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1. India’s Parliament at 60 India on May 13, 2012 celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first sitting of its Parliament. This landmark in the life of the legislative body of the world’s largest democracy was marked by special sessions in both houses of Parliament. On this occassion Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed to members to restore dignity and decorum of the august institution of democracy. Urging members not to disrupt Parliament proceedings, the Prime Minister said at a special session of both houses — Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and Lok Sabha (Lower House) that they should restore the dignity of the institution of elders. The Prime Minister said that the country’s unflinching commitment to democracy is the reason behind India’s growing global stature.
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Highlights of new version: 3. SC: Abolish Haj Subsidy India got its independence from Britain on August 15, 1947, and became a Republic on January 26, 1950. The Parliament was constituted on April 17, 1952, but Lok Sabha held its first session on May 13, 1952. 2. MNREGA 2.0 The Union Government on May 8, 2012 announced a major extension of scope of works under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in a bid to revive demand for jobs, which witnessed over 20 per cent dip in the last financial year. Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh tabled the “MNREGA 2.0 — the second generation reforms” for the flag scheme in both Houses of Parliament. The revamped MNREGA is based on the Mihir Shah-led committee report and also on demands raised by various state governments, including Bihar, Kerala, Sikkim and Madhya Pradesh. A list of 30 works has been incorporated in the schedules of MNREGA, which are intended to asset creation and improving livelihoods of the poor in the rural areas. Among the works, which have been included are watershed devel-
opment, agricultural productivity, livestock, fisheries and sanitation. The additional works include the construction of cattle sheds, poultry shelters, fish drying yards, etc. The works have been divided into 10 broad categories.
• NREGA’s new version encompasses work related to agriculture, animal husbandry, poultry, drinking water and sanitation. • Earlier, it was limited to land development, afforestation. • Now, it includes construction of cattle sheds, poultry shelters, fish drying yards, etc. • Small, marginal and SC-ST farmers will be able to employ NREGA workers for farm work.
The Supreme Court on May 8 2012 directed the Union government to gradually reduce and abolish Haj subsidy in 10 years and invest the amount - averaging over Rs 650 crore a year for last five years - in education and other measures for social development of the minority community. The court said it has no authority to speak on the minority community’s behalf and that it would be presumptuous to tell the Muslims what was a good or bad religious practice even though it cited the Quran to say that Haj pilgrimage was mandatory only for those who could afford the expenses for travelling, food and accommodation. The apex court also objected to the jumbosize Prime Minister’s Goodwill Delegation that visits Saudi Arabia every year at the government’s expense. The bench directed the government to reduce to two the number of its representatives in the Prime Minister’s goodwill delegation. The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by the Centre challenging a Bombay High Court judgement which had directed the ministry of
external affairs to allow certain private operators to handle 800 of the 11,000 pilgrims earmarked under the VIP quota subsidised by the government. The Centre had defended the policy of giving subsidies to the Haj pilgrims and had said it had framed guidelines so that people get subsidies only once in their lifetime. 4. National Food Security Bill 2011 The Union government on December 22, 2011 introduced the much anticipated National Food Security Bill in Parliament. The landmark social legislation will guarantee grain at extremely cheap rates to more than half of the population.
22, 2012. Exhibiting complete unanimity, Lok Sabha passed the Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2010, as members on both sides of the political aisle made allusions to lyricists and music maestros from Mirza Ghalib to Bismillah Khan. The amendment would allow authors to negotiate with music companies for royalty to be paid to them for their creations. Various recommendations of the parliamentary standing committee had been incorporated in the Bill. The Bill makes it mandatory for radio and television broadcasters to pay royalty to the owners of the copyright each time a work of art is broadcast. The Bill has already got the approval of the Upper House. The Bill provides for exemption from copyright for any work prepared for the physically challenged in special formats such as Braille. It also permits compulsory licence to be granted for a certain number of copies in non-special formats to non-profit organisations working to help disabled persons. The Bill also exempts students from the copyright laws using such material for research purposes. It seeks to impose a fine and two years’ imprisonment on persons indulging in piracy. The Bill bans persons from bringing out cover versions of any literary, dramatic or musical work for five years from the first recording of the original creation. 6. Supreme Court Scraps Illegal 2G sale
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Food Minister KV Thomas, who introduced the Bill in the Lok Sabha, said that it would ensure that all Indians live a life with dignity. The Bill marks a shift in approach to the problem of food security — from the current welfare paradigm to a rights-based approach. The proposed legislation confers eligible beneficiaries the legal right to receive grain at highly subsidised prices. The National Food Security Bill, 2011 considered to be the world’s largest experiment in ensuring food security to poor. The Bill brings under its purview 63.5 per cent of the country’s population —75 per cent of rural households and 50 per cent of urban households. The Bill classifies all entitled households as ‘general’ and ‘priority’. At least 46 per cent of rural households and 28 per cent of urban households would be designated as ‘priority’. Every person belonging to a ‘priority household’ will be provided with 7kg of grain per month, comprising rice, wheat and coarse grain. Rice will be provided at Rs 3, wheat at Rs 2 and coarse grain at Rs 1 per kg. Others belonging to the ‘general category’ would be entitled to not less than 3kg of grain per month at a rate not exceeding 50 per cent of the minimum support price. The Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2011, is currently being vetted by the Parliamentary Standing Committee. 5. Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2010 Passed by Lok Sabha A Bill seeking to uphold the rights of lyricists, artistes and performers to claim royalty for their creations got Parliament’s nod on May
Declaring the allocation of 2G spectrum by the UPA government illegal and an example of the arbitrary exercise of power, the Supreme Court on February 2, 2012 cancelled all 122 telecom licences allotted on or after January 10, 2008 to 11 companies during the tenure of the former telecom minister, A. Raja. Holding that spectrum was a natural resource, the court said natural resources are vested with the government as a matter of trust in the name of the people of India, and it is the solemn duty of the state to protect the national interest, and natural resources must always be used in the interests of the country and not private interests. A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly said that the licences granted to the private respondents — Etisalat DB Telecom (Swan Telecom); Unitech Wireless; Loop Telecom; Videocon Telecommunications; S-Tel Ltd; Allianz Infratech; Idea Cellular and Aditya Birla Telecom (Space Communications); Tata
Teleservices; Sistema Shyam Tele Services (Shyam Telelink); Dishnet Wireless; and Vodafone Essar South — on or after January 10, 2008, pursuant to two press releases issued on January 10, 2008, and the subsequent allocation of spectrum to the licensees are declared illegal and are quashed. The licences cancelled include 21 of Videocon, 22 of Unitech Wireless Ltd. (Uninor), 9 of Idea, 21 of Loop, 6 of S-Tel, 21 of Sistema, three of Tatas, 13 of Swan and 2 of Allianz. The court rejected the plea for setting up a special investigation team (SIT) to monitor the probe in the 2G case. Instead, it asked the CBI to submit its probe report to the Central Vigilance Commission for scrutiny. The CVC would then file its report to the Supreme Court. The Bench said the Supreme Court would continue monitoring the probe. The Bench made it clear that the cancellation of the licences would become operative only after four months. 7. SC on Interlinking of Rivers
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8. The Supreme Court on February 27, 2012 cleared the way for the interlinking of India’s major rivers to combat water scarcity in some parts by putting in place an all-powerful committee to gradually implement the mammoth project. The court passed the order in a 10-year-long case examining the possibilities of river linking and also the questions of states being able to resist such a programme. A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia said the Centre and the state governments concerned ought to implement the project under a high-powered committee comprising the Union Minister for Water Resources, its Secretary, the Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and four expert members appointed by the water resources ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Planning Commission and MoEF. Representatives from state governments, two social activists and senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, who has been assisting the court in the case, will also be members of the committee.
