Here is today’s digest of important news articles!
Maharashtra Bill against social boycott by extra judicial bodies
The Maharashtra Prohibition of Social Boycott Bill was passed by the Maharashtra assembly. The Bill seeks to crack down on extra-judicial bodies such as caste and community panchayats. Maharashtra is the first state to have enacted such a law.
The Bill provides for prohibition of social boycott of a person or group of persons, by an individual or a group like caste panchayat. The provisions of the law define social boycott as a cognisable, but bailable offence, and provide for an imprisonment of up to three years or Rs. 1 lakh fine or both.
The legislation also had provisions for disbursing the fine amount to the victims and their rehabilitation.
A social boycott prohibition officer will also be appointed to prevent such incidents.In an exception, every rule framed for the implementation of this Act shall be approved by the legislature. As per the Bill, the victim or any member of the victim’s family may file a complaint either through the police or directly with a magistrate. To ensure speedy justice, the trial shall be completed within a period of six months from the date of filing of the charge sheet.
What is social boycott? – A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, as an expression of protest, usually for social or political reasons. It is usually done by self appointed caste panchayats. Caste panchayats are caste-specific juries of elders (i.e. endogamous social group) for a village or at a higher level in India. A village panchayat is distinct from a caste panchayat because the former, as a statutory body, serves all villagers regardless of caste, although it operates with the same principles.
What are the types of social boycott? – One kind is when a self-appointed panchayat of oneâ€™s own caste group calls for a boycott of an individual or family; another is when a village, across caste lines, chooses to shun someone living among them; a third kind is when one caste group targets another.
Is social boycott prevalent in India? – Social boycott through caste panchayats is common in many states of India. Recently in April 2016, 13 Dalit families from Osmanabad district of Maharashtra were boycotted by upper caste villagers after a statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar was desecrated and the Dalits filed a police complaint. The Dalits have been denied public water, access to grazing fields for cattle and even groceries in shops. Even though the boycott has been called off, the 13 families continue to live in fear.
Have there been laws for social boycott? – Sixty six years ago, when present-day Maharashtra and Gujarat were known as the Bombay province, the state had passed the Bombay Prevention of Excommunication Act, 1949. The focus of that law was to protect the civil, social and religious rights of those excommunicated by their own communities. The law, however, was short-lived. In 1962, after a prolonged legal battle, the Supreme Court declared the Act unconstitutional.
The Supreme court upheld excommunication as a legitimate practice of a community that had to be protected under Article 26 of the Constitution, which grants individuals the freedom to manage religious affairs.
Source: TheHindu, Scroll, Wikipedia
Chia as an alternative to Tobacco
Anti-tobacco activists are promoting the switch of tobacco farmers to other crops. One of the crop they have been supporting is the highly successful crop of Mexico, Chia. Chia is a high-energy grain of Mexican origin which has emerged as a â€˜super foodâ€™ because of its rich protein content.
Some farmers have already switched to Chia in India. The Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) played an important role in the endeavour. Itâ€™s time for the government to step in. If it offers the necessary help to expand Chia cultivation with infrastructure and marketing linkages, more farmers can embrace the crop, thereby fulfilling the commitment made by the country to reduce the extent of tobacco cultivation by 2020.
There needs to be support from agricultural and horticulture universities, including the University of Agricultural Sciences, to help them shift to alternative crops, including cotton, maize, cashew, banana, vegetables and cereals.
What are the benefits of Chia? – Chia is grown commercially for its seed, a food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, since the seeds yield 25â€“30% extractable oil, including Î±-linolenic acid.
A 100-gram serving of chia seeds is a rich source of the B vitamins, thiamine, and niacin and a good source of the B vitamins riboflavin and folate. The same amount of chia seeds is also a rich source of the dietary minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. It is also a good source of proteins.
Source: TheHindu, Wikipedia
HC upholds provision against foreign tax havens
The Madras high court upheld the Constitutional validity of Section 94A(1) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 which empowers the government to declare any country, with which it lacks effective exchange of information, a â€˜notified jurisdictional area.â€™ It thus dismissed certain writ petitions challenging the validity of the law.
The judges also refused to quash a notification issued by Central Board of Direct Taxes on November 1, 2013 declaring Cyprus a notified jurisdictional area irrespective of having entered into an â€˜Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital,â€™ with the Republic of Cyprus on December 21, 1994.
Stating that the 1994 agreement contained a specific provision for exchange of information about investments made by Cyprus-based companies in India and the source of investments, the judges said that a breach of that obligation had forced the Centre to declare Cyprus a notified jurisdictional area and demand tax from assesses transacting with individuals or companies in that country.
What is Double taxation treaty? – Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) also referred as Tax Treaty is a bilateral economic agreement between two nations that aims to avoid or eliminate double taxation of the same income in two countries.
These treaties benefit institutions and individuals who earn in countries other than their country of residence, provided such an arrangement exists between their country of residence and the country/countries where their income sources are.
The benefits of DTAA are lower withholding tax (tax deducted at source or TDS), exemption from tax, and credits for taxes paid on the doubly-taxed income that can be encashed at a later date.
India has DTAA with over 80 countries; it plans to sign such treaties with more countries. The major countries with which it has signed the DTAA are the US, the United Kingdom, the UAE, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and New Zealand.
The rules vary from treaty to treaty. For example, the tax treaty with Mauritius has zero tax for capital gains on equities, but that with the US taxes capital gains.
Source: TheHindu, Business Today
Anti-Dumping Duty on N-Butyl Alcohol
The government imposed anti-dumping duty on imports of Normal Butanol, or N-Butyl Alcohol from five countries, including the European Union, Malaysia, Singapore and the U.S. Normal Butanol is a chemical used in the fermentation of sugar.
The Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) in its investigation into the import of N-Butyl Alcohol from the five nations had on February 19 stated that â€œthe domestic industry continues to suffer material injury on account of dumped imports and it is necessary to recommend imposition of anti-dumping duty on imports of subject goods from the subject countriesâ€.
The anti-dumping duty imposed under the notification shall be effective for five years.
Who investigates anti-dumping activity in India? – The designated authority in the Directorate General of Anti dumping & allied duties, Ministry of Commerce and Industry initiates necessary action for investigations and subsequent imposition of antidumping duties; when there is sufficient evidence that dumped imports are causing or are threatening to cause material injury to the Indian industry producing like articles or are materially retarding the establishment of industry.
The Directorate is responsible for carrying out investigations and recommending, where required, under the Customs Tariff Act, the amount of anti-dumping duty/countervailing duty on the identified articles as would be adequate to remove injury to the domestic industry.
Source: TheHindu, Ministry of Commerce
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