Nitish Kumar’s New Prohibition Law
- Nitish Kumar government is keen on bringing a number of amendments to tighten the prohibition law in Bihar, including one that will make guilty all adults of a family if any member is found drinking, possessing or selling liquor from the premises they inhabit.
- Other strict changes being made to the law include provisions to impound property and impose collective penalty on a village or town.
- Kumar has however, kept toddy out of the liquor category and allowed its personal use under a 1991 rule — the only RJD demand he has conceded.
- The amendments to the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act, 2016, were tabled in the Assembly and will be taken up for discussion. The proposed changes are so severe that an arrested offender will not be granted bail.
- If a person fails to give information about storage of liquor in his premises by any other person, it will lead to punishment of minimum eight years that can be extended to 10 years, and the fine can be increased to Rs 10 lakh.
- In case a group of people in a village or town violates liquor law frequently, a District Collector will have powers to inflict collective fine on the village or town.
- Also a policeman or an excise officer can get punishment up to three years or face maximum Rs 1 lakh fine or both if found guilty of framing any individual on wrong or motivated charges for vengeance or misuse of authority.
China contradicts NPT Consensus by Supplying Nuclear Reactors to Pakistan: Report
- According to a recent report, China has continued to hail the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) as the cornerstone of global non-proliferation system. Beijing itself has violated the accord arrived at the 2010 NPT review conference on supply of nuclear technology by transferring nuclear reactors to Pakistan.
- This scrutiny on China's supply of nuclear reactors to Pakistan, a country which is not under IAEA safeguards, comes from Arms Control Association, one of leading authorities on nuclear weapons and disarmament, in its latest report assessing development on non-proliferation.
- China has blocked India's relationship of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) claiming that involvement of a non-NPT signatory in the group will deteriorate the international non-proliferation regime.
- According to the report, China's 2013 contract for the Chasma-3 reactor in Pakistan contradicts the consensus document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, which “reaffirms that new supply arrangements” for the transport of nuclear materials and technology should require that the recipient accept “IAEA full-scope safeguards and international legally-binding commitments not to acquire nuclear weapons”. Islamabad has accepted neither.
- It is believed held that in aiding Pakistan with its nuclear energy programme, China has chosen to override NSG guidelines and shown no regard for the reservations expressed by its members who control international nuclear commerce.
- The report also accuses China of not keeping its vow in 2000 to not help any country in the development of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. That commitment was seen as important for China's application for membership of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) 4 years later. While India has now become a member of MTCR, China's application remains blocked.
Civilisation in Sunderbans Traced to Mauryan Era
- In an astoundingly new archaeological find which could alter the history of the Sunderbans and set the clock back by more than 20 centuries. Scientists have stumbled upon a hoard of remains that indicates the existence of an ancient civilisation in the mangroves dating back to the Mauryan period (322-185 BC). The civilisation, significantly, lasted for another 500-600 years.
- In accordance with myths, the history of the Sunderbans area can be traced back to 200-300 AD. The area was first mapped in 1764 soon after British East India Company obtained proprietary rights from Mughal emperor Alamgir II in 1757. So, the forests may be more than ivory gamesmen, miniature pots, pastel, semiprecious stone beads, net sinkers and pot shards. These have been collected from the Dhanchi and Bijwara forests in the tiger reserve area of Sunderbans over the last 22 years.
- The study at Gobardhanpur in Pathar Pratima block by a team led by Phanikanta Mishra, regional director (eastern region) of Archaeological Survey of India is likely to regenerate the long-standing colonial historiography question that it was the British who made the inaccessible mangroves habitable.
- The artifacts include numerous terracotta human and animal figurines dating back to pre and early centuries of the Christian era, terracotta lumps bearing impressions of seals dating back to the early historical period, terracotta rattles, toys and pendants. All the objects have been kept in a casual manner in a recently constructed building.
Complaints Against SC, HC Judges may Go to Panel
- Union government has wished-for setting up a system to deal with complaints against judges in the apex court and in all 24 high courts in the country in spite of conflict from the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and the Supreme Court collegiums.
- The terms for a secretariat have been included in the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges. Including retired judges, the secretariat will be tasked with evaluating complaints against the judiciary and recommending action. It will also screen candidates to be considered for selection in the apex court and high courts. The CJI and the collegium have been resisting such a mechanism as the higher judiciary believes it will impinge on their independence.
- In a verdict taken at the highest level, the government has resolved not only to have a secretariat for the collegium, in the SC and in all HCs, but also lay the rules for appointment of retired judges to the secretariats. The latter will be appointed with the permission of the CJI and the chief justices of the respective high courts.
- By introducing the screening mechanism through the secretariats in the SC and high courts, the government seems to have decided to shelve the proposed Judges Accountability Bill to avoid any confrontation with the judiciary. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha in 2012 but it lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th House.
- After striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act last year, the SC had asked the government to frame the MoP incorporating five key factors, including a mechanism to ensure transparency in appointments, a secretariat and a mechanism to deal with complaints.
- Besides, the government is likely to express to the CJI that such measures in the MoP are dictated by the December 16 judgment of the five-judge constitution bench which had in its order left the task of framing the MoP to the executive.
- The five-judge constitution bench had clearly laid the ground for setting up of secretariats in the SC and in all HCs to direct the collegium, and said these secretariats will serve as a mechanism to deal with complaints against judges.
- Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has been meeting the top four judges of the SC who are members of the collegium, besides the CJI, individually and sensitizing them on the need to bring in much-needed transparency in judges' appointment and that the MoP is as per the roadmap suggested by the apex court in its December 16 judgment.
- The government's decision to engage with other members of the collegium is also inspired by the fact that the constitution bench had noted in its order that any decision on the MoP would only be taken by the CJI on the basis of unanimous view of the collegium.