Insights Daily Current Affairs, 24 November 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Vice-Chairman of DDA designated as Real Estate Regulatory Authority for Delhi
Vice-Chairman of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has been designated as Regulatory Authority for National Capital Territory of Delhi under the Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act, 2016.
- Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, the competent authority in respect of Delhi under the Act, has issued a notification in this regard.
Section 20 of the Real Estate Regulation Act empowers the appropriate Government to designate any officer as Regulatory Authority till a full fledged Regulatory Authority is established for the purposes of the Act which include grievance redressal in respect of projects registered with such authorities.
Registration of real projects will begin only after notification of Section 3 of the Real Estate Act by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation which will be done in due course. The full Act is to come into force from May 1st next year.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Third Protocol to the Convention between India and New Zealand for the avoidance of double taxation
The Union Cabinet has approved the ratification and entry into force of the third Protocol to the Convention between India and New Zealand for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income (Convention). The Protocol was signed on 26th October, 2016.
- The Protocol will stimulate the flow of exchange of information between India and New Zealand for tax purposes which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance.
- It will also enable assistance in collection of tax revenue claims between both countries.
- Article 26 on ‘Exchange of Information’ of the existing Convention has been replaced with a new Article in the Protocol which is in line with the international standard for exchange of information.
- A new Article on ‘Assistance on Collection of Taxes’ has been added in the Protocol.
- The Protocol shall enter into force on the date of notification of completion of the procedures required by the respective laws of the two countries for entry into force of the Protocol.
The Central Government is authorized under section 90 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 to enter into an Agreement with a foreign country or specified territory for exchange of information and recovery of income tax for the prevention of evasion or avoidance of income-tax chargeable under the Income-tax Act, 1961.
Convention between India and New Zealand:
The Convention came into force on 3rd December, 1986. The Convention was amended in 1997 through a First Protocol and in 2000 through a Second Protocol. Subsequently, India proposed to further amend the Convention through a Third Protocol to update the Exchange of Information Article as per the international standard and to insert an Article on Assistance in the Collection of taxes.
Accordingly, negotiations were entered into with New Zealand and agreement was reached on both the Articles of the Third Protocol.
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Cabinet approves new Merchant Shipping Bill
The Cabinet has approved a new Merchant Shipping Bill by repealing the 58-year old law, a move that will promote ease of doing business, transparency and effective delivery of services.
- The Merchant Shipping Bill, 2016, is a revamped version of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. It provides for repealing of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, as well as the Coasting Vessels Act, 1838.
What was the need for new law?
The Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, had become a bulky piece of legislation over the years as a result of various amendments carried out in the Act from time to time. It was amended 17 times between 1966 and 2014, resulting in an increase in the number of sections to over 560. These provisions have been meticulously shortened to 280 sections in the Bill.
Highlights of the new bill:
- Provisions of the Bill are aimed at simplifying the law governing merchant shipping in India.
- In the new bill, certain redundant provisions will be dispensed with and the remaining provisions will stand consolidated and simplified so as to promote ease of doing business, transparency and effective delivery of services.
- The significant reforms that will follow enactment of the Bill include augmentation of Indian tonnage promotion/ development of coastal shipping in India, introduction of welfare measures for seafarers and registration of certain residuary category of vessels not covered under any statute.
- Also, the Coasting Vessels Act, 1838, an archaic legislation of the British era providing for registration of non-mechanically propelled vessels to a limited jurisdiction of Saurashtra and Kutch, is proposed to be repealed since provisions have been introduced in the Merchant Shipping Bill 2016 for registration of all vessels for the whole of India.
Paper 2 Topic: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
Apex court slams Centre over Lokpal
The Supreme Court has pulled up the Centre over the delay in appointment of an Ombudsman or Lokpal, saying it should not allow the law to become a “dead letter”.
The appointment of the anti-corruption ombudsman has been hanging in balance since the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 which received Presidential assent on January 1, 2014 on the ground that the legislation provides that the Leader of Opposition (LoP) has to be in selection committee, but there is no Leader of Opposition in the present Lok Sabha.
The legislation has also been not amended to bring in the leader of the largest opposition party in the selection panel.
What’s the issue?
