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Below are the suggested answers of UPSC Mains Marathon Current Affairs Questions – August 14.

Note: The suggested answers are indicative only, and not exhaustive.


1. India must regain its role as a prime mover of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Critically analyze India’s role in SAARC to counter China’s aggression. Do you think SAARC is relevant in today’s times? Give your opinion.(GS 2)

The Hindu | Indian Express

Introduction :-

  • SAARC is a regional agreement among countries of south Asia to promote cooperation for growth and development.
  • India being the largest country has largest responsibility to ensure the relevance and active cooperation among the members.
  • India has tried to fulfil the role by initiating talks for FTA, infrastructure building, cooperation in the field of trade, energy etc

 India’s role in SAARC to counter China:-

  • India’s neighbours like Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka can have one voice and can counter China.
    • For instance, common satellite for SAARC nation by india.
  • Infrastructure:
    • Development of more projects in neighbouring countries can bring support for India for instance efforts made in Afghanistan are always seen as a good will measure of India

Territorial expansion: policy of china as well as the threat related to it can be talked with SAARC nation.

Concerns:-

India neighbours are seemingly moving towards China for investment and infrastructure development. For instance
•Development of hambantota port in Sri Lanka by china
•Bangladesh growing ties with China (eg defence deal)
•Port development in Maldives

  • Most of the SAARC nation expect India and Bhutan attending BRI conference in China.

SAARC is relevant :-

  • This is the only forum in south Asia where all the leaders come together every year.
  • SAARC official process has sensitized a large number of non-official processes.
  • Even countries like Russia and Australia wants to get permanent membership of SAARC.
  • SAARC does provide continuity to relations among the member countries especially when bilateral relations are at the nadir.
  • Close linkages developed between the non governmental organizations (NGO’s) of the member countries.
  • Its importance lies for the countries individually in enhancing their national prestige, managing their bilateral relations and having a regional identity.
  • Its importance comes forth particularly with reference to a region which is characterized by asymmetry. SAARC helps in these identities which have their own symbolic importance as well as practical utility.
    • These symbolic aspects help to reduce these asymmetries in terms of identities. In this sense there is a permanent political contribution of SAARC and herein lies its relevance
  • The economic areas of co-operation have not shown much success but SAARC has widened its areas of interaction and presently is experimenting with sub-regional co-operation
  • SAARChas tackled important topics for the region such as a social charter, development agreements and even the sensitive subject of fighting terrorism.
  • The food and development banks, agreement on transportation and energy are important steps.
  • SAARC meets have at times helped diffuse tensions.

No:-

  • SAARC suffers from inherent weakness, as its member countries like Nepal Afghanistan and Maldives face political instability. Though Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have democratically elected stable governments, both the countries have faced and have to tackle divisive internal forces
  • Though regional co-operation etc were the stated objectives for forming and joining the association, it is seen that each of the countries had a specific agenda primarily political with regard to the association. The countries sought to fulfil these national agendas through the regional mechanism.
  • Postponement of the Summit has deprived the people, once more, of the prospects of development, prosperity and regional cooperation.
  • BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) far away from the Indo-Pak rivalry has emerged as the most favoured grouping in the region.
  • Economic reasons:
    • It is also true that even after 30 years of its establishment, South Asia remains one of the worst economically integrated regions of the world.
    • The intra-regional trade of SAARC constitutes just 5% of member countries’ trade. This pales into insignificance when compared with the volume of trilateral trade between member-countries of NAFTA or ASEAN.
    • Since 1985 many a projects for trade, communication and transport have been delayed at the altar of the complex Indo-Pak relations
    • While different regions of the world have progressed even to monetary union, SAARC has failed to even come up with a free trade agreement.
  • India’s role in 1971 war, Sri Lankan civil war and economic blockades against Nepal haunt the neighbouring countries and makes them suspicious about India’s ambitions.
  • Domestic problems of SAARC members have tended to shape the attitude to regional cooperation.
  • It is also being said that the PAK has been the biggest impediment in the progress of SAARC.

