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National Current Affairs August 4th Week 2017
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National Current Affairs August 4th Week 2017

1. India`s first calf born to surrogate cow in Pune.

India’s first calf delivered by a surrogate or recipient cow through In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) technology carried out in a mobile laboratory was born in Indapur, Pune (Maharashtra). It has been named as Vijay.

This is for first time IVF procedure was successfully implemented at farm level with the help of mobile laboratory. Earlier similar experiment was carried out by the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) at the lab-level.

The purpose of producing surrogate calf was to protect indigenous cow breeds in its original form which have been destroyed due to cross-breeding. The experiment was successfully under taken by the JK Trust, an organisation which works at improving cattle breed.

In Vijay’s case, the donor cow belonged to the indigenous Gir breed, whose population across the country is around one lakh (unevenly spread across Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra).
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In this experiment, the oocytes collected from the mother cow were kept in a special incubator. Using the IVF technology, these oocytes were fertilised inside the incubator with semen was collected from a Gir bull. After the oocytes developed into an embryo, they were transferred to the recipient cow.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) technology
IVF or assisted reproductive technology (ART) is a process of fertilisation. In it, an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in vitro (in glass or laboratory dish) to produce embryo. The embryo is then transferred to the uterus with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy.
 
2. Defence Ministry approves delegation of powers to BRO.
Defence Ministry approves delegation of powers to BRO
The Union Defence Ministry has approved delegation of administrative and financial powers to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

The purpose of delegation of powers is to improve the functioning of the BRO and speed up works to avoid delays in projects and to achieve the desired outcomes according to the requirement of the Armed Force.

The BRO is engaged in road construction to provide connectivity to difficult and inaccessible regions in the border areas of the country. On various occasions, Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) and the Parliamentary Standing Committee has highlighted delay in the completion of strategic border roads. In pursuance of this, Defence Ministry had intended to bring transformational changes in the BRO in order to improve the pace of execution of works.
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Departmental and Contractual works: Defence Ministry has now approved that for both departmental and contractual mode of execution of projects. Moreover, Chief Engineer of BRO can accord administrative approval upto Rs. 50 crore and ADGBR upto Rs. 75 crore and DGBR upto Rs. 100 crore.

In the earlier scheme of delegation of powers, Chief Engineer was able to give administrative approval of works only upto Rs. 10 crore, that too only for departmental works. The ADGBR had powers to accord administrative approval only upto Rs. 20 crore. In case of contractual works, all administrative approvals were given by DGBR, who had powers only upto Rs.50 crore.

Speeding up the tendering process: Defence Ministry also has enhanced the powers of Chief Engineer for acceptance of bids in tendering process with cost of contract upto Rs. 100 crore and upto Rs. 300 crore of ADGBR. Even the entire tendering process including acceptance of bids will be now completed at the level of Chief Engineer/ADGBR for a majority of the contracts.

Fast procurement of latest construction machinery and equipment : Defence Ministry has enhanced the delegation of powers upto Rs. 100 crore to DGBR for procurement of both indigenous and imported equipment. Even, DGBR power hiring of construction equipment has been enhanced upto three years and for Chief Engineers’ (Project) hiring power has been enhanced from 6 months to one year.

About Border Roads Organisation (BRO)
BRO develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and friendly neighbouring countries. It functions under the Defence Ministry. It plays pivotal role in construction, maintenance and upgradation of strategic infrastructure, in remote and far flung border areas.

Officers from Border Roads Engineering Service (BRES) and personnel from General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form parent cadre of BRO. It is also staffed by officers and troops drawn from Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers, Army Service Corps, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and army personnel on extra regimental employment.
 
3. Assam Government to launch Scheme for Compassionate Family Pension in lieu of Compassionate Appointment.
 
Assam Government to launch Scheme for Compassionate Family Pension in lieu of Compassionate Appointment
 
The Assam government today said that it will notify a scheme for compassionate family pension in lieu of job offers to family members as it did not serve the objective due to practical difficulties. “It has been noticed that the existing compassionate appointment policy did not fully serve the objectives and often the legal heir fails to get an appointment immediately due to practical difficulties such as lack of educational qualifications and non-availability of vacancies within the stipulated five per cent of total vacancies,” an official release said.

