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Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st April 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC PDF Download

Curative Petition

Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st April 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC


Context: Recently, the Supreme Court of India made a notable decision by employing its "extraordinary powers" through a curative petition to reverse its previous verdict from 2021. This ruling effectively nullifies an arbitral award of nearly Rs 8,000 crore that the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) was directed to pay to Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL), which is led by the Reliance Infrastructure Ltd-consortium.

Background:

  • In 2008, DMRC entered into a partnership with DAMEPL to build, operate, and maintain the Delhi Airport Metro Express.
  • Disputes arose, leading to DAMEPL terminating the agreement in 2013, citing safety and operational concerns.
  • Legal battles ensued, culminating in an arbitration panel ruling in favor of DAMEPL, mandating DMRC to pay nearly Rs 8,000 crore. However, the Delhi High Court instructed DMRC to deposit 75% of the amount in an escrow account. The government appealed, and in 2019, the High Court's decision was overturned in favor of DMRC.
  • DAMEPL then escalated the matter to the Supreme Court, which initially upheld the arbitral award in 2021.

Judgment:

  • The recent ruling by the Supreme Court favored DMRC, citing a "fundamental error" in its previous decision.
  • This judgment holds significance as it underscores the importance of curative petitions, clarifies legal frameworks for public-private partnerships in infrastructure projects, and illustrates the court's commitment to rectifying errors and ensuring justice, even years after a final verdict.

What is a Curative Petition?

  • A curative petition is a legal recourse available after the dismissal of a review plea against a final conviction.
  • Typically, a final ruling of the Supreme Court can only be challenged through a review petition, and even then, only on narrow procedural grounds.
  • However, the curative petition serves as a rarely used judicial tool to correct a serious miscarriage of justice.

Objective:

  • It aims to prevent miscarriages of justice and discourage the abuse of the legal process.

Decision Process:

  • Curative petitions are usually decided by judges in chambers, though open-court hearings may be granted upon specific request.

Legal Basis:

  • The principles governing curative petitions were established by the Supreme Court in the case of Rupa Ashok Hurra Vs Ashok Hurra & another Case, 2002.

Criteria for Entertaining a Curative Petition:

  • Violation of Natural Justice: It must be shown that there was a breach of principles of natural justice, such as the petitioner not being heard before the court passed an order.
  • Apprehension of Bias: It may be admitted if there are grounds to suspect bias on the part of the judge, such as a failure to disclose relevant facts.

Guidelines for Filing a Curative Petition:

  • Certification by Senior Advocate: The petition must be accompanied by a certification from a senior advocate, highlighting substantial grounds for its consideration.
  • Initial Review: It is first circulated to a bench comprising the three senior-most judges, along with the judges who passed the original judgment, if available.
  • Hearing: Only if a majority of the judges deem it necessary for a hearing, it is listed for consideration, preferably before the same bench that passed the initial judgment.
  • Role of Amicus Curiae: The bench may appoint a senior counsel to assist as amicus curiae at any stage of the consideration of the curative petition.
  • Cost Implications: If the bench determines that the petition lacks merit and is vexatious, it may impose exemplary costs on the petitioner.
  • Judicial Discretion: The Supreme Court emphasizes that curative petitions should be rare and reviewed with caution to maintain the integrity of the judicial process.

What are the Special Powers of the Supreme Court of India?

  • Dispute Resolution: Article 131 of the Indian Constitution gives the Supreme Court exclusive original jurisdiction in disputes between the Government of India and one or more States, or between States themselves, involving legal rights.
  • Discretionary Jurisdiction: Article 136 of the Indian Constitution grants the Supreme Court the power to grant special leave to appeal from any judgement, decree, or order made by any court or tribunal in India.
  • This power does not apply to military tribunals and court-martials.
  • Advisory Jurisdiction: The Supreme Court has advisory jurisdiction under Article 143 of the Constitution, where the President of India can refer specific matters to the Court for its opinion.
  • Contempt Proceedings: Under Articles 129 and 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has the authority to punish for contempt of court, including contempt of itself, either suo motu or petition by the Attorney General, Solicitor General, or any individual.

