The Congress has submitted a notice to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan for a privilege motion against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for allegedly misleading the House on the commercial value of the deal to buy Rafale fighter jets from France.
Parliamentary privileges are certain rights and immunities enjoyed by members of Parliament, individually and collectively, so that they can “effectively discharge their functions”. When any of these rights and immunities are disregarded, the offence is called a breach of privilege and is punishable under law of Parliament.
A notice is moved in the form of a motion by any member of either House against those being held guilty of breach of privilege. Each House also claims the right to punish as contempt actions which, while not breach of any specific privilege, are offences against its authority and dignity.
What are the rules governing privilege:
Rule No 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book and correspondingly Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook governs privilege. It says that a member may, with the consent of the Speaker or the Chairperson, raise a question involving a breach of privilege either of a member or of the House or of a committee thereof. The rules however mandate that any notice should be relating to an incident of recent occurrence and should need the intervention of the House. Notices have to be given before 10 am to the Speaker or the Chairperson.
About the role of the Speaker/Rajya Sabha Chair:
The Speaker/RS chairperson is the first level of scrutiny of a privilege motion. The Speaker/Chair can decide on the privilege motion himself or herself or refer it to the privileges committee of Parliament. If the Speaker/Chair gives consent under Rule 222, the member concerned is given an opportunity to make a short statement.
About privileges committee:
In the Lok Sabha, the Speaker nominates a committee of privileges consisting of 15 members as per respective party strengths. A report is then presented to the House for its consideration. The Speaker may permit a half-hour debate while considering the report. The Speaker may then pass final orders or direct that the report be tabled before the House.
A resolution may then be moved relating to the breach of privilege that has to be unanimously passed. In the Rajya Sabha, the deputy chairperson heads the committee of privileges, that consists of 10 members.
Source: The Hindu
Committee to check mob lynching
Considering the increasing incidents of mob lynching, the Union Government has constituted a High Level Committee chaired by the Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba to deliberate in the matter and make recommendations. The committee will submit its recommendations to the Government within four weeks.
The move comes after a number of mob lynching incidents were reported in several areas, stemming from fake social media rumours of child kidnappers as well as cow vigilantism.
Need for coordination between the centre and states on this matter:
The Union Government is highly concerned about the incidents of mob violence in some parts of the country. Government has already condemned such incidents and made its stand clear in the Parliament that, as per the Constitutional scheme, ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects.
State Governments are responsible for controlling crime, maintaining law and order, and protecting the life and property of the citizens. They are empowered to enact and enforce laws to curb crime in their jurisdiction.
Recent directions of the Supreme Court on the issue of mob violence:
Condemning mob lynching incidents across the country and the Supreme Court had urged the Parliament to enact a new law to deal with the crime. The court passed a slew of directions in this regard to deal with the mob lynching. Here are the directions:
There shall be a “separate offence” for lynching and the trial courts must ordinarily award maximum sentence upon conviction of the accused person to set a stern example in cases of mob violence.
The state governments will have to designate a senior police officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.
The state governments need to identify districts, sub-divisions and villages where instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the recent past.
The nodal officers shall bring to the notice of the DGP about any inter-district co-ordination issues for devising a strategy to tackle lynching and mob violence related issues.
Every police officer shall ensure to disperse the mob that has a tendency to cause violence in the disguise of vigilantism or otherwise.
Central and the state governments shall broadcast on radio, television and other media platforms about the serious consequences of mob lynching and mob violence.
Despite the measures taken by the State Police, if it comes to the notice of the local police that an incident of lynching or mob violence has taken place, the jurisdictional police station shall immediately lodge an FIR.
The State Governments shall prepare a lynching/mob violence victim compensation scheme in the light of the provisions of Section 357A of CrPC within one month from the date of this judgment.
If a police officer or an officer of the district administration fails to fulfill his duty, it will be considered an act of deliberate negligence.
Need for an anti-lynching law:
At present there is no law that criminalises mob killings. The Indian Penal Code has provisions for unlawful assembly, rioting, and murder but nothing that takes cognisance of a group of people coming together to kill (a lynch mob).
Under Section 223 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), to prosecute together two or more people accused of the same offence committed in the course of the “same transaction”. But the provision falls far short of an adequate legal framework for prosecuting lynch mobs.
Source: The Hindu
Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018
The Lok Sabha has passed the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018. Punishment for both bribe givers and takers has been enhanced to make it a deterrent for the corrupt.
Highlights of the Bill:
Punishment for bribe-taking enhanced: Minimum punishment of 3 yrs, extendable up to 7 yrs with fine; from the earlier 6 months, with extension up to 3 yrs.
‘Undue Advantage’ expanded: The earlier limited definition of “undue advantage” expanded to now include “anything other than legal remuneration”.
