The Epidemic Diseases (amendment) Ordinance, 2020.

The Central government has today promulgated an Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to make attacks on doctors and healthcare workers a cognizable and non-bailable offence.

Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 in the light of the pandemic situation of COVID-19

Why Now ?

  • During the current COVID-19 pandemic, there have been instances of the most critical service providers i.e. members of healthcare services being targeted and attacked by miscreants, thereby obstructing them from doing their duties.
  • This has led to cases of their stigmatization and ostracization and sometimes worse, acts of unwarranted violence and harassment.
  • Such a situation tends to hamper the medical community from performing their duties to their optimum best and maintaining their morale, which is a critical need in this hour of national health crisis.

Why an Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 Ordinance ?

  • Several States have enacted special laws to offer protection to doctors and other medical personnel in the past.
  • However, Covid-19 outbreak has posed a unique situation where harassment of the healthcare workforce and others working to contain the spread of the disease has been taking place at all fronts, in various places including even cremation grounds.
  • The existing state laws do not have such a wide sweep and ambit.
  • They generally do not cover harassment at home and workplace and are focused more on physical violence only.
  • The penal provisions contained in these laws are not stringent enough to deter mischief mongering.

Promulgation of an Ordinance

  • In this context, the Union Cabinet has approved promulgation of an Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to protect healthcare service personnel and property including their living/working premises against violence during epidemics.
  • The President has given his assent for promulgation of the Ordinance.

Highlights of The Epidemic Diseases (amendment) Ordinance, 2020.

  1. The Ordinance provides for making such acts of violence cognizable and non-bailable offences and for compensation for injury to healthcare service personnel or for causing damage or loss to the property in which healthcare service personnel may have a direct interest in relation to the epidemic.
  2. Violence is defined in the Ordinance will include harassment and physical injury and damage to property.
  3. Healthcare service personnel include:
    1. Public and clinical healthcare service providers such as doctors, nurses, paramedical workers and community health workers;
    2. Any other persons empowered under the Act to take measures to prevent the outbreak of the disease or spread thereof;
    3. and any persons declared as such by the State Government, by notification in the Official Gazette.
  4. The penal provisions can be invoked in instances of damage to property including a clinical establishment, any facility identified for quarantine and isolation of patients, mobile medical units and any other property in which the healthcare service personnel have direct interest in relation to the epidemic.
  5. Commission or abetment of such acts of violence shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of three months to five years, and with fine of Rs.50,000/- to Rs.2,00,000/-.
  6. In case of causing grievous hurt, imprisonment shall be for a term six months to seven years and with fine of Rs.1,00,000/- to Rs.5,00,000/-.
  7.  In addition, the offender shall also be liable to pay compensation to the victim and twice the fair market value for damage of property.
  8. Offences shall be investigated by an officer of the rank of Inspector within a period of 30 days, and trial has to be completed in one year, unless extended by the court for reasons to be recorded in writing.
  9. Looking at the interventions required during the current Covid-19 outbreak, the Central Government has been given a concurrent role with the State Governments to take any measures that may be needed to prevent the outbreak of an epidemic or the spread thereof. In addition, the scope of inspection of vessels arriving or leaving the country has been enlarged to include road, rail, sea and air vessels.


  • Presumption of Guilt in Grievous Hurt Cases
  • Generally, in criminal law, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a person has committed a criminal offence.
  • By reversing this burden of proof, the ordinance will require those tried in grievous hurt cases to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that they did not commit the offence, or did not have the required mental state to do it.
  • One argument can be will after the vulnerable and marginalized.

Way Forward :

  • The health workforce are our frontline soldiers in battling the spread of Covid-19. They put their own lives at risk in order to ensure safety of others.
  • It is hoped that this Ordinance will have the impact of infusing confidence in the community of healthcare service personnel so that they can continue to contribute to serving mankind through their noble professions in the extremely difficult circumstances being witnessed during the current Covid-19 outbreak.

Some thoughts and Questions on The Epidemic Diseases (amendment) Ordinance, 2020:

  • It is the ‘Certainty, Not Severity of Punishment Deters Crime’ It is not severity of sentence but certainty of punishment that deters crime. Do you Think this ordinance will be implemented effectively?
  • When rule of law looses its respect in any  direction it impacts us in myriad ways !
  • Quick decisions by government will boost the morale of the Health service personnel, but infrastructural support is even more essential ?
  • It’s only temporary and applies during epidemics … need long term and permanent act ?
  • Behavioral changes and awareness ?
  • Awareness about stigmatization and believing fake news and  superstitions.
  • We cannot one side encourage superstitions and fake news and on other hand believe people to not do bizarre stuff .
  • He didn’t deserve this: Chennai doctor shares trauma of having to bury friend who was denied burial by mob
  • Eg: AYUSH Ministry validating COVID-19 ”cure” relayed to Goa teacher via apparition! (I hope it’s fake news)
  • Please add more dimensions !


  • Section 2 (c) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 defines Cognizable offences.
  • Cognizable offence/case means a case in which, a police officer may arrest without warrant, as per the First Schedule of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 or under any other law for the time being in force.
  • Cognizable offenses are usually offenses which are serious in nature.
  • For cognizable Offences, a Police Officer can take cognizance without permission or order from the Magistrate.
  • If among two or more offences one offence is cognizable then the whole case shall be deemed to be a cognizable case.
  • Cognizable offences are offences for which punishment is imprisonment for 3 years or more.

Ordinance making powers of the President (Read Laxmikanth)

  • Article 123 of the Constitution grants the President certain law making powers to promulgate Ordinances when either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session and hence it is not possible to enact laws in the Parliament.
  • An Ordinance may relate to any subject that the Parliament has the power to legislate on.
  • Conversely, it has the same limitations as the Parliament to legislate, given the distribution of powers between the Union, State and Concurrent Lists.
  • Thus, the following limitations exist with regard to the Ordinance making power of the executive:
    • i. Legislature is not in session: The President can only promulgate an Ordinance when either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session.
    • ii. Immediate action is required: The President cannot promulgate an Ordinance unless he is satisfied that there are circumstances that require taking ‘immediate action’.

Pre-conception & Pre-natal Diagnostics Techniques (PC & PNDT) Act


Recently concern have been raised over the suspension of certain provisions under the Pre-conception & Pre-natal Diagnostics Techniques (PCPNDT Act) by the Union Health Ministry citing the COVID-19 pandemic. These 3 rules have been suspended till 30.06.2020 PCPNDT Act Rule 8: Renewal of Registration,Rule 9(8): Report to be sent by each centre by 5th of every month,Rule 18(A)6: regarding quarterly progress reports by Appropriate Authorities to GOI through the State Government .

Background :

  • The act was enacted in 1994 and amended in 2003 and is an important tool for addressing sex-selective eliminations.
  • Objectives: The main purpose of enacting the act is to ban the use of sex selection techniques before or after conception and prevent the misuse of a prenatal diagnostic technique for sex-selective abortion.
  • It was enacted in response to the decline in Sex ratio in India.
  • As per census 2011, adult sex ratio in India is 943 females per 1000 males.
  • As per the Census, 2011 the child sex ratio (0-6 years) has shown a decline from 927 females per thousand males in 2001 to 919 females per thousand males in 2011

Basic requirements under the Act:

  • Registration under Section (18) of the PC-PNDT Act
  • Written consent of the pregnant woman and prohibition of communicating the sex of fetus under Section 5 of the Act
  • Creating awareness among the public at large by placing the board of prohibition on sex determination

Offences under this Act:

  • Conducting or helping in the conduct of prenatal diagnostic technique in the unregistered units
  • Sex selection on a man or woman
  • Conducting PND test for any purpose other than the one mentioned in the act, sale, distribution, supply, renting, etc. of any ultra sound machine or any other equipment capable of detecting sex of the foetus


  • The Act provides for the prohibition of sex selection, before or after conception.
  • It regulates the use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques only to detect genetic abnormalities, metabolic disorders, chromosomal abnormalities, certain congenital malformations, haemoglobinopathies and sex linked disorders.
  • No laboratory or centre or clinic will conduct any test including ultrasonography for the purpose of determining the sex of the foetus.
  • No person, including the one who is conducting the procedure as per the law, will communicate the sex of the foetus to the pregnant woman or her relatives by words, signs or any other method.
  • Any person who puts an advertisement for pre-natal and pre-conception sex determination can be imprisoned for up to three years and fined Rs. 10,000.
  • The Act mandates compulsory registration of all diagnostic laboratories, all genetic counselling centres, genetic laboratories, genetic clinics and ultrasound clinics.
  • The Central Supervisory Board (CSB) was constituted by the government under Section 7 to review and monitor implementation of the Act and rules made there under
  • It ‘criminalises’ non-maintenance of medical records by obstetricians and gynaecologists and suspend their medical licence indefinitely.

