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9 PM Daily Brief – 19th October 2016


Click here to Download 9 PM Daily Brief PDF (19th Oct. 2016)


NATIONAL

[1]. Continue release of water to TN, SC tells Karnataka

The Hindu

Context

The Supreme Court has acknowledged that both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are in direneed of water, but warned the State governments that it will not tolerate any acts ofviolence from its citizens over the Cauvery water dispute

SC, further, said that,

  • Common sense should prevail, especially when the dispute is before us and we are trying to resolve the crisis
  • Citizens cannot be a law unto themselves
  • Peace and harmony must be maintained
  • Mutual respect between both States and its citizens should prevail

Interim order extended

A 3-judge bench led by Justice Dipak Misra extended its 4th Oct order directing Karnataka to continue releasing 2000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu. This interim arrangement will continue till court gives further orders

[2]. Centre moots 4 GST slabs

The Hindu

Context

The Centre has proposed a four-slab rate structure for the Goods & Services Tax, ranging from zero to 26 per cent, at a meeting of the GST Council.

Proposed structure

The structure proposes the GST at,

  • Slab 1: 0 per cent on a host of goods and services, including food, health and education services
  • Slab 2: 26 per cent on luxury items, such as fast-moving consumer goods and consumer durables
  • Slab 3: On consumption of ultra-luxury items and demerit goods, such as big cars and tobacco products, it proposes imposition of cess over and above a 26 per cent GST rate
  • Slab 4: The GST is proposed to be levied at 6 per cent, 12 per cent or 18 per cent on the remaining goods and services
  • Gold: For gold GST rate would be 4 per cent

Principle

Principle behind levying of the GST rate on an item is to make it as close as possible to the current rate at which the item is taxed

Only Clean Environment cess retained

The proposal retains only the Clean Environment Cess from the multitude currently in place, with the GST subsuming all the others, including the Swachh Bharat Cess, the Krishi Kalayan Cess and the Education Cess.

[3]. Decision of Cauvery tribunal final

The Hindu

Context

A three-judge Bench, led by Justice Dipak Misra, is deciding on the maintainability of the appeals even as the litigant States (Karnataka & Tamil Nadu) want their case to be heard by a Constitution Bench of at least five judges of the Supreme Court. Article talks about views held by government, apex court and litigants towards this end.

Centre’s view

The Centre has said that the decision of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal in 2007 was final and the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to entertain appeals filed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala challenging the tribunal award.

  • Article 131 (Original Jurisdiction of Supreme Court): It does not give an unrestricted discretion to the Supreme court to hear disputes between states. Article 131 begins by saying ‘subject to other provisions of this Constitution…’ meaning the jurisdiction of SC is limited by the other provisions of the constitution. So, it could exercise its jurisdiction in an inter-state water dispute provided other provisions in the constitution allowed it to do so.
  • Article 262: Adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter State rivers or river valleys
  1. (1)Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter State river or river valley
  2. (2)Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, Parliament may by law provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint as is referred to in clause (1)

Hence, this Article actually allows Parliament, by law, to bar the Supreme Court from interfering in an inter-State water dispute

Government further submitted that the above article meant that if a tribunal was appointed under a law to resolve an inter-State water dispute, as in the Cauvery case, the award of this tribunal would be final and deemed to have the force of a Supreme Court order or decree.

So, if SC hears an appeal against the tribunal’s decision, it would be akin to hearing appeals against its own decision

Supreme Court’s view

Cauvery tribunal’s order does not ‘become’ the decree of the Supreme Court.

  • It’s only that the tribunal award has the same enforceability as that of a Supreme Court order. There is a saying that oversimplification of law is a dangerous phenomenon

Fali Nariman’s view (Karnataka’s advocate)

Apex court’s powers to admit appeals was a discretionary power and part of the basic structure of the Constitution.

  • Parliament could not, by law, curtail the Supreme Court’s power to hear an appeal against a tribunal decision which violated the principles of natural justice.

[4]. SC scrutiny of triple talaq is judicial legislation- AIMPLB

The Hindu

Context

In the backdrop of ongoing debate over Triple Talaq, AIMPLB has said that personal laws cannot be challenged on the ground that they violated fundamental rights

All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB)’s view

  • practice of triple talaq, ‘nikahhalala’ and polygamy by the Supreme Court, saying it would amount to “judicial legislation” and personal laws could not be challenged on the ground that they violated fundamental rights
  • Court looking into personal laws would tantamount to judicial legislation and violate the doctrine of separation of powers

 [5]. SC’s poser on misuse of religion in elections

The Hindu

Context

A seven-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur is testing the limits of Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act for an authoritative pronouncement on what are the various means by which misuse of religion or faith of the masses for electoral gains can be categorized as a corrupt practice.

