Make lynching a separate offence, SC tells Parliament
- Asking whether the people of India have lost their tolerance for one another, the Supreme Court condemned the recent spate of lynchings as “horrendous acts of mobocracy” and told Parliament to make lynching a separate offence.
- The 45-page judgment, by a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, wonders whether the “populace of a great Republic like ours has lost the values of tolerance to sustain a diverse culture?”
- “The recent litany of spiralling mob violence, their horror, the grim and gruesome scenes of lynchings are made worse by the apathy of the bystanders, numbness of mute spectators, inertia of the police and, finally, the grandstanding of the incident by the perpetrators of the crimes on social media,” Chief Justice Misra wrote.
- Describing lynchings and mob violence as “creeping threats”, the court warned that the rising wave of frenzied mobs — fed by fake news, self-professed morality and false stories — would consume the country like a “typhoon-like monster.”
- It said the primary obligation of the government is to protect all individuals irrespective of race, caste, class or religion.
- It directed several preventive, remedial and punitive measures to deal with lynching and mob violence. It ordered the Centre and the States to implement the measures and file compliance reports within the next four weeks. Lynchings cannot become the order of the day.
Lynchings destroy the very majesty of law, says SC
- The limited role, if any, of a vigilante is to report an incident to the police and not become the law and punisher himself, the Supreme Court observed.
- A citizen is accountable to the law, which gives him wings to realise his aspirations. In return, the law demands the citizen to pay it obeisance.
- The court held that it is every person’s duty to protect lives and human rights. No act of a citizen is to be adjudged by any kind of community under the guise of protectors of law.
- “There cannot be a right higher than the right to live with dignity and further to be treated with humaneness that the law provides.
- The government cannot allow self-styled vigilantes to take over from law enforcement agencies.
- Any “external forces” who assume the role of protectors are criminals.
SC: law is practised in courts, not on the streets
- No individual can target a person and “deal” with him as if he is already guilty.
- The streets cannot be the scene for investigation, trial and punishment.
- The law is practised in courts and not on the streets. Citizens have the right to report to the police if they see something they perceive to be a crime; they cannot be the law and the punisher.
- “When any core group with some kind of idea take the law into its own hands, it ushers in anarchy, chaos, disorder. Eventually, there is an emergence of a violent society,” the Chief Justice wrote.
Crack down on fake news on social media
- The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Centre and the States to take immediate steps to stop the dissemination of fake news or stories on social media, which has a tendency to whip up a mob frenzy.
- The court ordered the State governments to have a special task force to procure intelligence on people “likely” to spread hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news in each district.
- The district-level nodal officers should hold regular meetings with their local intelligence units to identify the existence of the tendencies of vigilantism, mob violence or lynching in the district and take steps to prohibit instances of dissemination of offensive material on social media.
- Areas with a five-year history of lynchings should be identified in each district within the next three weeks.
- The court said the police shall register an FIR under Section 153A (promoting enmity) of the IPC against the suspects. If found guilty, a person faces up to five years of imprisonment. The trial shall be held in a fast-track court on a day-to-day basis and completed in six months. The court said maximum sentence should be granted to the guilty to make an example of them and serve as a deterrent.
The new abnormal | The Indian Express
- These suggestions should now become the starting point for a wider exercise of consultation and discussion that involves the legislature, central and state governments.
- Many questions will need to be asked: How is mob violence to be defined? What will be the distinction, overlap or intersection between vigilantism, communal violence and hate crime? What will be the role of the Centre and the state in the framing of the law and its implementation? Can a law, howsoever well-framed, be effective in the absence of political will?
- It is sobering that in 21st century India the apex court should call for a new law for lynching. It is disquieting that it should be left to the court to draw attention to the crime and the climate of intolerance and impunity it flourishes in, and to connect the dots between the law and order machinery, preservation of the “secular ethos” and the “pluralistic social fabric”.
Accept gay relationships, says SC judge
- Public acceptance of people in gay relationships will help meet health concerns and control the spread of HIV, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud of the Supreme Court told lawyers who argued in support of criminalising homosexuality.
