Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs | 28-05-2022

  • BHARAT DRONE MAHOTSAV 2022
  • TOMB OF SAND, WRITTEN BY GEETANJALI SHREE
  • TRUE RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR (TRNG)
  • SELA MACAQUE
  • NATIONAL FACILITY FOR GENE FUNCTION IN HEALTH AND DISEASE (NFGFHD)
  • COMMUNITY FOREST RESOURCE (CFR) RIGHTS
  • INDIAN BUSINESS PORTAL
  • MICRO AND SMALL ENTERPRISES CLUSTER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
  • SURROGACY FOR SINGLE MEN
  • SYSTEM OF RICE INTENSIFICATION (SRI)
  • AKRUTI PROGRAMME
  • DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY IN THE JUDICIARY
  • KEY TO AN IMPROVED CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

BHARAT DRONE MAHOTSAV 2022

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India’s biggest Drone Festival – Bharat Drone Mahotsav 2022. The Prime Minister also gave away 150 drone pilot certificates.
  • Several industry leaders, government officials, foreign diplomats, representatives from Public Sector Units, private companies and drone start-ups are participating in the Mahotsav. They will deliberate upon India’s Civil Aviation sector.
  • PM Modi highlighted the importance of drone technology in the fields of defence, disaster management, agriculture, tourism, film and entertainment. He said that the use of this technology is bound to increase in the coming days.
  • Appreciating the use of drones in PM-SVAMITVA scheme, he said, 65 lakh property cards have been generated with the help of drones.
  • Drone industry in India is estimated to achieve 15 thousand crore rupees turnover by the year 2026. He also narrated the use of drones in his official decision making through examples of PRAGATI reviews and Kedarnath projects.

ABOUT REGULATIONS OF DRONES IN INDIA UNDER DRONE RULES, 2021

  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation has notified the Drone Rules, 2021.
  • These Rules were published under the Aircraft Act, 1934 and replaced the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021.
    • The 1934 Act regulates the production, possession, operation, and sale of civilian aircraft in India.
    • The Rules regulated the ownership and operation of remotely operable and autonomous aircraft in India.
  • It reduced the approvals and restrictions involved in operating drones in India.
  • The Drone Rules 2021 remove the requirement of any certificate for operating or importing drones.
  • The import of drones will be regulated by the Director-General of Foreign Trade (or any other entity authorized by the Union government).
  • The Rules mandated seeking approval from the Director-General for the transfer of drones to another person in India.
  • Digital sky platform refers to the online platform hosted by the DGCA for various activities related to the management of unmanned aircraft system activities in India.
  • The central government to publish a dynamic, machine-readable, airspace map for drone operations in India.
    • The map will segregate the Indian airspace into red, yellow, and green zones. Prior permission will be required for drone operations in red and yellow zones.
  • The digital sky platform shall be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system.
    • There will be a minimal human interface on the digital sky platform and most permission will be self-generated.
  • The yellow zone was reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter.
  • No flight permission is required up to 400 feet in green zones and up to 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter.
  • No pilot license is required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drones and R&D organizations.
  • Coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg. This will cover drone taxis also.
  • The DGCA shall prescribe training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot licenses online.
  • Manufacturers may generate their drone’s unique identification number on the digital sky platform through the self-certification route.
  • Themaximum penalty under Drone Rules, 2021 was reduced to INR 1 lakh.
  • Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.
  • A drone promotion council to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.

TOMB OF SAND, WRITTEN BY GEETANJALI SHREE

  • Tomb of Sand is the first book originally written in any Indian language to win the International Booker Prize, and the first novel translated from Hindi to be recognised by the award.
  • Set in northern India, the novel follows the adventures of an 80-year-old woman who unexpectedly gains a new, and highly unconventional, lease of life.
  • Shree and Rockwell will split the £50,000 prize money, giving the author and translator equal recognition. This book has also won the English PEN translation award.

