1.Five-judge statute Bench to decide on Aadhaar validity (The Hindu)

2.Cabinet approves Special Banking Arrangement (SBA) for payment of outstanding subsidy to fertilizer companies during 2016-17 (PIB)

 

1.Five-judge statute Bench to decide on Aadhaar validity (The Hindu)

Synoptic line- It throws light on the issue of Supreme Court deciding to constitute a five-judge Constitution Bench to hear petitions against the validity of the Aadhaar scheme. (GS II)

Constitution bench for Aadhaar Scheme

  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra took the step after falsehoods had been spread about Aadhaar linking.
  • A separate Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, meanwhile, issued notice to the government, challenging the mandatory linking of Aadhaar with mobile numbers.

Urgent mentioning

  • A Constitution Bench may be set up to decide finally for the various Aadhaar challenges pending before the court since 2014 instead of passing any interim orders.
  • The government however did not mention anything about its proposal as it extend the date for the mandatory linking of Aadhaar with mobile phones, bank accounts and various welfare schemes from December 31, 2017 to March 31, 2018.
  • The decision to set up a five-judge Bench comes despite Justice Rohinton Nariman’s separate judgment in the nine-judge Bench declaring privacy as a fundamental right.

Historic judgment

  • It had referred the legal question to a nine-judge Bench, which came out with the historic judgment in favour of the common man’s fundamental right to privacy against state intrusions.
  • The nine-judge Bench verdict has a crucial bearing in the Aadhaar petitions, which have argued that Aadhaar’s use of biometric details like fingerprints and iris scans violate bodily and informational privacy.
  • The petitioners argue that mandatory requirement of Aadhaar for these schemes “constrict rights and freedoms which a citizen has long been enjoying unless and until they part with their personal biometric information to the government”.
  • The petitions have termed the Aadhaar Act of 2016 as unconstitutional and contrary to concept of limited and accountable governance.

 

2.Cabinet approves Special Banking Arrangement (SBA) for payment of outstanding subsidy to fertilizer companies during 2016-17 (PIB) (GS III)

Implementation of Special Banking Arrangement

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has accorded the ex-post facto approval for implementation of Special Banking Arrangement (SBA) for Rs. 10,000 crore for payment of outstanding claims because of fertilizer subsidy in the year 2016-17.
  • CCEA has also approved that, in future, Department of Fertilizers would avail the SBA with the concurrence of Department of Expenditure.

Loan for settlement

  • Under the SBA, the Government raised a total loan of Rs. 9,969 crore for settlement of outstanding subsidy bills with SBI. The loan amount along with interest liability on the part of Government amounting to Rs. 80.90 crore were paid to SBI.
  • SBA for an amount of Rs. 10,000 crore for the year 2016-17 has already been implemented/ operationalised to overcome the liquidity problems of the fertilizer companies.

Background:

  • Government is making available fertilizers, namely Urea and 21 grades of P&K fertilizers to farmers at subsidized prices through fertilizer manufacturers/importers. For making funds available to the fertilizer companies against their subsidy claims, Ministry of Finance had approved SBA for an amount of Rs. 10,000 crore with Government interest liability limited to G-Sec rate.
  • Accordingly, an SBA was worked out with SBI for an amount of Rs. 10,000 crore to meet the outstanding subsidy claims of fertilizer companies.
  • The loan together with Government interest thereon has been repaid from 2017-18 within the sanctioned budget.