The river interlinking project was popular with the NDA government, and in October 2002, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, following a Supreme Court recommendation, formed a task force to look at the modalities of river linking—the country had suffered an acute drought that year. The task force concluded that the linking of rivers in the country would raise India’s irrigation potential to 160 million hectares (ha) for all types of crops by 2050, compared with a maximum of about 140 million ha that could be generated through conventional sources of irrigation, as well as generate 34 gigawatts of power, nearly one-sixth of the current installed power capacity. Whistle Blowers Protection Bill, 2011
A Bill which seeks to provide for setting up a regular mechanism to encourage persons to disclose information on corruption or wilful misuse of power by public servants, including Ministers, was passed by the Lok Sabha on December 28, 2011. The Whistleblowers’ Protection Bill, 2011, also seeks to provide adequate protection to persons reporting corruption or wilful misuse of discretion which causes demonstrable loss to the government or commission of a criminal offence by a public servant. While the measure sets out the procedure to inquire into the disclosures and provides adequate safeguards against victimisation of the whistleblower, it also seeks to provide punishment for false or frivolous complaints.
It is directed that the committee shall take firm steps and fix a definite time frame to lay down the guidelines for completion of feasibility reports or other reports, and shall ensure the completion of projects so that the benefits accrue within reasonable time and cost.
Accepting some key recommendations of a Parliamentary Committee which scrutinised the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosures Bill, 2010, the government had moved amendments, cleared by the Union Cabinet recently. One of them was renaming the Bill. A major amendment cleared by the Cabinet is the inclusion of Ministers, MPs, defence services, intelligence agencies, bank officials and PSUs under the ambit of the Bill. The Special Protection Group (SPG) has been kept out of the ambit of the Bill. One of the recommendations of the Committee to include higher judiciary (Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts) has been rejected.
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In order to check the menace of black money, finance minister in his foreward to the paper said the government has brought five Bills ‘the Lokpal Bill, the Judicial Accountability Bill, the Whistle Blowers Bill, the Grievance Redressal Bill and the Public Procurement Bill, which are at various stages of consideration by Parliament’. The expansion of information exchange network at the international level will help in curbing cross-border flow of illicit wealth. The paper suggested four-pronged strategy to curb generation of black money. These include more incentives for voluntary compliance of tax laws, reforms in vulnerable sectors of economy and creation credible deterrence. It mentioned that reform of financial and real estate sectors would help in reducing generation of black money in long term as freeing of gold imports had helped in checking smuggling. 10. Bihar Tops Country in GDP Growth 11. Panel on Draft National Development Bill, 2011 Bihar, a state fraught with abject poverty, has come out on top as the fastest growing state second year in a row, with a striking 13.1 per cent growth in 2011-2012. Its economy has also grown bigger than that of Punjab. Bihar is followed closely by Delhi and Puducherry. Following closely after Delhi and Puducherry is the Naxal-ridden, mineral-rich Chhattisgarh. Goa rounds it off to complete the list of top five productive states, according to the Ministry of Statistics. Gujarat and Tamil Nadu grew by 9 per cent, considering the growth credible as the states are growing on a larger basis.
The Union government on May 21, 2012 tabled the much-awaited white paper on black money in Parliament which did not disclose any name but made a strong case for setting up Lokpal and Lokayuktas to deal with the menace. The white paper, which was tabled by then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in the Lok Sabha, also did not provide government’s estimate of black money, within and outside the country, though it quoted various estimates of other agencies on the issue. The 97-page document, however, pitched for fast-track courts to expeditiously deal with financial offences and deterrent punishment for offenders. It has also suggested tax incentives for encouraging use of debit and credit cards as these leave audit trails.
With the state on the road to improving its overall outlook and condition, the Bihar government has improved the law and order situation, increased agricultural productivity and has given way to better state-funded programmes for health and education. The accumulated growth rates of Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh are pegged lower than that of India’s GDP growth of 6.5 per cent in 2011-12. Hit hard by global woes and domestic problems, India’s economic growth rate slowed to a nine-year low, both in the March quarter at 5.3 per cent as well as in 2011-12 at 6.5 per cent, prompting the industry to demand immediate and bold action to arrest slowdown. The decline in growth was witnessed in almost all segments of the economy including agriculture, manufacturing, mining and construction. The Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) has revised the growth rate for 2011-12 to 6.5 per cent from 6.9 per cent estimated earlier. This is the lowest growth rate since 2002-03 when the economy grew by 4 per cent. Sports
The Union Sports Ministry has formed a committee, headed by Justice Mukul Mudgal, retired Chief Justice of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, to examine in detail, the comments and suggestions received from various quarters and make appropriate recommendations to finetune the draft National Sports Development Bill. The other members of the committee include badminton legend Prakash Padukone and former sprinter Ashwini Nachappa. The ministry had placed the exposure draft of the proposed National Sports Development Bill in the public domain since February 22, 2011 seeking comments from all stakeholders and the general public. The IOA has so far opposed the proposed Bill, while the International Olympic Committee has cautioned the Government that any step that could be a direct interference in the autonomy of the Olympic Movement could attract sanctions against the country that can eventually lead to its isolation from international sports.
