Showing posts with label Democracy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Democracy. Show all posts

 

Introduction to Right to Information Act, 2005

Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) is considered highly important legislation of independent India as it introduced the concept of ‘Good Governance’. Good governance is when a country’s public institution works and brings in improvements as per the needs of the society.  Not only India but various other countries of the world consider the concept of ‘Good Governance’ as an important aspect. 

Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) is legislation that applies only to public authorities. According to the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) pubic authorities are those bodies that are enacted by the Parliament or the State Legislature under the powers given by the Constitution of India. Example- Non-Governmental Organisations. Every citizen has the right to approach these public authorities and demand information under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI). 

Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) also talks about Public Information Officer (PIO). These officers have the authority and power to provide individuals with information on requisition. 

RTI has two bodies namely, Central Information Commission and State Level Commission. 

Recent news relating to RTI Act

  • Last year, the most important news of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) was that whether the PM Cares fund is a public authority or not. 

  • If yes, then can people learn about all the transactions relating to it. 

  • As per the recordings, the PM Cares fund almost collected a sum of Rs. 3,000 crore but this information was not properly disclosed on its official website. 

  • Then it was clearly stated that the PM Cares fund is not a public authority under Section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI). 

  • Later, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was also filed in this matter. 

  • It was held that this fund is not financed by the government but by private individuals such as trustees. 

A common problem in filing RTI

  • The major problem in filing RTI is that the institution is a public authority or not. 

  • So, here it is, that in certain circumstances and conditions RTI can be filed against a private body. 

  • For instance, if an RTI has to be filed for obtaining information from a private school, then the RTI application can be given to the authority under which that school is registered and information can be obtained. 

Amendment 2019

  • Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) was amended in 2019 and the centre was given more powers that the centre can set the salaries and service conditions of information commissioners of state and central level. 

  • Moreover, Section 13 and Section 16 was also amended. These amendments were highly opposed by the opposition parties. 

  • Then Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI), removed the term of service of all the information officers and left it at the discretion of the central government. 

  • RTI can be filed on its web portal where the request can be submitted to ministries or departments of the government of India along with all the details and fees. 

  • The fee to file RTI is not charged from the people belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL).

  •  As soon as the RTI application is filed a registration number will be received by the person who files for it. 

Shocking fact: After the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) came into existence nearly 65 RTI activists were killed, and 400 other activists were harassed. 

Case Law: CPIO vs. Subhash Chandra Agarwal

  • In this case, Subhash Chandra Agarwal filed an RTI application to CPIO demanding all the details relating to the Chief Justice of India(CJI)

  • He filed another RTI application requesting information regarding the appointment of the three Supreme Court judges. The judges on whose appointment the information was requested was for Justice A.K. Ganguly, Justice H.L. Dutta, and Justice R.M. Lodha. 

  • Moreover, a third RTI application was also filed requesting information relating to the assets of the Chief Justice of India and the States. 

  • The issue was that whether or not the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) falls within the ambit or domain of public authority?

  • Held, CPIO has the authority to disclose the information regarding the personal assets and other detail of judges as the office of CJI falls within the ambit of the public authority. 

The procedure of filing an RTI

  • The first step is to open the RTI online web portal

  • There a request has to be submitted to Ministries or Department of Government of India. 

  • Thereafter, all the required details appearing on the page has to be given. 

  • Along with filling in the details, a fee of filing an RTI also has to be paid. 

  • An appeal can also be filed on the web portal of RTI.

  • The fee to file RTI is not charged from the people belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL). 

  • After the RTI application is duly filed, the person filing such RTI shall receive a registration number. 

Conclusion 

Hence, the Right to Information Act 2005 mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information. The basic object of the Right to Information Act is to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government.  RTI Act applies to public authorities which goes without saying but it indirectly also covers the private institutions. 

References




The article is written by Sneha Mahawar, a  law student at Ramaiah Institute of Legal Studies. The article discusses the 2019 amendment of the Right to Information Act, 2005 along with other important highlights.

 INTRODUCTION

The Indian caste system and its social-stratification gave rise to few disadvantaged castes such as Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST). “Scheduled Castes”is defined under article 366(24) as castes, races, tribes, or parts of groups which are deemed under article 341 to be Scheduled Castes. To provide safeguards against discrimination and to uplift the community socially and economically, the commissioner for SC/ST was assigned, under article 338, to report matters relating to their safeguards to the President.