Issues with PCPNDT Act:

  • Present law of punishing the ultrasound technician in case of sex determination is too difficult to implement. Hence, the intended purpose of law to protect sex selection and improve sex ratio is not being met.
  • A study conducted by the Public Health Foundation of India in 2010 found many issues like:
  • Low rate of complaints and convictions.
  • Non-involvement of NGOs and local organizations in surveys and inspections.
  • Rigorous complaint process.
  • Lack of awareness.

Way forward :

  • However, online registration, geo-tagging and vigilant monitoring of scanning centres coupled with the fast tracking of registration facilities in Urban Primary Health Centers (for instance, online Form-F) and continuous advocacy efforts to generate awareness in society will help in the future.

Recent Supreme court judgement on PCPNDT Act :

  • The Supreme Court in May 2019 refused to dilute stringent provisions of PNDT Act under which a medical practitioner could be sent to jail upto three years for mere anomalies in the paperwork and for not keeping records of patients. (Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA) v Union of India)
  • It dismissed a petition filed by Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) which challenged the validity of Sections 23(1) and 23(2) of Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act.
  • The sections state that criminal proceedings would be initiated against geneticist or gynaecologist in case of any violation of the Act and their registration could be suspended indefinitely during the pendency of trial.
  • Low conviction: Refusing to read down the provision of the PNDT Act, the court said, “There are only 586 convictions out of 4202 cases registered even after 24 years of existence. It reflects the challenges being faced by the appropriate authority in implementing this social legislation.”
  • Referring to the United Nations report, the apex court said that more than 4.6 lakh girls went missing at birth on an average annually during the period 2001-12 as a result of sex selective abortions and justifies the stringent provisions under the Act to maintain sex ratio and social balance in the society.
  • Any dilution of the provisions of the Act or the rules would only defeat the purpose of the Act to prevent female foeticide, and relegate the right to life of a girl child under Article 21 of the Constitution, to a mere formality.


  • The suspension of Clause 9(8) is of particular concern, Ms. Karat said in her letter. The Rule reads: “Every Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory, Genetic Clinic, Ultrasound Clinic and Imaging Centre shall send a complete report in respect of all pre-conception or pregnancy related procedures/techniques/tests conducted by them in respect of each month by 5th day of the following month to the concerned Appropriate Authority.”
  • Since the medical facilities come under essential services and thus are exempted from the lockdown, Ms. Karat said if the clinic is open and conducting tests it should be duty-bound to keep a register of such tests and suspension of the rule could lead to illegal procedures.

Explainer: The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019

The Minister of Home Affairs introduced the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 today in Lok Sabha.   It is scheduled to be taken up for discussion and passing by the House later today.  The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955, and seeks to make foreign illegal migrants of certain religious communities coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship.  In this blog, we look at the criteria for determining citizenship in India, discuss how the Bill proposes to change the criteria, and highlight other key changes proposed by the Bill.

Explained: What NHRC, SC have said on encounter killings

The killing of four accused in the Hyderabad rape-murder case this morning by the Hyderabad Police has triggered a heated debate, dividing public opinion between the ones hailing the killings as “justice” being delivered and those who are raising questions on its legality-even terming it as extra-judicial killings.

Extra-judicial or “encounter” killings have been a contested and divisive police procedure for decades. This is what the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Supreme Court have said on the proper procedures to be followed during such action by police.

Authors note: Please read This article as value addition or to develop a better perspective than a layman. Not every line is important for UPSC but the judgement in the last have some real value addition to your over all understanding about the issue.

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.” ― Friedrich W. Nietzsche

National Human Rights Commission’s guidelines

  • In March 1997, Justice M N Venkatachaliah, then chairperson of the NHRC, wrote to all Chief Ministers to say that “the Commission has been receiving complaints from the members of the general public and from the non-governmental organisations that instances of fake encounters by the police are on the increase and that police kill persons instead of subjecting them to due process of law if offences are alleged against them”.
  • Justice Venkatachaliah, who was Chief Justice of India in 1993-94, underlined that “under our laws the police have not been conferred any right to take away the life of another person”, and “if, by his act, the policeman kills a person, he commits the offence of culpable homicide whether amounting to the offence of murder or not unless it is proved that such killing was not an offence under the law”.
  • The only two circumstances in which such killing would not constitute an offence were
  • (i) “if death is caused in the exercise of the right of private defence”, and
  • ii) under Section 46 of the CrPC, which “authorises the police to use force, extending upto the causing of death, as may be necessary to arrest the person accused of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life”.
  • In the light of this, the NHRC asked all states and Union Territories to ensure that police follow a set of guidelines in cases where death is caused in police encounters. They were:
  •  “When the… in-charge of a Police Station receives information about the deaths in an encounter between the Police party and others, he shall enter that information in the appropriate register
  •  “Information as received shall be regarded as sufficient to suspect the commission of a cognizable offence and immediate steps should be taken to investigate the facts and circumstances leading to the death to ascertain what, if any, offence was committed and by whom.
  • “As the police officers belonging to the same Police Station are the members of the encounter party, it is appropriate that the cases are made over for investigation to some other independent investigation agency, such as State CID.
  •  “Question of granting of compensation to the dependents of the deceased may be considered in cases ending in conviction, if police officers are prosecuted on the basis of the results of the investigation.”
 Subsequently, in May 2010, then NHRC acting chairperson Justice G P Mathur repeated the crux of the 1997 letter, and underlined that “the police does not have a right to take away the life of a person”.The 2010 NHRC note recalled that its “guidelines were conveyed to all the States/UTs vide letter dated 29.3.1997, which were further revised vide letter dated 2.12.2003”. Even so, the note said, “the Commission finds that most of the States are not following the recommendations issued by it in the true spirit”.
Thereafter, the NHRC expanded the guidelines, adding several new procedures, including:
  •  “Whenever a specific complaint is made against the police alleging commission of a criminal act… which makes out a cognisable case of culpable homicide, an FIR to this effect must be registered under appropriate sections of the IPC…”
  •  “A magisterial enquiry must be held in all cases of death which occurs in the course of police action, as expeditiously as possible, preferably within three months…
  •  “All cases of deaths in police action in the states shall be reported to the Commission by the Senior Superintendent of Police/Superintendent of Police of the District within 48 hours of such death in (a given) format…”
  •  “A second report must be sent in all cases… to the Commission within three months providing… information (including) post mortem report, inquest report, findings of the magisterial enquiry/enquiry by senior officers…”

Directions by the Supreme Court

  1. In ‘People’s Union for Civil Liberties & Anr vs State of Maharashtra and Ors’ (September 23, 2014) a Bench of then Chief Justice of India R M Lodha and Justice Rohinton F Nariman issued a detailed 16-point procedure “to be followed in the matters of investigating police encounters in the cases of death as the standard procedure for thorough, effective and independent investigation”.
  2. The court directed that these “requirements/norms must be strictly observed in all cases of death and grievous injury in police encounters by treating them as law declared under Article 141 of the Constitution of India”.

