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INSIGHTS CURRENT EVENTS: 30 OCTOBER 2014

The Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2013

The Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2013 has been re-referred by the Speaker, Lok Sabha to the Departmentally Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development for examination and report.

The Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2013 seeks to amend the Registration Act, 1908. It inter alia provides for compulsory registration for the leases of immovable property for any term, registration of immovable property only in the State in which it is actually located.

Provisions in the Bill:

  • Under the Act it is not compulsory to register immovable property that is leased for less than one year. The Bill makes registration compulsory, irrespective of the term of the lease of the immovable property, that is, even property that is leased for less than one year must be registered.
  • It provides that wills, authority to adopt by a will and any documents notified by the state government may be registered by the concerned parties.
  • The Bill prohibits registration in certain cases, specifically relating to transactions which (a) are prohibited by any central or state act; (b) entail transfer of property owned by the central and state governments or by any person who is not statutorily empowered to do so; (c) entail transfer of property which is attached permanently by a competent authority; and (d) may adversely affect accrued interest in immovable properties of the central, state and local governments and educational, cultural, religious and charitable institutions.
  • It specifies that immovable property can only be registered in the state within which it is located.
  • Any person presenting a document at the registration office must affix a passport size colour photograph, get photographed by a digital camera and affix their thumb impression on the document.
  • The Bill makes new provisions relating to the recovery of inadequate payment of registration fee and refund in case the fee paid is in excess of what is legally payable.
  • Amendments have been proposed as a result of the rapid computerisation of land records in the country. For example, the Bill includes provisions for enclosing scanned copies of documents in certain cases.
  • All banks and financial institutions that grant loans on the basis of equitable mortgage may send an e-copy of the same to the registering officer under whose jurisdiction the property to be mortgaged is situated.

 

Sources: PIB, prsindia.org.

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the field of oil and gas between India and Mozambique

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister gave its approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the field of oil and gas between India and Mozambique for a period of five years.

Offshore gas discoveries in 2010 in two adjacent offshore blocks have seen the emergence of Mozambique as a significant hydrocarbon rich nation. Mozambique is strategically located near India and is ideally suited for bringing natural gas to India at market determined price. Participation of Indian energy companies in the project will facilitate access to LNG for the growing Indian gas market.

The MoU seeks cooperation in the areas of upstream and downstream oil and gas sector; encourage and promote trade and investment between the parties or through their affiliated companies; promote dialogue and consultations among all concerned parties with regard to sharing of information; enhance capacity-building, including forging closer cooperation between research and training centres and intensifying technology transfer, conduct of applied research and development activities and installation of demonstration facilities.


Sources: PIB, Wiki.

Union Home Minister reviews the citizenship issue of Goans

The issue of dual citizenship, being faced by nearly 50,000 Goans, is likely to be settled soon with Home Minister issuing an order to find a lasting solution to it at the earliest.

In the meeting, the Chief Minister of Goa briefed the participants on the present situation and requested them to resolve the issue. The issue was discussed in detail by all participants. The Home Minister asked the Home Secretary to find out an amicable solution at the earliest to resolve the citizenship issue being faced by thousands of Goans.

The Union Home Ministry via a notification dated March 28, 1962, had notified the Goa, Daman and Diu (Citizenship) Order, 1962, under Section 7 of the Citizenship Act 1955, which ensured that every person who or either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents was born before December 20, 1961, in the then Union Territories of Goa, Daman and Diu, shall be deemed to have become citizens of India on that day, except where any such person had made a declaration in writing within one month that he had chosen to retain the citizenship which he had immediately before December 20, 1961.

Many people in Goa have registered their names in the Portuguese birth registry, a facility they were offered by Portugal as citizens of their erstwhile colony, to get access to the European Union in pursuit of better career and economic prospects.

Sources: PIB, www.business-standard.com/.

India and Oman Sign Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement

The Union Home Minister and the Minister of Commerce & Industry, Sultanate of Oman signed ‘Agreement on Legal and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters’ between the two countries.

The Agreement provides for substantial engagement in the areas of pursuing and eliminating transnational crimes and terrorism in its different forms.

The Memorandum of Agreement also contains provisions for transfer of documents, records and objects, search and seizure, availability of persons to give evidence and assist in investigation. The Agreement will also be a deterrent to those who directly or indirectly obtain benefit from proceeds of crime.

India and Oman enjoy friendly bilateral relations based on strong foundation of mutual trust and respect and people to people linkages. Oman is an important trading partner of India in the Gulf region with bilateral trade exceeding US$ 5.70 billion in 2013-14. The contribution of over 700,000 strong Indian community in the progress and development of Oman is well acknowledged and appreciated.

Sources: PIB.

Ratification of the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur supplementary protocol on liability and redress to the Cartagena protocol on biosafety by India

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister gave its approval for ratifying the `Nagoya-KualaLumpur supplementary protocol on liability and redress to the Cartagena protocol on bio-safety` by India.