Review and Curative Powers:

  • Article 145 gives the Supreme Court authority, with the President's approval, to make rules for regulating the practice and procedure of the Court, including rules for persons practising before the Court, hearing appeals, enforcing rights, and entertaining appeals.
  • It also includes rules for reviewing judgments, determining costs, granting bail, staying proceedings, and conducting inquiries.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st April 2024) Part - 1
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What is the purpose of a curative petition?
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Asia Development Outlook Report 2024

Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st April 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC


Context: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently released the Asia Development Outlook Report in April 2024 and revised India's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth forecast for the fiscal year (FY) 2024 and FY 2025, citing various factors contributing to this optimistic outlook.

Key Highlights of Asia Development Outlook Report 2024:

Asia's Growth Prospects:

  • Despite external uncertainties, Asia is poised for resilient growth, propelled by the conclusion of interest rate hikes across most economies and a robust recovery in goods exports, particularly bolstered by semiconductor demand.
  • GDP Growth Forecast: The report maintains Asia's GDP growth forecast at 4.9% for 2024 and expects a similar trajectory for 2025, showcasing the region's adeptness in navigating external challenges.
  • Inflation Trends: Inflation in Asia is anticipated to ease, with a forecast of 3.2% for 2024, further decreasing to 3.0% in 2025, signaling a stable pricing environment conducive to consumer confidence.

India’s Growth Outlook:

  • India's investment-driven growth emerges as a pivotal factor in positioning the nation as a significant economic powerhouse in Asia.
  • The ADB upgrades India's GDP growth forecast to 7% in FY 2024 and 7.2% in FY 2025, surpassing the previous forecast of 6.7% for FY 2024.

Drivers of Growth in FY 2024:

  • Increased capital expenditure on infrastructure by both central and state governments acts as a catalyst for growth.
  • Private corporate investment is set to escalate, buoyed by stable interest rates and improved consumer sentiment.
  • The service sector, encompassing financial, real estate, and professional services, contributes substantially to economic expansion.
  • Growth Momentum in FY 2025: FY 2025 anticipates heightened momentum, propelled by enhanced goods exports, amplified manufacturing efficiency, and augmented agricultural output, reflecting a positive outlook for India's economy bolstered by robust domestic demand and supportive policies.
  • Risks and Challenges: Despite the optimistic forecast, unforeseen global shocks like disruptions in crude oil markets and weather-related impacts on agriculture pose significant risks. Additionally, the projected moderate widening of the current account deficit is attributed to increased imports to meet domestic demand, although recent RBI data indicates a sequential decrease in the current account deficit from 1.3% of GDP in Quarter 2 FY24 to 1.2% in Quarter 3 FY24.

What are the Sectors Driving Asia’s Growth?

  • Economic Powerhouse: Asia is home to several of the world's fastest-growing economies. With China, Japan and India being in the top 5 economies of the world.
  • Fueled by economic growth, a burgeoning middle class across Asia is creating a vast pool of consumers, driving demand for goods and services.

Example: Vietnam is expected to add 36 million people to its middle class by 2030.

  • Home to Manufacturing Hubs: For decades, Asia has been a dominant manufacturing centre. From China's dominance in electronics to Vietnam's rise in footwear production, Asian countries benefit from skilled labour forces and efficient infrastructure, making them cost-competitive and crucial to global supply chains.
  • Rising Trade & Investment: Asian nations are actively involved in international trade. Regional trade agreements like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) create significant trade blocs, boosting intra-Asian trade and foreign investment.
  • Rising Financial Centers: Asian cities such as Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore have emerged as major financial centres, attracting investments, fostering entrepreneurship, and facilitating cross-border capital flows.
  • The growing influence of Asian financial institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) reflects the region's increasing role in shaping global economic policies.

