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February 2018 National Affairs

  • Commonwealth Parliamentary Association's India region conference concluded
    The two days Conference of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) of India Region concluded in Patna on 18th February. 

    Over one hundred delegates from across the country and abroad including Australia, Britain, Uganda and Tonga participated in the conference. 

    Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan the Chairperson, CPA Executive Committee Emilia Lifaka, Secretary General Akbar Khan, speakers of state assemblies and chairpersons of legislative councils and delegates from across the country also took part in the conference. 

    The delegates discussed various aspects of Parliament's role in the development agenda. A brainstorming session was also organised on Legislature and Judiciary -Two important Pillars of Democracy. 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi flags off Palace Queen Hamsafar Express in Mysuru
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 19th February flagged off the Palace Queen Humsafar Express between Mysuru and Udaipur in Mysuru Railway Station . Both the Mysuru Palace and Udaipur palace are iconic tourist attractions and this special train will create a new tourist circuit connecting North India and the South. 

    The train between Mysuru and Udaipur will act as a backbone of tourism, an employment generating industry. He also dedicated to the nation, the electrified Mysuru-Bengaluru Railway Line and announced two more infrastructure projects for the region. 

  • India hot spot of digital innovation: Prime Minister Narendra Modi
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 19th February inaugurated the World Congress for IT in Hyderabad via video conference. This event is being organised in India for the first time. 

    Several CEOs from Fortune 500 companies and other top executives besides over 5,000 delegates are attending the conference. 

    Prime Minister used the platform to highlight govt's digital drive. He launched a historic initiative to re-skill and up-skill the IT workforce of India as per changing technologies. The Future Skills platform will ensure competitive advantage of Indian IT in the world as per changing technologies. 

    Digital India is about digital inclusion for digital empowerment, aided by digital infrastructure for digital delivery of services. 

    He launched a skill platform at the World Congress for Information Technology. The aim.skill development in the IT field. PM then delivered the inaugural address. He said that in the 21st century, digital technology is acting as an enabler in creating a seamless, integrated world. 

  • Union Government gives nod to six railway projects 
    The government has approved six railways projects with special thrust on Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh. CCEA has approved the 130 kilometres long Jeypore-Malkangiri New Line project at a cost of 2676.11 crore rupees. The project is likely to be completed by 2022-23 and will cover the districts of Koraput and Malkangiri of Odisha. 

    It will also help in combating Left Wing Extremism through development in these districts. It will also provide basic infrastructure support for overall development including industrial development. 

    CCEA also approved doubling of Muzaffarpur-Sagauli and Sagauli-Valmiki Nagar lines with electrification projects. 

    The additional capacity will ease congestion and minimise delays. It also approved Jhansi-Manikpur and Bhimsen-Khairar lines doubling with electrification projects. Besides, the CCEA approved the Bhatni-Aurnihar line doubling with electrification project. 

  • UGC constitutes four-member Empowered Expert Committee
    University Grants Commission on 20th February constituted a four-member Empowered Expert Committee, which is being entrusted to conduct the appraisal of applications for short listing 20 Institutions of Eminence. 

    N Gopalaswami, former Chief Election Commissioner of India is the Chairperson of the committee. The government is likely to announce the names of the selected institutions by April 2018. 

  • For garbage disposal, Bengal a model for the whole country
    The way the TMC Government in West Bengal has used the 100 Days’ Work Scheme (NREGA) in the service of garbage disposal by the panchayats has become a role model for the country. 

    Union Rural Development Ministry has sent instructions to the state and union territory governments to study and implement the Bengal model. 

    The solid waste management system that the panchayats have implemented is both health-friendly and environment-friendly. 

    West Bengal has also been acknowledged by the Centre as being the best in implementing the 100 Days’ Work Scheme. 

  • Kamal Hassan launches new political party “Makkal Needhi Maiam’
    Makkal Neethi Maiyam is the name of the political party founded by Tamil Actor Kamal Hasan who began his political sojourn from late President Dr.Abdul Kalaam's house at Ramanathapuram on 21st February. At a mammoth public meeting at Madurai, the actor launched the Party's flag. 

