Sedition Law Can’t Be Used To Queil Disquite : Court 

#Gs2 #Polity #Constitution 

Context

  • Charges of sedition “cannot be invoked to quieten the disquiet under the pretence of muzzling the miscreants”, a Delhi Court observed while granting bail to a 21-year-old labourer. 
  • The youth was arrested for posting a fake video on Facebook about the Delhi police on the farmers’ agitation. 

HC’s observations 

  • Additional Sessions Judge remarked that in the absence of any exhortation, call, incitement or instigation to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence, the sedition law cannot be invoked against anyone. 
  • The law of sedition is a powerful tool in the hands of the State to maintain peace and order in society. 
  • However, it cannot be invoked to quieten the disquiet under the pretence of muzzling the miscreants. 

Background 

  • The 21-year-old labourer had posted a fake video on his Facebook page with the tagline ‘Delhi Police mae bagawat 200 policekarmiyon ne diya samuhik istifa. (Rebellion in Delhi Police, 200 policemen have resigned en masse) Jai Jawaan Jai Kisan #I_Support_ Rakesh_ Tikait_ Challenge”. 
  • The Delhi police stated that the video was related to an incident in which a senior officer was briefing police personnel at the protest site and encouraging them to tackle the situation properly. 
  • The labourer, in his defence, submitted that the material was “innocuous in nature and was, in fact, an expression of emotions uttered in disagreement with government policies”. 

Toolkit Case 

  • Activist Disha Ravi is in custody of the Delhi Police for editing and sharing a toolkit with globally known teen anti-climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg. 
  • Some others have also been booked for coordinating with pro-Khalistan outfit Poetic Justice Foundation (PFJ) in connection with protest by farmers’ unions over the new farm laws. 

What is a toolkit? 

  • A toolkit has become a handy tool in sustaining a movement or campaign in times of social media influences. 
  • It is a document created as an explainer on an issue as a guide to everybody who is associated with the campaign or can be roped in to give a fillip to the campaign. 
  • It also provides a roadmap of how to take forward the campaign or agitation explaining what needs to be done, when and how. 

What’s the case now? 

  • In the present case, the toolkit became an accidental disclosure when Greta Thunberg on February 5 shared a Google document, a “toolkit, inadvertently. She deleted the tweet later, but it became a headline. 
  • The toolkit tried to “explain the farmers’ protests” against the Modi government on the Delhi borders over the farm laws passed by Parliament in 2020. 
  • After investigations, the Delhi police found that some pro-Khalistani elements were involved in creating disaffection against the country. 
  • Disha Ravi is now accused of being a “key conspirator” for preparing and sharing the document. 

Existing provisions for such arrest:

  • The Government enacted the Information Technology (IT) Act 2000 for matters related to cybercrime and e-commerce.

✓ Based on the Act, the Government can punish for any crime committed through a computer or a network. The Act can charge foreigners also. 

  • The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act of 1967.

✓ The Act aims to prevent the activities and associations involved in unlawful activities effectively. In 2019 the act was amended to include the provisions of designating an individual as a terrorist. 

✓ The Law prescribes the death penalty or life imprisonment as maximum punishment. 

  • Sedition cases under IPC section 124A (Indian Penal Code). Sedition is defined as any action that brings or attempts to bring contempt or hatred towards the government of India.

✓ This section provides a maximum sentence of up to life imprisonment. 

  • Criminal defamation under section 499 of the IPC.

✓ This section defines defamation as a communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual person, product, group, business, government, religion, or nation. 

  • Several states have also enacted a few specific laws to govern the criticisms

✓ For example, the Draft Bill of Maharashtra’s Shakti Act has a stringent provision for offenders who post defamatory messages on social media. 

Judicial interventions on such cases in the past :

  • In G. Narasimhan & Others vs T. V. Chokkappa (1972) case: the Supreme Court held that a person could be defamed only if there is a definite, identifiable and established evidence. 
  • In Fatma Bibi Ahmed Patel vs State of Gujarat (2008) case: the Supreme Court held that the registration of a case against a foreigner for an offence committed outside India was illegal. ✓ The court further held that the government had no jurisdiction for such offences. 
  • In K. T. M. S. Abdul Cader v. Union of India (1977) case: The Madras High Court accepted the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the Indian Parliament. ✓ However, the court also held that such law would be ineffective so long as the foreigner remains outside India. 

 

 

Crowd funding in polls 

#Gs-3 #Electrol Bonds

Context

  • The six-month-old Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) has taken the crowdfunding route to contesting the upcoming Assembly elections.

Political Funding 

  • Political Funding implies the methods that political parties use to raise funds to finance their campaign and routine activities. 
  • A political party needs money to pitch itself, its objectives, its intended actions to get votes for itself. 