JS Verma judgement

The Bench is re-considering its 1995 verdict which held that canvassing votes in the name of ‘Hindutva/Hinduism’ did not prejudicially affect any candidate as Hindutva is a way of life of the people in the sub-continent and ‘a state of mind’.

  • The 1995 judgment, delivered by Justice J.S. Verma, found that the statement by Joshi that the ‘first Hindu State will be established in Maharashtra’ did not amount to appeal on ground of religion.

Questions posed by Supreme Court

  • Whether it amounts to a corrupt electoral practice to rope in clerics or priests to flex their religious sway over their flock to swing votes
  • A religious leader exhorts (strongly encourage or urge (someone) to do something) his community’s people gathered in temples and gurdwaras to vote en masse for a particular candidate who may or may not belong to the same religious faith… is this not an appeal on the basis of religion? Is this a corrupt practice?
  • An appeal is made to the religious propensity of the gathering to swing votes? Doesn’t religion now become the basis of the large number of votes involved? Does such actions fall under the ambit of Section 123?

Note: Section 123 of the Representation of People Act, 1951 defines activities which are deemed as corrupt practices under the act.

Editorial/OPINION

[1]. Personal laws and the Constitution

The Hindu

Context

Author argues that Supreme Court has the right to test religious practices against the constitutional norms of the country.

Petition before SC

The present petition before the SC has sought a categorical ruling that Talaq-e-bidat (an irrevocable form of triple talaq that is permitted but considered undesirable in Islam) is unconstitutional

Centre’s stand on Triple Talaq

Government has stated that all the personal laws should be in conformity with the Constitution

  • Such practices impact adversely on the right of women to a life of dignity

 Questionsbefore Court

  • Whether protection granted to the religious practices under Article 25 cover those practices that go against the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution
  • SC will have to carefully evaluate the distinction between the (Muslim) practices that are essential or integral to a particular religion and those that are against the concepts of equality and dignity, which are fundamental right

Court’s view on triple Talaq

On Triple Talaq, courts have adopted the view that Islam does not sanction divorcewithout reason or any attempt at reconciliation, and that Talaq would not be valid unless some conditions are fulfilled.

Some preconditions for triple Talaq to be valid, as per various court judgements

  • the presence of witnesses during the pronouncement of Talaq
  • sound reasons for the husband to seek a divorce
  • some proof that an attempt was made for conciliation are conditions precedent for upholding a divorce

Actual version of Triple Talaq

Some experts say that instant divorce is not allowed in Islam , and that the triple Talaq has to be spread over a specified time period, during which there are two opportunities to revoke it. Only the articulation of the third makes it irrevocable

[2]. Reinventing old links

The Hindu

Context

Article focusses its attention towards the recently concluded India Russia annual summit on the sidelines of the BRICS meet in Goa.

Agreements announced

3 defence cooperation agreements were signed

  • Speedy progress: The decision to jointly manufacture Kamov Ka226T helicopters in India was announced in 2014, an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) was concluded in 2015, and a shareholders’ agreement was signed in Goa. The S-400 air defence system and building of naval frigates have taken an even shorter time from conception to IGA. This is a refreshing departure from the slow progress of most defence projects.
  • Two other decisions could have a far-reaching impact on India-Russia defence cooperation: the establishment of a ministerial-level Military Industrial Conference to identify new projects and resolve pending issues, and a Science and Technology Commission to facilitate development and sharing of cutting-edge technologies.

Russia: India’s principal defence partner

Over the past 10 years, Russia provided 70 per cent of India’s defence imports; the U.S. was next with 14 per cent. About 70 per cent of our weapons and equipment are of Russian or Soviet origin

Co-operation in non-defence areas

  • Agreements for Units 5 and 6 in Kudankulam are under finalisation and six more units are in the pipeline
  • Development in hydrocarbons: From June till September 2016, Indian companies have invested about $5.5 billion in the Russian oil and gas industry. Russian oil major Rosneft has acquired about 98 per cent of Essar Oil and its Vadinar port in a cash deal worth $13 billion.
  • Joint Fund:  A joint fund of $1 billion, equally shared by Russian sovereign fund RDIF and our National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), is to promote investment in infrastructure and technology projects.
  • Information security: There was an agreement in information security cooperation which will help India to benefit from Russian expertise in cyber technologies

