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Daily Current Affairs 24.08.2021 (Bhima Koregaon: NIA files draft charges, Roots of economic recovery deepen as restrictions ease)

Daily Current Affairs 24.08.2021 (Bhima Koregaon: NIA files draft charges, Roots of economic recovery deepen as restrictions ease)

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1.Bhima Koregaon: NIA files draft charges

‘The accused committed unlawful acts with an intent to threaten the unity and sovereignty of country’

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the Bhima Koregaon violence case of 2018, has submitted draft charges before the NIA court against 15 accused and six absconding accused.

According to the NIA, “All accused are members of the banned terrorist organisation whose main object is to establish ‘Janata Sarkar’ i.e people’s government via revolution supported by a commitment to protracted armed struggle to undermine and to seize power from the State.”

The NIA contended, “They have committed, abetted and assisted in the commission of Unlawful Activities with intent to threaten the unity, integrity, security and sovereignty of India with intent to strike terror in the people, any section of the people in India and in the State of Maharashtra by using explosive substance like logistics, wires, nails, nitrate powder, and possessing and transporting sophisticated weapons like Chinese QLZ 87 Automatic Grenade Launcher and Russian GM-94 Grenade Launcher and M-4 with 4,00,000 rounds which by its very nature was to cause or likely to cause death or injuries to any person or persons or loss of or damage to or destruction of properties and was an attempt to do or cause death of public functionary”.

The draft charges were submitted before a special judge D.E. Kothalikar against Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Hany Babu, the late Father Stan Swamy, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap. The absconding/wanted accused are Milind Teltumbde, Comrade Prakash, Comrade Manglu, Comrade Deepu, Kishan alias Prashanta Bose and Mupalla Rao.

The NIA mentions the accused “engaged to wage war, attempted to wage war and abetted waging war against the government of India and the government of Maharashtra and thereby committed the offence punishable under Section 121 of the Indian Penal Code.” These draft charges were submitted earlier this month and the NIA court will soon frame charges against all accused.

The Central agency says, “They are all members of banned terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act and as per the First Schedule i.e. Communist Party of India (Maoist) and its formations and frontal organisations viz Anuradha Ghandy Memorial Committee, Kabir Kala Manch, Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee, Committee for Release of Political Prisoners, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, Peoples Union for Democratic Rights, Co-ordination of Democratic Rights Organisation, Democratic Students Union, Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan, Revolutionary Writers Association.”

The accused have conspired, “To incite the people and create violence and to spread disaffection towards the government established by Law and to commit illegal act with the intention to further activities, to commit conspiracy or attempt to commit or advocate, abet, or incite the people to create public disorder with intent to threaten the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of India,” the NIA submitted.

National Investigation Agency

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) was constituted under the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, 2008.

  • It is a central agency to investigate and prosecute offences:
    • affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, security of State, friendly relations with foreign States.
    • against atomic and nuclear facilities.
    • smuggling in High-Quality Counterfeit Indian Currency.
  • It implements international treaties, agreements, conventions and resolutions of the United Nations, its agencies and other international organisations.
  • It’s objective is also to combat terror in India.
  • It acts as the Central Counter-Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency.
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
    • Branches: Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kochi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Kolkata, Raipur and Jammu.

Goals of NIA

  • To execute in-depth professional investigation of scheduled offences using the latest scientific methods of investigation.
  • Upholding the constitution of India and laws of the land.
  • Prime importance to the protection of Human Rights and dignity of the individual.
  • Developing a professional workforce through regular training and exposure to the best practices and procedures.
  • Ensuring effective and speedy trial.
  • Maintaining professional and cordial relations with the governments of States and Union Territories and other law enforcement agencies in compliance with the legal provisions of the NIA Act.
    • Assist all States and other investigating agencies in the investigation of terrorist cases.
    • Build a database of all terrorist-related information and share the database available with the States and other agencies.
  • Study and analyse laws relating to terrorism in other countries and regularly evaluate the adequacy of existing laws in India and propose changes as and when necessary.

Scheduled Offences

  • The schedule to the Act specifies a list of offences which are to be investigated and prosecuted by the NIA.
  • These include offences under Acts such as the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.

