Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 20 October 2023

Special and Local Laws need to be reformed

Relevance: GS II; Special and Local Laws (SLL); IPC; CrPC; Quantitative and qualitative relevance in the Indian criminal justice system.

Why in news?

Recent legislative bills aimed at amending criminal laws in India have garnered significant attention for ushering in long-awaited reforms for Special and Local Laws.


Significance of SLL:

  • SLLs have immense quantitative and qualitative relevance in the Indian criminal justice system.
    • Rising offences: Nearly 9% of all cognizable offences registered in 2021 were under SLLs. As per the Crime in India Statistics of 2021, of the total of nearly 61 lakh cognizable offences registered, 24.3 lakh offences were registered under SLLs alone.
    • Rising Awareness for the rights: SLLs have given rise to several fundamental and pertinent debates, discourses and discussions regarding the limits on the state’s power of criminalization especially in the context of violation of individual rights and liberties.
  • Hence, keeping SLL away from the ongoing reform process, with respect to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), is a major drawback.

Need for reforms in SLLs: The IPC today is criticized for the retention of an archaic morality as well as the colonial roots which underpin many of its offences.

  • Ambiguous Laws need reforms: SLLs such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA) suffer from glaringly deficient, ambiguous and vague definitions of offences and terms such as ‘terrorist act’, ‘unlawful activity’, ‘organized crime’, ‘organized crime syndicate’ etc.
  • Application and regulation of Laws needed: The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 is increasingly being criticized for its applicability to consensual sexual activities between minors. Concerns have also been raised regarding the criminalization of such conduct through SLLs which would otherwise fall squarely within the domain of civil wrongs or at best, regulatory wrongs.
  • Power-play struggle and dilution of Laws: The Supreme Court during the case of Mohanraj versus M/s Shah Brothers Ispat Ltd. (2021) referred to Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 as a ‘civil sheep’ in a ‘criminal wolf’s’ clothing. Procedurally too, it is through SLLs that universally accepted due process values are increasingly being diluted.
    • Increased powers of search and seizure under Section 43A of the UAPA and the admissibility of confessions recorded by police officers under Section 18 of the MCOCA are prime examples.
  • Limitations are required: The stringent provisions provided for under Section 43(D)(5) of the UAPA, Section 37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 and Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002 make the grant of bail a near impossibility.

Way Ahead:

  • The idea of codification of penal laws can be structured effectively: As successive governments place increasing reliance on the SLLs for a variety of reasons, it becomes imperative that the same should not be allowed to overpower the idea of codification of penal laws as imbibed in the IPC as well as the CrPC.
    • All SLLs which criminalize/seek to criminalize conduct should find a place as separate chapters within the larger structure of the penal code.
    • All SLLs which create a separate procedure for reporting offences, arrest, investigation, prosecution, trial, evidence and bail must be included either as separate procedures within the CrPC or as exceptions to the general provisions provided therein.
  • Establishing efficient procedure: Non-inclusion of the substantive and procedural aspects of the SLLs in the ongoing reform project is a serious limitation. It is imperative therefore that a second generation of reforms be brought in, in order to address the lacunae.

As India increasingly relies on Special and Local Laws, it is necessary to verify that these laws do not overshadow the original concept of codifying penal laws, as embodied in the IPC and CrPC. Failing to incorporate the substantive and procedural aspects of SLLs into ongoing reform efforts represents a significant limitation.

Mains PYQs

  • Mob violence is emerging as a serious law and order problem in India. By giving suitable examples, analyze the causes and consequences of such violence. (2017)
  • “Traditional bureaucratic structure and culture have hampered the process of socio-economic development in India.” Comment (2016)

District officers under the POSH Act


Supreme Court directed the Centre, States and Union territories (UTs) to immediately appoint district officers under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (POSH Act).


