Current Affairs 15th April 2023 for UPSC Prelims Exam
Context: Supreme Court has directed States and other authorities not to delay their decision on mercy petitions filed by death row convicts.
About Mercy Petition
- Mercy Petition involves saving an innocent person from being punished due to miscarriage of justice or in cases of doubtful conviction.
- The concept of Mercy Petition is followed in many nations like USA, UK, and Canada etc. including India.
- As per the Constitutional framework in India:
- Under Article 72, the President has the power to grant pardons and decide on mercy petitions.
- Under Article 161 of the Indian Constitution, the Governor of State also possess the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites and remission or suspend, remit or commute the sentence of a convict against state law.
Process of Filing a Mercy Petition
- There is no statutory written procedure for dealing with mercy petitions.
- In practice, after extinguishing all the reliefs in the court of law, either the convict in person or his relative on his behalf may submit a written petition to the President.
- A convict under the sentence of death is allowed to make the petition within a period of seven days.
- The petitions are received by the President’s secretariat on behalf of the President, which is then forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs for their comments and recommendations.
- The Home Ministry in consultation with the concerned State Government discusses the merits of the petition.
- After the consultation, recommendations are made by the Home Minister and then, the petition is sent back to the President for his/her decision.
Supreme Court Judgment
- Supreme Court in Ranga Billa Case: Pardon is entirely a discretionary remedy and grant or rejection of it need not be reasoned.
- Supreme Court in Kehar Singh v. Union of India, 1989: SC held that the grant of pardon by the President is an act of grace and therefore, cannot be claimed as a matter of right.
- Dhananjoy Chatterjee alias Dhana v State of West Bengal, 1994: The powers of mercy petition have to be exercised by the President/Governor on the aid and advice of the respective Council of Ministers.
- President’s pardon/rejection/delay is subjected to judicial review. However, the court does not interfere if the process of the decision taken by the President under Article 72 was not arbitrary or unreasonable.
Context: A forthcoming NISAR satellite, will map the most earthquake-prone regions in the Himalayas with unprecedented regularity.
About NISAR Satellite
- NISAR is one of its kind joint collaboration between the space agencies of India and the USA. It is one of the world’s most expensive Earth imaging satellite.
- NISAR is a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) observatory and will map the entire globe in 12 days.
- The launch of NISAR is expected to take in January 2024 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre into a near-polar orbit.
- Equipments: The synthetic aperture radar is highly sophisticated equipment used to produce extremely high-resolution images.
- It can penetrate clouds and darkness, to allow NISAR collect data at day and night all throughout the year.
- NISAR satellite is a two-frequency RADAR, an L-band 24 centimetre RADAR and S-band 13 centimetre. ISRO is building S-band and the latter is built by NASA.
- Apart from the L-band, NASA is providing the radar reflector antenna, the deployable boom, a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers, a solid-state recorder, and a payload data subsystem.
- ISRO will be providing the spacecraft bus, the launch vehicle, and associated launch services and satellite mission operations.
Significance of NISAR
- Scientists would be able to collect information with the help of satellite for around three years.
- NISAR will help in creating a data bank that will contain all the necessary information related to Earth’s surface changes, natural hazards, and ecosystem disturbances.
- The observations of the planet’s forest and agriculture regions will improve scientist’s knowledge of carbon exchange between the atmosphere and plant communities, reducing uncertainties in models for future climate.
- It will help in improving agriculture management and food security by providing information about crop growth, soil moisture, and land-use changes.
- It will help in understanding climate change, improve risk management in case of natural disasters, help in infrastructure monitoring, and impact of climate change.
World Food Programme (WFP)
Context: India has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) for humanitarian food assistance.
About World Food Programme (WFP)
- It was founded in 1961 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
- Its headquarters is in Rome, Italy.
- Funding: It is funded by voluntary donations principally from governments of the world, and also from corporations and private donors.
- Objective: It is an international organization that works in the field of hunger alleviation and food security.
- Most of their work is concentrated in conflict-affected countries.
