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Current Affairs 16 May 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Gaps in the AePS transaction model
  2. E-Invoice  
  3. Default Bail
  4. iDEX initiative
  5. Eretmoptera murphyi 
  6. Sahyadri Tiger Reserve (STR)

Gaps in the AePS Transaction Model


Context:

A popular YouTuber, in a Twitter thread, shared how his mother’s bank account was drained using an Aadhaar-linked fingerprint without needing a two-factor authentication.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is AePS?
  2. How is biometric information leaked?
  3. How to secure your Aadhaar biometric information:

What is AePS?

  • The Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AePS) is a bank-led model which allows online financial transactions at Point-of-Sale (PoS) devices and micro ATMs of any bank using Aadhaar authentication.
  • The model removes the need for OTPs, bank account and other financial details.
  • It allows fund transfers using only the bank name, Aadhaar number, and fingerprint captured during Aadhaar enrolment, according to the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
Is AePs enabled by default?
  • There is no clear mention from the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) or NPCI about whether AePS is enabled by default.
  • Cashless India, a website managed by the MeitY, states that AePS does not require any activation, but the user’s bank account must be linked with their Aadhaar number.
  • To receive benefits or subsidies under schemes covered by the Aadhaar Act’s section 7, users must submit their Aadhaar number to the banking service provider, according to the UIDAI.

How is biometric information leaked?

  • While Aadhaar data breaches were reported in 2018, 2019, and 2022, the UIDAI has consistently denied any data breaches.
  • The UIDAI maintains that Aadhaar data, including biometric information, is completely safe and secure.
  • However, it is important to note that UIDAI’s database is not the sole source of potential data leaks.
  • Aadhaar numbers are easily available in the form of photocopies and soft copies, and criminals may exploit Aadhaar-enabled payment systems to compromise user information.

How to secure your Aadhaar biometric information:

  • The UIDAI is proposing an amendment to the Aadhaar (Sharing of Information) Regulations, 2016, which would require entities holding Aadhaar numbers to not share the details unless the numbers have been redacted or blacked out.
  • A new two-factor authentication mechanism has been implemented by the UIDAI, using a machine-learning-based security system that combines finger minutiae and finger image capture to verify the “liveness” of a fingerprint.
  • Users are advised to lock their Aadhaar information through the UIDAI website or mobile app, ensuring that even if their biometric information is compromised, it cannot be used for financial transactions. It can be unlocked when needed for biometric authentication, such as property registration or passport renewals, and locked again afterward.

-Source: The Hindu


Automated Return Scrutiny Module E-Invoice  


Context:

The Government has recently reduced the limit for businesses to generate e-Invoice for Business-to-Business (B2B) transactions from Rs 10 crore to Rs 5 crore. Additionally, the government has rolled out the Automated Return Scrutiny Module (ARSM).

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Automated Return Scrutiny Module (ARSM)
  2. e-Invoicing Under GST
  3. Significance of Lowering Thresholds for e-Invoice
  4. Concerns related to the Decision

Automated Return Scrutiny Module (ARSM)

  • ARSM is an integral component of the ACES-GST backend application.
  • It employs data analytics to identify risks and discrepancies in GST returns.

Key Features:

  • Enables tax officers to scrutinize the GST returns of Centre Administered Taxpayers.
  • Taxpayers are selected based on risks identified by the system.
  • Generates alerts in case of non-compliance detection.

Current Implementation:

  • The automated return scrutiny module is already in operation.
  • It has initiated the scrutiny of GST returns for the fiscal year 2019-20.
  • Tax officers already possess the necessary data for the scrutiny process.

e-Invoicing Under GST:

  • e-Invoicing is a system where B2B invoices and certain documents are electronically authenticated by the GSTN.
  • It involves submitting pre-generated standard invoices on a common e-invoice portal, streamlining reporting with one-time input of invoice details.

Process and Benefits:

  • Each invoice is assigned an identification number by the Invoice Registration Portal (IRP).
  • The invoice information is transmitted in real-time to the GST portal and e-Way Bill portal.
  • e-Way Bill is a digital compliance mechanism that enables faster movement of goods.
  • Manual data entry for return filing and e-way bill generation is eliminated.

Objectives:

  • The GST Council approved the standard of e-invoice to facilitate interoperability across the entire GST ecosystem.

Significance:

  • A uniform invoicing system allows tax authorities to pre-populate returns and minimize reconciliation issues.
  • Implementation of e-invoicing helps combat fake invoices, fraudulent input tax credit claims, and tax evasion.
  • Real-time access to data empowers tax authorities to detect and prevent fraudulent activities.

