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Latest Current Affairs 16 February 2021

Latest Current Affairs 15 February 2021
February 15, 2021
Latest Current Affairs 17 February 2021
February 17, 2021

16 February 2021



A) More ‘toolkit’ arrest warrants. 

Non-bailable warrants have been issued against two persons allegedly found to be involved in the toolkit matter, Delhi Police said on Monday. Warrants have been issued against Mumbai-based activist Nikita Jacob, and another activist Shantanu Muluk. They both, along with Bengaluru-based climate change activist Disha Ravi, were involved in creating the ‘toolkit’ on farmers’ protest and spreading it further, Delhi Police said on Monday. It is not yet clear whether this ‘toolkit’, which first came to public attention when it was shared on Twitter by climate activist Greta Thunberg, is banned in India. Nor is it clear whether the government has officially made it illegal for activists or citizens to either share this ‘toolkit’ or support the ongoing farmers’ protests in India. The police have claimed that the idea behind the ‘toolkit’ was to tarnish the image of the government through a global campaign. Joint Commissioner of Police (Cyber Crime) Prem Nath said that Poetic Justice Foundation founder M.O. Dhaliwal contacted Nikita Jacob through a colleague identified as Puneet, resident of Canada. The motive was to ensure that on Republic Day, Global Day of Action was observed followed by a Twitter storm, Nath said. Police said that on January 11, a Zoom meeting was organised which was attended by Jacob, Dhaliwal, Muluk, and others and it was during this meeting that it was decided that this campaign should be made global and to create unrest amongst the farmers. Police claimed that probe has shown that Jacob, Muluk and Ravi created the ‘toolkit document’ and further spread it. Disha had sent this toolkit to U.S. based climate change activist Greta Thunberg on Telegram. Preliminary probe revealed that a lot of data has been deleted from Disha’s phone. Her telegram search also reveals that on February 3, toolkit links were deleted. Based on this evidence, her arrest was made, the Commissioner said. Police said that non-bailable warrants have been issued against Jacob and Shantanu. Sources said that a Special Cell team had visited Jacob’s residence but could not question her at the time. Delhi Police have also arrested 22-year-old climate change activist Disha Ravi from Bengaluru who allegedly edited the toolkit, police said. A Delhi Court on Sunday sent her to five-day police custody.

B) ‘Toolkit’ arrests: Lawyer Nikita Jacob seeks anticipatory bail. 

Advocate Nikita Jacob on Monday moved the Bombay High Court, seeking a transit anticipatory bail after the Delhi Police issued a non-bailable warrant against her in connection with the ‘toolkit’ tweeted by 18-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg. Jacob’s associate Shantanu Muluk also moved the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court seeking a transit anticipatory bail in the same matter. Both their pleas will be heard tomorrow. Jacob’s plea mentions that she has not received a copy of the complaint or the FIR, if filed by any authority, and when she tried to procure the same, it was denied to her. On February 11, the Cyber Cell Unit personnel, accompanied by constables from the Vanrai Police Station, came to Jacob’s house with a search warrant and seized personal documents and electronic gadgets, which had confidential information protected by attorney-client privilege. Her plea states that some trollers and bots are circulating her personal information like email ids, phone numbers and pictures on social media. An entity named, ‘Legal Rights Observatory’ appears to have filed a false and baseless complaint with the Delhi Police and seeks to pin the blame for violence on January 26, 2021 upon her. Times Now, ABP news channels reached her house based on this information. Legal Rights Observatory is a body affiliated with the RSS. Jacob has volunteered in an environmental movement by the name of Extinction Rebellion that helps create awareness about various environmental causes.

C) Jurists raise questions over manner of Disha Ravi’s arrest. 

While the Delhi police have claimed that all norms and procedures were followed when they arrested 22-year-old climate change activist Disha A. Ravi from her residence in Bengaluru on Saturday, several leading advocates and jurists have raised concerns over reported violation of norms and guidelines laid down by the Ministry of Home Affairs and multiple judgments. Ravi was arrested at her residence in North Bengaluru on Saturday by Delhi Police and immediately flown to the nation’s capital, where she was produced before the magistrate on Sunday afternoon. A group of lawyers petitioned the Bengaluru Police on Monday citing the 2012 guidelines from the MHA. The practice of police arresting a person outside the State, but bringing them back and producing them before a magistrate in their own jurisdiction is not in accordance with the law, the MHA guidelines said. Further, Section 80 of CrPC stipulates that the arrested person must be produced before the magistrate within the jurisdiction of arrest, which must be followed in every case, the guidelines said. However, this has not been followed in this case, lawyers claim. Ravi allegedly did not have an opportunity to seek legal counsel and argued her own case when she was remanded into police custody for five days in Delhi on Sunday – this is another aspect that has come under severe criticism. Being ‘arrested’ from Bengaluru, she should have been produced before the competent court in Bengaluru itself for obtaining transit remand since she is being moved between States, but was not. She also did not have an opportunity to seek legal counsel nor was one provided to her, in breach of Article 22. These actions of Delhi police have made a complete mockery of the procedure established by law in depriving Disha Ravi of her right to life and liberty, said a statement from Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms.