- Same sex couples living in denial with no access to medical care were more prone to contracting and spreading sexually transmitted diseases, Justice Chandrachud observed. “All suppression is wrong.”
RTI Bill to be placed in monsoon session
- The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which proposes to give the Centre the power to set the tenure and salaries of State and Central Information Commissioners, will be introduced in the Lok Sabha in the monsoon session.
- The Bill is being opposed by several Opposition political parties and RTI activists, who warn that the amendments will dilute the RTI law and compromise the independence of the Information Commissions.
- The current law gives Information Commissioners a tenure of five years and salaries which match those of Election Commissioners.
- Reason: The functions being carried out by the Election Commission of India and the central and state Information Commissions are totally different.
Activists oppose draft anti-trafficking
- The proposed anti-trafficking Bill likely to be tabled in Parliament during the Monsoon Session will criminalise sex workers and transgenders, according to activists.
- They appealed that the Bill should explicitly state that consenting adult workers will not be penalised under the new law.
- “When a law prescribes life imprisonment for trafficking leading to AIDS or begging or injecting of hormones, it will ultimately lead to criminalisation of trans-identities,” said a LGBTQ rights activist .
- S. Jana, who was part of a Supreme Court-appointed committee in the Buddhadeb Karmakar Vs State of West Bengal on rehabilitation of sex workers, said the Bill went against the basic tenets of rehabilitation as it did not distinguish between trafficking and sex work and failed to assure dignity to consenting adult sex workers. He said it would also be a roadblock in HIV prevention.
- The Union Cabinet approved the draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018.
- The trafficking category of crimes carry a jail term of seven to 10 years, the aggravated forms of trafficking carry a punishment of 10 years in jail to life imprisonment. Aggravated offences include trafficking for the purpose of forced labour, begging, trafficking by administering chemical substance or hormones on a person for the purpose of early sexual maturity, or where a survivor contracts HIV.
- Trafficking in human beings is the third largest organized crime violating basic human rights. There is.no specific law so far to deal with this crime. Accordingly, the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 has been prepared. The Bill addresses one of the most pervasive yet invisible crimes affecting the most vulnerable persons especially women and children.
- The new law will make India a leader among South Asian countries to combat trafficking. Trafficking is a global concern also affecting a number of South Asian nations. Amongst them, India is now a pioneer in formulating a comprehensive legislation. UNODC and SAARC nations are looking forward to India to take lead by enacting this law.
The Bill broadly has the following features:-
- Addresses the issue of trafficking from the point of view of prevention, rescue and rehabilitation.
- Aggravated forms of trafficking, which includes trafficking for the purpose of forced labour, begging, trafficking by administering chemical substance or hormones on a person for the purpose of early sexual maturity, trafficking of a woman or child for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage or after marriage etc.
- Punishment for promoting or facilitating trafficking of person which includes producing, printing, issuing or distributing unissued, tampered or fake certificates, registration or stickers as proof of compliance with Government requirements; or commits fraud for procuring or facilitating the acquisition of clearances and necessary documents from Government agencies.
- The confidentiality of victims/ witnesses and complainants by not disclosing their identity. Further the confidentiality of the victims is maintained by recording their statement through video conferencing (this also helps in trans-border and inter-State crimes).
- Time bound trial and repatriation of the victims – within a period of one year from taking into cognizance.
- Immediate protection of rescued victims and their rehabilitation. The Victims are entitled to interim relief immediately within 30 days to address their physical, mental trauma etc. and further appropriate relief within 60 days from the date of filing of charge sheet.
- Rehabilitation Fund created for the first time. To be used for the physical, psychological and social well-being of the victim including education, skill development, health care/psychological support, legal aid, safe accommodation,etc.
- Designated courts in each district for the speedy trial of the cases.
- The Bill creates dedicated institutional mechanisms at District, State and Central Level. These will be responsible for prevention, protection, investigation and rehabilitation work related to trafficking. National Investigation Agency (NIA) will perform the tasks of Anti-Trafficking Bureau at the national level present under the MHA.
- In order to break the organized nexus, both at the national and international level, the Bill provides for the attachment & forfeiture of property and also the proceeds for crime.
