NCRB to track complaints on sexual violence
A high-level meeting was recently convened to discuss recommendations on ways to curb “sexual violence” videos involving women and children.
Outcomes of the meeting:
It was decided in the meeting that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) would be the designated nodal agency for monitoring the complaints received on a government portal that records child pornography and sexual violence videos.
The NCRB would coordinate with service providers such as Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp and ask them to block malicious videos and contents.
NCRB is only a crime record agency. Therefore, a government notification has been issued under the Information Technology Act, 2000 to enable it to take action against such videos. Now, whenever such incidents are reported, it can write to service providers and ask them to block the content.
Bureau is implementing & monitoring agency for implementation of Crime & Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS), a Mission Mode Project under the National e-Governance Plan of Government of India. The project aims at creating a comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of policing in the country.
NCRB also imparts training in Information Technology (IT) and Finger Print Science for Indian Police Officers as well Foreign Police officers. Central finger print bureau is under the administrative control of NCRB.
NCRB publishes 4 annual publications on Crime, Accidental Deaths & Suicides, Prison Statistics and Finger Prints. These publications serve as principal reference points on crime statistics not only police officers but also for criminologists, researchers, media and policy makers not only in India but abroad well.
In 2015, as many as 34,651 cases of rape were registered. The number increased to 38,947 in 2016. Overall crimes against women rose from 3,29,243 in 2015 to 3,38,954 in 2016, according to the NCRB data.
A majority of cases categorised as crimes against women were reported under “cruelty by husband or his relatives” (32.6 per cent), followed by “assault on woman with intent to outrage her modesty” (25 per cent), “kidnapping and abduction of women” (19 per cent) and “rape” (11.5 per cent).
The highest number of rapes have been reported from Madhya Pradesh (4,882), followed by Uttar Pradesh (4,816) and Maharashtra (4,189) in 2016, according to the NCRB data.
Source: The Hindu
NOTA in Rajya Sabha
The Supreme Court has overruled an Election Commission notification, saying that NOTA (None Of The Above) option cannot be allowed in Rajya Sabha elections.
As per the court, the NOTA option is meant only for universal adult suffrage and direct elections and not polls held by the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote as done in the Rajya Sabha.
NOTA in indirect elections, such as in the Rajya Sabha, would lead to horse-trading, corruption and use of extra constitutional methods to defeat a party candidate.
NOTA also makes the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote nugatory and otiose.
SC on the power of ECI:
The use of NOTA cannot be sanctioned by way of the impugned circulars which has the effect of overriding the provisions of Article 80(4), the provisions of Representation of People Act 1951 and the Conduct of Election Rules 1961.
The circular was ex-facie illegal, arbitrary and tainted with mala fides, as an executive instruction cannot override express statutory provisions.
The use of NOTA in elections:
The option of NOTA for Lok Sabha and assembly elections was prescribed by the SC in 2013. The option of NOTA in RS polls was introduced by the EC in 2014. Thus, India became the 14th country to institute negative voting.
How is a NOTA vote cast?
The EVMs have the NOTA option at the end of the candidates’ list. Earlier, in order to cast a negative ballot, a voter had to inform the presiding officer at the polling booth. A NOTA vote doesn’t require the involvement of the presiding officer.
Why have NOTA if there’s ‘no electoral value’?
NOTA gives people dissatisfied with contesting candidates an opportunity to express their disapproval. This, in turn, increases the chances of more people turning up to cast their votes, even if they do not support any candidate, and decreases the count of bogus votes. Also, the Supreme Court has observed that negative voting could bring about “a systemic change in polls and political parties will be forced to project clean candidates”.
Why NOTA is good?
Source: The Hindu
Criminalization of Politics
The Supreme Court has proposed to make political parties accountable for criminalising politics by welcoming in “crooks” who may later win elections on party ticket and grab power. The court is hearing a batch of petitions to ban persons charged with heinous criminal charges from contesting elections.
Suggestion made by the court:
The Court may direct the Election Commission to insist that parties get new members to declare in an affidavit their criminal antecedents and publish them so that the “entire country knows how many criminals there are in a party.”
The court said the EC could de-register a party or withdraw its symbol if it refused to comply.
The suggestion was made by the court in a bid to prevent criminals from entering politics or later contesting elections to become parliamentarians, legislators and Ministers.
However, the centre has opposed this move suggesting the following reasons:
A political party has a right to field its candidate. Mere charges of having committed a crime cannot be used to prevent a person from contesting elections. The suggestion made by the court amounts to prematurely disqualifying a candidate. Besides, the court is taking on itself a matter of the legislature.
Provisions in this regard:
The court based its proposal on the following:
Article 324 and Section 29A of RPA: The power of the Election Commission to conduct an election and register/de-register political parties under Article 324 of the Constitution and Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act of 1951, respectively.
The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order of 1968. Section 29A requires a party to swear to uphold the principles of socialism, secularism, democracy, sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.
Criminals in Politics:
Protecting the parliamentary system from criminalisation has been the intention of the law from the beginning.
Section 8 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951 disqualifies a person convicted with a sentence of two years or more from contesting elections. But those under trial continued to be eligible to contest elections. The Lily Thomas case (2013), however, ended this unfair advantage.
Efforts by SC in this regard:
The SC has repeatedly expressed concern about the purity of legislatures.
