Pegasus Spyware Found: Amnesty
Syllabus :GS 2/Governance/GS 3/IT Computers
The Washington Post and Amnesty International report claims that Pegasus spyware targeted journalists in India
- They were targeted via a ‘zero-click exploit’.
– It refers to malicious software that allows spyware to be installed on a device without the device owner’s consent.
– it doesn’t require the device owner to perform any actions to initiate or complete the installation.
- It is developed, marketed and licensed to governments around the world by the Israeli company NSO Group.
- A spyware is any malicious software designed to enter a computer device, gather data, and forward it to a third-party without consent.
- It has the capability to infect billions of phones running either iOS or Android operating systems.
- The Israeli company, however, markets it as a tool to track criminals and terrorists — for targeted spying and not mass surveillance.
- It is operational in countries with a record of human rights abuses, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Madagascar and Oman.
- India has never publicly acknowledged being a customer of NSO.
- However, it has been found on the phones of journalists, left-leaning academics and opposition leaders around India, sparking a political crisis.
- Pegasus can turn phones into surveillance devices and can hoover up encrypted WhatsApp and Signal messages surreptitiously.
Supreme Court’s Involvement
- In the wake of the ‘Pegasus Project’ revelations, activists filed several petitions with the Supreme Court alleging a mass surveillance exercise by the government to muzzle free speech and democratic dissent.
- In response, the top court asked the Centre to file a detailed affidavit vis-a-vis its use of Pegasus.
- The Centre refused to comply, however, contending that such an public affidavit would compromise the country’s national security.
|What do Indian laws outline?
– Section 5(2) of The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, states that the Government can intercept a “message or class of messages” when it is “in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of an offence”.
– The operational process and procedures for it appear in Rule 419A of the Indian Telegraph Rules, 1951.
A. Rule 419A was added to the Telegraph Rules in 2007 after the verdict in the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) vs Union of India case in 1996, in which the Supreme Court said telephonic conversations are covered by the right to privacy, which can be breached only if there are established procedures.
– In the K.S. Puttaswamy vs Union of India verdict of 2017, the Supreme Court further reiterated the need for oversight of surveillance, stating that it should be legally valid and serve a legitimate aim of the Government.
A. The court also said the means adopted should be proportional to the need for surveillance, and there should be procedures to check any abuse of surveillance.
– Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 deals with electronic surveillance.
A. It facilitates Government “interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource” if it is in the interest of the “sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order” or for preventing or investigating any cognizable offence.
Conclusion and Way Forward
- Government must adhere to transparency and openness, which are celebrated values under our Constitution.
- We need such reforms in India, which are aimed at professionalizing intelligence gathering, bringing intelligence agencies under parliamentary oversight, making them non-partisan, and ensuring that civil liberties and rule of law are protected.
Decriminalising Medical Negligence
Syllabus: GS2/Issues Related to Health
- Recently, a person, scheduled for a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus), died as a result of “medical negligence”.
Medical Negligence in India
- Medical negligence is defined as a failure by a medical professional to provide the standard of care expected from a similarly qualified practitioner in similar circumstances, resulting in harm to the patient.
- This can include misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, improper treatment, lack of informed consent or abandonment of a patient.
- According to a 2018 estimate, the yearly death count due to medical negligence stood at roughly 5 million.
- The IMA also reported around 98,000 deaths per year due to medical negligence in contrast with 52 lakh medical negligence cases filed against doctors.
|Legal Provisions to Address Medical Negligence
– Indian Penal Code (IPC): Section 304A of the IPC deals with causing death by negligence, which can apply to medical professionals found guilty of negligence leading to a patient’s death.
– Consumer Protection Act (CPA), 1986: Medical services are considered services under the CPA, and patients can file complaints against healthcare providers for negligence under this Act.
– Medical Council of India Act, 1956: This Act empowers the Medical Council of India (MCI) to take disciplinary action against doctors found guilty of negligence, including suspension or cancellation of their licenses.
- The Home Minister announced in Parliament recently that doctors will be exempted from criminal prosecution in cases of death due to negligence.
- However, according to Section 106(1) of the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita (BNSS), the rulebook set to replace the Indian Penal Code, doctors will continue to face a two-year imprisonment and/or a fine if convicted.
