Analysis: Plea seeking Waiver of Private School Fees

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the whole world to a standstill. People from all walks of life are facing the brunt of the pandemic. Amidst the pandemic, the education industry was tasked with keeping classes going for its students. With schools shut due to the lockdown, physical teaching became an impossibility. This resulted in online classes being formalised. In the current context, online classes are classes taken by the teachers that students attend from their homes through a computer, laptop, or smartphone. For the smooth conduct of online classes, the student and teacher must have a stable and fast internet connection, a smart device and a basic understanding of how to operate the device and applications. 

While there are apparent advantages of online classes, such as inter-personal interactions between teachers and students while sitting in the comfort of their homes, there are obvious disadvantages too. The virtual schooling systems cannot by any standard of comparison be considered at par with the overall schooling experience. While private schools are trying their best to incorporate curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities within the ambit of this virtual system, several parents are unhappy with the fees that is being charged from them under the pretext of online classes. This was the backdrop that led them to challenge the fee structure before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. In the petition, the Petitioners have expressed disappointment at the Union and State Governments for not putting out proper guidelines for the conduct of the same. However, the Hon’ble Apex Court dismissed the Petition and asked the Petitioners to approach jurisdictional courts in their individual States.

Facts of the Issue

The Petitioners, who are the guardians of the wards studying in different schools of the country, had approached the Hon’ble Supreme Court by invoking its jurisdiction under Article 32, seeking the protection of right to life and right to education guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of the country.

The Petitioners claimed to be aggrieved with essentially two issues: the demand for payment of fees; and the non-payment of which will result in their child’s termination from the school. They alleged harassment by the school authorities to pay fees in advance. They claim that despite the schools not functioning as usual, they are being forced to pay fees for such periods. This Petition was at the time when online classes had not become the usual norm that it is today. No rebate had been offered to the parents, in fact, a fee hike had been opted by some school under the pretext of online classes.

The secondly grievance alleged by the parents was with the variance in orders across the various States in the regulation of online classes. The Petitioners prayed for a uniform set of guidelines for the whole country. Also, they complained that no order or notification has been issued for the students of economically weaker sections (“EWS”), who do not have access to the internet or devices, and are therefore at a naturally disadvantageous position with respect to online classes. Thus, violating their right to education, which is recognised within the ambit of Article 21, and specifically incorporated under Article 21A. They further contended that online classes are taken in an unregulated manner, which causes health problems and also makes kids prone to cyber offences. Lastly, the Petitioners prayed that their wards be not expelled from schools on account of default in payment of fees and to constitute a committee, to regulate the school fee structuring at a pan India level.

Legal Provisions Involved

The prime attention of this debate, and consequent Petition has been focused on Article 21, which guarantees the right to life and Article 21A, which guarantees the right to education for all children between the ages of six and fourteen years. In furtherance of which, The Right of Children To Free And Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (“the Act”) was enacted squarely for the purpose of ensuring that the benefit of education reaches all children, irrespective of socio-economic status. The scope of the Act extends to private schools which receive aids from the Government and it requires such schools to reserve 25% of its seats for students from the economically backward sections. This has made education more accessible, universal as well as democratic. These are the primary legal provisions one finds embroiled in the issue.

The scope of Article 21 is enormous and through judicial review, the scope of Article 21 can be enlarged. It encompasses all those aspects of a man’s life which make it meaningful, complete and worth living. It is within this context that financial constraints act as a thorn. The Petitioners rightly pointed out that the fees demanded from them under normal circumstances covers the additional fees of library, electricity, transport etc. All of these are facilities and amenities that the students are unable to access at the moment, on account of the lockdown restrictions. Hence, the parents claimed that they were being unfairly charged for services that their wards have not utilised. Further, a hike in fees during such times was claimed to be not justified, for obvious reasons. The consequence of the parent’s failure to pay fees, would result in the student being expelled from the school, impeding their education.

Then comes the aspect of doctrine of parens patriae, which means that the State acts as a parent to guard its citizens from any calamity, and look out for their best interest. The Petitioners invoked this doctrine, demanding the State to protect the students from expulsion on account of default in payment of fees.

Critical Analysis

It is a constitutionally guaranteed right of every citizen to approach the Hon’ble Supreme Court in cases of violations of its fundamental rights. In the present case, the case of the Petitioners was that their fundamental rights under Article 21 and 21A were being violated. In such a scenario, the people look up at the Hon’ble Supreme Court to remedy their grievances and provide them with justice. However, the Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled against the Petitioners and instead asked them to approach the respective High Courts of their states, some of which have already allowed school fees to be paid without any reductions. In the Author’s view, the Apex Court ought to have paid more heed to the Petition and the contentions raised therein. Afterall, the reliefs being sought were of equitable nature. 

Conclusion

Financial constraints are the main problem people are facing in these trying times. Waiver of school fees, at least for the facilities not availed by the students during the lockdown should be mandated. Also, it is imperative that parents are given a fair amount of time to pay the fees and are not harassed and threatened with expulsion for the same. Insofar as online classes are concerned, it is advisable that States release comprehensive guidelines so as to regulate their structure and make provisions to afford feasibility of this development to all student, alike. A moratorium similar to the loan moratorium proposed by Reserve Bank of India might be considered in the education industry, for fee payment as well. Such decisions will be in the best interests of the students and the society.

Author: Sreyas T. Manoj from The National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi.

Editor: Astha Garg, Junior Editor, Lexlife India

India-Nepal Border dispute

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

In the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, India and Nepal are having border disputes over the areas namely – Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh (trijunction between India, Nepal and China).

The first big dispute is about the Mahakali River (or Kali River) that runs through Kalapani region which marks the border between India and Nepal according to the Treaty of Sugauli which was signed by the Kingdom of Nepal and British India in 1816 after Anglo-Nepalese War. It located the Mahakali River as Nepal’s western boundary with India.

Nepal claims that the river west of the disputed territory is the main river and so Kalapani falls in its territory. While, India claims Kalapani, a valley situated on the Kailash Mansarovar route, as a part of the Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand. The administrative and revenue records show that this (Kalapani) region was on the Indian side.

The dissimilarity or discrepancy in locating the source of the Mahakali River led to the boundary disputes between India and Nepal and each country produced their own map supporting their own claims.

The other dispute is about the Lipulekh area which is located in the far west point of Nepal near the Kalapani region. This dispute took place when India and China both decided to open the Lipulekh pass for travelling to Mansarovar. But, Nepal raised objections against this. Nepal thinks that it has the equal right over Lipulekh area and was upset with India for not taking the permission from Nepal.

How did it start?

Nepal had expressed displeasure on the 2015 agreement between India and China for using the Lipulekh pass for trade, without consulting Nepal. Lipulekh sits atop the Kalapani valley and forms a tri-junction between India, Nepal and China. This was the event which actually triggered the dispute between India and Nepal for the first time. Nepal claimed that it has equal right over Lipulekh area and India did not even consult with Nepal.

This (Lipulekh) dispute dates back to 1997 when India and China both decided to open the Lipulekh to facilitate a travel route to Mansoravar. But, Nepal raised objections against this. Nepal thinks that it has the equal right over Lipulekh area and was upset with India for not taking the permission.