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE

  • The International Booker Prize is awarded annually for a single book, translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland.
  • The International Booker Prizebegan life in 2005 as the Man Booker International Prize.
  • This prize aims to encourage more reading of quality fiction from all over the world and has already had an impact on those statistics in the UK.
  • The vital work of translators is celebrated, with the£50,000 prize money divided equally between the author and translator.
  • Each shortlisted author and translator also receive £2,500.
  • Novels and collections of short stories are both eligible.

TRUE RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR (TRNG)

  • A team at the Department of Electrical Communication Engineering (ECE), Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has developed a true random number generator (TRNG).
  • This can improve data encryption and provide improved security for sensitive digital data such as credit card details, passwords and other personal information. The study describing the device has been published in the journal ACS Nano.
  • Cryptographic keys are typically generated in computers using pseudorandom number generators, which rely on mathematical formulae or pre-programmed tables to produce numbers that appear random but are not. In contrast, a TRNG extracts random numbers from inherently random physical processes, making it more secure.
  • In IISc’s TRNG device, random numbers are generated using the random motion of electrons.
  • It consists of an artificial electron trap constructed by stacking atomically-thin layers of materials like black phosphorus and graphene.

ABOUT TRUE RANDOM NUMBER GENERATORS (TRNGS)

  • A TRNG is a function or device based on an unpredictable physical phenomenon, called an entropy source, that is designed to generate non-deterministic data (e.g., a succession of numbers) to seed security algorithms.
  • Connected devices are becoming part of everyday life and we expect them to operate correctly while protecting business and personal information. TRNGs are at the base of securing these devices as they are used to create and protect secrets and other sensitive information. They are part of a “chain of trust” that needs to be established starting with the SoC, moving to the application layers and communication to the cloud. A chain of trust is only as strong as its weakest link.
  • Predictable random number generators (RNGs) open doors to many possible attacks that can hack devices and compromise data. To be effective, random numbers must be unpredictable, statistically independent (unrelated to any previously generated random numbers), uniformly distributed (equal probability for any number to be generated) and protected .
  • True random numbers are used for applications such as gaming, gambling, and in cryptography, where randomness is critically important. For example, many cryptographic algorithms and security protocols depend on keys and their strength is defined by the number of key bits that an attacker needs to determine before breaking a system. If keys are compromised, the security strength of the whole system is compromised. True random numbers are required in a variety of security scenarios:
  • Key generation for various algorithms (symmetric, asymmetric, MACs) and protocols (SSL/TLH, SSH, WiFi, LTE, IPsec, etc.)
  • Chip manufacturing (seeding device unique and platform keys)
  • Initial values (for encryption and MAC algorithms, TCP packet values, etc.)
  • Nonce generation and initial counter values for various cryptographic functions
  • Challenges used for protocol authentication exchanges
  • Randomization input for side channel countermeasure solutions for protecting against physical attacks

STANDARDS FOR TRNGS

  • Several standards and certification associations are driving specifications and validation methods for TRNGs to define the guidelines for design and certification of truly random solutions.
  • The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) agency has developed a set of NIST SP 800-90A/B/c standards (“c” is still in draft stage) to define the statistical-analysis criteria that an RNG must meet before being considered random enough for cryptographic applications. The German standards body, Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI), has long had a separate set of RNG standards (AIS 20/31).
  • Both standards serve to weed out seemingly random generators that may appear to work but may have statistical flaws that could undermine the security of the system. However, while these standards give some high-level architecture guidelines, they do not specifically describe how to create a TRNG; only how to verify whether it works. The implementation details are left to the creativity of the designers, and therefore permits many alternative approaches. In all cases though, the TRNGs must meet the four criteria previously mentioned: they must be unpredictable, uniform, independent, and undiscoverable.

SELA MACAQUE

  • A new species of old world monkey recorded from Arunachal Pradesh has been named after a strategic mountain pass at 13,700 ft above sea level.

