CURRENT AFFAIRS – 12/08/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 12/08/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 12/08/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 12/08/2023

Centre to overhaul British-era IPC, CrPC, Evidence Act

(General Studies- Paper II)

Source : TH

On August 11, the Indian government introduced three new bills in the Lok Sabha that propose a comprehensive overhaul of the country’s criminal justice system.

  • These bills are intended to replace key components of the existing system, including the Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) of 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.

The New Bills

  • Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023:
    • This bill aims to replace the IPC of 1860.
    • It proposes the repeal of 22 provisions, changes to 175 existing provisions, and the introduction of eight new sections.
    • The bill consists of a total of 356 provisions.
    • Notably, the bill introduces changes to offenses like gang rape, rape of minors, and mob lynching.
    • It also omits provisions related to adultery in line with a Supreme Court ruling and addresses sexual offenses in a gender-specific manner.
    • However, the provision legalizing marital rape has been retained.
  • BharatiyaNagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023:
    • This bill seeks to replace the CrPC of 1973.
    • It plans to repeal nine provisions, modify 160 provisions, and introduce nine new provisions, totaling 533 sections.
    • The bill includes provisions for a free copy of the First Information Report (FIR) to be given to both the accused and the victim within fourteen days of their production.
    • It also introduces the concept of a “zero FIR,” enabling registration in one police station for an offense that falls under another’s jurisdiction.
    • Additionally, the bill streamlines the magisterial system and allows for electronic means for the examination of accused individuals.
  • BharatiyaSakshya Bill, 2023:
    • This bill aims to replace the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.
    • It proposes changes to 23 provisions and introduces one new provision, comprising a total of 170 sections.
    • The bill focuses on addressing technological advancements by allowing electronic or digital records to be admitted as evidence.
    • It expands the definition of secondary evidence to include copies made through mechanical processes, oral accounts of document contents, and more.

Reasons for the Overhaul and Parliamentary Process

  • Home Minister Amit Shah stated that the existing criminal justice system had been shaped by laws introduced during British rule.
  • The new bills signify a significant shift in the country’s criminal justice framework.
  • The proposed bills were referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee for approval.
  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs had recommended a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system.

Formation of Criminal Law Reforms Committee

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs established a committee headed by Prof. (Dr.) Ranbir Singh, a former Vice Chancellor of the National Law University Delhi, to review the three criminal codes.

Changes to Sedition Law

  • One significant change highlighted was the repeal of the offense of sedition under Section 124A of the IPC.
  • However, a closer examination revealed that this provision had been re-introduced under a new name with a broader definition.
  • The new provision, Section 150 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, criminalizes acts endangering India’s sovereignty, unity, and integrity through various means, including electronic communication and financial support for subversive activities.

Supreme Court’s Involvement and Orders

  • The Supreme Court had intervened in matters related to sedition laws, ordering its suspension until the government reviewed it.
  • The Court highlighted that the sedition law’s penal consequences were established under colonial rule.
  • Consequently, both the Union and State governments were directed to refrain from registering FIRs under Section 124A IPC while the law was under reconsideration.

Details of the New Bills

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill

  • The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023 introduces significant changes to India’s criminal justice framework by seeking to replace the existing Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860.
  • The bill aims to address various aspects of criminal offenses and punishments, as well as align the legal framework with contemporary societal values.

Here are some key highlights from the bill:

