Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Insights Daily Current Events: November 26, 2013


November 26, 2013


CBI urges Supreme Court to free the agency from being a “caged parrot”

  • In response to the Centre’s affidavit rejecting demand for greater autonomy and vesting the CBI Director with a Secretary-level status, the CBI urged the Supreme Court (SC) to free the agency from being a “caged parrot.”

  • CBI has said that it was “merely asking for the administrative and financial powers of the Secretary, Government of India,” and not seeking any enhancement of legal powers, “nor is it an effort at self-aggrandizement (an act undertaken to increase your own power and influence or to draw attention to your own importance) for the Director.”

  • During the hearing in the coal block allocation cases, the SC in May, 2013 had observed that the CBI was acting like a “caged parrot” and asked the government if it intended brining in any law to provide the agency functional autonomy to insulate its investigation from outside interference. The Centre in its response had rejected the idea.

CBI’s contention:

  • The CBI said its proposal of the Director directly reporting to the Minister for the Department of Personnel and Training ‘is appropriate’. For, it would remove the present anomaly of the CBI, though not a DoPT wing, still being controlled by the Department, with its Secretary as the Reporting Authority for the CBI Director.

  • According to CBI, it “does not want and has never desired an autonomy that would put it outside the government purview. All its submissions are directed towards the objective of greater operational autonomy. Even if the Director is granted powers of a Secretary, superintendence will continue to vest with the Central Government, as the final deciding authority will still be the Minister, and the Director would be merely assisting him.”

  • The CBI has said that, “There is no dispute that the police or investigating agencies must function under the administrative supervision of the executive. The only difference with the averment made by the DoPT is over the understanding that the CBI considers the Minister to be the Central Government whereas the DoPT considers it to be the Secretary, DoPT, or the Minister only through the Secretary, DoPT.”

  • The agency reiterated that the sole purpose of its seeking powers beyond what had been granted now was to make the Director more empowered to enforce and ensure a more professional, efficient, expeditious and impartial conduct of CBI investigations in sync with its motto “Industry, Impartiality, Integrity” and also to ensure the highest level of disciplinary and ethical conduct by CBI personnel.

  • An instance where CBI’s lack of autonomy has caused problems to it’s functioning- With regard to proposals sent to the DoPT for obtaining expenditure sanction for making payment to the State governments for setting up of special courts in Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Nagpur and Guwahati the response is still awaited, despite a lapse of more than one and a half years.

(For more information on this issue & Govt’s opposition – refer our ‘INSIGHTS CURRENT EVENTS Magazine (October 2013))

Autonomous Council for Tawang, West Kameng sought

  • A rally was held on Monday in Tawang district bordering China demanding grant of an autonomous council under the Sixth Schedule for the twin districts of Tawang and West Kameng to preserve and promote the region’s unique and diverse culture and religion.

Sixth Schedule:

  • The Sixth Schedule provides for administration of certain tribal areas as autonomous entities. The administration of an autonomous district is to be vested in a District Council and of an autonomous region, in a Regional Council.

  • These Councils are endowed with legislative, judicial, executive and financial powers. Most Council consists of up to 30 members including few nominated members. (The newest Bodoland Territorial Council is an exception; it can have up to 46 members). These constitutionally mandated Councils

oversee the traditional bodies of the local tribes such as the Syiemships and Dorbars of the Khasi hills of Meghalaya.

  • There is a significant degree of variation in the functions devolved to various Autonomous Councils. For instance, the Bodoland Territorial Council has more power compared to the NC Hills Autonomous District Council though the latter has been in existence for decades before the former. This resulted in other areas also demanding further powers and greater autonomy.

Administrative Structure in the Sixth Schedule Areas:

  • The Sixth Schedule areas are governed through autonomous District Councils which have wide ranging legislative and executive powers. As a result, they almost work like a “mini Parliaments.” They have complete freedom to allow village level bodies to run according to customary laws.

  • The verdicts of district and lower level courts can only be challenged in the high court.

  • At present, 6th Schedule Areas exist only in four North Eastern States: 1) Assam, 2) Meghalaya, 3) Mizoram, and 4) Tripura.