D) WhatsApp’s new policy: Indians apprehensive about privacy, says CJI

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A. Bobde on Monday said Indians have grave apprehensions about privacy from Facebook and WhatsApp. People have grave apprehensions about loss of privacy. You may be a two or three trillion company, but people value their privacy more. It is our duty to protect people’s privacy, Chief Justice Bobde, heading a three-judge Bench, addressed lawyers appearing for the social media/instant messaging giants. They are telling them what they heard and read – People think that if A sends a WhatsApp message to B and B to C. The circuit of messages is revealed to Facebook, the CJI addressed senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Arvind Datar, for the companies. Both lawyers vehemently denied this as misinformation. Chief Justice Bobde said that say that on oath. They are issuing notice. File a response. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the government, stated that this is an apprehension of the nation. Privacy is part of their fundamental rights. They [WhatsApp and Facebook] cannot compromise their privacy. They cannot differentiate. The hearing concerned the new privacy policy introduced by WhatsApp on January 4. The allegation is that it scraps users’ ‘opt-out policy’. The user would have to, according to the policy, compulsorily consent to share their data with Facebook and its group, the petitioners have alleged. The deadline for the roll-out of the policy was February 8 initially, but it was extended to May 15. Sibal denied allegations that WhatsApp was treating Europeans and Indians differently. Europe has a special law [General Data Protection Regulations], India doesn’t. The new privacy policy was applicable to the rest of the world except Europe. Mr. Datar said the General Data Protection Regulations was followed by probably 20 countries in the world. Allegations of differential treatment being accorded to Indians were unfounded.

E) India opens up its mapping, geospatial data for general use.

India has so far been reliant on foreign resources for mapping technologies and services.India has so far been reliant on foreign resources for mapping technologies and services. India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) on Monday opened access to its geospatial data and services, including maps, for all Indian entities by saying, What is readily available globally does not need to be regulated. The move is said to release a lot of data that is currently restricted and not available for free. The update represents a major change in the country’s mapping policy, which earlier required individuals and companies to seek approval for use of mapping data under the Geospatial Information Regulation Act, 2016. Geospatial data includes location information about natural or man-made, physical or imaginary features, whether above the ground or below, boundaries, points of interest, natural phenomena, mobility data, weather patterns, and other statistical information. Liberalisation of the mapping industry and democratisation of existing datasets will spur domestic innovation and enable Indian companies to compete in the global mapping ecosystem by leveraging modern geospatial technologies, the Ministry said in a release. The announcement comes at a time when advances in mapping technology, including aerial vehicles, mobile mapping systems, LIDAR and RADAR sensors, and satellite-based remote sensing techniques, are giving a lift to innovation in eCommerce, logistics and urban transportation sectors.


A) ‘Israeli missile strikes in Syria kill 9’

Israeli missile strikes against several targets near Syria’s capital Damascus killed at least nine pro-regime militia fighters early on Monday, a Britain-based war monitor said. Nine Iran-backed militia fighters were killed in Israeli strikes targeting arms de pots, including missile stores, around Damascus, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Observatory said all the fighters killed were non-Arab pro-government forces, but it said it could not determine if they were Afghan, Pakistani or Iranian. Syrian air defences intercepted a sizeable number of the missiles, but many hit their targets and caused material damage, added the monitor, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria for its reports. The attack began shortly after midnight and lasted for nearly half an hour, it said. Syrian state media also reported the strikes, but said that air defences had intercepted most of the missils. An Israeli army spokesperson said. Since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war in 2011, Israel has routinely carried out raids in the country, mostly targeting Iranian forces and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters as well as government troops. 

B) Nigeria’s Okonjo-lweala appointed WTO head. 

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjolweala was appointed on Monday as the first female and first African head of the beleaguered World Trade Organization (WTO), saying a stronger WTO would be vital for the global COVID-19 recovery. The WTO called a virtual special General Council meeting at which member states officially selected the former Nigerian Finance Minister and World Bank veteran as the global trade body’s new Director-General. She will take up her post on March 1 and her term, which is renewable, will run until August 31, 2025. The near-paralysed institution desperately needs a kick-start something Ms. Okonjo-lweala immediately addressed after being confirmed in the job. A strong WTO is vital if we are to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 66-year-old economist said in a statement.

C) After impeachment acquittal, Trump looks to reassert himself. 

Donald Trump took in the win at Mar-a-Lago, surrounded by friends and family. His lawyers celebrated with hugs and smiles. One joked, they are going to Disney World! Now acquitted in his second Senate impeachment trial, Mr. Trump is preparing for the next phase of his post-presidency life. He is expected to re-emerge from a self-imposed hibernation at his club in Palm Beach, Florida, and is eyeing ways to reassert his power. But after being barred from Twitter, the former President lacks the social media bullhorn that fuelled his political rise. And he’s confronting a Republican Party deeply divided over the legacy of his jarring final days in office, culminating in the January 6 storming of the Capitol. Mr. Trump remains popular among the GOP base, but many Republicans in Washington have cooled to him. Never before have so many members of a President’s party seven GOP Senators, in his case voted for his removal in a Senate trial. Friends and allies expect Mr. Trump to resume friendly media interviews after weeks of silence. He has met with political aides to discuss efforts to help Republicans try to take control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterms elections. He remains fixated on exacting revenge on Republicans who supported his impeachment or resisted his efforts to overturn the results of the November election won by Democrat Joe Biden.

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