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Insights Daily Current Events, November 05, 2013

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November 05, 2013

NATIONAL

Supreme Court warns on quo warranto PIL on public appointments

  • Consideration of suitability or eligibility of a candidate for a post is within the domain of the appointing authority and the only thing that court can scrutinise is whether the appointment is contrary to statutory provisions/rules.

  • If the person holding the public office had the qualifications and fulfilled the requirements of the post, quo warranto should not be entertained by High Courts on public interest writ petitions(PILs)

  • PIL was initially evolved as a tool to take care of the fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution of the marginalised sections, who because of poverty and illiteracy could not approach the court. It was evolved to benefit the have-nots and the handicapped for protection of their basic human rights and to see that authorities carry out their constitutional obligations towards the marginalised sections.

  • However, some cases wherein, persons who describe themselves- as working for public good , have approached the court challenging grant of promotion, fixation of seniority, etc. in respect of third parties.

  • The SC has warned that, PIL petitions should not be used to settle personal scores.

  • For instance, in a recent case – the Central Electricity Supply Utility (CESU) of Odisha and Bijaya Chandra Jena were aggrieved over an Orissa High Court order quashing his appointment as CEO of CESU. The High Court also ordered recovery of his salary.

  • Allowing their appeal and setting aside the order, the Bench said: ‘Judgment can be erroneous but when there is a direction for recovery of the honorarium, it indubitably creates a dent in the honour of a person. While exercising the power for issue of a writ of quo warranto , the court only makes a declaration that the person holding the public office is a usurper and not eligible to hold the post and after the declaration is made he ceases to hold the office. But until the declaration is made, the incumbent renders service and cannot be deprived of his salary.’

  • Recovery of salary ‘would amount to deprivation of payment while the incumbent was holding the post  and Denial of pay to incumbent holding office was akin to forced labour’.

What is Public-Interest Litigation (PIL)?

  • PIL is litigation for the protection of the public interest. Article 32 of the Indian constitution contains a tool which directly joints the public with judiciary. A PIL may be introduced in a court of law by the court itself (suo motu), rather than the aggrieved party or another third party.

  • For the exercise of the court’s jurisdiction, it is not necessary for the victim of the violation of his or her rights to personally approach the court. In a PIL, the right to file suit is given to a member of the public by the courts through judicial activism. The member of the public may be a non-governmental organization (NGO), an institution or an individual.

Courtesy – Wikipedia

What is quo warranto?

  • It is a writ calling upon a person to show by what authority one claims to an office, franchise or liberty. It is regarded as an appropriate and adequate remedy to determine rights or title to a public  office and to oust one who has unlawfully usurped or intruded into such office.

  • The writ affords a judicial inquiry into such matters. However, quo warranto cannot be claimed as a matter of right in the sense that the court is not bound to grant the relief prayed for, but if the validity of an appointment or a claim to an office by a person is challenged by a applicant for a writ and the court is satisfied that the writ has been presented by bona fide, is without improper delay, it has the right to investigate the matter and decide on the validity of the appointment.

Courtesy – http://mmksuntharam.hubpages.com

(Read about other Writs – Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Certiorari, Prohibition)

Fresh trouble in Meghalaya

  • With Meghalaya keen on implementing the Tenancy Act, 14 pro-Inner Line Permit (ILP) groups in Meghalaya have announced fresh night road blockades to demand implementation of the ILP to check illegal influx into the State.

  • The blockade, which was also enforced for several days during the two-month long agitation had affected the movement of vehicles through National Highways 40 and 44, considered the lifelines for landlocked Mizoram, Tripura and parts of Manipur and Barak Valley in Assam.

What is ILP all about?

  • Inner Line Permit is an official travel document issued by the government of India to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected/restricted area for a limited period. It is obligatory for Indian citizens from outside those States to obtain permit for entering into the protected State.

  • The document is an effort by the government to regulate movement to certain areas located near the international border of India. This is a security measure and it is applicable for – Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland

Cause for Protest

  • The protest was due to the failure of the Centre government to implement the Eastern Bengal Frontier Regulation Act 1873 or Inner Line Permit (ILP) which was recommended by the High Level Committee on ‘Influx’ constituted by the government in 2012.

