Explore possibility of banning Blue Whale game : Madras HC

Explore possibility of banning Blue Whale game : Madras HC
Explore possibility of banning Blue Whale game : Madras HC

Taking a serious view of the Blue Whale Challenge game, the Madras High Court today directed the Central and Tamil Nadu governments to explore possibilities of banning it.

Initiating suo motu proceedings in the matter, Justices K K Sasidharan and G R Swaminathan of Madurai bench issued notice to the Union Information and Broadcasting Secretary and state Home Secretary and IT department and made several suggestions.

The bench asked them to find out the possibility of banning the game and directed that IIT-Madras Director be impleaded in the case to offer suggestions to ban such online games.

During the hearing of the matter, the state government informed the court that the student who ended his life here had shared the game with 75 others. However, all of them had been prevented from playing it, the government counsel added.

The judges suggested to the state DGP and Home Secretary that severe warning be issued to those who shared the ‘dangerous’ online game with others.

On September 1, the court had said it would take up the case suo motu when Krishnamurthy, an advocate, made an appeal for a direction to the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry to ban such games.

The advocate made the plea after 19-year old Vignesh, a private college student, allegedly committed suicide on August 30 here after playing the game.

Vignesh had reportedly told his friends that he was “crazy” about the game and also told his parents that he was getting isolated due to his addiction for it.

Later in a suicide note, he had said “The game was a devastating one… once you enter it, you would not be able to come out.”

The bench also said monitoring should be intensified to prevent further spread of the game through sharing.

The court stressed on the need for creating awareness among students against playing such “dangerous” online games in educational institutions.

To this, CB-CID police officials present at the court said they were keeping a close watch and taking steps to freeze the game.

Warning had been issued against those sharing and downloading the “deadly” online game, they added.

The state government also informed the court that Vignesh had shared the game through Facebook and “Share it” App with 75 others. All had been prevented from playing the game, it said.

The IT department should also give suggestions to prevent the sharing of such “dangerous” online games, the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing to September 7.

The Blue Whale Challenge is reportedly a suicide game in which the player is given certain tasks to complete over a period of 50 days and the final task leads him or her to commit suicide.

The player is also asked to share photos after finishing each challenge.

The game has claimed several lives worldwide.

( Source – PTI )

Aadhaar cannot be made compulsory for welfare benefits: SC

Aadhaar cannot be made compulsory for welfare benefits: SC
Aadhaar cannot be made compulsory for welfare benefits: SC

The Supreme Court today made it clear that Aadhaar cards cannot be made mandatory by the government and its agencies for extending benefits of social welfare schemes.

A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, however, said that government and its agencies cannot be stopped from seeking Aadhaar cards for non-welfare schemes like opening of bank accounts.

The bench also said that a seven-judge bench needed to be constituted for authoritatively deciding a batch of petitions challenging the Aadhaar scheme on grounds including that it infringes on the Right to Privacy of citizens.

It, however, expressed inability in setting up of the seven-judge bench saying it would be decided at a later stage.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for one of the petitioners, alleged that the Central government is not following the various orders passed by the apex court that the usage of Aadhaar would be voluntary and not mandatory.

The apex court on August 11, 2015 had said that Aadhaar card will not be mandatory for availing benefits of government’s welfare schemes and barred the authorities from sharing personal biometric data collected for enrolment under the scheme.

However, on October 15, 2015 it had lifted its earlier restriction and permitted the voluntary use of Aadhaar cards in welfare schemes that also included MGNREGA, all pension schemes and the provident fund besides ambitious flagship programmes like ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna’ of the NDA government.

( Source – PTI )

SC welcomes steps to implement quota for disabled

SC welcomes steps to implement quota for disabled
SC welcomes steps to implement quota for disabled

In rare appreciation, the Supreme Court today welcomed the steps taken by the government in filling up vacancies meant for differently-abled persons and disposed of a contempt plea alleging “wilful disobedience” of an order to provide three per cent quota to such persons.

“We have considered rival submissions. In view of the compilation filed by the Solicitor General, it seems that there is an unequivocal and unambiguous commitment by the Union of India to fill up the posts,” a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana said.

“We cannot hold that there is wilful disobedience of the order of this court,” it said, adding that Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar have told the court that the process of filling up of over 15,000 vacancies has begun and would conclude by February next year.

