Polity & Governance
- SC pulls up Centre, States for failing to tackle drought
- SC quashes TRAI’s call drop rules
- Domestic violence Act misused: Centre
- UP govt approves ‘bicycle highway’ between Taj and lion safari
- Indian Railways abolishes dual freight rate for iron ore
Science & Technology
- Reliance Jio Money Wallet launched
Also in News
- Oldest known axe found in Australia
Polity & Governance
SC pulls up Centre, States for failing to tackle drought
In a verdict on the “lack of will” shown by the Centre and States in combating drought and saving lives, the Supreme Court has pronounced the Centre guilty of “washing its hands of” a national disaster that affected one-fourth of the country.
- It also pulled up Gujarat, Bihar and Haryana for adopting an “ostrich-like attitude” towards declaring drought and driving their own people to suicide, starvation and mass migration.
- 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.
Five reasons Supreme Court pulled up Centre, states on drought:
Following is the check-list of five major things which both the Centre and State governments should have done to mitigate the suffering, but failed to do as pointed out by the apex court.
- The Centre failed to create National Disaster Response Force with specialist cadre to handle disasters like drought which is more of a management problem than anything else even more than 10 years after the Disaster Management Act was passed by the Parliament.
- The Centre also failed to create a National Disaster Mitigation Act also as mandated by the Act. The National Disaster Plan as envisaged in the 2005 Act has also not yet taken shape.
- The Drought Management Manual, which is a must for all those dealing with this disaster and lays down specific roles and activities for both Centre and state has not been updated since 2009 despite many new developments taking place. The Court directed that the manual be updated by December 2016. The top court also said that while updating the manual, care should be taken so that equal weightage is given to rainfall failure and crop sowing shortage as vital parameters to judge whether an area has suffered drought or not.
- The manual as per the SC should clearly lay down that all states should mandatorily declare drought latest by October that is a month after the withdrawal of southwest monsoon and employ modern methods to judge whether any region has received adequate rainfall or not. IMD in its latest order has in fact removed the word drought from its nomenclature and instead classifies it as ‘deficient rainfall’. If cumulative rainfall over a certain area is less than 10 per cent of normal it is classified as drought.
- The Court also pointed to lack of prior-preparation in case of drought and said that both the updated drought manual and the National Plan should lay down what the Centre and states plan to do in future to prevent calamities like drought.
SC quashes TRAI’s call drop rules
Come as a relief for the telecom sector, the Supreme Court has quashed the controversial Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) call-drop regulations.
- The court has termed those regulations “arbitrary” legislation whose actual intent is to penalise service providers rather than ensure quality service.
- Now, 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.
What’s the issue?
- TRAI had made it mandatory for telecom companies to pay consumers Rs 1 per call drop, subject to a cap of Rs 3 a day, the regulation came into force on January 1.
- This decision was challenged by telecoms, which lost their case in the Delhi High Court.
Telecom companies’ arguments:
- 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”.
According to the court,
- 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.
- A transparent procedure was not followed while evolving regulations.
- The 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.
- There is no legal basis or explanation in the 2015 Regulations as to why the compensation has been limited to only three call drops.
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.
About the Domestic Violence Act 2005:
- The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament enacted to protect women from domestic violence.
- 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.
- It is a civil law meant primarily for protection orders and not meant to penalize criminally.
- 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.
UP govt approves ‘bicycle highway’ between Taj and lion safari
With a view to encourage eco-tourism in the vicinity of the Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh Cabinet has given its nod to develop over 197 km long ‘bicycle highway’ from Agra up to the lion safari in Etawah.
- The ‘bicycle highway’ will not run along the Agra-Etawah main road but will cover various historical and tourism centres.
Indian Railways abolishes dual freight rate for iron ore
Indian Railways has abolished the dual freight rate policy for transportation of iron ore to boost freight traffic volumes.
- This is also in response to a long-standing demand from industry for uniform rates.
- The dual freight rate policy had fuelled diversion of the ore meant for domestic use to exports.
- 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.
- The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had in May 2015 observed the government lost Rs 29,000 crore over five years as a result of the dual rate policy, unearthing the iron ore freight scam.
Science & Technology
Reliance Jio Money Wallet launched
Reliance Jio has launched its digital wallet service JioMoney for common people.
- Reliance has partnered with over 5000o merchants to enable transactions through JioMoney on their respective platforms.
Key features of JioMoney:
JioMoney is a semi-closed prepaid wallet that aims to enable mobile-based transactions, where customers can store money and use it for purchasing goods and services.
- JioMoney will allow people to make cashless transactions at various outlets including both online shopping platforms and offline stores.
- 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.
Also in News
Oldest known axe found in Australia
Australian scientists claimed to have unearthed a fragment of the world’s oldest known ground edge axe.
- The axe dates back between 46,000 and 49,000 years, around the time people first arrived on the continent.
- This is the earliest evidence of hafted axes in the world. Nowhere else in the world do you get axes at this date.
- 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.