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Current Affairs - 03 May 2018

General Affairs 

Provident Fund Portal Hacked, 2.7 Crore People Face Data Theft
  • The personal and professional details of about 2.7 crore members registered with the retirement fund body Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) have been exposed to data theft.

    In a letter to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the Central Provident Fund Commissioner has written that hackers have stolen data from the Aadhaar seeding portal of EPFO. He has also asked the ministry's technical team to plug vulnerabilities on the portal aadhaar.epfoservices.com that has now been temporarily shut. The portal links the Aadhaar number of employees with their provident fund accounts.

    In the letter marked "secret", the commissioner wrote that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had informed them of "hackers exploiting the vulnerabilities prevailing in the website (aadhaar.epfoservices.com) of EPFO."

    Details of the scale of the breach are not known but the website contains information like the names and addresses of EPF subscribers besides their employment history.

    "Each person contributes 12% of salary as provident fund, so salary details could also have been stolen. Also the bank account numbers as people tend to withdraw their PF," said cybersecurity expert Anand Venkatnarayan.

    A total of 114 government websites were hacked between April 2017 and January 2018, the Ministry of Electronics and IT told Lok Sabha in March.

    On April 6, amidst reports that several websites including those of the ministries of defence, home and law had been hacked, the government had dismissed them as hardware problems.

    Cyber security experts say monitoring is a big issue with government websites.

    "The reason why these breaches happen is that the government is always reactive instead of being proactive. We never take security measures in initial stages. There should be a proper bug reporting mechanism also so that we can report to the government and they can secure their database," said Kshitij Adlakha, CEO of Cybersecurity firm Secugenius.

    "No confirmed data leakage has been established or observed so far. As part of the data security and protection, EPFO has taken advance action by closing the server and host service through CSC (Common Service Centre) pending vulnerability checks, EPFO said in a statement.

    The head of the Computer Emergency Response team of the Ministry of Electronics and IT, when contacted by NDTV, remained unavailable.

    The body that governs Aadhaar, UIDAI, has clarified that it has nothing to do with the alleged data breach from aadhaar.epfoservices.com. "This matter does not pertain at all to any Aadhaar data breach from UIDAI servers. There is absolutely no breach into Aadhaar database of UIDAI. Aadhaar data remains safe and secure," it said.

"No Aggressive Patrolling" Along China Border, Army Told After Wuhan Meet
  • The informal summit at Wuhan between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping has thrown up new guidelines for the military of both nations as part of moving beyond Doklam and "maintaining peace and tranquillity" on border areas. On the ground, it would involve avoidance of "aggressive patrolling" along the border, army sources.

    "After Doklam, both sides are very cautious. We don't want to do anything that takes matters to the next level," sources said, referring to the time India and China were locked in a 73-day face-off last year after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the disputed area.

    In a sign of de-escalation following the stand-off, officers from the two sides had their first meeting yesterday on the Chinese side in Chushul in Ladakh. Even the families of the soldiers went across, signalling an ease in tension.

    India and China have agreed that maintaining peace at the border is essential for growth in bilateral ties. To this end, both nations have agreed to de-escalate tensions at the border.

    President Xi, who is also the supreme commander of the People's Liberation Army, and PM Modi have issued "strategic guidance to their respective militaries to strengthen communication in order to build trust", said the External Affairs Ministry in a statement. The two leaders had met for a two-day informal summit in China's Wuhan, on last Friday and Saturday.

    Going forward, "aggressive patrolling should be avoided" and "there should be no bodily contact" between soldiers, the sources said.

    Indian soldiers will also rigidly follow their banner drill in disputed areas. Under this, in cases of transgression where Chinese soldiers unwittingly enter Indian territory in snowbound areas, where there are no landmarks, they are shown a banner to notify them of the fact. The messages on the banner are in English and Mandarin script. The idea is to avoid any "escalation", sources said.

    "Local commanders need to be clear that caution is the need of the hour," sources said. Before any troops are moved along the boundary region, formations will also be given "detailed briefings" of the scope of their mission.

    It is still unclear when a military hotline will be established between the two countries. Once established, officers of the rank of Lieutenant General will be able to seamlessly communicate with each other to overcome any unexpected situation that emerges.

    Joint military exercises, which were halted after the Doklam standoff, are set to resume as well, though a date and location for these exercises needs to be decided by China since the last set of exercises were held in India.

