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Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2021

Oct 13, 2021

Current Affair 1:
Indian Law Dealing with Narcotics Drugs (NDPS Act)

 

Recently, Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan along with seven others were charged with various sections under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act,1985 (NDPS Act). The following article shall seek to explain the legislative intent behind the law, the offences therein, the punishment prescribed and the provisions for bail etc.

Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substance – Meaning

The NDPS Act defines narcotic drug as coca leaf, cannabis (hemp), opium, poppy straw, derivatives/concentrates of all the aforementioned substances and other narcotic substances notified by the Central Government in the official gazette. Further, psychotropic substances are defined to include any natural or synthetic substances included in the list of psychotropic substances specified in the Schedule of NDPS Act.

Offences and Exceptions under NDPS Act

The NDPS Act punishes the possession, purchase, sale, transport, consumption etc. of a narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. Any use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for scientific or medicinal purposes are exempted from the rigour of the law. However, even in those cases, one needs to obtain the required permit or authorisation[iv].

Small Quantity versus Commercial Quantity

The quantum of punishment under NDPS Act depends upon the quantity of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances found. Small quantity means any quantity lesser than the quantity specified by the Central Government and commercial quantity means any quantity greater than the quantity specified by the Central Government.

Both small and commercial quantities for various drugs have been notified[vii]. For instance, for the substances seized by Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in the recent raids that led to the arrest of Aryan Khan and others, small quantity and commercial quantity are as follows-

Punishment under NDPS Act

The punishment under NDPS Act becomes more stringent as the quantity of drugs found increases from small quantity to commercial quantity.

Punishment for contraventions relating to various substances, for possession, purchase, sale, use etc. in small quantity, is rigorous imprisonment up to one year, or fine up to ten thousand rupees, or both. Whereas if the quantity is between small and commercial, punishment is rigorous imprisonment up to ten years and fine up to one lakh rupees. For commercial quantity, punishment is rigorous imprisonment of ten to twenty years and fine of up to two lakh rupees.

Presumption of Motive

Crucially, while prosecuting an offence under NDPS Act, the accused is presumed to have the motive or culpable mental state required for commission of the offence and it is upon the accused to prove that he had no such mental state.

Appeal and Bail

High Court is the court of appeal as per the NDPS Act. Every offence punishable under NDPS Act is cognizable i.e., the authorities can arrest without obtaining a warrant.

The issue of bail under NDPS is a contentious one. But due to various judgements, it has been pronounced as nonbailable in all cases.

  1. The Bombay HC in a recent case held that all NDPS Offences Are Non-Bailable regardless of the quantity of drugs found. Therefore, even if the drugs found are not commercial quantity or fall within the small quantity category, bail under NDPS cannot be sought as a matter of right.
  2. In an NDPS case, the SC dismissed bail stating that mere absence of recovery of contraband from possession of accused by itself is not a ground to grant bail. In Aryan Khan's case too, no contraband substance was recovered from him. However, as held in the aforementioned case[xxiii], that in itself is not a ground to grant bail.

 

Immunity Available under NDPS Act

An addict convicted for consumption or for offences involving small quantities will be immune from prosecution if he volunteers for de-addiction. This immunity may be withdrawn if the addict does not undergo complete treatment.

Next section is not very important, but you can read:

Sections invoked in the Cruise Ship Drug Case

In the recent cruise ship drug case, Aryan Khan, Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha were booked under sections 8(c), 20(b), 27, 28, 29 and 35 of the NDPS Act.

  1. S.8(c) prohibits possession, purchase, sale, transport, consumption etc. of a narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
  2.  S.20(b) deals with possession, purchase, sale, transport, consumption etc. of cannabis. The punishment for this is dependent upon the quantity of cannabis recovered and since the quantity recovered is small, punishment could be rigorous imprisonment up to one year, or fine up to ten thousand rupees, or both.
  3. S.27 provides the punishment for consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance and it ranges from imprisonment of six months to one year or fine of ten to twenty thousand rupees or both, based on the drugs consumed.
  4. S.28 punishes any attempt to commit an offence under NDPS Act with the same punishment as that of the offence attempted to be committed.
  5. Similarly, S.29 dealing with abetment and criminal conspiracy provides the same punishment as that of the offence abetted or conspired to be committed.
  6. As per S.35, a culpable mental state is presumed while prosecuting an offence under NDPS Act and the burden to prove that no such intent or mental state existed, lies upon the accused.

