National Data And Analytics Platform


  • On 23rd January, 2020, NITI Aayog released its vision for the National Data and Analytics Platform (NDAP), with an aim to democratize access to public Government data through a world-class user experience.
  • The first version of National Data and Analytics Platform is proposed to be released in 2021.

Mission

  • Standardize data across multiple government sources.
  • Provide flexible analytics and make it easily accessible in formats.
  • Conducive for research, innovation, policy making and public consumption.

Need for NDAP

  • Availability of Rich Public Data: Government departments have digitised various processes and reporting requirements, which in turn are feeding into management information systems and interactive dashboards. This data is being used to track and visualise progress and make iterative improvements on the ground.
  • Making Data Easily Accessible: All public government data should be easily accessible to all stakeholders in a user-friendly manner. Further, data across sectors should be coherent to support analysis and dissemination. In addition, there should be easy access to the most recent data, published reliably.

Key Features

  • The NDAP proposes a simple, interactive, visual, and robust platform that will host various Central and state government datasets. The platform will be designed and optimised to the needs of policymakers, bureaucrats, researchers, innovators, data scientists, journalists, and citizens.
  • It will follow a user-centric approach and will enable data access in a simple and intuitive portal tailored to the needs of a variety of stakeholders.
  • The platform will be powered by a user friendly search engine, backed by seamless navigation, with a worldclass user interface. Data will be provided in a machine-readable format with customizable analytics. Dynamic visualisations will be generated based on user search terms.
  • Data will be sourced from different Central and State Ministries and Departments. This will be presented using a common schema, with clear definitions and narratives to help the user navigate the differences between similar data from different sources.

Governance

  • A high powered inter-ministerial steering committee under the chairmanship of Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog will be set up to provide direction, oversee progress, guide on data sources, and address various inter-ministerial issues on collating data.
  • A Technical Advisory Group consisting of sector and technology experts will be established to provide expert consultation. TAG will provide guidance on the development of the platform, management of data, and aligning the platform for user-needs.

Source: NITI Aayog

Challenges

Data is Not Published in a User-Centric Manner

  • The current data formats are often not conducive for research and innovation. Many departments maintain public dashboards with visualizations and options to download data in analyzable formats. However, some datasets are only available in PDF, webpage or as an image, making it difficult for further analysis.
  • If this issue is resolved, researchers and data scientists will significantly save time and resources in cleaning and preparing government datasets for analysis.

Incoherency of Data Ecosystem

  • Ministries and Departments do not use a shared standard for common indicators. Attributes like region and time period defined differently. This makes it difficult for datasets to speak to each other and present a coherent picture. If we can solve this, many use-cases can emerge. For example, a District Magistrate can access data across all departments for their district, easily, in one platform.

Significance

One Stop Platform

  • NDAP will be a one-stop platform to utilize, analyse and visualise all published government datasets. It will be a critical tool in the hands of policy makers, researchers, journalists, and civil society leaders, enabling them to do their work better.
  • NDAP would encompass critical features such as allowing easy access to all the published datasets through a single platform and using cutting edge technology to enable analytics and visualization for drawing better insight. It willstrive to ensure that datasets are merged with each other using temporal and geographical identifiers.

Improving Socio-Economic Condition

  • NDAP has the potential to deepen our understanding of India's dynamic economy and social conditions. Thiswill in turn help improve the socio-economic condition of the people by making the government's actions more scientific and data-driven.

Insolvency And Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019


  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 was promulgated on December 28, 2019, which amended the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016.
  • The Amendment Act has brought amendment, omission or addition in Sections 5(12), 5(15), 7, 11, 14, 16(1), 21(2), 23(1), 29A, 227, 239, 240. It also inserted a new Section 32A in the Code.

Objectives

  • To provide last mile funding to corporate debtor to prevent insolvency in case company goes into Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) or liquidation.
  • To provide immunity against prosecuting corporate debtor.
  • To prevent action against the property of corporate debtor or the successful resolution application subject to fulfillment of the conditions.

Key Changes Made

  • Proviso to Clause (12) of Section 5 of the Code has been omitted to clarify that the insolvency commencement date is the date on which an application for initiating Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) is admitted.
  • Section 7 of the Code has been amended to clarify minimum threshold for certain classes of financial creditors for initiating CIRP. It states that an application for initiating CIRP shall be filed jointly by not less than 100 of such creditors in the same class or not less than 10% of the total number of such creditors in the same class, whichever is less. For financial creditors who are allottees under a real-estate project, an application for initiating CIRP shall be filed jointly by not less than one hundred of such allottees under the same real estate project or not less than 10% of the total number of such allottees under the same real estate project, whichever is less.
  • Section 11 of the Code has been amended to clarify that a corporate debtor shall not be prevented from initiating CIRP against any other corporate debtor.
  • Section 14 of the Code has been amended to put a stay on the licenses, permits, concessions, clearances, etc. of the corporation. The above cannot be terminated, suspended or not renewed on the grounds of insolvency during the moratorium period. Additionally, the supply of goods and services critical to preserve and protect the value of the corporate debtor, such supply shall not be terminated.
  • Section 16 of the Code has been amended to provide that an insolvency resolution professional should be appointed on the date of admission of the application for initiation of CIRP.
  • Section 23 of the Code has been amended to enable the resolution professional to manage the affairs of the corporate debtor during interim period between the expiry of CIRP till the appointment of a liquidator.
  • A new Section 23A has been inserted to provide that the liability of a corporate debtor for an offence committed prior to the commencement of the CIRP shall cease under certain circumstances.

