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INDIAN EXPRESS EDITORIAL’S AND EXPLAINED 14TH DECEMBER 2019

ISSUE: ELECTION OF BORIS JOHNSON AS BRITISH PM

Boris Johnson has won 364 seats out of 650 in the House of Commons.

This election marks the largest victory for the Tories in recent memory.

That the Conservatives were able to breach traditional bastions of the Labour Party, including in North England, and erode its working class base, signals the entrenching of the disenchantment with globalisation and European integration.

Boris Johnson’s promise to “get Brexit done” has found unexpectedly wide resonance with the people of Great Britain.

WHAT WAS BREXIT? 

Brexit refers to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

It follows the referendum held on 23rd June 2016 when 51.9% of those who voted supported the withdrawal of UK from European Union.

On 29 March 2017 UK Government invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union (also known as LISBON TREATY).

The UK was due to leave European Union on 29th March 2019 at 11pm when the period for negotiating a withdrawal agreement will end unless an extension is agreed.

However exit was delayed as UK and EU failed to reach an agreement over exit.

WHAT DOES THIS ELECTION RESULT MEANS?

The Conservative PM can now ensure that the deal is pushed through by the January 31 deadline.

For Jeremy Corbyn, who has pushed Labour more to the Left, this is the third consecutive electoral defeat. In the near future, the prospects for both Corbyn and Labour appear dim.

Boris Johnson will have to face a new challenge of negotiating new trading arrangements with the EU — the UK’s largest trading partner — along with rejoining the WTO and unveiling a new strategy for the country’s economic growth.

Another problem that will confront the new government comes from within the UK: The anti-Brexit Scottish National Party has won in 48 of the 59 seats in Scotland, and it could push for another referendum on Scottish independence

WHAT DOES THIS RESULT MEANS FOR INDIA? 

As Britain leaves Europe, India may need to boldly reimagine the bilateral relationship.

As Tories revive the British interest in the Commonwealth, India has an opportunity to restructure this organisation.

 

ISSUE: AMENDMENTS IN THE INSOLVENCY AND BANKRUPTCY CODE

On Wednesday, the Union cabinet approved amendments to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) aimed at strengthening its functioning.

WHAT DOES AMENDMENTS PROPOSE?

The amendments seek to ring-fence assets of companies from offences committed by the previous management or promoters.

They have also sought to raise the minimum threshold for initiating the resolution process, and have clarified that licences, permits and clearances cannot be suspended during the moratorium period.

Each of these amendments, designed to address specific concerns, will help reduce investor uncertainty, and go a long way in shoring up confidence in the resolution process.

The cabinet has also increased the minimum threshold for initiating the resolution process. In the case of real estate projects, the minimum number of applicants has been increased to 100 or 10 per cent of the total applicants. This is designed to bring an end to the filing of frivolous cases in the NCLT.

ABOUT INSOLVENCY AND BANKRUPTCY CODE 2016

The Code provides a time-bound process for resolving insolvency in companies and among individuals.

Insolvency is a situation where individuals or companies are unable to repay their outstanding debt.

Under the Code, a financial creditor may file an application before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for initiating the insolvency resolution process.

The NCLT must find the existence of default within 14 days.  Thereafter, a Committee of Creditors (CoC) consisting of financial creditors will be constituted for taking decisions regarding insolvency resolution.

The CoC may either decide to restructure the debtor’s debt by preparing a resolution plan or liquidate the debtor’s assets.

 

ISSUE: CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT BILL 2019

WHY IN NEWS?

The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) became law after receiving the President’s assent on Thursday, following a bruising debate in Parliament.

WHAT DOES CITIZENSHIP BILL CONTAINS?

The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 by seeking to grant citizenship to undocumented non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.

The purpose of the Bill says that it will enable acquisition of Indian citizenship by persons who were forced to seek shelter in India due to persecution or fear of it on grounds of religion and will extend the facility to the class of persons presently facing hardships and difficulties in acquiring citizenship.

