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The Hindu Editorial Analysis | PDF Download

Date: 03 April 2019
  • Towards fulfilling the Preambular promise of securing to all the citizens, Justice – social, economic and political, Article 39 A of the Constitution of India provides for free legal aid to the poor and weaker sections of the society, to promote justice on the basis of equal opportunity.
  • Articles 14 and 22(1) of the Constitution also make it obligatory for the State to ensure equality before law. In 1987, the Legal Services Authorities Act was enacted by the Parliament, which came into force on 9th November, 1995 to establish a nationwide uniform network for providing free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society.
  • The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society.
  • The Chief Justice of India is the Patron-in-Chief and the Senior most Hon'ble Judge, Supreme Court of India is the Executive Chairman of the Authority. Presently, NALSA is housed at 12/11, Jam Nagar House, New Delhi-110011.
  • Public awareness, equal opportunity and deliverable justice are the cornerstones on which the edifice of NALSA is based. The principal objective of NALSA is to provide free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society and to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities, and to organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes. Apart from the above mentioned, functions of NALSA include spreading legal literacy and awareness, undertaking social justice litigations etc.
  • With the aim of reaching out to the diverse milieu of people belonging to different socioeconomic, cultural and political backgrounds, NALSA identifies specific categories of the marginalized and excluded groups from the diverse populace of the country and formulates various schemes for the implementation of preventive and strategic legal service programmes to be undertaken and implemented by the Legal Services Authorities at the various levels.
  • In carrying out all these responsibilities, NALSA works in close coordination with the various State Legal Services Authorities, District Legal Services Authorities and other agencies for a regular exchange of relevant information, monitoring and updating on the implementation and progress of the various schemes in vogue and fostering a strategic and coordinated approach to ensure smooth and streamlined functioning of the various agencies and stakeholders.

Types of Regular Lok Adalats

  • Continuous LokAdalat:
  • A LokAdalat bench sits continuously for a set number of days to facilitate settlements by deferring unsettled matters to the next date and encouraging parties to reflect on the terms of the mutually accepted settlement before actual settlement.
  • Daily LokAdalat:
  • This type of LokAdalat is organised on daily basis.
  • Mobile LokAdalat:
  • These are organised by taking the LokAdalat set up in a Multi-utility van to different areas for resolving petty cases and also spreading legal awareness in the area.
  • Mega LokAdalat:
  • This is organised in the State on a single day in all courts of the State.
  • Permanent Lok Adalat
  • The other type of Lok Adalat is the Permanent Lok Adalat, organized under Section 22-B of The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
  • Permanent Lok Adalats have been set up as permanent bodies with a Chairman and two members for providing compulsory pre-litigative mechanism for conciliation and settlement of cases relating to Public Utility Services like transport, postal, telegraph etc.
  • Here, even if the parties fail to reach to a settlement, the Permanent Lok Adalat gets jurisdiction to decide the dispute, provided, the dispute does not relate to any offence.
  • Further, the Award of the Permanent Lok Adalat is final and binding on all the parties.
  • The jurisdiction of the Permanent Lok Adalats is upto Rs. One Crore.
  • Here if the parties fail to reach to a settlement, the Permanent Lok Adalat has the jurisdiction to decide the case. The award of the Permanent Lok Adalat is final and binding upon the parties.
  • The Lok Adalat may conduct the proceedings in such a manner as it considers appropriate, taking into account the circumstances of the case, wishes of the parties like requests to hear oral statements, speedy settlement of dispute etc.

 India ranks 137th on Global Peace Index 2018

  • Index prepared by the international think-tank Institute for Economics and Peace
  • Global Peace Index (GPI) measures the relative position of nations' and regions' peacefulness. The GPI ranks 163 independent states and territories (99.7 per cent of the world’s population) according to their levels of peacefulness. In the past decade, the GPI has presented trends of increased global violence and less peacefulness
  • HIGHLIGHTS
  •  India has moved up four places to the 137th rank among 163 countries on the 2018 Global Peace Index
  • While Iceland remains the most peaceful country in the world ,
  • Syria remains the least peaceful

