POLITY AND CONSTITUTION
1. WHO IS A ‘PUISNE’ JUDGE, AND WHAT DOES THE TERM MEAN?
TAGS: PRELIMS PERSPECTIVE- GS-II- POLITY
THE CONTEXT: While recommending two names for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court, the Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said in a statement that the collegium had taken into “consideration the seniority of Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges.
What does puisne mean, and who are puisne judges?
- According to the dictionary, the word puisne has French origins, which means “later born” or younger.
- Puisne is almost always used in the context of judges, and essentially denotes seniority of rank. The term puisne judge is used in common law countries to refer to judges who are ranked lower in seniority, i.e., any judge other than the Chief Justice of that court.
Common law is the body of law that is created by judges through their written opinions, rather than through statutes or constitutions (statutory law). Common law, which is used interchangeably with ‘case law’, is based on judicial precedent. The United Kingdom (UK) and the Commonwealth countries, including India, are common law countries.
Is a “puisne judge” in India the same as in the UK?
- In the UK, puisne judges are judges other than those holding distinct titles. The Supreme Court of Judicature Act, 1877 defined a “puisne judge” as any judge of the High Court besides the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Chief Justice of England, and the Master of the Rolls.
- In India, all judges have the same judicial powers. As the senior most judge of a court, the Chief Justice has an additional administrative role. In India, there is a reference to a puisne judge only while considering the order of seniority for appointments, elevations to High Courts, etc., but it does not have a bearing on the exercise of a judge’s judicial power.
What did the collegium say about puisne judges?
- The Supreme Court collegium recommended Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Aravind Kumar, the current Chief Justices of the Allahabad and Gujarat High Courts respectively, for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court.
- While giving reasons for its recommendation, the collegium said that the decision was made taking “into consideration the seniority of Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges in their respective parent High Courts as well as the overall seniority of the High Court Judges”.
- This was done because seniority is one of the several criteria that are considered while making appointments to the higher judiciary.
- In the Third Judges Case ruling in 1998, one of the two cases that led to the evolution of the collegium system, the Supreme Court clarified that “The Chief Justice of India must make a recommendation to appoint a Judge of the Supreme Court and to transfer a Chief Justice or puisne Judge of a High Court in consultation with the four senior most puisne Judges of the Supreme Court.”
2. DEER COULD BE RESERVOIR OF OLD CORONAVIRUS VARIANTS: WHAT A NEW STUDY SAYS
TAGS: PRELIMS PERSPECTIVE- GS-II- HEALTH ISSUES
THE CONTEXT: According to a virus expert at Cornell University and an author of the study, which was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,The alpha and gamma variants of the coronavirus continued to circulate and evolve in white-tailed deer, even after they stopped spreading widely among people.
- But the findings, which are based on samples collected through December 2021, provide more evidence that deer could be a reservoir of the virus and a potential source of future variants, which could spill back into human populations.
What’s the link between deer and coronavirus?
- Previous studies of deer have suggested humans have repeatedly introduced the coronavirus into white-tailed deer populations in the United States and Canada and that deer can spread the virus to one another.
- Scientists are not sure how people are passing the virus to deer, but they have speculated that it might happen when people feed deer or deer encounter human trash or waste.
- The scale of the risk that infected deer pose to humans remains unclear. Scientists have documented one case that most likely resulted from deer-to-human transmission in Ontario, and they note that hunters and others who have regular contact with the animals could potentially catch the virus from them.
How was the study conducted?
- For the new study, Diel and his colleagues analysed about 5,500 tissue samples collected from deer killed by hunters in New York state from September through December in 2020 and 2021.
- During the 2020 season, just 0.6% of the samples tested positive for the virus, a figure that rose to 21% during the 2021 season. Genetic sequencing revealed that three variants of concern — alpha, gamma and delta — were all present in deer during the 2021 season.
- At the time, delta was still prevalent among New York’s human residents. But alpha and gamma had practically vanished, especially in the rural parts of the state where the infected deer were found.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that deer hunters take a variety of basic precautions to reduce the risk of infection, including wearing masks while handling game and washing hands thoroughly afterward.
3. WHAT IS ANGEL TAX?
TAGS: PRELIMS PERSPECTIVE- GS-III- ECONOMY
THE CONTEXT: A recently proposed detail has Indian start-ups worried. These new age firms, that offer their shares to foreign investors, may have to pay ‘angel tax’, which was earlier only supposed to be paid for investments raised by resident Indian investors, as per a motion made in the Finance Bill, 2023.
The move could adversely impact financing available to the start-ups, which have already been reeling under a funding winter since 2022, industry insiders are speculating.
What exactly is the proposed change?
- The Finance Bill, 2023, unveiled by Finance Minister has proposed to amend Section 56(2) VII B of the Income Tax Act.
- The provision states that when an unlisted company, such as a start-up, receives equity investment from a resident for issue of shares that exceeds the face value of such shares, it will be counted as income for the start-up and be subject to income tax under the head ‘Income from other Sources’ for the relevant financial year.
- However, with the latest amendment, the government has proposed to also include foreign investors in the ambit, meaning that when a start-up raises funding from a foreign investor, that too will now be counted as income and be taxable.
What is Angel Tax?
- Angel tax is levied on start-ups when they receive investments in excess of their ‘fair market value’. The perceived profit is considered as income from other sources—it’s taxed at 30% and termed as angel tax.
