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12th February – Prelims Booster

Supreme Court upholds changes to SC/ST atrocities law

The Supreme Court has upheld a 2018 amendment which barred persons accused of committing atrocities against those belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes from getting anticipatory bail.

Details –

  • But two of the judges on the Bench held in their joint opinion that a High Court would also have an “inherent power” to grant anticipatory bail in cases in which prima facie an offence under the anti-atrocities law is not made out.
  • The two judges held that a High Court, in “exceptional cases”, could quash cases to prevent the misuse of the anti-atrocities law. The court has stressed that the courts should take care to use this power to grant anticipatory bail “only sparingly and in very exceptional cases”.

Background –

  • The Supreme Court in Dr Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v/s State of Maharashtra, held on March, 2018 that there shall be no absolute bar against grant of anticipatory bail under the anti-atrocities law if no prima facie case is made out or if judicial scrutiny reveals the complaint to be prima facie mala fide.
  • After the Supreme Court judgement in 2018, Parliament introduces an amendment in 2018 by inserting Section 18A in the original Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989. Section 18-A reaffirms the original legislative intention that Section 438 CrPC (pre-arrest bail) is not applicable to accused booked under the atrocities law.
  • The recent judgement of the Supreme Court upheld the newly inserted Section 18A. However, the judges added that the High Courts will have an ‘inherent power’ to grant anticipatory bail in some cases in which prima facie an offence under the 1989 law is not made out.

About the SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act, 1989 –

  • It provides for the creation of new types of offences that are neither present in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) nor in the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955.
  • It punishes crimes against people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
  • It vests special protections and rights with the victims.
  • It creates Special Courts and special public prosecutor for speedier completion of cases.
  • Commission of offences only by particular persons (by non-SCs on SCs and non-STs on STs).
  • Punishment for public servant (non-SC/ST) in case of neglect of duties.
  • Denial of anticipatory bail.
  • Gives compensation, relief, and rehabilitation for victims of atrocities or their legal heirs.
  • Mandatory and periodic monitoring system at District, State, and National level.
  • Identification of atrocity prone zones.
  • Ministry of Social Justice is the nodal ministry to enforce the provisions of the Act.

US nod for air defence system sale to India

US Department of State has approved the potential sale of a $1.867 billion Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS) to India.

About IADWS –

  • The Integrated Air Defence Weapon System, also known as the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS), provides integrated air missile defence and is currently deployed around Washington, DC.
  • The IADWS system includes radar, launchers, targeting, and guidance systems, advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) and Stinger missiles, and related equipment and support.”
  • India is buying an IADWS comprised of five AN/MPQ-64Fl Sentinel radar systems; 118 AMRAAM AIM-120C-7/C-8 missiles; three AMRAAM Guidance Sections; four AMRAAM Control Sections and 134 Stinger FIM-92L missiles, as per a statement from the State Department.

India moves to include elephant and bustard in conservation list

India will be moving to include the Asian Elephant and the Great Indian Bustard in the list of species that merit heightened conservation measures.

Details –

The list will be debated at the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), an environment treaty under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Gujarat convention –

The COP is scheduled to be organised from February 17 to 22 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. There are 130 parties to the convention and India has been a member since 1983.

About Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals –

  • It is an environmental treaty under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, CMS (also referred to as the Bonn Convention) provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats.
  • CMS brings together the States through which migratory animals pass, the Range States, and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range.
  • It is the only global convention specialising in the conservation of migratory species, their habitats and migration route.

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