  • These Areas are administered through Autonomous Districts / Regional Councils. Except Meghalaya, other three states have only certain selected areas covered under the 6th Schedule.

Good article on 6th Schedule 

Courtesy –

Assam media bodies condemn draft anti-bandh law

  • Media bodies in Assam have sharply reacted to a provision in the draft law — Assam Prevention of Unconstitutional Bandh Act, 2013 that allegedly “curbs media freedom in the name of putting an end to the bandh culture.”

  • The draft bill is nothing but gagging of media freedom and denying the fundamental right of freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution of India. It is as draconian as the Bihar Press Bill and Tamil Nadu Press Control Bill.

  • Bandhs affect everybody and if the government wants to control the menace they can do that. So the media group does not have any reservations regarding this matter. However, censoring the media or curbing the freedom of expression in the name of controlling the bandh culture would affect the democratic structure of society.

Provisions of the Draft Bill:

  • The draft states that any unauthorised, private, oral, print or electronic media publicity to, and/or observation of bandh will be unconstitutional and illegal.

  • According to the provision of the draft law, a bandh is unconstitutional and an offence as no individual or organisation has the right to paralyse the educational, economic and industrial systems.

  • The State government may, by order in writing, prohibit either absolutely or for a specified period, the bringing into, or sale or distribution or circulation within the state of any newspaper, periodical, book, leaflet or other document specified in the order, if it is satisfied that such action is necessary for preventing an unconstitutional bandh and/or any activity which undermines the security of/or tends to overthrow the State or any part of it.


India, Iran agree to keep prudent Saudi Arabia engaged

  • Iran and India have agreed on the need to keep Saudi Arabia engaged in order to remove its apprehensions about Iran’s interim understanding with the six global powers reached in Vienna

  • With regard to India-Iran relationship on the energy front, the impression that things will immediately begin easing appears to be misplaced. Most of the key sanctions aimed at oil and shipping and curbs on banking and financial transactions will remain in place for a minimum of six months or could be partially lifted earlier if the proposed Joint Commission between Iran and the six nations is set up and makes progress on some of the aspects agreed upon in the interim agreement.

  • India would also be involved in modernisation and development of the Chah-bahar port.

  • With Saudi Arabia fearing that Iran might emerge as the predominant regional power, Iran and India want friendly powers to allay its fears. Saudi Arabia has announced its intention not to join the United Nations Security Council as a temporary member and there are apprehensions about it stalling the works — the new balance of power emerging in the region.

China defends air defence zone; slams U.S., Japan for ‘irresponsible’ statements

  • China had planned to establish an air defence zone to track aircraft over parts of the disputed East China Sea.

  • The U.S. and China showed deep concerns over this move, as Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) would include the airspace over the disputed Senkaku or Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. Chinese authorities would require aircraft to notify them of their flight plans, failing which they could face interception from air defence forces. However, the zone will not affect international flights.

  • The ADIZ overlaps with parts of the zone that Japan has already put in place. This would raise the likelihood of confrontations between the two countries (recently the two countries had issues over their territorial claims).

  • China’s ‘unilateral action’ and the timing of the move amid territorial disputes with Japan was viewed as an attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea and this would only increase tensions in the region and create risks of an incident.

  • However, China has retaliated that, many countries, from the U.S. and India to Japan, have set up ADIZ areas beyond their frontiers to track and monitor aircraft that are headed toward their territorial airspace and it was based on the need for China to defend its national sovereignty and security of China’s territory and airspace.

  • And with regard to Japanese apprehensions, China has said that infact both the countries could enhance communication to jointly maintain regional peace and security.

  • Japan is not the only country in the region that has voiced concern over the move. South Korea too had complained that the ADIZ also overlaps with parts of its zone.

  • China faces territorial disputes with India in the west, and also maritime disputes involving at least 10 countries over the South China Sea.

Geneva-2 on Syria on January 22, 2014

  • A long-awaited international conference to resolve the Syrian crisis will be held in Geneva on January 22, 2014 bringing diplomacy into sharper focus as a means to resolve some of the most difficult problems surrounding the region.

