Finance Commission Current Affairs - 2019

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Law Ministry to set up fast track courts after data on POCSO from HCs

The data from the High Courts across the country say that more than 96% of 1,66,882 rape trials registered under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) are pending. After receiving the data, law ministry has drawn comprehensive plans to fast track disposal of pending rape cases within a year. The plan is to set up fast track courts to hasten the process.

Highlights

The aim of the fast track courts is to dispose the cases within 1 year. So far there are 1,66,882 cases that are registered as rape cases and 1,60,989 cases registered under Pocso Act. The government of India is also planning to propose similar fast track courts under the 15th Finance Commission (2020-25).

The law ministry will set up 1,023 fast track court to complete the pending cases. The data from the HC says that there are around 389 districts all over the country where the number of cases under POCSO act exceeded 100.

The Ministry had earlier directed state governments and union territories to set up fast track courts for POCSO cases. Under the order around 218 such courts were set up in UP. The information was given in the Lok Sabha on December 6, 2019.

Issue

POCSO act mandates that the investigation of cases registered under the act has to be completed within a time span of 2 months. In spite of such strict law and policy framework, the number of rape and POCSO cases have increased.

Cabinet approves extension of term of 15th Finance Commission

Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved extension of term of 15th Finance Commission (XV-FC) up to 30 November 2019. This will enable FC to examine various comparable estimates for financial projections in view of reforms as well as new realities to finalise its recommendations for period 2020-2025.

The government has also broadened ambit of FC’s recommendation to include funds for defence and internal security.

Key Highlights

Background: 15th Finance Commission has been constituted by President on 27 November 2017 in pursuance of clause (1) of Article 280 of Constitution of India and Finance Commission (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1951. FC was to submit its Report on basis of its Terms of Reference (ToR) by 30 October 2019, covering a period of 5 years commencing from 1 April 2020.

Reason for Extension:

The constitution of 15th FC has been in backdrop of various major fiscal and budgetary reforms introduced by Union Government in past 4 years such as closure of Planning Commission (PC) and its replacement by NITl Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India), removal of distinction between Non-Plan and Plan expenditure, advancing budget calendar by 1 month and passing of full budget before commencement of new financial year i.e. on 1 February, introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) from July 2017 and New Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) architecture with debt and fiscal deficit path.

ToR of FC takes into account above fiscal and budgetary reforms. The task of determining expenditure and receipts of Union and State governments based on which FC shall make its recommendations is time consuming, as checks for data consistency across time and data sets become challenging.

About Finance Commission

FC is constituted by President under Article 280 of Constitution of India. It is constituted to give recommendations on distribution of tax revenues between Union and the States and amongst States themselves.

XV FC:

It was constituted by Presidential Order on November 2017 under the Chairmanship of N. K. Singh.

It will decide formula for devolution of revenue/funds between Centre and States, for a 5 year period– April 2020 to March 2025.