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Showing posts with label LAW AND ORDER. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LAW AND ORDER. Show all posts

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

This State introduces 'Son of Soil' Bill to give Ownership Rights to small house dwellers

 Pramod Sawant.png 

On Tuesday, the Govt of Goa agreed to reintroduce a controversial bill on "sons of the soil" in the next assembly session after the legislation in its present form drew flak from various quarters, including the Opposition.

CM Pramod Sawant, in his address to the people of Goa, said considering the public sentiments, the "Bhumiputra Adhikarini Bill" would be renamed as the "Bhumi Adhikarini Bill" & it would be reintroduced during the next assembly session to be held in the next 2 months.

Last week, the Goa assembly passed the bill that provides a mechanism to grant the ownership rights to "bhumiputras" (sons of the soil) who are living in small housing units. The Goa Bhumiputra Adhikarini Bill, 2021, was passed in the 40-member House by voice vote on the last day of the session on Friday.

In his video address, Mr Sawant said the bill would be kept open for suggestions from members of the public from August 4.

He said that "Valid suggestions would be considered by the government while reintroducing the bill".

 

The CM said the bill was beneficial to Goans & rubbished suggestions by the Opposition parties that it was aimed at pleasing the migrant vote bank. Mr Sawant said the legislation was drafted after proper study & would benefit Goans whose houses are facing the threat of demolition.

Nadula

The CM had told the House last week that the bill provides for a mechanism to give ownership rights to dwellers of small housing units to enable them to live with dignity, self-respect & to exercise their right to life.

Mr Sawant had defined "bhumiputra" as a person who is residing in Goa for at least thirty years.

 

"This bill provides protection to bhumiputras so that they shall not be evicted from the dwelling units occupied by them & the units shall not be demolished during the pendency of any proceedings under this law," he had said in the assembly.

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High Court Collegiums have recommended 505 names for HC judges in three years; 209 appointed: Law Minister tells Parliament

 Cancellation of Winter Session of Parliament Helps the Government Duck Tough Questions 

High Court Collegiums (HCCs) made a total of 505 recommendations for appointment as high court judges in the last three years, Parliament was informed on Wednesday by the Union Minister of Law and Justice.

Of the 505 names, a total 209 persons recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium were appointed to various high courts.

The Supreme Court Collegium rejected 153 names and remitted them to the high courts.

The law minister Kiren Rijiju also informed Lok Sabha that 94 fresh proposals had been received from the HCCs in 2021, which were under various stages of processing with the government and Supreme Court Collegium,

La Redoute

As per the existing process, the high court collegiums sends their recommendations to the Supreme Court Collegium which in turn, may either choose to approve the recommendations, or defer them or even remit them back to the high court collegium for reconsideration

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In so far as the Supreme Court is concerned, between 2018 to 2020, the Supreme Court Collegium (SCC) made 18 recommendations for the appointment of judges in the Supreme Court. All of them were appointed.

SOURCE ; theleaflet.in/

 

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Police to conduct Narco Test of Accused in Jharkhand Judge's Death

 Additional Session Judge Uttam Anand.jpg 

Dhanbad Police will conduct a narco test, layered voice analysis & brain mapping of both the accused arrested in the case of the alleged killing of Additional District Judge Uttam Anand.

Sanjeev Kumar, Senior Superintendent of Police, Dhanbad district said that "Police have got permission from Dhanbad Court to conduct four tests including narco, layered voice analysis & brain mapping of both accused arrested in the case. The tests will be done at Gujarat FSL. We are contacting Gujarat FSL. We will further the process once the date is confirmed from them".

On Saturday, Jharkhand Govt recommended a CBI probe in the matter.

On this, the SSP said, "The state government has recommended CBI probe in the case. Our investigation will continue till the CBI takes over. Various teams are interrogating & investigating at various places."

Meanwhile, the SIT formed to probe the case submitted its progress report on Tuesday in Jharkhand High Court. The court, through the advocate general, was informed that the state government has decided to transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The Court said that it will keep monitoring the case.

Last week, Umesh Manjhi, the officer-in-charge of Pathardih police station, was suspended from his services in the case of the alleged killing of Additional District Judge Uttam Anand.

On July 28, Judge Uttam Anand was allegedly killed after a vehicle hit him near the Magistrate Colony, Dhanbad.

Two people involved in the alleged killing were arrested, & the auto used for the crime has also been seized. The accused, identified as Lakhan Kumar Verma & Rahul Verma, confessed to the crime, said Amol Vinukant Homkar, Inspector General (Ops).

 

On July 30, the Apex Court took suo motu cognizance of the killing. A day later, the Jharkhand Govt recommended a CBI probe into the killing of the Judge.

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Ayurvedic Doctors entitled to enhanced Retirement Age of 65: Supreme Court

 Ayurvedic Doctors Entitled To Enhanced Retirement Age Of 65: Top Court 

Ayurvedic doctors covered under AYUSH are also entitled to the benefit of enhanced superannuation age of 65 years at par with allopathic doctors, the Apex Court said on Tuesday. A Bench of Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice Hrishikesh Roy opined that both - allopathic and Ayurvedic doctors - render service to patients and on this core aspect there is nothing to distinguish them.

La Redoute

There is no rational justification for having different dates for bestowing the benefit of extended age of superannuation to these two categories of doctors, said the top court.

In the judgment, the Supreme Court said, "We have no hesitation in holding that the respondent doctors (Ayurvedic) are entitled to their full salary arrears and the same is ordered to be disbursed, within eight weeks from today. Belated payment beyond the stipulated period will carry interest, at the rate of six percent from the date of this order until the date of payment. It is ordered accordingly."

The judgment further stated that "We are quite clear in our mind that the respondents must be paid their lawful remuneration arrears and current, as the case may be. The State cannot be allowed to plead financial burden to deny salary for the legally serving doctors. Otherwise, it would violate their rights under Articles 14, 21, and 23 of the Constitution".

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The bench's judgment came on an appeal filed by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) against the Nov 2018 verdict of the Delhi HC which had upheld a Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) order holding that applicants who are Ayurvedic doctors covered under AYUSH are also entitled to the benefit of enhanced superannuation age of 65 years (raised from 60 years), same as the allopathic doctors.

World Tennis

 

On the contentions of the NDMC that classification of AYUSH doctors and doctors under Central Health Services (CHS) in different categories is reasonable and permissible in law, the bench clarified that the classification is "discriminatory and unreasonable" since doctors under both segments are performing the same function of treating and healing patient.