Delhi World's Most Polluted Megacity As Beijing Cleans Up: Report
  • India's capital city of New Delhi, choked by rising automobile emissions and construction dust, was named on Wednesday the world's most polluted megacity by the World Health Organization, which analyzed the levels of the pollutant PM10 in the air in cities with populations above 14 million between 2010 and 2016.

    Greater Cairo was the second most polluted large city, with India's other great mega-city of Mumbai ranked fourth on the list and Beijing fifth.

    When the health organization studied data for the smaller and more deadly PM2.5 particulate matter, 14 of the top 15 most polluted cities were in India, with the industrial hub of Kanpur ranked number 1.

    Nine out of 10 people around the globe were breathing polluted air, the study said, and that air pollution is responsible for the deaths of 7 million people worldwide each year, most of them living in Asia and Africa. Of those deaths, 3.8 million were from indoor air pollution from unhealthy cook stoves, a huge problem in India.

    The report comes at a time when former perennial offender China, in response to citizen outrage, has taken steps to clean up its air, shuttering or reforming factories and reducing its coal consumption in favor of renewable energy. The moves helped improve air quality in Beijing and elsewhere, but at a cost - many poor people were denied coal heat during winter or lost jobs.

    The World Health Organization's head of public health, Maria Neira, told Reuters news agency that India should follow China's lead.

    "There was a big step at the government level declaring war on air pollution," Neira said. "One of the reasons for that is that the health argument was very strongly presented, and the fact that citizens were really breathing air that was totally unacceptable.

    "We would be very happy if we would see a similar movement now in India, which is one of the countries for which we are particularly concerned, although there are good initiatives which can be put in place quickly, still the levels are very high and we would like to see a similar decision and leadership," Neira told Reuters.

    Unlike China's muscular reforms, India's efforts to address its growing air pollution problem have been more scattershot, such as the last year's temporary ban by the Supreme Court on fireworks in Delhi during Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. The court had temporarily blocked the sales of fireworks after the previous year's revelry helped contribute to a toxic air emergency that lasted for days.

    WHO did praise an Indian government program that has provided 37 million poor women with free gas connections to help them switch from coal or dung-fired clay ovens to cooking gas.

PM Modi Slams Karnataka Government Over Slipshod Implementation Of Crop Insurance Scheme
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today came down hard on the Siddaramaiah government in poll-bound Karnataka for being "indifferent" to farm distress and not implementing the crop insurance scheme effectively and stressed that welfare of farmers was his government's top priority.

    With his own government under attack over agrarian distress in several states, including Karnataka, PM Modi sought to assuage the concerns of the farming community.

    "As part of our holistic approach to agriculture, from purchase of seeds to reaching the farm produce to markets (beej se bazaar tak) we are working towards making farmers strong," he told BJP Kisan Morcha workers in an interaction with them through the 'Narendra Modi' app.

    He assailed Karnataka's Congress government over its alleged indifference towards implementing the crop insurance scheme to insulate them against crop loss.

    "I keep getting complaints regarding Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana from Karnataka, but one of our MPs has done a great work in his constituency with the help of Kisan morcha workers,"he said. He, however, did not name the legislator.

    "The Karnataka government is indifferent...it does not care about the benefits that a farmer can get from the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana," he said.

    Karnataka has seen three seasons of drought over the last five years resulting in huge crop loss.

    PM Modi said that had the state government been proactive, it could have tackled the drought and helped farmers to tide over the loss.

    The Prime Minister had on Tuesday launched his campaign blitz in the state where he addressed three back to back rallies. He will be in Karnataka again tomorrow.

    He asked the Kisan Morcha volunteers to reach out to farmers and convince them that the BJP, if voted to power, will be sensitive to their problems.

    "You have to give them the confidence that there should now be a government that is sensitive about them, that understands their problems. The welfare of farmers is our primary responsibility," he said.

    Noting that even the media described his government's budgets as pro-farmer and pro-agriculture, the Prime Minister said, "Their welfare has always been our legacy, our nature. It has been our way of thinking."

    "The Congress only shows lip sympathy to farmers....they only speak about them in their speeches," he said.

    Assailing the Siddaramaiah government for its alleged failure in tackling drought, PM Modi said instead of mitigating the suffering of farmers, it gave parched lakes to builders for construction activity.

