The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its approval to set up
the 22nd Law Commission.The Law Commission advises the government on complex
legal issues. The term of the previous law panel ended last August.The Law
Ministry will now notify the new panel, which will have a three-year term.
Apart from a full-time chairperson, the commission will have
four full-time members, including a member-secretary.The Law and Legislative
Secretaries in the Law Ministry will be ex-officio members of the commission.
“It will also have not more than five part-time members,” an
official statement said.A retired Supreme Court judge or Chief Justice of a High
Court will head the commission.
Originally formed in 1955, the commission is reconstituted every
three years and so far, 277 reports have been submitted to the government.
The previous Law Commission, under Justice B.S. Chauhan (retd.),
had submitted reports and working papers on key issues such as simultaneous
elections to the LokSabha and the Assemblies and a uniform civil code.
While it supported simultaneous elections, the commission had
said the time for a common code was not yet ripe. In 2015, a proposal was mooted
to make the law panel into a permanent body either through an Act of Parliament
or an executive order (resolution of the Union Cabinet).
The move was shelved after the Prime Minister’s Office preferred
the existing system to continue. In 2010, the then UPA government had prepared a
draft Cabinet note to give statutory status to the commission but the idea did
not take off.
The Centre will begin implementing the second phase of its
Swachh Bharat mission in rural areas from April, focusing on solid and
liquid waste management and the sustainability of the abolition of open
On Wednesday, the Union Cabinet approved an allocation of
₹52,497 crore for the scheme from the budget of the Department of Drinking Water
and Sanitation over the next four years, according to an official statement.
The remaining outlay of ₹88,384 crore until 2024-25 will come
via a convergence model, depending on funds released under the 15th Finance
Commission and money allocated to the rural jobs guarantee scheme, as well as a
revenue generation model being developed for solid and liquid waste management.
The Union Budget for 2020-21 had allocated ₹9,994 crore for the
first year of the mission’s Phase-II.
The scheme will be implemented by the States, with a fund
sharing pattern of 60:40 between the Centre and the States.In the northeastern
and Himalayan states, the Central share will be 90%.
The Centre has almost halved its contribution to its own
flagship crop insurance schemes, slashing its share of the premium subsidy
from the current 50% to just 25% in irrigated areas and 30% for unirrigated
areas from the kharif season of 2020.
The Union Cabinet approved the revamp of the
PradhanMantriFasalBimaYojana (PMFBY) and the Restructured Weather Based Crop
Insurance Scheme at its meeting on Wednesday.
In another significant step, enrolment in the two schemes has
also been made voluntary for all farmers, including those with existing crop
loans. When the PMFBY was launched in 2016, it was made mandatory for all
farmers with crop loans to enrol for insurance cover under the scheme.
PMFBY has come in from flak from a wide variety of stakeholders.
Farmers groups and opposition politicians have claimed that private insurance
companies have made windfall gains on the scheme.
Several major insurers, including ICICI Lombard and Tata AIG,
have opted out of the scheme in 2019-20, reportedly due to losses because of
high claims ratios. Several States, including Punjab and West Bengal, have
refused to participate in the scheme as well.
Farmers pay a fixed share of the premium: 2% of the sum insured
for kharif crops, 1.5% for rabi crops and 5% for cash crops. Currently, the
Centre and State split the balance of the premium equally. However, the revamp
now reduces the burden on the Centre and increases the share of States.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister MahindaRajapaksa on Wednesday said
that his government will withdraw from co-sponsoring a UN Human Rights
Council resolution on accountability for war crimes.
His statement came days after the U.S. imposed travel
restrictions on Army chief Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva and his immediate family
members over alleged gross violations of human rights during the final phase of
the island nation’s Civil War in 2009.
“Our government has decided to withdraw from the process of
co-sponsorship in relation to resolution 30-/1,” Mr.Rajapaksa said in a
statement. The resolution 30/1 on promotion on reconciliation in Sri Lanka was
co-sponsored in 2015 by the then Sri Lankan government.
The resolution also called for an independent investigation with
foreign judges and prosecutors to probe war crimes allegation.Mr. Rajapaksa
accused his predecessor of betraying the island’s security forces by
co-sponsoring the resolution.
The 2015 resolution was based on the UNHRC report, which had
accused the Lankan troops of violating human rights, Mr.Rajapaksa’s statement
Sri Lanka’s ruling and opposition parties have strongly opposed
the U.S. move to impose the travel ban on Lt. Gen. Silva, saying America’s
decision was based on independently unverified information.
Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena last week said that Lt. Gen.
Silva was only conducting a war against a designated terrorist group which was
The Kerala government has opposed in the Supreme Court an
alternative route proposed by Karnataka to bypass the night-time traffic ban
on the National Highway 212 through the Bandipur National Park.
In an affidavit, Kerala submitted that the alternative route
goes through the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka and Tholpetty wildlife
sanctuary in Kerala “where wild animals are wandering freely in heavy numbers
and it will take more time for the land acquisition for developing the route.”
Further, clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate
Change is mandatory.
“The ban on night traffic through NH 212 issued by the District
Magistrate was without any study or preparation. Mudumalai, Bandipur Tiger
Reserves and Wayanad Wildlife sanctuary make one contiguous tiger territory and
tigers move freely within this area. It is illogical and inappropriate to impose
enhanced level of restriction only in one part of this tiger territory to
protect tigers. It will not yield the desired result,” Kerala argued in the
On the other hand, the highway is the arterial road connecting
the metro city of Kozhikode and Wayanad with Mysuru and Bengaluru.
The State dismissed the argument raised in the apex court that
“by now the wildlife has adapted itself to the night-time restriction on
traffic.” It said the argument owes itself more to a reluctance withdraw the
“If at all any restrictions of vehicular movement is to be done
in wildlife areas, it should be done uniformly across the country under the
relevant laws such as the Wildlife Protection Act and not under the Motor
Vehicles Act. Otherwise it amounts to colourable exercise of power. There is no
provision under the MV Act to protect wildlife,” the State argued.