The Supreme Court said that the difference in the method of treatment employed by the two systems will not be a reasonable ground to classify Ayurvedic and allopathic doctors differently for fixing retirement age.

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Families of Accused in Elgar Parishad Case Move Bombay HC Against Transfer From Taloja Jail

 The family members of Anand Teltumbde, Surendra Gadling and Sudhir Dhawale allege the reason behind the transfer is to divide them by sending them to separate prisons

 Families of Accused in Elgar Parishad Case Move Bombay HC Against Transfer From Taloja Jail

 Anand Teltumbde, Surendra Gadling and Sudhir Dhawale. Photo: YouTube and Facebook

New Delhi: The family members of Anand Teltumbde, Surendra Gadling and Sudhir Dhawale – accused in the Elgar Parishad case – have approached the Bombay high court to challenging the decision to shift them out of Taloja prison to an ‘unspecified prison’ in Maharashtra, Bar and Bench reported.

While Gadling and Dhawale were arrested in 2018, Teltumbde has been imprisoned since 2020.

According to news reports, the jail authorities recently moved an application to transfer the male accused in the case to other prisons. The  accused have alleged that they were not even heard or informed about the decision taken by the NIA (National Investigation Agency) court. In fact, the families allege the reason behind the transfer is to divide them by sending them to separate prisons.

The petition stated that “an extremely prejudicial order was passed by the special court under the National Investigation Agency Act, permitting their transfer without offering any hearing to them”.


   

 

However, the application stated that the former superintendent of Taloja Central Prison had in March 2021 sought permission to transfer six out of the 13 under-trials out of the prison for the purpose of decongestion. The application also stated “presence of certain ‘sensitive’ under-trial prisoners in Taloja jail” as a reason for the transfer.

Following several allegations, the former superintendent was transferred out of Taloja prison. But on the basis of his request, special judge D.E. Kothalikar allowed the under-trials to be transferred.

 

La Redoute 

 

 

In their petition, the families said that the former superintendent had moved another application on June 7, alleging that the “accused in the Elgar Parishad case, their relatives and their lawyers are taking advantage of COVID-19, are making false complaints through the media and are putting pressure on Taloja jail authorities to achieve their intentions”.

Of the 13 males accused in the Elgar Parishad case and detained at Taloja jail, Varavara Rao is presently on medical bail while Hany Babu has been admitted to a private hospital for treatment. Father Stan Swamy passed away last month.

SOURCE ; THE WIRE

 

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Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Agra: On Wife's Complaint, FIR Against Former BSP Minister for ‘Triple Talaq’

 The police said it is investigating the matter, and two more cases were registered against Bashir, both of them based on the woman’s complaints. 

 

New Delhi: Former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) minister Chaudhary Bashir has been booked by the Agra Police, after his estranged wife accused him of divorcing her through “triple talaq”, Indian Express reported.

The practice of granting “instant divorce” was classified as a “criminal offence” through a law enforced by the Union government on August 1, 2019. The law provides for a jail term of three years for the Muslim man who commits the crime. The law also makes “triple talaq” a cognisable and non-bailable offence.

The woman said the police initially didn’t register her first information report (FIR). It was filed only after she approached Agra senior superintendent of police (SSP) Muniraj G.

The woman told the police she married Bashir in November 2012. She has two children with him. For the last three years, she has been living with her parents.

She further alleged, according to the report, that soon after marriage, her husband and his sisters started harassing her mentally and physically. She took legal action against them, but the matter is still in court.

 Now Bashir is marrying for the sixth time last month.

 On July 23, I came to know that my husband is having his sixth marriage with a woman named Shaista, and I went to his house. There, Chaudhary Bashir abused me and saying ‘teen talaq’ he forced me out. When I first went to the Mantola police station, the case wasn’t registered. Bashir is someone of criminal background and thus, while providing me security, take necessary action against him,” the woman told the Indian Express.

 

Mantola station house officer (SHO) Vinod Kumar confirmed to the daily that the FIR was registered on SSP Muniraj G’s directions. He further said that two more cases were registered against Bashir, both of them based on the woman’s complaints. A fresh FIR for triple talaq has been registered against Bashir, he added, but no arrest has been made. He said the police is investigating the matter.

The former minister has been booked under IPC Section 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), and relevant sections of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act.

SOURCE ; THE WIRE

 

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Allahabad High Court grants bail to man accused of killing another in celebratory firing

 Allahabad-High-Court 

The Allahabad High Court last week granted conditional bail to Shravan Yadav alias Vicky, an accused in the death of a person during celebratory firing.

A Single-Judge Bench of Justice Samit Gopal passed this order on the Criminal Miscellaneous Bail Application filed by Shravan Yadav alias Vicky Yadav. The bail application under Section 439 of Code of Criminal Procedure sought enlargement on bail during trial in connection with case under Sections 304 and 286 of IPC registered at P.S. Colonelganj, District Prayagraj. 

 

The prosecution case, as per the FIR, is that on October 20, 2020, there was a marriage reception organised by Manoj Kesarwani in Noor Miyan Park, which Sanjeev Kumar Kesarwani had attended with Subham Kesarwani. Sanjeev resorted to celebratory firing during the event, which hit Subham in his abdomen and he was admitted to SRN Hospital for treatment.

The FIR was initially registered under Section 307 IPC, but after the death of Subham, Sections 304 and 286 of IPC were added in the case. 

 

The Counsel for the applicant submitted that it is a case of celebratory firing without any intention to commit offence and the injury as received by the deceased is as a result of accident. It was argued that the applicant had no motive and intention to commit the present offence.

It is further submitted that the applicant has no criminal history as stated in the affidavit and has been in jail since December 23, 2020. 

It is also submitted that though police has shown recovery of a country made pistol from the house of the applicant but the same is a planted recovery and there is no independent witness to the same and even the bullet recovered from the body of the deceased has not been sent along with the alleged recovered weapon for opinion of the ballistic expert.

The AGA opposed the prayer for bail and argued that the applicant is named in the first information report and has been assigned the role of firing from a weapon, which hit the deceased.

 

“It is further argued that there is a recovery from the house of the applicant of the alleged weapon. After having heard the counsel for the parties and perusing the record, it is apparent that the prosecution case right from the inception is of celebratory firing. Fire appears to have hit the deceased due to accident and there is no motive and intention to commit the said offence,” the Court observed.

After perusing the record in the light of the submissions made at the bar and after taking an overall view of all the facts and circumstances of this case, the nature of evidence and also the absence of any convincing material to indicate the possibility of tampering with the evidence, the Court is of the view that the applicant may be enlarged on bail, the Court said.

