Daily Current Affairs for 22th Dec 2023

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Parliament clears laws to repeal IPC, CrPC, Evidence Act

Why in the news?

  • The Parliament passed the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bills — replacing the Indian Penal Code-1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure Act-1898 and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, respectively — with Rajya Sabha clearing the three Bills.
  • Hailing the passage of the Bills as historic, Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar said the new legislation will replace the colonial criminal justice system.


The Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, 2023

Highlights of the Bill

  • The Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita (BNS2) retains most offences from the IPC.  It adds community service as a form of punishment.
  • Sedition is no longer an offence.  Instead, there is a new offence for acts endangering the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.   
  • The BNS2 adds terrorism as an offence.  It is defined as an act that intends to threaten the unity, integrity, security or economic security of the country, or strike terror in the people. 
  • Organised crime has been added as an offence.  It includes crimes such as kidnapping, extortion and cyber-crime committed on behalf of a crime syndicate.  Petty organised crime is also an offence now.
  • Murder by a group of five or more persons on grounds of certain identity markers such as caste, language or personal belief will be an offence with penalty life imprisonment or death, and with a fine.

Key Issues

  • Age of criminal responsibility is retained at seven years.  It extends to 12 years depending upon the maturity of the accused.  This may contravene recommendations of international conventions. 
  • The BNS2 defines a child to mean a person below the age of 18.  However, for several offences, the age threshold of the victim for offences against children is not 18.  The threshold for minority of the victim of for rape and gangrape is different. 
  • Several offences overlap with special laws.  In many cases, both carry different penalties or provide for different procedures.  This may lead to multiple regulatory regimes, additional costs of compliance and possibility of levelling multiple charges.
  • The BNS2 removes sedition as an offence.  The provision on endangering the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India may have retained aspects of sedition. 
  • The BNS2 retains the provisions of the IPC on rape and sexual harassment.  It does not consider recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee (2013) such as making the offence of rape gender neutral and including marital rape as an offence. 
  • The BNS2 omits S. 377 of IPC which was read down by the Supreme Court.  This removes rape of men and bestiality as offences.

Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023

Highlights of the Bill

  • The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023 (BNSS2) seeks to replace the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC).
  • The CrPC provides for the procedure for arrest, prosecution, and bail.
  • The CrPC was first passed in 1861 to address the problem of multiplicity of legal systems in India.
  • In 1973, the erstwhile act was repealed and replaced by the existing CrPC, and changes like anticipatory bail were introduced.
  • The BNSS2 Bill proposes several changes in the existing provisions including those related to trials, investigation, etc.

Detention of undertrials:

  • As per the CrPC, if an accused has spent half of the maximum period of imprisonment in detention, he must be released on personal bond.
  • This does not apply to offences punishable by death.
  • The BNSS2 adds that this provision will also not apply to:
    • Offences punishable by life imprisonment, and
    • Persons against whom proceedings are pending in more than one offence.

Medical examination:

  • The CrPC allows medical examination of the accused in certain cases, including rape cases.
  • Such examination is done by a registered medical practitioner on the request of at least a sub-inspector level police officer.
  • The BNSS2 provides that any police officer can request such an examination.

Forensic investigation:

  • The BNSS2 mandates forensic investigation for offences punishable with at least seven years of imprisonment.
  • In such cases, forensic experts will visit crime scenes to collect forensic evidence and record the process on mobile phone or any other electronic device.
  • If a state does not have forensics facility, it shall utilise such facility in another state.
  • Signatures and finger impressions:
  • The CrPC empowers a Magistrate to order any person to provide specimen signatures or handwriting.
  • The BNSS2 expands this to include finger impressions and voice samples.
  • It allows these samples to be collected from a person who has not been arrested.

Timelines for procedures:

  • The BNSS2 prescribes timelines for various procedures.
  • For instance, it requires medical practitioners who examine rape victims to submit their reports to the investigating officer within seven days.