Officially, Nepal came up with the issue of Kalapani before India in 1998. Both the sides agreed to demarcate the outstanding areas (including Kalpani) by 2002 at the prime ministerial level talk which was supposed to be held in 2000. But that has not happened yet.

The dispute worsened between India and Nepal when India released its new political map in the month of November, 2019 just after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A. The map showed the region of Kalapani is under the control of India as a part of the Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand.

Nepal was upset about the Kalapani region which was shown under the control of India as per the new map released by India. Nepali Government claimed that the Mahakali River which is on the west of Kalapani is under its territory.

Nepal’s claim has a historical reason i.e. the Treaty of Sugauli which was signed by the Kingdom of Nepal and British India in 1816 after Anglo-Nepalese War. It located the Mahakali River as Nepal’s western boundary with India.

But then in the 1860s Britishers released a new map and excluded the western boundary from Nepal’s territory as it was useful for trading with China. From that time till years after independence of India, western side of Kalapani was under India’s control.

At the time of Indo-China war in 1962 India took Nepal’s permission to place Indian army on that disputed border and since then it is under the control of Indian Government.

Significant Developments

Recently, in the month of May 2020, India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh, inaugurated a motorable link road that connects India and China, significantly reducing the time of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. This road passes through the territory at the Lipulekh pass that Nepal claims as its own territory.

Nepal claimed that if India wanted to build a road passing through Lipulekh then it should have consulted Nepal. In response, India said that there was no need for such consultation as the Lipulekh area is under its control.

Then the protests for the road built on the Lipulekh pass worsened in Nepal. The Indian Army Chief then stated that he sees the hand of third party (i.e. China) as the protest fired up in Nepal. Then in the same month, Nepal, as a protest against India, has released a new political map that claims Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh of Uttarakhand as part of Nepal’s territory.

Days after publishing the map showing Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh areas in Uttarakhand as its own, Nepal sensed that separate cartographical publications would not resolve the border disputes with India. Nepal then believed in settling the dispute through mutual treaties and agreements irrespective of what they have published for showing the actual control of the territory.

Nepal stated that it has to change the map on its Emblem and has to amend the Constitution as well so the best way to solve the dispute is through mutual treaties and agreements. Nepal even tried to reach out to India and talk about the issue. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kathmandu, Nepal’s embassy in Delhi tried to contact the Indian side. But New Delhi is yet to send a response.

Legal Provisions/Agreements involved

The Treaty of Sugauli is directly involved in the dispute between India and Nepal. It was signed on 2 December 1815 and ratified by 4 March 1816 between Kingdom of Nepal and British East India Company following the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814 – 1816). It demarcated the borders of Nepal and British India.

According to the Treaty of Sugauli the Mahakali river located in the western area of Nepal was designated as the western border of Nepal. Then in the 1860s Britishers excluded the area consisting Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh for the purpose of trading with China and since then even after the independence of India (1947) it is still under India’s control.

Critical Analysis

In this difficult situation of COVID-19 when every country in the world needs to be together to fight this pandemic, sadly, India and Nepal are having border disputes. The dispute is about the region namely – Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh (trijunction between India, Nepal and China).

Nepal claims the disputed region to be in its territory according to the Treaty of Sugauli which was ratified by 4 March 1816 between Kingdom of Nepal and British East India Company following the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814 – 1816).

At the same time India claims that it has been controlling the disputed region since the 1860s when it took permission from Nepal to place its army on that region for its own protection during the Indo-China War. The region was under control of India even after its independence and Nepal did not have any problem with that.

In 2015 when India and China made an agreement on constructing a motorable road through Lipulekh pass Nepal raised objection against this. Nepal also claimed that India should have consulted with it and should have formed an agreement or a treaty as it also has an equal right over the disputed region.

Nepal again protested in the month of May 2020 by releasing its political map including the disputed region in its own territory. And as a result the situation got worse than before.

Conclusion

India and Nepal both are trying to solve the dispute peacefully. In fact, Nepal had already tried to contact India but there is no response from the Indian side yet. And Nepal seems to be more interested in a peaceful solution to the dispute. Both sides are making legit claims over the inclusion of disputed areas in their own territory. India and Nepal should try to resolve the boundary dispute by taking into account all shared environmental characteristics. Since the free movement of people is permitted across the border India can’t afford to overlook stable and friendly relations with Nepal.

Author: Lakshya Kothari from United World School of Law.

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India

Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen): Phase 2 Guidelines

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

The government in February launched the second phase of Swachh Bharat Misssion: Grameen which aims mainly on improving the rural Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) with an overall dilution of funds of around One Lakh and Forty thousand Crore.  The amount comes partially from Ministry from Drinking Water and Sanitation and from funds allotted to MNREGA and Solid and Liquid Waste Management schemes. With the mission of sustaining the gains of Swachh Bharat Mission-1 and capitalizing on it to improve and enhance the hygiene of the rural India, the scheme will run from 2020-21 to 2024-25.

Significance of this development

The Swachh Bharat Mission-1 ran from 2014-2019 aiming to provide a toilet in every household of India. The government on 2nd October declared that the all 34 States and UTs have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). This achievement is truly commendable considering Rural India’s performance in Sanitation and Hygiene has been abysmal over the 7 decades of Independence. With the aim of sustaining and providing universal access to toilets, the second phase is visioning a ‘behavior chance’ programme with Individual and Rural communities in mind.

Aims and Objectives

The primary aim of the government is to transform districts into ODF-Plus. Ministry of Drinking water and Sanitation defines ODF-Plus as having four important components: ODF-S; Solid Waste Management; Liquid Waste Management; and Faecal Sludge Management. These can be discussed under following headings:

  • ODF-S: ODF- Sustainability is really crucial considering that the ODF status of many districts is hanging on a lose end and any trouble or even removal of incentives will sway away the people from using toilets.
  • Solid Waste Management: The scheme aims to provide at least 80% of the households with proper mechanism to deal with solid waste coming from agricultural activities and cattle, reducing plastic usage and other tackling other Bio-degradable wastes using compost pits.
  • Liquid Waste Management: On a similar ground, govt. aims that 80% of the household use pits and other conservation techniques and segregate the Blackwater that are mixed with the sewage and Greywater that are coming from Kitchens and Bathrooms are can be used again and again.
  • Visual Cleanliness: Visual cleanliness implies that around 80% of the rural area have minimal amount of litter, stagnant water and negligible plastic usage.

Salient features

The prominent features of the scheme are:

  • The Scheme will continue to generate employment as a result of construction of several pits and toilets and will give stimulus to rural economy and Infrastructure.
  • For sustainability of ODF status, any left-over house or newly built house will be provided with a toilet. Additionally, any retrofitting of already built toilets will be done in case of defects in their structure.
  • The new guidelines will also give 12,000 rupees as incentive for BPL, SC/ST, and other marginalized households for construction of toilets.
  • Construction of Community Sanitary Complexes (CSCs) is a welcome step and shall consist of an appropriate number of toilet seats, bathing cubicles, washing platforms, wash basins etc. The CSC would be accessible for Divyang-jans.
  • The Guidelines also suggest methods for implementation which includes collaborating with other schemes like Gobar-Dhan so that bio waste can be treated properly and can be used extensively as a bio-fuel.
  • According to the guidelines, the States and Districts must make use of any technology in hand for the successful treatment of Solid and Liquid Waste.

