Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Govt rethinks porn ban order, will block only sites related to child porn

The Department of Telecom's order blocking 857 porn websites, it appears that the government is taking a step back and partially lifting the ban.

IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told India Today TV channel and news agency PTI that the ban will be partially lifted and websites that do not feature child porn will be unblocked. This implies that the ban will be partially lifted.

In damage control mode, Prasad took a high-level review meeting today, which was attended by IT Secretary R S Sharma and Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, among others.

Explaining the rationale behind the original directive, Prasad said, "The instant action is basically in obedience to the observation of the Supreme Court where the court asked the department to take action on the list of alleged porn sites provided by the petitioner."
The minister said that the government is committed for freedom of communication on the internet.

"The government compliments the dissemination of idea on the social media. We have launched the mygov platform seeking views of people of India on developmental agenda and lakhs of people are participating on this platform," he said.

The ministry of communications and information and technology, in its order of July 31 under section 79(3)(b) of the IT Act 2000 had banned 857 websites terming their content "immoral and indecent". Some websites in the list were found to be hosting jokes, memes and other humourous content without any pornography.

Vyapam: Why transfer whistleblower? HC asks state

Taking cognizance of frequent transfer of Vyapam scam whistle-blower Dr Anand Rai and his wife Dr Gauri Rai, both working with state health department, Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court on Tuesday gave two-day time to state government to explain the reason behind transfer and directed state not to take any action against the couple till the outcome of the case.

While hearing a petition filed by Dr Anand Rai challenging transfer of his wife, who has been transferred twice in last one month, double bench of Justice PK Jaiswal and TK Kaushal issued notice to state giving them two day time to reply.

HC observed that newspapers are reporting about deaths of people associated with scam and recently one whistle-blower had died. So what is need for transfer of whistle-blower (Anand Rai), who has got security from police, to out of Indore?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Record confessions before magistrate: HC to govt

Gujarat high court has directed the state home department to ask police officers to make it a practice to take an accused, in case he confesses before cops, and witnesses before judicial magistrate to record statements under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code so that conviction can be secured.

The HC issued this direction on July 28 while dealing with a criminal appeal filed by one Chandubhai Dalwadi from Mandal, who had killed his wife in 2006. He first confessed to his crime before cops and also before four witnesses, but later did not admit his guilt before the court and the witnesses also turned hostile. The man was convicted to life imprisonment for murder by trial court in 2008 on basis of circumstantial evidence.

He challenged the conviction. Turning down his appeal, a bench of Justice Mohinder Pal and Justice R D Kothari lamented cops' lackadaisical approach in investigation and commented that timely recording of confession by accused before a judicial magistrate would have strengthen prosecution's case. Had the four witnesses, before whom the husband had made extra-judicial confession, taken to the magistrate, the case would have been stronger.

The statement recorded under section 164 of CrPC becomes a piece of evidence, whereas confession made before cops do not hold any ground once the accused or witness retracts before court.

Stressing upon the need for statement before a magistrate, the judges said, "Admission of guilt by accused before police official has no value in the eye of law. The Investigating Officer would be depriving himself benefit of important piece of evidence, if he fails to avail opportunity to produce the accused or witness before magistrate to record statement. Possibility of accused/witness disowning their statement at later stage ought not to weigh with police authority at the stage of investigation."

In this case, the HC upheld Dalwadi's conviction for murder and criticized the investigation and pulled up cops for not considering the case history because the woman had died within seven years of marriage and she had registered complaint of domestic violence. Hence the HC convicted him under section 304 Part-1 of IPC for culpable homicide and reduced imprisonment to 10 years.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

14-yr-old rape victim permitted to abort child

The Supreme Court's directive, a medical team on Thursday gave permission for termination of a minor rape victim's 25-week-old pregnancy though the law allows abortion only until the 20th week.

"A panel of five doctors four from civil hospital and a private practitioner has given the nod for abortion," superintendent of the civil hospital M M Prabhakar told PTI.

14-year-old rape victim moves SC for abortion

The Supreme Court had on Tuesday last come to the rescue of the 14-year-old victim who had been denied permission to abort the foetus by the sessions as well as the high court. The apex court said she can undergo abortion if medical experts allow it.

The abortion is likely to be performed on Friday, Prabhakar said.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Share house with ousted Husbond : HC

Gujarat high court has ordered a woman police constable to vacate a house and hand over its possession to her husband. She had earlier ousted him with the help of policemen after a lower court, in proceedings under the Domestic Violence Act, ordered that shelter be provided to the wife.

