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Daily Current Affairs : 21-Dec-2019

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Part of GS- 3 Economy

Why in news?

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Wednesday reinstated Cyrus Pallonji Mistry to the position of Executive Chairman of Tata Sons and Director of the Tata Group of companies for the remainder of his tenure.


  • Mistry, who was at one time the favourite protégé of Tata Sons Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata, was unceremoniously sacked both as Executive Chairman and Director in 2016.

  • The NCLAT held Mistry’s sacking and the subsequent appointment of N Chandrasekaran to the top post at Tata Sons illegal, prejudicial, and oppressive.

  • It set aside a July 2017 order by the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), which had upheld Mistry’s removal from his positions at Tata Sons and other Group companies.

About NCLT:

  • The NCLAT was constituted under Section 410 of The Companies Act, 2013 to hear appeals against the orders of the NCLT(s).

  • It is also the appellate tribunal for orders passed by the NCLT(s) under Section 61 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016, and for orders passed by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) under Sections 202 and 211 of the IBC.

Source: Indian Express


Part of GS- 2 Polity and Governance

Why in news?

As protesters against the Citizenship Amendment Act hit the streets in large numbers in several states on December 19, state governments sought to tamp down on the demonstrations by issuing prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973.

What is Section 144?

  • Section 144 CrPC, a law retained from the colonial era,

  • Empowers a district magistrate, a sub-divisional magistrate or any other executive magistrate specially empowered by the state government in this behalf to issue orders to prevent and address urgent cases of apprehended danger or nuisance.

  • The magistrate has to pass a written order which may be directed against a particular individual, or to persons residing in a particular place or area, or to the public generally when frequenting or visiting a particular place or area.

In emergency cases,

  • The magistrate can pass these orders without prior notice to the individual against whom the order is directed.

  • However, it can be used to restrict even a single individual.

  • Such an order is passed when the magistrate considers that it is likely to prevent, or tends to prevent, obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed, or danger to human life, health or safety, or a disturbance of the public tranquility, or a riot, of an affray.

  • However, no order passed under Section 144 can remain in force for more than two months from the date of the order, unless the state government considers it necessary. Even then, the total period cannot extend to more than six months.

How have courts ruled on Section 144?

In Re: Ardeshir Phirozshaw vs Unknown (1939),

A British judge of the Bombay High Court censured the Chief Presidency Magistrate in Bombay for passing an illegal order under Section 144: “A Magistrate acting under Section 144 may no doubt restrict liberty. But he should only do so if the facts clearly make such restriction necessary in the public interest, and he should not impose any restriction which goes beyond the requirements of the case.”

The judge criticised application of power under Section 144 for two months, “not only to the particular riot, but to any past riots and any future riots which may take place within the next two months are strong measures and; require cogent facts to justify them”.

The first major challenge to the law was made in 1961 in Babulal Parate vs State of Maharashtra and Others.

A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court refused to strike down the law, saying it is “not correct to say that the remedy of a person aggrieved by an order under the section was illusory”.

It was challenged again by Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya in 1967 and was once again rejected, with the court saying “no democracy can exist if ‘public order’ is freely allowed to be disturbed by a section of the citizens”.

In 2012, the Supreme Court came down heavily on the government for imposing Section 144 against a sleeping crowd in Ramlila Maidan.

Such a provision can be used only in grave circumstances for maintenance of public peace. The efficacy of the provision is to prevent some harmful occurrence immediately. Therefore, the emergency must be sudden and the consequences sufficiently grave,” the court said.

Does Section 144 provide for communications blockades too?

The rules for suspending telecommunication services, which include voice, mobile internet, SMS, landline, fixed broadband, etc, are the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017.

These Rules derive their powers from the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885, Section 5(2) of which talks about interception of messages in the “interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India”.

However, shutdowns in India are not always under the rules laid down, which come with safeguards and procedures.

Section 144 CrPC has often been used to clamp down on telecommunication services and order Internet shutdowns.

In Sambhal, UP, Internet services were suspended by the District Magistrate under Section 144.

In West Bengal on June 20, 2019, mobile internet, cable services, broadband were shut down by the District Magistrate in North 24-Parganas under Section 144 over communal tensions.