Courtesy – Wikipedia

INTERNATIONAL

Morsy dismisses trial as a farce

  • The trial of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy has begun. Mr. Morsy is the second Egyptian head of state, who has been dragged into the courtroom, following an uprising, which has transformed into a political contest between hardened Islamists and a secular military.

Background:

  • Ironically, this is also the courtroom where the former President, Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled by a popular revolt in February 2011, has been making his appearances.

  • Mr. Morsy was removed in a military coup in July, 2013 following popular anti-Islamist protests. He is being tried for inciting the killings of three protesters; they were part of a larger gathering outside the presidential palace, which had been opposing the passage of decree that had significantly expanded Mr. Morsy’s powers.

  • The killings were a result of an escalating spiral of violence, which began to rise after security forces failed to stop the rising anti-Morsy protests on December, 2012. In response, leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood — Mr. Morsy’s parent organisation urged their supporters to gather at the same spot.

  • Critics also point to the bias being shown by the interim government, which has so far failed to charge those who were responsible for killing Mr. Morsy’s supporters.

  • The tussle between the Islamists and secularists has an important foreign component – Americans have been accused of being “soft” on the Brotherhood and its allies.

S. Korean President talks of regional trust-building

  • South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye has highlighted a deep rift with Japan, as the region struggles to rein in North Korea’s growing nuclear capability.

With regard to North Korea:

  • Concern over regional security has grown in the past year, following North Korea’s third nuclear test in February, 2013.

  • On the “trust-building” process with the North, Ms Park’s government has reached an early agreement with Pyongyang (North Korea) to reopen a jointly run industrial park at Kaesong, but further agreements — including a plan to reunite families separated by the Korean War — have not been honoured by the North. And as signs of N.Korea’s commitment to its nuclear and missile programmes continue, there are calls from some countries to reopen talks.

  • Over the past three years, North Korea has carried out a nuclear test; launched a long-range rocket; restarted a nuclear reactor; and shelled a South Korean island, killing four persons, including civilians. It was also blamed by Seoul (South Korea) for sinking a S.Korean warship with 46 sailors on board.

With regard to Japan:

  • The President has said that, ‘Japan needs to address wartime issues like use of military sex slaves, or “comfort women”, which has drawn great public anger in S.Korea, and also w.r.t Japan’s claim over the rocky islet of Dokdo (known as Takeshima in Japan), which lies in the waters between the two nations.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

300-day Mars expedition begins today (5th November, 2103)

  • India’s first interplanetary mission to planet Mars – Mangalyaan (Mars Orbiter Mission) will be setting off on an 11-month-long expedition from Sriharikota on 5th November, 2013. During the useful life of the orbiter, meaningful scientific experiments would be conducted.

  • This is totally an indigenous mission — the rocket and the five payloads come from various ISRO centres across the country and this is the PSLV’s silver jubilee launch (25th launch).

  • The mission to Mars is more complex than India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission to the moon because of the distances involved. At its nearest, Mars is 55 million km away and it can be as far as 400 million km away when it is farthest from the Earth.

  • Although ISRO has benefited from its experience with the Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe dispatched five years back, the technological hurdles that must be dealt with in an interplanetary mission of this sort are still very considerable.

  • The Soviet Union, the U.S., Japan and China failed to get to Mars on their first attempt but the European Space Agency succeeded on its first try with the Mars Express probe that was launched 10 years ago.

  • One of the five instruments on board the orbiter is a sensor designed to pick up signs of methane — a possible marker for life, extinct or extant.

  • The Indian spacecraft shares some scientific objectives with America’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (Maven), which will be launched in two weeks (November, 2013).

Courtesy – Hindu Newspaper

  • Sensors on both spacecraft will examine processes that have drastically thinned the Martian atmosphere, which was once thick enough to allow substantial bodies of liquid water to exist on the planet’s surface and both would work on orbit collecting data.