  • Repealing Provisions and Introducing New Sections:
    • The bill proposes to repeal 22 provisions of the IPC while introducing eight new sections.
    • It also suggests modifications to 175 existing provisions, making a total of 356 provisions in the new bill.
  • New Provisions and Offenses: The bill introduces several new provisions and offenses, including:
    • Section 109: Addresses organized crime.
    • Section 110: Addresses petty organized crime or organized crime in general.
    • Section 111: Defines the offense of a terrorist act.
    • Section 150: Criminalizes acts endangering the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India.
    • Section 302: Addresses the offense of snatching.
  • Punishments for Gang Rape and Rape of Minors:
    • The bill mandates that all types of gang rape offenses be punishable by either 20 years of imprisonment or life imprisonment.
    • Additionally, the rape of a minor will be punishable by the imposition of the death penalty.
  • Gender-Neutral Offenses:
    • The bill takes steps towards gender neutrality in offenses, ensuring that various offenses are not gender-specific.
  • Mob Lynching Offense:
    • The bill introduces a provision addressing mob lynching for the first time.
    • The offense, defined under Section 101, refers to a group of five or more individuals acting in concert to commit murder based on factors such as race, caste, community, sex, place of birth, language, personal belief, or other grounds.
    • The members of the group are subject to severe penalties, including death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment for not less than seven years, along with a fine.
  • Removal of Adultery Offense:
    • The bill omits the provision related to the offense of adultery.
    • This change aligns with the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Joseph Shine v. Union of India in 2018, which deemed Section 497 of the IPC, criminalizing adultery, unconstitutional.
  • Changes after Section 377 Ruling:
    • The bill reflects the changes brought about by the Supreme Court’s unanimous reading down of Section 377 of the IPC, which criminalized consensual same-sex relations among adults.
    • The bill does not include any punishment for “unnatural sexual offenses against men.”
  • Marital Rape Exception Retained:
    • The bill retains the provision that exempts non-consensual marital intercourse from the definition of rape, as outlined in Exception 2 to Section 63.
    • This provision has been a topic of debate and is currently under challenge for its constitutional validity in the Supreme Court.

In essence, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023, aims to modernize and align India’s criminal justice system with current societal values and legal interpretations.

The BharatiyaNagarik Suraksha Sanhita

  • The BharatiyaNagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023 is poised to replace the existing Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) of 1973 with a comprehensive set of reforms aimed at enhancing citizen security.
  • The bill introduces substantial changes to various aspects of criminal procedure, aiming to streamline the process, provide better access to justice, and modernize investigative practices.

Here are some of the key highlights from the bill:

  • Repealing and Introducing Provisions:
    • The bill plans to repeal nine provisions of the current CrPC while proposing changes to 160 provisions.
    • Additionally, it introduces nine new provisions, leading to a total of 533 sections in the new bill.
  • Access to FIR:
    • A new formal provision (Section 230) has been introduced to ensure timely access to the First Information Report (FIR) for both the accused and the victim.
    • Under this provision, a copy of the FIR must be provided to them at no cost within fourteen days from the date of production or appearance of the accused.
  • Zero FIR:
    • The bill introduces the concept of a “zero FIR,” allowing individuals to file an FIR in any police station across the country, regardless of the location where the alleged offense occurred.
    • This means that if an offense falls under the jurisdiction of a different police station, the complainant can register the FIR in any police station, which then initiates the investigation before transferring the case to the relevant jurisdiction.
  • Electronic Means for Examination:
    • The bill facilitates the use of electronic means, such as video conferencing, for examining accused persons.
    • This aims to expedite the process and reduce the need for physical presence during certain stages of investigation and trial.
  • Summary Trials:
    • The bill mandates summary trials for petty and less serious cases.
    • Summary trials are faster and simplified proceedings that aim to expedite justice delivery for less severe offenses.
  • Streamlined Magisterial System:
    • The bill proposes to streamline the magisterial system, which involves the administration of justice through magistrates.
    • This may include reforms to the appointment, functioning, and roles of magistrates to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the judicial process.

In summary, the BharatiyaNagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023, introduces comprehensive reforms to the Code of Criminal Procedure.

  • It focuses on enhancing access to justice, modernizing investigative procedures, and expediting the judicial process.

The BharatiyaSakshya Bill

  • The BharatiyaSakshya Bill, 2023 represents a significant modernization and transformation of India’s legal framework concerning the admissibility of evidence.
  • This bill aims to replace the existing Indian Evidence Act of 1872 and introduces changes to enhance the compatibility of legal proceedings with contemporary technological advancements.

Here are the key aspects of the bill:

  • Repealing and Introducing Provisions:
    • The bill plans to replace the Indian Evidence Act by proposing modifications to 23 provisions while adding one new provision.
    • In total, the bill consists of 170 sections.
  • Reasons for Repeal:
    • The Statement of Objects and Reasons for the BharatiyaSakshya Bill highlights that the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 has become inadequate in addressing the rapid technological advancements that have taken place in the country over the past few decades.
    • The bill is introduced to address these gaps and ensure the effective admissibility of evidence, including electronic and digital records.
  • Admissibility of Electronic and Digital Records:
    • A key feature of the bill is the recognition of electronic or digital records as admissible evidence.
    • These records will hold legal validity as documentary evidence in legal proceedings.
    • This recognition aligns with the advancement of technology and ensures that relevant electronic or digital records can be used to support or refute claims in court.
  • Expansion of Secondary Evidence:
    • The bill expands the scope of what constitutes secondary evidence.
    • It includes various forms of evidence that can be used when the original primary evidence is not available.
      • The expansion includes:
        • Copies made from the original by mechanical processes.
        • Copies made from or compared with the original.
        • Counterparts of documents against parties who did not execute them.
        • Oral accounts of document contents given by individuals who have personally seen the document.

