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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 13 February 2020

INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 13 February 2020

Table of Contents:

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Voting Rights of Prisoners.

2. Vivad Se Vishwas scheme.

3. Debts Recovery Tribunals.

4. Tribes of Tripura.

5. Major Port Authority Bill, 2020.

6. Don’t detain children in jails, lockups, Supreme Court tells police.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Pesticides Management Bill 2020.

2. Jal Jeevan Mission.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Five-day working week for Maha govt employees.

2. Kerala imposes ₹13 price cap on bottled water.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

Voting Rights of Prisoners

What to study?

For Prelims: Who can and who cannot cast their votes?

For Mains: Should undertrials and convicts be allowed to vote- arguments ‘For’ and ‘Against’.

Context: The Delhi High Court has rejected a petition seeking voting rights for prisoners.

Observations made by the Court:

  1. The right to cast vote is neither a fundamental right nor a common law right and is only provided by a statute.
  2. The right to vote provided under the statute — Representation of the People Act — was subject to restrictions imposed by the law, which does not allow prisoners to cast vote from jails.

Who can vote and who cannot?

Under Section 62(5) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, individuals in lawful custody of the police and those serving a sentence of imprisonment after conviction cannot vote. Undertrial prisoners are also excluded from participating in elections even if their names are on electoral rolls.

Only those under preventive detention can cast their vote through postal ballots.

Why undertrials should be given voting rights?

  1. The present voting ban is criticised on the ground that it makes no offence-based or sentence-based classification — that is, prisoners are debarred from voting irrespective of the gravity of the offence they have committed, or the length of their sentence. It also makes no distinction between convicted prisoners, undertrials, and those in lawful police custody.
  2. Besides, a person is innocent until proven guilty by law. Despite this, it denies an undertrial the right to vote but allows a detainee the same.
  3. The provision also violates the rights to equality, vote (Article 326) and is arbitrary. It is not a reasonable restriction.

Need of the hour:

Undertrials should be allowed to vote. This is because there are many people, awaiting trial, who have spent more time in prison than the actual term their alleged crime merits. Their numbers are much bigger than convicts.

Stats:

The ‘Prison Statistics India, 2014’ published by the National Crime Records Bureau, says there were 2,82,879 undertrials and 1,31,517 convicts lodged across 1,387 prisons in the country as on December 31, 2014.

Global practice:

  1. In Europe, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, the Baltic States, and Spain already allow prisoner voting.
  2. Countries like Romania, Iceland, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Germany have opted for a middle path: Voting is allowed subject to certain permits and conditions such as the quantum of sentence served.
  3. They are only disenfranchised as an added penalty based on the gravity of the crime. Bulgaria allows for anyone sentenced to less than a decade to vote. In Australia, the limit is five years.

Long_Ordeal

Sources: the hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Vivad Se Vishwas scheme

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the scheme.

For Mains: Need for and significance.

Context: The vivad se vishwas scheme was announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her budget speech on February 1, 2020. The scheme aims to settle the huge number of pending direct tax cases.

About Vivad Se Vishwas Scheme: The Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Bill, 2020:

  1. The amnesty scheme, at present, covers disputes pending at the level of commissioner (appeals), Income Tax Appellate Tribunals (ITAT), high courts, the Supreme Court and those in international arbitration.
  2. It offers a complete waiver on interest and penalty to the taxpayers who pay their pending taxes by March 31.
  3. The scheme aims to benefit those whose tax demands are locked in dispute in multiple forums.
  4. If a taxpayer is not able to pay direct taxes by March 31st then, he will get further time till June 30th. However, in that case, he would have to pay 10 percent more on the tax.

How much?

  1. In case it is just the interest and the penalty which is in dispute, the taxpayer will have to pay 25% of the disputed amount till March 31, and subsequently, it will be 30%.
  2. If a taxpayer is not able to pay within the March 31 deadline, he gets a further time till June 30, but in that case, he would have to pay 10% more on the tax.
  3. In case it is just the interest and the penalty which is in dispute, the taxpayer will have to pay 25% of the disputed amount till March 31, and subsequently, it will be 30%.

