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MAINS QA 08-06-2018

Q1. Write a critical note on the objectives and provisions of the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2017. (150 Words)

Negotiable instruments (Amendment)bill 2017:-

  • In a move to prevent unscrupulous elements from holding back payment through litigation in cheque bounce cases, the government has come up with a series of amendments to the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.
  • The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced in Lok Sabha on January 2, 2018.  It seeks to amend the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.  The Act defines promissory notes, bills of exchange, and cheques.  It also specifies penalties for bouncing of cheques, and other violations with respect to such negotiable instruments.
  • Interim compensation: 
    • The Bill inserts a provision allowing a court trying an offence related to cheque bouncing, to direct the drawer (person who writes the cheque) to pay interim compensation to the complainant.
    • This interim compensation may be paid under certain circumstances, including where the drawer pleads not guilty of the accusation.
    • The interim compensation will not exceed 20% of the cheque amount, and will have to be paid by the drawer within 60 days of the trial court’s order to pay such a compensation.
  • Deposit in case of appeal: 
    • The Bill inserts a provision specifying that if a drawer convicted in a cheque bouncing case files an appeal, the appellate court may direct him to deposit a minimum of 20% of the fine or compensation awarded by the trial court during conviction.
    • This amount will be in addition to any interim compensation paid by the drawer during the earlier trial proceedings.
  • Returning the interim compensation:
    • In case the drawer is acquitted (during trial or by the appellate court), the court will direct the complainant to return the interim compensation (or deposit in case of an appeal case), along with an interest.  This amount will be repaid within 60 days of the court’s order

Advantages:-

  • To discourage frivolous and unnecessary litigation which would save time and money.
  • The proposed amendments will strengthen the credibility of cheques as a financial instrument.
  • This  is being done to help trade and commerce, particularly the MSME sector
  • The move follows representations from the public and the trading community regarding the injustice caused to payees as a result of pendency of cheque dishonour case
  • Amendments in the Act will have implications for over 18 lakh cheque bounce cases pending in various courts
  • promote less-cash economy

Concerns:-

  • Judiciary is already suffering with huge pendency of cases.
  • The aggrieved person is at a disadvantage as he has to bear all the charges and fight the case
  • The 20% threshold mentioned in the bill may be detrimental for the people who is not involved in the cheque bouncing deliberately.

 

Q2.Should MPs and MLAs be barred from practising law? Discuss the issues involved.

 

Introduction :-

  • Recently public interest litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court to ban public servants, elected representatives and members of judiciary from simultaneously practicing other professions and declare it as criminal misconduct.

 

Yes,they should be barred :-

  • According toRule 49 of the Bar Council of India any full-time salaried employee, whether he or she belongs to a corporation, private firm, or the government, cannot practise as a lawyer before a court of law.
  • The work of a MP/MLA and lawyer is afull-time activity. MP/MLA ‘s are full-time members of Parliament and Assemblies. They have to take part in the proceedings of the House, meet people in their constituencies, and address people’s issues. So dual jobs is not justified.
    • Haniraj Chulani vs. Bar Council of Maharashtra – Legal profession requires full time attention
  • MPs and MLAs who are practising lawyers take a fee from the petitioner and get their salary from the respondent which is the Central or State government.This is professional misconduct, as they end up enjoying the benefits of both.
  • There is also aconflict of interest as MPs and MLAs have the power to initiate impeachment proceedings against a judge which means that they can pressurise the judge to give a favourable verdict when they plead before him or her in a case.
  • This is a violation of Articles 14, 15, and 21 which deal with the right to equality, prohibition of discrimination, and protection of life and personal liberty

They need not be barred:-

  • There is no merit in a petition to ban legislators from practising other professions, especially law as there are doctors who became IAS officials and engineers who are diplomats
  • Good knowledge of law will help elected representatives for good law making.

What can be done ?

  • There is a need for a uniform policy relating to conflict of interest for public servants, people representatives and members of judiciary in spirit of Article 14 of the Constitution and declare the conflict of interest as the criminal misconduct.
  • There is also need to define the key roles and responsibilities of the people representatives and public servants to make the Indian democracy more transparent and effective in spirit of Preamble of the Constitution of India.

 

Q3. What are the Current provisions on public stockholding in WTO ?

 

  • The WTO rules classified the expenditure on stockholding and distribution underGreen Box support, which is deemed to be a minimal trade-distorting support. All the WTO members are eligible to provide unlimited support under this box.
  • Procurement of foodgrains at the administered price is classified asAmber Box support, which is a trade-distorting support under the provisions of the AoA.
  • Special and differential treatmentfor developing countries as well as non-trade concerns, including food security and rural development, shall be an integral part of the negotiations.
  • Under the WTO rules,developing countries such as India need to limit their public procurement of foodgrains such as wheat and rice to within 10% of the value of the crop.
    • After India enacted the National Food Security Act, 2013, which aimed to provide subsidized foodgrains to approximately two-thirds of its 1.3 billion population, the demand for public procurement increased significantly.
  • At the Bali ministerial conference in 2013, India secured a so-called “peace clause”. Under it, if India breaches the 10% limit, other member countries will not take legal action under the WTO dispute settlement mechanism. However, there was confusion over whether the temporary reprieve would continue after four years.
  • In 2014, WTO decided that if a permanent solution on the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes is not agreed and adopted by the 11th Ministerial Conference, the Peace Clause shall continue to be in place until a permanent solution is agreed upon and adopted.