Significance of Lowering Thresholds for e-Invoice

  • Increased Compliance: By reducing the threshold, more businesses, including small and medium-sized enterprises, are mandated to adopt e-invoicing. This expansion of the compliance mandate ensures a wider coverage of businesses under the e-invoicing system.
  • Boost in GST Revenue: With a larger number of businesses generating e-invoices, there is a potential increase in GST revenue collections. By capturing transactions electronically, the government can track and monitor business activities more effectively, leading to improved tax compliance.
  • Curbing Tax Evasion: Lowering the threshold for e-invoicing helps combat tax evasion. The requirement for businesses to generate e-invoices provides a digital trail of transactions, reducing the possibility of underreporting or manipulation of sales figures.
  • Broadening the Tax Base: By bringing more businesses into the e-invoicing framework, the tax base is broadened. This means a larger number of businesses are accounted for in the tax system, contributing to a fair and inclusive tax environment.
  • Enhanced Data for Compliance: With increased adoption of e-invoicing, tax authorities have access to more comprehensive and accurate data. This enables them to identify mismatch errors, discrepancies, and potential instances of fraudulent activities, such as the generation of fake invoices.

Concerns related to the Decision

  • Challenges for SMEs: Small and medium enterprises may face difficulties in adapting to the new e-invoicing requirements. They may need to invest in technology and resources to comply, which can increase their compliance costs and put a strain on their cash flows.
  • Capacity and Preparedness of GSTN: The GST Network (GSTN) needs to be adequately prepared to handle the increased volume of e-invoices generated by a larger number of taxpayers. If the system is not capable of handling the load, it can result in technical glitches and delays in invoice generation, impacting business operations.
  • Exclusion of B2C Transactions: Currently, e-invoicing is not applicable to Business-to-Consumer (B2C) transactions. As a significant amount of fraud occurs in B2C invoices where Input Tax Credit (ITC) is not involved, excluding them from e-invoicing requirements may limit the effectiveness of the system in curbing fraudulent activities.

-Source: Down To Earth


Default And Other Types Of Bails


Context:

The Supreme Court (SC) has directed lower courts to independently grant default bail pleas in criminal cases if the charge sheet is not filed within the specified timeframe of 60 or 90 days. This instruction allows lower courts to exercise their discretion in granting default bail without being bound by the Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of Ritu Chhabaria versus Union of India (dated 26th April, 2023).

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. Default Bail
  3. Other Types of Bail in India

Details:

  • During the proceedings of an appeal by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) requesting the recall of the Ritu Chhabaria judgment, the Supreme Court (SC) made specific observations.
  • The Ritu Chhabaria judgment held that “the right of default bail under Section 167(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is not merely a statutory right, but a fundamental right that flows from Article 21 of the Constitution” to protect accused persons from the “unfettered and arbitrary power of the State”.

Default Bail

  • Default Bail, also known as Statutory Bail, is a right to seek bail that arises when the police fail to complete an investigation within a specified period for a person in judicial custody.
  • This right is enshrined in Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Section 167(2) of the CrPC:
  • If the police are unable to complete an investigation within a specified period, a person in judicial custody has the right to apply for bail.
  • When the investigation exceeds 24 hours, the police present the suspect before a magistrate who determines whether they should be held in police custody or judicial custody.
  • As per Section 167(2) of the CrPC, the magistrate can order the accused person to be detained in police custody for a maximum of 15 days. If more time is required, the magistrate can authorize their detention in judicial custody, which means imprisonment. However, the accused cannot be held for more than:
    • Ninety days if the investigating authority is dealing with a crime punishable by death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment for at least ten years.
    • Sixty days if the investigating authority is handling any other offense.
Special Cases:
  • Some special laws, such as the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, may have different time periods for investigation, such as 180 days.
  • Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, the default limit is 90 days only, which can be extended for an additional 90 days.
  • This extension can be granted only upon a report by the Public Prosecutor, indicating the progress made in the investigation and providing reasons to justify the continued detention of the accused.
  • These provisions demonstrate that the extension of time is not automatic but requires a judicial order.

Other Types of Bail in India

Regular Bail:

  • Regular Bail is granted by the Court to release a person who is already under arrest and held in police custody.
  • To obtain Regular Bail, a person can file an application under Section 437 and 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
  • Regular Bail can be sought from any Court within the country.

Interim Bail:

  • Interim Bail is a temporary and short-term bail granted by the Court while the application for Anticipatory Bail or Regular Bail is pending before a Court.
  • It provides temporary relief until a final decision is made on the bail application.

Anticipatory Bail:

  • Anticipatory Bail is a direction issued by the Court to release a person on Bail even before they are arrested.
  • It is granted when there is a reasonable apprehension of arrest, and the person seeks protection from arrest.
  • To apply for Anticipatory Bail, a person can file an application under Section 438 of the CrPC.
  • Anticipatory Bail can only be issued by the Sessions Court and High Court.