Key Issues

  • The BNSS2 allows up to 15 days of police custody, which can be authorised in parts during the initial 40 or 60 days of the 60- or 90-days period of judicial custody.
    • This may lead to denial of bail for the entire period if the police have not exhausted the 15 days custody.
  • The power to attach property from proceeds of crime does not have safeguards provided in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
  • The CrPC provides for bail for an accused who has been detained for half the maximum imprisonment for the offence.
  • The BNSS2 denies this facility for anyone facing multiple charges. As many cases involve charges under multiple sections, this may limit such bail.
  • The use of handcuffs is permitted in a range of cases including organised crime, contradicting Supreme Court directions.
  • The BNSS2 retains provisions of the CrPC related to maintenance of public order.
  • Since trial procedure and maintenance of public order are distinct functions, the question is whether they should be regulated under the same law or be dealt with separately.
  • Recommendations of high-level committees on changes to the CrPC such as reforms in sentencing guidelines and codifying rights of the accused have not been incorporated in the BNSS2.

The Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023

Highlights of the Bill

  • The Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023 (BSB2) replaces the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (IEA).  It retains most provisions of the IEA including those on confessions, relevancy of facts, and burden of proof.
  • The IEA provides for two kinds of evidence – documentary and oral.  Documentary evidence includes primary (original documents) and secondary (that proves the contents of the original).  The BSB2 retains the distinction.  It classifies electronic records as documents.
  • Under the IEA, electronic records are categorised as secondary evidence.  The BSB2 classifies electronic records as primary evidence.  It expands such records to include information stored in semiconductor memory or any communication devices (smartphones, laptops). 
  • The BSB2 expands secondary evidence to include: (i) oral and written admissions, and (ii) the testimony of a person who has examined the document and is skilled in the examination of documents.

Key Issues

  • The Supreme Court has recognised that electronic records may be tampered with.  While the BSB2 provides for the admissibility of such records, there are no safeguards to prevent the tampering and contamination of such records during the investigation process.  
  • Currently, electronic records must be authenticated by a certificate to be admissible as documents.  The BSB2 retains these provisions for admissibility.  The BSB2 also classifies electronic evidence as documents (which may not need certification).  This creates a contradiction.
  • Under the IEA, a fact discovered due to information received from an accused in police custody may be provable.  The BSB2 retains this provision.   Courts and Committees have noted that facts may be discovered in police custody by coercion, without adequate safeguards.
  • The IEA (and the BSB2) allows such information to be admissible if it was obtained when the accused was in police custody, but not if he was outside.  The Law Commission recommended to remove this distinction.
  • The Law Commission has made several recommendations, which have not been incorporated.  These include the presumption that the police officer caused the injuries if an accused was injured in police custody.



Telecom Bill passed by Rajya Sabha

Why in the news?

The new Telecommunications Bill, which allows the government to temporarily take control of telecom service in the interest of national security and provides a non-auction route for allocation of satellite spectrum, has been passed by by Rajya Sabha through a voice-vote.

About Voice Vote:

  • In parliament, a voice vote is a method of election or voting where a group voting is done orally on a topic or motion.
  • The simplest and the quickest method of a voting, voice vote is used in deliberative assemblies such as the legislatures.
  • The Chairman of the assembly puts the question to the and it is open to voting and debates.
  • The in favour ones and the against ones are asked to indicate their opinion.
  • The chairman then makes an estimation of the total on either side and declares the result as such.

