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Existence of NDR fund does not prohibit PM-CARES: Centre to SC

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Supreme Court

New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) The Centre has informed the Supreme Court that there are several funds which were either established earlier or now for carrying out various relief works, and PM-CARES is one such fund with voluntary donations.

The affidavit filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs said “It is submitted there exists a fund stipulated under section of the DMA (Disaster Management Act) which is called NDR fund. However, mere existence of a statutory fund would not prohibit in creation of a different fund like PM-CARES fund which provides for voluntary donations.”

The Centre contended that the petition seeking a direction that the funds received by PM-CARES to be credited to NDRF (National Disaster Response Fund) is neither maintainable on merits nor is maintainable under Article 32 as all funds other than the funds stipulated under section 46 of Disaster Management Act, 2005 are separate, different and distinct, created separately under separate provisions.

On June 17, the apex court issued notice to the Centre on a PIL seeking to transfer funds from PM-CARES to National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M R Shah asked the Centre to file a response within four weeks. Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), in the plea claimed that in the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic, NDRF is not being utilised by the authorities, and establishing the PM-CARES fund is outside the scope of the Disaster Management Act.

The petitioner argued that the entire funds collected in PM-CARES till date may be directed to be transferred to the NDRF.

“Centre may be directed to utilise National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) for the purpose of providing assistance in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic in compliance with Section 46 of the DM Act, all the contributions/grants from individuals and institutions shall be credited to the NDRF in terms of Section 46(1)(b) rather than to PM-CARES fund and all the funds collected in the PM-Cares till date may be directed to be transferred to the NDRF”, said the PIL.

The petition argued that there is need to put in place a broader and well thought out national plan outlining inter alia a detailed coordination mechanism between the Centre and states. “Section 11 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (hereinafter referred to as the “DM Act”) makes it mandatory for a national plan to be drawn up for disaster management for whole of the country but currently, there is no such national plan in place to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic”, argued the plea.

–IANS

India

RS passes two agri Bills amid pandemonium

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The Rajya Sabha on Sunday passed two agriculture-related Bills amid a pandemonium due to protests by opposition members.

The Upper House gave the nod to The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, as opposition MPs continued to shout slogans during their passage. Some lawmakers even staged a walkout in protest.

Earlier, replying to the debate on the Bills, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar assured the House that the Minimum Support Price regime will not be scrapped. Some of the amendments moved by the opposition lawmakers were not pressed for voting while those pressed for voting were negated.

The opposition also demanded that the Bills be sent to the Select committee of the Upper House but it was not accepted by the government.

Earlier, the House witnessed unruly scenes when TMC MP Derek O’Brien went near the Chair and tried to snatch a mike while citing from the rule book. When his objections were overruled, an aggressive Derek O’Brien tore the rule book by calling the Bills “Kala Kanoon” or black laws, leading to adjournment of the House for a brief period.

The Trinamool leader was also heard saying: “You cannot do this” to the Chair. At one point in time, the aides of the Deputy Chair, who was conducting the House proceedings, had to come forward to shield him.

Despite repeated requests, many opposition members reached the Well of the House to register their protests.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad demanded that discussion on the Bills be continued on Monday. “To decide this, we should go by the consensus among the members, not by the numbers of the ruling party,” Azad said.

The opposition as well as BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal termed the Bills an “anti-farmers” move by the Centre, with some staging a walkout.

Thousands of farmers in Punjab, Haryana and several other states have been protesting since the government introduced these Bills in the Lok Sabha on September 14, the opening day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament.

The Bills seek to replace the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 promulgated on June 5.

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 seeks to provide a new ecosystem in which farmers and traders, as per the government, will enjoy freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of their produce and facilitates remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels to promote efficient, transparent and barrier-free inter- and intra-state trade and commerce.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, aims to provide a national framework on farming agreements that protects and empowers farmers to engage with agri-business firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers.

–IANS

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Rajya Sabha passes controversial Agri Bills amidst protests

A final end date is yet to be fixed, though sources indicated that it could end on Wednesday.

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Farmers Protests Kurukshetra

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha on Sunday witnessed chaos as the ruling party passed the contentious Agriculture Bills amidst prolonged protests by the Opposition.

The protesting MPs occupied the well and shouted slogans, resulting in the Upper House being adjourned for a brief duration.

The monsoon session of the Parliament, which was scheduled to end on October 1, is likely to be cut short owing to the rising number of COVID-19 cases. A final end date is yet to be fixed, though sources indicated that it could end on Wednesday.

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Security beefed up on Delhi borders over protests by farmers

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Security on the inter-state borders of Delhi was beefed up on Sunday in view of the ongoing protests by farmers in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana against the three Bills related to the agriculture sector, a Delhi Police officer said.

More police personnel have been deployed in the border areas as a precautionary measure, including at Singhu border and GT-Karnal Road.

Farmers from nearby states are expected to arrive in Delhi to mark their protest, since different farmer organisations have given calls for protests over the proposed legislations.

“We are keeping an eye on the borders with Punjab and Haryana; arrangements have been made to stop farmers from entering Delhi,” the senior police officer said.

Precautionary measures have also been taken on Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border. Two companies of security forces have been deployed near Ghazipur and Ashok Nagar side to prevent the entry of farmers from western Uttar Pradesh.

“We have set up border pickets as a precautionary measure on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border. Our teams are on alert,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Jasmeet Singh said.

Farmers in several states are up in arms against the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Bill; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill.

Source: IANS

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