1. CJI flags ‘falling credibility’ of CBI
Justice Ramana calls for umbrella probe body to avoid multiple proceedings
Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana on Friday said that with the passage of time, like every other institution of repute, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had also come under deep public scrutiny. Its actions and inactions had raised questions regarding its credibility, in some cases.
Delivering the 19th D.P. Kohli Memorial Lecture, organised by the CBI, he said there was an immediate need for the creation of an independent umbrella institution, so as to bring various central agencies like the CBI, Enforcement Directorate and the Serious Fraud Investigation Office under one roof.
“We have a vested interest in strengthening democracy, because we essentially believe in democratic way of living. We Indians love our freedom. When any attempt has been made to snatch our freedom, our alert citizenry did not hesitate to seize the power back from autocrats. So, it is essential that, all the institutions including the police and the investigative bodies uphold and strengthen the democratic values,” he said.
Chief Justice Ramana said the police and the probe agencies should not allow any authoritarian tendencies to creep in. “They need to function within democratic framework as prescribed under the Constitution. Any deviation will hurt the institutions and will weaken our democracy. The police and the investigative agencies may have de-facto legitimacy, but yet, as institutions, they still have to gain social legitimacy,” he said.
Recommending an independent umbrella institution, the CJI said: “This body is required to be created under a statute, clearly defining its powers, functions and jurisdictions… This organisation will end multiplicity of proceedings.”
Central Bureau of Investigation
- The CBI is the premier investigating agency of India operating under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
- It was originally set up to investigate bribery and governmental corruption.
- In 1965 it received expanded jurisdiction to investigate breaches of central laws enforceable by the Government of India, multi-state organized crime, multi-agency or international cases.
- The agency has been known to investigate several economic crimes, special crimes, cases of corruption, and other cases.
- CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act. CBI is India’s officially designated single point of contact for liaison with Interpol.
- The CBI is headed by a Director, an IPS officer with a rank of Director General of Police.
- The director is selected by a high-profile committee constituted under The Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946 as amended through The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, and has a two-year term.
- The Appointment Committee consists of:
- Prime Minister – Chairperson
- Leader of Opposition of Loksabha or the Leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha, if the former is not present due to lack of mandated strength in the Lok Sabha – member
- Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court Judge recommended by the Chief Justice – member
Jurisdiction, powers and restrictions
- The legal powers of investigation of the CBI are derived from the DSPE Act 1946, which confers powers, duties, privileges and liabilities on the Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) and officers of the UTs.
- The central government may extend to any area (except UTs) the powers and jurisdiction of the CBI for investigation, subject to the consent of the government of the concerned state.
- Members of the CBI at or above the rank of sub-inspector may be considered officers in charge of police stations.
- Under the DSPE Act, the CBI can investigate only with notification by the central government.
Relationship with state police
- The CBI was originally constituted under the DSPE Act, to operate within the territory of Delhi.
- As policing and law is a subject that falls within state powers under the structure of Indian federalism, the CBI needs prior consent from other state governments in order to conduct investigations within their territory.
- This consent can be in the form of a ‘general consent’ under Section 6 of the DSPE Act, which remains in operation for all investigations.
- Once consent is granted, the CBI can investigate economic, corruption, and special crimes (including national security, drugs and narcotics, etc.)
- Most Indian states had granted general consent to the CBI to investigate crimes within their territory.
- However, as of 2020, several states have withdrawn their ‘general consent’ for the CBI to operate, and require special consent to be granted on a case-to-case basis.
2. Centre introduces Antarctica Bill
It envisages regulating visits and activities to the continent without a permit
The government on Friday introduced the ‘Antarctica Bill’ in the Lok Sabha that envisages regulating visits and activities to Antarctica as well potential disputes that may arise among those present on the continent. The Bill also prescribes penal provisions for certain serious violations.
The text of the Bill, which was introduced by Science Minister, Jitendra Singh, on Friday says that it seeks to “… prohibit Indian expedition to Antarctica or carrying of certain activities in Antarctica without a permit or the written authorisation of another party to the protocol…provide for inspection in India by an officer designated by the Central government as an Inspector and to constitute an inspection team to carry out inspections in Antarctica.”
Mr. Singh remarked in Parliament that India had been a signatory to the Antarctica Treaty since 1983 and that encumbered India to specify a set of laws governing portions of the continent where it had its research bases.
“Antarctica is a no man’s land… It isn’t that India is making a law for a territory that doesn’t belong to it… the question is if in the territory involving India’s research stations, some unlawful activity happens, how to check it? The Treaty made it mandatory for the 54 signatory countries to specify laws governing territories on which their stations are located,” said Mr. Singh.
India is also signatory to treaties such as the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and the Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, both of which enjoin India to help preserve the pristine nature of the continent. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress demanded to know how India had the right to make laws with penal provisions in territory that didn’t belong to it and Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress also wanted to know whether there would be a bureaucratic set up in place to govern matters concerning Antarctica. They both demanded that the Bill be passed to a Select or Standing Committee of Parliament for a deeper analysis.
M. Ravichandran, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences told The Hindu that not only was India obliged to have such under obligations but it would also clearly establish that any illegal act or “crime” in Indian territory at Antarctica would mean that a person — even if they were a foreigner — would be subject to Indian laws.
The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) is an important R&D institution under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
- It conducts research in the Polar and Antarctic Ocean (Southern or Austral Ocean) realms.
- It was previously known as the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR).
- It was established as an autonomous R&D body in 1998. It is located in Goa.
- It is the nodal agency for coordinating and implementing India’s Antarctic program.
- It also maintains India’s permanent stations in Antarctica, Maitri and Bharati, and also the research base in the Arctic, Himadri.
