Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 22 May 2023

Centre passes ordinance to nullify SC decision

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The President Promulgated the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023. The Ordinance creates a new statutory authority – the National Capital Civil Service Authority (NCCSA) – which will be headed by the elected Chief Minister of Delhi in addition to the Chief Secretary and the Principal Secretary of the Home department. The NCCSA will make “recommendations” to the LG regarding “transfer posting, vigilance and other incidental matters.”

More about the ordinance

  1. Notably, all matters required to be decided by the body shall be decided by “majority of votes of the members present and voting.”
  2. This means, that in effect, the decision of the elected chief minister of Delhi can be overruled by the two senior bureaucrats. 
  3. Furthermore, in case the LG differs with the recommendation made, they would be empowered to “return the recommendation to the Authority for reconsideration” and, in case of continuing difference of opinion, “the decision of the Lieutenant Governor shall be final.”
  4. This effectively reverses the verdict delivered by the Supreme Court, which vested the Delhi government with final authority over the matter.
  5. The Supreme Court, on 11 May 2023, in an unanimous ruling by a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, said that the Delhi government has legislative and executive powers over administrative services in the national capital.

What was the Centre’s argument?

  1. The Centre’s argument was that in the 2018 ruling, the court did not analyse two crucial phrases in Article 239AA(3)(a).
  2. First was “insofar as any such matter is applicable to union territories” and the second was “subject to the provisions of this Constitution.”
  3. The Centre argued that since no Union Territory has power over services, Delhi too could not exercise such power.
  4. Essentially, Delhi could only legislate on issues that other Union Territories are explicitly allowed to legislate upon.
  5. The legislative power of Delhi will extend to an entry only when that entry is clearly and unequivocally applicable to union territories as a class.
  6. Consequently, the list II (state list) has to be read contextually and certain entries can be excluded from the domain of GNCTD, the Centre argued.

What is the extent of Delhi’s powers as per the SC verdict?

  1. Article 239AA specifically excludes land, police and public order from the purview of the legislative powers of the Delhi government.
  2. The court acknowledged that these three issues can also have some overlap with “services”.
  3. The legislative and executive power of Delhi over Entry 41 (services) shall not extend over to services related to public order, police and land.
  4. However, legislative and executive power over such services such as Indian administrative services, or joint card of services, which are relevant for the implementation of policies and vision of NCT of Delhi in terms of day to day administration of the region, shall live with Delhi, the court had said.

 

Freeing of ‘dotted lands’

GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

The Andhra Pradesh government has started removing “dotted lands” in the state from the prohibited list, restoring full rights of selling or pledging these lands to the farmers who own them. Over 2 lakh acres of these British-era dotted lands have been identified for permanent denotification.

What kinds of lands are dotted lands?

  1. Dotted lands are disputed lands for which there are no clear ownership documents.
  2. Typically, one or more individuals as well as the government’s Revenue Department lay claim over the land.
  3. These lands came to be known as “dotted lands’’ because when, during the British era, land ownership surveys and resettlement of land records were taken up, local revenue officials who were tasked with identifying government-owned and privately-owned lands put dots in the ownership column if more than one person claimed ownership, or if ownership could not be clearly established.
  4. These lands were also noted as disputed lands in the resettlement register or land records register. The dots on the land documents indicated their disputed status.

How did these ownership disputes arise?

  1. This could happen if landowners did not leave clear wills passing on land to their heirs or children, and if a dispute arose because more than one heir lay claim over the land.
  2. Also, land could be deemed by the government to belong to the state, but was under occupation by private parties.
  3. Some of the land records in question are more than 100 years old, and had been locked up in the prohibited list in and registers.
  4. During subsequent surveys, government officials left the ownership column blank indicating their disputed status as per Section 22A of the Registration Act.

 

Panel report on Adani-Hindenburg issue

GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

The Supreme Court made public the report of the court-appointed expert panel in the Hindenburg-Adani row case. While the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is yet to submit its report, the expert panel in its report disclosed that SEBI has been investigating the ownership of 13 “opaque” overseas entities related to Adani since October 2020.

What does the expert panel report say?

  1. In a report, the committee gave the Supreme Court a detailed assessment of the situation which could have led to volatility in the securities market due to the Hindenburg-Adani row.
  2. The committee also looked at two other issues — investor awareness and whether there was any regulatory failure that led to the conclusions drawn by the Hindenburg report.
  3. ON MARKET VOLATILITY: On the first issue, the report says that while “there was certainly high volatility in Adani stocks after publication of the Hindenburg report”, the market as a whole was not unduly volatile.
  4. ON INVESTOR AWARENESS: While the expert panel was largely in agreement with SEBI’s steps on ensuring investors are making informed decisions, the report also raised a question on whether there is too much information for the average investor.
  5. ON REGULATORY FAILURE: The expert panel said that SEBI is looking into whether Adani has floated regulations in three aspects.
  6. Minimum public shareholding: Sebi regulations require a publicly listed company to have a minimum of 25% of its shares to be held by the public. To examine whether Adani has flouted this rule, SEBI will have to look into the ownership of certain portfolio investors.
  7. Related party transactions: SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) require transactions by listed companies with related parties that are intended and purpose to benefit related party to be disclosed. The norms prohibit certain transactions.
  8. Price manipulation: On the issue of whether Adani had manipulated its stock price, the expert panel said that “it would not be possible to return a finding of regulatory failure on this count”.
  9. This is because despite SEBI’s active surveillance framework to take notice of high price and volume movements to consider if the integrity of the natural price discovery process has been manipulated, no such incident has been found.

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