Daily Current Affairs for 15th July 2021

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Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000

Why in News

The Union Home Ministry requested to all the states and UTs to withdraw cases immediately related to the Section 66A of the Information and Technology Act, 2000.

Key Points

  • On 5th July, 2021, the Supreme Court termed the continued use of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, by law enforcement agencies of various states, despite the provision being struck down by the court in 2015, as “a shocking state of affairs” and sought a response from the Centre.
  • The Supreme Court found it “distressing”, “shocking” and terrible” that the provision was still being used to book people, though the court held it as unconstitutional and a violation of free speech in the Shreya Singhal judgment on March 24, 2015.
  • Through an advisory, the Ministry asked the authorities in the States and the Union Territories to direct all police stations not to register cases under the repealed provision.

Shreya Singhal judgment

  • Shreya Singhal Vs. Union of India is a judgement by a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India in 2015, on the issue of online speech and intermediary liability in India.
  • The Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, relating to restrictions on online speech, as unconstitutional on grounds of violating the freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
  • The Court further held that the Section was not saved by virtue of being a ‘reasonable restriction’ on the freedom of speech under Article 19(2).
  • The Supreme Court also read down Section 79 and Rules under the Section. It held that online intermediaries would only be obligated to take down content on receiving an order from a court or government authority.
  • The case is considered a watershed moment for online free speech in India.

Section 66A of IT Act

  • Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device:
  • Any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or
  • Any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will, persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device,
  • Any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.
  • The court in its 2015 judgment has noted that the provision was “vague and arbitrary”.
  • But, even after March 2015, after the Shreya Singhal Judgment which struck down Section 66A, 1,307 cases were registered under the law.
  • The plea has said 381 cases have been registered in Maharashtra, 295 in Jharkhand and 245 in UP since the 2015 Supreme Court judgment.

Constitutional provision related to ‘Right to speech’

  • The fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression gives its citizens the right to express his views.
  • The fundamental rights are enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of India.
  • Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India states that, all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression. The philosophy behind this Article lies in the Preamble of the Constitution, where a solemn resolve is made to secure to all its citizen, liberty of thought and expression.
  • The exercise of this right is, however, subject to reasonable restrictions for certain purposes being imposed under Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India.


Sedition Law

Why in News

The Supreme Court will examine a petition filed by a retired Major­General who said a nearly 60­year­old judgment of the court that helped sedition survive in the Indian Penal Code was behind time and needed a relook.

Key Points

  • A Bench of judges listed the case for hearing on July 15 and asked Major General to serve a copy of his petition to Attorney General.
  • The petitioner argued that, the 1962 judgment in the Kedar Nath case, which upheld Section 124A (sedition), a relic of the colonial legacy, was given at a time when doctrines such as ‘chilling effect’ on free speech were unheard of.
  • The Kedar Nath judgment was delivered during an era when the scope and inter­relationship of fundamental rights such as liberty, equality and dignity were “rather restrictive”.
  • The doctrine of ‘chilling effect’ on speech considers the probability of a legal provision causing psychological barriers in the free exercise of the right.
  • This doctrine had not sufficiently developed in 1962. Even in the U.S., the doctrine was established only as late as 1967.
  • The most concrete pronouncement on a statutory provision causing a chilling effect on speech is as recent as 2015 in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India.
  • In the judgment, the court had reasoned that without Section 124A, the state would be in jeopardy if the government was subverted.
  • Section 124A would apply only to expressions that either intended to or had the tendency to cause violence were punishable as ‘sedition’.

Section 124A

  • Section 124A of the IPC stated that, “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.”
  • Sedition law, or Section 124A, was inserted into the IPC in 1870. It was derived from the British Sedition Act of 1661, described as an act for safety and preservation of his Majesties Person and Government against treasonable and seditious practices and attempts.
  • The petition said Section 124A criminalised expression based on vague terms such as ‘disaffection towards government’ and ‘contempt towards government’.
  • The Kedar Nath judgment had been “impliedly overruled” in a series of judgments by the top court in past decades.


India-Russia 2+2 Ministerial Meeting

Why in News

India and Russia will hold the first 2+2 Ministerial meeting before a summit between Prime Minister of India and Russian President.

Key Points

  • On India-Taliban Talks, senior of Russian Embassy official said it was India’s sovereign decision and it was useful to deal with everyone in the region.
  • Taliban is present in Afghanistan also in a manner it is a party to intra­Afghan talks.
  • Certainly, it will be useful to deal with everyone in the region so that national interests will be better ensured.
  • Recent visit of External Affairs Minister to Moscow demonstrated the attention both sides were paying to satisfy the common desire to maintain strong dynamics of bilateral high­level contacts, which was especially important in view of the preparation for the next big events planned in this year.
  • They include both trade and economic as well defence intergovernmental commissions, the first 2+2 Ministerial meeting and the summit will be a new huge cornerstone of the special and privileged strategic partnership, which is really unique.
  • The “epidemiological situation” would be a very important factor. At the same time, leaders are planning to jointly participate in BRICS under the Indian presidency, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summits in September and the G20 summit in October.


India-Maldives Bilateral Meet

Why in News

Prime Minister of India and Maldivian President “took stock” of bilateral cooperation in a telephone conversation.

