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17-12-2022

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Table of Content


  • GS-2 INDIAN POLITY
  • Court vacations: What are arguments for and against judges taking breaks?
  • Shraddha Walkar's bones found in Mehrauli forest, says DNA test: Report
  • Indian PhD student at Cambridge University solves 2,500-year-old Sanskrit puzzle
  • Fact File
  • Five agricultural products of Kerala get GI tag, taking the total count to 17
  • The enigma of mythical stories and intense art and dance forms


Court vacations: What are arguments for and against judges taking breaks?

GS-2: Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government.

 

On the one side, pending cases are rising to record levels each year and on the other side, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) declared that the Supreme Court will not have a vacation bench during upcoming winter vacation.

 

Court Vacations

  • Judicial schedule: Origin in colonial practice.
  • The judicial functioning works on 193 working days a year in the Supreme Court whereas the High Courts function for 210 days and trial court functions for 245 days approximately.
  • The High Courts have the power to structure their calendars according to the service rules.
  • Annual summer vacation of the Supreme Court: Typically seven weeks from end of May to July.
  • Other vacations:
  • A week long break each for Dussehra and Diwali.
  • Two weeks break at the end of December.

 

Criticism of the court vacations

  • Snail’s pace of judicial proceeding and mounting pendency of cases.
  • Vacation results in further unavoidable delays in listing cases.
  • Origin of vacations lies in the colonial past – 
  • It was too hot for the European judges of the Federal Court of India in summers.
  • They took the winter breaks for Christmas.

 

What happens to important cases during court vacations?

  • Vacation benches: When the court is in the recess, the combination of two or three judges are available to hear important cases such as bail, eviction, etc.
  • Example: In 2015, a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court heard the challenge to the constitutional amendment setting up the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) during the summer vacation.
  • Similarly, in 2017, a case challenging the practice of triple talaq was heard during summer vacation.


Government’s stand

  • The issue cannot be resolved until a “new system” on the appointment of judges is evolved.
  • Long vacations obtain by the courts is not very convenient for justice-seekers.
  • Numerous times the government has conveyed this message to the Judiciary as the obligation and duty to convey the message or sense of parliament.


Recommended reforms 

  • In 2000, the Malimath Committee was set up to recommend reforms in the criminal justice system.
  • It suggested that the period of vacation should be reduced by 21 days and the Supreme Court work for 206 days, and High Courts for 231 days every year.
  • The 230th report of the Law commission (2009) – headed by A R Lakshmanan –   suggested that vacations in the higher judiciary must be curtailed by at least 10 to 15 days and the court working hours should be extended by at least half an hour.
  • In 2014, CJI R M Lodha suggested to keep the Supreme Court, High Courts, and trial courts open round the year.
  • He suggested to plan the calendar according to schedules of individual judges, which should be sought at the beginning of the year.
  • Former CJI T S Thakur also suggested holding court during vacations if parties and lawyers mutually agreed


Steps taken by Judiciary

  • In 2014, the Supreme Court notified new Rules limiting the period of summer vacation to not to exceed seven weeks from the earlier 10-week period.


Arguments in favour of court vacations

  • Vacations are much needed for rejuvenation especially in a legal profession which demands intellectual rigour and long working hours.
  • Typically judges work for over 10 hours on a daily basis and apart from this, they utilize the vacation to write judgments.
  • Like other working professionals, judges do not take leave of absence when the court is in session.
  • Judges rarely take the day off for social engagements except Family tragedies or health issues.
  • Cutting down on court vacations may not see a dramatic decrease in pendency of cases.
  • Moreover, the Supreme Court disposes of the approximately same number of cases as are instituted before it in a calendar year. 
  • In 2021, the Supreme Court disposes the 24,586 cases against 29,739 cases that were instituted before it in the same year.


Practices around the world

  • The US Supreme Court hears approximately 100-150 cases a year, and sits for oral arguments for five days a month.
  • In the UK, the Supreme Court sits in four sessions throughout the year, spanning roughly 250 days whereas the High Courts and Courts of Appeals sit for 185-190 days in a year.

 

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Shraddha Walkar's bones found in Mehrauli forest, says DNA test: Report

GS-3: Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.

 

DNA testing conducted on the bones recovered in connection with the Shraddha Walkar murder investigation has confirmed a positive match with Shraddha’s father. This shows that DNA fingerprinting has become much important tool for the crime investigative authorities to solve the crime.


