PM IAS UPSC May 02 Important Current Affairs

Supreme Court ruling on Consensual Divorce

In News

  • Recently, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court ruled that it can exercise its plenary power to do “complete justice” under Article 142(1) of the Constitution to dissolve a marriage.

More about the news

  • The Supreme Court Bench ruled that it can exercise its plenary power to do “complete justice” under Article 142(1) of the Constitution to dissolve a marriage on the ground that it had ‘broken down irretrievably’, without referring the parties to a family court where they must wait 6-18 months for a decree of divorce by mutual consent.

What is “Irretrievable breakdown”?

  • What factors can courts consider while deciding if a marriage has irretrievably broken down?
    • During the pendency of the case recently, the court said that it would determine what rules should be followed while dissolving marriages directly under Article 142 of the Constitution.
      • The first and most “obvious” condition is that the court should be fully convinced and satisfied that the marriage is “totally unworkable, emotionally dead and beyond salvation and, therefore, dissolution of marriage is the right solution and the only way forward”.
    • The court has also laid down the following factors:
      • The period of time that the parties had cohabited after marriage;
      • When the parties had last cohabited;
      • Nature of allegations made by the parties against each other and their family members;
      • Orders passed in the legal proceedings from time to time;
      • Cumulative impact on the personal relationship;
      • Whether, and how many attempts were made to settle the disputes by a court or through mediation, and when the last attempt was made.

Current procedure for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act

  • Section 13B of the HMA provides for “divorce by mutual consent”.
    • Filing of divorce:
      • Both parties to the marriage must together file a petition to the district court “on the ground that they have been living separately for a period of one year or more, that they have not been able to live together and that they have mutually agreed that the marriage should be dissolved”.
    • Mandatory “cooling-off” period :
      • Under Section 13B(2) of the Act, the parties must move a second motion before the court “not earlier than six months after the date of the presentation of the [first] petition and not later than eighteen months after the said date, if the petition is not withdrawn in the meantime”.
      • The mandatory six-month wait is intended to give the parties time to withdraw their plea.
    • Decree of divorce:
      • Thereafter, “the court shall, on being satisfied, after hearing the parties and after making such inquiry as it thinks fit that the averments in the petition are true, pass a decree of divorce declaring the marriage to be dissolved with effect from the date of the decree”.
  • Exemptions:
    • petition for divorce by mutual consent can be moved only after a year of the marriage.
      • However, Section 14 of the HMA allows a divorce petition sooner in case of “exceptional hardship to the petitioner or of exceptional depravity on the part of the respondent”.
    • waiver of the six-month waiting period under Section 13B(2) can be sought in an exemption application filed before the family court.
  • Issue:
    • The process of obtaining a decree of divorce is often time-consuming and lengthy owing to a large number of similar cases pending before family courts.
Article 142 of the ConstitutionUnder Subsection 1 of Article 142, the Supreme Court “may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India”.

Social aspects of divorce in India

  • Stigma around divorce & increasing number:
    • In Indian culture, marriage is a holy institution, and divorce is considered taboo. 
    • Although the situation is improving as the younger generation is becoming more independent, the term “divorce” is still frowned upon.
    • Despite the fact that India’s divorce rate is lower than that of Western countries, the number of divorce cases is steadily increasing as a result of different social and economic changes.
  • Mental health:
    • Divorce has been identified as a risk factor for mental health disorders and has been linked to negative mental health outcomes. 
  • Social & financial effects:
    • Divorce, in particular, has a detrimental impact on a family’s financial stability, social environment, academic/employment performance, as well as the family’s psychological and physical well-being. 
  • On Children:
    • Divorce has a significant impact on the parent-child connection. 
    • Usually, it is seen that children, as well as custodial parents, do not have that connection which a child and parent should have.
    • Children of divorce are more likely to experience negative feelings, lower self-esteem, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, and mood disorders. 

Way ahead

  • The apex court in its previous orders had held that the waiting period should be done away with in cases where there is no way to save the marriage and all efforts at mediation and conciliation have run their course; where parties have genuinely settled their differences including alimony, custody of child, etc, between themselves; and already a year and a half has passed since their first motion for separation.
  • The court had observed that application for waiver of waiting period can be filed in court within a week of their first motion for separation.
    • The proceedings can be done through video-conferencing


Article 142 of the Constitution

In News

  1. A five-judge or constitution bench of the Supreme Court held that a court can directly grant divorce under Article 142 of the Constitution.