Suggestions made are:-

  • “SAARC minus Pakistan” is poised to progress faster and share mutual benefits
  • There has to be unity and sound understanding among the SAARC nations as there is great potential in SAARC

2. Discuss the key objectives of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. Examine the advantages and loopholes of the law.(GS 3)

The Hindu | Link

Introduction:-

  • In India total bad debts amount to 11% of the total lending and it is seen to be increasing.
  • The time taken for resolving insolvency is much more, making it appear low on the list of countries with ease of doing business and resolving insolvency.
  • Considering the abovementioned reasons, the Government undertook a plan to replace existing insolvency laws with one consolidated and comprehensive law that will facilitate easy and time-bound closure of business

Objectives:-

  • The objective of the new law is to promote entrepreneurship, availability of credit, and balance the interests of all stakeholders by consolidating and amending the laws relating to reorganization and insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time bound manner
  • for maximization of value of assets of such persons and matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Advantages:-

  • The main focus of this legislation is at providing resurrection and resolution in a time bound manner for maximization of value of debtor’s assets.
  • The code has put forth an overarching framework to aid sick companies to either wind up their business or engineer a revival plan, and for investors to exit.
  • Notably, the Code has also empowered the operational creditors (workmen, suppliers etc.) to initiate the insolvency resolution process if default occurs.
  • Another important feature of the Code is that it does not make any distinction between the rights of international and domestic creditors or between classes of financial institutions.
  • The Code has sought to balance the interest of all the stakeholders including alteration in the order of priority of payment of Government dues.
  • The Code makes a significant departure from the existing resolution regimen by shifting the responsibility on the creditor to initiate the insolvency resolution process against the corporate debtor.
  • The resolution and liquidation process will be completed by two years the current speed is 4.3 years.
  • It is important for investments whether domestic or foreign
  • Will lead to better management of stressed companies
  • Government
    • Free up bank’s productive resources and increase the credit availability in the economy which could be used for welfare purposes
  • Business:
    • A quick route to exit and no unnecessary litigation
    • Inclusion of their names in the information repository would hamper their future prospects of acquiring loans
  • Employees:
    • Would ensure payment of their due salaries and protection of their provident fund

Loopholes:-

  • The tight resolution timelines envisaged under the IBC cannot be achieved if bankers do not have the commercial flexibility and the autonomy to sell distressed assets.
  • Not addressed by the recent regulatory changes is what role promoters play in delaying NPA resolution.
  • There is the question of whether the institutional framework within which the NPAs will have to be resolved is ready to handle this complex task.
  • The severe capacity constraints of the NCLT in handling the present and past backlog of cases is well recognised.
    • It is also unclear how long it will take the NCLT judges to ramp up their understanding of the complex bankruptcy environment to allow them to handle the cases in an expedient and fair way.
  • It fails to provide adequate safeguards to protect the rights of the company before handing over the management in its entirety to the resolution professional.
  • Code rides substantially on the unquestionable word of the creditors.
    • Neither does the corporate debtor have an opportunity to put forth his/her case nor is there any scope of discretion provided to the adjudicating authority itself.
  • The Code ignores rights enshrined in the Constitution. (In Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, 1978) the Supreme Court observed it too.
  • Code is also deficient in providing a yardstick for the qualification of the interim and of the final insolvency resolution professionals.
  • The unrestricted access of any person without mandatory contractual obligations in relation to confidentiality vitiates the fundamental right to business under Article 19(1)(g).

Way forward:-

  • The Code still requires a lot of hand-holding by the judiciary to put in place adequate safeguards and guidelines to ensure its smooth, effective, and fair enforcement.

3. Speedy trials could undo the sense of injustice caused by acquittal after years in jail. Critically comment. Discuss the reasons for pendency of cases in India.(GS 2)

The HIndu

Background:-

  • Speedy trial is one of the facets of the fundamental right to life and liberty enshrined in Article 21 (of the Constitution) .
  • With over 1.77 crore criminal cases pending in various courts across India, there is a need for speedy trials in India.