Under what provisions were telecom services interrupted in parts of Delhi?

In Delhi on 19th December, 2019, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Cell, issued an order to the nodal officers of telecom operators including Airtel, Reliance Jio etc to interrupt services in specific areas.

No specific legal reason has been cited for this. Police cannot issue these directions because they are not the proper authorities to permit internet shutdown.

In Delhi’s case since it is a Union Territory, it would have to be authorised by the Home Ministry itself.”

Under the 2017 Rules, directions to “suspend the telecom services shall not be issued except by an order made by the Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Home Affairs in the case of Government of India or by the Secretary to the State Government in-charge of the Home Department in the case of a State Government.

The Rules also say that in case the confirmation does not come from a competent authority, the orders shall cease to exist within a period of 24 hours. Clear reasons for such orders need to be given in written, and need to be forwarded to a Review Committee by the next working day.

Source: Indian Express


Part of GS-3 Environment

Why in news?

EChO Networkwas launched on 20th December, 2019 in New Delhi by Prof. K VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.


  • EChO Network, a national program to provide a template for cross-disciplinary leadership in India with the specific focus of increasing research, knowledge, and awareness of Indian ecology and the environment was launched on 20th December, 2019in New Delhi.

  • Through interactive sessions with citizens, industry, academia, and the government, the Network will identify gaps in knowledge regarding selected topics in human and environmental ecosystems.

  • Over time EChO Network intends to create an international distributed institute comprising individuals housed within industry, government, private, and academic sectors, combining their expertise and resources collectively to tackle large scale problems.

  • The program will then train postdoctoral leaders in research and outreach on these topics, while also incorporating current public and private efforts into a national network.

  • It would then go on to establishing nation-wide awareness in these issues through public discourse and education for citizens, industry, and government with information exchange at all educational levels.

Source: PIB


Part of GS-3 Economy

Why in news?

The Reserve Bank of India will conduct a simultaneous sale and purchase of bonds, it said on 19th December, 2019, in a move seen by market participants as an attempt to bring longer-term yields lower.


  • It is the first time the RBI has conducted a special open market operation (OMO) of this kind, similar to the 'Operation Twist' carried out in the United States near the start of the decade.

  • Bond yields have been rising since the RBI unexpectedly left its key repo rate unchanged earlier this month, even as it slashed its forecast for economic growth to its lowest in over a decade.

  • The RBI said it will buy 100 billion rupees' ($1.4 billion) worth of the current benchmark 10-year bond while selling four bonds maturing in 2020 for an equivalent amount.

  • The central bank said it had decided to conduct the special OMO after reviewing the liquidity & market situation and assessing financial conditions.

About 'Operation Twist':

Operation Twist is the name given to a monetary policy tool that the Jerome Powell-led US Federal Reserve had started to influence the rate of interest in the world's largest economy.

Source: The Hindu


Part of GS-3 Economy

Why in news?

After operating Panna-Mukta oil and gas fields for 25 years, Royal Dutch Shell and Reliance IndustriesNSE -0.67 % will revert the western offshore fields back to state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), the companies said in a statement.


  • Panna-Mukta and Tapti (PMT) oil and gas fields in the Arabian Sea off the Mumbai coast were in 1994 awarded a consortium of US energy giant Enron and Reliance.

  • ONGC, which had originally discovered the fields, as a government nominee given 40 per cent back-in rights.

  • Enron during its bankruptcy was taken over by BG Group of UK in 2003.

  • BG Group's interest was subsequently taken over by Shell in 2016.

  • The Panna-Mukta oilfield consists of two contiguous offshore oil and gas fields in the Arabian Sea off the Mumbai coast.

  • In 1994, these were awarded to a consortium of US energy giant Enron and Reliance. Enron during its bankruptcy was taken over by BG Group of UK in 2003.

  • RIL and Shell, through its subsdiary BG Exploration & Production India (BGEPIL), hold 30 per cent each in Panna, Mukta, and Tapti joint venture (JV), while the remaining 40 per cent is owned by ONGC, the government nominee.

Source: Economic Times


Part of GS-3 Economy

Why in news?

On 17th December, 2019, the Ministry of Railways granted in-principle approval for the ‘Silver Line’ project.