Gifts criminalised: Gifts received for established undue advantage/mala-fide motive are now considered an act of corruption.
Collusive bribe-givers criminalised: For the first time, the giving of bribe has now been made a direct offence on par with taking of bribe. At the same time, protection has been built-in against coercive bribery, as long as the victim comes forward within 7 days.
Corporate bribery criminalised: Superiors to be held if employee/agent has bribed with their approval, for advancement of the organisation’s interests.
Immediate forfeiture: Law enforcement empowered for immediate attachment & forfeiture of illegal property of a public servant, invoking provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Timely trial mandated: To conclude the investigation and trial within 2 yrs, extendable up to 4 yrs.
Source: The Hindu
Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted 200 cows to villagers from Rweru villages as part of Rwandan Government’s Girinka Programme.
About Girinka Programme:
The programme was initiated by President Paul Kagame in response to alarmingly high rate of childhood malnutrition and as way to accelerate poverty reduction and integrate livestock and crop farming.
Under this programme, poorest residing in region get cows from Government and gift first female calf to neighbour to promote brotherhood.
The programme is based on premise that providing dairy cow to poor, transforms livelihoods, reconciles communities improving agricultural productivity through use of manure as fertilizers.
The program has contributed to increase in agricultural production in Rwanda – especially milk production and products and has reduced malnutrition and increased incomes.
Source: The Hindu
Inter-Creditor Agreement (ICA)
More than 50 banks and financial institutions in India have entered into an inter-creditor agreement to speed up the resolution of stressed assets of Rs 50 crore and above that are under consortium lending.
The inter-creditor agreement is aimed at the resolution of loan accounts with a size of ₹50 crore and above that are under the control of a group of lenders. It is part of the “Sashakt” plan approved by the government to address the problem of resolving bad loans.
The agreement is based on a recommendation by the Sunil Mehta committee that looked into resolution of stressed assets.
The agreement says if 66% of lenders by value agree to a resolution plan, it would be binding on all lenders. The dissenting creditors will, however, have the option to sell their loans to other lenders at a discount of 15% to the liquidation value, or buy the entire portfolio paying 125% of the value agreed under the debt resolution plan by other lenders.
The agreement says each resolution plan would be submitted to an overseeing committee comprising experts from the banking industry. For dissenting creditors, the agreement says the “lead bank has the right, but not the obligation, to arrange the buyout of the loan facilities at a value that is equal to 85% of the liquidation or the resolution value —whichever is lower.”
Dissenting creditors can also exit by selling their loans to any entity at a price mutually arrived at between the lender and buyer.
The agreement has a standstill clause wherein all lenders are barred from enforcing any legal action against the borrower for recovery of dues. During the standstill period, lenders are barred from transferring or assigning their loans to anyone except a bank or finance company.
The standstill provision will be operative for 180 days from the reference date — the RBI had asked lenders to resolve their restructured loans within 180 days beginning March 1 or refer those to the bankruptcy court. However, the provision would not prevent lenders from acting against borrowers or directors for criminal offence. Lenders are in the process of getting this inter-creditor agreement approved by their boards.
Significance of the agreement:
The agreement is a “huge step forward” in tackling the bad loan issue as it is drawn up by banks themselves and is a reflection of bankers’ resolve to collectively find a solution to stressed asset mess. Almost the entire banking system and prominent NBFCs like REC, PFC are joining the ICA which has held back fast and effective resolution of stressed assets for decades in the past.
The non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans in the banking sector crossed Rs 9 lakh crore at end-December 2017 and the Reserve Bank of India has warned of further worsening of the situation.
The biggest obstacle to bad loan resolution is the absence of buyers who can purchase stressed assets from banks, and the unwillingness of banks to sell their loans at a deep discount to their face value. Unless the government can solve this problem, the bad loan problem is likely to remain unresolved for some time to come.
Source: The Hindu
World’s fastest man-made spinning object
Scientists have developed the fastest man-made rotor in the world, which they believe will help them study quantum mechanics.
The fastest man- made spinning object:
The scientists synthesised a tiny dumbbell from silica and levitated it in high vacuum using a laser. The laser can work in a straight line or in a circle – when it is linear, the dumbbell vibrates, and when it is circular, the dumbbell spins.
A spinning dumbbell functions as a rotor, and a vibrating dumbbell functions like an instrument for measuring tiny forces and torques, known as a torsion balance.
At more than 60 billion revolutions per minute, this machine is more than 100,000 times faster than a high-speed dental drill.
With this, scientists will be able to study things like quantum mechanics and the properties of vacuum. Understanding these mechanisms is an essential goal for the modern generation of physics.
Source: The Hindu
Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0
Consolidation of Regional Rural Banks