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April 2018 National Affairs

  • Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu rejects notice for removal of Chief Justice of India (CJI) 
    Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu on 23rd April rejected the Congress-led opposition parties' notice to remove the chief justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra saying it lacked substantial merit. 

    While rejecting the notice, Venkaiah Naidu cited a press conference the Congress held on the issue as being in breach of parliamentary customs and conventions and also in violation of Rajya Sabha norms. 

    On 20th April, as many as 64 Parliamentarians (MPs) belonging to seven political parties signed the notice for removal proceedings against the CJI. They include MPs from the Congress, the NCP, CPM, the CPI, the SP, the BSP and the Muslim League. 

    Article 124(4) of the Constitution lays down the procedure for removal of a judge of the Supreme Court, including the CJI, who can be impeached on grounds of "misbehaviour or incapacity". 

    A removal motion signed by 100 members of Lok Sabha or 50 members of Rajya Sabha has to be submitted to the Speaker of the Lower House or Chairperson (ie Vice President) of the Upper House. This can be in either of the Houses of Parliament. The Speaker/Chairperson can then either accept or reject the motion. 

    Vice president Naidu, to whom the notice was submitted owing to his position as Rajya Sabha Chairman, yesterday set in motion the process of consultation on the notice against the CJI and held discussions with a number of constitutional and legal experts, including Attorney General KK Venugopal, and former top law officer K Parasaran. 

  • Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, AFSPA has been removed completely from Meghalaya
    The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, AFSPA has been removed completely from Meghalaya. A Home Ministry official said, the AFSPA act, which empowers security forces to conduct operations and arrest anyone anywhere without prior notice, has been removed from all areas of Meghalaya from 31st of last month. The decision has been taken due to a significant improvement of security situation in the state. 

    The official said, in Arunachal Pradesh, the AFSPA has been reduced from 16 police stations areas bordering Assam to eight police stations besides Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts. 

    There have been demands from various organisations in the north-east and Jammu and Kashmir for the withdrawal of the act. 

  • Subsidised foodgrain for SC, ST, OBC hostel students: Union Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan
    Union Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has said that all students living in the hostels, where two-third belong to SC, ST and OBC communities, will be entitled to 15 kg of foodgrain per month at subsidised rates. According to him:
    • The Welfare Institutions and Hostels Scheme will be rolled out at the earliest
    • The scheme will benefit over one crore students including girls from Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, Other Backward Classes and backwards from minorities.

  • India ranked 138 in Press Freedom Index: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 
    According to the 2018 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a growing animosity towards journalists is among the worst threats to democracies. 

    Published annually by RSF since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index measures the level of media freedom in 180 countries, including the level of pluralism, media independence, the environment and self-censorship, the legal framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information. 

    This year's report mentioned that more and more democratically-elected leaders no longer see the media as part of democracy’s essential underpinning, but as an adversary to which they openly display their aversion. 

    India has dropped from rank 136 to rank 138. The report mentioned sharing of "hate speeches" targeting journalists by "troll armies" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a reason for this low rank. The report also mentioned "physical violence" against journalists, for example, the murder of Gauri Lankesh as another key reason. 

    In this year’s index, Norway is first for the second year running, followed — as it was last year — by Sweden. Although Nordic countries are traditionally regarded to be press-friendly, they too have been affected by the overall decline. 

    Meanwhile, in the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea jumped 20 places to 43rd, the index’s second biggest rise, after Moon Jae-In’s election as president turned the page on a bad decade for press freedom. 

    Turning to the bottom ranks, the former Soviet countries and Turkey continue to lead the worldwide decline in press freedom. Almost two-thirds of the region’s countries are ranked somewhere near or below rank 150 in the index and most continue to fall further. However, North Korea continues to rank last. 

    While, West Asian countries' struggle with war-reporting continues. The ongoing wars in Syria (117) and Yemen (167) and the terrorism charges still being used in Egypt (161), Saudi Arabia (169) and Bahrain (166) continue to make West Asia the most difficult and dangerous region for journalists to operate in. 

  • Senior Advocate Indu Malhotra appointed Supreme Court Judge
    The Supreme Court of India will have a new woman judge as the Centre has cleared the file of Senior Advocate Indu Malhotra for elevation as Supreme Court judge. Indu Malhotra is the first woman judge to be elevated to the Supreme Court from the bar. She is also the second woman lawyer to be designated a 'senior' at the Supreme Court. 

