Powers of Supreme Court
Context: The Supreme Court stayed a Bombay High Court verdict, which acquitted a man found guilty of assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act on the grounds that he groped his victim over her clothes and there was no “skin to skin” contact between them.
The Supreme Court is primarily a court of appeal and hears appeals against the judgements of the lower courts. It enjoys a wide appellate jurisdiction which can be classified under four heads:
- Appeals in constitutional matters
- Appeals in civil matters
- Appeals in criminal matters
- Appeals by special leave
Special leave to appeal by the Supreme Court (Article 136)
- The Supreme Court can grant special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter passed or made by any court or tribunal in the territory of India according to its discretion.
- This power does not apply to any judgment, determination, sentence or order passed or made by any court or tribunal constituted by or under any law relating to the Armed Forces.
State Election Commission
#GS2 #Polity #Governance
Context: The Andhra Pradesh government has “objected” to the censure notices issued by State Election Commissioner N. Ramesh Kumar to two senior IAS oﬃcials over preparations for the local body elections.
State Election Commissions (SECs)
- The State Election Commission has the responsibility to conduct free and fair elections to the local bodies in the states.
- According to Article 243K (1) of the Indian Constitution, the superintendence, direction and control of the elections to the Panchayats &Municipalities (Article 243ZA) shall be vested in a State Election Commission. State Election Commissioner is to be appointed by the Governor.
- As per Article 243K (2), the tenure and appointment will be directed as per the law made by the state legislature. State Election Commissioner can only be removed in the same manner and on the same grounds as a Judge of a High Court.
Right to Censure
- Election Commissioner possess the right to censure government officials who have been co-opted to carry out election duties.
- Election Commission has also asserted the right to prevent the transfers of officials during an election campaign.When the Commission feels that such transfers are likely to impede the fairness of the elections, they can make use of this power.
Context: Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin has been found to neutralise the U.K. variant of the COVID19 virus.
COVAXIN: India’s indigenous vaccine.
- Developed by Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad along with the ICMR’s National Institute of Virology, Pune
- Inactivated vaccine: which is developed by inactivating (killing) the live microorganisms that cause the disease.
- This destroys the ability of the pathogen to replicate, but keeps it intact so that the immune system can still recognise it and produce an immune response.
- It is expected to target more than just the spike protein.
- It also aims to develop an immune response to the nucleocapsid protein (the shell of the virus that encloses its genetic material).
- This vaccine is still under "clinical trial mode." Covaxin Phase-3 efficacy data is still not released.
- COVAXIN is effective against latest variants of corona virus, including the UK variant, since it contains immunogens (epitopes) from other apart from Spike protein.
- Immunogen is a stimulus that creates a humoral or cell-mediated immune response, whereas antigens are any substance that binds specifically to an antibody.
B.1.1.7 Lineage (U.K Strain)
- The variant is the result of multiple mutations in the spike protein of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, as well as mutations in other genomic regions of the RNA virus.
- Preliminary analysis suggests that it is more transmissible than previously circulating variants.
- It is not deadlier. But has the capacity to spread at a larger rate.
DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill
- Dissent has been ﬁled against the parliamentary standing committee’s report on the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019 on the grounds that it does not consider their concerns over privacy violations.
- It is criticised because the Bill has the potential to target Dalits, Muslims and Adivasis by way of DNA sample collection and indeﬁnite storage.
DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill
- The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill attempts to regulate use of DNA technology to establish the identity of people.
- The objective of the bill is to recognise the identity of missing persons, victims, offenders, under trials and unknown deceased persons.
- The bill alsohas provisions to establish a national data bank and regional DNA data banks.
- It enables the databank to setup indices like the crime scene index, suspects' or undertrials' index, offenders' index, missing persons' index and unknown deceased persons' index.
- Under the bill, all laboratories that assess DNA samples with the aim to establish the identity of an individual, must be accredited by the board.
- The bill also includes provision to mandate a written consent by individuals prior to the collection of their DNA samples. But, this consent is not required for offences with punishment of more than seven years in jail or death.
- Removal of DNA profiles of suspects on the filing of a police report or court order, and of undertrials based on a court order is possible.
- Profiles in the crime scene and missing persons' index can be removed on a written request.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the government about the delay in clearing Collegium recommendations for judicial appointments to various HighCourts.
- In the collegium system, the members(judges) of the collegium will recommend the names of the candidates to the Central Government.
- Also, the central government will send the names of the proposed candidates back for consultation.
- The appointment often gets delayed as a fixed time limit is not prescribed. If the names are not sanctioned by the government and is returned, the Collegium can resend the same name again. In that case, the government has to give its assent to the names.
National Judicial Commission
- The Collegium System faced a lot of criticism not only from the government but also from civil society due to its Lack of Transparency and Accountability.
- This led to the 99th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2014 the National Judicial Commission Act (NJAC) to replace the collegium system for the appointment of judges.
- NJAC was established to achieve greater transparency and accountability for the appointment of judges.
- It was struck down by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it was against the “Independence of Judiciary” i.e Principles of Basic Structure since it involved the Political Executive in the appointment of Judges.
Russian lawmakers on Wednesday quickly approved the extension of the last remaining nuclear Russia-U.S. arms control treaty, a fast-track action that comes just days before it’s due to expire.
- The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was a bilateral treaty between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the United States of America on the limitation and reduction of strategic offensive arms.
- The treaty is to prevent its signatories from deploying more than 6,000 nuclear warheads atop a total of 1,600 inter-continental ballistic missiles and bombers.
- Result: Removal of around 80% of all strategic nuclear weapons in existence.
New START Treaty
- The New START Treaty is a treaty came into existence for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms between the USA and the Russian Federation.
- It was enacted on 2011.
- The START framework of 1991 was the predecessor of NEW START Treaty.
- It resumed the bipartisan process of verifiably reducing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals by limiting both sides to 700 strategic launchers and 1,550 operational warheads.
- It was supposed to lapse in February 2021 if not extended.