16 Guidelines Issued By Supreme Court In The Matter Of Investigation Of Police Encounters

Whenever the police is in receipt of any intelligence or tip-off regarding criminal movements or activities pertaining to the commission of grave criminal offence, it shall be reduced into writing in some form (preferably into case diary) or in some electronic form.
  • Such recording need not reveal details of the suspect or the location to which the party is headed.
  • If such intelligence or tip-off is received by a higher authority, the same may be noted in some form without revealing details of the suspect or the location.
  • If pursuant to the tip-off or receipt of any intelligence, as above, encounter takes place and firearm is used by the police party and as a result of that, death occurs, an FIR to that effect shall be registered and the same shall be forwarded to the court under Section 157 of the Code without any delay.
  • While forwarding the report under section 157 of the code, the procedure prescribed under Section 158 of the code shall be followed.
  • An independent investigation into the incident/encounter shall be conducted by the CID or police team of another police station under the supervision of a senior officer (at least a level above the head of the police party engaged in the encounter).
  • The team conducting inquiry/ investigation shall, at a minimum, seek:
  • (a) To identify the victim, colour photographs of the victim should be taken;
  • (b) To recover and preserve evidentiary material, including bloodstained earth, hair, fibers and threads, etc., related to the death;
  • (c) To identify scene witnesses with complete names, addresses and telephone numbers and obtain their statements (including the statements of police personnel involved) concerning the death;
  • (d) To determine the cause, manner, location (including preparation of rough sketch of topography of the scene and, if possible, photo/video of the scene and any physical evidence) and time of death as well as any pattern or practice that may have brought about the death;
  • (e) It must be ensured that intact fingerprints of deceased are sent for chemical analysis. Any other fingerprints should be located, developed, lifted and sent for chemical analysis;
  • (f) Post-mortem must be conducted by two doctors in the district hospital, one of them, as far as possible, should be in-charge/head of the district hospital. Post-mortem shall be videographed and preserved;
  • (g) Any evidence of weapons, such as guns, projectiles, bullets and cartridge cases, should be taken and preserved. Wherever applicable, tests for gunshot residue and trace metal detection should be performed.
  • (h) The cause of death should be found out, whether it was natural death, accidental death, suicide or homicide.
  • A Magisterial inquiry under Section 176 of the Code must invariably be held in all cases of death which occur in the course of police firing and a report thereof must be sent to Judicial Magistrate having jurisdiction under Section 190 of the Code.
  • The involvement of NHRC is not necessary unless there is serious doubt about independent and impartial investigation.
  • However, the information of the incident without any delay must be sent to NHRC or the State Human Rights Commission, as the case may be.
  • The injured criminal/victim should be provided medical aid and his/her statement recorded by the Magistrate or Medical Officer with certificate of fitness.
  • It should be ensured that there is no delay in sending FIR, diary entries, panchanamas, sketch, etc., to the concerned court.
  • After full investigation into the incident, the report should be sent to the competent court under Section 173 of the Code.
  • The trial, pursuant to the charge sheet submitted by the Investigating Officer, must be concluded expeditiously.
  • In the event of death, the next of kin of the alleged criminal/victim must be informed at the earliest.
  • Six monthly statements of all cases where deaths have occurred in police firing must be sent to NHRC by DGPs.
  • It must be ensured that the six monthly statements reach to NHRC by 15th day of January and July, respectively.
  • The statements may be sent in the Following format along with post mortem, inquest and, wherever available, the inquiry reports:
  • (i) Date and place of occurrence;
  • (ii) Police station, district;
  • (iii) Circumstances leading to deaths
    • (a) self defence in encounter
    • (b) in the course of dispersal of unlawful assembly
    • (c) in the course of affecting arrest;
  • (iv) Brief facts of the incident;
  • (v) Criminal case number;
  • (vi) Investigating agency;
  • (vii) Findings of the magisterial inquiry/inquiry by senior officers.
    • (a) Disclosing, in particular, names and designation of police officials, if found responsible for the death, and
    • (b) whether use of force was justified and action taken was lawful.
  • If on the conclusion of investigation the materials/evidence having come on record show that death had occurred by use of firearm amounting to offence under the IPC, disciplinary action against such officer must be promptly initiated and he be placed under suspension.
  • As regards compensation to be granted to the dependants of the victim who suffered death in a police encounter, the scheme provided under Section 357-A of the Code must be applied.
  • The police officer(s) concerned must surrender his/her weapons for forensic and ballistic analysis, including any other material, as require by the investigating team, subject to the rights under Article 20 of the Constitution.
  • An intimation about the incident must also be sent to the police officer’s family and should the family need services of a lawyer/counseling, same must be offered.
  • No out-of-turn promotion or instant gallantry rewards shall be bestowed on the concerned officers soon after the occurrence.
  • It must be ensured at all costs that such rewards are given/recommended only when the gallantry of the concerned officers is established beyond doubt.
  • If the family of the victim finds that the above procedure has not been followed or there exists a pattern of abuse or lack of independent investigation or impartiality by any of the functionaries as above mentioned, it may make a complaint to the Sessions Judge having territorial jurisdiction over the place of indent.
  • Upon such complaint being made, the concerned Sessions Judge shall look into the merits of the complaint and address the grievances raised therein.
Other side :
  • The absence of a binding FIR requirement—an official record in which perpetrators of extrajudicial killings stand suspected of culpable homicide until a judicial hearing on the matter—allows police officers to escape judicial oversight for unlawful killings. Currently, it is common practice for fellow police officers to administratively excuse perpetrators of extrajudicial killings from wrongdoing, without recourse to an independent investigation or judicial hearing.
  • Interestingly, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs does not maintain adequate records of extrajudicial killings, largely because police frequently fail to report incidents, or simply because encounter killing is not an enumerated category. The National Crime Records Bureau, for instance, provides only four “occasions forcing police firing”: “riot control,” “anti-dacoity operations,” operations “against extremists and terrorists,” and the vague category of operations “against others.” The latter category encapsulated 49.9% of all police firing deaths and casualties in 2009.
  • These statistics, troubling in themselves, are rendered shocking in view of the prevalence of proven fake encounter killings. According to National Human Rights Commission statistics, of the 2,560 encounter cases reported to the commission since October 1993, 1,224 were determined to be fake. Few such killings are officially reported, yet when dubious extrajudicial killings cases are brought to the attention of courts, the version of events espoused by police officers involved is frequently discredited.

In Prakash Kadam vs. Ramprasad Vishwanath Gupta, 2011

A bench of Justice Gyansudha Mishra and Justice Katju held that for fake encounters the policemen committing it must be given death sentence. The relevant part of the judgment is given below :

” In our opinion, the High Court was perfectly justified in canceling the bail to the accused-appellants. The accused/appellants are police personnel and it was their duty to uphold the law, but far from performing their duty, they appear to have operated as criminals. Thus, the protectors have become the predators. As the Bible says “If the salt has lost its flavour, wherewith shall it be salted?”, or as the ancient Romans used to say,”Who will guard the Praetorian guards?” (see in this connection the judgment of this Court in CBI vs. Kishore Singh, Criminal Appeal Nos.2047-2049 decided on 25.10.2010).

We are of the view that in cases where a fake encounter is proved against policemen in a trial, they must be given death sentence, treating it as the rarest of rare cases. Fake `encounters’ are nothing but cold blooded, brutal murder by persons who are supposed to uphold the law. In our opinion if crimes are committed by ordinary people, ordinary punishment should be given, but if the offence is committed by policemen much harsher punishment should be given to them because they do an act totally contrary to their duties.

We warn policemen that they will not be excused for committing murder in the name of `encounter’ on the pretext that they were carrying out the orders of their superior officers or politicians, however high. In the Nuremburg trials the Nazi war criminals took the plea that `orders are orders’, nevertheless they were hanged. If a policeman is given an illegal order by any superior to do a fake `encounter’, it is his duty to refuse to carry out such illegal order, otherwise he will be charged for murder, and if found guilty sentenced to death. The `encounter’ philosophy is a criminal philosophy, and all policemen must know this. Trigger happy policemen who think they can kill people in the name of `encounter’ and get away with it should know that the gallows await them “.

Extra Judl.Exec.Victim Families … vs Union Of India & Anr on 13 July, 2016

“It does not matter whether the victim was a common person or a militant or a terrorist, nor does it matter whether the aggressor was a common person or the State. The law is the same for both and is equally applicable to both… This is the requirement of a democracy,” the Supreme Court held in a July 2016 judgment on 1,528 cases of alleged fake encounters involving the Army and the police in Manipur.
There must be a reasonable connection between the act and the official duty. It does not matter even if the act exceeds what is strictly necessary for the discharge of the duty, as this question will arise only at a later stage when the trial proceeds on the merits. What we must find out is whether the act and the official duty are so inter-related that one can postulate reasonably that it was done by the accused in the performance of the official duty, though possibly in excess of the needs and requirements of the situation.” Causing the death of a person is certainly an offence, but whether there was a “reasonable connection” between the death and the official act or whether excessive force or retaliatory force was used in the act has to be determined at an appropriate stage. It does not matter whether the victim was a common person or a militant or a terrorist, nor does it matter whether the aggressor was a common person or the State. The law is the same for both and is equally applicable to both. It is for this reason that with regard to the abuse or misuse of power by the State this Court expressed the following view in Naga People’s Movement of Human Rights.

Om Prakash & Ors vs State Of Jharkhand & Anr on 26 September, 2012

It is not the duty of the police officers to kill the accused merely because he is a dreaded criminal. Undoubtedly, the police have to arrest the accused and put them up for trial. This court has repeatedly admonished trigger happy police personnel, who liquidate criminals and project the incident as an encounter. Such killings must be deprecated. They are not recognized as legal by our criminal justice administration system. They amount to State sponsored terrorism. But, one cannot be oblivious of the fact that there are cases where the police, who are performing their duty, are attacked and killed. There is a rise in such incidents and judicial notice must be taken of this fact. In such circumstances, while the police have to do their legal duty of arresting the criminals, they have also to protect themselves. Requirement of sanction to prosecute affords protection to the policemen, who are sometimes required to take drastic action against criminals to protect life and property of the people and to protect themselves against attack. Unless unimpeachable evidence is on record to establish that their action is indefensible, mala fide and vindictive, they cannot be subjected to prosecution. Sanction must be a precondition to their prosecution. It affords necessary protection to such police personnel.

 D.K. Basu vs State Of West Bengal, on 18 December, 1996

How do we check the abuse of police power? Transparency of action and accountability perhaps are tow possible safeguards which this Court must insist upon. Attention is also required to be paid to properly develop work culture, training and orientation of police force consistent with basic human values. Training methodology of the police needs restructuring. The force needs to be infused with basic human values and made sensitive to the constitutional ethos. Efforts must be made to change the attitude and approach of the police personal handling investigations so that they do not sacrifice basic human values during interrogation and do not resort to questionable form of interrogation. With a view to bring in transparency, the presence of the counsel of the arrestee at some point of time during the interrogation may deter the police from using third degree methods during interrogation.

