Morning Brief: SC Seeks Special Courts To Try Tainted Politicians, Drones For E-Commerce Deliveries

by Swarajya Staff - Nov 2, 2017 06:08 AM +05:30 IST
Morning Brief: SC Seeks Special Courts To Try Tainted Politicians, Drones For E-Commerce DeliveriesThe Supreme Court of India, New Delhi.

Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.

SC Tells Government To Set Up Special Court For Tainted Politicians: In an attempt to put an end to the inordinate delay in prosecuting politicians with criminal record, the Supreme Court asked the Union government on Wednesday to set up special courts to exclusively try lawmakers and decide the cases expeditiously within a year. A bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha asked the government to urgently set up special courts to ensure that trials of lawmakers are completed within a year as laid down by the apex court in 2015. The bench said compliance with the one-year deadline had not been possible because regular courts were overburdened and it was not possible for them to fast-track cases against politicians. In 2014, 1,581 lawmakers were facing prosecution in 1.35 lakh cases, and the number since could have only increased.

Drones For E-Commerce Deliveries: Air space in India is set to get more interesting next year, with the government issuing draft regulations on Wednesday for drone operations that could be used for anything from e-commerce deliveries to photography. Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said the draft regulations, which will be finalised by 31 December after hearing out stakeholders’ views, envisage a virtually unregulated flight at heights up to 50 feet for nano drones that weigh 250 grams or lower. “The drone industry offers many advantages and can help development in several sectors such as agriculture, oil and gas… We want to make India the world’s leader in drones and its applications, which is why we have drafted a policy that allows unfettered use of drones while taking care of the unique security challenges they pose,” Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said.

Targeting Top 50 Spot In Ease Of Doing Business: After ensuring a phenomenal jump in ease of doing business ranking, the government of India is working with the World Bank to recognise over 200 reforms that will help propel the country into the top-50 bracket. "We have already implemented 122 reforms this year, and are working with the World Bank to recognise these. We will further initiate 90 more ease of doing business reforms this year," said Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Secretary Ramesh Abhishek on the sidelines of the CII Invest North conclave. The Secretary also said the World Bank report has acknowledged that goods and services tax is a substantial reform and "hopefully it will have a positive impact on the country's ranking next year". He urged the states to address issues like inadequate infrastructure and inflexible labour policies to make them more competitive.

Jaitley-Led Panel To Monitor Banking Consolidation: After the massive 2.11 lakh crore bank recapitalisation plan to rescue public sector banks ailing due to bad loans, the government has constituted a ministerial panel headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to oversee merger proposals of the banks. The panel will also have Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Railway and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal. India has 21 public sector banks, which account for more than two-thirds of the country's banking assets. But a surge in bad loans and lower profitability compared with their private-sector rivals has triggered calls for consolidation among the state lenders. The panel has directed all 21 public sector banks to examine the consolidation proposals. It will also report to the cabinet quarterly on the progress of the mergers.

India Names Ajay Bisaria As Pakistan Ambassador: India announced the appointment of senior diplomat Ajay Bisaria as its new envoy to Pakistan on Wednesday. He will succeed Gautam Bambawale as the High Commissioner of India to Pakistan. Bambawale was recently appointed as India's Ambassador to China. Bisaria, who joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1987, is now New Delhi's ambassador to Poland and Lithuania. Bisaria earlier served as private secretary to former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee from 1999 to 2004. He then served as an adviser to the executive director for South Asia at the World Bank in Washington from 2004 to 2008. He returned to India in 2009, and served as joint secretary (Eurasia) at the headquarters of the Ministry of External Affairs, before being appointed as New Delhi's envoy to Warsaw in 2014.

20 Die In NTPC Plant Explosion: At least 20 people were killed and around 100 injured in an explosion at a government-run coal-fired power plant in Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli district on Wednesday afternoon. The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) plant was shut down and several workers were feared trapped under the debris. NTPC has initiated a probe to ascertain the reasons behind the blast. The toll could rise further once the blades of the damaged boiler are removed as many labourers are feared trapped inside. Government sources said that most of the injured have suffered more than 70 per cent injury which could further add to the toll. A statement from the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) reported a “sudden abnormal sound” around 3.30pm at a new 500 megawatt unit of the 1,550 megawatt plant in Unchahar. The unit was commissioned this March.

Rajasthan High Court Orders Probe Into ‘Love Jihad’ Case: After Kerala, now there is a case ‘love jihad’ that is making news in Rajasthan. Pulling up the state police over its handling of a case of a woman's alleged forcible conversion to Islam and marriage, the Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday directed it to register an FIR and submit a report after her family claimed that it was an instance of 'love jihad'. A bench of justices G K Vyas and M K Garg also directed the state government to file a reply clarifying the legal provisions pertaining to religious conversion in the state. Hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by the 22-year-old woman's brother, the bench expressed anger over the "negligence" of the police, which allegedly refused to file an FIR on her family's complaint. The court questioned as to how the police could assume that the girl's conversion was legal "just by way of an affidavit on a stamp paper of Rs 10" when there was no provision in law in this regard.

US To Terminate Green Card Lottery After New York Attack, Says Trump: In a move that could spell the end to the US immigration hopes of millions of people around the world, President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he would end the popular US green card lottery as police said a radicalised Uzbek man staged the deadly truck ramming in New York after entering the country under the programme. "I am starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery programme," Trump said. "We have to do what's right to protect our citizens," he said. "We will get rid of this lottery programme as soon as possible." The programme awards US permanent resident visas to around 50,000 applicants from around the world each year, opening the door as well for members of their extended families to follow them, so-called chain migration.

MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS

India Improves On Ease Of Doing Business, But Much Work Left To Be Done: The government reforms to improve India’s ease of doing business, is finally yielding results. India should recognise that a high ranking in World Bank’s ease of doing business index is not an end in and of itself.

Google, Facebook Must Be Held Accountable For Content: Firms like Google and Facebook should not be treated as technology companies, says Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP. A platform like Facebook is prima facie accountable for information shared on its platform, one reason why a transparent filtering policy and due diligence is necessary.

Business Reforms: Leaders And Laggards: Increased power capacity and power sector reforms are imperative for states to provide adequate power while maintaining fiscal health. In the second quarter of 2017, several states showed positive movement across a few key sectors – but reform initiatives are not evenly distributed across states.

The European Project’s Catalonia Challenge: Catalonia has enjoyed substantial autonomy (it has its own flag and Parliament), but it wants more powers, which Madrid is unwilling to grant. The EU’s role as a peacemaker abroad hinges on stability at home, that reputation is at risk, thanks to the crisis in Spain.

SWARAJYA SPECIAL

India’s 30-Spot Jump In Ease Of Doing Business Comes With A Caveat: States Aren’t Doing Enough: While all states now try to show improved rankings in the ease of doing business, the heavy lifting now needs to be done by them in the areas where our rankings are low.

We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!

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