Arguments in favour of exemption for doctors from criminal prosecution for negligence
- The need to exempt doctors from criminal prosecution for negligence stems from the fact that the criminal prosecution has become a form of harassment.
- Doctors being afraid of the criminal law influences their decisions in critical moments.
- Exemption of doctors from criminal prosecution will provide better results in patient care as it will help doctors to make decisions with a free mind and without risk aversion behaviors.
Arguments against exemption for doctors from criminal prosecution for negligence
- Bioethicists and lawyers say that a blanket exemption of doctors from criminal prosecution for negligence might lead to an increase in medical malpractice.
- Owing to the “power imbalance” in the doctor-patient relationship, an act of negligence on the part of the doctor calls for a higher punishment than the standard.
- An exemption might lead to an increase in cases of deaths among marginalized populations such as women, queer, and transgender persons, and those who live in rural areas.
- In the absence of a credible legal recourse for patients when they suspect medical negligence, they may lose faith in the legal system. This, in turn, can lead to an increase in violent attacks on doctors.
- The IMA suggested that the BNSS make a clear distinction between medical “negligence” and medical “accident”.
- While “negligence” would refer to a “reckless”, “conscious and voluntary disregard of the need to use reasonable care” on part of the doctor.
- An “accident” would involve sudden and unexpected deaths of patients under medical care without conscious intention to harm on the part of the doctor.
- The Indian Medical Association (IMA) also suggested that a law criminalising violence against doctors be included in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNSS) since “75% of doctors and paramedics face violence as per IMA”.
- Medical negligence remains a significant concern in India, with patients often facing challenges in seeking justice and compensation.
- While legal frameworks exist, ensuring effective implementation and raising awareness are crucial steps towards protecting patient rights and ensuring quality healthcare for all.
- The importance of a nationwide survey to understand the scope of medical negligence and patients’ experience with the same, before the government decides on medical negligence is crucial.
Appointment of Judges in High Court
- The Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India has recommended the appointment of Chief Justices to five High Courts.
Appointment of Judges: Constitutional Provision
- According to Article 217, the judges of a high court are appointed by the President.
- The chief justice is appointed by the President after consultation with the chief justice of India and the governor of the state concerned.
- For appointment of other judges, the chief justice of the concerned high court is also consulted.
- In case of a common high court for two or more states, the governors of all the states concerned are consulted by the president.
- The Constitution has not prescribed a minimum age for appointment as a judge of a high court.
Supreme Court Judgements
- In the Second Judges case (1993), the Supreme Court ruled that no appointment of a judge of the high court can be made, unless it is in conformity with the opinion of the Chief justice of India.
- In the Third Judges case (1998), the Supreme Court opined that in case of the appointment of high court judges, the chief justice of India should consult a collegium of two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
- Thus, the sole opinion of the chief justice of India alone does not constitute the ‘consultation’ process.
Qualifications of Judges
- A person to be appointed as a judge of a high court, should have the following qualifications:
- He should be a citizen of India.
- He should have held a judicial office in the territory of India for ten years; or He should have been an advocate of a high court (or high courts in succession) for ten years.
|What is the Collegium System?
– It is the system of appointment and transfer of judges that has evolved through judgments of the Supreme Court, and not by an Act of Parliament or by a provision of the Constitution.
– The Supreme Court collegium is headed by the Chief Justice of India and comprises four other senior-most judges of the court.
– The High Court collegium is led by its Chief Justice and four other senior-most judges of that court.
Ayushman Bharat Scheme
- The Health Ministry has released data related to the achievements under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme.
Achievements under AB PM-JAY
- Approximately 28.45 Crore Ayushman Cards have been created since the inception of the scheme.
- A total of 26,901 hospitals including 11,813 private hospitals have been empanelled under AB PM-JAY
- Gender equity: Women account for approximately 49% of the total Ayushman cards created and approximately 48% of total authorized hospital admissions.
Components of Ayushman Bharat
- Ayushman Arogya Mandir:
- The component led to creation of 1,50,000 Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs), renamed as Ayushman Arogya Mandir.
- They are created by upgrading the Sub Health Centres (SHCs) and rural and urban Primary Health Centres (PHCs), to bring health care closer to the community.
- The aim is to provide Comprehensive Primary Health Care (CPHC) along with the provision of follow-up care to the patients in the community.