- Note that angel tax (as of now) is not applicable in the case of investments made by venture capital firms or foreign investors. It’s limited to investments made only by Indian investors.
- Referred to colloquially as Angel Tax, this rule is described in Section 56(2)(viib) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
- This clause was inserted into the act in 2012 to prevent-laundering of black money, and roundtripping via investments with a large premium into unlisted companies. Essentially it’s a tax on capital receipts, unique to India in the global context.
- The tax covers investment in any private business entity, but only in 2016 was it applied to startups.
A step to prevent Money Laundering
In India, unlike in the US, the angel investor does not get any tax rebate for investment in small businesses. So, people can invest their black money in start-ups and make it legal. Angel tax was introduced to prevent money laundering that might happen in the name of investment.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
4. WHAT ARE LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS?
TAGS: PRELIMS PERSPECTIVE- GS-III- ECONOMY AND SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
THE CONTEXT: During the Budget speech, Finance Minister announced the government’s move to focus on lab-grown diamonds.
What are lab-grown diamonds?
- Lab-grown diamonds are diamonds that are produced using specific technology which mimics the geological processes that grow natural diamonds. They are not the same as “diamond simulants” – LGDs are chemically, physically and optically diamond and thus are difficult to identify as “lab-grown.”
- While materials such as Moissanite, Cubic Zirconia (CZ), White Sapphire, YAG, etc. are “diamond simulants” that simply attempt to “look” like a diamond, they lack the sparkle and durability of a diamond and are thus easily identifiable. However, differentiating between an LGD and an Earth Mined Diamond is hard, with advanced equipment required for the purpose.
How are LGDs produced?
- There are multiple ways in which LGDs can be produced. The most common (and cheapest) is the “High pressure, high temperature” (HPHT) method. As the name suggests, this method requires extremely heavy presses that can produce up to 730,000 psi of pressure under extremely high temperatures (at least 1500 celsius). Usually graphite is used as the “diamond seed” and when subjected to these extreme conditions, the relatively inexpensive form of carbon turns into one of the most expensive carbon forms.
- Other processes include “Chemical Vapor Deposition” (CVD) and explosive formation that creates what are known as “detonation nanodiamonds”.
What are LGDs used for?
- LGDs have basic properties similar to natural diamonds, including their optical dispersion, which provide them the signature diamond sheen. However, since they are created in controlled environments, many of their properties can be enhanced for various purposes.
- For instance, LGDs are most often used for industrial purposes, in machines and tools. Their hardness and extra strength make them ideal for use as cutters. Furthermore, pure synthetic diamonds have high thermal conductivity, but negligible electrical conductivity. This combination is invaluable for electronics where such diamonds can be used as a heat spreader for high-power laser diodes, laser arrays and high-power transistors.
- Lastly, as the Earth’s reserves of natural diamonds are depleted, LGDs are slowly replacing the prized gemstone in the jewelry industry. Crucially, like natural diamonds, LGDs undergo similar processes of polishing and cutting that are required to provide diamonds their characteristic lustre.
5. OPERATION SADBHAVANA
TAGS: PRELIMS PERSPECTIVE
THE CONTEXT: Under ‘Operation SADBHAVANA’, Indian Army is undertaking multiple welfare activities such as running of Army Goodwill Schools, Infrastructure Development Projects and Education Tours etc. for the children living in remote areas of Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh.
Some of the objectives achieved through ‘Operation SADBHAVANA’ are national integration tours, women empowerment, employment generation, education and development activities towards nation building. ‘Operation SADBHAVANA’ projects are selected after taking local aspirations into consideration, in conjunction with local civil administration and it is ensured that there is no duplicacy with projects of civil administration.
- To improve the standard of education and to provide them with quality education, Indian Army is presently running seven (07) Army Goodwill Schools (AGS) under ‘Operation SADBHAVANA’ in Ladakh Region. More than 2,200 Students are currently studying in these schools.
- In addition, a total of Rs 8.82 crore of ‘Operation SADBHAVANA’ funds have been allotted for the Union Territory of Ladakh during the current financial year 2022-23. The funds are being utilised for various activities like Human Resource/Skill Development, Sports, Healthcare, National Integration, Infrastructure Development, Ecology, Environment and Education.
Following assistance has been provided in the field of Health and Sanitation, Community Development and Infrastructure development:
- As a step towards Healthy Nation for prosperous Ladakh, medical camps, veterinary camps, provision of medical equipment, upgradation of medical infrastructure and staffing of Medical Aid Centres have been provided at various remote locations in Ladakh. A total number of 23 Projects have been allotted in the financial year 2022-23 for health and sanitation out of the ‘Operation SADBHAVANA’ funds in the Ladakh Region.
- Women in remote areas of Ladakh are being empowered through various training programmes organised and funded through ‘Operation SADBHAVANA’ in Vocational Training Centres, Women Empowerment Centres and Computer Centres at various locations in Ladakh. In addition, training classes for women are also being organised for various activities i.e. Pashmina Shawl Weaving, Wool Knitting, Extraction of Apricot Oil, Yak Cheese Making, Yak Cheese Baking.
- Girl students have a fair representation in the education fund outlay of ‘Operation SADBHAVANA’. Further, ‘Kargil Ignited Minds’ an initiative exclusively for girl students of Kargil is launched for preparation for various competitive examinations for admissions into various professional colleges and institutions in India.