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Current Affairs – 20 January 2021

Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA)

IN NEWS:

  1. Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) ensures Consumer protection and promotes transparency, accountability and boost domestic and foreign investment in the real estate sector as there are numerous issues in real estate sector, so, this act passed in 2016, deals with those issues.
  2. In this context, there are number of central and state conflicts regarding regulation of real estate sector as land improvement are in the State List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. RERA has been enacted under Concurrent List.

BACKGROUND:

  1. First, the bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2013. It is essential to highlight the stark differences between the 2013 bill and the 2016 Act.
  2. The 2013 bill covered neither “ongoing projects” nor “commercial real estate”. The thresholds for registration of projects were so high that most projects would have escaped coverage under the law.
  3. These exclusions made the 2013 bill meaningless and detrimental to the interests of home buyers.
  4. While the 2013 bill was pending in the Parliament, in 2012, Maharashtra enacted its own law in the Assembly, and took Presidential assent under Article 254 of the Constitution in 2014. The law was not consumer-friendly and caused permanent damage to the home buyers of Maharashtra.
  5. A holistic review was carried out along with multiple stakeholder consultations and thereafter both “ongoing projects” and “commercial projects” were included in the bill, 2016. The thresholds for registration of projects were also reduced.
  6. Also, the present ruling government at the centre repealed the state Act vide section 92 of RERA. This was done by invoking the proviso under the same Article 254, which provides for powers of repeal.

PROVISONS OF RERA, 2016:

  1. The present ruling government enacted the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA), 2016.
  2. It seeks to protect home-buyers as well as help boost investments in the real estate sector by bringing efficiency and transparency in the sale/purchase of real estate.
  3. The Act establishes Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) in each state for regulation of the real estate sector and also acts as an adjudicating body for speedy dispute resolution.
  4. Decisions of RERAs can be appealed in  Real Estate Appellate Tribunal.
  5. The Act stipulates that no project can be sold without project plans being approved by the competent authority and the project being registered with the regulatory authority, putting to an end the practice of selling on the basis of deceitful advertisements.
  6. Promoters are required to maintain “project based separate bank accounts” to prevent fund diversion.

ADVANTAGES:

  1. RERA has infused governance in a hitherto unregulated sector. Along with demonetisation and GST, it has, to a large extent, cleansed the real estate sector of black money.
  2. It has transformational provisions, conscientiously addressing issues which have been a constant bane for the sector.
  3. Strict regulations will be enforced on builders to ensure that construction runs on time and flats are delivered on schedule to the buyer.

COOPERATIVE FEDERALISM:

  1. RERA is a seminal effort in cooperative federalism. Though the Act has been piloted by the Central government, the rules are to be notified by state governments, and the regulatory authorities and the appellate tribunals are also to be appointed by them.
  2. The regulatory authorities are required to manage the day-to-day operations, resolve disputes, and run an active and informative website for project information.
  3. Since RERA came into full force, 34 states and Union territories have notified the rules, 30 states and Union territories have set up real estate regulatory authorities and 26 have set up appellate tribunals.
  4. At the other end, in a glaring example of constitutional impropriety and poor governance, West Bengal ignored RERA and enacted its own state law — the West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act (WBHIRA) — in 2017.
  5. Despite multiple efforts by the Centre, West Bengal refused to implement RERA, causing irreparable loss to home buyers.
  6. There was already a central law on the subject, the state government enacted WBHIRA in 2017, and did not even care to approach the President of India seeking assent for the state bill under Article 254.

CONCLUSION:

  1. RERA is to the real estate sector what SEBI is to the securities market. The history of urban India and of the real estate sector will always be remembered in two phases — “Pre RERA” and “Post RERA”.

 

Question Hour, Zero Hour

IN NEWS:

  1. Budget session of Parliament is going to start on 29 January 2021,LokSabha Speaker said both Houses will have five-hour sessions each with Question Hour and Zero Hour.