Luna-25 will not hamper function of Chandrayaan-3

(General Studies- Paper III)

Source : TH

  • Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, recently launched the Luna-25 mission to the Moon, while India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission was launched earlier.
  • Both missions are expected to land on the lunar surface around the same time.
  • Roscosmos has stated that the two missions will not impede each other’s functions or collide, as they have different planned landing areas.
  • According to Roscosmos, there is enough space on the Moon for both missions to operate without interference.
  • Luna-25 was launched from Russia’s Vostochny spaceport on August 11, 2023, and its lunar lander is expected to reach the Moon on August 23, the same day Chandrayaan-3 is also scheduled to land on the lunar surface.

Different Landing Areas and Stages of Luna-25 Mission

  • Roscosmos clarified that Luna-25 and Chandrayaan-3 have distinct landing areas.
  • Luna-25’s landing on the Moon is planned in several stages.
  • The flight trajectory to the Moon will take about 1 hour and 20 minutes, followed by a five-day flight from Earth to the Moon.
  • Luna-25 is expected to stay in lunar orbit for five to seven days, depending on the selected landing area.
  • Three landing areas have been designated: the primary site north of the Boguslavsky crater, and two backup sites south of the Manzinus crater and the Pentland-A crater.

ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 Mission and Lunar Exploration

  • India’s space agency, ISRO, plans for the Chandrayaan-3 lander and rover to touch down near the lunar South Pole region on August 23.
  • The mission aims to explore the Moon’s surface and contribute to lunar research.
  • As of July 2023, there were six active lunar orbiters, with China’s Yutu-2 rover being the only operating rover on the Moon’s far side.

Potential for Cooperation and Future Lunar Exploration

  • While Roscosmos has had no direct interaction with ISRO regarding the Luna-25 project, it remains open to potential cooperation between the two space agencies.
  • Roscosmos expressed interest in India’s participation in the International Scientific Lunar Station (ILRS), a planned lunar base pursued by Roscosmos and the Chinese space agency.
  • Additionally, Roscosmos is exploring the possibility of placing Russian scientific payloads on future Indian lunar exploration missions, indicating a potential avenue for collaboration in lunar research and exploration.

About Luna-25

In Image: Representational image of main payload of Luna-25.

  • Mission Overview:
    • Luna 25, also known as Luna-Glob-Lander, is a Russian lunar lander mission.
    • Launched on August 10, 2023, with the target landing site being the Moon’s South Polar Region.
  • Scientific Objectives:Luna 25 has two primary scientific goals:
    • Study the composition of the polar regolith (lunar soil).
    • Study the plasma and dust components of the lunar polar exosphere (thin atmosphere).
  • Lander Features:
    • The lander consists of a four-legged base housing landing rockets and propellant tanks.
    • An upper compartment contains solar panels, communication equipment, onboard computers, heaters, radiators, and scientific instruments.
    • Equipped with a 1.6 meter-long Lunar Robotic Arm (LRA) for regolith collection.
  • Lunar Robotic Arm (LRA):
    • LRA can remove and collect surface regolith to depths of 20 to 30 cm.
    • The arm has four degrees of freedom/rotations: azimuthal, shoulder, elbow, and wrist/scoop.
    • It is equipped with a scoop and a sample acquisition tool for studying the lunar soil.
  • Science Instruments:Luna 25 carries eight science instruments, including:
    • ADRON-LR: Gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer.
    • ARIES-L: Detects charged particles and neutrals in the lunar exosphere.
    • LIS-TV-RPM: Infrared spectrometer for studying water and OH on the surface.
    • LASMA-LR: Mass spectrometer for analyzingregolith composition.
    • PML: Detector for studying dust in the lunar exosphere.
    • STS-L: Panoramic and local imaging system.
    • THERMO-L: Studies regolith thermal properties.
    • Laser retroreflector panel for precise measurements.
  • Launch and Lunar Operations:
    • Launched on a Soyuz-2 Fregat rocket from VostochnyCosmodrome.
    • Lander designed to operate on the Moon for about one year, studying regolith and exosphere.

