Artificial Intelligence in Judiciary

In News

  • The Supreme Court recently started a first-of-its-kind project to transcribe its proceedings live using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

More about the news

  • Suggested by Indira Jaising:
    • The suggestion to transcribe hearings was made by senior advocate Indira Jaising in the plea she had filed seeking a live telecast of court proceedings.
  • Trial in process:
    • The AI transcript is seen on the live-streaming screen of the CJI’s court. 
    • The five-judge Bench headed by the CJI is hearing the case related to the political crisis in Maharashtra.
  • Platform:
    • The SC transcription is using Teres, which is a platform used often for transcribing arbitration proceedings
    • The platform is run by Nomology Technology Private Limited, a Bengaluru-based company.
  • Sharing with other lawyers & website:
    • The transcript will also be shared with lawyers who argued cases for verification, and is likely to be uploaded on the SC website every evening.
  • Significance of this step:
    • The transcribing is the second major decision towards making the court more transparent after the SC’s decision to livestream its proceedings before Constitution Benches.
    • The court is taking a major step towards becoming truly a “court of record” for posterity to watch and learn court craft.
Global practices:USA:In the US, court transcripts are available to litigants and the public. The US Supreme Court provides audio and text transcripts of the proceedings. Many local courts in the US also make a stenographic record of most court proceedings.UK:In the UK, a litigant can ask for a transcript of the court proceedings for a fee if the hearing is recorded.

About Artificial intelligence

  • About:
    • It is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. 
    • It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable.
  • Significance:
    • AI would not replace people but create new opportunities in various fields. 
    • It works on data, and if we could train our machines, it could do wonders for us in milliseconds by automating processes. 
    • AI is creating new opportunities which could not be achieved by traditional technology.
  • Applications:
    • Speech Recognition: 
      • It is also known as automatic speech recognition (ASR), computer speech recognition, or speech-to-text, and it is a capability which uses natural language processing (NLP) to process human speech into a written format. 
      • Many mobile devices incorporate speech recognition into their systems to conduct voice search—e.g. Siri—or provide more accessibility around texting. 
    • Computer Vision: 
      • This AI technology enables computers and systems to derive meaningful information from digital images, videos and other visual inputs, and based on those inputs, it can take action. 
      • This ability to provide recommendations distinguishes it from image recognition tasks. Powered by convolutional neural networks, computer vision has applications within photo tagging in social media, radiology imaging in healthcare, and self-driving cars within the automotive industry.  
    • Automobiles: 
      • While self-driving vehicles are not yet standard, cars already use AI-powered safety functions. The EU has for example helped to fund VI-DAS, automated sensors that detect possible dangerous situations and accidents. Navigation is largely AI-powered.
    • Cybersecurity: 
      • AI systems can help recognise and fight cyberattacks and other cyber threats based on the continuous input of data, recognising patterns and backtracking the attacks.
    • Fighting disinformation: 
      • Certain AI applications can detect fake news and disinformation by mining social media information, looking for words that are sensational or alarming and identifying which online sources are deemed authoritative.
    • Smart homes, cities and infrastructure:
      • Smart thermostats learn from our behaviour to save energy, while developers of smart cities hope to regulate traffic to improve connectivity and reduce traffic jams.
    • Transport: 
      • AI could improve the safety, speed and efficiency of rail traffic by minimising wheel friction, maximising speed and enabling autonomous driving. Tesla Cars use AI.
    • Agriculture:
      • AI applications in agriculture have developed applications and tools which help farmers inaccurate and controlled farming by providing them proper guidance to farmers about water management, crop rotation, timely harvesting, type of crop to be grown, optimum planting, pest control etc. use of drone to analyze the captured images and provide a detailed report containing the current health of the farm. 
      • It helps the farmer to identify pests and bacteria helping farmers to timely use pest control and other methods to take required action.
    • Health: 
      • It can be used for diagnostic purposes for various diseases, including COVID-19, and could prove very effective in remote areas where adequate health facilities are not available.
      • Artificial intelligence against Covid-19:
        • In the case of Covid-19, AI has been used in thermal imaging in airports and elsewhere. 
      • In medicine it can help recognise infection from computerised tomography lung scans. It has also been used to provide data to track the spread of the disease. 

Way ahead

  • If not designed and developed responsibly with appropriate safeguards, Generative AI can create harm and adversely impact society through misuse, perpetuating biases, exclusion, and discrimination.
    • These systems can potentially access sensitive information, raising concerns about data privacy and security. 
    • It may also produce low-quality and less accurate information, specifically in the context of complex engineering and medical diagnosis
  • It is essential to carefully consider the potential harms, threats, and concerns of Generative AI systems and ensure that they are used responsibly and ethically. 

