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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 23 January 2021

NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.

General Studies – 1


1. The ultimate object of the reform movements as a whole, was the attainment of social happiness, the well-being of the people and national progress. Comment. (250 words)

Reference: India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra.


Nineteenth century is the period of turmoil in Indian society. The age-old traditions and practices were degraded and these were replaced by many social evils like female infanticide, sati, child-marriage, caste system, purdah; ban on female education, and widow re-marriage etc. The conquest of India by the British during the 18th and 19th century exposed some serious weaknesses and drawbacks of Indian social institutions. The most distressing was the position of women. The socio intellectual revolution that took place in the fields of social reforms is often known as Indian Renaissance. An important part of European Renaissance was reforming society from outside, on the basis of Post Enlightenment rationalism. But in Indian context, it implied rediscovering rationalism from within India’s past.

  1. The most important result of the impact of western culture was the replacement of blind faith in current traditions, beliefs, and conventions by a spirit of rationalism.
  2. Reformists adopted a rational approach to tradition but also evaluated the existing socio-religious practices from the position of social utility and to replace faith with rationality.
  3. In the Brahmo Samaj, it led to the repudiation of the infallibility of the Vedas, and in the Aligarh Movement, to the reconciliation of the teachings of Islam with the needs of the modern age.
  4. Syed Ahmed Khan emphasized that if religion did not keep pace with and meet the demands of the time it would get fossilized as in the case of Islam in India.
  5. The socio religious reform movement was against backward element of traditional culture in terms of both religious and social evils.
  6. The focus was on regeneration of traditional institutions including medicine, education, and philosophy and so on.
  7. There were differences in methods of those reform movements but all of them were concerned with the regeneration of society through social and educational reforms.
  8. The social reform movement did not, however, attack the social system as a whole; their attack was mainly only on the perversions and distortions that had crept into it.
  9. They did not advocate a sharp rupture in the existing social structure of the country.
  10. They did not stand for structural transformation; changes were sought within the framework of the very structure.
  11. The religious texts were translated into vernacular languages.
  12. There was more emphasis on interpretation of scriptures and simplification of rituals, thus making worship a more personal experience.
  13. The reformers aimed at modernisation rather than outright westernization.
  14. The main means used for the propagation of ideas add for the creation of favourable public opinion were the urban communication channels such as the press, lectures, and sabhas, propaganda network.
  15. A favourable social climate was created to end India’s cultural and intellectual isolation from the world.

In India, social reforms did not ordinarily mean a reorganisation of the structuring of society at large, as it did in the West, for the benefit of underprivileged social and economic classes. Instead, it meant the infusion into the existing social structure of the new ways of life and thought. The idea was – “The society would be preserved, while its members would be transformed.” The social reform movement, as a matter of fact, was not an isolated phenomenon; it was loaded with wider national political and economic considerations. In a way, the social reform movement was a prelude to nationalism.



General Studies – 2


2.  The pandemic has kick-started a digital infodemic that has been as problematic as the virus itself. Misinformation about the vaccines now could spark another health crisis. Analyze. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express 


Proliferating misinformation — even when the content is, in a best-case scenario, harmless — can have serious and even social and lethal health ramifications in the context of a global pandemic.

Even as the world is laser-focused on the search for a safe, effective vaccine, misinformation continues to spread about immunization as well.

A recent study that examined the vaccination views of 100 million Facebook users globally found that while the pro-vaccination camp (6.9 million people) outnumbered those against vaccination (4.2 million), the anti-vaccine group was less isolated and had more interaction with the individuals (by far the largest group, at 74.1 million) who are undecided about vaccination. These “swing vaxxers” are important to target and get on board with lifesaving vaccination.

There are also a huge number of self-proclaimed experts, numbers rising by the day, who create false facts, propagate misinformation, snowball rumours and forward wrong claims on social media. Each of these actions has the potential to influence mass reaction to the vaccination drive and thereby public health on the face of an ongoing crisis.

Concern of Vaccine Hesitancy is real or fake?