Need of NIA

  • The terrorist incidents are found to have complex inter-State and international linkages, and possible connection with organised crime, for example, the smuggling of arms and drugs, circulation of fake Indian currency etc.
    • The agency at the Central level was created for investigation of offences related to terrorism and certain other Act post-2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Mandate of NIA

  • The cases are assigned to the NIA by the Central Government in accordance with section VI of the NIA Act, 2008.
    • The investigation of the cases is done by the Agency independently.
    • After investigation, the cases are placed before the NIA Special Court.
    • For prosecuting the accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and certain other scheduled offences, the Agency seeks the sanction of the Central Government.
      • The sanction is granted under the UAPA based on the report of the ‘Authority’ constituted under section 45 (2) of the UAPA.
  • It is empowered to deal with terror-related crimes across states without special permission from the states.

Smuggling and Terror Funding

  • The amendments to the NIA Act has brought the offences related to the smuggling in High-Quality Counterfeit Indian Currency under the definition of a terrorist Act.
  • To curb various aspects of terrorist financing, a Terror Funding and Fake Currency Cell (TFFC) has been created in the NIA.
    • The Cell maintains a database of terror financing and cases of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN).
    • TFFC also conducts a part investigation into terror financing aspects of regular cases investigated by the NIA.
    • TFFC Cell conducts verifications of bank accounts of the suspects that are linked with Naxalite groups.
  • There is an exclusive Left Wing Extremism (LWE) cell to effectively deal with cases related to terror financing aspects of Naxalite groups.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) reviews the manpower, financial and infrastructure requirements of NIA from time to time.

Recent Amendment 

  • The NIA (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament amending the original Act of 2008.
  • The Bill seeks to allow the NIA to investigate the following additional offences:
    • Human trafficking
    • Offences related to counterfeit currency or banknotes
    • Manufacture or sale of prohibited arms
    • Cyber-terrorism, and
    • Offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908
  • Jurisdiction of the NIA
    • The officers of the NIA have the same powers as other police officers in relation to the investigation of such offences, across India.
    • The officers of the NIA will have the power to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India, subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.
    • The central government may direct the NIA to investigate such cases as if the offence has been committed in India.
    • The Special Court in New Delhi will have jurisdiction over these cases.

Special Courts

  • The Central Government for the trial of Scheduled Offences, constitute one or more Special Courts under Section 11 and 22 of the NIA Act 2008.
  • Composition: Special Court shall be presided over by a judge to be appointed by the Central Government on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the High Court.
    • The Central Government may, if required, appoint an additional judge or additional judges to the Special Court, on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the High Court.
  • Jurisdiction of Special Courts:
    • The Special Courts have all powers of the court of sessions under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
    • Where any question arises as to the jurisdiction of any Special Court, it shall be referred to the Central Government whose decision in the matter shall be final.
    • The Supreme Court can transfer a case pending before a Special Court to any other Special Court within that State or any other State in some exceptional cases where it is not feasible to conduct a peaceful, fair, impartial and speedy trial.
      • Similarly, the High Court has the power to transfer a case pending before a Special Court in a State to any other Special Court within that State.

Issues in the Recent Amendments

  • Under schedule VII of the Constitution, the maintenance of public order and police forces are matters of state list.
    • However, Criminal law forms part of the concurrent list and national security comes under the domains of union list.
  • The Central government gets the authority to have the NIA take over the investigation of crimes, which involve allegations of human trafficking, offences under the Explosives Act, and certain offences under the Arms Act.
    • However, not every criminal offence in the above act is a threat to national security and sovereignty and consequently, states have the competence to deal with the same.
  • The Amendment Bill puts Section 66F of the Information Technology Act into the Schedule listing offences.
    • Section 66F deals with cyber terrorism.
    • But India does not have a data protection act and there is no definition of cyber terrorism.
  • The amendment to the NIA Act also gives the agency authority to investigate crimes committed by persons which are against Indian citizens or “affecting the interest of India”.
    • However, the term “affecting the interest of India” is undefined and can be misused by governments to curb freedom of speech and expression.
      • Further, the laws, under which the NIA has the authority to investigate, themselves do not mention “affecting the interest of India” as an offence.

2.‘Roots of economic recovery deepen as restrictions ease’

July sees ‘encouraging’ improvement in 8 of 13 high-frequency indicators: ICRA

With the easing of COVID-19-related curbs by States, the roots of economic recovery deepened in July 2021, ICRA Ratings said in a report.