Provisions of the Bill

  • Authorisation for telecom-related activities:  Prior authorisation from the central government will be required to: (i) provide telecommunication services, (ii) establish, operate, maintain, or expand telecommunications networks, or (iii) possess radio equipment.   Existing licences will continue to be valid for the period of their grant, or for five years, where the period is not specified.
  • Assignment of spectrum:  Spectrum will be assigned by auction, except for specified uses, where it will be allocated on an administrative basis.  These include purposes such as: (i) national security and defence, (ii) disaster management, (iii) weather forecasting, (iv) transport, (v) satellite services such as DTH and satellite telephony, and (vi) BSNL, MTNL, and public broadcasting services.  The central government may re-purpose or re-assign any frequency range.  The central government may permit sharing, trading, leasing, and surrender of spectrum.
  • Powers of interception and search:  Messages or a class of messages between two or more persons may be intercepted, monitored, or blocked on certain grounds.  Such actions must be necessary or expedient in the interest of public safety or public emergency, and must be in the interest of specified grounds which include: (i) security of the state, (ii) prevention of incitement of offences, or (iii) public order.  Telecom services may be suspended on similar grounds.  The government may take temporary possession of any telecom infrastructure, network, or services on occurrence of any public emergency or public safety.  An officer authorised by the government may search premises or vehicles for possession of unauthorised telecom network or equipment.
  • Powers to specify standards:  The central government may prescribe standards and assessments for telecom equipment, infrastructure, networks, and services.
  • Right of way:  Facility providers may seek a right of way over public or private property to establish telecom infrastructure.  Right of way must be provided on a non-discriminatory and non-exclusive basis to the extent possible.
  • Protection of users:  The central government may provide for measures to protect users which include: (i) prior consent to receive specified messages such as advertising messages, (ii) creation of Do Not Disturb registers, and (iii) a mechanism to allow users to report malware or specified messages.  Entities providing telecom services must establish an online mechanism for registration and redressal of grievances.
  • Appointments to TRAI:   The Bill amends the TRAI Act to also allow individuals with: (i) at least 30 years of professional experience to serve as the chairperson, and (ii) at least 25 years of professional experience to serve as members.
  • Digital Bharat Nidhi:  The Universal Service Obligation Fund has been established under the 1885 Act to provide for telecom services in underserved areas.  The Bill retains this provision, renames the fund as Digital Bharat Nidhi, and also allows its use for research and development.
  • Offences and penalties:  The Bill specifies various criminal and civil offences.  Providing telecom services without authorisation, or gaining unauthorised access to a telecom network or data, are punishable with imprisonment up to three years, a fine up to two crore rupees, or both.  Breaching terms and conditions of authorisation is punishable with a civil penalty up to five crore rupees.  Possessing unauthorised equipment, or using unauthorised network or service, is punishable with a penalty of up to ten lakh rupees.
  • Adjudication process:  The central government will appoint an adjudicating officer to conduct inquiries and pass orders against civil offences under the Bill.  The officer must be of the rank of joint secretary and above.  Orders of the adjudicating officer may be appealed before the Designated Appeals Committee within 30 days.  Members of this Committee will be officers of the rank of at least Additional Secretary.   Appeals against the orders of the Committee, in connection to breach of terms and conditions, may be filed with TDSAT within 30 days.

Status of the Telecom Sector in India

  • The Telecom industry in India is the second largest in the world with a subscriber base of 1.179 Billion as of August 2023 (wireless + wireline subscribers).
  • It is also the 4th largest sector in terms of FDI inflows, contributing 6% of total FDI inflow.
  • India has an overall tele-density of 84.69%. Tele-density denotes the number of telephones per 100 populations, and is an important indicator of telecom penetration.
  • The average monthly data consumption per wireless data subscriber has also increased to 17.36 GB in March 2023 from 61.66 MB in March 2014.



Rating agencies need to move away from opaque methodology: CEA

Why in news?

  • According to Chief Economic Advisor the rating mechanism followed by credit rating agencies for developing economies needs serious reform focusing on well-defined, measurable principles rather than subjective judgments on ideas of governance.

Rating of India

  • The rating of India during the last 15 years remained static at BBB- during the last 15 years, despite it climbing the ladders from the 12th largest economy in the world in 2008 to the 5th largest in 2023, with the second-highest growth rate recorded during the period among all the comparator economies.
  • Thereby, any improvement in macro-economic parameters may virtually mean nothing for a credit rating if qualitative parameters are judged to be in need of improvement. This has serious implications for developing sovereigns’ access to capital markets and ability to borrow at affordable rates.
  • The methodologies used by the rating agencies have an “enormous degree of opaqueness”, and called for far greater transparency and reforms in the ratings process. It claimed that the “qualitative” and subjective perceptions about governance and institutional strength surpass “the collective influence of all other macroeconomic fundamentals” when it comes to the chances of earning India and other developing economies a rating upgrade.

