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Current Affairs 22 December 2023

  1. Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita 2023
  2. Alternative Investment Fund
  3. National Cooperative Exports Limited (NCEL)
  4. Polar Stratospheric Clouds
  5. Fanged Frogs


Context:

The Lok Sabha approved three significant bills, namely the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, 2023; Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023; and Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023, with the objective of comprehensively reforming India’s criminal laws. Union Home Minister, while introducing the bills, emphasized their purpose of replacing laws instituted during the British era with indigenous legislation.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023 Overview
  2. Critique of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023

Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023 Overview:

  • The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023 (BNSS2) aims to replace the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC).
  • CrPC outlines procedures for arrest, prosecution, and bail and was initially enacted in 1861 to address legal system complexities in India.
  • The BNSS2 proposes amendments to existing provisions, affecting trials, investigations, etc.
Key Provisions in the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023 Bill:

Detention of Undertrials:

  • CrPC allows release on personal bond if half the maximum imprisonment period is served (except for offenses punishable by death).
  • BNSS2 adds exceptions for offenses with life imprisonment penalties and cases pending for multiple offenses.

Medical Examination:

  • CrPC permits medical examination in specific cases, such as rape, by a registered medical practitioner upon a sub-inspector’s request.
  • BNSS2 broadens this to allow any police officer to request such examinations.

Forensic Investigation:

  • BNSS2 mandates forensic investigation for offenses with at least seven years of imprisonment.
  • Forensic experts will collect evidence, recording the process on electronic devices. States without facilities can utilize those in other states.

Signatures and Finger Impressions:

  • CrPC empowers a Magistrate to order specimen signatures or handwriting.
  • BNSS2 expands this to include finger impressions and voice samples, even from non-arrested individuals.

Timelines for Procedures:

  • BNSS2 sets timelines, requiring medical practitioners examining rape victims to submit reports within seven days, streamlining various procedures.

Critique of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023:

Extended Police Custody:

  • BNSS2 permits up to 15 days of police custody during the initial 40 or 60 days of the 60- or 90-day judicial custody period.
  • Concerns raised about potential denial of bail for the entire period if police custody is not fully utilized.

Property Attachment without Safeguards:

  • Power to attach property lacks safeguards outlined in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Restrictions on Bail for Multiple Charges:

  • While CrPC allows bail after half the maximum imprisonment, BNSS2 denies this for individuals facing multiple charges.
  • Potential limitations on bail in cases involving multiple sections.

Use of Handcuffs and Public Order Provisions:

  • BNSS2 allows the use of handcuffs in various cases, including organized crime, contrary to Supreme Court directives.
  • Retention of CrPC provisions related to maintaining public order raises questions about their inclusion in the same law.

Integration of Trial Procedure and Public Order:

  • The BNSS2 retains provisions related to public order alongside trial procedures, prompting discussions on whether these functions should be regulated under the same law or separately.

Omission of High-Level Committee Recommendations:

  • Recommendations from high-level committees, particularly those regarding changes to the CrPC, reforms in sentencing guidelines, and codifying accused rights, have not been incorporated into the BNSS2.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued a directive to Regulated Entities (REs), including banks, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), and other lenders, prohibiting them from investing in alternative investment funds (AIFs) schemes that have downstream investments in debtor companies. This move is aimed at addressing concerns related to the evergreening of stressed loans.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Recent RBI Directives on AIF Investments by REs
  2. What is an Alternative Investment Fund (AIF)?

Recent RBI Directives on AIF Investments by REs:

Concerns Addressed:

  • RBI has highlighted concerns about the substitution of direct loans with AIF unit investments by Regulated Entities (REs).
  • This practice indirectly connects REs to the borrowers and has raised apprehensions about loan evergreening.

Definition of Evergreening:

  • Evergreening is a process in which lenders attempt to revive loans on the brink of default by providing additional loans to the same borrower.

Explicit Prohibition:

  • The RBI directive explicitly forbids REs from investing in AIF schemes that have downstream investments in debtor companies associated with the RE.

Timeline for Liquidation:

  • If an AIF, in which an RE is an existing investor, makes downstream investments in debtor companies, the RE must liquidate its investment within 30 days.

Provisions for Non-Compliance:

  • Failure to liquidate within the stipulated time requires REs to make a 100% provision on such investments.

Definition of Provision:

  • A provision is an amount set aside or reserved by a company or financial institution to cover anticipated future expenses or losses.

What is an Alternative Investment Fund (AIF)?

