Terrorism: An illusion of war?

Terrorism today is not just confined to a state’s borders but cheers to globalization, it has now expanded to unfathomable horizons.

According to The United States 2007 National Intelligence Estimate:

Globalization trends and recent technological advances will continue to enable even small numbers of alienated people to find and connect with one another, justify their beliefs, intensify their anger, and mobilize resources to attack—all without requiring a centralized terrorist organization, training camp, or leader (Anomic outsiders).”

The Internationalization of terrorism has raised several issues on enforcement and jurisdiction. Regardless, even today no globally accepted definition of the term exists, largely because of political differences (One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter).

But a fundamental question that needs to be answered is whether terrorism is a criminal offence or an act of war.

The use of the term WAR by the media and our learned politicians has created an illusion of a constant state of war surrounding our day to day affairs;, “war on drugs, war on poverty, war on organized crime”.[1]

State of war equips the government with the power to circumvent the rights and procedural protections ordinarily accorded to an accused.

It is argued (constructionist approach to defining terrorism) that terrorism is just a way of identifying someone with lesser rights that validates a concept which is purely a self-serving one i.e. justification for state power, withdrawal of Human Rights and expenditure on military hardware.

The reason why this view is popular is because two people having caused the same magnitude of damage to the society would be treated in completely different ways, the one charged with a criminal offence would have rights to a formal charge notifying exactly what he/she is being charged with, competent and relevant proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the right to cross-examine witnesses, to right to remain silent etc., while on the other hand in war its considered legal to kill the enemy to say the least.

A war takes place between two nation states. It does not connote situations of struggle between state and non-state actors such as criminal gangs, drug cartels, mafia etc. A mere involvement of the military does not make the struggle a war; it simply means that the military is being used in a police capacity. It moves us towards the second question, that shouldn’t the suspects of the war on drugs in Mexico or in other “wars” be entitled to the same rights under the criminal jurisdiction? Are they?

It is generally accepted that terrorists cannot be tried under the traditional criminal law as it is reactive and not proactive. Also, that charging it as a criminal offence and subsequent adherence to due process would take up a longer time before conviction.

In the absence of a definition as to who falls under the same and the excessive bargaining power of the state actors it’s not difficult to deduce whose interests would be furthered.

In the event of occurrence of a criminal activity in our locality, we take mitigating steps. However, the reaction of a rational individual to an act of terrorism is not the same. The constant bombardment of the idea of the existence of war has changed the national psyche.[2] We agree to give up more rights, freedom, and privacy in the name of National security policies that are implemented without any cost-benefit or rationality analysis.

Terrorism or War, and politics are very intricately related: it’s not surprising that Non-state terrorism is much smaller in comparison to state terrorism and that funding to terrorist organizations are often state funding. The illusion creates opportunities for politicians, and it sure will take a long time before the white flag is raised.

[1] Essig. Terrorism: Criminal Act of Act of War? Implications for National Security in the 21st Century,18.

[2]  Mike Masnick (9th Jan 2015) When We Call Criminal Acts ‘Terrorism’ We Destroy Our Rights And Sacrifice Our Principles. Retrieved form https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150108/18213829642/when-we-call-criminal-acts-terrorism-we-destroy-our-rights-sacrifice-our-principles.shtml.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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TANVI SINGH

Tanvi Singh is a fourth-year Law student pursuing B.Com. LL.B. (Hons.) at Gujarat National Law University. Tanvi believes that deductions and deliberations must be made sincerely based on well-researched information. Her academic interests are in the field of International Trade Law, Law and Economics, Contracts and Arbitration.

 

The Unconstitutionality of Evil

The Bihar government, with a view to completely ban sale and consumption of alcohol in the state, passed the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016. The new law was put in force from 2nd October 2016 with intent “to enforce, implement and promote complete Prohibition of liquor and intoxicants in the territory of the State of Bihar.”

There was a lot of outrage when the Bihar government first came out with a notification in the month of April of the last year which sought to ban the sale of alcohol in the state. However, the Patna High Court struck down this notification by terming it as “draconian and unreasonable.” Thereafter, the state government came out with the present law. However, this new act attracted a lot of controversies, not due to its alcohol ban, but due to some stringent penalty sections enshrined in it. One such section is section 32(3) of the Act which presumes guilt against all the members of the family.

It goes as follows: “An offence is said to have been committed inside any house occupied by a family where any intoxicant or liquor is found or consumed, it shall be presumed that all the adults above the age of eighteen occupying or working at the place or in the premises or the members of the family above eighteen years of age occupying the house are having the knowledge of commission of such an offence, unless proved otherwise.”

