The Daily Brief – 15th February, 2017

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Sasikala
  • The Supreme Court set aside the Karnataka High Court’s acquittal of Ms. Sasikala and two co-accused in the 20-year-old disproportionate assets case. The court said that the appeals by the Karnataka government and others, including DMK leader K. Anbazhagan, against Jayalalithaa stand abated with her death on December 5, 2016. A Bench of Justices P.C. Ghose and Amitava Roy ‘restored in toto’ the trial court’s conviction of Ms. Sasikala, V.N. Sudhakaran and J. Elavarasi (accused no 2, 3 and 4) in September 2014, and ordered them to surrender immediately at the trial court in Karnataka. Even after Ms. Sasikala serves her four-year sentence, she would be disqualified from contesting elections for the next six years as per the Supreme Court judgment in the Lily Thomas versus Union of India of July 2013 case.
  • The Border Security Force detected a tunnel originating in Pakistan in Jammu’s Samba district. The tunnel originating in Pakistan was ending at a distance of approximately 20 metres ahead of the border fence.
  • The Supreme Court clarified that it will decide on whether triple talaq and polygamy are violations of Muslim women’s rights and will have nothing to do with the requirement of a Uniform Civil Code. The Bench said it would hear debates on the “legal” aspects of the practices of triple talaq, ‘nikah halala’ and polygamy among Muslims and would not deal with the question whether divorce under Muslim law needed to be supervised by courts as it fell under the legislative domain.
  • The Kalimpong subdivision of the Darjeeling hills became the 21st district of West Bengal. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made the announcement in this regard.
  • India is among six nations participating in a conference on Afghanistan’s future in Moscow, two months after Russia hosted a similar conference with only China and Pakistan. After India and particularly Afghanistan objected to being cut out of the discussion, Moscow agreed to expand its ambit, announcing a six-nation conference of Russia, India, Iran, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.
  • National Conference (NC) working president Omar Abdullah and Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, in their lectures delivered at the U.S.’ Harvard Kennedy School in the past two days, have called for a resolution to the Kashmir issue and stressed that India and Pakistan should resume dialogue.
  • India’s rapidly worsening air pollution is causing about 1.1 million people to die prematurely each year and is now surpassing China’s as the deadliest in the world, a new study of global air pollution shows. The number of premature deaths in China caused by dangerous air particles, known as PM2.5, has stabilised globally in recent years but has risen sharply in India. India has registered an alarming increase of nearly 50% in premature deaths from particulate matter between 1990 and 2015, the report says.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched a record 104 satellites on a single Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket from the Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh. The earth observation satellite Cartosat-2 series weighs 714 kg. The co-passenger satellites comprise 101 nano satellites, one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and 96 from the United States, as well as two nano satellites from India.
  • The IAF has formally inducted the first indigenously built Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) Netra developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) at the Aero India exhibition in Bangalore.
  • The Supreme Court has clarified that there is no need to stand inside a cinema hall when the national anthem is featured as a part of a film, documentary or a newsreel. This is second clarification issued by SC on its November 2016 order, directing all persons to stand up when the national anthem is sung or played in a cinema theatre.
  • Scientists have developed novel rubber like material nicknamed ‘thubber’ which has high thermal conductivity and elasticity. It is an electrically insulating composite material that exhibits an unprecedented combination of metal-like thermal conductivity, and elasticity similar to soft, biological tissue.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has opened a first-of-its-kind South Asia Training and Technical Assistance Centre (SARTTAC) in New Delhi for economic capacity building in South Asia. It will work to support local member countries of South Asia viz. India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka to build human and institutional capacity and implement policies for growth and poverty reduction.
  • Scientists for the first time have found high levels of human-made pollutants, including chemicals that were banned in the 1970s, in the tissues of marine creatures dwelling in the deepest oceans of the Earth. These chemicals were discovered after sampling amphipods from the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana and Kermadec trenches, which are over 10 km deep and 7,000 km apart.

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