What is India’s Contribution to Asia’s Growth?

  • Regional Connectivity: India has been a key player in promoting regional connectivity in Asia through initiatives like the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor.
  • These projects aim to improve transportation networks, trade routes, and economic cooperation between Asia, Africa, and Europe.
  • Renewable Energy: India is actively promoting renewable energy initiatives that contribute to sustainable development in Asia.
  • The International Solar Alliance (ISA), launched by India and France, aims to promote solar energy adoption globally, especially in sun-rich countries in Asia and Africa, thereby addressing energy security and climate change challenges.
  • Capacity Building: India engages in capacity-building efforts across Asia through initiatives like the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) program.
  • It offers training, education, and skill development opportunities to professionals and students from Asian countries, fostering human resource development and cultural exchanges.
  • Unifying Asia with UPI: India’s UPI (Unified Payments Interface) services are becoming increasingly popular in Asia due to their convenience and efficiency in digital transactions.
  • UPI services have already been launched in Sri Lanka and Mauritius.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st April 2024) Part - 1
Try yourself:
What is one of the factors contributing to Asia's resilient growth, as mentioned in the Asia Development Outlook Report 2024?
View Solution


Drought in East Flowing Rivers

Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st April 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC


Context: At least 13 east-flowing rivers between Mahanadi and Pennar have no water at the moment, according to an analysis of data released by the Central Water Commission (CWC).

What is the Crisis Faced by the East-Flowing Rivers in India?

  • The crisis isn't confined to these rivers alone. Other regions are also grappling with water scarcity. The Cauvery, Pennar, and east-flowing rivers between Pennar and Kanniyakumari are experiencing deficient or highly deficient water storage. Even the Ganga basin, India's largest, is facing a significant challenge, with water storage levels falling below half of their total capacity compared to the same period last year.
  • Across the board, major river basins like Narmada, Tapi, Godavari, Mahanadi, and Sabarmati are reporting storage levels well below capacity. This alarming trend extends nationwide, with only 36% of the total capacity of India's 150 major reservoirs available in live storage. Shockingly, six reservoirs have recorded no water storage at all.
  • The gravity of the situation is emphasized by the impact on communities. Approximately 286,000 villages in 11 states situated on the Ganga basin are witnessing dwindling water availability. Nationally, around 35.2% of the country's area is experiencing abnormal to exceptional drought conditions, with 7.8% under extreme drought and 3.8% under exceptional drought.
  • States such as Karnataka and Telangana are particularly hard-hit, grappling with drought and drought-like conditions due to significant rainfall deficits. This water crisis poses a serious threat to livelihoods, agriculture, and ecosystems, demanding urgent attention and concerted action.

What are the Reasons for the Drying of East-Flowing Rivers?

  • Deforestation and Soil Erosion: Deforestation along the river banks and in the catchment areas has reduced the soil's ability to retain water, leading to reduced groundwater recharge and lower river flows.
  • Climate Change: Changing weather patterns, including irregular rainfall and increased temperatures, are affecting the flow of these rivers. Climate change can lead to prolonged droughts, reducing the water flow in rivers.
  • Construction of Dams: The construction of dams and water diversion for irrigation purposes has also reduced the downstream flow of rivers, impacting the river's natural flow patterns and ecosystems.
  • Water pollution from industrial, agricultural, and domestic waste, as well as invasive species like water hyacinths, degrades river water quality, harming aquatic life and overall river health.
  • Sand Mining: Unregulated sand mining along the river beds has disrupted the river's flow and caused erosion, leading to the drying up of river stretches.
  • Urbanisation and Encroachment: Urban expansion and encroachment along river banks have altered the natural flow of rivers and reduced the availability of water for the river.
  • Lack of Awareness and Conservation Efforts: Limited awareness about the importance of river conservation and lack of effective conservation measures contribute to the drying up of these rivers.