 

The Court ordered that, let the applicant – Shravan Yadav alias Vicky Yadav, be released on bail in the aforesaid case crime number on furnishing a personal bond and two sureties (one of the sureties to be his family member) each in the like amount to the satisfaction of the court concerned with the following conditions which are being imposed in the interest of justice:-

1-The applicant will not tamper with prosecution evidence and will not harm or harass the victim/complainant in any manner whatsoever.

2- The applicant will abide by the orders of court, will attend the court on every date and will not delay the disposal of trial in any manner whatsoever.

3- The applicant shall file an undertaking to the effect that he shall not seek any adjournment on the date fixed for evidence when the witnesses are present in court. In case of default of this condition, it shall be open for the trial court to treat it as abuse of liberty of bail and pass orders in accordance with law.

4- The applicant will not misuse the liberty of bail in any manner whatsoever. In case, the applicant misuses the liberty of bail during trial and in order to secure his presence proclamation under section 82 Cr.P.C., may be issued and if applicant fails to appear before the court on the date fixed in such proclamation, then, the trial court shall initiate proceedings against him, in accordance with law, under section 174-A I.P.C.


5- The applicant shall remain present, in person, before the trial court on dates fixed for (1) opening of the case, (2) framing of charge and (3) recording of statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C. If in the opinion of the trial court absence of the applicant is deliberate or without sufficient cause, then it shall be open for the trial court to treat such a default as abuse of liberty of bail and proceed against him in accordance with law and the trial court may proceed against him under Section 229- A IPC.

6- The trial court may make all possible efforts/endeavours and try to conclude the trial expeditiously after the release of the applicant. The identity, status and residential proof of sureties will be verified by the court concerned and in case of breach of any of the conditions mentioned above, court concerned will be at liberty to cancel the bail and send the applicant to prison.

SOURCE ; indialegallive.com

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Supreme Court shows disapproval to clarificatory notification submitted by Gujarat over Rajkot hospital fire

 Supreme Court  

The Supreme Court has expressed displeasure over the clarificatory notification submitted by the Gujarat government over the Rajkot hospital fire incident of 2020 that claimed lives of several Covid-19 patients.

Justice D. Y. Chandrachud and Justice M. R. Shah yesterday made these comments, while hearing a suo motu PIL on the issue of proper treatment of Covid-19 patients and dignified handling of dead bodies.

 

The Bench pulled up Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for not advising “the (state) government properly,” as “they have come up with a clarificatory notification saying that the fire safety requirement will not be applicable to Covid-19 premises.”

The Bench observed that nobody can get the BU permission without getting the fire safety certificate for either constructing, or maintaining a building. 

 

The Gujarat government had recently submitted its teport regarding the fire safety precautions taken in the state after the Rajkot fire.

It said 1,101 hospitals in Gujarat do not possess any valid fire safety certificates issued under the Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act.

 

In the affidavit, Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development and Urban Housing Department, Mukesh Puri said that as of date, there are 5,705 hospitals in Gujarat, of which only 4,604 possess fire NOCs under the 2013 Act.

The NOC is issued by authorities concerned after applicant hospitals comply with fire safety measures.

 

Detailing the action taken, the government said authorities had issued showcause notices to over 1,500 non-compliant hospitals, disconnected the water supply of 30 hospitals and partially sealed 185 hospital premises for want of fire safety certificates.

These premises were reopened only after ensuring their due compliance, it said.

 

As per the affidavit, only 47 hospitals are currently treating COVID-19 patients in Gujarat, and all of them possess the requisite fire NOCs and more than 2,500 hospitals have been issued or renewed since December, 2020.

As of January 15, 2021, there were 328 dedicated COVID hospitals in Gujarat, of which 261 were found to possess valid fire NOCs. As on date, out of these 328 hospitals, 298 have valid fire NOCs. For the remaining 30 hospitals, showcause notices were issued, the state government told the apex court.

 

“Due to measures like mock drills and inspection of hospital premises by fire officers, nine incidents of fire were controlled and (fire) extinguished at the incipient stage, preventing loss of property and lives during the peak of second Covid-19 wave in Gujarat”.

Two of these fires were reported in Ahmedabad on May 7 and May 17, two in Surat on April 25 and May 10, two in Rajkot on May 7 and May 20, two in Jamnagar on May 14 and May 18, and one in Bhavnagar on May 12, it said.

The state government also submitted before the Supreme Court a copy of a report by the Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice DA Mehta (retired) on the fire at Shrey Hospital in Ahmedabad and Uday Shivanand Hospital in Rajkot and mentioned the steps taken by the state government, in a sealed cover, the government said.

At Shrey Hospital, eight COVID-19 patients were killed in a fire on August 6, 2020, while a similar incident at Uday Shivanand Hospital claimed lives of five Covid-19 patients on November 27 last year.

In Bharuch, 18 people, including 16 patients died in a fire that occurred at a Covid-19 hospital on May 1 this year.

Gujarat government had also clarified a notification issued by it on July 8, 2021.

The notification directed that no coercive action should be taken against the buildings having no Building Use (BU) permission till three months from December 31, 2021, which is the last date of applicability of the Gujarat Epidemic Diseases COVID-19 Regulation, 2020.

The government said this notification didn’t mean any relaxation in the issuance of a fire safety certificate and the statutory compliance with the fire safety norms under the Fire Safety Act, 2013.

The top court in the order dated June 19 had asked the Gujarat government to clarify whether its notification granting BU relaxation is in breach of the directions issued by the court.


“While a fire safety certificate is one of the necessary prerequisites for grant of BU permission, there is no requirement of BU permission for granting the fire safety certificate.

Relaxation with regard to extension of time for obtaining BU Permission does not permit any relaxation in the requirement for issuance of fire safety certificate,” the government had stated, adding that authorities have been empowered to initiate all actions, including coercive actions, in case of non-compliance.

“This notification of 8.07.2021 does not, in any manner whatsoever, restrict the powers vested under Fire Prevention Act, 2013, nor does it grant any extended timeline, to any hospital for obtaining a Fire NOC,” the affidavit said.

 SOURCE ; .indialegallive.com/

 

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Kerala priest case: Supreme Court rejects rape survivor’s plea seeking permission to marry her abuser

 supreme court of india 

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the plea filed by a rape survivor, seeking permission to marry her ‘tormentor’, a 53-year-old Kerala Catholic priest Robin Vadakkumchery, who has been sentenced to 20 years in jail and was dismissed from priesthood by the Vatican.

