17 October 2020
A) Supreme Court appoints ex-judge Madan Lokur as one-man panel to prevent stubble-burning smog.
Former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B. Lokur has been tasked with protecting Delhi-NCR (National Capital Region) from pollution caused by stubble-burning in neighbouring Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh this winter. In this endeavour, he will be aided by student volunteers from the National Cadet Corps, the National Service Scheme, and the Bharat Scouts and Guides. A Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A. Bobde on 16 October has appointed Justice Lokur as a one-man committee to monitor and prevent instances of stubble-burning by farmers in the three States. Why can’t the NCC go and see who is lighting the fires? The Supreme Court’s own Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) would consult with the committee on issues related to stubble-burning. The court made it clear to Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati that the formation of the one-man committee was not meant as an adverse comment on the functioning of the EPCA.
B) Hathras victim’s brother wants case to be heard in Delhi.
The elder brother of the Scheduled Caste victim of the alleged gang rape and murder in Hathras has demanded that the case and the family be shifted to Delhi. Speaking to reporters in the village on 16 October, he said that they had demand that the case be heard in a Delhi court. They would also like to look for employment opportunities in Delhi. It would be better if the government could help them in providing protection and finding employment in Delhi. She said that they are providing ration to the family and fodder to the cattle. Their regular medical checkup is also being done. She added that when the victim’s father asked if they could work in the fields, she said they could start their normal life under police protection.
C) Hyderabad floods: Telangana seeks immediate aid of ₹1,350 crore.
The Telangana government has requested the Centre to release ₹1,350 crore as immediate assistance so that it could take up relief and rehabilitation work in the areas affected by incessant rain over the last coupe of days. Of this, ₹600 crore is proposed as assistance for farmers and ₹750 crore will be spent on relief and rehabilitation work in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) area. Preliminary estimates put the losses incurred on account of the deluge at around ₹5,000 crore. Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking immediate release of ₹1,350 crore. The letter followed a high-level meeting convened by Rao to review the situation arising out of the recent rains. The rains and floods resulted in 50 deaths, including 11 in the GHMC area, and crops in over 7.35 lakh acres were submerged.
D) Supreme Court seeks AG’s view on bail conditions that ‘trivialise’ trauma of sexual assault victims.
On 16 October, the Supreme Court has decided to seek the views of Attorney General K.K. Venugopal on courts imposing problematic bail conditions for sex crime offenders, conditions that often end up further harassing and objectifying the victims. A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar decided to take into consideration the position of Venugopal, the government’s topmost law officer and constitutional authority, after 9 women lawyers brought to the court’s attention a bail order passed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court in a sexual assault case recently. The High Court, as a condition for grant of bail, had ordered the accused man to visit his victim at home on ‘Rakshabandhan’ and allow her to tie a rakhi on him. The Bench has now scheduled a hearing on November 2. The nine lawyers, led by advocate Aparna Bhat and represented by senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, said the High Court order was a trivialisation of her (victim’s) trauma.
E) Health Ministry deputes teams to states reporting surge in Covid-19 cases.
On 16 October, the Union Health Ministry has deputed teams to Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal all states that have been reporting a surge in new Covid-19 cases in recent days. A Ministry release said that the teams would support the states’ efforts towards strengthening containment, surveillance, testing, infection prevention and control measures, and efficient clinical management of the positive cases. They shall also guide in effectively managing the challenges related to timely diagnosis and follow-up. Each team comprises a Joint Secretary (nodal officer for the respective State), one public health expert to look after the public health aspects, one clinician to look after infection prevention practices and clinical management protocol being followed by the State. In the past 24 hours, the country has reported 895 case fatalities, and of these, nearly 82% were concentrated in Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Odisha and Delhi. More than 37% of the new fatalities were reported from Maharashtra (337), the Ministry noted.
A) Johnson says prepare for no-deal Brexit, cancels talks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that it was now time to prepare for a no-trade deal Brexit unless the European Union fundamentally changed course, bluntly telling Brussels that there was no point in talking any more. A tumultuous no deal finale to the United Kingdom’s 5 year Brexit crisis would sow chaos through the delicate supply chains that stretch across Britain, the EU and beyond just as the economic hit from the pandemic worsens. At what was supposed to be the Brexit Summit on 15 October, the EU delivered an ultimatum, it said it was concerned by a lack of progress and called on U.K. to yield on key sticking points or see a rupture of ties with the bloc from January 1. Mr. Johnson’s spokesman said shortly afterwards that talks were now over and there was no point in the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier coming to London next week barring a change in approach.
B) Knesset backs Israel-UAE deal.
Israel’s Parliament voted on 15 October in favor of normalization of ties with the United Arab Emirates after a marathon debate with over 100 speeches lasting more than 8 hours. A total of 80 lawmakers voted to approve the U.S.-brokered agreement, with 13 from the Arab-led Joint List against. This historic agreement will bring them closer to other countries in the region to sign other peace agreements, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. He said that Israel had contact with another country in the region for the first time, but did not reveal its name. The UAE in August became the first Arab state to establish relations with Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. It was quickly followed by Bahrain. The U.S.-brokered deals were formalized at the White House on September 15. The West Asia agreements were condemned by the Palestinians as a betrayal.
C) Russia kicks off Caspian war games.
Russia on 16 October has said that its Navy had begun military exercises in the central waters of the Caspian Sea north of the Azerbaijani capital Baku, insisting there was no threat to neighboring states as Armenia and Azerbaijan battle over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The war games are taking place north of Azerbaijan’s Absheron peninsula, where Baku is located, and will include artillery and rocket fire, the Defense Ministry said in a statement. They involve 6 ships, 7 planes and more than 400 servicemen. Russia has so far kept its distance from the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. But Armenia, unlike Azerbaijan, is a member of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) military alliance and Yerevan has made clear it is hoping for Russian backing. With protests still pressuring Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko after disputed elections, CSTO forces have also been taking part in joint military exercises this week in Belarus. The exercises are called Indestructible Brotherhood.