The proposed approach provides for an international regulatory framework in the field of liability and redress related to living modified organisms that reconciles trade and environment protection. The Supplementary Protocol would promote sound application of biotechnology making it possible to accrue benefits arising from modern biotechnology while minimizing the risk to the environment and human health.

The proposal will protect the interests of all Indians without distinction or differentiation.

The proposal is based on the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity and Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, both internationally negotiated and binding legal instruments. It will promote innovation in agricultural and healthcare research and development that is safe for the environment and human beings.

About the Protocol:

The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress is a supplementary protocol to the Cartagena protocol on Biosafety. After several years of negotiations, the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety adopted the Supplementary Protocol on 15 October 2010, in Nagoya, Japan.

The Supplementary Protocol aims to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity by providing international rules and procedures for liability and redress in the event of damage resulting from living modified organisms (LMOs).

The Supplementary Protocol fulfils the commitment set forth in Article 27 of the Cartagena Protocol to elaborate international rules and procedures on liability and redress for damage to biodiversity resulting from transboundary movements of LMOs. It is also inspired by Principle 13 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development which calls on States to “cooperate in an expeditious and more determined manner to develop further international law regarding liability and compensation for adverse effects of environmental damage caused by activities within their jurisdiction or control”.

The Supplementary Protocol takes an ‘administrative approach’ whereby response measures are required of the operator (person or entity in control of the LMO) or the competent authority if the operator is unable to take response measures. This would cover situations where event of damage to biological diversity has already occurred, or when there is a sufficient likelihood that damage will result if timely response measures are not taken.

However, countries can still provide for civil liability in their domestic law and the first review of the Supplementary Protocol (five years after its entry into force) will assess the effectiveness of domestic civil liability regimes. This could trigger further work on an international civil liability regime.

The Supplementary Protocol is the second liability and redress treaty to be concluded in the context of multilateral environmental agreements next to the 1999 Protocol on Liability and Compensation to the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes.

Sources: PIB, http://www.gmo.hr/.

Two-thirds of prison inmates are undertrials

New official data show that two of every three persons incarcerated in India have not yet been convicted of any crime, and Muslims are over-represented among such undertrials.

Despite repeated Supreme Court orders on the rights of undertrials, the jails are filling ever faster with them, shows Prisons Statistics for 2013 released by the National Crime Records Bureau. The number of convicts grew by 1.4 per cent from 2012 to 2013, but the number of undertrials shot up by 9.3 per cent during the period.

Men make up 96 per cent of all prison inmates. Nearly 2,000 children of women inmates live behind bars, 80 per cent of those women being undertrials.

A sharp increase in the number of undertrials charged with crimes against women contributes to the rise in the number of all undertrials. The number of those incarcerated on charges of rape rose by over 30 per cent from 2012 to 2013, and the number facing charges of molestation grew by over 50 per cent. The number of men convicted of rape rose dramatically too, by 16 per cent — the biggest increase among major sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Undertrials are younger than convicts — nearly half are under the age of 30 and over 70 per cent have not completed school. Muslims form 21 per cent of them. On the other hand, 17 per cent of those convicted are Muslims.

These numbers point to a failure of the delivery of justice, and it also appears that the system is unequally unjust. The disproportionate presence of members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Muslims among undertrials points not simply to a technical breakdown but also to the increased vulnerability of these groups.

Among the 2.8 lakh undertrials, over 3,000 have been behind bars for over five years. Between them, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are home to 1,500 of those undertrials. Most undertrials — 60 per cent of them — have, however, been behind bars for less than six months. While most States have a little over twice as many undertrials as convicts, Bihar has a staggering six times as many.

The NCRB numbers also provide the only insight available into the number of people on death row; at the end of 2013, 382 persons had been sentenced to death and were awaiting either legal relief or the execution of sentence.


Sources: The Hindu.

7 new frog species reported from Western Ghats and Sri Lanka

A team of researchers from India and Sri Lanka has discovered seven new species of Golden-backed frogs in the Western Ghats-Sri Lanka global biodiversity hot spot, throwing new light on the highly-distinct and diverse fauna in the two countries.

The results show that the frogs in Sri Lanka and those in India belong to distinctly different species. It was earlier believed that some of the Golden-backed frogs ( Genus Hylarana ) found in the two countries were of the same species.

The team, led by Delhi University’s Prof used DNA techniques and morphological evidence as tools to identify species and understand the frogs’ distribution.

The survey yielded 14 distinct Golden-backed frogs, with seven new species, including one ( Hylarana serendipi ) from Sri Lanka. Of the six new species from the Western Ghats, four ( H. doni, H.urbis, H.magna and H sreeni ) are found in Kerala and one each in Karnataka ( H. indica ) and Maharashtra ( H.caesari ).

The distribution pattern of the species highlights the need to reassess the conservation status of the amphibians and work out separate conservation strategies.

