The Hindu Important Articles 19 April 2018
Law Commission favours simultaneous elections
Draft white paper suggests constitutional amendments to meet objective
A draft white paper released by the Law Commission of India on Tuesday recommends holding of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies, possibly in 2019.
It suggests amending the Constitution to realise this objective.
In a public notice annexed to the draft, the commission, which is the government’s highest law advisory body, said the white paper would be circulated to “constitutional experts, academia, political parties, bureaucrats, students, etc.” The commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice B.S. Chauhan, says opinions and suggestions should come in by May 8, 2018.
The commission says simultaneous elections were held in the country during the first two decades after Independence up to 1967. Dissolution of certain Assemblies in 1968 and 1969 followed by the dissolution of the Lok Sabha led to the “disruption of the conduct of simultaneous elections.” The panel refers to a January 2017 working paper of the NITI Aayog on simultaneous elections.
The white paper contains a series of “possible recommendations” of the commission.
The first among these is that “simultaneous elections may be restored in the nation by amending the Constitution, Representation of the People Act of 1951 and the Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha and Assemblies.”
Abuse of ATM: probe begins
Hunt on for two persons who installed skimmer, and a camera
The Cyber Cell has started investigation into the use of a skimmer, and a camera at an ATM of State Bank of India. Visuals of two persons have been found from surveillance cameras at the kiosk.
The skimmer pasted to the swiping slot of the ATM came off when an IT employee inserted his debit card on April 5.
The person immediately alerted the nearby SBI branch about the incident. Though the police waited outside the ATM kiosk for some time hoping that the persons involved would come back to collect the skimmer and the camera, the attempt failed.
The camera was found fixed in a black panel pasted on the teller machine facing the key pad. It was supposed to capture videos of PIN entered by ATM users.
“The skimmer came off nearly an hour after it was fixed. We believe that the accused could not collect any information as the skimmer and camera were seized. We have asked the bank to provide details of persons who used the ATM after the skimmer and camera were fixed,” said K. Mallika, Inspector of Cyber Cell.
According to officials, details of cards captured using the skimmer are generally used to create duplicates. These duplicate cards are later used for transactions using the PIN captured by the camera.
“Even if card details is collected using skimmer, transactions cannot be made without having the PIN. Hence, always cover the keypad with one hand at ATMs and POS machines (swiping machines) when you enter the PIN,” said Ms. Mallika.
In November 2017, a skimmer and a mobile phone were found in an ATM belonging to a private bank near New Bus Stand on Mettupalayam Road.
U.S. keen on signing nuclear reactor deal
New pact after a decade of negotiations for A.P. project
The U.S. is keen on seeing the completion of the long-pending Westinghouse nuclear reactor deal for Andhra Pradesh, said its visiting Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, here on Tuesday.
However, Mr. Perry clarified it would be a new deal in which the U.S. manufacturer would be involved only in the supply of reactors, and not in the construction of the power plants.
After launching the U.S.-India Strategic Energy Partnership along with Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan, Mr. Perry told presspersons that there had been “real progress” on discussions over the deal. But he did not commit to a timeline for the completion of the techno-commercial contract for 6 AP 1000 Westinghouse reactors, which has been in negotiations for nearly a decade.
“We will leave it to you to decide who the constructors are going to be. Probably you will find some good folks right here in India to build the structures yourself … The question is do you want the best reactors in the world, or brand X,” he said calling the Westinghouse reactors the “finest in the world”.
The deal for the reactors was one of two MoUs India signed in 2009 after the completion of the civilian nuclear deals. An “early works agreement” was signed between the NPCIL and Westinghouse in 2013.
However, while one MoU with GE-Hitachi was abandoned over insurance liability issues, the Westinghouse deal faced its biggest problems from a near-bankruptcy last year, after which its parent company, Toshiba, sold it to a Canadian consortium.
“They had some challenges in their past, with business practices, but the bottom line is that’s all behind them. They are lean and mean and ready to get to work,” Mr. Perry said.
According to officials, Mr. Perry’s entourage had senior executives from Westinghouse, and his pitch for the company is part of a more aggressive push by the U.S. to increase exports to India to address the trade deficit.
Aadhaar leak may sway polls, fears SC
Bench expresses concern about data protection
It is a “real apprehension” that a leak in the Aadhaar data may sway elections and cause a severe dent to democracy, the Supreme Court expressed its fears about data protection at an age when private players are increasingly taking over what used to be exclusively governmental functions.
Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, for Aadhaar’s nodal agency UIDAI, tried to allay the fears of the Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, by submitting that the Aadhaar Act provides for data protection.
Mr. Dwivedi countered that the UIDAI cannot be compared to any Cambridge Analytica.
He submitted that data protection should be “fair, reasonable and just.” In fact, no one could assure 100% data protection.
‘No learning algorithms’
The senior advocate said the UIDAI did not have any learning algorithms, which can aggregate and analyse data. Besides the UIDAI can refuse a private enterprise from becoming a requesting entity under the Aadhaar Act. He said whether the requesting entity is a taxi aggregator or a software app, it has to have a prior contract with the UIDAI.
But Justice D.Y. Chandrachud expressed fears about what use the requesting entities themselves would make of the personal data provided to them by the public. The judge said the interaction of Aadhaar with the “outside world” was indeed an area of concern for the court.
The judge illustrated that a private hospital, which may have data about the number of visits of its patients and their medication, could possibly pass the information over to insurance or pharma companies for commercial use.
Justice Chandrachud referred to Sections 8(3) and 29(3) of the Aadhaar Act which shows that requesting entities have “identity information” of citizens with them. They get access to this information when individuals come to them for authentication.
Justice Chandrachud said the authorities cannot risk a blinkered vision of reality. Mr. Dwivedi dissuaded the court from giving into the “hyperphobia” of the petitioners challenging the Aadhaar scheme. He reiterated that Aadhaar data was not subject to any kind of analysis and the people should trust the UIDAI with their data.
Mr. Dwivedi sought to reply to allegations made by the petitioners that Aadhaar reduces a person to a number, robbing him of his individuality. He said human beings were not reduced to numbers just because they were assigned a number as in proximity cards, passports, etc.
Dhaka to receive 152 Bangladeshis
Dhaka has begun the process of taking back 152 Bangladeshi nationals languishing in four detention camps in Assam.
These detention camps, within district jails, are in Goalpara, Kokrajhar, Tezpur and Silchar.
Officials of the Bangladesh Assistant High Commission in Guwahati have verified the nationality of these 152 who “yearn to be back home”.
These men either strayed into India or overstayed in the country without proper documents.
Assistant High Commissioner Kazi Muntashir Murshed said the Bangladesh High Commission has written to the External Affairs India’s Ministry for the repatriation of the jailed Bangladeshi nationals. “We expect to start the process of sending back our jailed citizens batch by batch in a couple of weeks after the clearance from the Ministry. The first batch will have 51 people,” Mr. Murshed said.