Accordingly, it is proposed to notify a new scheme called ‘Scheme for Compassionate Family Pension in lieu of Compassionate Appointment’, which will be known as ‘Compassionate Family Pension Scheme’ or CFP Scheme, it added. The scheme will be applicable to those employees who died in harness on or after April 1, 2017, but the relevant office memorandums related to the compassionate appointments will be applicable to those who died on or before March 31, 2017.

The new scheme will be applicable to all employees of the state government, all others as eligible under Assam Services (Pension) Rules, 1969, all state government employees under NPS category and All India Services officers borne on Assam cadre.
 
4. IIT entrance exam to go completely online from 2018.
IIT entrance exam to go completely online from 2018
The entrance examination for the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will go completely online from 2018 to make logistics and evaluations easier, the Joint Admission Board (JAB) decided on Sunday.The JAB, which is the policy-making body on IIT admissions, took the decision at a meeting in Chennai.

In the online mode, students will take up the examination at designated centres where they need to answer the questions on a computer instead of using pen and paper.

At present optical mark reading (OMR) sheets are used which need to be filled using pen or pencils and are evaluated by machines.

In a statement, Director, IIT-Madras, and Chairman JAB 2017, Prof Bhaskar Ramamurthi said, "It has been decided that the JEE (Advanced) will be conducted in online mode from 2018 onwards. Further information regarding the examination will be provided by the JAB in due course."
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The Ministry of Human Resource Development had earlier introduced the option of taking the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Mains online.

The JEE-Mains is the entrance examination for admission to engineering courses offered across the country and a qualifying exam for JEE-Advanced which is required for admission to the IITs and NITs.

"In order to make logistics and evaluations easier it was decided today that the JEE-Advanced should be made online," a JAB member said.

"The concept was being discussed for many years, but it was necessary to have adequate infrastructure to conduct the exam online," the member added.

More than 13 lakh students took the JEE-Mains this year, with less than 10 per cent of them going online. Around 2.2 lakh students were eligible to write the JEE (Advanced).
 
5. Government imposes anti-dumping duty on tempered glass from China.
Government imposes anti-dumping duty on tempered glass from China
The Union Finance Ministry (Revenue Department) has imposed anti-dumping duty on certain “textured toughened (tempered) glass” imported from China.

The duty aims at protecting the domestic industry from cheaper imports. It will be effective for five years.

Textured toughened (tempered) glass
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It is also known as solar glass, low iron solar glass or high transmission photovoltaic glass. It is used as a component in solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and solar thermal applications.

The dumping duty was imposed by revenue department based on the recommendations of Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD). Investigations of DGAD had found that the tempered glass has been exported to India from China below its associated normal market value. It was also found that domestic industry had suffered material injury due to cheap imports from China.

Anti-dumping duty

Anti-dumping duty is an import duty imposed by government on imported products which have prices less than their normal values or domestic price. It is protectionist and counter import measure used by a country under the multilateral World Trade Organisation (WTO) regime to protect its domestic producers and market from below-cost/cheap imports. It varies from product to product and from country to country.  In India, it is recommended by the Union Ministry of Commerce (i.e. by DGAD), while the Union Finance Ministry imposes it.

Anti-dumping duty on Chinese Products

So far, Government has imposed anti-dumping duty on 93 products imported from China. These products belong to a broad group of chemicals and petrochemicals, fibres and yarn, products of steel and other metals, machinery items, electric and electronic items, rubber or plastic products and consumer goods, among others.

6. Indian Navy`s second LCU Mark IV L52 shop commissioned at Port Blair.
Indian Navy`s second LCU Mark IV L52 shop commissioned at Port Blair 
Indian Navy’s second CU (landing craft utility) Mark IV L52 ship was commissioned at Port Blair, capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

LCU L52 is the second LCU Mk-IV class ship to be inducted into the Indian Navy. It has been indigenously designed and built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata.

LCU L52 ship is an amphibious ship with the primary role to transport and deploy Main Battle Tanks (MTBs), Armoured Vehicles, troops and equipment from ship to shore. It is 62.8 meters long and 11 metres wide. It has 90% indigenous content.

The ship has endurance of around 1,500 nautical miles at 12 knots. It is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment and advanced systems like Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) and Integrated Bridge System (IBS).

LCU MK-IV will be based in the Andaman and Nicobar Command. It can be deployed for multirole activities like beaching operations, search and rescue, disaster relief operations, supply and replenishment and evacuation from distant islands. It will contribute to the nation’s maritime security needs.
 