The study also indicates that frogs in the region are under threat due to habitat destruction. Interestingly, one of the newly-named species, Hylarana urbis , had remained unnoticed though its habitat is in urban areas in and around Kochi and is under threat due to human activity.

Globally, Golden-backed frogs are one of the most widely-distributed group of frogs. Their distribution extends across Africa, Asia and Australia.

The land bridge connection between the Indian subcontinent and the island of Sri Lanka that existed 50,000 years ago led to the assumption that two Golden-backed frog species ( Hylarana aurantiaca and H temporalis ) were common to both the countries.

At present, there are nearly 200 known amphibian species in the Western Ghats, of which 100 were discovered only in the last 15 years.

Sources: The Hindu.

India slips further in ease of business ranking

India ranked 142 among the 189 countries surveyed for the latest World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” report released recently, a drop by two places from the last year’s ranking, as Singapore topped the list.

The fall in ranking from last year’s 140 is mainly because other nations performed much better, Bank officials said. India’s ranking originally stood at 134 last year, but was adjusted to 140 to account for fresh data.

In the 2014 report, India had 52.78 points and this year it scored 53.97 points.

The latest ranking, however, does not take into account a slew of measures taken by the New government to make India a business friendly destination.

Appreciative of the steps taken by the new government, World Bank officials said that there was a very high likelihood of India significantly jumping up the ladder in the next report.

Sources: The Hindu.

Conditional nod from WHO for new drug to treat MDR TB

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed a new drug to stem the global spread of multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis, but has cautioned that its use must follow a set of guidelines issued by it.

Pointing out that since information about this new drug, Delamanid, remains limited, as it has only been through Phase IIb trial [the phase specifically designed to study efficacy — how well the drug works at the prescribed dosage] and studies for safety and efficacy, the WHO has issued interim policy guidance that lists five conditions that must be in place if the new drug is used to for treatment of MDR-TB.

According to the WHO 4,80,000 people developed MDR-TB in the world in 2013 and more than half of these cases occurred in India, China and the Russian federation. Almost 84,000 patients with MDR-TB were notified to the WHO globally in 2012, up from 62,000 in 2011. The biggest increases were in India, South Africa and Ukraine. The new drug is being described as “a novel mechanism of action” for treatment of adults with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). (MDR-TB is TB that does not respond to at least isoniazid and rifampicin, the two most powerful anti-TB drugs.)

Delamanid has been granted conditional approval by the European Medicine Agency in April 2014 and can be used for the treatment of tuberculosis resistant to at least isoniazid and rifampicin, the main first-line drugs.

The WHO has advocated “special caution” for the use of Delamanid in people aged 65 and over, in adults living with HIV, patients with diabetes, hepatic or severe renal impairment, or those who use alcohol or substances.

WHO has cautioned that “When Delamanid is included in treatment, all principles on which the WHO-recommended MDR-TB treatment regimens are based must be followed, particularly the inclusion of four effective second-line drugs as well as pyrazinamide. Delamanid should not be introduced alone into a regimen in which the companion drugs are failing to show effectiveness.”

Sources: The Hindu.

India third largest start-up ecosystem in world: Nasscom

India is the fastest growing and third largest start-up ecosystem in the world after the U.S. and the U.K., according to a Nasscom (National Association of Software and Services Companies) a study.

The study, India Start-up Report 2014, by Nasscom also says India is poised to see a rapid growth in the number of product start-up operational by 2020. At present, there are around 3,100 start-ups in India, and is expected to grow to 11,500 by the end of 2020, says the study.

The Indian start-up ecosystem is rapidly evolving driven by extremely young, diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial landscape. An additional driving force is a four-fold increase in access to capital through VCs, angel investment and seed funding for the Indian entrepreneurs.

Further, the study says the rapid growth in start-up will create an employment for around 250,000 people by 2020 as against the current 75,000.

The Nasscom study also states that in the last five years there were more than 70 VC/PE have investment worth over $2 billion in the domestic start-up ecosystem. According to Nasscom data, there were over 20 merger and acquisition deals worth $ 1billion in the last three years.

The presence of more than 80 business incubators and accelerators providing seed stage support to start-ups is also another major reason for the growth of start-ups in the country. Major cities such as Bangalore, Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai account for 90 per cent of the start-up activity.

Sources: The Hindu.

School of Planning and Architecture Bill, 2014

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister gave its approval to introduce the School of Planning and Architecture Bill, 2014 in the Parliament to bring all three Schools of Planning and Architecture(SPAs) within the ambit of the School of Planning and Architecture Bill, 2014. The Bill would adhere to Government policies on reservations from time to time. The proposed Act will empower these Schools to award degrees through an Act of Parliament.

This would enable the School of Planning and Architecture to become centres of excellence like IITs, NITs and help fulfil the need of the country for quality manpower in the field of architecture and planning.

All the money spent from public exchequer will be accounted for and audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. Annual Report and Audited Accounts of each SPA will be placed before Parliament.

Sources: PIB.