GS 1


  1. Branded witches, two killed and cremated in Assam

The issue in news

The police in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district have arrested nine persons, for killing a man and a woman after branding them as witches and cremating them together.


  • Witch-hunting involves the branding of victims, especially women as witches, where they are accused of possessing supernatural powers to harm others.
  • A combination of superstitious beliefs, religious practices and patriarchal norms results in women being accused of witchcraft.
  • Witch-hunting has been an age-old social malaise in Assam.
  • It is mostly reported from the western part of the state.
  • Data presented in the State Assembly said witch-hunting claimed the lives of 107 people from 2011 to 2019.


Steps taken:

  • The Assam police had in 2001 launched Project Prahari to counsel certain communities against practising witch-hunting.
  • In order to put an end to the practice, Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Act was passed.


GS 2


  1. Intention to abet suicide cannot be assumed, it has to be evident: SC

Supreme Court Judgement:

The intention to abet suicide cannot be assumed and it needs to be backed by solid, visible proof.

Main points

  • A three-judge Bench said that every crime should be backed by a state of mind or Mens Rea (mental element of a person’s intention to commit a crime) or intention.
  • The police have to establish that an accused wanted to abet the suicide.
  • ‘Abetment’ is defined in Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • Its ingredients consist of instigating a person or to intentionally aid a person to do or not do something.
  • Similarly, the crime of ‘abetment of suicide’ under Section 306 of the IPC involves instigating or actively aiding a person to take his own life.


Mens Rea:

  • The judgement said, “In order to prove mens rea, there has to be something on record to establish or show that the appellant herein had a guilty mind and in furtherance of that state of mind, abetted the suicide of the deceased. The ingredient of mens rea cannot be assumed to be ostensibly present but has to be visible and conspicuous”.
  • Mens Rea is a Latin word that literally translates to ‘guilty mind’.
  • It is the mental element of a person’s intention to commit a crime; or knowledge that one’s action or lack of action would cause a crime to be committed. It is a necessary element of many crimes.


  1. Good conduct is key to early release: SC

Supreme Court Judgement:

The length of a prison sentence or the gravity of the crime cannot be the sole basis for denying a convict premature release from jail.

Main points

  • A three-judge Bench said that an assessment of the tendency to commit a crime upon release must be based on antecedents as well as the conduct of the prisoner while in jail, and not merely on his age or apprehensions of the victims and witnesses.
  • Justice Kant wrote: “Society has a right to lead a peaceful and fearless life, without free-roaming criminals creating havoc in the lives of ordinary peace-loving citizens. But equally strong is the foundation of reformative theory, which propounds that a civilised society cannot be achieved only through punitive attitudes and vindictiveness.”
  • First-time offenders should especially be given a second chance at life, the court observed.
  • The punishment must lay greater stress on reformation, correction and rehabilitation of criminals.
  • The court said reformative justice should not merely focus on public harmony but should foster brotherhood and mutual acceptability.


GS 3


  1. ‘Regulate extraction of minor minerals’

The issue in news

A Division Bench has directed the J&K administration to regulate the extraction of minor minerals from water bodies and set up an expert committee to assess any environmental degradation.

Main points

  • It was observed that the Chief Secretary of the Union Territory shall appoint a committee of experts on the lines of directions given by the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal Bar Association to assess the components and scales of compensation and recommend measures of reparation for acts and omissions which have resulted in environmental degradation.
  • The bench directed that immediate steps be taken to appoint professional and qualified persons or agencies for technically and scientifically evaluating and fixing the reserved prices of minerals in the UT of J&K.


Plea for regulation:

  • The directions came in response to a plea that expressed concerns on account of auction notices being issued without a study of the environmental impact of these auctions.
  • The plea stated that sand mining may have an adverse effect on biodiversity as loss of habitat caused by sand mining will affect various species, flora and fauna and it may also destabilise the soil structure of river banks and often leaves isolated islands.
  • The plea pointed out that the States and UTs should see that the mining of minor minerals is permitted only under a strict regulatory regime and is carried out only under an approved framework of a mining plan, which should provide for reclamation as well as rehabilitation of people in the mined areas.

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