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Insights Daily Current Events, 08 May 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 08 May 2015

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Adult laws will cover 16-18 year olds

The Lok Sabha has finally passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill which paves the way for children in the age group of 16-18 years to be tried as adults if they commit a heinous crime.

  • Opposition parties and child rights experts, however, have termed the move a disaster and have claimed that the government used its brute majority to get the bill through.
  • The amended Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014, which would replace the existing Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, will be taken up in the Rajya Sabha shortly.
  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill was passed after the government agreed to delete a controversial clause which said that if a minor commits a crime at an age between 16 and 18, but is caught when he has turned 21, should be tried under the Indian Penal Code and not juvenile laws.
  • At least 42 official amendments were moved by the government to the bill, which were adopted.

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill 2014:

The Ministry of Women and Child Development had introduced the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill 2014 in the Lok Sabha in August 2014. But it was referred to the standing committee which recommended keeping the legally defined age of juvenile at 18 years.

Aim of the Bill: This Bill sought to make more robust, effective and responsive the legislative framework for children in need of care and protection as well as children in conflict with law.

Important provisions in the Bill:

  • The bill clearly defines and classifies offences as petty, serious and heinous, and defines differentiated processes for each category. Keeping in view the increasing number of serious offences being committed by persons in the age group of 16-18 years and recognizing the rights of the victims as being equally important as the rights of juveniles, special provisions are proposed to tackle heinous offences committed by individuals in this age group.
  • It also proposes to streamline adoption procedures for orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children.
  • It establishes a statutory status for the Child Adoption Resources Authority (CARA).
  • It also proposes several rehabilitation and social integration measures for institutional and non-institutional children. It provides for sponsorship and foster care as completely new measures.
  • Mandatory registration of all institutions engaged in providing child care is required according to the Bill.
  • New offences including illegal adoption, corporal punishment in child care institutions, the use of children by militant groups, and offences against disabled children are also incorporated in the proposed legislation.
  • The proposed new law gives the Juvenile Justice Board the power to assess whether the perpetrator of a heinous crime aged between 16 and 18, had acted as a ‘child’ or as an ‘adult.’ The board will be assisted in this process by psychologists and social experts.

The Bill strikes a fine balance between the demands of the stakeholders asking for continued protection of rights of juveniles and the popular demand of citizens in the light of increasing incidence of heinous crimes by young boys.

The Supreme Court, in April 2015, had asked the government to re-visit the Juveniles law so that a juvenile accused of rape and murder cannot get away by claiming he is too young to understand the consequences of his crime.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, prsindia.org.

 

Rs. 140 crore fine for harming lakes

In one of the largest punishments for building and environment violations, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) recently imposed a penalty of nearly Rs. 140 crore on two builders constructing a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on Bellandur wetlands in Karnataka.

National Green Tribunal (NGT)

The National Green Tribunal has been established under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

  • It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues.
  • The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
  • The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts.
  • The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.

Members:

  • The sanctioned strength of the tribunal is currently 10 expert members and 10 judicial members although the act allows for up to 20 of each.
  • The Chairman of the tribunal who is the administrative head of the tribunal also serves as a judicial member.
  • Every bench of the tribunal must consist of at least one expert member and one judicial member. The Chairman of the tribunal is required to be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India.
  • Members are chosen by a selection committee (headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of India) that reviews their applications and conducts interviews.
  • The Judicial members are chosen from applicants who are serving or retired judges of High Courts. Expert members are chosen from applicants who are either serving or retired bureaucrats not below the rank of an Additional Secretary to the Government of India (not below the rank of Principal Secretary if serving under a state government) with a minimum administrative experience of five years in dealing with environmental matters. Or, the expert members must have a doctorate in a related field.