Extrajudicial executions are exactly what the phrase implies—killings by the state outside the purview of the law. When the state acts with impunity, it erases the sharp line that separates the state from criminals. It undermines democracy, it diminishes the nation’s founding values and it delegitimizes the state’s authority. It sends a message that it is all right to disregard the Constitution, that it is fine to act outside the law. Erosion of standards doesn’t matter; principles, norms, rules are for the soft-hearted weak-kneed lawyers, liberals, journalists and activists. Stuff happens.

Encounter killings militate against the rule of law

Cicero famously said, “We are in bondage to the law in order that we may be free.” John Adams said about the Massachusetts Constitution that it was intended to have a “government of laws not of men”. The rule of law has rightly been argued to be part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution. It is an unqualified human good. In the World Justice Project Index  India’s rank in 2019 is 68. Denmark topped the list. In fact, our criminal justice system ranks even lower, at 66. Nepal is ahead of us on this. Police encounters, which have become a common phenomenon, do contribute to our low rank on ‘rule of law’ index.

Rule of law is the fundamental principle of governance of any civilised liberal democracy. It is the anti-thesis of arbitrariness.

The fundamental premise of the rule of law is that every human being, including the worst criminal, is entitled to basic human rights and due process. Encounter killings generally take place with the prior consent or in full knowledge of the top authority. What an irony that when after a long wait, the trial in cases of fake encounter takes place, the main culprits easily get discharged, and, in some cases, the Central Bureau of Investigation even refuses to file an appeal against such discharge, and subsequently many prosecution witnesses turn hostile, as has happened in the Sohrabuddin encounter case in Maharashtra.

In July 2016 in the case of Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association, where the Supreme Court was dealing with more than 1,500 such killings in Manipur, Justice Madan B. Lokur observed: “Scrutiny by the courts in such cases leads to complaints by the state of its having to fight militants, insurgents and terrorists with one hand tied behind its back. This is not a valid criticism since, and this is important, in such cases it is not the encounter or the operation that is under scrutiny but the smoking gun that is under scrutiny. There is a qualitative difference between use of force in an operation and use of such deadly force that is akin to using a sledgehammer to kill a fly; one is an act of self-defence while the other is an act of retaliation.”

We must recall what the Supreme Court said in the Salwa Judum case (2011): “The primordial value is that it is the responsibility of every organ of the State to function within the four corners of constitutional responsibility. That is the ultimate rule of law.”

The human right of security of a person is mentioned in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.  Its Preamble talks of freedom from fear as one of the four ‘highest aspirations of mankind’. Fear is a subjective state of mind based on hard and objective facts.

Criticism :

The status quo on extrajudicial “encounter” killings in India and the tolerance of a police practice involving summary executions of persons who have neither undergone trial nor necessarily engaged their killers in a firefight to begin with, is reminiscent of the repression unleashed by the British colonial government in pre-independence India. By delaying the APCLC* appeal indefinitely, the Supreme Court has, by default, sanctioned the ongoing, extralegal practice of encounter killings. Its hesitation to clarify the law in this area renders the Court implicated in the abrogation of its citizens’ human rights and the violation of Indian constitutional and criminal law provisions.

(*In a February 2009 judgment in an APCLC case related to encounter killings, the Andhra Pradesh High Court emphasised that in all instances of encounter deaths at the hands of the police, an independent investigation must be conducted, wherein the plea of self-defence must be reserved to be established only at the stage of trial. But the Andhra Pradesh Police Association (APPA) appealed against this in the Supreme Court, which was quick to grant an ex parte stay on the high court order.)

School Education Quality Index(SEQI) 2019

The focus on improving the learning outcomes helped Kerala top the School Education Quality Index (SEQI) among the 20 large States in the country. Learning outcome refers to a skill acquired by a student after undergoing a course.

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  • News: NITI Aayog released The success of Our Schools: School Education Quality Index 2019
  • Need: “Inclusive development hinges upon ensuring quality education. Proper schooling prepares individuals for social and civic responsibility, builds social capital and encourages effective cognitive development.”

School Education Quality Index(SEQI)

  • Developed through a collaborative process including key stakeholders such as MHRD, the World Bank and sector experts, the index consists of 30 critical indicators that assess the delivery of quality education.
  • The School Education Quality Index (SEQI) was developed to evaluate the performance of States and Union Territories (UTs) in the school education sector.
  • The index aims to bring an outcomes focus to education policy by providing States and UTs with a platform to identify their strengths and weaknesses and undertake requisite course corrections or policy interventions.
  • To foster the spirit of competitive and cooperative federalism, the index strives to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and best practices across States and UTs.


Highlights of the Report : 

  • larger states:
    • Kerala topped the list with a score of 0.766 in overall performance,
    • Rajasthan stood second with a score of 0.729.
    • Uttar Pradesh was the worst performer with a score of just 0.364. and ranked at the last place on the list.
    • The other big states with dismal performance are Jammu and Kashmir (0.411), Punjab (0.411), Bihar (0.420) and Jharkhand (0.439), ranked at 19th, 18th, 17th and 16th place respectively.
  • The report has ranked eight smaller states and the seven Union Territories separately.
  • Smaller states:
    • Manipur topped the list with a score of 0.688, followed by Tripura (0.645) and Goa (0.584),
    • Arunachal Pradesh (0.246) the worst performing state.
  •  Union Territories:
    • Chandigarh topped the list with a score of 0.829, followed by Dadra and Nagar Haveli (0.586) and Delhi (0.490).
    • Lakshadweep was the worst performing UT with a score of 0.319.
  • Among the 20 large states, 18 improved their overall performance score between 2015-16 and 2016-17.
  • Note: The list does not include West Bengal as the state did not participate in the exercise.



  • The net enrollment ratio (NER) at the elementary level in most states and Union Territories is declining, revealing a serious challenge for the Centre and states.
  • Eight of 20 large states also show a dip in mainstreaming of out-of-school schoolchildren by over 10 percentage points from the base year of 2015-16. Mainstreaming here implies bringing these children back into the school system.

SEQI Aim and Purpose

  • SEQI aims to drive policy reforms that will improve the quality of school education.
  • The index seeks to institutionalise a focus on enhancing education outcomes by driving improvements in learning levels, access, equity, infrastructure and governance processes.
  • The index recognizes that school education is a subject on the Concurrent List and that State-level leadership is crucial for improving outcomes in a cost-effective manner.
  • The index will serve as a regular and transparent review of the status of school education quality across the States and UTs.

Index categories and Domains

  • SEQI is based on a set of indicators that measure the overall effectiveness, quality and efficiency of the Indian school education system.
  • The index encourages States/UTs to improve their scores by showing progress across these aspects.
  • The SEQI is based on 30 indicators grouped into two broad categories – ‘outcome’ and ‘governance processes aiding outcomes’.
  • The scores on this category are primarily driven by learning outcomes, which received more than 50% of the total weightage assigned to this category.

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Fit India Movement and health risks due to inactivity

Today lifestyle diseases are on a rise in India affecting even the young. Cases of diabetes and hypertension is on the rise and even common among children in India. But small lifestyle changes can prevent these lifestyle diseases. ‘Fit India Movement’ is an effort to bring these small lifestyle changes.( Swasth vyakti, swasth parivar aur swasth samaj) .
By looking at the issues below we try to understand the Relevance of Fit India Movement.

Issue of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)

  • Factors such as high levels of stress, increased incidence of diabetes, blood pressure, smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, lack of exercise and lack of proper sleep were contributing to cardiovascular diseases. NCDs are often a direct result of lifestyle and environmental factors and some of the modifiable behaviour such as harmful consumption of alcohol, tobacco use and unhealthy diet combined with sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity all contribute to the risk of chronic diseases.
  • According to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) report entitled “India: Health of the Nation’s  States”, Contribution of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) to  total death  in the Country was 61.8% in 2016, as compared to 37.9% in 1990.
  • Nearly 61% of deaths in India are now attributed to non-communicable diseases, including heart disorders, cancer and diabetes, according to new data released by the World Health Organisation. The report put deaths due to NCDs in India at 5,817,000 in 2017.
  • A report by the World Economic Forum estimates that India stands to lose about 3.5 trillion dollars between 2012 to 2030 due to NCDs and mental health conditions.
  • A report published in The Lancet shows that, for people between the age of 30 and 70 in India, the risk of dying from one of the four major NCDs is 20 per cent in women and 27 per cent in men.
  • NCD (Non-Communicable Diseases) related SDG target set for all countries is to achieve one-third reduction in NCD related mortality between the ages of 30 and 70 by 2030, relative to 2015.
  • As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS); 2015-16, 11% of women (1 in 10) and 15% of men (1 in 7) of age 15-49 are hypertensive. The survey has also found that about 60.4% of persons screened have ever had their blood pressure measured.

