Lok Sabha passes The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill – 2019
- The Bill has been formulated recognizing the need for regulation of the use and application of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) technology, for establishing identity of missing persons, victims, offenders, under trials and unknown deceased persons.
- The purpose of this Bill is to expand the application of DNA-based forensic technologies to support and strengthen the justice delivery system of the country.
- The utility of DNA based technologies for solving crimes, and to identify missing persons, is well recognized across the world.
- The Bill seeks to ensure that with the proposed expanded use of this technology in this country, there is also the assurance that the DNA test results are reliable, and furthermore that the data remain protected from misuse or abuse in terms of the privacy rights of our citizens.
- The key components of this Bill include:
- establishment of a DNA Regulatory Board;
- accreditation of DNA laboratories undertaking DNA testing, analysing, etc.;
- establishment of the National and Regional DNA Data Banks, as envisaged in the Bill, will assist in forensic investigations.
- This will aid in scientific up-gradation and streamlining of the DNA testing activities in the country with appropriate inputs from the DNA Regulatory Board which would be set up for the purpose.
- The Bill will add value in empowering the criminal justice delivery system by enabling the application of DNA evidence, which is considered the gold standardin crime investigations.
Key Issues and Analysis
- The Schedule lists civil matters where DNA profiling can be used. This includes “issues relating to establishment of individual identity.” DNA testing carried out in medical or research laboratories can be used to identify an individual. It is unclear if the Bill intends to regulate such laboratories.
- The Bill requires consent of the individual when DNA profiling is used in criminal investigations and identifying missing persons. However, consent requirements have not been specified in case of DNA profiling for civil matters.
- DNA laboratories are required to share DNA data with the Data Banks. It is unclear whether DNA profiles for civil matters will also be stored in the Data Banks. Storage of these profiles in the Data Banks may violate the right to privacy.
- DNA laboratories prepare DNA profiles and then share them with DNA Data Banks. The Bill specifies the process by which DNA profiles may be removed from the Data Banks. However, the Bill does not require DNA laboratories to remove DNA profiles. It may be argued that such provisions be included in the Bill and not left to regulations.
Union Home Minister introduces the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 in Lok Sabha
- The Bill seeks to facilitate acquisition of citizenship by six identified minority communities namely Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who came to India before 31st 2014.
- Union Home Minister clarified that the Act is not confined to the State of Assam. The Bill will apply to all States and Union Territories of the country. The beneficiaries of Citizenship Amendment Bill can reside in any state of the country.
- Dispelling the misgivings about Citizenship Amendment Act, Minister highlighted the discrimination and religious persecution faced by these communities in these countries. They have no place to go to, except India.
- The proposed amendment will make these persecuted migrants eligible to apply for citizenship. Citizenship will be given to them only after due scrutiny and recommendation of district authorities and the State Government. The minimum residency period for citizenship is being reduced from existing 12 years under the present law to 7 years.
- Minister said the present Government has taken several measures to implement the Assam Accord. An important pillar of Assam Accord is Clause 6 dealing with constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards for protection of cultural, social and linguistic identity and heritage of Assamese people.
- Government has given approval to move the Bill in parliament granting ST status to six communities of Assam namely Tai Ahom, Koch Rajbongshi, Chutia, Tea Tribes, Moran and Matak.
- At the same time full safeguards will be provided to protect the interests, rights & privileges of existing Scheduled Tribes of Assam. A separate Bill will be brought to grant ST status to Bodo Kacharis in Hill districts of Assam and Karbis in the rest of Assam. Sixth Schedule of the Constitution is also proposed to be amended to strengthen the Autonomous District Councils.
Key Issues and Analysis
- The Bill makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees right to equality.
- The Bill allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences (e.g. parking in a no parking zone).
Cyber Crime prevention against Women and Children
- The main objective of Cyber Crime Prevention against Women and Children (CCPWC) Scheme is to have an effective mechanism to handle cybercrimes against women and children in the country.
- Main features of the scheme are given below:
- Online cybercrime reporting platform
- One national level cyber forensic laboratory
- Training of Police officers, judges & prosecutors
- Cybercrime awareness activities
- Research & Development
- Police and Public are State subject as per the Constitution of India and States are primarily responsible for prevention, detection and investigation of crime through their law enforcement machinery.
- The Law Enforcement Agencies take legal action as per the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act, 2000 against the cyber fraud offenders.
- The online cybercrime reporting portal cybercrime.gov.in has been operationalized and since inception, more than 3800 complaints have been received on it.
Modernization of Police Force
- Public Order and Police are State subjects as per the Constitution of India. Therefore, equipping of police forces is the primary responsibility of the State Governments.
- However, the States have not been able to modernize and equip their police forces up to the desired level due to financial constraints.
- It is in this context that the Ministry of Home Affairs has been supplementing the efforts of the State Governments for equipping and modernizing their police forces under the scheme of ‘Assistance to States for Modernisation of Police.
- Under this scheme, the States have been providing central assistance for acquisition of latest weaponry, training gadgets, advanced communication and forensic equipment etc.
- Jammu & Kashmir, insurgency affected North Eastern States and Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts have also been aided with purchase of operational vehicles and for construction of police building, etc.
- The Crime and Criminal Network and Systems (CCTNS) has been rolled out nationally and as on 30.11.2018, it has been deployed in 14,764 police stations out of 15,705 police stations in the country.
- The Government of India assists States and UT administrations in combating cyber-crimes by providing financial grants under various schemes and issuing advisories.
- Ministry of Home Affairs has also approved a scheme titled ‘Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) on 5.10.2018 to deal with all types of cybercrime in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.
