Prelims Sure Shot
Credit platform for MSMEs takes shape
Why in news
A nationwide newly-developed credit protocol infrastructure – OCEN is all set to start.
Open Credit Enablement Network (OCEN):
- The credit protocol infrastructure is known as Open Credit Enablement Network (OCEN).
- Indian Software Products Industry Round Table (iSPIRT) has developed the platform. It will mediate the interactions between loan service providers (usually fintechs and mainstream lenders) including all large banks and NBFCs.
- These will involve multiple banks and thousands of MSMEs. Meanwhile, private equity and venture capital players, angel investors, high net worth individuals and others also could be part of this exercise as investors.
- With this, credit is expected to become more accessible for a large number of entrepreneurs and small businesses in India. It is believed that this would lead to the democratisation of credit.
Why in News
Several citizens of various countries, who were accused of violating visa conditions and government guidelines following the Covid-19 pandemic, have obtained release from court cases in recent days by means of plea bargaining.
- Plea Bargaining: It refers to a person charged with a criminal offence (accused) negotiating with the prosecution for a lesser punishment than what is provided in law by pleading guilty to a less serious offence.
- It primarily involves pretrial negotiations between the accused and the prosecutor. It may involve bargaining on the charge or in the quantum of sentence.
Provision in India:
- Plead Guilty: There has always been a provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) for an accused to plead ‘guilty’ instead of claiming the right to a full trial, but it is not the same as plea bargaining.
- Plea Bargaining: Plea bargaining was introduced in 2006 as part of a set of amendments to the CrPC as Chapter XXI-A, containing Sections 265A to 265L.
- Cases for which the plea bargaining is allowed are Only someone who has been charged for an offence that does not attract the death sentence, life sentence or a prison term above seven years can make use of the scheme under Chapter XXI-A.
- It is also applicable to private complaints of which a criminal court has taken
- Other categories of cases that cannot be disposed of through plea bargaining are those that involve offences affecting the “socioeconomic conditions” of the country, or committed against a woman or a child below the age of 14.
Procedure in India:
- The plea bargaining process can be initiated only by the accused. This provision is different from the one in other countries like the USA where the prosecutor plays a key role in bargaining with the suspected offender.
- The accused will have to apply to the court for invoking the benefit of bargaining. Thereafter, the court may permit the prosecutor, the investigating officer and the victim (if any) to hold a meeting for a “satisfactory disposition of the case”.
- The accused may be sentenced to a prison term that is half the minimum period fixed for the offence. If there is no minimum term prescribed, the sentence should run up to one-fourth of the maximum sentence stipulated in law. The outcome may also involve payment of compensation and other expenses to the victim by the accused.
Arguments in Favour:
- As per the Justice Malimath Committee on reforms of the criminal justice system (formed in 2000):
- This ensures speedy trial, ends uncertainty over the outcome of criminal cases, saves litigation costs and relieves the parties of anxiety.
- It would also have a dramatic impact on conviction rates. It is common in the USA, and has been a successful method of avoiding protracted and complicated trials. As a result, conviction rates are significantly high there.
- Prolonged imprisonment of undertrials without any progress in the case for years and overcrowding of prisons are also other factors that may be cited in support of reducing pendency of cases and decongesting prisons through plea bargaining. It may help offenders make a fresh start in life.
- People who are pushed to plea bargain are those who do not have the wherewithal to arrange for bail.
- Even courts are also very particular about the voluntary nature of the exercise, as poverty, ignorance and prosecution pressure should not lead to someone pleading guilty of offences that may not have been committed.
- The Judiciary in its earlier verdicts (especially before the introduction of the process) had disapproved of bargaining with offenders, and pointed out that lenient sentences could be considered as part of the circumstances of the case after a regular trial. Mere acceptance or admission of the guilt should not be a ground for reduction of sentence.
- Further, it may hamper the victim’s right to fair trial, involvement of coercion by the investigating agencies and corruption in the process. Some argue that it is against Article 20 (3) of the Constitution which provides immunity to an accused against self-incrimination.
- To sum up, while plea bargaining is beneficial to the accused and victim of a crime, enough safeguards are required to be placed to stop possible abuse of this
Restrictions on Public Procurement
Why in News
Recently, the Government of India imposed restrictions on public procurement from bidders of countries that share a land border with India, citing grounds of defence and national security.
- This was done by amending the General Financial Rules 2017. Earlier the Central government has made it mandatory for sellers on the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) portal to clarify the country of origin of goods when registering new products.
- The government also amended Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) rules mandating prior approval for investment by entities in countries that share land borders with India.
- Reason: According to experts, this decision has been taken to prevent the influx of Chinese products and investments into India, following the clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan Valley. To push for Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India).
- New Order: Bidders from these countries will be eligible only if they are registered with the Registration Committee (Competent Authority) constituted by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
- For national security reasons, the Registration Committee shall not be required to give reasons for rejection/cancellation of registration of a Bidders will also be required to take mandatory political and security clearance from the ministries of External Affairs and Home respectively. The order will not apply to procurement by the private sector.
Order Mandatory for State Governments:
- The Central government has invoked the provisions of Article 257(1) of the Constitution, directing the state governments to implement this order for all public procurement.
- For State government procurement, the Competent Authority will be constituted by the states but political and security clearance from Central government ministries will remain necessary.
