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October 2019

Judicial Reforms

[oped of the day] A road map for criminal justice reforms


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Criminal justice reforms


Home Minister recently said that the Bureau of Police Research and Development should work to amend the various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). 

Need for reforms

  • Well-conceived reforms in these laws would translate into reforms in criminal justice. 
  • Criminal law is considered to be the most apparent expression of the relationship between a state and its citizens. 
  • There is a systemic error of non-adherence to a particular theory of punishment. The criminal justice system often swings between the three theories of deterrence, retribution and reformation depending on its convenience.

Issues with amendments so far

  • Until now, envisaged amendments were always focused on specific provisions, offences, or classes of offences.
  • The clarity required for the creation of new offences, reclassification or removal of existing offences, and changes to the quantum of punishment is missing from the discourse.

Way ahead – Principles to be followed

  • Government must first identify the provisions to be revised and provide a justification for doing so. 
  • The authors of Codification, Macaulay and the Indian Penal Code suggest a relook into the general principles of criminal law, the language of the IPC, and the rules which should govern its interpretation. 

Central place to victim

  • Victimological underpinnings should be given a major thrust in reforming laws to identify the rights of crime victims. 
  • Victim and witness protection schemes, use of victim impact statements, advent of victim advocacy, increased victim participation in criminal trials, enhanced access of victims to compensation and restitution are steps needed.
  • These all point towards the increased role of victims in the criminal justice system.

New offences

  • Construction of new offences and reworking of the existing classification of offences must be informed by the altered principles of criminal jurisprudence from the past four decades. 
  • Liability questions in offences need a fresh look. Criminal liability could be graded better to assign the degree of punishments. 
  • New types of punishments like community service orders, restitution orders, and other aspects of restorative and reformative justice could also be brought into this fold.

Reclassifying offences

  • The scheme of chapters and classification of offences can be drastically reworked. 
  • Offences like criminal conspiracy, sedition, offences against coin and stamps etc. must be abolished or replaced. 
  • Chapters of the IPC are overloaded at several places. 
  • It is unnecessary to have hundreds of sections in the category of property offences. Even the chapters on offences against public servants, contempt of authority, public tranquility, and trespass can be redefined and narrowed. 
  • New offences under a fresh classification scheme, like those suggested by the Malimath Committee on criminal justice reforms, can be introduced. 
  • Classification of offences must be done in a manner conducive to management of crimes in the future.


  • Unprincipled criminalisation must be avoided to save the state from dealing with too many entrants into the criminal justice system. 
  • Guiding principles need to be developed after sufficient debate before criminalising an act as a crime. 
  • Unprincipled criminalisation often leads to not only the creation of new offences on unscientific grounds, but also arbitrariness in the criminal justice system.

Reforms in sentencing

  • Sentencing reforms are highly imperative. 
  • Principled sentencing is needed as judges at present have the discretion to decide the quantum and nature of sentence to be imposed.
  • Often sentence convicts differently for crimes of the same nature and/or gravity.


  • Criminal justice is in a state of policy ambiguity. 
  • India needs to draft a clear policy that should inform the changes to be envisaged in the IPC or CrPC. 
  • Simultaneous improvements are to be made in the police, prosecution, judiciary and in prisons.
  • A Criminal Justice Reform Committee with a mandate to evolve criminal justice policy should be formed. 
  • It should further the work done by the Menon Committee on Criminal Justice System, the Malimath Committee, and the Law Commission in India in this regard.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

[op-ed snap] Safe, but not entirely


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Food safety


The “most comprehensive and representative” milk safety and quality survey has demolished the perception of large-scale milk adulteration in India. 

