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26th August Current Affairs

Review plea on PMLA

(GS-II: Important aspects of governance/ Internal Security)

In News:

SC has agreed to reconsider its verdict upholding two key provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act:

Not sharing a copy of the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) with the accused

Stringent bail provisions that reverse the presumption of innocence of an accused

Details:

ECIR is the first official document recorded by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) before beginning its investigation, similar to what FIR is with police. SC in its last month’s judgement had said that ECIR cannot be equated with an FIR.

Background: The review petition, filed by parliamentarian Karti Chidambaram questioned the findings of the Supreme Court bench in its July 27 (last month) verdict.

Last month’s verdict had given the government and the ED enforcement Directorate unbridled powers of summons, arrest, and raids and made bail nearly impossible.

It has also shifted the burden of proof of innocence onto the accused rather than the prosecution.

About the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA):

PMLA was enacted in 2002 and it came into force in 2005 as a response to India’s global commitment (including the Vienna Convention) to:

Curb the menace of money laundering (the process of converting black money into white)

To provide for confiscation and seizure of property derived from money laundering.

To deal with any other issue connected with money laundering in India.

PMLA (Amendment) Act, 2012:

Adds the concept of ‘reporting entity’ which would include a banking company, financial institution, intermediary etc.

PMLA, 2002 levied a fine up to Rs 5 lakh, but the amendment act has removed this upper limit.

It has provided for provisional attachment and confiscation of property of any person involved in such activities.

PMLA (Amendment) Act, 2019:

It provided extensive power to ED for summons, arrests and raids, and makes bail provisions difficult while shifting the burden of proof of innocence onto the accused rather than prosecution. (see infographics)

Money laundering is the process of concealing the origin of money, obtained from illicit activities such as drug trafficking, corruption, embezzlement, etc.

Government notifies Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022

(GS-III: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, the impact of technology on environment etc)

In News:

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change published the Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022 to ensure environmentally sound management of waste batteries and replace the Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001.

Batteries covered under the new rules:

  • Electric Vehicle batteries
  • Portable batteries
  • Automotive batteries
  • Industrial batteries

Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022:

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): Producers (including importers) of batteries are responsible for the collection and recycling/refurbishment of waste batteries and the use of recovered materials from waste into new batteries.

Mechanism of centralized online portal: For the exchange of EPR certificates between producers and recyclers/refurbishers to fulfil the obligations of producers.

Industries and entrepreneurship: Setting up of new industries and entrepreneurship in collection and recycling/refurbishment of waste batteries.

Mandatory minimum percentage of recovery of materials from waste batteries: It will bring new technologies and investment in the recycling and refurbishment industry and create new business opportunities.

Use of a certain amount of recycled materials for new batteries: It will reduce the dependency on new raw materials and save natural resources

Online registration & reporting, auditing, and a committee: To monitor and implement rules and to take measures required for removal of difficulties.

Polluter Pays Principle: Environmental compensation will be imposed for non-fulfilment of Extended Producer Responsibility targets, responsibilities and obligations set out in the rules.

Utilization of funds: The funds collected under environmental compensation shall be utilized in collection and refurbishing or recycling of uncollected and non-recycled waste batteries.

Chola Era Idols

In News:

Tamil Nadu Idol Wing CID initiates steps to bring back 6 stolen Chola-era idols from the US. The idol belongs to Nareeswara Siv Temple (Veeracholapuram, Kallakurichi) and was built by Rajendra Chola I.

Details:

The return is possible under Mutual Legal Assitance in Criminal Matters between the US and India and ‘The Antiquities and Art Treasure Act (1972) (it makes the export of such item without licensing a criminal offence)

About Rajendra I (1012-1044 A.D.):

He was the son of Rajaraja Chola (985-1014 AD)

Rajendra I conducted the most striking military exploit after his accession in 1023 by his expedition to northern India and Southeast Asia.

He established many educational institutes in his empire, and for this, he got the title Pandita Chola.

He contributed to art, religion and literature including Gangaikondacholapuram Temple (after his victory over Pala’s Mahipala-I).

Disqualification Proceedings under Office of profit

(GS-II: State legislature-Structure, functioning and conduct of business, powers and privileges etc)

In News:

The Election Commission of India (ECI) is understood to have conveyed its decision in the office-of-profit allegation against Jharkhand CM to the Governor.

Details:

The matter was referred to the ECI after complaint to the Governor about CM Soren allocating a mining lease to himself while holding the portfolio of Mines Minister in 2021

What is an ‘office of profit’?

If an MLA or an MP holds a government office and receives benefits from it, then that office is termed an “office of profit”.

Disqualification: A person will be disqualified if he holds an office of profit under the central or state government, other than an office declared not to disqualify its holder by a law passed by Parliament or state legislature.

What are the basic criteria to disqualify an MP or MLA?

Article 102 and 191: Basic disqualification criteria for an MP are laid down in Article 102 of the Constitution, and for an MLA in Article 191.

Grounds for disqualification under Constitution: They can be disqualified for:

  • Holding an office of profit under the government of India or state government
  • Being of unsound mind
  • Being an undischarged insolvent
  • Not being an Indian citizen or for acquiring citizenship of another country.

The Supreme Court ruling in 1964: Factors which are considered for determination of whether a person holds an office of profit include:

  • Whether the government is the appointing authority
  • Whether the government has the power to terminate the appointment
  • Whether the government determines the remuneration
  • What is the source of remuneration
  • Power that comes with the position