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GS 2

Prosecution under Benami Act stuck

News:

  1. The prosecution of accused persons under the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act has been scuttled as the special courts meant for the purpose have not yet been set up across the country.

Important facts:

  1. The Act provides that the Central government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the respective High Courts, will establish special courts through notification.
  2. Such courts will help in speedy conduct of trials.
  3. The trial will be conducted within six months from the date of filing of the complaint.

 

Adultery law violates the dignity of woman, says SC

News:

  1. Recently, the Supreme Court said that adultery law violates the right to equality of woman.

Important facts:

  1. The court made the observation while hearing a case challenging the validity of the penal law, which makes adultery an offence punishable only for men and not the consenting women.
  2. The meaning of ‘Adultery is defined under section 497 of the Indian Penal Code as follows:
  • Section 497 says that a man could be punished up to five years in jail if he has sexual intercourse with other man’s wife.
  • However, it is not an offence if the sexual intercourse is with the “consent or connivance” of the husband of the woman.

3. The Supreme court has made the following observations in this regard:

  • The adultery law violates the dignity of a woman.
  • The Bench said the IPC section treat a married woman as “chattel”(a personal possession) of the conniving husband, which was “absurd”.
  • “When a woman is treated as chattel, her right to dignity is affected.”
  • Decriminalising adultery was not “a licence for people to go indulge in it”.
  • Adultery is a sign of marital breakdown as marriage as an institution has two pillars where both parties have to be equally responsible.
  • However, the judgment is criticizing by many people for being unconstitutional.

4. Most countries have done away with adultery as a criminal offence, including Bhutan, Sri Lanka, China and South Korea.

 

Managing perceptions

News:

  1. Recently, the Union Cabinet decided to amend the provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Important facts:

  1. The proposed amendments are aimed at undoing three new rules laid down by the court:

2. Bar on anticipatory bail under the act need not prevent courts from granting advance bail if there is no merit in a complaint.

3. There can be an arrest only if the appointing authority or the district superintendent of policy approves such arrest.

4. There should be a preliminary inquiry into complaints.

5. The Amended Bill will witness a protest for diluting the provisions of the 1989 law.

6. However, the supporters of the amended Bill argued that:

  • The protest has less to do with the correctness of the apex court’s judgment but more to do with the way it was misinterpreted.
  • The ruling had not altered any of the key provisions of the Act.
  • The judgment just emphasized that it was only to protect the innocent against arbitrary arrest and that there should be no denial of relief and compensation to SCs and STs, who rights should be protected.
  • Proponents of the amended bill argued that no one can object to procedural safeguards against false accusations, if it is misuse of the act.
  • Such perceptions seem logical when the conviction rate under the Act is dismally low and atrocities against Dalits are a disturbing reality.

Way ahead:

  • The amended bill should maintain a balance between protecting the rights of the individuals to a fair trial and enforcing the spirit of a legislation that was introduced to protect the dignity of the disadvantaged.

 

GS 3

Bandipur: Ministry ‘overlooks’ key issues

News:

  1. According to NTCA report, ban on night traffic has reduced road kill

Important facts:

  1. Recently, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), has proposed to the Andhra Pradesh government to lift the ban on night traffic through Bandipur.
  2. The ban overlooked key issues brought to light in reports by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and other agencies, including the local police.
  3. The number of death cases declined after the introduction of the ban.
  4. The NTCA, is a part of the committee constituted by the apex court to look into the night traffic ban.
  5. The NTCA in its report stated that wild animals such as tigers, elephants, gaurs, and other animals had behaviorally adjusted to the restricted traffic at night time.
  6. This was beneficial to the long-term conservation of these species.
  7. There are objections to the alternative road via Hunsur-Gonikoppal-Kutta and Mananthavady on the grounds that it was longer.
  8. The NTCA noted that the distance should be calculated from Mysuru and not from the boundary of the Bandipur tiger reserve.
  9. The activists said the people in Wayanad have for a very long time been going to Kozhikode and Ernakulam districts for medical and emergency needs.
  10. Bandipur has 25 major mammal species and each has its own migratory path.
  11. According to D.Rajkumar, Wildlife Conservation Foundation, the ban on night traffic through Bandipur should not be lifted as it benefits both wildlife and tourism.

