Polity & Governance
- SC ‘no’ to smaller pictorial warnings on tobacco packets
- Centre may appoint independent regulators for professional services
- SC sends back draft on judges’ appointment
- Plea for ban on Alloxan
- MoU between RBI and Central Bank of UAE on co-operation concerning currency swap agreement
- Reliance Power gets Bangladesh govt’s nod for LNG-based power plant
Polity & Governance
SC ‘no’ to smaller pictorial warnings on tobacco packets
The Supreme Court has refused to shrink the size of pictorial health warnings on cigarette and tobacco packets.
The Supreme Court has asked manufacturers to abide by a Health Ministry notification on increasing the size of the warning messages to 85 per cent from the present 20 per cent of the principal display area on packets from April 1.
- The court has also directed all petitions challenging the rule at various courts to be transferred and heard afresh by the Karnataka high court.
- The apex court has set a deadline of eight weeks to dispose of the matter.
- The court also said in the public interest, tobacco companies should act responsibly, adding any awareness created on the issue would help curb the ill effects of tobacco.
- A notification by the health ministry on 24 September 2015 for implementation of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labeling) Amendment Rules, 2014 came into force on 1 April. It prescribed larger pictorial petitions, covering 85% of the size of the packets of tobacco products, including cigarettes and beedis.
Centre may appoint independent regulators for professional services
The government is planning to appoint independent regulators for services such as medicine, law, chartered accountancy, cost accountancy and company secretaryship.
- The bodies being referred to by the commerce ministry include Medical Council of India (MCI), Bar Council of India (BCI), Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), Institute of Cost Accountants of India and Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI).
- All these are statutory bodies under an Act of Parliament.
Reasons for appointment:
- It is because the existing structure of a regulator-cum-professional body for these services has resulted in several alleged instances of conflict of interest.
- This has also hurt the credibility and reputation of these bodies and hampered India’s attempts to secure Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) with other countries to enable easier temporary movement of skilled workers and professionals across borders.
Process for appointment:
- The government will soon initiate discussions in this regard with each of the ministries concerned (health, law and corporate affairs in this case).
- Then, separate Cabinet notes will be put up by the ministries on the need for independent regulators for these services.
- The independent regulators will maintain distance from the professional bodies similar to the situation in developed countries.
- The move comes in the backdrop of the Supreme Court recently citing a Parliamentary panel report to state that the MCI “was repeatedly found short of fulfilling its mandated responsibilities” and that the “quality of medical education was at its lowest ebb”. The apex court, noting the instances of corruption in MCI, had set up an Oversight Committee to supervise the council’s functions and scrutinise its policy decisions.
SC sends back draft on judges’ appointment
The Supreme Court has raised concerns over two issues in the draft Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges.
- The one relating to government’s right to reject a recommendation on concerns of national interest.
- Other clauses include clauses on the role of the Attorney-General of India in the appointment of Supreme Court judges and Advocates-General in the appointment process of High Court judges.
The Supreme Court has asked the government to re-consider these clauses.
- Presently, the government is bound to comply if the Supreme Court collegium chooses to override its disapproval of a person recommended for judicial appointment.
- If the government returns the candidate’s file to the collegium, and the latter reiterates its recommendation, the government has no choice but to comply.
- In December 2015, the supreme court, after restoring the collegium system, had directed the Centre to frame a new MoP. The court had directed the government to do this in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, who would in turn take into confidence his four seniormost puisne judges of the Supreme Court and who are part of the collegium.
- The MoP for appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the High Courts have “always been prepared” by the executive in consultation with the President and the CJI in consonance with the judgments of the Second Judges and Third Judges cases which ushered in and fine-tuned the collegium system.
Plea for ban on Alloxan
A public interest litigation (PIL) moved before the Madras High Court has alleged that Alloxan – a chemical – is mixed with the white flour or ‘maida’ which induces diabetes.
- In this regard, the court has directed the Food Safety Commissioner to examine the allegation within three months and take action if it is found to be correct.
- It is chemical prepared from barbituric acid. It is used in laboratories to induce diabetes in rats and to test the efficacy of anti-diabetic medicines.
- Alloxan’s structure mimics that of glucose, which allows it to be absorbed by the pancreas and once inside the organ, it destroys insulin-producing beta cells.
- Alloxan has been banned by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
Health impact by Alloxan:
- Global health literature suggests that its presence in flour implies that consumers are at increased risk of diabetes as well as heart disease.
MoU between RBI and Central Bank of UAE on co-operation concerning currency swap agreement
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in February, 2016 between Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Central Bank of United Arab Emirates (UAE) on co-operation concerning currency swap agreement.
- The MoU commits that RBI and Central Bank of UAE will consider signing a bilateral Currency Swap Agreement on mutually agreed terms and conditions, after undertaking technical deliberations, subject to the concurrence of respective Governments.
- The MoU will further strengthen the close economic relationship and cooperation between India and United Arab Emirates.
- The Currency swap agreement is also expected to facilitate invoicing of bilateral trade in local currencies.
Reliance Power gets Bangladesh govt’s nod for LNG-based power plant
Reliance Power has won an in-principle approval of the Bangladesh government for the first phase of the 3,000 megawatt LNG-based power plant.
- This will be the largest foreign direct investment in Bangladesh with a potential investment of over US$1.3 billion.
- This project can power the country’s rising demand for electricity and will provide clean and green power contributing to the Bangladesh’s goal of energy security.