Insights Daily Current Events, December 27, 2013
December 27, 2013
Cabinet clears constitutional status for Judicial Appointments Commission
- The Union Cabinet has given its nod for conferring constitutional status on the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) for appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary.
- The government earlier accepted the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, which recommended that the structure and functions of the JAC to replace the present collegium system be governed by a constitutional provision.
Provisions in the Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill, 2013:
- The Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill, 2013, provides for the setting up of a Judicial Appointments Commission by inserting Article 124 (A) in the Constitution and amending Articles 124(2), 217(1) and 222(1).
- According to the proposal approved by the Cabinet, while new Article 124 A of the Constitution will define the composition of the JAC, Article 124 B will define its functions.
- The JAC Bill seeks to set up a six-member body under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of India for recommending names to the President of individuals with outstanding legal acumen and impeccable integrity and credibility for judgeship in the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
- It would also recommend transfer of judges of one High Court to another.
- The structure and functions of the proposed commission are provided in the JAC Bill.
Present issues & Recommendations of the Parliamentary Panel:
- According to the parliamentary panel, the present process adopted by the collegium of judges is plagued with its own problem of opacity and non-accountability, besides excluding the Executive entirely in the collaborative and consultative exercise for appointment of judges.
- Because of inherent deficiencies in the collegium, as many as 275 judge posts in various High Courts are lying vacant. This has a direct bearing on the justice delivery system and thereby affecting the judiciary.
- The committee had recommended that, there should be three eminent persons in the commission, instead of two as provided for in the present Bill, and at least one out of them should be an SC/ST/OBC/woman/minority, preferably by rotation.
- Considering the responsibility of the JAC to select 800-odd judges to 24 High Courts, and also the fact that constitutional and other functionaries are involved at the State-level in the process of appointment, it suggested State-level commissions also.
- What is the existing system of appointment of Judges of SC & HC in India? What are the issues with the present system? How do you think JAC would solve the issue?
- Constitution Amendment – procedure and conditions followed?
Government develops strategy to create social capital
- The government has developed an intensive strategy to ensure social inclusion through participatory identification of the poor and universal social mobilisation. The National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP) is to support implementation of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) in 12 high poverty States that account for 85% of the rural poor in the country.
- The aim is to create best practice sites and to develop them as local immersion locations that generate a pool of social capital for catalysing social mobilisation of the poor and building quality institutions.
- The Rural Development Ministry has been facilitating 400 intensive blocks across the country under the NRLM Framework, out of which 100 blocks would be developed as resource blocks. The blocks that are taken up for implementation of the NRLM will be called ‘intensive blocks.’ In all 73 resource blocks are proposed to be implemented in the NRLP States for five years.
- According to official data, there are already a total of 47 resource blocks cutting across States including Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana, covering nearly 2,000 villages. In these States nearly 13,000 Self-Help Groups have been supported. The strategy aims to cover a significant 5 lakhs BPL households.
Significance of Resource Blocks:
- The resource block strategy will cover a whole range of activities, including a trained professional staff at district, block and sub-block levels. The strategy also entails promotion of institutions of the poor SHGs and their primary federations which ultimately will create and strengthen a large base of social capital or community professionals.
- Also, resource blocks ensure proof of concept and home-grown models in social mobilisation and institutional building, financial inclusion, bookkeeping and livelihoods. These resource pockets would create efficient and effective institutional platforms of the rural poor enabling them to increase household incomes through sustainable livelihood enhancements and improved access to financial and selected public services.
- The poor would be facilitated to achieve increased access to their rights, entitlements and public services, diversified risk and better social indicators of empowerment.
To know more NRHM refer our ‘Insights Current Events Analysis Magazine’ (NOVEMBER, 2013)
Judicial Commission of Inquiry to probe into ‘snoopgate’
- The Centre Govt. has setup ‘judicial Commission of Inquiry’ to investigate charges of spying by the Gujarat government on a young woman in 2009(which is known as ‘snoopgate’). The report is expected to be submitted within three months.
- The Centre has rejected the Gujarat government’s contention that under the Commission of Inquiry Act, the Centre or the State government cannot appoint an inquiry commission into a matter on which one of the two governments has already set up such a panel – in this case the State government (Gujarat) has already set up a commission. However, Section 3 provides for the Centre to appoint a commission if it is of the opinion that the scope of the inquiry should be extended to two or more States.
Snoopgate broke over a month ago when two news portals released CDs of purported telephonic conversations, purportedly between August and September 2009, between the then Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah and two State police officers relating to surveillance of a woman architect. Mr. Modi’s name does not occur in the conversations but there is reference to a “sahib” that the portals say is the Gujarat CM, at whose instance the snooping was done.
Neighbours step up peace efforts in South Sudan
- Heavy fighting between government forces and rebels was raging in South Sudan’s key oil-producing north, as neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia stepped up efforts to broker an end to the civil war.
- Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has said that, troops loyal to President Salva Kiir were battling forces allied to former Vice-President Riek Machar inside the town of Malakal, capital of the Upper Nile State. The troops were preparing an offensive against Bentiu, the main town in oil-rich Unity State, to follow on from their recapture of Bor, another State capital that had fallen into rebel hands during the nearly two weeks of clashes in the world’s youngest nation.