 Joint statement

  • Joint statement declares “zero tolerance for direct or indirect support of terrorism”, stressing the need “to deny safe havens to terrorists”. In Afghanistan too, it calls for eliminating “terror sanctuaries, safe havens and other forms of support to terrorists”. The target of these references is clear
  • Russia reaffirmed support for India’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council. India “recognised” Russia’s efforts for a political settlement in Syria
  • A call was made for full implementation of Minsk agreements of Feb 2015
Areas that need improvement

Lack of private sector participation: Indo-Russia partnership has not been able to attract the private sector players due to false imagery of Russian economy being floated around in international arena.

IMF outlook of Russia

A healthy current account surplus, low unemployment (under 6 per cent), undervalued corporate stocks and external sovereign debt of only 13 per cent of GDP. The IMF has progressively upgraded its outlook on the Russian economy, now predicting growth of over 1 per cent in 2017.

Misinformation about sanctions

The sanctions against Russia bind only a few countries — G7 and the European Union — and are specific in their application.

  • European businesses have found channels to circumvent them. Recent investments in Russia by our hydrocarbons companies have also shown the way.
  • The RDIF-NIIF fund provides an opportunity to cast off misconceptions about the Russian economy and sanctions.

Conclusion

Author concludes by saying that a continued high-level dialogue and a backchannel communication is necessary to ensure that both the countries are sensitive to the core concerns of each other.

[3]. Changing the course of the planet

The Hindu

Context

Article focusses on the deal at Kigali, why a leeway was given to India and what gains India made.

 Kigali Deal

On 15th October 2016, 197 countries came together at Kigali, Rwanda to sign a historic agreement to amend the Montreal Protocol and phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

What are HFCs?

HFCs are refrigerant gases used for commercial, residential and automotive purposes (and in other applications) but are hundreds to thousands of times more potent that carbon dioxide. They were meant to replace HCFCs (hydrochloroflorocarbons) in order to protect the ozone layer but their global warming potential (GWP) has increasingly become a matter of concern in climate negotiations.

What is GWP?

It is a relative measure of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps in the atmosphere. It compares the amount of heat trapped by a certain mass of the gas in question to the amount of heat trapped by a similar mass of carbon dioxide.

Significance of Kigali

  • The Kigali Amendment is one that could avoid global warming by up to 0.5° C

What was demanded?

Proposals from North America, Europe and Small Island States had demanded a 2021 freeze date for HFCs for all countries.

  • India wanted a 2031 freeze date

What everyone got?

  • Developed countries agreed to freeze year 2019
  • For most developing countries (including China), the freeze year was set at 2024
  • India and a few other developing countries got a freeze year of 2028

India & China are the only countries in the world today that manufacture HFCs. So, why India has been given a later freeze year?

  • Current consumption & future growth: Because China’s air conditioner market is bigger in size meaning its production of HFCs is also larger than India. India’s HFC consumption picks up only after 2025 while China will witness rapid emissions of HFCs from 2015-2030

Why an action before 2028 was not going to help?

Cost burden: Because any action taken before this year would have meant India resorting to much expensive alternative refrigerants.

In the residential sector,

  • the only viable alternative is propane (R290)
  • The other alternative is R32, although it too has a relatively high GWP of 675
  • Hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) blends is expensive
  • HFO1234yf (an alternative for mobile air conditioning) is around four and 10 times more expensive than the current gas in use
  • HFO1234ze, which can be used in some commercial applications, is cheaper but for other types of commercial A/Cs there are no viable alternatives

One-time transition costs: The cost burden is not merely of alternative refrigerants but includes the one-time cost of product redesign, servicing equipment, training of servicing personnel, and per unit equipment costs

Concerns for India

Cost estimate: A Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW)-International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis study found that for India, economy-wide costs of an HFC phase-down could be €12 billion (sum of undiscounted costs, 2015 prices) under the original Indian proposal and €34 billion under the North American proposal between 2015 and 2050. India wanted extra time until more information became available.

Access to technology: Another concern for India was access to technology. Many alternative gases are not manufactured in India currently, although firms are moving in that direction.

  • Testing alternatives: The other aspect of technology is the need to test alternatives under India’s high ambient temperature conditions. Testing for some chemicals has already begun but further verification was necessary before India could firmly commit. This is one reason why, in September, India announced a domestic, collaborative R&D programme to develop next-generation, sustainable refrigerants.

Who will cover the costs under Kigali agreement?

Kigali amendment requires the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund to cover incremental costs related to production, consumption, servicing and patents but it is unclear how much of th total costs will get covered

Gains from Kigali agreement

  • Balancing its own needs with international commitments: India’s primary gain is that it has once again demonstrated willingness to be part of a multilateral climate deal while being able to secure a differentiated outcome for itself. The deal allows India’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) sector to grow while giving time to refrigerant manufacturers to shift to alternatives
  • Areview of technological options is also envisaged so that India is not left stranded in 2028
  • Despite the three baselines, the bulk of global HFC emissions starts getting phased down earlier, delivering a massive gain for the fight against climate change
  • The deal is legally binding, and failure to act could invite non-compliance proceedings, making it a more effective deal than the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

ECONOMY

[1]. Centre’s regional connectivity proposal may face turbulence

 The Hindu

Context

The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), which represents IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir, has written to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry terming the proposed regional connectivity levy  under the regional connectivity scheme as “illegal” and “in contravention to the Constitution of India.”

Regional Connectivity Fund

The Union Civil Aviation Ministry had suggested amendments to the Aircraft Rules of 1937 in August to set up a regional connectivity fund to subsidise the losses of airlines that wanted to fly on regional routes.

  • The fund was proposed to be financed by a levy on domestic flights along with contribution from states and credit proceeds from other sources.

Passengers will be able to fly to unserved and underserved airports for a fare of Rs 2,500 an hour, under the scheme which is slated to be launched on October 21

Airlines’ view

Airlines are opposing this new levy. Their reasoning is,

  • Unconstitutional: A levy in the nature of tax can only be levied having regard to the provisions contained in the Article 265 of the Constitution of Indiae. by authority of law

Therefore, an imposition of a regional connectivity levy would require amendment to the Aircraft Act, 1934 and not the rules and until then the draft rules would be “beyond the authority of law and in contravention to the Constitution of India.

The draft rules may, therefore, tantamount to an attempt by the Central Government to usurp the powers or authority of the Parliament

  • Section 5(2) (ab) of the Aircraft Act of 1934 does empower the Centre to make rules for economic regulation of air services but it doesn’t authorise it “to introduce a levy in the nature of tax on air services.”

Government’s view

Government says that it has consulted law ministry on the issue and it already charges levy in the form of passenger service fee on air tickets.

  • The passenger service fee is levied to air passengers under rule 88 of the Aircraft Rules to meet the expenditure on airport security and passenger facilities at the airports.

[2]. Small finance banks up the ante to grab deposits

The Hindu

Context

Article throws light upon the aggressive strategy of the small finance banks to attract customers’ attention.

Strategy

While conventional banks offer only 4 per cent on saving deposits, Small finance banks are offering or planning to offer between 5 and 7 per cent on saving deposits.

 What are Small finance Banks?

Payments banks will provide basic banking services to people who currently do not have a bank account, including millions of migrant workers. Almost half of India’s population is unbanked.

These banks will aim at providing high volume-low value transactions in deposits and Payments / remittance services in a secured technology-enabled environment.       

The main objective of small payment banks

The main purpose of the small banks will be to provide a whole package of basic banking products such as bank deposits and supply of credit, but in a limited area of operation.

  • The objective for these Small Banks is to increase financial inclusion by provision of savings vehicles to under-served and unserved sections of the population, supply of credit to small farmers, micro and small industries, and other unorganized sector entities through high technology-low cost operations.

Indian Express

[3]. Copyright as exception

Indian Express

Context

Author puts forward his arguments as to why the recent copyright verdict by Delhi High court should not be reversed

Note: The DU copyright case has already been covered in previous briefs. This summary shall only cover the additional and any new info available in the article. Refer to 19th September Brief.

Author states that

  • Restricting the right to photocopy will not automatically swing students towards reading or buying full texts for that matter.
  • Photocopying is not a new phenomenon in India. This is the first such copyright suit to be brought against an Indian educational institution. Had photocopying really eaten into publisher revenues, would this industry have survived in India?
  • Course packs popularize authors among students who otherwise will never hear of them thus increasing revenues of the publishers in the long run. That’s why a large number of authors signed a joint petition supporting students’ stand
  • Publishers just want to cash in on an additional revenue stream purely for economic purposes
  • International example: In Canada, universities and publishers were in licensing agreement to publish such photocopied course packs but soon the cost was escalated to unaffordable levels leading to walkout by the universities from licensing agreements

