John F. Kennedy stated once ‘The great revolution in the history of man, past, present and future, is the revolution of those determined to be free‘ Every Independence Day is a day to celebrate; the importance of being a free and sovereign nation” and to remind ourselves ‘the significance of being a responsible citizen of the country‘.
Similarly, every Independence Day is a good way to assess how much social, economic and legal freedom have we achieved in the last one year as ‘true freedom lies only in breaking all old shackles of bondage’. Let’s take a look at some major events that happened since last year-
1. Changes in the Status of Women-
Post- Independence, it was observed that women in the society we’re living in a deteriorated state, with no respect and dignity of their own. Thus, to bring them to equal status as men in a patriarchal society, many legislations were enacted and many malpractices were abolished. Since last year, the following judgments have enlightened that “justice “is accessible to all irrespective of “gender”
a. Justice to Nirbhaya case Offenders-
The Nirbhaya case shocked the whole nation and questioned the public authorities about the status of womenfolk and their responsibility to grant protection in Society. It was only on March 20, 2020, when the Supreme Court of India passed the landmark judgment by maintaining their death sentence and the accusers were hanged on March 20, 2020.
b. Coparcener retrospective right-
It is one of the recent judgment that ensured that every daughter gets her basic rights equally as that of a son in the family. On August 11, the Supreme Court of India in its judgment affirmed the fact that “a loving daughter remains the same for her father throughout her life”. Thus regardless of whether her father died before the commencement of the Indian Succession Act 2005, a daughter shall have the same rights and liabilities as of that of a son.
c. Permanent Commission to women armed forces officers-
On 17 Feb 2020, a Bench comprising of honored Justices Chandrachud and Justice Rastogi affirmed that female Armed Forces officers hold the right to Permanent Commission (PC) as that of male officers.
Further on March 20, 2020, a similar judgment was passed for women naval officers. Both the judgments stressed that the existing rules that prescribe temporary service for female officers are discriminatory in nature.
2. Reservation in Promotions for persons with disabilities-
A three-judge Bench led by Justice Nariman affirmed that the granting of reservations in promotion for persons with disabilities is legal in nature and Article 16(1) of the Constitution authorizes for the same.
3. New Education Policy Announcement-
On July 29, 2020, the Ministry of Human Resources and Development announced a new education policy eliminating an outdated education system to match the global international educational standards and making India a “hub of global knowledge and skill training”.
4.Ram Mandir judgment-
On 9th November 2019, the Supreme Court resolved a decade’s old matter, which seemed impossible to resolve, on a sensitive subject based upon the question of religious harmony. The five-judge bench of the Supreme Court unanimously announced its judgment on 9 November 2019 ordering the Government of India to build trust for Ram Mandir temple establishment and a Board of Trustees within three months’ duration.
Such land in dispute was ordered to be transferred to the Government of India to be later transferred to the Trust. Further, The Court also ruled ordered an area of 2.77 acres to be assigned to the Sunni Waqf Board for the construction of a mosque at an appropriate place within Ajodhya.
5. Removal of Special status of J&K and its Effect-
A presidential order in August 2019 revoked the special status of the “Jammu and Kashmir” by the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution and giving it an equal status like any other state or union territory in India. Unlike earlier, where the J&K had its constitution providing for separate rights and laws, now every law applicable in other parts of India shall be equally applicable there.
6. Working towards better “Corporate Governance”-
Though the global pandemic affected the whole nation adversely causing many peoples to lose their means of livelihood and a long duration of inactivity in businesses brought stress for the business sector. However, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Ministry of Finance relived businesses and taxpayers from unnecessary hassles by extending the important deadlines from time to time.
a. Changes in income tax and GST strategies-
Prime Minister Modi announced the establishment of a platform applicable for use from Sept 25, 2020, to ensure transparency in the taxation system, honoring the honest taxpayers of the country and faceless appeals and trials under the provisions of the Income-Tax Act maintaining “Taxpayers play a large role in nation-building”. Further, the Central Board of Excise and Customs is also planning to launch a new GST portal for ease in GST payments for businesses.
b. MSME encouragement-
The Government is encouraging the” local India Sector” to create global level products by providing necessary encouragement and financial assistance to such businesses apart from other benefits.
c. Changes in Essential Commodities Act 1955-
To ensure that the farmers in the country could save themselves from unnecessary storage problems and could get a better price for their produces, the Government of India announced amendments in the Essential Commodities Act 1955 to deregulate the essential food items.
7. Approval to SC/ST Atrocities Amendment Act 2018-
In one of its judgments, the Supreme Court of India upheld the constitutionality of Parliament’s 2018 Amendment to the Prevention of Atrocities Act citing it being outdated in a limited sense and needed to change with time by diluting the stringent provisions of the Dalit protection law.
8. Banking Resolutions-
Apart from changes in the business and finance sectors, the Government of India announced mergers and regulations in the banking sector to ensure proper management of the entity and strict adherence to the prescribed working guidelines for them.
Some major mergers included-
a. Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) and United Bank of India was merged into Punjab National Bank (PNB). After the merger, these two banks together form the second-largest public sector bank in the country, after the State Bank of India (SBI).
b. Syndicate Bank was merged into Canara Bank, making it the fourth-largest public sector lender.
c. Indian Bank was amalgamated with Allahabad Bank and similarly, the Union Bank of India was merged with the Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank
d. Therefore in present, there are twelve public sector undertakings in the country with six merged banks and six independent public sector banks. Such merged banks include the SBI, Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank, Union Bank of India, Indian Bank and the other independent banks include the Indian Overseas Bank, UCO Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Punjab and Sind Bank, Bank of India and finally the Central Bank of India.
The Government of India and the various Courts in India have made various appreciable efforts to fulfill its vision of a strengthened, conscious, and developed nation in its true sense. The real sense of being independent lies in “celebrating the variety and uniqueness of our culture, but with deep curiosity and a temper to embrace the relevant aspects by eliminating the outdated.” Happy Independence Day!”
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