The high court was angry because the wife had got her husband evicted by other policemen after claiming that there was a high court order for this when there was no such order. However, since the law provides for the wife's right to shared accommodation, the high court permitted her to stay in the house during vacation.

According to case details, a schoolteacher, Hasmukh Patel, and police constable Manjula's marriage took place in 2003. The couple has a daughter. The husband has got a house in Ambawada village near Prantij in Sabarkantha district and the couple used to live here. Later, both of them went to Daanta after they got transferred. The wife has got a government quarter for accommodation and the daughter lives in a hostel.

When the dispute arose between them, the wife filed a case under domestic violence laws seeking maintenance and permission to live in the Ambawada house. A magisterial court and after that the sessions court ordered interim maintenance to the wife and also directed the husband to permit her to live in the ancestral house in the village. The judge also restrained him from entering his wife's office and daughter's school and hostel. He was not even allowed to phone the daughter.

After this order, Manjula went to the Ambawada house with cops and took its possession by telling the husband and in-laws that the high court had ordered so. This claim was even mentioned in the documents.

Dispossessed of the house, the husband moved the high court and complained that his wife was quarrelsome in nature and used to dictate terms and threaten that if her word was not followed, she would commit suicide and send her in-laws behind bars. She even filed a criminal case under 498A of IPC but all the accused were acquitted.

The husband had argued that as the police department had allotted an official residence to his wife, she cannot claim shared accommodation by evicting him from the Ambawada house.

Justice N V Anjaria asked her to immediately hand over possession of the house to her husband.

Friday, July 24, 2015

SC: Put all police stations under CCTV watch

 The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre and state governments to put police stations and interrogation rooms under surveillance of CCTV cameras.

A bench of Justices T S Thakur and R Banumathi also directed that the governments must appoint at least two women police constables in every police station.

It also expressed concern that Delhi, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland have so far not set up state human rights commission and directed them to form the panel as soon as possible. The bench also asked other states to fill up vacancies in their human rights panel within three months.

The bench passed the order on the basis of recommendations made by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singvi and advocates Amit Bhandari and P K Mullick who assisted the court in the matter.

The apex court also accepted their recommendation for regular and random inspection of police stations to ascertain whether any custodial violence took taking place after talking to inmates and examining CCTV footage.

AIPMT: Supreme Court refuses to allow hijab in test

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to allow hijab or any other head gear in the All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT ), stating faith would not disappear if it is not worn on one particular day. 

A bench led by Chief Justice H L Dattu called it a “small issue” and upheld the CBSE notification that prohibited wearing hijab. The court pointed out that the AIPMT exam was being re-conducted because the top court had to scrap it earlier owing to irregularities. “Examiners cannot conduct inquiry into everyone’s faith. They have to do it appropriately this time,” it added. 

Install CCTVs at All Prisons in India: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Friday directed the central government and all the states to install CCTV cameras in all the prisons across the country and take a call on installing them in police lock-ups, if there are incidents.

The top court bench of Justice TS Thakur and Justice R Banumathi in their judgement said that CCTV cameras should be installed in the prisons within one year but not later than two years.

The court said that every police station should have at least two women constables.

Pronouncing the judgement, Justice Thakur said that all the state governments must fill up the vacancies in the state human rights commissions within three months time.

The court also directed union territories to set up state human rights commission, noting that none of them, including Delhi, have their own state human rights commission.

The court directions came while deciding a PIL by one Dilip K Basu seeking prison reforms and filling of the vacancies of the state human rights commission.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Facebook Must Hand Over New York Users' Info to Prosecutors, Court Rules

Facebook Inc cannot challenge search warrants New York prosecutors used to get information from its site on hundreds of users suspected of Social Security fraud, a state appeals court said on Tuesday, in a decision likely making it harder for New Yorkers to keep their digital lives private.

The warrants, which applied to 381 users' photos, private messages and other account information, could only be challenged by individual defendants after prosecutors gathered evidence, the Manhattan-based court unanimously ruled.

Facebook was backed in the case by a group of large Internet companies including Google and Microsoft Corp, which argued the case could set a troubling precedent giving prosecutors access to all kinds of digital information.

Internet companies are pushing back broadly against U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies' demands for customer data, in the wake of revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden of wide-ranging online surveillance.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office served the warrants on Facebook in 2013, seeking information on dozens of people later indicted for Social Security fraud, including police officers and firefighters who allegedly feigned illness in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The world's biggest online social network turned the records over to prosecutors last year after a state judge threw out its claim that the warrants violated users' Fourth Amendment rights, but it also went ahead with an appeal.