More about the News

  • The Court mentioned that in cases where the marriage has irretrievably broken down, without referring the parties to a family court first, where they must wait for 6-18 months for a decree of divorce by mutual consent.
  • The decision enables couples to bypass the time-consuming process of obtaining a decree of divorce through family courts, which have a large number of similar cases pending.

Article 142 of the Constitution

  • Article 142 provides a unique power to the Supreme Court, to do “complete justice” between the parties, where, at times, the law or statute may not provide a remedy.
  • In those situations, the Court can extend itself to put an end to a dispute in a manner that would fit the facts of the case.

Earlier Instances

  • SC has defined its scope and extent through its judgments over time.
    • Prem Chand Garg case (1962):  SC held that an order to do complete justice between the parties “must not only be consistent with the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, but it cannot even be inconsistent with the substantive provisions of the relevant statutory laws,” referring to laws made by Parliament.
    • Union Carbide Corporation vs Union of India Case (1991):  The SC in 1991 ordered UCC to pay $470 million in compensation for the victims of the tragedyplacing itself in a position above the Parliamentary laws.
    • Siddiq v. Mahant Suresh Das: Popularly known as the Ayodhya dispute, the Supreme Court had exercised the powers mentioned under Article 142 of the Constitution.

Significance of Article 142

  • Prevents Injustice: It provides a special and extraordinary power to the Supreme Court to do complete justice to the litigants who have suffered traversed illegality or injustice in the proceedings. 
  • Uphold citizen’s rights: Article 142 has been invoked for the purpose of protecting rights of the different sections of the population. 
  • Check on Government: Works as a system of checks and balances with the Government or Legislature.

Criticism of Article 142

  • The sweeping nature of these powers has invited the criticism that they are arbitrary and ambiguous.
  • Ambiguity: The Supreme Court tried to explain the phrase ‘complete justice’ but it is still blurred. The judgments passed by the Apex Court have created a lot of confusion and there is no clarity on invoking Article 142.
  • Against Separation of powers: The power has been criticised on grounds of the separation of powers doctrine, which says that the judiciary should not venture into areas of lawmaking and that it would invite the possibility of judicial overreach.
  • Promotes Judicial Overreach: In some judgments, it is mentioned that it could be used when the law of statutes is silent. However, by analysing judgments on the use of Article 142 it seems like it is used to fill the lacuna of the law. 
  • Negative impact on the economy: The judgement on the ban on the sale of liquor near national and state highways has affected many hotels, bars, restaurants and liquor shops which resulted in the unemployment of lakhs of people. 

Way Ahead & Conclusion

  • The Apex Court could make a strict guideline that justifies the use of Article 142 and promotes judicial restraint.
  • The SC can, in every such case, ensure that it would be a “complete justice” for the society without affecting the rights of citizens. 
  • The Drafting Committee of the Indian Constitution was mindful of the wide-reaching nature of the powers and reserved it only for exceptional situations.

Meitei Community

In News

  • The Meitei community in Manipur has intended to file contempt proceedings against the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) of the Manipur Legislative Assembly.

About the Issue

  • The Meitei community has been seeking the Scheduled Tribe status for decades. Recently, the Manipur High Court ordered the State government to recommend the inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribes list, following which the HAC passed a resolution opposing the high court’s order and called for the Union government and the State government to appeal it.
Procedure for Inclusion into the ST ListAs per the procedure for inclusion of a community in the ST list, any such recommendation must originate with a proposal from the concerned State or UT government. This proposal is then sent by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to the Office of the Registrar General of India (RGI). Once the Office of the RGI concurs to the inclusion, the National Commission of Scheduled Tribes must also do the same.Only then is the proposal sent to the Cabinet, following which a Bill needs to be passed in Parliament permitting the President of India to notify the inclusion.
  • HAC is of the opinion that the inclusion of Meitei  community into the Scheduled Tribes should be appealed keeping in mind the sentiments, interests and rights of existing Scheduled Tribes of Manipur.
  • Meitei community has said that the HAC has no jurisdiction to pass such a resolution without the Speaker’s permission and this amounts to criminal contempt. 

About Meitei community

  • Manipur’s two major tribal communities – Naga and Kuki – live in the hill districts, which account for about 90% of the state’s area.
    • But these 10 districts send only 20 legislators to the 60-member legislative assembly since they are more sparsely populated than the Valley.
  • The Meiteis account for roughly 64.6% of the state’s population and are largely concentrated in the Imphal Valley.
  • They are currently categorised as OBCs or SCs, the Meitei people dominate in more than half the State’s Assembly constituencies. A majority of them identify as Hindu while about 8% are Muslim.