Critical Analysis

The scheme provides for a special mechanism of Education, Information and Communication (EIC). This, however, does not suffice to correct what the first phase lacked. According to a data, almost all the northern states though have toilets built but sill people choose to defecate in open. The current phase as well only targets to aware people about the schemes in place and not the overall benefit of maintain hygienic standards. Once the Schemes die, people go back to their normal livings.

Another important still lacking in the scheme is no drawing of nexus between environmental protection and waste management. After the initial building of toilets, many states were ravaged with flood and droughts and this lead to destruction of several structures. In the event of scarcity of water, managing a toilet becomes a huge task and people have no choice other than to defecate in open. This guidelines as well fails to explain how the several compost pits and newly built toilets are going to be sustained and maintained. It doesn’t specify in their awareness programmes about the long term benefits of such changes. Social media and government’s propagation through slogans hardly reach the ground as is thought by this scheme.

Conclusion

The continuance of the Swachh Bharat Mission is a welcome step and considering the achievements it had in the last five years, it can be said that this is the ideal time to capitalize on it and transform the rural India. However, at the other side of the coin, ground reality cannot be ignored and moving forward without making a stringent step to correct the discourse is something that will lead to a dead end. It is important that we move forward with much more decentralization and customization of Health schemes according to a district’s needs.

Author: Mayuresh Kumar from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India

Urban Forests Scheme

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

When the whole world is grappling through developing measures to cope up with COVID-19 pandemic, India as a country has also announced a slew of initiatives to contain its spread with imposition of nationwide lockdown.

Forests form a significant sphere of our life cycle as ultimate providers of our life-gas oxygen. On the special occasion of World Environment Day on 5th June 2020, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change introduced Urban Forests Scheme in Pune, Maharashtra with plantation of about 4000 saplings around 70 acre land. With an aim to increase green cover, it has been lunched with 200 corporations and cities in India. This paper intends to provide deep insights regarding its salient features, objectives, fund allocation structure etc. and will analyze its prospective impact upon India’s decimating forest cover.

Salient features

Through this “Nagar Van” programme, the government plans to grow 200 urban forests across the country in the next five years with participation of public and collaborating with Forest Department, NGOs, municipal corporations, citizens etc. This initiative thrives to increase the green forest cover in India through collective efforts. This year’s theme for World Environment Day “Biodiversity” has also been expanded to introduce this policy to revive the spirit of village forests in cities. This scheme was also introduced in 2016 but it couldn’t be implemented on a large scale.

These forests will be developed on any vacant land inside the city or provided by urban local bodies. Once established, the state government will be responsible for its maintenance and an entry fee may also be charged from visitors to cover maintenance costs. It will be developed with Public Private Partnership (PPP) approach where fencing will be done by the government whereas planting, walkways, public convenience infrastructure will be developed by private corporations as a part of their corporate social responsibility. It has been introduced basing upon the idea of Warje Urban forests in Pune, Maharashtra which provides an ideal success story of rejuvenating barren lands into useful forest areas.

Based on budgetary allocation, this scheme is shared between centre and state in ration of 80:20. The Ministry aims to provide one time grant to the concerned state government or local authority with a maximum cap of 2 crore. It will be made in two installments – first one after the approval of project and remaining after 3/4th use of the first one. The government has proposed to fund it through Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA). This fund had been introduced to act as National Advisory Council chaired by the Union Environment Minister for rejuvenation and regeneration of forest areas in various parts of the country.

Objectives and purposes

India has been one of the world’s mega diversity countries in terms of plant species richness and provides about 8% of world’s biodiversity. According to India State of the Forests Report 2019, India’s forest cover has been increased by 0.6% in last two years and this prospective move will further help in developing green cover across the whole country. The rising threats of large scale development projects, mounting population, poaching of wildlife, and depleting natural resources has raised alarm for timely strict actions. Apart from beautification of urban areas, these forests as green lungs will help in ecological rejuvenation of cities and will result into eliminating pollution levels, cleaner air and reduced noise effects.

Trees help in moderating temperatures where roads and concrete on buildings make these highly populated areas are hotter compared to rural surroundings. This phenomenon, also known as heat island effect will replete with growth and development of urban forests in various cities. When the whole world is struggling to cope up with climate change, this move will make urban cities climate resilient and will provide immense health benefits to citizens. It will fulfill the idea of in situ biodiversity conversation with creation of awareness for conversation of rich flora and fauna of the region. According to Food and Agriculture Organization, the urban forests help in reducing ozone, particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and remove large quantities of CO2 from the environment. But good intentions do not bring always good outcomes as this policy also suffers from various limitations.

Policy loopholes

This policy will certainly help in decreasing environmental degradation and will help in combating with Climate Change but like every sword is two edged, this move also suffer from various limitations. The Government has planned to develop 200 urban forests on vacant areas but open spaces in urban cities are highly contested as many of the areas are occupied by the slum dwellers. If it leads to their eviction from their homes, the government fails to provide reasonable explanation for their reallocation.

As there is always discrepancies associated with official land records and actual land use, the slum areas may be portrayed as vacant areas or forest land. According to Land Conflict Watch Database, more than 2/3rd of nearly 800 land conflicts in India relates to common land areas. India also lacks the supply for indigenous saplings for creating 200 urban forests in various Indian cities. Also, the government should focus on developing native species of trees which are best suited depending upon local conditions rather than no-native trees hurting the ecological system.

Conclusion

This well intentioned move is praiseworthy and would help in reviving the decimated environment conditions but taking its loopholes into account, the government needs to ensure stricter implementation of the prescribed guidelines. If the project only focuses on plantation without any thorough research about native species of different regions, it will defeat the purpose of it. It is the need of the hour that people conserve their flora and fauna to ensure optimal utilization of limited natural resources. 

Author: Prince Chandak from National Law School of India University, Nagarbhavi, Bangalore.

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.

Analysis: Plea for renaming ‘India’ as ‘Bharat’

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

To ‘instill a sense of pride in our own Nationality’ was the sole purpose behind a plea filed by a Delhi- based man, Namah to replace the word ‘India’ with ‘Bharat’. The hearing was taken through a video- conferencing method on 3rd June, 2020 (Wednesday) with a bench headed by Chief Justice of India, S.A Bobde along with two other judges namely A.S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy.

The petitioner contended that the time is mature enough to recognize the country by manifesting its original and authentic name i.e., Bharat, especially when the cities have been renamed in accordance with Indian philosophies. The clear intention of the petitioner was to convey a patriotic sagacity in front of the Judiciary to realize them that every visible aspect of the country should preside with the values and ethics that has been a part from centuries. By naming the country with its official language, it would look more appropriate so as to give a vague idea to the people who belong from other countries. The plea had contended that the rationale of the amendment to Article 1 will ensure ‘the citizens of this country to get over the colonial past.’

Arguments made and legal provision of the plea

The petitioner, Namah, through his counsel argued that the name of the country, ‘India’ resides from a foreign origin and can be traced backwards to the Greek idiom ‘Indica’.  In the words of the petitioner, the Amendment in Article 1 of the Constitution which provides that ‘India, that is, Bharat, shall be a Union of States….’, has been made under the delusional influence of modernization of the colonial rule and the reformation of the name to and Indian origin‘will ensure citizens of this country to get over the colonial past and instill a sense of pride in our nationality and will also justify the hard fought freedom by our freedom fighter.’

