Maharashtra to file FIR against Snapdeal

Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that it has ordered an FIR to be filed against the CEO and the directors of Internet shopping company Snapdeal for allegedly selling prescription drugs online.

  • The FDA found that 45 of the displayed drugs were with objectionable claims which contravened the provisions of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954.

What the law says?

  • Selling of drugs without prescription contravenes Section 18 (c) 18 A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

What the Snapdeal says?

  • The Snapdeal’s argument is that it cannot be held responsible for what merchants sell although it says it takes precautions and educates sellers about following rules.

Sources: The Hindu, ET.

Changes in Act will make graft ‘heinous crime’

The Union Cabinet has approved amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, that provide for classifying corruption as a heinous crime and longer prison terms for both bribe-giver and bribe- taker.

  • The proposed amendment will also ensure a speedy trial, within two years, for corruption cases.
  • The proposed amendments would fill in perceived gaps in the domestic anti-corruption law and also help in meeting the country’s obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption more effectively.

Proposed amendments to the Act:

  • The amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, approved by the Union Cabinet include enhancing punishment from the minimum 6 months to 3 years and from the maximum five years to seven years.
  • The ambit of the existing Act will be enhanced to make commercial entities liable for inducement of public servants.
  • Under the present law, only individuals are liable. The proposed amendment bill also provides for issue of guidelines to commercial organizations to prevent persons associated with them from bribing a public servant.
  • Non-monetary gratification will also be covered within the definition of the word gratification (समाधान) in the existing Act.
  • The amendments approved by the government are in line with recommendations of the Law Commission to the proposed amendments to the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013.

Untitled

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

Govt. urged to reject Kasturirangan report

People from Udupi, Karnataka have urged the Union and State governments to reject the recommendations of the K. Kasturirangan Panel’s report on conservation of the Western Ghats.

Udupi is a city in the southwest Indian State of Karnataka.

Why?

  1. 35 villages in Udupi district in the Western Ghats come under the ambit of the report   
  2. Report also proposed a buffer zone of 10 km from the boundary of Western Ghats, which would include another 38 villages.
  3. The people are against the report as it would hamper development in the villages.

Kasturirangan Report:

  • The Kasturirangan panel was set up to study the Gadgil committee report on the Western Ghats.
  • The Gadgil panel report had faced unanimous opposition from state governments for recommending that almost three-fourth of the hills, including plantations, cultivated lands and large habitations, be turned into a restricted development zone with an over-arching authority to regulate the region superseding the elected authorities’ role.

Recommendations made:

  • Around 60,000 sq km of Western Ghats, spread across six states, should be turned into a no-go area for commercial activities like mining, thermal power plants, polluting industries and large housing plans.
  • It has suggested that 90% of the natural forests left in the Western Ghats complex – adding upto 60,000 sq km and constituting 37% of the entire hilly belt — be conserved under the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) provisions of the green law. The forest area falling within the ESA would also cover 4,156 villages across the six states. The panel has said, “The villages falling under ESA will be involved in decision making on the future projects. All projects will require prior-informed consent and no-objection from the gram sabha (village council) of the village.”
  • The panel has recommended that there should be a complete ban on mining activity in this zone and current mining activities should be phased out within five years, or at the time of expiry of the mining lease.
  • It has banned development of any township or construction over the size of 20,000 sq m in the ESA zone.
  • It has not recommended a ban on hydroelectric projects in the zone, but put a regime of stricter clearances for dams and other projects.
  • The report suggests doing away with the complete moratorium on industrial and mining activity in the two Maharashtra districts of Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri. It has suggested persisting with the ban only on the area of the two districts falling within the ESA and a strict regulation in the rest.
  • The report has steered clear from demanding a strict ecological control over the Western Ghat complex requiring changes and regulations on agricultural practices the way Gadgil committee report had  suggested.

GADGIL REPORT

Madhav Gadgil.jpg

MADHAV GADGIL

  • Studied biology at University of Pune and Mumbai before a Ph.D. in the area of mathematical ecology at Harvard University.
  • Padmashri and Padma Bhushan
  • 6 books,
    1. “This Fissured (तडा ) Land”
    2. “Ecology and Equity”,
    3. “Diversity : The cornerstone of life” ,
    4. “Nurturing Biodiversity: An Indian Agenda”
    5. “Ecological Journeys”,
    6. “People’s Biodiversity Registers: A Methodology Manual”.
  • He worked on the committee that drafted India’s Biological Diversity Act 2002
  • chairman of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP)
  • Awarded the National Environmental Fellowship
  • Member of the Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India from 1986–90.
  • He is removed from the Sonia Gandhi led National Advisory Council.
  • Awarded the 2015 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement

Given the environmental sensitivity and ecological significance of the Western Ghats region and the complex interstate nature of its geography, The Ministry of Environment & Forests constituted a Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel.