ABOUT SELA MACAQUE (MACACA SELAI)

  • This new primate was identified and analysed by a team of experts from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and the University of Calcutta.
  • Earlier it was called as White- Cheeked Macaque displaying white cheeks, long and thick hairs on the neck area, and a longer tail.
  • Their study has been published in the latest edition of Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.
  • Phylogenetics relate to the evolutionary development and diversification of a species or group of organisms.
  • The phylogenetic analysis revealed that the Sela macaque was geographically separated from the Arunachal macaque (Macaca munzala) of Tawang district by Sela.
  • This mountain pass acted as a barrier by restricting the migration of individuals of these two species for approximately two million years.

PROTECTION STATUS

  • It has NOT been yet included in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 of India.
  • The potential threat to all species of macaques in the landscape is due to hunting by locals for consumption and habitat degradation due to urbanization and infrastructure development.

NATIONAL FACILITY FOR GENE FUNCTION IN HEALTH AND DISEASE (NFGFHD)

  • The National Facility for Gene Function in Health and Disease (NFGFHD) was inaugurated in Pune by Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of Education.
  • The NFGFHD has been set up at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune.
  • Built by IISER Pune and supported by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) at a total cost of about , this will be one-of-its-kind large facilities providing timely supply of animal models to researchers studying a range of diseases from cancer to diabetes. Rats, mice and rabbits will be housed here, doing away with the need to import them.
  • With a growing zoonotic disease burden on human health, there is an increased urgency to perform disease studies based on physiological evidence and methods. Since human trials alone cannot suffice for such studies, the need for having experimental setups using animal models has become imperative. Hence, animal, plant and microorganism-based models are now being significantly deployed to study diseases in a time-bound manner.

WHY IT IS NEEDED?

  • With a growing zoonotic disease burden on human health, there is an increased urgency to perform disease studies based on physiological evidence and methods.
  • Since human trials alone cannot suffice for such studies, the need for having experimental setups using animal models has become imperative.
  • Hence, animal, plant and microorganism-based models are now being significantly deployed to study diseases in a time-bound manner.
  • Scientists depend on small animals such as rats, mice and rabbits to study human diseases. When an animal model is used to study diseases, we need to carefully follow the animal’s well-being for long durations.
  • During this time-frame, the animals are prudently observed, bred for further generations.
  • Their behaviours are monitored in responses to stimuli, signs for any phenotypic variations, feeding behaviours and changes in habits if any.
  • Scientists depend on small animals such as rats, mice and rabbits to study human diseases. When an animal model is used to study diseases, we need to carefully follow the animal’s well-being for long durations.
  • During this time-frame, the animals are prudently observed, bred for further generations. Their behaviours are monitored in responses to stimuli, signs for any phenotypic variations, feeding behaviours and changes in habits if any.

TECHNOLOGICAL FACILITIES

  • The facility houses molecular biology laboratories and mico-injection setups to generate mouse models, in which scientists will knock out existing genes and replace them with external or artificial genes that are linked to the disease under study. This is done through CRISPR / Cas9 systems.
  • There are facilities for making embryonic stem cell-based models and traditional transgenic mice models, embryo and sperm cryopreservation, and in-vitro fertilisation.

COMMUNITY FOREST RESOURCE (CFR) RIGHTS

  • The CFR rights of tribals living in Gudiyapadar, a hamlet inside the Kanger Ghati National Park in Bastar district, were recognised, giving the community power to formulate rules for forest use.
  • Kanger Ghati National Park is the second national park, after Simlipal in Odisha, where CFR rights have been recognised.

ABOUT COMMUNITY FOREST RESOURCE

  • The community forest resource area is the common forest land that has been traditionally protected and conserved for sustainable use by a particular community.
  • The community uses it to access resources available within the traditional and customary boundary of the village; and for seasonal use of landscape in case of pastoralist communities.
  • Each CFR area has a customary boundary with identifiable landmarksrecognised by the community and its neighboring villages.
  • It may include forest of any category– revenue forest, classified & unclassified forest, deemed forest, DLC land, reserve forest, protected forest, sanctuary and national parks etc.

