1. The Supreme Court on March 27, 2018 termed the interference by illegal assemblies like ‘khap panchayat’ in marriages of two consenting adults as’ absolutely illegal’ and laid down guidelines to prevent such intrusions. The judgement was passed by a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud. The bench laid down certain punitive and remedial measures to be followed until a suitable legislation is put in place by the Parliament. The ruling came on a petition filed against khap panchayats by NGO Shakti Vahini, which had moved the top court in 2010 seeking protection of couples from honour killings.
2. The Supreme Court on March 26, 2018 ruled that as per Section 302 of Indian Penal code, the punishment for murder is death or life imprisonment and any punishment less than the life imprisonment is illegal and without the authority of law. The judgment was delivered by a Bench of Justices RK Agarwal and Abhay Manohar Sapre, who directed that once a murder accused is convicted, trial court judges have no "discretion" to award lesser punishment than the life imprisonment.The court expressed its astonishment on the judgement made by a trial court wherein the Sessions Judge sentenced ten years imprisonment to a murder convict Bharatkumar Rameshchandra Barot.
3. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is planning to relax the protected area permit (PAP) regime to enable foreign tourists to access border areas. MHA will coordinate with other agencies and state governments to identify possible locations for which protected area permit (PAP) regime provisions may be relaxed. However, citizens from Pakistan and China are unlikely to be given these relaxations.The move is being initiated to promote tourism, create job opportunities for the locals and generate revenue for the states.
4. Surat sets an example for country by developing villages that use sustainable forms of energy. Surat district in Gujarat become first in country to have 100% solar powered Primary Health Centers (PHCs). All 52 PHCs in the district are now powered by solar system. The solarification of all PHCs in Surat district will bring down electricity bill by 40% and also help fight global warming.
5. E-Tribes India banners on e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Snapdeal, Paytm & GeM has been launched by the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India, (TRIFED), under Ministry of Tribal Affairs. It also launched TRIFED’s websites-www.tribesindia.com, www.trifed.in and Retail Inventory Software and M-commerce app as part of Digital India Initiative.
1. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) on March 26, 2018 signed the Headquarters Agreement with the Indian Government, enabling the ISA to establish its headquarters in the Host Country to discharge its functions and programmes. This Host Country Agreement makes ISA a juridical personality and gives it power to acquire and dispose the movable and immovable properties. Under this agreement, ISA will be authorised to institute and defend legal proceedings, will enjoy tax concessions and immunities as necessary to independently discharge its function and programmes.
Science & Technology/ defence:
1. Scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Biology have developed an ultra-fine biodegradable film, some 50000 times thinner than a human hair, to prevent coral bleaching, which had spread across the Great Barrier Reef in Australia in 2016 and 2017.The shield has been designed to sit on the surface of the water above the corals rather than directly on the corals to provide an effective barrier against the sun.The test results of this floating sun shield, made of calcium carbonate, were remarkable enough to establish the certainty in protecting the reef from the effects of bleaching.
2. The Ministry of Defence has released draft policy on defence production that aims to make India one of the top five manufacturers of defence platforms.with active participation of public and private sectors. The Policy objectives are i) Make India self-reliant in defence production as well as fulfil demand of friendly countries. ii) Achieve turnover of Rs.1,70,000 crore in military goods and services by 2025 by promoting domestic defence industry. iii) Achieve export of Rs. 35,000 crore in military equipment and services by 2025 by promoting the domestic defence industry.
3. The National Conference on Down Syndrome organised by the National Trust under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment was held in New Delhi. The objective of conference was to provide excellent opportunities to parents to obtain information about latest development in education and skilling and inclusive living of persons with Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome is a chromosomal condition associated with intellectual and learning disabilities. It leads to delayed development and behavioural problems in children suffering with it.
4. The SWIFT (Society for World Interbank Financial Telecommunication System) platform has expanded its GPI (Global Payment Innovation) Tracker system to help banks track their global transactions at all times and keep full vigil on payments activity.
5. NASA has partnered with private space launching company SpaceX to launch Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) to search for exoplanets using the transit method. TESS is designed to carry out first spaceborne all-sky transiting exoplanet survey. It is planned to be launched in April 2018 on board of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The primary mission objective of TESS is to survey brightest stars near Earth for transiting exoplanets over two-year period. It will use array of wide-field cameras to perform all-sky survey. It will create catalog of thousands of exoplanet candidates using transit photometry method.