News:The Rajya Sabha chairman has released the first-ever analysis of its legislative work,Rajya Sabha:The Journey since 1952 on the occasion of the 250th session of Rajya Sabha.
Key takeaways from the analysis:
- The first sitting of the Rajya Sabha was held on 13th May,1952.The first bill passed by Rajya Sabha was the Indian Tariff (Second Amendment) Bill,1952.
- The first constitutional amendment bill passed by the Rajya Sabha was the Constitution (Second Amendment) Bill,1953 for readjustment of representation in Lok Sabha by increasing the size of population per constituency.
- The Rajya Sabha has passed 3,817 Bills till the end of its 249th session in 2019.
- The representation of women in Rajya Sabha has increased from 15 (6.94%) in 1952 to 31(12.76%) in 2014 but decreased to 26 (10.83%) in 2019.
- The first and the only time when a Presiding Officer of Rajya Sabha cast his vote was for the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Ordinance,1991.
- The President Rule approved only by Rajya Sabha has happened only twice in respect of extension of President Rule in Tamil Nadu and Nagaland in 1977 and in case of Haryana in 1991 when Lok Sabha was dissolved.
- The bill passed by Rajya Sabha but rejected by Lok Sabha has happened during the Constitution (Sixty-fourth Amendment) Bill,1990 which had sought to amend Article 356 relating to extension of President’s Rule in Punjab.
About Rajya Sabha:
- The Rajya Sabha or Council of States is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of India.
- Article 80 of the Constitution lays down the maximum strength of Rajya Sabha as 250 out of which 12 members are nominated by the President and 238 are representatives of the States and of the two Union Territories.
- However,the present strength of Rajya Sabha is 245,out of which 233 are representatives of the States and Union territories of Delhi and Puducherry and 12 are nominated by the President.
- The members nominated by the President are persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service.
- The Fourth Schedule to the Constitution provides for allocation of seats to the States and Union Territories in Rajya Sabha.The allocation of seats is made on the basis of the population of each State.
News:The Company Law Committee which was constituted by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has submitted its report.
About the company law committee:
- Government of India had constituted the company law committee for examining and making recommendations on various provisions and issues related to implementation of the Companies Act.
- The committee consists of 11-members which is chaired by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs(MCA) secretary Injeti Srinivas.
- The committee has submitted its recommendations on offences both compoundable and non-compoundable which could be recategorised as civil offences under the Companies Act, 2013.
- The committee has also proposed measures to improve the functioning of the National Company Law Tribunal.
Key recommendations of the committee:
- Recommended changes in the 46 penal provisions so as to remove criminality or to restrict punishment to only fine or to allow rectification of defaults through alternative methods.
- Re-categorising 23 offences out of the 66 remaining compoundable offences under the Companies Act.
- These offences will be dealt with in the in-house adjudication framework wherein these defaults would be subject to a penalty levied by the adjudicating officer.
- Retention of the status-quo in case of the non-compoundable offences.
- Extending applicability of Section 446B (lower penalties for small companies and one person companies) to all provisions which attract monetary penalties and extending the benefit to producer companies and start-ups.
- Proposing new benches of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal(NCLAT)
- Providing for appeal against the orders of the Regional Directors before the NCLT after due examination.
About Compoundable and non-compoundable offences:
- Compoundable offences are those that are punishable with a fine or with a fine or imprisonment or both.
- Non-compoundable offences are those offences which are punishable with imprisonment only or punishable with imprisonment and fine.
About Companies Act,2013:
- The Companies Act 2013 is an Act of the Parliament of India on Indian company law.Company means a company incorporated under this Act or under any previous Company Law.
- The law regulates incorporation of a company, responsibilities of a company, directors and dissolution of a company.
- National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) is a quasi-judicial body that governs the companies in India.It was established under the Companies Act, 2013 and is a successor body of the Company Law Board.
- NCLT has the same powers as assigned to the (a)erstwhile Company Law Board (which are mostly related to dealing with oppression and mismanagement) (b)Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR)(revival of sick companies) and (c)powers related to winding up of companies (which was available only with the High Courts.
- National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) was constituted under the Companies Act, 2013.
- It was established for hearing appeals against the orders of (a) National Company Law Tribunal(s) (NCLT) (b)Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India and (c)Competition Commission of India (CCI).
News:Goa government has objected to the Centre announcing that the Kalasa-Banduri drinking water project in Karnataka has been granted Environment Approval.
About Kalasa-Banduri Project:
- The Kalasa-Banduri Nala is a project undertaken by the Government of Karnataka to improve drinking water supply to the Districts of Belagavi, Dharwad and Gadag.
- It involves building across Kalasa and Banduri, the two tributaries of the Mahadayi river to divert water to the Malaprabha river which supplies the drinking water needs to the three districts of Karnataka.
- However,Goa government objected against this project because this could harm Goa’s flora and fauna.
Mahadayi River water dispute:
- Mahadayi or Mhadei is the west-flowing river.It rises in the Western Ghats from the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary in Khanapur taluk of Karnataka’s Belagavi district.