ABOUT COMMUNITY FOREST RESOURCE RIGHTS

  • The Community Forest Resource rights under Section 3(1)(i)of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (commonly referred to as the Forest Rights Act or the FRA) provide for recognition of the right to “protect, regenerate or conserve or manage” the community forest resource.
  • Under Forest Rights Act, 2006, Community Forest Resource Right gives gram sabhas the right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any forest resources used by the entire community, or village.
  • CFR rights, along with Community Rights (CRs) under Sections 3(1)(b) and 3(1)(c),which include nistar rights and rights over non-timber forest products, ensure sustainable livelihoods of the community.

IMPORTANCE OF CFR RIGHTS

  • The FRA came into force in 2008 with aim to undo the “historic injustice” meted out to forest-dependent communities due to curtailment of their customary rights over forests.
  • It is important as it recognises the community’s right to use, manage and conserve forestresources, and to legally hold forest land that these communities have used for cultivation and residence.
  • It also underlines the integral role that forest dwellers play in sustainability of forests and in conservation of biodiversity.
  • It is of greater significance inside protected forests like national parks, sanctuaries and tiger reserves as traditional dwellers then become a part of management of the protected forests using their traditional wisdom.

INDIAN BUSINESS PORTAL

  • Union Minister for Commerce & Industry launched the Indian Business Portal – An International Trade Hub for Indian Exporters and Foreign Buyers.

ABOUT INDIAN BUSINESS PORTAL

  • FIEO in partnership with GlobalLinker, has designed and developed the “Indian Business Portal”, an International Trade Hub for Indian Exporters and Foreign Buyers.
  • This is a B2B digital marketplace to empower SME exporters, artisans and farmers to identify new markets for their products and grow their sales globally.
  • Strategic objectives of Indian Business Portal:
    • Digitizing Indian Exporters and help them become discoverable online
    • Encouraging virtual meetings between buyers and sellers
    • Providing a trusted network of Indian Exporters to Foreign Buyers

MICRO AND SMALL ENTERPRISES CLUSTER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

  • Union Government has approved new guidelines for the Micro and Small Enterprises Cluster Development Programme.
  • The guidelines will be implemented during the 15th Finance Commission Cycle.
  • The scheme aims at enhancing the competitiveness and productivity of Micro and Small Enterprises through interventions in Common Facility Centers and Infrastructure Development.
  • Government grants for Common Facility Centers will be restricted to seventy percent of the cost of the project from five crore rupees to ten crore rupees and sixty percent of the cost of the project from ten crore rupees to thirty crore rupees.
  • However, for North East and the Hill States including Island territories and Aspirational Districts, the grant will be given eighty and seventy percent of the cost of the project as per different project cost ranges.
  • Grant for Infrastructure Development will be restricted to sixty percent of the cost of the project from five crore rupees to fifteen crore rupees for setting up of a new Industrial Estate, Flatted Factory Complex.
  • Grant will be fifty percent of the cost of the project from five crore rupees to ten crore rupees for up-gradation of the existing Industrial Estate, Flatted Factory Complex.

ABOUT MICRO AND SMALL ENTERPRISES CLUSTER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

Aim

  • To support the sustainability and growth of MSEs by addressing common issues such as improvement of technology, skills & quality, market access, etc.
  • To build capacity of MSEs for common supportive action through formation of self help groups, consortia, upgradation of associations, etc.
  • To create/upgrade infrastructural facilities in the new/existing Industrial Areas/ Clusters of MSEs.
  • To set up Common Facility Centres (for testing, training, raw material depot, effluent treatment, complementing production processes, etc.).
  • Promotion of green & sustainable manufacturing technology for the clusters.

