Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Insights Daily Current Events, 19 March 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 19 March 2015

GST Bill to be first off the block

The Union government has decided to give the long-pending Goods and Services Tax (GST) Constitution Amendment Bill precedence over the controversial Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, sensing a better chance of passing the former if sequenced that way.

  • The GST Bill’s passage will require a constitutional amendment, which means a two-thirds majority is required in Parliament. The Assemblies too will have to approve the Bill ahead of the April 2016 deadline.

GST:

The goods and services tax (GST) is a comprehensive value-added tax (VAT) on goods and services. It is an indirect tax levy on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods as well as services at a national level.

  • Through a tax credit mechanism, this tax is collected on value-added goods and services at each stage of sale or purchase in the supply chain.
  • The system allows the set-off of GST paid on the procurement of goods and services against the GST which is payable on the supply of goods or services. However, the end consumer bears this tax as he is the last person in the supply chain.
  • Experts say that GST is likely to improve tax collections and boost India’s economic development by breaking tax barriers between States and integrating India through a uniform tax rate.

What are the benefits of GST?

  • Under GST, the taxation burden will be divided equitably between manufacturing and services, through a lower tax rate by increasing the tax base and minimizing exemptions.
  • It is expected to help build a transparent and corruption-free tax administration. GST will be is levied only at the destination point, and not at various points (from manufacturing to retail outlets).
  • Currently, a manufacturer needs to pay tax when a finished product moves out from a factory, and it is again taxed at the retail outlet when sold.

How will it benefit the Centre and the States?

  • It is estimated that India will gain $15 billion a year by implementing the Goods and Services Tax as it would promote exports, raise employment and boost growth. It will divide the tax burden equitably between manufacturing and services.

What are the benefits of GST for individuals and companies?

  • In the GST system, both Central and State taxes will be collected at the point of sale. Both components (the Central and State GST) will be charged on the manufacturing cost. This will benefit individuals as prices are likely to come down. Lower prices will lead to more consumption, thereby helping companies.

Why are some States against GST; will they lose money?

  • The governments of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu say that the information technology systems and the administrative infrastructure will not be ready by April 2016 to implement GST. States have sought assurances that their existing revenues will be protected.
  • The central government has offered to compensate States in case of a loss in revenues.
  • Some States fear that if the uniform tax rate is lower than their existing rates, it will hit their tax kitty. The government believes that dual GST will lead to better revenue collection for States.
  • However, backward and less-developed States could see a fall in tax collections. GST could see better revenue collection for some States as the consumption of goods and services will rise.

Sources: The Hindu, gstindia.com.

 

 

Collegium system is illegal, says government

Calling the 21-year-old collegium system of judicial appointments to higher courts completely illegal, the Union government recently said that there was no guarantee that the best judges could be appointed only by judges.

Background:

  • The government’s observation came during its final submissions before a Special Bench led by Justice Anil R. Dave. The Bench is deciding whether the legal challenge to the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) is maintainable at all.
  • The NJAC would replace the collegium in judicial appointments. The NJAC Act and the 99thConstitution Amendment recently received the President’s assent after ratification by 20 States, but is yet to be notified by the government.

NJAC Bill:

NJAC is a proposed body responsible for the appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary in India. It seeks to replace the collegium system of appointing the judges of Supreme Court and 24 High Courts with judicial appointments commission wherein the executive will have a say in appointing the judges.

Details:

  • A new article, Article 124A, (which provides for the composition of the NJAC) will be inserted into the Constitution.
  • It provides for the procedure to be followed by the NJAC for recommending persons for appointment as Chief Justice of India and other Judges of the Supreme Court (SC), and Chief Justice and other Judges of High Courts (HC).
  • It also seeks changes in articles 124,217,222 and 231.

The commission will consist of the following members:

  • Chief Justice of India (Chairperson, ex officio)
  • Two other senior judges of the Supreme Court next to the Chief Justice of India – ex officio
  • The Union Minister of Law and Justice, ex-officio
  • Two eminent persons (to be nominated by a committee consisting of the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister of India and the Leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha or where there is no such Leader of Opposition, then, the Leader of single largest Opposition Party in Lok Sabha), provided that of the two eminent persons, one person would be from the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes or OBC or minority communities or a woman. The eminent persons shall be nominated for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for re-nomination.

Functions of the Commission:

  • Recommending persons for appointment as Chief Justice of India, Judges of the Supreme Court, Chief Justices of High Courts and other Judges of High Courts.
  • Recommending transfer of Chief Justices and other Judges of High Courts from one High Court to any other High Court.
  • Ensuring that the persons recommended are of ability and integrity.

Under the present Collegium system, the Chief Justice of India would consult the four senior most judges of the Supreme Court for Supreme Court appointments and two senior-most judges for high court appointments.

How the NJAC will help:

  • The NJAC, once it came into existence, is expected to usher in transparency in judicial appointments in the highest courts and end the highest judiciary’s two-decade-old grip over appointments of judges through the collegium system.
  • It would restore an equal role for the executive in higher judicial appointments.