In reference to a 1948 Constituent Assembly debate on Article 1 of the then Model Constitution, the petitioner also asserted that even at that time, there was a ‘strong wave’ in favor of designating the country as ‘Bharat’ or ‘Hindustan’.  Dr B R Ambedkar, who outlined the constitution, at that time, argued that the country was known throughout the whole world as ‘India’ and that should be preserved. Finally, a middle path was embraced and Article 1(1) of the Constitution declared both ‘India’ and ‘Bharat’.  With this argument, the petitioner in query coveted just ‘Bharat’ to be retained.

After several minutes, another plea was made to substitute ‘Bombay’ in Bombay High Court with ‘Maharashtra’ and was filed by V P Patil, a retired judicial bureaucrat. As a response to the plea, he cited Clause 4(1) of Maharashtra (Adaptation of Laws-State and Concerned Subjects) Order, 1960, which surrogates ‘High Court of Bombay’ with ‘High Court of Maharashtra’. He contended that, ‘The word Maharashtra denotes special significance in life of citizens of Maharashtra and that its usage must also find expression in the name of the HC as an expression of culture and right to heritage as protected under Articles 19, 21 and 29 of the Constitution.’

Supreme Court’s judgment

The three judge bench refused to interfere in this plea by contending the same Article of the Constitution that the petitioner has raised in his argument and pointed out that the residing Article 1 already contains Indian origin name which is ‘Bharat’ along with ‘India’. Though any sort of amendments were refuted to be made by the Supreme Court as the bench was not convinced but has nonetheless asked the pertinent ministry to treat the writ petition as a representation to the Centre to initiate a call on it and further reflect its own contemplation. As for the second plea which concerned the replacement of ‘Bombay’ in Bombay High Court to ‘Maharashtra’, the court announced another notice to the Centre for a rejoinder on the subject matter.

Social impact of this plea

It is a valid articulation to point that since this petition was filed in a COVID-19 pandemic, it was unnecessary to take this issue on both the parts. The society within these conditions contains more intense and serious issues than deciding the mere name of the country. It is the fault of both the petitioner whose concentration can be put to a productive aspect and the Supreme Court who can give their assistance to a more societal contentions and decisions which can make the circumstances of those in danger better. Therefore, it is clearly pertinent to state that the societal needs cannot be fulfilled by this plea and the court needs to recognize the current issues that the minorities are facing and make developments and amendments in accordance with that.

Previous pleas

Along with the dilemma from the side of B.R Ambedkar about the names ‘Bharat’ and ‘Hindustan’ at the time of the framing of the constitution which resulted in adopting ‘Bharat’ as well as ‘India’, another plea like this was taken in the year 2016 which as a result was dismissed by the Apex Court of Law.

The judgment was headed by the then Chief Justice of India, T.S. Thakur who orally remarked that every citizen of India has the right to choose between entitling his country ‘Bharat’ or ‘India’ and the Supreme Court had no business to neither dictate nor decide for any Indian as to how he should identify his country with.

Conclusion

As from the above analysis, it is clear that filing of this petition was an overall waste of time of both the sides that is the Supreme Court and Petitioner given the current state of the society and that this time could have been channelized in a productive way. Although as far as the petition is concerned, the precedent 2016 judgment has unambiguously dissolved every present contention of the petitioner by referring that the along with the Freedom of Speech and Expression provided to citizen to identify the country with their preferable name, the Constitution of India has mentioned both the origins of the name in both the languages. The matter which is further taken to the appropriate ministry should also conclude with this but only after when the state of the pandemic becomes negligible.

Author: Gayatri Sharma from JIMS, Schools of Law, Indraprastha University.

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.

Analysis: GDP growth in 2019-20

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

The covid-19 has an exacerbating impact on the world and domestic economy. The lockdown enforced has shown its effects on the economy and will have a major impact on the future economy but the latest report includes data of Q4(January-March). Thus it is vital to understand why did the economy hamper before the pandemic.

NSO is the central statistical agency of the Government which is responsible for the development of statistical information for the Government and other users for information on which to base policy, planning, monitoring and management decisions.

NSO released a report of GDP growth in Q4 of the financial year 2019-2020. The Jan-March GDP figure is the first major official estimate of the outbreak impact on the Indian economy which also showed that irrespective of corona virus the Indian economy was already slowing down. For instance, two-wheeler sales fell astutely in March. Bajaj Auto reported a 38 % decline in sales in March. It sold only 2.42 lakh units in March, 2020 when compared with 3.93 lakh two wheelers in March last year.

Report proclaims India’s economic growth has slowed to an 11-year low of 4.2% in 2019-20. The NSO’s had brought down its calculation down to 5%. The Indian economy grew at 6.1% in 2018-19. Growth rate in terms of Gross Value Added, slowed to 3.9% in 2019-20 from 6% growth in the previous year. Gross value added is the value of output less the value of intermediate consumption. It’s  used for measuring the contribution of a particular sector. The nominal GDP growth rate, which counts for inflation, is projected to have grown at 7.2%.

In quarter 4(January-March), the growth rate fell to 3.1%. Agriculture and mining sectors managed to grow at rates of 5.9% and 5.2% in Q4. Agricultural and mining sectors were the pillars of the final quarter. Public administration, defence and other services grew at 10.1%. The three elements of demand have also dropped i.e. consumption demand has slowed, whilst investments and exports are both in negative areas. The manufacturing sector shrinked to a negative growth of 1.4%. It has been previously in the said, that for India to grow and create jobs, manufacturing growth has to rise.

GDP is an indicator of economic activity in a country, total worth of a country’s annual output of products and services. It provides the economic output from the consumers’ perspective.

Factors affecting GDP are:

  • 1. Capital flows and exchange market: India attracts investors. With such a large population there’s a large probability for a thriving business. As a result of these factors the capital keeps flowing in India and therefore the exchange rates also facilitate.
  • 2.Political changes: The new governance brings in new changes and new policies. These policies play a vital role in dynamic the import/export situation impacting the value.
  • 3.Global currency trends: The currency of India is more or less interlinked with rest major countries just like the USA, Britain and Japan. If the domination of those countries falls, then the worth of local currency is guaranteed to fall. Similarly, if the worth rises, then it affects the Indian economy as most cash depends on forex.
  • 4. Demographic and economic condition Rates: If the population is high, job creation will be more and more will be poverty. If unemployment is more the government will have to come up with schemes giving more subsidies and money to the vulnerable, causing excess outflow of money.
  • 5.Taxation System: Plays a serious role. If the system is straightforward and clear it’ll produce huge reserves which will ensure money in the economy creating demand and enhancing the GDP.

GDP is a crucial indicator of overall economic activity. A sharp fall in economic process conjointly suggests  retardation of business growth, rising unemployment and, attributable to these reasons, increasing stress on the banking sector. This conjointly indicates slowing demand within the economy. Once economic output falls and firms struggle to form cash, they’re forced to lay off workforce and rationalise prices. Banks got to put aside more cash to cover bad loans. This puts pressure on their capital and banks turn cautious on granting additional credits to corporations. In short, a retarding economy creates a vicious circle within the financial system.