7. Government launches digital police portal under CCTNS.
Government launches digital police portal under CCTNS 
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs launched digital police portal under Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems Project (CCTNS).

The portal is a smart policing initiative of the Government to provide services to citizens and aid efficient police investigation. It will help in realising Government’s dream of ‘Minimum Government Maximum Governance’.

Digital police portal
The police portal is a platform for citizens to file online crime related complaints and also request for antecedent verification. It will also provide 11 searches and 46 reports from the national database for state police and central investigation agencies. Central investigating and research agencies also have been provided logins to the portal to access crime statistics.

About Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems Project (CCTNS)

 

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The CCTNS project was initiated in 2009 as part of police modernisation programme under the national e-governance project. It was conceived to bring all 16,000 police stations in India under a single network to counter terror challenges.

The core objective of CCTNS is to connect all the police stations so that any of the police stations can contact any other police station; thereby facilitate  collection, storage, retrieval, analysis and transfer the information among police stations, state headquarters and central police organizations.
 
8. Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat Programme launched.
Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat Programme launched
The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) launched ‘Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat’ Programme. It was launched by Union HRD Minister Prakash Javdekar in Kochi, Kerala.

The programme is an initiative of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) to prepare a physical Health and Fitness Profile Card for more than 12 lakhs of Kendriya Vidyalaya students.

About Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat programme

 

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The programme aims to provide a comprehensive and inclusive report card for children covering all age groups and children of different abilities. Its main objective is to make students, teachers and parents aware about the importance of good health and fitness and encouraging 60 minutes of play each day.

The programme also intends to imbibe values of Olympics and Paralympics amongst students. The objectives are bringing back the childhood amongst children, make recreational games and physical activity an integral part of learning process, motivating potentially outstanding performers in various games and sports of excellence, using technology for analytics and data capture and giving access to schools, parents and teachers.
 
9. Karnataka Government launches clouding seeding Project Varshadhari.
Karnataka Government launches clouding seeding Project Varshadhari
Karnataka Government has launched clouding seeding Project Varshadhari in Bengaluru under which an aircraft will spray chemicals to induce rainfall.

The cloud seeding project is an experimental project that will cover Bengaluru, Gadag and Yadgir districts of the state.

 

Project Varshadhari

 


The experimental project aims to condense small water particles by clouds (size less than 10 microns) to droplets of 50 microns, which can constitute rains. The flight for cloud seeding – BQ-100 Beechcraft will spray Silver Iodide, Sodium Chloride and Potassium Chloride to condense the water particles. A committee, comprising meteorologists, experts in cloud physics and hydrologists, will monitor the process.
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Cloud seeding

 


Cloud seeding (also known as weather modification technique) is an artificial way to induce moisture in the clouds so as to cause a rainfall. In this process, either silver iodide, potassium iodide or dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) are spread onto the clouds causing rainfall. These iodide particles rise into the clouds, cause moisture to freeze. These particles act as a base for water vapours to settle on that later crystallises and falls as rain or snow.

This method can be used to bring significant amount of rainfall over a specified area especially in location where rain is badly needed. Several experiments conducted earlier across India were not very effective and gave mixed results. It is not fool proof as seeded clouds may actually travel to another location and do not cause precipitation on the intended location. Moreover there are environmental consequences of spreading of harmful chemicals in atmosphere. It is also very expensive technique. If it is not controlled properly, it may result in undesirable weather conditions like flooding, hail, storms, etc.
 
10. Union Government to replace physical Police verification of Passport applicants with online verification within a year.
Union Government to replace physical Police verification of Passport applicants with online verification within a year
The physical police verification for getting a passport will soon be a thing of the past as the government plans to connect the service with a robust national database of crimes and criminals that will check the antecedents of applicants at the click of a mouse.

Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems Project (CCTNS) is expected to link with the passport service of the Ministry of External Affairs and it will replace physical police verification for passport applicants with online verification in a year.

"Police in some states are already using CCTNS for passport credentials. Police will be given hand held devices to go to an applicant`s address and his or her details will be uploaded with the network. It will minimise contact with police and reduce time," he told reporters here.

Mehrishi was speaking after Home Minister Rajnath Singh launched a digital police portal under the CCTNS project, which aims to create a national database of crimes and criminals and connect country`s all 15,398 police stations with it.

He said with the port, mandate of the CCTNS has been expanded by incorporating citizen centric services tenant verification, which could be done with the consent of the person being verified, quick registration of FIR in any crime and connecting the network with criminal justice delivery system.

