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Current Events 3 January 2017

 

NEWS 

3 JANUARY 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II: POLITY - JUDICIARY

SC bowls out top BCCI bosses

2.

GS II: POLITY - JUDICIARY

Seeking votes on religious basis a corrupt act: SC

3.

GS III: ECONOMY

Hotel service charge optional, says govt.

4.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT - NGT

NGT stays metro rail work on riverbed in Pune

5.

GS II: POLITY - JUDICIARY

Centre stalling judicial transfers: SC

6.

GS III: DEFENCE

Agni-IV test a ‘grand success’

7.

GS III: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Jharkhand mine tragedy was waiting to happen

8.

GS II: GOVERNANCE

Pravasi Divas this year to highlight social innovations

9.

GS III: ECONOMY

SBI raises spread on home loans, cuts loan growth target

10.

GS III: ECONOMY

Core sector output growth slows to 4.9% in November


GS II: POLITY - JUDICIARY

SC bowls out top BCCI bosses

  • Noting that its diktats are not “written in sand” and are meant to be complied with, the Supreme Court stripped BCCI president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke of their posts and ordered them to “forthwith cease and desist” from associating with Indian cricket’s most powerful body.
  • A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud declared Mr. Thakur and Mr. Shirke “unfit” to continue at the helm of the BCCI for their “obstructionist” attitude and specious pleas in court about their incapacity to make affiliated State associations fall in line with the Justice Lodha reforms.
  • Besides, the court found Mr. Thakur prima facie guilty of both contempt of Supreme Court proceedings and perjury (fabrication of false evidence), adding that such a person does not deserve to continue as BCCI president.
  • The court said a committee of administrators would be appointed to run the BCCI. The Bench sought “objective assistance” from senior advocate Fali Nariman and amicus curiae and senior advocate Gopal Subramanium to choose persons of experience and integrity for the committee.
  • Meanwhile, till the committee was formed, the court ordered the seniormost vice-president of the BCCI to take over as BCCI president and the joint secretary to replace him.
  • Once the committee of administrators is formed, the Lodha panel’s job will be confined to overall policy-making. The administrators would work in association with the Lodha panel.
  • The Supreme Court, here, referred to how it had in 2014 appointed retired cricketer Sunil Gavaskar as interim BCCI president in relation to IPL 2014 when it had found the then BCCI president, N. Srinivasan, incapable of performing his duties.
  • The court said other BCCI administrators, excluding Mr. Thakur and Mr. Shirke, shall continue, provided they do not fall under the categories the Lodha panel recommended for immediate ouster. Such administrators who remain after the filtering should provide an unconditional undertaking in four weeks that they will comply with the Lodha panel reforms.

GS II: POLITY - JUDICIARY

Seeking votes on religious basis a corrupt act: SC

  • Terming religion a very private relationship between man and his God, a seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, in a majority judgment, held that an appeal for votes during elections on the basis of religion, caste, race, community or language, even that of the electorate, will amount to a ‘corrupt practice’ and call for disqualification of the candidate.
  • “Election is a secular exercise and therefore a process should be followed… The relationship between man and God is an individual choice and state should keep this in mind,” the Supreme Court held in a majority judgment of 4:3.
  • The court was interpreting the pronoun ‘his’ used in Section 123 (3) of the Representation of the People Act.
  • The provision mandates that it would amount to a ‘corrupt practice’ if a candidate or his agent or any other person, with his consent, appeals for votes on religious or such grounds.
  • The question referred to the Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur on a batch of election petitions was whether the word ‘his’ used in Section 123 (3) of the Representation of the People Act only meant a bar on appeals made in the name of the candidate or his rival or his agent or others in his immediate camp. Or, does the word ‘his’ also extend to soliciting votes on the basis of the religion, caste, community, race, language of the electorate as a whole.
  • The latter would mean a blanket ban on any appeal, reference, campaign, discussion, dialogue or debate on the basis of religion, race, caste, community or language, even if such a debate was on the deprivations suffered by the voters due to these considerations.
  • The majority on the Bench — the Chief Justice and Justices Madan B. Lokur, S.A. Bobde and L. Nageshwara Rao — interpreted that Parliament meant by ‘his’ a complete ban on any reference or appeal to religion, race, community, caste and language during elections. This meant the pronoun extended to the social, linguistic and religious identity of the voter also.
  • Quoting Winston Churchill, Justice Lokur said: “At the bottom of all tributes paid to democracy is the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little piece of paper...”
  • Dissenting with the majority and delivering a scathing retort, the minority judgment authored by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud pointed to the historic discriminations and deprivations suffered by the masses on the ground of religion, caste and language. Justice Chandrachud wrote that these were social realities in our country that the Indian addresses.
  • “How can this be barred from being discussed in an election? Religion, caste and language are as much a symbol of social discrimination imposed on large segments of our society. They are part of the central theme of the Constitution to produce a just social order. Electoral politics in a democratic polity is about social mobilisation,” Justice Chandrachud wrote in his separate judgment supported by Justices A.K.Goel and U.U. Lalit.