  1. Feeding these concerns are unresolved controversieslike the one involving polio vaccines and the emergence of Type-2 polio in Uttar Pradesh last year.
  2. The tragic incident in Hyderabad last week, where a child died and more than 20 others were reportedly hospitalisedfollowing treatment given after a vaccine was administered.
  3. Though reports suggest that the death was not vaccine related, it will add to the anxiety around a routine vaccination programme.
  4. Vaccine hesitancyis listed by the World Health Organisation as one of 10 threats to global health this year.
  5. A sense of mistrust seems to underpin the growing concerns being expressed on the MMR vaccine in India, or the outright “anti-vaxx” campaignsseen overseas.
  6. And however minimal or localised these incidents may be, health authorities are worried that it could negatively impact genuine public health and immunisation campaigns.
  7. Against this backdrop, doctors and public health experts are calling for focussed effortsto address parent and community fears with scientific evidence, and tackle vaccine half-truths fanned by social media.
  8. Mission Indradhanushhas given a booster shot to the Universal Immunisation Programme. The new Measles-Rubella (MR) Vaccine component, with a targeted 410 million children from 9 months to 15 years, is slated to be the next big leap after polio eradication.

Vaccine Hesitancy has been spread rapid in India:

  1. Progressive stateslike Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu too have witnessed instances of vaccine hesitancy. Parents have expressed reservations on the MMR vaccine and the measles-rubella vaccines, respectively.
  2. Social mediahas played a role in spreading these fears and even panic. Vaccinators have been attacked in some districts like Malappuram in Kerala.
  3. There was even a rumour campaignwhich claimed that vaccinations would make Muslim children infertile and that vaccines are pork-based.
  4. While it is right for parents to have a healthy scepticism, they should equip themselves with information from the right sourcesincluding doctors, Health Ministry representatives or authentic sources like the WHO website and not gather information from social media.
  5. Social media platforms like Facebook and Google have thought of steps to counter or block such and other misinformation.
  6. Falsification of information related to the origins, source, symptoms, treatment and statistics about the infection has daily gone viral, adding to the social stigma, fear, panic and chaotic public reaction to this global stress. The Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) reported that anti-vax social media accounts have gained more than eight million followers since 2019.

Suspicion of and myths surrounding vaccines in general are also driving mistrust about a Covid-19 jab, while the growth of the anti-vaccine movement is largely facilitated by social media. The pandemic in general has kick-started a digital infodemic over the last year, which has been as problematic as the virus itself.


Public health experts point to India’s success in tackling polio through an intensive immunisation programme.  The success of these programmes lies in react quickly and honestly in cases of vaccine related episodes. Remove apprehensions quickly.

The WHO expects 2019 to see transmission of wild polio virus being stopped in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well. Less than 30 cases were reported last year in both countries, the WHO says, casting its might behind their vaccination programme.

“Trust in the vaccine, trust in Government, trust in the system and trust in the manufacturer.”

Parents should raise questions on vaccines, its necessity and safety. But it is up to the Government and doctors to keep this communication with parents ongoing, transparent and scientific so that benefits to the child and larger community are not lost in misinformation.

Empower doctors to project the value of vaccines and equip them to respond to concerns effectively and accurately. Sensitise media to an evidence based rather than sensational approach.


3. Courts need to recognise selective prosecution as a threshold constitutional defence against the abuse of state power. Critically Analyze. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu


The November 27, 2020 Supreme Court judgment granting TV anchor Arnab Goswami bail says, not without considerable irony because of the personality involved.

Question rise on: Is this use of state power legally permissible? Is there no escape for victims of such abuse of state power?  The Curt bringing an action for wrongful prosecution years? to protect the life and liberty of the accused?

The Power of liberty is most pernicious and widespread forms of abuse of state power in India involves the police and enforcement agencies selectively targeting political and ideological opponents of the ruling dispensation to interrogate, humiliate, harass, arrest, torture and imprison them, ostensibly on grounds unrelated to their ideology or politics.

Is separating two legal issues?

  1. The illegality involved in this type of prosecution is not self-evident under article 20 (3) No personaccused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.
  2. The merits of the criminal case filed against them, against the concept of Natural justice.
  3. Once the proceedings fail under the first issue, there is no legal basis to proceed to the second issue.

Is this is question of Selective prosecution?

  1. The applicable legal standard is that the police and prosecutors in common law jurisdictions enjoy vast discretion in deciding who they may pursue and who they may spare, the choice of accusedmust not be based on grounds that violate Constitutional rights, including the Article 14 right to equal protection of the law.
  2. The accused should not be selected, either explicitly or covertly, on constitutionally prohibited grounds (Violation of FR). The illegal selection of accused based on grounds prohibited by the Constitution is called “selective prosecution”.
  3. A selective-prosecution claim is not a defence on the merits to the criminal chargeitself, but an independent assertion that the prosecutor has brought the charge for reasons forbidden by the Constitution.

