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09 December, 2019

0 Min Read

GS-II :
6 years on, Lokpal is yet to get prosecution wing

Syllabus subtopic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

Prelims and Mains focus: About Lokpal and Lokayuktas, appointment of members, key issues with the Lokpal and govt.’s efforts to curb corruption

News: Almost six years after the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, was signed into law, several key provisions needed for the anti­corruption ombudsman to function have still not been operationalised.

 

Issues with Lokpal

  • The process of constituting the Lokpal’s inquiry and prosecution wings has not yet begun, and regulations for how to conduct preliminary investigations have not been made, the Lokpal has said in response to RTI queries.
  • Currently, the institution is functioning out of a government-owned hotel in Delhi. While it approved a logo and motto for itself last month, the Lokpal has not yet notified a format for filing complaints.
  • The rules for the disclosure of assets and liabilities by public servants have not been notified either. This is a key provision as the amassing of assets disproportionate to the known sources of income is often the basis for a complaint. The draft rules of 2017 were referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee, which submitted its recommendations to the government in July 2018.
  • The Lokpal would find it difficult to investigate complaints that do fall within its mandate as it has no inquiry wing or regulations for inquiries.

 

About Lokpal

  • The term Lokpal was coined in 1963 but it was not until January 2014 that the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act came into force.
  • It was more than five years later, in March 2019, that the first chairperson and members of the Lokpal were appointed.
  • Lokpal is a national anti corruption ombudsman to look into complaints against publics servants which are defined under the Lokpal Act 2013. This body is constituted to check the menace of corruption in India.

1.  This Act may be called the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

2.  It extends to the whole India.

3. It shall apply to public servants in India and abroad

 

History of Lokpal;

The Lokpal bill has been introduced nine times (1968, 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1998, 2001, 2011 and 2013) in the Lok Sabha.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 received the assent of the President on the January 1st, 2014, and published for information of general Public.

An Act of 2013 clears the way to establish the body of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public servants.

 

Composition of the Lokpal

The office of Lokpal Comprises of a Chairman and upto 8 members. The chairman of the Lokpal can be current or former judge of the Supreme Court or the chief justice of High Courts.

Or

An eminent person i.e. he is a person of neat and clean image and outstanding ability having special knowledge and expertise of not less than 25 years in the matters relating to;

i. Anti Corruption Policy

ii. Public administration

iii. Vigilance

iv. Law and Management

v. Finance including insurance and banking

 

Note:  As per the provisions of the act; 50% of the members of the Lokpal shall be from the community of Schedule Caste, Schedule Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities and Women.

 

Select Committee to Appoint Lokpal is comprises of;

i. Prime Minister

ii. Chief justice of India or his nominee

iii. Lok Sabha Speaker

iv. Leader of Opposition

v. An eminent jurist nominated by the President of India

 

Removal

To remove the Lokpal 100 members of the Parliament need to sign the petition seeking the removal of the chairman of the Lokpal or any other members. This matter will be investigated by the Supreme Court and if SC finds the charges to be true then SC suggests the president to remove the Lokpal from the post.

Another way to remove the Lokpal is self reference of the President (on the advice of the cabinet) to the Supreme Court, which can investigate the charges.

Powers

If the Lokpal receives a complaint under the prevention of corruption act 1988, then it can initiate the investigation. If the complaint found true in the investigation then the Lokpal can ask the government to take disciplinary action against the accused public servants or can file a corruption case in a special court.

 

Salary and allowances of the chairman and members

The Chairman of the Lokpal shall enjoy the same salary and allowance as of Chief Justice of India while members shall receive the same salary and allowance as those enjoyed by the justices of Supreme Court.

 

Who can be investigated by the Lokpal?

As per the provision of the Lokpal Act, it can investigate persons of seven categories namely;

1. Prime Minister if he/she demits the office.

2. Current and former Cabinet Ministers.

3. Current and former Members of Parliament.

4. All the class 1 officers of the Central Government like (Secretaries, Joint Secretaries etc.)

5. All the class 1 equivalent officers of the Public Sector Undertakings and other government bodies.

6. Directors and other officers of the Non Government Organisations which receives funding from the Central Government.

7. Directors and other officers of the Non Government Organisations which receives the fund from the public and which have annual income of more than Rs. 10 lac from a foreign contributor and receives Rs. 1 cr from the government.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-II :
Odisha’s KALIA scheme to be merged with PM-KISAN

Syllabus subtopic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable section

Prelims and Mains focus: About KALIA and PM-KISAN schemes and their significance

News: The Odisha government has decided to merge its flagship scheme- Kalia with the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) yojana, apparently due to financial constraint.