    The Supreme Court Collegium had recommended the names of Indu Malhotra and Justice KM Joseph, current Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, for appointment as Supreme Court judge in February, 2018. 

    The Centre had earlier cited breach of "seniority" for holding recommendations to appoint KM Joseph as a Supreme Court judge. Despite open criticism of not forwarding the Collegium recommendations, the file of KM Joseph has not been cleared. 

  • HRD ministry launches 2nd edition of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan
    The HRD ministry launched the second edition of the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan under which students from 750 higher educational institutions from across the country will adopt villages and visit them to get acquainted with lifestyle of people there and the problems faced by them. 

    The minister advised the students to involve local village people at every stage of problem identification and solving issues relating to health, cleanliness, waste management, plantation, financial inclusion, women and child development. 

    The mission involves students from colleges and universities will go to nearby villages to get acquainted with the life of village people and the problems faced by them in day-to-day life. 

    He said that this was also an opportunity for them to learn about the basic challenges faced by the rural people and to bring out practical solutions for their betterment. "India had witnessed the migration of rural population in the past, but now the process of sustainable development through the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 will help to reverse this migration, Minister of State for HRD Satya Pal Singh said. 

    To cover the 45,000 villages of the country under this movement, we need the participation of 8,252 higher education institutions, he said. Under the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0, the institutions have been selected on a Challenge Mode and the scheme has been extended to 750 reputed Higher Educational Institutes (both public and private) of the country. 

    Also, scope for providing subject expert groups and regional coordinating institutes to handhold and guide the participating institutions has been strengthened. 

    IIT Delhi has been designated to function as the national coordinating institute for this programme and the ministry intends to extend the coverage to all the reputed higher educational institutes, in a phased manner. 

    Each selected institute would adopt a cluster of villages/panchayats and gradually expand the outreach over a period of time. 

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi releases commemorative postage stamp on Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a commemorative postage stamp on former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Late Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna. 

    Prime Minister Modi described Bahuguna as a leader committed to democratic values. He said that Bahuguna was inspired by many different leaders including Mahatma Gandhi, Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Acharya Narendra Dev, Ram Manohar Lohia, and Chandrashekhar Azad. 

  • Union Ministry of road transport and highways launches road safety training programme for civil engineers
    The Union ministry of road transport and highways has launched a national programme to train civil engineers and road transport professionals in road safety. 

    The second batch of engineers completed their training on 27th April, raising the number of engineers trained so far to 200. 

    The training is being conducted by the Asian Institute of Transport Development (AITD), with which the ministry has tied up to provide safety training to about 4,000 professionals. The training programme will cover all states and union territories in the country, according to AITD. 

    Last year (2017) accounted for about 140,000 deaths caused by non-adherence or absence of road safety norms. 

    In another initiative, the ministry has planned to create a dedicated pool of 1,500 road safety auditors. These professionals will be given training and will have to pass a written examination before qualifying as accredited safety auditors. 

    AITD has already identified 20 academic and professional bodies including IITs across the country to collaborate with it to impart training, with the aim of developing a number of centres of repute in the country. The long-term objective is to build AITD as a national centre for road safety with affiliates across the country. 

  • Union Minister Smriti Irani inaugurates National Media Faculty Development Centre at IIMC
    Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani on inaugurated the National Media Faculty Development Centre at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) in New Delhi. 

    The new centre will train media educators across the country on the latest developments in the discipline including in technology and content. 

    Union Minister Smriti Irani also presented awards and certificates to 24 Development Journalism students from 16 developing countries. 

  • Kerala Government seeks review of SC/ST Act
    Almost a month after the Supreme Court diluted stringent provisions of the SC/ST Act by directing against immediate arrest to rule out false implications, the State of Kerala has moved a petition seeking review/ recall of the March 20 judgment saying it has created insecurity among the SC/ST population which is already facing the wrath of serious crimes committed against them

    In its review petition filed through advocate G Prakash, the Kerala government sought review of the apex court’s March 20 verdict wherein the court had issued directions to prevent misuse of the SC/ST Act. 

  • Supreme Court dismisses PIL against pension, benefits to former MPs
    The Supreme Court on 16th April dismissed a PIL challenging the perks, including pension and travel allowances, given to former parliamentarians. 