Source: TH

Spain introduced Menstrual Leaves

In News

  • Spain has become the first European country to introduce paid menstrual or period leaves.


  • According to the law passed in February 2023, the government of Spain would finance the bill for the monthly paid leaves of three to five days, after a doctor’s note is shown. 
  • The Law also include provisions for free menstrual hygiene products that would be made available in educational centres, prisons, and social centres.

What is Menstruation?

  • Menstruation is the normal, healthy shedding of blood and tissue from the uterus that exits the body through the vagina. 
  • Menstruation is also called a girls/woman’s ‘period’ or ‘Monthly’.
  • Menstruation happens for most women about once a month. It usually lasts between three and seven days. 
  • It is a sign that a girl can now become pregnant.

Menstrual Leave

  • It is a type of leave where a woman may have the option to take paid leave from her employment if she is menstruating and is unable to go to work because of this.
  • Global scenario: Many Asian countries have policies on period leaves, the earliest being Japan which passed a law way back in 1947. South Korea did that in 2001.
  • Private sector: Nike included menstrual leave in their Code of Conduct in 2007. In 2020, Food delivery service Zomato introduced a “period leave” policy for women.

Indian scenario

  • In India since ‘States’ govern the subject of health and their experience has varied. 
  • The Bihar Government has been offering two days of period leave to women employees since 1992.

Arguments in favour of paid menstrual leave

  • Workplaces need to accommodate biological differences between co-workers. 
  • Women experience a wide range of health complications during their monthly cycle — cramps, back and muscle pains, bloating, headaches, nausea, and dysmenorrhea – which impacts their work productivity.
  • In India, a lack of information and access to sanitary products has led to many girls dropping out of school at puberty.
  • Like Maternity leave, Menstrual leave will promote gender equality.
  • According to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in the Supreme Court of India, Article 14 of the Indian Constitution (right to equality) is being violated since some states have menstrual leave policies in place while others do not.

Arguments against paid menstrual leave

  • Paid menstrual leave has been slow to take hold as national policy in most countries. 
  • Some men and even women have called it a discriminatory measure. It may portray women as less able than men; question women’s work efficiency; Serena Williams won a major tournament while she was pregnant shows that women do not need any “special” treatment.
  • Even in places, where such policies exist, there have not been too many takers because simply changing one policy does not lead to the removal of the taboos associated with menstruation. Many women do not feel comfortable in disclosing their menstrual health.
  • The experience of a period is different for different women, and certainly differs month-to-month for the same woman.
  • Mandating paid leaves could discourage the hiring of women. According to a study, over 1 million women lost their jobs in India in 2018-19 across 10 major sectors owing to the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2016 which doubled paid maternity leave from three to six months. 


  • Increase the number of paid sick leaves by law for both men and women (but keeping it equal). 
  • Encourage work-from-home policies that allow employees to work remotely for a fixed number of days in a month.
  • Apart from this, the focus should be on normalising menstruation and ensuring ‘Effective Menstrual Hygiene Management’

Children have a right to protect their DNA Information: SC

In News

  • Recently The Supreme Court held that children should be subjected to DNA tests only as a last resort for establishing infidelity.


  • Supreme Court observed that
    • Courts should mind that children are not material objects to be subjected to forensic/DNA testing, particularly when they are not parties to the divorce proceedings.
    • The rights of privacy, autonomy and identity of  children are recognised under the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child. 
    • a child’s genetic information is part of his fundamental Right to privacy.

What is a DNA paternity test?

  • DNA is the genetic material children inherit from  their parents
  • DNA paternity testing uses DNA profiles to determine whether an individual is the biological parent of a child.
  • A 24-marker DNA profile of the parent and child is compared to identify biological parents

Legislation on DNA testing

  • There is no specific legal legislation present in India that provides specific guidelines for DNA Testing.
  • Section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 : This section is used by Indian courts to deal with scientific evidence.
  • Section 53 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973: This section authorizes a police officer for getting the assistance of a medical practitioner in good faith for the purpose of the investigation
  • The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019:This bill attempts to establish a regulatory framework for the usage of DNA information.
United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the ChildThe UNCRC is a binding human rights treaty that sets the political, civil, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children.UNCRC established  the following as core principles of children’s rightsNon-discriminationRight to life, survival and developmentBest interests of the childRespect for the child’s viewsIt was adopted by the United Nations in 1989. It entered into force in 1990.The Government of India ratified the convention on 11 December, 1992.Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is a body of experts that monitor and report on the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Vostro Accounts & its Functioning

In news

  • 20 Russian banks have opened Special Rupee Vostro Accounts (SRVA) with partner banks in India. 