What is the selective prosecution?

The selective prosecution is a procedural defence in which a defendant argues that they should not be held criminally liable for breaking the law, as the criminal justice system discriminated against them by choosing to prosecute.

Is selective prosecution is illegal:

  1. So-called selective prosecution is only illegalif a defendant is singled out for a purpose that is itself wrongful, such as discrimination based on race, gender, or political or religious 
  2. Like claims of a prosecutor’s vendetta, allegations of selective prosecution may get some press play but are almost never heard by juries.
  3. There is nothing illegal about prosecutors being selective. Law enforcement has every right to allocate limited human and financial resources and pursue some but not all perpetrators.

Constitutional value of Right to liberty:

“No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.”

Article 21 secures two rights:

  • Right to life, and
  • Right to personal liberty.
  • Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950 providesthat, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”

Failure of Indian courts:

  1. The courts have not recognisedselective prosecution as an independent claim because of the erroneous assumption that the lawfulness of prosecution can only be taken up after the trial, if the accused is acquitted.
  2. The Report of the Law Commission (2018) on‘Wrongful Prosecution (Miscarriage of Justice): Legal Remedies’ discusses remedies for wrongful prosecution available only if and after the accused is acquitted.
  3. The right against selective prosecution cannot beextinguished by conviction.
  4. The Separate from post-acquittal actions for wrongful prosecution (which will still be available),the claim of selective prosecution is a threshold issue that is required to be adjudicated at the outset of criminal proceedings (even during the investigation stage) irrespective of the merit of the charges.
  5. Recent judgment a single day deprived of liberty is a day too many”,while every other court including the Supreme Court itself rejects bail applications of people jailed for years and months without trial,

Previous judgment on article 14 and 21:

  1. The Supreme Court in the Kharak Singh’s case,: The Court observed that the right to personal liberty in the Indian Constitution is the right of an individual to be free from restrictions or encroachments on his person, whether they are directly imposed or indirectly brought about by calculated measures
  2. The Supreme Court has held that even lawful imprisonment does not spell farewell to all fundamental rights. A prisoner retains all the rights enjoyed by a free citizen except only those ‘necessarily’ lost as an incident of imprisonment.

Way forward:

  1. Much of what is claimed to be discrimination results from effortsto target prominent people. Perhaps celebrities and politicians are indeed discriminated against in this sense, but such extra scrutiny is an occupational hazard.
  2. Unless a discriminatory effect as well as a discriminatory purpose can be proven, no claim will be sustained. Such selectivity could also be a constitutional.
  3. The Article 14 and of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21.” To strengthen the protection of civil liberty, equality and democracy, it is time our courts at all levels recognise selective prosecution as a threshold constitutional defenceagainst the abuse of police and prosecutorial power.
  4. The scope of ‘procedure established by law’and held that merely a procedure has been established by law a person cannot be deprived of his life and liberty unless the procedure is just, fair and reasonable.


4. Democracies must evolve ways to curb the extraordinary influence that the social media platforms wield today. Critically Analyze. (250 words)

Reference: Live Mint


While the advantages of social media are so many, the threats to internal security in various forms like Cyber Terrorism, Fraud, crime, spreading violence, etc. are alarmingly become frequent now. Various external state and non-state actors are using various social media platforms to spread propaganda globally, including in India.

As internet has increased its reach and has become very accessible, it is a tool effectively used by state and non-state actors to spread ‘Internet-enabled’ terrorism, spread hate and tensions and disrupt the overall stability through their agenda:

  1. Radicalisation of youth: Propaganda information to recruit for terror groups like AQIS, LeT on telegram have been intercepted by NIA.
  2. Use of Internet by Daesh: Daesh has been using Internet to spread its propaganda using platforms such as twitter, YouTube etc.
  3. Constant involvement and interaction: By ‘cyber-planners’, who will be responsible for planning terror attacks, identifying recruits, act as “virtual coachers”, and provide guidance and encouragement throughout the process.
  4. In Recruitment from other countries: India is also suffered from it however less severely. Increasing number of cases of youth being influenced by social media to carry out propaganda of hate and violence has been reported in many areas.
  5. Rise of sentiments over sensitive issues: By spreading false propaganda and fraudulent ideologies over sensitive and triggering issues of India using morphed videos, or false claims of proof of injustice etc.