The Division Bench of Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, while hearing the matter said, “The High Court has taken into consideration all relevant aspects. No reasons to interfere.”

Advocate Amit George, appearing for accused Robin Vadakkumchery, submitted that the Right to Marry is a Fundamental Right, which cannot be infringed upon, while keeping the convict back in custody.

The bench asked the age of both the parties while dismissing the petition.

 

The petitioner, a rape survivor, had approached the apex court to marry her ‘tormentor’, a 53-year-old Kerala Catholic priest Robin Vadakkumchery who has been sentenced to 20 years in jail and was dismissed from priesthood by the Vatican.

The survivor has also sought bail for Vadakkumchery, so that their marriage can take place. The petitioner says this has been filed according to her wish.

Earlier, Vadakkumchery had approached the Kerala High Court with a petition seeking to marry the survivor, but it was turned down. Vadakkumchery was serving as a parish vicar near Kannur and was the manager of the Church-backed school, where the survivor, a Class 11 student, was studying.

It was a Child line agency that works among school children that had registered the complaint against the priest. The priest came under pressure after the girl gave birth to a child on February 7, 2017 at a hospital run by the management.

The priest was arrested on February 27, 2017 from near Kochi International airport, while he was preparing to slip out of the country. The priest was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on February 17, 2019 by a court in Thalassery after he was tried under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

During the trial, the survivor and her mother turned hostile. Despite that, the court proceeded on the basis of evidences collected already and handed out the verdict.
Four nuns, another priest and one more woman attached to the convent, who were co-accused in the police charge sheet, were let off due to lack of adequate evidences.

 Incidentally in March last year, the Manthavady (in Wayanad district) dioceses officials informed the media that the Vatican, after going through all the process, decided to dismiss Vadakkumchery from priesthood.

SOURCE ;  indialegallive.com

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Supreme Court issues notice to all States, UTs against use of Section 66A, IT Act

 Supreme Court 

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to all states and Union Territories (UTs) on a petition, seeking direction to the Centre to advise all police stations against registering FIRs under Section 66A, which was declared unconstitutional by the top court on March 24, 2015.

The bench of Justice R.F. Nariman and Justice B.R. Gavai issued notice to the States and Registrars of all High Courts, so that a strong order could be passed in this matter.

 

In its March 24, 2015 judgement in the Shreya Singhal vs Union of India case, the apex court had said, “Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 is struck down in its entirety being violative of Article 19(1)(a) and not saved under Article 19(2).”

“In spite of the judgement, it became clear from the newspaper reports that the said provision continued to be invoked by the state’s investigative machinery as well as the judiciary, probably under the impression that Section 66A remained on the statute books,” the petition by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) contended.

 

The NGO had filed a rejoinder affidavit in the Supreme Court on July 30 in the application, alleging that despite the Court’s February 2019 order, Section 66A of the Information Technology Act continues to be used in police stations as well as in trial courts across the country.

The affidavit has been filed by Dr. V. Suresh, National General Secretary of PUCL.
The Rejoinder Affidavit has been divided into three parts-

 

A. STEPS TAKEN BY THE UNION OF INDIA, WHETHER ADEQUATE-

According to the affidavit , the steps taken by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) towards ensuring effective implementation of the Apex Court’s Judgment in Shreya Singhal vs Union of India (2015) 5 SCC 1 are far from adequate. The Union of India (UOI) has said that ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects and that primary responsibility rests with the State. Similarly, for cyber crime offenders, law enforcement agencies are responsible, alleged the affidavit.

 

It is submitted that UOI ought not to have shirked its responsibility by pleading that responsibility lies with the States as well as with law enforcement agencies. In view of the fact that the Application involves the question of enforcement of this Shreya Singhal Judgment which is binding on the UOI and others, the UOI has to play a sincere and pro-active role to ensure the implementation.

B. DIRECTIONS REQUIRED FOR EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE JUDGMENT IN SHREYA SINGHAL –
The affidavit states that the expression “authorities” in Article 144 has to be given the widest amplitude to include all members of the executive and judiciary, in view of the settled position of law and the need to uphold the dignity of courts, the majesty of the law, and to prevent any interference in the administration of justice.

In order to ensure that Apex Court’s Judgment in Shreya Singhal is effectively implemented , PUCL suggested following steps :-

a. Direct the Respondents to collect the details of the cases registered by the Police/Law Enforcement Agencies under Section 66A of the IT Act since the pronouncement of the Judgment in Shreya Singhal by co-ordinating with the Chief Secretaries/DGPs of the States and Union Territories.

  In cases where the case is at the stage of investigation, direct the Director General of Police in the States and the Administrators/Lieutenant Governors in the cases of Union Territories to forthwith drop further investigation under Section 66A.

c. In cases where charge sheet under Section 173 Cr.P.C. has been filed and the cases are pending before the District Courts for framing of charge or trial, request the Chief Justices of all the High Courts to issue advisories to all the subordinate courts (both Sessions Courts and Magistrate Courts) to drop all charges/trial under Section 66A and discharge the accused.

d. Direct all the High Courts (through Registrar Generals) to communicate to all the District Courts and Magistrates that forthwith there should be no cognizance taken under the repealed Section 66A of the IT Act.

e. Direct each High Court (through Registrar Generals) to put in place a complaint mechanism by which any person in the state against whom a case under Section 66A of the IT Act is pending may directly approach the trial Court where the case is pending or the concerned High Court for speedy redressal.

f. Direct the DGPs of all the States/Administrators of all the UTs to initiate disciplinary action against the Police/Law Enforcement Agencies that are found to be registering cases under the repealed Section 66A of the IT Act.

g. Allow the High Courts to initiate suo motu contempt proceedings against those responsible for registering a case under Section 66A or for investigating it or for prosecuting it in spite of being informed that Section 66A has been struck down.

h. Direct the DGPs of all States and Union Territories to communicate to all police stations within their respective jurisdictions to display a notice that Section 66A of the IT Act has been struck down by the Top Court in Shreya Singhal and that no case under the said provision can be registered.

i. Direct the Respondents to ensure that Doordarshan and All India Radio make quarterly announcements in major vernacular languages informing the public that Section 66A of the IT Act is no longer in force in light of the judgment in Shreya Singhal.

j. Direct the Respondents to ensure publication in major vernacular language newspapers on quarterly basis informing the public that Section 66A of the IT Act is no longer in force in light of the judgment in Shreya Singhal.

k. Direct the Respondents to ensure that all official and commercial versions of the IT Act that are hereinafter published (online or offline) do not include the complete text of Section 66A and inform the reader that said provision stands repealed in light of the judgment in Shreya Singhal.

l. Direct the National Judicial Academy and the State Judicial Academies to incorporate the Supreme Court’s Judgment in Shreya Singhal as part of the training imparted to judges.

m. Direct the UOI to ensure that all police training colleges both at the National Level and the State Levels will mandatorily advise all trainees about the Judgment and the fact that Section 66A of the IT Act has been repealed and can no longer be invoked.

n. Ensure that the above (except points (l. and m.) are complied with in a time bound manner, not later than October 31, 2021.

