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28th April Current Affairs

SC paves way for ad-hoc judges in HCs

In News:

Terming pendency of around 57 lakh cases in High Courts as “docket explosion”, the Supreme Court activated Article 224A to pave way for appointment of retired High Court judges as ad-hoc ones for a period of two to three years to clear backlog and came out with guidelines to regulate appointments.

What is Article 224A?

Article 224A, used rarely, of the Constitution deals with appointment of ad-hoc judges in High Courts.

It says “the Chief Justice of a High Court for any State may at any time, with the previous consent of the President, request any person who has held the office of a Judge of that Court or of any other High Court to sit and act as a Judge of the High Court for that State”.

Reasons For huge Pendency:

  • The Government is the Biggest Litigant.
  • Less Budgetary Allocation: The budget allocated to the judiciary is between 0.08 and 0.09% of the GDP.
  • Practice of Seeking Adjournments.
  • Delay in Judicial Appointment.

World Press Freedom index

In News:

The World Press Freedom Index 2021 has been released by the media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders.

Details:

Norway topped the index for the fifth year in a row.

The report labelled 132 countries as “very bad”, “bad” or “problematic”.

It stated that the pandemic was used as means to deny journalists this access and promote government sponsored propaganda regarding the Covid-19 outbreak.

Performance of India and neighbours:

India remained at the 142nd position among 180 countries.

India was ranked in the “bad” category, along with Brazil, Mexico and Russia.

The report says India is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their job properly.

In 2016, India’s rank was 133, which has steadily climbed down to 142 in 2020.

India drew flak for “extremely violent social media hate campaigns” against journalists who “dare to criticise” the government.

About World Press Freedom Index:

  • Published annually by Reporters Without Borders since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index measures the level of media freedom in 180 countries.
  • It is based on an evaluation of media freedom that measures pluralism, media independence, the quality of the legal framework and the safety of journalists.
  • It also includes indicators of the level of media freedom violations in each region.
  • It is compiled by means of a questionnaire in 20 languages that is completed by experts all over the world. This qualitative analysis is combined with quantitative data on abuses and acts of violence against journalists during the period evaluated.

Father of banking reforms’: Ex-RBI governor M Narasimham passes away at 94

Who was M Narasimham?

Narasimham was known for being the chair of two high-powered committees on banking and financial sector reforms.

Such is the importance of the two Narasimham Committees that some of their aspects are referred to and employed to this date. For instance, the idea of bank mergers and creating strong megabanks was first mooted by the Narasimham Committee.

First Narasimham Committee Report:

  • Presented in 1991.
  • It recommended the creation of a four-tier banking structure with three large banks on top.
  • It also introduced the concept of rural-focused banks such as local area banks.
  • It proposed a phased reduction in banks’ mandatory bond investment and cash reserve limits so that banks lend money for other productive needs of the economy.
  • It introduced the concept of capital adequacy ratio and proposed the abolition of the branch licensing policy.
  • The concepts of non-performing assets classification and full disclosure of accounts were also recommended by the first committee.
  • By proposing to deregulate interest rates, it brought in gre­ater competition among banks.
  • The committee introduced the concept of an asset reconstruction fund to take over bad debts.

Narasimham Committee Report II – 1998:

In 1998 the government appointed yet another committee under the chairmanship of Mr Narsimham. It is better known as the Banking Sector Committee. It was told to review the banking reform progress and design a programme for further strengthening the financial system of India. The committee focused on various areas such as capital adequacy, bank mergers, bank legislation, etc.

Punjab okays reward policy for drug cases

In News:

The Punjab government has approved a reward policy to encourage information and inputs leading to recovery of drugs under the Narcotic Drugs And Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

Highlights:

The policy will recognise government servants-informers-sources for their role in providing inputs leading to the recovery of substantial quantity of drugs and in successful implementation of various provisions of the NDPS Act, 1985 and PIT NDPS Act, 1988.

The quantum of reward for successful investigation, prosecution, forfeiture of illegally acquired property, preventive detention and other significant anti-drug work shall be decided on case-to-case basis.

Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985:

The Act is designed to fulfill India’s treaty obligations under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

The Act 1985 sets out the statutory framework for drug law enforcement in India.

Under the Act, the cultivation, production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transportation, warehousing, consumption, inter-State movement, transshipment and import and export of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances is prohibited, except for medical or scientific purposes and in accordance with the terms and conditions of any license, permit or authorization given by the Government.

The Central Government is empowered to regulate the cultivation, production, manufacture, import, export, sale, consumption, use etc of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

State Governments are empowered to permit and regulate possession and inter-State movement of opium, poppy straw, the manufacture of medicinal opium and the cultivation of cannabis excluding hashish.

The Central Government is empowered to declare any substance, based on an assessment of its likely use in the manufacture of narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances as a controlled substance.

Both the Central Government and State Governments are empowered to appoint officers for the purposes of the Act.