2. Benami Law can’t be applied retrospectively: SC
3. Vertical Launch Short Range Surface to Air Missile
4. Theri Kaadu Tamil Nadu
Theme: Defense technology
A Court of Inquiry (Col) of the Indian Air Force (IAF) into the accidental firing of a BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in March, which landed in Pakistan, found that deviation from standard operating procedures (SOP) by three officers led to the incident.
- Joint venture between the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Russia-based NPO Mashinostroyeniya
- It derives its name from the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers.
- Short Range Ramjet supersonic cruise missile
- Two-stage missile with a solid propellant booster engine:
1. First stage: Brings the missile to supersonic speed and then gets separated.
2. The liquid ramjet or the second stage: Takes the missile closer to three times the speed of sound in cruise phase.
- The missile has a very low radar signature, making it stealthy, and can achieve a variety of trajectories.
- It operates on the “Fire and Forgets” principle i.e it does not require further guidance after launch.
- Can achieve a cruising altitude of 15 km and a terminal altitude as low as 10 m to hit the target.
- “Standoff range weapons” as it is fired from a range far enough to allow the attacker to evade defensive counter-fire.
- Three times the speed, 2.5 times flight range and higher range compared to subsonic cruise missiles.
2. Benami Law can’t be applied Retrospectively : SC
Theme: Money Laundering
The Supreme Court declared the amendments introduced to the Benami law in 2016 as “unconstitutional and manifestly arbitrary”
About Benami Transactions (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2016:
- Designed to curb black money and passed by parliament in August 2016, came into effect
- Benami (without a name) property refers to property purchased by a person in the name of some other person.
- Benami transactions include: Assets of any kind — movable, immovable, tangible, intangible, any right or interest, or legal documents.
Amends the definition of Benami transactions:
1. Property is held by or transferred to a person, but has been provided for or paid by another person.
2. Transaction is made in a fictitious name,
3. Owner is not aware of denies knowledge of the ownership of the property,
4. Person providing the consideration for the property is not traceable.
- Establish four authorities to conduct inquiries or investigations regarding benami transactions: (i) Initiating Officer, (ii) Approving Authority, (iii) Administrator and (iv) Adjudicating Authority.
- Initiating Officer may pass an order to continue holding property and may then refer the case to Adjudicating Authority which will then examine evidence and pass an order.
- Provides for an Appellate Tribunal to hear appeals against any orders passed by the Adjudicating Authority. Appeals against orders of the Appellate Tribunal will lie to the high court.
- Persons indulging in benami transactions may face up to 7 years’ imprisonment and fine.
Why did the Supreme Court consider amendments unconstitutional?
- Retrospective: Section 3(2) mandates three years of imprisonment for those who had entered into benami transactions between September 5, 1988 and October 25, 2016. That is, a person can be sent behind bars for a benami transaction entered into 28 years before the Section even came into existence.
- Section 5 of the 2016 Amendment Act said that “any property, which is subject matter of benami transaction, shall be liable to be confiscated by the Central Government”. The court held that this provision cannot be applied retrospectively
- Violation of Fundamental Rights: The provision violated Article 20(1) of the Constitution which mandates that no person should be convicted of an offense, which was not in force “at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offense”.
Why It is Necessary to Curb Benami Transactions?
- Inflationary implications: Rather than hoarding the black money in cash, the tax evaders invest their accumulated illegal money in buying benami properties.
- Loss of economic activity: The whole process affects the revenue generation of the government hampering growth and development of the state.
- Tax evasion: Since the percentage of taxpayers in the country is a dismal low, the government fails to successfully implement its policies and schemes due to lack of resources.
- Money laundering: Benami transactions also serve the illicit purpose of money laundering.
3. Vertical Launch Short Range Surface to Air Missile.
Theme: Defense Technology
DRDO & Indian Navy successfully flight-test Vertical Launch Short Range Surface-to-Air Missile off Odisha coast.
- The VL-SRSAM system has been indigenously designed and developed by DRDO.
- The missile has the capability of neutralizing various aerial threats at close ranges including sea-skimming targets.
- The tactic of sea skimming is used by various anti-ship missiles and some fighter jets to avoid being detected by the radars onboard warships.
- For this, these assets fly as close as possible to sea surface and thus are difficult to detect and neutralize.
Design of VL-SRSAM:
- The missile has been designed to strike at the high-speed airborne targets at the range of 40 to 50 km and at an altitude of around 15 km.
- Design is based on Astra missile which is a Beyond Visual Range Air to Air missile.
- It is a canisterised system, which means it is stored and operated from specially designed compartments.
- In the canister, the inside environment is controlled, thus making its transport and storage easier and improving the shelf life of weapons.
4. Theri Kaadu Tamil Nadu.
Theme : Geomorphology
Recent news has highlighted the desert in Tamil Nadu. It has dunes that are red. The red dunes are called “theri” in Tamil. They consist of sediments dating back to the Quaternary Period and are made of marine deposits.
THEORIES BEHIND THEIR FORMATION :
- Theory 1: The present-day theris might have been formed by the confinement of beach sand locally, after the regression of the sea. When high-velocity winds from the Western Ghats blew east, they induced migration of sand grains and accumulation of dunes.
- Theory 2: Another view is that these are geological formations that appeared in a period of a few hundred years.
- Theory 3: The red sand is brought from the surface of a broad belt of red loam in the plains of the Nanguneri region by southwest monsoon winds during May-September.
Features of the dunes:
- They have very low water and nutrient retention capacity.
- The dunes are susceptible to aerodynamic lift.
- Reason for Red color: The iron-rich heavy minerals like ilmenite, magnetite, garnet, hypersthene, and rutile present in the soil had undergone leaching by surface water and were then oxidized because of the favorable semi-arid climatic conditions giving them distinct red color.
Aeolian Process: These processes of erosion, transport, and deposit of sediments that are caused by wind at or near the surface of the earth, are called Aeolian processes. They lead to continual sand redistribution.