India’s policy to boost economy

The slowdown in the Indian economy has bottomed out and solutions taken by the administration in the ongoing financial plan to improve ability to spend in the rural sector, infrastructural growth and welcoming foreign ventures for boosting the development of the economy in which there will be tax reductions. The infrastructure part is another territory where there is a lot of opportunity for the economy. The government’s focus on recreating and repairing the real estate sector by introducing the Special Window for Affordable and Mid-Income Housing (SWAMIH) Investment Fund, The PM Kisan Yojna, under which a salary backing of Rs 6000 every year will be given to all farmer families the nation around, will likewise get enough liquidity in the rural sector. Liquidity in the rural part is of  higher priority than anyplace else as the marginal propensity to consume is significantly higher in the rural sector than elsewhere. Once demand related issues are taken care of, it will help in boosting development.

The government was concentrating on augmenting consumption to help development and featured measures, for example, cutting corporate tax, capitalisation of public banks and giving subsidies to realty undertakings. To help financial institutions and housing finance companies, the government has sanctioned Rs 4.47 lakh crore. Further the stimulus of 20 lakh crore aimed at protecting the MSME’s which constitutes a vital part of economy.

What should the government do?

If the economy as a matter of fact shrinks and if that remains so for three consecutive quarters, the economy will be in a recession phase. The government will have to then come with a major fiscal impetus to restore the economy.

A major part of the economic boost tends to be  in the form of loans under varied schemes. Government will have to come with a different financial package if the economic growth shrinks and unemployment rises further. Government will have to induce money and create demand in every sector. The government should focus on sectors such as oil and automobile. Because these are two major sectors suffering and have max capacity to flourish. As of now crude oil is cheap, India should sell at the current price, create reserves and then pump the economy and generate demand and employment. The weak commodity prices and import demand would help provide some support to growth. The government expenditure will be the game changer and reason behind the growth engine in 2020-21.

Conclusion

To sum up considering India’s economy at present although, is slowing and due to the pandemic it will further go down but the future of Indian economy is vivid as more than 1000 companies are planning to invest in India which will result in increased demand and higher employment, additionally increased capital flow. Lastly the principle of self-reliance will help in lowering the imports. Local manufacturing will allow more employment, subsidies for the business. Higher employment will lead to demand for goods and restoring the GDP.

Author: Samarth Garg from Maharashtra National Law University, Mumbai.

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.

Explained: What is Delimitation Commission

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla has nominated 15 MPs from Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh to assist the Delimitation Commission in redrawing the Lok Sabha and the Assembly constituencies of the Northeastern States and the Union Territory. The delimitation of Jammu and Kashmir was due since the notification released in the aftermath of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019.

What is Delimitation Commission?

The delimitation commission is a high power body entrusted with the work of drawing and redrawing of boundaries of different constituencies for state assembly and Lok Sabha election. The commission is appointed by the president and aids the election commission for the smooth conduct of elections. In India, four such commissions have been constituted in 1952, 1963, 1972 and 2002. They are also responsible for reserving of seats for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled tribe as far as practicable, in those areas where the proportion of their population to the total is comparatively large. Initially, they were to redraw the boundaries after every census for subsequent elections till the exercise was suspended in 1976 and then again resumed in 2002.  The restructuring done in 2002 is supposed to continue until 2026 as far as Lok Sabha elections are concerned.

Its powers and functions

The Delimitation Commission consists of an Election Commissioner, a retired or working SC Judge and a State Election Commissioner from the state in which the exercise is going to happen. Apart from this, the commission can appoint up to ten associates to assist in the process. The functions of the Commission include readjustment of boundaries and publishing the result along with the orders in the Official Gazette of India. For this purpose, the commission is empowered to summon any Central or State Government officer and can take the help of any state document or public record.

Legal/constitutional provisions

Article 82 and 170 of the Constitution empowers the Central and State government respectively to enact a delimitation act after every census. Further, Article 327 authorizes the Central government to initiate the delimitation process for elections and Article 329 provides that no such delimitation can be called in question in any court of the land. In the case of Meghraj Kothari vs. Delimitation Commission and Ors, SC ruled that any notification released as a result of this process is deemed to have the force of Law as any other act passed by the parliament and as such cannot be called into question by any court. Further in the case of Association of Resident of Mhow(ROM) and Ors. vs. The Delimitation Commission of India and Ors., the SC emphasized that the constitutional provisions also restrict them from looking into the merits of the end product and determine whether they are in accordance with the Delimitation Act, 2002.

Critical analysis

The provisions are called in question mainly from the fact that delimitation on the basis of population seriously harms the states that are better in implementing the family planning norms. This occurs purely because of two reasons: Firstly, state having more Lok Sabha seats naturally gain more political power and secondly according to the Finance Commission norms dilution of State funds must be proportional to the population of the state. To correct this disparity, the delimitation process was completely stopped in 1976.

However, this, being far from a perfect solution, created several logistical issues. This led to wide discrepancies in the size of constituencies, with the largest having over three million electors, and the smallest less than 50,000. To reduce such a vast gap, the process was again initiated in 2002. However, the next such delimitation is going to happen only after 24 years. Stopping the readjustment of boundaries to address the differential treatment of states according to their population was like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

In the case of Election Commission of India vs. Mohd. Abdul Ghani and Ors, SC ruled that even if a particular constituencies’ district has been changed, the Delimitation Act doesn’t empower the Election Commission to go to the extent of changing the boundary of the constituency and only after the delimitation exercise, the required alteration can be done. This reasoning seemed completely out of the place considering the enormous time gap decided by the government between subsequent commissions.

Conclusion

The delimitation commission is involved in an extremely key process required for the effective functioning of a democracy. Unfortunately, India hasn’t been able to maintain a balance between a regular conduct of delimitation and a proper enforcement of the family planning norms. Several states have correctly initiated the process of demarcating areas for local bodies’ elections with their separate Delimitation Commissions. These local measures can also go a long way in assisting the nation-wide exercise. In addition to this, Election Commission must also be empowered to consistently update the list at a smaller level if the next commission is not going to be set up in the near future.  

Author: Mayuresh Kumar from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.

PM Fasal Bima Yojana

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

The role of farmers has always been undervalued, but undoubtedly, they are the pillar of the society we live in. In April 2016, the Indian Government launched the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY), which scrapped all the earlier prevailing schemes on yield insurance. It is the flagship scheme of the agricultural insurance which supports the theme of One Nation- One Scheme. The focus of the scheme is to increase the awareness about the crop insurance in India as it covers post-harvest losses, localized risks due to unforeseen calamities etc. But unfortunately, due to multiple problems, the scheme has not been successful in the country. Many states have opted out of this scheme, Jharkhand and Telangana being the recent ones. It is predicted that there may be a 25% decline in the enrolment of PMFBY.