Conclusion

For the sake of a free competition and knowledge access, the above decision should not be reversed

NATIONAL

[1]. Continue release of water to TN, SC tells Karnataka

The Hindu

 Context

The Supreme Court has acknowledged that both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are in direneed of water, but warned the State governments that it will not tolerate any acts ofviolence from its citizens over the Cauvery water dispute

SC, further, said that,

  • Common sense should prevail, especially when the dispute is before us and we are trying to resolve the crisis
  • Citizens cannot be a law unto themselves
  • Peace and harmony must be maintained
  • Mutual respect between both States and its citizens should prevail

 

Interim order extended

A 3-judge bench led by Justice Dipak Misra extended its 4th Oct order directing Karnataka to continue releasing 2000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu. This interim arrangement will continue till court gives further orders

[2]. Centre moots 4 GST slabs

The Hindu

Context

The Centre has proposed a four-slab rate structure for the Goods & Services Tax, ranging from zero to 26 per cent, at a meeting of the GST Council.

Proposed structure

The structure proposes the GST at,

  • Slab 1: 0 per cent on a host of goods and services, including food, health and education services
  • Slab 2: 26 per cent on luxury items, such as fast-moving consumer goods and consumer durables
  • Slab 3: On consumption of ultra-luxury items and demerit goods, such as big cars and tobacco products, it proposes imposition of cess over and above a 26 per cent GST rate
  • Slab 4: The GST is proposed to be levied at 6 per cent, 12 per cent or 18 per cent on the remaining goods and services
  • Gold: For gold GST rate would be 4 per cent

Principle

Principle behind levying of the GST rate on an item is to make it as close as possible to the current rate at which the item is taxed

 Only Clean Environment cess retained

The proposal retains only the Clean Environment Cess from the multitude currently in place, with the GST subsuming all the others, including the Swachh Bharat Cess, the Krishi Kalayan Cess and the Education Cess.

[3]. Decision of Cauvery tribunal final

The Hindu

Context

A three-judge Bench, led by Justice Dipak Misra, is deciding on the maintainability of the appeals even as the litigant States (Karnataka & Tamil Nadu) want their case to be heard by a Constitution Bench of at least five judges of the Supreme Court. Article talks about views held by government, apex court and litigants towards this end.

Centre’s view

The Centre has said that the decision of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal in 2007 was final and the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to entertain appeals filed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala challenging the tribunal award.

  • Article 131 (Original Jurisdiction of Supreme Court): It does not give an unrestricted discretion to the Supreme court to hear disputes between states. Article 131 begins by saying ‘subject to other provisions of this Constitution…’ meaning the jurisdiction of SC is limited by the other provisions of the constitution. So, it could exercise its jurisdiction in an inter-state water dispute provided other provisions in the constitution allowed it to do so.
  • Article 262: Adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter State rivers or river valleys
  1. (1)Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter State river or river valley
  2. (2)Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, Parliament may by law provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint as is referred to in clause (1)

Hence, this Article actually allows Parliament, by law, to bar the Supreme Court from interfering in an inter-State water dispute

Government further submitted that the above article meant that if a tribunal was appointed under a law to resolve an inter-State water dispute, as in the Cauvery case, the award of this tribunal would be final and deemed to have the force of a Supreme Court order or decree.

So, if SC hears an appeal against the tribunal’s decision, it would be akin to hearing appeals against its own decision

Supreme Court’s view

Cauvery tribunal’s order does not ‘become’ the decree of the Supreme Court.

  • It’s only that the tribunal award has the same enforceability as that of a Supreme Court order. There is a saying that oversimplification of law is a dangerous phenomenon

Fali Nariman’s view (Karnataka’s advocate)

Apex court’s powers to admit appeals was a discretionary power and part of the basic structure of the Constitution.

  • Parliament could not, by law, curtail the Supreme Court’s power to hear an appeal against a tribunal decision which violated the principles of natural justice.

[4]. SC scrutiny of triple talaq is judicial legislation- AIMPLB

The Hindu

Context

In the backdrop of ongoing debate over Triple Talaq, AIMPLB has said that personal laws cannot be challenged on the ground that they violated fundamental rights

All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB)’s view

  • practice of triple talaq, ‘nikahhalala’ and polygamy by the Supreme Court, saying it would amount to “judicial legislation” and personal laws could not be challenged on the ground that they violated fundamental rights
  • Court looking into personal laws would tantamount to judicial legislation and violate the doctrine of separation of powers

 [5]. SC’s poser on misuse of religion in elections

The Hindu

Context

A seven-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur is testing the limits of Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act for an authoritative pronouncement on what are the various means by which misuse of religion or faith of the masses for electoral gains can be categorized as a corrupt practice.