• The Bill has been formulated to celebrate the spirit of sport and fair play, imbibed in the philosophy of Olympism. • This Bill does not intend to transgress into the independence of the National Sport Federations and the National Olympic Committee. • The Bill only seeks to imbibe the practice of good governance accepted around the world in the Indian scenario and the public concern of accountability of these sport bodies. • The Bill seeks to recognize these sports federations as bodies performing public functions.
under the Representation of People Act, 1950. This constitutes the first major step to enable Indians resident abroad to participate in election processes. On this occasion Chief Minister of Rajasthan announced a new scheme called ‘Know Rajasthan for NRI’s’. Under this scheme 50 NRIs from 1828 years of age annually would come on tour to the state and 90 per cent expenditure of their Air Fare will be borne by the state Government. 13. Motion for Removal of Justice Dinakaran Sikkim High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran in July, 2011 submitted his resignation to the President and rendered infructuous a twoyear-old motion for his removal on charges of corruption pending in Rajya Sabha. Dinakaran said he had lost faith in the fairness of the procedure adopted by the inquiry committee headed by Supreme Court judge Justice Aftab Alam as it had decided to go ahead with the proceedings without awaiting the result of his petition challenging the entire process of inquiry. The Rajya Sabha had admitted the motion for removal of Justice Dinakaran on December 27, 2009, and its chairperson Hamid Ansari had on January 15, 2010, set up a panel headed by Justice V S Sirpurkar to inquire into the charges against him under Judges (Inquiry) Act. Justice Sirpurkar recused from the committee and was replaced by Justice Alam. A member of the higher judiciary, which means the Judges and Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of India and the state High Courts, can be removed from service only through the process of impeachment under Article 124 (4) of the Constitution on grounds of proven misbehaviour or incapacity. Justice Dinakaran’s elevation to the Supreme Court as a judge was prohibited by the allegations of corruption and land grabbing and later he was transferred from Karnataka High Court to Sikkim High Court. 14. SC asks Kerala to Allow Mullaperiyar Dam Upkeep The Supreme Court on July 23, 2012 directed the Kerala government to permit Tamil Nadu to undertake the basic maintenance and cleaning work at the Mullaperiyar dam. The five-judge
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• It has also sought to address the issues of sexual harassment, age fraud, impediments to Right to Information, speedy resolution of sport disputes, anti-doping, transparency and good governance. • This kind of legislation is of essential importance in the current scenario, since there exists a state of flux as to sports in India. But the reach and effect of sport and working of sporting federations in India is felt worldwide. 12. 10th Pravsi Bhartiya Divas The 10th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) was held on 7-9 January, 2012 at Birla Auditorium, Jaipur. The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh inaugurated the event. The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad Bissessar was the Chief Guest of the event. ‘The Global Indian: Inclusive Growth’ was the theme of the event and the focus was on India’s Social Development and the Overseas Indian community. Over 1900 delegates from about 60 countries participated in this year’s PBD. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a new Pension and Life Insurance Fund for overseas Indian workers. The scheme will encourage, enable and assist overseas workers to voluntarily save for their return and resettlement and old age. It will also provide a low-cost life insurance cover against natural death. Prime Minister also announced that pursuant to the law that was enacted to enable non-resident Indians to vote in national elections, the Government has issued notifications for registration of overseas Indians
bench headed by Justice DK Jain said that the maintenance and the cleaning work at the dam would be undertaken under the supervision of a three-member committee. The three-member committee will comprise of a superintending engineer each from Tamil Nadu and Kerala and an independent representative nominated by the chairman of Central Works Commission. The court’s order came in pursuance of an application by Tamil Nadu government, seeking directions to Kerala to permit maintenance and cleaning of the dam by it. The court has permitted 40 reports commissioned by an empowered committee be given to both Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The empowered committee headed by the former Chief Justice of India, Justice AS Anand, was set up to examine the safety of the century-old Mullaperiyar dam amidst reports that it is vulnerable to earthquakes. The report said that the dam is seismologically safe. However, it recommended the Kerala government’s proposal to build a new dam as an alternative. The report was welcomed in Tamil Nadu, while Kerala remained adamant on its demand. Kerala says the dam is unsafe and declined to raise the water level as directed by the Supreme Court. 15. Amendments to Central Educational Institutions Act
percentage of seats reserved for SC/ST candidates will not be reduced from the level obtaining on the date immediately preceding the date of the Act’s commencement. The move seeks to balance state and central reservation policies. In case the institution is in any other area, the percentage of seats reserved for SC/ST candidates will be reduced to 50. 16. The Right of Citizens Bill, 2011 The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievance Bill, 2011 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 20, 2011 by V. Narayanasamy, Minister for Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions. The Bill seeks to confer on every citizen the right to time bound delivery of specified goods and services and provide a mechanism for grievance redressal. The Bill makes it mandatory for every public authority to publish a Citizen’s Charter within six months of the commencement of the Act.
The Citizen’s Charter shall:
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Parliament on May 16, 2012 passed a Bill that seeks to exempt some central institutions from implementing the other backward castes quota where it exceeds the 50 per cent reservation limit set by the Supreme Court. The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Amendment Bill, 2012 got the Rajya Sabha nod recently. The Bill seeks to extend the time-frame for full implementation of the Act keeping in mind the time taken to create additional facilities in institutions. The amendment says if seats reserved for Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes in a central educational institution exceed 50 per cent of the annual strength permitted, the institution need not make any reservation for OBCs. According to the amendment, if such an institution is located in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Assam’s tribal areas, the
• list the details of the goods and services provided by a public authority; • give the name of the person or agency responsible for providing the goods or services; • give the time frame within which such goods or services have to be provided; • state the category of people entitled to the goods and services; and • give details of the complaint redressal mechanism. Every public authority shall appoint Grievance Redress Officers (GRO) within six months of the Act coming into force. These officers shall be appointed at various levels i.e. central, state, district, panchayat and municipality to inquire into and redress any complaints. The complaint has to be acknowledged within two days of making the complaint. The complainant can also file an appeal against the decision of the GRO to the designated authority; it may impose a maximum penalty of Rs 50,000 against the designated official or GRO for failing to deliver the goods or services. Such penalty may be awarded as compensation to the appellant.
17. The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Rules 2011 The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Rules was notified under the Liability for Nuclear Damage Act on November 11, 2011. The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act that was passed by Parliament in August 2010 limits the liability of the operator in case of a nuclear accident. It secures the operator the right to recourse under certain circumstances. The Act also provides a mechanism to compensate victims of nuclear damage. The Rules stipulate certain mandatory clauses for contracts that secure the operator the right to recourse. The Supreme Court of India has recently admitted a Public Interest Litigation which challenges the constitutional validity of the cap on the operator’s liability under the Act.
