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[ad_1] 5 THINGS FIRST PM Modi to attend 2nd Global Covid virtual Summit; LIC IPO shares allotment to happen; IIP data for March and retail inflation data for April; Varanasi court ruling on video survey of Gyanvapi mosque; IPL 2022 – CSK VS MI 1. You won’t be charged with sedition … for now The

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5 THINGS FIRST

PM Modi to attend 2nd Global Covid virtual Summit; LIC IPO shares allotment to happen; IIP data for March and retail inflation data for April; Varanasi court ruling on video survey of Gyanvapi mosque; IPL 2022 – CSK VS MI

1. You won’t be charged with sedition … for now
1. You won't be charged with sedition ... for now
The Supreme Court put the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 124A on hold on Wednesday till the Centre reviews the 152-year-old sedition law.

The order

  • Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana-led bench said, “It will be appropriate not to use this provision of law till further re-examination is over.”
  • The bench asked the Centre and states to “desist from registering any FIR [First Information Report] under Section 124A”.
  • Those jailed for sedition or being prosecuted may approach the trial courts for speedier trial of their cases.

The argument

  • Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the current three-judge bench should not stay the law, whose validity was upheld by a five-judge bench in the 1962 Kedar Nath judgment.
  • Petitioners’ counsel Kapil Sibal cited the case of now-repealed Section 66A of the Information Technology Act to draw a parallel with Section 124A’s unconstitutionality.
  • The Supreme Court bench took a 15-minute break before hitting the pause button on the law rejecting the Centre’s argument.

An advice

  • The court said the Centre is at liberty to issue additional guidelines to states and Union Territories (UTs) on checking the misuse of Section 124A.

The law

  • Introduced in 1870, the law criminalises spreading disaffection against the government through words or action and makes it punishable with three-year jail.

The case

  • A bunch of petitions were filed in the Supreme Court in recent years contending that Section 124A violated the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.

Reaction

  • Opposition leader Mahua Moitra, also a petitioner, called it a “victory” and “a great day for democracy”.
  • Union law minister Kiren Rijiju said, “We respect the court and its independence…the court should respect the government. We have clear demarcation and that Lakshman Rekha should not be crossed by anybody.”
2. HC can’t decide if marital rape is a crime, so SC to step in
2. HC can’t decide if marital rape is a crime, so SC to step in
The Delhi High Court (HC) on Wednesday delivered a split verdict on the criminalisation of marital rape while granting a certificate to appeal to the Supreme Court (SC), observing that the case involved substantial questions of law.

The split, decoded

  • The issue — on the validity of Exception 2 to Section 375, that deals with rape, with the said exception stating that “sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape” — was being heard by a division bench of the HC, comprising Justices Rajiv Shakdher and C Hari Shankar.
  • While Justice Shakdher ruled that “the impugned provisions in so far as they concern a husband having intercourse with his wife without consent are violative of Article 14 and are, therefore, struck down”, Justice Shankar differed, saying that Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was not unconstitutional.
  • According to Justice Shankar, “there is no support to show that impugned exception violates Articles 14, 19 or 21” or that there was any “intelligible differentia”, adding that he was “of the view that the challenge cannot sustain.” Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution deal with the Right to Equality, Right to Freedom and Right to life and Liberty respectively.

Was the Centre the reason for the split?

  • The government, which has been resisting criminalising marital rape, had advanced the argument that since the matter involved “intimate family relations” and “considering the social impact” caused by criminalising marital rape, the HC should defer hearing the case.
  • Moreover, the Centre argued, since the HC did not have “the privilege of having been fully familiarised with ground realities prevailing in different parts of Society of this large, populous and diverse country”, it should allow the Centre time to effect a consultative process with other stakeholders, such as state governments.
3. India is ‘not sending troops to Sri Lanka’
3. India is ‘not sending troops to Sri Lanka’
The Indian High Commission in Colombo on Wednesday categorically dismissed speculative media reports about New Delhi sending its troops to Sri Lanka, saying it is fully supportive of the island nation’s democracy, stability and economic recovery.

But…

  • India did send its military to maintain peace in the civil war-hit country 35 years ago. The Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord was signed on July 29, 1987 although LTTE rebels, also known as Tamil Tigers, were not party to this agreement.
  • New Delhi had deployed 75,000-1,00,000 troops, called Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), to tackle the Lankan conflict, of whom nearly 1,200 were killed and about 3,000 were injured.
  • Mahinda Rajapaksa, who resigned as PM on Monday, had crushed the Tamil rebellion in a brutal military campaign during his presidency between 2005 and 2015.

Where’s ex-PM?

