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Mains Marathon

Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – May 4th


  1. Do you think that the introduction of judicial performance index can spur competitive reforms of the judiciary in the States? Discuss.(GS 2)

The Hindu

Introduction:-

  • The NITI Aayog has proposed the introduction of a judicial performance index to reduce delays and the outsourcing of non-core functions of the police to private agencies or other government departments, in a bid to fix justice system that is in ‘dire need of reform.’

Yes:-

  • It could help High Courts and their chief justices keep track of the performance and processes at district courts and subordinate levels for reducing delay, should be ‘the first step’ in judicial system reforms.
  • The index can also include certain progress on process steps already approved by High Courts and such an annual evaluation should give judges in High Courts ‘a sense of where they are failing and what they need to fix.
  • Since the subordinate judiciary is largely within the domain of the High Courts, this could also spur competitive reform of the judiciary in those States.
  • Functions such as serving court summons and antecedents and address verification for passport applications or job verifications can be outsourced.
  • streamlining judicial appointments on the basis of online real-time statistics on the workload of pending cases.
  • Such data will help enable “priority appointment of judges at the lower judiciary levels keeping in mind a scientific approach to assess the number of judges needed to tackle pendency.
  • check delay in trial and address the issue of pendency of cases.
  • Increasing the use of information and communication technology, and streamlining judicial appointments.
  • It would require fixing non-mandatory time frames for different types of cases as broad guidelines to benchmark when a case has been delayed, it said.
  • The index can also include certain progress on process steps that have already been approved by high courts, like burden of day-to-day activity being removed from judges and given to administrative officials.
  • Niti Aayog report has also suggested shifting some workload out of the regular court system and the introduction of an administrative cadre in the judicial system.

No:-

  • However with no changes in the police population ratio,lack of empathy of police people, corruption in judiciary the implementation of this need to be looked care of.
  • Judiciary and criminal justice reforms have been long awaited and this would be the first step in the reform process.
  1. Does making Aadhaar mandatory for filing income tax returns and PAN card violate citizen’s right to his own body? Give your opinion.(GS 3)

The Hindu 

Yes:-

  • state does not have the right to force a citizen to part with biometric details without free, informed and voluntary consent it is an encroachment of fundamental rights.
  • The petitioners said that the Aadhaar would create two types citizens – those with the UID and those without. How can those without Aadhaar face penal consequences even though Aadhaar is voluntary in the Act.
  • Aadhaar violates bodily integrity and personal autonomy, perpetuates discrimination and disallows the voluntary nature of Aadhaar (as mentioned in the Aadhaar Act) to be realised.
  • Aadhaar is insecure, riddled with leaks from government websites, prone to being hacked. Petitioners argued that massive data leaks from various public and state-owned websites, such as the Jharkhand Directorate of Social Security, which ended up displaying the UIDs and bank account numbers of over a million pensioners.

No:-

  • Taking fingerprints and iris impressions for Aadhaar is not an invasion of a citizen’s body as the right of a person to his own body is not absolute.
  • If one has to live in a collective called the ‘state’, one has to submit to its laws.
  • It is to ensure that tax money goes to serve the poor and will create a better world.
  1. Not taxing agricultural income violates horizontal and vertical equity, and encourages laundering of non-agricultural income as agricultural income. Do you think that this argument is valid? (GS 3)

Indian Express

Yes agricultural income needs to be taxed or yes,it is valid:-

  • Laws:
    • Section 2 (1A) of the Income Tax Act defines agricultural income as rent/revenue from land, income derived from this land through agriculture and income derived from buildings on that land.
    • Section 10 (1) of the Income Tax Act excludes agricultural income from a computation of total income. Neither of these sections is dispute-free and chartered accountants and lawyers have been enriched via these. But broadly, these propositions are true.
    • Conditions on the sale of agricultural land vary from state to state .thishas been misused.
  • Confusion:-
    • In the Seventh Schedule, Entry 82 in the Union List mentions taxes other than agricultural income, while Entry 46 in the State List mentions taxes on agricultural income
  • 4 lakh taxpayers claimed exemption from agriculture income in the assessment year 2014-15. The biggest were seed giants like Kaveri Seeds – which claimed Rs.186.63 crore exemption and made a profit of Rs.215 crore before tax—and multinational Monsanto India, which claimed Rs.94 crore as exemption from agriculture income.
  • According to Vijay kelkar task force it has become a conduit for tax evasion.
  • The onset of tax avoidance as mechanized farms with hired labour took advantage of the exemptions provided to cooperative farms. In assessment year 2014-15, for instance, nine of the top 10 claimants for tax exemption of agricultural income were corporations; the 10th was a state government department.

No:-

  • If India looks at the growth of its agriculture in the post-reform period, the relative contribution of agricultural income to India’s gross domestic product has shrunk at an alarming rate.
    • During the period 1991 to 2016, the share of agriculture decreased from 32% to 15%. Compared with this, the workforce dependence on agriculture is still very high, at 49.7%.
  • Given the technological and environmental constraints, the performance of the agriculture sector has not been encouraging, and consequently, the welfare of the population living in the countryside has not visibly improved. So taxing would only be burdensome.
  • The income-expenditure gap for a majority of farmers is in the negative. More than one-third of the farmers have expressed their choice to leave the non-remunerative occupation.
  • The agrarian distress has been deepening, and there has been a rise in farmer suicides. Instead of finding a viable policy to solve the crisis, floating the idea of taxing farming income is a great disservice to the sector..

What is needed?

  • There must be a unified system of taxation across states. Agricultural income taxation must be integrated with non-agricultural income taxation.
  • The Income Tax Act defines agricultural income but not who is a farmer. Since the two are intertwined, the act should be amended.
  • Incremental tax revenues (net of costs) generated from suggestions above should be assigned to the state government. This revenue should be exclusively used for the benefit of farmers.

 

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