  • Once its mission was complete, the spacecraft would not be allowed to crash on the planet. There would be enough propellant to take the probe away from the Martian environment.

ECONOMICS

Vodafone India stake sellers liable to pay capital gains tax

  • On the issue of ‘tax implications’ of Vodafone Plc’s plan to buy out the minority shareholders in its Indian telecom venture (Vodafone India), it would now have to pay 20% capital gains tax after selling their stake to the U.K.-based parent company.

  • The tax on gains made from financial transactions is levied at 20%.

Background:

  • Earlier, Vodafone Plc had applied to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for approval to increase its stake in Vodafone India to 100% from the present combined direct and indirect holding of 84.5 %.

  • Vodafone entered India in 2007 by buying Hutchison Whampoa in Hutchison-Essar in a $11 billion deal.

  • The company faces a tax liability of over Rs.11,200 crore, along with interest, for the acquisition and is in discussions with the government to resolve the issue.

  • Vodafone had offered to settle the dispute through conciliation and the government has agreed, but there were differences over the rules under which it would take place. While Vodafone wants to resolve the dispute under the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, the government insists on applying the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act.

More about Capital gain Tax?

  • A type of tax levied on capital gains incurred by individuals and corporations. Capital gains are the profits that an investor realizes when he or she sells the capital asset for a price that is higher than the purchase price.

  • Capital gains taxes are only triggered when an asset is realized, not while it is held by an investor. An investor can own shares that appreciate every year, but the investor does not incur a capital gains tax on the shares until they are sold.

  • The most common capital gains are realized from the sale of property, stocks, bonds, precious metals/paintings or any asset (movable/immovable) worth its value.

  • If the assets are sold after three years of purchase, the resultant gains known as Long-term gains — are taxable at a fixed rate of 20% or if the time period is below 3 years then it’s known as Short-term gain Capital tax based on Income tax slab.

  • Not all countries implement a capital gains tax and most have different rates of taxation for individuals and corporations.

  • It is important to note that it is net capital gains that are subject to tax because if an investor sells two stocks during the year, one for a profit and an equal one for a loss, the amount of the capital loss incurred on the losing investment will counteract the capital gains from the winning investment.

Courtesy – http://www.investopedia.com & Wikipedia

(A question on Capital gain tax was asked in 2012 Prelims)

Rupee to trade in 62-63 range without RBI measures: Assocham

  • According to a paper released by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), the rupee is unlikely to fall below 63 to a dollar even if RBI withdraws temporary measures such as direct sale of dollars to oil importing companies and the foreign currency non-resident (FCNR) swap facility put in place to support the currency, as speculative activity around it has mostly declined in the foreign exchange market,

  • Besides, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) have turned buyers in the capital market and exports have made an impressive rebound — the developments that would lend support to the rupee, which will trade in the range of 62-63.

  • CAD for the current fiscal would not be more than $60 billion.

  • All these positives have now set a stage for the RBI, for a possible withdrawal of these measures.

  • The FCNR deposit swap facility, which has already brought in more than $13 billion to the country’s forex reserves, is likely to bring in $20 billion directly to the sovereign treasury when the facility ends by 30th November, 2013.

Finance Ministry seeks 30 % dividend from oil PSUs

  • The Finance Ministry has asked all profit-making oil pubic sector undertakings (PSUs) to pay a minimum 30 % dividend in the current financial year (2013-14).

  • At present, all profit-making PSUs are required to declare a minimum dividend on equity of 20% or a minimum dividend payout of 20% of post-tax profit, whichever is higher, subject to availability of disposable profits.

  • However, for the 14 PSUs in the oil sector, including Oil & Natural Gas Corp, Indian Oil Corp and GAIL India, the Ministry has sought a 30% dividend.

  • According to the Finance Ministry, dividend from PSUs is a return on investment made by the government, and it should be commensurate with profits – ‘A lower than reasonable level of dividend would be considered as an implicit subsidy, which the government can ill afford, given the level of its commitments, especially in the social sector, and its obligations to meet the fiscal targets’.