Statutory Provisions 

  • Section 29B of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) entitles parties to accept voluntary contributions by any person or company, except a Government Company. 
  • Section 29C of the RPA mandates political parties to declare donations that exceed 20,000 rupees. 
  • Such a declaration is made by making a report and submitting the same to the EC. 
  • Failure to do so on time disentitles a party from tax relief under the Income Tax Act, 1961. 

Methods that Indian Political Parties use to raise the funds 

  • Individual Persons: Section 29B of RPA allows political parties to receive donations from individual persons.
  • State/Public Funding: Here, the government provides funds to parties for election related purposes. State Funding is of two types: 

Direct Funding: The government provides funds directly to the political parties. Direct funding by tax is prohibited in India. 

Indirect Funding: It includes other methods except direct funding, like free access to media, free access to public places for rallies, free or subsidized transport facilities. It is allowed in India in a regulated manner. 

  • Corporate Funding: In India, donations by corporate bodies are governed under the Companies Act, 2013. Section 182 of the Act provides that: 

✓ A company needs to be at least three years old to be able to donate to a political party.

✓ Companies can donate up to 7.5% of average net profits made during three simultaneous preceding financial years. 

✓ Such contributions must be disclosed in the company’s profit and loss account. 

✓ Approval of the Board of Directors needs to be obtained for the contribution. 

  • If a company violates said provisions, it may have to pay a fine up to 5 times the amount contributed and every officer of the company who is in default shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months. 

✓ The government has removed the cap of 7.5% (seven point five percent) on corporate contributions to the political parties with the Finance Act, 2017. 

✓ The same Act also removed the obligation to report such contributions in the company’s profit and loss account. 

✓ According to the Election Commission Guidelines, all electoral trusts formed after January 2013 are required to declare details of the money received and disbursed..

✓ The Central Government rules mandate these firms to donate 95% of their total income to registered political parties in a financial year. 

  • Electoral Trusts: A non-profit company created in India for orderly receipt of voluntary contributions from any person like an individual or a domestic company. 

Measure Taken In The Recent Times 

In March, 2018, the government passed a key amendment to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 allowing foreign companies to fund political parties in India. 

  • Introduction of Electoral Bonds: The government notified the Electoral Bond Scheme on 2nd January, 2018 to establish and cleanse the system of political funding in the country.

✓ An electoral bond is a bearer instrument like a Promissory Note. 

✓ It can be purchased by any citizen of India or a body incorporated in India to donate to the political party of their choice. Donor’s name is not there on the bond.

✓ These bonds can be used for making donations to the political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and which have secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last general election to the House of the People or a Legislative Assembly. 

 

 

Olive Ridley Turtle.

#Gs3 #Environment #SpeciesInNews 

Context:

With The Little Delay In The Traditional Nesting Season, The Nesting Of Olive Ridley Turtles Has Begun In Puducherry. The Delay In The Traditional Migration Season Has Been Possibly Due To Changes In Climatic Conditions Caused By The Influence Of Successive Cyclones Burevi And Nivar. Now, Over The Last Few Weeks, The Female Olive Ridley Turtles Have Been Leaving Hundreds Of Eggs At Nesting Spots.

Major Improvement : 

  • Teams of volunteers led by the Forest Department are engaged in collecting eggs by fanning across the coastline between Nallavadu and Moorthykuppam.
  • The Puducherry coastline falls on the migratory route to Odisha used by Olive Ridley turtles.
  • Olive Ridleys are listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • The Olive Ridley is one of only two species of sea turtles that engage in “arribada” nesting (Spanish for mass migration), where large groups of females assemble at a nesting site on the beach.
  • The nesting season usually begins in November was delayed by a few weeks this year.
  • A seven-member team of Forest Department officials is doing patrolling over the coastline in the early hours on a daily basis for weeks, usually from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m.
  • The team has also been creating awareness among fishermen in coastal settlements like Narambai, Nallavadu, Moorthykuppam, Pannithittu, and Pudukuppam for protecting the eggs of the turtle species.

As of now, the team has collected over 4,000 eggs and taken them to properly fenced hatcheries. Also, it is expected that this year’s nesting cycle to continue at least till April. It is believed that an adult female at a time lays around 100 to 200 eggs, which hatch after a 48-day period.

 

 

Nbfc’s Stressed Assets

#Gs3 #Economy #Banking System

Context

  • Stressed assets of non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) are likely to touch 1.5-1.8 lakh crore, or 6-7.5% of their assets under management (AUM) by the end of this fiscal. 

