risk of collisions in space.
• The IS4OM facility can support all routine operations safeguarding Indian space assets, mitigating collision threats from space objects through specific collision avoidance manoeuvres, information required for strategic purposes and research activities in Space Debris and Space Situational Awareness.
• The new facility will help India achieve its Space Situational Awareness (SSA) goals by providing comprehensive and timely information about the space environment.
○ Space Situational Awareness activities have many strategic implications, such as identifying and monitoring other operational spacecraft with close approaches, having overpasses over the Indian region, intentional manoeuvres with suspicious motives and re-entry within the Indian region.
• The system will alert the agency about probabilities of in-orbit collisions, fragmentation, atmospheric re-entry risk, space-based strategic information, hazardous asteroids and space weather forecasts.
• ISRO has been taking necessary measures to safeguard all its space assets from intentional and accidental close approaches by space objects including operational spacecraft and space debris objects.
Indian space agency is an active member of the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IDAC), IAF Space Debris Working Group, IAA Space Traffic Management Working Group, ISO Space Debris Working Group and UNCOPUOS long-term sustainability Working Group all international organisations contributing to the space debris studies and space situational awareness.
• ISRO chief S Somnath elaborated on the need for tracking facility adding that infrastructure for Space Weather monitoring and forecast plays a critical role in protecting space-based as well as ground-based infrastructure from critical Solar activities. On an equal footing, detection and prevention of asteroid impacts are essential for human welfare.
GS Paper 3: General science
Prelims exam level: EBV
Mains level exam: Not much
Why in news
Scientists have found that cancer-causing virus Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) can infect the neuronal cells and drive various changes in biomolecules such as fatty acids, carbohydrates, and protein components, leading to diseases of the central nervous system as well as brain cancer.
About Epstein Barr Virus (EBV)
• EBV virus has been found to be widely present in the human population.
• It usually does not cause any harm, but the virus gets reactivated inside the body in some unusual conditions like immunological stress or immune competence.
• This may further lead to various complications like a type of blood cancer called Burkitt’s lymphoma, stomach cancer, multiple sclerosis, and so on.
• Earlier studies provided links of EBV involvement in various neurodegenerative diseases.
• However, how this virus can affect the cells of the brain and manipulate them is still unexplored.
• A research team from IIT Indore utilized the Raman microspectroscopy technique, supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under FIST scheme to explore the possible impacts of a cancer-causing virus on brain cells. The technique based on Raman Effect is a simple, cost-effective tool to find sensitive chemical changes in biological samples.
• The study showed that there could be timely and gradual changes in various biomolecules in the neuronal cells under viral influence. Additionally, these changes were distinct when compared to the changes observed in other supportive brain cells (that is, astrocyte and microglia).
• They observed that the lipid, cholesterol, proline, and glucose molecules increased in the cells under viral influence.
• These biomolecular entities could ultimately play pivotal roles in the viral usurpation of cells.
• Study is also helpful in establishing the advantages of Raman microspectroscopy, a cost-effective and non-invasive technique, in carrying out studies on virus-associated cellular complications in clinical settings.
• The Scheme “Fund for Improvement of S&T Infrastructure (FIST)” is intended to provide basic infrastructure and enabling facilities for promoting R&D activities in new and emerging areas and attracting fresh talents in universities & other educational institutions.
• It is considered as complimentary support for enabling Departments/ Centres/ Schools/ Colleges to pursue research activities more effectively and efficiently.
Marburg virus Disease
GS Paper 3: General science
Prelims exam level: Marburg Virus Diseases, symptoms and treatments
Mains level exam: Not much
Why in news
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), two suspected cases of Marburg virus disease were reported in Ghana.
About Marburg virus Disease
• Marburg virus disease is a highly virulent disease that causes hemorrhagic fever.
• The virus is transmitted to people via fruit bats. People to people transmission also takes place, if the uninfected person comes in direct contact with bodily fluids of the infected person or surfaces.
• Marburg virus Disease is similar to Ebola.
• Marburg virus has an incubation period of 2-21 days.
• This disease is potentially very harmful and deadly. Fatality rates in previous outbreaks have ranged from 24% to 88%.
• Two large outbreaks that occurred simultaneously in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany, and in Belgrade, Serbia, in 1967, led to the initial recognition of the disease.
Symptoms of Marburg virus disease
• After an incubation period of 2-21 days, symptom onset is sudden and marked by fever, chills, headache, and myalgia.
• Around the fifth day after the onset of symptoms, a maculopapular rash, most prominent on the trunk (chest, back, stomach), may occur.
• Nausea, vomiting, chest pain, a sore throat, abdominal pain, and diarrhea may appear.
• Symptoms become increasingly severe and can include jaundice, inflammation of the pancreas, severe weight loss, delirium, shock, liver failure, massive hemorrhaging, and multi-organ dysfunction.
Treatment of the disease
• No treatment or vaccine has been developed for Marburg, yet. Patients are treated through rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids.
Previous outbreaks of the disease
• Earlier, Marburg Virus disease has been reported in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa. Single case was confirmed in Guinea, in September 2021.
GS Paper 3: Science and Technology
Prelims exam level: PIVOT
Mains level exam: Developments in Science and Technology, Applications of scientific developments in everyday life
Why in news
Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) researchers have developed an Artificial Intelligence-based tool, ‘PIVOT’.
• ‘PIVOT,’ is designed to predict genes that are responsible for causing cancer in an individual.
• The tool is based on a machine learning model that classifies genes as tumour suppressor genes, oncogenes or neutral genes.
• PIVOT is a machine learning tool. It uses different data, including mutation & gene expression, to foresee the cancer-causing genes. These genes are called driver genes. It helps in formulating personalised cancer treatment strategies.
• Firstly, it uses supervised model learning (ML) algorithms from known driver genes in patients. Patient data and corresponding personalised driver genes are unknown. Secondly, this tool makes use of models on multiple data types, considering the expression data, mutation data, and combination of all types of data.
• The tool was able to successfully predict both the existing oncogenes and tumour-suppressor genes like TP53, and PIK3CA, among others, and new cancer-related genes such as PRKCA, SOX9 and PSMD4.
• This tool will help in devising personalised cancer treatment strategies as per the institute.
How is it different from other existing tools?
• In traditional methods, usually those tools are used that foresee driver genes by inspecting multiple samples from the same cancer type to identify genes, which are responsible for progression of tumours for particular cancer types. Rare driver genes are not identified in these methods.