  • Government to set up NITI Forum for Northeast
    Government will set up the NITI Forum for Northeast to identify constraints and recommend suitable interventions for speedy and sustainable growth in the region. 

    Ministry of Development of North East Region (DoNER) in a release said, the forum will also review the development status in the region. 

    The Ministry said, the forum will be co-chaired by the Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog Dr Rajiv Kumar and Minister for DoNER Dr Jitendra Singh. 

    Members of the Forum will include Secretaries of Ministries of Road Transport and Highways, Railways, Power, Water Resources, Health and Family Welfare, Human Resource Development and Environment. 

    Chief Secretaries of all Northeastern states will also be members of the Forum. Secretary, North East Council, Shillong will be Member Secretary. 

  • Govt made improvements to electronic National Agriculture Market (eNAM) platform, to engage more farmers
    In a bid to engage more farmers on the electronic National Agriculture Market (eNAM) platform, the government on 21st February unveiled mobile payment facility BHIM and other features in regional languages as well. 

    The eNAM website is now available in Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Odia besides Hindi and English, while the eNAM trading facility is available in six languages. 

    The eNAM has been strengthened with features like MIS dashboard for better analysis, BHIM and other mobile payment facilities, enhanced features on mobile app such as gate entry and payment via mobiles, integration of farmer’s database and e-learning module. 

    As many as 479 regulated wholesale mandis have been integrated with eNAM across 14 states and one union territory. And the target is to link 585 mandis by next month. 

    To ensure timely payment to farmers after auctioning of commodities on the platform, the government has introduced Unified Payment Interface (UPI) facility through BHIM. Currently e-NAM portal provides for online payment to farmers through RTGS/NEFT, debit card and internet banking. 

    Besides making the eNAM mobile app multilingual, the government has introduced a facility for mandi operators to carry out one of the critical operations of ‘Gate Entry’ directly from the app. Farmers can also see the real-time bidding progress and assaying certificates through app. 

    Even buyers on eNAM can do online payment from the app through debit card and net banking. SMS alert will be sent to farmers on receiving payment in their bank account. That apart, a grievance redressal management system is being set up at mandis to flag technology issues related to portal/ software and its operation and also track the status of redressal online. 

    Moreover, the website has been improved with more informative features like live status of markets of e-NAM based on gate entry, latest information on events, dynamic training calendar etc. E-Learning module in Hindi has also been incorporated in the website so that various stakeholders can learn about how to operate the system and continuously get trained at their convenience. The MIS dashboard has been introduced to provide a greater insight into the performance of each mandi in terms of arrival and trade. 

    This will help the Mandi Board officials and APMC Secretary to compare the performance of each mandi on daily, weekly, monthly/quarterly and year-on-year basis. Currently, 90 commodities are allowed for trading on eNAM and 11 more commodities will be added soon. 

  • India ranked 81 in global corruption perception index
    India has been ranked 81st in the global corruption perception index for 2017, released by Transparency International, which named the country among the “worst offenders” in terms of graft and press freedom in the Asia Pacific region. 

    The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, placed India at the 81st place. In the 2016 India was in the 79th place among 176 countries. The index uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. India’s score in the latest ranking, however, remained unchanged at 40. In 2015, the score was 38. 

    Transparency International further said, “in some countries across the region (Asia Pacific), journalists, activists, opposition leaders and even staff of law enforcement or watchdog agencies are threatened, and in the worst cases, even murdered. Philippines, India and the Maldives are among the worst regional offenders in this respect. These countries score high for corruption and have fewer press freedoms and higher numbers of journalist deaths,” it added. 

    In the last six years, 15 journalists working on corruption stories in these countries were murdered, as reported by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). 

    In the latest ranking New Zealand and Denmark were placed the highest, with scores of 89 and 88, respectively. On the other hand Syria, South Sudan and Somalia were ranked lowest with scores of 14, 12 and 9, respectively. Meanwhile, China with a score of 41 was ranked 77th on the list, while Brazil was placed at 96th with a score of 37 and Russia was at the 135th place with a score of 29. 

    Further analysis of the results indicates that countries with the least protection for press and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also tend to have the worst rates of corruption. The analysis, which incorporates data from CPJ, showed that in the last six years, 9 out of 10 journalists were killed in countries that score 45 or less on the index. 

