Insights Daily Current Events, 06 January 2015
Investigative Units on Crimes Against Women
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) proposes to set up Investigative Units on Crimes against Women (IUCAW), in 20% of the districts of each State on a 50:50 cost sharing basis with the states.
- to investigate cases referred to them, augment the investigative machinery of the States in relation to the heinous crimes against women, especially Rape, Dowry Death, Acid Attack and Human Trafficking, instill confidence and encourage women to come forward and lodge their complaint and improve the gender ratio in the State Police forces which is adversely impacting effective implementation of the legislations relating to women.
These units will have the additional functionality of proactive policing, intelligence gathering, tackling organized crime, monitoring proper implementation of the legislative provisions, helping awareness generation and promotion of social participation in checking crimes against women.
- MHA has proposed to set up 150 such IUCAW units initially on pilot basis in most crime prone districts of each state.
- These units may consist of 15 personnel, preferably five of them women.
- The states will have full flexibility on whether to create new posts or to designate from the existing strength.
- Each IUCAW will be headed by an officer of the rank of Additional Superintendent of Police assisted by two DSPs.
- Out of the total 2250 personnel required for the 150 IUCAWs, 750 will be women.
- This will involve a total expenditure of 84 crore rupees annually, out of which 42 crore rupees will be provided by the Centre.
These measures will help in ensuring higher conviction rate in different states to check crimes against women and human trafficking.
Only 10% of 22 lakh NGOs file returns: CBI
The CBI has said that only about 10 per cent of the over 22 lakh non-governmental organisations file their annual income and expenditure statements with the authorities they are registered with.
CBI’s view on the issue:
- CBI has urged the court to impose a pre-condition on NGOs that they first submit their balance sheets, including income and expenditure statements, for the preceding three years before further grants were allowed.
- The SC said that an order could be given only after an extensive hearing. The CBI should first complete compiling data on NGOs and argue its case in detail. Then the SC will see why NGOs cannot be asked to maintain complete records.
- Among the 20 States, Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of NGOs, at 5,48,148, and of which 1,19,000 of them submit annual returns.
- Maharashtra has 5,18,437 registered NGOs, of which 77,766 file balance sheets.
- Kerala shows 3.6 lakh registered NGOs, but none files balance sheets as there is no provision in the State’s statute requiring them to do so.
- Similar is the case with Punjab and Rajasthan, which have over 1.36 lakh registered NGOs.
- Of the 2.34 lakh NGOs in West Bengal, only 17,089 were found to be active and filing annual returns.
- In Jammu and Kashmir, all 147 registered NGOs file annual returns. of the 147 NGOs registered, all file annual returns.
- In the Northeast, none of the NGOs in Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura file returns.
The CBI was acting on the Supreme Court’s order of September 2, 2013 on a PIL petition, alleging misuse of funds by Anna Hazare’s NGO Hind Swaraj Trust. The court had expanded the scope of the petition and directed the CBI to file the entire list of NGOs in the country registered under the Societies Registration Act.
Sources: The Hindu.
SC lawyers’ body plea to declare NJAC invalid
The Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA) has filed a writ petition seeking a declaration that the Constitution 99th Amendment Act, 2014, providing constitutional status to the National Judicial Appointments Commission, is “invalid, void and unconstitutional”.
- The petition contends that by passing the NJAC Bill, Parliament had “altered the basic structure of the Constitution” and encroached into judicial independence.
How judicial independence is being encroached:
- Independence of the judiciary includes the necessity to eliminate political influence even at the stage of appointment of a judge. This is being violated.
- The amendment, as passed by the two houses of Parliament, “takes away the primacy of the collective opinion of the Chief Justice of India and the two senior most Judges of the Supreme Court of India”.
- Although the six-member Commission had the CJI as chairperson and two senior most Supreme Court judges as members, there was no “primacy” for them. Even their collective recommendation of a candidate as judge could be frozen if any two non-judicial members on the panel vetoed it.
- The petition said the NJAC Act did not give any “suitability criteria” for appointment as judge, leaving it to the Commission to frame them. It sought a return to the recommendations of the 2002 Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah Committee in which the NJAC was composed of five members.
- The association had, in August last year, challenged the NJAC law. But the SC had said it was too premature as the States were yet to ratify it. However, the Supreme Court had given the association liberty to approach it at a later stage.
- The NJAC, which restores the political class’ role in the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the High Courts, has received the President’s assent after ratification by 16 State legislatures. Both the Constitution Amendment Bill and the NJAC Bill were passed by Parliament in August 2014.
About the NJAC and constitution amendment Bill:
NJAC is a proposed body responsible for the appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary in India. JAC Bill seeks to replace the collegium system of appointing the judges of Supreme Court and 24 High Courts with judicial appointments commission wherein the executive will have a say in appointing the judges.
- A new article, Article 124A, (which provides for the composition of the NJAC) will be inserted into the Constitution.
- The Bill provides for the procedure to be followed by the NJAC for recommending persons for appointment as Chief Justice of India and other Judges of the Supreme Court (SC), and Chief Justice and other Judges of High Courts (HC).
- The amendment bill seeks changes in articles 124,217,222 and 231.
According to the bill the commission will consist of the following members:
- Chief Justice of India (Chairperson, ex officio)
- Two other senior judges of the Supreme Court next to the Chief Justice of India – ex officio
- The Union Minister of Law and Justice, ex-officio
- Two eminent persons (to be nominated by a committee consisting of the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister of India and the Leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha or where there is no such Leader of Opposition, then, the Leader of single largest Opposition Party in Lok Sabha), provided that of the two eminent persons, one person would be from the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes or OBC or minority communities or a woman. The eminent persons shall be nominated for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for re-nomination.