- The Bill comprehensively addresses the transnational nature of the crime. The National Anti-Trafficking Bureau will perform the functions of international coordination with authorities in foreign countries and international organizations; international assistance in investigation; facilitate inter-State and trans-border transfer of evidence and materials, witnesses and others for expediting prosecution; facilitate inter-state and international video conferencing in judicial proceedings etc.
Counter-drone strategy for country’s airports is ready
- The counter-drone plan prepared by a committee headed by Director General of BCAS (Bureau of Civil Aviation Security) has proposed neutralising drones through a “soft kill” approach which will include entrapping or jamming drones instead of destroying them.The strategy deals with drones operating near aerodromes as the body is mandated to ensure aviation security.
- The Ministry of Home Affairs may prepare a separate plan to deal with drone attacks in sensitive zones such as Parliament.
- The official added that a “soft kill” approach instead of a hard kill approach has been suggested because destroying a drone with a payload of explosives or biochemical will result in an attack and serve the purpose of their handlers.
- The Wholesale Price Index as a measure of price gains is back in the national spotlight. The latest data, which show a sharp surge in wholesale inflation in June, to a 54-month high of 5.77%, are a cause for concern.
- While the WPI is no longer the primary focus in the Reserve Bank of India’s inflation-targeting approach to monetary policy formulation — having ceded that role to the Consumer Price Index — the gauge remains economically significant nevertheless.
- The measure of wholesale price gains is the key deflator in computing the Index of Industrial Production and is also used to deflate Gross Domestic Product at current prices.
Closer macro-economic scrutiny
- Not only have rising crude oil prices persistently fanned inflation they have also led to rapidly accelerating double-digit price gains in the fuel and power group.
- Inflation in the fuel and power group has quickened every month since February’s 4.55% print, to 16.18% in June.
- Food articles are another source of worry, especially the prices of vegetables and the politically sensitive duo of potatoes and onions.
- Manufactured products — the third key group-level constituent of the WPI with the largest weight of 64.2% — are also signalling a worrying wider inflationary trend.
- But policymakers can ill afford to ease their vigil, especially given the government’s decision to increase the minimum support price for kharif crops and uncertainty about the spatial impact of this year’s monsoon rains on overall agricultural output. After all, a sustained trend of high WPI inflation will not only add pressure on the RBI to raise interest rates, but could also potentially undermine the pace of GDP growth.
- There are two key concerns here: one, that there has been a sustained increase in WPI inflation since the start of the current fiscal, and two, that data released by the government last week showed that retail inflation, too, had risen to a five-month high of 5% in June.
- Given these trends, the sharper-than-expected uptick in the WPI inflation in June 2018 reinforces expectations of analysts that a repo rate hike is likely at the next meeting of the RBI’s Monetary Policy Committee in August. The worry for policymakers in the surge in WPI numbers, even after discounting for the base effect (a low reading of 0.90% in June 2017, the base for calculating the year-on-year inflation for June 2018), is the cascading effect that it could have on CPI.
- While both baskets measure inflationary trends (the movement of price signals) within the broader economy, the two indices differ sharply in the manner in which weightages are assigned to food, fuel and manufactured items, as well as at the broken-down level of these segments.
- So, wholesale inflation, measured by WPI, tracks year-on-year inflation at the producer or factory gate level, and is a marker for price movements in the purchase of bulk inputs by traders. CPI, on the other hand, captures changes in prices levels at the shop end, and is, thereby, reflective of the inflation experienced at the level of consumers. The weightage of food in CPI is far higher (46%) than in WPI (24%). Also, WPI does not capture changes in the prices of services, which CPI does.
- As in any imperfect market, changes in prices at the producer level get transmitted to consumers, mostly with a lag and, in some cases, not to the full extent of the impact at the producer level. So, while a higher WPI reading can be an aberration at times, a steady upward surge in WPI reading is most certainly an indicator of inflationary pressure entrenching itself within the broader economy and getting eventually reflected in the CPI numbers. In April 2014, the RBI had adopted the CPI as its key measure of inflation. Prior to this, the central bank had given more weightage to the WPI as the key measure of inflation for all policy purposes.
