Current Affairs Current Affairs - 01 August 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 01 August 2018

General Affairs 

"Legal Process Needs To Be Completed": Devendra Fadnavis On Reservation
  • Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said today that his government was working on the demand for granting reservations to the Maratha community, but the legal process could not be curtailed.
    Speaking during a book release, Mr Fadnavis said the decision could not be taken only on the basis of sentiments.

    He described as lamentable the incidents of violence and alleged suicides for the quota demand reported during the ongoing agitation by Maratha organizations in the last few days.

     "If sentiments are aroused, there will be unrest in the community. The legal process needs to be completed and our government will do that in a time-bound manner," he added.

    The BJP-led government in the state enacted a law to provide reservation in jobs and education to the community within a year of coming to power, he noted.

    "But the High Court stayed the decision and the Supreme Court upheld the high court order. There is a 1992 Supreme Court judgement that reservations should not exceed 50 per cent.

     To increase them (beyond 50 per cent) there should be extraordinary circumstances and these (circumstances) must be put forth through the State Backward Class Commission (before the court)," Mr Fadnavis pointed out.

    His government formed the commission and the process of surveys and public hearings had started, he said.

    "But the commission chairman passed away. Now new chairman has been appointed and the process has restarted.

     After its report is submitted, we will call an assembly session to take the reservation demand to its logical conclusion," he said.

    People need to understand that to ensure that reservations stand legal scrutiny, the 1992 Supreme Court judgement must be followed, the chief minister said.

    "We have to give reservations to the Marathas without tampering with the SC-ST-OBC quota," he added.

    "We are being asked to issue an ordinance. It can be done, but it will not stand (scrutiny) in the court....Do we want to fool people or grant reservations genuinely?" he asked. 

Taj Mahal Case: Top Court To Hear Plea Seeking Heritage City Tag For Agra
  • The Supreme Court today said it would hear on August 28 an application, filed in the matter related to protection and preservation of the Taj Mahal, which has sought to declare Agra as a heritage city.

    A bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta was told by environmentalist M C Mehta, the petitioner in the case, that nothing has been done by the authorities to prevent encroachment in and around the historic monument.

    He referred to his application filed earlier in which he had sought a direction to declare Agra a heritage city.

    "Let Agra be declared a heritage city," he told the bench, adding that authorities have failed to comply with the directions passed by the top court in the matter.

    The counsel appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government told the bench that Mr Mehta had filed the application around 10 years ago and the state had filed a reply earlier.

    The counsel submitted that state government would file a fresh affidavit on the plea giving details of the present status.

    However, the bench said it had made it clear yesterday that affidavits would be filed in the matter only by the joint secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the commissioner of Agra Division and the director general of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

    "We had made it clear that we are not going to entertain any affidavit filed by anybody else except these three officials. New affidavits have to be filed only by these three persons," the bench said.

    Attorney General K K Venugopal had yesterday told the bench that the joint secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Commissioner of Agra Division would be the officers responsible for the maintenance of the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ).

    The bench was also apprised that the director general of the ASI would be responsible for the maintenance of Taj Mahal.

    The TTZ is an area of about 10,400 sq km spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur district of Rajasthan.

    During the hearing today, Mr Mehta told the bench that even after top court's orders, encroachment in the area was not removed.

    The bench, while listing the matter for further hearing on August 28, said that authorities could file supplementary affidavits giving the latest details.

    The top court has been monitoring development in the area to protect the Taj Mahal, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal at Agra.

    Its construction was completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases of the project for another 10 years. The ivory white marble mausoleum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Collective Leadership Would Take On BJP In 2019, Says Mamata Banerjee
  • Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said today that there would be a collective leadership of the opposition front to take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, indicating that the proposed coalition may not name a prime ministerial candidate ahead of the polls.

    Ms Banerjee, who is on a three-day visit to Delhi, will meet Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and other prominent opposition leaders tomorrow to personally invite them for her rally on January 19 in Kolkata aimed at showcasing opposition unity.

