Insights Daily Current Events, 22 December 2015
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure – Housing.
New legislation to rein in realtors
The Kerala Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act has finally come into force with the just concluded Assembly session passing the Bill last week. Hitherto, it remained only as an ordinance.
- The absence of stern laws in the real estate sector had compelled the State government to bring in legislation in this regard.
- Now, all complaints pending before the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum and the Consumer Redressal Commission will be transferred to the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA).
- Civil courts will not have jurisdiction over the RERA or the Real Estate Appellate Tribunal (REAT), which will be soon established to settle disputes.
- The new law requires all real estate projects and real estate agents to be registered with the RERA. However, no registration is needed where the area of land proposed to be developed in a real estate project does not exceed 1,000 sq. m.
- The same rule will apply when the number of building units proposed to be developed in a real estate project does not exceed 12. But then, the total carpet area of the building units should not exceed 1,000 sq.m.
- Specific rules have been framed for real estate agents and buyers. The RERA has the powers to reject the application of the real estate agent.
- The allottees will be entitled to obtain information relating to the site and layouts, specification of the apartments and stage-wise time schedule of completion of project. But the allottee will be liable to pay interest for any delay in payment towards any amount or charges.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: conservation.
PMO sets ambitious paperless target
The Prime Minister’s Office has set an ambitious target to shift at least 90% of all government transactions that involve payments or receipts from citizens and businesses to electronic or paperless mode by the end of 2016, replacing the use of cash, demand drafts, cheques and challans in government offices.
- To move towards that goal, all government departments and ministries have been asked to provide electronic options for all payments and receipts by March 31, 2016.
- Departments have also been asked to identify what measures may work in their own context to goad payees and payers to switch to paperless transactions.
- In this regard, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology or DEITY is working on an end-to-end transactional experience for citizens and businesses to access various services through Internet enabled with a payment gateway interface for online payments, as part of the Digital India mission.
- This move will bring to an end misgovernance of the sort seen during the 2G spectrum scam, for instance, when several telecom players, with demand drafts in hand, were scrambling to get allocations on a first-come, first-served basis.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections.
RS to take up Juvenile Bill
Public anger at the release of the juvenile convict in the Delhi gang-rape case has compelled MPs, transcending party lines, to agree to bring for consideration in the Rajya Sabha the proposed amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act. The Bill will be taken up for consideration in Rajya Sabha in the ongoing session.
- The amendments have already received the Lok Sabha’s approval. The Lok Sabha, in May this year, 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.
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 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.
Need for a new bill?
Under the existing act, the government is facing implementation hurdles and procedural delays. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data also underscores a surge in juvenile crime, especially in the 16-18 age bracket.
- After the December 16 gang-rape case, there was a massive outcry for a stricter debate amid calls for lowering the age of juvenile criminals to 16, especially in the case of heinous crimes such as murder or rape.
- The Supreme Court too, 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, prsindia.
Paper 3 Topic: indigenization of technology.
India joins select club to build LNG ships
Cochin Shipyard has received certification to build LNG-transporting ships for any client world-wide. In this regard, Cochin Shipyard has signed an agreement with French technology company Gaztransport & Technigaz (GTT) for its maiden foray into liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipbuilding. This makes Cochin Shipyard the first shipyard in India to get the nod, joining the league of South Korea, Japan and China.
- This opens a new chapter in ship-building technology in India and marks a big step for Make in India.
- GTT is a leader in design engineering and provides membrane-type containment systems for the transportation and storage of LNG. It holds patented technology for LNG ships. It gives designs, engineering and supervision for building of the cryogenic carriers that transport natural gas frozen in its liquid form (LNG).
- This move also enables Cochin Shipyard to qualify to bid for the GAIL tender. Since Indian shipyards do not have LNG technology, a clause in the GAIL tender sought performance guarantee from shipbuilders.
The most critical part of an LNG ship is its cryogenic containment and handling system as the LNG is carried at a temperature of -163 degrees. This requires fool-proof cryogenic containment and safe handling and transfer systems.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Centre tables bankruptcy Bill in Lok Sabha
The Centre has tabled the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Bill, 2015 in the Lok Sabha. The Bill, if passed, should enhance the ease of doing business in the country.
About the Bill:
- The proposed Bill aims for a complete renovation of the current insolvency and bankruptcy system in India, which will help streamline the procedure of revival of companies facing financial distress.
- The Bill proposes adherence to strict deadlines to decide whether to liquidate a sick company or not, wherein the decision to liquidate a company will have to be reached within 180 days.
- The Bill proposes the setting up of an Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India to regulate insolvency professionals and agencies. It also proposes the setting up of a fund dubbed the ‘Insolvency and Bankruptcy Fund of India’.
- As of now, there is no single law that deals with insolvency and bankruptcy in India. A number of provisions spread across various statutes have rendered the insolvency and bankruptcy-related process a legal quagmire significantly hindering the ease of doing business in the country. The new Bill seeks to consolidate all of this into a single Code.
- The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his Budget Speech 2015-16, had identified Bankruptcy Law Reform as a key priority for improving the ease of doing business and had announced that a comprehensive Bankruptcy Code, meeting global standards and providing necessary judicial capacity, will be brought in fiscal 2015-16.
- Accordingly, the Government had constituted the Bankruptcy Law Reform Committee to look into various Bankruptcy related issues and give its report along with a draft Bill on the subject to the Government. The committee had recently submitted its report to the government.
Significance of this Bill:
A recent survey report by global consultancy Alvarez and Marsal found that the average duration for insolvency resolution in India is 4.3 years, which is significantly higher than the prevailing norm of 2.6 years in South Asia and 1.7 years in the OECD high-income countries. The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report also confirms the long duration of insolvency resolution in India. This Bill aims to reduce the duration for insolvency resolution and also enhance the ease of doing business in the country.
sources: the hindu, prsindia.
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure.
Lok Sabha passes National Waterways Bill
The National Waterways Bill, 2015, which provides for declaring certain inland waterways as national waterways, was passed by the Lok Sabha recently.
- The bill seeks to declare 106 additional inland waterways as national waterways. After the inclusion of 106 additional inlands waterways to the existing five national waterways, the total number of national waterways goes upto 111.
- The Bill repeals the five Acts that declare the existing national waterways. These five national waterways are now covered under the Bill.
Significance of this Bill:
- Inland waterways, comprising rivers, lakes, canals, creeks and backwaters, extend about 14,500 km across the country. However, potential of this mode of transport has not been fully exploited so far.
- The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states that while inland waterways are recognised as a fuel efficient, cost effective and environment friendly mode of transport, it has received lesser investment as compared to roads and railways. Thus, the central government has come up with this policy.
It should be noted here that under the Union List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, the central government can make laws on shipping and navigation on inland waterways which are classified as national waterways by Parliament by law.
sources: the hindu, prsindia.