Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Insights Daily Current Events, 08 April 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 08 April 2015

RBI keeps rates unchanged

The RBI in its recent monetary policy review has kept the repo rate unchanged at 7.5% and kept the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 4%.

Why?

  • RBI has kept policy rate unchanged awaiting clarity on impact of unseasonal rains on food inflation. Unseasonal rains and hailstorm have impacted rabi crops across North and Western India, raising fears of spike in food prices.

What else has the RBI said?

  • RBI wants banks to pass on benefits of previous two rate cuts. It says that transmission of policy rates to lending rates has not taken place so far despite weak credit off take and the front loading of two rate cuts. Hence, the RBI says that with little transmission, and the possibility that incoming data will provide more clarity on the balance of risks on inflation, it will maintain status quo in its monetary policy stance in this review. In an effort to bolster economic growth, the central bank had cut rates twice, by 25 basis points each, outside the regular policy reviews. However, only a very few banks passed on the benefits through reduction of their lending rates.
  • RBI has said for monetary transmission to occur, lending rates have to be sensitive to the policy rate. With introduction of the base rate on July 1, 2010, banks could set their actual lending rates on loans and advances with reference to the base rate. At present, banks follow different methods in computing their base rate — on average cost of funds (liabilities), marginal cost or blended cost.

What is monetary transmission?

Monetary transmission is the process through which changes in a central bank’s monetary policy gets reflected in the real economy. So, for instance, if a central bank reduces interest rates it charges borrowing banks, it would expect that reduction to be passed on to eventual customers as a result of the monetary transmission process.

Usually, there is a lag between the actions of the central bank and those of the commercial banks. The lag is less when central banks raise interest rates.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Intelligence agencies silent on RTI: study

A new, recently released data shows that India’s top security and intelligence agencies consistently refuse to give out any information about the Right to Information requests they receive, and those that do, reject the bulk of queries they receive.

What the Law says?

  • Twenty-five of India’s top security agencies are exempt from most of the requirements of the RTI Act, but are required to provide access to information if it relates to allegations of corruption and human rights violations.
  • These exempted agencies also need to appoint public information officers and submit reports to the Central Information Commission about the number of RTI applications received, amount of fees collected and details of cases where access to information was rejected. But the data shows that many of these institutions have never reported any RTI information to the CIC.

RTI Act:

Right to Information Act 2005 mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information. It replaces the erstwhile Freedom of information Act, 2002.

  • The Act applies to all States and Union Territories of India except Jammu & Kashmir. J&K Right to Information Act is in force.
  • Under the provisions of the Act, any citizen may request information from a “public authority” (a body of Government or “instrumentality of State”) which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days.
  • The Act also requires every public authority to computerise their records for wide dissemination and to proactively certain categories of information so that the citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally.
  • Private bodies are not within the Act’s ambit directly. In a decision of Sarbajit Roy versus Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission, the Central Information Commission affirmed that privatised public utility companies continue to be within the RTI Act.
  • The Central Information Commission (CIC) has also held that the political parties are public authorities and are answerable to citizens under the RTI Act.

Exclusions:

Central Intelligence and Security agencies specified in the Second Schedule like IB, Directorate General of Income tax (Investigation), RAW, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence etc. are excluded from providing the information.

  • Agencies specified by the State Governments through a Notification will also be excluded.
  • The exclusion, however, is not absolute and these organizations have an obligation to provide information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violations. Further, information relating to allegations of human rights violation could be given but only with the approval of the Central or State Information Commission.

CIC:

The Central Information Commission (CIC) is set up under the Right to Information Act and is the authorised body, established in 2005, under the Government of India.

  • The Chief Information Commissioner heads the Central Information Commission, the body that hears appeals from information-seekers who have not been satisfied by the public authority, and also addresses major issues concerning the RTI Act.

The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of—

  • The Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee;
  • The Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; and
  • A Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, Wiki.

 

Union Cabinet clears Real Estate Bill

The Union Cabinet recently approved the Real Estate (Regulation and Development Bill) which will address a long-standing demand to bring in a regulator for the real estate sector.

Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill:

The Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Bill seeks to protect the interests of consumers and establish regulatory bodies at the Centre and States for ethical and transparent business practices in the real estate sector.

Aim of the Bill: The bill aims at regulating contracts and transfer of property, both of which are under concurrent list. The bill will override the provisions of state real estate laws if found inconsistent.

Features of the bill:

  • The Bill regulates transactions between buyers and promoters of residential real estate projects. It establishes state level regulatory authorities called Real Estate Regulatory Authorities (RERAs).
  • Residential real estate projects, with some exceptions, need to be registered with RERAs. Promoters cannot book or offer these projects for sale without registering them. Real estate agents dealing in these projects also need to register with RERAs.
  • 50% of the amount collected from buyers for a project must be maintained in a separate bank account and must only be used for construction of that project. In the original Bill, 70% of the amount had to be kept for this construction.
  • The Bill establishes state level tribunals called Real Estate Appellate Tribunals. Decisions of RERAs can be appealed in these tribunals.
  • The Bill provides for mandatory registration of all projects and real estate agents who intend to sell any plot, apartment or building with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority.
  • It makes mandatory the disclosure of all information for registered projects like details of promoters, layout plan, land status, schedule of execution and status of various approvals.
  • The Bill also includes a condition that prohibits a developer from changing the plan in a project unless 2/3rd of the allottees have agreed for such a change.

Benefits:

  • The Bill is expected ensure greater accountability towards consumers, and to significantly reduce frauds and delays.
  • It is expected to promote regulated and orderly growth of the real estate sector through efficiency, professionalism and standardization.
  • These measures are also expected to boost domestic and foreign investment in the sector and help achieve the objective of the Government of India to provide ‘Housing for All by 2022’, through enhanced private participation.

Sources: The Hindu, prsindia.org.

 

NGT bans decade-old diesel vehicles in Delhi, NCR

The National Green Tribunal recently banned all diesel vehicles over ten years old from plying in Delhi and the National Capital Region and also cracked the whip on rampant construction activity adding dust to the air.

Why?

  • The SC has said that diesel vehicles are major source of pollution in the ambient air quality.

The order comes 22 days after the NGT asked Delhi government to consider the proposal of banning diesel vehicles.

What else has the tribunal said?

  • The Tribunal has directed Delhi government to ensure vehicles are checked for weight, age and pollution levels at all entry points of Delhi and overloaded and polluting vehicles are prevented from entering the city limits.
  • The NGT also expressed its disquiet on how rampant unchecked construction in Delhi and NCR was adding dust to the air which when combines with particulate matter turns into a lethal mix.
  • It has directed State of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, Noida and Greater Noida authority, Haryana Urban Development Authority and the Delhi government to immediately stop construction activity like on the two-km stretch from NH-24 to Char Murti Chowk which are emanating dust.

Present scenario:

There are more than six lakh diesel vehicles registered in Delhi, which include more than five lakh private cars. The entire public transport fleet in Delhi runs on CNG now. However, heavy goods vehicles are still on diesel.

National Green Tribunal (NGT)

The National Green Tribunal has been established under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

  • It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues. The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
  • The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts.
  • The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.

Members:

  • The sanctioned strength of the tribunal is currently 10 expert members and 10 judicial members although the act allows for up to 20 of each.
  • The Chairman of the tribunal who is the administrative head of the tribunal also serves as a judicial member.
  • Every bench of the tribunal must consist of at least one expert member and one judicial member. The Chairman of the tribunal is required to be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India.
  • Members are chosen by a selection committee (headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of India) that reviews their applications and conducts interviews.
  • The Judicial members are chosen from applicants who are serving or retired judges of High Courts. Expert members are chosen from applicants who are either serving or retired bureaucrats not below the rank of an Additional Secretary to the Government of India (not below the rank of Principal Secretary if serving under a state government) with a minimum administrative experience of five years in dealing with environmental matters. Or, the expert members must have a doctorate in a related field.

Jurisdiction:

  • The Tribunal has Original Jurisdiction on matters of “substantial question relating to environment” (i.e. a community at large is affected, damage to public health at broader level) & “damage to environment due to specific activity” (such as pollution). However there is no specific method is defined in Law for determining “substantial” damage to environment, property or public health.
  • The powers of tribunal related to an award are equivalent to Civil court and tribunal may transmit any order/award to civil court have local jurisdiction. The Act specifies that an application for dispute related to environment can be filled within six months only when first time dispute arose (provided tribunal can accept application after 60 days if it is satisfied that appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filling the application).
  • Also Tribunal is competent to hear cases for several acts such as Forest (Conservation) Act, Biological Diversity Act, Environment (Protection) Act, Water & Air (Prevention & control of Pollution) Acts etc. and also have appellate jurisdiction related to above acts after establishment of Tribunal within a period of 30 days of award or order received by aggrieved party.
  • The Act says that decision taken by majority of members shall be binding and every order of Tribunal shall be final. Any person aggrieved by an award, decision, or order of the Tribunal may appeal to the Supreme Court within 90 days of commencement of award but Supreme Court can entertain appeal even after 90 days if appellant satisfied SC by giving sufficient reasons.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, NGT.

 

SC seeks govt. response on plea on criminal defamation

The Supreme Court recently took up a plea to de-criminalise defamation as it infringes on freedom of speech and expression.

  • The Apex Court has directed the Centre and Tamil Nadu government to respond within four weeks to petition challenging the constitutional validity of Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Section 499 defines the offence ‘defamation’ and Section 500 prescribes imprisonment up to two years if a person is found guilty of defaming another’s reputation.

What the petition says?

  • The petitioner says that criminal defamation under Sections 499 and 500 of IPC travels beyond the restrictions of Article 19 (2) and really constricts the freedom of speech beyond reasonable limit.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Remove ‘leper’ from the book, says law panel

The Law Commission has recommended that India needs to repeal or amend urgently laws which discriminate against persons with leprosy, and stop the official use of the word “leper”.

  • The Law Commission recently submitted its 256th report to the Law Ministry.
  • The commission has prepared a draft Bill to eliminate discrimination against persons affected with leprosy.

What has the commission said?

  • The commission has recommended the repeal or amendment of all laws carrying discriminatory provisions. The panel recommended an end to the segregation of persons with leprosy, many of whom live in 850 “leprosy colonies” across India.
  • The commission observes that although leprosy may cause irreversible disabilities, with medical advances, it is now a completely curable disease. However, a major obstacle is the social stigma associated with Leprosy, and many persons affected by leprosy continue to be outcast from society.
  • It also says that Indian laws continue to directly and indirectly discriminate against persons affected by leprosy.
  • Recommending amendments to Personal Laws, the Commission said under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939, the amended Indian Divorce Act, 1869, Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, leprosy affecting either spouse constitutes a ground for divorce, annulment of marriage or separation without forfeiture of maintenance.

Discriminatory laws:

  • Under several personal laws of all religions, leprosy for more than two years serves as a legitimate ground for divorce or separation between spouses.
  • Under the State Beggary Acts, persons with leprosy are put under the same category as those with mental ailments, and medical examination, arrest and detention of persons affected by leprosy is allowed.
  • The Life Insurance Corporation Act charges higher premium rates from persons with leprosy.
  • Several State Municipal and Panchayat Raj Acts bar persons with leprosy from holding or contesting civic posts.

In 2014, India had the largest number of new leprosy cases globally (58 per cent). From 2005 to 2014, the National Leprosy Eradication Programme has recorded 1.25 lakh to 1.35 lakh new cases every year, a majority of those affected being children.

Leprosy is a disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium Leprae. It affects mainly the skin and the nerves. This may result in a lack of ability to feel pain and thus loss of parts of extremities due to repeated injuries. Weakness and poor eyesight may also be present.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Insights Secure Prelims 2015

Welcome to Insights Secure Prelims – 2015 initiative. The following questions are based on current events that appear in PIB (Public Information Bureau) and from some important newspapers. For more challenging question papers (Full Length), please join our Preliminary Exam – 2015 Test Series (Please Click Here for Reviews)

To view Solutions, follow these instructions:

  1. Click on – ‘Start Quiz’ button

  2. Solve Questions

  3. Click on ‘Quiz Summary’ button

  4. Click on ‘Finish Quiz’ button

  5. Now click on ‘View Questions’ button – here you will see solutions and links.