Asked about the safety of the database, the home secretary said possibility of hacking was always there but enough safeguards have been put in place and the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre has been roped in for the task.
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The home minister said the digital police portal will provide citizens, facility for online complaint registration and request for antecedent verification.

"The police portal will provide 11 searches and 46 reports from the national database for state police and central investigation agencies. Central investigating and research agencies have also been provided logins to the digital police database to access crime statistics," he said after launching the portal.

Singh said the CCTNS has enabled 13,775 out of 15,398 police stations to enter 100 per cent data into the software.He said as of now the CCTNS national database has around 7 crore data records pertaining to past and current criminal cases.

Singh said the CCTNS project will help in realising the Prime Minister Narenda Modi`s dream of `Minimum Government Maximum Governance`.

A home ministry official said the CCTNS will facilitate pan-India search on complete national crime and criminal database that is accessible to the investigating officers throughout the country.

The CCTNS project will interconnect about 15,398 police stations and additional 5,000 offices of supervisory police officers across the country and digitise data related to FIR registration, investigation and charge sheets in all police stations.The project has been extended by the government for one year till March 2018.

The one-year extension will help the government to comprehensively achieve the remaining goals of the CCTNS, which was conceived by the former Home Minister P Chidambaram when the UPA was in power.

With a total budget of Rs 2,000 crore, a sum of Rs 1,550 crore has been spent till 2016-17.The inter-operable criminal justice system aims to integrate the CCTNS project with e-courts and e-prison data bases in the first instance and with the other pillars of the criminal justice system, another official said.

The integration will be achieved by providing access to the judiciary, police and prisons through a desktop dashboard to facilitate expeditious and informed decisions and aid investigations.

The full implementation of the project with all the new components would lead to a central citizen portal having linkages with state-level citizen portals that will provide a number of citizen-friendly services, the official said.

These include services like police verification for various purposes like issuance of passport, reporting a crime and online tracking of the case progress, online reporting of grievances against police officials, accessing victim compensation fund and legal services etc.
 
11. ICMR, Health Ministry ink MoU with IVI for caccine R&D.
ICMR, Health Ministry ink MoU with IVI for caccine R&D
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Ministry of Health inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) to collaborate on vaccine research and development.

The signing of the MoU is a continuation of India’s partnership with IVI to provide safe, effective and affordable vaccines for people around the world. With this partnership, India is committing an annual contribution of US $5,00,000 to IVI.

India is a vaccine industry powerhouse that supplies 60% of the world’s vaccines. India has with a long history of scientific collaboration with IVI. IVI has been partnering with Indian vaccine manufacturers, research institutes, government, and public health agencies on vaccine R&D. One of the most successful collaboration of IVI was with India’s Shantha Biotech on development of Shanchol, world’s first low-cost oral cholera vaccine. The vaccine was licensed in India in 2009 and WHO-prequalified in 2011.
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International Vaccine Institute (IVI)

IVI is Seoul (South Korea) based international nonprofit organization devoted to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines to protect the people, especially children, against deadly infectious diseases. It was established in 1997 on the initiatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Its work is exclusively on vaccine development and introduction specifically for people in developing countries, with a focus on neglected diseases affecting these regions. Currently, IVI has 40 countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) as signatories to its Establishment Agreement. India officially became a signatory to the IVI in 2012.

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)

The ICMR is India’s apex scientific body for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research. It was established in 1911 as Indian Research Fund Association (IRFA) making it one of the oldest and largest medical research bodies in the world. The ICMR functions under the Department of Health Research, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
 
12. 17th meeting of FSDC held in New Delhi.
17th meeting of FSDC held in New Delhi
The seventeenth Meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was held in New Delhi today under the Chairmanship of the Union Minister of Finance, Shri Arun Jaitley. 

The meeting was attended by Dr. Urjit R. Patel, Governor, RBI; Shri Ashok Lavasa, Finance Secretary, Shri Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ms. Anjuly Chib Duggal, Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Shri Tapan Ray, Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Shri Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Dr. Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser, Shri Ajay Tyagi, Chairman, SEBI; Shri T.S. Vijayan, Chairman, IRDAI; Shri Hemant G Contractor, Chairman, PFRDA; and other senior officers of the Government of India and financial sector regulators.
 
Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) made a presentation on the state of economy. The Council noted that India has macro-economic stability today on the back of improvements in its macro-economic fundamentals, structural reforms with the launch of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), action being taken to address the Twin Balance Sheet (TBS) challenge, extraordinary financial market confidence, reflected in high and rising bond and especially stock valuations and long-term positive consequences of demonetization. The Council also discussed the issues and challenges facing the Indian economy and Members agreed on the need to keep constant vigil and be in a state of preparedness of managing any external and internal vulnerabilities.
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The Council also took note of the progress of Financial Sector Assessment Program for India, jointly conducted by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Council directed that the assessment report should be finalized by the end of this calendar year.

FSDC took note of the developments and progress made in setting up of Computer Emergency Response Team in the Financial Sector (CERT-Fin) and Financial Data Management Centre and discussed measures for time bound implementation of the institution building initiative.

A brief report on the activities undertaken by the FSDC Sub-Committee Chaired by Governor, RBI was placed before the FSDC. The Council also undertook a comprehensive review of the action taken by members on the decisions taken in earlier meetings of the Council.

The Council discussed on the Central KYC Registry (CKYCR) system, took note of the initiatives taken in this regard by the members and discussed the issues / suggestions in respect of operationalization of CKYCR.
 
13. UIDAI launches Door Step Aadhar enrolment in Delhi.
UIDAI launches Door Step Aadhar enrolment in Delhi
 
UIDAI has joined hands with CSC India for launching door step enrolment facility in the national capital for the elderly, patients and others who cannot travel the Aadhar centres.

"Today we are starting a mobile van in partnership with CSC India which will go and enrol people who are unable to travel to Aadhaar centres for enrolment like elderlies, patients, small children etc," UIDAI Chief Executive Officer Ajay Bhushan Pandey said at the `National Conference on Emerging Opportunities through CSC`.

The van was flagged off by Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
CSC India provides permit and monitors operations of common service centres across India which are meant to provide government services in rural area. There are about 2.5 lakh CSCs operational across country.

"The van will provide Aadhaar enrolment service at door step in Delhi area but I would like CSC India to support this service in major cities. This facility should be also available for people in rural area in coming days," Pandey said.

14. Union Government finalizes new cadre policy of IAS,IPS,IFOS.

A new policy for cadre allocation has been finalised by the Central government for IAS, IPS and other officers, aimed at ensuring "national integration" in the country`s top bureaucracy.

Officers of all-India services -- the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFoS) -- will have to choose cadres from a set of zones instead of states.

The officers of the three services are currently allocated a cadre state or a set of states to work in.

They may be posted on central deputation during the course of their service after fulfilling certain eligibility conditions.

The existing 26 cadres have been divided into five zones in the new policy proposed by the personnel ministry.

Zone-I has seven cadres -- AGMUT (also known as Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territories), Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana.

Zone-II consists of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha, while Zone-III comprises Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam-Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura and Nagaland will constitute Zone-IV, while Zone-V will have Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The new policy will seek to ensure that officers from Bihar, for instance, will get to work in southern and north- eastern states, which may not be their preferred cadres, a personnel ministry official said.

"This policy will ensure national integration of the bureaucracy as officers will get a chance to work in a state which is not their place of domicile," the official said.

He said the new policy would help in upholding the rationale behind the all-India services.

"All-India service officers are supposed to have varied experiences which can be earned when they work in a different state, which is new to them. The officers may not be able to experiment new things if they work in their own domicile state," the official said.

Under the new policy, candidates appearing for the civil services examination-- conducted annually by the Union Public Service Commission -- will have to first give their choices in a descending order of preference from among the various zones.

"Thereafter the candidates will indicate cadres in order of preference from each zone," it said. A candidate can list all 26 cadres, following this process.

The preference for the zones will remain in the same order and no change will be permitted there, the policy said.

"If a candidate does not give any preference for any of the zones/cadres, it will be presumed that he has no specific preference for those zones/cadres," it said.

If candidates are not allocated any one of the cadres for which they have indicated a preference, they shall be allotted along with other candidates any of the remaining cadres, arranged in an alphabetical order, where there are vacancies, the policy said.

Candidates will be allotted their home cadre on the basis of merit, preference and vacancy in the category, it said.

The official said the policy is likely to be put into effect from this year.
 
15. CCEA approves Closure of Bharat Wagon and Engineering Company.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday approved the closure of loss-making Bharat Wagon and Engineering Company (BWEL), a Central Public Sector Enterprise under the Ministry of Railways.