Key Points

  • India called the Indian Ocean Island nation the “central pillar” of India’s “neighbourhood policy” and maritime vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region or ‘SAGAR’.
  • The call assumes significance at a time when sections within the Maldives have mounted an “#Indiaout” campaign online, criticising India’s engagement with the Solih administration.
  • India has provided three lakh doses — two lakhs as a gift and one lakh for commercial procurement — of COVID­19 vaccines to the Maldives.
  • Both leaders reviewed the progress of the India supported development projects in the Maldives and expressed satisfaction at the rapid pace of implementation despite the constraints of the pandemic.
  • It made no mention of the proposed consulate in the Maldives’ Addu atoll, which the Indian Cabinet cleared, setting off a controversy in the island nation.
  • India sceptics termed the move “heavy-handed”, in the absence of any official statement on it from the Maldivian authorities.

India-Maldives bilateral relation

  • Maldives is located south of India’s Lakshadweep Islands in the Indian Ocean.
  • Both nations established diplomatic relations after the independence of Maldives from British rule in 1966.
  • India was one of the first nations to recognise Maldives’ independence. Since then, India and Maldives have developed close strategic, military, economic and cultural relations.
  • India has supported Maldives’ policy of keeping regional issues and struggles away from itself, and the latter has seen friendship with India as a source of aid as well as a counterbalance to Sri Lanka, which is in proximity to the island nation and its largest trading partner.
  • In December 1976, both nations signed a maritime boundary treaty to agree on maritime boundaries.
  • Treaty explicitly places Minicoy on the Indian side of the boundary.
  • India and Maldives officially and amicably decided their maritime boundary in 1976.
  • Both nations are the founding members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the South Asian Economic Union and signatories to the South Asia Free Trade Agreement.
  • In the wake of a drinking water crisis in Malé on 4 December 2014, Maldives urged India for immediate help. India came to rescue by sending its heavy lift transporters like C-17 Globemaster III, Il-76 carrying bottled water.
  • The navy also sent her ships like INS Sukanya, INS Deepak and others which can produce fresh water using their onboard desalination plants.
  • In April 2020, India provided $150 million currency swap support to help Maldives mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19.
  • In April, at the request of the Maldivian government, the Indian Air Force airlifted 6.2 tonnes of essential medicines and hospital consumables to Maldives, as part of ‘Operation Sanjeevani’.
  • These supplies had been procured by Maldive’s State Trading Organisation from suppliers in India, but could not be transported due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
  • India’s policy of ‘Neighbourhood First’ and Maldives’ policy of ‘India First’ seem to be in absolute sync with each other and the broad bilateral ties rest on the foundation of mutual trust, understanding and sensitivity to each other’s concerns.


Wholesale Price Index

Why in News

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) recently released index numbers of whole sale price in India for the month of June, 2021 provisionally and for the month of April, 2021 finally

Key Points

  • The annual rate of inflation is 12.07% provisionally for the month of June,2021 as compared to 1.81% in June 2020.
  • The high rate of inflation in June 2021 is primarily due to low base effect and rise in prices of mineral oils viz. petrol, diesel (HSD), naphtha, ATF, furnace oil etc, and manufactured products like basic metal, food products, chemical products etc as compared the corresponding month of the previous year.

Highlights of the WPI June 2021

  • Primary Articles of weight 22.62%:
  • The index for this group increased by 0.86 % to 151.8 provisionally in June, 2021 from 150.5 for the month of May, 2021.
  • Prices of non-food articles (2.55%); crude petroleum & natural gas (2.33 %); minerals (0.98%) and food articles (0.31%) increased in June 2021 compared to May 2021.
  • Fuel & Power of weight 13.15%:
  • The index for this major group increased by 2.90 % to 113.7 provisionally in June, 2021 from 110.5 provisionally for the month of May, 2021.
  • Prices of Mineral Oils increased by 4.91 % in June, 2021 as compared to May, 2021.
  • Manufactured Products of weight 64.23%:
  • The index for this major group increased by 0.38 % to 131.5 provisionally in June, 2021 as compared to 131.0 in May, 2021.
  • Out of the 22 NIC two-digit groups for manufactured products, 11 groups have witnessed increase in prices, 8 groups have witnessed decrease in June 2021 as compared to May 2021 and for 3 groups the prices remained unchanged.
  • The increase in prices is primarily contributed by the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, medicinal chemical and botanical products; basic metals; fabricated metal products, except machinery and equipment; wood and of products of wood and cork and other non-metallic mineral products.
  • Some of the groups that have witnessed decrease in prices are manufacture of tobacco products; motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers; paper and paper products; food products; and rubber and plastics products in June, 2021 as compared to May, 2021.

Wholesale Price Index (WPI)

  • A wholesale price index (WPI) is an index that measures and tracks the changes in the price of goods in the stages before the retail level.
  • It refers to goods that are sold in bulk and traded between entities or businesses.
  • It is expressed as a ratio or percentage, the WPI shows the included goods’ average price change; it is often seen as one indicator of a country’s level of inflation.
  • Wholesale price indexes (WPIs) are reported monthly in order to show the average price changes of goods.
  • The total costs of the goods being considered in one year are then compared with the total costs of goods in the base year.


  • Inflation is the decline of purchasing power of a given currency over time.
  • A quantitative estimate of the rate at which the decline in purchasing power occurs can be reflected in the increase of an average price level of a basket of selected goods and services in an economy over some period of time.
  • The rise in the general level of prices, often expressed as a percentage, means that a unit of currency effectively buys less than it did in prior periods.
  • Inflation is sometimes classified into three types:
  • Demand-Pull inflation,
  • Cost-Push inflation, and
  • Built-In inflation.
  • The most commonly used inflation indexes are the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the Wholesale Price Index (WPI).
  • Inflation can be viewed positively or negatively depending on the individual viewpoint and rate of change.


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