    "There will be a collective leadership to take on BJP in the coming Lok Sabha polls in 2019. I will meet all the opposition leaders and invite them for the rally. I will also meet Congress leader Sonia Gandhi tomorrow," she told reporters.

     The Trinamool Congress leader was asked whether she could be the prime ministerial candidate for the proposed anti-BJP front. Ms Banerjee is considered a strong contender and the January 19 rally is also seen as an opportunity to consolidate her position within the opposition fold.

     The Congress had earlier given indications that it is not averse to accepting a nominee for the top post from any other party who does not have the backing of the RSS.

     The BJP has ridiculed the proposed opposition alliance, saying it may not materialise at all as leaders of its various constituents harbour prime ministerial aspirations.

    While addressing a conclave organised by Catholic Bishops Conference in Delhi, the West Bengal chief minister cautioned the BJP and said that politics of intolerance would not be tolerated in the country.

    "BJP can do the politics of dividing the people in states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh. But they can never do it in West Bengal. They also cannot do it in states like Andhra Pradesh or Karnataka as leaders like Chandrababu Naidu and HD Kumaraswamy are there," she asserted.

    Asserting that she would never allow a "divided motherland", Banerjee said the BJP should remember that "they (BJP) were not there few years back" and claimed "they will not be in the coming year too".

    Lashing out at the BJP, she claimed that it was trying to attack the Dalits, minorities and tribals, whereas her politics was about taking them along.

    Later she went to meet former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, Ram Jethmalani and disgruntled BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, who have been vocal critics of PM Modi's government, to invite them for her rally.

    "I invited them to participate in the rally in Kolkata. The people who fight against the ruling party win," she said after meeting the leaders at Jethmalani's residence.

Names Of Members Of Same Family Missing In Assam Final Draft
  • Exclusion of names of family members in the final NRC draft in Assam has emerged as a major concern for many among the over 40 lakh applicants whose names did not figure in the list.

    Several people whose names were not in the draft have claimed that they had submitted the same set of documents as their family members to establish their legacy date, but were left out.

    Prominent personalities from the Barak Valley whose names are missing from the draft include Archana Paul, the wife of BJP MLA from Cachar Dilip Paul, and former Congress legislator Ataur Rahman Mazarbhuiya.

    The names of AIUDF's Cachar unit president Samimul Islam and his family members also do not figure in the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC).

    "This is not the final list and there is no need to panic. My wife's name is not in the list and she will file her claim in due process. We should wait for the final NRC," Paul said.

    Congress MLA from Karimganj (N), Kamalakhya De Purkayastha said while it is true that claims, objections and corrections can be made, exclusion of the names of some family members is "very unfair" and the NRC process has caused "immense harassment" to the poor.

    "The draft is full of errors and is aimed at harassing people, particularly the poor who mostly work as daily wage earners and lack the necessary resources to travel to NRC Seva Kendras," Purkayastha said.

    Forty-year-old Saira Begum, who hails from Bilasipara but works as a domestic help in Guwahati, said her name along with that of her daughter's has appeared in the draft but excludes the name of her husband, who was declared as the head of the family during application and that of her two sons.

    "We were shocked to find that his name is missing from the draft. My husband and sons have to now go again to the village where they had applied to get their names included. Our documents were the same and in fact, I had to establish my marriage to my husband," she said.

    Congress leader Bobbeeta Sharma pointed out that at least those names for which there were no doubts should not have been left out.

    "The names of many, both common and prominent personalities have been left out and that is why we have a huge excluded list of 40 lakh. My husband's name was missing from the first list and has been included in the final draft but with spelling mistakes. These are irritants," she said.

    The work has been done carelessly and should not have happened in such an important matter, Shrama alleged.

    The head of Bengali department at the Cotton State University, Prasanta Chakraborty, said the names of his two elder brothers have been included in the final draft but those of their wives and children are missing.

    "Names of my family - mine, my wife and my son's were in the first list. The names of my brothers in the final draft. But the names of other family members are missing though we have the same legacy," he said.

    This is probably due to lack of competence of the people working at the ground level and maybe also due to the pressure under which they had to work to complete the draft within the stipulated period, Chakraborty claimed.