Impact

  • Preventing Unnecessary Admission of Cases: The amendment brings the much awaited changes needed in the insolvency sector. It clears the air on various aspects and provides relief to both corporate debtor as well as the creditors. The thresholds introduced will prevent admission of unnecessary cases to the insolvency court.
  • Removing Bottlenecks: The move will ensure in bringing about finality to the cost and litigation risks associated with a corporate debtor thereby removing hurdles being faced in many of the high value insolvency cases. This will result in streamlining the CIRP and will pave the way for better realization of assets for all the stakeholders.
  • Safeguarding Corporate Debtor: It will help to ring-fence the corporate debtor and property from offences committed by the previous management or promoters.
  • Ease of Doing Business: The Amendment is in consonance with the government’s much celebrated aim of increasing the ease of doing business in India.
  • Boosting Bidders Confidence: By insulating the successful bidders of stressed assets from the wrongdoings of the earlier management, the ordinance aims at boosting the confidence of the potential bidders in the insolvency process.

Challenge against the Amendment

  • On 6th January, 2020, a writ petition has been filed by a group of home buyers in the Supreme Court challenging the IBC ordinance on the ground of arbitrariness.
  • The home-buyers alleged that the additions made to Section 7 regarding the requirement of minimum numbers was against fundamental rights guaranteed to the home buyers (financial creditors) under articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution as well as the very objective of the IBC.
  • The petitioner submits that the amendment ordinance is in the nature of ‘remedy with no remedy’ as it curtails the rights of an individual home buyer.
  • They also argue that the amendments discriminate between individual and corporate creditors by imposing the minimum thresholds on individuals but not on corporates, such as banks.

Way Forward

  • The Amendment focuses on a timely admission and completion of the insolvency process and has come as a much needed support for the potential buyers of stressed assets. The decision to protect third-party successful bidders from the illegalities committed by the earlier management will go a long way in restoring the spirit of the Code.

CJI Comes Under The Ambit Of RTI Act: Supreme Court


  • On 13th November, 2019, in a historic judgment, the Supreme Court (SC) held that the office of Chief Justice of India is a public authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
  • The Constitution Bench upheld the 2010 judgment of Delhi High Court which had held that RTI Act was applicable to CJI's office.
  • The five-judge bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice NV Ramana, Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna pronounced the verdict with a 3:2

Background

  • In November 2007, an RTI activist Subhash Chandra Aggarwal had filed an RTI in the Supreme Court seeking information on judges' assets but the information was denied. He then approached the Central Information Commission (CIC) which asked the apex court to disclose information on the ground that the Chief Justice of India's office comes within the ambit of the Act.
  • In January 2009, a plea was moved in the Delhi High Court (HC) against the CIC order but the same was upheld.
  • In January 2010, the Delhi HC had held that the office of the Chief Justice of India comes within the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) law, saying judicial independence was not a judge’s privilege, but a responsibility cast upon him.
  • In April 2019, the SC bench had reserved its verdict on the appeals.

What did SC Rule?

  • The Supreme Court has held that the office of the Chief Justice of India comes under the definition of ‘public authority’ as per the article 124 of the Constitution.
  • Right to Privacy is an important aspect and has to be balanced with transparency while deciding to give out information from the office of the Chief Justice of India.
  • The judiciary cannot function in total insulation as judges enjoy a constitutional post and discharge public duty.
  • Transparency and accountability should go hand-in-hand and increased transparency under RTI is no threat to judicial independence.However, RTI cannot be used as a tool of surveillance and that judicial independence has to be kept in mind while dealing with transparency.
  • Personal information of judges should only be divulged under RTI if such disclosure served the larger public interest.
  • The information about assets of judges and official communication during the process of elevation of judges to the Supreme Court are treated as confidential third-party information.
  • On the matter related to appointment of Judges, SC said that only names of judges recommended by the collegium can be disclosed, not the reasons.
  • The Bench, however, agreed, that the right to know under RTI was not absolute. The right to know of a citizenought to be balanced with the right to privacy of individual judges.

Right to Information (RTI) Act

  • RTI Act was promulgated in 2005 to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.
  • It is an initiative taken by Department of Personnel and Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions to provide a– RTI Portal Gateway to the citizens for quick search of information on the details of first Appellate Authorities,PIOs etc. amongst others, besides access to RTI related information / disclosures published on the web by various Public Authorities under the government of India as well as the State Governments.
Objective
  • To empower the citizens,promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government, contain corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in real sense

Impact

  • It is significant as it opens the doors to RTI requests that will test the frontiers of what has been a rather opaque system. Now, the office of the CJI will now entertain RTI applications under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act.The verdict emphasizes the balance Supreme Court needs between transparency and protecting its independence.
  • The disclosure of information can highlight areas where robust mechanisms of oversight and accountability are required.
  • It sends a strong signal to all democratic institutions to adhere to the twin principles of transparency and accountability underlining the RTI Act.

Way Forward

  • The hallmark of every democracy is accountability. Independence of judiciary doesn’t mean independence from accountability. Every institution is accountable to another institution which is independent of itself. Independence of judiciary does not and cannot be forced to be interpreted as supremacy of judiciary.
  • The judiciary carries the trust of the people and is accountable to the people. It is the real guardian of the fundamental rights of the people. Hence an endorsement from the bench headed by CJI will give fillip to people’s quest for transparency and accountability, necessary for the development as well as the social change of the country.