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17 November Current Affairs

Water Quality Report

In News:

Union Minister of Consumer Affairs released the Water Quality Report for State Capitals & Delhi as analysed by Bureau of India Standards (BIS).

About:

The samples of drinking water were tested as per Indian Standard 10500:2012 (Specification for Drinking Water) as set by the Bureau of India Standards (BIS).

Tests were conducted on various parameters such as Organoleptic and Physical Tests, Chemical test, Toxic substances and Bacteriological tests.

Findings:

A vast majority of the samples have failed to comply with the requirements of IS 10500:2012 in one or more parameters.

In Delhi, all the 11 samples drawn from various places did not comply with the requirements of the Indian Standard & failed on several parameters.

All the 10 samples drawn from Mumbai were found to comply with the requirements.

In the cities of Hyderabad, Bhubaneshwar, Ranchi, Raipur, Amravati and Shimla, one or more samples did not comply with the requirements of the Standard.

None of the samples drawn from 13 of the State Capitals i.e. Chandigarh, Thiruvananthapuram, Patna, Bhopal, Guwahati, Bengaluru, Gandhinagar, Lucknow, Jammu, Jaipur, Dehradun, Chennai, Kolkata complied with the requirements of the Indian Standard.

Agni-II

In News:

India successfully conducted the first night trial of ‘Agni-II’ from Dr Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast.

About:

‘Agni-II’, an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) has already been inducted into the armed forces.

It is a versatile surface-to-surface medium-range nuclear-capable missile that can carry a nuclear payload of one thousand kilograms.

The missile has a strike range of 2000 km. The range of the 21-metre long missile weighing 17 tonnes can also be increased to three thousand kilometres by reducing the payload.

This was the first time that this missile was test-fired at night.

German parliament passed the Climate Protection Act

In News:

The German parliament passed the Climate Protection Act in an attempt to reach its climate target by 2030.

About:

This will be Germany’s first climate action law.

Last week, New Zealand passed the Zero-Carbon Law in a bid to comply with it’s Paris climate accord commitments and become a carbon-neutral nation by the year 2050.

Salient features:

With this bill, a price on carbon emissions in the transport and heating sectors will be imposed along with some other measures to combat climate change.

The bill consists of emissions targets for different sectors of the economy such as transport, energy and housing.

From 2021, companies that market diesel and petrol, heating oil and natural gas in the country will need to obtain pollution rights for the amount of greenhouse gases they emit. This will be regulated through a national emissions trading mechanism.

Additionally, flying domestically and within Europe will be made more expensive. The aviation tax will be increased by more than 5 euros to 13.03 euros per ticket.

Significantly, renovations will also be taxed for three years from 2020 onwards.

Insolvency and Bankruptcy (Insolvency and Liquidation Proceedings of Financial Service Providers and Application to Adjudicating Authority) Rules, 2019 (Rules)

In News:

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has notified the Insolvency and Bankruptcy (Insolvency and Liquidation Proceedings of Financial Service Providers and Application to Adjudicating Authority) Rules, 2019 (Rules).

About:

The rules have been notified to provide a generic framework for insolvency and liquidation proceedings of systemically important Financial Service Providers (FSPs) other than banks.

The rules were issued under Section 227 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, which allows the Central government to notify FSPs or categories of FSPs for the purpose of insolvency and liquidation proceedings.

The Rules provide that the provisions of the Code relating to the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP), Liquidation Process and Voluntary Liquidation Process for a corporate debtor shall, mutatis mutandis, apply to a process for an FSP, subject to modifications.

The move to include FSPs comes against the backdrop of the crisis confronting the non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) sector.

National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX)

In News:

In a major move, the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) has launched India’s first agri index — ‘NCDEX Agridex’, for easy reference to price variations in agricultural commodities.

About:

It has been launched with a composition of 10 leading liquid contracts on the NCDEX platform at present. Leading commodities such as guar seed, guar gum, soybean, chana, mustard seed, and jeera, etc, will be the index’s constituents.

The index is now available as ‘indicative’. It will be made tradable after being approved from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

For indices, the NCDEX has partnered with NSE Indices, a leading index service provider, as a third party, to maintain and disseminate real-time NCDEX Agridex values.

Futures trading on Agridex will enhance overall liquidity on the exchange platform.

Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act, 2009

In News:

The Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act, 2009 is being blamed for contributing to the air pollution over Delhi and surrounding areas.

About:

The Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act, 2009 aims at conserving groundwater by mandatorily delaying the transplanting of paddy to beyond June 10, when the most severe phase of evapotranspiration (transfer of water from land to the atmosphere through evaporation from the soil and plant transpiration) is over.

