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3rd February 2023

CITES database reveals red sanders smuggling


The CITES trade database has recorded 28 incidents of Red Sanders confiscation, seizure, and specimen from the wild being exported from India.

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments, whose aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.

  • According to the recently released communiqué titled “RED SANDERS: Factsheet on India’s Red Sanders in illegal wildlife trade”, China remains the largest importer with more than 13,618 tonnes of the products, followed by Hong Kong and Singapore.

These consignments were exported to China (53.5%), Hong Kong (25.0%), Singapore (17.8%) and the United States of America (3.5%) from 2016 to 2020.

  • Released by: TRAFFIC, a global wildlife trade monitoring organisation.
  • It also highlighted the conservation efforts of the species and pointed out that in 2016 the Andhra Pradesh Forest Act was amended to give the special status of protection to Red Sanders.
  • Red Sanders offences were made cognisable and non-bailable, and the punishments related to them were enhanced.

Red sanders and trading in India:

  • Red Sanders Pterocarpus santalinus, or red sandalwood, is an endemic tree species with distribution restricted to the Eastern Ghats of India.
  • The species found in Andhra Pradesh and growing up to a height of 10 to 15 metres, is reported to be one of India’s most exploited tree species and is under severe pressure from illegal logging and harvesting.
  • It is listed under Schedule IV of The Wildlife Protection Act.
  • IUCN status: Endangered, Red List

Under the foreign trade policy of India, the import of Red Sanders is prohibited, while export is restricted.


  • Its heartwood is in demand in both domestic and international markets and is used to make furniture and handicrafts.
  • The red dye obtained from the wood is used as a colouring agent in textiles and medicines.

Concerns associated:

  • Red Sanders is a very slow-growing tree species that attains maturity in natural forests after 25-40 years.
  • Rampant illegal logging has been reported across its range State.

Administering authority:

  • Enforcement agencies such as the Forest Departments, Customs, Railways, Police, DRI (Directorate of Revenue Intelligence), and Coast Guards are responsible for curbing the Red Sanders trafficking.

‘Puisne’ judge and roles


While recommending names for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court, the Collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India mentioned that it had taken into consideration the seniority of Chief Justices and senior Puisne Judges.

What does ‘Puisne’ used for judges mean?

  • The term originates from France, which means ‘later born’ or younger.
  • The English word that means ‘small’ or ‘undersized’.
  • Puisne is almost always used in the context of judges, and essentially denotes seniority of rank.
  • The term Puisne judge is used in ‘common law countries’ to refer to judges who are ranked lower in seniority,e., any judge other than the Chief Justice of that court.

Which are common law countries?

  • Common law is the body of law created by judges through their written opinions, rather than through statutes or constitutions (statutory law).
  • Common law, which is used interchangeably with ‘case law’, is based on judicial precedent.
  • The United Kingdom (UK) and the Commonwealth countries, including India, are common law countries.

Is a “Puisne judge” in India the same as in the UK?

  • In the UK, Puisne judges are judges other than those holding distinct titles.

For the United Kingdom, the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, of 1877 defined a “Puisne judge” as any judge of the High Court besides the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Chief Justice of England, and the Master of the Rolls.

  • In India, all judges have the same judicial powers. As the Seniormost judge of a court, the Chief Justice has an additional administrative role.
  • In India, there is a reference to a Puisne judge only while considering the order of seniority for appointments, elevations to High Courts, etc. Still, it does not have a bearing on the exercise of a judge’s judicial power.

Collegium’s stand on Puisne judges:

  • While giving reasons for its recommendation for appointing judges in Supreme Court, the decision was made taking “into consideration the seniority of Chief Justices and senior Puisne Judges in their respective parent High Courts as well as the overall seniority of the High Court Judges”.
  • This was done because seniority is one of the several criteria that are considered while making appointments to the higher judiciary.