Data from the survey 

  • It was undertaken on 6,432 samples collected last year between May and October.
  • It was picked from over 1,100 towns /cities with over 50,000 population.
  • The survey was done by an independent agency at the behest of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
  • It was found that 93% of the samples were absolutely safe. 
  • The samples were tested for 13 common adulterants and three contaminants — pesticides, aflatoxin M1 and antibiotics. 
  • Only 12 adulterated samples were found to be unsafe for consumption. 
  • The adulterated samples were also subjected to confirmatory tests. They were from just three States: Telangana (nine), Madhya Pradesh (two) and Kerala (one). 
  • As per the survey, the quantitative analysis of all adulterated samples showed that the amount of adulterants and contaminants in the dozen samples was not high and “unlikely to pose a serious threat” to human health. 
  • It found 368 samples (5.7%) had aflatoxin M1 residues beyond the permissible limit of 0.5 microgram per kilogram. 
  • Compared with aflatoxin M1, antibiotics were seen above the permissible level in 77 samples, from Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Aflatoxin M1 was more widely present in processed milk samples than in raw milk. 
  • This is the first time the presence of the contaminant in milk has been assessed. 


  • According to the FSSAI, aflatoxin M1 in milk is from feed and fodder, which is not regulated. 
  • According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer the contaminant has been classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. 
  • Its carcinogenic potency is estimated to be about one-tenth of aflatoxin B1. 
  • The current survey has limited itself to milk. It is not clear how widespread aflatoxin M1 contamination is in milk products such as cheese. 
  • Aflatoxin M1 in milk and milk products is a public health concern especially in infants and young children as milk constitutes one of the major sources of nutrients. 
  • According to the World Health Organisation, exposure to aflatoxin M1 in milk and milk products is especially high in areas where the grain quality used as animal feed is poor. 


  • All attempts need to be taken both before and after food crop harvest to reduce the toxin amount. 
  • Improper storage of food harvest in warm and humid conditions lead to aflatoxin contamination that is much higher than what is seen in the field.
  • It is important is to have facilities to regularly test for aflatoxin M1.

RTI – CIC, RTI Backlog, etc.

[op-ed snap] Fog of secrecy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Transparency and the role of whistleblowers


Australian newspapers published redacted front pages on Monday, protesting curbs on the press in the name of national security. 

Right to know

  • The Right to Know campaign has drawn competing publications to protest the impact of national security laws on press freedoms, and on the whistleblowers who bring in the bad news. 

Background to the news

  • The headquarters of ABC were raided over stories alleging war crimes committed in Afghanistan by Australian special forces.
  • The Australian government instructed police to consider the importance of a free press and the public interest before proceeding against the media. 
  • But the government seems reluctant to treat the journalists’ broader demands favourably.

Transparencyrole of whistleblowers 

  • Governments become more opaque and intrusive at the same time. 
  • With intensifying information asymmetry in politics, whistleblowers and digital activists like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Christopher Wylie have become crucial sources of insight about the intent of governments.
  • They are also defenders of the liberties taken in the lee of security laws. 
  • Some of them may have personal motives, but that is secondary in comparison to the value of their efforts to the public interest.
  • They seek the right to contest search warrants, new rules for determining what the government can stamp as secret, reform in the law of defamation and freedom of information, the protection of journalists from national security laws and whistleblower protection. 


It is important to dispel the fog of secrecy, which governments have revelled in since the colonial era.

Human Rights Issues

Annual Crime in India Report 2017


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NCRB

Mains level : Key highlights of the report

  • After a delay of two years the annual Crime in India Report 2017 was published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Highlights of the report

Crime against women

  • As per the report, 359849 cases of crime against women were reported in the country.
  • Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 56,011 cases followed by Maharashtra with 31,979 cases and West Bengal 30,002.
  • Majority of cases under crimes against women were registered under ‘Cruelty by Husband or his Relatives’ (27.9%) followed by ‘Assault on Women with Intent to Outrage her Modesty’ (21.7%), ‘Kidnapping & Abduction of Women’ (20.5%) and ‘Rape’ (7.0%),” the report said.


  • As per the report, 58,880 incidents of rioting were reported, of which the maximum incidents were reported from Bihar – 11,698, followed by Uttar Pradesh – 8,990 and Maharashtra – 7,743.
  • Of the total riots reported, communal and sectarian riots accounted for 723 and 183 incidents respectively.
  • There were 805 riots due to caste conflict and 1909 riots occurred due to political reasons, the report said.