Article 371C  Special provision with respect to the State of Manipur

  • Article 371C was not a part of the Constitution of India 1950. It was inserted by the Constitution (Twenty-seventh Amendment) Act, 1971, following the formation of the new state of Manipur.
  • Under Article 371C of the Constitution of India a special provision with respect to the State of Manipur was made providing for:
    • (i) constitution and functions of a committee of the Legislative Assembly of the State consisting of members of that Assembly elected from the Hill Areas of that State,
    • (ii) for the modifications to be made in the rules of business of the Government and
    • (iii) modifications in the rules of procedure of the Legislative Assembly of the State and
    • (iv) for any special responsibility of the Governor in order to secure the proper functioning of such a committee.
  • It protects the tribal areas, restricts the people from the Valley or outsiders from buying and acquiring land in the hill districts.

Demand of Meitei Community

  • The community argued that they had been listed as one of the tribes of Manipur before it merged with India in 1949 but that they lost this tag when the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 was drafted. Claiming that they had thus been left out of the ST list, they had persisted with their demands.
  • Manipur’s Geography: The state’s geography is divided between a central valley that accounts for about 10% of the landmass of Manipur and is home primarily to the Meitei and Meitei Pangals who constitute roughly 64.6% of the state’s population. 
    • The remaining 90% of the geographical area comprises hills, surrounding the valley, that are home to the recognised tribes, about 35.4% of the population.
    • The geography, protections extended to the hill areas, and restrictions on the buying of land there have been central to the anxieties of the Meity community pressing for this demand. 
  • Opposition by ST Communities of Manipur: The ST communities of Manipur have been consistently opposing the inclusion fearing the loss of job opportunities and other affirmative actions granted to STs by the Constitution of India to a much-advanced community like the Meitei.
    • Other arguments against the demand have been that the Manipuri language of the Meiteis is included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution and that sections of the predominantly Hindu Meitei community are already classified as Scheduled Caste (SC) or Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and have access to the opportunities associated with that.
Hill Areas Committee (HAC)The HAC was set up through a 1972 order and comprises legislators of all constituencies that fall partly or wholly within the State’s hilly areas.FunctionsAllotment, occupation, or the setting apart of land (other than any land which is a reserved forest) for the purposes of agriculture or grazing or for residential or other non-agricultural purposes or for any other purpose likely to promote the interests of the inhabitants of any village or town situated within the Hill Areas.

Action plan to reduce Air Pollution

In News

  • Delhi Chief Minister announced a 14-point action plan to reduce air pollution during the summer months with a focus on controlling dust pollution.

Major Highlights 

  • The Delhi government will conduct a real-time apportionment study of 13 identified hotspots to find sources of pollution and solutions to curb them.
  • People will have to register to carry out construction work on land measuring more than 500 square meters. 
  • The government will increase green cover by planting 59 lakh saplings. 
  • Urban farming will also be increased and 400 workshops will be conducted and free training kits will be given to people.
  • The government is preparing a new policy to deal with industrial waste management and techniques to collect and scientifically dispose of industrial waste to curb industrial pollution.

About Air pollution

  • It is contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere.
  • Household combustion devices, motor vehicles, industrial facilities, and forest fires are common sources of air pollution.
  •  Pollutants of major public health concern include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. 


  • Certain gases in the atmosphere can cause air pollution. For example, in cities, a gas called ozone is a major cause of air pollution.
    • Ozone is also a greenhouse gas that can be both good and bad for our environment. It all depends where it is in Earth’s atmosphere.
  • It is caused by solid and liquid particles and certain gases that are suspended in the air.
    • These particles and gases can come from car and truck exhaust, factories, dust, pollen, mold spores, volcanoes, and wildfires. The solid and liquid particles suspended in our air are called aerosols.
  • Air pollution happens when solid and liquid particles—called aerosols—and certain gases end up in our air. 
  • Scenario in Delhi:  During winter, pollution stems from weather patterns, stubble burning, vehicle emissions, and open burning; whereas in summer, it is driven by landfill fires spurred by heat and blazes in areas with dry foliage.
    • Dust is one of the main causes of pollution during the summer months.


  • Breathing in polluted air can be very bad for our health. Long-term exposure to air pollution has been associated with diseases of the heart and lungs, cancers, and other health problems. 
  • Outdoor and indoor air pollution cause respiratory and other diseases and are important sources of morbidity and mortality. 