Indians face health risks due to inactivity

  • Fewer than 10% adults in India follow the World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended regimen of at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity through the week, according to an ongoing pan-India study across 25 states by the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation.
  • The study, which is part of the Indian Council of Medical Research-India Diabetes (ICMR-INDIAB) study and the most comprehensive analysis of physical activity patterns across states, has found that women are far less active than men.
  • Only 3% women meet the minimum healthy levels of physical activity, which brings a clutch of health benefits such as the reduced risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, breast/colon cancer, obesity, depression and falls, as well as improvement in bone and functional health.
  • Globally, 27.5% people are “insufficiently physically active” and not meeting WHO norms, with women being less active than men, according to data from 168 countries, which included 1.9 million people, published in The Lancet in 2018.
  • Physical inactivity damages health as much as obesity and smoking. It is the fourth-leading risk factor for death (6% of deaths globally) and the leading cause of 21-25% of breast and colon cancers, 27% of diabetes, and 30% of cardiovascular disease.
  • It’s scientifically established that regular and sufficient physical activity improves muscular and cardio-respiratory fitness, improves bone and functional health, reduces risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, various types of cancer (including breast cancer and colon cancer), and depression; reduces the risk of falls and hip or vertebral fractures; and improves weight control.
  • While evidence of the benefits of physical activity is growing, most countries have failed to scale up effective intervention at the population level.
  • Asking people to be more physically active is not enough. WHO’s Global Action Plan on Physical Activity launched last summer proposes solutions to strengthen leadership, governance, workforce capabilities, and advocacy to create a social movement to address the complex problem of physical inactivity.
  • It’s essential to create a physical, social and political environment that makes physical activity desirable, accessible and safe, and this can be done with cross-sectoral collaboration between civic agencies, town planners, private companies, non-profits, clubs and the community, according to WHO.

Government Steps :

  • National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) is being implemented under the National Health Mission (NHM). The objectives of the programme include health promotion activities and opportunistic screening for common Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) including cancer.
  • Population based screening of common NCDs, i.e. diabetes, hypertension and cancers (Oral, Breast and Cervical cancer) has also been initiated under National Health Mission (NHM).
  • Key components of population based screening include community based risk assessment, screening, referral, and follow up of all individuals of 30 years and above for common NCDs (hypertension, diabetes, oral cancer, breast cancer and cervical cancer).
  • The initiative will help in early diagnosis and will generate awareness on risk factors of NCDs.
  • To address the issue of High Fat, Sugar and Salt (HFSS) in food and associated health risks, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) constituted an Expert Group. FSSAI has issued draft Guidelines titled ‘Guidelines for making available Wholesome, Nutritious, Safe and Hygienic Food to School Children in India’.
  • A healthy lifestyle booklet has been developed for the school children.
  • National Health Policy (NHP), 2017, which aims at attainment of the highest possible level of good health and well-being, through a preventive and promotive health care orientation in all developmental policies, and universal access to good quality health care services without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence.
  • The policy seeks to move away from Sick- care to Wellness, with thrust on prevention and Health promotion.
  • Half the battle is won when everyone is made aware of the ill-effects of unhealthy lifestyle

what else can be done ?

  • Lower and middle income countries such as India also face environmental and social challenges that become deterrents to activity, such as rapid urbanisation, which leads to unplanned growth of cities, high migration, large populations, chaotic transportation, encroached pavements, air pollution, and high ambient temperature.
  • Trees and green spaces within a 0.5km radius of homes, workplaces, and schools have been shown to lower the risks of death, cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer and depression, and better cognitive development in children.
  • Apart from adequate quality public transport and wider pavements, there is need for more tree cover on active transport roads, green spaces to lower the ambient air temperature and mitigate noise pollution, and lower air pollution to make outdoor activities more comfortable.
  • Instead of widening roads for motorised transport at the cost of trees, pavements and green spaces, governments should focus on pedestrians and other active transport priorities like public transport. A measure of development of a country is how well we treat pedestrians and those using active transport.
  • Progressive interventions, especially those targeting women, are needed to create a safe space for women.
  • Physical activity, which is defined as at least 30 minutes of sustained walking, dancing, running, swimming, or playing a sport, can take any form.
  • Kerala made headlines in 2016 for its 14,5 percent ‘fat tax’, hoping to reduce the consumption of NCD causing junk food by making it pricier. However, even then public health experts had pointed out that sugar was a bigger culprit

WHO Norms 

In adults aged 18–64, physical activity includes leisure time physical activity (for example: walking, dancing, gardening, hiking, swimming), transportation (e.g. walking or cycling), occupational (i.e. work), household chores, play, games, sports or planned exercise, in the context of daily, family, and community activities. In order to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone health, reduce the risk of NCDs and depression:
  • Adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
  • Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.
  • For additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
Will be updated regularly !

Understanding Articles 370, 35A

A recent central ordinance, which extends reservation to SCs and STs in J&K, throws the spotlight on Article 35A, as well as Article 370 from which it derives. While regional political leaders have warned against dilution of Article 35A, petitions challenging it are due to come up in SC. What are these two provisions?

What is Article 370?

Included in the Constitution on October 17, 1949, Article 370 exempts J&K from the Indian Constitution (except Article 1 and Article 370 itself) and permits the state to draft its own Constitution. It restricts Parliament’s legislative powers in respect of J&K. For extending a central law on subjects included in the Instrument of Accession (IoA), mere “consultation” with the state government is needed. But for extending it to other matters, “concurrence” of the state government is mandatory. The IoA came into play when the Indian Independence Act, 1947 divided British India into India and Pakistan. For some 600 princely states whose sovereignty was restored on Independence, the Act provided for three options: to remain an independent country, join Dominion of India, or join Dominion of Pakistan — and this joining with either of the two countries was to be through an IoA. Though no prescribed form was provided, a state so joining could specify the terms on which it agreed to join. The maxim for contracts between states is pacta sunt servanda, i.e. promises between states must be honoured; if there is a breach of contract, the general rule is that parties are to be restored to the original position.

A number of other states enjoy special status under Article 371, from 371A to 371I.

What were the terms included in the IoA for Kashmir?

The Schedule appended to the Instrument of Accession gave Parliament the power to legislate in respect of J&K only on Defence, External Affairs and Communications. In Kashmir’s Instrument of Accession in Clause 5, Raja Hari Singh, ruler of J&K, explicitly mentioned that the terms of “my Instrument of Accession cannot be varied by any amendment of the Act or of Indian Independence Act unless such amendment is accepted by me by an Instrument supplementary to this Instrument”. Clause 7 said “nothing in this Instrument shall be deemed to commit me in any way to acceptance of any future constitution of India or to fetter my discretion to enter into arrangements with the Government of India under any such future constitution”.

How did the accession come about?

Raja Hari Singh had initially decided to remain independent and sign standstill agreements with India and Pakistan, and Pakistan in fact signed it. But following an invasion from tribesmen and Army men in plainclothes from Pakistan, he sought the help of India, which in turn sought the accession of Kashmir to India. Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947 and Governor General Lord Mountbatten accepted it on October 27, 1947.

It was India’s stated policy that wherever there was a dispute on accession, it should be settled in accordance with the wishes of people rather than a unilateral decision of the ruler of the princely state. In India’s acceptance of the IoA, Lord Mountbatten stated that “it is my Government’s wish that as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir and her soil is cleared of the invader, the question of the State’s accession be settled by a reference to the people”. India regarded accession as purely temporary and provisional, as stated in the Government of India’s White Paper on J&K in 1948. In a letter to J&K Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah dated May 17, 1949, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru with the concurrence of Vallabhbhai Patel and N Gopalaswami Ayyangar wrote: “It has been settled policy of Government of India, which on many occasions has been stated both by Sardar Patel and me, that the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir is a matter for determination by the people of the state represented in a Constituent Assembly convened for the purpose.”

How was Article 370 enacted?

The original draft was given by the Government of J&K. Following modification and negotiations, Article 306A (now 370) was passed in the Constituent Assembly on May 27, 1949. Moving the motion, Ayyangar said that though accession was complete, India had offered to have a plebiscite taken when the conditions were created, and if accession was not ratified then “we shall not stand in the way of Kashmir separating herself away from India”. On October 17, 1949, when Article 370 was finally included in the Constitution by India’s Constituent Assembly, Ayyangar reiterated India’s commitment to plebiscite and drafting of a separate constitution by J&K’s Constituent Assembly.

Was Article 370 a temporary provision?