  • India-bound gas pipeline breaks ground on Afghan section
    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov joined Pakistani premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and India's External Affairs Minister M. J. Akbar for the ceremony at gas-rich Turkmenistan's border with Afghanistan. 

    Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India on 23rd February ceremonially broke ground on the Afghan section of an ambitious, multi-billion dollar gas pipeline expected to help ease energy deficits in South Asia. 

    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov joined Pakistani premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and India's External Affairs Minister M. J. Akbar for the ceremony at gas-rich Turkmenistan's border with Afghanistan. 

    The quartet aims to complete the 1,840-kilometre (1,143-mile) pipeline and begin pumping natural gas from Turkmenistan's giant Galkynysh gas field by the beginning of 2020. 

    While the pipeline will traverse war-wracked Afghanistan, raising security concerns, the bulk of the 33 billion cubic metres of gas to be pumped annually through the conduit will be purchased by South Asian rivals Pakistan and India. 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates "Amma two wheeler" scheme in Chennai
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Tamil Nadu Government's subsidized Amma two wheeler scheme for women and differently abled beneficiaries in Chennai on Late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's birth anniversary; also launched a massive tree plantation drive. 

    Amma two wheeler scheme is having the objective of enhancing the livelihood of working women, aims to provide subsidised two wheelers to women, transgenders and differently-abled persons. The scheme was initially announced by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in the AIADMK's election manifesto in 2016. 

    The PM also planted a sapling, kicking off a tree plantation drive that will see 70 lakh plants to be planted across Tamil Nadu. He also recounted how his government has increased the overall funds allocated for the state of Tamil Nadu. 

    He also highlighted how central schemes like the PM Awaas Yojana and PM Fasal Bhima Yojna had benefited the people of Tamil Nadu. 

  • Bihar government bans sale of loose cigarettes
    The Bihar government has banned the sale of loose cigarettes in the state. Bihar is the 12th state in the country to enforce such a ban. District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police of concerned districts have been instructed to act as per the Tobacco Control Act under which anyone selling loose cigarettes would be liable for fine. 

    According to a survey, eighty percent people use loose cigarettes. The Survey says, 54 percent adults in Bihar use tobacco products and 9 percent of them are smokers. Around 12 lakh tobacco-related deaths occur in the country every year. 

  • Maharashtra records highest growth in mangrove cover in India
    Maharashtra has reported the highest growth in mangrove cover, of 82 square kilometres, in the last two years in the country. 

    'The State of Forest Report 2017' published by the Forest Survey of India in Mumbai said the state's mangrove cover increased from 222 sq km to 304 sq km, registering an increase of 37% over the previous assessment in 2015. 

    According to the report, the mangrove cover in the country increased by 181 sq km during this period. Of this, 45 per cent was contributed by Maharashtra. This is the highest recorded in the country. Andhra Pradesh comes a distant second with an increase of 37 sq km. 

  • Centre to set up at least one sanitary pad unit in each block of the country
    Centre will set up at least one sanitary pad unit in each block of the country for better health and hygiene of women. These units will be set up through Common Services Centers network and will create employment for around 60 thousand women. This was announced by Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at the end of state IT Ministers Conference in New Delhi on 13th February. 

    Mr. Prasad said, government will also establish seven Centre of excellence across the country which will empower Digital India initiatives and promote new technology in different sectors. 

    They will be set up in Chennai, Guwahati, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, Gurugram and Lucknow in the fields of Financial technology, Medical Tech, Virtual Reality, Electronics Products and Blockchain. 

  • India needs health regulator to make Modicare work efficiently: NITI Aayog
    NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said on 14th February a health regulator was needed to be set up to sort out difference between states and private health insurers that might emerge during the roll-out of the ambitious National Health Protection Scheme. 

    Announced in the Budget for 2018-19, the scheme — often called Modicare — aims to provide health insurance to 500,000 vulnerable citizens. 

    The Aayog was planning to set up a big data analytics centre to study payroll data for employment trends. 

    The government would meet the disinvestment target of Rs 80,000 crore, set in the 2018-19 Budget, as telecom spectrum sales would fetch funds. 