Procedure for appointment and promotion in Judiciary:

  • In the Third Judges Case ruling in 1998, the Supreme Court clarified that ‘The Chief Justice of India must make a recommendation to appoint a Judge of the Supreme Court and to transfer a Chief Justice or Puisne Judge of a High Court in consultation with the four Seniormost Puisne Judges of the Supreme Court.’

No bar on contesting two seats in one poll


The Supreme Court has refused to set aside a provision in the election law which allows candidates to contest polls from two constituencies simultaneously.

About the case:
  • A petition has argued in the Supreme Court to declare Section 33(7) of the Representation of People Act invalid and ultra vires.
  • In response to it, the SC has mentioned that it is a matter of political democracy and it is the authority of Parliament to take a call on the matter.

Section 33(7) of the Act allows a person to contest a general election or a group of by-elections or biennial elections from two constituencies.

Government stand on the issue:

  • In 2018, the government objected to the petition in court.
  • It had argued that the law cannot curtail the right of a candidate to contest elections and curtail the polity’s choice of candidates.
  • The government had further told the Supreme Court that the one-candidate-one-constituency restriction would require a legislative amendment.

Concern associated:

  • When a person contests an election from two constituencies and wins from both, then he/she vacates the seat in one of the two constituencies.
  • The consequence is that a by-election would be required from one constituency involving avoidable expenditure on the conduct of that by-election.


To address the concerns associated with elections from two constituencies, a poll body has given the following suggestions:

  • The poll body had even suggested that a candidate should deposit an amount of Rs 5 lakh for contesting in two constituencies in an Assembly election or Rs 10 lakh in a general election.
  • The amount would be used to cover the expenses for a by-election in the eventuality that he or she was victorious in both constituencies and had to relinquish one.

Features of the Representation of People Act, 1951:

  • Only a qualified voter is eligible to contest elections to the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
  • For seats that are reserved for the Scheduled Caste and Tribe communities, only candidates belonging to those categories can contest the elections.
  • A person found guilty of any of the following shall be disqualified for a period of 6 years to contest elections after release from jail:
    • Promoting hatred and enmity between classes
    • Influencing elections
    • Bribery
    • Rape or other grave crimes against women
    • Spreading religious disharmony
    • Practising untouchability
    • Importing or exporting prohibited goods
    • Selling or consuming illegal drugs as well as other chemicals
    • Engaging in terrorism in any form
    • Have been imprisoned for at least two years
  • The candidate can also be disqualified if he/she has engaged in any corrupt practice or excluded from related government contracts.
  • Disqualification can also result if the candidate fails to declare his/her assets. The candidate must declare his/her assets and liabilities within ninety days from his/her oath-taking day.
  • The Act requires all political parties to be registered with the Election Commission. Any change in the name and/or address of the party should be intimated to the Commission.
  • A party can take donations from any individual or company within India, but not government-owned ones. And, contributions from foreign entities are not allowed.
  • Every political party must report a donation of over Rs 20,000 received from any person or company.
  • A party that gets a minimum of 6 per cent of the valid votes for assembly elections in more than four states or wins at least 2 per cent of seats in Lok Sabha from at least three states is recognized as a National Party.
  • A party that gets a minimum of 6 per cent of the votes in the state assembly elections or wins at least 3 per cent of total seats in the state assembly will be a state political party.
  • Candidates should deposit Rs.25000 as security for the Lok Sabha elections and Rs.12500 for all other elections. Candidates belonging to the SC/ST communities get a 50% reduction in the security deposit

Angel Tax and Indian start-ups


The Finance Bill, 2023 has proposed to amend Section 56(2) VII B of the Income Tax Act.

Section 56(2) VII B of the Income Tax Act, also known as the ‘angel tax’ was first introduced in 2012 to deter the generation and use of unaccounted money through the subscription of shares of a closely held company at a value that is higher than the fair market value of the firm’s shares.

What is Angel Tax?