    "Helping and serving farmers is an opportunity that comes with good fortune, but the Karnataka government's game is only to do politics in the name of farmers, instigate them, and spread false information," he said, asking the Kisan Morcha to combat the Congress's "misinformation" campaign.

    Calling BJP's chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa a "farmer leader", PM Modi said his vast experience and commitment to the farming community will strengthen the Centre's mission to give a fresh impetus to agriculture.

    "The people of Karnataka are well aware of Yeddyurappa's commitment to farmers. The BJP government that will come to power and the BJP government in Delhi that is committed to the cause of farmers will work together to bring a change," he said.

    Talking about the "integrated and holistic" approach of his government towards agriculture and farmers, PM Modi said from land and water conservation, to making available good quality seeds and electricity, his dispensation looked at them carefully.

    Talking about the steps taken by his government, the Prime Minister said it increased the minimum support price of farm produce one-and-a-half times the cost of production.

    He said empowering farmers, villages and agriculture is critical to the country's economy to ensure that farming becomes profitable and inspires the young generation to take it up as a profession.

    Responding to a question by a Kisan Morcha activist, PM Modi said the 'karyakartas' (workers) should tell farmers with confidence that their income will be doubled by 2022.

    He said besides giving a fresh push to green and white revolution (agriculture and dairy farming), the government is working on blue revolution (fish farming), sweet revolution (bee keeping), solar and organic farming revolution to help raise farm income.

    The Prime Minister is expected to interact with Mahila Morcha, SC/ST Morcha and Yuva Morcha activists of the Karnataka unit of BJP through his app over the next few days before May 12 polls.

Law Minister Plays Centre's Defence As Top Judges Meet On Appointment Row
  • Just hours before the Supreme Court's five most-senior judges sat down to discuss Justice KM Joseph's elevation, the government insisted that its decision to stop the Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice's appointment did not have anything to do with his 2016 verdict cancelling President's rule in Uttarakhand.

    Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also defended the government move to ask the Supreme Court collegium, or a group of five most-senior judges, to reconsider its decision. Mr Prasad told reporters that there was nothing wrong in the government exercising the right to seek reconsideration of a name recommended by the collegium and this was a power given the centre by the Supreme Court.

    In his letter to the government last month, Mr Prasad had asked the top judges to be "objective and fair" and reconsider their choice. It had also asked that the collegium explain why Justice Joseph was chosen despite other judges being senior to him.

    The Congress alleges that the government is punishing Justice Joseph for his decision to cancel central rule in Uttarakhand in 2016. It is an assessment shared by many in the legal community including ex-judges who have called the centre's move an attack at the heart of judicial independence.

    Former Chief Justice of India TS Thakur had told that the centre's decision had sent a message that if a judge rules against the government, there will be consequences. There have been voices within the judiciary and the Supreme Court that the top court should be seen to be doing much more to counter such a message.
    Mr Prasad said it wasn't true that the decision was linked to Justice Joseph's judicial verdict.

    "I wish to deny that Justice Joseph's appointment was halted due to his Uttarakhand president's rule verdict," the Law Minister said.

Business Affairs

Binani Cement insolvency: NCLT asks CoC to consider UltratTech's revised bid, Dalmia may contest order
  • The protracted battle to acquire Binani Cement is set for another showdown. The Kolkata bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) on Wednesday asked the committee of creditors (CoC) of Binani Cement to evaluate a revised offer by UltraTech Cement Ltd. UltraTech's revised bid is Rs 1,021.70 crore more than that of Dalmia Bharat group's offer.

    The revised bid from UltraTech has to be submitted within three days to the resolution professional to forward the same to the CoC of Binani Cement and the entire process has to be now concluded within June 24, the NCLT said. The UltarTech offer promises to repay the claims without any haircut to all secured and unsecured claims.

    The development, which could possibly set a new precedent under the insolvency and bankruptcy code, comes after the Supreme Court had refused to allow the out-of-bankruptcy court deal between UltraTech Cement and Binani Industries (BIL) for its beleaguered subsidiary Binani Cement.

    The NCLT directed the resolution professional to accept UltraTech's revised offer for Binani Cement and place it along with the resolution plan before the committee of creditors (CoC). The NCLT bench also directed the CoC to consider Dalmia Bharat Group's Rajputana Properties Private Ltd. (RPPL) resolution plan if it matches UltraTech's offer. RRPL is the lead-member of Dalmia Bharat combine which is in race with Ultratech to takeover Binani Cement.