Limitations :-

  • Thestrong opposition of the United States (US) extinguished all chances of a permanent solution.
  • Developed country members are not constrained by the de minimis limit due to AMS entitlement.
    • Developed countries provide huge support to the farmers but provisions of the WTO come in the way of developing countries to provide food security to their poor who are vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition.
    • For instance, product-specific support for the procurement of rice at the MSP by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) is capped at 10% of the value of production of rice during the relevant year.
  • Developing countries:-
    • Existing rules of the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) to implement agricultural and food security policies threaten the food security for millions of poor people and hinder the achievement of Goal 2 of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nation
    • Developing countries are facing difficulties in procuring foodgrains at the administered prices without breaching their commitments under the AoA. Without the procurement at the administered price, providing food security to the poor will be a daunting task.
      • The US–China dispute (in 2016) on the domestic support policy of China is a prime example of the limited policy space for developing countries (WTO 2016).
    • What tilts the AoA further against the developing countries is the requirement that the subsidy for procurement of food stocks should be calculated on the basis of world prices prevailing during 1986–88.
    • Some members of the WTO objects to developing countries implementing food security programmes tailored to meet their needs when US is implementing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Peace clause:-
    • Divergent views of member countries on peace clause as reflected in various proposals submitted to the WTO.
    • Many developing country and LDC members would not be able to comply with the conditions of the Peace Clause, and their programmes could be subject to dispute.
      • For instance, the price support programme for rice in Nepal will not be covered by the Peace Clause as it came after the Bali Ministerial Decision.
    • Public procurement for any new food programme of the government for food security purposes will not benefit from theindefinite peace clause as the concession is limited to the programmes running in 2013.
      • The concession also comes with onerous notification obligations about farm subsidies provided in the previous year.
      • So far only eight countries out of 184 WTO members have notified their farm subsidies till the last year.
    • The onerous notification conditions make the peace clause unimplementable for India.

 

Suggestions:-

  • India along with China is also seeking a work programme for elimination of trade distorting agriculture subsidies provided by developed countries known as aggregate measurement of support which is not available to developing countries.
  • India also sought more transparency in negotiations and has opposed attempts to take decisions in small groups at the MC11 drawing from its sour experience from the Nairobi ministerial in 2015.

 

Q4. Self-regulation is more desirable compared to statutory regulation for the media. Discuss.

  • The state of broadcast journalism, irresponsible behaviour of the fourth estate were prime-time broadcasts over the last couple of years ,instances of victim blaming, trial by media, and scant respect for facts shows the sorry state of media in India at present.
  • The Indian media have grown rapidly in scale, reach, influence, and revenues. The ethical underpinning of professional journalism in the country has weakened and that the corrosion of public life in India has impacted journalism.

Self regulation is needed:-

  • Self-regulation goes beyond the statutory arrangement by having a mechanism for continuous reflection on the craft of journalism.
    • This ensures fairness and accuracy in reportage .
    • It also actively provides a platform for both readers and journalists to wrestle with a range of dilemmas.
    • A newspaper does not just provide credible information but inquisitiveness, reading pleasure and visual experience are of equal importance.
    • No statutory framework can address all these elements.
  • In India, legal regulation in the form of a statutory body like Press council of India has not served the purpose for which it was constituted.
    • It has not been able to ensure press freedom, evidenced by frequent attacks on the press from various quarters
    • It has not been able to keep an effective check on the malpractices in the media, evidenced by inaction on several complaints of inaccurate information and paid news against some newspapers.
    • It has no way of imposing punishments or enforcing its directions for professional or ethical violations.
  • The press in the UK has been governed by self-regulation for the last five decades.  The Press complaints commission has been functioning as an independent body administering the system of self-regulation for the press.
  • Censorship of news by government is not possible when self regulation is there and media is free to express.

Self regulation is not the solution:-

  • Collective self-regulationhas failed because it is neither universal nor enforceable. Individual self-regulation has also failed due to personal predilections and the prevailing of personal interest over public interest.
  • There is a possibility of self regulating body to overlook some wrong-doings of the press, in order to protect the large interests of the media as an industry.
    • Theinability of the industry and the Press Council to go public with its report on paid news is also another pointer to the problems of self regulation and the ‘culture of silence’ in the entire industry when it comes to self criticism.
  • Irresponsible behaviour of media houses recently during the Pathankot attacks also question the idea of self regulation in India.
  • Even in UK ,there are no monetary penalties that can be imposed or suspension of licenses by the PCC.
    • For example, the PCC has been considered ineffective in the case of the phone hacking scandal that rocked the British Parliament in the recent years

Way ahead:-

  • The way forward in India could be to empower the Press Council of India, allowing it to take punitive action in the form of punitive monetary penalties, suspension of license, etc.
  • Also, PCI must be made more representative of the stakeholders in the media, thus giving them a voice.
  • In fact, the British model of PCC may be adopted with members of the press must coming together to draft a code of practice.

 

 

 

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