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Daily Current Affairs : 17-Mar-2020

Major Topics Covered :









Why in news?

  • To soften the impact of the Supreme Court ruling which called for telecom companies to pay around 1.4 lakh crores to the government by accepting the AGR definition of the government, government has asked the Supreme Court to give 20 year window to the companies for giving the dues.


  • Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) definition : Telecom operators pay license fee and spectrum charges to the government in the form of revenue share. The revenue amount used to calculate this revenue is called as AGR.

What was the Government’s and private companies debate on definition –

  • Government view - The calculations should incorporate all revenues earned by a telecom company – including from non-telecom sources such as deposit interests and sale of assets.

  • View of Companies - AGR should comprise the revenues generated from telecom services only and non-telecom revenues should be kept out of it.

Case Explained –

  • Cellular Operators Association of India challenged the definition of DoT in 2005.

  • In 2015, TDSAT ruled that the AGR included all receipts, except capital receipts and revenue from non-core sources such as rent, profit on the sale of fixed assets, dividend, interest and miscellaneous income, etc.

  • CAG suggested that the telecom industries are under-stating revenue to the tune of 61,064.5 crore.

  • Thus, DoT petitioned in the Supreme Court seeking interest, penalty and interest on penalty on the outstanding amount, amounting to 92,641 crore where in the principle was just 25% and the rest is interest and penalty.

  • If the Spectrum charges are also added then the amount might be as high as 1.4 lakh crores.

Supreme Court verdict –

  • Supreme Court in its verdict upheld the definition of DoT and thus sought the above said compensation by the companies to the government within 3 month

Post-verdict developments –

  • The total amount to the government is owed by 15 operators, out of which 10 of them have either closed operations or are undergoing insolvency proceedings.

  • Government has set up a panel under Rajiv Gauba to consider a bailout package with likely option of a two year moratorium on spectrum payments. It will also consider reduction in license fee and spectrum usage charges.

  • They increased the tariffs so as to raise amount for compensation.

Source : Multiple Sources



Why in news?

  • Due to the supposed hanging of the rapists of Nirbhaya or the Delhi gang rape case, the debate on death penalty has been again brought to the forefronts. Let us understand the debate on it.


Timeline of Death Penalty :

  • 1931 – Gaya Prasad Singh, a member of British Legislative Assembly sought to introduce a Bill to abolish the death penalty for offences under the IPC. This was defeated.

  • 1947 – India retained many British laws during independence including capital punishment for various crimes under the IPC.

  • 1955- Parliament repealed Section 367(5) of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which until then mandated the courts to record reasons where it decided not to impose a sentence of death for offences where the death penalty was an option.

  • 1967 - The 35th Report of the Law Commission had argued for retention of capital punishment in India. It explained that retribution should not be understood as an “eye for an eye”, but in its refined form as public denunciation of crime. It also stated that there are a category of individuals who are “cruel and wicked”, and are not capable of reform.

  • 1973 – CrPC was re-enacted with several changes notably to Section 354(3) mandating judges to provide special reasons for why they imposed the death sentence.

1973 – Jagmohan Singh vs State of UP

  • Petitioners argued that the death penalty was against the Constitution.

  • The Supreme Court declared that the death penalty was a permissible punishment.

1980 – Bachan Singh case

  • Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty but confined its application to the ‘rarest of rare cases’, to reduce the arbitrariness of the penalty.

  • 2015Law Commission in its 262 Report highlighted that the death penalty does not serve the penological goal of deterrence any more than life imprisonment. It recommended that the death penalty be abolished for all crimes other than terrorism-related offences and waging war against the State.

International Comparison

  • Internationally, countries are classified on their death penalty status based on four categories:

  • Abolitionist for all crimes,

  • Abolitionist for ordinary crimes,

  • Abolitionist de facto, and Retentionist.

  • At the end of 2014, seven countries were abolitionist for ordinary crimes. Only 98 countries were abolitionist for all crimes, and 35 were abolitionist in practice.

