Companies Amendment Ordinance, 2018 promulgated to promote Ease of Doing Business

The Centre has promulgated the Companies Amendment Ordinance, 2018 to promote Ease of Doing Business with better corporate compliance.

President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the recommendation of the Union Cabinet for promulgation of the Ordinance.

Key Amendments:

  • Shifting of the jurisdiction of 16 types of corporate offences from the special courts to in-house adjudication, which is expected to reduce the case load of Special Courts by over 60%, thereby enabling them to concentrate on serious corporate offences.
  • The penalty has been reduced to half for small companies and one person companies of that applicable to normal companies.
  • Instituting a transparent and technology driven in-house adjudication mechanism on an online platform and publication of the orders on the website.
  • Strengthening in-house adjudication mechanism by necessitating a concomitant order for making good the default at the time of levying penalty, to achieve the ultimate aim of achieving better compliance.
  • Declogging the NCLT by enlarging the pecuniary jurisdiction of Regional Director, vesting in the Central Government the power to approve the alteration in the financial year of a company and vesting the Central Government the power to approve cases of conversion of public companies into private companies.
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Statue of Unity inauguration

Statue of Unity Inauguration HIGHLIGHTS: Eight years after proposing the ambitious project, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday unveiled the Statue of Unity – the world’s tallest statue at 182 metres -built in honour of freedom fighter and India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The statue stands on Sadhu island on the Narmada in Gujarat and is twice the height of the Statue of Liberty in the US.

At 182 metre, the statue is 23 metre taller than China’s Spring Temple Buddha statue and almost double the height of the Statue of Liberty (93 metre tall) in US.

Located on the Sadhu Bet island, near Rajpipla on the Narmada river, the Statue of Unity is located between the Satpura and the Vindhya mountain ranges.

The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET), a special purpose vehicle set up by Modi in 2011, arranged some 129 tonnes of iron implements from nearly 100 million farmers in 169,000 villages across all states to construct the base of the statue in the ‘Loha’ campaign.

The Statue of Unity was brought to fruition by Padma Bhushan-winning sculptor Ram V Sutar and intricate bronze cladding work was done by a Chinese foundry, the Jiangxi Toqine Company (JTQ).

About Sardar Vallabhai Patel:

Sardar Patel is credited with uniting all 562 princely states in pre-independent India to build the Republic of India — hence the name of the statue. The date for the inauguration of the statue (October 31, 2018) also marks the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Patel.

In 1917, Sardar Vallabhbhai was elected as the Secretary of the Gujarat Sabha, the Gujarat wing of the Indian National Congress. In 1918, he led a massive “No Tax Campaign” that urged the farmers not to pay taxes after the British insisted on tax after the floods in Kaira. The peaceful movement forced the British authorities to return the land taken away from the farmers. His effort to bring together the farmers of his area brought him the title of ‘Sardar’.

He actively supported the non-cooperation Movement launched by Gandhi. Patel toured the nation with him, recruited 300,000 members and helped collect over Rs. 1.5 million.

In 1928, the farmers of Bardoli again faced a problem of “tax-hike”. After prolonged summons, when the farmers refused to pay the extra tax, the government seized their lands in retaliation. The agitation took on for more than six months. After several rounds of negotiations by Patel, the lands were returned to farmers after a deal was struck between the government and farmers’ representatives.

In 1930, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was among the leaders imprisoned for participating in the famous Salt Satyagraha movement initiated by Mahatma Gandhi.

Sardar Patel was freed in 1931, following an agreement signed between Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy of India. The treaty was popularly known as the Gandhi-Irwin Pact. The same year, Patel was elected as the President of Indian National Congress in its Karachi session where the party deliberated its future path.

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Vigilance Awareness Week to be Observed by the Health Ministry

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will observe the Vigilance Awareness Week from 29th October to 3rd November 2018 as per the directions of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), Government of India.  The theme of the vigilance awareness this year is Eradicate Corruption- Make a New India.

During the week-long Vigilance Awareness campaign, various activities like seminars, debates, and essay competitions will be organized in the Ministry to sensitize and motivate its officers and staff to remain vigilant and transparent in their work in order to eradicate corruption in all spheres of life.

The Central Vigilance Commission aims to promote integrity, transparency, and accountability in public life. As part of its efforts to promote probity in public life and to achieve a corruption-free society, CVC observes Vigilance Awareness Week every year. The observation of Vigilance Awareness Week creates greater awareness among the public and encourages all the stakeholders to collectively participate in the prevention of and fight against Corruption.