 

Discounting logic

News:

  1. A task force of the Union Commerce Ministry has submitted the draft National Policy on Electronic Commerce.

Important facts:

  • India’s e-tail business, estimated to be worth around $25 billion, is still a fraction of the overall retail sector in the country.
  • However, the sector witness some frenetic activity, including the merger between Singapore based Flipkart, and global giant Walmart.
  • Over the coming decade, the e-commerce pie is expected to swell to $ 200 billion, fuelled by smartphones, cheaper data access and growing spends.
  • According to the first eight months of 2017-18, over 50,000 e-commerce grievances were made to the Consumer Affairs Ministry helpline.
  • Traditional retailers too have voiced concerns about large e-tail players with deep pockets pricing them out of the market, and have been seeking a level playing field.

2. The draft policy  proposes :

  • The creation of a single national regulator to oversee the entire industry.
  • Operationalising its different features would require action from multiple ministries and regulators.
  • This would also need amendments to existing legislation and rulebooks.
  • The aim is to prevent large players from pricing out the competition through unfair trade practices.

3. Concern areas of draft policy:

  • E-tailer costs are also likely to rise on account of proposed norms on storing and processing data locally, while consumers and firms could both question the plan to stipulate payments via Rupay cards.
  • Among the ideas in the draft policy are a sunset clause on discounts that can be offered by e-commerce firms and restrictions on sellers backed by marketplace operators.
  • The aim may be to prevent large players from pricing out the competition through unfair practices, but taken too far such licensing and price controls can depress the sector.
  • Foreign direct investment restrictions on players who can hold their own inventory are sought to be lifted, but there must be a majority Indian partner and all products have to be made in India. 
  • The proposed e-commerce policy could drive away those planning online retail forays — and the opportunity to create jobs and benefit consumers would be lost.

 

Drafting a data protection Bill

News:

  1. The draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018, recognises privacy as a fundamental right.
  2. Key features of the Bill are given below
  • It has provisions to protect personal data as an essential facet of information privacy.
  • The objective of the bill is to balance the growth of the digital economy and use of data as a means of communication.
  • The Bill applies to the processing of personal data.
  • It includes the processing of personal data by the state, any Indian company, any Indian citizen, or any person or body of persons incorporated or created under Indian law.
  • The Bill also brings within its ambit the processing of personal data by data fiduciaries or data processors located abroad in connection with business.
  • The proposed law defines personal data as information relating to a natural person.
  • The Srikrishna Committee has complied with the Supreme Court‘s suggestion that collection, processing and storage of personal data should be limited to the stated purpose.
  • The Bill also mandates that data fiduciaries should retain personal data “only as long as may be reasonably necessary to satisfy the purpose for which it is processed”.
  • There should be a periodic review done to check if continued storage of data is necessary.
  • The Bill includes the ‘right to be forgotten’, which is the right of a data principal to restrict or prevent continuing disclosure of personal data by a data fiduciary.

 

Private sector investment may see rise

News:

  1. As per the latest data by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the value of new project announcements by the private sector rose for the first time in two years.

Important facts:

  1. The data revealed the following facts:
  • Private sector new project announcements, worth 2.02 lakh crore in the June 2018 quarter, grew 43% over what was announced in the same quarter of the previous year.
  • This is the first quarter of growth in this category since June 2016.
  • Contrary to this, the government announced new projects worth 27,453.4 crore in the June 2018 quarter, a contraction of 77.6% over the June 2017 quarter.
  • This marks the fifth consecutive quarter of contraction in the value of government new project announcements.
  • However, the new project announcements do not provide a complete picture of investment activity in the country.
  • There are two major issues due to which the private sector got a jolt- Demonetisation and GST.
  • Within private sector new project announcements, the bulk of the growth was due to the announcements made by the foreign companies.
  • New project announcements by the Indian private sector accounted for 30.4% of all announcements made by the private sector in the June 2018 quarter.
  • The foreign private sector, in comparison, accounted for an overwhelming 69.6% of such announcements.
  • For the revival of the private sector specifically MSMEs, the government has taken a few steps.

PT Facts

In the city of saris, khadi goes organic

  • Threads of nature: Eco-friendly khadi dress material put on display by a group of weavers in Chirala.
  • Chirala, derives its name from word chira (sari), have carved a niche for themselves, making silk and cotton fabrics for men and women for centuries.
  • Chirala is in Andhra Pradesh
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