- The essential health services along with the provisioning of essential medicines and diagnostics are provided closer to the community through these centers.
- Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri- Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY):
- AB PM-JAY is the largest publicly funded health assurance scheme in the world which provides health cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization.
- It covers up to 3 days of pre-hospitalization and 15 days of post – hospitalization expenses such as diagnostics and medicines.
- Benefits of the scheme are portable across the country i.e. a beneficiary can visit any empanelled public or private hospital in India to avail cashless treatment.
- There is no restriction on the family size, age or gender.
- Eligibility: The inclusion of households is based on the deprivation and occupational criteria of the Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 (SECC 2011) for rural and urban areas, respectively.
- This number also includes families that were covered in the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) but were not present in the SECC 2011 database.
Bharatmala Phase 1 deadline extended by six years to FY28
- The government has extended the deadline for completion of the flagship highway development project Bharatmala Phase-I to 2027-28, a full six years from the original schedule.
- Bharatmala Pariyojana is an umbrella program launched in 2015, that focuses on optimizing efficiency of freight and passenger movement across the country.
- The term “Bharatmala” translates to “Bharat” (India) and “mala” (garland), symbolizing the seamless connectivity of the entire nation.
- Implementing agencies of the program include: National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), and State Public Works Department.
Significance of the Bharatmala Pariyojana
- Economic Corridors: Development of economic corridors to facilitate faster movement of goods and passengers.
- Inter-corridor and Feeder Roads: Construction of inter-corridor and feeder roads to improve the overall connectivity.
- Border and International Connectivity Roads: Strengthening and improving the connectivity of roads along the borders and with neighboring countries.
- Coastal and Port Connectivity Roads: Enhancing road connectivity in coastal areas and linking it with major ports.
- Expressways: Development of new greenfield expressways to reduce travel time and improve safety.
- National Corridor Efficiency Improvement: Upgrading and improving the efficiency of existing national corridors.
- Logistics and Trade Facilitation: Enhancing logistics and trade facilitation through the development of infrastructure.
- North-East Road Network Connectivity: Strengthening road connectivity in the northeastern region of India.
- Integrating Bangladesh – Bhutan – Nepal and Myanmar – Thailand corridors will make the NorthEast hub of East Asia.
Reversal of Liquidity Facilities Under SDF and MSF
Syllabus: GS 3/Economy
- The Reserve Bank of India adjusted its liquidity management tools Standing Deposit Facility (SDF) and Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) as part of monetary policy review.
- Reversal of liquidity facilities under both SDF and Marginal Standing Facility is available on an overnight basis on all days with effect from December 30.
- Purpose: The move aims to improve liquidity management amid high utilization by banks.
- Deficit liquidity conditions persisted during October and November prompting large recourse to the marginal standing facility (MSF) by banks.
- In parallel, utilisation of the standing deposit facility (SDF) has also been high.
- The overall tightening of liquidity conditions is attributed mainly to higher currency leakage during the festive season, government cash balances and Reserve Bank’s market operations,
- It is expected that this measure will facilitate better fund management by the banks.
Liquidity Management Tools of RBI
- Under the Reserve Bank of India, Act,1934 (RBI Act,1934) (as amended in 2016), RBI is entrusted with the responsibility of conducting monetary policy in India with the primary objective of maintaining price stability while keeping in mind the objective of growth.
- There are several direct and indirect instruments that are used for implementing monetary policy.
- Standing Deposit Facility (SDF) Rate: The rate at which the Reserve Bank accepts non collateralized deposits, on an overnight basis, from all LAF participants.
- It is also a financial stability tool in addition to its role in liquidity management. The SDF rate is placed at 25 basis points below the policy repo rate.
- Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) Rate: The penal rate at which banks can borrow, on an overnight basis, from the Reserve Bank by dipping into their Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) portfolio up to a predefined limit (2 percent).
- This provides a safety valve against unanticipated liquidity shocks to the banking system.
- The MSF rate is placed at 25 basis points above the policy repo rate.
- Repo Rate: The interest rate at which the Reserve Bank provides liquidity under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) to all LAF participants against the collateral of government and other approved securities.
- Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF): The LAF refers to the Reserve Bank’s operations through which it injects/absorbs liquidity into/from the banking system.
- It consists of overnight as well as term repo/reverse repos (fixed as well as variable rates), SDF and MSF.