1.7 million rural households. The States included in the project, such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, account for more than 90 per cent of the national milk production, according to a World Bank report. The project will support the implementation of the first phase of the National Dairy Plan (NDP) of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), which aims at increasing the animal productivity, expanding infrastructure for milk procurement at the village level and enhancing milk processing capacity and marketing, among other things. It is pointed out that while the dairy sector in India had seen significant growth over the decades, the growth rate of milk production has slowed down in recent years. From an average 4.3 per cent per annum in 1990s, the growth rate came down to 3.8 per cent in 2000s. According to Government of India estimates, demand for milk is projected to grow to at least 180 million tons by 2021-22. Meeting this demand from domestic supply would require production to grow at 5.5 per cent per annum over the next decade. 19. NCTC will Supplement Counter-terror Capabilities Making a strong pitch for formation of an anti-terror hub, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on May 5, 2012 said the establishment of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) is not a State versus Centre issue but will work as a vehicle of country’s combined efforts to curb terrorism. Stressing that NCTC will supplement the counter-terrorism capabilities of the states and not supplant them, Singh asked the state governments to work with the Centre in dealing with terrorism. The meeting was called specially after 12 Chief Ministers opposed formation of NCTC. Dr Singh said that establishment of NCTC is not a state versus Centre issue and the primary purpose behind setting up the NCTC is to coordinate counter-terrorism efforts throughout the country as the Intelligence Bureau has been doing so far. The antecedents of the NCTC derived from the Group of Ministers and the Administrative Reforms Commission, commencing from the lessons learnt in Kargil.
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• The Act specifies three circumstances under which the operator can seek recourse. The Rules specifically relate to the operator’s right to recourse under a contract under Section 17(a). Under the Act it is unclear if a contract specified under Section 17(a) would restrict the right to recourse under other provisions of the Act. • Under a contract, the recourse available to the operator may be less than his liability. • The right to recourse can be exercised either during the ‘initial license period’ under the Atomic Energy (Radiation Protection) Rules, 2004, or the product liability period, whichever is longer. The ‘initial license period’ is not defined. • The procedures prescribed to transfer compensation to the claimant differ on the basis of the claimant’s gender, literacy level and disability. 18. World Bank for Dairy Development in India The World Bank on March 15, 2012 approved a US$ 352 million credit to the National Dairy Support Project to increase productivity of milk animals and improve market access of milk producers in project areas. The project will cover over 40,000 villages across 14 major dairying states in the country, benefitting an estimated
He also drew attention of Chief Ministers towards the standard operating procedures circulated by Union Home Ministry and said the draft reflects the details provisions for Centre-State coordination in both the organisational set up of NCTC and in its proposed powers and functions. Advocating formation of NCTC, the Prime Minister said the NCTC mechanism will give each state agency an ability to see the bigger picture of terrorist threats and thus would enhance their counter terrorism capability and access to resources. Facing strident criticism from non-Congress Chief Ministers, the Centre is all set to press the ‘pause’ button on the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), which was scheduled to become operative from March 1, 2012.
effective implementation will require each member to legislate and maintain coordinated anti-corruption law in accordance with its fundamental principles and constitutional framework. The Convention encourages international collaboration for developing domestic anti-corruption legislation and safeguards. 21. ADB Loan for Urban Infrastructure
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20. India Ratifies U.N. Convention against Corruption India on May 10, 2011 ratified the UN convention against corruption; the ratification comes almost six years after India signed the convention in 2005. The convention, a supplement to transnational organised crime, recognises the need to enhance cross-border cooperation in battling corruption, introducing a slew of administrative and legislative measures (for countries) to strengthen domestic legal and regulatory regime. It enumerates application of code of conduct for public servants to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public finances by way of stringent auditing standards. Measures to prevent money-laundering and securing the independence of investigative agencies & judiciary are other aspects that have been dealt with. In the Indian context, the signing is a landmark development in the backdrop of public outcry on corruption & financial impropriators which has led to judicial activism and role of multiplicity of investigative agencies and legislative arms of the government. UN Convention: The Convention (Article 4) elaborates that member states shall carry out its stated objectives in their respective jurisdictions, in a manner consistent with the principles of sovereignty. It rightly does not permit one member state to interfere with the domestic legal system or territorial integrity of the other unless there is bilateral treaty permitting cooperation between two sovereign states. Hence, an
A tripartite agreement among Asian Development Bank (ADB), Centre and Government of Assam was signed on March 9, 2012 for USD 81 million loan agreement for Tranche 1 of Assam Urban Infrastructure Investment Program for upgrade of wastewater treatment and urban transport benefitting an estimated 3.5 lakh residents of Guwahati city. Assam Urban Infrastructure Investment Program (AUIIP) envisages supply of clean piped water to residents of Guwahati and upgrade wastewater treatment and urban transport in Dibrugarh, besides upgrade of solid waste management and drainage infrastructure. USD 200 million multi-tranche financing facility is to help Government of Assam with long-term funding for urban development. The urban transport component of the first tranche of USD81 million includes development of a 10kilometer rapid transit corridor for buses in Guwahati, which is expected to serve more than 40,000 people daily, shorten travel time and cut greenhouse gas emissions. ADB have signed the third and final $50 million tranche of the loan. The financing facility is expected to benefit around 1 million households, businesses, hospitals and schools. The project, which is expected to be completed by June 30, 2014, envisages helping electricity board adding an additional 430 MVA substation capacity and reducing system losses by 4 per cent. The ADB’s loan ordinary capital resources makes up to 68 per cent of the total project cost of almost USD 73 million, with the Government of Assam providing counterpart finance of USD 23 million. The loan has a 20-year term, including a five-year grace period with an annual interest rate determined in accordance with ADB’s LIBOR-based lending facility.
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Dismissing all petitions, a bench of Justices Altamas Kabir, S S Nijjar and J Chelameswar by 2:1 majority said the Election Commission had been clothed with plenary power by Rules 5 and 10 of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, in the matter of conducting polls that included the power to allot symbols to candidates during elections. The majority judgment delivered by Justice Kabir and Justice Nijjar said in a three or four-cornered contest due to split of votes it was possible that a candidate with a minority share of votes could emerge victorious. At the same time, it said the EC’s benchmark for recognition as ‘State Party’ was not unreasonable. 23. National Education Mission Proposed 24. Visa-on-Arrival Facility Extended The Centre is planning to launch a national mission to address issues related to teachers and teaching methods in educational institutions across the country. The proposed mission, which is yet to be finalised by the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry, will not only seek to fill vacant posts of teachers but also engage quality teachers on part-time, contractual, adjunct or visiting basis. It will also allow mobility of faculty from one institution to another. The mission will also have provisions of preservice and in-service training for teachers. The Mission will look at teacher education in a holistic manner and in a single continuum covering school to universities and suggest ways
The Supreme Court on April 18, 2012 upheld the constitutional validity of an election law, which entitled a political party the status of ‘State Party’ and common symbol for its candidates only if it polled 6 per cent or more votes in assembly polls and returned two of its candidates as MLAs. A bunch of petitions by political parties, including DMDK, Praja Rajyam Party and Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi, had challenged the constitutional validity of Clause 6B of Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order on the ground that in a multicornered contest, even though smaller parties secured less than 6 per cent votes were able to get two candidates elected to assembly and thus unreasonably denied the ‘State Party’ status and benefit of common symbol for candidates. By a notification of December 1, 2000, Clause 6B was inserted in Election Symbols Order.