    "The huge number of 40 lakh excluded will definitely come down and we hope that the claims and objections are checked impartially so that genuine citizens are not harassed," he  added.

    There are many more who are facing the same plight and are now waiting for the authorities to inform them of the reason behind the omission of their names.

    The next step will be to file their claim in another prescribed form which will be available from August 30 to September 28.

Congress Helped Me Expose Opposition's Hollowness: PM Modi On Trust Vote
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today took a jibe at the Congress over the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha against his government, saying he was "thankful" to the party as it allowed him to expose the opposition's hollowness.

    In the first BJP parliamentary party meeting in the ongoing Monsoon Session, Prime Minister Modi said the motion brought by the opposition underscored its political immaturity and lack of understanding and substance, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told reporters.

    The meeting also saw top party leaders, including Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Sushma Swaraj, besides BJP president Amit Shah felicitating the prime minister and also speaking on the matter.

    Party sources said Mr Shah targeted the opposition, saying such a motion is brought when a government loses its majority or there is unrest in the country, but there was no reason for it to sponsor such a move, which was comprehensively defeated with 326 members voting against it and only 126 supporting.

    Ms Swaraj made a reference to the wide margin to attack the opposition, while Mr Gadkari said it was spreading confusion over a host of issues among the masses and it lacked a real agenda.

    The prime minister said the members of the BJP and its allies should be felicitated for the win.

    He also praised Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh's speech on the motion and asked party members to take it to the masses, Mr Kumar said.

    PM Modi was told by people during his recent tour to the African countries about the motion against his government, Mr Kumar said.

Business Affairs

UIDAI tells people to refrain from posting Aadhaar numbers on social media
  • Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has issued an advisory, asking people to refrain from posting their Aadhaar numbers on the internet or social media sites, and posing challenges to others. Indiscriminate and unwanted publication of any personally sensitive information, whether Aadhaar or any other, may render the person concerned vulnerable and, therefore, should be avoided, cautioned UIDAI. The UIDAI advisory comes two days after TRAI Chairman RS Sharma courted controversy for posting his Aadhaar number on Twitter as a challenge. 

    In a statement released on Tuesday, UIDAI said the advisory came in the backdrop of some news items appearing on social media reporting some people publicly posting their Aadhaar numbers on social media platforms and posing challenges to others. Such activities are not in accordance with the law and people should refrain from posting such things, said Aadhaar statutory authority.

    Aadhaar is a unique identity number, which can be authenticated to prove one's identity for various services, benefits, and subsidies. UIDAI in its regular media campaigns have been consistently making people aware about not to display or publish or share their Aadhaar numbers in the public domain, the statement said.

    "People should not display or publish their Aadhaar number in public. Aadhaar number is personally sensitive information like bank account number, passport number, PAN number, etc., which should be strictly shared only on a need basis for a legitimate use for establishing identity and for legitimate transactions," said the statement.

    Also, as per the Aadhaar Act, 2016, and IT (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011, and Justice Srikrishna's proposed Data Protection Bill, personally sensitive information should not be published or shared publicly.

    The authority also said that doing Aadhaar authentication through somebody else's Aadhaar number or using someone else's Aadhaar number for any purpose might amount to impersonation, and thereby a criminal offence under the Aadhaar Act and Indian Penal Code.

    Any person indulging in such acts or abetting or inciting others to do so makes themselves liable for prosecution and penal action under the law. Therefore, people should refrain from such acts.

    On July 28, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman RS Sharma had shared his Aadhaar number on Twitter, which went viral. And soon after, ethical hackers revealed that they found a host of information about the TRAI chief, including his phone numbers, residential address, PAN number, voter ID, even his phone model and Air India frequent flyer ID. Sharma, a former-UIDAI Director General, who vehemently supports the Aadhaar programme, has rubbished security concerns around Aadhaar, which he thinks is fully safe. In an op-ed on Tuesday, he said, "I thought about it and decided I should have the courage to act on my belief."

