UPSC Current Affairs: Polity, Law, Tech, And More

GS Paper 2

Political Majority Vs Legislative Majority

Context: The Supreme Court has asked whether Maharashtra Speaker Rahul Narwekar “contradicted” a Constitution Bench judgment to bank on ‘legislative majority’ as a criterion to declare Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s faction as the “real” Shiv Sena.

Deciding the disqualification petitions filed against Mr. Shinde, Mr. Narwekar had declared the Chief Minister’s camp as the true party based on a finding that he had commanded the legislative majority at the time Shiv Sena splintered in June 2022.


·        Prelims:  Indian polity in news

·        Mains: Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.


  • On May 11, 2023, a Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Chandrachud had made it clear that the Speaker must not base their decision as to which group constitutes the political party on a blind appreciation of which group possesses a majority in the Legislative Assembly.
  • The Constitution Bench had differentiated between the legislative wing, composed of the MLAs of the party, and the political wing of the party, made up of the cadre.
  • It had held that the answer to which faction was the real party should be gleaned from the support from the political wing and not the numbers on the legislative side.
  • The court had said the strength in numbers of a faction was of no consequence if the legislators were found guilty of defection by splitting the party. They would be surely disqualified under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution.
  • A ‘split’ from the original political party without a subsequent merger with another party or the formation of a new faction is no longer a defence for legislators facing disqualification for defection.
  • The Constitution (Ninety-first Amendment) Act, 2003 deleted the provision of ‘split’ in Paragraph 3 of the Tenth Schedule.

Contempt of Court: Meaning and Significance

Context: Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud said the Supreme Court would consider listing a contempt petition against State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman Dinesh Kumar Khera for seeking time till June 30 to provide complete details of electoral bonds purchased since April 2019 to anonymously fund political parties.


·        Prelims:  Supreme Court and High Coutrs

·        Mains: Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Judiciary


  • Both the Supreme Court and the High Courts have the power to punish for contempt of court, either with simple imprisonment or with fine or both.
  • The term ‘Contempt of Court’ has not been defined by the Constitution. However, it has been defined by the Contempt of Court Act of 1971.
  • The Contempt of Court can be ‘civil’ or ‘criminal’.
  • Civil Contempt: It is the willful disobedience of any judgement, order, writ or other process of a court or willful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
  • Criminal Contempt: It is the publication of any matter or doing an act which:
    • Scandalises or lowers the authority of a court (The expression “scandalising the court” has not been defined); or
    • Prejudices or interferes with the due course of a judicial proceeding; or
    • Interferes or obstructs the administration of justice in any other manner.
  • However, the following are ‘not’ considered ‘Contempt of Court’:
    • Innocent publication and distribution of some matter;
    • Fair and accurate report of judicial proceedings;
    • Fair and reasonable criticism of judicial acts; and
    • Comment on the administrative side of the judiciary.
  • In Shiv Shankar (1988), the Supreme Court held that a criticism of the court that does not impair and hamper the administration of justice cannot be punished as contempt.
A Wide Field in India
  • The objective for contempt is stated to be to safeguard the interests of the public, if the authority of the Court is denigrated and public confidence in the administration of justice is weakened or eroded.
  • In 2006, government brought in an amendment to the Contempt of Courts Act, which now provides truth and good faith as valid defences provided they are bona fide and in public interest.
What is the statutory basis for contempt of court?
  • When the Constitution was adopted, contempt of court was made one of the restrictions on freedom of speech and expression.
  • Separately, Article 129 of the Constitution conferred on the Supreme Court the power to punish contempt of itself.
    • Article 215 conferred a corresponding power on the High Courts.
  • The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, gives statutory backing to the idea.

UPSC Current Affairs: Explained in 6 Points

GS Paper 3

Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT): Applications, Advantages and Challenges

Context: The Tribal Affairs Ministry is planning to collaborate with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to deploy VSAT (very small aperture terminal) stations on a pilot basis for around 80 remote and isolated tribal villages to bring Internet services there.

Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT)


·        Prelims: S&T in news

·        Mains: Science and Technology – Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.