- A number of streams join the flow of the river to form the Mandovi which is one of two major rivers that flow through Goa.It joins the Arabian Sea at Panaji.
- The Mandovi is important for Goa also because it is one of the few sweet-water sources at the state’s disposal.
- Most of Goa’s rivers contain salt water and Mandovi ensures water security as well as being an important place to source fish for the state.
- The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal was set up in 2010.The state governments of Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra are parties to the tribunal.
News:The government of India has already achieved the target of giving 8 crore free cooking gas(LPG) connections under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY).
About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana(PMUY):
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna is a scheme of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.
- The scheme aims to replace unclean cooking fuels used in the most underprivileged households with clean and more efficient LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas).
Objectives of the scheme:
- Empower women and protect their health
- Reduce the serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel
- Reduce the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel and
- To prevent young children from significant number of acute respiratory illnesses caused due to indoor air pollution.
- Under the scheme,an adult woman member of a below poverty line family identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is given a deposit-free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.
- The interest free loan is also provided to purchase stove and refill by Oil Marketing Companies.
- Initially the target was installation of 5 crore LPG connections by 2019.But the target was revised to 8 crore which was to be achieved by 2019-20.
News:The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports is implementing Target Olympic Podium Scheme(TOPS).
About Target Olympic Podium Scheme(TOPS):
- The Target Olympic Podium Scheme is a flagship program of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
- The scheme has been formulated under the ambit of National Sports Development Fund (NSDF).
- The scheme aims at identifying and supporting potential medal prospects for upcoming Olympic Games.
- It will provide selected sportspersons customized training at institutes having world class facilities and also other necessary support is being provided to the elite athletes.
- It will also provide a benchmark for selection of athletes on par with international standards.
- Under it, Sports Authority of India(SAI) and federations which are members of Mission Olympic Cell(MOC) will be the nodal agencies for disbursal for fund.
- They will make payments directly to beneficiary person and institution concerned on behalf of athletes.
About National Sports Development Fund(NSDF):
- The National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) was established in November, 1998 under Charitable Endowments Act,1890 with the aim of promotion of sports and games in the Country.
- The Fund is managed by a Council constituted by the Central Government.Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports is the Chairperson of the council.
- The Joint Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports is the ex-officio Member Secretary of the Council.
- NSDF aims to mobilize resources from Government as well as non-government organizations and individuals to provide required support for promotion of specific sports disciplines and improving performance of Indian sports in the major international events.
News:The maiden bilateral maritime exercise between the Qatari Naval Forces and Indian Navy named Za’ir-Al-Bahr (Roar of the sea) has started.
About the exercise:
- The exercise aims to strengthen the cooperation and enhance interoperability between the two navies.
- The exercise will include a Harbour Phase and Sea Phase.
- The activities during the harbour phase will include a seminar, professional interaction, official visits, sports fixtures along with social and cultural events.
- The sea phase will include a Tactical Maritime Exercise involving the domains of surface action, air defence, maritime surveillance and interdiction and anti-terrorism operations.
- The exercise will be attended by Indian Navy Guided Missile Stealth Frigate INS Trikand and Patrol Aircraft P8-I.
About INS Trikand:
- INS Trikand is one of the frontline frigates of the Indian Navy.It is equipped with a versatile range of weapons and sensors.
- The ship is part of the Indian Navy’s Western Fleet and is under the Western Naval Command based in Mumbai.
- The P-8I is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations.
- The P-8I is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing had developed for the U.S. Navy.The Indian Navy is the first international customer for the P-8.
News:Government has moved the Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill,2019 for consideration in the Lok Sabha.
What is Chit fund?
- Chit funds are a popular type of savings institutions in India.It is one of the main parts of the unorganized money market industry.
- Under a chit fund,people agree to pay a certain amount from time to time into a fund.
- Periodically,one of the subscribers is chosen by drawing a chit to receive the prize amount from the fund.
- Chit funds in India are managed, conducted and regulated according to Chit Funds Act of 1982.
- The Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to amend the Chit Funds Act,1982.The 1982 Act regulates chit funds, and prohibits a fund from being created without the prior sanction of the state government.
Key Highlights of Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill,2019:
- Names for a chit fund: The Act specifies various names which may be used to refer to a chit fund.These include chit, chit fund, and kuri.The Bill additionally inserts ‘fraternity fund’ and ‘rotating savings and credit institution’ to this list.
- Substitution of terms:The Act defines certain terms in relation to chit funds.It defines: (a) ‘chit amount’ as the sum of subscriptions payable by all the subscribers of a chit (b) ‘dividend’ as the share of the subscriber in the amount kept apart for running the chit and (c) ‘prize amount’ as the difference between chit amount and the amount kept apart for running the chit.The Bill changes the names of these terms to ‘gross chit amount’, ‘share of discount’ and ‘net chit amount’, respectively.
- Presence of subscribers through video-conferencing:The Act specifies that a chit will be drawn in the presence of at least two subscribers.The Bill seeks to allow these subscribers to join via video-conferencing.