Steps Taken by Government

  • National Clean Air Programme (NCAP): The Government has launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) as a long-term, a time-bound programme to reduce air pollution in a comprehensive manner with a target to achieve up to 40% reduction in PM10 concentration level by the year 2025-2026 w.r.t. baseline of 2017-18. 
  • The concept of LiFE: It was introduced by the Prime Minister at COP26 in Glasgow on 1 November 2021
    • LiFE envisions replacing the prevalent ‘use-and-dispose’ economy—governed by mindless and destructive consumption—with a circular economy, which would be defined by mindful and deliberate utilisation. 
  • Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs):  India updated its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – plans to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, promising to reduce the emissions intensity of GDP by 45% by 2030, from the 2005 level, and achieve 50% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.
  • Commission for Air Quality Management: The Commission has been set up for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas for better coordination, research, identification, and resolution of problems surrounding the air quality index and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP): It is a set of emergency measures that kick in to prevent further deterioration of air quality once it reaches a certain threshold in the Delhi-NCR region. 
  • The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Household LPG program and other schemes have helped to dramatically expand access to clean energy, especially for rural households.

Way Ahead 

  • The air does not belong to any one State therefore all have to work in close coordination with neighbouring States to curb air pollution.
  • Policies to reduce air pollution offer a win-win strategy for both climate and health, lowering the burden of disease attributable to air pollution, as well as contributing to the near- and long-term mitigation of climate change.
  • The WHO also prescribed some steps to be taken by governments to improve the air quality and health.
    •  It urged countries to implement national air quality standards in line with the WHO’s guidelines, usage of clean household energy, and implementation of stricter vehicle emissions and efficiency standards among other measures. 
Do you Know?NASA’s high-resolution air pollution monitoring instrument TEMPO lifted atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in FloridaTEMPO is the first funded project of NASA’s Earth Venture Instrument program, which includes small, targeted science investigations designed to complement NASA’s larger research missions.It is part of the agency’s Earth System Science Pathfinder program. 

China’s Anti-Espionage Law

In News 

  • Recently, China’s legislature approved sweeping amendments to China’s anti-espionage law, broadening the scope of what may be defined as activities related to spying and national security. 

China’s anti-espionage law

  • The recent amendments are to China’s 2014 anti-espionage law. 
    • Article 1 of the law says the idea behind the legislation is “to prevent, stop and punish espionage conduct and maintain national security.”
  • China broadened the law’s scope, with one of the changes declaring that “all documents, data, materials, and items related to national security and interests” will be protected on par with what is deemed state secrets.
  • The transfer of any information deemed by authorities to be in the interest of what they define to be “national security” will now be considered an act of espionage.
  • The latest change “improves the regulations on cyber espionage” and “clearly defines cyberattacks, intrusions, interference, control and destruction” as espionage. 
  • Other changes would include “clarifying the responsibility of national security organs in guiding and arranging publicity as well as provisions to strengthen the protection of personal information in counter-espionage work.


  • The amendments come amid a string of high-profile cases involving journalists, foreign executives, as well as international companies in China, who have come under the lens of authorities on national security grounds.
  • The expanded law follows the Xi Jinping government’s increasing focus on “security” and a recent policy shift now emphasises the dual importance of “development and security”, rather than a focus solely on economic development.


  • The amended law is likely to have a chilling impact both within China and beyond. 
  • Chinese journalists, academics, and executives who frequently engage with foreign counterparts are likely to think twice before doing so, at least without explicit government sanction
  • Unrestricted engagement between Chinese and foreign scholars, which has already become limited in the Xi Jinping era, is likely to become even rarer.

Impacts on India

  • Indian companies with a presence in China, particularly in sectors deemed to be sensitive such as pharma and IT, will likely need to review their exposure to risks under the expanded law and broadened definitions of “national security”, particularly amid deteriorating relations between the neighbours.

‘Laundromat’ Countries

In News

  •  A report by Finland based group cited that India is leader of five countries named as the “Laundromat” countries.

More about News

  • European Countries that imposed crude oil sanctions on Russia oil are using India, others as ‘laundromats’ for refined products.
  • The report accused Indian sellers and European buyers of possibly “circumventing sanctions” by selling crude products from a refinery in Gujarat that is co-owned by Russian oil company Rosneft.

What are ‘Laundromat’ Countries?

  • The so-called “laundromat” countries are countries that buy Russian oil and sell processed products to European countries, thus sidestepping European sanctions against Russian Oil.
  • The five countries (India, China, Turkey, UAE and Singapore) are identified as ‘laundromats’ for Western countries by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).
  • The five countries are responsible for 70 percent of Russia’s crude oil exports, the study highlighted.

