Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 16 March 2023

Pre-arrest bail in corruption case

The Supreme Court agreed to hear a petition filed by the Karnataka Lokayukta, a state body empowered to deal with corruption complaints against public servants, challenging a Karnataka High Court order granting pre-arrest bail to the MLA Madal Virupakshappa, who was also serving as the chairman of the Public Sector Undertaking Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited (KSDL).

How did the matter reach the Supreme Court?

  1. On 6 March 2023, Virupakshappa approached a civil court in Bengaluru and obtained a temporary injunction against defamatory media reporting in the corruption case against 45 media outlets.
  2. A day later, the MLA moved the Karnataka High Court for the grant of anticipatory or pre-arrest bail, which was allowed by Justice K Natarajan subject to the MLA cooperating with the investigation.
  3. Thereafter, the Karnataka Lokayukta filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the Karnataka High Court’s decision to grant Virupakshappa pre-arrest bail.

What is pre-arrest bail?

  1. Black’s Law Dictionary describes ‘bail’ as procuring “the release of a person from legal custody, by undertaking that he shall appear at the time and place designated and submit himself to the jurisdiction and judgment of the court.”
  2. Although “bail” has not been expressly defined in Indian statutes, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) differentiates between “bailable” and “non-bailable” offenses.
  3. It also defines three kinds of bail that can be granted — regular bail under Sections 437 and 439interim bail or short-term bail which is given when regular or anticipatory bail application is pending before the court; and anticipatory or pre-arrest bail.
  4. The provision for “anticipatory bail” was introduced under Section 438 of the CrPC after the 41st Law Commission Report in 1969 recommended the need for a measure that protects against arbitrary violation of one’s personal liberty, such as when politicians detain their opponents in false cases.

When can anticipatory bail be granted?

  1. Anticipatory bail can be granted under Section 438, when “any person has reason to believe that he may be arrested on an accusation of having committed a non-bailable offence”.
  2. It can be granted by the High Court or the Court of Session, under this section, for non-bailable offenses for which one anticipates arrest, even if the actual arrest has not happened or the FIR has not been registered.
  3. Non-bailable offenses are more serious offenses, punishable with at least three years imprisonment and above.
  4. Section 438 was amended in 2005, following which it laid down principles for consideration for the grant of anticipatory bail under subsection such as whether the accused is likely to flee, is a habitual offender, or is likely to tamper with evidence along with his antecedents, such as previously being arrested for a cognizable offense.
  5. However, since state legislatures are empowered to amend certain provisions of the CrPCMaharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal follow their own, modified versions of Section 438.

What are the conditions for granting anticipatory bail?

While granting anticipatory bail, the Sessions Court or High Court can impose the conditions laid down in sub-section (2) like,

  1. The person shall make himself available for interrogation by a police officer as and when required.
  2. The person cannot make any inducement, threat, or promise, directly or indirectly, to any person acquainted with the facts of the case to dissuade him from disclosing them to the court or the police.
  3. The person shall not leave India without the previous permission of the court.
  4. Such other conditions may be imposed under sub-section (3) of section 437 “as if the bail were granted under that section”.

Antiquities abroad and laws about it

GS Paper -1 (Culture)

An investigation has found that the catalogue of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, includes at least 77 items with links to Subhash Kapoor, who is serving a 10-year jail term in Tamil Nadu for smuggling antiquities.

More about the news:

What is antiquity?

Ø  The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972, implemented on April 1, 1976, defined “antiquity” as “any coin, sculpture, painting, epigraph or other work of art or craftsmanship.

Ø  Any article, object or thing detached from a building or cave; any article, object or thing illustrative of science, art, crafts, literature, religion, customs, morals or politics in bygone ages; any article, object or thing of historical interest” that “has been in existence for not less than one hundred years.”

Ø  For “manuscript, record or other document which is of scientific, historical, literary or aesthetic value”, this duration is “not less than seventy-five years.”

International conventions:

ü  The UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property defined “cultural property” as the property designated by countries having “importance for archaeology, prehistory, history, literature, art or science.”

ü  In 2000, the General Assembly of the UN and the UN Security Council in 2015 and 2016 also raised concerns on the issue.

ü  An INTERPOL report in 2019 said that almost 50 years after the UNESCO convention, “the illicit international traffic of cultural items and related offences is sadly increasingly prolific.

Indian laws:

  • In India, Item-67 of the Union List, Item-12 of the State List, and Item-40 of the Concurrent List of the Constitution deal with the country’s heritage.
  • Before Independence, an Antiquities (Export Control) Act had been passed in April 1947 to ensure that “no antiquity could be exported without license.”
  • In 1958, The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act were enacted.
  • Along, with the UNESCO convention, the government enact The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972 (AATA), implemented from April 1, 1976.

What is ‘provenance’ of antiquity?

Provenance includes the list of all owners from the time the object left its maker’s possession to the time it was acquired by the current owner.

How is ownership proved?