Precautions to avoid such threats:

  1. Review of the IT Act to make it stronger and setting up a crack team to respond to unusual incidents on a war footing.
  2. Strengthening the existing infrastructure : e-Surveillance Projects: National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), CERT-In, Central Monitoring System (CMS), Internet Spy System Network and Traffic Analysis System (NETRA) of India, National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIPC) of India etc.
  3. Strengthening of social networking sites.
  4. Responsible social media by citizens themselves can avoid a major risk threat.
  5. Awareness programmes regarding the safe usage of Internet and social media among the people.
  6. Training and employing ethical hackers to check vulnerabilities present in the cyberspace and respond quickly when there is a cyber-attack.


  1. Vulnerability of users: Several users get blackmailed, or taken advantage of using their vulnerability and misguided knowledge.
  2. Server location and laws of different countries: Lack of geographical boundaries makes social media regulation an arduous task. Major complicating factors to secure the networks and media are a huge concern.
  3. Encrypted message and anonymity:Use of phones/whatsapp to send and receive messages, concerns the government because the communications sent via such devices and applications are encrypted and cannot be monitored and consequently hinders the country’s efforts to fight terrorism and crime.

Way Forward:

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Several Social Media houses have put up a mix of automated and human driven editorial processes to promote or filter certain types of content.
  • These AIunits will automatically flash the danger of mis reporting everytime an image or news is shared.
  • This practice must be strengthened and disseminated.
  1. Fight Misinformation with Information
  • This is the other way where alternative information alongside the content with fake information is posted so that the users are exposed to the truth and correct information.
  • This approach, which is implemented by YouTube, encourages users to click on the links with verified and vetted information that would debunk the misguided claims made in fake or hateful content.
  • g. If you search “Vaccines cause autism” on YouTube, while you still can view the videos posted by anti-vaxxers, you will also be presented with a link to the Wikipedia page of MMR vaccine that debunks such beliefs.
  1. Bringing Regulation
  • There must be an exhaustive national law to deal with the ever expanding horizon of Social Media.
  • Responsibility must be fixed and there must be deterrence of law.
  1. Public Awareness
  • digitally literatecountry is the need of the hour.
  • Responsible social media use must be taught at every school and college in the country and especially in the rural areas where people can be easily manipulated.
  1. Legal Measures
  • TheElection Commission of India (ECI) had announced measures to curb fake news and misinformation on social media platforms at the time of elections.
  • It had brought political parties’ social media content under the ambit of the model code of conduct, and had asked the candidates to disclose their social media accounts and all expenditure on their respective social media campaigns.
  • Similarly the media Wing of the I&B Ministry has been assisting various arms of the government in keeping an eye on activities on various social media platforms.
  • Such practices must be encouraged at all scales and institutions.


  • As India is not a surveillance state, there must not be any illegal or unconstitutional check on the right to privacy and freedom of speech and expression which are the fundamental rights of every citizen.
  • There must be a balance as the Constitutions itself has provided several limitations on one’s right to speech and expression.
  • Big technology firms who own social media platforms can mediate content and thus impinge on democracy.
  • They and everyone must be held accountable for their actions which have wide social ramification.

India has joined a France led initiative to adopt a declaration to counter terrorism and radicalisation online including social media which is a welcome step in tackling this issue. Enhanced cooperation among the wide range of actors with influence over this issue, including governments, civil society, and online service providers, such as social media companies, to eliminate the spread of negative agenda is the way forward.


General Studies – 3


5. People dropping out and being forced to depend on their family, and the youth taking jobs below their station are adding to the fires in the economy. These are important signals the government cannot ignore. Examine their impact and suggest measures. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express


Recent data during the ongoing pandemic suggests that not only have jobs evaporated due to the economic freeze, people have also been forced to move to less productive and poorly paid alternatives. The sectoral break-up recently released by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) shows that while most segments of the economy suffered huge job losses, agriculture actually gained.