- The worry is that the revised inflation projection of 4.8%-4.9% issued by the RBI in its June review could be breached in the first half of FY’19 due to rising crude oil prices, according to projections by India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) earlier this month. On Monday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in an update to its World Economic Outlook, said the Indian economy will grow slower than what it had estimated three months ago, because of higher crude prices and faster interest rate hikes. In the fresh update, the IMF trimmed India’s growth projection for 2018-19 by 10 basis points to 7.3%. For 2019-20, IMF cut its projection by a sharper 30 basis points to 7.5%.
- What toll does inflation take on growth? Based on studies of a wide range of countries over the years, economists have broadly concluded that the threshold values of inflation in developing countries are higher than in developed countries.
- In the Indian context, a significant paper was Inflation Threshold in India: The empirical results of this study suggested that there exists a “statistically significant structural break” in the relation between output growth and inflation in the 4% to 5.5% inflation range, above which inflation retards growth rate of GDP, and below the threshold level, there is a “statistically significant positive relationship” between inflation rate and growth. The paper concluded that substantial gains can be achieved if inflation is kept below the threshold.
- After it shifted to the CPI as its main benchmark for mapping policy rates, the RBI has a target to keep consumer-level inflation at 4% (+/- 2%). Any rise in CPI inflation beyond this comfort zone puts pressure on the central bank to hike rates.
Neutral Net critical for India’ Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
- The Telecom Commission has approved TRAI’s recommendations on net neutrality. What now in terms of implementation and policy?
- At an institutional level, TRAI is very happy that our recommendations have been accepted in toto by the government. The Internet is an extremely important platform and all the innovations are happening around it.a lot is going to depend on the Internet whether it is health, education or agriculture. They are all going to ride on this platform. Therefore, it is particularly important from a developing country’s perspective that the Internet remains non-discriminatory and innovative.We have created two exceptions — special category of applications for example remote surgery and special situations such as a natural disaster. We have not hard-coded it. We have left it to the government. Even on the enforcement, we did not want to hard-code the methodology. We feel that an industry-led body will be able to do a better job.
A review of Mandela’s legacy
- Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “If a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” Nelson Mandela was a man who cherished the ideal of a free society all his life;
- an ideal that as he proclaimed at his trial in Pretoria, in April 1964, he hoped to live for, but if need be, die for.
- During his lifetime, Mandela dedicated himself to the freedom struggle of the African people, and in doing so, fought against White and Black domination in South Africa. But more than anything else, he fought for democracy as a plural society in which all races, languages and opinions could live together in harmony, and with equal opportunity.
- He proclaimed later, “an ordinary man who became a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.” Truly speaking, South Africa’s transition to democracy, under the leadership of Mandela, was a great work of political creativity and moral wisdom.
- What Mandela understood through his life experience was that freedom cannot be speechless, while violence is incapable of speech.
- Mandela was born a century ago in a world where outspokenness was not practised among Blacks in South Africa. “We were meant to learn through imitation and emulation, not through asking questions,” he wrote in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom .
- The young Mandela proved to be a much more inflexible Africanist than many of his colleagues in the Youth League. Mandela observes, in Conversations with Myself , “I must be frank and tell you that when I look back at some of my early writings and speeches I am appalled by their pedantry, artificiality and lack of originality.”
- In a sense, his political lifestyle and thinking did not really start to evolve before the 1950s. It is after he established a legal practice in 1952, with fellow lawyer and ANC executive member Oliver Tambo, that his self-confidence grew, in turn changing his lifestyle and his political leadership.
- The two turning points in his personal life and his political struggle were his marriage with Winnie Madikizela, and the Sharpeville Massacre (1960), when a hundred African demonstrators were killed, and both the ANC and the Pan-African Congress were banned. Mandela decided to go underground and create a new armed wing, the Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). In the eyes of Mandela, the choice of turning the ANC into a violent organisation was to acquire the best hope of reconciliation afterwards.
- In any case, Mandela’s clandestine travels within and outside South African territory ended in his arrest on August 5, 1962 at Howick.