What Measures are Necessary to Address the Issue of River Drying?

  • Water Conservation Measures: Implementing water conservation techniques such as rainwater harvesting, watershed management, and soil moisture conservation can help replenish groundwater.
  • It will reduce reliance on river water, which will contribute to maintaining the minimum flow of water in the rivers.
  • Efficient Irrigation Practices: Encouraging farmers to adopt efficient irrigation practices such as drip irrigation and sprinkler irrigation can reduce water wastage and ensure sustainable use of water resources.
  • Afforestation and Vegetative Cover: Increasing vegetative cover through afforestation and reforestation can help maintain river flow by reducing soil erosion and increasing groundwater recharge.
  • Regulation of Groundwater Extraction: Implementing strict regulations on groundwater extraction can help maintain the base flow of rivers and prevent their drying up.
  • Interlinking of Rivers: Exploring the feasibility of interlinking rivers to transfer surplus water from water-rich regions to water-deficient regions can help in maintaining river flow. For example Ken-Betwa River link project.
  • Community Participation: Involving local communities in water management and conservation efforts can ensure sustainable use of water resources and maintain river flow.
  • Policy Reforms: Implementing policy reforms to promote sustainable water management practices and regulate water use can help in combating the drying up of rivers.
  • Research and Development: Investing in research and development of new technologies and practices for water conservation and management can help in finding innovative solutions to combat the problem.

Conclusion

  • While overall storage levels in many river basins are currently reported as 'better than normal' or 'normal' compared to the average of the last five years, it is crucial to note that certain areas within these basins are grappling with severe to exceptional drought conditions.
  • This disparity is alarming, particularly due to its adverse effects on agriculture, livelihoods, and the socio-economic fabric of the affected regions.
  • Urgent and targeted interventions are imperative to mitigate the impact of these drought conditions and safeguard the well-being of the affected communities.

Need for Stricter Measures in Custodial Deaths

Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st April 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC


Context: The Supreme Court has underscored the need for a "more rigorous approach" in evaluating bail applications from police officers accused in custodial death cases.

Understanding Custodial Death:

  • Custodial death pertains to fatalities transpiring while individuals are under the supervision of law enforcement or correctional facilities. It can result from factors like excessive force, negligence, or mistreatment by authorities.
  • According to the Law Commission of India, any crime committed by a public servant against an arrested or detained person in custody constitutes custodial violence.

Varieties of Custodial Death:

  • Death in Police Custody: This type can occur due to excessive force, torture, medical neglect, or other forms of maltreatment, or as a result of incidental factors.
  • Death in Judicial Custody: Causes may include overcrowding, poor sanitation, inadequate medical services, inmate violence, or suicide.
  • Death in Military or Paramilitary Custody: Such incidents may involve torture or extrajudicial killings.

The Supreme Court's call for a more rigorous approach underscores the gravity of custodial deaths and the imperative for thorough scrutiny, particularly concerning law enforcement officials implicated in such cases.

Why is it imperative to curb custodial deaths?

  • Upholding Fundamental Rights: Custodial deaths violate the fundamental right of individuals to fair treatment under the law.
  • International Obligations: India's commitment as a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) prohibits the inhumane treatment of individuals in judicial and police custody.
  • Legal Implications: Without stringent measures against custodial violence, India encounters difficulties in extraditing individuals evading judicial proceedings abroad, exemplified by cases like Vijay Mallya. Economic offenders exploit lax regulations on custodial torture in their extradition defenses.
  • Mental Health Impact: Custodial violence inflicts severe psychological harm on detainees, as police may exhibit callous behavior, leading to cruelty, sexual abuse, and inter-personal animosity, as seen in the notorious Mathura custodial rape case of 1972.