Process of Circumventing sanctions (White-washing of Russian Oil)

  • European countries are simply substituting oil products they previously bought directly from Russia, with the same products now “whitewashed” in third countries and bought from them at a premium.
Price Cap CoalitionA coalition of G7 countries, the European Union and Australia have agreed to prohibit the import of crude oil and petroleum products of Russian origin, supported by a broad range of companies involved in the transport of oil.The G7 Oil Price Cap for crude oil of US$60 per barrel came into effect 5 December 2022India’s stand is to remain non-committal on any such pricing cap arrangement.

Source: TH

Psychedelic Substances

In News

  • Psychedelic drugs are emerging in research as promising ways to treat treatment-resistant depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

What are Psychedelics ?

  • Psychedelics are a group of drugs that alter perception, mood, and thought-processing while a person is still clearly conscious. Usually, the person’s insight also remains unimpaired. 
  • They are non-addictive, non-toxic and compared to illicit drugs, they are less harmful to the end user. 
  • In India, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985 prohibits the use of psychedelic substances. Ketamine, a dissociative anaesthetic with psychedelic properties, is used under strict medical supervision, for anaesthesia and treatment-resistant depression.

History of psychedelics?

  • A psychiatrist named Humphrey Osmond first used the term ‘psychedelic’ in 1957. The word is derived from the Greek words psyche, meaning ‘mind’, and deloun, meaning ‘to manifest’. 
  • Between 1947 and 1967, LSD was widely used as a therapeutic catalyst in psychotherapy.  Around this time, medical concerns and the Vietnam War prompted the criminalisation of the use of psychedelics and other psychoactive drugs. 
  • Media campaigns in the 1960s and 1970s further stigmatised the use of all psychoactive drugs.

How does it work? 

  • Users of psychedelic substances report changes in perception, somatic experience, mood, thought-processing, and entheogenic experiences. An intriguing phenomenon called synaesthesia may occur, where the sensory modalities cross and the user may ‘hear colour’ or ‘see sounds’.
  • Modern neuroimaging suggests that psychedelics are neither stimulants nor depressants of brain activity. Instead, they increase the cross-talk between different brain networks, and this correlates with the subjective effects of psychedelics.

Can such substances cause harm?

  • Death due to direct toxicity of LSD, psilocybin or mescaline has not been reported despite 50-plus years of recreational use. An overdose requires cardiac monitoring and supportive management.
  • The psychological effects of psychedelics depend on the interaction between the drug and the user’s mindset (together called a set), and the environmental setting. 
  • People with a personal or family history of psychosis are strongly discouraged from experimenting with psychedelics.

Way Ahead

  • Although recent findings are encouraging, there remains uncertainty about where the psychedelic renaissance will take us. 
  • Psychedelic substances provide an intriguing avenue through which one can probe the broader constructs of creativity, spirituality, and consciousness, aside from their therapeutic effects.

Survey of OBCs in Odisha

In News

  • The Odisha government began the survey of people from the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

More about News

  • The survey of the social and educational conditions of backwardness would be carried out for OBCs
  • The heads of the family are giving details about personal information about him and other members of the family.
  • Personal information such as institution last attended, occupation, educational status and date of birth are being asked.
  • People (heads or senior members of the family) have been asked to come to common service centres, PDS centres and Anganwadi centres with their ration cards and Aadhaar cards to fill up an exhaustive questionnaire.

Survey of OBC is different from Caste census

  • Caste census means inclusion of caste-wise tabulation of India’s population in the Census exercise but Survey is to get social and educational status of OBCs.
  • The primary purpose of a caste census is to ascertain the income and asset ownership of various caste groups but Survey does not concern Caste groups.
Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 (SECC)The Ministry of Rural Development conducted a caste census in 2010-11 along with the socio- economic census.SECC-2011 was not done under the 1948 Census of India Act and the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India was not entrusted to do the same.


In News

  • India sent INS Satpura and INS Delhi to participate in the first ever ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise (AIME 2023) scheduled from 02 to 08 May 2023.

More about News

  • The maiden exercise will be conducted off the coast of Singapore and will feature harbour and at-sea events off the coast of Singapore.
  • The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the Indian Navy (IN) are co-hosting the ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise.
  • With AIME-2023 India becomes the 4th ASEAN dialogue partner, after Russia, China and the US to hold the ASEAN+1 maritime exercise.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)It is a political and economic organization.Founded in: 1967 by the five South-East Asian nations of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.Aim: Promoting economic growth and regional stability among its members.10 Members at Present: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.ASEAN Plus Three:It is a forum that functions as a coordinator of co-operation between the ASEAN and the three East Asian nations of China, South Korea, and Japan.ASEAN Plus Six:The group includes ASEAN Plus Three as well as India, Australia, and New Zealand.

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