JS Verma judgement

The Bench is re-considering its 1995 verdict which held that canvassing votes in the name of ‘Hindutva/Hinduism’ did not prejudicially affect any candidate as Hindutva is a way of life of the people in the sub-continent and ‘a state of mind’.

  • The 1995 judgment, delivered by Justice J.S. Verma, found that the statement by Joshi that the ‘first Hindu State will be established in Maharashtra’ did not amount to appeal on ground of religion.

Questions posed by Supreme Court

  • Whether it amounts to a corrupt electoral practice to rope in clerics or priests to flex their religious sway over their flock to swing votes
  • A religious leader exhorts (strongly encourage or urge (someone) to do something) his community’s people gathered in temples and gurdwaras to vote en masse for a particular candidate who may or may not belong to the same religious faith… is this not an appeal on the basis of religion? Is this a corrupt practice?
  • An appeal is made to the religious propensity of the gathering to swing votes? Doesn’t religion now become the basis of the large number of votes involved? Does such actions fall under the ambit of Section 123?

Note: Section 123 of the Representation of People Act, 1951 defines activities which are deemed as corrupt practices under the act.

Editorial/OPINION

[1]. Personal laws and the Constitution

The Hindu

Context

Author argues that Supreme Court has the right to test religious practices against the constitutional norms of the country.

Petition before SC

The present petition before the SC has sought a categorical ruling that Talaq-e-bidat (an irrevocable form of triple talaq that is permitted but considered undesirable in Islam) is unconstitutional

Centre’s stand on Triple Talaq

Government has stated that all the personal laws should be in conformity with the Constitution

  • Such practices impact adversely on the right of women to a life of dignity

Questionsbefore Court

  • Whether protection granted to the religious practices under Article 25 cover those practices that go against the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution
  • SC will have to carefully evaluate the distinction between the (Muslim) practices that are essential or integral to a particular religion and those that are against the concepts of equality and dignity, which are fundamental right

Court’s view on triple Talaq

On Triple Talaq, courts have adopted the view that Islam does not sanction divorcewithout reason or any attempt at reconciliation, and that Talaq would not be valid unless some conditions are fulfilled.

Some preconditions for triple Talaq to be valid, as per various court judgements

  • the presence of witnesses during the pronouncement of Talaq
  • sound reasons for the husband to seek a divorce
  • some proof that an attempt was made for conciliation are conditions precedent for upholding a divorce

Actual version of Triple Talaq

Some experts say that instant divorce is not allowed in Islam , and that the triple Talaq has to be spread over a specified time period, during which there are two opportunities to revoke it. Only the articulation of the third makes it irrevocable

[2]. Reinventing old links

The Hindu

Context

Article focusses its attention towards the recently concluded India Russia annual summit on the sidelines of the BRICS meet in Goa.

Agreements announced

3 defence cooperation agreements were signed

  • Speedy progress: The decision to jointly manufacture Kamov Ka226T helicopters in India was announced in 2014, an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) was concluded in 2015, and a shareholders’ agreement was signed in Goa. The S-400 air defence system and building of naval frigates have taken an even shorter time from conception to IGA. This is a refreshing departure from the slow progress of most defence projects.
  • Two other decisions could have a far-reaching impact on India-Russia defence cooperation: the establishment of a ministerial-level Military Industrial Conference to identify new projects and resolve pending issues, and a Science and Technology Commission to facilitate development and sharing of cutting-edge technologies.

Russia: India’s principal defence partner

Over the past 10 years, Russia provided 70 per cent of India’s defence imports; the U.S. was next with 14 per cent. About 70 per cent of our weapons and equipment are of Russian or Soviet origin

Co-operation in non-defence areas

  • Agreements for Units 5 and 6 in Kudankulam are under finalisation and six more units are in the pipeline
  • Development in hydrocarbons: From June till September 2016, Indian companies have invested about $5.5 billion in the Russian oil and gas industry. Russian oil major Rosneft has acquired about 98 per cent of Essar Oil and its Vadinar port in a cash deal worth $13 billion.
  • Joint Fund:  A joint fund of $1 billion, equally shared by Russian sovereign fund RDIF and our National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), is to promote investment in infrastructure and technology projects.
  • Information security: There was an agreement in information security cooperation which will help India to benefit from Russian expertise in cyber technologies

 Joint statement

  • Joint statement declares “zero tolerance for direct or indirect support of terrorism”, stressing the need “to deny safe havens to terrorists”. In Afghanistan too, it calls for eliminating “terror sanctuaries, safe havens and other forms of support to terrorists”. The target of these references is clear
  • Russia reaffirmed support for India’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council. India “recognised” Russia’s efforts for a political settlement in Syria
  • A call was made for full implementation of Minsk agreements of Feb 2015

Areas that need improvement

Lack of private sector participation: Indo-Russia partnership has not been able to attract the private sector players due to false imagery of Russian economy being floated around in international arena.

