Insights Daily Current Events, 12 May 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
SC quashes TRAI’s call drop rules
The Supreme Court has provided massive relief to the telecom service providers by quashing Telecom Consumers Protection (Ninth Amendment) Regulations, 2015, of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI) which made it mandatory for mobile network companies to compensate subscribers for call drops.
TRAI had made it mandatory for telcos to pay consumers Rs 1 per call drop, subject to a cap of Rs 3 a day. The regulation had come into force on January 1. This decision was challenged by telecoms, which lost their case in the Delhi High Court.
- Telecoms had argued that the order that penalized them was “populist” and unfair because connectivity is affected by factors beyond their control. They also argued that they’ve spent on installing two lakh telecom towers over the last 15 months.
- TRAI, on the other hand, had said that telecoms are earning huge amounts of revenue and can and should expand their investment in infrastructure.
What has the court said?
The court termed the TRAI notification as “flawed, unconstitutional, arbitrary and unreasonable”. The court was also of the view that a transparent procedure was not followed while evolving it.
- The court said the regulation which fastens strict liability on the telecom companies for no fault of theirs is arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
- The court also observed that quality of Service Regulations allowed service providers a 2% allowance of call drops on the basis of averaging call drops per month and therefore, the companies cannot be penalised when they were complaint with this norm.
- Also, the court said, there is no legal basis or explanation in the 2015 Regulations as to why the compensation has been limited to only three call drops.
The court has asked the Parliament to consider framing a law on the lines of an American law, US Administrative Procedure Act to ensure that all laws in form of executive policy and regulations are subject to a transparent process, which encourages due consultations with all stakeholders before the rule or regulation-making power is exercised. Not only would such legislation reduce arbitrariness in subordinate legislation-making, but it would also be conducive to openness in governance.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Disaster and disaster management.
SC pulls up Centre, States for failing to tackle drought
The Supreme Court has pulled up states for their “ostrich-like attitude” on drought, saying they ignored information provided by central agencies and failed to take any preparatory steps to tackle a possible disaster.
Important observations made by the court:
States are not assessing the drought situation in time leading to serious consequences. The adverse or negative impact of a delayed declaration of drought affects the common person, particularly women and children, and postpones the assistance that is needed. It also puts an undue strain on the resources of the State Government and the Government of India.
- The Centre is also to be blamed for taking refuge in the concept of “federalism” to pass the buck to the States for declaring and managing drought and providing only financial aid.
- States such as Bihar, Gujarat and Haryana are not even willing to acknowledge, leave alone address a drought. Such an ostrich-like attitude is a pity and the sound of silence coming from these states is subjects the vulnerable to further distress. The failure to declare drought by these States has robbed the poor of their fundamental right to dignity of life.
- A drought definitely falls under the definition of ‘disaster’ under Section 2(d) of the Disaster Management Act of 2005. But, governments have not even tried to enforce the statute.
These observations were made by the court based on a PIL plea that alleged that parts of 12 States such as Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chhattisgarh were hit by drought and the authorities were not providing adequate relief. The court found that the total population in the districts affected by drought is about 33 crore.
The court asked the government to:
- Establish a National Disaster Response Force with specialist cadre in six months.
- Set up a Disaster Mitigation Fund within three months.
- Frame National Plan on risk assessment, risk management and crisis management in respect of a disaster.
- Update 60-year-old Drought Management Manual keeping in mind “humanitarian factors” like migrations, suicides, extreme distress, the plight of women and children.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
Domestic violence Act misused: Centre
The government recently told the Rajya Sabha that provisions of the Domestic Violence and Anti-Dowry Acts are being misused and several NGOs had also given reports supporting it.
Records show that only 13 persons were convicted out of the 639 charge sheeted in 2014 under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005. Many fake cases are being registered under the act and there the Act is also being misused.
Even while admitting that misuse does happen, the government has made it clear that it’s focus is on women safety and any dilution to it could not be allowed.
- Legal experts say that there have to be checks and balances. Eradicating these acts is not the solution as there are still several genuine cases and such women need protection. There ought to be a better mechanism to deal with such cases. Instead of immediately arresting people upon a complaint, the police should first probe before taking action.
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 was enacted to protect women from domestic violence.
- It is a civil law meant primarily for protection orders and not meant to penalize criminally.
- The Act provides for the first time in Indian law a definition of “domestic violence”, with this definition being broad and including not only physical violence, but also other forms of violence such as emotional/verbal, sexual, and economic abuse.
- The act does not extend to Jammu and Kashmir, which has its own laws, and which enacted in 2010 the Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2010.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- Australian scientists have unearthed a fragment of the world’s oldest known ground edge axe, created up to 49,000 years ago, around the time humans first arrived on the continent. This is the earliest evidence of hafted axes in the world. In Japan such axes appear about 35,000 years ago. But in most countries in the world they arrive with agriculture after 10,000 years ago.
- The Indian Navy has phased out its iconic Sea Harrier maritime fighter planes. The Sea Harriers, part of INAS 300 (Indian Naval Air Squadron 300, also called White Tigers), were inducted into the navy in 1983 and were deployed onboard INS Vikrant and INS Viraat. The retired planes, built by British Aerospace, will be dispatched as mementos to various naval aviation bases, the naval academy and two of them may be preserved onboard Viraat. UK’s Royal Navy retired its Sea Harriers 10 years ago. The fighters served the British navy for 30 years. The Indian Navy’s Sea Harrier squadron was deployed during Operation Vijay in 1999 and embarked on the Viraat during Operation Parakram in 2001.
- In a bid to boost freight traffic volumes, the Indian Railways has abolished its dual freight policy for carrying iron ore, a long-pending demand from industry players. According to a 2008 policy, the tariff for transportation of iron ore to ports for the purpose of exports is three times the rate charged for transporting the same commodity for domestic use in steel and cement industries. This move is expected help both Railways and the iron ore sector.
- Reliance Jio has launched its digital wallet service JioMoney for common people. It will allow people to make cashless transactions at various outlets including both online shopping platforms and offline stores. Reliance has partnered with over 5000o merchants to enable transactions through JioMoney on their respective platforms. Customers can scan a bar code on sales counter with their phone in order to make payment through JioMoney. They can also receive cashbacks, deals and coupons directly from local merchants to their wallet. In addition to above, JioMoney also supports mobile recharges and pay bills of various operators including Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, BSNL, Reliance, MTNL, Aircel, Uninor, and Tata Docomo. People can also recharge DTH services, pay insurance premiums with the wallet. JioMoney wallet can also be used for transferring money to family, relatives or friends and JioMoney balance can be easily transferred into the customer’s bank account.