to strengthen the institutional mechanisms at all levels so that there are vertical and lateral linkages. The Mission goals are sought to be achieved through a combination of policy measures, programmatic and scheme based intervention, creating capacity in Central and State universities for preparation of teachers educators and establishment of Schools of Education in universities. The proposal is to establish Schools of Education (SoE) in select Universities to institute linkages between universities, teacher education institutions and schools. The mission will seek to address the entire gamut of issues relating to teachers, teacher education and quality of teaching. The development comes after an analysis made by the department of education which suggested that around 5.23 lakh posts of school teachers at the elementary level are lying vacant. There would be an additional requirement of around 5.1 lakh teachers to meet the provisions of Pupil-Teacher Ratio specified in the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on May 5, 2012 has approved the tourist visa on arrival policy for nationals of France, Germany and Russia. Now, such visas are given to citizens of only 11 countries, of which only two, Finland and Luxembourg are in Europe. New Zealand is the only other non-Asian country to enjoy the facility. The decision would help the government in meeting its objective to double international tourist arrivals in the next three-four years. With the inclusion of France and Russia, it will be the first time that the policy will cover P5 countries. After the MEA’s nod, the proposal has been sent to the Union Home Ministry as the final tourist visa on arrival clearing authority is its Bureau of Immigration, but that is a mere formality. There was a consensus among all ministries involved in extending the policy to these three countries. The tourist visa on arrival facility is likely to be extended for nationals from six more countries, including Spain and Malta, soon. India currently issues visa on arrival to 11 countries i.e. Japan , Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam , Singapore, Myanmar, Finland, Luxembourg and New Zealand.
25. Constitutional Amendment to Set up NJC The Parliamentary panel on law and justice, headed by Abhishek Singhvi in December 2011 stated that the Constitution should be amended to set up a National Judicial Commission with powers to initiate criminal prosecution and sacking of corrupt judges. They concluded that judiciary cannot be left unpoliced in matters of corruption. The report prepared by the Parliamentary panel recommended setting up of a National Judicial Commission (NJC) to create a broad-based and comprehensive model of judges appointments. If necessary it should include amendments in the Constitution in the process of comprehensive model of judges appointment. The report also explained the reasons for not bringing the judiciary under the Lokpal’s purview as - if the judiciary was included, it would have resulted in possible and direct prosecution of even a Supreme Court judge before a magistrate. The same would have been applied to High Court judges.
Parliamentary Panel’s recommendations
did not have the legislative support. The court questioned the government for not consulting statutory bodies like the National Commission of Minorities and National Commission for Backward Classes in determining the sub-quota. 27. 4.5% Per cent Minority Quota The government on December 22, 2011 decided to create a 4.5 per cent sub-quota for backward minorities within the 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in jobs and admission to educational institutions. The subquota was notified by an executive order effective January 1, 2012 and will be applicable to all minorities included in the central list of OBCs. The minority affairs ministry had initially proposed a 8.4 per cent sub-quota, including 6 per cent for Muslims, on the lines of the recommendations of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities. It was, however, cut to 4.5 per cent based on the Mandal Commission formula. 28. Rangnath Commission’s Recommendations Government-appointed National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities commission under the Rangnath Mishra has recommended 10 per cent reservation for Muslims and 5 per cent for other minorities in government jobs and favoured Scheduled Caste status for Dalits in all religions. Of India’s 1.2 billion population, Muslims are the largest minority at 14 per cent followed by Christians at 2.3 per cent, Sikhs at 1.9 per cent, Buddhists at 0.8 per cent, Jains at 0.4 per cent and others, including Parsis at 0.6 per cent.
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• The NJC has to be entrusted with powers of both transfer and criminal prosecution of judges for corruption. • It may also be given the power for dismissal or removal of judges by relevant amendments in the constitution. • The panel also recommended that the former judges working as chairpersons and members of tribunals should also be brought under the NJC. • The panel stated that Judicial Accountability Bill is meant to strengthen the existing inhouse procedure of the judiciary to deal with wrong behaviour of judges. 26. SC Refuses Stay on HC order Quashing Sub-Quota The Supreme Court on June 12, 2012 refused to stay on Andhra Pradesh High Court order quashing the Union government‘s announcement of a 4.5 per cent sub quota for minorities on the basis of religion. The High Court had quashed PIL of the 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities carved out of the 27 per cent OBC quota in central educational institutions like the IIT. The Bench said that the December 22, 2011 Office Memorandum on the issue of sub-quota
• To delink SC status from religion and abrogation of the 1950 Scheduled Caste Order, which still excludes Muslims, Christians, Jains and Parsis from the SC net. The order originally restricted the SC status to Hindus only but it was later opened to Buddhists and Sikhs. • 10 per cent should be reserved for Muslims and 5 per cent for other minorities in central and state government jobs in all cadre and grades. • In case of nonavailability of Muslims to fill the 10 per cent earmarked seats, these may
be made available to other minorities but in no case shall any seat within the recommended 15 per cent be given to anybody from the majority community. • The minorities especially the Muslims are very much under-represented and sometimes wholly unrepresented in government jobs. 29. Integrated Action Plan for Naxal-hit Districts With the aim of giving a fillip to development schemes in tribal and backward regions, mostly affected by Naxal violence, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in November 2010 approved the commencement of an Integrated Action Plan (IAP) in 60 selected districts. The IAP would be an additional central assistance scheme on a 100 per cent grant basis. It is aimed at quick resolution of problems concerning healthcare, drinking water, education and roads.The IAP aims at bringing development work to 78 tribal and backward districts. Rs. 25 crore per district was sanctioned in the first year for 60 districts and in the second year Rs. 30 crore per district has been allocated for 78 districts. 30. Minimum Vote Limit for State Party Increased
doubled the penalty that institutions will have to pay for demanding a capitation fee. The penalty has been raised to Rs 1 crore. The Union Cabinet on November 16, 2011 approved the amended Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical Educational Institutions, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill, 2010, now renamed as Higher Educational Institutions Act, 2011. The proposed legislation aims to provide an institutional mechanism for preventing, prohibiting and punishing unfair practices in technical and medical educational institutions and universities. The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in March 2010 and was referred to the Parliament Standing Committee on Human Resource Development. Of the 48 amendments suggested by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, the government accepted 41 of the suggested changes. • A new clause, which prohibits unqualified teachers from being engaged, has been introduced. • Failure to meet any promise made in the prospectus would also be an offence. • The accepted amendments include increasing the penal provisions for charging capitation fee from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore. • The Bill will have provisions for a grievance redressal mechanism. It also provides for the inclusion of any new type of unfair practice other than those specified in the Bill. • The aim is to give a legal basis to curtail profiteering in higher education institutions. At present these unfair practices are beyond the scope of any such regulation. • The institutions are also expected to mandatorily disclose information related to admission process through its prospectus. • Higher Educational Institutions Act, 2011 will bring all higher educational institutions, except agriculture education and research, which is a state subject, under its purview. 32. Corporate Sector under RTI
