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Insights Daily Current Events, November 09, 2013

October 2013 – Magazine


November 09, 2013


Gauhati High Court’s verdict on CBI formation & CBI’s Identity Crisis

  • Just recently, had the Gauhati High Court quashed the Union Home Ministry’s resolution by which the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was constituted in 1963. Following which, the Central Government is going for an appeal to Supreme Court (SC).

  • The High Court had held that the CBI was neither an organ nor part of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE); therefore it could not be treated as a “police force” constituted under the DSPE Act.

  • This has led to ‘CBI’s identity crisis’- which has called for a ‘law empowering the CBI rather than let it function on the basis of a dubious piece of legislation whose basic legality is open to question. CBI now needs an independent standing in law i.e., it should be either made a constitutional or a statutory body. (Hitherto, it was just a body formed by the resolution of the Union Government).

  • However, critics and eminent lawyers have argued that, ‘the judgment has overlooked the fact that DSPE is synonymous with the CBI and nowhere has it been claimed that it applies to any investigating body other than the CBI. The agency (CBI) has also never invoked its existence under any other law but DSPE, a pre-constitutional statute like several other substantive and procedural statutes including the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Evidence Act. Hence the verdict has rendered the whole statute redundant’.

Impact of this verdict/judgement:

  • Gauhati High Court’s judgement holding the setting up of the investigating agency “unconstitutional” would be likely misused. Following cases holds testimony to this:

  • Citing Gauhati HC judgment former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, and other accused in the 2G scam case, have asked for a stay on the proceedings in a Delhi court. But the Special Judge has rejected their plea.

  • In another case, Congress leader Sajjan Kumar also sought to declare “illegal” the probe and charge sheets filed by the CBI in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case against him.

All you need to know about CBI:

A brief history of CBI

  • During the period of World War II, a Special Police Establishment (SPE) was constituted in 1941 in the Department of War of the British India to enquire into allegations of bribery and corruption in the war related procurements.

  • Later on it was formalized as an agency of the Government of India to investigate into allegations of corruption in various wings of the Government of India by enacting the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946.

  • In 1963, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was established by the Government of India with a view to investigate serious crimes related to Defence of India, corruption in high places, serious fraud, cheating and embezzlement and social crime, particularly of hoarding, black-marketing and profiteering in essential commodities, having all-India and inter-state ramifications.

  • CBI derives its legal powers to investigate crime from the DSPE Act, 1946.

Who exercises supervision over CBI?

  • The superintendence of CBI related to investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 lies with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and in other matters with the Department of Personnel & Training (DOPT) in the Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Grievances of the Government of India.

What types of Crime CBI investigate?

CBI has grown into a multidisciplinary investigation agency over a period of time. Today it has the following three divisions for investigation of crime:-

(i) Anti-Corruption Division – for investigation of cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against Public officials and the employees of Central Government, Public Sector Undertakings, Corporations or Bodies owned or controlled by the Government of India – it is the largest division having presence almost in all the States of India.

(ii) Economic Offences Division – for investigation of major financial scams and serious economic frauds, including crimes relating to Fake Indian Currency Notes, Bank Frauds and Cyber Crime.   

(iii) Special Crimes Division – for investigation of serious, sensational and organized crime under the Indian Penal Code and other laws on the requests of State Governments or on the orders of the Supreme Court and High Courts.

The laws under which CBI can investigate Crime are notified by the Central Government under the DSPE Act.

P.S: CBI has suo-moto powers only in the Union Territories. Taking up investigation by CBI in the boundaries of a State requires prior consent of that State as per Section 6 of the DSPE Act. The Central Government can authorize CBI to investigate such a crime in a State but only with the consent of the concerned State Government. The Supreme Court and High Courts, however, can order CBI to investigate such a crime anywhere in the country without the consent of the State.

Courtesy –


First integrated check post along Bangladesh border

  • India’s second international standard multi-use Integrated Check Post (ICP) and the first along the Bangladesh border would be open to people at Akhaurah in Tripura.

  • The first such ICP was opened in Attari in Punjab along the Pakistan border in April, 2012.

Significance of ICP:

  • The multi-purpose ICPs would boost trade with neighbouring countries, besides facilitating trans-border passenger traffic.

India, Kuwait to take relationship beyond buyer-seller partnership

  • Recently, India and Kuwait have held talks on a wide area of interest – ranging from investment, trade, and security to joint ventures in the energy sector, to take their relationship beyond the present buyer-seller partnership.

  • The two PM’s focused on the Kuwait’s $350 billion surplus funds and its Oil imports. India imports around 10% of its oil requirement from Kuwait.

  • Five pacts were signed in among the two countries.

Following were the proposals between the two sides:

  • The two leaders have discussed the development of a more ‘strategic partnership’ in the energy sector through long-term supply contracts and the establishment of upstream and downstream joint ventures in the petroleum and petrochemical sectors.

  • Kuwait would explore opportunities for investing in India as part of the $350 billion fund which is growing by $25 billion annually.

  • From the Indian side – India has proposed several specific projects for investments by the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation.

  • India has also shown interest in a $100 billion Kuwaiti infrastructure renewal programme.

  • On the security front – the two leaders discussed about ‘security cooperation’ and agreed to strengthen cooperation in counter-terrorism through institutionalised dialogue and training.

Sri Lanka to set up National Inquiry on Torture

  • A National Inquiry on Torture would be set up under the aegis of the Sri Lanka National Human Rights Commission (SLHRC) and it would be assisted and monitored by the Commonwealth Secretariat. The inquiry will investigate all allegations of torture committed by government agencies or arms of the state from 2009 (the final stages of the civil war) to the present.