It is the apex vigilance institution. It was created via executive resolution (based on the recommendations of the Santhanam committee) in 1964 but was conferred with statutory status in 2003.

It submits its report to the President of India.

Presently, the body consists of a central vigilance commissioner along with 2 vigilance commissioners.

They are appointed by the President of India on the recommendations of a committee consisting of Prime Minister, Union Home Minister and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha (if there is no LoP then the leader of the single largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha).

Term: Their term is 4 years or 65 years, whichever is earlier.

The Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner can be removed from his office only by order of the President on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the President, has, on inquiry, reported that the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner, as the case may be, ought to be removed.

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‘Experiencing North East’ festival

The ‘Experiencing North East’ festival depicting the uniqueness of North Eastern culture is being organised at India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi.

‘Experiencing North East’ Festival:

The event which is a part of ‘Destination North East’ series aims at showcasing the diverse culture and heritage of North East all under one roof.

The festival is being organised by North Eastern Council (NEC), Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) in collaboration with India International Centre.

The festival will showcase the vibrant strengths of North East India and display its art, handicraft, handlooms, tourism, food, culture etc.

There will be special performances daily by eminent cultural troupes, bands and artistes from North East, including Nise Meruno, classical pianist and vocalist.

NEC was established under the North Eastern Council Act, 1971 as an apex level body for securing balanced and coordinated development and facilitating coordination with the States.

Subsequent to the Amendment of 2002, NEC has been mandated to function as a regional planning body for the North Eastern Area and while formulating a regional plan for this area, shall give priority to the schemes and projects benefiting two or more states provided that in the case of Sikkim, the Council shall formulate specific projects and schemes for that State.

The Union Cabinet, in June 2018, approved the proposal of Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) for the nomination of the Union Home Minister as ex-officio Chairman of North Eastern Council (NEC). The Cabinet has also approved that Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of DoNER would serve as Vice Chairman of the Council.

Under the new arrangement, Home Minister shall be the Chairman and Minister of DoNER as Vice Chairman, NEC and all the Governors and Chief Ministers of North Eastern States will be Members.

Destination North East event is one of the steps taken by Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region to bring North East closer and help assimilate the diverse cultural heritage of India while encouraging investment in priority sectors like Tourism, Handloom, Handicrafts, Food Processing etc.  Other steps taken by Ministry of DoNER towards assimilation of North Eastern Region, are funding Business Summits, Seminars, Buyers & Sellers meets to attract investors in North Eastern Region and supporting participation of weavers/artisans of NER in Craft Bazaars and exhibitions all over India to promote their Handloom and Handicrafts and give them exposure to the National Market.

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HC upholds disqualification of 18 MLAs in relief for Edappadi Palaniswami

The Madras High Court  upheld the disqualification of the 18 Tamil Nadu MLAs, providing temporary relief to the Edappadi K. Palaniswami-led state government.

The MLAs were disqualified by the assembly speaker in September 2017 under the anti-defection law after they met the governor and expressed loss of confidence in chief minister Palaniswami.

In 2017, a group of 19 lawmakers met then Governor C.Vidyasagar Rao and gave a memorandum expressing loss of confidence in Palaniswami and requested him to appoint a new Chief Minister.

The anti-defection law:

The 10th Schedule to the Constitution, popularly referred to as the ‘Anti-Defection Law,’ was inserted by the 52nd Amendment in 1985.

The grounds for disqualification are mentioned under Articles 102 (2) and 191 (2). A Member of Parliament or state legislature is deemed to have defected:

When the elected member voluntarily gives up his membership of a political party.

If he votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party or anyone authorised to do so, without obtaining prior permission.

Independent members would be disqualified if they joined a political party.

Nominated members who were not members of a party could choose to join a party within six months; after that period, they were treated as a party member or independent member.

Exceptions under the Law:

Any person elected as speaker or chairman could resign from his party, and rejoin the party if he demitted that post.

A party could be merged into another if at least two-thirds of its party legislators voted for the merger.

The law initially permitted splitting of parties, but that has now been outlawed.

Decision of the Presiding Officer is subject to judicial review:

The law initially stated that the decision of the Presiding Officer is not subject to judicial review. This condition was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1992, thereby allowing appeals against the Presiding Officer’s decision in the High Court and Supreme Court. However, it held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the Presiding Officer gives his order.