  • A proposal of the Kerala government that involves laying the third and fourth railway lines from Kasaragod in the north to Kochuveli (Thiruvananthapuram) in the south for the movement of semi high-speed trains.

  • The Kerala Rail Development Corporation (K-Rail), a joint venture between the Ministry of Railways and the Kerala government to execute projects on a cost-sharing basis, will be the nodal agency.

  • The project aims to cut the travel time between the two corners from 12 hours to less than four hours.

  • The 532-km corridor is projected to be built at a cost of Rs 56,443 crore. Trains would complete the journey at four hours instead of 12, with a maximum speed of 200 km/h.

  • The government is believed to be looking at external funding agencies. An initial investment is likely to be made by K-Rail for acquiring land.

  • A Detailed Project Report (DPR) will be commissioned soon.

Source: Indian Express


Part of GS- Health

Why in news?

The Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP) has been recognised formally by the National Department of Regulation of Medicines and Health Products of the Ministry of Public Health of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Why in news?

  • IP is an officially recognized book of standards as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules 1945 thereunder.

  • The IP specifies the standards of drugs manufactured and marketed in India in terms of their identity, purity and strength.

  • The quality, efficacy and safety of the medicines are important from healthcare perspective.

  • In order to ensure the quality of medicinal products, the legal and scientific standards are provided by Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC) in the form of Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP).

Source: PIB


Part of GS-2 IR

Why in news?

The Congress claimed that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act not only “violates” provisions of the Constitution but also falls afoul of an international convention to which India is a signatory.


  • India was a signatory to the international convention on torture that talks about “providing shelter to people who face torture in another country”.

  • India is bound by the principle of jus cogens that ensures human rights to those who are tortured and persecuted.

  • A peremptory norm is also called jus cogens or ius cogens, Latin for "compelling law".

  • It is a fundamental principle of international law that is accepted by the international community of states as a norm from which no derogation is permitted.

  • It is generally accepted that jus cogens bans genocide, maritime piracy, slavery, wars of aggression and territorial aggrandizement, torture and refoulement.

Source : The Hindu


Part of GS-3 S&T

Why in news?

The Digital Communications Commission (DCC) approved the recommendation of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to auction over 8,300 MHz of spectrum, including airwaves to be used for offering 5G services, with a reserve price of ₹5.22 lakh crore.


  • The Government of India, vide Resolution dated 22nd October,2018, has re-designated the 'Telecom Commission' as the 'Digital Communications Commission'.

  • The DCC consists of a Chairman, four full time members and four part time members.

  • The Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Telecommunications is the ex-officio Chairman of the DCC.

  • The DCC is responsible for: Formulating the policy of Department of Telecommunications for approval of the Government;

  • Preparing the budget for the Department of Telecommunications for each financial year and getting it approved by the Government; & Implementation of Government's policy in all matters concerning telecommunication.

Source : The Hindu


Part of GS-1 Social Issue

Why in news?

Germany’s government has moved to largely ban the so-called “gay conversion therapy”, a practice that purports to “cure” homosexuality by turning gay people straight.


On Wednesday (December 18), the German Cabinet approved a draft Bill widening the scope of government action against the “therapy”, which employs psychotherapeutic methods, including giving electric shocks, to force homosexual people to turn heterosexual.

The legislation:

The legislation will be introduced next year to Germany’s lower house, Health Minister Jens Spahn told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) newsgroup.

According to a report by the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), the Bill proposes to ban the purported “therapy” for everyone under the age of 18.

Consenting adults will be allowed to seek “treatment”, but with strict conditions.

An initial draft of the Bill allowed exemptions from the ban in the 16-18 age group if the practitioner of the “treatment” was able to prove that the patient has the capacity to understand the implications and risks of treatment, the DW report said.

However, the draft passed by the Cabinet removed these exemptions.

Germany Law:

The legislation set to be introduced next year, would see the practice made punishable with up to a year in prison and fines of up to €30,000 ($33,000).

Consenting adults will be allowed to seek “treatment”, but with strict conditions.

It could also potentially make parents and teachers liable if they are ruled to have neglected their duty of care.

Once it is approved, Germany would be only the second European country with such a ban after Malta passed similar legislation in 2016.

Source: Indian Express


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