C. HOW EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE JUDGMENTS OF THIS HON’BLE COURT CAN BE ENSURED-

The PUCL raises a larger question about implementation of the Judgments of the Top Court which are binding on all the authorities and Courts under Articles 141, 142 and 144 of the Constitution. Non-implementation of the Judgment has a serious repercussion on the administration of justice as well as the Rule of Law.

Following submissions has been made by the PUCL-

a. That in all important cases where the Top Court is of the view that the directions given in the judgements ought to be implemented strictly, it can direct the Registry to send a copy to the concerned authorities (viz: Chief Secretaries, DGPs of all the States, Administrators of all UTs, all High Courts and District Courts, Jail Authorities etc.) asking them to file a compliance affidavit within reasonable time.

b. That in addition to the above, accountability may be fixed on the authorities responsible for its implementation. The Apex Court may further direct initiation of disciplinary action as well as the contempt proceedings for contumacious inaction or deliberate violation.

c. That Supreme Court may direct that the Judgment will be a part of training in the National Judicial Academy/State Judicial Academies. In addition, depending upon the directions, it should also be included in the training courses of administrative services/police services.

d. That Supreme Court may also direct/request all High Courts to create a mechanism for effective communication to the District Courts and Magistrates, within their respective jurisdictions, of the directions passed by the Supreme Court.

e. Direct/request all the High Courts to communicate to District Courts and Magistrates that there should be no cognizance taken under the repealed provision in cases where a statute or a provision in a statute is struck down.

f. Direct the UOI to prepare advisories and a document summarising the directions passed by the Supreme Court which can be displayed in prominent places in police stations/public places and instruct DGPs of all States and Union Territories to ensure that the same is displayed at all the police stations.

g. Direct the Union of India to ensure that Doordarshan and All India Radio make quarterly announcements in major vernacular languages informing the public about the directions issued by the Supreme Court.

h. Direct the Union of India to ensure publication in major vernacular language newspapers on quarterly basis informing the public about the directions issued by the Apex Court.

i. In cases where a statute or a provision has been struck down, direct the Respondents to ensure that all official and commercial versions of the statute that are published (online or offline) after the pronouncement of the Judgment do not include the complete text of the repealed provision and inform the reader that said provision stands repealed in light of the concerned Judgment.

j. Direct Union of India through its department of publication to publish in the Gazette of India summaries of all the judgements where a provision in the statute has been struck down or read down as unconstitutional.


It is pertinent to note that the Supreme Court on July 05 while hearing the application of PUCL, came down heavily on the Union government over people still being booked under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, calling it “amazing and shocking.” In March 2015, Section 66A was struck down by the top court.

In 2012, law student Shreya Singhal filed the first PIL in the Supreme Court on the misuse of Section 66A. The PIL was filed following arrests of two girls in Maharashtra who objected to a bandh called in Mumbai by the Shiv Sena after the demise of its founder Bal Thackeray. While one was arrested for posting a Facebook post against the bandh call, the other was held for “liking” it.

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Why the first-ever 'gang war killing' shook India-administered Kashmir

 

A young bodybuilder with a massive following on Instagram was assassinated from a close range, prompting different fears and theories in the troubled region.

On the morning of July 27, at exactly 11.30 am, Sheikh Meeran Ali was shot dead by unknown assailants outside his home in the old city of Srinagar, the capital of India-administered Kashmir. 

Within a few hours, photographs of the assassination appeared all over the Internet, with Ali lying on the road in a crisp white shirt, his blood splattered against the grey tarmac road. 

Kashmiris have grown used to seeing such random killings, a living nightmare the  500,000-strong community has inherited ever since an armed militancy challenged the Indian rule in the region in 1989. In the following decade of the 1990s, it became hard to decipher who was killing whom. The stakeholders had different names and symbols from Pakistan-backed guerillas to militant-turned-renegades supported by New Delhi. The conflict has so far swallowed over 40,000 people, according to the Indian government. Kashmiri separatists however peg the total deaths at 100,000

For Kashmir watchers, Ali's killing was confounding because the police pinned it on a "gang rivalry". Never before in the past 30 years of the conflict did Kashmir witness a killing by any organised crime syndicate since such cartels have never existed in the region. 

The slaying was carried with discriminating timing too — at a time when President of India Ram Nath Kovind was on his day-long visit to Kashmir.   

The incident had everything to fuel the war of narratives. Some accused the victim of being close to pro-India political parties and police, which makes him a black sheep in the eyes of those who either support Kashmir's merger with Pakistan or its complete independence from both India and Pakistan.  

Another theory, currently examined by the police and attributed to a militant outfit named The Resistance Front (TRF), an offshoot of Pakistan-backed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as per the Indian authorities, made circles, describing Ali as a drug dealer backed by pro-India counter-insurgency groups, whose job was to harass "resistance movement lovers and supporters''.

The police's gang theory also raised the spectre of the Ikhwan, a dreaded counter-insurgency unit that Human Rights Watch once described as India's "secret army," accusing it of "grave human rights abuses, including summary executions, torture, and illegal detention as well as election-related intimidation of voters."

Amidst all the claims and counter-claims and slanderous social media commentary, Ali's identity has become muddled, putting his family under a major psychological strain. For his parents and friends, Ali's character was not even remotely related to what the slain youth has been accused of by various stakeholders of the Kashmir conflict.

"Kids as young as eight and nine would visit the gym and ask him (Ali) for selfies. They wanted to be like him. They want to have a body like him," said Khalid Ali, who had trained the deceased for nearly five years.

Ali had earned himself a huge following not only on social media, where his Instagram page used to be inundated with praises but also in the old city of Srinagar. 

One Srinagar resident described him as a "fitness freak" who had participated and won prizes in local bodybuilding competitions. 