- LAF Corridor: The LAF corridor has the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate as its upper bound (ceiling) and the standing deposit facility (SDF) rate as the lower bound (floor), with the policy repo rate in the middle of the corridor.
- Main Liquidity Management Tool: A 14-day term repo/reverse repo auction operation at a variable rate conducted to coincide with the cash reserve ratio (CRR) maintenance cycle is the main liquidity management tool for managing frictional liquidity requirements.
- Fine Tuning Operations: The main liquidity operation is supported by fine-tuning operations, overnight and/or longer tenor, to tide over any unanticipated liquidity changes during the reserve maintenance period.
- In addition, the Reserve Bank conducts, if needed, longer-term variable rate repo/reverse repo auctions of more than 14 days.
- Reverse Repo Rate: The interest rate at which the Reserve Bank absorbs liquidity from banks against the collateral of eligible government securities under the LAF.
- Following the introduction of SDF, the fixed rate reverse repo operations will be at the discretion of the RBI for purposes specified from time to time.
- Bank Rate: The rate at which the Reserve Bank is ready to buy or rediscount bills of exchange or other commercial papers.
- The Bank Rate acts as the penal rate charged on banks for shortfalls in meeting their reserve requirements (cash reserve ratio and statutory liquidity ratio).
- The Bank Rate is published under Section 49 of the RBI Act, 1934.
- This rate has been aligned with the MSF rate and, changes automatically as and when the MSF rate changes alongside policy repo rate changes.
- Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR): The average daily balance that a bank is required to maintain with the Reserve Bank as a per cent of its net demand and time liabilities (NDTL) as on the last Friday of the second preceding fortnight that the Reserve Bank may notify from time to time in the Official Gazette.
- Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR): Every bank shall maintain in India assets, the value of which shall not be less than such percentage of the total of its demand and time liabilities in India as on the last Friday of the second preceding fortnight, as the Reserve Bank may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify from time to time and such assets shall be maintained as may be specified in such notification (typically in unencumbered government securities, cash and gold).
- Open Market Operations (OMOs): These include outright purchase/sale of government securities by the Reserve Bank for injection/absorption of durable liquidity in the banking system.
- Standing Deposit Facility (SDF) Rate: The rate at which the Reserve Bank accepts non collateralized deposits, on an overnight basis, from all LAF participants.
Source:News on air
Tribunal System in India
Syllabus: GS2/Indian Polity
- The Supreme Court has ruled that the tribunals cannot direct the government to frame policy.
- SC was deciding on whether the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) could have directed the government to make a policy to fill up the post of Judge Advocate General (Air).
- Key Points of Judgement
- Making policy is not in the domain of the judiciary.
- The Tribunal is also a quasi-judicial body and it cannot direct those responsible for making policy, to make a policy in a particular manner.
- Even the High Courts cannot, in exercise of the powers under Article 226 of the Constitution, direct the government or a department to formulate a particular policy.
The Tribunal System in India
- Tribunals are institutions established for discharging judicial or quasi-judicial duties.
- Objective: To reduce caseload of the judiciary or to bring in subject expertise for technical matters.
- Constitutional Provisions: In 1976, Articles 323A and 323B were inserted in the Constitution of India through the 42nd Amendment.
- Article 323A empowered Parliament to constitute administrative Tribunals (both at central and state level) for adjudication of matters related to recruitment and conditions of service of public servants.
- Article 323B specified certain subjects (such as taxation and land reforms) for which Parliament or state legislatures may constitute tribunals by enacting a law.
- In 2010, the Supreme Court clarified that the subject matters under Article 323B are not exclusive, and legislatures are empowered to create tribunals on any subject matters under their purview as specified in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
- Currently, tribunals have been created both as substitutes to High Courts and as subordinate to High Courts .
- In the former case, appeals from the decisions of Tribunals lie directly with the Supreme Court.
- In the latter case appeals are heard by the corresponding High Court.
Difference between Courts and Tribunals
– Jurisdiction: Can hear a wide range of civil and criminal cases.
Procedure and Rules: Civil Procedure Code (CPC) for civil cases and the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) for criminal cases.
Composition: Judges are appointed based on their legal qualifications and experience.
Appeal Process: Decisions of regular courts can be appealed to higher courts.
– Each tribunal is set up to deal with specific types of cases or disputes, such as administrative matters, tax appeals, environmental issues, etc.