-Source: The Hindu


Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) Initiative


Context:

Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX), the flagship initiative of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), has reached a milestone with the signing of the 250th contract, the first one under the Mission DefSpace, and the 100th SPRINT (Navy) contract.

Relevance:

GS III- Defence

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX)
  2. Main objectives of iDEX

Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX)

  • Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) is an initiative taken by the government, launched in 2018, to contribute towards modernization of the Defence Industry.
  • iDEX aims to promote innovation and technology development in Defence and Aerospace by engaging Industries (which includes MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes & academia).
  • iDEX will provide the engaging industries with funding and other support to carry out Research & Development.
  • iDEX will be funded and managed by Defence Innovation Organization (DIO), and will function as the executive arm of DIO.
  • iDEX has partnered with leading incubators in the country to provide hand holding, technical support and guidance to the winners of iDEX challenges.

Main objectives of iDEX

  • To frame ‘corporate Venture Capital’ models for Indian Defence needs thereby identifying emerging technologies, connecting innovators with military units, facilitating co-creation of new and appropriate technologies and so forth into weapon systems used by Indian Armed Services. 
  • To deliver military-grade products thereby solving the critical needs of the Indian defence set-up by developing or applying advanced technologies.
  • To devise a culture of innovation in the Indian Defence and Aerospace by engaging startups and innovators for co-creation and co-innovation.

-Source: The Hindu


About The Eretmoptera Murphyi 


Context:

According to a study by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), a tiny flightless Midge (small insect) called Eretmoptera murphyi is changing the soil composition of Antarctica’s Signy Island. It is an invasive species on Antarctic Signy Island.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Eretmoptera murphyi
  2. Concerns

About Eretmoptera murphyi

  • Eretmoptera murphyi, also known as the midge or non-biting midge, is a species native to South Georgia, a sub-Antarctic Island.
  • It was accidentally introduced to Signy Island in the 1960s during a botany experiment and its population growth became evident in the 1980s.
Characteristics and Impact:
  • Eretmoptera murphyi primarily feeds on dead organic matter, leading to accelerated plant decomposition.
  • This process increases soil nitrate levels in affected areas by three to five times compared to locations without the presence of the midge and only native invertebrate species.
  • High nitrate levels can be toxic to other plant species and contaminate groundwater.
  • Elevated nitrate levels in water can promote excessive algae growth, deplete oxygen levels, and harm aquatic life.

Cause of Spread:

Experts suggest that human activities, such as carrying insects on shoes, may have facilitated the spread of Eretmoptera murphyi to Antarctica.

Concerns:

  • The midge’s ability to survive in water raises concerns about its potential spread to other islands.
  • The species has expanded its territory and population, posing significant challenges.
  • The invasion of the midge in Antarctica highlights the vulnerability of the unique ecosystem to invasive species, even in harsh conditions.
  • The activity of the midges, combined with the effects of climate change, may create favorable conditions for other invasive species to establish themselves and further amplify the impacts of climate change.

-Source: Down To Earth


About The Sahyadri Tiger Reserve (STR)


Context:

Report of the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve (STR) water hole census has been released recently, and a total of 374 animals from 18 wild species of animals and birds were recorded.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Sahyadri Tiger Reserve (STR):
  2. Flora and Fauna

About Sahyadri Tiger Reserve (STR):

  • Location: Situated in the Sahyadri Ranges of the Western Ghats in Maharashtra, India.
  • Combination: It encompasses the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary and the Chandoli National Park, located in the southern part of Maharashtra.
  • Geographic Features: The reserve encompasses the region around the Koyna Dam, Warna River, and various small rivers and streams originating from the Western Ghats and flowing eastward.
  • Vegetation: The reserve consists of evergreen, semi-evergreen, and moist deciduous forests.
  • Habitat: The habitat within Sahyadri Tiger Reserve includes woodlands, grasslands, and plateaus, locally known as “Sadaa.” The plateaus are lateritic in nature and possess significant habitat value.

Flora and Fauna

Flora:
  • The reserve is abundant in fodder species like karvi, bamboo, and kumbal, as well as fruit species such as Zizyphus rugosa, Ficus racemosa, Sideroxylon tomentasa, Ficus arnottiana, Acacia concinna, Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellerica, Vangueria spinosa, Emblica officinalis, and Carissa conjesta.
Fauna:
  • Endangered Carnivores: Sahyadri Tiger Reserve is home to endangered top carnivores like Tigers, Wild Dogs, and Leopards.
  • Herbivores: The reserve is inhabited by herbivores such as Gaurs, Sambars, Four Horned Antelopes, Mouse Deer, and Giant Squirrels.
  • Notable Species: The area has documented species like the Atlas Moth, Moon Moth, and several endangered butterflies. The Indian long-billed Vulture has also been observed in the crest line of the reserve.

-Source: The Hindu


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