- Significance of its role: It has won the 2020 Nobel Prize for Peace, for its work in the field of combating hunger and ‘its efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict’.
- It works in over 80 countries to bring life-saving food to people displaced by conflict and made destitute by disasters.
- WFP has been functioning in India since 1963. It supports the Government of India in its various food safety initiatives.
Context: Recently, RBI issued a framework for the acceptance of green deposits by banks and NBFCs
About Green Deposits
- A green deposit refers to an interest-bearing deposit received by an RE (Regulated Entity) for a fixed period, with the proceeds earmarked for allocation towards green finance.
- The investment in Green Deposit will go towards financing eligible businesses and projects that promote the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient, and sustainable economy.
- Allocation of proceeds raised from green deposits in India should be based on the official Indian green taxonomy.
- Renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transportation, climate change adaptation, sustainable water and waste management, and green buildings, are among the list of projects/activities where REs could allocate the proceeds raised through green deposits.
Features of RBI Green Deposit Framework
- The Green Deposit framework can be applied to Scheduled Commercial Banks, which also includes Small Finance Banks and all deposit-taking Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), including Housing Finance Companies. However, it does not apply to Regional Rural Banks, Local Area Banks, and Payments Banks.
- Regulated entities will need to allocate the funds generated from green deposits towards a set of environmentally friendly activities and projects that promote energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint, enhance climate resilience and/or adaptation, and contribute to the development of natural ecosystems and biodiversity.
- Some of the projects are excluded under the RBI green framework like projects involving new or existing extraction, production, and distribution of fossil fuels, including improvements and upgrades, nuclear power, direct waste incineration, alcohol, weapons, tobacco, gaming, or palm oil industries, renewable energy projects generating energy from biomass using feedstock originating from protected areas, landfill projects and hydropower plants larger than 25 MW have been excluded from green financing.
- In order to guarantee the efficient allocation of green deposits, Regulated Entities (REs) must establish a Financing Framework (FF) that has been approved by the Board. The green deposits must be denominated solely in Indian Rupees.Furthermore, the utilization of funds obtained through green deposits by REs in a fiscal year will be subject to annual independent third-party verification/assurance.
Context: Recently, A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has held that the Lok Ayukta cannot investigate matters relating to the selection of candidates by political parties for contesting elections.
- The Lokayukta is an anti-corruption authority or ombudsman at state level which deals with corruption and mal-administration complaints made by the general public.
- An Ombudsman is generally regarded as a person who is appointed to protect citizens against any form of maladministration.
- The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 provides for the establishment of Lokpal at the center; and Lokayuktas at the state levels to inquire into allegations of corruption against public functionaries, and for related matters.
- Even much before the enactment of the Act, many states in India had already setup the institutions of Lokayuktas.
The Origin and Evolution of the office of Lokayukta:
The office of Lokayukta at a Glance
|Term of office||
Context: Recently, a stretch of the beach at Bheemili near Visakhapatnam glows due to bioluminescence.
- Bioluminescence is light produced by a chemical reaction within a living organism.
- Bioluminescence is a type of chemiluminescence, which is simply the term for a chemical reaction where light is produced. (Bioluminescence is chemiluminescence that takes place inside a living organism.)
- Bioluminescence is a “cold light means less than 20% of the light generates thermal radiation or heat.
- Most bioluminescent organisms are found in the ocean. These bioluminescent marine species include fish, bacteria, and jellies. Some bioluminescent organisms, including fireflies and fungi, are found on land. There are almost no bioluminescent organisms native to freshwater habitats.
- Bioluminescence occurs due to the presence of single-celled organisms called dinoflagellates that produce light when they are disturbed.
- The chemical reaction that results in bioluminescence requires two unique chemicals: luciferin and either luciferase or photoprotein. Luciferin is the compound that actually produces light.
- In a chemical reaction, luciferin is called the substrate. The bioluminescent color (yellow in fireflies, greenish in lanternfish) is a result of the arrangement of luciferin molecules.