Law and lawmakers: On criminal acts and legislative privilege

The Supreme Court ruling that legislative privilege cannot be extended to provide legal immunity to criminal acts committed by lawmakers ought to be welcomed for two reasons. It lays down that legislators charged with unruly behaviour that results in offences under penal laws cannot be protected either by their privilege or their free speech rights. Second, the decision revivifies the law relating to a prosecutor’s role in withdrawing an ongoing criminal case. The LDF government in Kerala has suffered a setback as it strongly favoured the withdrawal of cases against six members sought to be prosecuted for creating a ruckus in the Assembly on March 13, 2015, when they boisterously tried to interrupt the presentation of the Budget presented by the erstwhile UDF regime. Their action resulted in destruction or damage to some items, amounting to a loss of ₹2.20 lakh. Based on the Assembly Secretary’s complaint, the police registered a case and later filed a charge sheet against them for

Patchwork progress: On insured bank deposits repayment

The Government hopes to ring in fresh changes to the 1961 Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation law in the monsoon session, after the Cabinet nod this week. From savers’ perspective, the most significant modification on the anvil is a 90-day deadline for the Corporation (DICGC) to remit the insured deposits of customers in troubled banks. As per the plan, once the RBI imposes curbs on a bank, the clock will start ticking and by the 91st day or thereabouts, account holders will get their outstanding balance back with a cap of ₹5 lakh. While Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said this will not apply retrospectively, she did indicate that this would apply to cases of lenders already under a moratorium. In the last two years, Yes Bank, Lakshmi Vilas Bank and the PMC Bank, have faced such a bar on depositors seeking to withdraw. PMC Bank accounts still face such curbs, even as savings parked in other co-operative lenders that have gone under continue to elude their rightful

Shared values: On India and the U.S.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s day-visit to Delhi this week was heavy on discussions and understandably light on deliverables. The visit, the third by a senior U.S. official of the Biden administration, was meant to prepare the way for more substantive meetings in Washington later this year, including the U.S.-India “2+2” of Foreign and Defence Ministers, the Quad summit of its leaders, and a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joseph Biden. Public statements by Mr. Blinken and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, and readouts, indicate that most of their conversations are focused on Quad cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, Afghanistan, and in discussing the state of democracy and rights. On the Quad, they showed full convergence. On Afghanistan, Mr. Jaishankar said that there were “more convergences than divergences” on the common positions that there is no military solution to conflict, and that neither country would recognise a


Vaccinating the young: On priority groups

As India’s vaccination drive chugs along with sporadic bursts of frenetic inoculation, there are possibilities of administering vaccines to children soon — as early as next month. At present, two Indian vaccines may be eligible for administration to children. Zydus Cadilla’s ZycoV-D, a three-dose plasmid DNA vaccine, with a 66.6% efficacy in phase-3 trials, has also been tested in adolescents (12-18 years), data for which has been submitted to the regulator. The company has also requested permission to test in children over five. Covaxin’s Bharat Biotech is also testing the vaccine in a cohort of children below 12. Though none of these studies has been completed, the expectations are that these vaccines may be ready by September. Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine has been authorised in those above 12 and Moderna’s too may be similarly approved in the U.S. Both companies are reportedly in discussions with the Indian government. Young children are at the least risk of hospitalisation and death from


Virulence and variance: On post-pandemic economic strains

The IMF’s latest update to its World Economic Outlook spotlights the starkly widening variance in the global recovery from the economic strains caused by the pandemic. And the primary fault line precipitating the divergence of the world’s economies into two blocs — those that are normalising activities from the COVID-19-induced curbs and those that are still struggling — is vaccine access and the pace of vaccination coverage. Three months since its April forecast, the IMF projects the global economy to expand at an unchanged pace of 6% this year. But it sees the world’s advanced economies registering faster growth than forecast earlier, while emerging markets and developing economies are expected to post appreciably slower recoveries. The IMF projects Advanced Economies to grow by 5.6% in 2021, 0.5 percentage point quicker than forecast in April. Undergirding this anticipated acceleration, the U.S. economy is seen expanding by 7% — a 0.6 percentage point upgrade — on the back of an

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