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Current Affairs- 2 August 2018

NATIONAL

Cabinet clears Bill to restore the provisions of SC/ST Act
  • Centre has decided to introduce a Bill to restore the original provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, which the Supreme Court had struck down in a March ruling.
  • The decision comes ahead of a planned ‘Bharat bandh’ by Dalit groups on August 9.
  • The Amendment Bill seeks to insert three new clauses after Section 18 of the original Act. The first stipulates that for the purposes of the Act, “preliminary enquiry shall not be required for registration of a First Information Report against any person.” 
  • The second stipulates that the arrest of a person accused of having committed an offence under the Act would not require any approval,
  • The third says that the provisions of Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure — which deals with anticipatory bail — shall not apply to a case under this Act, “notwithstanding any judgment or order of any Court
Bills on commercial courts, arbitration passed by Parliament
  • Two bills aimed at creating commercial benches in select high courts and amending a law on arbitration for speedy settlement of high value business disputes were cleared by Parliament 
  • The Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Bill, 2015 and the Arbitration and Conciliation Act (Amendment) Bill, 2015 were passed by the Rajya Sabha without debate. They were cleared by the Lok Sabha last week.
  • Under the amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, an arbitrator will have to settle a case within 18 months. After the completion of 12 months, certain restrictions will be put in place to ensure that the arbitration case does not linger on.
  • An official amendment moved by Law Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda in Lok Sabha  had made it clear that the law will not have any bearing on ongoing arbitration cases and will apply to such cases only if the two parties agree.
  • The amendments to the law come amid keenness of the government to attract the greater foreign investment. Certain foreign companies were said to be hesitant to do business in India because of the long-drawn litigations. It is one of the steps to promote ease of doing business in India.
  • Law Secretary P.K. Malhotra, who had been pushing the two measures, said “now India can seek our place as the new arbitration hub of the world after London and Singapore.”
Supreme Court Begins Hearing On Pleas Seeking Quashing Of Adultery Provision In IPC
  • The Supreme Court today commenced hearing on pleas seeking quashing of the adultery provision in the IPC on the ground that it only punishes married men for having extra-martial sexual relations with a married woman.
  • A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said it will not touch the law to make it an offence for women too.
  • Section 497 of the 158-year-old IPC says: “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery.”
  • “He shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor,” the section says.
Know your dragonfly: First-ever festival for insects that help maintain ecosystem
  • The festival — jointly being organized by WWF India and the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and will culminate towards a dragonfly census on August 19.  
  • Dragonflies play a key role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem and are crucial in controlling mosquito population. 
Indian-Origin Professor Wins Fields Medal, The "Nobel of Mathematics"
  • Akshay Venkatesh, a renowned Indian-Australian mathematician, is one of four winners of mathematics' prestigious Fields medal, known as the Nobel prize for math.
  • Along with Akshay Venkatesh, Caucher Birkar, Alessio Figalli and Peter Scholze won the award.
  • Along with Akshay Venkatesh, Caucher Birkar, Alessio Figalli and Peter Scholze won the award
WORLD
UAE launches amnesty scheme for overstayers
  • The UAE launched a landmark three-month visa amnesty programme that will benefit hundreds of illegal foreign workers, including Indians, who are overstaying their permits.
  • The programme allows the workers to leave the country without paying penalty and also gives them six months to find a job.
  • The UAE is home to 2.8 million Indian expatriates, the largest expatriate community in the country.
  • The government did not release specific numbers, but said thousands of people, primarily labourers from countries like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and the Philippines, will benefit from the the amnesty scheme.
  • As per Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA), the entity responsible for entry and residence of foreigners in the UAE, visa violators before August 1, 2018 will be able to rectify their status legally during the amnesty period, which will end on October 31. Those who have been blacklisted and those who have legal cases against them are not eligible for amnesty.

ECONOMY

RBI flags ‘currency war’ risk to stability
  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel has flagged the risks to macroeconomic stability from a potential ‘currency war’ in the wake of rising global trade tensions and said the central bank’s decision to raise interest rates was aimed at firmly anchoring inflation expectations.
  • The RBI’s comment on ‘currency war’ on a day when it had raised interest rates reflected its keenness to prevent the rupee from depreciating excessively
  • The rupee has depreciated about 8% against the dollar in 2018. 
  • Earlier, the RBI’s six-member monetary policy committee opted to raise the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.5%.
  • “The main reason for changing the policy rate is to ensure that on a durable basis we come to and maintain the 4% target,” Dr. Patel said. 
  • Factors including the Centre’s decision to raise the minimum support price for kharif crops and volatile crude oil prices and volatile oil prices are expected to shape the inflation trajectory in the coming months, RBI said.
TRAI gives nod for sale of 5G spectrum
  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)  recommended the auction of spectrum for offering 5G services for the first time in the country at a pan-India reserve price of about ₹492 crore per MHz.
  • the regulator has also called for over 43% reduction in the reserve prices of 700 MHz band spectrum — sought-after for high speed services.
  • The recommended pan-India reserve price for 700 Mhz now is ₹6,538 crore per MHz as opposed to ₹11,500 crore last time.