“626 employees of BWEL will be benefited from the voluntary retirement scheme to be offered at 2007 pay scale. The government will have to provide a one-time grant of 151.18 crore towards severance package and for clearing the current liabilities of the company,” it said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet has approved transfer of 40 acres of land of Airports Authority of India land at Dahisar to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for its metro shed swapping with 40 acres of State Government land at Gorai, Mumbai. The land transaction will enable MMRDA to complete the Metro rail project in Mumbai, the statement added.

MoUs with Nepal
Other decisions included nod to two MoUs between India and Nepal. While one MoU will be signed to curb illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances between the two countries, another MoU will be signed between the two countries for laying down implementation arrangement on cost sharing, for starting construction of a new Bridge over Mechi River at Indo-Nepal border.

The CCEA has also approved renaming of the new Central Sector Scheme — SAMPADA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) as ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY)’ for the period of 2016-20.
 
16. Supreme Court declares Right to Privacy as Fundamental Right.
A nine-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday declared that right to privacy is "intrinsic to life and liberty" and an inherent part of the fundamental freedom enshrined in Part III of the Constitution.

Reading out the common conclusion arrived at by the nine judges on the Bench, Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar said the court has overruled its own eight-judge Bench and six-judge Bench judgments of M.P. Sharma and Kharak Singh delivered in 1954 and 1961, respectively, that privacy is not protected under the Constitution.

The Centre had argued that privacy is a common law right.

The nine-judge Bench comprised Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, Justices J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde, R.K. Agrawal, Rohinton F. Nariman, Abhay Manohar Sapre, D.Y. Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul.

The Bench of nine was formed as two judgments of the Supreme Court - the M.P. Sharma case verdict pronounced by an eight-judge Bench shortly after the Indian Constitution came into force in 1950 and the Kharak Singh case verdict of 1962 by a six-judge Bench - had dominated the judicial dialogue on privacy since Independence.

Both judgments had concluded that privacy was not a fundamental or `guaranteed` right. To overcome these two precedents, a numerically superior Bench of nine judges was required.

A five-judge Bench led by Chief Justice Khehar had referred the question whether privacy is a fundamental right or not to the nine-judge Bench.

The nine-judge Bench’s judgment gains international significance as privacy enjoys a robust legal framework internationally, though India has remained circumspect.

The judgment, if it declares privacy as a fundamental right, would finally reconcile our laws with the spirit of Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 1966, which legally protects persons against the “arbitrary interference” with one’s privacy, family, home, correspondence, honour and reputation.

The judgment would have a crucial bearing on the government’s Aadhaar scheme which collects personal details, biometrics to identify beneficiaries for accessing social benefits and government welfare scheme.

A bunch of petitions were filed in the Supreme Court in 2015 challenging Aadhaar as a breach of privacy, informational self-determination and bodily integrity.

The petitioners had argued that Aadhaar enrollment was the means to a “Totalitarian State” and an open invitation for personal data leakage.

The government had countered that the right to privacy of an “elite few” is submissive to the right of the masses to lead a dignified life in a developing country. It said informational privacy does not exist before compelling State interests and is not an absolute right.

It had reasoned that collection and use of personal data of citizens for Aadhaar – now a law under the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act of 2016 - benefits the lives of millions of poor by giving them direct access to public benefits, subsidies, education, food, health and shelter, among other basic rights. The government claimed Aadhaar was a panacea to end corruption in public distribution, money laundering and terror funding.

The apprehension expressed by the Supreme Court about collection and use of data was the risk of personal information falling in the hands of private players and service providers.

Both government and service providers collect personal data like mobile phone numbers, bank details, addresses, date of birth, sexual identities, health records, ownership of property and taxes without providing safeguards from third parties.

National programmes like Aadhaar, NATGRID, CCTNS, RSYB, DNA profiling, reproductive rights of women, privileged communications and brain mapping involve collection of personal data, including, fingerprints, iris scans, bodily samples, and their storage in electronic form. 

The Law Commission has recently forwarded a Bill on Human DNA profiling. All this adds to the danger of data leakage.The Supreme Court had repeatedly asked the government whether it has plans for setting up a “robust data protection mechanism”.

The government informed the Bench a committee of experts led by former Supreme Court judge, Justice B.N. Srikrishna, has already been constituted on July 31 to identify “key data protection issues” and suggest a draft data protection Bill.

 

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