As the need arose to replace the commissioner with a multi-member system that can better monitor the implementation of the constitutional safeguards, the Government set up the “Commission for SC/ST”(Vide Ministry of Home Affairs Resolution No.13013|9177-SCT [IV] dated 21.7.1978) in 1978 but its functions were modified and it was renamed as “National Commission for Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes” in 1987. The constitutional status was given to the commission in 1990 through the 65th amendment act. It was finally through the 89th Amendment act, 2003 which replaced the commission into-

1.      National Commission for Scheduled Castes; and

2.      National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.

National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) comes under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

FUNCTIONS

The commission comprises a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, and three other members, appointed by the President of India under Article 338(2). The functions of the NCSC are listed in Article 338(5) of the constitution which includes the duty to investigate, monitor, and evaluate the laws for the SCs, inquire into complaints that are related to their rights and safeguards and get involved with the state in formulating plans for their socio-economic development. They are required to present periodical reports to the President containing statistics and recommendations/ measures to be taken for the community. The commission is obliged to function for-

a.      Services safeguards- Deal with complaints relating to promotion, harassment, discrimination, in workplaces.

b.      Educational development- focuses on literacy, scholarships-schemes, and checks the issue of “false community certificates.”

c.       Reducing atrocities- monitors the implementation of legal provisions, the case disposal rates, set up special courts, and conduct inquiries against atrocities.

d.      Economic development- monitors poverty alleviation schemes, recommends for land reforms, land revenue administration, etc.

EVALUATION

The functioning of the “services safeguard” is the most effective one in the commission as it properly inquires into complaints and undertakes specific measures to check violations and improve the situations. But, the commission’s efforts in tackling atrocities have not been up to the mark. Even though the commission collects data related to atrocities, looks into its speedy disposal, and, sets up special courts but it has never presented any detailed study with a comprehensive set of recommendations on the same issue. It has been reluctant to play a role in analysing social realities for any fundamental changes.[i]

After a PIL was filed stating that there were vacant head-posts in NCSC and they failed to look into the Hathras case, it was alleged that the commission is a paper tiger, which has become non-functional.[ii] This reflects the inefficiency in the commission’s work.

A study by “Centre for policy research”[iii] revealed that due to lack of institutionalization in procedures of the appointment to the commission it is difficult to get competent and committed members so it suggested that appointment process should be made more autonomous of the government so that the commission could easily venture into areas like assessing political safeguards given to SCs. L C Jain suggested that the chairman of the commission should be ex-officio Member of the Planning commission (like finance minister), should be invited to Cabinet meetings which consider matter relating to backward-classes and should be given a cabinet rank, if higher rank is not possible.[iv]

 

 

 

 

REFORMATIVE MEASURES:

1.      The NCSC enjoys a constitutional status but its recommendations and decisions are only advisory and not binding.Article 338 is deeply ambiguous on this issue and it gives the commission quasi-judicial powers of investigation but doesn’t mention the form in which its judgment of any issue would be delivered and implemented.[v] The central and state government consults the commission concerning policy-making and measures to be taken for the community but if the same is not binding then often it happens that these are not implemented or taken seriously by authorities which defeats the essence of the existence of such commissions. For this reason, it is justifiable to amend article 338, so that the directions and recommendations of the commissions could be implemented effectively by either making them binding or forming a strict mechanism that would ensure whether relevant suggestions of the commissions are implemented by the authorities or not. This will make the commission’s working more fruitful by executing their recommendations which will ultimately help in improving the condition of SCs. And as far as quasi-judicial power of investigation is concerned, the amendment needs to elaborate on the judgment delivering mechanism and its nature.

2.      The Annual Reports which are presented to the President for discussion in Parliament usually takes two years to be tabled in Parliament after its submission. Such delay happens due to the reason that Action Taken Report (ATR) has to be attached to the main report. The constitution doesn’t fix any period for the same. Also, the reports are not properly debated and these situations contribute to the non-implementation of recommendations. So, the ATR can be delinked from the main report, so that the latter can be tabled in parliament within 3 months[vi] for quick and thorough discussions. An amendment is required to fix a period for discussion of the recommendations in the report.

The reports of NCSC depend majorly on quantitative data than qualitative ones. So, the commission should also undertake qualitative studies through social scientists and this would help people to understand societal issues like intra-group conflicts and contemporary social changes in a better manner. The NCSC publishes special reports very rarely. It needs to publish more special reports dealing with specific issues like education, non-employment, reservations, etc for a thorough analysis of each aspect of problem area relating to SC which would help to take quicker follow-up action.



[i]‘Social Inequality and Institutional Remedies: A study of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes’ (2010), Centre for policy research.

[ii]Ashish Tripathi, ‘Supreme Court notice to Centre on plea for appointment in SC/ST panels’ [2021] Deccan Herald <https://www.deccanherald.com/national/north-and-central/supreme-court-notice-to-centre-on-plea-for-appointment-in-sc/st-panels-936527.html > accessed 2 April 2021.

