The HINDU Notes – 27th July 2019 - VISION

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Saturday, July 27, 2019

The HINDU Notes – 27th July 2019

📰 New anti-terror clause will be used sparingly; Azhar, Saeed to be first targets: official

New anti-terror clause will be used sparingly; Azhar, Saeed to be first targets: official
The first ones to be designated will be Azhar and Saeed

•The proposed amendment to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) that enables the government to designate individuals as terrorists will be used “sparingly”, a senior government official said on July 26.

•Once the anti-terror law is amended, the first ones to be designated on a priority basis will be Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad’s Masood Azhar and Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, the official said.

Rules yet to be defined

•The government is yet to define the rules that will govern the Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The official said the process was non-judicial. It will be decided by officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the “burden of proof” will be on the government.

•As of now, there are no specific provisions to initiate legal action against officials who have erred in their decision. The police will be able to act against the individual concerned based on the designation, though the jail term and other punitive actions have not been specified yet.

•The official claimed the Bill was in alignment with laws in European Union (EU) countries, U.S., China, Israel and even Pakistan, adding that Sri Lanka started designating individuals after the April 21 Easter terror attacks.

•“We faced embarrassment in diplomatic circles earlier this year while convincing the world to designate Masood Azhar as an international terrorist under UN norms. We were asked why haven't we designated Azhar yet? The UAPA bill is to address this anomaly,” explained the official. The official said it will be a “small list” and the focus will be on “dreaded self declared terrorists” whose parent outfits are already banned under UAPA. “Messaging is important, there should be fear of the law,” said the official.

•The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha this week. It will have to be cleared by the Rajya Sabha to be enacted as a law. Several MPs have expressed concerns about the overreaching aspects of the legislation as it could be used by Centre to harass innocent people.

•The first step would be the proposal that has to come from the intelligence agencies. “The information provided by one agency will be corroborated with another, it has to be credible. MHA will examine the proposal and once it is convinced after going through all the records, it will be cleared by the Home Minister and then notified,” said the official.

•Once the individual has been designated as a terrorist, he or she could file an appeal before the MHA, either in person or through registered post. Once the appeal has been filed, MHA will have to decide the case in 45 days. The individual will then have an option to appeal before an independent three-member review committee comprising sitting or retired High Court judges. The committee will also be appointed by MHA. The UAPA, enacted in 1967 was first amended in 2004 to ban organisations for terrorist activities.

•“In the past 15 years, only 42 organisations like LeT, JeM, SIMI etc. have been banned. An appeal was filed only in one case, that of Dindar Anjuman. The Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh governments sent strong reports that the ban should not be lifted. The outfit filed an appeal before MHA, they went to the review committee, which also rejected its claims and the outfit did not appeal in any other court after that,” said the official.

📰 Private member’s bill urges state poll funding

Seeks lifting of the present candidate expenditure limit of ₹70 lakh

•Equating the expenditure limit on election expenses with prohibition, Congress MP Rajeev Gowda on Friday moved a private member’s bill in the Rajya Sabha that seeks removal of the limit and state funding of elections as part of reforms to the way polls are financed in India.

•Asserting that the limit was counter productive and only helped those with black money to bribe individual voters and crippled honest candidates, Mr. Gowda mooted The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, makes two key proposals. One, the current per candidate expenditure limit of ₹70 lakh should be lifted and two, there should be state funding to ensure a “cleaner polity”, which is a public good.

•“The problem is idealistic laws, which like the prohibition have been counter productive,” Mr. Gowda said, introducing his Bill in the Rajya Sabha. “The actual expenditures are driven underground. Who does this help? Those with black money. It sets in motion a vicious cycle,” he contended, adding that once elected, the representatives try to reward those who contributed to their victory.

•Qouting former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who had said that “All MPs start their parliamentary careers with a lie,” Mr. Gowda said that the former PM was referring to MPs typically under-declaring how much they had spent on their elections. “Telling the truth would result in disqualification under the current law,” Mr. Gowda said.

•Mr. Gowda argued that instead of imposing a limit, transparency should be brought in. “Let sunlight be the best disinfectant,” he said. All the expenses should be put in the public domain.

•The candidates should be allowed to legitimately raise funds. “Candidates who can raise white money openly cannot spend more than ₹70 lakh in parliamentary elections. Hence, compared to those who spend money covertly, clean politicians are crippled by the system,” he asserted. An amount of ₹70 lakh was not enough even to send postcards to 20 lakh odd voters in each constituency, he argued.

•Contending that to be a politician one needed resources, Mr. Gowda said political parties too need resources and the country simply refused to recognise the amount of money spent in elections. A politician’s worth was often decided by how deep their pockets and how fat their wallets were.

•Asserting that the only way to cleanse the system was to ensure state funding, Mr. Gowda proposed a National Election Fund, under which each political party could be allotted funds according to their recent electoral performance. “Cleaner polity is a public good,” he argued.

📰 Companies Bill tightens CSR compliance

This will ensure better governance and is company-friendly: Minister

•The Lok Sabha on Friday passed the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which seeks to amend the Companies Act, 2013 and is aimed at tightening the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) compliance, transferring certain responsibilities to the National Company Law Tribunal and re-categorising certain offences as civil offences. It replaced an ordinance promulgated earlier.

•Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the House that the Bill would ensure further ease of doing business for companies.

•“This will ensure better governance and is company-friendly,’’ she said.

•“The government has so far de-registered four lakh shell companies. Also companies not spending the mandatory 2% profit on CSR activities for a total period of four years will be required to deposit the amount in a special account,’’ she said.

•The Bill was passed unanimously after Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury withdrew statutory resolution opposing it.

•“India has become the first country to make CSR spending mandatory through a law. The companies will have one year to firm up the CSR proposal and another three years to spend funds. In case money remains unspent for one plus three years, it will have to be moved to an escrow account,’’ said the Minister.

•The bill will also empower the Registrar of Companies (ROC) to initiate action for the removal of the name of the company from the Register of companies if it is not carrying on any business or operation in according with the company law.

📰 Iran tests medium-range missile

•United States military official reported Iran test-launched Shahab-3, a Medium-Range Ballistic Missile inside its borders. Missile was launched from southern coast of Iran and landed east of Tehran. It flew about 1,100 km, however did not pose threat to U.S. or other Western military or shipping bases in region.

📰 Yields rise on doubts over overseas bond issue

Yields on 10-year benchmark up 2bps

•Bond yields have started inching up following speculation that the government may shelve its plan to raise funds through an overseas sovereign bond issue.

•The yield on 10-year benchmark government bond closed 2 bps higher on Friday to 6.53% after climbing 7 bps on Thursday.

•Media reports suggested that the Prime Minister’s office had asked the Finance Ministry for wider consultation before taking such a step.

•During her maiden Budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said India would look to issue overseas foreign currency sovereign bonds.

•Going ahead, the bond yields will take a cue from the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) next monetary policy review scheduled for the first week of August.

•The market is expecting another 25 bps cut by the RBI in August as inflation continues to be soft and there is a need to boost growth. “We continue to expect the RBI MPC to cut rates by 25bps on August 7, pause with inflation going up temporarily on base effects/drought and cut by 25bps in the March quarter again as inflation abates,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note to its clients, adding July inflation is expected to be at 3%.

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