National News-Daily Digest: 5 Key Updates
1. Supreme Court upholds passive euthanasia
The Supreme Court has upheld passive euthanasia and the right to give advance medical directives or ‘Living Wills’ to smoothen the dying process as part of the fundamental right to live with dignity.Passive euthanasia is the act of withdrawing or withholding medical support to a dying patient who has no hope for revival or cure.
A five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, in four separate and concurring opinions, ruled that the fundamental right to life and dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution includes the “right to die with dignity.” Dignity is lost if a man is allowed or forced to undergo pain and suffering because of “unwarranted medical support.”
“Meaningful existence” includes a person’s right to self-determination and autonomy to decide his medical treatment, the court held.
The court distinguished passive euthanasia from suicide and active euthanasia. It called passive euthanasia as a “mere acceleration of the inevitable conclusion.” Active euthanasia, the court concluded, is unlawful. Suicide involves “overt acts” which culminates in an unnatural death. A valid ‘Living Will’ facilitates passive euthanasia. A failure to legally recognise an advance medical directive inconveniences the “right to smoothen the dying process”, the court reasoned. In cases of terminally ill or permanently vegetative state patients, where there is no hope for revival, priority should be given to the Living Wills and the right of self-determination.
2. Rajasthan passes Bill to give death penalty for child rape
Rajasthan became the second State, after Madhya Pradesh, to pass a Bill providing for death penalty to those convicted of raping girls of 12 years and below. The State Assembly passed the Bill seeking to amend the Indian Penal Code with the insertion of new provision by voice vote.
Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria introduced the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2018 that aimed at protecting the girl child by laying down a deterrent punishment, including death sentence, to the offenders.
The Bill will become a law after it gets the Presidential assent.
The Bill had inserted two new sections, 376-AA and 376-DD, in the IPC.
Section 376-AA provides for capital punishment or rigorous imprisonment ranging between 14 years and lifelong incarceration. Section 376-DD makes a similar provision for gang-rape of a girl child, while laying down death penalty or imprisonment from 20 years to lifelong incarceration for those convicted of the offence. Each of the persons constituting the gang will be deemed to be guilty of the offence.
3. India, France inks 14 agreements
India and France inked key pacts in the strategic areas of security, nuclear energy as well as protection of classified information after extensive talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron. Agreements in the field of education, environment, urban development and railways were also signed in the presence of the two leaders.
4. Diu becomes first union territory to run 100% on solar power
Diu has emerged as the first Union Territory to harness solar power at such an extent, that it now runs 100% on solar energy. Diu is one of the favorite tourist islands in West India which is limited to a geographical area of just 42 sq km.
Diu generates a total of 13 megawatts of electricity from solar power generating facilities daily. Around 3 MW is generated by rooftop solar plants and 10 MW by its other solar power plants.
Earlier, Diu was dependant on power grid owned by the Gujarat government. The solar power will serve the approximate population of 56,000 in the Union Territory.
5. First ever ‘crime-free zone’ along international border launched
In a first for both countries, the director generals of the Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) declared an 8.3 km stretch of the Indo-Bangladesh border as a ‘crime-free zone’. Both border guarding forces with the help of the civil administrations of the two countries, NGOs and the local populance will help in ensuring that no crime takes place along the stretch that covers the Gunarmath and Kalyani Border Out Posts (BOPs) in India and the Puthkhali and Daulatpur BOPs across the border.
This stretch is one of the most vulnerable with cattle smuggling and other criminal activities prevalent. The idea is to target the more difficult areas along the 913 km of Indo-Bangladesh border under the BSF’s South Bengal Frontier. This is a pilot project that will be reviewed after 5-6 months.