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Daily Current Affairs : 14-Nov- 2019

Major Topics Covered :

  1. CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA'S OFFICE IS PUBLIC AUTHORITY UNDER RTI ACT: SC

  2. MOST WOMEN DON’T SEE POLITICS AS CAREER, FEEL MEN GET PREFERENCE

  3. GANJIFA CARDS

  4. RAJOANA GETS REPRIEVE FROM DEATH PENALTY

  5. SRI LANKA HAS CRIMINALISED MATCH-FIXING

  6. HOW THE BIG BANG MAY HAVE HAPPENED DECODED

  7. 6th WORLD CONGRESS ON RURAL AND AGRICULTURAL FINANCE

  8. INDIA INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR (IITF)

  9. IBC, RERA MAY NEED TWEAKING FOR BOOSTER SHOT TO TAKE EFFECT


CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA'S OFFICE IS PUBLIC AUTHORITY UNDER RTI ACT: SC

Part of Gs- Polity & Constitution


Why in news?

In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court has held that the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) is a public authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.


Highlights:

  • The court, however, said that judicial independence has to be kept in mind while disclosing information in public interest.

  • A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoion 13th November, 2019, dismissed the appeal filed by the Central Public Information Officer and the Secretary-General of the apex court against the Delhi High Court's 2010 judgement.


RTI


About the RTI Act

  • The Right to Information Act, simply known as RTI, is a revolutionary act that aims to promote transparency in government institutions in India.

  • The Act came into existence in 2005, after sustained efforts of anti-corruption activists.

  • It opens government organizations up for scrutiny as a common man can demand any government agency to furnish information.

  • The organization has to provide the asked information within 30 days.

  • All the constitutional authorities come under this Act, making it one of the most powerful laws of the country.


Successes of RTI


  • A number of significant disclosures have been made through the RTI such as the 2G scam, Commonwealth Games and so on.

  • It also led to the demand for several other important rights like the right to employment guarantee, the right to education and the right to food security.

  • The RTI has had the effect of loosening the tight hold of the government and its officials on both the information and instrumentalities of the state.


Problems the RTI is facing


  • Long pendency in most information commissions, some even for a year or more have hampered the successful implementation of the Act.

  • In many cases, errant government officials were not penalized which also contributes to decreasing of confidence in people regarding the Act

  • The appointment of information commissioners in the states has not been up to the mark which seriously undermined the citizen’s trust in information commissions.

  • The absence of enforcement provisions in the law has made the information commissions inefficient.


  • Poor record-keeping makes retrieval of information difficult.

  • The civil service’s indifference and hostility towards the RTI have not subsided.

  • The civil society’s enthusiasm for the RTI has declined.

  • Many individuals have started to use RTI to make a living or settle personal scores, giving it a bad reputation.

  • Failure to digitize records and make proactive disclosure of their information is the ultimate nail in the coffin.


The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 that gave the government powers to decide salary and service terms of the statutory body head and its members has been seen as an attempt to take away the freedom of these bodies.


Basics under RTI Act


Who is Public Authority?


As defined in Section 2 (h) “public authority” means any authority or body or institution of self-Government established or constituted –

a) Under the constitution

b) By any law by Parliament

c) By any  law by State Legislature

d) By an order made by the Government, including:

body owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Governmentnon-Government organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the Government


What is Right to Information


Article 19(1) of the Constitution has given the fundamental status to the right to information in 2005.


What is RTI Act?


Under the provisions of the Act, a citizen may request information from a “public authority” (a body of government) which is required to reply within thirty days.

In a decision of Sarbajit Roy vs. Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission, the Central Information Commission affirmed that privatized public utility companies continue to be within the RTI Act.


What are political parties?


The Political Parties have been given statutory status under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

RPA also allows political parties to receive voluntary contributions from anyone including corporate companies (but not government companies) and exclude contributions from foreign sources.

Source: AIR

MOST WOMEN DON’T SEE POLITICS AS CAREER, FEEL MEN GET PREFERENCE

Part of Gs- 2 Polity & Governance


Why in news?


A report by Lokniti-CSDS and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung released 13th November, 2019, has looked at women and politics from multiple perspectives. The analysis was based mostly on the findings of a survey among women across the country, which assessed the perception of women on different dimensions of political participation and representation.


Highlights:


Socio-economic class also determines women’s participation in electoral activities. Women belonging to the upper social (castes) and upper economic classes were found to be more active in electoral politics as compared to women placed at the bottom of the social and economic hierarchy.


Women’s participation as voters has seen a sharp increase over the years.

Although the number of women candidates has increased, there still exists a wide gap. Only a little over one-fourth of the women respondents were keen to make a career in politics if given an opportunity.


