1. When a Constitution Bench decides on whether Aadhaar as a collective policy infringes the rights to privacy and bodily integrity, there remains the possibility that Section 139AA may be rendered void. Critically examine.(GS 2) The Hindu What is section 139AA:-
  • The section makes it obligatory on individuals filing income tax returns to link their permanent account numbers (PAN) to their Aadhaar.
Yes,it can be rendered void because :-
  • Making Aadhaar mandatory would push the country towards a totalitarian state where citizens’ rights would be made subservient and the government would keep an eye on each of their activities.
  • It violates a person’s right to practise any profession or carry on any trade under Article 19(1)(g) and violates right to privacy and bodily integrity.
  • Petitioners are concerned that the Income Tax Act cannot make Aadhaar compulsory when the core legislation, the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial & Other Subsidies, Benefits & Services) Act, 2016, makes enrolment in the scheme voluntary.
  • Petitioners are concerned that both biometric details and iris scans can be forged.
No,it can't be void because :-
  • Biometric system was the only way to prevent duplication as there was no way in which people could get a duplicate or fake Aadhaar number and linking of PAN with Aadhaar would be very effective in monitoring cases of tax evasion.
  • People are procuring multiple PAN cards which were being used for illegal transactions and to “divert funds” to shell firms.
  • Aadhaar and PAN can help eradicate the ills of tax evasion caused by a proliferation of black money.
  • State has a legitimate interest in making classifications to effectuate its policy decisions.
  • Supreme court, considered this case as “hard case”, which shows that its abilities were somehow hamstrung by the nature of the dispute,it might be difficult for it to intervene.
2. The National Anti-Profiteering Authority, to be set up under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, will have wide-ranging powers. Discuss its powers. (GS 3) The Hindu Introduction:-
  • The Finance Ministry recently notified the Anti-Profiteering Authority, which would check any undue increase in prices of products by companies under the Goods and Services Tax
Powers:-
  • It will be able to issue notices to anybody that it feels warrants a “fair enquiry.
  • It will have the powers to order a reduction in prices, impose a penalty, and even cancel the registration of a company deemed to have not passed on a tax rate reduction to consumers.
  • The Authority may determine the methodology and procedure for determination as to whether the reduction in rate of tax on the supply of goods or services or the benefit of input tax credit has been passed on by the registered person to the recipient by way of commensurate reduction in prices,
  • The Authority will have three months to issue its verdict following the investigation by the Director general of Safeguards, which means the entire procedure, from investigation to verdict, cannot exceed nine months.
  • The authority will have the power to make the company reduce its prices and refund the money to the consumer along with an interest of 18 per cent or deposit it in the Consumer Welfare Fund. It can also impose a penalty and cancel the registration of the company.
  • To determine whether any reduction in rate of tax on any supply of goods or services or the benefit of the ITC has been passed on to the recipient;
  • To identify the registered person who has not passed on the benefit of reduction in rate of tax on supply of goods or services
  • To order :
    • Reduction in prices
    • Return of the amount equivalent to the amount not passed to the recipient with interest @ rate of 18%
    • Recovery of the amount not returned in case the eligible person  & deposit same in the Consumer Welfare Fund
    • Imposition of penalty as prescribed under the Act; &
  • The Authority will have powers to summon any person considered necessary to produce document of evidence under Sec. 70 of the CGST Act.
  • The Authority will have powers to inquiry and same shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings within the meaning of Sec. 193 & Sec. 228 of the IPC
Concerns:-
  • Economists are concerned that this provides a potential throwback to the 1960s.
  • Phrases such as “anti profit”, “authority”, “expect cooperation from businesses”, “weapon”, etc., bandied about in public by one of India’s senior most bureaucrats, is unbecoming of a nation that just celebrated its silver jubilee of “economic liberalization”.
  • India is not the only country to conjure up an anti-profit legislation. Malaysia tried an anti-profiteering and price control law in 2011, ahead of its GST roll-out. It turned out to be a disastrous move which was counter-productive and finally abandoned.
  • India’s experience with laws which seek to penalise profiteering is very shabby. The last time India had an anti-profiteering legislation was the West Bengal Anti-Profiteering Act of 1958.
  • Officers of this new “Anti Profit Authority” can raise arbitrary objections to what they deem is a “fair” price of a certain good or service after a GST reduction and threaten to levy penalties.
  • Setting up a new authority, manning it with appropriate people, with the right mind-set, is in itself a task.
  • India already has a well-established up and running Competition Commission of India (CCI), which would have been well equipped to take over this task. Plus, a consumer grievance mechanism also exists.
By looking at the anti-profiteering rules, it does seem like suppliers of goods and services have to walk on a tightrope.  One hopes these rules, in a bid to control inflation, don’t get into productivity and growth.
3. What do you mean by Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system? What are its role in conventional diesel-electric submarines?(GS 3) The Hindu Air independent propulsion system:-
  • Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) is a technology that allows Diesel Submarines to operate without having to surface or use a snorkel to access atmospheric oxygen .
  • Navies who wish to operate non-nuclear subs with long-range and large weapons payload are now option for large diesel submarines equipped with AIP, which provide the closest alternative to nuclear powered submarines.
  • Some examples are the Soryu classof Japan, Type 216 being developed by Germany and the Shortfin Barracuda of France which will be operated by Australia.
Role in conventional diesel electric submarines:-
  • Ever since submarines become the principal weapon of naval warfare, designers have focused on making them quieter and increasing their underwater endurance. Traditional diesel-electric submarines need to surface frequently to charge their batteries and have an underwater endurance of only a few days. As battery technology improved, the endurance of these submarines increased proportionally. But it was not enough to last them beyond a week. The introduction of Air Independent Propulsion (AIP), vastly improved the underwater endurance of these submarines and gave them a distinct advantage
  • Allowing a submarine to remain submerged for extended periods, without the need to surface, augments range and improves underwater endurance, at a cost lower than  nuclear propulsion
  • At the same time preserving the advantages of conventional diesel electric power.  This helps Diesel submarines to carry out operations in a stealthy manner reducing their chances of being detected by anti submarine ships and aircrafts .
  • Also diesel submarines possess the advantage of being able to switch off thir engines completely and lie in wait unlike nuclear submarines whose reactors cannot be switched off at will. This combined with the ultra-quiet nature of modern diesel subs, has made AIP-equipped diesel subs a very attractive alternative for many countries.
  • However AIP doesn’t give any advantage other than increased underwater advantage and it should not be assumed that AIP-equipped submarines will always defeat their non-AIP equipped counterparts.
This technology has a bright future and we will see more modern navies adopting it for their diesel-electric submarine fleets.