RBI’s debt restructuring scheme 

  • Recently, rating agency Crisil has said that as many as 99% of companies rated by it were unlikely to opt for the one-time debt restructuring scheme. 
  • The finding is based on a preliminary analysis of 3,523 non-micro small and medium enterprise (MSME) companies. 
  • This is despite two-thirds of the rated entities being eligible for restructuring, based on the parameters proposed by the KV Kamath committee. 
  • Improving business sentiment and the ongoing, gradual recovery has minimised the need to avail of the facility. 

K.V. Kamath committee 

  • In August 2020, RBI set up a committee headed by K.V. Kamath on restructuring of loans impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  • The Committee was tasked to recommend parameters for one-time restructuring of corporate loans. 
  • Recommendations made by the Committee: 

Graded approach to restructuring of stressed accounts based on severity of the impact on the borrowers- Banks can classify the accounts into mild, moderate and severe as recommended by the committee. 

Five financial parameters to gauge the health of sectors facing difficulties- total outside liabilities to adjusted tangible net worth, total debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (Ebitda), debt service coverage ratio (DSCR), current ratio and average debt service coverage ratio (ADSCR). 

26 sectors have been identified including auto, aviation, construction, hospitality, power, real estate and tourism. 

Applicability of these recommendations 

  • The committee was to scrutinise restructuring of loans above ₹1500 crore. 
  • The resolution under this framework is applicable only to those borrowers who have been impacted on account of Covid. 
  • Only those borrowers which were classified as standard and with arrears less than 30 days as at March 1, 2020 are eligible under the Framework. 

Why these measures were necessary? 

  • Corporate sector debt worth Rs 15.52 lakh crore has come under stress after Covid-19 hit India, while another Rs 22.20 lakh crore was already under stress before the pandemic. 
  • This effectively means Rs 37.72 lakh (72% of the banking sector debt to industry) remains under stress. 
  • This is almost 37% of the total non-food bank credit. 
  • Besides, Companies in sectors such as retail trade, wholesale trade, roads and textiles are facing stress. Sectors that have been under stress pre-Covid include NBFCs, power, steel, real estate and construction. 

 

 

Srilanka Accepts Indias Grant 

#Gs2 #IR #Neighbourhood 

Context 

● In an apparent bid to displace a Chinese company that had won the contract to install renewable energy systems in three small islands off Jaffna Peninsula in northern Sri Lanka, India has offered a grant of $12 million to execute it. 

Ease the burden on the Treasury 

  • The Srilankan government would consider India’s proposal, and that they would present a Cabinet paper on the matter soon. 
  • Receiving a grant “is an advantage” that would ease the burden on the Treasury, as opposed to an Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan, as per the original project proposal, that would have to be repaid. 
  • The development comes less than a month after the Cabinet cleared a project to install hybrid renewable energy systems in Nainativu, Delft or Neduntheevu, and Analaitivu, located in the Palk Bay, some 50 km off Tamil Nadu. 
  • The Cabinet decisions taken on January 18, published officially, included a proposal to award the contract to Sinosoar-Etechwin Joint Venture in China, with funding from the ADB. 

‘Security threats’ 

  • Meanwhile, a group of northern Tamil political parties have voiced opposition to Chinese involvement in the project, citing “security threats” to Tamil people and India. 
  • They are not opposed to China but given that India has known security concerns in this regard, and also because the project is to come up very close to Tamil Nadu, they oppose Chinese involvement. 
  • The people of Tamil Nadu have been lending unconditional support to the Tamil cause, so their security, as well as that of India, is very important to us. 
  • India was a “long-term friend” of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka. 
  • It remains to be seen if India’s proposal gets official clearance, but India’s swift offer comes in the wake of being ejected - along with Japan - out of the East Container Terminal (ECT) development project at the Colombo Port, following another Cabinet decision taken on February 1 this year. 

Colombo Port Setback for India 

  • Sri Lanka has unilaterally pulled out of a 2019 agreement with India and Japan for developing the strategic East Container Terminal (ECT) at the Colombo Port. 
  • In 2019, India and Sri Lanka signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for “co-operation on economic projects”. 
  • The development and operation of the container terminal was one of the projects in the MoU: 

✓ A Container Terminal in Colombo Port as a Joint Venture 

 Includes Indian investments considering that majority of transshipment in Colombo Port is related to India.

  • The MoU did not mention the Eastern Container Terminal. 
  • Nevertheless, India and Sri Lanka had already been in discussion for its development and operation. 

Challenges 

  • India and Sri Lanka have seemingly friendly ties and much cultural affinity and people-to-people contact. 
  • However, the relationship is complex. 
  • The majority Sinhala-Buddhist public opinion is layered with the memory of Indian intervention in the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict. 
  • So, unlike Chinese projects, big projects by India have always faced opposition in Sri Lanka. 