Parliament paves way for 28% GST on online gaming

(General Studies- Paper II and III)

Source : TH

The Parliament has approved amendments to Goods and Services Tax (GST) laws to impose a 28% GST on the face value of bets in casinos, horse racing, and online gaming.

  • States will also need to make changes to their respective GST Acts for the 28% levy to be implemented.

Key Highlights

  • Enactment Process and Timeline:
    • The Rajya Sabha returned the Bill to the Lok Sabha, clearing the way for its enactment.
    • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had targeted October 1 as the rollout date for the tax, with a promise to review the levy six months after implementation.
  • Impact on Online Gaming Sector:
    • The fast-growing online gaming sector has expressed concerns about the detrimental effects of the levy on investments and jobs.
    • Some online gaming companies have already announced layoffs or closures due to fears about the levy’s impact on their prospects.
  • Registration and Taxation of Offshore Online Gaming Firms:
    • The amendments include provisions that mandate offshore online money gaming firms serving Indian users to register in the country and pay taxes or face access blockages.
  • GST Council’s Decision and Disagreement:
    • The GST Council approved a 28% GST levy on wagers in these sectors in July.
    • The Council reviewed the decision on August 2 due to representations from the industry and the Electronics and IT Ministry responsible for e-gaming policy.
    • The Council maintained its decision despite dissent from states like Sikkim and Goa, which preferred taxing gross gaming revenues instead of the face value of bets.
  • Amendments and Clarity:
    • The amendments define terms like online gaming, online money gaming, specified actionable claim, and virtual digital assets.
    • Schedule III of the Central GST law, currently listing lotteries, betting, and gambling, will be amended to include “specified actionable claim” for clarity on taxability related to casinos, horse racing, and online gaming.
  • Interpretation and Impact on Deposits:
    • The amendments will allow GST levies on monetary deposits in gaming portals, including those made with crypto assets.
  • Expert Insights:
    • Industry experts note that the amendments will bring clarity to the interpretation of activities in these sectors under GST law.
    • Entities supplying online money gaming services from outside India to individuals in India will now need to register for GST compulsorily.
    • Some experts warn that the 28% GST has already led to layoffs in the online gaming sector and may further affect investor interest in the industry.

Tuberculosis and the Right to Treatment

(General Studies- Paper III)

Source : The Indian Express

Drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) is a significant challenge in India, which has a quarter of the world’s DR-TB cases.

  • India’s response to DR-TB can set an example for other countries in dealing with this growing threat.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates around 119,000 new cases of multidrug/rifampicin resistant TB (MDR/RR-TB) emerge in India annually.

Key Highlights

  • Diagnosis Gap and Rapid Molecular Diagnostics:
    • India’s TB program has identified only about half of the estimated MDR/RR-TB cases (64,000 out of 119,000) in 2022.
    • Rapid molecular diagnostics, similar to those used for Covid-19 testing, offer new hope for timely DR-TB detection.
    • WHO’s Universal Access to Rapid TB Diagnostics standard recommends molecular diagnostics as initial tests due to their accuracy, cost-effectiveness, and drug-resistance detection capability.
  • Need for Repurposing Resources:
    • Indian companies produce molecular tests for TB, and the investments made in molecular platforms during Covid-19 could be repurposed to fight TB.
    • Lower-cost reagents and supplies manufactured during the pandemic can make molecular diagnostics more affordable for TB detection.
  • Advancements in DR-TB Treatment:
    • DR-TB treatment duration has been shortened from 24 months to 6 months, using oral medications and avoiding painful injections.
    • The BPaLM/BPaL regimen recommended by WHO in 2022 offers an 89% success rate, shorter treatment duration, and cost savings.
  • Challenges in India’s Treatment Approach:
    • India uses a mix of treatment options for DR-TB, including injectables that are difficult to adhere to.
    • Many MDR/RR-TB patients were on injectable-containing regimens in 2021, despite WHO’s recommendation to phase out injectables in 2019.
    • Only 53% of MDR/RR-TB patients were put on the preferred bedaquiline-containing regimen in 2022, despite WHO’s recommendation since 2019.
  • Importance of Access and New Tools:
    • India is the global supplier of pretomanid, a key drug in the BPaL regimen.
    • Efforts must be made to make new DR-TB diagnostic and treatment tools widely accessible in India in 2023.
    • The goal is to ensure that individuals with DR-TB have access to the best chances of recovery within six months without unnecessary suffering or death.

