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Daily Current Affairs – 2020

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

Pesticides Management Bill,2020

Why in News ?

The Pesticides Management Bill, 2020 has been approved by the Union Cabinet.

  • The Bill will regulate the business of pesticides and compensate farmers in case of losses from the use of agrochemicals.
  • Agrochemicalsimply chemicals used in agriculture, such as a pesticide or fertilizer.
  • Currently, the pesticidebusiness is regulated by rules under the Insecticides Act 1968.

Key Features of the Bill

  • Pesticide Data:It will empower farmers by providing them with all the information about the strength and weakness of pesticidesthe risk and alternatives. All information will be available openly as data in digital format and in all languages.
  • Compensation:The Bill has a unique feature in the form of a provision for compensations in case there is any loss because of the spurious or low quality of pesticides.

If required, a central fund will be formed to take care of the compensations.

  • Organic Pesticides:The Bill also intends to promote organic pesticides.
  • Registration of Pesticide Manufacturers:All pesticide manufacturers have to be registered and bound by the new Act, once it is passed. The advertisements of pesticides will be regulated so there should be no confusion or no cheating by the manufacturers.

Use of Pesticides in India:

  • India isamong the leading producers of pesticides in
  • In the domestic market,Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana are among the states with the highest recorded consumption.

Spurious Pesticides:

  • They harm crop, soil fertility and the environment.
  • Spurious agrochemicals are responsible for the losses of not just farmers but also producers of genuine agrochemicals and the government, which loses revenue from the sales of the counterfeit versions of the real farm inputs.

Insecticides Act, 1968

  • It was brought into force with effect from August 1971 with a view of regulating the import, manufacture, sale, transport, distribution and use of insecticides in order to prevent risk to human beings and animals.
  • Central Insecticides Boardwas established under Section 4 of the Act and it works under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
  • The board advises the central government and state governmentson technical matters arising out of the administration of the act and to carry out the other functions assigned to it.

Voting Rights of Prisoners

Why in News?

The Delhi High Court has recently rejected a petition seeking voting rights for prisoners.

Observations made by the Court:

  1. The right to cast vote is neither a fundamental right nor a common law right and is only provided by a statute.
  2. The right to vote provided under the statute — Representation of the People Act —was subject to restrictions imposed by the law, which does not allow prisoners to cast vote from jails.

Who can vote and who cannot?

Under Section 62(5) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, individuals in lawful custody of the police and those serving a sentence of imprisonment after conviction cannot vote. Under trial prisoners are also excluded from participating in elections even if their names are on electoral rolls.

Only those under preventive detention can cast their vote through postal ballots.

Why under trials should be given voting rights?

  1. The present voting ban is criticized on the ground that it makes no offence-based or sentence-based classification —that is, prisoners are debarred from voting irrespective of the gravity of the offence they have committed, or the length of their sentence. It also makes no distinction between convicted prisoners, under trials, and those in lawful police custody.
  2. Besides, a person is innocent until proven guilty by law.Despite this, it denies an under trial the right to vote but allows a detainee the same.
  3. The provision also violates the rights to equality, votes (Article 326) and is arbitrary. It is not a reasonable restriction.

Global practice:

  1. In Europe, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, the Baltic States, and Spain already allow prisoner voting.
  2. Countries like Romania, Iceland, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Germany have opted for a middle path: Voting is allowed subject to certain permits and conditions such as the quantum of sentence served.
  3. They are only disenfranchised as an added penalty based on the gravity of the crime. Bulgaria allows for anyone sentenced to less than a decade to vote. In Australia, the limit is five years.

Debts Recovery Tribunals

Why in News?

The Direct Tax Vivaad se Vishwas Bill, 2020 will now cover pending litigation in debt recovery tribunals (DRTs) as well besides those in various courts and tribunals, the Union cabinet said while approving the change to the bill.

What are DRTs?

Debt Recovery Tribunals were established to facilitate the debt recovery involving banks and other financial institutions with their customers. DRTs were set up after the passing of Recovery of Debts due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act (RDBBFI), 1993. Section 3 of the RDDBFI Act empowers the Central government to establish DRTs. Appeals against orders passed by DRTs lie before Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunal (DRAT).

Powers and functions:

  1. The Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) enforces provisions of the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions (RDDBFI) Act, 1993 and also Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interests (SARFAESI) Act, 2002.
  2. The Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) are fully empowered to pass comprehensive orders and can travel beyond the Civil procedure Code to render complete justice. A Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) can hear cross suits, counter claims and allow set offs.
  3. However, a Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) cannot hear claims of damages or deficiency of services or breach of contract or criminal negligence on the part of the lenders. In addition, a Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) cannot express an opinion beyond its domain, or the list pending before it.
  4. The Debts Recovery Tribunal can appoint Receivers, Commissioners, pass ex-parte orders, ad-interim orders, interim orders apart from powers to Review its own decisions and hear appeals against orders passed by the Recovery Officers of the Tribunal.

Other key facts:

  • A DRT is presided over by a presiding officer who is appointed by the central govt. and who shall be qualified to be a District Judge; with tenure of 5 years or the age of 62, whichever is earlier.
  • No court in the country other than the SC and the HCs and that too, only under articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution have jurisdiction over this matter.
  • The central government, in 2018, raised the pecuniary limit from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh for filing application for recovery of debts in the Debts Recovery Tribunals by such banks and financial institutions.

 

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