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SYNOPSIS: IASbaba’s Current Affairs Focus (CAF) Mains 2017: Day 6

  • IASbaba
  • October 14, 2017
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SYNOPSIS : IASbaba’s Current Affairs Focus (CAF) Mains 2017: Day 6

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1. Should Lok Sabha and state assembly polls be held simultaneously? What are your views? Discuss its pros and cons. Also give your opinion on on multi-phase polls. Do you think it compromises on free and fair elections?

Introduction:

After PM Modi came out with idea of simultaneous election to central and state legislature, EC recently announced that it is ready to carry out a such an enormous task in the country. But there has been constant criticism over the idea citing breakdown of federal principles.

Body:

Pros of simultaneous election:

  • Government man power: Most important is it reduces government machineries to concentrate on their work than being deputed to election duties.
  • Time saving: It saves time on conducting election and those times can be utilized for other policy researches.
  • Expenditure: Saves expenditure and encourages people to vote once in 5 years than every now and then.
  • Political Performance: The performance can be reviewed because the representatives have more time to spend in their constituencies.
  • Polarization: It will reduce voter polarization and focus on development.
  • Regionalism: It will help in reducing regionalism and help in strengthen unity and integrity.

Cons:

  • Federal principle: It will lead to break down of federal principle on which our constitution is framed
  • One-party domination: It will lead to one-party domination in center and state.
  • Unitary: It will lead to unitary form of government with no regional issues and central issues highlighted.

Multi-phase polls:

  • Polarization: It will lead to polarization of people into various groups due to time gap and parties can appeal on various grounds analyzing voting pattern in initial phases.
  • Influence: It can influence the voting patterns in later polls.
  • Corruption: It might lead to bribing of voters and increased money and muscle power use.

Conclusion:

Multi –phase polls have been used in large states like UP, Bihar and during parliamentary elections due to large voter base and shortage of man and technology power in country. A country with size and population as India, single phase poll is impossible but steps can be taken to make it fair process.


2. The idea of National Court of Appeal with regional beaches is being mooted to relieve the Supreme Court of civil and criminal matters. What are your views on the idea? Substantiate.

Introduction:

National court of appeal is a court which is meant to act as final court of justice in dealing with appeals from higher court and lower court of country with regional branches in Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata.  This is meant to relieve Supreme Court from its excess work load.

Body:

Advantages:

  • Faster verdict: Will help in faster verdicts from court work.
  • Shedding of workload: For Supreme Court.
  • Regional branches: So reduction in travelling long distance from various parts of country.
  • Cost effective: It will be cost effective in getting judgement and clearance of cases.
  • Constitutional work: Supreme Court can deal with its original jurisdiction and more to constitutional works.
  • Co-ordination: With high court and lower court to finish cases at lower levels itself.

Issues:

  • Constitutional amendment: It requires constitutional amendment to implement such institution.
  • Judicial appointments: Already huge vacancy at existing level of judiciary.
  • Additional expenditure: To setup and maintain the new branch of judiciary. Ultimate cost will be borne by tax payers.
  • Jurisdiction: Supreme Court is the final court of appeal so again the cases will go there.

Conclusion:

It looks like a better idea but again it is beyond reach of common man for justice. The legal expenses are very expensive and the judiciary should come up with more of lokadalat type than such type of court which are meant serve the interest of wealthy section of society.


3. There is an urgent need to adopt legally enforceable standards to uphold the dignity of superior judiciary and establish a new architecture to process the public complaints levelled against the judges. Comment.

Introduction:
A member of the higher judiciary, which means the Judges and Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of India and the state High Courts, can be removed from service only through the process of impeachment under Article 124 (4) of the Constitution on grounds of proven misbehaviour or incapacity.

Issues:

  • In 1950 the superior judiciary consisted of a body of eight judges of the Supreme Court and a few judges in nine High Courts. There are now 31 judges in the Supreme Court and over 750 in 21 High Courts. The overlltrend of falling standards of public life have not avoided the judges of the superior courts. Charges of misconduct against judges of superior courts are now being frequently made.
  • Under current practice, to deal with such problems of delinquency the Chief Justice of India appoints a committee of judges to enquire into allegations of impropriety by judges of High Courts.
    Such committees, which do not have any authority of law to enquire into charges or summon evidence and effectively investigate the matter, have not inspired confidence in lawyers.
    Even if the committee finds a judge guilty of misconduct, he or she cannot be removed from office by the Chief Justice or even suspended.
  • The present procedure laid down in the Constitution for the removal of a Supreme Court or High Court judge on the ground of proven misbehaviour or incapacity is cumbersome, unworkable, unrealistic and therefore impossible.
  • Another problem is that at times public criticism of the conduct of a judge by the media runs the risk of action for contempt of the court.
  • Under the existing set up, we have mechanism to deal with the case of indiscipline in lower judiciary but not in the higher judiciary. The only option is impeachment, which is a lengthy and cumbersome process.

Way ahead:

  • If the reputation of, and confidence in, the higher judiciary is to be maintained there is an urgent need to set up a credible statutory machinery for investigating charges against judges.
  • There can be a law to investigate misconduct by judges and take appropriate action. The U.S. Constitution has the method of removal by impeachment of federal judges, but there is a supplemental law to consider complaints of misbehaviour by federal court judges and discipline them, short of their removal.