Allegations:

  • Some people contend that that by passing the NJAC Bill, Parliament had “altered the basic structure of the Constitution” and encroached into judicial independence. They say Independence of the judiciary includes the necessity to eliminate political influence even at the stage of appointment of a judge. This is being violated.
  • The amendment, as passed by the two houses of Parliament, “takes away the primacy of the collective opinion of the Chief Justice of India and the two senior most Judges of the Supreme Court of India”.
  • Although the six-member Commission had the CJI as chairperson and two senior most Supreme Court judges as members, there was no “primacy” for them. Even their collective recommendation of a candidate as judge could be frozen if any two non-judicial members on the panel vetoed it.
  • Under the present Collegium system, the Chief Justice of India would consult the four senior most judges of the Supreme Court for Supreme Court appointments and two senior-most judges for high court appointments.

 

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, prsindia.org.

 

Boy’s arrest for FB post against govt. promise

The arrest of a 19-year-old boy by the Uttar Pradesh Police for allegedly posting an objectionable statement, attributed to a local leader, on Facebook is in contradiction to the Union government’s repeated assurances in the Supreme Court on free speech on the social media.

What was the government’s assurance?

  • The government had said before the Supreme Court that a person was free to express political dissent, contrarian views and decent humour, and no one would “dare” charge him under Section 66(A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
  • It had promised that dissent would not be classified as “grossly offensive” or “menacing” under the provision.

Controversy over Section 66A:

  • The law came in for criticism after several arrests by police over Facebook and other social media postings.
  • Two young women were arrested in Mumbai over a posting which the Shiv Sena found offensive.
  • A lecturer was arrested in Kolkata for forwarding cartoons of chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
  • A writer was arrested in UP for criticising the suspension of IAS officer DS Nagpal.

In the wake of these incidents, many petitions were filed in SC challenging the law as being too vague, broad and arbitrary. SC in an interim order passed at the outset, restrained police from arresting anyone without clearing such action first with their superiors in such cases.

Arguments against the Law:

  • The SC has received petitions demanding that the law either be aligned with Article 19(2) of the Constitution or be struck down.
  • The opponents argue the I-T Act cannot prescribe restrictions on a citizen’s right to freedom of speech and expression that were wider than warranted under Article 19(2), which allows the state to curtail them only on the grounds of public order, security of state etc. Any other restriction on free speech on social media would be an unreasonable restriction under the Constitution.

Section 66A defines the punishment for sending “offensive” messages through a computer or any other communication device like a mobile phone or a tablet. A conviction can fetch a maximum of three years in jail and a fine.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

 

Caste determines spending on food, choice of work: NSSO

A new data released by the NSSO shows that how much and what people eat and what work they do differs significantly by caste. However, these differences are likely to be correlated, rather than caused by caste.

Details of the Report:

The data show that

  • While food takes up a larger share of the total expenditure of Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Scheduled Castes (SC) households, compared with those if Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and others, the food items that the different social groups spend on, changes with caste.
  • Higher castes spend significantly more on milk and milk products. But spending on cereals and eggs and meat does not change significantly by caste in absolute terms. Among non-food items, higher castes ramp up their spending on education and rent.
  • While in general SC and ST households spend substantially less than OBC and upper caste ones, substantial regional differences exist. The total consumption expenditure of a rural SC household in Tamil Nadu is more than that of an upper caste household in rural Bihar, while that of a rural SC household in Kerala is almost as much as that of an upper caste rural household in Gujarat.
  • SC households are most likely to be engaged in casual labour in rural areas, but in regular wage jobs in urban areas, while OBC and upper caste households are more likely to be self-employed or in salaried jobs.

 

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Astra test-fired successfully against simulated target

Astra was recently successfully launched from Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft to hit a simulated target. It is the indigenously developed Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile.

Details:

  • It is an all-weather, state-of-the-art missile developed by DRDO and can engage and destroy enemy aircraft at supersonic speed (1.2 Mach to 1.4 Mach) in head-on (up to 80 km) and tail-chase (up to 20 km) modes.
  • The 3.8 metre tall Astra is the smallest of the DRDO-developed missiles and can be launched from different altitudes. It can reach up to 110 km when fired from an altitude of 15 km, 44 km when launched from an altitude of eight km and 21 km when fired from sea level.

 

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Insights Secure Prelims 2015

Welcome to Insights Secure Prelims – 2015 initiative. The following questions are based on current events that appear in PIB (Public Information Bureau) and from some important newspapers. For more challenging question papers (Full Length), please join our Preliminary Exam – 2015 Test Series (Please Click Here for Reviews)

To view Solutions, follow these instructions:

  1. Click on – ‘Start Quiz’ button

  2. Solve Questions

  3. Click on ‘Quiz Summary’ button

  4. Click on ‘Finish Quiz’ button

  5. Now click on ‘View Questions’ button – here you will see solutions and links.