Disposing of the plea of NGO National Federation of the Blind, the bench said filling up so many posts was a “large scale process and to which the Union stands committed” and termed the exercise as a “positive step”.

The court’s order came on the plea which sought initiation of contempt proceedings against the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and its Secretary for not complying with an earlier order of providing three per cent quota in jobs to persons with disabilities.

The bench, however, did not deal with the issue as to whether the three per cent quota could be provided in cases of promotions also.

It rejected the submission that the Bombay High Court had held that reservation be given in promotions also and this decision had attained finality as the appeal and review of the government against it were rejected by the apex court.

“The SLP (special leave petition against HC order) was dismissed simplicitor. In the absence of any reason (for dismissal), we cannot speculate,” it said.

During the hearing, the Solicitor General said that quota is not permissible in the case of promotions and it has to be given “in fresh appointments” only.

HC asks Centre to reply on Red FM’s plea

HC asks Centre to reply on Red FM's plea
HC asks Centre to reply on Red FM’s plea

The Delhi High Court today sought the Centre’s response on a plea by Digital Radio Broadcasting Ltd, which runs Red FM, against the government’s decision denying it permission to participate in the third phase of FM auction.

A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva also permitted Red FM, a company associated with Kalanithi Maran-promoted SUN TV, to participate in the mock auction scheduled for today.

The court issued notices to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and sought its reply by July 24 when the bench will hear the matter.

Meanwhile, the central government standing counsel Sanjiv Narula told the court that the ministry was not in favour of deferring the auction, which is currently scheduled for July 27, as the entire process takes two-three months and everything has been lined up.

The counsel also said that the government had extended the stage II licences till September this year only after which the channels would have to migrate to stage III.

Narula also said that the government is looking into who is controlling the company and where it gets its funds from for which it was necessary to look into the shareholding.

The bench was of the view that if the government wanted to look into shareholding, it should have said so in the tender document. “It should have been spelt out in black and white,” it said.

The government’s submissions came in response to the court’s query yesterday whether it was willing to defer the auction process so that the matter can be heard properly.

Yesterday the court had termed as “vague” and open to “misuse” the Centre’s process for granting security clearance to radio channels for participating in stage III FM auction.

The court had said “things are not spelt out as to what you (Centre) mean by security clearance. The clause (requiring company and directors of radio channel to be security cleared) is vague. It can be misused.

“Nobody knows what you mean by security clearance…In a democracy, you have to move towards greater transparency and not secrecy,” the bench had said to the government after it had contended it is not required to inform the company about the criteria of security clearance.

Digital Radio’s application to participate in the auction was rejected as it was not given security clearance by the Union Home Ministry on the ground that Kalanithi Maran, a shareholder in the radio channel, was facing prosecution in a money laundering case, as per their plea.

SC notice to centre, UP over journalist’s killing

SC notice to centre, UP over journalist's killing
SC notice to centre, UP over journalist’s killing

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Central Government and the UP government on a PIL seeking CBI probe into the killing of journalist Jagendra Singh allegedly at the behest of UP minister Ram Murti Verma.

The apex court vacation Bench headed by Justice M.Y. Eqbal issued notice on a PIL after senior counsel E.C. Agarwala urged the court to direct CBI probe and framing of guidelines for a fair and impartial investigation in such attacks.

The PIL petitioner one D.S. Jain urged the court to frame guidelines and issue directions that in the case of an unnatural death of a journalist the investigation should be monitored by the district and sessions judge of the area concerned.

Jagendra Singh was doused with kerosene oil and allegedly set on fire by the UP Police. He succumbed to burn injuries on June 8.

 

Govt to pay to couple for misbehaviour by officials

A consumer forum has directed by the central government to pay Rs 1.1 lakh to a couple as compensation for alleged misbehaviour by RPF officials at the entry gate of New Delhi Railway Station.

The Central District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum observed that the Ministry of Railways was responsible for the acts of its employees, who had allegedly misbehaved with the wife of a Delhi-based lawyer when they were entering the station in June, 2006.

“The opposite parties 2 to 4 being employees of RPF should have treated the passengers decently. They did not do so and rather misbehaved with the lady/complainant 2. The Union of India/opposite party 1 is responsible for the acts of its employees i.E. Opposite parties 2 to 4.