  • Most segments of the economy suffered huge job losses; agriculture actually gained.
    • From about 140 million employed in farm jobs in the March-June 2020 quarter, the number leapt to 158 million in the quarter ended 30 September 2020.
    • It declined marginally in the October-December quarter to 154 million, but it was still 3.5% higher than the comparative quarter of the previous year.
    • On the other hand, in the services sector, employment fell from 140 million to 128 million in the quarter ended September 2020.
    • Manufacturing similarly has been a big loser, with 12 million jobs disappearing from March to December 2020 and with little signs of recovery in the near term.
    • These figures show that people moving from productive and well-paying jobs in retail trade, education, and travel and tourism to areas that require fewer skills like farm labour and the construction industry.
    • Interestingly, real estate and construction too has seen a near-complete recovery of employment by December-end.
    • The pandemic therefore has not only hit people with job losses, but for those holding jobs, it now means a lower quality of life.
    • Another area of concern is people giving up being part of the active labour force because of the drying up of jobs.
    • Studying the trend over the last few years, economist Vinoj Abraham has found that after 2014, there has been an absolute decline in employment for perhaps the first time in independent India.
    • Labour participation—or the size of the economy’s active workforce—has actually fallen to 35% now from 46% before the November 2016 note ban crisis, according to CMIE.
  • Why does India have a huge share of vulnerable workers?
    • India’s capital and labour are moving from low value-added activities in a sector to another sector, but not to higher value-added activities. This leads to a situation where a large proportion of the jobs being created is of poor quality.
    • The service sector led growth has led to strong job creation in Information and Communication Technology (ICT)- intensive sectors but the informal and vulnerable employment continues in other sectors. These vulnerable sections comprise the majority of the employment.
  • Impacts:
    • It involves wastage or underutilization of valuable human resources.
    • Frustrated young persons are liable to be exploited for unsocial purposes and indulge in anti-social activities,
    • Fall off standard of living and increase of poverty among public.
    • Mass illiteracy and ill health are the result of unemployment.
    • Backwardness and under development of unemployed people.
    • The time and energies of a large mass of people are not gainfully used.
  • Measures:
    • The present crisis calls for a multi-pronged strategy to tackle the issue of urban jobs.
    • The focus on urban employment generation programmes should be in coordination with local governments as cities also face issues of overpopulation, slums etc.
    • For this, more resources need to be allocated at the local government level. Resource mobilization could be enabled by the formation of local alliances, involving elected representatives, trade unions, entrepreneurs and community groups.
    • Employment-intensive investment policies need to be designed. They should embrace both public and private sector initiatives.
    • Private investments need to be facilitated by conducive contractual relations between labour and capital.
    • Enterprise formation needs to be an integral part of the strategy. Small and micro enterprises need extra support to balance the interests between labour and capital as neither have collective bargaining powers.
    • Urban infrastructure needs to be prioritized as it accounts for a large share of total investments in the local economy. Construction of low-cost housing can be carried out using labor-intensive methods, which will yield substantial collateral benefits for urban dwellers
    • An immediate launch of an urban employment scheme oriented toward building large-scale medical, health and sanitation infrastructure in cities and towns across India is needed.
    • To make production pattern more labour intensive land development and settlement.
    • Reform the land law.
    • Promotion of rural social service such as education housing and health services
    • Development of productive activities such as dairy farming, poultry, Farming, Fishing etc.
    • Expansion of animal husbandry.
    • Diversification of agricultural production.


The capacity of our rural economy to absorb workers who returned from cities is low and the viability of agriculture to provide these workers with a decent living is questionable. It is not valid to assume that the Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) or its substitutes can absorb a significant proportion of these workers. There will still be a large number of workers who need to be provided with alternative sources of employment, and generating decent urban jobs looks to be the only way out.


6. Governments can take it upon themselves to develop prohibited content dashboards that provide internet companies clear directions on what sort of content is allowed and what is not. Not only will that provide clarity as to what is permitted, it will properly vest responsibility where it should lie. Critically Analyse. (250 words)

Reference: Live Mint


The proliferation of the news media and the social media has brought with it many new areas of problems on the legal front. The internet is the most efficient data communication network.