    Meanwhile, the Dalmia Bharat Group expressed surprise over the NCLT Kolkata bench order to Committee of Creditors (CoC) of Binani Cement to consider the revised bid of Ultra Tech Cement and hinted at contesting it at a higher forum.

    "We are surprised by the order passed by NCLT today. The Resolution Professional and CoC followed the due process of law in approving the plan of Rajputana Properties Pvt Ltd (RPPL) in which no flaw has been found. We will take all the appropriate steps required," a Dalmia Bharat spokesperson said in a statement without giving any further details on the proposed step.

    "In our view, any revised offer from an unsuccessful resolution applicant outside the resolution process cannot become a basis for setting aside the decision of the CoC. We have a strong conviction that we have followed the law as per the due process and believe that we will eventually succeed," the group said.

    Earlier, Dalmia Bharat Cement had written to the Central Vigilance Commission's (CVC) asking for a probe in the matter. Dalmia Bharat had said that the bidding process did not allow submission of revised bids. The move had infuriated some of the lenders which have large exposure to Binani Cement.

    Binani Industries (BIL) had moved the apex court with an appeal to redeem the pledge of its assets Binani Cement from its lenders. It had also deposited a sum of Rs 750 crore to show its commitment, along with a bank guarantee for the remaining amount of the total offer of Rs 7,266 crore.

    In March, UltraTech's board had agreed to issue a 'comfort letter' to provide the above-mentioned amount in return for 98.43 per cent stake in Binani Cement provided the company came out of insolvency proceedings. Significantly, this offer came after the latter's Committee of Creditors (CoC) had voted in favour of the resolution plan submitted by the Dalmia Bharat-Bain Piramal Resurgence Fund consortium.

    The offer from the Aditya Birla Group company was certainly fatter than Dalmia Bharat's winning bid of around Rs 6,500 crore. So, Binani Cement's CoC had decided to conditionally back the deal between BIL and UltraTech, subject to the Supreme Court's nod.

    A section of beleaguered Binani Cement's Operational Creditors (OCs) had pleaded before the Kolkata chapter of the adjudicating authority for rebidding. The OCs will lose about Rs 400 crore worth of claims from Binani Cements if Dalmia Bharat offer is approved, spokesperson of OCs forum Hitesh Bindal had said.

Amazon's offer to Flipkart: A 60% stake, full merger with its Indian arm and a non-compete clause
  • Despite media reports claiming that the Flipkart-Walmart deal is in its last leg, arch rival-turned-suitor Amazon is showing no signs of exiting the stage. In fact, sources told CNBC TV18 that the global e-commerce giant has now made a formal offer to Flipkart to buy a 60 per cent stake.

    The report added that the deal offered by the Jeff Bezos-run company proposed to merge Flipkart entirely with its Indian arm and sought a non-compete agreement with Flipkart's founders for 1-2 years. While the financial contours of this new deal on the table are broadly expected to match the Walmart proposal, Amazon is reportedly also offering a breakup fee of $2 billion to underscore its interest. This fee, also called a termination fee, comes into effect if the deal falls through halfway into negotiations.

    But regulatory hassles may put a stop to Amazon's plans. Any Flipkart-Amazon deal is likely to come under the scanner of the competition watchdog given the dominant market share these two entities have grabbed in the ecommerce space - around 70 per cent collectively. So Flipkart's investors will likely think twice about any such offer.

    Indeed, the report added that Flipkart's co-founders as well as its investors, including Tiger Global, are in favour of the deal with Walmart. The buzz around this deal only got louder recently, with SoftBank's CEO, Masayoshi Son, reportedly meeting Walmart's CEO Doug McMillon to discuss the deal late last month.

    The US brick-and-mortar behemoth is expected to pump in over $12 billion in Flipkart for a majority stake in the company and this investment is likely to value the Indian unicorn at $18-20 billion. Its entry could also significantly shake up things for Flipkart's board. The buzz is that the American company could bag four of the 10 seats on the board but the top management is not expected to change.

India must become globally competitive in manufacturing to boost merchandise exports
  • As the government never fails to point out, India is the fastest growing major economy, and expects to grow even faster in the coming years. It has liked talking about record FDI inflows, and how India is one of the most attractive investment destinations. What it doesn't like talking about is its dismal track record on merchandise exports.