  • Definition:
    • An AIF refers to a privately pooled investment mechanism established or formed in India.
    • Its purpose is to gather funds from sophisticated investors, whether domestic or international, and invest according to a specific policy, ultimately benefiting investors.
  • Regulation:
    • AIFs adhere to the SEBI (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations, 2012.
  • Registration Statistics:
    • As of December 2023, 1,220 AIFs were registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
Categories of AIFs:
  • Category I:
    • Invests in startups, early-stage ventures, social initiatives, SMEs, infrastructure, or sectors deemed socially and economically beneficial.
    • Includes venture capital, social venture funds, infrastructure funds, and specified Alternative Investment Funds.
  • Category II:
    • Does not fall into Category I or III.
    • Does not undertake leverage or borrowing except for day-to-day operational requirements.
    • Includes real estate funds, private equity funds (PE funds), distressed asset funds, etc.
  • Category III:
    • Employs diverse or complex trading strategies.
    • May use leverage, including through investment in listed or unlisted derivatives.
    • Includes hedge funds, PIPE (private investment in public equity) Funds, etc.
Legal Forms:
  • An AIF can be established in the form of a trust, company, limited liability partnership, or a body corporate.
  • Most SEBI-registered AIFs are in trust form.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

Recently, the Union Minister of Cooperation informed the Lok Sabha about the National Cooperative Exports Limited.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the National Cooperative Exports Limited (NCEL)
  2. Types of Members

About the National Cooperative Exports Limited (NCEL):

  • Establishment:
    • Set up by the Ministry of Cooperation under the Multi-State Cooperative Societies (MSCS) Act, 2002.
  • Objective:
    • Aims to provide a complete ecosystem for promoting exports, particularly of agricultural commodities, to benefit Indian farmers, leveraging the country’s comparative advantage.
  • Membership Eligibility:
    • All cooperative societies from the primary to apex levels interested in exports are eligible to become members.
  • Export Focus:
    • NCEL concentrates on exporting surpluses available in the Indian cooperative sector by accessing markets beyond the country’s geographical boundaries.

Types of Members:

Ordinary Members:
  • Eligible entities include multi-state cooperative societies, cooperative societies registered or deemed to be registered under state or UT laws, and the National Co-operative Development Corporation (NCDC).
  • Persons or associations may be permitted by the Central Registrar based on the society’s nature and activities.
  • Individual membership is not allowed.
Nominal or Associate Member:
  • The society may admit individuals, including cooperative banks, as nominal or associate members in the interest of business promotion.

-Source: The Hindu, PIB



Context:

Recently, weather watchers have captured images of rare Polar stratospheric clouds over Scotland, northern England and the West Midland.

Relevance:

GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSC)
  2. Impacts

About Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSC):

  • Other Names:
    • Also known as nacreous clouds or mother of pearl, owing to their iridescence.
  • Formation:
    • Formed in extremely cold conditions over Polar Regions within the stratosphere, approximately 12-19 miles (19-31 km) high, well above regular clouds.
    • Composed of smaller ice particles compared to those in common clouds.
    • These smaller particles scatter light differently, resulting in their distinctive iridescent appearance.
  • Timing of Appearance:
    • Typically, PSCs first appear in January.

Impacts:

  • Ozone Depletion Indicator:
    • The frequency of PSCs serves as an indicator of potential ozone depletion.
  • Chemical Role in Stratosphere:
    • PSCs facilitate chemical reactions, transforming benign forms of chlorine into reactive, ozone-destroying forms.
    • They also eliminate nitrogen compounds that would otherwise mitigate the destructive impact of chlorine on the ozone layer.

-Source: India Today



Context:

Scientists recently discovered the world’s smallest species of Fanged Frogs named Limnonectes phyllofolia from Indonesia.

Relevance:

GS III: Species in News

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Fanged Frogs
  2. Key Facts – Limnonectes phyllofolia

About Fanged Frogs:

  • Genus and Species: Belong to the genus Limnonectes, comprising around 75 species.
  • Distinctive Features: Notable for fang-like structures, which are projections of their jaw bone.
  • Geographical Distribution: Found across East and Southeast Asia.
Behavior and Usage of Fangs:
  • Territorial and Mating Battles:
    • Use fangs in battles for territory and mates.
  • Hunting Techniques:
    • Employ fangs to capture tough-shelled prey like giant centipedes and crabs.
Size Variation:
  • Many species in this genus are giants, with some weighing up to two pounds.
Key Facts – Limnonectes phyllofolia:
  • Size: The smallest species among fanged frogs.
  • Habitat: Discovered on the mountainous island of Sulawesi in Indonesia.
  • Reproductive Behavior: Earned the nickname “leaf-nester” as they do not lay eggs in water; instead, they make nests on tree leaves or moss-covered boulders away from water, with males guarding the eggs.
  • Appearance: Adults are brown in color.

-Source: The Hindu


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