Salient features of the scheme

  • The farmers are required to pay 2% of the total premium for the Kharif crops, 1.5% for the rabi crops and 5% for the cash crops and horticulture crops.
  • For the farmers with availed loans, it is mandatory to be insured as per the provisions of PMFBY.
  • To secure the income of farmers, complete insurance is given to them in case of any unforeseen event. When there is any loss due to natural calamity, the premium rates of the total insured amount to be paid by the farmers are low and the rest of the premium amount is paid by the government.
  • One of the features of PMFBY is the removal of the cap and other reductions so that the farmers can claim full insured sum.
  • Landslide, Hailstorm and even flooding have also been added in the list of localized calamities.
  • Under this scheme, there is no upper limit on Government Subsidy.
  • The use of technology is highly supported by this scheme. For the timely settlement of the insured amount, usage of technological devices like drones, smartphones, remote sensing instruments are promoted.
  • For the effective implementation of this scheme, the cluster approach has been adopted which means a particular insurance company will monitor a group of districts.
  • Under this scheme, prevented sowing will now be eligible for indemnity claims up to 25% of the total sum insured.

How was the scheme introduced?

The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna has made many upgradations and enhancement when compared to the predecessor scheme like the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and the Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS). The objective of this scheme is to help the farmers by providing them with insurance and reducing the burden on their shoulders. The PMFBY includes all Food and Oilseeds crops and Annual Commercial/Horticulture Crops in which previous yield data is available and for which the required number of Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) was done. The implementation process of the scheme is done by the general insurance company and their selection is done through bidding by the particular State Government. All the work and process related to the scheme is done in the supervision and direction of the Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Department of Agriculture and the concerned state in coordination with the insurance agency. Further, the implementation of the scheme is done on ‘Area Approach Basis’, where the insurance amount is decided demographically based on risk factor for a particular crop.

Progress made under PMFBY

While presenting the budget of the financial year 2020-21, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that in the coming year the central government is committed to double the income of farmers. It is estimated that till now, approximately 6.11 crores framers have availed insurance benefits under this scheme launched by the PM. Among all the farmers insured under this scheme, 58% of them are loanees. In February 2020 the Indian government has approved several changes in PMFBY to make it more successful and plug the loopholes in the scheme. The scheme has been made optional for farmers. The PMFBY was launched by the government after including the best features and effacing the shortcomings of the earlier working schemes.

Why are states withdrawing from the scheme?

It has been witnessed that several states across the country are withdrawing from the PMFBY. There are myriads of reasons for this conundrum starting from the lack of interest shown by the particular state to the reluctancy on the part of insurance companies to invest. The data of last year shows that in the Kharif Season, seven States and four Union Territories were not covered by this scheme. It was estimated that only Rs. 8 crores were spent out of Rs. 1,400 crores earmarked for the north-eastern States under this scheme in 2019. There are some states like West Bengal and Bihar who have opted out of PMFBY to establish their State-level schemes. The goal of PMFBY is to be a transformative scheme, but there some loopholes in the implementation process and multiple complications in its execution at both district and state level. Other negative factors include the paucity of State budgetary resources, exorbitant administrative costs, lack of forecasting infrastructure, high actuarial premium rates etc. Unfortunately, there are some states in which the State governments are itself not interested in promoting the scheme.

Critical analysis

In India, it is estimated that approximately 43.9 % of the population depends on agriculture for their survival and livelihood. Since a few decades’ problems like poor returns, crop failures, indebtedness, have led to the agrarian distress all over the country. The Indian government has come up with multiple schemes and guidelines to support the farmers but some of them have failed immensely and or they have been hobbled by political variance. The PMFBY was launched with an initiative to reverse the risk-averse nature of the farmers, provide them with financial support and be their backbone in case of any debacle.

It is observed that although the scheme is an improved version of the earlier prevailing schemes still it faces some impediments at the structural, financial and logistic level. It is often said that the execution process of this scheme is seriously compromised. There were instances where the insurance company was reluctant to pay claims as they didn’t investigate the losses occurred due to the localized community. There are still farmers in the country who are not aware of this scheme because of the lack of efforts made by the insurance companies and state government in promoting and building awareness about the PMFBY.

A way forward

For the development and progress of the country, a fair, farmer-friendly and transparent agriculture insurance system is crucial. There must be a mechanism which ensures the timely settlement of claims, effective communication between farmers, insurance companies, government and are devoted to enhance and utilize the provisions of scheme to the full extent. If this insurance model is supported by Public-Private Partnership and technological advancements, it will surely do wonders by reaching out to the last farmer. This will not only uplift the economy but also lead to its financialization and formalization.

Conclusion

An efficacious crop insurance system is the need of an hour which can protect farmers from the income losses, escalate agricultural productivity and can finance inputs for agricultural production. Unfortunately, the present scheme has failed in many aspects. The PMBFY is neither helping the farmers in augmenting their income nor effacing the financial debt faced by them. It is now crucial for the Indian government to amend the policy wrinkles and glue the flaws in the scheme so that its objective is achieved.

Author: Shivi Shrivastava from Institute of Law, Nirma University.

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.

Environment Protection Act, 1986

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

 “Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.”

—Stewart Udall

The earth is losing its quality environment. With the threats of climate change and resource depletion looming over the world, humans must come together. We have to take measures to protect the environment from activities that harm and degrade it thereby improving it. Laws can go a long way in ensuring that.

Articles 48A and 51A (g) of the Constitution of India, talk about the protection and improvement of the environment. Article 48A lays it down as a duty of the State whereas Article 51A (g) lays it down as a duty of the citizens. Moreover, laws such as the Air Act, 1981, Water Act, 1974, and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 among others have also been enacted. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 is an umbrella law that seeks to ensure this protection and improvement of environmental resources.

This Act supplements the existing environment laws and seeks to address the environmental concerns in totality. It consists of 4 Chapters and 26 sections. It provides for a framework that aids the coordination between the state and central authorities established under previous environmental laws.

Salient features of the Act

The most prominent features of the Act are enumerated as follows:

  1. Under the Act, the Central Government is empowered to
  2. Take requisite measures to protect and improve the environment.
  3. Coordinate the actions of State governments, authorities, and officers.
  4. Plan as well as execute national programs on the prevention, management, and abatement of environmental pollution.
  5. Establish quality standards vis-a-vis environment including standards for discharge of pollutants.
  6. Restrict areas where industries or their processes can or cannot be carried out.
  7. Establish procedures and safeguards to prevent accidents conducive to environmental pollution.
  8. Establish safeguards for the management of hazardous substances
  9. Examine processes, substances, and materials liable to cause environmental pollution.
  10. Encourage and sponsor research and innovation that relates to environmental problems.
  11. Inspect premises, plants, or machinery and direct officers or authorities to take requisite measures to prevent, control, and abate environmental pollution.
  • The Act empowers common citizens to approach the Courts after a 60-day notice has been furnished to the competent authorities.
  • It bars the discharge and emission of any environmental pollutant beyond the standard limits by any person carrying industrial operations.
  • Stringent penalties have been prescribed for transgressing any provisions of this Act.
  • Under the Act, the person in charge of a place is obligated to inform the appropriate authorities of any accidental discharge of pollutants exceeding the specified limits. Once informed these authorities will take requisite remedial steps to mitigate the pollution caused and the expenses for the same would be recoverable from the polluter subject to interest.
  • The officers empowered by the Central Government can take samples of air, water, soil, or any other substance from any factory or premises for analysis.
  • This Act provides for the establishment of environmental laboratories that work to protect the environment and people from contamination.
  • The jurisdiction of Civil Courts has been barred under this Act.

