Government Schemes Current Affairs - 2019
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Union Cabinet has decided to raise contribution of Central Government to National Pension System (NPS) corpus of its employees from 10% to 14%. This will increase in eventual accumulated corpus of all central government employees covered by NPS. There are 18 lakh central government employees at present. The revenue impact from higher government contribution to employees’ corpus is expected to be around Rs.2,840 crore for 2019-20 and will be in nature of a recurring expenditure.
Government also has decided to make NPS fully tax free, making it on par with the provident fund scheme. It has decided to exempt income tax that is applicable on part of NPS corpus that is withdrawn on retirement. At present, while exiting scheme, 60% of corpus could be withdrawn and 20% of withdrawn amount is taxable. This portion now has been made tax free. The remaining part that could be used to buy annuities is anyway tax free. With this decision, NPS has acquired parity with provident fund savings, which are not taxed at any of three stages of saving, profit accrual or exit.
National Pension System (NPS)
It is easily accessible, low cost, tax-efficient, flexible and portable retirement savings account. It was launched in 2004 and was initially introduced for new Government recruits (except armed forces). It aims to institute pension reforms in country and to inculcate habit of saving for retirement amongst the citizens. Its objective is to provide retirement income to all the citizens. Under it, individual contributes to his retirement account. Employer can also co-contribute for social security/welfare of individual. It was extended for all citizens of country from May 2009 including the unorganised sector workers on voluntary basis. NPS is governed and administered by Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA). Currently, any Indian between age of 18 to 65 years may voluntarily join the NPS. NRI can open an NPS account, however contributions made by NRI are subject to regulatory requirements as prescribed by RBI and FEMA from time to time.
Supreme Court has approved Witness Protection Scheme 2018 and directed Union and State Governments to enforce the same. This scheme was framed by Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in response to PIL seeking protection for witnesses.
The apex court held that scheme will become law under Article 141/142 of Constitution till enactment of parliamentary and state legislations on the subject. It also directed states/UTs to set up the vulnerable witness deposition complexes (VWDCs) within period of 1 year (by the end of 2019). It also observed that there is paramount need to have witness protection regime in statutory form. The main reasons for establishing these VWDC is large percentage of acquittal in criminal cases is due to witnesses turning hostile and giving false testimonies, mostly due to lack of protection for them and their families.
Witness Protection Scheme 2018
It has been formulated by Home Ministry on the inputs received from 18 States/UTs, five state legal services authorities and open sources including civil society, three high courts as well as from police personnel. It was finalised in consultation with National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).
It aims to ensure that investigation, prosecution and trial of criminal offences does not turn out to be biased as witnesses are intimidated or frightened to give evidence without protection from violent or other criminal recrimination.
- Identifying categories of threat perceptions
- Preparation of Threat Analysis Report by the head of police
- Confidentiality and preservation of records, recovery of expenses, etc.
- Types of protection measures like ensuring that witness and accused do not come face to face during investigation etc. protection of identity, change of identity, relocation of witness
Three types of witnesses categorises
- Threat extends to life of witness or his family members during investigation, trial or thereafter.
- Threat extends to safety, reputation or property of witness or his family members, during investigation, trial.
- Threat is moderate and extends to harassment of witness or his family member’s, reputation or property during investigation, trial or thereafter.
Categorised witnesses under the scheme can file application for seeking protection order before competent authority of concerned district where offence is committed. This competent authority will be chaired by District and Sessions Judge. Head of police in the district will be its member and head of prosecution in the district as its member secretary.
When this authority receives application, it has to call for Threat Analysis Report (TAR) from ACP/DSP in charge of the concerned Police Sub-Division. The authority is also empowered to order protection measures based on TAR such as identity protection, change of identity and relocation of witnesses.