Why is ‘National Inquiry on Torture’ being set up?

  • The Secretariat has come under harsh criticism from international human rights groups, the media, and some member-countries who accuse it of overlooking human rights concerns in respect of Sri Lanka, which is to become chair of the Commonwealth for the next two years.

Role of the Commonwealth Secretariat

  • Following the criticism, the Commonwealth Secretariat had initiated the process that would bring the issue of torture and national reconciliation under Commonwealth scrutiny and compliance. It would assist Sri Lanka progress towards national reconciliation. This process would take nearly 18 months to be completed.

  • The Secretariat would focus on building institutional capacity through its own set of best practices on the conduct of national inquiries in compliance with international human rights standards, drawing from the experiences of South Africa, Namibia and Northern Ireland

  • And for this to be successful, SLHRC also needs to be further strengthened and given muscle and spine to do their work, with an advisory group from the Commonwealth.

Relevance of Commonwealth goes much beyond Lankan rights violations

  • Apart from the Sri Lankan Human rights violation, the Commonwealth’s role would have significant impact on the smaller states (sovereign countries with a population of 1.5 million or less), which constitute 31 out of the 53 member states of the Commonwealth. So participation of these smaller states would be vital.

  • The Commonwealth provides assistance to these nations –

  • on the issue of debt reduction through engagement and advocacy with the Bretton Woods institutions (i.e., WB & IMF).

  • providing funding and expertise to mitigate the effects of climate change, which is vital for smaller island nations facing the impact of rising sea-levels.


Agni-1 test-fired successfully

  • India has successfully test-fired nuclear weapons-capable, surface-to-surface Agni-1 missile for its full range of 700 km from Wheeler Island, off the Odisha coast.

  • Agni-1 is a single-stage, solid-fuelled missile. It was the 11th launch of Agni-1.

  • Agni-1 was developed by DRDO missile technologists in a short span of 15 months after the need for it was perceived by the defence services following the Kargil conflict.


Migratory birds flock avian paradise –‘Hokersar’

  • Over five lakh waterfowls have started flocking Hokersar, signalling their annual tradition of migration from Siberia, the West Asia Middle East and the Far East.

  • ‘Hokersar’ is a protected bird sanctuary on the outskirts of Srinagar. It is the only designated Ramsar site in the valley, and is the safest bird sanctuary in Jammu and Kashmir.  Hokersar is known as “The Queen of the Wetlands”.

Advantages of Ramsar site ‘status’

  • The Ramsar designation has led to the implementation of better management tools in the last few years. The phenomenal increase in the number of mallards (or wild duck) is an example of the impact. Around 1996, the mallard was almost on the brink of extinction. But now (in 2013), the sanctuary has seen a sizeable attendance of the mallard.

What is a Wetland?

  • Wetlands are highly variable and dynamic: they are water bodies but also include land. They are freshwater, brackish or saline, inland or coastal, seasonal or permanent, natural or man-made. Wetlands include mangroves, (peat) swamps and marshes, rivers, lakes, floodplains and flooded forests, rice-fields, and even coral reefs.

  • Wetlands are one of the world’s most important environmental assets, containing a disproportionately high number of plant and animal species compared to other areas of the world. Throughout history they have been integral to human survival and development.

Courtesy –

More about the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the ‘conservation’ and ‘wise use’ of wetlands and their resources.

  • The Ramsar Convention is the only global environmental treaty that deals with a particular ecosystem. The treaty was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and the Convention’s member countries cover all geographic regions of the planet.

(The ‘Wise Use’ concept means conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and their resources, for the benefit of humankind.)

The Ramsar mission:

  • The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.

  • The Convention uses a broad definition of the types of wetlands covered in its mission, including lakes and rivers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands and peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, near-shore marine areas, mangroves and coral reefs, and human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs, and salt pans.


P.S:  2014 -> is the ‘UN International Year of Family Farming’.

Ramsar Convention has chosen ‘Wetlands & Agriculture’ as the World Wetlands Day theme for 2014.

Disaster Management: Bioremediation

  • This was recently in news, since mangroves along the eastern coast of Mahul had been destroyed by a Mumbai port oil leak.

What is Bioremediation Process ?

  • Bioremediation is the branch of biotechnology which deals with the methods of solving the environmental problems. It also plays vital role in cleaning the environment from pollutants and contaminants by using the microorganisms and fungi.

  • It is not necessary that all types of contaminants can be destroyed with bioremediation; heavy metals like lead and cadmium are not the type of contaminants which can be decomposed by the microorganisms.

  • Special type of contaminants like chlorinated pesticides can be easily digested by bacteria. Similarly oil spills can also be cleaned by bacteria.

  • Technologies can be generally classified as in situ or ex situ. In situ bioremediation involves treating the contaminated material at the site, while ex siti involves the removal of the contaminated material to be treated elsewhere.

  • Bioremediation can occur on its own (natural attenuation or intrinsic bioremediation) or can be spurred on via the addition of fertilizers to increase the bioavailability within the medium (biostimulation).

  • Recent advancements have also proven successful via the addition of matched microbe strains to the medium to enhance the resident microbe population’s ability to break down contaminants. Microorganisms used to perform the function of bioremediation are known as bioremediators.

  • Bacteria are the most important microbes in this process because they break the dead materials into organic matter and nutrients.

How does it work?

  • In bioremediation, the entire affected wetland is cordoned off. A few inches of affected soil is then removed. A pit is dug in the vicinity and the soil is mixed with certain active elements which consume the oil.

Courtesy – & Wikipedia