Insights Daily Current Affairs, 25 Aug 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 25 Aug 2017


 

Paper 2:

 

Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

 

Right to privacy

 

The Supreme Court has ruled right to privacy is intrinsic to the entire fundamental rights chapter of the Constitution.

  • The court has held that “the right to privacy is protected as intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution”.
  • The court has, with broad brushstrokes, enhanced and highlighted the right. Crucially, it has indicated that the contours of privacy mentioned in the judgment are not limitations to the right but foundations, over which it will develop over time.

 

The case:

The Supreme Court was hearing a challenge to the Delhi high court’s September 23, 2016 order by which it allowed WhatsApp to roll out its new privacy policy but stopped it from sharing the data of its users collected up to September 25, 2016, with Facebook or any other related company.

  • The issue was rooted in a reference by a three-judge bench that was hearing a challenge to the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme on the grounds of its being violative of the fundamental right to privacy.
  • Initially, on July 7, a three-judge bench said all issues arising out of Aadhaar should finally be decided by a larger bench and the Chief Justice of India would take a call on the need for setting up a constitution bench.
  • The matter was then mentioned before CJI Khehar who set up a five-judge constitution bench to hear the matter.
  • However, the five-judge constitution bench on July 18 decided to set up a nine-judge bench to decide whether the right to privacy can be declared a fundamental right under the Constitution.
  • The decision to set up the nine-judge bench was taken to examine the correctness of two apex court judgements delivered in the cases of Kharak Singh and MP Sharma, decided by six and eight judge benches respectively, in which it was held that this right was not a fundamental right.

 

Arguments against right to privacy as a fundamental right:

Though after the mid-seventies, several judgments by the benches of strength of two or three judges had held that right to privacy was fundamental but it was the judgment of 1954 and 1962 by the larger benches that holds the ground. The judgments of 1954 and 1962 had held that the right to privacy was not a fundamental right.

  • The Centre had also termed privacy as a “vague and amorphous” right which cannot be granted primacy to deprive poor people of their rights to life, food and shelter.
  • The Unique Identification Authority of India, too, said privacy was not a fundamental right and there were sufficient safeguards to protect data collected from the people — their iris scan and finger prints.
  • The attorney general had contended that right to privacy cannot fall in the bracket of fundamental rights as there were binding decisions of larger benches that it was only a common law right evolved through judicial decisions.

 

Petitioners’ arguments:

The petitioners had contended that the right to privacy was “inalienable” and “inherent” to the most important fundamental right which is the right to liberty.

  • They had said that right to liberty, which also included right to privacy, was a pre-existing “natural right” which the Constitution acknowledged and guaranteed to the citizens in case of infringement by the state.
  • The petitioners also say, “Privacy is associated with and is the bulwark of other rights. It is located in the golden trinity of Articles 14,19, and 21 (right to liberty and equality). There can be no dignity without privacy, and dignity is part of the Preamble, part of the basic structure of the Constitution.”

 

Importance of privacy:

While the notion of privacy now extends to the digital space, in the wake of increased internet penetration and smartphones, there is an increase of hacking and misuse of digital credentials as well. It is a well-established fact that privacy helps individuals maintain autonomy, and exercise power over information.

However, there are several bottlenecks etched to the concept of total privacy. For instance, in matters of national security and involving high-profile digital crimes needs intervention from the government, however, in matters which are personal to the user such as digital credentials, chat history on instant messaging apps, digital footprint are among facets that cannot be encroached by any other entity, as it would amount to breaching or hacking.

 

Concerns:

Legacy data is proof that Indian government or private websites do not have the best reputation when it comes to security, which is vindicated by the number of hacks that have ploughed government websites in the past. Besides, there have been several cases where individuals have succeeded in successfully hacked into UIDAI server.

  • While the government has been pushing for the use of Aadhaar and promoting digital transactions, it must be noted that there are no laws to safeguard misuse of personal data, which can be easily traced by data mining activities. While mining is solely used for targetted advertisements, some miscreants may use in to harm the interests of a company or individual.
  • Over the years, India has witnessed and been worst victims of deadly ransomware attacks, especially in the sectors of banking and health. With Aadhaar, the government wants the citizens to surf on the digital wave, but noted analysts have mentioned the advanced threat the country faces from modern day hackers.

right to privacy

Impact on Aadhar:

This will have a massive impact on Aadhaar-based litigation. A separate Bench of the court will examine the Aadhar issue. This verdict examines the constitutional status of the right to privacy and strengthens the ordinary Indian’s privacy from being invaded. Government cannot be arbitrary and this verdict has paved the way for growth of jurisprudence on privacy rights in India.

The right to privacy, like any other fundamental right, shall be subject to reasonable restrictions. So, what are reasonable restrictions? That shall be a matter of interpretation to be decided on a case to case basis, just as it is done for fundamental rights. The right of privacy is always a legal right. A legal right can always be curtailed or extinguished by the legislature.

 

In conclusion, what you need to know?

The right to privacy is now a fundamental right which applies to every Indian’s privacy in the actual world and the virtual world. This fundamental right now gives protection to all Indians but it is not an absolute right, as there can be reasonable restrictions for which the government has to establish a procedure. Any state or its instrumentality cannot infringe on the right to privacy. The verdict has ushered in a new era of privacy practice in India. Privacy, as a fundamental right, will get more premium than it did yesterday. This is a giant leap forward – no other Supreme Court judgment has pushed the envelope like this on privacy jurisprudence and no one will ever be able to treat privacy as an inferior right in India.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

 

SC order on right to privacy sparks fresh debate on Section 377

 

The Supreme Court’s ruling that held the right to privacy is a fundamental right recognizes a new ground which lights the way to future judgements on the controversial Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes homosexuality.