It is the first article of Part XXI of the Constitution. The heading of this part is ‘Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions’. Article 370 could be interpreted as temporary in the sense that the J&K Constituent Assembly had a right to modify/delete/retain it; it decided to retain it. Another interpretation was that accession was temporary until a plebiscite. The Union government, in a written reply in Parliament last year, said there is no proposal to remove Article 370. Delhi High Court in Kumari Vijayalaksmi (2017) too rejected a petition that said Article 370 is temporary and its continuation is a fraud on the Constitution. The Supreme Court in April 2018 said that despite the headnote using the word “temporary’, Article 370 is not temporary. In Sampat Prakash (1969) the SC refused to accept Article 370 as temporary. A five-judge Bench said “Article 370 has never ceased to be operative”. Thus, it is a permanent provision.

Can Article 370 be deleted?

Yes, Article 370(3) permits deletion by a Presidential Order. Such an order, however, is to be preceded by the concurrence of J&K’s Constituent Assembly. Since such an Assembly was dissolved on January 26, 1957, one view is it cannot be deleted anymore. But the other view is that it can be done, but only with the concurrence of the State Assembly.

What is Article 370’s significance for the Indian Union?

Article 370 itself mentions Article 1, which includes J&K in the list of states. Article 370 has been described as a tunnel through which the Constitution is applied to J&K. Nehru, however, said in Lok Sabha on November 27, 1963 that “Article 370 has eroded”. India has used Article 370 at least 45 times to extend provisions of the Indian Constitution to J&K. This is the only way through which, by mere Presidential Orders, India has almost nullified the effect of J&K’s special status. By the 1954 order, almost the entire Constitution was extended to J&K including most Constitutional amendments. Ninety-four of 97 entries in the Union List are applicable to J&K; 26 out of 47 items of the Concurrent List have been extended.; 260 of 395 Articles have been extended to the state, besides 7 of 12 Schedules.

The Centre has used Article 370 even to amend a number of provisions of J&K’s Constitution, though that power was not given to the President under Article 370. Article 356 was extended though a similar provision that was already in Article 92 of the J&K Constitution, which required that President’s Rule could be ordered only with the concurrence of the President. To change provisions for the Governor being elected by the Assembly, Article 370 was used to convert it into a nominee of the President. To extend President’s rule beyond one year in Punjab, the government needed the 59th, 64th, 67th and 68th Constitutional Amendments, but achieved the same result in J&K just by invoking Article 370. Again, Article 249 (power of Parliament to make laws on State List entries) was extended to J&K without a resolution by the Assembly and just by a recommendation of the Governor. In certain ways, Article 370 reduces J&K’s powers in comparison to other states. It is more useful for India today than J&K.

Is there any ground in the view that Article 370 is essential for J&K being a part of India?

Article 3 of the J&K Constitution declares J&K to be an integral part of India. In the Preamble to the Constitution, not only is there no claim to sovereignty, but there is categorical acknowledgement about the object of the J&K Constitution being “to further define the existing relationship of the state with the Union of India as its integral part thereof. Moreover people of state are referred as ‘permanent residents’ not ‘citizens’.” Article 370 is not an issue of integration but of autonomy. Those who advocate its deletion are more concerned with uniformity rather than integration.

What is Article 35A?

Article 35A stems from Article 370, having been introduced through a Presidential Order in 1954. Article 35A is unique in the sense that it does not appear in the main body of the Constitution — Article 35 is immediately followed by Article 36 — but comes up in Appendix I. Article 35A empowers the J&K legislature to define the state’s permanent residents and their special rights and privileges.

Why is it being challenged?

The Supreme Court will examine whether it is unconstitutional or violates the basic structure of the Constitution. But unless it is upheld, many Presidential Orders may become questionable. Article 35A was not passed as per the amending process given in Article 368, but was inserted on the recommendation of J&K’s Constituent Assembly through a Presidential Order.

Article 370 is not only part of the Constitution but also part of federalism, which is basic structure. Accordingly, the court has upheld successive Presidential Orders under Article 370.

Since Article 35A predates basic structure theory of 1973, as per Waman Rao (1981), it cannot be tested on the touchstone of basic structure. Certain types of restrictions on purchase of land are also in place in several other states, including some in the Northeast and Himachal Pradesh. Domicile-based reservation in admissions and even jobs is followed in a number of states, including under Article 371D for undivided Andhra Pradesh. The Centre’s recent decision extending to J&K reservation benefits for SCs, STs, OBCs and those living along international borders, announced last week. throws the spotlight back on Article 35A.

Parent provision and its offshoot

Article 370
Part of the Constitution ever since it came into effect, it lays down that only two Articles would apply to J&K: Article 1, which defines India, and Article 370 itself. Article 370 says other provisions of the Constitution can apply to J&K “subject to such exceptions and modifications as the President may by order specify”, with the concurrence of the state government and the endorsement of the J&K Constituent Assembly.

Article 35A
Introduced by a Presidential Order of 1954, it empowers the J&K legislature to define a “permanent resident” of the state, and to provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents.

Arvind Gupta : Challenges of Migration

Challenge of Illegal Migration

The main dimensions of the challenge are well-known. Tens of millions of illegal migrants have come to India and changed the demographic profile of several areas of the country, particularly in the North-East. Many of them have acquired access to citizenship documents through illegal means and are even participating in the electoral process. Their presence has created serious tensions at the local level. Undoubtedly, migration poses a great risk to national security. A comprehensive approach is required to deal with that problem.

Persecution of Minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan

Yet, not all migrations are alike. The reasons for migration vary from bad economic conditions, and conflict situations to ethnic genocides and religious persecution. Economic migrants impose heavy burden on local resources and their number are also extremely large. Dealing with economic migration requires a very different kind of approach from that of dealing with other kind of migration.

There is incontrovertible evidence of minorities fleeing Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan to India to escape persecution. In these countries these minorities are treated as second-class citizens. A feeling of insecurity prevails as is evident in numerous reports of the burning of religious places, destruction of property, and harassment of women. The share of minorities in the overall population in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan has reduced to insignificant numbers since 1947. In Bangladesh, the share has come down from 28 percent in 1971 to about 8 percent now. Only a few hundred Sikhs out of two lakhs are left in Afghanistan. The share of Hindus in Pakistan has come down to less than 2 percent. Many of them have fled to India. Under the present Indian legal dispensation, such migrants are treated as illegal migrants.

Though India is a secular country, it cannot be oblivious of the reality of religious persecution of minorities in these countries, and the impact it has on India. Further, India has had a long tradition of receiving refugees who fled persecution in their countries. Tibetans’ exodus to India in the fifties is an example. Tamils from Sri Lanka also came to India in large numbers escaping civil war like condition in their country.

Illegal Migrants and the ‘Citizenship Amendment Bill’

In 2015, the Government decided to amend the rules under the Passport Act in which Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsees and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have come to India fleeing religious prosecution, would not be treated as illegal migrants. In 2016, it introduced a Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) which amends the appropriate section of Citizenship Act of 1955 and provides that persons belonging to minority communities (Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsees, and Christians) from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan shall not be treated as illegal migrants, and that they would be eligible to apply for India’s citizenship provided they have lived in India for not less than 6 years.

The Logic of CAB

It is necessary to understand the motivation behind this Act. The proposed concession is guided by humanitarian considerations and not religious consideration. CAB covers six religious minorities and not just the Hindus. Therefore, it will not be correct to say that it is Hindu centric.

CAB has been discussed in the media. An impression has been created that it is against the Muslims and violates Article 14 the right to equality envisaged in the constitution. In its judgments, the SC has stated clearly that “the equality under Article 14 is not indiscriminate … the concept of equality permits rational or discriminating discrimination. Conferment of special benefits or protection or rights to a particular group of citizens for rationale reasons is envisaged under Article 14 and is implicit in the content of equality”.

CAB is applicable to the entire country. The people who are granted citizenship can be settled all over the country. The load of resettlement will not fall on one state. The government can make suitable rules in this regard.

CAB is not against the Assam Accord, as is being made out. The National Register of Citizen (NRC) provides protection to the indigenous community from illegal migrants. The Government has decided to constitute a panel to suggest measures for implementing Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. This is a positive and important step. It will re-assure those who are arguing that CAB dilutes the Assam Accord.

It has also been argued by some that the CAB will lead to the domination of Bengali speaking people. The fact is that most of the Hindu Bengali people are settled in the Barak Valley of Assam, where Bengali has been declared the second state language. Hindu Bengalis are living in the isolated pocket in Brahmaputra Valley. The real threat to Assamese people comes from Bengali Muslims and not from Bengali Hindus. Over the years, a degree of assimilation between such Hindus and Assamese has taken place.

CAB addresses a specific problem and provides a specific solution. It cannot address the illegal migration problem in entirety. It is an enabling provision for a certain section of illegal migrants facilitating their acquisition of citizenship keeping in mind their unique circumstances.

While there is a logic behind the CAB it is nevertheless a sensitive issue that needs to be handled carefully and objectively. A broad consensus should be built around it. Care should be taken to avoid identity-based conflict in the country.

India has had a long history of receiving refugees from different countries on different grounds. The Government needs to formulate a comprehensive refugee policy to deal with the problem.