Functions of the Commission:
- Recommending persons for appointment as Chief Justice of India, Judges of the Supreme Court, Chief Justices of High Courts and other Judges of High Courts.
- Recommending transfer of Chief Justices and other Judges of High Courts from one High Court to any other High Court.
- Ensuring that the persons recommended are of ability and integrity.
Under the present Collegium system, the Chief Justice of India would consult the four senior most judges of the Supreme Court for Supreme Court appointments and two senior-most judges for high court appointments.
How the NJAC will help:
- The NJAC, once it came into existence, is expected to usher in transparency in judicial appointments in the highest courts and end the highest judiciary’s two-decade-old grip over appointments of judges through the collegium system.
- It would restore an equal role for the executive in higher judicial appointments.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, prsindia.org.
Govt. aligns FDI policy with NIC code
With a view to improving the ease of doing business, the government has aligned the foreign direct investment policy with the upgraded National Industrial Classification (NIC) Code.
National Industrial Classification (NIC) Code:
National Industrial (Activity) Classification namely NIC plays a very vital role in maintaining standards of data collection, processing and presentation besides its wide range of applications in policy formulation and policy analysis. This classification is used in all types of censuses and sample surveys conducted in India. The Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) in the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation is the nodal authority for bringing out the National Industrial Classification in India. The first classification was NIC-62 followed by NIC-70, NIC-87 and NIC-98,NIC-2004. The latest and sixth Industrial Classification namely NIC-2008 has been developed and released by CSO.
- The government had upgraded the National Industrial Classification (NIC) Code with a view to make business climate more investor friendly.
- NIC 2008 would be followed for classification of economic activities, thus, allowing Indian businesses to undertake globally recognised and accepted classification that facilitate smooth approvals/ registrations and categorisation.
- The move will also help India in improve its ranking in ease of doing business. The National Industrial Classification (NIC) is an essential statistical standard for developing and maintaining comparable data base according to economic activities. Such classifications are frequently used in classifying the economically active population, statistics of industrial production and distribution, the different fields of labour statistics and other economic data such as national income.
- Comparability of statistics available from various sources, on different aspects of the economy, and usability of such data for economic analysis, are prerequisite for standardisation of a system of classification.
Improved ranking and business climate will help the country to attract both domestic and foreign investments.
Sources: The Hindu, mospi.nic.in, csoisw.gov.in.
SEBI moots curbs on wilful defaulters
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has proposed to amend the SEBI Act for imposing restrictions on ‘wilful defaulters’ from accessing the capital market.
- No issuer would be allowed to make a public issue of equity and debt securities and non-convertible redeemable preference shares, if the issuer, its promoter, group company or director of the issuer of such securities, is in the list of the wilful defaulters, published by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
- Wilful defaulters would also not be allowed to make public issue of debt securities and non-convertible redeemable preference shares if they are in default of payment of interest or repayment of principal amount in respect of debt instruments issued by them to the public.
- The existing listed companies/its promoter/group company/director of the issuer categorised as wilful defaulter may make a rights issue/private placement to qualified institutional buyers, with full disclosures in the offer document.
- Listed companies/its promoter/group company/director of the issuer categorised as wilful defaulter should not be allowed to take control over other listed entity in accordance with SEBI (SAST) Regulations, 2011. Existing listed companies/its promoter/group company/director of the issuer categorised as ‘wilful defaulter’ should be allowed to make counter offer in case of a hostile bid.
Sources: The Hindu.
HC notice to Rajasthan on eligibility for panchayat polls
Rajasthan High Court has issued notices to the State government and the State Election Commission on a petition challenging the ordinance on fixing minimum qualification for contesting panchayati raj elections.
- Rajasthan government had implemented a provision related to minimum educational qualification for contesting panchayat polls in the state.
- An ordinance was promulgated prescribing minimum educational qualifications to contest in local body elections in Rajasthan, and effectively keep out illiterate persons from the democratic process.
- The ordinance fixing a minimum educational qualification, which has received the Governor’s assent, amends the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Act, 1994.
- The ordinance stipulates that a member of a zila parishad or panchayat samiti should have acquired secondary education. While the panchayat sarpanch of a Scheduled area should have passed Class 5, his counterpart in Non-Scheduled areas should have cleared Class 8.
- It is being argued that the ordinance violated the inclusive spirit of the 73rd and 74th Amendments and served as an “exit for illiterate people”.
Why was it done?
According to the government, an elected representative with a basic education will be better placed to stop the embezzlement of funds at the panchayat level.
The political opposition, local communities and civil society groups have argued that the change in law is discriminatory to a large section of the rural population, particularly women.
Literacy level in Rajasthan:
- 2001 Census shows that 82.5 percent of the people above 20 years of age in rural Rajasthan did not have formal education beyond class 5 or primary level.
- Rural literacy rates in Rajasthan are 76.16 per cent for men, and an abysmal 45.8 per cent for women.
- In Rajasthan, the literacy rate of women in rural areas is only 45.8 per cent, which is lower than the national literacy rate of 57.93 per cent.
- In tribal areas, the situation is even worse, with the literacy rate of women being 25.22 per cent.
Sources: The Hindu, IE.