  • A very small aperture terminal (VSAT) is a ground station that transmits and receives data from satellites in real-time.
  • It utilizes small, compact antennas (usually less than 3 meters in diameter) for transmitting and receiving such data signals.
  • This technology has become increasingly popular due to its ability to provide coverage in remote areas where terrestrial networks may not be available.
Characteristics of VSAT
  • VSATs exclusively utilize geostationary satellites for communication purposes.
  • Satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO) circle Earth above the equator from west to east following Earth’s rotation – taking 23 hours 56 minutes and 4 seconds – by travelling at exactly the same rate as Earth.
  • This makes satellites in GEO appear to be ‘stationary’ over a fixed position.
  • GEO is used by satellites that need to stay constantly above one particular place over Earth, such as telecommunication satellites.
  • This way, an antenna on Earth can be fixed to always stay pointed towards that satellite without moving.
  • VSAT internet is usually capable of and suitable for supporting multiple connected computers concurrently.
Mobile VSATs
  • Recently, many emergency responders have moved towards more advanced mobile VSAT technology.
  • In mobile VSATs, the underlying technology is the same as regular VSATs: relatively large, specially made dishes that work off geostationary satellites.
  • Because the ground station is communicating with satellites, there is less infrastructure required to service remote locations.
  • VSAT is also independent of local telecommunications networks, making it an ideal system to back up wired systems and reduce business recovery risk.
  • If the wired network goes down, a business can still go on using the VSAT network.
  • A VSAT can provide reliable internet connectivity for natural disasters, which would typically take down traditional terrestrial infrastructure.
  • Large banks use VSATs to support automated teller machines (ATMs) and to serve as backup to wired networks.
  • The National Stock Exchange (NSE) of India has one of the largest VSAT networks in the world, supporting NSE transactions in areas where wired options are limited or unavailable.
  • VSAT networks have a number of commercial applications, including, perhaps most notably, enterprise resource planning (ERP).
  • The use of VSAT to track inventory was one of the many innovations Walmart pioneered in retail to effectively manage its vast inventory in real-time and reduce delivery costs between the warehouse and stores.
Challenges in VAST Communication
Latency •      Network latency (sometimes referred to as lag) is best described as the delay in the time that data takes to transfer across a network.

•      Due to the long distances that signals must travel between satellites and ground terminals, latency is an inherent challenge in communications via VAST.

Spectrum availability and management •      Access to sufficient and appropriate spectrum is crucial for VSAT service providers.

•      They must compete with other satellite operators and terrestrial communication services for limited bandwidth.

Bad Weather •      The bands used by VSATs – C and Ku – can be adversely impacted by bad weather, including heavy rain, thunderstorms, sandstorms and even thick fog.

•      Any tiny particles suspended in the atmosphere can and will impact the radio signals coming to and from a satellite.

•      The occasional sun outage due to solar radiation can also distort signals from the satellite.

Blocked Signals •      Satellite dishes used for VSATs should have a direct line of sight to sky to properly function.

•      Buildings and structures, trees, hills, vehicles and even people can block signals if placed in front of satellite dishes.

Less Speed •      The upload and download speeds are lesser to most terrestrial based connections.


Facts for Prelims

Digital Markets Act (DMA)

  • The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is the European Union’s law to make the markets in the digital sector fairer and more contestable.
  • It is one of the most comprehensive regulatory actions to rein in so-called “Big Tech” like Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Meta, Tik Tok etc.
  • The DMA is one of the first regulatory tools to comprehensively regulate the gatekeeper power of the largest digital companies.
  • The Act establishes a set of clearly defined objective criteria to identify “gatekeepers”.
  • Gatekeepers are large digital platforms providing so called core platform services, such as for example online search engines, app stores, messenger services.
  • Gatekeepers will have to comply with the do’s (i.e. obligations) and don’ts (i.e. prohibitions) listed in the DMA.
  • If any of the six tech giants are not compliant with the Digital Markets Act (DMA) by the EU’s deadline, they could face fines up to 10% of their global turnover.

India’s Proposed Maritime Development Fund

  • India’s proposed Maritime Development Fund is likely to be ready by the end of this year.
  • The Fund aims at providing long term, low cost financial support and push towards indigenous ship-building.
  • It is proposed to start with a corpus of ₹25,000 crore spread over a seven-year-period.
  • Right now India spends close to $75 billion annually on leasing ships from outside.
  • The Fund aims at ensuring that we have a ship-building industry, that is local.
  • It would also promote cruise tourism and other activities like mechanization and capacity expansion of existing ports through PPP, etc.
  • Indian shipping companies struggle to grow tonnage “due to difficulties in accessing required finance”, as there is a mismatch in tenure of loan offered (5 to 10 years) versus life of vessel ( generally 30-odd or more years).

Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA)

  • The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) gave nod to a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) project for designing and developing Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) to fulfil Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) requirement for a fifth generation stealth fighter jet.

What is a 5th generation fighter?

  • While some still debate the finer points of what’s required of a 5th generation fighter, the four traits that are commonly accepted for a fighter jet to be of a 5th generation are:
  • Stealth
  • A high degree of maneuverability
  • Advanced avionics systems
  • Multi-role capabilities
  • Network or data fusion capabilities
  • Some of these capabilities were present on 4th generation aircraft, but each must be present in a 5th generation platform.
  • Globally, there are four operational 5th generation fighter platforms in the world: America’s F-22 and F-35, China’s J-20, and Russia’s Su-57.
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