Role of a District Officer of POSH Act:

  • H/She is tasked with keeping the redressal and monitoring framework intact and further ensuring effective implementation of the act.
  • He constitutes the Local Committee (LC) in each district, for a workplace that employs less than 10 workers. An Internal Committee (IC) is set up if the organization has 10 or more employees.
  • He is tasked with designating a nodal officer in each block, taluka, and tehsil in rural or tribal areas, and ward or municipality in the urban area. The nodal officer receives complaints and forwards them to the concerned LC.
  • The LC, after conducting the inquiry, submits its report to the district officer and the employer, recommending action.
  • The district officer forwards a brief statement on the annual reports (containing information on the number of cases filed and their disposal) submitted by every employer in their jurisdiction to the government.

Recommendation by the Supreme Court

  • POSH rules should be amended to clarify that district officers have the authority to collect fines from employers for failing to constitute internal or local committees for receiving complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace.
  • POSH rules should designate nodal authorities preferably in the women and child department.
  • The court also asked the Centre and states to consider making “anonymised data” from the annual compliance reports, collected by district offices. Further, they may consider making these statistics public as an act of transparency and good governance.

EU’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 


Mahsa Amini, whose death in police custody sparked a wave of women’s rights protests in Iran, has been awarded the European Union’s top human rights prize.

About the Award:

  • The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, commonly known as the Sakharov Prize, is an honorary award for individuals or groups who have dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights and freedom of thought.
  • It was set up in 1988 and is awarded every year by the European Parliament.
  • It is named in honour of Soviet Physicist and Political dissident Andrei Sakharov and the prize money is 50,000 euros.

About Andrei Sakharov:

  • She was part of Iran’s minority Kurdish community and was arrested in Tehran by the “morality police” for not complying with the country’s hijab rules.
  • Her death triggered widespread protests across, with women defying the strict headscarf rules.
  • Solidarity protests spread throughout the world, with demonstrations in Paris, Berlin, Beirut, Istanbul and other major cities.
  • Earlier this month, Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi, won the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all.

Operation Chakra II


CBI launched searches across India under Operation Chakra II, in cyber fraud cases including ₹100-cr crypto scam.


  • It was conducted after five separate cases of cyber-enabled financial fraud were registered. The further inputs were provided by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
    • The scheme, under the guise of a fake crypto-mining operation, targeted Indian citizens.
    • Two cases were registered on a complaint from Amazon and Microsoft that the accused ran call centres and posed as technical support of the companies to target foreign nationals.
  • The CBI is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States, the Cyber Crime Directorate and IFCACC of the INTERPOL, the National Crime Agency (NCA) in the United Kingdom, the Singapore Police Force and the BKA of Germany.

Operation Chakra I

  • Conducted a year ago by the CBI in coordination with Interpol, the FBI and police forces of multiple countries.

ICMR drone delivers drugs


The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) successfully transported more than 100 units of essential medications for 20 km in Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh using a drone as part of a feasibility study.


  • Essential medical provisions including antibiotics, antipyretics and multivitamins were transported from regional hospitals in Keylong to more than eight primary health centres (PHCs) in the region.
  • On its return journey, the drone carried TB sputum samples, blood samples and various diagnostic specimens back to the Keylong Centre for thorough analysis.
  • The round trip, which takes two hours by road and is often delayed due to snowfall, took around 26 minutes in total with the drone.

i-Drone initiative of ICMR

  • It is aimed to deliver the medications and diagnostic samples at subzero temperature areas and difficult regions with altitudes over 12,000 ft. This is an initiative towards making an impact in the lives of people residing in remote areas.
  • i-Drone was first used during the Covid-19 pandemic for distributing vaccines. This year successful trials were completed for the delivery of blood and blood-related products, which are supposed to be kept at a low temperature.
  • It is in line with the national mission to advance India's drone ecosystem.
  • Earlier, vital medical supplies were supplied to challenging terrains in Manipur and Nagaland.

Nuclear Briefcase


During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to China, he was seen carrying what is known as the “nuclear briefcase”.


  • It’s part of a secured communication setup, meant to convey orders for a nuclear strike to the rocket forces of the country. It is also known as the ‘Cheget’, named after a mountain in Russia.
  • The American President has a similar briefcase officially called the Presidential Emergency Satchel.

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