Call drop: Trai sets new call quality parameters for 4G networks
  • Telecom regulator today released new parameters for assessing call quality on the 4G network with a view to checking problems like voice mute faced by customers. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has decided to measure call quality on the 4G network in terms of data packets -- a parameter different from benchmarks used for assessing call drops on 2G and 3G networks.

    The regulator has mandated telecom operators to ensure that not more than or equal to 2 per cent of total data packets transmitted during uplink and downlink of calls should be lost so that customers get to experience better call quality. New norms would be applicable from October 1.

    Voice calls on the 4G network are made using data as the entire network is developed using Internet protocol (IP) technology. In case of 2G and 3G networks, customers experience automatic disconnection of calls which is called as 'call drop'. However, since the advent of the 4G network, customers often do not get to hear the voice from the other side due to data loss and disconnect call on their own. Such disconnection does not qualify as a call drop under the norms for 2G and 3G networks.

    Additionally, Trai also directed telecom operators to conduct a field test for ascertaining the reason for the delay in setting up of call on the 4G network every quarter starting October 1. "Authority considered the views of stakeholders and decided to introduce two new network parameters for QoS regulations 'DownLink (DL) Packet Drop Rate or DL-PDR' and 'UpLink (UL) Packet Drop Rate or UL-PDR', to measure overall packet loss or drop in both downlink and uplink at PDCP (Packet Data Convergence Protocol) layer," Trai said.

    When a person speaks the voice is converted to data and is sent to target destination or to the device of the person on the other end. " Guidelines for evaluation of radio interface technologies for IMT Advance', a user is defined to have experienced a voice outage if less than 98 per cent of the packets have been delivered successfully. In view of above, Authority decided to prescribe benchmarks as less than or equal to 2 per cent for both the parameters," Trai said.

Reliance Industries overtakes TCS as India's most-valued company
  • The behemoth headed by India's richest man Mukesh Ambani has just snatched back the tag of the country's most valued company in terms of market capitalisation. As of 1 pm today, the m-cap of Reliance Industries (RIL) stood at Rs  7,47,644.67 crore, overtaking Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which stood at Rs 7,39,967.87 crore.

    The IT bellwether had first replaced RIL as the most valued firm more than five years ago. And, in the bargain, Ambani's net worth has also shot up, since he holds a 44.5 per cent stake in the company.

    According to Bloomberg data, he is now worth $45.9 billion, $1.6 billion richer in less than three weeks. RIL's stock has been on a roll since yesterday, after the company reported its highest ever quarterly net profit.

    The blue-chip scrip had jumped 2.4 per cent yesterday to touch a lifetime high of Rs 1,157.55 apiece on the BSE, and today it has set a new record, hitting a fresh peak of Rs 1181.35 in intraday trade.

    The stock is currently trading at Rs 1,179.90 per share, up 2.63 per cent. In comparison, TCS' shares are trading 0.72 per cent lower at Rs 1,931 apiece on the BSE.

    To remind you, the oil-to-telecom conglomerate reported consolidated net profit of Rs 9,459 crore, or Rs 16 per share, in the April-June quarter, nearly 18 per cent higher than the corresponding period of the previous fiscal.

    Revenue was up by 56.5 per cent at Rs 141,699 crore and gross refining margins (GRMs) stood at $10.5 per barrel, compared to $11.90 per barrel in the same quarter last year. The brokerages are bullish on RIL post the strong Q1 numbers.

    Goldman Sachs has the highest target of Rs 1,400 on the scrip while Nomura India's Rs 1,220 is the lowest among major foreign brokerages. Other brokerages such as CLSA (Rs 1,365), Citi (Rs 1,300) and HSBC (Rs 1,300) also see further upside on the stock. So shareholders have plenty of reason to bring out the bubbly.

Sensex, Nifty close at record highs as RIL, HUL, Hero MotoCorp rebound
  • The market rebounded in last 30 minutes of trade to close at new life-time highs on late buying in Reliance Industries, HUL, Infosys and Hero MotoCorp. Extending their record run for the seventh day in a row, the Sensex and Nifty hit their fresh all-time highs of 37,644 and 11,366, respectively.