Conclusion:

The Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution, the Dinesh Goswami Committee on judicial reforms and other bodies have stressed the need for effective measures to deal with misbehaviour of judges and have also suggested various ways to check the growing evil. There is an urgent need for punitive correctives in the superior judiciary. A mechanism was provided in the now scrapped National Judicial Appointment Commission Act (NJAC). It must be reviewed.


4. The Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act (PBPT Act) came into force last year. Discuss it features and significance.

SYNOPSIS:

The Benami transactions are those transactions in which the real beneficiary is not the person in whose name the transaction has been done.  In simple terms, the property is held by one person but amount for it is provided by another. The real owner is hidden and this defrauds public revenue.

Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act 1988, had several loopholes such as lack of proper implementation machinery, absence of appellate mechanism, lack of provision with center for vesting confiscated property etc.

The current Government introduced a modified bill which became an act after passage from both houses and receiving the assent of the president on 11th August 2016.

Salient Features

A)Definition of Benami to avoid confusion

A property that is held in the name of spouse or child for which the amount is paid out of known sources of income is not Benami. Similarly, joint property of brothers, sisters or other relatives for which amount is paid out of known resources of income is also not Benami.

Benami property may include assets of any kind including movable, immovable, tangible, intangible, any right or assets or legal documents. It also includes Gold and financial security.

B) Proceedings against Benami Property Beneficiaries

The act authorizes the government to designate an assistant or deputy income-tax commissioner as initiator to start proceedings into a Benami transaction. The officer will refer the case to “adjudicating authority” under this act, which will decide in one year if the transaction / property or asset was Benami.

C) Adjudicating Authority

The act provides that Adjudicating Authority will be established by the Central Government. It shall be consisting of a Chairperson and at least two other members. A person who has been member of Income Tax or Revenue Service only can become member or chairperson of adjudicating authority. Adjudicating Authorities will exercise jurisdiction, powers and authority conferred under this act.

Once the initiator has referred the case to adjudicating authority, it will decide the case in one-year time.

D)Appellate Tribunal

Appeals against the adjudicating authority’s decision can be taken to the Appellate Tribunal at New Delhi. This tribunal will be established by the Central Government and will be consisting of one chairperson and two other members of which one shall be Judicial member and other shall be an administrative member. The chairperson can also constitute the benches of appellate tribunal.

  • The person to be appointed as Chairperson to the Appellate Tribunal must be a sitting or retired judge of a High Court.
  • A judicial member must have been a member of Indian Legal Service and have held the post of additional secretary or equivalent in that service.
  • The administrative member must have been a member of Indian Revenue Service and have held the post of Chief Commissioner of Income Tax or equivalent post.

E) Confiscation of the Benami Property and Punishment Provisions

Once an order becomes final, the Benami properties will be confiscated. These properties will be managed and disposed of by the designated officers who will be appointed from among the income-tax officers.

The act provides that the Benamidar {owner of Benami Property} or any other person who abets other person to enter into such transactions will face rigorous punishments ranging from one to seven years in jail. Further, the person may be liable for a fine up to 25% of the fair market value of the property.

SIGNIFICANCE:

The core aim of the act is to route the unaccounted money into the financial system; seize Benami properties and prosecute those who are involved in these unlawful transactions.

 This law will have long term impacts on real estate industry in the country and will increase the practice of including the correct name in property transactions.

This in turn would bring transparency in residential market. With an increased transparency, the risks would be minimized and residential properties transactions would get boost which will also get the costs down for customers. It will also boost the confidence of lenders


5. NGOs have become an indispensable tool for social development. However, the NGOs must respect the law of the land, maintain transparency and remain above board. Comment.

The World Bank defines NGOs as private organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development.

NGOs are legally constituted organizations which operate independently from Government and are generally considered to be nonstate, nonprofit oriented groups who pursue purposes of public interest. Different agencies recognize these groups with different names such as Civil Society Organizations (CSO), charitable organizations, voluntary organizations etc.

The role of NGOs in our society

They act as service contractors, able to work more efficiently and more effectively than government agencies thereby playing an important role in the socio-economic transformation.

It brings in accountability and transparency to governance.

It acts as a human rights watchdog in the society.

NGOs act as channels for donors to provide international development funds to low-income countries or developing countries.

Issues with the functioning of NGOs:

Misappropriation of funds: Many NGOs don’t have sophisticated finance and legal teams, nor do they have the funds to conduct audits.

The external issue of funding: According to government data a total of 3,068 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) received foreign funding above Rs. 22,000 Cr in 2014-15. It is often said that foreign-funded NGOs tries to propagate the foreign propaganda to stall developmental projects. Example: Kudankulam Protest.

Nonaccountable, nontransparent undemocratic functioning: CBI records filed in the Supreme Court show that only 10% of the total registered NGOs under the Societies Registration Act file annual financial statements.

Money Laundering: Corrupt or unscrupulous NGOs that receive foreign funds may serve as conduits for money laundering.

Way ahead

A regulatory mechanism to keep a watch on the financial activities of NGOs and voluntary organizations is the need of the hour.

The government should frame guidelines for their accreditation, the manner in which these organizations should maintain their accounts and the procedure for recovery in case they fail to submit their balance sheets.

Avoid tussle between Home Ministry and Finance Ministry by bringing the regulation of NGOs under one head.

General Financial Rules, 2005 have mandated a regulatory mechanism for the NGOs and a comprehensive law in line with these rules should be framed in no time.

 

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