IMF outlook of Russia

A healthy current account surplus, low unemployment (under 6 per cent), undervalued corporate stocks and external sovereign debt of only 13 per cent of GDP. The IMF has progressively upgraded its outlook on the Russian economy, now predicting growth of over 1 per cent in 2017.

Misinformation about sanctions

The sanctions against Russia bind only a few countries — G7 and the European Union — and are specific in their application.

  • European businesses have found channels to circumvent them. Recent investments in Russia by our hydrocarbons companies have also shown the way.
  • The RDIF-NIIF fund provides an opportunity to cast off misconceptions about the Russian economy and sanctions.

Conclusion

Author concludes by saying that a continued high-level dialogue and a backchannel communication is necessary to ensure that both the countries are sensitive to the core concerns of each other.

[3]. Changing the course of the planet

The Hindu

Context

Article focusses on the deal at Kigali, why a leeway was given to India and what gains India made.

 Kigali Deal

On 15th October 2016, 197 countries came together at Kigali, Rwanda to sign a historic agreement to amend the Montreal Protocol and phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

What are HFCs?

HFCs are refrigerant gases used for commercial, residential and automotive purposes (and in other applications) but are hundreds to thousands of times more potent that carbon dioxide. They were meant to replace HCFCs (hydrochloroflorocarbons) in order to protect the ozone layer but their global warming potential (GWP) has increasingly become a matter of concern in climate negotiations.

What is GWP?

It is a relative measure of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps in the atmosphere. It compares the amount of heat trapped by a certain mass of the gas in question to the amount of heat trapped by a similar mass of carbon dioxide.

Significance of Kigali

  • The Kigali Amendment is one that could avoid global warming by up to 0.5° C

What was demanded?

Proposals from North America, Europe and Small Island States had demanded a 2021 freeze date for HFCs for all countries.

  • India wanted a 2031 freeze date

What everyone got?

  • Developed countries agreed to freeze year 2019
  • For most developing countries (including China), the freeze year was set at 2024
  • India and a few other developing countries got a freeze year of 2028

India & China are the only countries in the world today that manufacture HFCs. So, why India has been given a later freeze year?

  • Current consumption & future growth: Because China’s air conditioner market is bigger in size meaning its production of HFCs is also larger than India. India’s HFC consumption picks up only after 2025 while China will witness rapid emissions of HFCs from 2015-2030

Why an action before 2028 was not going to help?

Cost burden: Because any action taken before this year would have meant India resorting to much expensive alternative refrigerants.

In the residential sector,

  • the only viable alternative is propane (R290)
  • The other alternative is R32, although it too has a relatively high GWP of 675
  • Hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) blends is expensive
  • HFO1234yf (an alternative for mobile air conditioning) is around four and 10 times more expensive than the current gas in use
  • HFO1234ze, which can be used in some commercial applications, is cheaper but for other types of commercial A/Cs there are no viable alternatives

One-time transition costs: The cost burden is not merely of alternative refrigerants but includes the one-time cost of product redesign, servicing equipment, training of servicing personnel, and per unit equipment costs

Concerns for India

Cost estimate: A Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW)-International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis study found that for India, economy-wide costs of an HFC phase-down could be €12 billion (sum of undiscounted costs, 2015 prices) under the original Indian proposal and €34 billion under the North American proposal between 2015 and 2050. India wanted extra time until more information became available.

Access to technology: Another concern for India was access to technology. Many alternative gases are not manufactured in India currently, although firms are moving in that direction.

  • Testing alternatives: The other aspect of technology is the need to test alternatives under India’s high ambient temperature conditions. Testing for some chemicals has already begun but further verification was necessary before India could firmly commit. This is one reason why, in September, India announced a domestic, collaborative R&D programme to develop next-generation, sustainable refrigerants.

Who will cover the costs under Kigali agreement?