    Later, the Sensex closed at 37,606, up 0.30% or 112 points. Nifty rose nearly 37 points or 0.33% to end at 11,356 level.

    A recovery in rupee, unabated buying by domestic institutional investors (DIIs) and encouraging earnings by blue-chips contributed to the uptrend, brokers said.

    Traders were cautious ahead of RBI's monetary policy outcome tomorrow.

    Reliance Industries was the top gainer by climbing 3.14 per cent to close at record Rs 1,185.85. RIL today also regained its status as the country's most valued firm by market capitalisation (m-cap), replacing Tata Group's TCS from the top slot.

    Hero MotoCorp rose by 2.77 per cent followed by HUL that ended 2.52 per cent higher on the Sensex.

    Of 30 Sensex stocks, 18 closed higher.

    Axis Bank was the top Sensex loser after the private lender reported 46 per cent fall in net profit for April-June quarter. The stock dropped 3.23 per cent to settle at Rs 550.10 on BSE. During the day, it went down by 3.59 per cent to Rs 548.

    The company's market valuation diminished by Rs 4,708.84 crore to Rs 1,41,265.16 crore.

    Axis Bank on Monday reported a 46 per cent fall in net profit to Rs 701.09 crore for June quarter due to increase in provisioning for bad loans.

    The lender's asset quality worsened as gross non-performing assets (NPAs) rose to 6.52 per cent as on June 30 of this year, from 5.03 per cent on June 30, 2017.

    VK Sharma, Head Private Client Group and Capital Market Strategy at HDFC Securities said, "Both the Nifty and the Sensex trotted to a new high for the fourth session running. The Nifty rose 37 points or 0.33% at  11,357. It was also the 7th day of positive advance decline ratios , a feat which has not been seen this calendar year. The markets were unusually confident ahead of the RBI Meet.

    Even the fiscal deficit for the first quarter which accounted for 68.7% of the entire year did not bother the markets. The higher expenditure was on account of higher capital expenditure by 29% as compared to 22% of year ago. Last year, the quarter's deficit had accounted for around 80.8% of the annual deficit."

    Q1 earnings

    Bright Q1 earnings too improved investor sentiment.

    Shares of IT services firm Tech Mahindra surged 4 per cent after the company reported 12.4 per cent rise in consolidated net profit for the first quarter ended June 2018.

    The company's scrip gained 3.93 per cent or 25.70 points to close at Rs 680.30 on the BSE. Intra-day, it jumped 4.52 per cent to Rs 684.20.

    On the NSE, shares of the company rose by 3.74 per cent to end at Rs 680.

    Tech Mahindra reported consolidated net profit at Rs 897.9 crore for the first quarter ended June 2018 compared with net profit of Rs 798.6 crore in the corresponding quarter of the last fiscal.

    Radhakishan Damani-led Avenue Supermarts' stock too closed higher by 3.77% or 60 points to 1,652 level on the BSE. The owner of retail chain D-Mart clocked a 43% rise in net profit to Rs 251 crore for the quarter ending June compared to Rs 175 crore net profit in the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal.  

    Market breadth was positive with 1494 stocks closing higher compared with 1159 ending in the red on BSE. 155 stocks were unchanged.

    Meanwhile, FIIs sold shares worth a net of Rs 234.04 crore on Monday, while DIIs bought shares worth a net of Rs 48.58 crore, provisional data showed.

    For the month, Sensex rose 6.16%, while the Nifty 50 advanced 5.99%. BSE MidCap and SmallCap rose 0.33% and 0.66%, respectively.

    Global markets

    World markets are mixed Tuesday ahead of key economic releases from the 19-country eurozone, which has come to an agreement with the US on holding off on new tariffs.

    Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent in early trading to 7,709.97 while Germany's DAX fell 0.2 percent to 12,767.07. France's CAC 40 shed 0.2 percent to 5,482.26. Wall Street was set for a subdued open, with Dow futures slipping less than 0.1 percent to 25,279. S&P 500 futures rose 0.1 percent to 2,805.70.

    Markets were mostly higher after the Bank of Japan largely maintained the status quo while allowing some flexibility to achieve yield targets. Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose less than 0.1 percent to 22,553.72 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.1 percent to 2,295.26.