The court on Tuesday said the only way to challenge warrants was for defendants in criminal cases to move to suppress the evidence they produced.

A Facebook spokesman said the company disagreed with the decision and was considering an appeal.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney's office said prosecutors had secured nearly $25 million (roughly Rs. 159 crores) from people who were targets in the probe.

"In many cases, evidence on their Facebook accounts directly contradicted the lies the defendants told to the Social Security Administration," she said.

Prosecutors said Facebook pages showed public employees who claimed to be disabled riding jet skis, playing golf and participating in martial arts events.

Mariko Hirose, a lawyer with the New York Civil Liberties Union, which also submitted a brief in support of Facebook, said the court "side-stepped" an important question by ruling on Facebook's right to challenge the warrants and not on their legality.

The case is: In re 381 search warrants directed to Facebook Inc and dated July 23, 2013, Appellate Division, First Department, No. 30207-13.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Kerala HC exempts two Muslim girls from dress code for AIPMT

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday granted conditional exemption to two Muslim girls from the dress code introduced by the CBSE for candidates of All India Pre-Medical Test slated for July 25.

While allowing the litigants to wear headgear/hijab during the examination, the bench of justice K Vinod Chandran said the exemption was applicable only for the petitioners.

Earlier this month, the CBSE had issued a bunch of instructions, including dress code, for the students appearing for the All-India pre-medical test.

The court directed that the petitioners, who got permission to wear hijab, should turn up before a woman invigilator half an hour before the exam. Besides, the woman invigilator would be free to examine them while the test is going on if she develops any suspicion.

The CBSE told the court that the dress code was not meant to hurt any religious sentiments, but to prevent malpractices during the examination.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

US firm paid $976k bribe to win India water project

A New Jersey-based construction management firm has been charged with bribing Indian officials several crores of rupees to win two major water developmental projects in Goa and in Guwahati.

The bribery of $976,630 for a Goa project by Louis Berger included that to a minister, the details of which have not been disclosed by the Department of Justice.

On Friday, the company agreed to pay $17.1 million criminal fine to resolve charges that it bribed officials in India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Kuwait to secure government construction management contracts.

Two of its former executives - Richard Hirsch (61) of Philippines, and James McClung (59) of the UAE - pleaded guilty to the bribery charges.

McClung previously served as senior vice president responsible for the firm's operations in India and in Vietnam.

Sentencing hearings for Hirsch and McClung are scheduled for November 5, 2015.

The Indian government, assisted by Japanese government, initiated the five-year Goa Water Supply and Sewerage Project to expand, rehabilitate and build water and sewerage facilities.

Louis Berger was part of a consortium for the project in Goa. The consortium included two Japanese firms and an Indian partner.

The team developed a project management information system and plan, evaluated bids, reviewed design and construction plans, and ensured quality work was done on time and within budget, the company says on its website.

Federal prosecutors, in their 11-page chargesheet, alleged that Louis Berger maintained a detailed diary and account of bribery made to Indian officials.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

No fine till 3 days after credit card due date

Reserve Bank of India has said that henceforth banks can levy a penalty on a credit cardholder only if they fail to receive payment for three days after the due date. The directive will benefit those whose payment or transfer gets delayed due to a bank holiday or for any other reason.

Besides not charging penalty, RBI has said that banks should also report delayed payment to credit information companies like Cibil only when a credit card account remains 'past due' for more than three days. At present all banks state that late payment charges are applied if payment is not made by due date. The late payment charges vary between Rs 100 to Rs 700 depending on the total payment due.

Although earlier RBI had issued a directive stating that the next statement date should be the reference date for computing penalties and reporting defaults to credit bureaus banks have continued to use the due date for imposing late fee.

In a circular issued to all banks RBI said that in order to bring in greater credit discipline as also to provide operational flexibility to credit card issuers, 'past due' status of a credit card account for classifying bad loans would be reckoned from the payment due date mentioned in the monthly credit card statement. "Consequently, in case of banks, a credit card account will be treated as non-performing asset if the minimum amount due, as mentioned in the statement, is not paid fully within 90 days from the payment due date mentioned in the statement," RBI said.
Banks shall report a credit card account as 'past due' to credit information companies (CICs) or levy penal charges, viz. late payment charges only when a credit card account remains 'past due' for more than three days. The number of 'days past due' and late payment charges shall, however, be computed from the payment due date mentioned in the credit card statement," RBI said. Earlier it was to be classified as NPA if payment was not received within 90 days of next statement date.