Motor Vehicle Agreement

The Union Cabinet has approved signing of the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal and Cargo Vehicular Traffic amongst BBIN.

  • The agreement will be signed on 15th June at the BBIN Transport Minister’s meeting in Thimpu, Bhutan. This agreement is similar to the SAARC Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) draft with minor changes.
  • Each participating country will bear its own costs arising from implementation of this agreement.

Benefits:

  • Signing of the BBIN agreement will promote safe, economical efficient and environmentally sound road transport in the sub-region and will further help each country in creating an institutional mechanism for regional integration.
  • BBIN countries will be benefited by mutual cross border movement of passenger and goods for overall economic development of the region.
  • The people of the four countries will benefit through seamless movement of goods and passenger across borders.

Sources: PIB.

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Statuettes open a window to ancient Peru

Researchers in Peru have discovered a trio of statuettes they believe were created by the ancient Caral civilisation some 3,800 years ago.

Details:

  • The mud statuettes were found inside a reed basket in a building in the ancient city of Vichama in northern Peru. Researchers say they were probably used in religious rituals performed before breaking ground on a new building.
  • Two of the figures, a naked man and woman painted in white, black and red, are believed to represent political authorities.
  • The third, a woman with 28 fingers and red dots on her white face, is believed to represent a priestess.
  • The research team also unearthed two mud figurines of women’s faces wrapped in cloth.

Caral is one of the most ancient cities of the Americas, and a well-studied site of the Caral or Norte Chico civilization. It was a large settlement in the Supe Valley, near Supe, Barranca province, Peru, some 200 km north of Lima. It was inhabited between roughly 2600 BCE and 2000 BCE.

Peru lies on the Pacific coast of South America just south of the Equator.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

India richer by 349 new species

According to the list of new discoveries by the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), 349 new species of flora and fauna were discovered in the past one year — 173 species and genera of plants and 176 species of animals.

  • Of the new plants, some of the significant findings include nine new taxa of wild Musa (bananas), four species of black plum (jamun), three species of wild gingibers and 10 species of orchids.

Details:

  • Western Ghats accounted for 22% of the new discoveries, while the Eastern Himalayas and the north-eastern States each accounted for 15% of the species found.
  • In Arunachal Pradesh alone, 25 species of seed plants were discovered.
  • 176 new species were added to the list of animals of India. These include 93 species of insects, seven species of collembolans, 12 species each of arachnidan and crustacean and one species of mollusca. Two species of reptiles have also been located for the first time in the country — one in Tamil Nadu and another in Madhya Pradesh.
  • As in the previous year, insects outnumbered other animal groups this year also.
  • A large number of amphibians and fish have made it to the list with 24 and 23 new species respectively. While most of the new species of amphibians were discovered from the Western Ghats, majority of fish species were from north-east India.
  • Apart from the new species, the BSI has also added 105 new records and ZSI 61 ‘new records.’ Animals and plants that are found elsewhere in the world but have been spotted in India for the first time are called ‘new records.’

Scientists of both BSI and ZSI agree that the Western Ghats and the northeast are biodiversity hotspots where most new species were found.

In India, 96,891 species of animals and 47,791 species of plants have been recorded so far.

Sources: The Hindu.

INS Vikrant undocked at Cochin shipyard

The maiden indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was undocked recently at the State-owned Cochin shipyard. The undocking is part of the second phase of work on the carrier, which is expected to be over by 2017.

INS Vikrant:

  • The basic design of the indigenous aircraft carrier was done by the Indian Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design, which was developed into detailed design by the design team of CSL.
  • It will be India’s largest aircraft carrier after induction.
  • The successful completion of the aircraft carrier puts India in the elite group of four nations – the US, Russia, the UK and France – in the world capable of designing and constructing aircraft carriers.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

Ordinance to help litigants in cheque bounce cases

The Union cabinet recently cleared an ordinance which would help lakhs of persons battling cheque bounce cases far away from their place.

  • This is the 14th ordinance of the Modi government in a little over a year.

In view of the urgency to create a suitable legal framework for determination of the place of jurisdiction for trying cases of dishonour of cheques under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, the Government has decided to amend the law through the Negotiable instruments (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015.

The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015:

  • The ordinance will amend the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.
  • It will enable filing of cheque bounce cases in the place where the cheque was presented for clearance or payment and not the place of issue. It provides for filing of cases only by a court within whose local jurisdiction the bank branch of the payee, where the payee delivers the cheque for payment is situated.
  • It has been provided that if more than one prosecution is filed against the same drawer of cheques before different courts, upon the said fact having been brought to the notice of the court, the court shall transfer the case to the court having jurisdiction as per the new scheme of jurisdiction.
  • The main objective of the ordinance is to ensure that a fair trial is conducted keeping in view the interests of the complainant by clarifying the territorial jurisdiction for trying the cases for dishonour of cheques.

The Supreme Court, in 2014, had passed a judgment that if a cheque was received from someone and it bounces, then the jurisdiction for initiating action lies in the State where it was issued. However, this judgment was not payee-friendly and hence the government had to come out with this solution.

Benefits:

  • The clarification of jurisdictional issues may be desirable from the equity point of view as this would be in the interests of the complainant and would also ensure a fair trial.
  • The clarity on jurisdictional issue for trying the cases of cheque bouncing would increase the credibility of the cheque as a financial instrument.
  • This would help the trade and commerce in general and allow the lending institution, including banks, to continue to extend financing to the economy, without the apprehension of the loan default on account of bouncing of a cheque.

Section 138 of the NI Act:

  • The Section 138 of the NI Act deals with the offence pertaining to dishonour of cheque for insufficiency, etc., of funds in the drawers account on which the cheque is drawn for the discharge of any legally enforceable debt or other liability.
  • It provides for penalties in case of dishonour of cheques due to insufficiency of funds in the account of the drawer of the cheque.

The object of the NI Act is to encourage the usage of cheque and enhancing the credibility of the instrument so that the normal business transactions and settlement of liabilities could be ensured.

The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was introduced in Lok Sabha in May, 2015 and was passed by Lok Sabha. However, since the Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die on 13th May, 2015, the Bill could not be discussed and passed by that House and the Bill could not be enacted.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, BS.