The unlocking in the country has manifested itself in improving performance across various high-frequency industrial and service sector indicators, mobility and toll collections in July 2021, according to the agency.

“With the further easing of the State-wise restrictions, especially across the southern States, the roots of the economic recovery deepened in July 2021. Despite a normalising base, eight of the 15 high-frequency indicators recorded an encouraging improvement in their year-on-year (YoY) growth in July 2021,” the agency’s chief economist Aditi Nayar said in the report. Moreover, 10 of the 13 non-financial indicators recorded a month-on-month (MoM) uptick in July 2021, although the pace of improvement eased, as expected, from levels seen in June, when State-wise unlocking had commenced, she said. The YoY performance of GST e-way bills, fuel consumption, electricity generation, output of Coal India Limited (CIL), vehicle registrations and domestic passenger traffic improved in July 2021 from June 2021.

The worsening in the YoY performance of some indicators such as output of passenger vehicles (PVs), scooters and motorcycles was primarily due to the base effect, the report pointed out.

Ms. Nayar said July volumes of seven of the 13 non-financial indicators — non-oil merchandise exports, GST e-way bills, electricity generation, CIL’s output, petrol consumption, PV output and rail freight traffic — rose above both their pre-Covid as well as April 2021 levels.

What is Credit Rating?

  • A credit rating is an assessment of the creditworthiness of a borrower in general terms or with respect to a particular debt or financial obligation.
  • A credit rating can be assigned to any entity that seeks to borrow money — an individual, corporation, state or provincial authority, or sovereign government.

What are Credit Rating Agencies?

  • A credit rating agency (CRA) is a company that assigns credit ratings, which rate a debtor’s ability to pay back debt by making timely principal and interest payments and the likelihood of default.
  • There are six credit rating agencies registered under SEBI namely, CRISIL, ICRA, CARE, SMERA, Fitch India and Brickwork Ratings.
  • CRAs were set up to provide independent evidence and research-based opinion on the ability and willingness of the issuer to meet debt service obligations, quintessentially attaching a probability of default to a specific instrument.
  • Evaluating the creditworthiness of an instrument comprises of both qualitative and quantitative assessments, making credit rating far from a straightforward mathematical calculation.

Importance

  • For The Money Lenders
    • Better Investment Decision: With credit rating, lenders get an idea about the credit worthiness of an individual or company (who is borrowing the money) and the risk factor attached with them. By evaluating this, they can make a better investment decision.
    • Safety Assured: High credit rating means an assurance about the safety of the money and that it will be paid back with interest on time.
  • For Borrowers
    • Easy Loan Approval: With high credit rating, banks will approve loan application of borrowers easily.
    • Credit ratings will enable independent benchmarks for pricing debt, ushered in a culture of financial discipline, helped allocate capital efficiently by pricing risk appropriately, and supported financial innovation.

Issues

  • No uniformity among rating companies in India: An average investor in India is not able to understand the different credit ratings prevailing in India as there is no uniformity among the credit rating agencies.
  • No standardization in rating and no standardized fee structure for rating agencies in India is one of the other issues.
  • Distinction between equity instruments and mutual funds is not provided which is one of the major drawback of credit ratings in India.
  • Lack of reliability of Credit rating in India: Even credit-rated companies have failed in India and there is no remedy for this. Example CRB Capital Markets, which had a turnover of Rs.1,000 crores per year and with a credit rating of ‘A’, failed, and neither SEBI nor RBI could come to the rescue of investors.
  • The credit rating agency in India lacks transparency.
  • After the creation of credit rating agencies, the country has witnessed stock scam and the failure of CRB Capital Markets. This only reflects poorly on functioning credit rating agencies.
  • It is the duty of credit rating agencies to forewarn the regulating authorities about the weaknesses and drawbacks, if any, of the companies they are rating and they should ensure to do so at all costs.
  • There is conflict of interest with “issuer-pays” model, wherein the fees to the CRA is paid by issuer himself. This has to be switched to investor-pays model. Issue of rate-shopping, pick and choose.
  • Because of high entry barriers for entering credit rating, there are not sufficient CRAs in India, hence there is no competition.
  • There is no method to seek the accountability of CRAs – “who will rate the rating agency”.
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