JPC Report Summary onThe Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (Chairperson: Mr. Rajendra Agrawal) submitted its report on January 7, 2019.  The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  •  The Act provides various ways in which citizenship may be acquired including birth,descent, registration, and naturalisation.  In addition, it regulates registration of Overseas Citizen of India Cardholders (OCIs).  Key observations and recommendations of the Committee include:
  • Definition of illegal migrants:  The Act prohibits illegal migrants from acquiring Indian citizenship.  It defines an illegal migrant as a foreigner: (i) who enters India without a valid passport or travel documents, or (ii) stays in India beyond the permitted time.  The Bill amends the Act to provide that that the following groups of persons will not be treated as illegal migrants: Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan (minority communities).  They must also have been exempted from provisions of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, and the Foreigners Act, 1946 by the central government.  The 1920 Act mandates foreigners to carry passports, while the1946 Act regulates the entry and  departure of foreigners in India.
  • Some stakeholders had raised concerns that the inclusion of six religious communities in the Bill would violate Article 14 (the right to equality) and Article 25 (the right to freedom of religion).  In this regard, the Committee stated that the Bill does not violate Article 14 since it creates a valid distinction between the communities, based on the object of the law.   Further, the Bill does not violate Article  25 since it does not affect the right of any person to practice any religion in the country.
  • Conflict with Assam Accord:  The Committee noted that the proposed amendment may be in conflict with the Assam Accord.   The Accord was signed to protect the social, cultural, and linguistic identity of the Assamese people.  It states that foreigners who have entered Assam from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971, will be detected and expelled.   The Committee noted that there may be cases under the Accord related to persons belonging to the minority communities.  However, they would be deemed as legal migrants on enactment of the Bill.  Therefore, the Committee recommended that an additional provision should be added to state that any proceedings under the Accord against a person belonging to the minority communities should be withdrawn.  Further, such persons should be eligible to apply for naturalisation.
  • Cancellation of registration of OCIs:  The Act provides that the central government may cancel registration of OCIs on certain grounds. These include: (i) if the OCI has obtained registration through fraud, or (ii) within five years of registration the OCI has been sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more. The Bill adds one more ground for cancelling registration, that is, if the OCI has violated any law that is in force in the country.
  • The Committee stated that the scope of this additional ground should be restricted as it may lead to harassment of OCI cardholders for very minor violations of law.  It recommended that the provision should be amended to state that registration may be cancelled if the OCI violates the provisions of laws, notified by the central government.  Further, it recommended that orders for cancellation of OCI should not be passed till the cardholder is given an opportunity to be heard.
  • Notes of dissent:  Notes of dissent were submitted by nine Members of Parliament.   Ms. Sushmita Dev, Mr. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, and Mr. Bhubaneswar Kalita and Mr. Pradip Bhattacharya (who submitted a joint note of dissent) stated that the Bill violated the right to equality under the Constitution.  Mr. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury stated that the Bill provides differential treatment to illegal migrants on the basis of their religion.

Full report PDF :

Exploitation and Crimes against domestic workers

  • The Central Government has not enacted any separate law to protect the interest of domestic workers.
  • A draft National Policy on domestic workers is under consideration of the Central Government.
  • However the central Government has enacted the Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 for providing social security to all unorganized workers including domestic workers.
  • The Act provides formulation of social security schemes viz. life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits & old age protection by the  Central Government.
  • The State Government are mandated under the Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 to formulate suitable welfare schemes for unorganized sector workers including domestic workers relating to provident fund, employment injury benefits housing, education schemes for children, skill up gradation of workers, financial assistance & old age homes.
  • The Central Government in 2017 converged the social security scheme of Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana (AABY) with Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) to provide life and disability coverage to the unorganised workers, depending upon their eligibility.
Policy for Domestic Workers, the salient features of which are as follows:
  • Inclusion of Domestic Workers  in the existing legislations
  • Registration of Domestic workers.
  • Right to form their own associations , trade unions
  • Right to have minimum wages, access to social security, protection from abuse, harassment, violence
  • Right to enhance their professional skills
  • Protection of Domestic Workers  from abuse and exploitation
  • Domestic Workers to have access to courts, tribunals, etc.
  • Establishment of a mechanism for regulation of concerned placement agencies.
  • Many of the State Government like Rajasthan, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Tripura have included domestic workers in the schedule of the Minimum Wages Act and they are, therefore, entitled to file cases before the concerned authorities in case of any grievance in this regard.

Various Interpol notices

The Interpol has issued a Red Notice against diamond merchant Mehul Choksi based on the Central Bureau of Investigation’s request.He is accused in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank Letters of Undertaking fraud, who has taken refuge in Antigua. . He is accused in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank Letters of Undertaking fraud, who has taken refuge in Antigua.Earlier this year Interpol Red Notice was issued against Nirav Modi .

Red Notices

What is the purpose of an INTERPOL Red Notice?

  • A Red Notice is a request to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition. It is issued by the General Secretariat at the request of a member country or an international tribunal based on a valid national arrest warrant. It is not an international arrest warrant.
  • INTERPOL cannot compel any member country to arrest an individual who is the subject of a Red Notice. Each member country decides for itself what legal value to give a Red Notice within their borders.

Are the individuals wanted by INTERPOL?

  • No, they are wanted by a country or an international tribunal. When INTERPOL publishes a Red Notice this is simply to inform all member countries that the person is wanted based on an arrest warrant or equivalent judicial decision issued by a country or an international tribunal. INTERPOL does not issue arrest warrants.

Who are the subjects of Red Notices?

  • Red Notices are issued for individuals sought for prosecution or to serve a sentence. When the individual is sought for prosecution it means they are suspected of committing a crime but have not yet been prosecuted and so should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

How is a Red Notice issued?

  • Police in one of our member countries request a Red Notice via their National Central Bureau and provide information on the case.
  • The INTERPOL General Secretariat publishes the Notice after a compliance check is completed.
  • Police all around the world are alerted.

Why is the Red Notice important?

  •  It gives high, international visibility to cases
  •  Criminals and suspects are flagged to border officials, making travel difficult
  •  Countries can request and share critical information linked to an investigation.

Types of notices :

  • Red Notice: To seek the location and arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful action.
  • Yellow Notice : To help locate missing persons, often minors, or to help identify persons who are unable to identify themselves.
  • Blue Notice: To collect additional information about a person’s identity, location or activities in relation to a crime.
  • Black Notice :To seek information on unidentified bodies.
  • Green Notice: To provide warnings and intelligence about persons who have committed criminal offences and are likely to repeat these crimes in other countries.
  • Orange Notice: To warn of an event, a person, an object or a process representing a serious and imminent threat to public safety.
  • INTERPOL–United Nations Security Council Special Notice: Issued for groups and individuals who are the targets of UN Security Council Sanctions Committees.
  • Purple Notice: To seek or provide information on modus operandi, objects, devices and concealment methods used by criminals.

Mini Parliaments : Department Related Standing Committees (DRSCs)

RBI Governor stresses need for autonomy of central bank.
  • Reserve Bank of India Governor batted for autonomy of the institution in strong terms in his deposition before the Standing Committee on Finance.
  • He made a presentation on the impact of demonetisation and the status of non-performing assets in the banking sector.
  • He made three key points during the meeting. First, he said depositors’ interests were of primary importance for which autonomy was non-negotiable.
  • Second, he said monetary policy should be the exclusive domain of the RBI.
  • He also asserted that maintaining the central banks’ reserves was extremely essential to maintaining the country’s AAA rating.

Department Related Standing Committees (DRSCs)

  • With a view to ensure specialized and Ministry/Department specific scrutiny and oversight of the Executive by the Legislature, the Parliament of India introduced the system of Department Related Standing Committees (DRSCs) in 1993. Initially, consisting of 17 Committees, the DRSCs System was expanded to 24 Committees after reorganization in 2004.
  • They perform three important functions:
    • examine Bills referred to them;
    • select specific topics related to the ministries and examine implementation by the Government;
    • and examine the budgetary outlays of the departments.
  • Their performance affects the overall effectiveness of Parliament as an institution that makes laws, holds the Government accountable, and gives sanction for public spending.
  • There  are  24 Departmentally Related Standing Committees covering under their jurisdiction all  the Ministries/ Departments of the Government of India. Each of these Committees consists of 31  Members – 21  from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha to be nominated by the Speaker,  Lok Sabha and the Chairman,  Rajya Sabha, respectively.  The term of Office of these Committees does not exceed one year.
  • The recommendation of committees are not binding. It is for the Government or any other member to move the relevant amendments, which may then be voted upon by the House.
  • The  Committee,  constituted  under  Rule  331C  of  the  Rules  of  Procedure  and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, consists of 31 members; 21 members from Lok  Sabha,  nominated  by  the  Speaker,  Lok  Sabha  and  10  from  Rajya  Sabha nominated  by  the  Chairman,  Rajya  Sabha.

