Head Line: Loan waiver, UDAY bonds burdening state finances, says N K Singh
What is UDAY bonds:
- The Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY), a flagship scheme of the Narendra Modi government.
- It is a financial restructuring scheme to help debt-ridden discoms where states have been asked to bear 75 per cent of the debt burden.
Head Line: Names, photos, ID: First registry of sex offenders out today
2) Mains Paper II: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governanceapplications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
Why in news:
- India is all set to roll out the National Registry of Sexual Offenders on Thursday, and will become the ninth country in the world to set up and maintain such a database.
- The Indian registry will include names, photographs, residential address, fingerprints, DNA samples, and PAN and Aadhaarnumbers, of convicted sexual offenders.
- The decision to set up the database was taken in April following nationwide outrage over cases of sexual assault on minors, including the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in J&K’s Kathua.
Details about database:
- The database will be maintained by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) under the Ministry of Home Affairs and made available to law enforcement agencies for various purposes, including investigation and employee verification.
- The database will contain more than 4.5 lakh cases, including profiles of first-time and repeat offenders, based on details compiled from prisons across the country.
- The offenders will be classified on the basis of criminal history to ascertain if “they pose a serious danger to the community”.
- India’s registry will store data for 15 years in the case of those classified as posing “low danger”, 25 years for those presenting “moderate danger” and through lifetime for “habitual offenders, violent criminals, convicts in gangrape and custodial rapes”.
- The registry will also store information on arrested and chargesheeted offenders but with a clause that limits access to officers with the requisite clearance.
- Juvenile offenders are likely to be included in the database at a later stage.
Statistics of Crime against women:
- According to NCRB, there has been a three per cent increase in crimes against women and a 12 per cent rise in rapes in 2016, as compared to 2015.
- As many as 38,947 rape cases were registered in 2016, up from 34,651 in 2015. Overall, cases of crimes against women rose from 3,29,243 in 2015 to 3,38,954 in 2016, according to NCRB.
- The registries maintained by other countries — UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and Trinidad & Tobago — are available only to law enforcement agencies.
- In the US the database maintained by the FBI can be accessed by the public.
Other provisions for women safety:
Government has set up a National Mission for the Safety of Women, headed by the Union Cabinet Secretary, to undertake specified actions, including:
- setting up Special Fast Track Courts,
- strengthening forensic facilities,
- appointing additional public prosecutors,
- and providing appropriate medical and rehabilitation facilities to victims.
Head Line: Triple talaq Ordinance passed: What are the provisions?
3) Mains Paper I: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues
- Mains Paper II: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions.
Why in news:
- The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved an ordinance making instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat a punishable offence carrying a jail term of up to three years.
- The step was taken after the government failed to pass the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, in the Rajya Sabha during the recent monsoon session.
What is instant triple talaq?
- Instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat is a practice that was challenged in the court. It is different from the practice of “talaq-ul-sunnat”, which is considered to be the ideal form of dissolution of marriage contract among Muslims.
- Under the latter form, once the husband pronounces talaq, the wife has to observe a three-month iddatperiod covering three menstrual cycles during which the husband can arbitrate and re-conciliate with the wife.
- In case of cohabitation between the couple, during these three months, the talaq is revoked.
- However, when the period of iddat expires and the husband does not revoke the talaq either expressly or by consummation, the talaq is irrevocable and final.
- In the practice of talaq-e-biddat, when a man pronounces talaq thrice in a sitting, or through phone, or writes in a talaqnama or a text message, the divorce is considered immediate and irrevocable, even if the man later wishes to re-conciliate.
- In August last year, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a law that allowed Muslim men to divorce their wives simply by uttering “talaq” three times in quick succession.
- In a landmark 3-2 verdict, the apex court found the practice un-Islamic and “arbitrary”, and disagreed that triple talaq was an integral part of religious practice.
What are the provisions?
- Triple talaq remains cognizable with a maximum of three years imprisonment and a fine.
- Triple talaq will be recognised as a crime only when a woman or her blood relative files a complaint with the police.
- A compromise can be achieved only when the woman is willing and says so to a magistrate. A magistrate can grant bail only after the wife’s consent.
- The custody of children from the marriage will go to the woman.
- The mother is entitled to maintenance determined by a magistrate.
- The law doesn’t affect Jammu and Kashmir.
Head Line: New FPI norms: what Sebi is considering
4) Mains Paper III: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
- Money laundering and its prevention.
Why in news:
- The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) said this week that its board had “broadly agreed” with the report of a committee that has suggested several changes in the Know Your Client (KYC) guidelines and beneficiary ownership norms of foreign portfolio investors (FPIs), and would implement most of the panel’s recommendations.
- On April 10, Sebi issued a circular directing certain categories of FPIs such as trusts, banks, mutual funds, and investment managers to disclose their beneficial owners within six months.
- A beneficial owner is a person who, directly or indirectly, derives the benefits of ownership.
- The circular said that Non Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs), Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) and Resident Indians (RIs) cannot be beneficial owners of a fund investing in India.
- The regulator also asked FPIs to disclose names and addresses of the beneficial owners; whether they were acting alone or together through one or more natural persons as a group; tax residency jurisdiction; and the beneficial owner group’s percentage shareholding capital or profit ownership in the FPI.
- On August 21, after receiving representations from market participants who sought a review of the guidelines and additional time for complying, Sebi extended the six-month deadline for disclosure to December 31.
- The regulator also said the issues raised by the stakeholders would be studied by an expert group headed by former RBI Deputy Governor H R Khan.
- The panel had been set up by the regulator in March to advise it on redrafting FPI regulations for simplification, and to advise on any other issue relevant to these investors.
- The regulator wants to tighten KYC norms to prevent money laundering and round tripping of funds, especially if an investment is made via a high-risk jurisdiction.
- Typically, countries with a known history of money laundering and funding terrorism activities are considered as high-risk jurisdictions.
- However, Sebi has not named these countries, or issued clear definitions.
- It has instead outsourced the definition of high-risk jurisdictions to custodian banks, who in the absence of clear directions from the regulator, apply their own sets of standards.
The Khan committee Recommendations
- The NRIs, OCIs and RIs should be allowed to hold a non-controlling stake in FPIs, and no restrictions should be imposed on them to manage non-investing FPIs or Sebi-registered offshore funds.
- Erstwhile PIOs should not be subjected to any restrictions, and clubbing of investment limits should be allowed for well-regulated and publicly-held FPIs that have common control.
- The time for compliance with the new norms should be extended by six months, after they are finalised, and non-compliant investors should be given another 180 days to wind down their existing positions.
- It has also asked Sebi to do away with additional KYC requirements for beneficial owners in case of government-related FPIs.
- Changes in the norms pertaining to the identification of senior managing officials of FPIs, and for beneficial owners of listed entities.
- Changes in the disclosure of personal information of beneficial owners.
- It has said, however, that all new rules should apply equally to investors using participatory notes (P-Notes).