DNA fingerprinting

  • DNA fingerprinting is a laboratory technique used to establish a link between biological evidence and a suspect in a criminal investigation.


The Origin of DNA fingerprint

  • In 1984, DNA fingerprint was first developed Alec Jeffreys in the UK.
  • Jeffreys discovered that DNA sequence is a unique identity for an individual and no two persons have same DNA sequence except for identical twins.
  • In 1988, Lalji Singh – the father of DNA fingerprinting in India – developed DNA fingerprinting at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad.
  • In 1989, for the first time, the Kerala police for used DNA fingerprinting technology.


Working of DNA Fingerprinting

  • A crime laboratory develops a profile by analyzing selected DNA sequences called loci, which is used to identify a suspect.

  • Though there is DNA in most cells in the human body, but for general purpose DNA can be extracted from – hair, bone, teeth, saliva, and blood.
  • In addition, it can be extracted from used clothes, linen, combs, or other frequently used items.
  • This DNA evidence is used to solve crime in two ways – 
  • Known suspect: That person’s DNA is compared to biological evidence found at a crime scene found at a crime scene to establish or determine relations with the crime.
  • Unknown Suspect: Biological evidences found at a crime scene are compared with offender profiles in existing DNA databases to assist in identifying a suspect.
  • In addition, DNA fingerprinting can make separate prints of various individuals even from a sample mixture containing numerous DNA.
  • This innovation is very useful in case of gang rape investigations.


Challenges with DNA fingerprinting

  • State police forces are inadequately trained or not fully equipped.
  • Crime scene is not fully protected and correct procedure is not followed.
  • The investigator’s DNA get mixed with the DNA of the victims or the suspects.
  • The samples can be ruined during the process of DNA fingerprinting.
  • There is an issue regarding accuracy of the technology so that labs have to run each test with two to four samples.
  • Privacy issue: If data is leaked from the lab, it could result in to disclosure of the personal information in the wrong hands.
  • Social issue: If private characteristic information is obtained by insurance companies or potential employers, it could seriously impact their insurance rates and job prospects.    

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Indian PhD student at Cambridge University solves 2,500-year-old Sanskrit puzzle

GS-1: Indian Culture - Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

 

Dr Rishi Rajpopat claims to have solved Sanskrit’s biggest puzzle in his PhD thesis titled ‘In Panini We Trust’. He solved a grammar problem found in the ‘Ashtadhyayi’, which was written by the Panini in the 4th century BC.


 

Panini – the ‘father of linguistics’

  • Probably lived during the age of conquests of Alexander and the founding of the Mauryan Empire.
  • Sometimes, he has been also dated to the 6th century BC, the age of the Buddha and Mahavira.
  • Lived in Salatura (Gandhara), north-west Pakistan.
  • Probably associated with the great university at Taksasila.
  • Taksasila also produced Kautilya and Charaka, who were masters of statecraft and medicine respectively.
  • He composed great grammar of Sanskrit, the ‘Ashtadhyayi’, or ‘Eight Chapters’
  • It is a linguistics text that set the standard for how Sanskrit was meant to be written and spoken. 
  • Thereafter, Sanskrit was developed and reached its classical form.
  • It aid down more than 4,000 grammatical rules which employs single letters or syllables for the names of the cases, moods, persons, tenses, etc. in which linguistic phenomena are classified.


Commentries on Panini

  • In the 2nd c. BC, Patanjali wrote Mahabhasya
  • In the 7th c., Jayaditya and Vamana wrote Kasika Vritti.


The Problem

  • Ashtadhyayi is very reach in the language’s phonetics, syntax and grammar.
  • It is known as ‘language machine’, where you can feed in the root and suffix of any Sanskrit word, and get grammatically correct words and sentences in return based on rules set by Panini.
  • But, in case of applicability of two or more rules at the same time, it creates confusion.
  • To resolve this, Panini himself gave a ‘meta rule’ – a rule governing rules.
  • But, the Meta rule failed to solve the machine’s problem and kept producing exceptions.


The solution

  • According to Dr Rajpopat, the error lies in the wrong interpretation of the meta-rule throughout the history.
  • An ancient scholar Katyayayana misunderstood the meta-rule, and his wrong interpretation got compounded over centuries.
  • He claimed that the ‘Ashtadhyayi’ is an accurate ‘language machine’ that produce grammatically sound words and sentences almost every time.