The Bill says the six non-Muslim communities “shall not be treated as illegal migrant” for violating provisions under Passport Act, 1920 or the Foreigners Act, 1946 that pertains to foreigners entering and staying in India illegally.

The Bill shall not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in the sixth schedule of the Constitution and States of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland protected by the Inner Line Permit (ILP).

Citizens of other States require ILP to visit the three States as per the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.

 

Shah said in Parliament that the legislation was intended to correct the flaws of the Nehru-Liaquat Pact of 1950. What was this agreement?

In the aftermath of Partition and the communal riots that followed, Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan signed a treaty, also known as the Delhi Agreement, on security and rights of minorities in their respective countries. India had constitutional guarantees for rights of minorities and Pakistan had a similar provision in the Objectives Resolution adopted by its Constituent Assembly. Shah claims India has kept its end of the bargain while Pakistan has failed, and it is this wrong that the new law seeks to correct.

What are the citizenship laws for others?

Under The Citizenship Act, 1955, there are four ways to obtain citizenship.

Citizenship by birth: In 1955, the law provided that anyone born in India on or after January 1, 1950 would be deemed a citizen by birth. This was later amended to limit citizenship by birth to those born between January 1, 1950 and January 1, 1987.

It was amended again by the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2003; those born after December 3, 2004 will be deemed a citizen of India by birth if one parent is an Indian and the other is not an illegal immigrant. So, if one parent is an illegal immigrant, the child born after 2004 will have to acquire Indian citizenship through other means, not simply by birth. The law describes an illegal migrant as a foreigner who: (i) enters the country without valid travel documents, like a passport and visa, or (ii) enters with valid documents, but stays beyond the permitted time period.

Citizenship by descent: A person born outside India and who has at least one Indian parent will be granted citizenship provided that the birth is registered within 1 year with the Indian consulate in the jurisdiction.

Citizenship by registration: This is for persons related to an Indian citizen through marriage or ancestry.

Citizenship by naturalisation: Section 6 of the Citizenship Act states a certificate of naturalisation can be granted to a person who is not an illegal immigrant and has resided in India continuously for 12 months before making an application. Additionally, in the 14 years before the 12-month period, the person must have lived in india for at least 11 years (relaxed to five years for the categories covered under the new amendment).

What exactly is debatable about the law, legally and constitutionally?

Legal experts and Opposition leaders have argued that it violates the letter and spirit of the Constitution. One argument made in Parliament is that the law violates Article 14 that guarantees equal protection of laws. According to the legal test prescribed by courts, for a law to satisfy the conditions under Article 14, it has to first create a “reasonable class” of subjects that it seeks to govern under the law.

Second, the legislation has to show a “rational nexus” between the subject and the object it seeks to achieve. Even if the classification is reasonable, any person who falls in that category has to be treated alike. If protecting the persecuted minorities is ostensibly the objective of the law, then the exclusion of some countries and using religion as a yardstick may fall foul of the test.

Further, granting citizenship on the grounds of religion is seen to be against the secular nature of the Constitution which has been recognised as part of the basic structure that cannot be altered by Parliament.

Why is Assam in particular seeing such strong protests?

In Assam, what is primarily driving the protests is not who are excluded from the ambit of the new law, but how many are included. The protesters are worried about the prospect of the arrival of more migrants, irrespective of religion, in a state whose demography and politics have been defined by migration. The Assam Movement (1979-85) was built around migration from Bangladesh, which many Assamese fear will lead to their culture and language being ovetaken, besides putting pressure on land resources and job opportunities.

The protesters’ argument is that the new law violates the Assam Accord of 1985, which sets March 24, 1971 as the cutoff for Indian citizenship. This is also the cut-off for the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, whose final version was published this year. Under the new law, the cutoff is December 31, 2014, for Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Buddhists and Jains from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. It has become controversial largely because it excludes Muslims.

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