    In 2013/14, India's merchandise exports stood at $314.4 billion. In the next year, it fell to $310.3 billion. And the next year, 2015/16 saw a further fall to $262.3 billion before it improved marginally to $275.9 billion in 2016/17. This financial year, it has clocked $302 billion, which is still lower than what it was four years ago.

    Some bit of the export drop can be blamed on falling crude prices. Petroleum products including high speed diesel forms a biggish chunk of Indian exports, and when crude prices fall, so do exports. But beyond that, India's merchandise exports are still in gems and jewellery, agriculture & allied, textiles, chemicals and transport equipment and machinery and base metals. Of these, exports of gems & jewellery, transport equipment and textiles actually fell in the current year.

    In the past two years, India has not been able to take advantage of rising world trade. The disruptions caused by demonetisation first, and later the hiccups during the roll out of GST, have been blamed for hitting small exporters in a number of sectors.

    The bigger problem though, in my opinion, is India's failure to get become globally competitive in manufacturing. So far, most countries that have grown rapidly have depended on globally competitive manufacturing to power them to high growth. In Asia, especially, Japan showed the way initially when its manufacturing techniques powered it to become a global manufacturing powerhouse in sectors ranging from autos, to consumer durables to imaging. Later the Asian Tigers, especially Taiwan and South Korea grew rapidly because of their engineering and manufacturing competitiveness. Then came the rise of China, which became the production base for all sorts of products from steel to solar panels, and from mobile phones to computers.

    India has never managed to get its manufacturing act right despite many tries. At different times, the reasons proffered have ranged from higher raw material and electricity costs, low productivity of labour, difficulties in setting up greenfield factories because of land acquisition and government clearances, and other sundry reasons.

    The problem has always been that India has always been proud of its small and medium industries and the jobs it created. For a long time, a range of products were reserved for the SME sector. Thankfully that reservation has gone now, but the natural inclination to look tilt on the side of SMEs and not large scale manufacturing has remained. Even this government continues that mindset probably because of the assumption that SMEs will continue to create more jobs than bigger manufacturers.

    There are multiple problems with that assumption. SMEs are generally not globally competitive when it comes to production of high value products. Economies of scale and productivity problems plague them. But merchandise exports will not go up unless the products are globally competitive and can take a bite out of the global market. And that is where the policy makers need to focus on when they unveil the new industrial policy, which has been in the works for some time.

    Focusing on giving benefit packages for exporters in textiles, and other such sectors will not make India a big merchandise exporter. And that is something this government will have to keep in mind when it finalises the policy.

Sensex closes higher at 35,176, Nifty falls 21 points; Kotak Mahindra Bank, ITC, Asian Paints top gainers
  • The market closed flat in trade today after traders turned cautious tracking negative global cues ahead of the US Federal Reserve policy announcement scheduled later in the day. While the Sensex closed 16 points or 0.05 % higher at 35,176, Nifty fell 0.20% or 21.30 points to 10,718.

    Earlier, the Sensex rose over 200 points in opening trade but pared most gains later in the day.  Kotak Mahindra Bank (3.87%), ITC (2.03%) and Asian Paints (1.80%) were the top Sensex gainers.

    Kotak Mahindra Bank was the top Nifty gainer too, closing 4.04% higher at 1260 level.  

    Kotak Mahindra Bank on April 30 posted a consolidated net profit of Rs 1,789.24 crore in its financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2018. This amounts to a 27 per cent increase in consolidated net profit on a quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) basis for Indian private sector lender which reported the same at Rs 1,404.34 crore in the corresponding quarter the year before.

    Tata Steel (3.30%), ICICI Bank (2.58%)  and HUL (2.49%) were the top Sensex losers.

    The HCL Technologies stock closed 4.79% or 50 points lower at 1001 on BSE after India's fourth largest IT services firm posted a 9.8 per cent decline in its consolidated net profit for the March 2018 quarter at Rs 2,230 crore and said it expects to see a "better deal pipeline" in FY19, driven by digital services.

    The net profit is lower from Rs 2,474 crore reported in the year-ago period (as per Indian Accounting Standards) as there was a one-time benefit from tax reversal in the January-March 2017 quarter.