    The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.3 percent to 2,876.40. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index bucked the regional trend, falling 0.5 percent to 28,583.01. Australia's S&P ASX 200 added less than 0.1 percent to 6,280.20. Shares fell in Indonesia but were higher in Taiwan and Singapore.

Tata Motors posts net loss of Rs 1,862 crore in Q1
  • Tata Motors Group today reported a consolidated net loss of Rs 1,862.57 crore for the quarter ended June 30, 2018. The company had reported a net profit of Rs 3,199.93 crore in the April-June quarter of 2017-18.

    Total revenue from operations, however, rose to Rs 67,081.29 crore as compared with Rs 59,818.22 crore in the year-ago period, Tata Motors said in a regulatory filing. On standalone basis, the company reported a net profit of Rs 1,187.65 crore. It had reported a net loss of Rs 463.14 crore in the first quarter of 2017-18.

    Total revenue from operations grew to Rs 16,803.11 crore during the quarter from Rs 10,366.19 crore in the same period of 2017-18. Standalone volume rose 59 per cent to 1,76,868 units driven by robust sales of commercial and passenger vehicles. JLR revenue however declined 6.7 per cent to 5.2 billion pounds.

    Commenting on the domestic business, Tata Group Chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran said the company continues to gain market share while strongly improving profitability in both commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles.

    "With regards to JLR, we faced multiple challenges including temporary issues like China duty impact as well as the market issues like diesel concerns in the UK and Europe," he added. Despite these challenges, the company remains committed to delivering the planned margins it outlined earlier this year, Chandrasekaran said. Tata Motors shares today settled 1.18 per cent down at Rs 264.15 per scrip on BSE.

General Awareness

    Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018
    • What to study?

      For Prelims: Highlights of the Bill.
      For Mains: Need for such harsh penalties- issues associated.

      Context: The Lok Sabha has passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The main highlight of the bill is that it seeks to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to introduce a new provision to sentence convicts of such crimes punishment of death.

      Highlights of the Bill:

      Punishment:

      It provides for stringent punishment including death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years.
      The minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
      In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which means jail term till the convicts’ “natural life”.
      The punishment for gang rape of a girl below 16 years will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of life of the convict.
      Stringent punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided with the minimum jail term being 20 years which may go up to life in prison or death sentence. Gang rape of a girl under 12 years of age will invite punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death.

      Speedy investigation:


      The measure also provides for speedy investigations and trial. The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within two months.
      The deadline for the completion of trial in all rape cases will be two months. A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.

      Bail related provisions:

      There will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years. It has also been prescribed that a court has to give notice of 15 days to a public prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age.

      Need for a stringent law:

      The number of reported cases of rapes of children increased in India by 82% in 2016 compared to 2015. A climate of violence, social and economic insecurity, alienation, and a progressive undermining of the status of women and children seem to have given an impetus to carry out crimes against women and children.

      Therefore, the legal system must give a clear signal that we as a nation consider the rape of children below the age of 12 as among the most heinous of offences. Making such crimes punishable by capital punishment certainly gives such a signal.

      Is it sufficient?

      Statistics have not been able to prove or disprove the efficacy of capital punishment as a deterrent. While the U.K. has seen an increase in murders since 1965 when capital punishment for murder was removed from the statute book, Canada has not seen any such impact since it abolished the death penalty in 1976. The underlying socio-economic conditions in a society that cause crimes seem to have as much of an impact on the increase or decrease of crimes as the law does.

      What is needed?

      It is not the severity of the punishment but the certainty and uniformity of it which will reduce crime. Even for capital punishment to work as a deterrent, the fairness of the investigation, the certainty of conviction, and the speed of the trial are vital. With the police and judicial independence being under a cloud, especially after the incidents in Kathua and Unnao, the deterrent value of capital punishment seems diminished unless police reforms and fast-track courts are a part of the package.

      Facts for Prelims:

      Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have passed a Bill providing for death penalty to those convicted of raping girls of 12 years and below.

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