Happy Lohri, everyone! Today’s highights for UPSC news affairs and current events include statements from the Chief Justice of India (CJI), with major reprecussions on nationwide debates, Iran’s admission in shooting down Ukraine flight, the next hearing for the Nirbhaya case and a request to remove the CAA.
From a student’s perspective, these news developments are part of an ongoing debate into these issues, which may lead to changes in polity and highlight industrial safety standards.
At a state-level conference for judicial officers in Karnataka, CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde talked about several pertinent issues related to current affairs. These statements hold relevance and authority by virtue of his office.
Particularly, he spoke about what should constitute as freedom of expression. He refered to internet access here (and playing loud music) and talked about how today’s judiciary is often called upon to give a stance on such issues.
The Chief Justice of India’s statement is highlighted at a time when the government has used public order as a defence to evoke internet shutdowns in Kashmir, Assam, New Delhi and UP, over the recent protests against the CAA and revocation of Article 370.
He highlighted how the Supreme Court had pronounced whether Internet can be included in freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution. The SC held freedom of speech and expression and the freedom to trade through the Internet as a fundamental right on Jan 10. It had also asked J&K authorities to review the recent 6-month internet clampdown in the state. It also said that such orders can only be temporary and not indefinite and need to be published by the government, including reasons why, so that people can contest them in a court of law.
The Judge used the incident to highlight the need for a good judiciary and to improve the quality of judges. “These are things which the Judiciary is being called upon to determine daily. An understanding of human rights and democratic accountability provides new parameters for appraising judicial functioning in our society. Judges without adequate knowledge, skills and experience may cause distortion, delay and miscarriage of justice,” the CJI said.
Curative petitions filed by two convicts in the high-profile Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case will come up for hearing on Jan 14 in the Supreme Court. The Court has issued warrants for a death sentence to all four convicts and they will be hanged on Jan 22 for the crime.
As per due process of law, four out of six convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya case were held guilty and sentenced to death in the trial sessions court, high court, Supreme Court and by the President of India. Two of these four have filed for curative petitions, citing that there have been multiple changes in law around death penalty since their conviction and their case should be reheard in this new light.
A 5-member judge bench, led by Justice NV Ramana will hear these petitions in their chambers. They can choose to accept or reject these pleas. Any decision from them will add as precedent of what should be done in such a case.
From the remaining two, one died/committed suicide in prison, while another was held as a juvenile at the time of the crime and sentence to detention under the juvenile justice system.
Iranian President President Hassan Rouhani has said that they had unintentionally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane with 176 passengers onboard with missiles, claiming it happened due to human error.
The Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini has offered his condolences. He has also ordered the army to ensure that such a disaster does not recur.
Iran had earlier denied that the plane, which took off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport on Jan 8. This was after Iran launched missiles against US bases in Iraq, in retaliation for Gen Qassem Soleimani’s killing.
The government has said that the missile operator acted independently, mistaking the plane for a missile. It has also invited US, Ukraine and Canada to join an independent crash probe into the incident.
What you should know:
The tragic accident has acted as a break in the high-tension conflict between Iran and US, following Solemani’s killing and Iran’s promises for retaliation. While US Congress are probing Trump’s claim that Soleimani was planning attacks on four American embassies, the American public has also cited high insecurity since the heightened tensions.
The EU and NATO allies have also not supported America’s ejection from the nuclear deal with Iran, the current crisis or Soleimani’s killing.
The American President has announced fresh sanctions against Iran.
The Iranian Ayatollah has pushed for a reduction in American presence in the region, saying that military action is not sufficient. The Iranian President Rouhani has tweeted, “Our final answer to his assassination will be to kick all US forces out of the region.”
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has formally requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The PM has come to the state in a slew of cultural functions. Mamata said, “I have requested the PM to re-think about CAA and NRC. I would like to see those withdrawn”
While salient points raised by political leaders are often not included in civil services preparation or news for civil exams, this item is highlighted owing to the larger anti-CAA protest wave and the executive office that Mamata holds.
The minister has said she would continue to oppose this discriminatory law, refusing to accept notifications for it, the NRC and the NPR.
Many opposition-run state governments have opposed the CAA, including Kerala, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. They’ve called the law discriminatory.