    The Aayog was in talks with several global organisation to fund 125,000 wellness centres the Budget had proposed. Some experts had criticised the budgetary allocation of Rs 12 billion for the project as being too small. 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates state convention centre in Itanagar
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi says that the government wants to take medical education and health facilities to remote areas of the country. He inaugurated the new Dorji Khandu state convention centre in Arunachal Pradesh capital, Itanagar. He said, about 800 medicines are now available at very cheap rates through Jan Aushadhi Kendras. Mr. Modi said the Ayushman Bharat Scheme will bring medical revolution in the country. 

    Prime Minister also dedicated to the nation Arunachal Pradesh civil secretariat building and laid the foundation stone of the academic block of the Tomo Riba Institute of Health and Medical Science. 

  • India stands first in the manufacturing of generic medicines in the world
    Mega healthcare programme Ayushman Bharat will unfold in the next two months to ensure health insurance of up to five lakh rupees per year per family to 10 crore families. Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers Ananth Kumar informed this during the inauguration of 3rd International Exhibition and Conference on Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Industry in Bengaluru on 15th February. 

    The Union minister added that a new policy on Pharmaceuticals is on the anvil and issues pertaining to Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority will be addressed soon. 

  • Centre to set up 562 more Ekalavya Model Residential Schools in tribal areas
    The Centre will set up 562 more Ekalavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) in tribal areas of the country. According to the Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram said, 271 such schools have already been sanctioned out of which, 190 are currently operational. 

    Mr. Oram said the government is committed to providing quality education to tribal children and it has been announced in the Budget that by the year 2022, every block with at least 20 thousand tribal persons, will have an Ekalavya School. 

    He said, the EMRS provide boarding and lodging facilities to tribal students and will be brought at par with the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyala through high quality education. 

    Mr. Oram also disclosed that 24 items of forest produce are now being given MSP which will substantially increase the income of the tribal population. 

    The Tribal Affairs Ministry has been allocated an amount of six thousand crore rupees in this Budget as compared to over 5329 crores rupees in 2017-18. 

  • Govt suspends passport of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi
    The noose tightens over absconding jeweller Nirav Modi and his partner Mehul Choksi in the Rs. 11000 crore PNB Scam. On the advice of the Enforcement Directorate, the Passport issuing authority in the Ministry of External Affairs has suspended validity of passports of Nirav Modi & Mehul Choksi with immediate effect for a period of four weeks. The action follows CBI and ED raids in which jewellery worth Rs. 5100 crore were seized. 

  • CBI and ED make arrests in Punjab National Bank fraud case
    The CBI on 17th February made the first three arrests in the alleged Rs. 11,400 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case in which businessman Nirav Modi and his partner Mehul Choksi are accused. 

    The CBI has arrested former Deputy Manager of the bank, Gokulnath Shetty, Single Window Operator of the bank, Manoj Kharat, and the authorised signatory of Nirav Modi group of firms, Hemant Bhat. 

    The three were produced before a CBI special court in Mumbai on 17th February which remanded them to 14 days police custody. 

    CBI conducted searches in the Punjab National Bank's branch at Brady House Fort, Mumbai, which seems to be the centre of alleged scam. 

    Meanwhile, 6 PNB officials are being examined. 

    Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate on 17th February conducted further searches at 21 locations across the country related to the case. 

    The agency seized diamonds, gold, precious stones and jewellery worth Rs. 25 crore. 

    The total seizures till now is worth Rs. 5674 crore. 

    The agency had conducted raids at 35 locations and seized items worth Rs. 549 crore. 

  • On 69th Republic Day, India set new record with over 1.1 million tweets
    The annual Republic Day celebrations generated a record number of tweets at over 1.1 million this year. 1.1 million tweets, setting a new conversation record for Republic Day, trended number one worldwide throughout the day, compared to over 900,000 tweets celebrating the occasion in 2017. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's greetings to his countrymen in Hindi on the occasion the Republic Day was the most liked one. 

  • Union Home Ministry to set up apex cybercrime coordination centre
    Union Home Ministry is planning to set up an apex coordination centre to deal with cyber crimes such as financial frauds, circulation of communal and pornographic contents. The ministry has also asked states to establish a similar mechanism in every district. 

