1. If law is drafted well, judiciary won’t get opportunity to overstep it: Shah
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday said if a law was drafted well, the judiciary would not get an opportunity to overstep it.
Mr. Shah made the remarks at the inauguration of a training programme on legislative drafting organised by PRIDE and ICPS for officers of Parliament and State legislatures.
He said laws should be drafted in as simple and clear words as possible because difficult words always created controversy. “Making a law that cannot be disputed for the next 25 years and the court does not need to intervene is a medal for drafting a good law,” Mr. Shah said.
The Home Minister said Article 370 of the Constitution that provided special status to the former State of Jammu and Kashmir was a temporary provision and whoever drafted the law was sharp enough to insert the phrase “temporary” in the index.
“Any provision in the Constitution cannot be temporary. The written debates of the time when Article 370 was inserted are not available. Whoever drafted the law was sharp enough to add temporary provision against it,” the Minister said.
He said the spirit of “our languages” was important and as most laws were drafted in English, many a time the intent of the legislator was not reflected in the English version.
He added that grey areas left scope for encroachment and the legislation should be drafted in a manner that reflected the political will of the Cabinet or Parliament. Words should be expanded to sentences.
“Most laws are drafted in English but to reflect the spirit of our languages is very important. Many times, the intent of the legislator doesn’t match with the English translation of the law.,” he said.
2. Centre against any ethnic division, says Manipur CM
The Centre has ruled out dividing Manipur on ethnic lines, Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh said on Monday.
“We met Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi yesterday [Sunday] to brief him on the situation in Manipur. He said the State’s territorial integrity will not be compromised,” he told presspersons in Imphal.
Mr. Singh said stern action would be taken under a suspension of operations agreement against extremist groups for possessing weapons illegally. Manipur has some 30 extremist outfits belonging to Kuki-Chin-Zomi group of which 25 are party to the agreement.
In March, the State government withdrew the agreement with the Kuki National Army and the Zomi Revolutionary Army, accusing them of inciting forest encroachers against the government.
“The Centre has asked the State government to bring back normalcy irrespective of caste, religion, and community. We have been advised to conduct massive outreach programmes,” Mr. Singh said, adding that the Home Minister would be sending emissaries to Manipur for reconnecting the communities. He said 500 weapons snatched from police establishments during the clashes had been recovered. “Amit Shah has assured the people of the State that as per the rules of the agreement, joint monitoring committee along with the Army and the State police jointly inspected many camps and found the weapons still intact with the group,” Mr. Singh said.
Ministers Thongam Biswajit, Yumnam Khemchand, Govindas Konthoujam, and Sapam Ranjan were also present during the media briefing. They had accompanied the Chief Minister to New Delhi. 5,822 sheltered in Mizoram
A total of 5,822 people from Manipur belonging to the Chin-Kuki-Mizo tribes are lodged at temporary relief camps across six districts of Mizoram.
Officials in Mizoram said Aizawl district has the highest number of such displaced people at 2,021, followed by Kolasib (1,847), and Saitual (1,790). The rest are distributed in Champhai, Khawzawl and Serchhip districts.
3. Evaluating DNA report as evidence
In its recent judgments, the Supreme Court has been critical of admitting DNA report as clinching evidence in criminal cases. In Rahul v. the State of Delhi, Ministry of Home Affairs (2022), the Court said “the collection and sealing of the samples sent for examination were not free from suspicion.” It objected to the fact that the Delhi High Court and the trial court did not examine the underlying basis of the findings in the DNA reports and also did not examine whether the expert reliably applied the techniques. Based on this reason, despite the ‘match’ result of the DNA analysis, and other findings, the Court acquitted all the three persons who were accused of rape and murder. In Manoj v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2022), where the expert explained the technique of DNA analysis, but did not mention the ‘random occurrence ratio,’ the Court held that there was the likelihood of contamination as one of the reference samples was collected from an open area.
Careful sampling is a must
The first responder on the scene of crime needs to ensure that the biological sample is dried under room temperature and sealed in a paper, and not plastic, bag. The sample should be free from any contamination due to humic acid, which is a primary constituent of the soil. Touching areas where DNA may exist, and talking, sneezing and coughing over evidence must be avoided. No other human contact should be allowed, and stained articles must be packed separately.