Jurisdiction:

  • The Tribunal has Original Jurisdiction on matters of “substantial question relating to environment” (i.e. a community at large is affected, damage to public health at broader level) & “damage to environment due to specific activity” (such as pollution). However there is no specific method is defined in Law for determining “substantial” damage to environment, property or public health.
  • The powers of tribunal related to an award are equivalent to Civil court and tribunal may transmit any order/award to civil court have local jurisdiction. The Act specifies that an application for dispute related to environment can be filled within six months only when first time dispute arose (provided tribunal can accept application after 60 days if it is satisfied that appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filling the application).
  • Also Tribunal is competent to hear cases for several acts such as Forest (Conservation) Act, Biological Diversity Act, Environment (Protection) Act, Water & Air (Prevention & control of Pollution) Acts etc. and also have appellate jurisdiction related to above acts after establishment of Tribunal within a period of 30 days of award or order received by aggrieved party.
  • The Act says that decision taken by majority of members shall be binding and every order of Tribunal shall be final. Any person aggrieved by an award, decision, or order of the Tribunal may appeal to the Supreme Court within 90 days of commencement of award but Supreme Court can entertain appeal even after 90 days if appellant satisfied SC by giving sufficient reasons.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, NGT.

 

Union Home Minister felicitates NDRF teams for their relief & rescue assistance in Nepal

The Union Home Minister has congratulated the teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for their exemplary work done in rescue and relief operations in recent earthquake in Nepal.

  • Indian relief and rescue teams were the first to reach Nepal immediately to join hands with friendly neighbour in their hour of need.

NDRF:

The Disaster Management Act has made statutory provisions for the constitution of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for the purpose of specialized response to natural and man-made disasters.

Why was it constituted?

  • Two national calamities in quick succession in the form of Orissa Super Cyclone (1999) and Gujarat Earthquake (2001) brought about the realization of the need of having a specialist response mechanism at National Level to effectively respond to disasters. This realization led to the enactment of the DM Act on 26 Dec 2005.

NDRF has been proving its importance by highly skilled rescue and relief operations, regular and intensive training and re-training, capacity building & familiarization exercises within the area of responsibility, carrying out mock drills and joint exercises with the various stakeholders.

ROLE AND MANDATE OF NDRF:

  • Specialized response during disasters
  • Proactive deployment during impending disaster situations
  • Acquire and continually upgrade its own training and skills
  • Liaison, Reconnaissance, Rehearsals and Mock Drills
  • Impart basic and operational level training to State Response Forces (Police, Civil Defence and Home Guards)
  • Community Capacity Building Programme
  • Public Awareness Campaign
  • Exhibitions : Posters, Pamphlets, literatures

Why it is said to be a UNIQUE Force?

  • It is the only dedicated disaster response force of the world.
  • The only agency with comprehensive response capabilities having multi-disciplinary and multi-skilled, high-tech, stand alone nature.
  • Experienced paramilitary personnel specially trained and equipped for disaster response.
  • Capabilities for undertaking disaster response, prevention, mitigation and capacity building.

The NDRF works under the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) which lays down the policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management.

Sources: PIB, ndrfandcd.gov.in.

 

Cabinet clears 3 social security pension schemes

The Union Cabinet recently gave its approval to three mega social security initiatives – one pension and two insurance.

  • The initiatives are aimed at providing affordable universal access to essential social security protection in a convenient manner linked to auto-debit facility from bank accounts.
  • The schemes are also expected to address the issue of very low coverage of life or accident insurance and old age income in the country.

Details:

Atal Pension Yojna (APY):

  • Under the APY, subscribers would receive a fixed minimum pension of Rs. 1000 per month, Rs. 2000 per month, Rs. 3000 per month, Rs. 4000 per month, Rs. 5000 per month, at the age of 60 years, depending on their contributions, which itself would vary on the age of joining the APY.
  • The Central Government would also co-contribute 50% of the total contribution or Rs. 1000 per annum, whichever is lower, to each eligible subscriber account, for a period of 5 years, that is, from 2015-16 to 2019-20, to those who join the NPS before 31st December, 2015 and who are not members of any statutory social security scheme and who are not Income Tax payers.
  • The minimum age of joining APY is 18 years and maximum age is 40 years. The benefit of fixed minimum pension would be guaranteed by the Government.

 

Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY):

  • Under PMJJBY, annual life insurance of Rs. 2 lakh would be available on the payment of premium of Rs. 330 per annum by the subscribers.
  • The PMJJBY will be made available to people in the age group of 18 to 50 years having a bank account from where the premium would be collected through the facility of “auto-debit”.

 

Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY):

  • Under PMSBY, the risk coverage will be Rs. 2 lakh for accidental death and full disability and Rs. 1 lakh for partial disability.
  • The Scheme will be available to people in the age group 18 to 70 years with a bank account, from where the premium would be collected through the facility of “auto-debit”.

Sources: PIB.

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