  • The closer you get to the edges of the internet, blindness created dissipates, and, because internet platforms are often aware of the content they host, they could be held liable for any offensive or illegal user-generated content found on their platforms.
  • It was in order to protect the fledgling internet industry from this liability that the US Government enacted Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, granting internet intermediaries immunity from content liability.
  • In doing so, the US sought by operation of law to create a presumption of blindness for businesses at the edge, replicating through legal fiction the design of the pipes at its core.
  • They made this legal presumption of blindness conditional on the fact that just like the pipes at the core of the internet, companies at the edge refrained from interacting with the content being shared on their platform—serving them up as is, without any moderation whatsoever.
  • A few large companies at the edge of the internet became gateways to our interactions online, functioning as funnels for user interaction.
  • With the rise in user numbers, it was no longer feasible for these platforms to operate as dumb pipes, serving up content without heed to what it contained.
  • As their international footprint grew and regional variations of law and convention forced them to contend with different requirements in every new country they expanded into, this problem was only exacerbated.
  • It soon became apparent that they had no option but to function as gatekeepers for user behaviour.
  • They were forced, as a result, to develop more and more detailed codes of conduct, setting out how users were expected to behave on their platforms, even though by doing so they risked losing their immunity from prosecution.
  • These codes of conduct are the basis on which the internet functions today.
  • A failure to comply with them can result in suspension from these platforms, and given how important these platforms are to our day-to-day interactions, the threat of being cut off has had a powerful coercive effect.
  • Every now and then, these provisions have been invoked to suspend (or even expel) users whose behaviour has been egregious.
  • Unlike in the early days of the internet, when online companies did all they could to avoid playing this role, today it is the platforms at the edge that are determining what is right or wrong—and doing so on the basis of the values and principles enshrined in their codes of conduct.
  • It was not entirely clear exactly how far this ability to control user behaviour would be taken. Despite the power that they wield, social media companies have always exercised restraint, particularly when it came to censoring the speech of persons with political influence.
  • Merely granting immunity from prosecution does not solve the problem of offensive content. At best, it passes the buck.
  • Need of the hour:
    • Framework for determining acceptable speech—a framework that we should have rolled out at the same time that we extended to internet intermediaries’ immunity from prosecution.
    • This framework could have been designed for the internet, giving online companies the ability to bake these restrictions directly into the tools and filters they use to automatically regulate content.
    • Need a more active role for governments and regulators. By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what’s best about it — the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things — while also protecting society from broader harms.
    • Need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.
    • Internet companies should be accountable for enforcing standards on harmful content. It’s impossible to remove all harmful content from the Internet, but when people use dozens of different sharing services all with their own policies and processes, so need a more standardized approach.
    • One idea is for third-party bodies to set standards governing the distribution of harmful content and to measure companies against those standards.
    • Regulation could set baselines for what’s prohibited and require companies to build systems for keeping harmful content to a bare minimum.
    • legislation should be updated to reflect the reality of the threats and set standards for the whole industry.


The rules governing the Internet allowed a generation of entrepreneurs to build services that changed the world and created a lot of value in people’s lives. It’s time to update these rules to define clear responsibilities for people, companies and governments going forward.



General Studies – 4


7. The prolonged detention of death row convicts in prison is inhuman and against the canons of justice. State your opinion. (150 words)

Reference: The Hindu 


In 2019, the Ministry of Home Affairs sent a letter to the Punjab government to commute Rajoana’s death sentence. But its decision could not be implemented because the Cabinet did not send the file to the President.


  • Concerns:
    • Psychological trauma for prisoners: The delay in the execution of death row convicts coupled with long years of solitary confinement leads to immense psychological trauma for them.
    • In India, 102 convicts were awarded the death sentence in 2019, raising the total number of death row prisoners to 378.
    • Death row convicts have suffered imprisonment up to 25 years.
    • The lack of accountability of various officials in the government and the courts have adversely affected our criminal justice system.
    • Supreme Court guidelines:
      • In the Shatrughan case judgment the SC laid down certain procedural guidelines for mercy petition. They are:
        • As soon as a mercy petition is received, the Ministry of Home Affairs should place it along with court records and files before the President without delay.
        • The condemned prisoner’s death sentence can be commuted to life imprisonment under Article 32 and Article 21 if there is inordinate delay in deciding the mercy plea.
        • Rejection of mercy petition must be forthwith communicated to the prisoner and his family in writing.
        • Death row convicts are entitled to a copy of the rejection of the mercy plea.
        • Minimum 14 days interval should be there between the receipt of communication of rejection and the date of execution. This time gap will enable the prisoner to prepare mentally.
      • Immanuel Kant said:
        • There is nothing more scared in the wide world than the rights of others. They are inviolable. Woe into him who trespasses or triumphs it underfoot.
        • His right should be his security, it should be stronger than shield or fortress. We have a holy ruler and the most sacred of his gift to us is the rights of man.
      • In spite of these rules and laws, there is continuous violation of rights of India.
      • The practice of torture in prison has been highly predominant in India since a long time.
      • In the name of extracting confessions, investigating crimes they use physical force upon the prisoners. Torture is also inflicted on women in the form of custodial rape, molestation and other forms of sexual abuses.


So, the prolonged detention of death row convicts in prison is inhuman and against the canons of justice. Delays in investigations, court hearings and administrative steps to be taken after the final verdict need to be inquired into, and responsibility fixed.

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