SRVA Arrangement

  • A Vostro account is an account that domestic banks hold for foreign banks in the former’s domestic currency, in this case, the rupee.
    • For example, if CITI Bank, New York open an account in Rupees in ICICI Bank, India then it would be a Vostro Account for ICICI Bank.
  • Domestic banks use it to provide international banking services to their clients who have global banking needs.
  • Banking services such as wire transfers, conducting business transactions, accepting deposits and gathering documents on behalf of the other bank. 
  • Domestic banks gain wider access to foreign financial markets and serve international clients without having to be physically present abroad.

Three important components of SRVA are:

  • Invoicing: All exports and imports must be denominated and invoiced in INR. 
  • Exchange Rate: The exchange rate between the currencies of the trading partner countries would be market-determined.
  • Settlement: The final settlement also takes place in Indian National Rupee (INR).
Vostro VS Nostro AccountNostro and Vostro are Latin words that translate to ‘ours’ and ‘yours’ respectively. While a Nostro Account is said to be a record of deposits held by a bank with a foreign bank in the currency of the country holding the funds, a Vostro Account is one that is again managed by a correspondent bank on another bank’s behalf.The difference between the two is that it is described from the point of view of the two different banks i.e., depositor and holder.LORO Account:  When the two banks have Nostro Account with a third bank then in this scenario Nostro Account of one bank with a third bank would be a Loro Account for another bank. For Example, if the Bank of Japan and Bank of India have Nostro Accounts in Bank of America.

Eligibility Criteria of Banks

  • First, Banks from partner countries would approach an authorised domestic dealer bank that would then seek approval from the apex banking regulator for opening an SRVA.
  • The domestic banks would be responsible to ensure that the correspondent bank is not from a country mentioned in the updated Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Public Statement on High Risk & Non-Co-operative jurisdictions. 
  • Authorised banks can open multiple SRV accounts for different banks from the same country. 

Need of the SRVA

  • The Economic Survey (2022-23) pointed out that SRVA would reduce the net demand for foreign exchange, for the settlement of current account-related trade flows.
  • It would also reduce the need for holding foreign exchange reserves and dependence on foreign currencies, making the country less vulnerable to external shocks.
  • Indian exporters could get advance payments in INR from overseas clients and in the long-term promote INR as an international currency once the rupee settlement mechanism gains pull.

India- Singapore UPI-PayNow Linkage

In News

  • India’s payment system Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and its equivalent network in Singapore called PayNow, were integrated to enable faster remittances between the two countries at a competitive rate.

UPI and Paynow

  • UPI is India’s mobile-based fast payment system, which facilitates customers to make round-the-clock payments instantly, using a Virtual Payment Address (VPA) created by the customer. 
  • UPI supports both Person-to-Person (P2P) and Person-to-Merchant (P2M) payments and it also enables a user to send or receive money.
  • PayNow is a fast payment system in Singapore. It enables peer-to-peer funds transfer service, available to retail customers through participating banks and Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NFIs). 

Significance of the linking Payment Systems

  • Cross-border retail payments are generally less transparent and more expensive than domestic transactions. The UPI-PayNow linkage is a significant milestone in the development of infrastructure for cross-border payments and aligns with the G20’s financial inclusion priorities of cross-border payments.
  • The UPI-PayNow linkage will enable users of the two fast payment systems to make transactions without a need to get on board the other payment system.
  • It will also help the Indian diaspora in Singapore, especially migrant workers and students, through the instantaneous and low-cost transfer of money.
UPI and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)UPI: It is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood. It was developed by NPCI in 2016.NPCI: It is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India, established by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) in 2008 under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.It has been incorporated as a “Not for Profit” Company under the provisions of Section 25 of the Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of the Companies Act 2013), with an intention to provide infrastructure to the entire Banking system in India for physical as well as electronic payment and settlement systems. 

Special Category Status

In News

  • Recently, the Union Finance made it clear that the Centre will not consider demands for “special category status” for any state, dealing a major blow to states like Odisha and Bihar who have been pushing for it for some years now.
    • The rationale for special status is that certain states, because of inherent features, have a low resource base and cannot mobilize resources for development.

