Controlling Matrimonial sites that promote dowry
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked Maharashtra how it proposed to regulate matrimonial websites which openly sought dowry.
A Public Interest Litigation sought that although the Dowry Prohibition Act came into effect in 1961, the State had done little to control the dowry menace, and urged the court to inquire into the â€œmushrooming illegal business of marriage brokers and marriage service providers.â€
Websites – The PIL also points out to advertisements appearing on matrimonial sites seeking dowry, directly violating the law.
Marriage Bureaus – The court also noted that the regulation of marriage bureaus had been left by the State to ward officers of municipal corporations. These officers were already overburdened and were not in a position to discharge their duties under the Maharashtra Regulation of Marriage Bureaus and Registration of Marriages Act, 1998.
Newspaper Advertisement – On newspaper advertisements that indicated demand for dowry, the court directed the State to bring to the notice of newspapers relevant Sections of the law, which prescribe a minimum imprisonment of six months for printing, publishing or circulating any such advertisement, and then take steps to prosecute the violators.
What is the Dowry Â Prohibition Act? – The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 consolidated the anti-dowry laws which had been passed on certain states.This legislation provides for a penalty in section 3 if any person gives, takes or abets giving or receiving of dowry. The punishment could be imprisonment for a term not less than 5 years and a fine not less than â‚¹15,000 or the value of the dowry received, whichever is higher.Dowry in the Act is defined as any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given in connection with the marriage.The penalty for giving or taking dowry is not applicable in case of presents which are given at the time of marriage without any demand having been made.
Source: TheHindu, Wikipedia
President Rule in Uttarakhand
Presidentâ€™s rule has been imposed in Uttarakhand a day before the current government was supposed to face the floor test in the assembly.
The cabinet cited constitutional breakdown after Â there was a disagreement over passage of Finance Bill by a voice vote. However, the Congress party questioned the move, with its spokesperson Manish Tewari citing the Bommai case judgment of 1994, which states that the legitimacy of a government has to be established in the Assembly.
What does the Bommai judgement say? – S. R. Bommai v. Union of India was a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court of India, where the Court discussed at length provisions of Article 356 of the Constitution of India and related issues. This case had huge impact on Centre-State Relations.
The SC laid down certain guidelines so as to prevent the misuse of A356 of the constitution.
1) The court cannot question the advice tendered by the CoMs to the President but it can question the material behind the satisfaction of the President. Hence, Judicial Review will involve three questions only:
a) Is there any material behind the proclamation
b) Is the material relevant.
c) Was there any mala fide use of power.
2) Centre should give a warning to the state and a time period of one week to reply.
3) The majority enjoyed by the Council of Ministers shall be tested on the floor of the House.
4) If there is improper use of A356 then the court will provide remedy.
5) Under Article 356(3) it is the limitation on the powers of the President. Hence, the president shall not take any irreversible action until the proclamation is approved by the Parliament i.e. he shall not dissolve the assembly.
6) A356 is justified only when there is a breakdown of constitutional machinery and not administrative machinery
Source: TheHindu, Wikipedia
CAG Report cannot be sole basis for action says Karnataka HC
A CAG report of 2013 had said that State-owned Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd. (KPCL) had paid Rs. 52.37 crore in excess to Kolkata-based EMTA Coal Ltd. and Karnataka EMTA Coal Mines Ltd without deducting the price for 8.28 lakh tonnes of coal rejects out of the total production of coal from one of the KPCLâ€™s open-cast mines during 2008-12.
CBI had prepared a case against the officials of state KPCL, EMTA and KEMTA.
The HC cited the Supreme Courtâ€™s verdict, in Arun Kumar Agarwal vs. Union of India 2013, which had held that reliefs cannot be granted merely based on CAG reports as they are subject to Parliamentary debates and scrutiny before being accepted or rejected.
What are the auditing powers of CAG? – The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is an authority, established by the Constitution who audits all receipts and expenditure of the Government of India and the state governments, including those of bodies and authorities substantially financed by the government.