 

Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) Scheme:

  • Involves payments to encourage cultivation and associated activities.
  • Primary targets are small farmers, cultivators and landless agricultural labourers.
  • All farmers will be provided Rs 10,000 per family as assistance for cultivation.
  • Each family will get Rs 5,000 separately in the kharif and rabi seasons, for five cropping seasons between 2018-19 and 2021-22.
  • Targets 10 lakh landless households, and specifically SC and ST families. They will be supported with a unit cost of Rs 12,500 for activities like goat rearing, mushroom cultivation, beekeeping, poultry farming and fishery.
  • Exception: A critical trade, dairy production, has deliberately been kept out because keeping a cow is more expensive, while milk production needs to have a collection route or agency that processes and refines this low shelf-life product.
  • It will assist the elderly, sick and differently-abled population who are unable to take up cultivation, by providing Rs 10,000 per household per year.
  • The scheme includes a life insurance cover of Rs 2 lakh and additional personal accident coverage of the same amount for 57 lakh households.
  • Crop loans up to Rs 50,000 are interest-free.
  • This is also going to be an area-specific scheme in the sense that an input support for a particular trade, say mushroom cultivation, will be provided if it is prevalent throughout that locality so that there is aggregation of produce.

 

About Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi:

  • It is a Central Sector Scheme.
  • Under this programme, landholding farmer families, having cultivable land up to 2 hectares, will be provided direct income support at the rate of Rs. 6,000 per year.
  • This income support will be transferred directly into the bank accounts of beneficiary farmers, in three equal installments of Rs. 2,000 each.

 

 

 

Source: Indian Express

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GS-II : Economic Issues Others
Slowdown in tax collection to hurt finances of govt

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

News: The gross tax revenue collected by the central government during the first seven months of 2019-20 was ?10.52 trillion, up by just 1.22% from the tax collected during the same period in 2018-19.

 

Taxing times

The Centre, which collected ?10.52 trillion in the first seven months of FY20, is likely to fall short of its target of ?24.61 trillion set for this fiscal.

 

How will a lower tax revenue affect govt?

In fiscal year 2019, the central government had collected ?20.80 trillion in gross tax revenue. In 2019-20, it hopes to collect ?24.61trillion, or 18.32% more. In the first seven months of fiscal 2019-20, the tax collected has grown just 1.22%. Hence, the government is way off the mark in terms of what it hopes to collect during the current fiscal. This is clearly reflected in delayed payments by the government. What will help the government bridge part of the gap between what it hopes to earn and what it actually will, is the dividend of ?1.76 trillion, which it has received from the Reserve Bank of India.

 

What else can it do to address the gap?

Until October, ?17,365 crore had been earned through the disinvestment route against the targeted ?1.05 trillion. Clearly, the government has to be fairly aggressive about selling its stake in public sector enterprises in the little over three and a half months left in 2019-20. If it wants to bridge the tax-revenue gap, it needs to better the target of ?1.05 trillion. This apart, it should work towards shutting down many non-strategic public sector enterprises, which are simply a drag on government finances and have no buyers. This will free up both land and capital, which can be adequately employed in the years ahead.

 

What has led to slow growth in gross tax revenue?

The central goods and services tax (GST) was supposed to grow 14.96% during 2019-20. It has grown at a much slower 8.30% to ?2.85 trillion between April and October. Income tax collected during the year has grown just 6.67% to ?2.44 trillion. The targeted growth is 23.25%, as per the budget. These numbers show a slowdown in economic activity.

 

What about corporate income tax collection?

A total of ?2.73 trillion in corporate income tax has been collected. This is 0.88% more than the amount collected during the same period in 2018-19. A little over 35% of the ?7.66 trillion that the government hopes to collect during 2019-20 has been collected in the first seven months of the year. This is largely because of the slowdown and also due to lower corporate income tax rates introduced earlier this year. All in all, things are not looking great for the three main taxes of the government.

 

What does this say about govt finances?

There has been some talk of the government raising the GST rates in order to earn greater tax revenue. In an economic slowdown, the idea should always be to put more money in the hands of people and hope they spend it, and not take it away. Also, when it comes to its earnings, this year, the government has primarily been saved by the huge RBI dividend. What it will do next year is a question well worth asking.

Source: Livemint

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GS-III :
Panel pulls up 19 States for tyre disposal

Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

 

Prelims and Mains focus: About pyrolysis and the environmental concerns associated with it, about CPCB and NGT

 

News: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has pulled up 270 tyre pyrolysis units in 19 States for employing technology that is polluting and harmful to the health of the workers employed.

 

Context:

As of 2016­17, official estimates indicate 127.34 million tyres were produced in India, which was seen to be a 12% increase from the previous year. A 37% increase in the tyre production has been observed in the two­wheeler segment, a 23% increase in the tractor segment and 16% in the passenger car/jeep segment. India discards about 100 million tyres everyday and only a fraction of it is recycled. India is also responsible for 6% of the global tyre waste, according to a 2017 report by environmentalist group Chintan.

 

Background:

The National Green Tribunal in 2014 prohibited used tyres from being burnt in the open or being used as fuel in brick kilns, because of the toxic emissions. The authority asked the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board to look at ways to dispose used tyres safely.

Subsequently, the board issued a set of guidelines, in which pyrolysis was recommended as an acceptable mode.

More than 40% of tyre pyrolysis units were not complying with rules, the NGT observed in April 2019, after it sought a report from the CPCB. The CPCB reported that there were 637 units in 19 States of which 251 units were compliant, 270 non-compliant and 116 were closed.

