Senior Citizen Draft Bill 2018 – Bill Proposes six month jail for abusing, abandoning elderly Parents :-
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has drafted the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Draft Bill, 2018, that will amend the 2007 version of the legislation to expand its scope and provide for more stringent penalties. The Centre has proposed to enhance the jail term for those found abandoning or abusing their parents, 60 years or older, to six months from the existing three months.
Under the Draft Bill :-
- The Bill also expands the definition of children, which currently refers to only biological children and grandchildren, to include daughter-in-law and son-in-law and also adopted/step-children.
- It also extends the definition of maintenance beyond provision of food, clothing, housing, health care to include “safety and security” of the parent.
- Senior citizens can also approach a Maintenance Tribunal in case their children neglect or refuse to maintain them. In such cases, the draft Bill states that the Tribunal can order the children or, in case the person is childless, the relative to pay a monthly maintenance to the senior citizen. The amount would be decided by taking into account the standard of living of the senior citizen and the financial situation of both the parties.
- The Act currently provides an upper limit of Rs 10,000 per month as maintenance amount. Official sources said the Bill proposes to make this amount variable as people who earn more, can afford to shell out a higher amount for the upkeep of their parents.
- The Bill also introduces a punitive measure of up to one month imprisonment in case the monthly allowance remains unpaid.
- The official added that the Bill, if passed, will require the government to establish and run at least one Senior Citizen Care Home in every district in the country.
- Currently, various government and private schemes for insurance/health, housing and travel, have varied cut-off age for offering benefits meant for senior citizens. The Bill mandates the uniform age across schemes should be 60 years.
- Moreover, it states that if parents transfer property to their children on the condition that they take care of them, and this clause is breached, the transfer of property will be deemed to be “made by fraud or coercion or under undue influence” and a tribunal can order it to be transferred back to the parent.
MP Panel Reports are Public Papers :-
A five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Wednesday unanimously held that admission of published parliamentary standing committee reports as evidence in court did not amount to breach of parliamentary privilege.
Chief Justice Misra, in an opinion for himself and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, said, “Parliamentary committee systems have emerged as a creative way of parliaments to perform their basic functions. They serve as the focal point for legislation and oversight.”
In his lead opinion, he observed that a parliamentary standing committee report being in the public domain was a public document.
They held the “delicate balance”, prescribed under the Doctrine of Separation of Powers, between the legislature and the judiciary would not be upset if the court took on record a published parliamentary report and examined its contents to better understand and resolve a social evil.
The Attorney-General had objected to the judicial review of parliamentary committee reports.
- The judgments came on a petition filed by Kalpana Mehta about the justifiability of the action taken by the Drugs Controller-General of India and the Indian Council of Medical Research on the approval of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Asia and MSD Pharmaceuticals for preventing cervical cancer in women.
- The experimentation of the vaccine was done as immunisation by Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh (before bifurcation) with the help of PATH International.
- Ms. Mehta, represented by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, highlighted the untimely deaths and grant of compensation following the experiment of the vaccine on young girls who had not reached the age of majority without the consent of their parents/guardians.
- The petitioner relied on the 81st Parliamentary Standing Committee report of 2014, which concluded that the vaccine experiment was a “serious breach of medical ethics.”
The question of law whether the Supreme Court can admit parliamentary committee reports was referred to the Constitution Bench in April 2017.
SC has power to review laws :-
The judiciary has the power to ensure that both the government and Parliament function within their limits, the Supreme Court reinforced its authority to judicially review government policies and parliamentary laws.
Issue :- The judgment comes amidst constant attacks aimed at the highest court for judicial activism, interference in governmental actions and even its quashing of the NJAC law.
The government had countered that a judicial review of parliamentary panel reports would be a breach of parliamentary privilege and a violation of the doctrine of separation of powers, which fundamentally mandates that the three arms of governance — the legislature, the executive and the judiciary — do not encroach into each other’s turfs.
- The Chief Justice wrote that ‘separation of powers’ does not mean mere division of labour among the three branches. “There can really be no strait-jacket approach in the sphere of separation of powers when issues involve democracy, the essential morality that flows from the Constitution, interest of the citizens in certain spheres like environment, sustenance of social interest, etc. and empowering the populace with the right to information or right to know in matters relating to candidates contesting election.”
- Justice Chandrachud interpreted that the “doctrine of separation of powers also seeks to incorporate mutual supervision, interdependence and coordination because the ultimate aim of the different branches of the government, through their distinct functions, is to ensure good governance ”.
Only 20 percent of funds spent on Clean Ganga Mission till March :-
Only about a fifth of the Rs. 20,000 crore allotted for the National Clean Ganga Mission (NCGM) has been utilised till March 2018. Amid complaints that the government’s marquee Ganga-cleaning exercise was dawdling, Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari had promised, in October 2017, a “visible change” in the Ganga water quality by 2019.
