Highlights of the Bill: The bill provides for the grant of constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) on par with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. Powers of the President: It states that the President may specify the socially and educationally backward classes in the various states and union territories. He may do this in consultation with the Governor of the concerned state.
The duties of the NCBC include investigating and monitoring how safeguards provided to the backward classes under the Constitution and other laws are being implemented and probe specific complaints regarding violation of rights.
Report: The NCBC will be required to present annual reports to the President on working of the safeguards for backward classes. These reports will be tabled in Parliament, and in the state legislative assemblies of the concerned states.
Powers of a civil court: Under the Constitution Amendment Bill, the NCBC will have the powers of a civil court while investigating or inquiring into any complaints. These powers include: (i) summoning people and examining them on oath, (ii) requiring production of any document or public record, and (iii) receiving evidence.
Present status of NCBC: The Supreme Court, in its final verdict in the Indira Sawhney (Mandal Commission) case, had directed the establishment of the NCBC as a statutory body. Based on this, a law was passed in 1993 to set up the commission. The NCBC has been examining cases for inclusion in the BC lists for the Central government since then.
Concerns: A widely welcomed move to grant constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) has also brought with it a whiff of controversy over whether it amounts to encroaching on the domain of the States. Several Opposition parties, which in general welcome the grant of constitutional status to the BC Commission, have said the Bill, if enacted, would undermine federalism, as it amounts to usurping the power of State governments to prepare their own BC lists. The Centre has sought to allay these fears, saying the powers of the States would remain unaffected. In any case, the list for every State will be prepared only in consultation with the State government.
What’s the issue? The Act provides that the Central government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the respective High Courts, will establish special courts through notification. Such courts are to be constituted to ensure that the trials are conducted “as expeditiously as possible”. However, the required special courts have not been set up yet. Therefore, despite the fact that investigations in almost 100 cases have been completed by the I-T Department in different States, including confirmation of attachment of properties by the Adjudicating Authority, the prosecution of accused persons has not started.
About the Benami Act: The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016, designed to curb black money and passed by parliament in August, came into effect on November 1, 2016. The new law amends the 1988 Benami Transactions Act.
Highlights of the Act: The law provides for up to seven years’ imprisonment and fine for those indulging in such transactions. The law prohibits recovery of the property held benami from benamdar by the real owner. As per the Act, properties held benami are liable for confiscation by the government, without payment of compensation. An appellate mechanism has been provided under the act, in the form of an adjudicating authority and appellate tribunal. According to the government, the four authorities who will conduct inquiries or investigations are the Initiating Officer, Approving Authority, Administrator and Adjudicating Authority.
What is benami transaction? A benami transaction is one where a property is held by one person and the amount for it is paid by another person. Therefore, in a benami transaction, the name of the person who paid the money is not mentioned. Directly or indirectly, the benami transaction is done to benefit the one who pays.
About Ballistic Missile Interceptor AAD: It is an endo-atmospheric missile, capable of intercepting incoming targets at an altitude of 15 to 25 kms.
Indigenously developed by DRDO, the AAD interceptor is a single-stage missile powered by solid propellants.
It has been developed as part of indegenous efforts to have multi-layer ballistic missile defence system, capable of destroying incoming hostile ballistic missiles. It is 7.5 metres tall and weighs around 1.2 tonnes.
The interceptor missile has its own mobile launcher, secure data link for interception, independent tracking and homing capabilities and sophisticated radars.
The Ministry under the chairpersonship of Smt. Rashmi Verma, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism convened a ‘Preparatory Meeting’ with representatives from Central Ministries, States/UTs and other stakeholders to plan and formulate the Paryatan Parv in New Delhi today. The Parv is being organized with the objective of drawing focus on the benefits of tourism, showcasing the cultural diversity of the country and reinforcing the principle of “Tourism for All”.
The Secretary while addressing the meeting, informed that the Paryatan Parv will have three main components as like last year, viz. Dekho Apna Desh, Tourism for All and Tourism & Governance. While stressing that this year also Paryatan Parv shall focus on domestic tourists especially to sensitize youth, the Secretary said that India has a huge variety of destinations many of which are yet to be promoted.
The secretary therefore has asked the states to focus on prime tourist destinations to focus and promote such locations through this Paryatan Parv. Smt. Verma also added that the Tourism sector contributes in a big way to the country’s economy with generation of employment to youth, women and also for the rural livelihood. Therefore, the programmes should have a festive look and encourage maximum possible participation of the people, she added.
The Paryatan Parv will start with the India Tourism Mart 2018 (16th – 18th September 2018), which will further ensure wide participation from outside the country.
The Paryatan Parv shall conclude with the World Tourism Day celebrations on 27th September 2018. Partners in the events include the State Governments who will organize cultural and other tourism related events, workshops and seminars at the identified sites as well at other destinations and locations in their States.