What is Rapid molecular diagnostics?

  • Rapid molecular diagnostics refer to advanced testing methods that allow for the quick and accurate identification of pathogens, including bacteria like the tuberculosis (TB) bacteria.
  • In the context of DR-TB (drug-resistant tuberculosis), rapid molecular diagnostics are used to detect TB bacteria and determine whether they are resistant to specific drugs.
  • The traditional method of diagnosing TB involves sputum smear microscopy, a century-old technique that is limited in its accuracy and cannot detect drug resistance.
  • Rapid molecular diagnostics, on the other hand, use techniques like polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to rapidly amplify and detect the genetic material of the TB bacteria.
  • These tests are highly accurate and can also identify drug-resistant strains of TB.
  • For DR-TB treatment, rapid molecular diagnostics play a crucial role in identifying the specific drugs to which the TB bacteria are resistant.
  • This information helps doctors tailor the treatment regimen to target the resistant strains effectively, improving the chances of successful treatment outcomes.

About The BPaLM/BPaL regimen

  • The BPaLM/BPaL regimen is a treatment approach for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB).
  • The abbreviation BPaLM/BPaL stands for the names of the drugs used in the regimen:
    • Bedaquiline (B): Bedaquiline is an antibiotic that is used to treat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB).
      • It works by inhibiting an enzyme necessary for the energy production of the TB bacteria, effectively killing them.
    • Pretomanid (Pa): Pretomanid is another antibiotic used to treat TB, specifically for DR-TB.
      • It targets the bacteria’s metabolism, disrupting their ability to survive and replicate.
    • Linezolid (L): Linezolid is an antibiotic that works by inhibiting protein synthesis in bacteria.
      • It is used in the BPaLM/BPaL regimen to target DR-TB.
    • Moxifloxacin (M): Moxifloxacin is a fluoroquinolone antibiotic that is effective against mycobacteria, including drug-resistant strains.
      • It disrupts the DNA replication process of the bacteria.

West African nations prepare to send troops to restore democracy in Niger

(General Studies- Paper II)

Source : TH

Tensions are rising between Niger’s new military regime and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS over the deployment of troops to restore democracy.

  • ECOWAS ordered a “standby force” to restore constitutional order in Niger after a deadline to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum expired.
  • The junta in Niger reportedly threatened to kill Bazoum if neighboring countries attempted military intervention to restore his rule.
  • Neighboring countries like Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Benin have expressed willingness to participate in the military operation.
  • France, the United States, and other European partners have military personnel in Niger, and Niger was considered a partner in combating jihadi insurgency.
  • The junta exploiting anti-French sentiment and the population’s support has entrenched itself in power after the coup.
  • The African Union supports ECOWAS’ decision and calls for the release of Bazoum.


  • July 26 coup in Niger led to Gen. AbdourahmaneTchiani becoming head of state, ousting President Mohamed Bazoum.
  • Concerns heightened by Nigerien calls for assistance from Russia’s Wagner Group, which had a history in Africa and Ukraine.

International Players and ECOWAS Involvement

  • Russia, US, and regional bloc ECOWAS active players in the situation.
  • ECOWAS’s role extends beyond economic cooperation; attempted to resolve conflicts.
  • It operated a regional peacekeeping operation known as ECOMOG in the 1990s and early 2000s, led by Nigeria.
  • ECOWAS has intervened in countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone to address civil wars and political upheavals.
  • ECOWAS’s response to the Niger coup indicates the possibility of military intervention, despite facing challenges.
  • Neighboring countries like Mali and Burkina Faso, also led by military juntas, have shown support for Niger and might consider an attack on Niger as an attack on themselves.
  • The coup leaders have justified their actions by pointing to rising terrorist influence and security challenges, criticizing Western efforts to address these issues.

What is ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States)?

  • Also known as CEDEAO in French, the regional group was established in 1975 through the Lagos Treaty – with a mandate of promoting economic integration among its members.
  • Today, ECOWAS has 15 members:
    • Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo. Around 400 million people live in this region.
  • Following coups in recent years in some of the biggest countries in the bloc – namely Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso – it suspended the three members and refused to recognise their new governments.
  • ECOWAS’ larger aims are to have a single common currency and create a single, large trading bloc.