  • 58 countries are regarded as retentionist, who still have the death penalty on their statute book and have used it in the recent past. This list includes some of the most populous nations in the world, including India, China, Indonesia and the United States.

  • Nepal officially abolished the death penalty in 1990 and did not reintroduce it even in the aftermath of the civil war.

Recent hangings –

  • 2015- Yakub Menon for 1993 Bombay bombings

  • 2013 – Afzal Guru for Parliament attack.

  • 2012 – Ajmal Kasab for 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Source : Hindu



Why in news?

  • President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday nominated former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha.


Constitutional View

  • As per Article 80 of the Indian Constitution, the council of states consist of 12 member nominated by the President and not more than 238 representatives of the States and UTs.

  • The members to be nominated by the President  shall consist of persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as the following, namely: Literature, science, art and social service

  • However, the fields of expertise are indicative and not absolute as elaborated by the Supreme Court.

Issue with the nomination of former CJI Ranjan Gogoi

  • Justice Gogoi, who retired in November, headed the five-judge Bench that delivered the verdict in the Ayodhya land title dispute on November 9.

  • The nomination brings the neutrality of the Supreme Court in question and thus the whole basis of judiciary.

  • This will impact the trust of the public on judiciary.

Source : Hindu and Indian Constitution



Why in news?

  • The Wholesale Price Index (WPI), has slipped to 2.26 per cent in February.


  • This means, producers are getting lower prices for their produce which could also be due to lower consumption demand and higher supply.

  • The reason for the fall in WPI is lower fruit and vegetable prices.

Source : Business Line



Why in news?

  • An online portal, namely Indian Culture Portal was launched on 10th December, 2019 to showcase information about the rich cultural heritage of India across the globe.


  • The Indian Culture Portal is available in two languages i.e. Hindi and English.

  • The portal will create awareness about both the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of India, through the content available on the portal, which comprises mainly of rare books, e-books, manuscripts, artefacts from museums, virtual galleries, archives, photo archives, gazetteers, Indian National Bibliography, videos, detailed accounts of Indian UNESCO World Heritage site, Musical Instruments of India, write-ups and beautiful pictures on cuisines, festivals, paintings, folk art and classical art from different States of India etc.

Source : PIB


  • Why in news? The scheme was elaborated by the honourable minister for Human Resource Development in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.


Objectives –

  • To engage the faculty and students of Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) in identifying development issues in rural areas and finding sustainable solutions for the same.

  • Identify & select existing innovative technologies, enable customisation of technologies, or devise implementation method for innovative solutions, as required by the people.

  • To allow HEIs to contribute to devising systems for smooth implementation of various Government programmes.

  • Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is inspired by the vision of transformational change in rural development processes by leveraging knowledge institutions to help build the architecture of an Inclusive India.

  • The technological interventions under the UBA cover different subjects broadly categorized like in the area of sustainable agriculture; water resource management; artisans, industries and livelihood; basic amenities (infrastructure & services) and rural energy system.

Source : PIB



Why in news?

  • Information on uranium contamination was provided in a written reply by the Minister of State for Jal Shakti and Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Rattan Lal Kataria in Rajya Sabha.


  • There is prevalence of Uranium concentration above 30 micro-gram per litre (World Health Organization (WHO) provisional guidelines) in some of the localized pockets of few States/UTs in the country.

  • A report brought out by Duke University, USA in association with Central Ground Water Board and State Ground Water departments states that Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir have localised occurrence of Uranium concentration.

  • As per information received from Department of Atomic Energy, elevated uranium level in drinking water may affect human health. Health studies carried out elsewhere in the world suggest that elevated uranium level in drinking water may be associated with kidney toxicity. No clear clinical symptoms have been observed among the exposed population.

  • The Indian Standard IS 10500: 2012 for Drinking Water specification has specified the maximum acceptable limits for radioactive residues as alpha and beta emitters, values in excess of which render the water not suitable.

  • As per information provided by Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS), they are working to incorporate maximum permissible limit of Uranium as 0.03 mg/l (as per WHO provisional guidelines) in all drinking water standards after following due process.

Source : PIB

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