The hiring of the Lokpal is held up on a technicality. The 2013 law stipulated the selection panel will be headed by the prime minister and will include the leader of the opposition, the speaker of the Lok Sabha, the chief justice of India and an eminent jurist.
- But the present Lok Sabha does not have a leader of the opposition. So, the government moved an amendment to the law to enable the leader of the single largest party to be part of the selection committee.
- However, the opposition called for closer scrutiny of some other provisions the government included in the amendment. The tweaked bill then went to a parliamentary committee which gave its suggestions last year. The government is yet to make a decision on this.
What has the court said?
Referring to the key pre-requisite that LoP has to be there in Lokpal selection panel, the court has said the Leader of Opposition is “dispensable” and things can proceed even without LoP who can be replaced by the leader of the largest opposition party in the committee.
The Supreme Court has also expressed disappointment when the Centre said the amendment to replace LoP with the leader of the largest opposition party in the proposed selection committee of Lokpal is pending with Parliament and asking it to clear would amount to “judicial legislation”.
LoP in Lok Sabha:
As per the provision, the largest opposition party has to have a certain number of MPs in Lok Sabha to claim the post of LoP. In Lok Sabha, the largest opposition party – Congress has only 45 members and lacks the requisite 10% of total 545 seats.
What the law says?
The law provides the selection of chairperson and members of Lokpal shall be through a selection panel consisting of the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, LoP in Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India or a sitting SC judge nominated by the CJI, an eminent jurist to be nominated by President of India on the basis of recommendations of first four members of selection committee.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Disaster and disaster management.
Himalayan projects face flood risk
According to an analysis of Himalayan glaciers and their possible future impact on livelihoods in States adjoining the region, potential hydro power projects in the Himalayan region would need to factor in chances of increased floods from the formation of new lakes and the expansion of existing ones due to melting glaciers.
- The results are part of a modelling study by Swiss researchers on the impact of climate change in the Himalayas.
Highlights of the study:
- 441 hydro-power projects spanning India, Nepal, Pakistan and China, that is, 66% of constructed and potential hydro power projects, are on possible Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) tracks, which means they could be gorged with extra water from melting glaciers.
- Almost a third of these hydro power projects could experience GLOF discharges well above what these dams account for.
- Therefore if hydro-power projects were to be situated close to these glaciers, they would have to account for higher water flows. They might need extra design or safety features.
- There is a paucity of data regarding the health of Himalayan glaciers, and depending on their location within the Himalayan range, there were varying rates of glacial melt.
In the Beas basin, six lakes in 1989 had increased to 33 in 2011, and in the Parvati Valley catchment area, there was an increase from 12 lakes (in 1989) to 77 lakes (in 2014). Most of the Himachal Pradesh lakes were relatively small or with a capacity of a million cubic metres, and only a few of them had a capacity larger than 10 million cubic metres of water.
The findings come even as researchers note that global warming could cause glaciers to melt rapidly, which is already evident in an increase in the number of glacier-fed lakes in Himachal.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
SEBI eases rules for angel funds
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has liberalised norms for angel funds to invest in early-stage entities as part of its attempts to facilitate fund-raising for start-ups.
- In this regard, SEBI has decided to amend the SEBI (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations, 2012.
- The regulator has increased the upper limit for number of angel investors from forty nine to two hundred.
- Angel Funds will also be allowed to invest in start-ups incorporated within five years instead of the earlier norm of three years.
- The requirements of minimum investment amount by an angel fund in any venture capital undertaking has been reduced from Rs.50 lakh to Rs.25 lakh.
- The lock-in requirements of investment made by angel funds in the venture capital undertaking has been reduced from three years to one year.
- Such funds have also been allowed to invest in overseas venture capital undertakings up to 25 per cent of their investible corpus in line with other Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs).
This move will greatly benefit start-ups looking for raising venture funding not just for the money but for the other value addition that raising money from a venture capital firm brings such as direction and mentorship from seasoned investors.
Angel investor is an investor who provides financial backing for small startups or entrepreneurs. Angel investors are usually found among an entrepreneur’s family and friends. The capital they provide can be a one-time injection of seed money or ongoing support to carry the company through difficult times.
Sources: the hindu.