Significance:

The scheme aims to resolve 483,000 direct tax-related disputes pending in various appellate forums.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Statutory organisations.

Debts Recovery Tribunals

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: All about DRTs.

Context: The Direct Tax Vivaad se Vishwas Bill, 2020 will now cover pending litigation in debt recovery tribunals (DRTs) as well besides those in various courts and tribunals, the Union cabinet said while approving the change to the bill.

What are DRTs?

Debt Recovery Tribunals were established to facilitate the debt recovery involving banks and other financial institutions with their customers. DRTs were set up after the passing of Recovery of Debts due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act (RDBBFI), 1993. Section 3 of the RDDBFI Act empowers the Central government to establish DRTs. Appeals against orders passed by DRTs lie before Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunal (DRAT).

Powers and functions:

  1. The Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) enforces provisions of the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions (RDDBFI) Act, 1993 and also Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interests (SARFAESI) Act, 2002.
  2. The Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) are fully empowered to pass comprehensive orders and can travel beyond the Civil procedure Code to render complete justice. A Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) can hear cross suits, counter claims and allow set offs.
  3. However, a Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) cannot hear claims of damages or deficiency of services or breach of contract or criminal negligence on the part of the lenders. In addition, a Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) cannot express an opinion beyond its domain, or the list pending before it.
  4. The Debts Recovery Tribunal can appoint Receivers, Commissioners, pass ex-parte orders, ad-interim orders, interim orders apart from powers to Review its own decisions and hear appeals against orders passed by the Recovery Officers of the Tribunal.

Other key facts:

  • A DRT is presided over by a presiding officer who is appointed by the central govt. and who shall be qualified to be a District Judge; with tenure of 5 years or the age of 62, whichever is earlier.
  • No court in the country other than the SC and the HCs and that too, only under articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution have jurisdiction over this matter.
  • The central government, in 2018, raised the pecuniary limit from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh for filing application for recovery of debts in the Debts Recovery Tribunals by such banks and financial institutions.

Sources: the hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies. Mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Tribes of Tripura

What to study?

For Prelims: Autonomous Councils- composition, objectives and functions.

For Mains: Their significance, challenges being faced and scope for reforms.

Context: The Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) has passed resolutions to codify the customary laws of three tribal clans- Mizo, Kaipeng and Malsom.

What are Autonomous District Council?

As per the Sixth Schedule, the four states viz. Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram contain the Tribal Areas which are technically different from the Scheduled Areas. Though these areas fall within the executive authority of the state, provision has been made for the creation of the District Councils and regional councils for the exercise of the certain legislative and judicial powers. Each district is an autonomous district and Governor can modify / divide the boundaries of the said Tribal areas by notification.

 The Governor may, by public notification:

(a) Include any area.

(b) exclude any area.

(c) create a new autonomous district.

(d) increase the area of any autonomous district.

(e) diminish the area of any autonomous district.

(f) alter the name of any autonomous district.

(g) define the boundaries of any autonomous district.

Constitution of District Councils and Regional Councils:

(1) There shall be a District Council for each autonomous district consisting of not more than thirty members, of whom not more than four persons shall be nominated by the Governor and the rest shall be elected on the basis of adult suffrage.

(2) There shall be a separate Regional Council for each area constituted an autonomous region.

(3) Each District Council and each Regional Council shall be a body corporate by the name respectively of the District Council of (name of district) and the Regional Council of (name of region), shall have perpetual succession and a common seal and shall by the said name sue and be sued.

Related- 125th amendment bill:

  1. It seeks to increase the financial and executive powers of the 10 Autonomous Councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the northeastern region.
  2. The amendments provide for elected village municipal councils,ensuring democracy at the grassroot level.
  3. Powers: The village councils will be empowered toprepare plans for economic development and social justice including those related to agriculture, land improvement, implementation of land reforms, minor irrigation, water management, animal husbandry, rural electrification, small scale industries and social forestry.
  4. The Finance Commissionwill be mandated to recommend devolution of financial resources to them.
  5. Finance: The Autonomous Councils now depend on grants from Central ministries and the State government for specific projects.
  6. Reservations: At least one-third of the seats will be reserved for women in the village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura after the amendment is approved.