The Standing Committee on Finance

examines matters concerned with the following Ministries/Departments:-
  •   Finance – Departments of
(a)  Economic Affairs,
(b)  Financial Services
(c)  Expenditure,
(d)  Revenue, and
(e)  Disinvestment,
  •   Corporate Affairs,
  •   Planning (Planning Commission), and
  •   Statistics and Programme Implementation


  • They help Parliament manage its business better. It is easier to examine a topic in depth by a committee of 30.
  • They enable input from experts and those who may be directly affected by a policy or legislation. For example, the DRSCs often invite comments from the public and call people to testify.
  • Being outside direct public glare allows members to discuss issues and reach consensus without worrying about constituency pressures.
  • In the Indian context is that the anti-defection law does not apply to committees — therefore, decisions are not usually made on party lines.
  • Finally, these committees allow members to focus on some specific areas and build their expertise, which helps them scrutinize issues more thoroughly.

Criticism :

  • The DRSC that examined the Right to Education Bill, 2008 did not invite any expert witness.
  • Only 27 percent of Bills introduced in the current Parliament have been so referred to them.
  • A Bill as important as the Constitution Amendment to enable the GST was passed by Lok Sabha without reference to the DRSC;
  • Several Bills piloted by the Finance Ministry have been referred to specially-formed joint committees of the two Houses rather than the DRSCs. (chaired by a member of party in power.)
  • These committees lack standing research support. They are backed by the general support staff of Parliament and do not have a dedicated set of researchers associated with them. While they can (and often do) reach out to outside experts, there is no internal expertise that can finesse such opinion.
  • Transparency: All committees meet behind closed doors and only the final report is published .


  • Way forward: strengthening the “mini-parliaments” will improve Parliament’s overall effectiveness.
  • Suggested Reading: Laxmikanth 23.5

15th Loksabha as Least Productive Ever

(GDPR) General Data Protection law

  • The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation GDPR comes into force on May 25, 2018 here’s what it means.
  • What is GDPR? The law is a replacement for the 1995 Data Protection Directive, which has until now set the minimum standards for processing data in the EU.
  • GDPR will significantly strengthen a number of rights: individuals will find themselves with more power to demand companies reveal or delete the personal data they hold;
  • The definition of personal data now explicitly includes location data, IP addresses, and identifiers such as genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of a natural person.
  •  Individuals will have stronger rights over their personal data. The new rights include the right to be forgotten, the right to data portability, the right to object to profiling. Consumer consent to process data must be freely given.
  • Regulators will be able to work in concert across the EU for the first time, rather than having to launch separate actions in each jurisdiction. The penalties run into hefty fines — highest being 20 million euros or 4% of annual turnover — whichever is greater.
  • GDPR affects every company, but the hardest hit will be those that hold and process large amounts of consumer data: technology firms, marketers, and the data brokers who connect them.
  • Even complying with the basic requirements for data access and deletion presents a large burden for some companies, which may not previously have had tools for collating all the data they hold on an individual.
  • But the largest impact will be on firms whose business models rely on acquiring and exploiting consumer data at scale.
  • Data privacy laws are almost non-existent at the moment in India, but the government-appointed BN Srikrishna committee will soon be suggesting a framework and law for protecting data.

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance

  • In news: The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance provides for stringent punishment of a jail term of minimum 20 years or life imprisonment or death for rape of a girl under 12 years. Union Cabinet approved the promulgation of an Ordinance.
  • Amendments would be made to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Criminal Procedure Code, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Indian Evidence Act.

The Ordinance:

  • For the crime of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, which can be extended to imprisonment for the rest of life.
  • Minimum punishment for rape of women has also been increased from rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to 10 years, which can be extended to life imprisonment.
  • It provides for speedy investigation and trial, which must be completed in two months.
  • There will be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years.
  • New Fast Track Courts will be set up in consultation with states/UTs and High Courts.
  • Special forensic kits and labs for rape cases to all police stations and hospitals.
  • Database: National Crime Records Bureau will maintain a national database and profile of sexual offenders. this data will be regularly shared with States/UTs for tracking, monitoring and investigation, including verification of antecedents by police.

Will death penalty help?

  • The Justice Verma Committee, which was constituted in the aftermath of December 2012 gangrape in Delhi to recommend legal reforms to curb sexual assault crimes, in its report said introduction of death penalty for rape may not have a deterrent effect and recommended enhanced sentence of jail for the remainder of life.

Facts and criticism:

  • As per the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data for 2016, 94.6% of total crimes against children under the POCSO Act as well as Section 376 are committed by either relatives or acquaintances.
  • conviction rate under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act is as low as 18%.
  • sexual assaults against boys have been left unaddressed by the ordinance .

Ordinance making powers of the President

  • Article 123 of the Constitution grants the President certain law making powers to promulgate Ordinances when either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session and hence it is not possible to enact laws in the Parliament.
  • An Ordinance may relate to any subject that the Parliament has the power to legislate on. Conversely, it has the same limitations as the Parliament to legislate, given the distribution of powers between the Union, State and Concurrent Lists.

Thus, the following limitations exist with regard to the Ordinance making power of the executive:

  1. Legislature is not in session: The President can only promulgate an Ordinance when either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session.
  2. Immediate action is required: The President cannot promulgate an Ordinance unless he is satisfied that there are circumstances that require taking ‘immediate action.
  3. Parliamentary approval during session: Ordinances must be approved by Parliament within six weeks of reassembling or they shall cease to operate.  They will also cease to operate in case resolutions disapproving the Ordinance are passed by both the Houses.

Road Safety and Good Samaritan guidelines

Indian roads, which account for the highest fatalities in the world, became yet more dangerous in 2015 with the number of deaths rising nearly 5% to 1.46 lakh. This translates to 400 deaths a day or one life snuffed out every 3.6 minutes, in what an expert described as a “daily massacre on our roads”.

This clearly underlines the importance of good law to protect the accident victims and various attempts have been made by Government and in various judgements of supreme court. A report by the Law Commission of India highlighted, that 50% of people who died in road crashes could be saved if immediate medical care was given to them in the ‘golden hour’ i.e. the first hour. A nation-wide survey conducted by Save LIFE Foundation also revealed that 3 out of 4 people hesitated in assisting victims of road crashes.

But is it obligatory for a doctor or a hospital, both public and private, to provide immediate emergency medical aid to a victim of a road accident? Yes, it is obligatory, said the Supreme Court in a landmark judgement in 1989. (Paramanand Katara vs. Union of India: AIR 1989 SC 2039) but more than two decades have passed and implementation of this have failed by and large.

So in response to this lethargy in October 2014 the Supreme Court directed the Union government to frame guidelines for the protection of ‘Good Samaritans’, or helpful bystanders, and a Standard Operating Procedure to make them work. The Union Road Transport Ministry notified the guidelines in May 2015, and followed it up with a Standard Operating Procedure in January 2016.

In its landmark judgment on March 30, 2016, in the matter SaveLIFE Foundation v. Union of India, the Hon’ble Supreme Court incorporated the guidelines for the protection of Good Samaritans and Standard Operating Procedures for their examination by police and during trial, and invoked its inherent jurisdiction to make them binding on all States and Union Territories. With these landmark guidelines now having the “force of law” conferred by the apex court, no bystander can be harassed if he/she brings a victim of a road accident to the nearest hospital.

Your rights as a Good Samaritan

  • A bystander or Good Samaritan shall not face any civil and criminal liability arising out of helping a road accident victim.
  • A Good Samaritan, who informs the police or emergency services for the person lying injured on the road, shall not be compelled to reveal his name and personal details on the phone or in person.
  • Disclosure of personal information of the Good Samaritan in the Medico Legal Case (MLC) form provided by hospitals shall be voluntary.
  • Disciplinary or departmental action shall be initiated by the Government concerned against public officials who coerce or intimidate a bystander or Good Samaritan for revealing his name or personal details.
  • A Good Samaritan who has voluntarily stated that he is also an eyewitness to the accident shall be examined on a single occasion and the State Government shall develop standard operating procedures to ensure that bystander or Good Samaritan is not harassed or intimidated.
  • Video conferencing may be used extensively during examination of bystander or Good Samaritan including eye-witnesses in order to prevent harassment and inconvenience to Good Samaritans.
  • Lack of response by a doctor in an emergency situation pertaining to road accidents, where he is expected to provide care, shall constitute “Professional Misconduct”, under Chapter 7 of the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulation, 2002 and disciplinary action shall be taken against such doctor under Chapter 8 of the said Regulations.
  • In case a Good Samaritan so desires, the hospital shall provide an acknowledgement confirming that an injured person was brought to the hospital to such Good Samaritan.

Road safety drive starts today .

Special Category status

Special Category State (SCS) is again in the headlines. Political parties have been demanding that Andhra Pradesh be granted the SCS status, here are few useful links for complete picture.