Hate Crimes

  • The incidents registered under the Scheduled Caste Prevention of Atrocities Act saw an increase from 5,082 incidents reported in 2016 to 5,775 in 2017.
  • Incidents of crime related to Scheduled Tribes dipped from 844 in 2016 to 720 in 2017.

Crime against Children

  • A total of 95,893 cases of kidnapping and abduction were registered during 2017, showing an increase of 9.0% over 2016 (88,008 cases).
  • A total of 63,349 children (20,555 male, 42,691 female and 103 transgender) were reported missing in 2017.
  • During the year 2017, a total of 70,440 children were recovered/traced,” the report said.

New Categories

Fake news

  • The NCRB for the first time collected data on circulation of “false/fake news and rumours.”
  • Under the category, maximum incidents were reported from Madhya Pradesh (138), Uttar Pradesh (32) and Kerala (18).

Anti-National activities

  • A new category of offences committed by various categories of “Anti-National Elements” was included.
  • It showed that the maximum offences were committed by Left Wing Extremist (LWE) operatives (652), followed by North East insurgents (421) and Terrorists (Jihadi and other elements) (371).
  • The maximum number of killings was carried out by LWE insurgents (82).
  • As many as 72 of these killings took place in Chhattisgarh. This was followed by killings by terrorists (36) — 34 in J&K alone. North East insurgents killed 10 people.

No data on lynching

  • The data collected under the new sub-heads of death due to mob lynching, murder by influential people, killing ordered by khap panchayat and murder committed for religious reason have not been published.
  • This data was ready and fully compiled and analysed.
  • The decision to collect data on lynchings had been taken in the wake of a spate of lynching incidents across the country through 2015-16.
  • The idea was that such data collection would help the government formulate its policies better in tackling these crimes.
  • Lynchings happen for a variety of reasons which include suspicion of theft, child lifting, cattle smuggling or communal reasons.


National Crime Records Bureau

  • The NCRB is an Indian government agency responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws (SLL).
  • NCRB is headquartered in New Delhi and is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • NCRB was set-up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators.
  • It was set up based on the recommendation of the Task force,1985 and National Police Commission,1977.

Cyber Security – CERTs, Policy, etc

TechSagar: national repository of India’s cyber tech capabilities launched


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tech Sagar

Mains level : Cyber Security

  • The National Cyber Security Coordinator’s office in partnership with Data Security Council (DSCI) of India on Monday launched TechSagar – a platform to discover India’s technological capability through a portal.


  • TechSagar is a consolidated and comprehensive repository of India’s cyber tech capabilities which provides actionable insights about capabilities of the Indian Industry, academia and research across key technology areas.
  • The portal will list business and research entities from the IT industry, startups, academia, and individual researchers.
  • These include internet of things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), blockchain, cloud & virtualization, robotics & automation, ar/vr, wireless & networking, and more.
  • TechSagar will allow targeted search, granular navigation and drill down methods using more than 3000 niche capabilities.

Components of TechSagar

  • As of now, the repository features 4000+ entities from industry, academia and research including large enterprises and start-ups providing a country level view of India’s cyber competencies.
  • A dynamic platform, TechSagar, will be frequently updated with new entities and information to maintain its relevancy and usefulness.

Why such move?

  • In order to combat the growing threat from cyber crime, there is an urgent need to collaborate and develop cyber technology capabilities in India.
  • With the launch of TechSagar, we have sown the seed for start-ups to prosper in cyber tech.
  • This is a good example of government facilitating industry growth in a strategic domain.
  • Cyber technology capabilities have become central to our national strategic outlook and there was an urgent need for developing TechSagar.
  • Start-ups, enterprises, academia, researchers, and R&D institutes in the country need to synergise their efforts and work in tandem to make India a technology leader.