The Terms of Reference of the Committee are as under:

  1.  To assess the current status of ecology of the Western Ghats region.
  2.  To demarcate areas within the Western Ghats Region which need to be notified as ecologically sensitive and to recommend for notification of such areas as ecologically sensitive zones under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. In doing so, the Panel shall review the existing reports such as the Pronab Sen Committee report and Dr. T.S. Vijayraghavan Committee Report, Hon’ble Supreme Court’s directions, Recommendations, of the National
    Board for Wildlife and consult all concerned State Governments.
  3. To make recommendations for the conservation, protection and rejuvenation of the Western Ghats Region following a
    comprehensive consultation process involving people and Governments of all the concerned States.
  4. To suggest measures for effective implementation of the notifications issued by the Government of India in the Ministry of Environment and Forests declaring specific areas in the Western Ghats Region as Eco-sensitive zones under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  5. To recommend the modalities for the establishment of Western Ghats Ecology Authority under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 which will be a professional body to manage the ecology of the region and to ensure its sustainable development with the support of all concerned states.
  6. To deal with any other relevant environment and ecological issues pertaining to Western Ghats Region, including those which may be referred to it by the Central Government in the Ministry of Environment and Forests

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, TOI, PIB.

Details of Earthquake that Occured Today with Its Epicenter in Nepal

An Earthquake of magnitude 7.9 occurred  saturday at 11.41 A.M  IST (Indian Standard Time) at a depth of 10 Km with its Epicentral Region located in Nepal about 80 Km NW of Kathmandu. Its Latitude and Longitude are 28.1 N and 84.6 E respectively.

The impact of the earthquake has been felt in almost all northern States in India particularly in

  1. Bihar,
  2. Uttar Pradesh,
  3. Sikkim,
  4. West Bengal.

Effects of this earthquake were severely felt in all northern and central parts of India including in the capital city of New Dellhi. A broad graphical representation of the earthquake showing the magnitude in varying colours as on the right of the graphic is as below

SI_MAP.jpg

Immediately in about ten minutes of occurrence of the quake the

  1. Indian Tsunami Early Warning Center (ITEWC) of INCOIS- Indian Nation Center for Ocean Information Services
  2. IMD

also sent alert to all higher authorities of the government indicating the epicenter and the magnitude of the quake.

AFSPA extended in Assam

The Centre has extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act to declare Assam a ‘disturbed area’ for one more year.

  • The Government of India in exercise of powers under AF(SP) Act, 1958 has also declared, besides other areas, the area falling within 20 km wide belt in
    1. Assam
    2. Arunachal Pradesh
    3. Meghalaya along their border with the Assam as disturbed area.

AFSPA:

  • It is an Act empowering armed forces to deal effectively in ‘Disturbed Areas’.
  • Any area which is declared ‘Disturbed’ under the disturbed areas act enables armed forces to resort to the provisions of AFSPA.

Who declares an area as disturbed?

  • The choice of declaring any area as ‘disturbed’ vests both with state and central government.

Special powers provided to armed forces:

  • After an area comes under the ambit of AFSPA, any
  • commissioned officer,
  • warrant officer,
  • non-commissioned officer or
  • another person of equivalent rank can use force for a variety of reasons while still being immune to the prosecution.

Ambit:

  • The act was passed on 11 September 1958 by the parliament of India to provide special legal security to the armed forces carrying out operations in the troubled areas of
    1. Arunachal Pradesh,
    2. Assam,
    3. Meghalaya,
    4. Manipur,
    5. Mizoram,
    6. Nagaland,
    7. Tripura (seven sisters).
  • In 1990 the act was extended to the state of Jammu and Kashmir to confront the rising insurgency in the area.
  • In Manipur, despite opposition from the Central government, state government withdrew the Act in someparts in Aug, 2004.

The government can declare AFSPA in the following conditions:

  • When the local administration fails to deal with local issues and the police proves inefficient to cope with them.
  • When the scale of unrest or instability in the state is too large for the police to handle.

Legal provisions of AFSPA:

  • In an area declared ”disturbed” an army officer is legally free to carry out following operations:
    • Fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the causing of death, against any person who is acting in contravention of any law” against “assembly of five or more persons” or possession of deadly weapons.
    • Destroy any shelter (private or govt.) from which armed attacks are made or likely to be made or attempted to be made.
    • Arrest any person without warrant who has committed a cognizable offence or against whom a reasonable suspicion exists that he has committed or is about to commit a cognizable offence.
    • Enter and search, without warrant, any premises for purpose of arrest or to recover any person, arms, explosives.
    • To search and seize any vehicle suspected to be carrying an offender or any person against whom any
      reasonable suspicion exists that he has or is about to commit an offence.
    • To provide legal immunity to the army personnel found involved in any violation or ethical breach i.e., they
      cannot be sued or prosecuted.

Why do armed forces need AFSPA?

  • The forces are aware that they cannot afford to fail when called upon to safeguard the country’s integrity. Hence, they require the minimum legislation that is essential to ensure efficient utilization of combat capability.
  • This includes safeguards from legal harassment and empowerment of its officers to decide on employment of the minimum force that they consider essential.
  • The absence of such a legal statute would adversely affect organizational flexibility and the utilization of the security capacity of the state. This would render the security forces incapable of fulfilling their assigned role.