Ali had recently appeared in a music video released on Youtube by a major Indian music record label and film production company. His second cameo is yet to be released. His career in India's multi-billion dollar entertainment industry was beginning to take off.

Ali had a passion for body building and he was close to making a mark as a model in India's famous entertainment industry.
Ali had a passion for body building and he was close to making a mark as a model in India's famous entertainment industry. (@ meeran_ali_pathan_)

A drug addict or an activist?

So what made him a gangster in the eyes of the police?

According to the police investigation, Ali was part of a "gang" named "16 Gujjar Chattabal". 

A senior police official requesting anonymity told TRT World that Ali and his group drew public attention the day they released a video on the Internet, showing 109 young men out on a night trip, driving down the road of a local hill station with loud Indian Punjabi music blaring from their cars. 

"We had even counselled Meeran Ali and his other friends a few weeks back and he was responding positively. It is unfortunate what happened," said the police officer, adding that the absence of "gang culture" in Kashmir made the group the talk of the town. 

"The videos of them driving in hordes did not go well with the local population. 

The Instagram Page of the group, which has been taken down by its members, had several such videos but there were some alarming videos doing the rounds as well including those in which knives were being showcased," the officer said. 

Another senior police officer who keeps a tab on the city's crime incidents said the 16 Gujjar Chattabal was recently investigated for a stabbing incident targetting a "rival gang" called Bemina Belts, in which seven individuals were booked on charges of "attempt to murder". 

Ali, as per the officer, was also brought in for questioning but let off after police established he wasn't involved.  

Prior to revealing the gang war angle, police claimed that Ali's killing had the earmarks of a militant group job. That theory was quickly brushed aside, which made local observers suspect that an assassination carried out by militants in the middle of the President's visit would have posed uncomfortable questions for India's security establishment.

TRT World contacted Inspected General of Police Vijay Kumar to know whether the militancy related aspect of the killing was still being probed, but the official did not respond until the filing of this story. 

Nevertheless, with multiple theories smearing Ali's character,  his family is now battling to clear the reputation of their slain son, while grieving his loss. 

"He had nothing to do with the police or politicians. We didn't even know he had 10 thousand Instagram followers. It is unfair how he is being treated after his death," said one of Ali's school friends from the elite Delhi Public School. 

Speaking to TRT World, Ubaid Gulzar, one of Ali's closest friends and fellow 16 Gujjar members, said that "a faceless" group named Downtown Itihad suddenly "cropped up" on social media a few weeks ago and started sharing "slanderous videos'' of Ali, in which he was purportedly posing with women, police officers and politicians. His family however say the videos were deep fakes.

Defending his group 16 Gujjar Chattabal, Gulzar said it was created to save youngsters from becoming drug addicts and also teach them to respect women and help the poor.  

"How can anyone call him a druggie? He was so conscious of his health. In January 2020, on our trip to New Delhi, we randomly were struck by the idea of creating an Instagram page by the name 16 Gujjar. The idea behind the page was to have fun, click pictures, share videos and so on. Yes of course we would intervene to solve small and mundane matters faced by group members and friends but we are not a gang."

Gulzar added Ali was one of the youngest members of their friend circle but the most popular to the extent he had become the front face of the group. 

Since crime syndicates with ruthless hitmen ever ready to bump off their foes have never been a big business in Kashmir, portraying Ali's killing as a result of a so-called gang war has raised different kinds of insecurities and fears in Kashmir. 

The ugly prospect of armed gangs controlling the streets amidst a heavy Indian military presence primarily meant to deal with a few dozen gun-toting militants only spells doom for ordinary Kashmiris. 

Source: TRT World

Azaan Javaid in a Kashmir-based journalist who writes for HuffPost India and The Wire. He has previously worked with Hindustan Times, DNA, Deccan Herald, Statesman and Caravan magazine in New Delhi and covered Ministry of Home Affairs, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency and Enforcement Directorate.

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Monday, 2 August 2021

Justice UU Lalit: Accused have a Right to defend themselves with aid of quality Legal Services

 Justice U U Lalit 

It is the duty of every member of an orderly society to offer every possible opportunity to an accused to defend himself, SC Judge UU Lalit said on Sunday.

The SC Judge said that to ensure that no accused remains unrepresented during any stage of the criminal investigation & the trial, each police station in the country must have "display boards" containing information about the right to legal aid & availability of free legal aid services.

Such board & posters are going to be installed at all the police stations across Haryana, he informed.

Justice Lalit said that even though a criminal must be brought to the book & punished for his wrong deeds for an orderly society, legal representation is part of everyone's fundamental rights.

He was speaking at the launch of the year-long campaign "Quality of services is key to access to justice for all", organised by Haryana Legal Services Authority in Gurugram in Haryana.

"It is true that for an orderly society a criminal must be brought to book, a criminal must be proceeded against, a criminal must be punished for his wrong deeds."

He said that "But at the same time, as an orderly society, it is the duty of every member of the society to offer to him every possible opportunity to defend himself".

He said that display boards & posters at every police station in the country "are the first step in the direction to ensure that no accused remains unrepresented during any stage of the criminal investigation & the trial, so that every opportunity is afforded to a person to defend himself."

 

He said that during the last year & a half, when the entire humanity has been on the back foot because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual platform has emerged as a "platform of solution".

All interactions, whether through public offices or other modes, even entertainment & other things have gone for a toss completely due to the pandemic situation, he said.

However, this situation has also taught us to improvise, innovate "and to sort of bring out the best within us.

"It has taught us that the virtual platform can be a platform of solution, where many of our problems can get sorted out."

Today all the courts are functioning through virtual modes, Justice Lalit noted.

He also inaugurated the video conferencing facilities in all 22 DLSAs (District Legal Services Authorities) in the state, which will facilitate an interactive platform to fill the communication gap between legal aid counsel & client.

 

He also inaugurated "Kids Zones" in 18 DLSAs to cater to the needs of children who accompany couples whose cases are referred for mediation.

Besides Justice Lalit, Punjab & Haryana HC Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha & High Court Judges - Justice Jaswant Singh & Justice Rajan Gupta - also spoke at the occasion.

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High Court slaps ₹40 crore penalty on Real Estate group for axing 62 trees

 Cutting Tree.png 

The Calcutta High Court has issued a penalty to a real estate group of Rs 40 crore for axing 62 trees.

The high court has directed to pay the fine within 15 days and also to plant 100 trees in order to drop prosecution for illegally felling the 62 trees on a plot on Russell Street.

The realty group plans to build a seven-star hotel in the heart of the city on Russell street.