About Data Security Council (DSCI) of India

  • DSCI is not-for-profit industry body on data protection in India, setup by NASSCOM.
  • It is committed to making the cyberspace safe, secure and trusted by establishing best practices, standards and initiatives in cyber security and privacy.
  • To further its objectives, DSCI engages with governments and their agencies, regulators, industry sectors, industry associations and think tanks for policy advocacy, thought leadership, capacity building and outreach activities.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pobitora WLS

Mains level : Read the attached story

  • Veterinarians have confirmed anthrax as the cause of death of two Asiatic water buffaloes in central Assam’s Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary.

What is Anthrax?

  • Anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis which can be found naturally in soil.
  • It can occur in four forms: skin, lungs, intestinal, and injection.
  • It is characterized by blisters around swellings on the skin, chest pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and fever.
  • It commonly affects domestic and wild animals around the world. Cattle, sheep, goats, antelope, and deer can become infected when they breathe in or ingest spores in contaminated soil, plants, or water.
  • People can get sick with anthrax if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.
  • Contact with anthrax can cause severe illness in both humans and animals. Anthrax is not contagious, which means you can’t catch it like the cold or flu.

About Asiatic water buffaloes

  • The wild water buffalo (Bubalus arnee) also called Asian buffalo, Asiatic buffalo and wild Asian buffalo, is a large bovine native to the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
  • It is found in the Central Indian Forests and is mostly restricted to the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Asiatic buffalo has the widest horn span among all bovids found globally.
  • They are of enormous economic significance as they are the direct ancestors of all the breeds of the domestic buffaloes.
  • However, over time their population has decreased at an alarming rate because of various reasons such as poaching, loss of habitat and breeding with domestic buffaloes.

Conservation status

  • It has been listed as an Endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • It is listed under Schedule-1 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • It is included in CITES Appendix-III and is legally protected in Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Thailand.


Pobitora WLS

  • Pobitora WLS is a wildlife sanctuary on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra in Morigaon district in Assam, India.
  • It has the highest concentration of one-horned rhinos in the world and is often called ‘Mini Kaziranga’ due to similar landscape and vegetation.
  • Pobitora is running a successful Rhino breeding program within its sanctuary.
  • It is running under Indian Government as “Indian Rhino vision 2020”.

History- Important places, persons in news

Tanaji Malusare and the Battle of Sinhagad


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Treaty of Purandar

Mains level : Not Much


  • A movie is being released on Tanaji Malusare who is popularly remembered in Maharashtra for the Battle of Sinhagad that took place in the year 1670.

Battle of Sinhagad, 1670

  • In the year 1665, the Treaty of Purandar was signed between Jai Singh and Shivaji.
  • Amongst several demands, the treaty had required the Maratha ruler to give up Fort Kondhana to the Mughals.
  • Located near Pune, the fort was one of the most heavily fortified and of high strategic importance.
  • After it was taken over by the Mughals, the fort was guarded by Rajput, Pathan and Arab troop guards and was said to be impenetrable.
  • The idea of Mughals taking control of the fort is said to have deeply disturbed and enraged Shivaji’s mother Jijabai.
  • Upon knowing this, Shivaji entrusted Tanaji, the only man he could think of capable of reconquering the fort Kondhana at any cost.

In folklore

  • A fierce battle is said have taken place between the Rathore and Tanaji. The two clashed for long. Malusare was gravely wounded in the fight and died
  • Enraged by the death of their general, the Marathas fought under the leadership of his brother, Suryaji Malusare, and eventually vanquished the enemy.
  • The fort was renamed as Singhagad (lion’s fort) by Shivaji to honour Tanaji.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Digital Bharat Digital Sanskriti


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Digital Bharat Digital Sanskriti

Mains level : Various Digital India initiatives

Digital Bharat Digital Sanskriti

  • Union Ministry of State for Culture & Tourism has launched the E-Portal of CCRT ‘Digital Bharat Digital Sanskriti’ and CCRT YouTube Channel.
  • This will enable dissemination of cultural education through digital interactive medium into the classrooms all over the country.
  • For this initiative, CCRT has tied up with Routes 2 Roots, an NGO, for connecting seamlessly all the CCRT Regional Centres i.e., Guwahati, Udaipur and Hyderabad.