GS (M) Paper-2: “Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests”
Tightening the net
Recent reports of Indian authorities spurring towards realising their goal of towing fugitives from the UK to India have garnered much attention; the discernible highlights being the proceedings against Vijay Mallya and Lalit Modi.
Favourability of Extradition over other forms of rendition:
- The doctrine of extradition ensures an orderly process that protects the fugitive’s interests as it is subject to judicial review.
- Deportation falls more in the executive domain as, for instance, according to section 4 of the UK 1971 Immigration Act the powers in relation to deportation are to be exercised by immigration officers and the secretary of state.
- And abduction, as the very idea suggests, is an extreme last resort.
Ingredients of extradition as laid down by Supreme Court:
- One, reciprocity, or an understanding that both states shall consider and honour each other’s extradition requests.
- Two, double criminality which requires that the charges against the fugitive are punishable in both countries.
- Three, extraditable offences— an understanding that certain offences invite extradition.
- Fourth, speciality — the fugitive should not be prosecuted for offences other than those mentioned in the extradition request, and finally,
- Non-inquiry which implies that barring exceptions, the intentions of the requesting state should not be questioned.
Framework for co-operation between India and UK:
- This framework includes national legislations such as the Indian Extradition Act (1962) and the UK Extradition Act (2003).
- A key document is the 1992 India-UK mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT).
Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT):
- This treaty binds the parties on request to “offer the widest measure of mutual assistance in investigations and prosecutions in relation to criminal offences”.
- MLATs have successfully evolved as need-based arrangements aimed to overcome and avoid cumbersome processes to facilitate investigations and prosecutions.
- A recent example is the US’s cooperation with India’s National Investigation Agency in probing terror convict David Coleman Headley which helped obtain crucial information on the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
- Although earlier practice excluded fiscal crimes from extraditable offences, MLATs have helped overcome such barriers.
- The 2002 amendment to the 1966 Commonwealth Scheme allows extradition of fiscal offenders. 2002 also saw the enforcement of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, which contains a chapter on reciprocal agreements with foreign countries.
- MLATs function on a reciprocal basis and various countries have framed such legislation.
- In India, provisions in the Code of Criminal Procedure (1973) and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act deal with reciprocal arrangements.
However, a legislation dealing with procedures pertaining to MLATs with a focus on issues like effecting overseas freezing orders, obtaining information on banking transactions and prisoner transfers can go a long way in aiding the government’s black money quest.[Ref: Indian Express]
GS (M) Paper-2: “Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.”
Comparing apples and oranges
- A year ago, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) announced a National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) to assign ranks to institutions of higher education and research (HE&R) in the country.
- India has a massive HE system that turns out close to 8-10 million graduates a year from over 50,000 institutions coming under some 800 universities and employing over 1.5 million teachers.
- That such a vast enterprise should have its own system of institutional ranking ought to be beyond argument, and it is good that a beginning has been made in the matter.
Motive behind such an exercise:
- This initiative, seems to have been motivated by the fact that even our centrally funded elite institutions like the IITs were not doing well in any of the accepted global ranking schemes.
- It has been a matter of quite some heartburn, and it is only recently that we have discovered the ‘unfairness’ of being compared with the institutions in the West and decided to have our own ‘India-specific’ ranking systems that will do ‘justice’ at least to our elite institutions.
Issues in the ranking system:
- It is quite puzzling as to how institutions with a sharp focus on narrow areas like Information Technology or Space Technology have qualified to be called “universities”, whereas many institutions with a broad base in all domains of engineering, sciences and humanities are listed as “Engineering Institutions”.
- What is the point in giving a national rank to institutions that have barely graduated three or four batches?
- The entire NIRF exercise was carried out largely by members from the Central government institutions; there was not much effort made to elicit views from over 90 per cent of the institutions that belong to the State system. Such an inclusive approach would have forcefully brought out the need to normalise performance of an institution with respect to the funding, resources and freedom available to it.
- The NIRF document does mention the care that has been taken to see that only apple-to-apple comparisons happened, but given the huge difference in funding and resources, how does comparing an IIT with a State university become apple-to-apple?
- There is a suggestion in the NIRF document in the context of newly emerging private institutions, “ …to see how some of these institutions would perform on ‘outputs’ and ‘outcomes’ on a per Rupee investment scale”. But such an approach is not adopted while comparing Central and State university systems.
- Even without such rankings, the Central government and corporate sector have already been dividing institutions into Tier-I, Tier-II, etc(DOT) categories, and eligibility for many Central funding schemes are already being restricted to “IITs, NITs, IIITs, ISERs and Central Universities”. The ranking would simply formalise and reinforce this perception.
- Caught in the vicious circle of low funding, poor performance, low ranks, lower funding, poorer performance, lower ranks, the State-level institutions are only going to be going down further in comparison with the Central and private universities.
Conclusion & Way ahead:
- Given the huge resource gap between them, a common ranking across Central and private institutions on the one hand and State-level institutions on the other does not make much sense in our country.
- It can however make sense if the performance index values for an institution are normalised with respect to the investments and resources that have gone into that institution.
- Alternatively, the present NIRF scheme could be retained for Central and private autonomous institutions, and another suitable scheme should be evolved for the State-level institutions.
- Any State-level institution should also be free to join the elite ranking scheme additionally if it so chooses.