Nature of assistance

  • CFCs:Grant will be restricted to 70% of the cost of Project of maximum Rs. 20.00 Crore. GoI grant will be 90% for special category projects (located in North-East & Hilly States, Island territories, Aspirational Districts/ LWE affected Districts, Clusters with more than 50% (a) Micro/Village, (b) Women owned, (c) SC/ ST units). The cost of Project includes cost of Land (Subject to maximum of 25% of Project Cost).
  • Infrastructure Development:Grant will be restricted to 60% of the cost of project (Rs. 10.00 Crore for Industrial Estate & Rs. 15.00 Crore for Flatted Factory Complex). GoI grant will be 80% for special category projects as mentioned above.
  • Marketing Hubs/Exhibition Centres by Associations:The GoI grant will be restricted to 60% of the cost of project of maximum Rs. 10.00 crore for Product Specific Associations with BMO rating of Gold Category and above from NABET(QCI) and 80% for Associations of Women Entrepreneurs. Remaining project cost is to be borne by SPV/State Government.
  • Thematic Interventions:Grant will be restricted to 50% of total cost of maximum 5 activities not exceeding Rs. 2.00 lakh for each activity. GoI grant under this component for each CFC would be Rs. 10.00 lakh.
  • Support to State Innovation Cluster Development Programme:The GoI fund would be limited to State Government share or Rs. 5.00 Crore whichever is lower and the assistance would be 90% of project cost in respect of CFC projects in North-East/Hilly States, 10 Island territories, Aspirational Districts/ LWE affected Districts, as well as for projects where beneficiaries are SC/ ST/ Women owned enterprises.

SURROGACY FOR SINGLE MEN

  • The Delhi High Court issued a notice to the Union government on a petition challenging some provisions of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act and the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act.

ISSUES RAISED BY THE PETITION

  • Currently, the laws does not allow single men to have child through surrogacy.
  • Married women can only avail surrogacy services if they are unable to produce a child due to medical conditions.
  • Otherwise, for women to avail of surrogacy services, they must be aged between 35 and 45and widowed or divorced.
  • Women can only offer surrogacyif they are aged between 25 and 35 and married with at least one biological child.
  • The laws also require a surrogate to be genetically relatedto the couple who intend to have a child through this method, their petition said.

BASIS OF THE PETITION

  • The personal decision of a single person about the birth of a baby through surrogacy, i.e., the right of reproductive autonomy is a facet of the right to privacy guaranteed under Article 21of the Constitution.
  • Thus, the right to privacy of every citizen or person affecting a decision to bear or beget a child through surrogacy cannot be taken away.

DISTINCT FEATURES OF THE SURROGACY (REGULATION) ACT, 2021

  • Definition of surrogacy:It defines surrogacy as a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple with the intention to hand over the child after the birth to the intending couple.
  • Regulation of surrogacy: It prohibits commercial surrogacy, but allows altruistic surrogacy which involves no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance.
  • Purposes for which surrogacy is permitted: Surrogacy is permitted when it is: (i) for intending couples who suffer from proven infertility; (ii) altruistic; (iii) not for commercial purposes; (iv) not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation; and (v) for any condition or disease specified through regulations.
  • Eligibility criteria: The intending couple should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority ex. District Medical Board.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR SURROGATE MOTHER

  • To obtain a certificate of eligibility from the appropriate authority, the surrogate mother has to be:
  • A close relative of the intending couple;
  • A married woman having a child of her own;
  • 25 to 35 years old;
  • A surrogate only once in her lifetime; and
  • Possess a certificate of medical and psychological fitness for surrogacy.
  • Further, the surrogate mother cannot provide her own gametes for surrogacy.

SYSTEM OF RICE INTENSIFICATION (SRI)

  • Experts in Punjab has said that System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Technique is beneficial for the soil, environment and farmers at par with the Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR) technique.

ABOUT SRI TECHNIQUE

  • SRI was first developed in Madagascar in the 1980s and since then several countries in the world have been practising it, including India.
  • It promises to save 15 to 20% ground water, improves rice productivity, which is almost at a stagnant point now.
  • Experts said that it gives equal or more produce than the conventional rice cultivation, with less water, less seed and less chemicals.
  • The net effect is a substantial reduction in the investments on external inputs.