Bitcoin exchanges shut shop in India
- India’s biggest Bitcoin trading platform, BuySellBitCo.in, has suspended its operations, citing a recent RBI public advisory that highlighted the risks involved in dealing with virtual currencies.
- The closure of BuySellBitCo.in, which sees about 12 million rupees of Bitcoin transactions every month, has caused panic among other operators and users with a number of other trading platforms such as INBRTC suspending services indefinitely.
- Earlier, RBI had issued a notice, warning the public of the risks involved with virtual currencies while claiming that it could be used for money laundering and funding anti-terrorism activities. It stopped short, however, of issuing a ban or any other restrictions.
- Bitcoin and other virtual currencies have begun to gain widespread acceptance in India, despite poor Internet penetration and a natural scepticism to assets not backed by tangible entities such as land.
- While countries such as China have banned financial companies from Bitcoin transactions, various U.S government agencies have said that Bitcoins offer legitimate benefits.
To know more about Bitcoins refer our “Insights Current Events Magazine, NOVEMBER 2013” and http://insightsonindia.com/2013/12/17/all-about-bitcoins/ and also 25 December, 2013 current events (RBI’s warning)
SAT sets aside SEBI order in Polaris insider trading case
- The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has set aside an order passed by Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on October 9, 2012, holding Arun Jain, Chairman of Polaris Financial Technology, guilty of insider trading.
- The SEBI order had also banned Mr. Jain from the stock market, and prohibited him from dealing with shares for two years.
- The insider trading case, involving 15,080 Polaris shares dated back to 2000 when Polaris, after due diligence, called off the proposed acquisition of Data Inc of the U.S. in the 2nd week of September, 2000, but had belatedly informed the stock exchanges on September 30, 2000.
- When the company disclosed the above information to the stock exchanges, there was a decline in the price of its shares. From Rs.545 on September 29, to as low as Rs.390 on October 23, 2000.
About Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT):
- SAT is a statutory body established under the provisions of Section 15K of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 to hear and dispose of appeals against orders passed by the SEBI or by an adjudicating officer under the Act and to exercise jurisdiction, powers and authority conferred on the Tribunal by or under this Act or any other law for the time being in force.
To Know more about ‘insider trading’ refer our previous current events (December)
Commodity exchange boards made more powerful
- Forward Markets Commission (FMC) is tightening corporate governance norms for commodity exchanges following NSEL scam. It has asked its boards to scrutinise all major business decisions, as also financial powers of CEOs and transactions involving promoters and top management personnel.
- The boards of the exchanges would also have to ensure that appropriate checks and balances are in place with regard to costs incurred for donations, publicity, media and public relations, legal and other professional charges, among others.
- In a directive issued to six national exchanges, including MCX, the FMC has stipulated the minimum requirement for sharing of information relating to functioning of the exchange with the board of directors.
- It also directed that the decisions relating to certain matters should be taken with the approval of the board of directors or the board committees.
- The regulator said that prior approval of the board would be required in matter related to expenditure items such as capital expenditure, agreement/contract giving rise to recurring obligation for a period of more than three years, and loan/advances/guarantee/financial commitments.
- A prior approval of the board is required for all financial transactions, loans, guarantees, deposits or financial commitment of any kind. Following the Rs.5,500-crore payment crisis at NSEL, the FMC has been taking several measures to ensure accountability and transparency in the commodity futures market.
- As per the new norms, the Board of exchange will execute, with the approval of the board, the liability insurance for directors to safeguard the professional liability of the board members arising from the performance of their duties for the exchange. The regulator has also directed the exchanges to constitute a committee of the board on risk management.
- The NSEL scam is a systematic and premeditated fraud perpetrated in the commodity market by National Spot Exchange Ltd based in Mumbai, India. NSEL is a company promoted by Financial Technologies India Ltd and NAFED
- NSEL scam is a 5600 Crore Rs (About US$ 0.9 Billion) fraud which came out in the public domain after the National Spot Exchange Ltd failed to pay out its investors in commodity pair contracts after 31 July 2013. It was subsequently found out that the most of underlying commodities never existed and buying and selling of commodities like Steel, Paddy, Sugar, Ferrochrome etc. was being conducted only on paper.
More about Forward Markets Commission (FMC):
- Forward Markets Commission (FMC) headquartered at Mumbai, is a regulatory authority which is overseen by the Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India. It is a statutory body set up in 1953 under the Forward Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1952.
- to advise the Central Government in respect of recognition or withdrawal of recognition of any association and other matters arising out of the administration of the Act;
- to keep forward markets under observation and take appropriate action in relation to them;
- to collect and publish information regarding trading conditions in respect of goods to which any of the provisions of the Act is made applicable including information regarding supply, demand and prices and to submit to Central Government periodical reports on the operation of this Act and on the working of the forward markets relating to such goods;
- to make recommendations to improve the organisation and working of forward markets;
- to undertake inspection of the accounts of recognised associations and/or any members thereof;
- to perform other duties prescribed by the Central Government.
Courtesy – http://consumeraffairs.nic.in