The HC passed the order on July 26 in a case pending from February 2017. The case was to drop the charges of the illegal tree-felling on the grounds, stating that this was a first-time offense and the group would plant double the number of trees felled as compensation.

Justice Rajasekhar Mantha, in a three-page order, commented, "Entreaties made by the petitioner appear to be attractive... considering the fact that punishing the writ petitioner with a limited amount of imprisonment under the 2006 act would not bring back the trees, compensating the state/forest department/society would be just and fair penalty, penance, and retribution. The compensation shall be used to develop the environment in general and maintenance of better vigil against illegal tree-felling."

 

The 2006 Act under which the prosecutions had been initiated is Section 11(1) of the West Bengal Trees.

The Act initiates a fine of Rs 5,000 and a one-year jail term. "This is a compoundable offense," said Manoj Malhotra, who argued for the state.

The court has also said that the offenses would be compounded if the Rs 40 crore is not paid in 15 days. The court has also added that even with the fine, the group must comply with all the laws to develop the property.  

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Court agrees with CBI, no link found between Car crash and Unnao Rape Case

 Judge.jpg

A Delhi Court has upheld the investigation conducted by the CBI that had ruled out any foul play in the Unnao rape survivor's accident in 2019.

In 2019, the rape survivor, her family, & lawyer were travelling in a car when it was hit by an overspeeding truck in Rae Bareli, killing 2 aunts & leaving her & the advocate critically injured.

Pursuant to this, a murder case was filed against expelled BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who was also awarded life-term imprisonment for raping the minor survivor, & nine others after her family filed a complaint alleging "conspiracy" behind the accident.

Dismissing these allegations, District & Sessions Judge Dharmesh Sharma held that the objections of the complainant party read like an engrossing thrilling story but were based on mere surmises & conjectures.

He further said that there are no grounds to suspect the fidelity, accuracy, & sincerity of the investigation conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation & that the agency came out with a plausible version of the incident.

 

Notably, the investigating agency had concluded that there was no evidence regarding criminal conspiracy hatched between those named in the FIR, including Kuldeep Sengar, & the truck driver or the cleaner or for that matter owner of the offending truck.

Upholding the probe, the judge stated in an order dated July 31, "I have no hesitation in holding the findings of the CBI in the charge sheet, that there is no case against the accused persons so as to take cognisance & proceed against them under Section 302 (murder) & 307 (attempt to murder) read with Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), cannot be faulted."

However, the Sessions Judge framed charges against the truck driver for causing death by negligence & doing an act to endanger human life, besides framing charges of criminal intimidation against Sengar & his associates.

 

Besides this, on Dec 20, 2019, Sengar was sentenced to jail for the "remainder of his natural biological life" in a separate case for raping the minor in 2017.

On March 4, 2020, Sengar, his brother, & 5 others were also convicted for the death of the rape survivor's father in judicial custody & were sentenced to ten years imprisonment.

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Tokyo Games: Paralympian Shooter approaches Apex Court against HC Order

 Supreme Court.PNG, pic by: India Today 

Five-time Paralympian shooter Naresh Kumar Sharma has moved the Apex Court challenging an order of the High Court of Delhi which had posted his plea relating to his non-selection for the upcoming Tokyo games for hearing on Aug 6.

Mr Sharma has said that a division bench of the HC had on July 30 sought responses of the Paralympics Committee of India (PCI) & the Centre on his appeal against its single-Judge order which had refused to interfere with his non-selection for the games.

He said in his petition filed in the Supreme Court that last date of selection for shooting in Tokyo Paralympic is Aug 2 & if the matter is heard on Aug 6, it would make the plea infructuous.

It said the petitioner's counsel had tried for an early date of hearing before the HC since, as per the policy of PCI, the deadline for sending names of final selected candidates for participation in the games is Aug 2.

The plea said that "The petitioner humbly seeks intervention of this court in the present matter as the legitimate opportunity of the petitioner to participate in Tokyo Paralympics in R7 event & consequently bring laurels to the country will be lost if the arbitrary, discriminatory & capricious selection of the shooter in R7 event by the selection committee of PCI is allowed".

 

During the July 30 hearing before the HC, Mr Sharma's counsel had submitted that the event will start from Aug 24, & Aug 2 is the deadline for Tokyo 2020 organising committee to receive sports entry forms submitted by the National Paralympic Committee (NPC).

The council had urged the HC to list the matter on an early date, however, the bench had said the petitioner should have approached the court a little earlier & not at the last moment.

On July 27, the high court's single-judge order had said that PCI's conduct in relation to the selection of another player over Sharma was "unbecoming of a public sporting body" which has to maintain a fair, transparent & inclusionary approach.

 

However, the Court had refused to interfere with the selection of the other player over Sharma at this belated stage, noting that the shooting team was already in a bubble.

However, it had asked the Union Sports Ministry to examine the aspect & take action, if necessary.

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Conversion after being insulted weakens Country, observes High Court

 Allahabad High Court 

Quoting an earlier order of the HC that ‘conversion only for getting married is unacceptable’, a single bench of the High Court of Allahabad rejected the bail appeal of a person accused of unlawfully converting a girl for getting married.

Rejecting the bail plea of one Javed of UP’s Etah district, Justice Shekhar Kumar Yadav said that though Article 25 (1) of Indian Constitution provides the right to freedom of religion & every adult citizen of the country is free to convert his/her religion & can marry any adult citizen, it doesn't mean that a person can be converted by greed or fear.

In its decision, the Court quoted the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Lilly Thomas, wherein the Top Court said that without having faith in Islam, the conversion of a non-Muslim only for getting married is void. “Further, the Allahabad High Court in the case of Noor Jahan Begum alias Anjali versus state of UP has held that conversion only for getting married is unacceptable,” the Court said.

The victim gave the statement in front of the magistrate that she was made to sign on a blank paper & on a paper written in Urdu & later on, she got to know that the bail applicant was already married. It was alleged by the prosecution that the girl was unlawfully converted for the sole purpose of getting her married to the bail applicant .

On the other hand, the petitioner said that both the parties were adults & the girl changed her religion on her own free will & got married.

 

The High Court also observed that there was no place for religious bigotry, greed & fear in the country, but if a person belonging to the majority community converts his/her religion after getting insulted, then the country becomes weak & divisive powers benefit out of it.

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Over 7,800 PILs on violation of Fundamental Rights filed in HCs across country since 2019, reveals Data

 Fundamental Rights 

Over 7,800 Public Interest Litigations (PILs) regarding the violation of fundamental rights have been filed in various high courts across the country since 2019, according to government data.