- Foreman’s commission:Under the Act, the ‘foreman’ is responsible for managing the chit fund. He is entitled to a maximum commission of 5% of the chit amount.The Bill seeks to increase the commission to 7%. Further,the Bill allows the foreman a right to a lien against the credit balance from subscribers.
- Aggregate amount of chits:Under the Act,chits may be conducted by firms, associations or individuals.The Act specifies the maximum amount of chit funds which may be collected.
- These limits are: (i) one lakh rupees for chits conducted by individuals, and for every individual in a firm or association with less than four partners and (ii) six lakh rupees for firms with four or more partners.The Bill increases these limits to three lakh rupees and 18 lakh rupees, respectively.
- Application of the Act:Currently, the Act does not apply to: (i) any chit started before it was enacted, and (ii) any chit (or multiple chits being managed by the same foreman) where the amount is less than Rs 100. The Bill removes the limit of Rs 100 and allows the state governments to specify the base amount over which the provisions of the Act will apply.
News:The 6th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) will be held in Bangkok,Thailand.
- The ADMM-Plus is a platform for ASEAN countries and its eight Dialogue Partners to strengthen security and defence cooperation for peace, stability, and development in the region.
- The eight dialogue partners are Australia,New Zealand, India, China, Russia, the US, Japan and South Korea.It was held for the first time in Hanoi,Vietnam in 2010.
- It seeks to promote mutual trust and confidence between defence establishments of ASEAN and its eight partner countries through greater dialogue and transparency.
Objectives of ADMM-plus:
- To benefit ASEAN member countries in building capacity to address shared security challenges, while cognisant of the differing capacities of various ASEAN countries.
- To promote mutual trust and confidence between defence establishments through greater dialogue and transparency.
- To enhance regional peace and stability through cooperation in defence and security, in view of the transnational security challenges the region faces.
- To facilitate the implementation of the Vientiane Action Programme which calls for ASEAN to build a peaceful,secure and prosperous ASEAN.
News:Bhutan has released the new draft tourism policy.
About the policy:
- The policy plans to levy charges on tourists from regional countries including India, Bangladesh and the Maldives who at present are exempted from any charges.
- These new charges have been necessitated by the sharp increase in tourists from the region mainly from India who cross over the land boundaries.
- The Tourism Council of Bhutan will also plan to keep a track of the amenities offered across all the hotels in Bhutan.It will also control the vehicles entering Bhutan’s borders and making sure only a limited number of tourists travel in these vehicles.
- Further,Bhutan Pay Commission has also recommended that the government should levy a minimal Sustainable Development Fee(SDF) on regional tourists.
News:Recently,Indian Oil Corporation(IOC) has launched a special winter-grade diesel for the high-altitude regions of Ladakh that can withstand extremely low temperatures during the winter months.
About winter-grade diesel:
- The winter-grade diesel fuel has been developed for motorists in high-altitude sectors like Ladakh, Kargil, Kaza and Keylong.
- These areas face the problem of freezing of diesel in their vehicles when winter temperatures reach -30 degree Celsius.
Why freezing of diesel fuel happens?
- Regular diesel fuel contains paraffin wax which is added for improving viscosity and lubrication.At low temperatures,the paraffin wax thickens or gels and hinders the flow of the fuel in the car engine.
- Special types of diesel are thus used at low temperatures that contain additives enabling the fuel to remain fluid in such conditions.
- Hence,the winter-grade diesel has a low pour point (the temperature below which the liquid loses its flow characteristics) of -33° Celsius making it capable of withstanding the extreme winter weather conditions in Ladakh.
- Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) commonly known as IndianOil is an Indian state government owned oil and gas company headquartered in New Delhi.
- It is a Public Sector Unit(PSU) and is India’s largest commercial oil company.
News:The Supreme Court stayed an order of the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) which had held that markets watchdog Sebi does not have the power to bar auditors.
- The Securities and Exchange Board of India(SEBI) had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the SAT’s order.
- The Securities Appellate Tribunal(SAT) in its order had set aside the ban on audit firm and had said that SEBI does not have the power to bar auditors.
- Setting aside the ban,the SAT had said that only the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India(ICAI) can take any action against auditors.
About Securities Appellate Tribunal(SAT):
- Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) is a statutory body established under the provisions of Section 15K of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act,1992.It’s headquarters is at Mumbai.
- The mandate of SAT is to hear and dispose of appeals against the orders passed by the (a)Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) (b)Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) and (c)Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDAI).
- SAT consists of a Presiding Officer & two other members.The Presiding officer of SAT shall be appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India or his nominee.
- SEBI was established in 1992 in accordance with the provisions of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act,1992 (SEBI Act).
- The basic functions of the SEBI is to protect the interests of investors in securities and to promote and regulate the securities market.
- The board of SEBI is a quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial body which can draft regulations, conduct inquiries, pass rulings and impose penalties.
- The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India(ICAI) is the national professional accounting body of India.
- It was established in 1949 as a statutory body under the Chartered Accountants Act,1949.
- ICAI is the only licensing cum regulating body of the financial audit and Chartered Accountancy profession in India.