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President Ram Nath Kovind Dismisses Plea to Disqualify 27 AAP MLAs

President Ramnath Kovind has dismissed a plea to disqualify 27 ruling Aam Admi Party MLAs of Delhi for allegedly holding office of profit by being appointed as chairpersons of Rogi Kalyan Samitis attached to various city hospitals.

The decision was based on an opinion tendered by the Election Commission in July, stating that the said office was exempt from purview of ‘office of profit’ under provisions of the Delhi MLAs (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997.

Government of NCT of Delhi, in its submission to EC, had made it clear that Rogi Kalyan Samitis were constituted by it and that their chairpersons were not entitled to any remuneration and would therefore fall under the exemption granted by item 14 of the Schedule of the Delhi MLAs (Removal of Disqualification) Act. The Act provides for exemption of office of chairman, vice-chairman and members of the hospital advisory committee, Delhi, from purview of “office of profit”.

If an MLA or an MP holds a government office and receives benefits from it, then that office is termed as an “office of profit”. A person will be disqualified if he holds an office of profit under the central or state government, other than an office declared not to disqualify its holder by a law passed by Parliament or state legislature.

What are the basic criteria to disqualify an MP or MLA?

Basic disqualification criteria for an MP are laid down in Article 102 of the Constitution, and for an MLA in Article 191. They can be disqualified for: a) Holding an office of profit under government of India or state government; b) Being of unsound mind; c) Being an undischarged insolvent; d) Not being an Indian citizen or for acquiring citizenship of another country.

Makers of the Constitution wanted that legislators should not feel obligated to the Executive in any way, which could influence them while discharging legislative functions. In other words, an MP or MLA should be free to carry out her duties without any kind of governmental pressure.

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Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016: Why Assam is on boil?

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has been gaining momentum amid protests against the Bill by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) and 44 other organizations in Assam.

These organizations called for the 12-hour shutdown in Assam to protest against the Centre’s proposal to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Winter Session of Parliament.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill was proposed in Lok Sabha on July 19, amending the Citizenship Act of 1955.

If this Bill is passed in Parliament, illegal migrants from certain minority communities coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan will then be eligible for Indian citizenship.

In short, illegal migrants belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian religious communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan would not be imprisoned or deported.

Moreover, these citizens gain permanent citizenship after six years of residency in India instead of 11 years — as mentioned in the Citizenship Act (1955).

The registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may get canceled if they violate any law.

Under Article 9 of the Indian Constitution, a person who voluntarily acquires citizenship of any other country is no longer an Indian citizen.

Citizenship by descent: Persons born outside India on or after January 26, 1950, but before December 10, 1992, are citizens of India by descent if their father was a citizen of India at the time of their birth.

From December 3, 2004, onwards, persons born outside of India shall not be considered citizens of India unless their birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of the date of birth.

In Section 8 of the Citizenship Act 1955, if an adult makes a declaration of renunciation of Indian citizenship, he loses Indian citizenship.

According to the Citizenship Act (1955), an illegal immigrant is defined as a person who enters India without a valid passport or stays in the country after the expiry of the visa permit. Also, the immigrant who uses false documents for the immigration process.

What are the guidelines to become an Indian citizenship?

Citizenship is granted to an individual by the government of the country when he/she complies with the legal formalities, so it’s like a judicial concept.

In India, the Citizenship Act, 1995 prescribes five ways of acquiring citizenship:

  • Birth
  • Descent
  • Registration
  • Naturalisation
  • Incorporation of the territory.

Assam NRC:

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a list that contains names of Indian citizens of Assam. It was last prepared after Census in 1951. Assam, which had faced an influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC.

The Assam government on July 30, 2018 released the second and final draft of the state’s National Register of Citizens (NRC). The draft includes the names of Indian citizens who have been residing in Assam before March 25, 1971.

As per the Draft, the total number of persons included in the list is 2,89,83,677 leaving a total of 40,70,707 as ineligible for inclusion. Out of 40,70,707 names, 37,59,630 names have been rejected and 2,48,077 names are kept on hold.

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Supreme Court says large vacancies for judges in Lower Courts unacceptable

Describing as “unacceptable” the existence of 5,133 vacancies of judges in “Higher Judicial Service” and “Lower Judicial Service”, the Supreme Court on Monday sought the response of the State governments and the High Courts whether the time for the ongoing recruitment of 4,180 judicial officers could be shortened.

Passing a suo moto order on the huge number of vacancies in the subordinate judiciary across the country, the court has sought the response from the High Courts/State governments as it noted that the recruitment process for filling 4,180 posts was already underway.

