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Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2020

Aug 18, 2020

Current Affair 1:
Gender Equality in Ancestral Property

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A three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra ruled that a Hindu Woman’s right to be a joint heir to the ancestral property is by birth and it does not depend whether her father was alive or not when the law was enacted in 2005.

The law being referred to is the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, which earlier gave women the right to be a coparcener (joint heir) as a male heir. The recent judgement is an extension to the list reforms brought in over the years in recognition of women rights.

In this document, we take a look at the history and backdrop of this judgement, evolution of women inherence rights in India. But before that, we will see few basic terms:

  1. What is coparcenary property in Hindu law?
  2. Unobstructed and obstructed heritage

What is coparcenary property in Hindu law?

A Hindu joint family consists of lineal descendants of a common ancestor. In other words, a male head and his descendants, including their wives and unmarried daughters. A coparcenary is a smaller unit of the family that jointly owns property. A coparcenary consists of a ‘propositus’, that is, a person at the top of a line of descent, and his three lineal descendants — sons, grandsons and great-grandsons. Coparcenary property is named thus because the co-ownership is marked by “unity of possession, title and interest”.

For example, in case A is holding the property, B is his son, C is his grandson, D is great-grandson, and E is a great great-grandson. The coparcenary will be formed up to D, i.e., great grandsons, and only on the death of A, holder of the property, the right of E would ripen in coparcenary as coparcenary is confined to three lineal descendants. Since grandsons and great grandsons become coparceners by birth, they acquired an interest in the property.

Unobstructed and obstructed heritage: In Mitakshara coparcenary, there is

  1. unobstructed heritage, i.e., apratibandha daya and
  2. obstructed heritage i.e., sapratibandha daya.

When right is created by birth is called unobstructed heritage. At the same time, the birthright is acquired in the property of the father, grandfather, or great grandfather. In case a coparcener dies without leaving a male issue, right is acquired not by birth, but by virtue of there being no male issue is called obstructed heritage. It is obstructed because the accrual of right to it is obstructed by the owner's existence. It is only on his death that obstructed heritage takes place. Now, explanation part.

Hindu Succession Act, 1956

Hindu Succession Act, 1956 does not provide Women, right to coparcenary property. This act, right of a female heir to a coparcenary is not recognized. A joint Hindu family consists of all persons lineally descended from a common ancestor and include their wives and unmarried daughters.

Coparcenary is a smaller unit, which owns a property and consists of a person at the top of a line of descent and his three lineal descendants (sons, grandsons & great grandsons). Coparcenary property has a co-ownership by this smaller group. Upon the death of a coparcener, his interest becomes merged with the surviving coparceners. However, it did contain a provision that if the deceased left behind a female relative (daughter, widow or mother) or any male relative claiming though such a female relative, the interest of the deceased would go to them by succession.


 

Hence, even the Hindu Succession Act,1956 which attempted at codifying the laws related to inheritance and right to property, did not address the conventional discrimination against women. Nevertheless, it did confer some limited rights regarding non-coparcenary property (in case of daughters) and to widows, whose right to succeed to a property was recognized at par with that of sons.

The 2005 amendment conferred Women equal right to coparcenary property

While amending the Hindu Succession Act-1956 in the year 2005, the Union government stated that the tenets under section-6 of the original act by excluding daughter from being part of the coparcenary ownership contributes towards discrimination on the ground of gender and also negates her fundamental right of equality guaranteed by the constitution. Therefore, an amendment was made to Section-6 to remove this discrimination and provide equal rights to the daughters as well.

This amendment came into force on 09 September 2005 and declared that a coparcener’s daughter would become a coparcener in her own right by birth and would have the same rights, had she been a son. However, this amendment came with a proviso that it would not invalidate any disposition of property by partition or will that had taken place prior to 20 December 2004 i.e. the day amendment was introduced in the parliament.

The current judgment was in light of variance in interpretation in different cases

Most of the laws are generally considered to be prospective. When Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 came into effect, there were questions around whether it would apply to daughters born before 09 September 2005 or if they are born before that , would it be limited to those whose father (coparcener) through whom they would be inheriting the property was also alive on that day.

  1. In Prakash Vs Phulavati Case of 2015, a two-judge bench gave a verdict that if the coparcener i.e. the father has passed away prior to 09 September 2005, his daughter would not have right to coparcenary property.
  2. However, in another case, Danamma Vs Amar, another two-judge bench decided that the daughters involved in the case would get a share in the property, even if their father was not alive in 2005.
  3. Since there were these differing views, a larger three-judge bench headed by Arun Mishra was constituted for another case of Vineeta Sharma Vs Rakesh Sharma.

 

The verdict of this larger bench upheld that the coparcenary status of daughter is created by birth and is not dependent on whether the father was alive or not on the date the amendment came into force. A daughter would have the same status as a son as soon as she is born.  This verdict lays to rest any doubts around interpretation of the amendment and whether any women can be left out due to prospective application of the law.