Its objectives and purposes

The following can be stated as the main objectives and purposes of this Act:

  • The main objective of this Act is to “provide for the protection and improvement of the environment and all matter connected with it.”
  • Most importantly, it aims to implement the decisions reached at the UN Conference on Human Environment which was held in Stockholm in June 1972, of which India had also been a participant.
  • The previous environment-related laws were all very specific and due to the same, they left certain gaps. This Act serves the purpose of covering all those gaps left behind by previous laws by having a general and wider scope.
  • The Act aims to facilitate effective coordination between the different central and state authorities indulged in environment protection and preservation, as established by existing laws.
  • It aims to confer the Central Government with wide powers to carry out effective environment protection measures as it sees fit.
  • It aims to lay down a detailed structure that would provide more stability and clarity on the environmental laws of the country.
  • It also aims to provide deterrent punishment to those who endanger the environment, health, and safety.

Why was it enacted?

Article 253 of the Constitution of India empowers the Parliament to enact laws to execute international obligations or decisions from international conferences and associations. India was an active participant of the UN Conference on Human Environment held at Stockholm in June 1972. It was an important event in the history of world environmental laws as it was the first major conference to be held on international environmental issues. It is still considered as a turning point in international environmental politics.

Owing to India’s participation in the Stockholm conference, a law was required to implement the decisions reached therewith. Moreover, there were many enactments made before and after the conference. And yet, a need was felt for enacting a comprehensive law that could effectively implement the decisions of the conference. Thus, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 came into being.

This Act came as an aftermath of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy to ensure that stringent laws were in place to force compliance to standards thereby preventing such hazards.

Landmark cases made under it

Some of the landmark cases under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 can be specified as under:

  • M.C. Mehta v Union of India, AIR 1997 SC 734 (Taj Trapezium Case)

This is the Taj Trapezium case. It arose out of a writ petition filed before the Supreme Court, regarding the yellow color of the marble of the Taj Mahal caused due to air pollutants and industrial emissions in the area. The Supreme Court relied on its previous judgment in Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v Union of India. The Apex Court gave several directions banning the use of coal and cake in the Taj Trapezium. It also encouraged the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

  • M. C. Mehta v Union of India, 1997 11 SCC 312 (Groundwater Depletion Case)

In this case, the petitioner M. C. Mehta filed a petition before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India over the depleting groundwater levels in the country. A near-crisis situation had developed in many parts of the country and there was no authority to keep a proper check on it. Thus, the Supreme Court directed the Central Government to make the Ground Water Board into an ‘authority’ under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986. It was bestowed with legal powers so that it can issue licenses and act against polluters.

  • Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action v Union of India, AIR 1996 SC 1446

The Supreme Court, in this case, put to use the “Polluter-Pays” principle which means that those who pollute must pay the costs of preventing and repairing the damage due to the pollution that was caused by them. The Court gave directions to the Central Government to recover the amount from the defaulters in the case.

  • Tarun Bharat Sangh v Union of India, AIR 1992 SC 514

In this case, the Supreme Court banned the mining activities undertaken inside the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary, as they went against a notification issued by the Central Government under Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

  • Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, Dehradun v State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1985 2 SCC 431

This case was one of its kinds. It brought into focus the conflict between development and the environment. It was filed against limestone quarrying in the Dehradun valley. The Apex Court held that such quarrying activities go against the environment. It ordered the closing down of all the quarries and gave directions to the competent authorities to restore the sites of quarrying.

Critical analysis

India has many laws centering different aspects of the environment. The Environment (Protection) Act 1986, however, is the only legislation with a general and wider scope. It supplements and strengthens previous laws. It provides for wide discretionary powers to the Central Government to ensure the strict protection and preservation of the environment around us.

The Act embodies a deterrent approach to environmental pollution by way of mandating high penalties. It also provides a new stand to the question of locus standi. It empowers an ordinary citizen to approach the Courts against the violation of the provisions of this Act. Another interesting aspect of this Act is that it takes into account both accidental as well as apprehended pollution. Under Section 9 of the Act, remedial actions are mandated not only against accidental pollution but also apprehended pollution, displaying a preventive approach.

Despite seeming well-rounded and robust, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 nonetheless suffers from some drawbacks. First, it omits forests from its ambit and does not provide for the protection of forests. Further, another potential drawback of the Act could be its centralization. While such wide powers provided to the Centre can facilitate effective and expedient action, they are also liable to arbitrariness and misuse.

Furthermore, the definition of environment pollutants under Section 2 of the Act is not comprehensive enough. It does not include, for example, pollution that can be caused by way of heat radiations, vibrations, and emissions.

The Act is also silent on public participation as regards environmental protection. There is a need to involve the citizens in environmental protection to check arbitrariness and raise awareness and empathy towards the environment.

As regards its relationship with other environmental laws, Section 24 of the Act provides that in case an offense under this Act coincides with offenses under other legislations, the penalty provided under those legislations would prevail. However, owing to the much simpler and lenient penalties of such prior legislations, the offender is usually able to get away with less stringent punishments. This greatly hinders the deterrent approach of this Act and obstructs its effective implementation.

Conclusion

The Environment (Protection) Act 1986, while a welcome positive step in the direction of environment protection, still does not adequately take into account all the necessary aspects. It suffers from many defects and lacks comprehensiveness. By supplementing the pre-existing environmental laws, it has for sure strengthened the overall structure of environmental protection laws in India. But, it still has a long way to go. India is a ‘soft state’ when it comes to environmental laws. This means that the implementation of such laws in India suffers from major setbacks and is often influenced by politics and corruption.

This needs to stop. The need of the hour is the proper enforcement of such laws and to ensure that a healthy, wholesome environment is available to us all. Our environment is our habitat, and it affects every one of us. The protection of this environment is, thus, everyone’s responsibility. The contribution of all individuals – by developing a sense of environmental consciousness and sensitivity – is needed for the effective implementation of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, and other such laws. It is only then that we would be able to achieve a preserved and pollution-free environment.

Author: Avani Laad from Symbiosis Law School, Pune.

Editor: Shalu Bhati  from Campus Law Centre, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.

Agriculture export policy, 2018

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

India is a country which is acknowledged for the variety of materials exported across the globe. The nation is among the world’s leading producer of perishable goods; the agriculture sector stands as a pillar for the economy as the largest share of the gross domestic product is contributed by this sector. India is a unique country with a population of 1.3 billion, the preponderance segment of the population depends on agriculture sector for livelihood; The main objective behind the formulation of Agricultural Export Policy is to encourage producers to produce more amount of agricultural products which can be exported to other nations across the globe and hence increase the gross domestic product and double farmers’ income by 2022.

The Union Cabinet under the chairmanship of Honorable Prime Minister approved the Agriculture Export Policy in the year 2018. Exports of agricultural products would play a pivotal role in the growth of the economy; to provide growth in agricultural exports, the Government has come out with a comprehensive policy aimed at augmenting the agricultural exports and connecting Indian farmers and agricultural products with the global market.