This section presumes guilt against all the adult members of a family and shifts the burden on them to prove that they weren’t aware of the alleged fact. The act presumes that adult family members know or ought to know what the other members of a family are doing. This act does not limit itself just to a family but also extends to landlords who must make sure that their tenants don’t possess and consume alcohol within the building or land. In all such circumstances, as per section 30 of the act, a punishment of at least 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of at least one lakh rupees has been prescribed. This Act falls foul of many provisions of constitution and principles of natural justice.

Presumption of innocence means that a person is considered innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. This principle has been the cornerstone of the legal world, especially in criminal law. This principle puts the onus on the prosecution to prove the guilt of an accused. But in section 32(3) it has been specifically stated that the accused must prove that he was not liable for the crime he committed. This goes against the basic principles of criminal jurisprudence as it makes every adult member of a family seem guilty, even though they may be in fact innocent.

Section 32(3) of the Bihar prohibition act reflects gross unreasonableness and arbitrariness on the part of the government. Putting the burden of proof on the family members is unreasonable as they don’t have enough resources and apparatus which the state has at its disposable. This provision may also lead to filling of false and malicious complaints due to family feuds. As per section 76 of the said act, all the offences are cognizable and non-bailable. Such harsh provisions in the law will lead to some powerful taking its advantage at the cost of poor and uneducated. For example, if a person X, out of his feud with Y, places alcohol bottles into Y’s house without Y’s and his family members knowledge, and then X informs police that Y has alcohol in his possession, the police will prima facie assume that Y and his family members concealed the alcohol in the house, and subsequently arrest them. The critical points here will be: whether Y and his family would be able to prove that they had no knowledge that alcohol was kept in their house. Will the judges believe on their oral testimonies? How will they be able to prove, being incarcerated and without any apparatus, that it was X who kept the bottles in their house? This Act will further impair a person’s dignity and reputation in the society.

The apex court in the case of Francis Coralie Mullin v. The Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi has expanded the realm of Article 21 to include human dignity, and all that is associated with it. It held that every act which impairs human dignity will constitute “deprivation pro tanto” of Article 21. Detaining people for no fault of theirs is an impairment to their right to live with dignity and would constitute an inroad into Article 21. And, the law which authorises such a procedure leading to degrading treatment should be forthrightly characterised as unconstitutional.

Thus section 32(3) of the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 doesn’t pass the muster against the bulwarks of Article 14 and Article 21 of the constitution and hence are illegal. We have already seen some perverse outcomes due to this law. This law has put forth the concept of “collective guilt” which could, if set as a precedent, be used to justify violence against groups and minority communities.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pratik Dixit

PRATIK PRAKASH DIXIT

Law Student pursuing BA LLB (Hons) at NLSIU, Bangalore. Interested in social and political issues.

 

 

The Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 – An analysis

Goods and Services Tax

Tax is the financial charge imposed by the Government on income, commodity, or activity. As we know, there are two types of tax – Direct tax, and Indirect tax. A direct tax is one where the burden of the tax is directly on the payer e.g., income tax, wealth tax etc. Indirect tax is paid by the person other than the person who utilises the product or service e.g. Excise duty, Custom duty, Service tax, Sales tax, Value added tax and recently GST – Goods and Service Tax in India.

GST is mainly followed on the TCS guideline – tax collection at source.

Goods and Service Tax in India

Earlier, more than 150 countries already had GST except in India. A reform swayed in the Indian economy and in its tax laws since 30th June to 1st July 2017 when the Indian Government decided to introduce GST to the citizens of the country.

Goods and Service tax is an indirect tax levied on the goods and services bought by the consumers. It is a single detailed and multi-oriented tax that will undermine all the other small indirect taxes like the excise duty, custom duty, service tax and etc.

The thought of proposing GST Act in India was not something new. This thought was initially proposed in the year 2000 under the leadership of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee but it never came to fruition. Nevertheless, it was again introduced in 2016 as a Bill by the Lower House of the Parliament i.e., the Lok Sabha and passed on to the Upper House i.e., Rajya Sabha for its assent. After the bill was passed by both the Houses, President Pranab Mukherjee signed the bill and gave assent to it. This time the new reform was brought under the leadership of current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the leader of the BJP party who holds maximum seats in the Lok Sabha. The GST council, and the current finance minister, and the leader of the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley presides over the GST matters. Finally, after the Bill was passed by the Parliament it has now become a GST Act, 2017.

Coming to the Goods and Service Tax, it has been divided into three kinds –

  • CGST – Revenue collected by the Central Government.
  • SGST – Revenue collected by the State Government for intra-state sales.
  • IGST – Revenue collected by the Central Government for inter-state sales.

The new GST rates in India are 0%, 5%, 12%, 18% and the highest rate being 28%. As a matter of fact, there will be no GST on the sale and purchase of securities. It will continue to be governed by  Securities Transaction Tax (STT).

The Government of India finally enacted the new Act in the Sixty-eighth year of the Republic of India. The Central Goods and Services Act, 2017 thus came into force. It is an Act to make a provision for levy and collection of tax on intra-state supply of goods or services or both by the Central Government and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

GST Bill

The Constitution amends both the Centre and the State to levy GST. This would subsume various indirect taxes of both Centre and States into one. After this new tax reformation, there would be a Centre level GST and State level GST.

Changes in GST Law

GST law is applicable to the whole country except Jammu and Kashmir. According to GST law, if the buyer fails to pay the service provider, then the input tax credit availed by the buyer would be disallowed. Then he has to pay the ITC with interest. The time period for this is 180 days. Even, if the payment is made after 180 days the ITC will be allowed to pay. This provision includes both to services and goods. The GST law included “Actionable claims” in the definition of “goods”. It explains in the Act that the actionable claims other than the betting, gambling and lottery would not be treated as a supply of goods nor of services. Thus, GST would be applicable on gambling, lottery and betting but not on other “actionable claims.”

Benefits of GST

GST has been introduced to simplify the other small indirect taxes and comply into one. In short, it is the funnelling down of multiple small tax structures into one. It would reduce the burden of heavy lengthy taxation process. This basically divides the taxation into the manufacturing process and the services. GST would be charged at the final destination of consumption and not before that. This would be a great step forward to the country’s development as it will reduce the economic complexities and somewhat prevent corruption.

GST would benefit the individuals and companies as the price of certain products would decrease resulting more consumption of them and hence more production by the companies. Although, petroleum products, alcohol, and electricity do not fall under GST till now. The biggest advantage is the reduction of the tax burden imposed on the administrative system of our country. It would benefit the GDP of the country and positively affect the Indian economy.

Flaws of GST

The introduction of GST in the Indian economy has not been spared from criticism by the citizens. As human beings we know we are resistant to change and any change initially is not well likely taken by anyone. So, the same scenario is with the goods and service tax. GST is a whole new reform in the tax structure of the country. People would take time to understand and accept this system.

Real estate prices would likely go higher by 8%. Services like telecom, restaurants would likely charge higher tax rate. The division of tax between the Centre and States could create conflicts. It would also lead to additional compliance cost for small and medium enterprises for registration and tax filing purposes. The consumers might have to pay extra for the increasing operational costs by a certain amount.

Certain factors:

  • The GST would be governed by five GST laws namely CGST law, UTGST law, IGST law, SGST law and GST Compensation law. The levy of GST can commence only after the GST law has been enacted.
  • GST would be charged at the destination point i.e. at the consumption level.
  • Import of goods would be charged under IGST i.e., inter-state supplies along with the custom duties.
  • Exports would be zero-rated.
  • Taxpayers with an annual turnover of Rs 20 lakhs (for special category states it is Rs 10 lakhs as mentioned in 279A of the Constitution) would be exempt from GST.
  • GST has a system of input tax credit which would allow the sellers to claim the tax already paid, so the final liability on the end consumer gets decreased.

The motive of GST is “One nation, one tax.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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SOMANKA GHOSH

Somanka is a fifth-year law student pursuing BA LLB in Calcutta University. She’s also pursuing a diploma course in Entrepreneurship and Business Laws. After interning in various law firms in Calcutta High Court and gaining experiences about the practicalities of legal practice, she’s now keen to test her theories. An enthusiast and diligent worker, she’s also a good researcher and writer.

 

Misuse of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC, 2016 or referred as ‘Code’ in this article) is made with certain objectives which can be understood from the preamble of the code. It is rightly said that preamble is the key to open the minds of people who made it (it was mentioned in respect to constitution though)[1]. If the Preamble of IBC, 2016 is read in parts to understand the aims and objective of the code then some of them may be considered as mentioned below: –

  1. [To strengthen the reorganization and insolvency resolution of corporate person, partnership firms and individuals and amend the laws relating to it.
  2. Maximization of value of assets by following a time-bound procedure.
  3. To promote entrepreneurship.
  4. Availability of credit.
  5. Also, the interests of all stakeholders are taken into consideration and alterations have been done in priority of payment of dues.
  6. Establishment of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India.][2]

The Code is divided into five parts where part II describes insolvency resolution and liquidation procedure for a corporate person. According to this, the insolvency petition can be filed by three categories of people- Operational Creditor, Financial Creditor, and Corporate Debtor himself, and then the further procedure follows. This whole mechanism is laid so that the companies which are in debt, pay it and if not possible to pay because of financial difficulties suffered, then insolvency procedure is initiated so that creditors do not suffer.

The real situation: – Creditors are given the right to file the insolvency petition with the intent that they do not suffer because of the inability of Corporate Debtor to pay the debt. But there have been several cases where Creditors file insolvency petition merely to recover their dues. This was the same case with the winding up petition. Statutory notice under section 433(e) of Companies Act, 1956 were to be issued followed by winding up petition filed if the same(notice) is not replied or defaulted amount was not paid. Winding up petition u/s 433(e) can be related to insolvency petition as both are filed when default in payment occurs.

It was in the case of Pawan Khaitan V. Rahul Commerce Private Limited that the Hon’ble High Court of Calcutta in Para 5 opined that “..the process of winding up could not be used as a tool for debt collection, it is not a debt collecting court.”[3]

Now, when analyzed with respect to the usage of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 out of the major applications filed, most of them are by creditors, operational and financial both, but for small amounts (in compare to debt recovery amount of banks) and only a few of them are by banks and other financial institution.

This also happens because the minimum amount of default is one lakh rupees.

Obviously, the courts/ NCLT adjudicate the matters on the basis of merit and then may admit, but Judiciary and all quasi-judicial bodies are already overburdened with cases and in that, petitions like this make it more difficult to adjudicate other important matters which may be required to be considered on a priority basis.

Conclusion:- To stop the misuse of the right given there should be certain set criteria to file a petition except for the monetary value of 1 lakh rupees.[4] Also, when the central Government has right to set the minimum value by the issue of notification in the official gazette then the appropriate amount should be set so that people do not use the Code and the machinery therein to recover their debt.

[1] In Re Berubari v. Union of India, AIR 1960 SC 845

[2] Preamble, The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016-An Act to consolidate and amend the laws relating to reorganisation and insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time bound manner for maximisation of value of assets of such persons, to promote entrepreneurship, availability of credit and balance the interests of all the stakeholders including alteration in the order of priority of payment of Government dues and to establish an Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

[3] [2015]190 CompCase236 (cal)

[4] Section 4, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016- (1) This Part shall apply to matters relating to the insolvency and liquidation of corporate debtors where the minimum amount of the default is one lakh rupees:
Provided that the Central Government may, by notification, specify the minimum amount of default of higher value which shall not be more than one crore.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Headshot

MANSI CHHAYA

Mansi is a law student from Unitedworld School of Law. She has always believed that life is about challenging oneself and living outside one’s comfort zone. Be it music or national level examinations, her focus has always been on trying to develop herself holistically. A consistent high performer and student of the year, she wishes to use her knowledge to ensure justice for people who deserve it.

Liberty in Africa: Peculiar Challenges

Social ills have been part of Africa for a number of years now, and though there have been several efforts made to curb such thematic issues, all hope seems to be lost. Africa seems to be bound in chains due to a number of factors such as lack of good leadership and gender issues, and many more. However, such issues can only be resolved when there is a partnership between the stakeholders and the young people.

Furthermore, despite the above mentioned thematic issues which are common in African countries, there are other social ills which are a high concern to many, which not only affect the people within a community but also act as an impediment to progressive development and prosperity within a certain country. These issues include:

  • Cronyism
  • Over-Criminalization
  • Lack of free market
  • Restriction imposed to Property rights
  • Intolerance

CRONYISM

This is one of the biggest challenges in Africa which has affected many lives and has led many to poverty. Therefore, with the high rates of poverty increasing, there is a dire need for awareness to be raised. Therefore, I believe that the only solution to such an issue is the near-perfect implementation of the rule of law which will not only increase the living standards of others but also ensure that the humanity of individuals is not challenged and their individual rights are respected.

OVER-CRIMINALIZATION

Evidently, over-criminalization has tripled in South Africa in the last decade, therefore many are placed in situations where rights are being challenged or limited. This can only be resolved by good leadership as well as raising awareness on the respecting individual rights. The more the leaders are able to learn from other young people and more aware of the situations other people are facing, the more we overcome such impediments.

LACK OF FREE MARKETS

This issue can be resolved only when government institutes do not restrict individuals from trading with each other. By doing so, this encourages the spirit of free market in order to increase wealth and also accelerate development.