Ø  The UNESCO 1970 declaration stated that, “The requesting Party shall furnish, at its expense, the documentation and other evidence necessary to establish its claim for recovery and return.

Ø  The first thing in order to prove ownership is the complaint (FIR) filed with the police.

How to check for fake antiquities?

v  Under section 14(3) of the AATA, “Every person who owns controls or is in possession of any antiquity” shall register such antiquity before the registering officer “and obtain a certificate in token of such registration.”

v  The National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities, launched in March 2007, has registered 3.52 lakh antiquities among the 16.70 lakh it has documented, to help in “effective check” of illegal activities.

U.S. recognises McMahon Line

GS Paper -2 (International Relations)

The United States recognises the McMahon Line as the international boundary between China and Arunachal Pradesh, according to a bipartisan Senate resolution which sees Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India.

More about the news

v  At a time when China continues to pose grave and gathering threats to the Free and Open Indo-Pacific, it is critical for the United States to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with strategic partners in the region, especially India.

v  This bipartisan resolution expresses the Senate’s support for unequivocally recognising the state of Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India.

v  It condemns China’s military aggression to change the status quo along the Line of Actual Control, and further enhancing the U.S.-India strategic partnership and the Quad in support of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific.

v  The resolution also pushes back against People's Republic of China (PRC) claims that Arunachal Pradesh is PRC territory, which is a part of the PRC’s increasingly aggressive and expansionist policies.

v  The U.S. commits to deepening support and assistance to the region, alongside like-minded international partners and donors.

The resolution condemns:

  • It condemns additional China’s provocations, including the People’s Republic of China’s use of military force to change the status quo along the Line of Actual Control.
  • The construction of villages in contested areas, publication of maps with Mandarin-language names for cities and features in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, and expansion of PRC territorial claims in Bhutan.

Resolution commends India as:

  • The resolution commends the Government of India for taking steps to defend itself against aggression and security threats from the People’s Republic of China.
  • These efforts include securing India’s telecommunications infrastructure; examining its procurement processes and supply chains; implementing investment screening standards; and expanding its cooperation with Taiwan in public health and other sectors.
  • Itserves to further strengthen the U.S.-India bilateral partnership regarding defence, technology, economics, and people-to-people ties.
  • Itpromotes enhancing our multilateral cooperation with India through the Quad, the East Asia Summit alongside our partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and other international fora.

Landfills catching fire and solutions

GS Paper -3 (Environment)

The Kochi landfill site that caught fire was a stark reminder that Indian cities need to be prepared for more such incidents as summer approaches. The fires emit greenhouse gases even as people living around the site were advised to stay indoors and don N95 masks until the fire was put out.

Why do landfills catch fire?

  • India’s municipalities have been collecting more than 95% of the waste generated in cities but the efficiency of waste-processing is 30-40% at best.
  • The rate of processing in India’s cities is far lower than the rate of waste generation, so unprocessed waste remains in open landfills for long periods.
  • This openly disposed waste includes flammable material like low-quality plastics, which have a relatively higher calorific value of about 2,500-3,000 kcal/kg (compared to around 8,000 kcal/kg for coal), and rags and clothes.

Solution to landfill fires:

There are two possible permanent solutions to manage landfill fires:


v  Completely cap the material using soil and close landfills in a scientific manner.

v  This solution is unsuitable in the Indian context as the land can’t be used again for other purposes.

v  Closed landfills have specific standard operating procedures, including managing the methane emissions.


  • Clear the piles of waste through bioremediation – i.e. excavate old waste and use automated sieving machines to segregate the flammable refuse-derived fuel (RDF), such as plastics, rags, clothes, etc., from biodegradable material.
  • The recovered RDF can be sent to cement kilns as fuel, while the bio-soil can be distributed to farmers to enrich soil. The inert fraction will have to be landfilled.

Some immediate measures to manage landfill fires:

Ø  Landfill sites span 20-30 acres (depending on the size of the corresponding city), and have different kinds of waste.

Ø  The first immediate action is to divide a site into blocks depending on the nature of the waste.

Ø  At each site, blocks with fresh waste should be separated from blocks with flammable material.

Ø  Blocks that have been capped using soil are less likely to catch fire, so portions like these should also be separated out.

Ø  The fresh-waste block shouldn’t be capped but enough moisture should be provided by sprinkling water. The material should also be turned regularly for aeration, which helps cool the waste heap.

Ø  Once a site has been divided into blocks, the municipality or the landfill operator should classify the incoming waste on arrival to the site, and dispose of it in designated blocks rather than dumping mixed fractions.

Ø  Already segregated and baled non-recyclable and non-biodegradable waste should be sent to cement kilns instead of being allowed to accumulate at the site.

Ø  Dry grass material and dry trees from the site should also be cleared immediately and disposed of separately.

The following precautionary measures will help prevent untoward incidents:

  • Sites should be equipped with water tankers with sprinklers for immediate action.
  • The municipality should work with the nearest fire department and have a plan of action in advance.
  • Waste-processing workers (plant operators, segregators, etc.) should have basic fire-safety and response training.