“We allow the complaint with the direction to pay to the complainants a sum of Rs 1,00,000 as compensation. The amount shall be recoverable jointly or severally from the opposite parties,” a bench presided by B B Chaudhary said, and also directed the government to pay the couple Rs 10,000 as cost of litigation.

The forum also said if the compensation is paid by the ministry, then it is at liberty to recover the amount from the salary of the Railway Protection Force officials involved in the matter.

The order came on the complaint filed by Delhi-based lawyer Ajay Kumar and his wife Meenakshi, who had alleged that on June 21, 2006, while entering New Delhi Railway Station through one of its gates, one of the male RPF officials posted there for security purposes misbehaved with her, while two other officers looked on.

They said despite several complaints to the ministry, no action was taken against the errant RPF officials.

The ministry in its defence contended that they had twice enquired into the allegations made by the couple and both times their claims were found baseless.

The ministry had also contended that the couple did not like being checked by security while entering the station and had turned the episode into a prestige issue.

The forum, however, observed that the couple’s pleadings have to be believed as the three RPF officials involved in the incident did not appear before it or file a reply.

The forum also said the enquiry reports submitted by the ministry have no merit as the affidavits of the officials who conducted the proceedings against the RPF personnel were not put on record.

Sixth Pay Commission applies to pensioners also: Delhi HC

“The government employees who retired before 2006 are entitled to a revised pension as per Centre’s Sixth Pay Commission,” according to Delhi High Court.

A bench comprising justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice V Kameshwar Rao on May 1 rejected government’s plea that the persons who retired before 2006 would get increased pension only from 2012 and directed the government to pay them the increased pension from 2006 onwards.

The Court dismissed the appeal of the Central Government challenging the Central Administrative Order(CAT) which had ruled that government employees who retired before 2006 are also entitled to pension as per the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.

The CAT in its order passed in 2009 on a petition filed by the Central Government Employees Association had ruled in favour of employees.

The HC directed the government to re-fix the pension of the petitioners within two months and in case the arrears are not paid within two months, it will also carry an interest of 9 per cent per annum with effect from March 1, 2013, according to the court.

The government in its Sixth pay Commission had raised the salaries of government employees significantly with effect from 2006.

Assam terrorist victims forum oppose NDFB leader’s bail

Here in Guwahati Ahead of the verdict on Bodo outfit leader Ranjan Daimary’s bail plea, the families of 2008 Assam serial blasts victims Sunday demanded that it be rejected and he be awarded exemplary punishment for the bombings that left over 100 dead and 500 others injured.

The Gauhati High Court heard the bail plea of Daimary, chief of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), Saturday and is expected to give its verdict April 3. Daimary’s lawyers moved the petition in 2011 after his arrest, saying it will expedite the proposed peace talks between his NDFB faction and the central government.

Forum for Terrorists Victim Family, Assam – an organization floated by family members of all the victims of terrorists attacks in Assam – had however raised strong objections in granting bail to the rebel leader.

“It will be a gross injustice to us if the court grants bail to Daimary. We have lost our family members during the serial blasts. Our family members died without any fault of theirs. Ranjan Daimary is responsible for the crime and he must get exemplary punishment,” said Indranil Kalita, publicity secretary of the Forum while addressing the media here.

“We are expecting severe punishment for Daimary, who had killed so many people. All the members of the terrorist victims’ families will lost faith on the judicial system of the country if bail is granted to him,” said Kamala Choudhury, who lost her husband in the 2008 blasts.

“How can the court release him on bail? My husband was an innocent person. Should not I get justice from the court for the death of my husband?

“I want to know what crime my husband had committed for which he was killed. The CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) had named Daimary as the main culprit for the serial blasts-this indicates that he should get severe punishment like death penalty for killing so many innocent people,” according to her.

Another victim, Daisy Rani Kalita, citing the Supreme Court verdict on the 1993 Mumbai blasts, said: “When even a prominent actor like Sanjay Dutt could not even evade the punishment, how can Ranjan Daimary get bail after killing over so many innocent people in Assam?”

“If it is for the sake of peace talks, the government must convince Daimary to continue the talks process from inside the jail,” said Kalita, who also lost her husband in the 2008 serial blasts in Guwahati.

The Forum also threatened to launch a movement across the state if Daimary is released on bail.