PROCESS

  • First, the field is prepared by ploughing.
  • It should be laser levelled before transplanting for proper water management and efficiency for a good crop stand.
  • Then irrigation is applied in the field which is not a flooding of field like traditional methods but less than that of a well irrigated field.
  • Then 10-12 days old nursery (young paddy plants) along with soil particles around the root with minimum disturbance to the roots are transplanted in lines.
  • They are marked at a distance of 10 inches from each other with the help of a rope meter.

BENEFITS OVER DSR TECHNIQUE

  • Unlike DSR, which is suitable only for mid to heavy textured soils, SRI is suitable in all types of soil including less fertile soil as in such soil the number of seedlings can be increased to double.
  • Under SRI 2kg seed is required to grow a nursery for one acre against 5kg seed required in the traditional method.

BENEFITS

  • In traditional sowing from the day of transplanting till the crop turns 35-40 days fields are kept under flood-like conditions.
  • And then fields are filled every week till a few weeks before harvesting.
  • But SRI doesn’t require continuous flooding, it needs intermittent irrigation.
  • Indeed the plants’ roots should not be starved for oxygen through flooding.
  • Irrigation is given to maintain soil moisture near saturation initially, and water is added to the field when the surface soil develops hairline cracks.

LIMITATIONS

  • If unchecked, greater weed growth will cause substantial loss of yield.
  • In Punjab, it is not promoted by the government except demonstration plots sown over a decade ago.
  • It can be sustainable if organic inputs in the soil structure are maintained.

AKRUTI PROGRAMME

ABOUT AKRUTI PROGRAM

  • The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited is assisting unemployed youth living near the Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS) through AKRUTI.
  • AKRUTI stands for Advanced Knowledge and Rural Technology Implementation (AKRUTI) program.
  • Areas of water, food processing, agriculture and waste management in rural areas are covered under the AKRUTI program.
  • The scheme aims at empowering villages through implementing different technologies for usage.
  • This scheme will lead to sustainable growth of the rural sector across the country.
  • To provide information and mechanism for implementation of BARC technologies in rural areas thereby aiming at overall rural development.

DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY IN THE JUDICIARY

  • With the digitisation of judicial records and the establishment of e-courts, significant developments had taken place in 2020.
  • Use of technology to better utilise potential:It is imperative that the use of digital technology be discussed to better utilise its potential, particularly in terms of digitisation of court records, e-filing of cases and their virtual hearing, live streaming of court proceedings.

BACKGROUND

  • In India, e-governance in the field of administration of justice began in the late 1990s, but it accelerated after the enactment of the Information and Technology Act, 2000.
  • In the year of 2006, e-courts were launched as a part of the National e-Governance Plan (NEGP).

ABOUT DIGITISATION OF CASE FILES

  • When he was the Chief Justice of Allahabad HC, Justice D Y Chandrachud had conceptualised and initiated the project to digitise approximately one crore case files in one year.
  • Saving of space and preservation of old documents: This was necessary as not only was a large space required to store so many files, it was also becoming difficult to manually preserve the decades-old documents.
  • Traceability: Another purpose was to ensure that these files are traceable electronically as and when required.
  • It has also been observed that cases are adjourned simply because affidavits filed several years ago were not restored with the record or were not traceable.
  • Once the documents are digitised and e-filed by counsels, at least the cases would not get adjourned by the courts on this account.
  • Reducing the risk of missing court records:In State of Uttar Pradesh v. Abhay Raj Singh, it was held by the Supreme Court that if court records go missing and re-construction is not possible, the courts are bound to set aside the conviction.
  • Saving of time: With digitisation, it will take much less time for the lower courts to transmit the records as and when called for.
  • The lawyers benefit because they or their staff are no longer required to visit the reporting sections or other sections of the court to know about the status of their cases.
  • This has been sought to be implemented by thee-Committee of the Supreme Court by issuing directions to ensure that e-filing of cases/petitions by state governments in all matters be made mandatory from January 1, 2022.

