Centre-States Current Affairs

Death penalty should stay: 12 out of 14 states/UTs

The 12 out of 14 states/UTs have replied to Home Ministry that capital punishment or death penalty should stay, as it serves to act as deterrent in cases of heinous crimes such as murder and rape. The Home Ministry had forwarded proposal to abolish death penalty to states/UTs based on recommendation of Law Commission of India (LCI). The states/UTs that vetoed abolition of capital punishment were Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Delhi. Only two states, Karnataka and Tripura, want practice to be done away with.

Background

In 2013, the Supreme Court had asked Law Commission to examine whether death penalty is deterrent punishment or is retributive justice or serves an incapacitative goal. In its report in 2015, Law Commission, ten headed by Justice A P Shah, had proposed abolition of capital punishment for non-terrorism cases (i.e. it should be abolished for all crimes other than terrorism related offences and waging war). According to Law Commission’s Report, India is among handful of countries such as China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq that still carry out executions. At end of 2014, 98 countries had abolished death penalty, 7 had abolished it for ordinary crimes, and 35 were abolitionists in practice, making 140 countries abolitionists in law or practice.

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Government constitutes 15th Finance Commission under chairmanship NK Singh

The Union Government with the approval President of India has constituted 15th Finance Commission which will make recommendations for the five years commencing 1 April 2020 till 31 March 2025.

The commission will recommend devolution of shareable central taxes to States. It will also review several important aspects of federal fiscal finance. It will make its report available by 30th October 2019.

Composition of Commission

NK Singh, former bureaucrat and ex-Member of Parliament will be Chairman of 15th Finance Commission. Its other members are Shaktikanta Das, Former Secretary Economic Affairs; Dr Anoop Singh, Adjunct Professor of Georgetown University. Besides, Dr Ashok Lahiri, Chairman of Bandhan Bank and Dr Ramesh Chand, NITI Aayog Member will be the Part-time its members. Arvind Mehta will be Secretary to the Commission.

Terms of Reference of Commission

The Commission will make recommendations on distribution of net proceeds of taxes between Centre and States, the principles which should govern grants-in-aid of revenues of States out of Consolidated Fund of India. It will also suggest measures needed to augment Consolidated Fund of State to supplement resources of Panchayats and Municipalities in State on basis of recommendations made by Finance Commission of State.

It will also review current status of finance, debt levels, cash balances, deficit and fiscal discipline efforts of Centre and States and recommend fiscal consolidation roadmap for sound fiscal management. While making its recommendations, it will look at resources of Central Government and State Governments for five years commencing on 1st April 2020 on basis of levels of tax and non-tax revenues likely to be reached by 2024-25.

It is imperative for commission to examine implications of GST on finance of the Centre and states. It will look at impact of GST, including payment of compensation for possible loss of revenues for 5 years. It may also consider proposing measurable performance-based incentives for States, at appropriate level of government.

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