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The Election Commission of India has raised the cap of minimum votes a political party must secure an election to get the status of a State party or maintain it further. The new minimum limit is 8 per cent of total valid votes polled in State Assembly or Lok Sabha polls. Earlier, the limit was 6 per cent. In addition, the party must have returned at least two members to the Legislative Assembly in case of Assembly polls or at least one member in Parliament from the State in case of Lok Sabha elections. To make these changes, the Commission amended its Election Symbols reservations and allotment order 1968 and issued a new order on September 16, 2011, the Election Symbol reservations and allotment amendment order 2011. The amended order was sent to all States and Union Territories. 31. Higher Educational Act, 2011 Institutions In an effort to curb unfair practices in the higher education segment, the government has
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on October 14, 2011 called for inclusion of the corporate sector as also projects under the publicprivate partnership mode within the ambit of the Right to Information Act. Stressing that right to information was a basic right that underpinned good governance, apart from
helping eradicate corruption, he said that while the corporate sector must be covered under the legislation since a large number of small investors bought shares and they had a right to know what was happening within the companies, projects under the PPP mode involved investment of large amount of public money. People have a right to have information about the PPP projects being implemented. The Right to Information Act mandates both ways of information sharing: pro-active dissemination by bringing out and sharing the information voluntarily in the public domain and the second is the reactive disclosure of information against an application submitted by the information seeker. He also suggested that Central and State Information Commissions take steps to create public awareness on how to make use of the Act, and set up advisory councils consisting of activists to ensure that it was implemented more effectively. 33. Bill to Help MSMEs
Operations (SoO) was signed at New Delhi on September 3, 2011 among the Centre, the Assam government and the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). The Union government was represented by the Joint Secretary (North East), Home Ministry and the Assam government by the Home Commissioner. Shahdhar Chaudhuri, Chitraban Hazarika and Raju Barua, three key ULFA functionaries represented the organisation. The ULFA had earlier agreed to abjure violence and find a solution to the problems as perceived by the outfit through peaceful negotiations with the Union government and the Assam government. The agreement would pave the way for putting an end to violence in the North-Eastern State and clear the decks for initiating the process of holding peace talks with the banned insurgent group. According to the pact both the ULFA and the security forces will not carry out operations against each other. The meeting deliberated in detail on various aspects of the ground rules of the SoO and how to maintain peace in Assam. Members of the rebel group — numbering around 600 — will be put in special camps which will be called ‘nabanirman kendras’ 35. Saranda Action Plan (SAP)
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To help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in dealing with their liquidity problems, Parliament on December 27, 2011 passed a bill to regulate the factoring business. The Regulation of Factors (Assignment of Receivables) Bill 2011, earlier been passed by the Lok Sabha. Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena said various committees had recommended development of factoring business in the country, especially for the MSMEs. This Bill will help in mitigating the payment problem of the MSME units. Factors will be regulated by the Reserve Bank of India. The Bill is applicable to all types of industry whether it is small, medium or big. The Bill provides that no factor may commence or carry on the factoring business without a certificate of registration from the Reserve Bank of India. Applicants for registration must meet the eligibility requirements of a non-banking financial company under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. 34. Tripartite Agreement Signed with ULFA In the first step towards finding ways for ushering in permanent peace in Assam, a tripartite agreement for Suspension of
Key highlights of SAP are:
The Centre on October 17, 2011 finalised a developmental action plan involving the Army to deal with the menace of naxalism in districts worst hit by the problem, particularly in eastern India. The ‘Saranda Action Plan’, prepared by Rural Development Ministry, was implemented firstly in Jharkhand’s naxal-hit Saranda region in West Singhbhum district. According to the plan, immediate priority is to distribute solar lanterns and bicycles, construction of prefab houses for BPL families under the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) and bridges with the help of Army and special water supply - hand pump schemes.
• Distribution of Solar Lamps, Bicycles, Transistors, and Musical Instruments to all the 7000 families. • Installation of 200 hand-pumps in the villages. • To bring all the 7000 families under BPL Scheme and IAY (Indira Awaas Yojana). • Under Forest Right Act, to distribute land pattas up to 4 hectares and old age pension
to the eligible families and persons, respectively. • Steel Authority of India (SAIL) has been asked to assist in construction of one Integrated Developmental Centres (IDCs) under its Corporate Social Responsibility activities. • SAIL has been further asked to consider running health-centres and supply vehicles for local public transport facilities. 36. Cable Television Networks Rules, 2012 Notified
the international standards. It will also censure misleading claims and advertisement by those in food business. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), established under the Act, will lay down science based standards for food items and regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. Removing the multiplicity of authorities, the FSSAI will broadly frame regulations to lay down the standards and guidelines for food items. It will also specify mechanisms for accreditation of certified bodies engaged in certification of food safety management system for food businesses and procedures for accreditation of laboratories. It will ensure prevention of fraudulent, deceptive or unfair trade practices which may mislead or harm the consumer, and unsafe, contaminated or substandard food. Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006 subsume various central Acts related to Food and Adulteration. India thus joins a group of advanced nations in adopting an integrated food law in line with international best practices. 38. Mega Food Parks
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The Information and Broadcasting Ministry on April 28, 2012 notified the Cable Television Networks Rules, 2012, paving the way for digitalisation of the sector. The ministry has set June 30 as the date for digitalisation of the cable sector in the four Metros. These cable rules would provide the framework on which the digitalised cable networks would provide services. Cable operators and Multi Sector Operators (MSOs) will now have to ensure that they have the capacity to carry minimum number of channels as specified by the Telcom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). This provision will ensure that every consumer gets a minimum variety of TV channels through the cable. Another consumer friendly clause that the rules include is that MSOs will have to buy back set top boxes (STBs) from their subscribers if the customer happens to be moving out of the area. In case a cable viewer is not happy with the quality of service, a provision to surrender the STB back to the MSO and the cable operator have been provided in the new rules. Cable operators and MSOs will have to set up a grievance redressal mechanism and subscribers get time-bound redressal if they are not satisfied with service quality. In the next round, cities with a population of more than one million have to adopt digitization by 31 March 2013. The deadline for complete digitization in urban areas is 30 September 2014, while the entire country is expected to achieve digitization by 31 December 2014. 37. Food Safety Act Takes Effect The Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 came into force from August 5, 2011 across the country. The Act will ensure improved quality of food for the consumers making it at par with 39. First mega food park
India’s Ministry of Food Processing Industries on December, 2011 has approved 10 Mega Food Parks in Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Jharkhand, Assam, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Bihar and Tripura, under the Mega Food Parks Scheme (MFPS). MFPS, a flagship programme of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MFPI) aims at accelerating the growth of food processing industry in the country through facilitating establishment of strong food processing infrastructure backed by an efficient supply chain. The scheme provides for a capital grant of 50 per cent of the project cost in difficult and ITDP notified areas (with a ceiling of Rs 50 crores). The grant is utilized towards creation of common infrastructure in the park.
India get its first mega food park, Srini mega food park at Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh, aimed
to facilitate end-to-end food processing with beneficial forward and backward linkages. As a model ‘Mega Food Park’ and the first of its kind in India, Srini provides state-of-the-art food processing infrastructure designed as per global standards and develops a veritable market place with common facilities on the lines of a software park or a textile park. 40. Road Connectivity in Naxal-hit Districts The Union Cabinet on May 17, 2012 approved a Rs 8,500 crore package for roads in 78 Naxal-affected districts, giving a boost to connectivity in habitations languishing outside the rural roads coverage. This decision will give road connectivity to 6,000 habitations which are not part of the ‘core network’, an essential criteria for qualification under the Pradhan Mantri Gamin Sadak Yojana.
Liangmai, Zeme, Thangal and Mate communities of Manipur and to substitute Galong with Galo — the right name of the tribe — in the list. The Lok Sabha passed the Bill on December 19, 2011. The Bill to amend the original the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 was introduced by the Minister of Tribal Affairs V. Kishore Chandra Deo. At present there are 33 communities appearing in the list of the Schedule Tribe in Manipur and the amendment will meet a long standing demand for considering grant of ST status to these communities. In the Arunachal Pradesh list, Galong community was mentioned. The State government has been recommending for long that the name Galo be substituted in place of Galong. Galong is a distorted version of the original word Galo. A change is, therefore, required in the list of ST in Arunachal Pradesh, the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2011 said. 42. TAPI Pipeline Gas Sale Agreement Signed India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, on May 23, 2012 inked the historic gas sale purchase agreement (GSPA) for the $7.6billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-PakistanIndia (TAPI) gas pipeline, often touted as the peace pipeline. Turkmenistan, which holds more than 4 per cent of the world’s natural gas reserves, signed agreements to sell gas to India and Pakistan through the 1,680 km pipeline at the Caspian Sea resort of Avaza in Turkmenistan. The TAPI pipeline will have a capacity to carry 90 million metric standard cubic metres a day (mmscmd) of gas for a 30-year period and is likely to become operational by 2018. India and Pakistan would get 38 mmscmd each, while the remaining 14 mmscmd will be supplied to Afghanistan. Recently, the Union Cabinet gave its nod to the signing of GSPA and also approved the payment of 50 cents per million metric British thermal unit (mmBtu) as the transit fee to Pakistan and Afghanistan for the gas. US-backed trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline project will run from the Turkmenistan gas fields to Afghanistan. It will start from the Dauletabad gas fields and run into Afghanistan and then via Quetta and Multan in Pakistan. The final
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The move to boost road connectivity is aimed at defusing a principal reason for tribals and backwards to fall for the Naxal campaign revolving around government neglect and under-development. The roads will also increase government interaction with these villages, providing better security besides being a key indicator of development. Rural development ministry’s proposal under the Integrated Action Plan for Naxal districts will unfold over the coming three years. The major gainers under the roads package will be Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar. Of the 78 districts, 20 are said to be major laggards where the pace of execution of roads is below 50 per cent. The lenient eligibility parameters are led by habitations with population of 250 for roads as against 500 earlier. The tender package for road construction has been kept at Rs 50 lakh, as against Rs 1 crore earlier, to stimulate local contractors. The Centre bears 90 per cent of the cost of these roads. 41. Bill to add more Tribes to Scheduled list The Rajya Sabha on December 22, 2011 passed the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2011 to give Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to six tribes in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. The Rajya Sabha passed the Bill to give ST status to Inpui, Rongmei,
destination of the pipeline will be Fazilka near the India-Pakistan border. 43. Anand Marriage (Amendment) Act, 2012 Now Sikhs will be able to register their marriages under the Anand Marriage Act instead of the Hindu Marriage Act, with the President giving assent to a Bill passed by Parliament in the Budget session. Although the Anand Marriage Law was enacted in 1909, there was no provision for registration of marriages and they were registered under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The Anand Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2012, after having received the assent of the President on June 7, 2012, has been published as corresponding Act in the Gazette of India. Besides Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are issued certificates under the Hindu laws. However Parsis, Christians and Muslims already have separate laws for the registration of marriages under their own customs. 44. Separate Registration
zens and enhancement of their quality of life with special reference to: (a) policies, programmes and legislative measures; (b) promotion of physical and financial security, health and independent and productive living, and (c) awareness generation and community mobilization. The Council would be chaired by the Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment. The Council will comprise of 20 members. Other members of the Council include the Minister of State, Social Justice & Empowerment, the oldest Members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, representatives of five State Governments (one each from the North, South, East, West & North Eastern Regions) and one Union Territory by rotation, five representatives each from Senior Citizens’ Associations, Pensioners’ Association, NGOs working for Senior Citizens and Experts, and five senior citizens who have distinguished themselves in various fields. The Council would be anchored in the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. 46. Judicial Accountability Bill
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Sikh marriage ceremonies are known as ‘Anand Karaj’ (blissful event). According to the Anand Marriage (Amendment) Bill, Sikh couples whose marriages have been registered under this Anand Karaj Marriage Act will not be required to get their marriage registered under the Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths Act, 1969, or any other law for the time being in force. The amendment to the Anand Karaj Marriage Act 1909, paved the way for separate registration of Sikh marriages. The law will help millions of Non Resident Indians. As of now, marriages registration certificates of NRIs term them as Hindus while their passports define them as Sikhs, resulting in confusion and rejection in visas. The new Act does not have a provision for divorce as the Sikh clergy could not arrive at a consensus on the issue. The opinion among Sikhs is that the divorce clause could be added later, if the need be. 45. Nod for Senior Citizens’ Council The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on February 1, 2012 approved constitution of a National Council for Senior Citizens. The Council would advise the Central and State Governments on issues related to welfare of senior citi-
The Lok Sabha on March 29, 2012, cleared the judicial accountability legislation that seeks to set up a credible mechanism to probe complaints of misbehaviour by judges. The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010, and Constitutional 114th Amendment Bill, 2010, will help setting new probity standards in higher judiciary. The Bill seeks to establish credible and expedient mechanism for probing into individual complaints for misbehaviour or incapacity of a judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court. The Bill also provides to regulate the procedure for such investigation and for the presentation of an address by Parliament to President proceeding for removal of a judge and for matters connected with such matters. The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2010 and subsequently sent to the parliamentary standing committee on personnel, law and justice, which made a crucial recommendation that seeks to ‘restrain’ judges from making ‘unwarranted comments’ against other constitutional bodies or persons. According to the Bill, any judge, who makes oral comments
against other constitutional authorities and individuals, would render h/himself liable for judicial misconduct. 47. Task Force on National Security The task force headed by former Cabinet Secretary Naresh Chandra has made an assessment of the security scenario facing the country and has made recommendations to the government. The task force set up by government in July 2011 to review the working of the national security system called on the Prime Minister on May 23, 2012 and presented their report. The task force was mandated to review existing processes, procedures and practices in the national security system and to suggest measures to strengthen the national security apparatus. The task force has made an assessment of the security scenario facing the country and made recommendations to the government as: • Appointment of a Permanent Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC). • Integration of Service HQ and Ministry of Defence by allowing more cross-postings.