[iii]Supra Note i.

[iv]L C Jain, 'Emancipation of Scheduled Castes and Tribes: Some Suggestions' (1981) 16 Economic and Political Weekly 325, 331.

[v]Supra Note i.

[vi]‘4th Report’ (1998), National Commission for Scheduled Caste.

AUTHORED BY: KRITIKA PATNAIK

She is a first year law student from National Law University, Odisha. She has deep interest in researching and writing papers. She aspires of exploring her acquired legal knowledge as a corporate lawyer one day. Along with the corporate world, she has inclination towards LGBTQ and women rights. She is passionate about art, sports, and photography and was certified as an "All-Rounder" during her school times.


The article is written by Sneha Mahawar, a  law student at Ramaiah Institute of Legal Studies. The article discusses the important highlights and gives an overview of the Budget 2021-22. 

Introduction of Budget 

As per Article 112 of the Constitution of India, 1949, it requires the government to present to parliament a statement of estimated receipts and expenditure in respect of every financial year- 1st April to 31st March. In our Indian Constitution budget is written as an Annual Financial Statement. It is a spending plan formulated by the government mentioning their expenditure and revenue for a certain time period. 

However, in the general sense, budget is regarded as the amount of money or resources earmarked for a particular institution, activity, or time frame. It is an itemized summary of intended expenditure usually coupled with expected revenue. 

Important highlights of Budget 2021-22

  • On 1st February 2021, Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman presented in the Parliament the budget for 2021-22 the financial year starting from 1st April 2021 and ending on 31st March 2022. 

  • While presenting the Union Budget for 2021-22, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the Budget proposals for this financial year rest on six pillars- Health and Well-being, Physical and Financial Capital and Infrastructure, Inclusive Development for Aspirational India, Reinvigorating Human Capital, Innovation and R&D, and Minimum Government and Maximum Governance. 

  • Moreover, other significant announcements included a slew of hikes in customs duty to benefit Make in India, a proposal to disinvest two more PSBs and a general insurance company, and numerous infrastructure pledges to poll-bound States. The fiscal deficit stands at 9.5% of the GDP and is estimated to be 6.8% in 2021-22. Personal income tax slabs remain as it is.  

  • The budget seeks to reduce the compliance burden on senior citizens who are of 75 years of age and above. Such senior citizens having only pension and interest income will be exempted from filing their income tax returns.  

Six pillars of Budget 2021-22

  1. Health and Wellbeing 

  • In the budget 2021-22 the government announced that PM AatmaNirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana will be launched with an outlay of about Rs. 64,180 crore over 6 years. This will benefit in developing capacities of primary, secondary, and tertiary health care systems. 

  • The primary health care system deals with the health care system at the village level. 

  • The secondary health care system deals with the health care system of the city hospitals. 

  • The tertiary health care system deals with the health care system of the super-specialty hospital such as AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences). 

  • A provision was created of Rs. 35,000 crore for the covid-19 vaccine in Budget estimate 2021-22. 

  • The government will merge the Supplementary Nutrition Programme and Poshan Abhiyan and launch Mission POSHAN 2.0.  

  • Poshan Abhiyan targets to reduce stunting, undernutrition, anemia (among young children, women, and adolescent girls), and reduce low birth weight. 

  • Supplementary Nutrition Programme is a scheme under which infants were provided with supplementary nutrition. 

  • A Voluntary Vehicle Scrapping Policy was announced to phase out old and unfit vehicles. 

  • The Voluntary Vehicle Scrapping Policy is expected to increase the production and capacity utilisation of vehicles. 

  • The Voluntary Vehicle Scrapping Policy is seen as an attempt by the government to boost automobile demand. 

  • Fitness test has been proposed in automated fitness centres after 20 years in the case of personal vehicles, and after 15 years in the case of commercial vehicles. 

  1. Physical and Financial Capital and Infrastructure

Roads and Highways Infrastructure

  • More than 13,000 km length of roads, at a cost of Rs. 3.3 lakh crore, has already been awarded under the 5.35 lakh crore Bharatmala Pariyojna Project of which 38,000 km has been constructed. 

  • By March 2022, the government would be awarding another 8,500 km and complete an additional 11,000 km of national highway corridors. 

Railway Infrastructure 

  • Indian railways have prepared a National Rail Plan for India- 2030. 

  • The plan is to create a “future-ready” railway system by 2030. 

  • The core strategy to enable “Make in India” is to bring down the logistic costs for our industry. 

