IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


14th March, 2020


Europe now ‘epicenter’ of pandemic, says WHO

WHO comment:

-       Europe has now become the “epicenter” for the global coronavirus pandemic.

-       It is impossible to know when the outbreak would peak.

-       The continent had now “more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China.

-       More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic.

-       It asked countries to “find, isolate, test and treat every case, to break the chains of transmission.”

About WHO:

-       Primary role is to direct and coordinate international health within the United Nations system.

-       Main areas of work are health systems; health through the life-course; non-communicable and communicable diseases; preparedness, surveillance and response; and corporate services.

-       The World Health Assembly is attended by delegations from all Member States, and determines the policies of the Organization.

-       The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialised agency of the United Nationsthat is concerned with world public health.

-       The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/europe-now-epicentre-of-pandemic-says-who/article31066509.ece


Masks, sanitisers now essential commodities

Masks and hand sanitisers have been declared as essential commodities due to their shortage in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Need of the decisions:

-        These products are either not available with most of the vendors in the market or are available with great difficulty at exorbitant prices.

Impact of this decision:

-       The decision would empower the States and the Central government to regulate production, quality, distribution and sale of these items and carry out operations against those involved in speculation, overpricing and black marketing.

-        States can ensure these items are not sold for more than the Maximum Retail Price (MRP).

-       Consumers can register complaints with the National Consumer Helpline1800-11-4000 or at consumerhelpline.gov.in.

-       An offender under the Essential Commodities Act can be punished with imprisonment up to seven years, or a fine or both.

Essential Commodity Act:

-        The Essential Commodities Act is an act of Parliament of India, which was established to ensure the delivery of certain commodities or products, the supply of which if obstructed owing to hoarding or black-marketing would affect the normal life of the people.

-        This includes foodstuff, drugs, fuel (petroleum products) etc.

-        The Centre can include new commodities as and when the need arises and take them off the list once the situation improves.

-        The State Governments are fully empowered under the Act to regulate production, distribution, supply and prices of the food items which are declared as essential commodities in the respective States.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/masks-sanitisers-now-essential-commodities/article31065419.ece


RS nod for ‘Vivad Se Vishwas’ Bill

The Parliament approved the Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Bill, 2020, which will give taxpayers a chance to settle tax disputes by paying their dues without any interest or penalty till March 31.

About Vivad se Vishwas Bill:

-        Appellant:  The Bill defines an appellant as the income tax authority, or the person, or both, whose appeal is pending before any appellate forum as on January 31, 2020.

-        These appellate forums are the Supreme Court, the High Courts, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunals and the Commissioner (Appeals). 

-        Resolution mechanism:   The Bill proposes a resolution mechanism under which an appellant can file a declaration to the designated authority to initiate resolution of pending direct tax disputes.  

-        Based on the declaration, the designated authority will determine the amount payable by the appellant against the dispute

-        The appellant must pay this amount within 15 days of the receipt of the certificate and inform the designated authority of such payment.  Such amount will not be refundable.

-        Amount payable for resolution:  The amount payable by the appellant for resolution of disputes is determined based on whether the dispute relates to payment of tax, or payment of interest, penalty, or fee

-        Waiver of rights:  For dispute resolution, the appellant is required to furnish an undertaking waiving his rights to seek any remedy or claim in relation to that dispute under any law, including the Income Tax Act, 1961 (IT Act).  All such claims already filed in relation to the dispute must be withdrawn before filing the declaration. 

-        Immunity to appellant:  Once a dispute is resolved, the designated authority cannot levy interest or penalty in relation to that dispute.  

-        Further, no appellate forum can make a decision in relation to the matter of dispute once it is resolved.  Such matters cannot be reopened in any proceeding under any law, including the IT Act.

-        Disputes not covered:  The proposed mechanism will not cover certain disputes.  These include disputes:

-       Where prosecution has been initiated before the declaration is filed,

-       Which involve persons who have been convicted or are being prosecuted for offences under certain laws (such as the Indian Penal Code) or for enforcement of civil liabilities, and

-       Involving undisclosed foreign income or assets

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/rs-nod-for-vivad-se-vishwas-bill/article31065428.ece

EC needs to revisit poll spending cap

A private member bill was seeking to remove all limits on poll expenditure in the interest of transparency.

Government comment:

-       The Election Commission needed to revisit the cap on election spending by candidates.

About Election Commission:

-       The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.

-       The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies in India and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.

Related Articles:

-       Art.324: Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission.

-       Art.325: No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special, electoral roll on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex.

-       Art.326: Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assemblies of States to be on the basis of adult suffrage.

-       Art.327: Power of Parliament to make provision with respect to elections to Legislatures.

-       Art.328: Power of Legislature of a State to make provision with respect to elections to such Legislature.

-       Art.329: Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters.

Functions of Election Commission:

-       The most important function of the commission is to decide the election schedules for the conduct of periodic and timely elections, whether general or bye-elections.

-       The Commission also has advisory jurisdiction in the matter of post election disqualification of sitting members of Parliament and State Legislatures.

-       The Commission also has advisory jurisdiction in the matter of post election disqualification of sitting members of Parliament and State Legislatures.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/ec-needs-to-revisit-poll-spending-cap/article31065426.ece

Vistara puts Kunal Kamra on no-fly list

About No Fly List:

-       The National No Fly List is an Indian government initiative to identify disruptive passengers and temporarily prohibit them from boarding flights.

-       The objective of the list is "to ensure safety and check unruly and disruptive behaviour on aircraft".

-       The no-fly list is compiled and maintained by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) based on inputs from airlines.

-       The no-fly list only governs passenger behaviour onboard scheduled and non-scheduled flights. 

Rules governing no fly list:

-       In 2017, the government issued rules for preventing disruptive behaviour by air travelers and laid down guidelines for a no-fly list.

-       As per the rules, a complaint of unruly behaviour needs to be filed by the pilot-in-command, and this is to be probed by an internal committee to be set up by the airline.

-       During the period of pendency of the inquiry, the rules empower the concerned airline to impose a ban on the passenger.

-       The rules define three categories of unruly behaviour:

-       Level 1 refers to behaviour that is verbally unruly, and calls for debarment up to three months;

-       Level 2 indicates physical unruliness and can lead to the passenger being debarred from flying for up to six months;

-       Level 3 indicates life-threatening behaviour for which the debarment would be for a minimum of two years.

-       Possible offences:

-       Consuming alcohol or drugs resulting in unruly behaviour;

-       Smoking in an aircraft; using threatening or abusive language towards a member of the crew or other passengers;

-       Intentionally interfering with the performance of the duties of a crewmember etc.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/now-vistara-puts-kamra-on-no-fly-list/article31065414.ece