GS III: ECONOMY

Hotel service charge optional, says govt.

  • You — as a consumer — have the discretion to not pay ‘service charge’ added to your bill by any hotel/restaurant.
  • In a statement, the Consumer Affairs Department asked the State to advise hotels/restaurants to prominently display that “the service charges are discretionary/voluntary and a consumer dissatisfied with the services can have it waived.”
  • This follows several complaints that hotels and restaurants are charging service charge in the range of 5-20 per cent, in lieu of tips, which a consumer is forced to pay irrespective of the kind of service provided, the department said.
  • It said the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, provides that a trade practice which, for the purpose of promoting the sale, use or supply of any goods or for the provision of any service, adopts any deceptive method is to be treated as unfair.
  • It had called for a clarification from the Hotel Association of India, which said the service charge is discretionary and should a customer be dissatisfied with the dining experience, he/she can have it waived. Therefore, it is deemed to be accepted (by the customer) voluntarily, it said.


GS III: ENVIRONMENT - NGT

NGT stays metro rail work on riverbed in Pune

  • The western zone bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued an interim stay on a proposed portion of the metro rail route passing through the Mula-Mutha riverbed in the city.
  • A two-judge bench of Justices U.D. Salvi and Dr. Ajay Deshpande passed the directive acting on an Environmental Interest Litigation (EIL) filed in the NGT in May 2016 by a group of prominent Pune citizens, which contended that in the proposed metro rail alignment, a 1.7 km stretch passing through the left bank of the Mula-Mutha river could spell the death knell for the riverbank ecosystem along that route.


GS II: POLITY - JUDICIARY

Centre stalling judicial transfers: SC

  • The Supreme Court accused the Centre of allowing transfers of Chief Justices and judges of various High Courts to “languish on somebody’s desk” for months together, even as senior advocates, including Ram Jethmalani, told the apex court that it is “time the judiciary taught the government a lesson.”
  • Appearing before a Bench of Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Mr. Jethmalani and senior advocate Yatin Oza referred to the case of Justice M.R. Shah of the Gujarat High Court, whose transfer to the Madhya Pradesh High Court had been kept pending since February 2016.
  • Chief Justice Thakur retorted, “What is happening? The recommendations of the Collegium cannot be allowed to languish on somebody’s desk. If you do not agree with a name, send the file back to us.”
  • Seeking a status report from the Centre on the pending transfers of HC judges in the next three weeks, the court noted that the delay on the part of the government had given rise to “grave apprehensions and misgivings” within the legal community.
  • Attorney General, Mr. Mukul  Rohatgi said there were no files pending with the government. The judiciary of the State High Courts was largely to blame for the delay in filling up the vacancies. The State High Courts tended to start the process of judicial appointments late, sometimes sitting on vacancies for years, he said.


GS III: DEFENCE

Agni-IV test a ‘grand success’

  • The Strategic Forces Command (SFC), which is entrusted with the launching of nuclear weapon delivery systems, successfully test-fired the long-range, strategic ballistic missile, Agni-IV, from a road-mobile launcher positioned on the Abdul Kalam Island, off Damra village on the Odisha coast.
  • The DRDO conceived, designed and developed the Agni-IV.
  • The two-stage, surface-to-surface Agni-IV can carry a nuclear warhead weighing one tonne over a distance of more than 4,000 km.
  • Agni-V, successfully test-fired in December 2016, can carry a nuclear warhead weighing 1.5 tonnes over a distance of 5,000 km and plus.
  • Agni-IV has already been deployed by the Army.
  • It had been flight-tested five times earlier — in 2011, 2012, twice in 2014 and in 2015. This is the sixth success in a row.


