Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

04 June 2021 - Friday


Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name



Information Technology Rules: a case of overreach?

The Hindu


The Kedar Nath sedition ruling

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

Significant progress in SDGs on clean energy, health: NITI index

Syllabus–GS 2: Governance

Analysis: –

  • India saw significant improvement in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to clean energy, urban development and health in 2020, according to the NITI Aayog’s 2020 SDG Index.
  • However, there has been a major decline in the areas of industry, innovation and infrastructure as well as decent work and economic growth.
  • Kerala retained its position at the top of the rankings in the third edition of the index, with a score of 75, followed by Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh, both scoring 72. At the other end of the scale, Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam were the worst performing States.
  • However, all States showed some improvement from last year’s scores, with Mizoram and Haryana seeing the biggest gains.
  • Developed by a global consultative process on holistic development, the 17 SDGs have a 2030 deadline.
  • The NITI Aayog launched its index in 2018 to monitor the country’s progress on the goals through data-driven assessment, and foster a competitive spirit among the States and Union Territories in achieving them.

Finance Ministry advised caste-wise split in MGNREGA wage payments

Syllabus – GS 2: Governance, schemes for vulnerable sections.

Analysis: –

  • The decision to split MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) wage payments by caste categories was done on the advice of the Finance Ministry.
  • This was done in order to assess and highlight the benefits flowing from budgetary outlay towards Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Rural Development Secretary N.N. Sinha told The Hindu on Thursday.
  • He said this should not cause any delay in wage payments or any changes for beneficiaries if processes were put in place correctly, and added that there was no plan to focus MGNREGA only on districts with high SC and ST populations.
  • “MGNREGA does not restrict anyone, it does not even impose an income criteria for enrolment. This is not meant to direct payment or even MGNREGA activity into any particular districts,” he said.
  • “It [MGNREGA] is universal at this moment and there is no plan at all to focus MGNREGA only in high SC/ST districts. There is absolutely no plan to change it from a demand driven scheme.”

Mains Analysis

Information Technology Rules: a case of overreach?s

Why in News?

Last week, WhatsApp filed a judicial challenge to one of India’s new IT laws, which mandates messaging platforms to assist law enforcement officials in identifying the source of problematic communications.

Syllabus— GS 3: Science and Technology

  • WhatsApp is a private messaging service that becomes public after a period of virality. As a result of the origination or traceability requirements, anyone writing a personal letter to a friend is afraid that, while they are providing an analysis that is not unlawful in a private sense, it may be unlawful in a public sense.

Background: –

  • WhatsApp on Tuesday filed a legal challenge against the Indian government, protesting before the Delhi High Court new IT rules that would require messaging services to trace the origin of particular messages.
  • “Requiring messaging apps to “trace” chats is the equivalent of asking us to keep a fingerprint of every single message sent on WhatsApp, which would break end-to-end encryption and fundamentally undermines people’s right to privacy,” said a WhatsApp spokesperson.
  • “We have consistently joined civil society and experts around the world in opposing requirements that would violate the privacy of our users.
  • In the meantime, we will also continue to engage with the Government of India on practical solutions aimed at keeping people safe, including responding to valid legal requests for the information available to us,” said the spokesperson.
  • Under the recently notified Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, social media intermediaries with more than 5 million users and providing messaging services will have to enable identification of the first originator of problematic content that may harm the country’s interests and several other provisions described in the Rules.
  • This, according to WhatsApp, would disrupt end-to-end encryption and jeopardise people’s right to privacy.
  • The government reacted by stating that it is dedicated to safeguarding all citizens’ right to privacy while also maintaining national security.

Security Vs Privacy in new proposed IT rules

  • The guidelines only make a poor attempt to strike a balance between privacy and security concerns.
  • It is evident that security concerns are being prioritised over both civil liberties and economic concerns.
  • Justice Srikrishna Committee report recognized government has huge powers for surveillance in the draft data protection law in 2018.
  • The new laws’ traceability requirement is problematic since the technical literature on the subject is practically unanimous in recognising that this would imply all users on services like WhatsApp would lose end-to-end encryption.
  • Because data theft and hacking are on the rise in India, end-to-end encryption is critical in the digital economy.
  • According to the Justice Srikrishna report, a new legislation should be enacted that analyses the reason, provides adequate institutional checks and balances, and then situates this substantial and novel legal prospect for law enforcement in that context.


The government’s response to WhatsApp mentioned the safeguards that come with therules. Any thoughts on that?

  • The phrase “security of the state” is used in the provision, which has unfortunately come to signify criticising the government in any form.
  • Similarly, claiming that this power can be used to detect or prevent an offence effectively provides administrative authorities carte blanche to identify persons even before they commit an offence.
  • There are two terms here that are problematic: “state security” and “public order.” Our Supreme Court must clarify these phrases and put down the law on the subject.
  • Executive power should not be able to issue orders in certain circumstances.
  • Only a judicial order, which should specify the goal, how you plan to accomplish it, and if the intermediary has been offered the option of doing it in a less invasive manner, all of which are part of the new standards, should allow access to the message’s source.