Facts for Prelims- other tribes in Tripura:

  1. Bhil
  2. Bhutia
  3. Chaimal
  4. Chakma
  5. Garo
  6. Halam
  7. Jamatia
  8. Kahshia
  9. Kuki
  10. Lepcha
  11. Lushai
  12. Mog
  13. Munda
  14. Noatia
  15. Orang
  16. Reang

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Major Port Authority Bill, 2020

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features of the bill, need for and significance of the provisions.

Context: The Cabinet has given its nod to Major Ports Authority Bill that will replace a 1963 law governing country’s 12 major ports.

Background:

At present the ports are governed by a ports law of 1963. The major port sector has not seen the required level of fixed assets creation to pare the country’s high logistic costs owing to legacy issues including the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP)’s archaic regulatory grip.

Overview of the Bill:

  1. The proposed law is aimed at enhancing the overall efficiencies of the ports.
  2. Now ‘major ports’ will get to determine the tariffs for various port-related services as well as the terms for private developers who team up with them.
  3. Every port will now be governed by a Port Authority which will have powers to fix reference tariffs for various port services.
  4. The Bill also proposes the creation of an adjudicatory board at the apex level for review of port authority’s decisions. It will have the mandate to resolve the disputes between port authorities and the PPP operators.

Major Ports in India:

India has 12 major ports — Deendayal (erstwhile Kandla), Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Kamarajar (earlier Ennore), V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia).

India's_Major_Port

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Don’t detain children in jails, lockups, Supreme Court tells police

What to study?

For Prelims: About JJB and JJ Act.

For Mains: Concerns expressed, present challenges and ways to address them.

Context: The Supreme Court has made it clear that the police have no right to detain children in conflict with law in a lockup or a jail.

Observations made by the Court:

  1. A juvenile in conflict with law, if apprehended, has to be placed immediately under the care of the special juvenile police unit or a designated child welfare officer.
  2. The child has to be produced before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB).
  3. Once a child is produced before a JJB, bail is the rule. And even if, for some reason, bail is not granted, a child cannot be put behind bars. He has to be lodged either in an observation home or in a place of safety.
  4. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 is meant to protect children and not detain them in jail or keep them in police custody.

Background:

The order came after the court’s attention was drawn by the recent media reports about “children being detained in police custody and tortured in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh”.

About the Juveniles Justice Act, 2015:

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 came into force in January, 2016. The Act repeals the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. The JJ Act, 2015 provides for strengthened provisions for both children in need of care and protection and children in conflict with law.

Key provisions:

  1. It establishes a statutory status for the Child Adoption Resources Authority (CARA). It also proposes several rehabilitation and social integration measures for institutional and non-institutional children. It provides for sponsorship and foster care as completely new measures.
  2. Mandatory registration of all institutions engaged in providing child care is required according to the Act. New offences including illegal adoption, corporal punishment in child care institutions, the use of children by militant groups, and offences against disabled children are also incorporated in the legislation.
  3. The law gives the Juvenile Justice Board the power to assess whether the perpetrator of a heinous crime aged between 16 and 18, had acted as a ‘child’ or as an ‘adult.’ The board will be assisted in this process by psychologists and social experts.

Constitution and composition of JJB:

State Government constitutes Juvenile Justice Boards in the districts time to time, for exercising the powers & to discharge duties, conferred on such Boards in relation to Children in Conflict with Law under this Act and Rule.

Composition: A board should consist of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of First Class not being Chief Metropolitan Magistrate with at least three years experience and two social workers of whom at least one shall be a woman, forming a bench.

Sources: the hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

Pesticides Management Bill 2020

What to study?

For Prelims: Key provisions.

For Mains: Need for and significance of the bill.

Context: Union Cabinet has approved the Pesticide Management Bill 2020 to promote the use of organic pesticides in the country.

