Right to decent burial
Observing that the fundamental right to life guaranteed under the Constitution includes the right to decent burial or cremation, the Madras High Court warned local residents against raising objections to the disposal of the bodies of those who had died due to COVID19.
- The Bench pointed out that Section 297 of the Indian Penal Code states it is a punishable offence to trespass into a burial ground or crematorium and cause indignity to the corpse or disturbance to performance of funeral rites.
- It was further observed that in the 1963 case of Kharak Singh, the Supreme Court had considered the purview of Article 21, “…. The inhibition against its deprivation extends to all those limbs and faculties by which life is enjoyed. The provision equally prohibits the mutilation of the body or amputation of an arm or leg or the putting out of an eye or the destruction of any other organ of the body through which the soul communicates with the outer world …… Moreover it is every kind of deprivation that is hit by Article 21, whether such deprivation be permanent or temporary…..”
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare guidelines –
The guidelines require the body to be secured in a body bag, the exterior of which should be decontaminated. Environmental cleaning and disinfection of surfaces is to be done with one per cent Sodium Hypochlorite solution. Autopsy should be avoided and embalming should not be allowed.
What is ‘right to life’ under Article 21?
- “Protection of Life and Personal Liberty” – No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”
- This fundamental right is available to every person, citizens and foreigners alike.
- Article 21 provides two rights – Right to life, and; Right to personal liberty
- The right specifically mentions that no person shall be deprived of life and liberty except as per the procedure established by law. This implies that this right has been provided against the State only. State here includes not just the government, but also, government departments, local bodies, the Legislatures, etc.
- Any private individual encroaching on these rights of another individual does not amount to a violation of Article 21. The remedy for the victim, in this case, would be under Article 226 or under general law.
- The right to life is not just about the right to survive. It also entails being able to live a complete life of dignity and meaning.
Despite the nationwide lockdown, the Daporijo bridge over Subansiri river has been constructed by Border Roads Organisation (BRO), keeping in mind the need to connect this strategic line of communication in Arunachal Pradesh.
About Daporijo Bridge –
- Bridge on Daporijo River is a strategic link towards the LAC between India and China.
- All supplies, rations, constructional material and medicines pass over this bridge.
- It has been successfully upgraded from class 24 tons to class 40 tons thereby allowing heavier vehicles to pass catering for not only Army requirements but the future Infrastructure development requirements of Upper Subansiri district.
Fugitive Economic Offender
The High Court of Justice in the UK dismissed the appeal of Indian businessman Vijay Mallya against a lower court’s order for his extradition to India in connection with the IDBI Bank fraud case. He has been declared a fugitive economic offender in India.
About Fugitive Economic Offender Act 2018 –
- The Act allows for a person to be declared as a fugitive economic offender (FEO) if: (i) an arrest warrant has been issued against him for any specified offences where the value involved is over Rs 100 crore, and (ii) he has left the country and refuses to return to face prosecution.
- To declare a person an FEO, an application will be filed in a Special Court (designated under the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, 2002) containing details of the properties to be confiscated, and any information about the person’s whereabouts. The Special Court will require the person to appear at a specified place at least six weeks from issue of notice. Proceedings will be terminated if the person appears.
- The Act allows authorities to provisionally attach properties of an accused, while the application is pending before the Special Court.
- Upon declaration as an FEO, properties of a person may be confiscated and vested in the central government, free of encumbrances (rights and claims in the property). Further, the FEO or any company associated with him may be barred from filing or defending civil claims.
SWAYAM and SWAYAM Prabha
Union Minister for Human Resource Development held a detailed review of the National online education platforms SWAYAM and the 32 DTH television educational channels SWAYAM PRABHA in New Delhi.
About SWAYAM –
- Study Webs of Active Learning For Young Aspiring Minds is an indigenous IT platform for hosting the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
- The objective is to take the best teaching learning resources to all, including the most disadvantaged.
- It targets those students who could not complete their studies and professionals who wish to upgrade their knowledge.
- It was indigenously developed by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) with the help of Microsoft.
About SWAYAM Prabha –
- The SWAYAM Prabha is a group of 32 DTH channels devoted to telecasting of high-quality educational programmes on 24X7 basis using the GSAT-15 satellite.
- Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET), an autonomous Inter-University Centre (IUC) of UGC maintains the web portal.
Fall in crude oil prices
US oil markets created history recently when prices of West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the best quality of crude oil in the world, fell to “minus” $40.32 a barrel in New York. Not only is this the lowest crude oil price ever known — according to Bloomberg, the previous lowest was immediately after World War II — but also well below the zero-mark.
- The price of a commodity falls when supply is more than demand. To a great extent, oil markets, globally and more so in the US, are facing an enormous glut.
- It must be understood that cutting production or completely shutting down an oil well is a difficult decision because restarting it is both costly and cumbersome. Moreover, if one country cuts production, it risks losing market share if others do not follow suit.
- Historically, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), lead by Saudi Arabia, which is the largest exporter of crude oil in the world (single-handedly exporting 10% of the global demand), used to work as a cartel and fix prices in a favourable band. It could bring down prices by increasing oil production and raise prices by cutting production.
- But in early March, this happy accord came to an end as Saudi Arabia and Russia disagreed over the production cuts required to keep prices stable. As a result, oil-exporting countries, led by Saudi Arabia, started undercutting each other on price while continuing to produce the same quantities of oil.
COVID lockdown –
An already discorded oil market was hurt later by COVID19 epidemic which sharply reduced the economic activity and the demand for oil. With each passing day, the developed countries were falling prey to Covid-19 and with each lockdown, there were fewer flights to be boarded, fewer cars to be used etc.
The fall in WTI –
The May contracts for WTI, the American crude oil variant, were due to expire on Tuesday, April 21. As the deadline came near, prices started plummeting. This was for two broad reasons.
- By Monday, there were many oil producers who wanted to get rid of their oil even at unbelievably low prices instead of choosing the other option — shutting production, which would have been costlier to restart when compared to the marginal loss on May sales.
- From the consumer side, that is those holding these contracts, it was an equally big headache. Contract holders wanted to wriggle out of the compulsion to buy more oil as they realised that there was no space to store the oil if they were to take the delivery.
- They figured that it would be more costly for them to accept the oil delivery, pay for its transportation and then pay for storing it (possibly for a longish period, given the circumstances) especially when there is no storage available than to simply take a hit on the contract price.
- This desperation from both sides — buyers and sellers — to get rid of oil meant the oil prices not only plummeted to zero but also went deep into the negative territory.
- In the short-term, for both — the holders of the delivery contract and the oil producers — it was less costly to pay $40 a barrel and get rid of the oil instead of storing it (buyers) or stopping production (producers).