While some high courts have not maintained a separate record of such PILs, data of some other high courts was available without a year-wise breakup.

The data was shared by the government in Rajya Sabha last week as part of a written response to a question on the details of PILs filed particularly regarding the violation of fundamental rights in the supreme court and various high courts during the last two years and the current year.

Between 2019 and July of this year, 7,832 PILs were filed regarding the violation of fundamental rights in the high courts.

On the number of such PILs in the Supreme Court, the answer stated the "information is not maintained in the manner as sought for".


It, however, shared the number of PILs filed under "Supreme Court Subject Category 08" dealing with "Letter Petition and PIL Matters".

"The total number of pending cases pertaining to the above subject Category, in the Supreme Court of India {as per data retrieved from Integrated Case Management Information System (ICMIS)," it said.

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This High Court to commence hybrid hearing of cases from today

 Lawyer- Judge- Court- Judiciary- Virtual Hearing 

Orissa High Court will begin the hearing of cases in the through Hybrid mode i.e., through both virtual and physical modes with following arrangements from today.

The live-streaming of court proceedings will take place to ensure transparency and openness in the Indian judiciary.

The web link related to the live broadcast of the ongoing hearing in the High Court will be published on the website of the High Court along with the list of judges of the relevant bench.

The live streaming shall also be accessible in the Court’s official YouTube channel by clicking the links provided  in the website or the cause list notice.

The High Court will have a specific web portal for the live telecasts which will include the judicial proceedings, administrative proceedings, lok adalat, full court reference in both audio and visual mode from the court.

 

It is to be noted that the court will not live stream cases related to matrimonial matters, including ancillary proceedings arising thereunder,matters involving children and juveniles including matters registered under or involving the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) and under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

Cases concerning sexual offences, including proceedings instituted under Section 376, Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), cases concerning gender-based violence against women, cases relating to Official Secrets Act, 1923 or involving national security, cases of Habeas Corpus petitions, in-camera proceedings, cases, which in the opinion of the Bench, may provoke enmity amongst communities likely to result in a breach of law and order will not be streamed.

Meanwhile, the concerned judge can choose to end the live streaming and to switch off the microphone in between any particular case if needed.


The court said live streaming of court proceedings shall not be claimed by any person as a matter of right. The copy of any live streaming of Court proceedings will not be provided to the client or anyone, the High Court had said in a statement.

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As Malayalam film industry struggles to survive, Kerala govt plans its own OTT platform

 

With the pandemic-induced lockdown restrictions crippling the Malayalam film industry, Kerala government has initiated plans to start its own OTT streaming platform to support small films.

 
As Malayalam film industry struggles to survive, Kerala govt plans its own OTT platform 

Malayalam films have, from their very inception, sought to distinguish themselves from the films in other Indian languages. Significantly, the very first Malayalam film, JC Daniel’s Vigathakumaran (1928), was a ‘social’ that spoke about contemporary social issues, unlike the ‘mythologicals’ that were in vogue which utilised a new technology to reflect tradition and mythology. Even currently when the pandemic and lockdown restrictions have affected film industries across the country, Malayalam filmmakers have been the first ones to quickly adapt and put out works that reflect the concerns and anxieties of the present.

The relatively small-scale nature of the Malayalam film industry, which is yet to be dominated by big studio productions, and flexibility have resulted in the recent films grabbing eyeballs across India and abroad for what has come to be called ‘Covid films’. However, the reality is that the industry has been crippled by the pandemic. Accumulated losses since the beginning of the lockdown restrictions in March 2020 amount to over Rs. 900 crore, with nearly 60 films awaiting releases, which are being shelved.

With films stalledrestrictions on shooting and rising expenses for the same in the state, filmmakers are being forced to shift to other locations; this has resulted into the technicians in the state being badly affected. The films that are getting made and even winning acclaim are also being shot in a minimalist manner by small film crews. The Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA), which has over 9200 members in the state, counts as many as 3000 of them being in a desperate financial situation. The body, which was able to provide some financial assistance to them during the first wave of the pandemic, is now pushing for an aid package from the state government.

A NEW OTT PLATFORM FOR KEARALA

It is at this juncture that the Kerala government has mooted plans to enter into the online content streaming space. The Minister for Cultural Affairs Saji Cherian announced on July 2 that the state government would be starting an over-the-top (OTT) platform for screening new films.

Speaking to Newsclick, Kerala State Film Development Corporation (KSFDC) Chairman Shaji N Karun said that discussions were ongoing with legal experts and technical consultants and that KSFDC is confident of having an OTT platform of its own by November this year. The platform would provide a space for lower budget films without them having to worry about viability. The films will first be screened in cinemas and then run on the platform, he said. KSFDC runs an exhibition network of cinemas in different districts across the state.

Although a few Malayalam films have managed to win over an international audience through corporate OTT platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, they have only purchased just over a dozen films that ensured big revenue over the past one year. A slew of smaller OTT platforms from the state have now started streaming films but cannot assure the same audience. With the state-run Kerala Fibre Optic Network (KFON) project that will provide free internet access to the public set to begin its service soon, the decision of the state government comes at an appropriate time.

REVAMPED PRODUCTION STUDIO

The state-run Chithranjali Studio under KSFDC is also being revamped. Formed in the 1980s and modelled on the lines of Moscow Film Studio, this studio is a public sector production unit in Thiruvallam in the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram. A Rs 150 crore worth project that is ongoing seeks to transform this unit. The work will be finished by the end of 2022, according to Shaji N Karun, and will equip the studio with modern equipment and pre/post production facilities of international standard. These are expected to transform the studio into one of the best production centres in India. Along with providing support to smaller films, the studio will give filmmakers high quality production facilities and remote production possibilities at a lower expense and will succeed in bringing more films to Kerala, said Karun.

The state government has also allowed shooting of film projects to resume and issued strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure safety. They will require prior clearances and the shooting location will be made into a bio-bubble with restrictions for entry and exit.

Arjunlal, a recent graduate from National Institute of Design, whose debut film Randu Rahasyangal is slated to release late next month, welcomed the government’s move. The decision of the government taking into consideration the plight of the industry and the workers involved in it has provided him confidence to go ahead and plan the shoot for his next film, he said.

Meanwhile, FEFKA and the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA), a body that represents film actors, have approached the state government and appealed for an aid package for the industry to help them tide over the current crisis.

First published by Newsclick. 

 

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