get bail. The recommendation would allow the woman, involved in the case, to withdraw it with the permission of the court, provided she is not under any pressure. The Commission said the offence should be allowed to be made compoundable provided the woman is facing no external pressure. When an offence is compounded, the party, who has been aggrieved by the offence, is compensated for the grievance. The report said that it is proposed to add sub-section (2A) to Section 320 CrPC. The proposed provision will ensure that the offer to compound the offence is voluntary and free from pressures and the wife has not been subjected to ill-treatment subsequent to the offer of compounding. 49. Cabinet Approval to the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 Making marriage laws more womenfriendly, the Union Cabinet on March 23, 2012 approved the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 seeking to give a woman a share in her husband’s property after divorce. The quantum of share, however, will be decided by the courts on a case-to-case basis. While a wife can oppose a husband’s plea for divorce under the new ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’ clause, the husband will have no such rights to oppose if the wife moves the court on the same grounds. Apart from giving women the right to their husband’s property, the Bill also aims at giving rights to adopted children on a par with biological off-springs in case the parents go for a divorce. The Cabinet approved the Bill to further amend the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Special Marriage Act, 1954, to provide therein irretrievable break down of marriage as a ground of divorce. The Bill would provide safeguards to parties to marriage who file petition for grant of divorce by consent from the harassment in court if any of the party does not come to the court or wilfully avoids the court to keep the divorce proceedings inconslusive. 50. New Ground for Divorce
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• Shifting focus of India’s national security strategy from Pakistan to China. • Better Intelligence Coordination between all agencies. • Creation of dedicated financial Institution for access to energy, rare earths and raw materials from across the world. 48. Law Commission on Anti-Dowry Law Amid allegation of misuse of the legislation, the Law Commission of India on January 19, 2012 has recommended to the law ministry to dilute the anti-dowry law to make it less stringent by allowing the woman involved in the case to withdraw the case with the permission of the court provided she is not under any pressure. The Commission, headed by Justice P V Reddi, recommended to the Government to make Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deals with harassment for dowry and cruelty to a woman in her matrimonial home, a compoundable offence. Compoundable offences are those which can be compromised by the parties to the dispute. The permission of the court is not necessary. This means that those who would be booked in cases under this section would find it easier to
The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010, was introduced in the RajyaSabha in August 2010 and then referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice and Personnel. Supporting the Bill which sought to
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At present, various grounds for dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce are laid down in section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The grounds inter alia include adultery, cruelty, desertion, conversion to another religion, unsoundness of mind, virulent and incurable form of leprosy, venereal disease in a communicable form, renouncement of the world and not heard as being alive for a period of seven years or more. Section 27 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 also lays down similar grounds. However, section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act and Section 28 of the Special Marriage Act provide for divorce by mutual consent as a ground for presenting a petition for dissolution of marriage. 51. The Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2012 The Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2012 was introduced in Raja Sabha on May 7, 2012 by Minister of Law and Justice Salman Khurshid. The Bill has been referred to the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice on May 9, 2012. The chairperson is Shantaram Naik. The proposed Bills will be beneficial for the women from unnecessary harassment in matrimonial and maintenance cases. It will also
make irretrievable breakdown of marriage a new ground for grant of divorce, the Standing Committee had in March 2011 opposed doing away with the prevailing waiting period of six months to 18 months before moving a joint motion for annulling marriage. Partially accepting the recommendation, the government has now left the cooling off period to be decided by courts. The changes made in the Bill are based on the recommendations made by the Parliamentary panel then headed by Jayanthi Natarajan.
provide evidentiary value in the matters of custody of children, right of children born from the wedlock of the two persons whose marriage is registered and the age of the parties to the marriage.
Highlights of the Bill
The Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 regulates the registration of births and deaths. The Bill amends the Act to include the registration of marriages within its purview.The Bill defines marriage to include marriage solemnized between a male and female belonging to any caste or religion. It also includes re-marriage. The Bill requires that all marriages (irrespective of religion) shall be registered either under the Act or the Anand Marriage Act, 1909 or any other existing law (including state laws). Marriages registered under the Anand Marriage Act, state laws or any other existing laws are not required to be registered under the Bill. The Act provides for the establishment of a Registrar General of India. The Registrar is responsible for the registration of births and deaths. The Bill provides that the Registrar shall also be responsible for the registration of marriages. The Bill specifies the people who shall be eligible to submit information to the Registrar in order to register the marriage. It shall be the duty of the specified people to give the required information to the Registrar within the prescribed time period. The Act provides that any previous state law on any matter covered by the Act shall be repealed. The Bill provides that this repeal provision shall not be applicable to marriages solemnized under the Anand Marriage Act or under any state law. The registration of marriages of the parties under the proposed amendment would not affect any right recognized or acquired by any party to marriage under any law, custom or usage.
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