  • The Geneva-2 conference will be held within the framework of the Geneva Communique that was issued in June 2012. The conference (June 2012), had then yielded an agreement for the establishment, based on mutual consent, of a transitional governing body in Syria that would be armed with full executive powers, covering all government institutions, including the military and security agencies.

  • The Geneva-2 conference would be the result of herculean efforts of Russia, the U.S. and Lakhdar Brahimi, the veteran Algerian diplomat, who replaced Mr. Annan as the joint special envoy on Syria.

  • Persuaded mainly by Russia, the Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad had agreed to the talks even earlier. But getting the opposition on board proved to be a difficult task. However, there are now signs that a single delegation would represent the Syrian opposition under the umbrella of the National Coalition of Opposition and Revolutionary Forces.

  • Riding the wave of diplomacy in West Asia, the Palestinians have also now begun to call for an international conference to resolve their dispute with Israel.

EU may ease Iran sanctions in December, 2013

  • After a potentially history-shaping deal that gave Iran six months to provide greater access to its nuclear sites in exchange for keeping the core components of its uranium program, it is said that European Union (EU) would ease sanctions against Iran as soon as December, 2013

  • A Europe-wide decision is necessary to ease EU sanctions; hence it would also exceed the time-line.

The U.S. and the EU have separate sanctions on Iran. Easing the European restrictions would affect numerous areas-

  • trade in petrochemicals, gold and other precious metals

  • financial transfers to purchase food and medicine

  • the ability of third countries to use EU-based firms to insure shipments of Iranian oil again.

At Geneva, Iran had agreed to the following:

  • The recently concluded deal at Geneva would allow Iran to keep the central elements of its uranium program while stopping its enrichment at a level lower than what is needed for nuclear arms. In addition to a six-month window for Iran to allow more U.N. access to nuclear sites, sanctions will be eased notably in the oil, automotive and aviation industries.

  • In the end, Iran has finally agreed to cap its enrichment level at 5%, far below the 90% threshold needed for a warhead.

  • Iran also pledged to “neutralise” its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium, the highest level acknowledged by Iran.

Karzai defies loya jirga, puts off security pact with U.S.

  • A security pact with the U.S., which is critical to Afghanistan’s ability to pay its soldiers and hold off the Taliban, is in a state of uncertanity, after President Hamid Karzai shrugged off the recommendations of a national council that had approved the deal and said that he would continue talks with U.S.

  • After a year of negotiations, the ‘loya jirga’, or grand assembly had approved the agreement to keep U.S. troops in the country after the current combat mission ends in 2014.

  • But Mr. Karzai stunned U.S. diplomats and his own security officials when he told the opening session of the jirga that the security agreement should not be signed until after presidential elections in April, 2014.

  • Later U.S. had announced that a deal had to be agreed by the end of the year (2013), but the Afghan President said that the U.S. had to prove its good intentions by keeping soldiers out of Afghan homes, ensuring the vote was transparent and promoting peace talks with the Taliban.

Implications of the agreement:

  • The agreement will allow U.S. soldiers to stay on at nine bases, mentoring the ill-equipped and trained Afghan forces, and pursuing al-Qaeda.

  • Without a deal, the U.S. is unlikely to part with the $4 billion a year needed to pay the Afghan army, or provide helicopters and other equipment.


CPI-indexed bonds

  • The RBI said it would launch CPI-indexed bonds aimed at protecting the savings of retail investors from the impact of price rise by the end of December, 2013.

  • Earlier, the RBI had said that, inflation-indexed securities for retail investors of 10-year tenor would be linked to the new (combined) consumer price index. Interest would be compounded half-yearly and paid cumulatively at redemption.

  • Inflation-indexed bonds were designed to offer investors an option to guard their savings against rising prices.

(To know more about CPI refer our ‘INSIGHTS CURRENT EVENTS Magazine (October 2013)

Unique identity numbers to hospital

  • The insurance regulator IRDA has started a process to provide unique identity numbers to hospitals, in order to help identify hospitals and collect information regarding various charges imposed by them on different medical procedures.