According to the ADR’s analysis of EC data, 187 MPs in the current Lok Sabha face criminal charges (that is, 34.4 per cent). Of them, 113 face serious criminal charges. The number has gone up from 162 (76 serious) charges in 2009 and 128 (58 serious) in 2004.
Main reasons for Criminalization:
What is the way out?
There are three possible options.
Opposition to the proposal made by the Supreme Court:
Far from denying tickets to criminals, all political parties seem to have been in competition to give them more and more tickets. They have been unitedly opposing the proposal to debar perpetrators of even heinous offences during pendency of trial on the grounds that false criminal cases may be filed by opponents. This concern is partly valid.
Is this concern justified?
To counter the concern expressed, the proposal has three safeguards.
Suggested measure to curb criminalization of politics:
Source: The Hindu
Plea challenges changes in SC/ST law
A central government amendment passed by both Houses of Parliament in the just-concluded monsoon session, reinstating a controversial clause allowing immediate arrests in complaints filed under the SC/ST Act, has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
Arguments against the amendments by the petitioners:
It has been alleged that the amendment has been brought in with an eye on the 2019 polls. They also argued that there can be no presumption of guilt only because the person at the receiving end was from an upper caste.
Besides, the petitioners claimed that the number of cases being filed under the Act had shot up alarmingly in recent years to back their claim that the law was being misused.
On March 20, the Supreme Court issued a slew of guidelines to protect people against arbitrary arrests under the Act, directing that public servants could be arrested only with the written permission of their appointing authority, while in the case of private employees, the Senior Superintendent of Police concerned should allow it.
A preliminary inquiry should be conducted before the FIR was registered to check if the case fell within the ambit of the Act, and whether it was frivolous or motivated, the court ruled.
The ruling was greeted by a storm of protest from Dalit groups, which said the order diluted the law. However, the court refused to stay its ruling, leading to the demand from Dalit groups that the government introduce an ordinance or an Amendment Bill to restore the provisions.
Following this, the government introduced a Bill to restore the original provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
The Amendment Bill seeks to insert three new clauses after Section 18 of the original Act:
Source: The Hindu
ILO report flags wage inequality in India
The International Labour Organization has published India Wage Report.
Highlights of the report:
Real average daily wages in India almost doubled in the first two decades after economic reforms, but low pay and wage inequality remains a serious challenge to inclusive growth.
Overall, in 2009-10, a third of all of wage workers were paid less than the national minimum wage, which is merely indicative and not legally binding. That includes 41% of all casual workers and 15% of salaried workers.
In 2011-12, the average wage in India was about ₹247 rupees a day, almost double the 1993-94 figure of ₹128. However, average labour productivity (as measured by GDP per worker) increased more rapidly than real average wages. Thus, India’s labour share — or the proportion of national income which goes into labour compensation, as opposed to capital or landowners — has declined.
The rise in average wages was more rapid in rural areas, and for casual workers. However, these groups started at such a low base that a yawning wage gap still remains. Thus, the average wage of casual workers — who make 62% of the earning population — was only ₹143 a day.
Daily wages in urban areas (₹384) also remain more than twice as high as those in rural areas (₹175). Regional disparities in average wages have actually increased over time, with wages rising more rapidly in high-wage States than in low-wage ones.
The gender wage gap decreased from 48% in 1993-94 to 34% in 2011-12, but still remains high by international standards. And of all worker groups, the average wages of casual rural female workers was the lowest, at just ₹104 a day.
As per the study the minimum wage system in India is quite complex. The minimum wages are set by state governments for employees in ‘selected, scheduled’ employment and this has led to 1709 different rates across the country. As the coverage is not complete these rates are applicable for an estimated of 66 % of wage workers.
A national minimum wage floor was introduced in the 1990s which has progressively increased to Rs 176 per day in 2017 but this wage floor is not legally binding, in spite of a recurrent discussion since the 1970s.
The ILO report called for extending legal coverage to all workers in an employment relationship, ensuring full consultation with social partners on minimum wage systems, undertaking regular evidence-based adjustments, progressively consolidating and simplifying minimum wage structures, and taking stronger measures to ensure a more effective application of minimum wage law.
It also called for collection of statistical data on a timely and regular basis and recommended other complementary actions to comprehensively address how to achieve decent work and inclusive growth like fostering accumulation of skills to boost labour productivity and growth for sustainable enterprises, promoting equal pay for work of equal value, formalising the informal economy and strengthening social protection for workers.
Source: The Hindu
UDAN scheme for international routes
The centre has unveiled the draft International Air Connectivity (IAC) scheme.
Target: The scheme envisages to increase the international ticketing to 20 crore by 2027.
The scheme is to be made operational only for states, which demonstrate their commitment to implement and provide the requisite support for promoting operations under the scheme.
Identification of routes: According to the draft, state governments will identify the routes to be connected, and airline operators will assess demand on the identified routes and submit proposals for providing connectivity.
Permitted aircrafts: Operations under the scheme will be permitted through fixed-wing aircraft only with more than 70 seats.
The scheme has proposed to set up an International Air Connectivity Fund (IACF) — a dedicated fund for providing subsidy support under the scheme. It will be created through the contributions of state governments.
The subsidy support shall be provided to selected airlines only for the passenger seats, which remain unsold at the time of IAC flight operation, from the total number of passenger seats for which subsidy has been requested by the selected airline as part of its proposal. The subsidy support will be extended only up to three years.
The Airport Authority of India will be the implementing agency of the scheme.
Source: The Hindu
International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS)
Presence of Water in the Moon