- Relaxation will be provided for procurement of Covid-19 medical supplies till 31st December 2020.
- The order for prior registration will not apply for countries to which India extends lines of credit or provides development assistance, even if they share a land border with India.
- India shares its border with China, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Myanmar.
- As per official data, out of these, the government has extended lines of credit to Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar. India also provides various developmental assistance to Bhutan and
- It states that the executive power of every State shall be so exercised as not to impede or prejudice the exercise of the executive power of the Union.
- It also authorises the Union to give such directions to a State as may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for that purpose.
- In case if the state failed to comply with (or to give effect to) any directions given by the Centre under Article 257(1), it will be lawful for the President to impose President’s rule under Article 356.
4.Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Why in News
On 23 July, India paid tribute to the freedom fighter and educationist Bal Gangadhar Tilak on his birth anniversary.
- Birth: He was born on July 1856 in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra. Freedom fighter and lawyer, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, is also known as Lokmanya
- Educationist: Founder of the Deccan Education Society (1884) along with his associate Gopal Ganesh Agarkar and others. One of the founders of the Fergusson College (1885) in Pune through the Deccan Education Society.
- Ideology: He was a devout Hindu and used Hindu scriptures to rouse people to fight oppression. Stressed on the need for self-rule and believed that without self-rule or swarajya, no progress was possible.
- Slogan: “Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it!” A book ‘Indian Unrest’ written by Valentine Chirol, an English journalist, stated Tilak the ‘father of Indian unrest’.
- Emphasised the importance of a cultural and religious revival to go with the political movements.
- Popularised the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in the Maharashtra region. Propounded the celebration of Shiv Jayanti on the birth anniversary of the monarch Chhatrapati Shivaji.
- He was one of the earliest and the most vocal proponents of complete independence or swarajya (self-rule).
- Along with Lala Lajpat Rai and Bipin Chandra Pal, he was part of the Lal-Bal-Pal trio of leaders with extremist outlooks. Joined the Indian National Congress (INC) in 1890. Surat Split: It was the splitting of the INC into two groups – the Extremists and the Moderates – at the Surat session in 1907.
- Reason: The extremists wanted either Tilak or Lajpat Rai to be president, so when Rasbehari Ghose was announced as president, the extremist resorted to violence. Hence Surat Split happened. While extremists wanted to end the tyranny rule of British through protest,
- Moderates were aimed at administrative and constitutional reforms. The Extremist camp was led by Lal Bal and Pal and the moderate camp was led by Gopal Krishna Gokhle.
- Contribution to Freedom Movement: Propagated swadeshi movements and encouraged people to boycott foreign
- Indian Home Rule Movement: It was a movement in British India on the lines of Irish Home Rule movement. Started in 1916, it is believed to have set the stage for the independence movement under the leadership of Annie Besant and Bal Gangadhar Tilak for the educated English speaking upper class Indians.
- All India Home Rule League: Founded by Tilak in April 1916 at Belgaum. It worked in Maharashtra (except Bombay), the Central Provinces, Karnataka and Berar.
- Lucknow Pact (1916): Between the INC headed by Tilak and All-India Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah for hindu-muslim unity in nationalist struggle.
- Jail: Between 1908 and 1914, he spent 6 years in Mandalay Prison for defending the actions of revolutionaries Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki. Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki had tried to assassinate the District Judge, Mr. Kingsford by throwing bombs at the carriage in which he was supposed to travel.
- Newspapers: Weeklies Kesari (Marathi) and Mahratta (English)
- Books: Gita Rhasya and Arctic Home of the Vedas.
- Death: He died on 1 August 1920.
Chandra Shekhar Azad
Why in News
On 23 July, India paid tribute to the freedom fighter Chandra Shekhar Azad on his birth anniversary.
- Birth: Azad was born on July 1906 in the Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh.
- Early Life: Chandra Shekhar, then a 15-year-old student, joined a Non- Cooperation Movement in December 1921. As a result, he was arrested. On being presented before a magistrate, he gave his name as “Azad” (The Free), his father’s name as “Swatantrata” (Independence) and his residence as “Jail”. Therefore, he came to be known as Chandra Shekhar Azad.
- Contribution to Freedom Movement: Hindustan Republican Association: After the suspension of the noncooperation movement in 1922 by Gandhi, Azad joined Hindustan Republican Association (HRA).
- HRA was a revolutionary organization of India established in 1924 in East Bengal by Sachindra Nath Sanyal, Narendra Mohan Sen and Pratul Ganguly as an offshoot of Anushilan Samiti.
- Members: Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Sukhdev, Ram Prasad Bismil, Roshan Singh, Ashfaqulla Khan, Rajendra Lahiri.
- Kakori Conspiracy: Most of the fund collection for revolutionary activities was done through robberies of government property. In line with the same, Kakori Train Robbery near Kakori, Lucknow was done in 1925 by HRA.
- The plan was executed by Chandra Shekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Rajendra Lahiri, and Manmathnath Gupta.
- Hindustan Socialist Republican Association: HRA was later reorganized as the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA). It was established in at Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi by Chandra Shekhar Azad, Ashfaqulla Khan, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee.
- HSRA planned the shooting of J. P. Saunders, a British Policeman at Lahore in 1928 to avenge the killing of Lala Lajpat Rai. Death: He died at Azad Park in Allahabad on 27 February 1931