SCOPE FOR VIRTUAL HEARING IN CERTAIN CASES

  • Cases related to matrimonial issues and domestic violence bounced cheques, motor accident compensation referred to mediation centres and lok adalatscould be included in the list of cases fit for disposal through the virtual hearing.
  • The hearing of matrimonial cases through video-conferencing was approved by the Supreme Court in the matter of Krishna Veni Nagam v Harish Nagam (2017).
  • The direction was short-lived and a coordinate bench of the Supreme Court in the case of Santhini v Vijaya Venkatesh (2018) referred the matter for reconsideration before a larger bench.
  • Virtual hearings cannot be a substitute for physical court hearings in all cases.
  • However, in appropriate cases and certain categories of cases as identified by the court administration in consultation with the members of the Bar, virtual hearing should be made mandatory.

BENEFITS

  • In 2018, the Supreme Court allowed the live-streaming of cases of constitutional and national importanceon the basis of the judgment in Swapnil Tripathi.
  • Step towards transparency:The livestreaming of court proceedings is a step towards ensuring transparency and openness.
  • While several reservations were expressed against it, the Gujarat HC in July 2021 became the first court in the country to livestream its proceedings.
  • Its example was followed by other HCs like Karnataka, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Patna.

CHALLENGES

  • Internet connectivityissues and the need for a well-equipped space where lawyers can conduct their cases are some of the major problems requiring attention.
  • Political will and the support of judgesand lawyers are also necessary.
  • Awareness and training:Judges, court staff and lawyers are not well-versed with digital technology and its benefits.
  • The need of the hour is for them to be made aware of these and receive adequate training.

KEY TO AN IMPROVED CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

  • The key to an improved criminal justice system is quality forensic labs and well-trained staff, not more legislation and harsher punishments.

ABOUT FORENSIC SCIENCE

  • Forensic science is the application of scientific perspectives and techniquesto the legal process, including investigations and courtroom protocol.
  • It is theuse of scientific data and procedures specifically for the legal system.
  • There is rigorous procedure involved, including controlled conditions, reliable data collectionand the attempt to disprove hypotheses.
  • Methodologies like the autopsy procedures, fingerprinting, testing and matching for poisons, blood spatter analysis, matching guns to bullets fired (ballistics), voice sample matches, handwriting assessments and DNA analysis are all facets of forensic science.

 CHALLANGES

  • We have a woefully inadequatenumber of forensic science laboratories (FSL).
  • There are sevencentral forensic laboratories in India at Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chandigarh, New Delhi, Guwahati, Bhopal and Pune.
  • Six of these laboratories, barring Delhi, are under the control of the Directorate of Forensic Science Services (DFSS), and its mission is to render high quality and credible forensic services to the justice delivery system.
  • A National Forensic Sciences Universitywas established in Gandhinagar, Gujarat in 2020.
  • The existing National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science in Delhi has been integrated into this new university.
  • There are 32 state FSLs and about 529 mobile FSL units, of which Delhi has one state FSL and six mobile units.
  • The DNA tests discovered in 1985 are used to identify individuals involved in alleged crimes.
  • In 2017, The Hindu reported that while the United Kingdom completes DNA testing on over 60,000 crimes annually, India with over 13 times the population completes such tests on less than 7,500 cases.
  • The average pendency at each lab is huge.
  • In all states, there were over 50 per cent vacancies in personnel at their facilities.

WAY FORWARD

  • More investment:We certainly need more investment in the establishment of FSL laboratories, the training and appointment of personnel adept at forensic methodologies and reforms within our police to establish a trained and skilled detective cadre tasked with solving complex and heinous crimes.
  • Quality training and accreditation:There is a desperate need for good quality training facilities, standards of accreditation and continuous education programmes for our forensic experts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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