All strategies related to the agriculture sector in India are planned and actualized by an intricate arrangement of organizations. State legislature plays a significant role in formulating policies in respect of agriculture sector, but the central government has an upper hand when it comes to the policies which affect the country at whole; funds are allocated by the central government to the state government for the development of each and aspect of the society. At the central level, while the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has responsibility for agricultural policy, many other ministries and agencies have important roles. There is, therefore, significant risk of fragmentation, overlapping and unclear attribution of responsibilities.

The main and broad objectives are as follows:

  • Firstly, to increase the exports and reach US $ 60 plus billion by the year 2022.
  • To diversify the exports in the terms of a variety of supplies, to target as many markets possible and enhancement of international relations and boosting the economy.
  • To promote novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and non-traditional products across the global channels.
  • To strive to double India’s share in agricultural exports by integrating with the global value chain at the earliest and enable farmers to explore international markets.

Salient features

The above-mentioned policy has some salient features, categorised under two heads; Strategic and operational, the explanation of the said heads is as follows-

Strategic features-

  1. Policy measures: Under this salient feature, both the public and private stakeholders highlighted the amendments which were necessary to increase exports of the country; the ambit of this measure in quite broad and further include general and commodity-specific measures. This feature is imperative for the overall growth of the economy as it covers both private and public stakeholders.
  2. Infrastructural logistics: Good infrastructure irrespective of any field adds value to the business; the main reason behind having a good infrastructure is smoothness in trade facilitation. Infrastructure in agricultural business involves pre-harvest and post-harvest handling facilities, storage & distribution, processing facilities, roads and world class exit point infrastructure at ports facilitating swift trade. Agricultural exports are determined by supply side factors, food security, processing facilities, infrastructure bottlenecks and several regulations. This involves multiple ministries and state departments. Strategic and operational synergy across ministries will be key to boosting productivity and quality.
  3. Holistic approach to boost exports: the said policy will promote the organizations with reference to agricultural production to make take necessary steps to promote exports on international platform.
  4. Greater involvement of State Governments in Agriculture Exports: Every state government can formulate agriculture policies according to their suitability. The Central Government make policies for the whole country and thus have an upper hand when it comes to formulation of policy.

Operational features-

  1. Focus on clusters: There is a need to develop and set up an institutional system for powerful inclusion and commitment of little and medium farmers for a whole worth chain as gathering enterprise(s) inside the bunch of towns at the square level for select produce(s). This will assist with acknowledging real advantage and strengthening of the cultivating network to twofold their pay through the whole worth chain.
  2. Promoting value added exports: Promotion of a product impacts the sale of the product. The government aims to promote indigenous products at an international platform to attract more foreign investment and increase the export of the Indian farmers. The government also encourages for new products and hence placing importance to research and development.
  3. Marketing and Promotion of Brand India: A product when represented at an international platform represents the whole country; the government promotes products with good quality and set standards in accordance with those qualities.
  4. Attract private investments into production and processing: The agriculture export policy, recently drawn up by the Ministry of Industry & Commerce, is poised to add momentum to this pace of growth. Designed with the aim of easing trade restrictions, establishing clusters, encouraging small businesses and private sector participation, it is poised to shape a more stable regime.
  5. Establishment of Strong Quality Regimen: The role of FSSAI, EIC, plant and animal quarantine and different Commodity Boards in setting standards, enforcing such standards and a robust accreditation and certification arrangement to identify export worthy establishments will be facilitating further exports. As the major focus of our country is towards setting up of a quality system for smooth governance, the centre will focus more on research and development.

Constitutional basis

Under the Constitution agriculture is a state subject; the central government formulates a plan on one ground that this subject is of national significance. The central government both acts as a policy-making authority and policy implementing authority. The Indian Constitution has provided the state with the powers to delegate in certain matters. Every state gets fund to raise and improve the standards of the occupation. As government both at central level and state level are involved it results in complexity at times; these policies are not only central or state subject, they also involve other ministries and local government (herein referred as Panchayat). From 1950 until 2014 India’s Planning Commission, a senior body chaired by the prime minister, outlined national plans and policy priorities.

In the year 1951, the first five-year plan was launched with to rehabilitate refugees, agricultural development, and self-sufficiency in food along with controlling inflation; till the year 2015, a chain of these plans were in operation. Planning Commission was replaced by the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog in the year 2015; NITI Aayog aims to foster great involvement of government at the state level. The last five-year plan was the 12th plan and served for a period from 2012 to 2015.

Constitution of India rests powers and responsibilities in the hand of Finance Commission of India regarding the balance between taxation power and expenditure responsibilities among the government at both central level and state level. The recommendations of the fourteenth Finance Commission cover a five-year period from 2015. The central government accepted the Commission’s recommendation about increasing the share of the states in the pool of central taxes that can be divided between the centre and the states, the so-called devolution of taxes (Government of India, 2016). This would give the states greater autonomy in designing and financing schemes according to local priorities.

Critical analysis                                                                              

The agriculture sector is important as 65% of this population is dependent on them for their livelihood, to regulate trade smoothly; the government on both state level and central level have to formulate policies. The objective behind the introduction of agriculture policy of 2018 is to double the income of the farmers by the year 2022. The consequent policy approach has evolved over a while; the said policy is targeting larger market strength. According to ministry during 2018-19* crop year, food grain production is estimated at record 283.37 million tonnes. In 2019-20, Government of India is targeting food grain production of 291.1 million tonnes. Milk production was estimated at 176.3 million tonnes during FY18, while meat production was 7.4 million tonnes. Such a large number of markets need to be regulated by a mechanism.

NITI Aayog, the policy “think tank” of the central government, provided in April 2017 an analysis of recent and projected expenditures. It suggested that expenditure on agriculture (including livestock, forestry, fishery, and rural development) could more than double from 2015-16 to 2019-20 in nominal terms. The food subsidy might increase by about 25%, while the fertilizer subsidy might decline slightly, in both cases taking into account better targeting of the expenditure. Since total expenditure by the central government (revenue and capital) might increase by about 58% between 2015-16 and 2019-20, the share of the food subsidy and particularly the share of the fertilizer subsidy in total expenditure might decline over that period.

The policy seeks to diversify the country export basket and destinations, by boosting high value and value- added agricultural exports, including focus on perishables. Currently, rice, meat and marine products account for more than 50 per cent of Indian agriculture exports. To accomplish this, the administration intends to give an institutional component that would seek after market get to, handle hindrances and manage sterile and phytosanitary issues that surface now and again.

Conclusion

The Policy targets tending to an entire scope of issues which might drive India into the top section of horticultural fares. It has frequently been perceived that Integration in the worldwide worth chain is one of the most certain techniques for embracing the best agrarian practices alongside accomplishing efficiency gains and cost intensity. The target of multiplying the rancher’s pay will perpetually require elevated levels of pay just as improving in the nourishment esteem chain.

The farming area in India is relied upon to create better energy in the following barely any years because of expanded interests in agrarian foundation, for example, water system offices, warehousing and cold stockpiling. Moreover, the developing utilization of hereditarily changed harvests will probably improve the yield for Indian ranchers. India is relied upon to act naturally adequate in beats in the coming barely any years because of deliberate endeavours of researchers to get early-developing assortments of heartbeats and the expansion in the least help cost.

Author: Pratyush Arora from The Northcap University, Gurugram.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala.