Insights Daily Current Events, 31 July 2015

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Insights Daily Current Events, 31 July 2015

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State ready with draft anti-superstitions law

The Kerala State government is all set to push its draft anti-superstitions legislation for discussion, before moving it.

The working draft of the Kerala Exploitation by Superstition (Prevention) Act, 2014 says all acts “purported to be undertaken invoking supernatural or magical powers, with the intention of obtaining wrongful gratification’’ will be made accountable as “exploitation by superstition.”

Details of the Draft:

  • The draft seeks to make all offences under the Act cognizable and non-bailable.
  • It aims to cover all elements involved in invoking supernatural powers for any kind of gratification, including monetary or of a sexual nature.
  • It emphasizes that the definition of gratification will not be restricted to just money, but will cover all forms of sexual gratification as well.
  • However, the draft has excluded all traditional ceremonies, rituals and practices either associated with places of worship or with different faiths. The exception clause in the draft says these cannot be construed as acts of exploitation by superstition.
  • The draft penal provisions include up to three years in jail and a fine of Rs.50,000 if the injury caused is “simple hurt or harm to the reputation or mind, which would go up to 3 to 7 years in jail and fine up to Rs.2,00,000 in case of “grievous hurt or harm to property.’’
  • The punishment has been drastically scaled up in the case of sexual exploitation using superstitious practices. The draft says it would entail imprisonment ranging from 5 years to a life term. It recommends capital punishment or a life conviction, if the victim dies.
  • The draft also says that propagating any kind of information, which could potentially induce people to be victims of exploitation by superstitious practices, should entail three to seven years in jail and a fine.
  • Only police officers of the rank of Inspectors and above will be authorised to investigate offences under the Act, and no court lower than that of a First Class or Metropolitan magistrate may be competent to try the cases under it.

Sources: The Hindu.

Lokayukta Bill passed

The Karnataka State Assembly passed the Karnataka Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2015 recently.

Background:

The Bill was tabled in the Assembly in the wake of controversy over an alleged bribery scandal that has hit the state’s anti-corruption ombudsman with growing clamor for his removal

Details:

  • The assembly passed the bill after bringing in an amendment to the clause pertaining to removal of the Lokayukta. The amended clause states that the Lokayukta or Upalokayukta shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the Governor.
  • According to the Bill, now , once the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court or the judge nominated finds the Lokayukta guilty of misconduct or incapacity, then both the Houses of the legislature can pass a motion with two-third majority stating that the Lokayukta should be removed. The previous amendment bill had provided that such a motion could be passed if half of the members voted for it.
  • The eligibility criteria have also been changed. The 1984 Act makes the judge of the Supreme Court or Chief Justice of the high court eligible to be appointed the Lokayukta. But as per the new bill, a judge who has served not less than 10 years is eligible to be the Loakyukta, and a judge who has put in not less than five years as high court judge, can become the Upa Lokayukta.

Appointment of Lokayukta: The Lokayukta is appointed by the Governor of Karnataka on advice of Chief Minister of Karnataka in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court of Karnataka, the Chairman of Karnataka Legislative Council, the Speaker of Karnataka Legislative Assembly, the Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Council and the Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly.

Powers: The Lokayukta has the power to investigate Chief Minister, all other Ministers and Members of the State Legislature and all state government employees.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, lokayukta.

ED registers money laundering case in Antrix-Devas deal

The Enforcement Directorate has registered a money laundering case in connection with the Antrix-Devas spectrum deal worth Rs.1,000 crore, which is also being probed by the CBI.

  • ED has instituted this fresh case under stringent provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act based on the basis of CBI case registered in March. The Directorate has already been scrutinising the 2005 agreement under the Foreign Exchange Management Act since 2012.

What is the issue?

According to an agreement, ISRO’s marketing arm Antrix was to provide 70 MHz of S-band spectrum to Devas. As part of the agreement, 10 transponders in satellites GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A – then to be launched by ISRO for the purpose – were to be leased out to Devas in lieu of payments to be made over 12 years.

But the CBI found that some members of the ISRO, ANTRIX and Department of Space have allegedly favoured Devas Multimedia by giving the rights for delivery of video, multimedia and information services via S-band, causing wrongful gain of Rs.578 crore to the ineligible company. The company had allegedly submitted false information about its capability to deliver the services.

Enforcement Directorate:

Enforcement Directorate, established in the year 1956, is a law enforcement agency and economic intelligence agency responsible for enforcing economic laws and fighting economic crime in India.

Directorate of Enforcement is a specialized financial investigation agency under the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, which enforces the following laws: –

  • Foreign Exchange Management Act,1999 (FEMA) – A civil law having quasi judicial powers, for investigating suspected contraventions of the Exchange Control laws and regulations with powers to impose penalties on those adjudged guilty.
  • Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) – A Criminal Law, with the officers empowered to conduct investigations to trace assets derived out of the proceeds of crime, and to provisionally attach/ confiscate the same, to arrest and prosecute the offenders found to be involved in Money Laundering.

Other important functions include:

  • To collect, develop and disseminate intelligence relating to violations of FEMA, 1999, the intelligence inputs are received from various sources such as Central and State Intelligence agencies, complaints etc.
  • To investigate suspected violations of the provisions of the FEMA, 1999 relating to activities such as “hawala” foreign exchange racketeering, non-realization of export proceeds, non-repatriation of foreign exchange and other forms of violations under FEMA, 1999.
  • To adjudicate cases of violations of the erstwhile FERA, 1973 and FEMA, 1999.
  • To realize penalties imposed on conclusion of adjudication proceedings.
  • To process and recommend cases for preventive detention under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA)

Sources: The Hindu, enforcementdirectorate.gov.in.

Avoid travel to Yemen, India tells nationals

India has asked its nationals to refrain from travelling to Yemen in view of the ongoing conflict and fragile security situation there. The External Affairs Ministry said that the security situation in Yemen continued to be fragile and the United Nations had raised the humanitarian crisis level of the country to the highest rung.

  • Earlier this year, the government evacuated Indians from Yemen and also helped rescue more than 550 foreigners from 32 countries, including a dozen Americans and three Pakistanis from the region.

What is happening in Yemen?

The 2015 military intervention in Yemen began in March, 2015 when the Royal Saudi Air Force led a coalition of Arab states in attacking Shiite Houthi rebels. This was preceded by weeks of turmoil during which Houthi guerrillas toppled the government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and took over the large parts of the country.

Yemen is lurching closer to civil war as the Houthi militants who rule its capital try to consolidate their control over the rest of the country and challenge the embattled president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Sources: The Hindu.

Censure motion notice against Sushma

A Memebr of Parliament in Lok Sabha has opted for the censure motion route in a bid to secure a statement from the Government in the Parliament on the Lalit Modi controversy involving External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. The Lok Sabha Speaker is yet to decide on its admissibility.

Censure Motion:

  • This motion can be moved only in the Lok Sabha and by the Opposition of the House.
  • It can be moved against the Council of Ministers or an individual Minister or a group of Ministers for their failure to act or not to act or for their policy and may express regret, indignation or surprise of the House at the failure of the Minister or Ministers.
  • The Motion should be specific and self-explanatory so as to record the reasons for the censure, precisely and briefly.
  • No leave of the House is required to move a Censure Motion.
  • If the Censure Motion is passed, the Council of Ministers is bound to seek the confidence of the Lok Sabha as early as possible.
  • This motion is mentioned under the Rule 184 of the Rules and Procedures of the Lok Sabha.

Sources: The Hindu, loksabha.

RBI to issue 10 rupee coin to mark International Yoga Day

The Reserve Bank recently announced its plans to put into circulation 10 rupee coins to commemorate the International Day of Yoga.

Details:

  • The coin bears the logo of the International Day of Yoga, with the inscription ‘’Saamanjasya evam shanthi ke liye yog’’  in Devnagri script and “yoga for harmony and peace” around the logo. At the bottom of the logo the date June 21 will be inscribed.
  • The inscription Anthar rashtriya yoga divas in Devnagri script is on the left periphery and “international day of yoga” in English on the right periphery is written on this side of the coin.
  • The coin also bears the Lion Capitol of Ashoka Pillar in the centre with the legend Sathyamev Jayate inscribed below.
  • This is flanked on the left periphery with the word Bharat in Devnagri script and on the right periphery flanked with the word “INDIA” in English.

The coins have been minted by the Central government and are legal tender as provided in The Coinage Act 2011.

Sources: The Hindu.

NHRC writes to State on farmers’ suicides

Taking suo motu cognisance of a media report that 16 farmers committed suicide in Mandya district of Karnataka, The National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka, and called for a report on the issue within four weeks.

  • The commission has observed that the spate of deaths due to suicides by farmers is of grave concern, and calls for prompt remedial steps by the government.
  • The NHRC cites a media report which quotes a group of farmers saying “the negligence by the State and Union governments in the matter of fixing fair price, payment of arrears by sugar mills, and a sugarcane glut, are the main reasons for the sudden spike in the suicides”.

NHRC:

  • It is a statutory body established in 1993.
  • It consists of a Chairman and 4 members. Chairman should be a retired Chief Justice of India. Members should be either sitting or retired judges of the supreme court or a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court and 2 persons having practical knowledge in this field.
  • Ex officio members are the chairmen of National Commission for Scheduled Caste, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Minorities and National Commission for Women.
  • The chairman and members are appointed on the recommendation of a 6 member committee consisting of Prime Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, leaders of opposition in both the houses of parliament and Union Home Minister.
  • Term of the chairman and members is 5 years or 70 years whichever is earlier.
  • After retirement they are not eligible for further reappointment.
  • Removal: President has to refer the matter to Supreme Court and if after enquiry Supreme Court holds it right then they can be removed by the President.
  • The commission is not empowered to enquire into matters which were committed one year before.
  • Its recommendations are just advisory and not binding in nature.
  • It submits Annual report to the Central government and to the concerned state governments.

Sources: The Hindu, nhrc.

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