Yes, it can undo the justice :-

  • Delayed trials weaken the prosecution’s case.Witnesses tend to forget crucial details or lack the resolve to depose carefully.
  • There have been some cases in India which show there is a gulf between crime and justice like there is a lack of evidence ,lack of effective investigation which makes wrong acquittals.
    • For instance include Nisar-ud-din Ahmad, who spent 23 years in prison in connection with several train blasts, before the Supreme Court ordered his release last year.
    • so speedy trials are very necessary to remove this injustice.
  • The purpose of right to speedy trial is intended to avoid oppression and prevent delay by imposing on the courts and on the prosecution an obligation to proceed with reasonable dispatch.
  • Right to speedy trial has been endorsed in almost all relevant international charters and conventions, most notably the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
  • Moreover, in the overwhelming percentage of cases, defendants cannot afford to spend as much money and/or time on building a defense as the government does building its case against him.
  • One way of addressing the problem of prolonged incarceration and perfunctory prosecution is to make it a matter of policy to have a quick and time-bound trial at least in serious cases involving acts of terrorism and those under special laws.
  • Constitutional guarantee of speedy trial is an important safeguard to prevent undue and oppressive incarceration prior to trial; to minimize concern accompanying public accusation and to limit the possibilities that long delays will impair the ability of an accused to defend himself”

No:

  • “speedy trial” heavily tilts the playing field of the trial toward the prosecutor.
  • But in the need of speedy trials there can be shoddy investigation in favour of the accused so that he/she would be released due to influence .
  • speedy trial may too lead to help for rich and influential people, as there are disproportionate number of cases in courts with reference to judges and accused.
  • will keep judges in pressure and accused in fear of being punished.

What needs to be done ?

  • The Supreme Court has suggested a time-frame for lower courts to decide a case to ensure that the accused do not languish in jail due to prolonged proceedings.
  • Issue directions to subordinate courts to decide bail applications within a week and in cases where the accused in custody.

Reasons for pendency of cases:-

  • Problems in judiciary:
  • The judge – population ratio presently taking into consideration the population of the country and pendency of the cases the number of judges available are very less.
  • The functioning of the judiciary is independent in nature but it doesn’t mean it is not accountable to anyone. Considering this factor it can be concluded that it drives the judges toward leisure and comfort which ultimately results in delay of the cases.
  • Provision for adjournment:
    • The main reason for the delay in the cases is the adjournment granted by the court on flimsy grounds.
  • Vacation of the court:
    • The reason with providing courts with a vacation period is a debate going on when in country like India pendency of cases is huge. In most of the countries like U.S. and France there is no such provision.
  • Hurried and ill-drafted legislations and statutes on diverse topics enacted, contribute to some extent to the inflow of cases.

What needs to be done?

  • Effective management of the courts and this is possible only when once in a couple of months or days problems faced by the litigants, lawyers and judges is discussed.
  • Time scheduling should be done so that there is effective management of time leading to effective management of judicial system.
  • Malimath committee:
    • The main aim of this committee is to make recommendation for reformation on Criminal justice system, simplifying judicial procedures, practices and making the delivery of justice to the common man closer
  • Judges should be provided with proper training and vocations on a regular basis to improvise there drafting, hearing and writing skills along with the skill of taking correct and fast judgment. Judicial accountability is one of them is important factor.
  • Moreover, the ratio of judges to population should be increased which will help in disposal of cases very fast.
  • Cases must be assigned according to specialized area of judges.
    • Moreover, special tribunal should be set up for some specialized fields of which cases come on a regular large scale basis e.g. Taxation, labour etc.
  • Arbitration should be done wherever possible and in particular small and petty cases arbitration should be made compulsory. It will save precious time o the courts.
  • Nyaya Panchayats should be authorized to dispose off small and petty cases. However. Lok Adalats were established for the speedy disposal of cases at lower level.
  • Amendment is required so that procedural delays do not occur. Moreover, the state must look up that there are adequate number of courts to cope up with the wok load and timely appointment of judges.
  • Reformation is necessary so as to make the implementation of the right in the right manner which is the need of the hour.

The right to speedy trial is not a fact or fiction but a “Constitutional reality” and it has to be given its due respect. The courts and the legislature have already accepted it as one of the medium of reducing the increasing workloads on the courts.


 

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