Constitutional and Legal Framework:

Constitutional Safeguards:

  • Article 21 guarantees the right to life and personal liberty, encompassing protection from torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.
  • Article 20 safeguards individuals from arbitrary or excessive punishment, including protection against ex-post-facto laws, double jeopardy, and self-incrimination.
  • Legal Precedent: In Selvi v. State of Karnataka, the court ruled against involuntary narco-analysis, polygraph, and brain-mapping tests.

Legal Protections:

  • Indian Evidence Act, Section 24, renders confessions obtained under coercion inadmissible in court.
  • Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 330 and 331 criminalize causing hurt to extract confessions.
  • Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) Section 41 was amended in 2009 to ensure transparent and lawful arrest procedures, including reasonable grounds, documentation, and access to legal representation for detainees.

What are the International Conventions Against Custodial Torture?

International Human Rights Law, 1948:

  • The International Human Rights Law contains a provision that protects people from torture and other enforced disappearances.

United Nations Charter, 1945:

  • It calls for treating prisoners with dignity. The Charter clearly states that despite being prisoners, their fundamental freedoms and human rights are set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.
  • The International Human Rights Law contains a provision that protects people from torture and other enforced disappearances.

The Nelson Mandela Rules, 2015:

  • The Nelson Mandela Rules were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 to treat prisoners with inherent dignity and to prohibit torture and other ill-treatment.

United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT):

  • It is an international human rights treaty under the purview of the United Nations that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.

What Measures can be Taken to Combat Custodial Torture?

Strengthening Legal Systems:

  • Enacting comprehensive legislation explicitly criminalising custodial torture like Supreme Court directives in Prakash Singh Case 2006.
  • SC directed the separation of investigation and law and order functions to better improve policing, setting up of State Security Commissions (SSC) that would have members from civil society and forming a National Security Commission.
  • Ensuring prompt and impartial investigations into allegations of custodial torture.
  • Holding perpetrators accountable through fair and expeditious trials.

Police Reforms and Sensitization:

  • Enhancing police training programs to emphasise respect for human rights and dignity.
  • Promoting a culture of accountability, professionalism, and empathy within law enforcement agencies.
  • Establishing oversight mechanisms to monitor and address cases of custodial torture effectively.
  • Empowering Civil Society and Human Rights Organisations:
  • Encouraging civil society organizations to actively advocate for victims of custodial torture.
  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) should be allowed to inquire into any matter even after one year from the date of the alleged human rights violation.
  • Its jurisdiction should be expanded to cases of human rights violations by armed forces with appropriate measures.
  • Providing support and legal assistance to victims and their families.
  • Collaborating with international human rights bodies and organisations to seek redress and justice.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st April 2024) Part - 1
Try yourself:
What is the main cause of the drying up of East-Flowing Rivers in India?
View Solution


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FAQs on Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st April 2024) Part - 1 - Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

1. What is a curative petition?
Ans. A curative petition is a legal remedy available in India that allows a petitioner to seek a review of a final judgment or order of the Supreme Court, in order to prevent a miscarriage of justice.
2. What is the Asia Development Outlook Report 2024 about?
Ans. The Asia Development Outlook Report 2024 provides an analysis of economic trends and forecasts for the Asia region, highlighting key issues and challenges facing Asian countries in the coming year.
3. How is drought in East Flowing Rivers affecting the region?
Ans. Drought in East Flowing Rivers is causing water scarcity, affecting agriculture, livelihoods, and ecosystems in the region, leading to socio-economic challenges for communities living along these rivers.
4. Why is there a need for stricter measures in custodial deaths?
Ans. Stricter measures in custodial deaths are necessary to prevent instances of police brutality, ensure accountability, and protect the human rights of individuals in police custody, as custodial deaths are a serious violation of human rights.
5. What are some key highlights from the Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st April 2024) Part - 1?
Ans. The Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st April 2024) Part - 1 provides updates on recent events, developments, and news stories from various sectors such as politics, economics, and social issues, giving readers a comprehensive overview of important happenings during that week.
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