World View:

Referring to a study, ‘Women, Business and the Law 2019: A decade of Reform’, an article published by World Bank states that only 45% of the economies in MENA (Middle East & North Africa) do not have discrimination in Women’s property & inheritance laws, while South Asia does relatively better with 55% of economies framing laws with less gender discrimination regarding property rights.  However, these are way behind Europe, Central Asia and Latin American countries.

 

Current Affair 2:
Lantana Invasion Threatens 40 Percent of India’s Tiger Habitat: Study

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While India talks about the impacts of developmental projects on biodiversity, an exotic plant with pretty flowers has diligently carved its way to degrade its forests. This plant, Lantana camara, is a thicket forming shrub native to tropical America.

  1. Arriving in India as an ornamental plant in the early 1800s, lantana has escaped from gardens and taken over entire ecosystems, now occupying 40 percent of India’s tiger range alone.
  2. Multiple hybrid varieties of lantana were brought to India and over the 200 years of its introduction, the varieties have hybridized and formed a complex.
  3. The species is now able to climb up the canopy as a woody vine, entangle other plants by forming a dense thicket, and spread on the forest floor as a scrambling shrub.
  4. Lantana is one of the world’s ten worst invasive species and a species of high concern for India. It competes with native plants for space and resources, and also alters the nutrient cycle in the soil.
  5. This invasion has resulted in the scarcity of native forage plants for wild herbivores. If eaten, the leaves can induce allergies on the muzzles of animals. In some cases, extensive feeding on lantana has led to diarrhoea, liver failure, and even the animal’s death.

A recent study published in Global Ecology and Conservation reports that lantana occupies 154,000 sq.km forests (more than 40% by area) in India’s tiger range. Among forests, Shivalik Hills in the North, fragmented deciduous forests of Central India, and Southern western Ghats are worst hit by its invasion.

  1. The study has analyzed data from one of the most extensive known systematic surveys done for evaluating the status of invasive plants at multi-landscape scale.
  2. These surveys were part of the National Tiger Estimation Project. They were conducted both inside and outside of protected areas in India by the forest guards of respective State Forest Departments and a team of wildlife biologists.
  3. During the survey, the forests in 18 tiger states of India were divided into units of 25 sq.km. Each unit was sampled to record native and invasive plants and human disturbance. In this way, 117,104 plots were sampled across 200,000 sq.km of forest area. Along with this information, data on factors known to facilitate the spread of invasive plants (like soil fertility, water availability, climate, fire, roads, and other human modifications) was used in a model, which was used to predict the spread of lantana in these forests.
  4. This research shows that forests degraded due to human influence and those occurring in warm and humid regions are most affected. Madhya Pradesh, which has the highest reported forest cover in India, was found to have a substantial part of its forests invaded. Likewise, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, which was shown to be ‘greening’ by another study, was found to be substantially invaded by lantana.
  5. The study also points out, lantana in India is growing in climatic conditions quite different from its native climate in Central America.
  6. The models estimate that 300,000 sq.km forest area (an extra 44% of forest area) across India is threatened with lantana invasion – which means there is a high risk of biodiversity loss due to lantana invasions in these areas.

Current Affair 3:
Atal Rankings of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) 2020

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Introduction is very important to connect with the topic. So read conclusion below:


 

Top performers in all categories below:

Current Affair 4:
200,000 years ago, humans preferred to sleep in beds

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Interesting news. Just remember place.

Researchers in South Africa's Border Cave, a well-known archeological site perched on a cliff between eSwatini (Swaziland) and KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, have found evidence that people have been using grass bedding to create comfortable areas for sleeping and working on at least 200,000 years ago.

These beds, consisting of sheaves of grass of the broad-leafed Panicoideae subfamily were placed near the back of the cave on ash layers. The layers of ash were used to protect the people against crawling insects while sleeping. Several cultures have used ash as an insect repellent because insects cannot easily move through fine powder.

Ash blocks insects' breathing and biting apparatus, and eventually dehydrates them. Tarchonanthus (camphor bush) remains were identified on the top of the grass from the oldest bedding in the cave. This plant is still used to deter insects in rural parts of East Africa.

 

Current Affair 5:
Odisha to give facelift to 11th century Lingaraj Temple

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The Odisha government has decided to give a facelift to the 11th century Lingaraj Temple, akin to its pre-350-year structural status. This announcement has come despite the massive financial burden on the State economy in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

About

  1. Lingaraja Temple is a temple dedicated to Shiva and is one of the oldest and largest temples in Odisha.
  2. Built by king Jajati Keshari of Soma Vansh.
  3. It is built in red stone and is a classic example of Kalinga style of architecture.
  4. Located to the north of the temple is Bindusagar Lake.
  5. The temple is believed to be built by the kings from the Somavamsi dynasty, with later additions from the Ganga rulers.
  6. The temple has images of Vishnu, possibly because of the rising prominence of Jagannath sect emanating from the Ganga rulers who built the Jagannath Temple in Puri in the 12th century.

Deula style:

The temple is Lingaraj Temple built in the Deula style that has four components namely, vimana (structure containing the sanctum), jagamohana (assembly hall), natamandira (festival hall) and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings), each increasing in the height to its predecessor.

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