Special Category Status (SCS)

  • Special Category Status (SCS) is a classification given by the Centre to assist in the development of those states that face geographical and socio-economic disadvantages.
  • This classification was done on the recommendations of the Fifth Finance Commission in 1969.
  • It was granted based on the Gadgil formula. The parameters were:
    • Hilly Terrain;
    • Low Population Density And/Or Sizeable Share of Tribal Population;
    • Strategic Location along Borders With Neighbouring Countries;
    • Economic and Infrastructure Backwardness; and
    • Non-viable Nature of State finances.
  • It was initially granted to only three states: Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, and Assam.
  • Special Category Status for plan assistance was granted in the past by the National Development Council to the States that are characterized by a number of features necessitating special consideration.
  • 11 states namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand were granted special category status.
  • Following the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission, the Special Category States cease to exist and thus, no special category status has been granted to any State. 
  • The 14th Finance Commission suggested to fill the resource gap of such states through tax devolution by increasing it to 42% from 32%.

Difference between Special Category Status and Special Status

  • The constitution provides special status through an Act that has to be passed by 2/3rds majority in both the houses of Parliament whereas the special category status is granted by the National Development Council, which is an administrative body of the government.
    • For example, Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed a special status as per Article 370 and also special category status. But now that Article 35A has been scrapped and it has become a union territory with legislature, special category status doesn’t apply to J&K anymore.
    • However, a wide range of provisions are available to as many as 10 states that have been listed under Articles 371, 371-A to 371-H, and 371-J.
  • Special status empowers legislative and political rights while special category status deals only with economic, administrative and financial aspects.

Significance of Special Category Status

  • The Centre pays 90% of the funds required in a centrally-sponsored scheme to special category status states as against 60% or 75% in case of other states, while the remaining funds are provided by the state governments.
  • Unspent money does not lapse and is carried forward.
  • Significant concessions are provided to these states in excise and customs duties, income tax and corporate tax.
  • Preferential treatment in getting central funds.
  • Concession on excise duty to attract industries to the state.
  • 30 percent of the Centre’s gross budget also goes to special category states.
  • These states can avail the benefit of debt-swapping and debt relief schemes.


  • The SCS puts additional economic burden when the increased devolution is already flowing to the State as recommended by the FFC.
  • It affects the centre state financial relations and hinders competitive federalism among the states.


  • Following the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission, the Special Category States cease to exist and thus, no special category status has been granted to any State. 
  • It is time to revisit the criteria and include other states into this exclusive category by excluding those who do not need such assistance any longer.

Source: TH

Deep-Sea Mining

In News

  • Recently, a study published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science has warned that commercial deep-sea mining could pose a serious risk to ocean ecosystems.

Key Takeaways

  • The paper has stressed particularly the cetacean population, including whales, dolphins, and porpoises and cautioned that any disturbance on any scale is long-lasting and irreversible.
  • The study has also highlighted that commercial-scale mining could damage the oceans in ways that are not yet fully understood, and at the expense of species that have been the focus of conservation efforts for many years.
  • Deep-sea mining is the process of retrieving mineral deposits from the deep seabed, which covers two-thirds of the total seafloor.
  • Despite the risks to ocean ecosystems, the Pacific Island nation of Nauru plans to start deep-sea mining, invoking a two-year rule inserted as a part of the UN Convention on Law of the Seas (UNCLOS). 
  • The “two-year rule” clause of the UNCLOS requires the ISA to put in place the governance infrastructure – the rules, regulations, and procedures governing the contours of deep-sea mining within two years of approval.
  • With the 11th Annual Deep Sea Mining Summit 2023 to be held in London, United Kingdom, it is expected that the agenda will include the “economic landscape and growth for deep sea mining and technological developments associated with commercialising”.

Key issues:

  • Commercial-scale deep-sea mining could come at the expense of cetaceans like whales, dolphins, and porpoises, many of which are already endangered.
  • The interest in the mineral deposits of the seabed has grown due to depleting terrestrial deposits of metals such as copper, nickel, aluminium, manganese, zinc, lithium and cobalt.
  • Demand for these metals is also increasing to produce smartphones, wind turbines, solar panels and batteries.
  • The International Seabed Authority (ISA) has in recent years issued 31 contracts to explore deep-sea mineral deposits.

What is Deep-sea mining?

  • About:
    • It refers to the extraction of minerals and other resources from the seabed, which can be found in large quantities in the deep ocean.
    • These minerals include metals such as copper, nickel, cobalt, and rare earth elements, as well as valuable resources such as oil and gas.
Do You Know?
Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) is a region spanning 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles) across the central Pacific Ocean at depths of 4,000 – 5,500 metres.It is a habitat for cetaceans, including baleen (mysticetes) and toothed whales (odontocetes).Up to 30 cetacean populations, including globally endangered species like blue whales, can be found in the CCZ, where 17 exploratory deep-sea mining licenses have already been granted.
  • Major types of deep-sea mining
    • Manganese nodule mining: This involves collecting nodules of manganese, iron, and other metals that are scattered on the ocean floor.
    • Seafloor massive sulphide (SMS) mining: This involves extracting mineral deposits formed near hydrothermal vents, which can contain high concentrations of copper, zinc, and other metals.
    • Cobalt crust mining: This involves collecting crusts of cobalt, nickel, and other metals that form on the surface of seamounts.