– The laws establishing each tribunal outline the procedures to be followed, and they are often less formal than those in regular courts.
– Tribunals may include both judicial and technical members.
– The route of appeal is specified in the law establishing the tribunal.
Concerns of Tribunal System in India
- Constitutional foundation and competence of tribunals: The constitutional standing of tribunals has been questioned.
- In particular, whether the jurisdiction of High Courts and Supreme Court can be removed.
- Delay in Adjudication: Despite the intention to provide speedy justice, some tribunals have faced delays in disposing of cases.
- Vacancies and Lack of Members: Delays in appointing members can hinder the effective functioning of the tribunal and contribute to the backlog of cases.
- Independence and Autonomy: The manner of appointment, removal, and terms of service of members can influence the impartiality and effectiveness of the tribunal.
- Pendency of cases: The reasoning for setting up some tribunals was to reduce pendency of cases in courts, several tribunals are facing the issue of a large case load and pendency.
- Enforcement of Decisions: There have been instances where the enforcement of tribunal decisions has faced challenges.
- Costs and Accessibility: Accessibility to the tribunal system might be a concern for certain sections of society, particularly those facing financial constraints.
- The costs associated with legal representation and proceedings can be a barrier for some litigants.
- Recommendations of SC: In order to ensure that tribunals are independent from the executive, the Supreme Court had recommended that all administrative matters be managed by the law ministry rather than the ministry associated with the subject area.
- Later, the Court recommended creation of an independent National Tribunals Commission for the administration of tribunals.
- These recommendations have not been implemented.
- SC Judgement: The Supreme Court has ruled that tribunals, being quasi-judicial bodies, should have the same level of independence from the executive as the judiciary.
- Key factors include the mode of selection of members, the composition of tribunals, and the terms and tenure of service.
- Addressing these concerns requires continuous evaluation, reforms, and improvements in the functioning of tribunals.
- The aim should be to strengthen their independence, enhance efficiency, and ensure that they effectively serve their intended purpose in the legal system.
Facts In News
Syllabus: GS1/Art and Culture
- The Inherited Arts Forum presented ‘Warli Whispers: The artistic journey of the Mashe family’ showcasing the transformation and revival of Warli Painting.
- It is a tribal art which originated from North Sahyadri region of Maharashtra.
- It can be traced back to 10th century AD but was first discovered and appreciated for its distinctive style only in the early 1970s.
- It was traditionally practised by Suvasinis (women of the Warli tribe), who decorated the Lagn Chowk or the wedding square.
- The Warli Tribes take inspiration from nature and surrounding activities like farming, food gathering, village life and elements from nature and wildlife while drawing these ethnic arts.
- Symbols of the sun, moon and stars along with plants, animals, insects and birds show their belief in the integration of all forms of life.
- Techniques and materials used:
- The triangles, circles and lines in austere white against a mud brown background align to tell stories of village life and the customs and traditions there on walls and canvases.
- Modified bamboo sticks are used as paint brushes to create the paintings.
- The colours and materials used for the paintings are derived from nature like brown and orange from henna, indigo from dye, red from bricks and white from thick rice paste.
- It was not recognised as an artform even though it was in practice for centuries.
|Do you know?
– The Mashe family belongs to the Palghar district of Maharashtra.
– Jivya Soma Mashe is known as the father of Warli Art.
A. He pulled it out of the traditional domain to popularise Warli art beyond the region where it originated.
- Under the SHRESHTA scheme, more than 2500 Scheduled Castes (SCs) students in private schools have been facilitated.
- SHRESHTA stands for the Scheme for Residential Education for Students in High Schools in Targeted Areas’
- It is implemented by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
- Objective: To provide seats to the meritorious SC students in the best private residential schools in the country.
Modes of Schooling under the scheme
- Schooling under CBSE/State Board Affiliated Private Residential Schools:
- Under this mode, 3000 meritorious students will get admission to selected private schools of CBSE and State Boards.
- The students will be selected through the National Entrance Test for SHRESHTA (NETS), conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA).
- Students with parents’ annual income up to 2.5 lakh are selected annually based on their merit.
- Admission to NGO-operated schools: Under this mode of education, schools and hostels run by voluntary organizations (VOs) and NGOs, will offer education up to class 12.