Indian Antarctic Program
The Indian Antarctic Program is a scientific research and exploration program under the NCPOR.
- It started in 1981 when the first Indian expedition to Antarctica was made.
- This program gained worldwide acceptance after India signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1983. Know more about the Antarctic Treaty in PIB dated Jan 8, 2020.
- In 1983, India constructed its first Antarctic research base named Dakshin Gangotri (after the Dakshin Gangotri glacier).
- It is located 2500 km from the South Pole.
- It was abandoned after being submerged in ice in 1988 – 89 and decommissioned in 1990.
- Currently, it is being used as a supply base and transit camp.
- Dakshin Gangotri was superseded by India’s second research base in Antarctica named Maitri, which was built in 1989.
- Maitri is on the Schirmacher Oasis.
- It engages in research in the fields of earth sciences, biology, glaciology, meteorology, atmospheric sciences, communication, cold region engineering, medicine and human physiology.
- It sources fresh water from a freshwater lake named Lake Priyadarshini nearby. The lake has been named after former PM Indira Gandhi. The lake is situated in the Schirmacher Oasis, which has more than 100 freshwater lakes.
- Bharati is the third research station commissioned by India. It was established in 2012.
- Its mandate is to conduct research in the areas of oceanography and continental break-up. It also focuses on understanding the geological history of the Indian subcontinent.
- With Bharati, India is one of the nine countries to have more than one research base in the Antarctic Circle.
- It is located near Larsmann Hill.
- The communication is through dedicated satellite channels providing connectivity for voice, video and data with the Indian mainland.
- Bharati and Maitri are the two active Antarctic research stations India has.
- So far, India has conducted 40 expeditions to the Antarctic region.
- The members of the expedition are selected by the NCPOR and the Department of Ocean Development.
- The selected people undergo intensive acclimatization training in the Himalayas after the required medical evaluation.
- They are also given training in survival, firefighting, environmental ethics and working in a group.
- One expedition can cost up to Rs.200 million.
- Logistic support is provided by the Indian armed forces.
- The program is bound by the provisions of the Antarctic Treaty System.
Himadri Research Station
Himadri is India’s first research station in the Arctic. It is located in Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway. It is situated at the International Arctic Research base, Ny-Ålesund. It is 1200 km from the North Pole. functions of the station include fjord dynamics monitoring and atmospheric research. Himadri conducts research on space weather, aerosol radiation, microbial communities, food-web dynamics, sedimentology, carbon recycling and glaciers.
3. Record nesting of Olive Ridley turtles
Scientists tagged over 6,000 turtles to gather information on breeding behaviour
As a record number of 4.92 lakh Olive Ridley turtles have crawled to the Rushikulya coast in Odisha, scientists have tagged more than 6,000 turtles to gather more information about their breeding behaviour and migration.
“On the Day 6 of arribada on the Rushikulya coast, we have recorded 4.92 lakh nests and are still counting. This is the highest nesting which has broken all records for the coast,” said Divisional Forest Officer, Berhampur, Amlan Nayak.
During the nesting period, scientists of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have tagged more than one per cent of turtles that have arrived on the beach.
On March 30, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MOEFCC) took note of both spectacular nesting at the Rushikulya rookery and the tagging of turtles. “The ZSI team is monitoring the nesting population, counting the arribada throughout the night since 26th March 2022… Around 1,200 turtles tagged every night, in the last three nights, more than 4,000 female turtles have been tagged by #ZSI,” the MOEFCC had said in a series of tweets.
Arribada is a Spanish word meaning “arrival by sea” and refers to the mass nesting behaviour exhibited by Kemp’s Ridley and Olive Ridley sea turtles.
Long distance travellers
“Before the tagging of the turtles, the information we had was that it was a migratory species. Now the tagging has revealed that the Olive Ridley turtles can travel up to Sri Lanka. Also, we came to know that the migratory turtle is present in the entire Bay of Bengal and even on the coast of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu,” Dr. Basudev Tripathi, scientist at ZSI, said.
The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI)
The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) was established on 1st July, 1916 to promote survey, exploration and research leading to the advancement in our knowledge of various aspects of exceptionally rich life of the erstwhile ´ British Indian Empire ´ . The survey has its genesis in the establishment of the Zoological Section of the Indian Museum at Calcutta in 1875. By gradually strengthening its staff and expanding its research program, the Survey has met the challenge of the past and is on its way to meet the demands of the future. It has maintained its primary objectives unchanged from its inception… Initially, the Survey acquired the Zoological collections of more than a century old from former Museum (1814 -1875) of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and Zoological Section of the Indian Museum(1875-1916) in Calcutta. With the increasing interest in the life sciences and with the advent of country´s Five Year Plans, the expansion programme of the survey was initiated. The Survey has established so far 16 Regional and Field Stations, and has developed into a major National Institution. It functions as the guardian of the National Zoological Collections, containing over a million identified specimens from all animal groups ranging from Protozoa to Mammals. Extensive and intensive field explorations are undertaken by the Survey in different parts of the country for the studies of fauna, systematic zoology, animal ecology, wildlife and zoogeography, animal behavior, animal population and also marine fauna and the results of the explorations and research are published in its own journals as well as National and International periodicals of repute regularly. Recently efforts have been made towards an integrated approach to zoological investigations, so as to have more purpose oriented research comprising biological, cytotaxonomic, and ecological aspects. However, taxonomy continues to occupy a prominent role. There is an increasing interest in matters pertaining to animal life on the part of the public, and a constant stream of enquiries continue to pour in, reflecting public confidence in the Institute. The department has never lacked a constant succession of distinguished Zoologists.
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