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Q.1)The idea of ‘one nation one election’ has been proposed for many years. In this context discuss the need for simultaneous elections. What difficulty can be arising from these elections?(GS-2)

Simultaneously polls refer to holding elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislative assemblies simultaneously, once in a five year.

The idea of ‘one nation one election’ has been proposed for many years starting with Law Commission suggestion in 1999. Most recently, Parliament’s standing committee 2015 report suggested holding simultaneous election to save public money and end policy paralysis because of impact of the model conduct.

Need for simultaneous elections.

  • Frequent elections affect the governance as imposition of model code of conduct in poll bound areas puts on hold all developmental activities on that area and also affects the bureaucracy’s functioning.
  • Expenditure can be reduced by conducting simultaneous elections
  •  Law Commission in its 170th report titled Reform of Electoral Laws (1999) had suggested holding simultaneous elections at all levels for stability in governance.
  • Frequent elections disrupt normal public life and affect functioning of essential services.
  • Frequent elections lead to frequent disruption of road traffic by political rallies and also lead to noise pollution
  • Better use of manpower:Crucial manpower especially teachers is often deployed on election duties for prolonged period of time. If simultaneous elections are held, then this manpower will be made available for other important tasks
  •   Holding simultaneous elections will lead to better use of time and resources.
  • It will lead to more efficiency.
  • Model Code of Conduct being implemented for limited time.

Difficulties:

  • It will lead to wastage of time, energy, and efficiency.
  • It will lead to wastage of resources.
  • If assemblies get dissolved earlier, simultaneous elections will not be practicable.
  • It will violate the basic structure of the Constitution of India.
  • Not all voters are highly educated to know who to vote for. They may get confused and may not know whether they are voting for candidates contesting assembly or parliament elections.
  • Frequent elections bring politicians back to the voters, create jobs (though temporary) and prevent the mixing of local and national issues in the minds of the voters.
  • The issue of logistics and requirement of security personnel, election and administrative officials needs to be considered.
  • There is dearth of enough security and administrative officials to conduct simultaneous free and fair elections throughout the country in one go
  •  Mostly elections in big states are held various phases mainly due to security concerns.

Q.2) Income Tax Department is the biggest litigant in India according to the recently released economic survey. In this context discuss issues that give rise to frivolous litigation. What will be its implications? Suggest some measures to revamp tax litigation in India?(GS-3)

Income Tax Department is the biggest litigant but loses 85% of cases, according to the Economic Survey. In March, 2017, there were approximately 1.37 lakh direct tax cases and 1.45 lakh indirect tax cases under consideration by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, high courts and Supreme Court. The tax department is the largest litigant with almost 85% of direct tax cases arising out of its appeals.

Even though the success rate of the tax department at all three levels of appeal-Appellate Tribunals, High Courts, and the Supreme Court is under 30 per cent for both direct and indirect tax litigation, it remains “undeterred” and “persists in pursuing litigation at every level of the judiciary hierarchy”, making it the largest litigants in India.

Issues that give rise to frivolous litigation:

  • Officer’s inability to take a decision not to file an appeal.
  • Fear of adverse administrative action.
  •  Lack of information/knowledge on judicial precedents.
  • Indian taxation policy has large numbers of loopholes which has created number of impediments to economic growth of the nation.
  •  Slow process of dispute resolution
  • Lack of administrative support, efficiency and proactive approach as well as no proper grievance redressal mechanism

Implications:

The government’s persistence with litigation despite high rates of failure leads to:

  • Increasing the workload of the judiciary.
  • Delays and pendency of cases.
  • It leads to severe toll on the economy in terms of stalled projects, mounting legal costs, contested tax revenues, and reduced investment.
  • Due to mismatch between the government’s intent and the verbal interpretation of the law, India still lacks transparency and administrative capability that is hampering the growth of industries.
  • Delay in collection of potential tax revenue to the government, which ultimately impact investment in different sectors of the economy.

How to revamp tax litigation in India?

A few suggestions to minimize tax litigation in India in brief are:

  • Voluntary Tax Litigation Settlement: The settlement should be by way of negotiation between the parties within specified time.
  • Levying cost for unsuccessful litigation: The law should provide for levy of cost against the appellant / respondent against whom decision has been rendered.
  • Assessment in public interest: The Assessing Officer at the assessment stage ought to pursue the public interest in correct application of tax laws and not the collection interest of the tax administration.
  •  Policies and roadmap to settle and clear the backlog of tax litigation and provide a friendly tax regime facilitating the ease of doing business in India.
  • The government’s attempt towards tax simplification and improving the tax litigation framework in India are noteworthy but still it needs more clarity and improvement.
  • Research support is essential considering the volume of litigation and the diversity of the issues involved.
  • Strengthening Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms.
  • Adopt culture of formal interaction with judicial/appellate authorities

Q.3) Write a short note on  any two of the following:

a) Res extra commercium

b)  Zero Budget Natural Farming

c) Inclusive Development Index

a) Res extra commercium

Res extra commercium means things beyond commerce, i.e., which cannot be brought or sold, such as public roads, rivers, titles of owners etc. it is a doctrine originating in roman law. In some contexts, it can refer to areas beyond national borders, such as space and the seabed.

To curb the $11 billion tobacco industry’s legal right to trade, the government, for the first time, has asked the top court to classify tobacco as “res extra commercium”, which is a Latin phrase for “outside commerce”. The move is part of the government’s effort to tame the tobacco companies looking to challenge tough regulations pertaining to the industry.

b) Zero Budget Natural Farming:

Zero Budget Natural Farming, as the name implies, is a method of farming where the cost of growing and harvesting plants is zero. This means that farmers need not purchase fertilizers and pesticides in order to ensure the healthy growth of crops. It is, basically, a natural farming technique that uses biological pesticides instead of chemical-based fertilizers. Farmers use earthworms, cow dung, urine, plants, human excreta and such biological fertilizers for crop protection. It reduces farmers’ investment. It also protects the soil from degradation.

c) Inclusive Development Index:

The Inclusive Development Index (IDI) is an annual assessment of 103 countries’ economic performance that measures how countries perform on eleven dimensions of economic progress in addition to GDP. It has 3 pillars; growth and development; inclusion and; intergenerational equity – sustainable stewardship of natural and financial resources.

The IDI is a project of the World Economic Forum’s System Initiative on the Future of Economic Progress, which aims to inform and enable sustained and inclusive economic progress through deepened public-private cooperation through thought leadership and analysis, strategic dialogue and concrete cooperation, including by accelerating social impact through corporate action.

India ranks 62nd among emerging economies on the Inclusive Development Index, falling from its last year’s ranking of 60th, according to a recently released  report by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum.

The rank is also much below that of its neighbors, with China taking the 26th spot while Pakistan is at 47th place. Norway is once again the world’s most inclusive advanced economy while Lithuania tops the list of emerging economies.

 

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