Why in news? Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given approval to the promulgation of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 for effective deterrence against the commission of rape.
Ordinance on rape:
The Government has decided to put in place a number of measures for speedy investigation and trial of rape cases.
Here are the changes made to the present rape law in place under the criminal law including the IPC, Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc), Evidence Act and POCSO:
More severe punishment:
Minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which shall mean imprisonment till that person’s natural life.
The punishment for gang rape of a girl under 16 years of age will invariably be imprisonment for rest of life of the convict.
Stringent punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided – minimum 20 years’ imprisonment or imprisonment for rest of life or with death.
In case of gang rape of a girl below 12 years, punishment will be imprisonment for rest of life or death sentence.
Speedy investigation and trial:
Time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within 2 months.
Time limit for completion of trial of all rape cases has also been prescribed and it has to be necessarily completed in 2 months.
6 months’ time limit for disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.
Restrictions on bail
It has been prescribed that there will be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years.
It has also been provided that court has to give notice of 15 days to Public Prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age.
Miscellanies measures adopted by the Government:
In order to give effect to the legal provisions and to improve the capacity of criminal justice system to deal with rape cases, Cabinet has approved a number of important measures:
Strengthening the courts and prosecution:
New Fast Track Courts will be set up in consultation with States/UTs and High Courts.
Creation of new posts of public prosecutors and related infrastructure in consultation with States/UTs.
Special forensic kits for rape cases to all Police Stations and hospitals.
Dedicated manpower will be provided for investigation of rape cases in a time bound manner.
Setting up special forensic labs in each State/UT exclusively for rape cases.
These measures will form part of a new mission mode project to be launched within 3 months.
National Crime Records Bureau will maintain a national database and profile of sexual offenders.
This data will be regularly shared with States/UTs for tracking, monitoring and investigation, including verification of antecedents by police.
Assistance to victims:
The present scheme of One Stop Centres for assistance to victim to be extended to all districts in the country.
Last year, Madhya Pradesh Assembly unanimously passed a legislation to amend Section 376A (Punishment for causing death or resulting in persistent vegetative state of victim) and 376D (Gang rape) under the Indian Penal Code.
Treading on the heels of MP, Rajasthan, Arunachal Pradesh and Harayana followed suit and passed the legislation as well.
FACT # 2
Why in news? Refusing to upgrade India’s credit rating for the 12th year in a row, Fitch today retained its sovereign rating at ‘BBB-‘, the lowest investment grade with a stable outlook.
Also called debt rating, this is a method of measuring the creditworthiness of a debt issuer.
The ratings provided by the main credit rating agencies, Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and Fitch, evaluate issuers worldwide and are very closely followed.
A top rating means there is almost no likelihood of the borrower failing to meet interest payments or full redemption of the issue.
Credit ratings are opinions expressed on an alphanumeric scale on the relative ability and willingness of a debt issuer to meet financial commitments.
Credit ratings published by the main global rating agencies aim to provide ratings that are objective and transparent, as well as consistent and comparable across instruments, maturities, industries and countries.
Some sectors, maturities and countries have their own specific rating scales.
The long-term global rating scale at S&P and Fitch contain nine grades and goes from the highest grade to the lowest grade (in increasing order of riskiness): AAA, AA, A, BBB, BB, B, CCC, CC, C.
For Moody’s, the scale contains nine grades and goes from the highest grade to the lowest grade (in increasing order of riskiness): Aaa, Aa, A, Baa, Ba, B, Caa, Ca, C.
All three global credit rating agencies, for each full grade other than AAA (or Aaa), CC (or Ca), or C, include a positive, neutral or negative modifier for Fitch and S&P or a numerical modifier for Moody’s.
This brings the nine point rating scale to a 21 point scale. For instance, for the AA grade there are AA+, AA, AA- or Aa1, Aa2, Aa3.
Government credit ratings take into account three main elements which are:
Public debt as a percentage of gross domestic product
the budget deficit (the amount government spending exceeds income)
debt affordability (interest costs as a percentage of revenue)
India’s latest rating by Fitch:
Fitch, in 2018, has retained its sovereign rating at ‘BBB-‘, the lowest investment grade with a stable outlook, saying that weak fiscal balances continue to constrain its ratings.
The government had made a strong pitch to Fitch Ratings for an upgrade after rival Moody’s Investors Service last November gave the country its first sovereign rating upgrade since 2004.
Fitch had last upgraded India’s sovereign rating from BB+ to BBB- with a stable outlook on August 1, 2006.
Fitch Ratings has affirmed India’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘BBB-‘ with a stable outlook.
India’s rating balances a strong medium-term growth outlook and favourable external balances with weak fiscal finances and some lagging structural factors, including governance standards and a still-difficult, but improving, business environment.
Weak fiscal balances, the Achilles’ heel in India’s credit profile, continue to constrain its ratings.
India has the highest medium-term growth potential among the largest emerging markets, according to a recent Fitch
FACT # 3
FULL ELECTRIFICATION OF INDIA’S VILLAGES
Why in news? All the villages in India have been electrified with the last one being Leisang in Manipur.
Full electrification of India’s villages:
An electrified village as per the government definition, has the following:
provision of basic infrastructure such as distribution transformers and lines in the inhabited locality
provision of electricity in public places like schools, panchayat office, health centers, dispensaries, and community centers
at least 10% of the total number of households in the village are electrified
Latest addition to the list:
As electricity reached Manipur’s Leisang village in April 2018, India, after over 70 years of Independence completed the electrification of all of its villages.
Leisang village is located in the Senapati district of Manipur
It now joins the other 597,463 census villages in the country who have access to electricity.
The implementation was done under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) through Rural Electrification Corporation by the Ministry of Power.
As per government records, by April 1, 2015, India had about 18,452 unelectrified villages.
Since then until April 28, 2018, India managed to electrify close to 16 and a half villages every day.
As per the DDUGJY website, there were 1275 additional villages that had no electricity.
These villages have also been included in the national power grid or have been electrified by off-grid solutions.
As per data from the World Bank, about 79.17% of India had access to electricity in 2014.