Engaging with Human Rights Law :-
World Justice Project :-
It released its Rule of Law Index 2017-18 report, which measures the extent to which 113 countries have adhered to the rule of law in that period.
- India’s rank was 62, better than China, Pakistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh; Denmark occupied the top spot.
- Every country’s performance was assessed in eight areas, including fundamental rights, which is measured by :-
– absence of discrimination
– right to life and security
– due process
– freedom of expression and religion
– right to privacy
– freedom of association
– labour rights
- The survey found that 71 out of the 113 countries have dropped in score.
- This report indicates the serious erosion of international human rights law in recent times.
Violation of Human Rights across the world :-
- In Turkey and China, the assault on civil liberties and freedoms has intensified.
- There is increasing hostility towards civil society organisations and hardening of attitudes towards minorities in Poland and Hungary.
- The human rights of refugees are routinely negated, including in Australia and the U.S.
- The rise of majoritarian attitudes, hate speech and hate crimes is a growing concern, including in India.
- Mass atrocities (genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity) are or have been committed in Iraq, Myanmar, Central African Republic, and Burundi.
- It is not just the erosion of human rights but the normalisation of it that is of concern.
Adoption of UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) :-
- The Second World War and the horrors of the Holocaust were the impetus for the adoption of the UDHR, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.
- The ideals of justice, equality, and human rights for all, enshrined in the UDHR and other international treaties, are the building blocks of international human rights law.
- The articulation of fundamental rights and freedoms, their implementation, and accountability for violations is a continued process for human rights.
Efforts in the international arena for inclusion of human rights provisions :-
- Treaty bodies assess states’ obligations to incorporate these norms into national laws, review compliance, including with main human rights treatises, and provide recommendations.
- Regional and supranational courts such as the Inter-American, African and European courts of human rights oversee the fulfilment of obligations of regional treaties.
- International and mixed judicial tribunals have been established to provide justice in mass atrocities, culminating in the establishment of the International Criminal Court.
Reduced engagement :-
However, in many instances, engagement with these mechanisms has reduced.
- The Philippines, for instance, imposed conditions on the UN Special Rapporteur who was to investigate the alleged extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers since President Rodrigo Duterte took office.
- In Myanmar, the UN Special Rapporteur who was to investigate the claims of persecution against the Rohingya was denied all access to the country.
Effective engagement with international human rights law is necessary in an era where rights are increasingly being stifled in many countries.
For Better Books :-
Companies Act :-
- One of the criticisms of the Companies Act, 1956 was that it was too soft on companies that did not follow its detailed provisions.
- Multiple amendments were proposed to the Act but none were implemented till 2013.
- Once the Satyam and Sahara sagas took place, the Companies Act 2013 was implemented more as a reaction to these scams than as a well-thought of piece of legislation.
- One of the provisions in the Companies Act that was not implemented was the proposal to set up a National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) — an authority to prescribe accounting standards and oversee companies and their auditors.
- Recently — and as a reaction to scam of Punjab National Bank — the Government approved the setting up of NFRA to prescribe accounting standards, oversee listed companies, large companies and their auditors.
NFRA – National Financial Reporting Authority :-
NFRA appears to be a combination of two bodies that are already existing and going about their business —
- National Advisory Committee of Accounting Standards (NACAS) :-
The NACAS has done its job of prescribing accounting standards pretty well.
- Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO) :-
==> It is a multi-disciplinary organisation under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, consisting of experts in accountancy, forensic auditing, law, information technology, investigation, company law, capital market and taxation, for detecting and prosecuting or recommending for prosecution white collar crimes/frauds.
==> The SFIO has investigated 312 frauds pertaining to the last 13 or so financial years, of which 186 pertain to 2014-2017 and of which 87 pertain to 2016-17.
==> If both SFIO and NFRA exists together, they could be competing to prosecute the same cases.
Flaws of ICAI – Institute of Chartered Accountants of India :-
- Set up under Chartered Account Act, 1949.
- It has played its role of being an educational institution to perfection but it neither had the powers nor showed the intensity to pass prosecutory orders on its members.
- Its structure of a large Council, multiple committees and bosses with tenures of only a year is obviously not working.
ICAI & NFRA should be partner because :-
- Considering the wealth of financial information on companies in its possession and past cases of misconduct by its members, the ICAI can guide NFRA as it goes about its business.
- While playing its role as a policing body for accountants, NFRA officials can also enter accountants’ offices and check their records & ICAI can take this opportunity to educate its members on best-in-class documenting practices.
- NFRA need not commence its work on accounting standards and regulating professionals de novo — it should simply partner with the ICAI for this.