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28th September Current Affairs

What is Non- Personal Data?

In News:

According to the results of a survey, majority of MSMEs and start-ups are not comfortable with the draft non-personal data policy in the current form. They believe permitting large businesses and platforms to sell aggregate data for a price will not help them.

Details:

Any set of data which does not contain personally identifiable information. This means that no individual or living person can be identified by looking at such data.

For example, while order details collected by a food delivery service will have the name, age, gender, and other contact information of an individual, it will become non-personal data if the identifiers such as name and contact information are taken out.

The survey was conducted by LocalCircles.

About the draft Policy on Non- Personal Data:

Committee of Experts on Non-Personal Data Governance Framework had released a draft in July this year.

This committee (formed in 2019) headed by Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan has suggested that non-personal data generated in the country be allowed to be harnessed by various domestic companies and entities.

The committee has classified non-personal data into three main categories, namely:

  • Public non-personal data.
  • Community non-personal data.
  • Private non-personal data.

Key Suggestions made:

Formulate a separate legislation to govern non-personal data.

Setup a new regulatory body- Non-Personal Data Authority (NPDA).

It has also set circumstances under which a private organisation, that collects non-personal data, needs to be remunerated.

Need for regulation:

Digital transformations all over the world have meant that data is treated as an asset, which is monetised, either directly by trading it, or indirectly by developing a service on top of that data.

In a data economy, companies with “largest data pools have outsized and seized unbeatable techno-economic advantages.” These companies, having leveraged their “first-mover advantage” to create large pools of data, mean that smaller startups are often squeezed out of the competition, or there are significant barriers to their entry.

India, being the second-most populous country in the world, also with the second-largest smartphone userbase, is by extension, one of the largest data markets in the world.

Centre allows five states to Borrow

In News:

The Centre has permitted five States to borrow an additional ₹9,913 crore through open market borrowings to meet expenditure requirements amid falling revenues due to the COVID-19 crisis.

These States are A.P., Telangana, Goa, Karnataka and Tripura.

What’s the issue now?

The permission was accorded after these States met the reform condition of implementation of ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ system.

Background:

The Centre had, in May, allowed additional borrowing limit of up to 2% of Gross State Domestic Product to States for FY21 with certain conditions.

Let’s understand the Basics here:

Why states need centre’s permission while borrowing? Is it mandatory for all states?

Article 293(3) of the Constitution requires states to obtain the Centre’s consent in order to borrow in case the state is indebted to the Centre over a previous loan.

This consent can also be granted subject to certain conditions by virtue of Article 293(4).

In practice, the Centre has been exercising this power in accordance with the recommendations of the Finance Commission.

Every single state is currently indebted to the Centre and thus, all of them require the Centre’s consent in order to borrow.

Does the Centre have unfettered power to impose conditions under this provision?

Neither does the provision itself offer any guidance on this, nor is there any judicial precedent that one could rely on.

Interestingly, even though this question formed part of the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission, it was not addressed in its interim report.

So, when can the centre impose conditions?

The Centre can impose conditions only when it gives consent for state borrowing, and it can only give such consent when the state is indebted to the Centre.

Why are such restrictions necessary?

One possible purpose behind conferring this power upon the Centre was to protect its interests in the capacity of a creditor.

A broader purpose of ensuring macroeconomic stability is also discernible, since state indebtedness negatively affects the fiscal health of the nation as a whole.

Conclusion:

This means that in the present case, the Centre was not justified in requiring states to join the One Nation One Ration Card scheme by exercising its power under Article 293(4). After all, this has no direct bearing on a state’s fiscal health or on macroeconomic stability, and encroaches upon the legitimate domain of states.

Given these limitations, if the Centre desired to extend its One Nation One Ration scheme throughout the country, it should have opted for building consensus with reluctant states instead of compelling them through this route.

Lok Adalat

In News:

A daily wager in Odisha’s Kandhamal district has moved the Lok Adalat against Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he allegedly failed to get an Aadhaar card registered in his name despite 21 attempts.

He took the unusual step for redressal of his grievance as he ran out of patience after applying and getting photographed multiple times at different places for the elusive card.

What is a Lok Adalat?

Lok Adalat is one of the alternative dispute redressal mechanisms, it is a forum where disputes/cases pending in the court of law or at pre-litigation stage are settled/ compromised amicably.

The Lok Adalats are formed to fulfil the promise given by the preamble of the Indian Constitution– securing Justice – social, economic and political of every citizen of India.

Constitutional basis:

Article 39A of the Constitution provides for free legal aid to the deprived and weaker sections of the society and to promote justice on the base of equal opportunity.

Articles 14 of the Constitution also make it compulsory for the State to guarantee equality before the law.

Statutory provisions:

Under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 Lok Adalats have been given statutory status.

Final award:

The decision made by the Lok Adalats is considered to be a verdict of a civil court and is ultimate and binding on all parties.

No appeal:

There is no provision for an appeal against the verdict made by Lok Adalat.

But, they are free to initiate litigation by approaching the court of appropriate jurisdiction by filing a case by following the required procedure, in exercise of their right to litigate.

Court fee:

There is no court fee payable when a matter is filed in a Lok Adalat.

Note: If a matter pending in the court of law is referred to the Lok Adalat and is settled subsequently, the court fee originally paid in the court on the complaints/petition is also refunded back to the parties.

Nature of Cases to be Referred to Lok Adalat:

Any case pending before any court.

Any dispute which has not been brought before any court and is likely to be filed before the court.

Provided that any matter relating to an offence not compoundable under the law shall not be settled in Lok Adalat.