    The judgement came on a plea of an NGO, which had approached the apex court challenging the Allahabad High Court order dismissing its plea that pension and other perks being given to MPs even after demitting office were contrary to Article 14 of the Constitution guaranteeing the right to equality. 

    The bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul agreed with the finding of the Allahabad High Court that Parliament is competent to legislate on pensions for ex-­MPs and it has the power to prescribe any condition subject to which the pension may be paid. 

    The apex court, however, left it to Parliament to decide whether the various benefits given to the lawmakers was rational or not, having regard to the affluent financial status of some of the MPs or the poverty of the millions of people. 

  • National Investigation Agency (NIA) court acquits all five accused in the 2007 Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast case
    A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Hyderabad on 16th April acquitted all the five accused in the 2007 Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast case. The fourth additional metropolitan sessions-cum-special court for NIA cases said, the prosecution has failed to prove charges against the accused, including Swami Aseemanand. The court struck down the case citing lack of evidence as the reason. 

    The court had concluded the trial last week and posted the case for on 16th April for the judgment. 

    On May 18, 2007, a blast at the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad during prayers had killed nine people and left 58 injured. 

    After initial investigation by the local police, the case was transferred to CBI, which filed a charge sheet. The case was handed over to NIA in 2011. 

    NIA has said, it will examine the court judgment related to Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast case. NIA spokesperson said, the agency will decide the future course of action after getting a copy of the judgment. 

  • India wins election to crucial non-governmental organization (NGO) committee in United Nations
    India has won an election to a crucial non-governmental organisation committee in the United Nations. It topped the election held on 16th April by the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations in the Asia Pacific States category followed by Pakistan, Bahrain and China to serve a four-year term beginning on January 1, 2019. 

    India got the highest number of votes at 46, followed by Pakistan 43, Bahrain 40 and China 39. 

    The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations is a standing committee of Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Its main tasks include consideration of applications for consultative status and requests for reclassification submitted by NGOs and consideration of quadrennial reports submitted by NGOs in General and Special categories. 

    India was also elected by acclamation to the Commission on Population and Development for a four-year term and to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice for a three-year term. It also elected by acclamation by the Council to the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Population Fund and United Nations Office for Project Services. India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said the results reflect, yet again, the broad support and many friends India has amongst UN members. 

  • Indian scientists make Ayurvedic drug to cure dengue
    Indian scientists have formulated an Ayurvedic drug to cure dengue. The drug is claimed to be the first in the world. The medicine is likely to be available in the market by next year. 

    Pilot studies proving clinical safety and efficacy of the drug have already been conducted by the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, CCRAS, and regional research centre of the Indian Council of Medical Research, in Belgaum, Karnataka. 

    According to Professor Vaidya KS Dhiman, Director General of CCRAS, the drug has been made with seven herbal ingredients which are in use in Ayurveda system of medicine for centuries. 

    During the pilot study, 90 patients were given this drug in highly concentrated liquid form. But in the ongoing clinical trial, it is given in tablet form. 

    At present, there is no specific drug or antibiotic to treat dengue and the treatment focuses on providing relief from the symptoms. 

  • Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) introduces updated QR code for offline Aadhaar verification
    The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has introduced an updated 'QR code' to provide an extra layer of privacy to Aadhaar. It holds non-sensitive details, such as name, address, photo, and date of birth, and can be used for offline user verification without the 12-digit ID number. 

    The new QR code can be used in offline mode in a way that will safeguard against any tampering of documents. The CEO of UIDAI, Ajay Bhushan Pandey, said the QR code is a landmark development which will allow everyone to establish their identity through offline verification without giving out Aadhaar number. 

    He added that one will have to go through the authentication process only in those places where Aadhaar number is required under the law including banks, telecom companies, or for availing subsidies. 

    Aadhaar holders can download and print their biometric ID with the QR code from the website of UIDAI or its mobile app. Users can manually blacken the Aadhaar number and use the printout with the new QR code for establishing their identity, offline too. 

  • Government launched the ‘Study in India’ initiative to attract international students to study in India. 
    The Government on 18th April launched the ‘Study in India’ initiative to attract international students to study in India. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minister of State for Human Resources Development Satya Pal Singh jointly launched the initiative in New Delhi. 

    The portal will enable students from 30 countries across South Asia, Africa and West Asia to select and apply for different courses from 150 select Indian institutions which are high on NAAC and National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranking. 