Farmers were forbidden from sowing paddy before May 10, and transplanting it before June 10. Haryana has a similar law.

The law’s link with air pollution:

Farmers’ organisations say late sowing and transplanting delays the harvesting as well (it is end-October by the time operations end), and they are left with a very small window to prepare their fields for the next (wheat) crop. In this situation, setting the stubble ablaze is a quick-fix solution.

By this time, temperatures have started to fall, and a combination of atmospheric and meteorological conditions ensure that the smoke cannot disperse easily.

A part of the smoke from the farm fires is carried by westerly winds towards the NCR and further down the Indo-Gangetic plain.

 

 

Contempt of Court

In News:

The Supreme Court has held former Ranbaxy promoters Malvinder and Shivinder Singh guilty of contempt for violating its order that had asked them not to divest their shares in Fortis Healthcare Limited.

Details:

In India, the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, divides contempt into civil contempt and criminal contempt.

‘Civil contempt’ is a ‘wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other processes of a Court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to the court’.

‘Criminal contempt’ is ‘the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which:

Scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court.

Prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of any judicial proceeding.

Interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.’

Need:

Judiciary ensures justice and equality to every individual and institutions, therefore, the makers of the constitution upheld the sanctity and prestige of the revered institution by placing provisions under articles 129 and 215 of the constitution, which enables the courts to hold individuals in contempt if they attempt to demean or belittle their authority.

Is criticism allowed?

Yes. The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, very clearly states that fair criticism of any case which has been heard and decided is not contempt.

Contempt of Courts (Amendment) Act, 2006:

The statute of 1971 has been amended by the Contempt of Courts (Amendment) Act, 2006 to include the defence of truth under Section 13 of the original legislation.

Section 13 that already served to restrict the powers of the court in that they were not to hold anyone in contempt unless it would substantially interfere with the due process of justice, the amendment further states that the court must permit ‘justification by truth as a valid defence if it is satisfied that it is in public interest and the request for invoking the said defence is bona fide.’

Constitutional Background:

Article 129: Grants Supreme Court the power to punish for contempt of itself.

Article 142(2): Enables the Supreme Court to investigate and punish any person for its contempt.

Article 215: Grants every High Court the power to punish for contempt of itself.

Rules notified to bring financial firms under IBC

In News:

The Centre has issued rules that provide a framework for bringing ‘systemically important financial service providers’ under the purview of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).

Details:

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has notified the Insolvency and Bankruptcy (Insolvency and Liquidation Proceedings of Financial Service Providers and Application to Adjudicating Authority) Rules, 2019.

These rules aim to provide a generic framework for insolvency and liquidation proceedings of systemically important FSPs other than banks.

Background:

Section 227 of the [Insolvency and Bankruptcy] Code enables the Central government to notify, in consultation with the financial sector regulators, financial service providers (FSPs) or categories of FSPs for the purpose of insolvency and liquidation proceedings, in such manner as may be prescribed.

The new rules:

As per the new rules, only a regulator will be allowed to refer a non-bank lender or housing financier to a bankruptcy tribunal, unlike in the case of companies that can approach a tribunal on their own, or can be dragged into one either by lenders or operational creditors such as material suppliers.

The bankruptcy tribunal will appoint an administrator who will try to stitch together a turnaround plan.

The administrator will be nominated by the regulator, such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the case of non-bank lenders and housing financiers.

The registration or the licence of the financial services provider will not be suspended or cancelled during the bankruptcy resolution process.

In case a turnaround of the financial institution is not possible, before deciding to liquidate it, the tribunal will listen to the views of the regulator.

Significance:

The introduction of an interim framework for resolution of financial service providers under the IBC is a timely and important step for resolution of financial service providers permitting an interplay between regulators, creditors and the NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal) for appropriate actions.

These rules are likely to help out distressed shadow banks and housing financiers, which have been battling a liquidity crunch for a year.

National Mission ‘NISHTHA’ launched in J&K

In News:

NISHTHA- National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA) has been launched in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Key features of the scheme:

It is a Mission aimed at improving learning outcomes at Elementary level through integrated Teacher Trainings.

This Mission aims to build the capacities of 42 lakh participants covering all teachers and Heads of Schools at elementary level in all Government Schools across the country, faculty members of SIEs/SCERTs, DIETs etc.

Sisseri River Bridge

Recently, the Defence Minister inaugurated the Sisseri River Bridgelocated at lower Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh.

The 200m long bridge provides connectivity between Dibang Valley and Siang.

The bridge was constructed by ‘Project Brahmank’ of Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

This bridge is strategically important from the military viewpoint and will be a part of Trans Arunachal Highway.

 

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