 

About pyrolysis

Tyre pyrolysis refers to a technique of breaking down used tyres in the absence of oxygen. Shredded tyres, at temperatures between 250 degree C and 500 degree C, produce liquid oil and gases.

While this is considered a safer technique than burning tyres, pyrolysis leaves fine carbon matter, pyro­gas and oil as residue and the inadequate management of these by­products poses health risks.

 

About CPCB

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of India is a statutory organisation under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
  • It was established in 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1974.
  • CPCB is also entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
  • It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • It Co-ordinates the activities of the State Pollution Control Boards by providing technical assistance and guidance and also resolves disputes among them.

 

About NGT

  • The NGT was established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010, passed by the Central Government.
  • The stated objective of the Central Government was to provide a specialized forum for effective and speedy disposal of cases pertaining to environment protection, conservation of forests and for seeking compensation for damages caused to people or property due to violation of environmental laws or conditions specified while granting permissions.

 

Structure:

  • The Principal Bench of the NGT has been established in the National Capital – New Delhi, with regional benches in :
  1. Pune (Western Zone Bench)
  2. Bhopal (Central Zone Bench),
  3. Chennai (Southern Bench) and
  4. Kolkata (Eastern Bench)

 

  • Each Bench has a specified geographical jurisdiction covering several States in a region. There is also a mechanism for circuit benches.
  • The Chairperson of the NGT is a retired Judge of the Supreme Court, Head Quartered in Delhi. Other Judicial members are retired Judges of High Courts.
  • Each bench of the NGT will comprise of at least one Judicial Member and one Expert Member.
  • Expert members should have a professional qualification and a minimum of 15 years’ experience in the field of environment/forest conservation and related subjects.

 

Legal jurisdiction of NGT:

The NGT has the power to hear all civil cases relating to environmental issues and questions that are linked to the implementation of laws listed in Schedule I of the NGT Act. These include the following:

1. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;

2. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977; (yes, cess act)

3. The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;

4. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981; 

5. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; (aka EPA)

6. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991; (good option to confuse)

7. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

 

Note: The NGT has not been vested with powers to hear any matter relating to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and various laws enacted by States relating to forests, tree preservation etc. Therefore, specific and substantial issues related to these laws cannot be raised before the NGT.

 

Principles of Justice adopted by NGT:

  • The NGT is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
  • NGT is also not bound by the rules of evidence as enshrined in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. Thus, it will be relatively easier for conservation groups to present facts and issues before the NGT, including pointing out technical flaws in a project, or proposing alternatives that could minimize environmental damage but which have not been considered.
  • While passing Orders/decisions/awards, the NGT will apply the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principles.

 

Review and Appeal:

Orders can be appealed to the Supreme Court within 90 days.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-III :
The Neutrino project

Syllabus subtopic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Prelims and mains focus: About neutrinos, the Neutrino project, and its significance

News: The Centre has reiterated that the Indian Neutrino Observatory (INO) will be established in Theni in south Tamil Nadu though there has been opposition to the project by locals.

 

About the project:

The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) Project is a multi-institutional effort aimed at building a world-class underground laboratory with a rock cover of approx.1200 m for non-accelerator based high energy and nuclear physics research in India. The initial goal of INO is to study neutrinos.

It is a mega-science project jointly funded by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

The project includes:

  • Construction of an underground laboratory and associated surface facilities at Pottipuram in Bodi West hills of Theni District of Tamil Nadu.
  • Construction of an Iron Calorimeter (ICAL) detector for studying neutrinos.
  • Setting up of National Centre for High Energy Physics at Madurai, for the operation and maintenance of the underground laboratory, human resource development and detector R&D along with its applications.

About Neutrinos

  • Neutrinos, first proposed by Swiss scientist Wolfgang Pauli in 1930, are the second most widely occurring particle in the universe, only second to photons, the particle which makes up light. In fact, neutrinos are so abundant among us that every second, there are more than 100 trillion of them passing right through each of us — we never even notice them.
  • Neutrinos occur in three different types, or flavours. These are separated in terms of different masses. From experiments so far, we know that neutrinos have a tiny mass, but the ordering of the neutrino mass states is not known and is one of the key questions that remain unanswered till today. This is a major challenge INO will set to resolve, thus completing our picture of the neutrino.

 

Significance

Neutrinos hold the key to several important and fundamental questions on the origin of the Universe and the energy production in stars. Another important possible application of neutrinos is in the area of neutrino tomograph of the earth, that is detailed investigation of the structure of the Earth from core on wards. This is possible with neutrinos since they are the only particles which can probe the deep interiors of the Earth.

 

Why underground laboratory?

Neutrinos are notoriously difficult to detect in a laboratory because of their extremely weak interaction with matter.

  • The background from cosmic rays (which interact much more readily than neutrinos) and natural radioactivity will make it almost impossible to detect them on the surface of the Earth. This is the reason most neutrino observatories are located deep inside the Earth’s surface.
  • The overburden provided by the Earth matter is transparent to neutrinos whereas most background from cosmic rays is substantially reduced depending on the depth at which the detector is located.

Source: Indian Express

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