    The Study in India is aimed at making India a preferred destination for the foreign students to pursue their education. 
  • Law Commission favours simultaneous elections
    A draft white paper released by the Law Commission of India on 18th April recommends holding of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies, possibly in 2019. It suggests amending the Constitution to realise this objective. 

    In a public notice annexed to the draft, the commission, which is the government’s highest law advisory body, said the white paper would be circulated to “constitutional experts, academia, political parties, bureaucrats, students, etc.” The commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice B.S. Chauhan, says opinions and suggestions should come in by May 8, 2018. 

    The commission says simultaneous elections were held in the country during the first two decades after Independence up to 1967. 

    Dissolution of certain Assemblies in 1968 and 1969 followed by the dissolution of the Lok Sabha led to the “disruption of the conduct of simultaneous elections.” The panel refers to a January 2017 working paper of the NITI Aayog on simultaneous elections. 

    The white paper contains a series of “possible recommendations” of the commission. 

    The first among these is that “simultaneous elections may be restored in the nation by amending the Constitution, Representation of the People Act of 1951 and the Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha and Assemblies.” 

    It recommends that in 2019, the election could be held in phases. In the first phase, it says, elections to the legislatures which are scheduled to go for polls synchronous with the Lok Sabha in 2019 could be held together. The rest of the States could go to elections in proximity with the Lok Sabha elections of 2024. 

    Citing no-confidence motion and premature dissolution of House as major roadblocks to simultaneous elections, the commission says the parties which introduce the no-confidence motion should simultaneously give a suggestion for an alternative government. 

    It even suggests the relaxation of the “rigours” of the anti-defection law in the Tenth Schedule to prevent a stalemate in the Lok Sabha or Assemblies in case of a hung Parliament or Assembly. 

    The panel says that in case of mid-term elections, the new Lok Sabha or Assembly would only serve the remainder of the term of the previous Lok Sabha/Assembly and not a fresh term of five years. 

    The commission says the Centre should get the Constitutional amendments, if agreed upon, to be ratified by all the States so as to avoid any challenge to them. 

    It also says that the Prime Minister/Chief Minister should be “elected” to lead by the full House like the Lok Sabha Speaker. 

  • Supreme Court dismisses a batch of petition seeking an independent probe in special judge B H Loya's death case
    The Supreme Court on 19th April dismissed a batch of petitions seeking an independent probe into the alleged mysterious death of special CBI judge BH Loya. 

    A bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said there is no reason to doubt the statements of judges accompanying Justice B H Loya that the death was due to a natural cause. 

    Holding that there was absolutely no merit in the petitions, the bench said, attempts were made to scandalise the judiciary by levelling serious allegations against judicial officers and judges of the Bombay High Court. 

    The court said, with these petitions, it is clear that a real attempt and a frontal attack was made on the independence of the judiciary. 

    It said, frivolous and motivated litigation has been filed to settle political rivalry. Justice B H Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, had allegedly died of cardiac arrest in Nagpur on 1st December 2014 when he had gone to attend a wedding. 

  • Madhya Pradesh conferred most film friendly state award
    Madhya Pradesh has been announced as the Most Film Friendly State. The Most Film Friendly State Awards will be presented by President Ram Nath Kovind on the 3rd of next month during the presentation of the National Film Awards. 

    Among the sixteen states that participated, Madhya Pradesh has conferred the award for its efforts towards easing filming in the state by creating a well-structured website, film-friendly infrastructure, offering incentives, maintaining databases, undertaking marketing and promotional initiatives. 

    The state also received positive feedback from established filmmakers who have shot there. The efforts taken by the state to present their case for the Awards were also appreciated. 

    Uttarakhand has been chosen for the Special Mention Certificate to recognize the efforts made by it towards creating a film-friendly environment. The jury for selecting the Most Film Friendly State Award 2017 was chaired by acclaimed filmmaker Ramesh Sippy. 

  • Congress and other Opposition parties submit impeachment notice against Chief Justice of India to Rajya Sabha Chairman
    Congress and some other parties leaders on 20th April met Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and gave notice for impeachment against Chief Justice of India. According to the Senior Congress Leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, seven political parties in the Rajya Sabha have signed the motion. He said, 71 MPs including seven retired members belonging to various political parties have signed the notice for impeachment proceedings. 