  • By June 2022, it is expected that Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) and Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) will be commissioned. 

  • Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) starts at Sahnewal (Ludhiana) in Punjab and ends at Dankuni in West Bengal. 

  • Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) is from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Mumbai, touching all major ports along the way.  

Urban Infrastructure 

  • The government announced that a new scheme will be launched at a cost of Rs. 18,000 crore to support the augmentation of public bus transport services. 

  • Two new technologies namely, MetroLite and MetroNeo will be deployed to provide metro rail systems at a much lesser cost with the same experience, convenience, and safety in Tier-2 cities and peripheral areas of Tier-1 cities.

Petroleum and Natural Gas increasing 


  • Following key initiatives are being announced:

  • Ujjwala Scheme is a scheme under which women under Below Poverty Line (BPL)are provided free LPG cylinders which have benefitted 8 crore households will be extended to cover 1 crore more beneficiaries. 

  • The government will add 100 more districts in the next 3 years to the City Gas Distribution network. 

  • A gas pipeline project will be taken up in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Increasing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Insurance Sector

  • It was proposed to amend the Insurance Act, 1938 to increase the permissible FDI limit from 49% to 74% and allow foreign ownership and control with safeguards. 

Disinvestment and Strategic Sale 

  • The Finance Minister said several transactions namely BPCL, Air India, Shipping Corporation of India, Container Corporation of India, IDBI Bank, BEML, Pawan Hans, Neelachallspat Nigam limited among others would be completed in 2021-22. (Disinvestment)

  • Other than IDBI Bank, Government proposes to take up the privatisation of two public sector banks and one general insurance company in the year 2021-22. 

  • In 2021-22, the government would also bring the IPO of LIC for which the requisite amendments will be made in the session itself. 

  1. Inclusive Development for Aspirational India

Agriculture 

  • The Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime has undergone a sea change to assure a price that is at least 1.5 times the cost of production across all commodities. 

  • To provide adequate credit to our farmers, the government has enhanced the agricultural credit target to Rs. 16.5 lakh crore in Fiscal Year 2022. 

  • To boost value addition in agriculture and allied products and their exports, the scope of ‘Operation Green Scheme’ that is presently applicable to tomatoes, onions, and potatoes (TOP), will be enlarged to include 22 perishable products. 

Migrant Workers and Labours 

  • The government has launched the One Nation One Ration Card scheme through which beneficiaries can claim their rations anywhere in the country. One Nation One Ration Card plan is under implementation by 32 states and union territories, reaching about 69 crore beneficiaries (86% beneficiaries covered). The remaining 4 states and union territories will be integrated in the next few years. 

  • Government proposes to conclude a process that began 20 years ago, with the implementation of the 4 labour codes. For the first time globally, social security benefits will extend to gig and platform workers. 

  1. Reinvigorating Human Capital

Education 

  • The Finance Minister said that the National Education Policy (NEP) announced recently has had good reception while adding that more than 15,000 schools will be qualitatively strengthened to include all components of the National Education Policy.

  • It was further announced that 100 new Sainik schools will be set up in partnership with NGO’s/private schools/states. 

  • For accessible higher education in Ladakh, the government proposed to set up a Central University in Leh. 

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Welfare 

  • The government has set a target of establishing 750 Eklavya model residential schools in tribal areas with an increase in the unit cost of each such school from Rs. 20 crore to Rs. 38 crore, and for hilly and difficult areas, to Rs. 48 crore. 

  1. Innovation and R&D

  • The government will undertake a new initiative- National Language Translation Mission (NLTM). This will enable the wealth of governance-and-policy-related knowledge on the internet to be made available in major Indian languages. 

  • The New Space India Limited (NSIL), a PSU under the department of space will execute the PSLV-CS51 launch, carrying the Amazonia Satellite from Brazil, along with a few smaller Indian satellites. 

  1. Minimum Government and Maximum Governance

  • The government announced that the forthcoming Census could be the first digital census in the history of India and for this monumental and milestone-marking task, Rs, 3,768 crores allocated in the year 2021-22. 

  • The Finance Minister has stated that the fiscal deficit is RE 2020-21 is pegged at 9.5% GDP.

  • The fiscal deficit in BE 2021-22 is estimated to be 6.8% of GDP.

  • The government plan to continue the path of fiscal consolidation and intend to reach a fiscal deficit level below 4.5% of GDP by 2025-26 with a fairly steady decline over the period. 

Conclusion 

Hence, budget 2021-22 covers various aspects such as health, sanitization, infrastructure, education, tax, economy, finance, agriculture, employment, etc. It also includes economic reform schemes, direct tax proposals, indirect tax proposals, etc. 

References