The reports of the CAG are taken into consideration by the Public Accounts Committees (PACs) and Committees on Public Undertakings (COPUs), which are special committees in the Parliament of India and the state legislatures. The CAG is also the head of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department, the affairs of which are managed by officers of Indian Audit and Accounts Service.
In a path-breaking judgement, the Supreme Court of India ruled that the CAG General could audit private firms in revenue-share deals with government.
CAG has been appointed as external auditor of three major UN organisations: the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and World Food Programme (WFP).
India to appeal solar case verdict at WTO
The Indian government said that it will appeal against the World Trade Organisationâ€™s (WTO) verdict over its policy relating to solar power equipment.
India had, as part of its National Solar Mission, imposed a stipulation that solar cells and solar modules be locally sourced. The U.S. had filed a case against India at the WTO demanding a level-playing field for Indian and foreign solar component manufacturers. The world body ruled in favour of the U.S.
Power Minister Piyush Goyal said that India was examining the situation in the U.S. where nine states had similar programmes to protect their domestic manufacturers.
What is the dispute resolution process at WTO? – Settling disputes is the responsibility of the Dispute Settlement Body (the General Council in another guise), which consists of all WTO members. The Dispute Settlement Body has the sole authority to establish â€œpanelsâ€ of experts to consider the case, and to accept or reject the panelsâ€™ findings or the results of an appeal. It monitors the implementation of the rulings and recommendations, and has the power to authorize retaliation when a country does not comply with a ruling.
Either side can appeal a panelâ€™s ruling. Sometimes both sides do so. Appeals have to be based on points of law such as legal interpretation â€” they cannot reexamine existing evidence or examine new issues.
Each appeal is heard by three members of a permanent seven-member Appellate Body set up by the Dispute Settlement Body and broadly representing the range of WTO membership. Members of the Appellate Body have four-year terms. They have to be individuals with recognized standing in the field of law and international trade, not affiliated with any government.
The appeal can uphold, modify or reverse the panelâ€™s legal findings and conclusions. Normally appeals should not last more than 60 days, with an absolute maximum of 90 days.
The Dispute Settlement Body has to accept or reject the appeals report within 30 days â€” and rejection is only possible by consensus.
Source: TheHindu, WTO.org
A law for helpful Bystanders
The Karnataka government has taken the decision to frame a â€˜Good Samaritan lawâ€™ to encourage people to offer assistance without the fear of any criminal or civil liability. The governments of other States and Union Territories such as Rajasthan and Delhi are also in the process of drafting similar Bills in the absence of a national legislation.
In October 2014 the Supreme Court directed the Union government to frame guidelines for the protection of â€˜Good Samaritansâ€™, or helpful bystanders, and a Standard Operating Procedure to make them work. The Union Road Transport Ministry notified the guidelines in May 2015, and followed it up with a Standard Operating Procedure in January 2016.
What is the Standard Operating Procedure(SOP)? – The SOP says no such person must be asked to reveal personal details including full name, address and phone number unless he/she volunteers to become an eye-witness.
The SOP also specifies that in case a good samaritan chooses to visit the police station, he shall be examined in a single sitting in a “reasonable and time-bound manner”. Even it will be the responsibility of the investigating officer (IO) to arrange for an interpreter to interact with a ‘good samaritan’, if he speaks a language that the IO can’t understand.
State governments may also institute a system of reward and compensation to encourage more bystanders to be Good Samaritans, and initiate action against officials or police personnel violating these guidelines.
What will be the benefit? – Annually 1.4 lakh die in road crashes in India and government reports suggest that at least 50% of the fatalities can be averted if the victims are admitted to a hospital within the first one hour of a crash, called the golden hour’. A World Health Organization report has also pointed out that only between 11% and 49% of seriously injured victims in India are taken to hospital by ambulance.
Source: TheHindu, TimesofIndia
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