Noting that there was a mismatch in the number of vacancies, the number of posts for which recruitment process is underway and those still pending, the apex court also sought details of the vacancies that have occurred since the current recruitment process commenced.

The court also sought information whether “infrastructure and manpower available in the different states are adequate if all the posts that are borne in the cadre are to be filled up.

A seven-month schedule for recruitment has been formulated by the top court in the Malik Mazhar Sultan case. If the time taken exceeds the schedule fixed by this Court, the reasons thereof should be furnished by the Registries of such High Courts/concerned authorities of the State where the recruitment is done through the Public Service Commission(s) which are in default.

Central recruitment to fill judges’ vacancies is the right idea:

The Union law ministry is working with the Supreme Court to conduct a nationwide examination to recruit around 6,000 judges for the lower judiciary as a one-time measure.

Under the nationwide recruitment scheme, a central agency will conduct the test with due importance given to local languages for those opting for a particular state. Subsequently, an all-India merit list will be prepared based on which the state governments will make the final appointments. Although this has been proposed as a one-time measure, there is a case here to have a permanent central judicial recruitment mechanism. This will also help ensure uniformity in judicial recruitment across the country.

This is much needed given the huge number of vacancies for judges and the high pendency of cases. In fact, lower courts currently have a backlog of 2.78 crore cases. Unless judges are quickly recruited, this number can’t be kept down. True, the appointment of judges in district and subordinate courts is the responsibility of state governments and the high courts concerned. But things have come to this pass because of inordinate delays in holding examinations for judicial recruitment at the state level.

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12 courts set up to try MPs and MLAs, Centre informs Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has upped the ante on the States, Union Territories and High Courts which have not provided it with details of criminal cases pending against sitting lawmakers, warning that their Chief Secretaries and Registrars General will be made personally liable for non-compliance.

The apex court had on December 14 last year ordered special courts to be established to fast-track the long-pending trials against MPs and MLAs in a bid to weed out corruption and criminality in politics. So far, the center has set up 12 special courts to deal with such cases.

There are several high-profile cases against leaders from almost all political parties—regional and national where investigations have dragged on for years and those facing trial have evaded prison.

The Centre’s decision could be a setback to politicians who, despite facing serious charges, have remained members of Parliament and state assemblies due to the time consumed in trials. Such cases will fall in the purview of special courts and their fate will be decided expeditiously.

The court has given 11 States/Union Territories (UTs) and the High Courts of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tripura a deadline of four weeks to comply with its September 12 order.

The order has called on States/UTs to furnish data to determine the number of special courts to be set up across the country to exclusively try accused legislators.

The States/UTs which have not complied with the September 12 order are Goa, Himachal Pradesh Meghalaya, Mizoram, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep.

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PM Modi inaugurates Silver Jubilee celebrations of NHRC; Says govt committed to improve lives of people by ensuring their rights

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the National Human Rights Commission has an important role to play in government’s efforts to achieve sustainable development goals. Addressing an event in New Delhi to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of the NHRC, Mr. Modi said the government is committed to improving the lives of people by ensuring their rights.

Prime Minister said NHRC has acted as the voice of the weaker sections and played an important role in the nation-building. He said during the last four years, serious efforts have been made to raise the dignity of the oppressed section of the society.  He said, during the dark period of emergency, human rights were violated but people of the country worked hard to regain these rights.

On the occasion, Mr. Modi issued a Postage Stamp and Special Cover. He also launched the new version of the NHRC website, which is more user-friendly and accessible to persons with special needs.

Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Communications Manoj Sinha was also present on the occasion.

NHRC:

It is a statutory body established in 1993.

Composition:

It consists of a Chairman and 4 members. The chairman should be a retired Chief Justice of India. Members should be either sitting or retired judges of the Supreme Court or a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court and 2 persons having practical knowledge in this field.

Ex officio members are the chairmen of National Commission for Scheduled Caste, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Minorities and National Commission for Women.

Appointment:

The chairman and members are appointed on the recommendation of a 6 member committee consisting of Prime Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, leaders of opposition in both the houses of parliament and Union Home Minister.

Term: Term of the chairman and members is 5 years or 70 years whichever is earlier. After retirement, they are not eligible for further reappointment.

Removal: President has to refer the matter to Supreme Court and if after inquiry Supreme Court holds it right then they can be removed by the President.

Other facts:

  • Its recommendations are just advisory and not binding in nature.
  • The commission is not empowered to inquire into matters which were committed one year before.
  • It submits an Annual report to the Central government and to the concerned state governments.
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