  • Gujarat High Court acquits Maya Kodnani in Naroda Patiya massacre case
    A division bench of the Gujarat High Court on 20th April acquitted former BJP minister Maya Kodnani in the Naroda Patiya massacre case. 

    The Court found Babubhai Patel alias Babu Bajrangi guilty and upheld his conviction. Suresh Langado alias Richard Chhara was also found guilty. 

    Maya Kodnani was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court for inciting a mob to exact revenge for the deaths of kar sevaks killed in the Godhra train carnage in 2002. 

    The court was hearing 11 appeal petitions moved by the convicts, the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) and the families of the victims of the riots. 

    The division bench had reserved its order in August last year. While all the convicts appealed against their convictions, the SIT sought enhancing sentences of three convicts, including former Bajrang Dal leader Babubhai Patel. 

    It also appealed against the acquittal of seven accused. The kin of the victims appealed against the acquittal of 29 accused. 

  • UP CM's Facebook Page ranked as top ranked FB pages of Govt bodies
    Facebook page of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has been ranked as the top ranked Facebook pages of Government bodies, ministries and political parties in India. 

    According to the Principal Secretary Information Avnish Awasthi a letter was sent by Facebook office recently in this regard. Chief Minister will soon be felicitated by the Facebook and they will hand over an award trophy. 

    Facebook released the data regarding the popularity of Chief Minister’s Facebook pages and it is based on interactions on the platform which includes total reactions, shares and comments. 

    In this category Yogi Adityanath’s Facebook page is at first position while Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje’s Facebook Page is on second position and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s Page is on third rank. It shows the popularity of UP CM as he is the most sought after person on social media platform. 

  • India ranks 10th on Commonwealth Innovation Index
    India was on 20th April ranked 10th on a new Commonwealth Innovation Index, topped by the UK, Singapore and Canada. 

    The index was launched as part of a new Commonwealth Innovation Hub on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). 

    It has been created in partnership with the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and its annual Global Innovation Index (GII). 

    It is aimed at providing a tool that allows member states, organisations and citizens to benchmark themselves against 53 countries of the Commonwealth, with the new innovation hub offering a dedicated online space for Commonwealth countries to showcase what they have to offer and share with other members. 

    The Global Innovation Fund (GIF) will work as the delivery partner to host a new Commonwealth Innovation Fund (CIF), which will use GIFs existing due diligence processes for sourcing, evaluating and investing to generate a high-quality portfolio of enterprises that are aligned with the Commonwealth Secretariats priorities. 

    The GIF will manage the fund and its investments, which will be targeted at innovative projects across Commonwealth countries that "save and improve lives".

    During the ongoing CHOGM, the CIF will engage with member-countries to gain financial and other support for the fund and India is expected to be among the key countries to collaborate. 

    The CIF will deploy grant, equity and debt investments to support innovators across the Commonwealth to accelerate the development, testing and scaling up of evidence-based and market-tested innovations. 

    The target size of the new fund, with financial commitments from member-countries, is expected to be 25 million pounds of initial funds to prove the new model. 

  • Union Cabinet approved an ordinance to allow courts to award death penalty for raping children up to 12 years
    The Union Cabinet approved an ordinance to allow courts to award death penalty to those convicted of raping children up to 12 years of age. 

    The criminal law amendment ordinance seeks to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to introduce a new provision to sentence convicts of such crimes with punishment of death. 

    The move comes against the backdrop of the alleged rape and murder of girls in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua and Uttar Pradesh's Unnao district. 

    The rape of a minor in Gujarat's Surat district had also outraged the nation. The ordinance will now be sent to the President for his approval. 

  • Indira Gandhi International Airport in world's top 20 busiest airports
    New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport is placed at 16 in the league of the top 20 busiest airports in the world for 2017 in terms of traffic volumes. 

    The GMR-group-run New Delhi airport jumped from 22nd rank in 2016 to 16th rank, solidifying its status as one of the fastest growing airports in the world for passenger traffic, as per the Airports Council International (ACI). 

    The ranking is based on the preliminary passenger traffic results for the most-travelled airports in 2017, released by the ACI on 9th April. 

    Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) was ranked the busiest airport in the world with 103 million passengers (both departing and arriving) despite a 0.3 per cent decline in traffic volumes over 2016. 

    Founded in 1991 with the objective of fostering cooperation among its member airports and other partners in world aviation, ACI is the trade association of the world's airports, currently serving 641 members operating from 1,953 airports across 176 countries. 