GS III: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Jharkhand mine tragedy was waiting to happen

  • The disaster at Rajmahal open cast mine in Jharkhand, which has claimed 18 mines so far, was waiting to happen as safety concerns raised by activists and locals were rubbished by authorities.
  • A complaint by a local activist, pointing to violation of safety norms and forwarded to the Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) by the Prime Minister’s Office, was termed “incorrect/false” in December 2015.
  • “After detailed inquiry on your complaint, the allegations made by you against the management of Rajmahal OCP (open cast mine) were found incorrect/false, which comes under the purview of Mines Act, 1952,” a letter written by the Director of Mines Safety (SD), Jharkhand had told Ashutosh Chakraborty, the activist who had filed the complaint with the PMO.
  • A year later, on December 29, 2016, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of overburden dump came crashing, burying men and machinery.
  • “Had they conducted proper investigation into the complaint, such a huge tragedy could have been avoided,” Mr. Chakraborty said.
  • He said he had even provided photographs on how safety concerns were overlooked by not maintaining a proper bench while digging deep into the open cast mine. The overburden was dumped in a de-coaled area in huge quantities which led to the collapse, he said.


GS II: GOVERNANCE

Pravasi Divas this year to highlight social innovations

  • Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2017, annual global convention for the Indian diaspora, will focus on social innovators, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
  • The January 7 to 9 conclave to be held in Bangalore will be the first full-fledged festival of diaspora Indians under a new format adopted by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016.
  • The event will be attended by more than 4,000 delegates and high-power delegations from Mauritius, Malaysia and Qatar.
  • There will also be a contest of innovators and the winner will get an award of 1 lakh.
  • All sessions of the mega event will be in plenary format and will be interactive, which will allow delegates from overseas to convey their suggestions to the government directly.
  • The sessions will focus on immigration and the role of diaspora organisations. The idea behind the new format was to make the celebration more responsive to the problems faced by the Indian diaspora abroad. The highpoint of the event would be the award for the pravasi achievers (Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards) that will be conferred by President Pranab Mukherjee on January 9.
  • The current format of the PBD 2017, which was first announced by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during the annual conference of 2016, generated interest as reports had indicated participation by delegates who trace their origin to Pak-occupied Kashmir.
  • However, there is no confirmation on participation from the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan.


GS III: ECONOMY

SBI raises spread on home loans, cuts loan growth target

  • State Bank of India (SBI), which reduced its benchmark lending rate by 90 basis points from January 1, has increased its spread on home loans to 50 basis points (bps) and above, as compared with 25 bps earlier.
  • This means that the lowest home loan rate a borrower can avail of with the largest lender in the country is 8.5 per cent.
  • SBI will offer floating loan home loans at 8.65 per cent for loans up to Rs. 75 lakh. That is, it would add a spread of 65 basis points to the one-year marginal cost of fund based lending rate (MCLR).
  • For loans above Rs. 75 lakh, the effective interest rate will be 8.7 per cent.
  • Since the spread of the loan will remain unchanged when the loan switches to floating-rate, SBI declined to term it as a teaser loan and said it would not attract higher standard provisioning.
  • The bank has also cut down its loan growth target for the current financial year to 8-9 per cent from 11-12 per cent envisaged at the beginning of the year.
  • The merger of SBI with its associate banks, which was expected to be completed by the end of the financial year, is now likely to happen in the first quarter of the next financial year.

Teaser Loan:

  • An adjustable-rate mortgage loan in which the borrower pays a very low initial interest rate, which increases after a few years.
  • Teaser loans try to entice borrowers by offering an artificially low rate and small down payments, claiming that borrowers should be able to refinance before the increases occur.


 

GS III: ECONOMY

Core sector output growth slows to 4.9% in November

  • The eight core industries recorded a year-on-year growth in output of 4.9% in November 2016, slower than the previous two months - that is, a 6.6% increase in October and 5.01% in September.
  • The eight core industries comprise close to 37.9 per cent of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and electricity has the maximum weight (of 10.32 per cent) among the eight sectors.

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