INTOLERANCE

This is one of the issues that acts as a hurdle to development. Therefore, there is need to increase more awareness about tolerance and respect towards cultural diversity. Therefore, I believe that in order to resolve such an issue, awareness should be raised in schools, in order to raise a generation of tolerance.

The latter are a few examples or rather a few factors which are an impediment to Liberty in Africa. Many African citizens are denied not only the full enjoyment of human rights, fundamental freedom but also have their Liberty challenged. In order to have all these enjoyed, it has to start with good governance; and good governance starts with zero corruption, zero marginalization, the effective enforcement of the rule of law, equal opportunities availed and harnessing on youth involvement. This would rather contribute to individual growth as well as economic growth, hence contributing to creating a better Africa for all, and also progressing to economic development.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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LESEGO GAETWESEPE

Lesego Gaetwesepe is a law graduate and she is intrinsically passionate about human rights, community building and empowering young people. She is a participant at the YALI Regional Leadership Center in Southern Africa and was also part of the #ageofconsent project. She was also part of a project facilitated by NACA (NATIONAL AIDS COORDINATING AGENCY). Ms Lesego is currently a volunteer at Gogontlejang Phaladi Pillar of Hope Project and also represents the organisation at the UNESCO Pan African Youth Network for building a Culture of Peace, and she is also taking up training as an ASFL (African Students for Liberty) Local Coordinator.

 

Eye for an Eye, “Blinded by Revenge”

For many years, the death penalty issue has created controversial debates and even to date the debates still remain unabated. This is because justice has become a relative term and people term incidences that are contrary to their self-will and desires as injustice.[1]  Therefore, with that, the thirst for vengeance is so evident that states find it difficult to ignore;[2]  particularly because of the eye for an eye concept that has been upheld for so many centuries.

However, what people seem to forget is that two wrongs don’t make it right. Yes, the offender needs to be punished, but do we necessarily have to punish the offender by taking his/her own life? What about the rights of the accused, isn’t the law made to give others a second chance to reform and do what is right for their communities? Most of these questions may seem irrelevant to most people because they are so centred on vengeance, that they forget that everyone’s rights matters.  This concept has relatively been one of the top reasons why most countries still remain to retain the death penalty, slowly ignoring the corrosive effect it causes both to the offender and the community.

We have become so blinded by revenge, that we have forgotten our obligations as individuals, government entities, as well as members of a civil society; moreover forgetting the obligations entrusted upon us by International treaties, covenants such as the Universal Declaration of Human rights. These international laws were adopted in order to guide states in respecting individual rights and states signatory to such treaties are obligated to adopt these laws within their national Constitutions.

Retaining the death penalty goes far beyond than reducing crime. It causes trauma on the side of the accused, also creates tension between states particularly in situations where another state has abolished the death penalty; and above all, it infringes the most important fundamental rights, which are the rights to life and to liberty.

Therefore, it is important that normative edifices that guard against human rights violations adequately ensure that everyone’s fundamental rights are protected and respected because respecting individual rights and freedoms is the only way to inclusive development.

According to the World Economic Forum of 2015, development is very much possible, when individual rights and freedoms are respected; this also includes the rights of the offenders or the accused. Therefore, this should be a wakeup call to retentionist countries to outlaw death penalty and respect the rights of individuals.  The death penalty should be replaced with alternatives such as life imprisonment so as to reduce the cruelty imposed upon offenders.

To deny them human rights, is to challenge their humanity[3]. With that, I believe that the rights of each individual should be maintained regardless of their status or regardless of the situation they have imposed upon their fellow community members; rights do matter.

[1] K.N Bojosi, ‘Commentary on recent constitutional challenges to the death penalty  in Botswana http://www.biicl.org/files/2292_bojosi_ recent_constitutional_challenges.pdf (2015 September 20)

[2] O.B.Iveren, ‘Justification for and the abolition of capital punishment under human rights la, Nigeria(April 2011)   https://www.unilorin.edu.ng>law  (2015 September 30)

[3] Nelson Mandela quotes


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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LESEGO GAETWESEPE

Lesego Gaetwesepe is a law graduate and she is intrinsically passionate about human rights, community building and empowering young people. She is a participant at the YALI Regional Leadership Center in Southern Africa and was also part of the #ageofconsent project. She was also part of a project facilitated by NACA (NATIONAL AIDS COORDINATING AGENCY). Ms Lesego is currently a volunteer at Gogontlejang Phaladi Pillar of Hope Project and also represents the organisation at the UNESCO Pan African Youth Network for building a Culture of Peace, and she is also taking up training as an ASFL (African Students for Liberty) Local Coordinator.