The problem with traceability

  • Encryption is the practice of scrambling data to make it unintelligible, even to service providers.
  • It keeps conversations private but can be misused to spread fake news or for criminal activity.
  • Technology and privacy experts have argued that breaking encryption is the first step towards government surveillance on its own citizens.
  • Traceability, or identifying the originator of a message, would force companies like WhatsApp to collect and store details of billions of messages sent each day.
  • It will require messaging platforms to collect more data than they need, only for the purpose of turning it over to law enforcement agencies.

Question: –

Our societies are transitioning from pre-digital to post-digital, and many fundamental structural adjustments are required. There are also the law enforcement levers, which are necessary in the modern context. Discuss.

The Kedar Nath sedition ruling

Why in News?

Recently SC has quashed the sedition cased against Vinod Dua in Himachal Pradesh, that was filed a year ago against him over the comments made on the central govt.

Syllabus—GS2: Fundamental Rights

Background: –

  • The Supreme Court on Thursday quashed case of sedition filed against journalist Vinod Dua in Himachal Pradesh for allegedly making remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government’s handling of the migrant crisis during the Covid-19 lockdown last year.
  • In doing so, the court also reiterated the principles in the landmark case on sedition — Kedar Nath Singh v Union of India (1962).
  • The complainant had alleged that Dua had accused PM of using “deaths & terror attacks” to get votes,
  • The journalists were charged under Sections 124A (Sedition), 268 (public nuisance), 501 (defamatory).
  • But the SC quashed the above case & upheld that every journalist is entitled to protection from sedition as defined in the Kedar Nath judgment.

Origin of Section 124A:

  • Section 124-A was not a part of the original Indian Penal Code drafted by Lord Macaulay and treason was confined just to levying war.
  • It was Sir James Fitzjames Stephen who subsequently got it inserted in 1870 in response to the Wahabi movement that had asked Muslims to initiate jihad against the colonial regime.
  • Stephen himself was interested in having provisions similar to the UK Treason Felony Act 1848 because of his strong agreement with the Lockean contractual notion of allegiance to the king and deference to the state.
  • He went on to tell the judge that “affection cannot be manufactured or regulated by law.
  • If one has no affection for a person or system, one should be free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection so long as it does not contemplate, promote or incite to violence”.
  • Though Justice Maurice Gwyer in Niharendu Dutt Majumdar (1942) had narrowed the provision and held that public disorder was the essence of the offence, the Privy Council in Sadashiv Narayan Bhalerao (1947) relying on Explanation 1 observed public disorder was not necessary to complete the offence.
  • Strangely, the Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee (April 29, 1947) headed by Sardar Patel included sedition as a legitimate ground to restrict free speech.
  • When Patel was criticized by other members of the Constituent Assembly, he dropped it.
  • Constitutionally, Section 124A being a pre-Constitution law that is inconsistent with Article 19(1)(a), on the commencement of the Constitution, had become void.
  • In fact, it was struck down by the Punjab High Court in Tara Singh Gopi Chand (1951).

Kedar Nath Singh v State of Bihar 1962:

  • In 1953, Kedar Nath singh gave a fiery speech against govt institutions that led to his conviction & imprisonment by 1st class magistrate & his HC appeal was overturned.
  • Then 1962, Singh’s appeal to SC questioned the constitutional validity of section 124A, contending it stifled the right to speech under Article 19 of the constitution.
  • In this landmark judgment, the constitutional bench upheld the validity of section 124 (sedition) of the IPC but also attempted to restrict the colonial law’s scope for misuse by trying to demarcate the difference between sedition actions & other actions.
  • The bench said that the effort of subverting the government by violent means or creating public disorder would come under the definition of sedition.
  • It also upheld section 505 as constitutionally valid.
  • In simple words, sedition is any written or spoken words that have the implicit idea of subverting govt by violent means that area compendiously included in the term ‘revolution, have been made penal by the 124A section
  • However, the court ruled that disapproval of the measures of govt with a view to their improvement or alteration by lawful is not sedition.
  • It upheld that comments, however strongly worded, expressing disapprobation of actions of the govt, without exciting those feelings which generate the inclination to cause public disorder by violence cats would not attract penal actions.

What has been the impact of that verdict?

  • The significance of the verdict lies in the Supreme Court’s subsequent reiteration of the Kedar Nath Singh principles.
  • A fresh constitutional challenge by two journalists, Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla, against the sedition law pending before the Supreme Court, and the ruling in Dua’s case, make a strong case against keeping the colonial law in the books.

Way Forward: –

  • A citizen has a right to say or write whatever s/he likes about the Government, or its measures, by way of criticism or comment, so long as s/he does not incite people to violence against the Government established by law or with the intention of creating public disorder.

Question: –

Mahatma Gandhi, during his trial in 1922, termed Section 124-A as the “prince among the political sections of IPC designed to suppress liberty of the citizen”. Discuss the statement in the light of recent controversy of Kedar Nath v Union of India case.

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