    Brokers said investor sentiment was cautious ahead of US Federal Reserve's two-day policy meet outcome, as the central bank in March signalled that the path of future rate hikes could be "slightly steeper" over the next few years than previously thought.

    The PC Jeweller stock closed 23.69% lower at 110.65 on BSE.  The stock is the top loser on the index.

    Meanwhile, domestic institutional investors (DIIs) bought shares worth a net of Rs 261.98 crore, while foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) sold shares worth a net of Rs 385.47 crore on Monday, provisional data showed.

    Financial markets was shut yesterday on account of 'Maharashtra Day'.

    Global markets 

    Shares were higher in Europe on Wednesday after a day of losses in most Asian markets. Investors are looking ahead to Federal Reserve meeting and to China-U.S. trade talks later in the week.

    Germany's DAX added 1.2 percent to 12,756.54 and the CAC 40 of France gained 0.2 percent to 5,533.29. The FTSE 100 climbed 0.6 percent to 7,563.82. The future for the Dow Jones industrial average was flat at 24,072.00 while the future for the S&P 500 edged 0.1 percent higher.


    Japan's Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.2 percent to 22,472.78 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.3 percent to 30,723.88. The Shanghai Composite index was nearly flat at 3,081.18 and South Korea's Kospi gave up 0.4 percent to 2,505.61. Australia's S&P ASX 200 advanced 0.6 percent to 6,050.20. Shares were lower in Thailand and Singapore but edged higher in Indonesia.

    The US Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.27 per cent lower in yesterday's trade.

World military expenditure at highest level since the end of cold war
  • India joined the league of the five biggest military spenders in 2017, together accounting for 60% of global military spending, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. India, whose spending rose by 5.5% in 2017 to $63.9 billion, moved from sixth place to fifth in the rankings in 2017, overtaking France. We bring some interesting trends highlighted in the report.

    World military expenditure is estimated to have reached $1739 billion in 2017, the highest level since the end of the cold war. After 13 consecutive years of increases from 1999 to 2011 and relatively unchanged spending from 2012 to 2016, total global expenditure rose marginally in 2017, by 1.1% in real terms.

    The five biggest spenders in 2017 were the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and India, which together accounted for 60% of global military spending.

    At $610 billion, US military spending accounted for more than a third of the world total in 2017. US spending was 2.7 times greater than the next highest spender, China; indeed, the US spent more than the next seven highest spenders combined.

    Six of the top 15 military spenders made significant increases of more than 30% in their military spending between 2008 and 2017: China, Turkey, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

    General Awareness

    Supreme Court asks high courts to fast-track trial under POCSO Act
    • Context: The Supreme Court has issued a slew of directions to all high courts of the country regarding trial in sexual assault cases involving children.

      Guidelines:

      All high courts must ensure that the cases of sexual assault of children are fast-tracked and decided by special courts.
      High courts should instruct the trial courts not to grant unnecessary adjournments during trial of cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
      High courts may constitute a committee of three judges to regulate and monitor the trials of sexual assault cases of children.
      The State police chiefs should constitute special task forces to investigate cases.

      Background:

      Nearly 32% of cases filed under the POCSO Act, which deals with sexual abuse of minors, were pending police investigation at the end of 2016 while 89% were pending trials.

      POCSO Act:

      The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.

      Role of police: The Act casts the police in the role of child protectors during the investigative process. Thus, the police personnel receiving a report of sexual abuse of a child are given the responsibility of making urgent arrangements for the care and protection of the child, such as obtaining emergency medical treatment for the child and placing the child in a shelter home, and bringing the matter in front of the CWC, should the need arise.

      Safeguards: The Act further makes provisions for avoiding the re-victimisation of the child at the hands of the judicial system. It provides for special courts that conduct the trial in-camera and without revealing the identity of the child, in a manner that is as child-friendly as possible. Hence, the child may have a parent or other trusted person present at the time of testifying and can call for assistance from an interpreter, special educator, or other professional while giving evidence. Above all, the Act stipulates that a case of child sexual abuse must be disposed of within one year from the date the offence is reported.

      Mandatory reporting: The Act also provides for mandatory reporting of sexual offences. This casts a legal duty upon a person who has knowledge that a child has been sexually abused to report the offence; if he fails to do so, he may be punished with six months’ imprisonment and/ or a fine.

      Definitions: The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age. It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography. It deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.

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