    ACI's World Airport Traffic Forecasts also predicts that the country will represent the third largest aviation market, in terms of passenger throughput, after the US and China by 2020. 

    Delhi, the country's busiest airport for passenger traffic, grew by 14.1 per cent year-over-year at 63.45 million, pushing it up from 22nd to the 16th busiest airport in the world. 

    Even with this rapid growth in throughput, Delhi was also ranked first in Airport Service Quality for airports above 40 million passengers per annum along with the Mumbai airport. 

    Besides, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai were also ranked among the fastest growing airports in the world with an year-over-year growth of 26.9 per cent, 19.6 per cent, 12.9 per cent and 10.5 per cent, respectively during 2017. 

    Growing rapidly in relatively short period of time, India is poised to be one of the largest aviation markets in the world in the years to come. 

    ACI's World Airport Traffic Forecasts predicts that the country will represent the third largest aviation market, in terms of passenger throughput, after the US and China by 2020. 

    Here's list of top 16 busiest airports: 
    1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Georgia) — 104 million passengers
    2. Beijing Capital International Airport (China) — 96 million
    3. Dubai International Airport (United Arab Emirates) — 88 million
    4. Tokyo Haneda International Airport (Japan) — 85 million
    5. Los Angeles International Airport (California) — 84.6 million
    6. Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (Illinois) — 80 million
    7. London Heathrow Airport (United Kingdom) — 78 million
    8. Hong Kong International Airport (China) — 73 million
    9. Shanghai Pudong International Airport (China) — 70 million
    10. Aéroport de Paris-Charles de Gaulle (France) — 69 million
    11. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Netherlands) — 68.5 million
    12. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (Texas) — 67 million
    13. Guangzhou Bai Yun International Airport (China) — 66 million
    14. Frankfurt Am Main Airport (Germany) — 64.5 million
    15. Atatürk International Airport (Turkey) — 64 million
    16. Indira Gandhi International Airport (India) — 63.5 million

  • BJP is richest party with Rs. 1,034 crore: Association for Democratic Reforms
    Seven national parties declared a total income of Rs. 1,559.17 crore in 2016-17, with BJP having the highest — Rs. 1,034.27 crore, says a report. 

    This forms 66.34% of the total income of national parties added together during 2016-17, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) said in a report. The Congress followed with Rs. 225.36 crore, 14.45% of the total income, it said, adding that the CPI has declared the lowest income of Rs. 2.08 crore, a mere 0.13%.

  • CJI is first among equals, will decide allocation of cases: Supreme Court
    The Supreme Court on 11th April ruled that the Chief Justice of India is the first among equals and has the constitutional authority to decide the allocation of cases and setting up of benches to hear them. 

    A bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, made the observation before dismissing a PIL seeking framing of guidelines for rational and transparent allocation of cases and constitution of benches to hear them. 

    The order said, since the Chief Justice is a high constitutional functionary, there cannot be any distrust about the responsibilities he discharges to ensure that the apex court to carries out the work required under the Constitution. 

  • Verdict on SC/ST Act has diluted its provisions: Centre to Supreme Court
    The centre stressed that separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary was "inviolable". The Centre, on 12th April, told the Supreme Court that its recent judgement on the SC/ST Act has diluted the provisions of the law, resulting in great damage to the country. The government said that the top court verdict, which had dealt with an issue of a "very sensitive nature", has caused "commotion", "anger, unease and a sense of disharmony" in the country. 

    In his written submission, Attorney General K K Venugopal said that through its judgement, the top court has not filled the gaps in the SC/ST Act but rather amended it through judicial legislation. The centre stressed that separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary was "inviolable".

    The Centre also said that the "confusion" created by the apex court verdict may have to be corrected by reviewing the judgement and recalling the directions issued by the top court. 

  • PM Modi iaugurates Dr Ambedkar National Memorial at 26, Alipur Road in Delhi
    On the eve of the 127th birth anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 13th April inaugurated Dr Ambedkar National Memorial at 26, Alipur Road in Delhi. This is the place where Dr Ambedkar attained Mahaparinirvana on December 6, 1956. 

    The Dr Ambedkar Mahaparinirvana Sthal at 26, Alipur Road, was dedicated to the nation by Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister of India, in December 2003. Prime Minister Modi had laid the foundation stone of the memorial on March 21, 2016. 