Concern of developing countries

  • There is a strong feeling among the developing countries that subjective assessments tilt, most often, in favour of the advanced economies, as developing countries have borne the brunt of over 95 per cent of all credit rating downgrades despite experiencing economic contractions which were milder than their advanced economy counterparts.
  • A strong objection has been raised on heavy reliance of the agencies on the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGIs) for inferring governance and institutional quality of countries.
  • “Institutional Quality, proxied mostly by the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGIs), emerges as the foremost determinant of a developing economy’s credit rating, which presents a problem since these metrics tend to be non-transparent, perception-based, and derived from a small group of experts, and cannot represent the ‘willingness to pay’ of the sovereign.

Just as countries are obligated to be as transparent as possible with the rating agencies to be viewed favourably, the obligation must extend the other way around, too.



Winter session of parliament: Sine die adjournment

Why in news?

The Loksabha and Rajyasabha were adjourned sine die a day in advance after terming it the frostiest winter session.

What followed in the session?

  • Security breach in the Lok sabha, persons entering and setting off coloured gas canisters on the anniversary terrorist attack on the old parliament.
  • The suspension of 146 MPs.
  • The disqualification of Trinamool congress MP mahua moitra from the lower house.
  • It was between the election result in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, chattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram.

What is sine die?

  • Adjournment sine die refers to the conclusion of a meeting by a deliberative assembly, such as legislature or organisational board, without specifying a date for reconvening.
  • The presiding officer has right to declare the house adjourned sine die when the business of a session is completed.
  • The presiding officer has the authority to call a house sitting before the day or hour set for adjournment or at any time after the house has been adjourned sine die.



India receives Price bid for Rafale and submarines

Why in news?

India has received price bids from France for the purchase of 26 Rafale M carrier based fighters as well as three additional scorpene class conventional submarines.

How it will process?

  • Rafale M is being processed through Intergovernmental agreement.
  • The submarine deal is follow on to the earlier contract with Naval groups under which Mazagaon Dockyard shipbuilders limited; Mumbai manufactured six submarines in India.
  • The defence ministry has already setup a costing committee for internal benchmarking of the deal value and the commercial offer from MDL would be opened after arriving at the internal benchmark price for the submarine deal.

What is Rafale?

  • Rafale is a multirole fighter jet designed and built by Dassault aviation, a French aircraft manufacturer.
  • The name Rafale means ‘gust of wind’ or ‘burst of fire’.

What is scorpene class submarine?

  • The scorpene class submarine is a class of diesel electric attack submarines jointly developed by French naval group and the Spanish company Navantia.
  • It features diesel propulsion and additional air independent propulsion.



Compensation for the exporters hit by UK, EU carbon tax

Why in news?

The centre is exploring a range of relief measures to soften the blow of carbon tax introduced by the European Union and the UK, which includes offering compensation to exporters affected by tax to help them remain competitive in global market.

What is Carbon border tax management?

  • The carbon border tax is a policy measure that aims to put a fair price on the carbon emissions generated during the production of certain goods imported into the EU.
  • It is a part of the “Fit for 55 in 2030 package” which is EU plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels in the line with the European climate law.
  • CBAM kicked in on October 1 with carbon emissions reporting requirements on imports at the border . But the EU will impose the actual tax from 2026.
  • The period from 2023 to 2026 is the transition period.

Impact on India

  • It has an impact on India’s iron, steel and aluminium exports worth 8 to 9 billion headed into Europe and UK.
  • Going Forward CBM has the provisions to include more products with high carbon footprints. This will have bigger impact on India.

India’s view on CBAM?

  • India has challenged the carbon tax at the WTO as it believes that CBAM is a violation of special and differential treatment provisions of the WTO that advocates longer periods for implementing agreements and commitments for developing nations to safeguard the trade interests of the developing countries.
  • Trade experts also criticized CBAM for violating the principle of International environmental law.

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