  • The court in its judgement said, “It is an individual’s choice as to who enters his house, how he lives and in what relationship. The privacy of the home must protect the family, marriage, procreation and sexual orientation, which are all important aspects of dignity.”
  • With this, the debate on Section 377, marked by demands by LGBT and human rights activists to decriminalize homosexuality, is set to be revived by Thursday’s judgement.

 

What next?

With this ruling, the Supreme Court has widened the realm of the right to privacy to include all sorts of personal choices. These include an individual’s choice to travel, to reside and to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. It also protects various aspects of an individual’s intimate life, including their sexual orientation.

The ruling will certainly impact the future course of decisions on Section 377 that criminalizes homosexuality since it was not considered by the courts earlier. The right of personal choices including sexual orientation has today been recognised.

Image result for Section 377 of IPC

The law:

Section 377 of IPC — which came into force in 1862 — defines unnatural offences. It says, “Whoever voluntarily has carnal inter­course against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

 

Delhi HC legalises homosexuality:

The Delhi High Court had in July 2009 de-criminalised consensual homosexual acts in private by declaring as unconstitutional a part of Section 377 of IPC that criminalises unnatural sex, saying “the section denies a gay person a right to full personhood.”

 

SC re-criminalises homosexuality:

The Supreme Court chose to reverse the verdict in December 2013. Upholding the constitutional validity of Section 377 IPC, the court put the ball in the Parliament’s court, saying it was for the legislature to take a call on the desirability of the controversial provision.

 

International developments:

There have been many positive developments in favour of LGBT community on the international front. In May 2015, Ireland legalised same-sex marriage. The country which had decriminalized homosexuality in 1993 became the first country to allow same sex marriage a national level by popular vote.

  • In June 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriages were legal. Near home, Nepal legalized homosexuality in 2007 and the new Constitution of the country too gives many rights to the LGBT community.
  • France, UK, Canada, United States, Australia and Brazil have de-criminalised homosexuality. Other countries like Belgium, Brazil, Canada,France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal,South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay allow either same sex marriage or a civil union.
  • India currently stands with a host of countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Mauritania, Qatar and Pakistan which criminalizes homosexuality.

 

Law and morality:

Those against legalising homosexuality argue that it is against the moral values of the society. What is forbidden in religion need not be prohibited in law.

However, those in favour say, “Morality cannot be a ground to restrict the fundamental rights of citizens. A legal wrong is necessarily a moral wrong but vice versa is not correct. A moral wrong becomes a legal wrong only when its consequences are for society and not just the person/s committing it.”

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3:

 

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

NITI Aayog’s 3-Year Agenda

 

NITI Aayog has come out with a detailed plan for reforms in the economy, judiciary, regulatory structure and social sectors, in the three-year document to be implemented from 2017-18 to 2019-20.

 

Key facts:

  • NITI Aayog’s three year action agenda has set stiff economic targets and meeting those would benefit the economy.
  • According to the ‘Three-Year Action Agenda’ India has good prospects of achieving over 8% growth within 2-3 years. Therefore, the chances of massive cut in the poverty rate in the upcoming decade are excellent.

 

The action plan suggests a host of reforms to ensure prosperity for all citizens. Some important reforms proposed are as follows:

  • Link central government expenditure to future priorities, shifting additional allocations to high-priority sectors which are more likely to promote development.
  • Expand expenditures by 2019-20 on education, health, agriculture, rural development, defence, railways, roads and other categories of capital expenditure.
  • Facilitate urbanisation in the country and deal with key challenges like affordable housing, infrastructure development, pubic transport and promotion of Swachh Bharat.
  • Eliminate corruption and black money, and increase tax base besides reforms in civil services and electoral process.
  • Reform the judicial system by streamlining human resource availability and performance, increasing and strengthening avenues for dispute resolution and extensive use of ICT to improve efficiency.
  • On the social sector, bring in changes in segments like education, skill development, health and issues facing specific groups, such as scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and women.
  • Strengthen and streamline regulatory structure governing sustainability of environment.

 

Background:

In May 2016, the Prime Minister’s Office directed Niti Aayog to come up with a 15-year vision document for the period up to 2031-32. This would be complemented with a seven-year strategy starting 2017-18 to convert the vision document into implementable policy and action as part of the National Development Agenda and a three-year draft action plan.

 

Sources: pib.


 

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

 

Govt eases norms under UDAN 2

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The civil aviation ministry has relaxed the norms for its flagship regional flying scheme called UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) to allow for greater connectivity.

  • The relaxations include dilution of the exclusivity clause mandating that only one airline may fly on one route in the initial years. The norms that restricted two airports in close proximity from participating in the bidding has also been relaxed.

 

About UDAN:

The scheme, Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik, which loosely translates as “let the common man fly”, proposes that at least half the seats on every flight should have a fare cap of Rs2,500 per seat per hour of flying.

  • Inexpensive regional air connectivity under the UDAN scheme would allow travellers to save time and enable the middle-classes in small-town India to take their first flights.
  • Five airlines including Air India, SpiceJet, Turbo Megha, Air Odisha and Air Deccan were allotted 128 routes to fly in the first round by March, but only 16 routes have been operationalised so far.

 

Way ahead:

If the scheme is successfully implemented, the air connectivity to difficult terrains of Jammu and Kashmir, northeast India, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep will get a major push. The ministry has marked these regions under priority areas.

 

Sources: the hindu.