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INDIAN EXPRESS EDITORIALS AND EXPLAINED 31ST JANUARY 2020

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ISSUE: ECONOMIC SURVEY

WHY IN NEWS?

One day before the Union budget, the Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) of the country releases the Economic Survey. The Economic Survey for 2019-2020 will be tabled in Parliament on Friday (January 31).

What is the Economic Survey?

The Economic Survey is a report the government presents on the state of the economy in the past one year, the key challenges it anticipates, and their possible solutions.

The document is prepared by the Economic Division of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) under the guidance of the CEA, currently Dr Krishnamurthy Subramanian.

Once prepared, the Survey is approved by the Finance Minister.

The first Economic Survey was presented in 1950-51. Until 1964, the document would be presented along with the Budget.

For the past few years, the Economic Survey has been presented in two volumes. For example, in 2018-19, while Volume 1 focussed on research and analysis of the challenges facing the Indian economy, Volume 2 gave a more detailed review of the financial year, covering all the major sectors of the economy.

Why is the Economic Survey significant?

The Economic Survey is a crucial document as it provides a detailed, official version of the government’s take on the country’s economic condition.

It can also be used to highlight some key concerns or areas of focus — for example, in 2018, the survey presented by the then CEA Arvind Subramanian was pink in colour, to stress on gender equality.

Is it binding on the government?

The government is not constitutionally bound to present the Economic Survey or to follow the recommendations that are made in it.

If the government so chooses, it can reject all suggestions laid out in the document.

But while the Centre is not obliged to present the Survey at all, it is tabled because of the significance it holds.

ISSUE: ANTICIPATORY BILL

WHY IN NEWS?

The Supreme Court Wednesday ruled that no time restriction should ordinarily be fixed for anticipatory bail and that it can continue even until the end of the trial.

The protection granted under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) “should not invariably be limited to a fixed period”, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said, deciding a reference made to it following “conflicting views” of some other benches of the court.

What is anticipatory bail?

Black’s Law Dictionary (4th edition) describes ‘bail’ as procuring “the release of a person from legal custody, by undertaking that he shall appear at the time and place designated and submit himself to the jurisdiction and judgement of the court.”

In the 1973 case Supt. and Remembrancer of Legal Affairs v. Amiya Kumar Roy Choudhry, the Calcutta High Court explained the principle behind giving bail: “The law of bails… has to dovetail two conflicting demands, namely, on one hand, the requirements of the society for being shielded from the hazards of being exposed to the misadventures of a person alleged to have committed a crime; and on the other, the fundamental canon of criminal jurisprudence viz. the presumption of innocence of an accused till he is found guilty.”

As opposed to ordinary bail, which is granted to a person who is under arrest, in anticipatory bail, a person is directed to be released on bail even before arrest made.

S. 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, lays down the law on anticipatory bail. Sub-section (1) of the provision reads: “When any person has reason to believe that he may be arrested on an accusation of having committed a non-bailable offence, he may apply to the High Court or the Court of Session for a direction under this section; and that Court may, if it thinks fit, direct that in the event of such arrest, he shall be released on bail.”

The provision empowers only the Sessions Court and High Court to grant anticipatory bail.

Rationale behind anticipatory bail

Anticipatory bail became part of the new CrPC in 1973 (when the latter replaced the older Code of 1898), after the 41st Law Commission Report of 1969 recommended the inclusion of the provision.

In the 1980 Gurbaksh Singh Sibbia vs State of Punjab case, a five-judge Supreme Court bench led by then Chief Justice Y V Chandrachud ruled that S. 438 (1) is to be interpreted in the light of Article 21 of the Constitution (protection of life and personal liberty).

Conditions while granting anticipatory bail

While granting anticipatory bail, the Sessions Court or High Court can impose the conditions laid down in sub-section (2).

S. 438(2) reads: “When the High Court or the Court of Session makes a direction under sub-section (1), it may include such conditions in such directions in the light of the facts of the particular case, as it may think fit, including —

(i) a condition that the person shall make himself available for interrogation by a police officer as and when required;

(ii) a condition that the person shall not, directly or indirectly, make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the Court or to any police officer;

(iii) a condition that the person shall not leave India without the previous permission of the Court;

(iv) such other condition as may be imposed under sub-section (3) of section 437, as if the bail were granted under that section.”

ISSUE: WEALTH CREATORS 

WHY IN NEWS?

The big idea from the Economic Survey 2019-20 is the need to push towards increasing the number of wealth creators in the Indian economy. The Survey states that to achieve the goal of becoming a $5-trillion economy, the invisible hand of markets will need the support of “the hand of trust”.

What does that mean?

Essentially, this means that regulation and rules in the economy should be such that they make it easy to do business but not turn into crony capitalism.

The Survey states: “The invisible hand needs to be strengthened by promoting pro-business policies to (i) provide equal opportunities for new entrants, enable fair competition and ease doing business, (ii) eliminate policies that unnecessarily undermine markets through government intervention, (iii) enable trade for job creation, and (iv) efficiently scale up the banking sector to be proportionate to the size of the Indian economy.”

The Survey introduces the idea of “trust as a public good that gets enhanced with greater use”. In other words, it states that policies must empower transparency and effective enforcement using data and technology to enhance this public good.

Is this push for wealth creators new?

No. This is an extension of what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during his Independence Day speech in August last year, where he stressed on the need for the country to view “wealth creators” differently.

“Those who create wealth for the country, those who contribute in the country’s wealth creation — they all are serving the nation as well…We should not look at wealth creators with apprehension and doubt their intentions; we should not look down upon them,” had stated.

The PM had also said there was a need in the country to give such wealth creators due respect and credit. He had said that this change is required because “If no wealth is created, no wealth can be distributed”.

ISSUE: Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020

WHY IN NEWS?

The Union cabinet has done well to approve a Bill that seeks to amend India’s outmoded abortion law. On Tuesday, it gave its nod to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020. If it gets Parliament’s sanction, this piece of legislation will amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971.

WHAT DOES THE BILL AIMS?

Bill seeks to increase the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for termination of pregnancy. Significantly, this provision applies to unmarried women and therefore, relaxes one of the regressive clauses of the 1971 Act — single women couldn’t cite contraceptive failure as a reason for seeking abortion. It also has a provision to protect the privacy of the person seeking abortion.

WHY IT WAS NEEDED?

The MTP Act, 1971 was replete with unclear language, which resulted in doctors refusing to perform abortions even within the stipulated 20 week gestation limit. Women had to seek the approval of the judiciary, which, by most accounts, did not always come in time.

MTP Bill 2020 “will help reduce maternal mortality”.

WHAT MORE SHOULD BE DONE?

The new piece of legislation should be worded in a manner that obviates frequent appeals to the judiciary. Such fine print would — more significantly — be essential to accomplishing one of the Bill’s main goals, as emphasised by Javadekar: “Giving reproductive rights to women”.

 

 

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