- In 2006, the Supreme Court of India delivered a historic judgment in Prakash Singh vs. Union of India, instructing central and state governments to comply with a set of seven directives that laid down practical mechanisms to kick-start police reform. The directives are –
- Constitute a State Security Commission (SSC) to:
- Ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police.
- Lay down broad policy guideline and
- Evaluate the performance of the state police
- Ensure that the DGP is appointed through merit based transparent process and secure a minimum tenure of two years.
- Ensure that other police officers on operational duties (including Superintendents of Police in-charge of a district and Station House Officers in-charge of a police station) are also provided a minimum tenure of two years.
- Separate the investigation and law and order functions of the police.
- Set up a Police Establishment Board (PEB) to decide transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of police officers of and below the rank of DSP and make recommendations on postings and transfers above the rank of DSP.
- Set up a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) at state level to inquire into public complaints against police officers of and above the rank of DSP in cases of serious misconduct, including custodial death, grievous hurt, or rape in police custody and at district levels to inquire into public complaints against the police personnel below the rank of DSP in cases of serious misconduct.
- Set up a National Security Commission (NSC) at the union level to prepare a panel for selection and placement of Chiefs of the Central Police Organisations (CPO) with a minimum tenure of two years.
Powers of Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regulates and supervises Public Sector And Private Sector Banks. Under the provisions of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, it can, inter alia―
- inspect the bank and its books and accounts (section 35(1) );
- examine on oath any director or other officer of the bank (section 35(3));
- cause a scrutiny to be made of the affairs of the bank (section 35(1A));
- give directions to secure the proper management of the bank (section 35A);
- call for any information of account details (section 27(2));
- determine the policy in relation to advances by the bank (section 21);
- direct special audit of the bank (section 30(1B) ); and
- direct the bank to initiate insolvency resolution process in respect of a default, under the provisions of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (section 35AA).
Further, in respect of nationalised banks and the State Bank of India (SBI), under the provisions of the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Acts of 1970 and 1980 (Bank Nationalisation Acts) and the State Bank of India Act, 1955 (SBI Act) respectively, inter alia―
RBI’s nominee Director is a member on –
- the nationalised bank’s Management Committee of the Board, which exercises the powers of the bank’s Board with regard to credit proposals above specified threshold (section 9(3)(c) of the Bank Nationalisation Acts, and paragraph 13 of the Nationalised Banks (Management and Miscellaneous Provisions) Schemes of 1970 and 1980 made by the Government under the Bank Nationalisation Acts), and
- the Executive Committee of the Central Board of SBI, which may deal with any matter within the competence of the Central Board subject to SBI General Regulations, 1955 and Central Board’s directions (sections 19(f) and 30 of SBI Act, and regulation 46 of SBI General Regulations, 1955);
- RBI approves the appointment and fixes the remuneration of the bank’s auditors (section 10 of the Bank Nationalisation Acts, and section 41 of the SBI Act); and
- RBI can appoint additional Directors on the nationalised banks’ Boards and State Bank of India’s Central Board (section 9A of the Bank Nationalisation Acts, and section 19B of the SBI Act).
- In addition, whole-time Directors of nationalised banks and State Bank of India are appointed in consultation with RBI.
- RBI has powers under other laws as well, which include, inter alia, the power under section 12 of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 to inspect for compliance with the Act and rules etc. made there under.
National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA)
- The National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA) has been constituted under Section 171 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 to ensure that the reduction in rate of tax or the benefit of input tax credit is passed on to the recipient by way of commensurate reduction in prices.
Agriculture Export Policy
- The Government has come out with a policy to double farmers’ income by 2022. Exports of agricultural products would play a pivotal role in achieving this goal.
Objectives of the Agriculture Export Policy are as under:
- To double agricultural exports from present ~US$ 30+ Billion to ~US$ 60+ Billion by 2022 and reach US$ 100 Billion in the next few years thereafter, with a stable trade policy regime.
- To diversify our export basket, destinations and boost high value- and value-added agricultural exports including focus on perishables.
- To promote novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and non-traditional Agri products exports.
- To provide an institutional mechanism for pursuing market access, tackling barriers and deal with sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues.
- To strive to double India’s share in world agri exports by integrating with global value chain at the earliest.
- Enable farmers to get benefit of export opportunities in overseas market.
Elements of Agriculture Export Policy:
The recommendations in the Agriculture Export Policy have been organised in two categories – Strategic and Operational – as detailed below:
|Infrastructure and logistics support|
|Holistic approach to boost exports|
|Greater involvement of State Governments in agri exports|
|Focus on Clusters|
|Promoting value-added exports|
|Marketing and promotion of “Brand India|
|Operational||Attract private investments into production and processing|
|Establishment of strong quality regimen|
|Research & Development|
Bridging the Urban-Rural Gap in Agriculture
The Government is implementing several programmes that aim at bringing about overall improvement in the quality of life of the rural people and bridging the urban rural gap through: creation of employment opportunities; strengthening of livelihood opportunities; creation of rural infrastructure; provision of other basic amenities; etc.
These programmes, inter alia, include:
- Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act for wage employment,
- Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission for livelihoods promotion through self-employment,
- Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana for rural housing,
- National Rurban Mission to stimulate local economic development, enhance basic services, and create well planned Rurban clusters,
- Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme to generate self-employment opportunities through establishment of micro-enterprises in the non-farm sector by helping traditional artisans and unemployed youth,
- National Social Assistance Programme for enhancing the incomes of rural poor and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana for rural roads.