A financial account from the NCGM says that as of March 2018, Rs. 20,601 crore had been sanctioned for 193 projects. So far, only Rs. 4,254 crore had actually been spent on their implementation.
Sewage infrastructure :-
- About half the money, or Rs. 2,814 crore, had been spent on establishing sewage infrastructure.
- Only 24 of the 65 ‘entry-level’ projects — meant for cleaning the ghats and establishing new ones and cleaning the river front and the river surface — had been completed. They had been allotted Rs. 492 crore.
- About 12,000 MLD of sewage is emptied into the Ganga across 11 States, from Uttarakhand to West Bengal. At present, the capacity for sewage treatment is just 4,000 MLD but only 1,000 MLD is functional.
About Ganga :-
- Coursing 2,500 km, the Ganga is the longest river within India’s borders.
- Its basin constitutes 26% of the country’s land mass (8,61,404 sq. km.) and supports 43% of its population.
- Even as the basin spreads across 11 States, five are located along the river’s main stem: Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal.
Pollution in Ganga :-
- Much of its pollution load — chemical effluents, sewage, dead bodies, and excreta — comes from these five States.
- Though the industrial pollution, volume-wise, accounts for about 20%, its toxic and non-biodegradable nature has a disproportionate impact.
- The industrial pollutants largely emanate from tanneries in Kanpur and distilleries, paper mills and sugar mills in the Kosi, Ramganga and Kali river catchments.
- The municipal sewage, at a billion litres a day, accounts for 80% of the pollution load.
India to face impact of US Decision on Iran
:-After US pulls out of Iran Nuclear Deal and imposes sanctions on Iran again. India is going to face the impact of the U.S. decision in certain ways.
Oil prices :-
- Iran is India’s third biggest supplier (after Iraq and Saudi Arabia) of crude oil, and any increase in prices will hit both inflation levels and the rupee, which slumped to $67.48 after the decision was announced.
- After Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to New Delhi in February, India committed itself to increasing its oil imports from Iran, which were expected to double to about 3,96,000 bpd (barrels per day) in 2018-19 from about 2,05,000 bpd in 2017-18.
Chabahar port :-
- India’s moves over the past few years to develop berths at the Shahid Beheshti Port in Chabahar was a key part of its plans to circumvent Pakistan’s blocks on trade with Afghanistan, and the new U.S. sanctions could slow or even bring those plans to a halt.
- India has already committed about $85 million with plans for a total of $500 million on the port.
- India is a founder member of the 18-year-old International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) that starts from Iran and aims to cut right across Central Asia to Russia over a 7,200-km multi-mode network. Plans for INSTC gathered momentum after the JCPOA was signed in 2015 and sanctions on Iran were lifted.
- New U.S. sanctions will add to possible sanctions from the U.S.’s new CAATSA law of January 2018, that threatens strictures on countries doing military trade with the U.S.’s “adversaries”: Russia, North Korea and Iran.
SCO membership :-
- India joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation last year, and will be formally admitted in June.
- This year, Chinese officials say they will consider inducting Iran into the eight-member Eurasian security organisation. If the proposal is accepted, India will become a member of a bloc that will be seen as anti-American.
Rules-based order :-
India has long been a proponent of a “rules-based order” that depends on multilateral consensus and an adherence to commitments made by countries on the international stage, that the Trump administration has breached by walking out of the JCPOA, as well as earlier from the Climate Change agreement. New Delhi will have to consider a new understanding of its ties with Washington in this context.
FinCom sets up Expert Committee to advise on ToR :-
The 15th Finance Commission set up an expert committee which will advise it on matters related to the Terms of Reference (ToR) that have come under attack from some non-BJP ruled states such as Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
About Advisory Committee :-
- The panel will advise the Commission on any issue or subject related to the ToR and provide assistance in the preparation of any paper or research study which would enhance the Commission’s understanding on the issues containing in its ToR.
- The committee will also help in broadening the Commission’s “ambit and understanding” to seek best national and international practices on matters pertaining to fiscal devolution and improving the quality and reach and enforcement of its recommendations.
- Members of the panel :-
Arvind Virmani, former Chief Economic Advisor
Surjit S Bhalla, Part-time Member of PMEAC
Sanjeev Gupta, a former IMF deputy director
Pinaki Chakraborty, Professor (NIPFP)
Sajjid Chinoy of JP Morgan and Neelkanth Mishra of Credit Suisse India
Criticism over ToR :- Some southern states have criticised the ToR saying progressive states would lose revenue if 2011 census was taken as base for devolution of central funds.
- Opposing the ToR of the Commission, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu at a recent meeting in Amaravati said that progressive states would lose heavily if the 2011 census was taken as the basis for devolution of central funds.
- Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra and others attended the conclave.
- Last month, Kerala had hosted a conference of finance ministers of various states to discuss issues of common concern with respect to the commission.