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Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Why in the news?

The Bill protecting Muslim women from the practice of instant triple talaq was passed by both the Houses of the Parliament. It will now be sent to the President for his assent before becoming a law.

What are the key features of the bill?

  • The Bill makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal.  It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by a Muslim man resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce.  Talaq-e-biddat refers to the practice under Muslim personal laws where pronouncement of the word ‘talaq’ thrice in one sitting by a Muslim man to his wife results in an instant and irrevocable divorce. 
  • Offence and penalty:  The Bill makes declaration of talaq a cognizable offence, attracting up to three years’ imprisonment with a fine.  (A cognizable offence is one for which a police officer may arrest an accused person without warrant.) The offence will be cognizable only if information relating to the offence is given by: (i) the married woman (against whom talaq has been declared), or (ii) any person related to her by blood or marriage.   
  • The Bill provides that the Magistrate may grant bail to the accused.  The bail may be granted only after hearing the woman (against whom talaq has been pronounced), and if the Magistrate is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail.
  • The offence may be compounded by the Magistrate upon the request of the woman (against whom talaq has been declared).  Compounding refers to the procedure where the two sides agree to stop legal proceedings, and settle the dispute. The terms and conditions of the compounding of the offence will be determined by the Magistrate.  
  • Allowance:  A Muslim woman against whom talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children.  The amount of the allowance will be determined by the Magistrate.
  • Custody:  A Muslim woman against whom such talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek custody of her minor children. The manner of custody will be determined by the Magistrate.

Consumer Protection Bill, 2019

Paper: General Studies 2

Topics: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

Why in the news?

The Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 was passed in Lok Sabha . The Bill replaces the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

What are the key features of the Bill?

  • Definition of Consumer: A consumer is defined as a person who buys any good or avails a service for a consideration.  It does not include a person who obtains a good for resale or a good or service for commercial purpose. It covers transactions through all modes including offline, and online through electronic means, teleshopping, multi-level marketing or direct selling.
  • Rights of consumers: Six consumer rights have been defined in the Bill, including the right to: (i) be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property; (ii) be informed of the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services; (iii) be assured of access to a variety of goods or services at competitive prices; and (iv) seek redressal against unfair or restrictive trade practices.
  • Central Consumer Protection Authority: The central government will set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers.  It will regulate matters related to violation of consumer rights, unfair trade practices, and misleading advertisements. The CCPA will have an investigation wing, headed by a Director-General, which may conduct an inquiry or investigation into such violations.
  • CCPA will carry out the following functions, including: (i) inquiring into violations of consumer rights, investigating and launching prosecution at the appropriate forum; (ii) passing orders to recall goods or withdraw services that are hazardous, reimbursement of the price paid, and discontinuation of the unfair trade practices, as defined in the Bill; (iii) issuing directions to the concerned trader/ manufacturer/ endorser/ advertiser/ publisher to either discontinue a false or misleading advertisement, or modify it; (iv) imposing penalties, and; (v) issuing safety notices to consumers against unsafe goods and services.
  • Penalties for misleading advertisement: The CCPA may impose a penalty on a manufacturer or an endorser of up to Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment for up to two years for a false or misleading advertisement.  In case of a subsequent offence, the fine may extend to Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of up to five years.
  • CCPA can also prohibit the endorser of a misleading advertisement from endorsing that particular product or service for a period of up to one year. For every subsequent offence, the period of prohibition may extend to three years.  However, there are certain exceptions when an endorser will not be held liable for such a penalty.
  • Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions (CDRCs) will be set up at the district, state, and national levels.  A consumer can file a complaint with CDRCs in relation to: (i) unfair or restrictive trade practices; (ii) defective goods or services; (iii) overcharging or deceptive charging; and (iv) the offering of goods or services for sale which may be hazardous to life and safety.  Complaints against an unfair contract can be filed with only the State and National Appeals from a District CDRC will be heard by the State CDRC. Appeals from the State CDRC will be heard by the National CDRC. Final appeal will lie before the Supreme Court.
  • Jurisdiction of CDRCs: The District CDRC will entertain complaints where value of goods and services does not exceed Rs one crore.  The State CDRC will entertain complaints when the value is more than Rs one crore but does not exceed Rs 10 crore. Complaints with value of goods and services over Rs 10 crore will be entertained by the National CDRC.
  • Product liability: Product liability means the liability of a product manufacturer, service provider or seller to compensate a consumer for any harm or injury caused by a defective good or deficient service.  To claim compensation, a consumer has to prove any one of the conditions for defect or deficiency, as given in the Bill.

 

Goods and Services Tax

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: mobilization of resources

Why in the news?

  • Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has come out with is first report on Goods and Services Tax (GST), prepared on the basis of audits conducted during the year 2018-19. 
  • The Report acknowledges the magnitude of the tax reform that GST has been and the efforts of all the stakeholders, including the businesses, in transiting to this system.  
  • The gaps / shortcomings have been pointed out in the spirit of constructive suggestions to realise the full potential of this major reform.

What are the key findings of the report?

  • The report pointed out that the keystone of the tax system, the invoice matching system, had not yet been put in place even two years after the GST rollout. It added that compliance in terms of the number of returns filed had been falling month after month, and that the government had not been following the rules set out regarding the transfer of revenue to the States.
  • The complexity of the return mechanism and the technical glitches resulted in rollback of invoice-matching, rendering the system prone to ITC [Input Tax Credit] frauds,
  • The CAG said the extent of the changes that have to now be undertaken, as well as the suspension of key aspects of the GST system such as the invoice matching mechanism, show that there was inadequate coordination between the Department of Revenue, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs and the GST Network as well as failure to try out the system adequately before roll out.
  • The Government has not been following the rules set out regarding the transfer of revenue to the States.
  • The report said failure to to try out the system before rollout, had led to lower tax revenues. The growth of indirect taxes of Government of India (GoI) slowed down to 5.8% in 2017-18 over 2016-17 as compared to 21.33% during 2016-17, with GoI’s revenue from goods and services taking a 10% dip.

Who is the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)?

  • The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is an authority, established by the Constitution of India under article 148.
  • CAG audits all receipts and expenditure of the Government of India and the state governments, including those of bodies and authorities substantially financed by the government.
  • The CAG is also the external auditor of Government-owned corporations and conducts supplementary audit of government companies, i.e., any non-banking/ non-insurance company in which the state and Union governments have an equity share of at least 51% or subsidiary companies of existing government companies.
  • The reports of the CAG are taken into consideration by the Public Accounts Committees (PACs) and Committees on Public Undertakings which are committees in the Parliament of India and the state legislatures.

 

Hyperloop

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

Why in the news?

The Maharashtra Cabinet appointed DP World and Hyperloop Technologies as its Original Project Proponent for the Mumbai – Pune Hyperloop Project. It was also given ‘public infrastructure’ status to allow for ease of financing.

What is Hyperloop?

  • The theoretical transportation system we call hyperloop would propel people- or cargo-filled pods over long distances through steel tubes. 
  • Magnetic levitation and big vacuum pumps inside tubes would do away with friction and air resistance, letting those bus-sized vehicles zip along at speeds approaching Mach 1. 
  • It wouldn’t just be fast, the boosters say: Hyperloop could be cheaper and better for the environment than the planes, trains, and cars in which humanity travels about today.