Decision on telecom licences renewal in two weeks, court told

Delhi High Court has been informed by the central government that it will decide the applications of renewal of licences of telecom service providers Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Loop Telecom within two weeks.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher, accepting the submissions of Additional Solicitor General (ASG) A.S. Chandhiok that the applications will be decided as per the law, disposed of the petitions and said that detailed order will be passed later in the day.

Leading telecom service providers Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Loop Telecom have moved the high court challenging telecom department’s move to put for auction 900 MHz spectrum despite their applications for licence extension pending with the department.

The companies had in December last year sought extension of their licence period for Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata circles, which are coming up for renewal in November 2014.

The three service providers hold spectrum in the 900 MHz band, which the department of telecommunications plans to auction along with auction of 1,800 and 800 MHz beginning March 11.

The telecom operator has sought the extension under clause 4.1 of the licence agreement under which the government can extend the period of licence by 10 years at one time if the request is made by the operator during the 19th year of the licence period.

The companies moved the court after the Supreme Court last week said that auction of 900 MHz spectrum was not part of its Feb 2, 2012 order and companies are free to challenge it before any court of law

 

PTI

Women activists urge president not to sign sexual crime ordinance

Women groups on Saturday urged President Pranab Mukherjee not to sign the ordinance of Criminal Law amendments passed by the Cabinet. Human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover said, “The ordinance is complete betrayal of the people’s faith.”

She also questioned as to why the ordinance remained silent on Armed s Special Powers Act. “Justice Verma Committee targeted the impunity of family, policemen, Army officers, and a bureaucrats. But the government went soft on that. Why are the recommendations on AFSPA not accepted. It’s completely scandalous what the government has done.”

She also said that women organisations were alarmed to see the ordinance as it ignored many recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee. “We are alarmed by the ordinance content. We do not see any recommendation of the Verma Committee in the ordinance,” Vrinda Grover said. “The ordinance is a trick to sideline Justice Verma report,” she added.

The opposition BJP and Left too have joined the activists in saying the ordinance is not tough enough. While the government claims it has accepted most of recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee on punishing sex offenders, it has not included proposals like changing rules for the armed forces under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The ordinance has also left out recognition of marital rape as a crime.

“We’ve accepted almost all the recommendations. The Central Government is committed to giving stringent punishment to the culprits. We’ve included acid attacks and stalking in the definition of sexual crimes against women. We feel that this will send out a strong message,” Union Minister Krishna Tirath told.

CPM leader Brinda Karat said the government has ignored the main recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee. “We do not approve of this ordinance. The ordinance has ignored the main recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee. The ordinance is an attempt to divert attention from the main questions being raised in the Justice Verma Committee report,” Karat said. Women groups have also called the ordinance a dilution of the Verma panel recommendations.

Meanwhile, former IPS officer and activist Kiran Bedi welcomed the passing of this ordinance calling it the beginning of a long journey. “I think the people demand a holistic response, it is a very part law response. Very well, it’s a beginning made, but it’s still a long way to go, as the Justice Verma recommendations are a holistic correction,” Bedi said.

Just days after the Justice Verma Committee made its recommendations to amend laws relating to sexual assault, the Cabinet has passed an ordinance. The punishment for rape could range from 20 years to even death in extreme cases. “The UPA government has responded to the sensitivities of the people,” Law Minister Ashwini Kumar said. The Cabinet met at a short notice to approve the ordinance just to prove this point.

It has faced criticism on inability to feel the pulse of the people in the street protests and also Justice JS Verma. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi were keen on a damage control.

The ordinance accepts most of the suggestions of Justice Verma Committee report. According to the ordinance, the punishment for rape can go up to 20 years in jail. A death sentence can also be given in extreme cases, which includes permanent body damage to a woman. The word ‘rape’ will now be called ‘sexual assault’. Sexual crime means unfavourable portrayal of women, stalking, women trafficking and acid attacks.

But the ordinance remains silent on marital rape. It also remains silent on another recommendation of the Justice Verma Committee, that is, changes in AFSPA. The Cabinet has also not accepted that politicians who face charges of sexual abuse should be debarred. The Cabinet is waiting for a consensus on this. The government now hopes to make more changes once the ordinance is referred to Parliament for approval.

 

PTI