With draft rules, prospects of drones go skyhigh
The Indian air space is set to get more interesting in 2018, with the government issuing draft regulations for drone operations that could be used for anything from e-commerce deliveries to photography.
“The drone industry offers many advantages and can help development in several sectors such as agriculture, oil and gas. Goverment want to make India the world’s leader in drones and its applications, which is why Government have drafted a policy that allows unfettered use of drones while taking care of the unique security challenges they pose,”
The draft regulations, which Civil Aviation Secretary R.N. Choubey will be finalised by December 31 this year after hearing out stakeholders’ views, envisage a virtually unregulated flight at heights up to 50 feet for nano drones that weigh 250 grams or lower.
All drones will have to operate within a visual line of sight, will be allowed only during day time and below 200 feet.
Barring the nano drones that could also be used indoors, all drones will have to register with the Director General of Civil Aviation. Dropping human payload, animals or hazardous material will not be permitted, though it was possible to imagine air rickshaw drones that could ferry passengers.
The other classifications of drones, officially termed unmanned aircraft systems, are Micro (250 gm to 2 kg), Mini (more than 2 kg to 25 kg), Small (more than 25 kg till 150 kg) and Larger (over 150 kg).
Speed up trial of politicians, says SC
The Supreme Court asked the government to frame a central scheme for setting up special courts across the country to exclusively try criminal cases involving ‘political persons.’
In a determined effort to cleanse politics of criminality and corruption, the apex court said it takes years, probably decades, to complete the trial against a politician.
By this time, he or she would have served as a minister or legislator several times over.
Countering the Centre’s argument that setting up such courts would depend on the availability of funds with the States. The problem can be resolved by having a central scheme for setting up of courts exclusively to deal with criminal cases involving political persons on the lines of the fast track courts.
A Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha ordered the government to place the scheme before it on December 13, the next date of hearing. It said the scheme should provide details of the funds required to set up such courts.
The Supreme Court would directly interact with the State governments on issues like the appointment of judicial officers, public prosecutors, court staff and other requirements of manpower and infrastructure for the special courts.
Giving no quarter, the apex court directed the Centre to submit a report card by December 13 on the status of the 1,581 criminal cases pending against Members of Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies at the time of the 2014 elections.
The court said it wanted to know whether its March 10, 2014 order to complete the trial in all these cases within a year’s time had been complied with or not.
EC for life ban on the convicted
The Election Commission (EC) took a definitive stand in the Supreme Court that convicted persons should be banned from contesting elections for life.
While the government showed reluctance to make a commitment, the Commission reiterated its stand before a Bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi that such a move would be a firm step against criminalisation of politics.
Noting that it has been “championing the cause of decriminalisation of politics”, the EC, in March, endorsed a public interest litigation petition in the Supreme Court seeking life-long bar on convicted legislators from contesting polls.
It had said that a uniform ban would be in the spirit of the fundamental rights of the Constitution, including the right to equality.
As of now, a person, on conviction, is debarred from contesting any elections for the period of his or her prison sentence and six years thereafter.
The affidavit said the Commission was “alive to the issues that concern the conduct of free and fair elections and functioning of healthy democracy and as such asserting for bringing in electoral reforms which further the cause of free and fair elections”.
The Commission said it had submitted a proposal for poll reforms, which include decriminalisation of politics, making bribery a cognisable offence and prohibition on advertisements 48 hours before elections and a ban on paid news as recommended by the Law Commission in its reports.
Bihar approves reservation for contractual postings
Bihar approved reservation in outsourced contractual appointments made by the State government. The decision was taken in the State cabinet meeting attended by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his ministerial colleagues.
Later, addressing media persons, Principal Cabinet Secretary Brajesh Mehrotra said, “The reservation policy would be implemented while hiring outsourced employees, including computer executives, IT assistants, drivers, peons and others.”
He added that SCs (Scheduled Caste), STs (Scheduled Tribe), OBCs (Other Backward Class), EBCs (Economically Backward Class), physically challenged people, women and all other categories entitled to reservation would be given the benefit of reservation as per rules.
“Besides, there will also be reservation in appointments of doctors, engineers, teachers and other posts on a contractual basis by the State government,” he said
The State Cabinet approved a total of 11 proposals in the meeting, including the allocation of Rs.150.64 crore for the setting up of eight Bihar Military Police training centres, where 8,000 newly recruited police personnel, including women, will be trained; Rs.52 crore for makeshift tent cities in Patna for the closing ceremony of the Prakash Parv (the year-long celebration for the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh); and approval for creating 70 posts for teaching staff and 76 posts for non-teaching ones at two newly-approved polytechnics in the West Champaran and Aurangabad districts.
On the government’s decision to approve reservation for outsourced employees, Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MLA Shakti Yadav said ,“Only a declaration will not serve the purpose… the government has to implement it also, which is doubtful… this Nitish Kumar government is a government known for only making populist declarations.