Liquid blood samples must be collected using blood collection cards or EDTA (Ethylene Diamine Tetra Acetic Acid) vials in a vaccination box with coolants to maintain low temperature. Other body fluid samples may be collected in indicator cards. The investigating officer (IO) must ensure that the properly sealed samples reach the forensic science laboratory (FSL) in the stipulated time period, maintaining proper chain of custody. In fact, the Union Home Ministry had provided a sizeable number of sexual assault evidence collection kits containing blood collection cards and EDTA vials in 2020 to all the States so that the biological samples are collected and preserved in the best possible manner for DNA analysis. The States need to continue with this good practice.
The first step in the FSL is to extract DNA material from a sample by separating other elements, such as RNA, proteins, lipids, cell debris and humic acid. Nowadays, automated machines are used to extract DNA from the biological material depending upon low and high copy number of DNA for further analysis. The next step is the quantification of the extracted DNA material using the RT-PCR machine. Further analysis is carried out irrespective of the number of copies found during quantification. Once the quality as well as the quantity of the sample (both reference and control) is known, the sample is subjected to amplification by STR (Short Tandem Repeats) typing (with 16, 24 or more genetic markers) using the PCR machine. STR typing means to mark locations which identify uniqueness and are different in every individual.
If the sample does not contain sufficient DNA during quantification, it is indicative of degradation. In spite of the quality of the DNA, if the profile is not obtained, it indicates the possibility of non-amplification of DNA which may be due to contaminants or PCR inhibiters in the sample. In the end, PCR products are separated using automated genetic analysers and the results are compared with the provided referral sample. The result is interpreted as match (inclusion) or not-match (exclusion) or inconclusive (only when partial DNA profile is generated). The obtained STR profile may be from a single source or it may be a mixed profile which is obtained mostly in evidences of sexual assault cases.
Therefore, if the sample size and quality is good enough to reach a ‘match’ result, it cannot be said that the sample might be contaminated (irrespective of the fact that it was collected from an open area). Had the sample been sufficiently contaminated, the ‘match’ result would not have been arrived at. All stakeholders of the criminal justice system need to be sensitised about the techniques of DNA analysis.
Random match probability
The Court has questioned the forensic expert for not mentioning the ‘random occurrence ratio’. This statistical ratio or ‘random match probability’ (RMP) is referred to as the frequency of the particular DNA profile in a population. A small RMP value means the profile is rare in the population and vice versa. The Central FSL, Directorate of Forensic Sciences, released a Working Procedures Manual Forensic DNA Testing in 2019, which prescribes the procedure for calculating RMP for automated STRs. Therefore, there is no justifiable reason for a DNA expert not to mention RMP in its report.
In the Rahul case, the Court objected to the fact that the sample was not collected by the inspector who was present in the hospital during the post-mortem, and was collected a day later by a constable. It said there was a possibility of tampering as the samples were kept in the Police Station Malkhana for a few days after seizure. This assumption seems unfounded as unless the chain of custody is broken, and adverse evidence is adduced in the court, only an administrative delay should become a basis to reject the prosecution story.
DNA technology has evolved over the years. As the evidence of DNA matching in criminal cases, particularly those based on circumstantial evidence, acquires great importance, some standard guidelines need to be laid down by the Court for admitting the DNA expert’s report as credible evidence.
Some standard guidelines need to be laid down by the Court for admitting the DNA expert’s report as credible evidence
4. One-stop centres for zero waste to be launched in cities
Used clothes can be deposited at the one-stop centres for repurposing.
In a step towards cutting down waste generation in urban India, the government will launch one-stop centres where citizens can deposit old clothes, shoes, books, toys and plastic that can be reused or recycled.
These special “Reduce, Recycle and Reuse” centres are to be launched nationwide on May 20. Individuals, institutions and commercial enterprises can deposit the items at these hubs.
The items will then be given to different stakeholders to be refurbished for reuse or would be made into new products contributing to a circular economy, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation said in a statement on Monday.
These ‘RRR’ centres would be set up as part of a nationwide campaign ‘Meri LiFE, Mera Swachh Shehar’ (‘My Life, My Clean City’) under the aegis of the Swacch Bharat Mission – Urban 2.0 (SBM-U 2.0) to strengthen citizens’ resolve to reduce, reuse and recycle, the Ministry said.
The objective of the campaign is to take collective action for the protection and conservation of the environment by adopting sustainable daily habits. “The 3Rs form the backbone of ‘Waste to Wealth’ and has empowered many craftsmen, recyclers, self-help Groups, entrepreneurs, startups, etc. to recycle waste into a host of products,” a senior official in the Urban Affairs Ministry said.
The campaign will culminate on World Environment Day on June 5.