  • Government moots regulator, information exchanges for digital health data
    Healthcare in India is digitising rapidly with the government’s eHealth initiative, which seeks to bring medical records, services and research online. 

    But, with the debate around data security heating up in the absence of an overarching data protection law, the government recently released a draft Bill termed Digital Information Security in Healthcare (DISHA) Bill, which seeks to give powers to citizens about their health data and pushes for penalties on breach and misuse of this information. 

    The Bill proposes rights such as mandatory consent for collection, storage, and sharing their health data, including the right to withdraw consent at any time. Following this, the data will be deleted or made anonymous after removing personal identifiers. 

    The Bill is an initiative to introduce data security and set standards for sharing data, which is expected to help the government in many ways such as research, easier transfers of patients between healthcare facilities, storing medical records, and an early detection of public health emergencies. 

    The government has started creating Health Management Information Systems with state governments as part of the National Rural Health Mission of 2005. 

    The government has proposed creating health information exchanges, which will be responsible for storing health data, apart from clinical establishments. These exchanges will supply information to hospitals, insurance companies and the government. 

    The rationale behind the move is to track diseases better and also make sure that outbreaks are controlled, said Srinath Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation of India. 

    New regulator
    The government has also proposed setting up the National Electronic Health Authority, which will be the overarching body to set standards on storage, transmission and encryption of information. Clinical establishments will conform to these standards to transmit health data to information exchanges and they will be allowed to keep a copy of their data for “reasonable use”, according to the draft Bill. 

  • Centre will file a review petition in the Supreme Court over its recent ruling on SC/ST Act
    The Centre will file a review petition in the Supreme Court over its recent ruling on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. 

    Recently, in its order, the Supreme Court had introduced the provision of anticipatory bail in the Act while directing that there will be no automatic arrest on any complaint filed under the law. 

    Earlier, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister, Thaawarchand Gehlot had said the Central government is committed to the welfare of the SCs and STs in the country. 

  • Centre moves Supreme Court with review petition against verdict on SC/ST Act
    Centre on 2nd April moved Supreme Court seeking review of its recent judgement by which safeguards were put on arrest under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Government's plea seeks restoration of the Act provisions that made certain offences cognizable and non-bailable. 

    Meanwhile, the Apex Court on 2nd April declined an urgent hearing on another similar plea filed by All India Federation of SC/ST organisations. 

    The petitioners have also sought a stay and review of its recent verdict on SC/ST Act by which certain safeguards were put in place on automatic arrest of individuals. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said that the petition will be heard in due course of time. 

    Advocate Manoj Gaurkella, appearing for the federation said that the recent verdict passed by the apex court on March 20 was unfair and unjust and it should be stayed. 

    The apex court had on March 20 said that on several occasions, innocent citizens were being termed as accused and public servants deterred from performing their duties, which was never the intention of the legislature while enacting the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. 

    The top court had said that unless the exclusion of anticipatory bail is limited to genuine cases and inapplicable to cases where there is no prima facie case was made out, there will be no protection available to innocent citizens. 

    It had said that in view of the acknowledged abuse of law of arrest in cases under the Atrocities Act, arrest of a public servant can only be after approval of the appointing authority and of a non-public servant after approval by the Senior Superintendent of Police which may be granted in appropriate cases if considered necessary for reasons recorded. 

  • HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar has released the NIRF INDIA RANKINGS 2018 for Higher Educational Institutions
    Human Resources Minister Prakash Javadekar on 3rd April released INDIA RANKINGS 2018 for Higher Educational Institutions and presented awards to the institutions under the National Institutional Ranking Framework, NIRF. 

    The aim is also encourage competition to perform better and set up new benchmarks of performance in higher education space. The Minister said that to promote quality education, Government is providing support for setting up and upgrading of 10 public and 10 private Institutions of Eminence so as to enable them to reach amongst top 100 of world institutions ranking. 

    He said, the list of 20 Institutions of Eminence will be released soon. The Minister further said that various initiatives of the Ministry like GIAN, RUSA, SWAYAM, SWAYAM Prabha, TEQUIP III, Smart India Hackathon are in direction to further boost the Quality, Research and Innovation in education. 

    The Indian Institute of Science (IISC) in Bengaluru was adjudged the overall best institution in the country. Indian Institute of Technology, Madras has been adjudged the best engineering college and the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad the best management institution. Delhi University’s Miranda House was the best college and National Law School of India University Bengaluru the best law school in the country. 