Importance of Deep-Sea mining

  • Depletion of land-based resources: Deep-sea mining presents an opportunity to access new sources of valuable resources such as cobalt and rare earth metals which are essential to modern technology and industry but are becoming increasingly scarce on land.
  • Growing demand for minerals:It has the potential to provide a reliable and abundant supply of minerals the demand for which is rapidly increasing, driven by the growth of industries such as renewable energy, electric vehicles, and consumer electronics.
  • Economic benefits: It has the potential to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and generate revenue for governments and companies.
  • Strategic importance: Developing a domestic supply of these resources is seen as strategically important for India as many of the minerals and metals that are found in deep sea mining, such as cobalt and rare earth metals, are essential to national security and defence.

Major concerns of Deep-Sea mining

  • Environmental impacts: Mining operations can disturb and damage fragile deep-sea ecosystems, including coral reefs, hydrothermal vents, and other important habitats.
  • Noise pollution: The process generates noise pollution that can overlap with the frequencies at which cetaceans communicate, causing auditory masking and behavioural changes in marine mammals.
  • Thermal pollution: The mining vehicles also generate sediment plumes that could smother the benthic species at the bottom of the ocean.
  • Regulatory gaps: There is currently a lack of international regulations governing deep-sea mining, which could lead to environmental harm and other negative impacts.
  • Technological challenges: Deep-sea mining requires advanced technologies and equipment that are currently under development, and may not be cost-effective or efficient enough to make the practice commercially viable.
  • Social and economic impacts: The potential benefits of deep-sea mining may not be evenly distributed, and could lead to social and economic disparities between different communities.

Government Steps

  • National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR): It was established in 2020 by the Ministry of Earth Sciences in Goa, which is tasked with exploring the country’s deep-sea mineral wealth.
  • Draft Deep Seabed Mining Regulations, 2021: It has been formulated by the Indian government to provide a legal framework for the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
  • International collaborations: The government is also considering setting up a nodal agency to regulate deep sea mining activities in the country, in line with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Way Ahead

  • Overall, while deep-sea mining has the potential to meet growing demand for key minerals, there are significant challenges and concerns that must be addressed to ensure that the practice is sustainable, responsible, and beneficial for all stakeholders.
  • However, it is important to note that deep sea mining also presents several challenges, including environmental impacts and the need for technological and regulatory development.
  • It is crucial that any deep-sea mining operations are conducted in a sustainable and responsible manner to minimize negative impacts on the marine environment and ensure the long-term availability of these resources.

 Source: TH

Survey of India

In News

  • The Government of India has announced that the Survey of India will remain the final authority on maps with State and national boundaries.


  • With the guidelines released by the Department of Science and Technology in 2021, Survey of India (SoI) had lost the monopoly on making high-resolution maps.
  • The Government in December 2022 released the National Geospatial Policy of India that allowed any private agency to make high resolution maps. 
  • With the current announcement the government has clarified that Survey of India will
    • remain the arbiter of maps that deal with State borders and national boundaries
    • continue to maintain CORS (Continuously Operating Reference Stations) that are necessary to create accurate digital maps.

What are CORS  (Continuously Operating Reference Stations)?

  • CORS are the infrastructure necessary for the creation of accurate digital maps. They monitor the Earth’s crust for accurate measurement of the properties of the earth.
  • It consists of a GPS receiver and a stable antenna  operating continuously to stream raw data.

National Geospatial Policy of India

  • It aims to promote the country’s geospatial data industry and develop a national framework to use such data for improving citizen services.
  • It plans for the establishment of  Geospatial Knowledge Infrastructure (GKI) such as Integrated Data and Information Framework and National Digital Twin to drive forward the geospatial economy.
  • To enable the easy availability of valuable Geospatial data, it  plans for the constitution of a Geospatial Data Promotion and Development Committee (‘GDPDC’) for formulating and implementing appropriate guidelines, strategies, and programs.

Survey of India

  • Established in 1767 it is the oldest scientific department of the Government of India.
  • Headquartered in Dehradun, it acts as an adviser to the Government of India on all survey matters, viz Geodesy, Photogrammetry, Mapping and Map Reproduction.
  • It is the National Survey and Mapping Organization of the country under the Department of Science & Technology.


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