  • Former PM Rajapaksa is being protected at the Trincomalee naval base after he was evacuated from his official residence, a top official said.
  • Security forces in armoured vehicles patrolled across the country with orders to shoot on sight amid continuing protests at the government’s handling of the worst economic crisis.
  • So far, at least nine people have been killed in violence, which has also left more than 200 people wounded.

Another resignation?

  • Sri Lanka’s central bank chief Nandalal Weerasinghe on Wednesday threatened to quit if the leaders failed to bring political stability to the island nation. More details here
4. Karauli, Jodhpur and now Bhilwara… communal tension tests Rajasthan
4. Karauli, Jodhpur and now Bhilwara… communal tension tests Rajasthan
Parts of Rajasthan are in the grip of communal tension, with a series of incidents reported from the states since early April. It first happened in Karauli, then in Jodhpur, followed by Bharatpur and now Bhilwara.

A murder

  • A 20-year-old man identified as Adesh Tapadia was stabbed to death allegedly by two persons from another community in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district.
  • Earlier on May 5, Bhilwara saw communal tension with internet services suspended after two men sitting outside a shrine were assaulted by bike-borne masked men, who torched one of their bikes.

Bandh

  • The murder has flared up communal tension in Bhilwara with several Right-wing groups calling a bandh, supported by the BJP, on Wednesday. They staged a protest outside the mortuary and shouted slogans demanding immediate action against the accused and compensation for the deceased’s family.

Internet shut

  • The district administration suspended the mobile internet in Bhilwara till Thursday to prevent rumour-mongering by suspected miscreants. Police arrested three accused on Wednesday for late Tuesday night murder.

On the boil

  • On April 2, Karauli hit national headline for communal clashes during a celebratory bike rally through a Muslim-majority locality to mark Hindu New Year. At least 35 people were injured in the violence.
  • In mid-April, communal clashes broke out in Jodhpur during Ram Navami celebrations. In early May, fresh clashes took place on Eid. Authorities suspended the mobile internet services and imposed a curfew.
  • More communal clashes broke out in Bharatpur on late Monday when members of one community were celebrating the release of five persons accused in a 2013 communal violence case.

What else

  • Rajasthan goes to the assembly polls next year. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has called the communal violence in the state “a BJP plot”.
6. What does heatwave have to do with eco rules for coal mines?
6. What does heatwave have to do with eco rules for coal mines?
In a letter written last week, the Union environment ministry has relaxed certain environmental compliances for coal mines, as a “special dispensation” to the coal ministry, according to a report by news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Why now

  • In the year gone by — FY22 — India mined 777 million tonnes of coal, which still failed to meet all of its power requirements as the country needs a billion tonnes of coal annually to satisfy its power lust. While the Centre plans to increase the quantity of mined coal to 1.2 billion tonnes over the next two years, for now the shortfall is being met through imports from countries like Indonesia, Australia and South Africa.
  • The coal ministry had earlier stated “that there is huge pressure on domestic coal supply in the country and all efforts are being made to meet the demand of coal for all sectors.” India’s power consumption rose to an all-time high of 132.98 billion units in April — which was the hottest April in 122 years — and its power demand over the next two months is expected to touch 220 gigawatts due to a forecast of extreme heatwave.

What’s the relaxation

  • The environment ministry has allowed coal mines to operate at 50% of their capacity, instead of the earlier directive of operating at 40% of their capacity — with no additional environmental impact studies required to be undertaken by the coal mines.
  • In addition, the Centre, via a new scheme, is trying to rope in private players and lease out abandoned state-owned coal mines to them, assuring the private companies of speeding up environmental approvals.

The impact

  • The relaxation of coal mining norms appears to be a realisation that meeting PM Narendra Modi’s commitment to COP26 — of fulfilling 50% of India’s energy demand by 2030 through renewable energy sources — may not be as easy as previously thought.
  • In fact, Union coal minister Pralhad Joshi said last week that even after achieving the objective of 500 gigawatts of renewable energy generating capacity by 2030, India’s coal needs will double by 2040. Already, the coal shortage — coal accounts for nearly 70% of India’s power generation capacity — has led to power outages of 10 hours or more in several states, forcing industrial and manufacturing to suspend or halt production, stymying the still nascent post-pandemic economic recovery.
7. Even the US is worried about India-China border tangle
7. Even the US is worried about India-China border tangle
The relation between two Asian giants, India and China, will “remain strained” in the wake of the 2020 “lethal clash” in eastern Ladakh, the most serious in decades, the US intelligence community has told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing.