- At the famous Rivonia trial, Mandela insisted on the ANC’s heritage of non-violence and racial harmony and delivered his historical speech which was received with empathy around the world. On June 12, 1964, Judge de Wet pronounced life imprisonment for Mandela and his fellow prisoners. Mandela spent 27 years and six months in captivity, with more than 17 years of this sentence on Robben Island as the prisoner 466/64. However, as he wrote later, prison gave him plenty of time “to stand back and look at the entire movement from a distance”. He revised his views and values while keeping his moral authority and his capacities for political judgment.
- Nelson Mandela left Victor Verster prison on February 11, 1990, but his march to freedom was not yet over. The second memorable moment of his life and that of South African nation was when he became, in 1994, South Africa’s first democratic and Black African President. “Madiba”, as Mandela was known by his clan name, accomplished his heroic status by meeting the challenges of his life and those of his time. As an activist, as a prisoner or as a leader in government, he remained intensely conscious of his moral and political responsibilities as a man in search for excellence. Even after his death, on December 5, 2013, he has remained a global figure with a legacy — of a politics of excellence. If we celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth today, it is not because we take leave of his time and his struggle but mainly because his politics of excellence and his moral capital are more relevant than ever to all those who continue to believe in the non-violent pursuit of public happiness and in peace-making governance.
Goa’s glass problem
- There are three key arguments made in favour of the recent proposal to ban beer bottles in Goa. One, most bottlers do not collect empty bottles. Two, shards of glass injure people at beaches; and three, the staff at waste facilities injure themselves.
- The fact that most bottle-makers do not collect empty bottles is being used as a reason to ban glass bottles. This indicates the government’s unwillingness to force bottlers to do the right thing.
- The government can induce companies to initiate bottle collection schemes and ask companies to include all types of outlets, and consumers, in such schemes. A refundable deposit should be levied on the outlets and on the customers to encourage return of bottles. The deposit charged on the outlets should be the same as that they charge on customers.
- Second, if shards of glass are injuring people on the beach, this is a symptom of lack of civic sense and the absence of an effective waste management system.
- there is need to bring behavioural change and provide better infrastructure to collect waste. A proper policing system should be put in place to deter, sensitise and punish people who litter.
- Third, there are two major reasons for avoidable but hazardous injuries of staff at waste facilities. The first is that waste is not segregated at source. Unsegregated waste not only hides sharp material but can also be a source of pathogens. On the other hand, waste segregation enhances the potential of the waste material to be reused and recycled.
- The second reason for injury is inadequate protective equipment for personnel.
- The question that Goans must ask themselves is whether they are waging a war against waste or battling a mindset. The former seeks easy but unsustainable alternatives that will eventually magnify current problems. The latter seeks a collective solution which could ultimately clear the path to a garbage-free Goa by 2020.
LIC’s IDBI deal may exceed Rs. 20,000 cr.
- Life Insurance Corporation (LIC)’s proposal to increase its stake in state-run lender IDBI Bank to 51% could come at an investment of more than Rs. 20,000 crore as the insurer has to buy an additional 367 crore shares
- On Monday, LIC’s board had cleared a proposal to increase the insurer’s stake in IDBI Bank to 51%. At present, LIC has 7.98% stake in IDBI Bank, while the government owns 85.96%. LIC will buy the additional shares via a preferential issue.
- If there is an open offer, as is mandatory under the existing takeover regulations, LIC’s stake in the bank would increase further.
- The government’s share holding in IDBI Bank would fall to 44%, once the LIC increases its stake.
Constitution Bench starts hearing Sabarimala entry case
- A Constitution Bench led by the Chief Justice of India commenced hearing the question whether the fundamental right of women to pray at the Sabarimala temple amounts to discrimination “on a biological factor exclusive to female gender”.
- The Supreme Court will scrutinise the age-old prohibition on women aged between 10 and 50 — that is, those who are in the menstruating age — from entering the temple.
- The Supreme Court had in its reference to the larger Bench in October last year questioned how a temple managed by a statutory board – Travancore Devaswom Board — and financed by the State government “can indulge in practices violating constitutional principles/ morality”.
- The temple authorities had justified the ban, saying it was an age-old practice founded in tradition.
- The larger Bench will decide whether the practice of excluding such women constitutes an “essential religious practice“.