Current Affair 2:
Salt workers in the Little Rann region of Gujarat

Source Link

 

Agariya, a traditional salt-making community in the Western Indian state of Gujarat.

The Little Rann of Kutch (LRK) is an area where no human being stays. Agariya make salt in three percent of this land but the 2011 census indicates that a population of 1.75 million from nearby areas is dependent on it – the fishers, truck drivers, labour to load salt and packaging units.

The 60,000-odd Agariyas at the Little Rann produce 30 percent of India’s inland salt but they have no legal rights over the land on which they have been making salt for centuries.

But now an ambitious water infrastructure project threatens to permanently wipe out their traditional occupation and way of life. Called Rann Sarovar, the project aims to turn Little Rann into the biggest freshwater lake in Asia.

Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary also known as the Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Little Rann of Kutch in the Gujarat state of India.

Current Affair 3:
Kumming Declaration

Source Link

The Kunming Declaration was adopted by over 100 countries October 13, 2021 at the first part of the ongoing virtual 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

It calls upon the parties to “mainstream” biodiversity protection in decision-making and recognise the importance of conservation in protecting human health.

By adopting this, the nations have committed themselves to support the development, adoption and implementation of an effective post-2020 implementation plan, capacity building action plan for the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety.

The theme of the declaration is Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth.

Signatory nations will ensure that the post-pandemic recovery policies, programmes and plans contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, promoting sustainable and inclusive development.

Current Affair 4:
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

 

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India was established on 12 October, 1993. The statute under which it is established is the Protection of Human Rights (PHR) Act (PHRA), 1993. It was amended from time to time.

Section 2(1) (d) of the PHR Act defines Human Rights as the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.

Now we will see composition and appointments of NHRC.

Recommendation of a committee for appointment:

Composition:

For composition, we will introduce you to Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which made several changes in composition:

Composition of NHRC: Act here means 1993 Act. Bill means amended provisions.

  1. Under the Act (original), the chairperson of the NHRC is a person who has been a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  The Bill (new one) amends this to provide that a person who has been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, or a Judge of the Supreme Court will be the chairperson of the NHRC.
  2. The Act (original) provides for two persons having knowledge of human rights to be appointed as members of the NHRC. The Bill (new one) amends this to allow three members to be appointed, of which at least one will be a woman
  3. Under the Act (original), chairpersons of various commissions such as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, and National Commission for Women are members of the NHRC. The Bill provides for including the chairpersons of the National Commission for Backward Classes, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as members of the NHRC.
  4. Chairperson of SHRC: Under the Act, the chairperson of a SHRC is a person who has been a Chief Justice of a High Court.  The Bill amends this to provide that a person who has been Chief Justice or Judge of a High Court will be chairperson of a SHRC. 
  5. Term of office: The Act states that the chairperson and members of the NHRC and SHRC will hold office for five years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.  The Bill reduces the term of office to three years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.  Further, the Act allows for the reappointment of members of the NHRC and SHRCs for a period of five years.  The Bill removes the five-year limit for reappointment.  
  6. Powers of Secretary-General: The Act provides for a Secretary-General of the NHRC and a Secretary of a SHRC, who exercise powers as may be delegated to them.  The Bill amends this and allows the Secretary-General and Secretary to exercise all administrative and financial powers (except judicial functions), subject to the respective chairperson’s control.
  7. Union Territories: The Bill provides that the central government may confer on a SHRC human rights functions being discharged by Union Territories.  Functions relating to human rights in the case of Delhi will be dealt with by the NHRC.

Functions of NHRC:

Current Affair 5:
Term of the day: Sweat Equity

 

Owners or employees work in companies like cash-strapped start-ups at salaries below the market rate in return for a stake (shares) in the company, which they hope to profit from when the business eventually becomes profitable or sold out. This is called sweat equity i.e., getting shares in the company in return for their effort rather than purchasing shares by paying money.

In many cases, people have to use sweat equity—their time and effort—to contribute to the success of a company. That's because there's very little capital to pay salaries. While a company may not yet have enough capital to pay its employees, it can provide compensation in other forms. For instance, start-ups may provide key employees with an equity stake in the company.

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