Kigali amendment requires the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund to cover incremental costs related to production, consumption, servicing and patents but it is unclear how much of th total costs will get covered

Gains from Kigali agreement

  • Balancing its own needs with international commitments: India’s primary gain is that it has once again demonstrated willingness to be part of a multilateral climate deal while being able to secure a differentiated outcome for itself. The deal allows India’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) sector to grow while giving time to refrigerant manufacturers to shift to alternatives
  • Areview of technological options is also envisaged so that India is not left stranded in 2028
  • Despite the three baselines, the bulk of global HFC emissions starts getting phased down earlier, delivering a massive gain for the fight against climate change
  • The deal is legally binding, and failure to act could invite non-compliance proceedings, making it a more effective deal than the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

ECONOMY

[1]. Centre’s regional connectivity proposal may face turbulence

 The Hindu

Context

The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), which represents IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir, has written to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry terming the proposed regional connectivity levy  under the regional connectivity scheme as “illegal” and “in contravention to the Constitution of India.”

Regional Connectivity Fund

The Union Civil Aviation Ministry had suggested amendments to the Aircraft Rules of 1937 in August to set up a regional connectivity fund to subsidise the losses of airlines that wanted to fly on regional routes.

  • The fund was proposed to be financed by a levy on domestic flights along with contribution from states and credit proceeds from other sources.

Passengers will be able to fly to unserved and underserved airports for a fare of Rs 2,500 an hour, under the scheme which is slated to be launched on October 21

Airlines’ view

Airlines are opposing this new levy. Their reasoning is,

  • Unconstitutional: A levy in the nature of tax can only be levied having regard to the provisions contained in the Article 265 of the Constitution of Indiae. by authority of law

Therefore, an imposition of a regional connectivity levy would require amendment to the Aircraft Act, 1934 and not the rules and until then the draft rules would be “beyond the authority of law and in contravention to the Constitution of India.

The draft rules may, therefore, tantamount to an attempt by the Central Government to usurp the powers or authority of the Parliament

  • Section 5(2) (ab) of the Aircraft Act of 1934 does empower the Centre to make rules for economic regulation of air services but it doesn’t authorise it “to introduce a levy in the nature of tax on air services.”

Government’s view

Government says that it has consulted law ministry on the issue and it already charges levy in the form of passenger service fee on air tickets.

  • The passenger service fee is levied to air passengers under rule 88 of the Aircraft Rules to meet the expenditure on airport security and passenger facilities at the airports.

[2]. Small finance banks up the ante to grab deposits

The Hindu

Context

Article throws light upon the aggressive strategy of the small finance banks to attract customers’ attention.

Strategy

While conventional banks offer only 4 per cent on saving deposits, Small finance banks are offering or planning to offer between 5 and 7 per cent on saving deposits.

What are Small finance Banks?

Payments banks will provide basic banking services to people who currently do not have a bank account, including millions of migrant workers. Almost half of India’s population is unbanked.

These banks will aim at providing high volume-low value transactions in deposits and Payments / remittance services in a secured technology-enabled environment.       

The main objective of small payment banks

The main purpose of the small banks will be to provide a whole package of basic banking products such as bank deposits and supply of credit, but in a limited area of operation.

  • The objective for these Small Banks is to increase financial inclusion by provision of savings vehicles to under-served and unserved sections of the population, supply of credit to small farmers, micro and small industries, and other unorganized sector entities through high technology-low cost operations.

Indian Express

[3]. Copyright as exception

Indian Express

Context

Author puts forward his arguments as to why the recent copyright verdict by Delhi High court should not be reversed

Note: The DU copyright case has already been covered in previous briefs. This summary shall only cover the additional and any new info available in the article. Refer to 19th September Brief.

Author states that

  • Restricting the right to photocopy will not automatically swing students towards reading or buying full texts for that matter.
  • Photocopying is not a new phenomenon in India. This is the first such copyright suit to be brought against an Indian educational institution. Had photocopying really eaten into publisher revenues, would this industry have survived in India?
  • Course packs popularize authors among students who otherwise will never hear of them thus increasing revenues of the publishers in the long run. That’s why a large number of authors signed a joint petition supporting students’ stand
  • Publishers just want to cash in on an additional revenue stream purely for economic purposes
  • International example: In Canada, universities and publishers were in licensing agreement to publish such photocopied course packs but soon the cost was escalated to unaffordable levels leading to walkout by the universities from licensing agreements

Conclusion

For the sake of a free competition and knowledge access, the above decision should not be reversed.

 

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