How to achieve 24x7 power for all

  • Three steps to help rural India overcome electricity poverty and reap immense socio-economic benefits
  • Almost every willing household in India now has a legitimate electricity connection. The household electrification scheme, Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, or Saubhagya, has been implemented at an unprecedented pace. More than 45,000 households were electrified every day over the last 18 months.
  • Against such an achievement, it is important to ask these questions: what did it take for India to achieve this target? Why is electricity access not only about provision of connections? And, how can we ensure 24x7 power for all?
  • The efforts under Saubhagya have come upon decades of hard work preceding it. The enactment of the Electricity Act, in 2003, and the introduction of the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, in 2005, expanded electrification infrastructure to most villages in the following decade. But the rollout of the Saubhagya scheme, in 2017, gave the required impetus to electrify each willing household in the country.
  • However, over the last year, several engineers and managing directors in electricity distribution companies (discoms), their contractors, State- and Central-level bureaucrats, and possibly energy ministers have been working at fever pitch.
  • Discom engineers have evolved in their attitude, as we saw during our on-ground research — from one of skepticism to that of determination. Their efforts to meet targets even included crossing streams in Bihar on foot with electricity poles, and reaching far-flung areas in Manipur, through Myanmar, to electrify remote habitations with solar home systems.
  • Beyond connections
  • Despite such massive efforts, the battle against electricity poverty is far from won. The erection of electricity poles and an extension of wires do not necessarily mean uninterrupted power flow to households.
  • By tracking more than 9,000 rural households, since 2015, across six major States (Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal), the Access to Clean Cooking Energy and Electricity Survey of States (ACCESS) report by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), has highlighted the gap between a connection and reliable power supply.
  • While the median hours of supply increased from 12 hours in 2015 to 16 hours a day in 2018, it is still far from the goal of 24x7. Similarly, while instances of low voltage and voltage surges have reduced in the last three years, about a quarter of rural households still report low voltage issues for at least five days in a month.
  • Vital steps forward
  • In order to achieve 24x7 power for all, we need to focus on three frontiers. First, India needs real-time monitoring of supply at the end-user level. We achieve what we measure. While the government is bringing all feeders in the country online, we currently have no provision to monitor supply as experienced by households.
  • Only such granular monitoring can help track the evolving reality of electricity supply on the ground and guide discoms to act in areas with sub-optimal performance. Eventually, smart meters (that the government plans to roll out) should help enable such monitoring. However, in the interim, we could rely on interactive voice response systems (IVRS) and SMS-based reporting by end-users.
  • Second, discoms need to focus on improving the quality of supply as well as maintenance services. Adequate demand estimation and respective power procurement will go a long way in reducing load shedding. Moreover, about half the rural population across the six States reported at least two days of 24-hour-long unpredictable blackouts in a month.
  • Such incidents are indicative of poor maintenance, as opposed to intentional load-shedding. Discoms need to identify novel cost-effective approaches to maintain infrastructure in these far-flung areas. Some States have already taken a lead in this. Odisha has outsourced infrastructure maintenance in some of its rural areas to franchisees, while Maharashtra has introduced village-level coordinators to address local-level challenges. Such context-based solutions should emerge in other States as well.
  • Finally, the improvement in supply should be complemented with a significant improvement in customer service, which includes billing, metering and collection.
  • Around 27% of the electrified rural households in the six States were not paying anything for their electricity. Despite the subsidies, constant loss of revenue would make it unviable for discoms to continue servicing these households in the long run.
  • Low consumer density along with difficult accessibility mean that conventional approaches involving meter readers and payment collection centres will be unviable for many rural areas.
  • We need radically innovative approaches such as the proposed prepaid smart meters and lastmile rural franchisees to improve customer service and revenue collection.
  • Rural renewable energy enterprises could especially be interesting contenders for such franchisees, considering the social capital they already possess in parts of rural India.
  • Electricity is the driver for India’s development.
  • As we focus on granular monitoring, high-quality supply, better customer service and greater revenue realisation at the household level, we also need to prioritise electricity access for livelihoods and community services such as education and health care. Only such a comprehensive effort will ensure that rural India reaps the socio-economic benefits of electricity.
  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdictions. The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
  • The FATF is therefore a “policymaking body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
  • The FATF has developed a series of Recommendations that are recognised as the international standard for combating of money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
  • They form the basis for a co-ordinated response to these threats to the integrity of the financial system and help ensure a level playing field. First issued in 1990, the FATF Recommendations were revised in 1996, 2001, 2003 and most recently in 2012 to ensure that they remain up to date and relevant, and they are intended to be of universal application.
  • The FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures, and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally. In collaboration with other international stakeholders, the FATF works to identify nationallevel vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.
  • The FATF's decision making body, the FATF Plenary, meets three times per year.