Japan’s stand 

  • It was for the above reason that India had roped Japan into at least two of the projects: 
  • The East Container Terminal (ECT) 
  • An LNG Terminal/Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) in Kerawalapitiya/Colombo with a piped gas distribution system along with retail outlets for CNG etc.
  • Japan was also the biggest donor to Sri Lanka through the years of conflict. 
  • The Geoffrey Bawa-built Sri Lankan parliament, which came up at the height of the conflict, was funded by Japan. 
  • It continues to give Sri Lanka substantial financial support even now. 
  • However, the old relationship between Sri Lanka and Japan has undergone changes as China’s footprint over Colombo has grown. 
  • Late in 2020, the Rajapaksa government unilaterally cancelled a Japanese project for a commuter rail in Colombo. 

The terms of the agreement 

  • The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) would have 100% ownership of the ECT. 

✓ This is as per a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) signed by the previous Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe administration. 

  • The Terminal Operations Company (TOC) conducting all ECT operations was to be jointly owned:

 ✓ Sri Lanka retaining a 51% stake the joint venture partners 49% 

  • A 40-year loan at an interest rate of 0.1% from Japan was expected to fund the development of the ECT. 

✓ The envisaged Japanese loan carries one of the best loan terms Sri Lanka has obtained. 

✓ The 51% stake is also one of the best in SLPA joint ownership endeavours. 

✓ SLPA’s majority ownership in the new TOC represents a significant step in prioritising national interests. 

Significance of ECT for India 

  • India had been offered the Western Container Terminal earlier, but had refused. 
  • The ECT is already operational, while the WCT has to be built from scratch. 
  • For India, the ECT deal was important as 60%-70% of transhipment that takes place through it is India-linked. 
  • The ECT is also considered more strategic than any other in Colombo Port. 
  • It is located next to the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) project, a joint venture between China Merchants Port Holdings Company Ltd. and SLPA. 

 

 

 

PIB ANALYSIS

E-Chhawani Portal.

#Gs2 #Governance #Prelims Fact

The Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has recently launched the e-Chhawani portal. It is a portal that will allow Cantonment residents to register complaints related to civic issues.

Key Points:

  • The government has launched e-Chhawani portal that will offer services to over 20 lakh citizens who have been living in 62 Cantonments Boards across the country.
  • The portal will provide online municipal services through a multi-tenancy central platform.
  • The residents of the cantonment will be able to register their complaints regarding the civic issues through this portal and will be able to resolve them while sitting at home.
  • Through this portal, people will be able to get their documents like trade licenses, a renewal of leases, mobile toilet locators, water & sewerage connections, application for birth & death certificates, and sewerage connectivity applications.
  • The portal has been jointly developed by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Directorate General Defence Estates (DGDE), eGov Foundation, and National Informatics Centre (NIC).

The E-Chhawani portal will be a step forward towards smart governance for providing citizen-centric services to the residents of the cantonment area across the country.

 

 

Intelligence Unit To Tackle Financial Frauds 

#Gs3 #TechnologyandItsIssues

The Telecom Ministry will set up a nodal agency, ‘Digital Intelligence Unit’ (DIU) for the speedy investigation and resolution of rising cases of financial frauds and unsolicited messages.

Key Points

  • This announcement was made during a high-level meeting conducted to discuss ways to make digital transactions more secure and reliable. The meeting was presided by Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
  • The main function of DIU will be to coordinate with various financial institutions, law enforcement agencies (LEAs), and telecom service providers in investigating any fraudulent activity involving telecom resources.
  • Telecom Analytics for Fraud Management and Consumer Protection system will also be created at License Service Area level.
  • The system would help make digital financial transactions through mobile, more reliable, and secure.
  • Officials have been directed to take strict action against erring telemarketers and individuals involved in harassment of telecom subscribers by the way of unsolicited commercial messages or calls.
  • Officials have also been directed to conduct a meeting with telecom service providers and telemarketers to apprise them of the seriousness of the issue and to ensure the compliance of laid down rules and procedures in this regard.

The government has issued clear directions to the officials for taking strict and tangible action to curb financial frauds. It was also decided that for effective handling of Unsolicited Commercial Communication (UCC) and also the financial frauds being done through misuse of telecom resources, a web/mobile application and SMS-based system would be developed for a redressal mechanism.

 

 

Explain action taken on OTTs, SC tells govt. 

#GS3 #PRELIMSFACT

Context 

  • The Supreme Court did not appear convinced with the government’s submission that it is “contemplating” regulations for OTT (over-the-top) platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. 

Monitoring and managing the content 

  • The court issued notice on a plea filed by advocates seeking a proper board/institution /association for monitoring and managing the content of different OTT/streaming and digital media platforms. 
  • Initially, during the hearing, the court had asked the petitioners to approach the government with their representation. 
  • However, the court, later on, decided that the government should better file a written reply to the petition. 

 

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