- For India, the latest numbers are from 2015-16 National Family Health Survey. Over the course of her lifetime, a woman in India has a 4.7 per cent chance of experiencing sexual violence in urban areas and 6.4 per cent in rural areas. That is to say, the lifetime rates in India are a fraction of those in the US. For 2005-06, the same survey found urban rates of 5.9 per cent and rural rates of 9.7 per cent. In other words, there has been a significant drop in sexual violence in India over the last 10 or so years.
- Therefore, the narrative that seeks to pin onto India, the tag of the world’s most dangerous country in the world for women, and one where violence against women is increasing by the day, is simply not borne out by the data. In fact, the annual as well as the lifetime rates of sexual violence in India are amongst the lowest in the world.
- It is nobody’s case that horrific sexual violence does not happen in India. The infamous Delhi gang rape was a clear reminder of Byron’s famous dictum that “man to man so often unjust, is always so to women”. Much remains to be done to protect women in India. It is also clear that many areas in India are a challenge for women. But then there are large parts of India where women feel very safe and one must look at the aggregate picture to form a judgement.
- the systematic attempt by international entities such as the Reuters Foundation, to vilify and willfully defame India and to single it out for condemnation, when the overwhelming mass of data points in exactly the opposite direction, is nothing short of a new form of colonialism. Classic colonialism was the physical occupation of countries. This new colonialism which may be conveniently called Colonialism 2.0, is an attempt to occupy mindspace with the foisting of a prefabricated narrative entirely contrary to the facts.
EVs have the potential to fuel India’s growth
- A recent report by the World Health Organization revealed that 14 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India. Emissions from the transportation sector contributed significantly to India’s pollution levels.
- As per the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change’s estimates, the sector emitted about 188 MT of CO2 till 2010; road transport alone contributed to 87% of the emissions. This sector is also a large consumer of oil. India’s current oil import dependency is about 80%. According to the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell, diesel and petrol contribute to about 40% and 13% of oil consumption, respectively.
- The cell estimated, in 2014, that 70% of diesel and 100% of petrol demand was from transportation.
Given the context, electric vehicles (EVs) promise to be game changers.
- EVs are at least 3 to 3.5 times more energy efficient than the traditional internal combustion engine-based vehicles for routine operations. Also, there is no emission from EVs, hence, no local pollution. Thus, transitioning to EVs cannot only be a significant step towards reducing oil imports, but can also aid in improving local air quality.
- Globally, there have been various efforts (including financial/ non-financial incentives to end users) to promote EVs.
- Many countries have rallied towards the EV30@30 campaign, which aims for 30% sales share of EVs by 2030. The Netherlands, Ireland and Norway are leading the way, aiming to achieve 100% EV sales in passenger light duty vehicles and buses by 2030.
Indian Scenario :
- In India, initiatives such as the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) and Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME India) are concerted efforts towards building an EV market. The procurement of over 500 electric buses by various state transport utilities is a testament to India’s commitment.
- India is also taking steps towards building a sustainable EV ecosystem. The department of heavy industry, Bureau of Indian Standards, and the Automotive Research Association of India are working towards establishing various technical standards for design and manufacturing of EVs and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) or charging infrastructure.
- Enabling this ecosystem also requires policies that encourage domestic manufacturing of vehicles, batteries and EVSE. In-house manufacturing is key to building technological expertise and providing jobs to support our young demographic.
Despite various proactive steps, India still has several systemic, technological and material vulnerabilities.
- Our electricity distribution grid assets are currently unable to handle large-scale EV energy requirements.
- On the material front, based on current knowledge, India has very little known reserves of lithium; we also import nickel, cobalt and battery-grade graphite, which are crucial components in battery manufacturing.
- Unavailability of rare earth materials used for making magnets for EV motors is another constraint.
- India should consider signing a memorandum of understanding with appropriate countries for a continuous supply of raw materials.
- Organizations like the International Solar Alliance (ISA), initiated by India and France, can play a significant role in facilitating such trade. For example, ISA member countries like Australia, Chile, Brazil, Ghana and Tanzania are rich in lithium reserves.
