Bill and Acts Current Affairs
The Second volume of Economic Survey 2016-17 has proposed Transparency of Rules Act (TORA), a progressive legislation to end any asymmetry of information regarding rules and regulations faced by an average citizen.
The objective of TORA is to help citizens overcome an opaque mesh of complicated rules that often leads to corruption and endless litigation.
At present due to opaque mesh of regulations prevalent in India make life of ordinary citizens (as well as businesses) difficult as it is not easy for ordinary citizens for them to navigate the multitude of rules, regulations, forms, taxes and procedures imposed by various tiers of government. Moreover, these rules frequently change and sometimes contradict each other. Even government officials struggle to keep up with ‘the latest version’ of complicated rules. They also act as a magnet for corruption and endless litigation.
Key Features of TORA
TORA will require all government departments to mandatorily place all citizen-friendly rules on their website. Government Officials will not be able to impose any rule not mentioned beforehand. It will make mandatory for updating all existing laws by the department.
Government websites will also have to notify the date and time of each change made. TORA will normally be applicable after a specified time after the rule has been posted. “TORA compliant” departments will ensure that citizens get authentic and updated information.
India will benefit enormously if the average citizen could easily access the latest rules and regulations in a comprehensible format. Transparency of Rules Act (TORA) will be a possible solution for this.
The Lok Sabha has passed comprehensive Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2015 to curb domestic black money.
The comprehensive amendment bill seeks to amend and strengthen Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, 1988 in terms of legal and administrative procedure.
Key Features of Bill
- The Bill seeks to (i) Amend the definition of benami transactions to widen the scope for legal action (ii) Specify penalties for entering into benami transactions and (iii) establish adjudicating authorities and Appellate Tribunal to deal with benami transactions.
- It add other transactions which qualify as benami, such as property transactions where: (i) the owner is not aware or denies knowledge of the ownership of the property, (ii) transaction is made in a fictitious name (iii) person providing the consideration for the property is not traceable.
- The Bill also adds provisions to establish an Appellate Tribunal in order to hear appeals against any orders passed by the Adjudicating Authority. Appeals against orders of the Appellate Tribunal will lie to the high court.
- The Bill specifies the penalty for providing false information. The punishment includes rigorous imprisonment ranging from 6 months up to 5 years, and a fine which may extend to 25% of the fair market value of the benami property.
- It also intends to effectively prohibit benami transactions and consequently prevent circumvention of law through unfair practices.
- It empowers the Union Government to confiscate benami property by following due procedure. Therefore it promotes equity across all citizens.
- The Bill provides immunity under the Benami Act to those who declare their benami properties under income declaration scheme.
What is a ‘benami’ transaction?
In literally sense benami means ‘nameless’ or ‘without a name’. The benami transaction refers to property purchased by a person in the name of some other person. In such transactions, the person who pays for the property is directly or indirectly ultimate beneficiary of the property in the future.