    According to Home Ministry: 
    It has released 83 crore rupees for setting up of a cyber forensic training laboratory-cum-training centre for police officials in each state

    The funds were given to the Cyber Crime Prevention against Women and Children Scheme

    It would coordinate with state governments and union territories, and closely monitor the cyber space and social media with due emphasis on vernacular content

    The centre would also block those websites which flout India's laws and circulate child porn, and communally and racially sensitive content

    State governments have also been asked to set up a state cybercrime coordination cell at the headquarter-level and also establish district cyber crime cells

    The ministry has already created a new wing Cyber and Information Security Division to deal with the new-age challenge

    The move came in the wake of 1 lakh 44 thousand 496 cyber security attacks observed in the country during 2014-16

  • Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh get contempt notice from Supreme Court on cow vigilantism
    Three states -- Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh -- have received contempt notice from the Supreme Court for allegedly failing to prevent incidents of cow vigilantism despite an order last year to do so. The states will have to reply to the notice by September 3. The notice from the Supreme Court came following a petition by Tushar Gandhi, who has been pursuing the matter since last year. 

    It was in response to his petition that the top court, on September 6, had asked 26 states to maintain law and order and prevent violence by cow vigilantes. The states had been asked to depute nodal officers and highway patrol and keep the court informed about their progress. 

    The top court also asked the Centre -- which had pleaded that law and order was a state subject -- whether under the Constitution, it had the responsibility to ask states to crack down on cow vigilantism. 

    The first incident of cow vigilantism was reported from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh in 2015, in which an elderly man, Mohammad Akhlaq, was beaten to death after allegations that he had killed a cow. 

    In July last year, four Dalit men were stripped, tied to a car and flogged in Gujarat. In Alwar, a 55-year-old dairy owner, Pehlu Khan, was beaten to death on suspicion of cattle smuggling. The video footage of Pehlu Khan being yanked by the neck, thrown to the ground and kicked by cow vigilantes had sparked nationwide outrage. 

  • Govt launches rapid detection kits to detect adulterants in fresh fish
    Government on 30th January launched the Rapid Detection Kits to detect Adulterants in Fresh Fish. Launching the kit in New Delhi, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said, the kit will help in detecting chemicals in the fish. He said continuous ingestion of ammonia and formaldehyde can lead to many health issues including abdominal pain, vomiting, unconsciousness, and sometimes even cause death. 

    India’s domestic fish market is reported to be selling formaldehyde-adulterated fish, especially in markets located far away from landing centres or production sites. 

    According to Indian and International regulations, the fresh fish and shellfish should be preserved only by means of ice and use of substances other than ice to maintain quality is a fraudulent practice. Mr Singh said, continuous monitoring of the contaminants in a laboratory is time-consuming and requires expertise but some people use toxic chemicals in the form of contaminated substances. 

  • Allahabad High Court judge Shukla to be impeached
    Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on 30th January recommended the removal of Justice Shri Narayan Shukla, the eighth senior-most judge of the Allahabad High Court, following an adverse report about him by an in-house panel. The panel had been set up by the CJI. 

    The CJI has set the process in motion with a letter to the Prime Minister for the impeachment of the judge. 

    When the impeachment motion is moved in Parliament, an investigation is conducted. If the findings of guilt are confirmed, the impeachment motion will be put to vote for the removal of the judge by a majority. 

    The move for a possible impeachment of Justice Shukla began with Allahabad High Chief Justice D.B. Bhosale withdrawing judicial duties from him from January 23. 

    The trigger was a scathing report by the committee led by Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee. Justice Shukla joined the Allahabad High Court in 2005, and was set to retire on July 17, 2020. 

    His orders in the cases of blacklisted private medical colleges in Lucknow had come under the scanner of the CJI Bench last year. 

  • Rajasthan gives 1% quota to Most Backward Classes
    The Rajasthan Government has issued orders for granting 1% reservation to the Most Backward Classes, comprising Gujjars and four other nomadic communities, within the 50% ceiling mandated by the Supreme Court. The State Cabinet had approved the decision last month and sent it for the Governor's consent. 

    The overall reservation in the State stood at 49% before the decision. Along with Gujjars, nomadic communities Banjara, Gadia-Lohar, Raika and Gadariya were included among the Other Backward Classes for quota in the government jobs and educational institutions. 

    Though Gujjars have been demanding sub-categorisation of OBC quota for extending the benefit to them, the State government has gone ahead with its decision to create MBCs and given it the quota while not exceeding the 50% limit. 

    The State Assembly had on October 26, 2017, passed a Bill creating the “most backward” category within the OBCs for Gujjars and four other nomadic communities and given 5% reservation to them, while increasing the OBC quota from 21% to 26% and taking the overall quota in the State to 54%.

    Gujjars and others were earlier grouped as a special backward class and the State government had tried thrice to grant 5% reservation to them. 

  • Indian President Ram Nath Kovind approves Bill to hike judges’ salary
    Indian President Ram Nath Kovind gave his approval to a Bill that will more than double the salaries of Supreme Court and High Court judges. 

    In the Winter Session of Parliament, the Bill to increase salaries of judges was passed. Now after the President's approval, the Chief Justice of India will draw a monthly salary of Rs. 2.8 lakh, up from the current Rs. 1 lakh. Other judges of the Supreme Court and Chief Justices of High Courts will draw a monthly salary of Rs. 2.5 lakh, a jump from the current Rs. 90,000. 

  • Centre sanctions Rs 1,500 cr for organic farming in Uttarakhand
    The Centre has sanctioned Rs 1,500 crore for three years to promote organic farming in Uttarakhand. The amount was sanctioned by Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh when Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat met him in New Delhi. 

    This is in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of developing Uttarakhand as an organic state which he spelt out during his visit to Kedarnath last year. 

    The Union minister also cleared a proposal worth Rs 2,600 crore for the co-operative sector in the state. 

  • Supreme Court adopts roster system for allocation of matters to judges 
    The Supreme Court on 1st February adopted a roster system for allocation of matters to judges. Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra’s decision was made public on the apex court’s website. The 13-page notification said a roster of the work for fresh cases notified under the order of the Chief Justice of India will come into effect from February 5. 

    The 13-page notification has given the description of matters that would be allocated to the benches headed by the CJI, justices Chelameswar, Gogoi, Lokur, Joseph, A K Sikri, S A Bobde, R K Agrawal, N V Ramana, Arun Mishra, A K Goel and R F Nariman. The names of these 12 judges are in the order of their seniority. 

    The CJI has been asserting his rights as ‘master of roster’, but in a series of instances, the four other Supreme Court judges – Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph – had pointed out in their letter written to him two and a half months ago, which they made public, the rostering of cases was such as to not inspire confidence in the system being fair, transparent or just. 

    The four judges, who had raised concerns over the allocation of cases, are learnt to have proposed the setting up of a committee comprising judges who would be Chief Justices in the future to suggest an institutional mechanism for marking of cases as per the Roster that would be notified by the SC Registry. The SC Roster is not known to the public. Making it public has been one of the demands of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) too. 

  • Supreme Court dismisses plea for declaring rape law gender-neutral
    The Supreme Court on 2nd February dismissed a plea for declaring the offences of rape, sexual assault, outraging of modesty, voyeurism and stalking in the Indian Penal Code as gender-neutral. 

    The petitioner had said, the crime of rape should be gender neutral, making a woman also punishable for the offence. 

    Rejecting the plea, the three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, it is an imaginative situation and Parliament can deal with it as per social needs. It also said that law is open for change by Parliament and it cannot interfere with it. 

    The plea said that law cannot be discriminatory against men and that only a man can be punished for the offences of rape and sexual assault. 

  • Graduates from IITs and NITs to teach in technical colleges in backward areas
    To improve the quality of education in engineering colleges, located in the backward areas of the developing States, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has selected young graduates from IITs, NITs and IIITs, who will teach in these government-run colleges. 

    Under this initiative, 293 PhD and 932 Masters degree holders, who expressed interest in teaching in rural areas, have been selected as the faculty and have been sent to the 53 institutes in the backward areas. 

    The faculty has been selected from 369 districts of 26 States and will be paid Rs. 70,000 per month for three years. The government would be spending a total of Rs. 375 crore for the project.
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