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Current Affairs in Short: 25 January 2019

The Supreme Court on January 24, 2019 refused to stay the proposed amendments to the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act that rule out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs.

Jan 25, 2019 17:29 IST
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SC refuses to stay amendments to SC/ST Act

• The Supreme Court on January 24, 2019 refused to stay the proposed amendments to the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act that rule out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs.
• A bench headed by Justice A K Sikri said the pending review petition filed by the centre against the apex court's March verdict and the pleas challenging the new amendments made in the SC/ST verdict will be taken up together.
• The bench referred the matter to the Chief Justice for reconstitution of a bench which Justice U U Lalit was a part.
• Justice Lalit was part of a bench which had passed the March 20, 2018 verdict, taking note of the rampant misuse of the stringent SC/ST Act against government servants and held that there shall be no immediate arrest on any complaint filed under the law.

SC agrees to examine Centre's decision to grant 10% reservation to upper caste poor

• The Supreme Court has decided to examine the Centre's decision to grant 10 percent reservation to economically weaker sections of general category.
• The court, however, did not stay the operation of the Centre's decision to grant reservation.
• A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna issued notice to the central government on various petitions challenging the validity of the Constitutional Amendment Act granting reservation to poor belonging to general category.
• The centre has to get back to the Supreme Court within four weeks.

Centre issues advisory to release undertrial prisoners who have served half of their maximum punishment

• Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said that the Centre has issued an advisory to release undertrial prisoners who have served half of their maximum punishment provided under the law.
• Some of the state governments have started with the compliance on the advisory. There are about four lakh prisoners in jails and out of them about half are undertrials.
• The Home Minister was speaking at a function at the district court in Lucknow to administer oath to newly elected office bearers of the Central Bar Association.
• The minister said that centre has abolished nearly 1,500 obsolete laws which have lost their efficacy.

India, Maldives agree to continue close cooperation on maritime security, counter-terrorism

• India and Maldives have agreed to continue their traditionally close cooperation on issues of maritime security, counter-terrorism and medical cooperation.
• This was decided during the meeting between Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Maldivian counterpart Mariya Ahmed Didi in New Delhi on January 24, 2019.
• Both sides held substantive discussions on further strengthening bilateral defence cooperation.
• Sitharaman reiterated India’s commitment to contribute towards capacity building and training requirements of the Maldives National Defence Forces.

China clones five gene-edited monkeys

• Scientists in China have cloned five monkeys for human disease research. The research team edited genes of monkeys to induce several human diseases like Alzheimer's claiming that it would help in medical research.
• This experiment may likely to raise fresh ethical concerns about gene-editing. As per reports, this is the first time multiple clones had been made from a gene-edited monkey for biomedical research.
• The announcement in National Science Review, a Chinese journal, follows the recent confirmation that the world's first gene-edited human babies have been born in China, which caused widespread disquiet in the scientific community.
• The cloned monkeys born in Shanghai at the Institute of Neuroscience of Chinese Academy of Sciences are closer to the human in physiology, make better models for research on disease pathogenesis and potential therapeutic treatments.

UN chief warns against losing the race on climate change

• United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on January 24, 2019 warned that the world is "losing the race" on climate change and demanded that governments make bolder commitments beyond the Paris accord.
• UN chief said that he is not hopeful that nations would find the resolve but stressed that world needs political will and governments should understand that this is the most important priority of our times.
• The UN secretary-general also said the commitments made in Paris were already not enough. He also called for more measures to mitigate climate change.
• The Paris climate accord has been shaken by the withdrawal of the United States under President Donald Trump and by threats to do the same by Brazil's leader Jair Bolsonaro

Millennials will be eligible to vote for 1st time in 2019 general elections

• President Ram Nath Kovind said on January 25, 2019 millennials will be eligible to vote for the first time in the general elections this year.
• Addressing the gathering on the National Voters' Day celebrations in Delhi, the President said these first-time voters will determine the fate and future of 21st Century India. He said it is a matter of pride to be a voter in world's largest democracy.
• The President asked new voters to exercise their franchise with responsibility, awareness and compassion. The theme for National Voters Day this year is "No Voter To Be Left Behind".
• The President also complimented the efforts of Election Commission in making all efforts so that not a single voter is left behind.
• He said the number of all women booths is gradually being increased to encourage female voters to exercise their franchise.

Advisory issued to release undertrials who have served half of their maximum term Rajnath

• Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on January 25, 2019 said the central government has issued an advisory to release undertrial prisoners who have served half of their maximum punishment provided under the law.
• Some state governments have started with the compliance on the advisory. There are about four lakh prisoners in jails and out of them about half are undertrials.
• Speaking at a function, Singh said that the Centre has abolished nearly 1,500 obsolete laws which have lost their efficacy.

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