    AIIMS New Delhi, PGIMER Chandigarh and CMC Vellore were ranked as the top three medical colleges. In the university category, IISc stood first, followed by Jawaharlal Nehru University and Banaras Hindu University. 

    National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali topped in pharmacy institutions and IIT Kharagpur topped in Architechture In this third edition of India Rankings, a total of 2809 institutions participated in 9 categories. 

  • SC/ST Act ruling: Supreme Court refuses to stay order
    The Supreme Court has refused to stay its March 20 verdict banning automatic arrest and registration of cases under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. 

    The division bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Uday Umesh Lalit, however, said that it will consider the Centre's review petition for detailed hearing. 

    It said the matter is listed after ten days and asked all parties in the case to file their written submissions within stipulated time. The government had on 2nd April filed a review petition seeking review of the court's order. 

    The Supreme Court, while hearing the submissions by the Attorney-General (AG), KK Venugopal, observed, that people who are agitating have not read the verdict properly and have been misled by vested interests. The bench said that they have not diluted any provision of SC/ST Act and only safeguarded interest of innocents from being arrested. 

    The apex court pointed out that there is no anticipatory bail or there is no forum for a person accused under the act to seek any relief, in the case. It said that provisions of SC/ST Act cannot be used to terrorise the innocents. 

  • Maharashtra government provides one percent reservation for orphans in education and jobs
    The Maharashtra government has provided one per cent reservation for orphans in education and jobs. A senior official said, the state cabinet had taken the decision in January, but the necessary government resolution was issued on 2nd April. According to the resolution, reservation is applicable to all state-level recruitments, across all levels from Class I to IV. 

    The persons who cannot trace their parents or any relative and do not know their caste will be eligible for the reservation. They should have the orphan certificate issued by the state government. 

  • Cabinet approves Protection of Human Rights (Amendments) Bill
    The Cabinet on 4th April approved the Protection of Human Rights (Amendments) Bill, 2018 for better protection and promotion of human rights in the country. The Bill proposes to include National Commission for Protection of Child Rights as deemed Member of the Commission. It proposes to add a woman Member in the composition of the Commission. 

    The Bill also proposes to incorporate a mechanism to look after the cases of human rights violation in the Union Territories. The Amendment will strengthen the Human Rights Institutions of India further for the effective discharge of their mandates, roles and responsibilities. 

    The amended Act will be in perfect sync with the agreed global standards and benchmarks towards ensuring the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual in the country. 

  • Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has instituted a committee to regulate online portals
    The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has instituted a committee to regulate online portals, including news websites, entertainment sites and media aggregators. 

    The 10-member committee, formed on 4th April, will include secretaries of the departments of Home, Legal Affairs, Electronics and Information and Technology, and Industrial Policy and Promotion. 

    The CEO of MyGov and a representative each of the Press Council of India and National Broadcasters’ Association will also be part of the committee. 

    In its order, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting noted that both print and electronic media are regulated but online media does not come under any regulatory mechanism. 

    The content telecast on television channels are regulated in terms of the programme and advertisement codes under the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994. Similarly, the autonomous body Press Council of India regulates the print media. 

    The committee, broadly, will look at three things. One is to bring online information dissemination under regulation. Second is to propose a policy for foreign direct investment in this media. Third is to look at international best practices on such existing regulatory mechanism. 

  • YSR Congress members resign from Lok Sabha, begin indefinite hunger strike
    Five YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) MPs on 6th April submitted their resignations to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha in protest against Andhra Pradesh not being accorded special category status (SCS). 

    The YSRCP had also earlier announced that its next step will be to conduct protests in the coming days in New Delhi till its demand is met. 

    The five lawmakers who resigned are V. Vara Prasada Rao, Y. V. Subba Reddy, P. V. Midhun Reddy, Y. S. Avinash Reddy and Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy. 

    On 31 March, YSRCP chief Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had announced that his party MPs will resign on the last day or Parliament’s ongoing session and would sit on an indefinite hunger strike at Andhra Bhavan in the national capital to mount pressure on the centre to grant Andhra Pradesh SCS. 

    YSRCP chief had also stated that his party cadre will conduct relay hunger strikes in every village, mandal and assembly constituency levels across state demanding the same.


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