Half of the women respondents agreed that parties always prefer a male candidate while giving tickets. Only one-seventh of respondents disagreed and one in 10 had no opinion.


Patriarchal norms/structure of the society were the biggest obstacles that prevented women from taking part in politics.


Source: Indian Express


GANJIFA CARDS

Part of Gs- 1 A&C


Why in news?

The Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath has released a book on the Splendours of Ganjifa Art for having the fading art on record.


Highlights:

Ganjifa, an ancient Indian card game, was historically believed to have been brought to India and popularised during the Moghul period.


The Persian word ‘Ganjifeh’ means playing cards and these were the foremost artistic creations used for playing cards, more so in princely States where kings patronised the art and the artists.


The cards were typically circular, although some rectangulardecks have also been part of the artists’ imaginations.


This was a game popularly played by post-Medieval Kings and noblemen that spread to many regions in the country.


The colour and iconography changed with each region developing its own version of the game. Needle-fine lines that depicted the subject was one more aspect of the intensity of deftness embedded in the art form.


Source: The Hindu

RAJOANA GETS REPRIEVE FROM DEATH PENALTY

Part of Gs- 2 Polity and Governance


Why in news?


The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sent a letter to the Punjab government to commute the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted for the assassination of former Chief Minister Beant Singh.


Highlights:

The MHA took an “in principle” decision on September 30 to commute the death sentence as a “humanitarian gesture” ahead of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak.


PARDONING POWER OF THE PRESIDENT


Article 72 of the Constitution empowers the President to grant pardons to persons who have been tried and convicted of any offence in all cases where the:

  • Punishment or sentence is for an offence against a Union Law;

  • Punishment or sentence is by a court martial (military court); and

  • Sentence is a sentence of death.


  • The pardoning power of the President is independent of the Judiciary; it is an executive power. But the President while exercising this power, does not sit as a court of appeal. The object of conferring this power on the President is two-fold:

  • to keep the door, open for correcting any judicial errors in the operation of law; and,

  • to afford relief from a sentence, which the President regards as unduly harsh.


The pardoning power of the President includes the following:


Pardon:

It removes both the sentence and the conviction and completely absolves the convict from all sentences, punishments and disqualifications.


Commutation:

It denotes the substitution of one form of punishment for a lighter form. For example, a death sentence may be commuted to rigorous imprisonment, which in turn may be commuted to a simple imprisonment.


Remission:

It implies reducing the period of sentence without changing its character. For example, a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for two yearsmay be remitted to rigorous imprisonment for one year.


Respite:

It denotes awarding a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded due to some special fact, such as the physical disability of a convict or the pregnancy of a woman offender.


Reprieve:

It implies a stay of the execution of a sentence (especially that of death) for a temporary period. Its purpose is to enable the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation from the President.



Source: The Hindu & M. LAXMIKANT


SRI LANKA HAS CRIMINALISED MATCH-FIXING

Part of Gs- Sport


Why in news?

In a first for a South Asian nation, Sri Lanka has criminalised several offences related to match-fixing, and decreed strict penalties in the wake of the investigation by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) of International Cricket Council (ICC) into the country’s cricket, which has been roiled by corruption scandals over the past two years.


Highlights:


  • On 11th November, 2019, Sri Lanka’s Parliament passed all three readings of The Prevention of Offences Related to Sports Bill that entails a prison term of up to 10 years for corruption in sports, as well as hefty fines up to 100 million Sri Lankan rupees.

  • The Bill, which was presented by Sports Minister Harin Fernando, found strong backing from Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup winning captain and Cabinet minister Arjuna Ranatunga.

  • Match-fixing is a serious crime in a number of other cricketing nations, including England and Australia.


What does Sri Lanka’s new match-fixing law say?


  • According to the new legislation, “any person related to a sport” who is directly involved in fixing, as well as those who “provide inside information”, curators who prepare pitches to suit betting operators, and match officials who “deliberately misapply the rules” for money, will be punished.

  • Failure to report corrupt approaches to the ACU under the ICC Code and to a Special Investigation Unit appointed by the Sri Lankan government will also attract punishment.



Source: Indian Express


HOW THE BIG BANG MAY HAVE HAPPENED DECODED

Part of Gs-1 Geography


Why in news:


The universe began with the Big Bang and now scientists have explained how the mysterious explosion may have taken place around 13.8 billion years ago.


According to a research published in the journal Science, the mechanisms that could cause the explosion, is a key for the models that scientists use to understand the origin of the universe.


Highlights:


  • The Big Bang theory states that all matter that exists today in the universe sprung forth from a single point in an epic explosion.

  • Kareem Ahmed, an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida in the US said, we defined the critical criteria where we can drive a flame to self-generate its own turbulence, spontaneously accelerate and transition into detonation.