Key provisions:

  1. The bill will empower farmers to get all the information regarding pesticides including their strengths and weaknesses and the risk and alternatives involved, as the data would be made available in open source, in a digital format and in all languages.
  2. The bill will also include the provision of compensating the farmers in case of losses due to the use of spurious or low quality of pesticides.
  3. The union government may form a central fund to take care of the compensation.
  4. Any person who wants to import, manufacture, or export pesticides would have to register under the new bill and provide all details regarding any claims, expected performance, efficacy, safety, usage instructions, and infrastructure available to stock that pesticide. The information will also include details on the pesticide’s potential effects on the environment.
  5. The bill also plans to regulate pesticides-related advertisements to check misleading claims by industries and manufacturers.

Need for a fresh law:

The current state of regulation of pesticides in India, using the extant law called Insecticides Act 1968, has not caught up with post-modern pest management science nor has taken cognizance of a huge body of scientific evidence on the ill effects of synthetic pesticides. Therefore, it is high time that new legislation is brought in.

Besides, the acute pesticide poisoning deaths and hospitalisations that Indian farmworkers and farmers fall prey to are ignominious by now. It is not just human beings but wildlife and livestock that are poisoned routinely by toxic pesticides as numerous reports indicate.

Pesticides usage in India:

India is the fourth-largest producer of pesticides in the world, with the market segmentation tilted mainly towards insecticides, with herbicides on the increase in the recent past. It is reported that eight states consume more than 70% of the pesticides used in India. Amongst the crops, paddy accounts for the maximum share of consumption (26-28%), followed by cotton (18-20%), notwithstanding all the hype around Bt technology.

There are 292 pesticides registered in the country, and it is estimated that there are around 104 pesticides that are continued to be produced/ used in India that have been banned in two or more countries in the world. The industry has grown to be an INR 20,000 crores business in India, with the top 3 companies having a market share of 57%.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Jal Jeevan Mission

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the mission.

For Mains: challenges and concerns in water conservation, ways to address them.

 Context: Rajasthan government has sought changes in the norms for Central assistance for the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in order to reduce the financial burden on the States. The flagship Central scheme at present stipulates the share in 50:50 ratio.

Background:

Rajasthan, where only 12% households are currently getting piped water supply, has formulated new action plans for implementing JJM by rejuvenating the sources of water to provide connections to about 98 lakh households. The JJM is being implemented under the State Water and Sanitation Mission, which is already functional, and different sources, including rainwater harvesting, have been tapped.

Way ahead:

The State, which had only 1.01% of the country’s surface water, has been trying hard to supply drinking water to geographically difficult areas and expected more assistance from the Centre to achieve the targets of JJM. Unless the steps are taken to increase surface water, the dark zones would expand across the State.

About Jal Jeevan Mission:

The Mission was announced in August 2019. The chief objective of the Mission is to provide piped water supply (Har Ghar Jal) to all rural households by 2024.

Jal_Jeevan_Mission

Key features:

  • It aims to create local infrastructure for rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and management of household waste water for reuse in agriculture.
  • The Jal Jeevan Mission is set to be based on various water conservation efforts like point recharge, desilting of minor irrigation tanks, use of greywater for agriculture and source sustainability.
  • The Jal Jeevan Mission will converge with other Central and State Government Schemes to achieve its objectives of sustainable water supply management across the country.

Need for and significance of the mission:

India has 16% of the world population, but only 4% of freshwater resources. Depleting groundwater level, overexploitation and deteriorating water quality, climate change, etc. are major challenges to provide potable drinking water. It is an urgent requirement of water conservation in the country because of the decreasing amount of groundwater level. Therefore, the Jal Jeevan Mission will focus on integrated demand and supply management of water at the local level.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


 

Five-day working week for Maha govt employees:

Maharashtra government has announced five-day working week for its officers and employees from February 29. 

  • Employees will now work 45 minutes more Monday to Friday to avail of the weekend off.
  • The five-day week is followed by the central government, in Rajasthan, Bihar, Punjab, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
  • It will not apply to government offices covered under the Factories Act and the Industrial Disputes Act and to those that are considered essential services. 

 

Kerala imposes ₹13 price cap on bottled water:

Bottled drinking water has come under a price cap in Kerala, with the State making it an essential commodity and fixing a ceiling of ₹13 per litre.

Including bottled water in the list of essential commodities enables price control.