SC-appointed mediation panel on Ayodhya meets
• The first meeting of the three-member mediation committee on Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case began in Ayodhya on March 13, 2019.
• The mediation meeting led by former Supreme Court judge, Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla was attended by panel members’ spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu and several litigants from both sides.
• Last week, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi referred the case to the panel for mediation, saying the proceedings should be conducted with utmost confidentiality.
SC pulls up Assam govt over inadequate functioning of foreigners' tribunals
• The Supreme Court on March 13, 2019 pulled up the Assam government over inadequacies in the functioning of foreigners’ tribunals in the state. The court sought details on the matter March 27.
• During the hearing, the state government told the apex court that 50,000 migrants were declared foreigners by the tribunal in the past 10 years. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the Assam government, said that around 900 people were kept in six detention centres of the state.
• The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said that the state government will have to specify through an affidavit whether the foreigners' tribunals functioning in the state were adequate and how they were functioning.
• The apex court was hearing a PIL on the plight of foreigners in detention centres. The plea alleges that they were kept in detention indefinitely just because they were not Indians and were treated as illegal aliens.
Boeing 737 MAX aircrafts barred from entering Indian airspace from 4 PM
• Indian Government has barred Boeing 737-Max 8 aircraft from entering the Indian airspace in the wake of the plane crash in Ethiopia that killed 157 people onboard, including four Indians.
• The Ministry of Civil Aviation stated that no Boeing 737-Max 8 aircraft will be allowed to enter or transit Indian airspace from 4 pm on March 13.
• Earlier, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, DGCA, took a decision to ground all Boeing 737-Max operations of domestic carriers.
• While Spice Jet has around 12 Boeing 737 Max 8 planes in its fleet, Jet Airways has five. The latest crash was the second such involving 737 MAX 8 aircraft in less than five months.
Special Olympics World Games 2019 begin in Abu Dhabi
• Special Olympics World Games 2019 began at Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on March 14, 2019.
• Held in West Asia for the first time, 7,500 athletes will take part in 24 Olympic-style sports over seven days.
• The event is expected to see more than 2,500 women participants, with almost half of them performing in athletics competitions. Saudi Arabia would be sending female athletes for the very first time. It will be represented by 14 women participants.
• Hosts UAE would also be fielding its largest-ever squad of athletes at a World Games, followed by India and the United States.
• The event has already made history by welcoming a record-breaking 200 nations at the Games. Among the 200 nations, 195 will compete in the Games and five will observe.
US Senate votes to end support for Yemen war, defying Trump
• The US Senate, defying Donald Trump's foreign policy and his alliance with Saudi Arabia, voted on March 13, 2019 to end support the Saudi-led war effort in Yemen.
• Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled US Senate approved a historic curtailment of presidential war powers that directs Trump to remove the United States Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen within 30 days.
• The Senate vote was 54 to 46, with seven Republicans defying the president and aligning with the Democrats. The text will now move to the Democrat-led House of Representatives which is likely to pass the latest effort.
• However, the White House has threatened a veto, calling the measure "flawed" and saying it would harm bilateral relationships in the region and hurt the US’s ability to fight extremism.
• The motion’s full passage would set a historic marker as it would be the first measure passed by Congress to invoke the 1973 War Powers Resolution to directly curtail a president's use of military powers.
Archaeologists unearth evidence of earliest large-scale celebrations in Britain
• Archaeologists have unearthed evidence of the earliest large-scale celebrations in Britain when people and animals travelled hundreds of miles for prehistoric feasting rituals near the world-famous monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury.
• The most comprehensive study, led by Cardiff University in the UK, to date, examined the bones of 131 pigs, the prime feasting animals, from four Late Neolithic complexes.
• According to researchers, the pig bones excavated from four sites were from animals raised as far away as Scotland, North East England and West Wales, as well as numerous other locations across the British Isles.
• The study demonstrates a scale of movement and level of social complexity not previously appreciated.
• These gatherings could be seen as the first united cultural events, with people from all corners of Britain descending on the areas around Stonehenge to feast on food that had been specially reared and transported from their homes.
• Pigs were the prime animal used in feasting and they provide the best indication of where the people who feasted at these sites came from as almost no human remains have been recovered.
Malaysia: Over 100 schools closed after hundreds poisoned by toxic waste dumped in river
• In Malaysia, over 100 schools have been closed after the dumping of toxic waste into a river caused hundreds of people to fall ill, including many children.
• A lorry is believed to have dumped the waste in southern Johor state last week, sending hazardous fumes across a wide area.
• Over 500 people, many of them school pupils, have received medical treatment after inhaling the fumes.
• The nation’s Education Ministry has decided to close all 111 schools in the Pasir Gudang area immediately.
National Company Law Appellate Tribunal reserves its order on petition by Reliance Communications
• The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal has reserved its order on a petition by Reliance Communications which has approached the tribunal seeking the release of income tax refunds to clear dues of Ericsson.
• Lenders of RCom opposed the plea, saying that it will lead to outgo of public money for settling payment of a private party. After hearing both the sides on March 13, the Tribunal bench headed by Chairperson S J Mukhopadhaya reserved the order in the case.
• The tribunal was hearing the petition of RCom to release of more than 259 crore rupees received from the Income Tax refund held with the State Bank of India.
• RCom has been asked by both the Supreme Court and the NCLAT to pay Rs 550 crore to Ericsson. The Supreme Court had ordered RCom to pay Ericsson by March 19.
Lingayat pontiff Maate Mahadevi passes away
• Basava Dharma Peetha president Maate Mahadevi passed away at a private hospital in Bengaluru on March 14, 2019. She was suffering from respiratory issues and was undergoing treatment for the past few days in Manipal hospital.
• Maate Mahadevi's final rites will be conducted on March 15 and before that, her mortal remains will be kept for public viewing at Basava Mantap in Rajajinagar.
• Maate Mahadevi was one of the prominent faces of movement for separate religion status for Lingayat community.
• Last month, she was part of the renewed call for separate religion and grant of minority status for Lingayats. Lingayat organisations threatened to vote against the BJP if this was not acceded to. Some groups also want quotas for their community.