Common people see it as ‘Right to Kill’ Act. Since its inception many Human Rights organizations and civil societies have been opposing it for the following reasons:

  • It makes no distinction between a peaceful gathering of five or more people and a berserk mob.
  • The law also states that, “no prosecution can be initiated against an officer without the previous sanction of
    the Central government”.
  • The decision of the government to declare a particular area ‘disturbed’ cannot be challenged in a court of law.
  • In 2005 the Jeevan Reddy Commission said that AFSPA should be repealed and the clauses that are required should be included in other Acts.

AFSPA

  • Act of the Parliament of India which was passed on 11 September 1958.
  • It is a law with just six sections granting special powers to the Indian Armed Forces in what the act terms as “disturbed areas”.
  • The Act has received criticism from several sections for alleged concerns about human rights violations in the regions of its enforcement alleged to have happened.
  • Politicians like P. Chidambaram and Saifuddin Soz of Congress have advocated revocation AFSPA whilst Amarinder Singh is against its revocation.
  • On 31 March 2012, the UN asked India to revoke AFSPA saying it had no place in Indian democracy.

History of AFSPA

  • The Armed Forces Special Powers Ordinance of 1942 was promulgated by the British on 15 August 1942 to suppress the Quit India Movement.
  • Modeled on these lines, four ordinances—
    • Bengal Disturbed Areas (Special Powers of Armed Forces) Ordinance;
    • Assam Disturbed Areas (Special Powers of Armed Forces)Ordinance;
    • East Bengal Disturbed Areas (Special Powers of Armed Forces) Ordinance;
    • United provinces Disturbed Areas(Special Powers of Armed Forces) Ordinance

were invoked by the central government to deal with the internal security situation in the country in 1947 which arouse out of Partition of India.

Armed Forces Special Powers (Assam and Manipur) Act, 1958

Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers (Amendment) Act, 1972

The Armed Forces (Punjab and Chandigarh) Special Powers Act, 1983

Santosh Hegde commission on Manipur encounter deaths :

A high-power commission headed by the retired Supreme Court judge, Santosh Hegde was constituted in January 2013 to probe six encounter deaths in Manipur.[

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, NDTV.

India lost 66 wild tigers in 2014

As per statistics provided by Tigernet, the official database of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, 66 wild tiger deaths were reported in the country in 2014.

Other details:

  • The highest number of wild tiger deaths was reported from the forests of Tamil Nadu —15, followed by Madhya Pradesh —14. Six of the deaths in Tamil Nadu were from the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.
  • The majority of wild tiger deaths were caused by poaching.
  • The data do not give a clear figure on the number of tigers killed by poachers, but it is estimated that about 50 tigers could have been killed in this manner.
  • Of the 66 deaths, only one death was due to natural causes — reported from the Valmiki Tiger Reserve, Bihar. Fights between tigers, possibly for territory control, caused three deaths. Two tigers, suspected to be man-eaters, were shot dead by police personnel. Wild tiger deaths were also reported from Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Karnataka and Uttarakhand.
  • During the year, 12 cases of seizure of tiger parts were registered. This included seizure of seven tiger skins. While three tiger skins were seized from Maharashtra, two were seized from Andhra Pradesh and one each from Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  • In 2013, the number of wild tiger deaths was 63 and the highest number was reported from the forests of Karnataka —16, followed by Maharashtra, 9. In 2014, Karnataka accounted for seven wild tiger deaths.
  • In 2013, only one wild tiger death was reported from Tamil Nadu.

Government measures:

  • The Government of India has taken a pioneering initiative for conserving its national animal, the tiger, by launching the ‘Project Tiger’ in 1973. From 9 tiger reserves since its formative years, the Project Tiger coverage has increased to 47 at present, spread out in 17 of our tiger range states.
  • This amounts to around 2.08% of the geographical area of our country. The tiger reserves are constituted on a core/buffer strategy.
  • The core areas have the legal status of a national park or a sanctuary, whereas the buffer or peripheral areas are a mix of forest and non-forest land, managed as a multiple use area.
  • The Project Tiger aims to foster an exclusive tiger agenda in the core areas of tiger reserves, with an inclusive people oriented agenda in the buffer.
  • Project Tiger is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, providing central assistance to the tiger States for tiger conservation in designated tiger reserves.
  • The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 was amended in 2006 keeping in view the needs of the Project Tiger for providing enabling provisions for constitution of the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Tiger and Other Endangered Species Crime Control Bureau.

The functions of NTCA are as follows:

  • Ensuring normative standards in tiger reserve management
  • Preparation of reserve specific tiger conservation plan
  • Laying down annual/ audit report before Parliament
  • Instituting State level Steering Committees under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister and establishment of Tiger Conservation Foundation.
  • According approval for declaring new Tiger Reserves.

Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF):

  • Creation of Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) was announced in 2008.
  • A onetime grant of Rs. 50 Crore was provided to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for raising, arming and deploying a Special Tiger Protection Force for 13 tiger reserves. The rest of the reserves were taken up later.

Sources: The Hindu, GOI, envi.nic.in.