Lok Sabha Current Affairs - 2019

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LS passes National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019

The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Lok Sabha, to allow NIA to probe terrorist acts against Indians and Indian interests abroad. The Bill seeks to give more teeth to National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Key Highlights

NIA was set up in 2009 in aftermath Mumbai terror attack that had claimed 166 lives.

Since 2017, Union Home Ministry has been pushing for giving more power to NIA to meet fresh challenges.

The amendments will allow NIA to probe cybercrimes and cases of human trafficking.

In every state there is only one NIA designated court and these courts would only take NIA cases and not others.

Salient Features of Bill

The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 amends National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, 2008 that provides for a national-level agency to investigate and prosecute offences listed in a schedule (scheduled offences). Also, NIA Act allows for creation of Special Courts for trial of scheduled offences.

Scheduled offences: The schedule to Act mentions list of offences which are to be investigated and prosecuted by NIA which include offences under Acts like Atomic Energy Act (AEA), 1962, and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967. In addition to these the Bill also seeks to allow NIA to investigate following offences- cyber-terrorism, offences related to counterfeit currency or bank notes, offences under Explosive Substances Act (1908), manufacture or sale of prohibited arms and human trafficking.

Jurisdiction of NIA: The present NIA Act provides for creation of NIA to investigate and prosecute offences specified in schedule and NIA officers have same powers as other police officers in relation to investigation of such offences, across India. The NIA Amendment Bill seeks that in addition to current provisions, NIA officers will have power to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India, subject to domestic laws of other countries and international treaties. Also, if the offence has been committed in India Central government may direct NIA to investigate such cases and Special Court in New Delhi will be having jurisdiction over these cases.

Special Courts: Currently the Act allows central government to constitute Special Courts for trial of scheduled offences but the Bill passed amends this to state that central government may designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for trial of scheduled offences.

Although, before designating Sessions Courts as Special Courts for trial of scheduled offences, the central government is required to consult Chief Justice of High Court under which the Sessions Court is functioning.

In case when more than one Special Court has been designated for any area, then senior-most judge will distribute cases among courts. Moreover, state governments may also designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for trial of scheduled offences.

Month: Categories: Constitution & Law

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All panchayats to have Broadband Connectivity by March 2020: Govt

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister Electronics and Information Technology in a written reply in Lok Sabha informed Parliament that all gram panchayats will be provided high speed broadband connections under BharatNet project by March 2020.

Key Highlights

As per the government, as of today 128870 gram panchayats have been connected with optical fibre under BharatNet Project.

In Phase I of BharaNet project government connected 1 lakh gram panchayats and the Phase II of project is under implementation, and a total of 2 lakh GPs (gram panchayats) are targeted to be completed by March 2020.

Background: On 19 July 2017 Union Cabinet approved a modified strategy for implementing BharatNet under which, remaining 1,50,000 (approx.) Gram Panchayats in India are to be provided broadband connectivity in Phase-II of the project. The government has set target date to complete roll out of optical based high speed broadband network across all panchayats as March 2019 which was later modified to 2020 following the delay.

Delay: in initial implementation of project was on account of delay in initial commencement of project as the work on BharatNet project began in 2nd half of 2014 due to field survey of GPs and pilot testing of technology model.

In NER (north east region), gram panchayats are located in widely expansive hilly and remote areas and the monsoon season is also very long which creates a problem too. Also only underground optical fibre cable have been used to cover all panchyats.

Empowered Committee: This issue of delay has been resolved since May 2016 with constitution of empowered committee under Telecom Secretary, Steering Committee under USOF (Universal Service Obligation Fund) administrator and state committee under Chief General Manager (CGM), BSNL.

What is BharatNet?

The project seeks to provide affordable last mile high speed broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats across the country.

Nodal Ministry: for implementation of project is Ministry of Communication.

Objective: to facilitate delivery of e-governance, e-education, e-health, e-banking, Internet and other services to rural India.

Funding: It is being funded by Universal service Obligation Fund (USOF).

Mandate: It was set up to improve telecom services in rural and remote areas of country.

Progress Made:

Till date Wifi spots have been installed in 44,140 gram panchayats.

Project’s Phase I was completed in December 2017 and 1 lakh gram panchayats were made service ready.

Phase II is under implementation with the target of covering a total of 2 lakh gram panchayats by March 2020.

Month: Categories: Government Schemes & Projects

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