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23rd October Current Affairs

Uighurs

(GS-II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora)

In News:

Forty-three countries have called on China to “ensure full respect for the rule of law” for the Muslim Uighur community in Xinjiang.

Details:

The declaration accused China of a litany of human rights violations against the Uighurs, including torture, forced sterilisation and forced disappearances.

What were the demands?

China should allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and her office.

What’s the issue?

Credible reports indicate that over a million people have been arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang and that there is widespread surveillance disproportionately targeting Uighurs and members of other minorities and restrictions on fundamental freedoms and Uighur culture.

China’s response:

Despite mounting evidence, China denies mistreating the Uyghurs, and goes on to insist it is simply running “vocational training” centres designed to counter extremism.

Who are Uighurs?

The Uighurs are a predominantly Muslim minority Turkic ethnic group, whose origins can be traced to Central and East Asia.

The Uighurs speak their own language, similar to Turkish, and see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations.

China recognises the community only as a regional minority and rejects that they are an indigenous group.

Currently, the largest population of the Uighur ethnic community lives in the Xinjiang region of China.

A significant population of Uighurs also lives in the neighbouring Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Uighur Muslims for decades, under the false accusation by the Chinese government of terrorism and separatism, have suffered from abuses including persecution, forced detention, intense scrutiny, surveillance and even slavery.

Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC)

(GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate)

In News:

The Singapore-based arbitrator, SIAC, has rejected Future Retail’s plea to lift the interim stay on its ₹24,713-crore deal with Reliance Retail, giving a major relief to Amazon that is contesting the transaction.

Implications:

This order now restrains Future Group and Reliance Industries Limited from proceeding with a Rs 24,713-crore deal signed in August for Future Retail to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing units to Reliance Retail and Fashionstyle.

Why did Amazon approach SIAC?

The parties in a deal usually sign a contractual agreement which specifies about:

  • The arbitral institution administering the arbitration.
  • The applicable rules.
  • The seat of arbitration.

In this case Amazon and Future Group have under their agreement agreed to refer their disputes to SIAC, with Singapore presumably being the contractual choice for the seat/place of arbitration.

How is the dispute taken up at the SIAC? What is the procedure to be followed?

Once a dispute is referred to arbitration, the process of appointment of the arbitral tribunal takes place.

Composition: Typically, in case of a three member tribunal, both the parties appoint one member each to the tribunal, while the third member is jointly appointed by the two nominees or, if they fail to agree, by SIAC.

Appointment of an Emergency Arbitrator:

Appointment of the arbitral tribunal usually takes time.

Therefore, under the rules of SIAC, parties can move SIAC to appoint an emergency arbitrator to get urgent interim relief, even as the process of appointment of the main arbitral tribunal is underway.

What happens when the parties don’t comply with the order voluntarily?

Currently under Indian law, there is no express mechanism for enforcement of the orders of the Emergency Arbitrator.

But, the parties voluntarily comply with the Emergency Award.

However, if the parties don’t comply with the order voluntarily, then the party which has won the emergency award, in this case Amazon, can move the High Court in India under Section 9 of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996, to get similar reliefs as granted by the Emergency Arbitrator.

Why has Singapore become the hub of international arbitration?

Foreign investors investing in India typically want to avoid the rigmarole of the Indian courts.

Foreign investors feel that Singapore is neutral ground for dispute resolution.

Singapore itself over time has built a stellar reputation as jurisdiction driven by rule of law with international standards and high integrity. This gives comfort to investors that the arbitration process will be quick, fair and just”.

According to the 2019 annual report of SIAC, India was the top user of its arbitration seat with 485 cases being referred to SIAC, followed by Philippines at 122, China at 76 and the United States at 65.

Does India have any international arbitration centre?

Yes. India now has its own international arbitration centre in Mumbai.

About Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC):

It is a not-for-profit international arbitration organisation based in Singapore, which administers arbitrations under its own rules of arbitration and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Arbitration Rules.

General consent to CBI

(GS-II: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies)

In News:

A suit was filed by the West Bengal Government against the Union of India under Article 131 of the Constitution.

Details:

The State has challenged the CBI’s jurisdiction to register FIRs and conduct investigations in the State in myriad cases.

West Bengal said it had withdrawn “general consent” to the CBI way back in 2018.

West Bengal’s concerns:

The State said the CBI’s actions were a direct attack on the federal structure of governance and aimed to harass ruling Trinamool Congress leaders in the State.

Centre’s response:

State governments do not have any “absolute” power to keep the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from investigating crimes inside the State.

Not even the Union government”, has the authority to rattle the autonomy of the premier agency to conduct investigations.

Also, withdrawal of general consent would not stand in the way of constitutional courts entrusting the CBI with the cases “where it is found that the State Police would not effectively conduct a fair and impartial investigation”.

Besides, the CBI was empowered to probe cases concerning any of the Central subjects enumerated in the Union List in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

Why is consent necessary?

The CBI is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act that makes consent of a state government mandatory for conducting investigation in that state.

There are two kinds of consent:

Case-specific and general– Given that the CBI has jurisdiction only over central government departments and employees, it can investigate a case involving state government employees or a violent crime in a given state only after that state government gives its consent.

“General consent” is normally given to help the CBI seamlessly conduct its investigation into cases of corruption against central government employees in the concerned state.

What does withdrawal mean?

It simply means that CBI officers will lose all powers of a police officer as soon as they enter the state unless the state government has allowed them.

The decision means the CBI will now have to get consent from the state government for every case it registers in Maharashtra.

Under what provision can general consent been withdrawn?

In exercise of power conferred by Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, the state governments can withdraw the general consent accorded.

Can withdrawal mean that the CBI can no longer probe any case?

No. The CBI would still have the power to investigate old cases registered when general consent existed. Also, cases registered anywhere else in the country, but involving people stationed in states which have withdrawn consent, would allow CBI’s jurisdiction to extend to these states.

Turkey on FATF Grey List

(GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate)

In News:

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has added Turkey, along with Jordan and Mali, in its revised list of “jurisdictions under increased monitoring”, also known as the FATF grey list. There are now 23 countries in the list.

What prompts FATF to place countries under the grey list?

If countries fail to prevent international money laundering and terrorist financing, then they shall be placed on the list.

What does ‘increased monitoring’ mean?

According to the FATF, when a jurisdiction is placed under increased monitoring, “it means the country has committed to swiftly resolve the identified strategic deficiencies within agreed timeframes and is subject to extra checks”.

Which countries were removed out of the list?

The FATF took two countries — Botswana and Mauritius — out of the grey list. It is because these countries had made significant progress in addressing the strategic AML/CFT (Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism) deficiencies identified earlier by the FATF and included in their respective action plans.

Blacklist and grey list:

Black List: Countries known as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs) are put in the blacklist. These countries support terror funding and money laundering activities. The FATF revises the blacklist regularly, adding or deleting entries.

Grey List: Countries that are considered safe haven for supporting terror funding and money laundering are put in the FATF grey list. This inclusion serves as a warning to the country that it may enter the blacklist.