ABOUT:

  1. On January 29, President will address a joint session of Parliament in the Central Hall, for which MPs will be seated also in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha chambers.
  2. Lok Sabha will sit 30 minutes after the presidential address for the tabling of the presidential address and Economic Survey. Rajya Sabha will sit later for the same.
  3. The Union Budget will be presented on 1 February 2021 in Lok Sabha.
  4. The budget session will break for a recess on February 15 to meet again on March 8. The budget session is scheduled to conclude on April 8.
  5. During the monsoon session held during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was cut short, each house sat for four hours and had no question hour.
  6. Private Members’ business, which usually takes place on Friday afternoons, was not taken up during the monsoon session and has made a comeback in the budget session.

QUESTION HOUR:

  1. The first hour of every parliamentary sitting is slotted for the Question Hour.
  2. In 2014, it was shifted in the Rajya Sabha from 11 am to 12 noon.
  3. Members of Parliament (MPs) ask questions to ministers and hold them accountable for the functioning of their ministries. Questions can also be asked to the private members.
  4. The presiding officers of the both Houses(Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha) are the final authority with respect to the conduct of Question Hour.
  5. It is regulated according to parliamentary rules.

ZERO HOUR:

  1. It is an Indian parliamentary innovation.It is not mentioned in the parliamentary rules book.
  2. MPs can raise matters without any prior notice.
  3. Starts immediately after the question hour and lasts until the agenda for the day

 

Crowdfunding for rare disease

IN NEWS:

  1. Delhi High Court (HC) has ordered the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to explore “crowdfunding” to help two children, who are suffering from a Rare Disease known as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
  2. HC also give a specific timeline to the Ministry in respect of the finalisation and notification of the Draft Health Policy for Rare Diseases, 2020. The draft policy has a section where the government proposed crowdfunding for treatment of high-cost Rare Diseases.

ABOUT ORDER:

  1. ‘Right to Health and Healthcare’ is a fundamental right and it has been recognised by the Supreme Court to be a part of the ‘Right to life’ under Article 21.
  2. HC directed the society in general and authorities in particular to ensure that the life of such children is not compromised, even if there is a small window of improving their chances of survival or even providing a better quality of life.

WHAT IS CROWDFUNDING?

  1. Method of raising capital through the collective effort of a large pool of individuals, primarily online via social media and crowdfunding platforms and leverages their networks for greater reach and exposure.
  2. The 3 primary types are donation-based, rewards-based, and equity crowdfunding.
    1. Donation-based crowdfunding – Any crowdfunding campaign in which there is no financial return to the investors or contributors.
    2. Rewards-based crowdfunding – Any crowdfunding campaign that involves individuals contributing to business in exchange for a “reward,” typically a form of the product or service your company offers.
    3. Equity-based crowdfunding – Any crowdfunding campaign that allows contributors to become part-owners of your company by trading capital for equity shares.

RARE DISEASE:

  1. A health condition of low prevalence that affects a small number of people compared with other prevalent diseases in the general population.
  2. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy : Genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness due to the alterations of a protein called dystrophin that helps keep muscle cells intact.

 

Vaccines to neighbours

IN NEWS:

  1. India will begin to ship out lakhs of doses of the novel coronavirus vaccine to neighbouring countries by special planes as a grant or gift.

ABOUT:

  1. The release of the shipments is part of the government’s “Neighbourhood First” initiative, and will make India the first country to reach COVID-19 vaccines in South Asia, ahead of China, which has promised but not so far delivered, the World Health Organization and GAVI’s vaccine alliance programme.
  2. The region’s preference for Indian vaccines, including the Covishield from the Serum Institute of India (SII) developed with Oxford University and Astra Zeneca, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, are due to cost, easier storage requirements and the geographical proximity.

NEIGHBOURHOOD FIRST POLICY:

  1. It is part of India’s foreign policy that focuses on improving ties with India’s immediate neighbours.
  2. It focuses on vigorous regional diplomacy by engaging with neighbouring nations and building political connectivity through dialogue.
  3. Focus is on resolving bilateral issues through mutual agreement.
  4. India has entered into MoU with members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). These agreements ensure a free flow of resources, energy, goods, labour, and information across borders.
  5. It focuses on enhancing trade ties with neighbours. India has participated and invested in SAARC as a vehicle for development in the region like Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) grouping.
  6. India’s offer cooperation on disaster response, resource management, weather forecasting and communication and also capabilities and expertise in disaster management for all South Asian citizens.
  7. India is also focusing on deepening security in the region through military cooperation.

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