  • Ahmed, co-author of the study, wrote in the journal, they are using the turbulence to enhance the mixing of the reactions to the point where it transitions into this violent reaction and essentially leads to supernovas, which is exploding stars in simple terms.

  • They are taking a simplified flame to where it's reacting at five times the speed of sound.

  • The team uncovered the criteria for creating a Big Bang-type explosion while exploring methods for hypersonic jet propulsion.

  • The key is applying the right amount of turbulence and mixing to an unconfined flame until it becomes self-perpetuating, at which point the flame begins to burn the ingested energy leading to a hypersonic- exceeding the speed of sound- supernova explosion.

  • The finding may have applications in faster air and space travel, and improved power generation, including reactions that generate zero emissions as all of the products used in the combustion are converted into energy.



Source: AIR


6th WORLD CONGRESS ON RURAL AND AGRICULTURAL FINANCE

Part of Gs-3 Economy, Farmer


Why in news:

The 6th World Congress on Rural and Agricultural Finance was recently held in New Delhi. Govt will ensure J&K farmers get fair value for premium crops: FM


Highlights:


  • The Centre guarantees fair value for premium crops, such as apples, saffron, peaches and walnuts, grown in Jammu and Kashmir, besides ensuring that the produce reaches all parts of the country, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

  • Centre is in talks with the states to reject APMCs and adopt e-NAM to ensure farmers get fair value for their produce

  • The govt’s efforts to woo the people of the youngest Union territories of J&K and Ladakh is part of its plans to integrate the region more closely with the rest of India.

  • The 6th World Congress is being jointly hosted by Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India.

  • This 6th version of the congress was attended by 300 delegates across the globe who engaged in interactive discussions to unleash the potential role of rural and agricultural finance.


Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA):


  • APRACA, representing 81-member institutions from 21 countries, is a regional association that promotes cooperation and facilitates mutual exchange of information and expertise in the field of rural finance.

  • Secretariat: Bangkok, Thailand.

  • APRACA is one of the three regional agricultural credit associations, along with NENARACA (Near East – North Africa Agricultural Credit Association) and AFRACA (African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association) that were established, with the help of FAO, following the 1975 World Conference on Agricultural Credit.


Geographical Variation and Situations:


local papers in Haryana published reports of paddy farmers being turned away from mandis because government agencies had stopped procurement saying quotas had been reached.


Mandis in Karnal, Panipat and Yamunagar all reportedly downed their shutters for six days, causing a long line-up of trucks and tractor-trolleys.


It was only after the newly-formed Manohar Lal government clarified that no decision to stop procurement had been taken that the Haryana mandis re-opened.



Source: Live Mint


INDIA INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR (IITF)

Part of Gs-2 IR


Why in news:

39th India International Trade Fair (IITF) will begin on November 14 at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi.current affairs image


Highlights:

Ever since its inception in 1980, it is held every year between 14–27 at Pragati Maidan, NewDelhi.


Objective:

  • It provides a common platform for the manufacturers, traders, exporters and importers.

  • The fair displays comprise a wide range of products and services including automobiles,textiles, household appliances etc.


Organized by:


India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO).

Theme of this year’s edition: Ease of Doing Business.


Partner country: 'Partner Country' has been accorded to 'The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan'


Focus country: South Korea.


Focus state: Bihar and Jharkhand.


India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO):

  • ITPO is the nodal agency of the Government of India under aegis of Ministry of Commerce and Industry for promoting country's external trade.

  • ITPO is a Mini-Ratna Category-1 Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) with 100 % shareholding of Government of India.

  • ITPO is headquartered at Pragati Maidan.



Source: All India Radio


IBC, RERA MAY NEED TWEAKING FOR BOOSTER SHOT TO TAKE EFFECT

Part of GS- 3 Economy Infrastructure


Why in news?

In September, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the Special Window fund but projects in the NCLT or those dubbed NPAs had been kept out of its ambit


Highlights:

  • Last week the government administered a Rs 25,000-crore booster shot to rescue the real estate sector by approving a “Special Window” fund or an alternative investment fund (AIF) to revive around 1,600 stalled housing projects in the affordable and the middle-income categories.

  • The move is expected to put the real estate sector and in turn, major industries linked to it, on the path to recovery.

  • But for the measures to take effect, clarifications or changes in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, (Rera) may be required.

  • Finance Minister had announced the Special Window fund but projects in the NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal), or those dubbed NPAs (non-performing assets) had been kept out of its ambit. After consultations with stakeholders, the government decided to increase the scope of investments to include NPAs and NCLT projects that have not received orders for liquidation.

  • The realty sector accounts for the second-biggest chunk in cases under the IBC.

  • According to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) data, as on September 30, 2019, of the 1,497 ongoing corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP), real estate and related businesses accounted for 299; manufacturing topped the list (593). In terms of resolutions, manufacturing was ahead of real estate.

  • Stakeholders are unanimous in their views that widening the scope of investments to include NPA and NCLT projects is a welcome move. But follow-up measures in the form of amendments or clarifications in the insolvency law may be required going forth.

  • Litigation has been one of the biggest hurdles in a time-bound resolution in IBC cases across sectors, with most breaching the prescribed time limit.

  • However, much before the IBC was amended, Rera was made available to the allotted as a legal recourse in case of non-receipt of developed flat/plot within the stipulated time.


IBC Amendment Bill, 2019:


The Bill amends the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.


The Code provides a time-bound process for resolving insolvency in companies and among individuals. Insolvency is a situation where individuals or companies are unable to repay their outstanding debt.

Under the Code, a financial creditor may file an application before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for initiating the insolvency resolution process. The NCLT must find the existence of default within 14 days.

Thereafter, a Committee of Creditors (CoC) consisting of financial creditors will be constituted for taking decisions regarding insolvency resolution.

The CoC may either decide to restructure the debtor’s debt by preparing a resolution plan or liquidate the debtor’s assets.

The CoC will appoint a resolution professional who will present a resolution plan to the CoC. The CoC must approve a resolution plan, and the resolution process must be completed within 180 days. This may be extended by a period of up to 90 days if the extension is approved by NCLT.

If the resolution plan is rejected by the CoC, the debtor will go into liquidation. The Code provides an order of priority for the distribution of assets in case of liquidation of the debtor. This order places financial creditors ahead of operational creditors (e.g., suppliers). In a 2018 Amendment, home-buyers who paid advances to a developer were to be considered as financial creditors. They would be represented by an insolvency professional appointed by NCLT.


The Bill addresses three issues. First, it strengthens provisions related to time-limits. Second, it specifies the minimum payouts to operational creditors in any resolution plan. Third, it specifies the manner in which the representative of a group of financial creditors (such as home-buyers) should vote.


Resolution plan: The Code provides that the resolution plan must ensure that the operational creditors receive an amount which should not be lesser than the amount they would receive in case of liquidation. The Bill amends this to provide that the amounts to be paid to the operational creditor should be the higher of:

  • (i) amounts receivable under liquidation, and

  • (ii) the amount receivable under a resolution plan, if such amounts were distributed under the same order of priority (as for liquidation).


For example, if the default were for Rs 1,000 crore and the resolution professional recovered Rs 800 crore, the operational creditor must at least get an amount which they would have received if Rs 800 crore have been obtained through liquidation proceeds.


Further, the Bill states that this provision would also apply to insolvency processes:

  • (i) that have not been approved or rejected by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT),

  • (ii) that have been appealed to the National Company Appellate Tribunal or Supreme Court, and

  • (iii) where legal proceedings have been initiated in any court against the decision of the NCLT.


Initiation of resolution process: As per the Code, the NCLT must determine the existence of default within 14 days of receiving a resolution application. Based on its finding, NCLT may accept or reject the application. The Bill states that in case the NCLT does not find the existence of default and has not passed an order within 14 days, it must record its reasons in writing.


Time-limit for resolution process: The Code states that the insolvency resolution process must be completed within 180 days, extendable by a period of up to 90 days. The Bill adds that the resolution process must be completed within 330 days. This includes time for any extension granted and the time taken in legal proceedings in relation to the process. On the enactment of the Bill, if any case is pending for over 330 days, the Bill states it must be resolved within 90 days.


Representative of financial creditors: The Code specifies that, in certain cases, such as when the debt is owed to a class of creditors beyond a specified number, the financial creditors will be represented on the committee of creditors by an authorised representative. These representatives will vote on behalf of the financial creditors as per instructions received from them. The Bill states that such representative will vote on the basis of the decision taken by a majority of the voting share of the creditors that they represent.


RERA: Some of the major provisions of the Act, besides mandatory registration of projects and Real Estate Agents include:


  • Depositing 70% of the funds collected from buyers in a separate bank account in case of new projects and 70% of unused funds in case of ongoing projects;

  • Projects with plot size of minimum 500 sq.mt or 8 apartments shall be registered with Regulatory Authorities;

  • Both developers and buyers to pay the same penal interest of SBI’s Marginal Cost of Lending Rate plus 2% in case of delays;

  • Liability of developers for structural defects for five years; and

  • Imprisonment of up to three years for developers and up to one year in case of agents and buyers for violation of orders of Appellate Tribunals and Regulatory Authorities.


Source : PIB, Business Standard

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