Significance of the Discovery

  • It is possible to construct millions of Sanskrit words using Panini’s system.
  • Due to exact and formulaic grammar rules, Sanskrit language algorithm can be taught to computers.

 

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Fact Files

Five agricultural products of Kerala get GI tag, taking the total count to 17


 

Five agricultural products of Kerala have been granted Geographical Indication (GI) status.

  • Products
  • Attappady Attukombu Avara (beans)
  • Attappady Thuvara (red gram)
  • Onattukara Ellu (sesame)
  • Kanthalloor-Vattavada Veluthulli (garlic)
  • Kodungalloor Pottuvellari (snap melon)

GI Tag

  • A GI is a label that is applied to products that have a specific geographical origin and have characteristics that are related to that particular location.
  • GI is one of the eight intellectual property items coming under WTO’s Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs).
  • India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection)Act, 1999 to comply with the Agreement on TRIPS.
  • The act has come into force with effect from 15th September 2003.
  • To protect and administer GI, a Geographical Indications Registry has been established in Chennai under the office of Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks (CGPDTM).
  • The Office of the CGPDTM is located at Mumbai
  • It functions under the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
  • It supervises the working of the Patents Act, 1970, the Designs Act, 2000 and the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and also renders advice to the Government on matters relating to these subjects. 

The enigma of mythical stories and intense art and dance forms

The recent success of Kannada film Kantara has brought spotlight back on the worship of a tutelary deity. It also put focus back on native cultures such as the Yakshagana, Daivaradhane, Kambala or Theyyam.


Yakshagana 

  • Yakshagana is a traditional folk dance form popular in Coastal Karnataka districts.
  • Elements of Yakshagana:
  • The Act: Each performance typically focuses on a small sub-story (known as ‘Prasanga’) from ancient Hindu epics of Ramayana or Mahabharata. It consists of both stage performances and commentary accompanied by traditional music. 
  • The Music:  Instruments include Chande (drums), Harmonium, Maddale, Taala (mini metal clappers) and flute among others. 
  • The Dress: Large size head gear, coloured faces, elaborate costumes all over the body and musical beads on the legs (Gejje). Performers need great physique to perform with heavy costume for several hours and also strong voice and acting/dancing skills.
  • The Troupes: Some famous troupes such as – Saligrama mela, Dharmasthala Mela, Mandarthi Mela, Perduru Mela – performing Yakshagana throughout the year. 

Daivaradhane

  • Daivaradhane or Bhootaradhane is practiced in the coastal region of Karnataka.
  • Daivaradhane – a non-Vedic ritual – plays an important part in the religious life of the people of Tulu Nadu.
  • It is difficult to decide how old this custom or practice of worshipping the Daivas is, but it is certain that Daivas played an important role in the administration and judiciary system of Tulu Nadu.
  • The worship of Divas does not include the idea of idolizing and doing Prathista inside the temple rather the worship was performed in an open environment.
  • The Bhuta Sthana is a shrine where Daiva's belongings are kept and worshipped.
  • Bhuta Kola or Nema is a ceremony that is performed for the blessing of good health, the curing of physical and psychological illnesses, family disputes, critical judgment, and even divination.

Kambala 

  • Kambala is a buffalo race event popular in Coastal Karnataka districts.
  • Season: The events begin after the paddy harvest is done, which is usually during the month of October. 
  • It is performed on two parallel race tracks, filled with slushy water.
  • Two teams of buffaloes along with their jockeys race towards the finish line on the two parallel race tracks.

Theyyam Ritual Artform 

  • Theyyam is a famous ritual art form that originated in North Kerala.
  • It encompasses dance, mime and music.
  • It exalts the beliefs of the ancient tribals who gave a lot of importance to the worship of heroes and the spirits of their ancestors. 
  • There are more than 400 types of Theyyam.
  • Theyyam is mainly performed by males, except the Devakoothu theyyam.
  • The Devakoothu is performed by women only and that too only in the Thekkumbad Kulom temple.
  • The ceremonious dance is accompanied by the chorus of musical instruments such as Chenda, Elathalam, Kurumkuzal and Veekkuchenda.











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