- Similarly, nations such as Congo, Madagascar, and Cuba can partner for supply of cobalt; Burundi, Brazil, and Australia are rich in nickel reserves.
- On the technological front, we still lack sufficient technical know-how in lithium battery manufacturing. In a welcome step, the Indian Space Research Organisation has expressed willingness to transfer its in-house technology non–exclusively to qualified production agencies. Further, the Central Electro Chemical Research Institute (Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu) and RAASI Solar Power Pvt. Ltd are expected to jointly start in-house lithium ion battery manufacturing soon.
- Other technological gaps include lack of semiconductor manufacturing facilities and controller design capabilities. These industries form the bedrock for manufacturing electronics for EVs; policies should bridge gaps that are hindering their growth.
- Way Forward: Despite these bottlenecks, there is merit in being ambitious about EVs. The potential benefits on various fronts—from fiscal to health and employment—could be game-changing.
Decriminalising some corporate offences is a wise move
- The Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs, or MCA, has announced that a 10-member committee, headed by the ministry’s secretary, is being established to examine whether the penal provisions in the Companies Act, 2013, need reviewing.
- The ministry has explicitly said this is in order to decriminalise some offences that hitherto have attracted criminal charges. In other words, these offences would no longer require a trial in a criminal court but could be settled with the payment of a fine.
- It is argued that this would permit trial courts to concentrate on offences of a “more serious nature”.
- The committee, has also been tasked to lay out the broad contours of an in-house adjudicatory mechanism where “penalty may be levied in a MCA21 system driven manner so that discretion is minimised”.
- As long as the committee sticks to the guiding principle of minimising discretion and creating transparent processes, there is every reason to suppose that the outcome of its deliberations will be a major improvement on existing law. Of course, it will then need to go through Parliament because it involves amending the Companies Act, 2013.
- Offences that are clearly of a civil nature are far too often criminalised in India. This tendency is born of various different impulses.
- First, an ingrained suspicion of the private sector leads drafters of law to suppose that other penalties would be insufficient.
- Second, India is in many ways a weak state. Law enforcement is lax and sporadic. This leads to a desire to compensate for poor enforcement by increasing the weight of the punishment. However, this replaces firm enforcement of an appropriate punishment with arbitrary enforcement of heavy punishment — which raises risk and has a negative effect on the ease of doing business. In addition, once an offence is criminalised, it seems to be very difficult politically to decriminalise it — consider, for example, that cheque bouncing is still a criminal offence under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.
- According to the Supreme Court, more than 20 per cent of the matters clogging up the subordinate judiciary were cheque-bouncing cases.
- It is to be hoped that this initiative of the MCA will be followed up in other spheres and by state governments as well. Several social matters also require decriminalisation — not just homosexuality, which is currently being examined by the Supreme Court, but also, for example, attempted suicide and begging. In addition, there exist good reasons for criminal defamation to be taken off the books — it is now nothing more than a form of harassment and can be easily replaced by civil procedures. The planned decriminalisation of some corporate offences is a fine first step, but it must be followed up with other similarly progressive moves.
MCA 21 Project is a major e-Governance initiative covering all aspects of incorporation and regulation of companies as defined under the Companies Act and Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) Act. The project is outcome based and focused on improving the quality of services to various stakeholders concerned with the corporate sector in the country.
Govt to infuse Rs 113bn into five PSBs soon
- The government has decided to infuse ~113 billion into five public sector banks, including Punjab National Bank, to help them meet regulatory capital requirements, according to sources.
- The capital infusion will be part of the ~2.11-trillion recapitalisation plan for public sector banks announced by the government last year. It is a result of the banks’ inability to fund the interest payment to bond holders of Additional Tier 1 (AT-1) bonds, sources said.
- AT-1 bonds are perpetual in nature and therefore provide higher interest rates to investors. A high level of bad loans and widening losses have made it difficult for banks to service these bonds from their own earnings.
- As a result, public sector banks were facing the risk of breaching the regulatory capital requirement.The government will issue recapitalisation bonds to infuse capital into these lenders and have sought regulatory approvals,
- The infusion would be part of the remaining ~650 billion out of the ~2.11-trillion capital infusion over two financial years.