- Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawz Sharif has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for corruption by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court
- Sharif’s daughter Maryam and son-in-law have also been convicted. They have been sentenced to seven years and one year in jail respectively.
- They have been convicted in the Avenfield corruption case- one among the four cases against Nawaz Sharif and his children. The Avenfield case relates to the ownership of properties in London.
- In 2017, Pakistan Supreme Court had disqualified Nawaz Sharif from the post of Prime Minister after the Panama Papers revelations.
- Sharif was accused of money laundering to purchase assets in London. The Panama papers showed that showed that the assets were managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif’s children.
- The entire controversy started in 2016, following a data leak of Mossack Fonseca -a Panama-based law firm which documents offshore dealings of many firms
- Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, who retired as Supreme Court judge recently, has defended the 20th March verdict on SC/ST Act
- In 20th March verdict the Supreme Court had expressed concerns over the misuse of the SC/ST Act. The Court upheld that there should not be any automatic arrest under the SC/ST Act and a primary inquiry must be conducted by the police before taking any action.
- The verdict called for allowing accused person to apply for anticipatory bail. The court upheld that there is no absolute bar for granting anticipatory bail in a matter under the Act.
- Previously, Section 18 of the Sc/St Act, 1989 barred accused persons from seeking anticipatory bail
- Justice Goel has defended the judgement stating that the verdict aimed to protect innocent persons falsely accused under the SC/ST (prevention of Atrocities Act)
- Recently, the government has deployed 800 IAS officers in 115 ‘aspirational districts’ to implement flagship government schemes
- 800 Deputy Secretaries, Under-Secretaries and Director level officers from various Ministries have been sent to 115 districts to implement various government schemes under the Extended Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (EGSA) before the Independence Day
- Each IAS officer has been assigned 75 villages. A total of 49,178 villages will be covered. Most of these villages have a majority of SC/ST population
- Central officials are being absorbed into EGSA duty for at least 15 working days
- In each village, a team of officers convenes meeting of beneficiaries, district or state officials, representative of a leading bank in the area, and agencies responsible for enrolling people in the village
- The team monitors the functioning of the scheme and gets feedback. In case of any loophole it tries to sort it on the spot.
- The team also uploads the day’s progress into a data system that can be tracked live on the EGSA dashboard
- Concerns raised:
- There have been concerns raised over such a widespread involvement of Central officers in implementing government welfare schemes. This might have an impact on Centre-State relations and undermine the principle of cooperative federalism
- Additional Information:
- The Gram Swaraj Abhiyan seeks to effectively implement welfare schemes to select villages which need particular attention. The objective of the campaign is to promote social harmony, spread awareness about pro-poor initiatives of government, and reach out to poor households to enrol them as also to obtain their feedback on various welfare programmes.
- Initially the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan comprised seven schemes:
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
- Ujala scheme
- Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana
- Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana
- Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and
- Mission Indradhanush.
- Recently, five new initiatives have been added. These will concentrate on improving schools, health services and nutrition and launching agricultural projects and a skill development programme. Further, the number of villages targeted has also been increased
- According to a recent study, a shift from rice and wheat cultivation to cultivation ‘alternative cereals,’ such as maize, sorghum, and millet, could reduce the demand for irrigation water in India by 33%.
- The study was conducted by researchers from US based Earth Institute, Columbia University and Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.
- For the analysis, water and cereal-production data from 1996-2009 was used
- As actual water consumption data was unavailable, proxy — Crop Water Requirement (CWR) was used. It is product of water required by crop and harvested area.
- Major Highlights of the Study:
- The combined production of alternative cereals was larger than that of wheat in the 1960s, but their relative contribution to cereal supply declined steadily during the period
- These alternative cereals also disproportionately account for supply of protein, iron, and zinc among Kharif crops.
- Total CWR demand for Indian cereal production increased from 482 to 632 Km3 during the period
- Rice is the least water-efficient cereal when it came to producing nutrients, and was the main driver in increasing irrigation stresses.
- The report suggests that replacing rice cultivation by maize, finger millet, pearl millet, or sorghum, could save irrigation and improving production of nutrients such as iron by 27% and zinc by 13%
A proposal for creating a centralised pool of documentary evidence has been pending consideration with the government
- Documentary proof gathered by the respective agencies would be stored at a single place
- Its certified copies would be made available for the purposes of investigations and use as evidence in the court of law.
- The plan to create centralised pool of documentary evidence would necessitate relevant amendments to the legislation governing each agency in terms of evidence collection.
- Would help in fast sharing of actionable information on economic offences between various Central investigating agencies
- Time-effective and would address the issue of delays in investigations due to large time taken in information sharing
- Ensure transparency in the system