  • It is a 30% tax that is levied on the funding received by Startups from an external investor.
  • However, this 30% tax is levied when Startups receive angel funding at a valuation higher than its ‘fair market value’.
  • It is counted as income to the company and is taxed.
  • Angel tax was introduced in 2012, with the purpose of keeping money laundering in check.
About the proposal:
  • As per the proposal under the finance bill 2023, the start-ups, that offer their shares to foreign investors, may have to pay ‘angel tax’, which was earlier only supposed to be paid for investments raised by resident Indian investors.
  • The move could adversely impact financing available to the start-ups, which have already been reeling under a funding winter since 2022.
  • The provision states that when an unlisted company, such as a start-up, receives equity investment from a resident for the issue of shares that exceeds the face value of such shares, it will be counted as income for the start-up and be subject to income tax under the head ‘Income from other Sources’ for the relevant financial year.
  • However, with the latest amendment, the government has proposed to also include foreign investors in the ambit, meaning that when a start-up rises funding from a foreign investor, that too will now be counted as income and be taxable.

Why are start-ups concerned?

  • The change comes as the funding for India’s start-ups dropped by 33 per cent to $24 billion in 2022 as compared to the previous year.
  • Foreign investors are a key source of funding for start-ups and have played a big role in increasing the valuation.
  • Startups and reverse flipping:
    • Several challenges start-ups faces, such as funding hurdles, revenue generation struggles, lack of easy access to supportive infrastructure, and a complex regulatory tax environment.
    • As many start-ups have been headquartered overseas, especially in destinations with favourable legal environments and taxation policies, technically known as ‘flipping’.

Short News Article

International Relations

India hands over 100 nautical charts to Kenya


India has handed over to Kenya 100 nautical charts covering the general coastal area around the Lamu Archipelago, following a joint survey of the area by the Navies of the two countries.


  • A joint survey of the coastal area around the Lamu Archipelago near Northern Kenya.
  • The survey was carried out under the aegis of the National Hydrography Office that functions under the Indian Navy at a total cost of about US$ 1.8 Million.
  • India has also been providing capacity building assistance to the hydrographers from Kenya.

What are nautical charts?

  • A nautical chart is a map that depicts the configuration of the shoreline and seafloor.
  • It provides water depths, locations of dangers to navigation, locations and characteristics of aids to navigation, anchorages, and other features.

International Relations

G20 Education Working Group meeting

The first G20 Education Working Group meeting concluded in India, with the member countries resolving to collaborate with universities across the globe to enhance technology-enabled learning.

About the meeting:

  • It was a two-day conclave presided by India in Chennai.
  • There would be 3 supplementary meetings of the education group before arriving at a broad consensus in June this year.
  • It saw participation of 80 delegates from 30 countries, representatives from international organisations from member nations besides special invitees.
  • The member nations expressed willingness to promote lifelong learning process in the context of the future of working atmospheres, and also find long-term sustainable solution to similar educational challenges faced by the member countries in different geographies.
  • The meet also discussed on areas for an inclusive, equitable, relevant and quality education.

Science and Technology

Old coronavirus variants found in Deer

According to new research, Delta became the dominant variant in humans, Alpha and Gamma continued to circulate in white-tailed deer.

About the study:

  • The findings, which are based on samples collected through December 2021, provide more evidence that deer could be a reservoir of the virus and a potential source of future variants, which could spill back into human populations.
  • The scale of the risk that infected deer pose to humans remains unclear.
  • Genetic sequencing revealed that three different variants of concern — Alpha, Gamma and Delta — were all present in deer during the 2021 season.


A shot for Science


  • The Budget for the year 2023-24 has seen an increase in fund allocation for research and development for various departments, however much has to be done along with fund allocation.

Funds for research and development:

  • For major departments: The Ministry of Science & Technology has received an allocation of ?16,361.42 crore this year.
  • Hike for S & T department: The bulk of the hike has gone to the Department of Science and Technology (DST), ?7,931.05 crore up 32.1% from the year 2021-22.
  • For Other branches: For Department of Biotechnology was a nominal hike of 3.9%, and ?5,746.51 crore (1.9%) for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR).
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