The dispute

  • The militaries of India and China have been locked in a border standoff for almost two years. And there is no sign of reconciliation in sight despite multiple rounds of talks.
  • The expanded military posture by both India and China along the disputed border elevates the risk of an armed confrontation between the two nuclear powers that might involve direct threats to US persons and interests, and calls for America’s intervention, the intelligence community said.
  • Twenty Indian Army personnel were killed in June 2020 in clashes with China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, marking the most serious military conflicts between the two sides in decades.
  • Months later, China officially acknowledged that five PLA soldiers were killed in the clashes although it is widely believed that the death toll was higher.

Massive deployment

  • Currently, each side has deployed around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along with heavy weaponry close to the LAC.
  • India and China have held 15 rounds of military talks so far to resolve the eastern Ladakh row. So far, disengagement has happened on the south bank of the Pangong Tso and in the Gogra area while the standoff continues at other friction points.
  • India has been consistently maintaining that peace and tranquillity along the LAC were key for the overall development of the bilateral ties.

The Pak factor

  • The US assessment also noted that crises between India and Pakistan are of particular concern because of the risk, however low, of an escalatory cycle between the two nuclear-armed states. More details
8. Did droughts eat up 5% of India’s GDP?
8. Did droughts eat up 5% of India’s GDP?
  • The number and duration of droughts has risen 29% globally since 2000 and the effect of severe droughts is estimated to have reduced India’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2-5% over the 20 years from 1998 to 2017, said a new report from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) released on Wednesday.
  • The report also flagged that the droughts represent 15% of natural disasters globally but took the largest human toll— approximately 650,000 deaths in 50 years (1970-2019). Globally, droughts caused economic losses of roughly $124 billion during that period.
  • Though severe drought affected Africa more than any other continent with over 300 events recorded in the past 100 years, accounting for 44% of the global total, the highest total number of humans affected by drought were in Asia.
  • The report on drought comes in the backdrop of the UNCCD’s earlier report on ‘global land outlook’ that flagged in April how up to 40% of all ice-free land is already degraded globally, with dire consequences for climate, biodiversity and livelihoods, affecting 50% of humanity. It also noted that the current scale of degradation threatens roughly half of global GDP (US$44 trillion).
9. What’s in the road’s name? Maybe just an election
9. What’s in the road’s name? Maybe just an election
The BJP has renewed its demand for renaming of certain Delhi roads as the city prepares for civic polls. Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta has written to the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) listing his demands.

The demand

  • Gupta demanded that Delhi’s Tughlaq Road should be renamed after freedom fighter Khudiram Bose, Babar Road as Guru Gobind Singh Marg, Akbar Road as Maharana Pratap Road, Aurangzeb Lane as Abdul Kalam Lane, Humayun Road as Maharshi Valmiki Road and Shahjahan Road as General Bipin Singh Rawat Road.
  • The BJP leader claimed these roads “symbolise Mughal slavery”.

The timing

  • The name-change push has come after communal tension in Jahangirpuri and anti-CAA epicentre, Shaheen Bagh.
  • Delhi is heading to civic polls, which were supposed to be held in April. The BJP is eyeing a fifth consecutive term in the reunified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) in the polls.

The politics

  • Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s residence is on Tughlaq Road. The Congress’s headquarters is on Akbar Road.
  • NDMC has a non-elected body but has Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal as ex-officio member, whose Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is a strong contender in the MCD polls.

Not the first time

  • In 2015, Aurangzeb Road was renamed as APJ Abdul Kalam Marg. In 2016, Race Course Road was renamed as Lok Kalyan Marg.
  • Back in the day, the British era Connaught Place was renamed as Rajiv Chowk when the Congress was in power.
  • In April, Gupta took on Kejriwal for not approving renaming of Delhi’s Mohammedpur village as Madhav Puram. He said the BJP has a list of 40 villages for renaming.

What else?

  • Name-change needs approval by the 13-member NDMC headed by a central government bureaucrat.
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES

Taj Mahal. Descendant of the erstwhile royal family of Jaipur, Divya Kumari, who’s also a BJP MP, claimed that the land on which the mausoleum dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal — also known as Arjumand Banu Begum — was built belonged to her family and Shah Jehan acquired the land parcel to build the monument. The Taj Mahal earned over Rs 86 crore in 2018-19 from ticket sales — the highest revenue generated by a single tourist monument, which was granted UNESCO’s World Heritage Site status in 1983. Trump, in 1990, opened a casino and hotel which was named Trump Taj Mahal.

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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Tejeesh Nippun Singh, Jayanta Kalita, Prabhash K Dutta
Research: Rajesh Sharma



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