Fake news affects voting behaviour in a big way: O.P. Rawat

Outgoing Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat says the panel has created a constituency for the EVMs, with elections in Tripura and other States setting at rest doubts.

Right now the only mechanism is Section 126 and EC instructions on paid news. We have to bring in a robust mechanism for conduct on social media platforms.

Fake news is a type of yellow journalism that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via the traditional print, broadcasting news media, or via Internet-based social media. Fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically, often with sensationalist, exaggerated, or patently false headlines that grab attention.

The main driving force behind fake news remains:

Getting easy viewership through sensational news-e.g. dubbing foreign prisoners as spies or terrorists without any proof

Directed towards a particular organization or person with an intention to either glorify it or to bring malice.eg. a news channel was established to defend the accused in Jessica Lal murder case.

Dangers of fake news:

Swaying or polarising public opinion. Example Recent American election, UP elections where certain facts are quoted out of context/partially. Significant impact on the nature of polity.

Promoting religious ideologies. Glorifying one religion while despising others Ex. Right wing violence meted out by Gau rakshaks leads to religious polarisation and communal unrests.

Sensationalising crimes by blowing them out of proportion. Misleads people rather than making them aware. Instils irrational fears.

Fake news has also been used to dupe gullible people financially. The reach of news has given chit fund schemes an altogether new arena as well as has introduced the concept of online fraud through spam mails.

It hampers spirit of common brotherhood and raises intolerance. Eg. 2012 mass exodus of North-Eastern people from Bangalore on false online threats.

Over the time it shapes the thinking of society at large. Portrayal of India as an unsafe destination for women by international media has created a false image of a nation.

What is needed?

·         Independent, trusted and effective press regulation.

·         Mainstream media must use social media tools intensively in order to defend the truth, present the correct information and balance opinions.

·         Curb media ownership. We need an open debate on the impact of media concentration on our democracy and wider culture. There should be clear limits on media ownership so that powerful proprietors with vested interests are not allowed to dominate the news agenda.

·         Define fake news legally. Heavy punitive measures for whosoever violates the said definition.

·         There should be grievance redressal mechanisms and arbitration spaces to resolve issues.

·         Digital media literacy among people to increase scrutiny and feedbacks of the content.

·         Technical solutions that assess the credibility of information circulating online are also needed.

What is it?

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has devised a new campaign that is aimed at fighting back against disinformation and fake news. It lays a major focus on global media literacy, including workshops and debates in countries like India.

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Kambala season set to begin from Saturday

The coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi are all set for the kambala (a traditional slush-track buffalo race) from this Saturday, with 18 races lined up for the 2018-19 season.

The first race, named ‘sathya-dharma’, is scheduled at Kakkyapadavu, Bantwal taluk in Dakshina Kannada on November 24. The last and the 18th ‘soorya-Chandra’ kambala will be conducted at Talapady-Panjala in Mangaluru taluk on March 23, 2019.

Karnataka government had promulgated Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 on July 20 last year. The President gave his assent to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Bill making Kambala a legal rural sport in Karnataka. The Bill seeks to exempt kambala and bullock-cart racing from the ambit of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960.

Kambla in its traditional form is non-competitive with buffalo pairs made to race one after another in paddy fields, which is considered a thanksgiving to the Gods for protecting the animals from diseases.

Over the years, it has, however, become an organized sport with animal rights activists claiming that the buffaloes run in the race due to fear of being beaten, which the organizers dismiss, saying no violence is involved and that several modifications had been made to ensure that it is an animal-friendly event.

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Bill to give land rights to enclave dwellers in West Bengal passed

The West Bengal Assembly unanimously passed a Bill to give land rights to enclave dwellers in north Bengal, ending an era of uncertain future for the people residing in those enclaves.

Bangladesh and India had exchanged a total of 162 enclaves on Aug 1, 2015, ending one of the world’s most-complex border disputes that had lingered for seven decades since Independence.

The Bill will help in the distribution of land-right documents to the people of the enclaves in the border district of Cooch Behar, the chief minister said, adding that the state government was working hard to give beneficiaries their due.

In Cooch Behar, 111 Indian enclaves, spread across 17,160 acres, became a part of Bangladesh territory and 51 Bangladesh enclaves, comprising 7,110 acres, joined India.

The enclave residents were allowed to either reside at their present location or move to the other country.

Around 37,334 people residing in the enclaves in the Indian side refused to go to Bangladesh, whereas 922 enclave dwellers, who were in the Bangladesh side, preferred to be in India, Banerjee said.

With the exchange of enclaves, following an agreement between the two countries with the consent of West Bengal, the enclave dwellers deserve their rights as the citizens of India, she said.

The state government had already spent over Rs 100 crore for the housing of the enclave dwellers, Banerjee said, adding that the government, which have received Rs 579 crore from the Centre, still had a due of Rs 426 crore. However, the state government needs to spend more from its own exchequer.

The process will result in the creation of 13 new ‘mouzas’ (administrative district), while the rest of the area would be amalgamated with the existing 31 ‘mouzas’, the bill said.

Plot-to-plot verification has already been undertaken to ascertain the ownership status of the land to the dwellers, who now reside on khas land.

Describing how her government helped settle the long-pending issue, Banerjee criticized the way genuine citizens were being harassed in Assam

Those, who have come to India till March 1971, are all Indian citizens, “but a particular political party” was playing politics on the issue, forcing the genuine citizens even to commit suicide, she said.

The update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), a massive exercise to identify genuine Indian nationals living in Assam, excluded over 40 lakh people from the draft list published on July 30, creating a huge political controversy.

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Why CBI needs consent, how far the denial will restrict it in Andhra, Bengal

Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal governments withdrew “general consent” to the CBI for investigating cases in their respective states. The state governments said they had lost faith in the CBI in the backdrop of its internal turmoil marked by the open war among the agency’s top officers. They have also alleged that the Centre is using the CBI to unfairly target Opposition parties.

Unlike the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is governed by its own NIA Act and has jurisdiction across the country, the CBI is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act that makes consent of a state government mandates for conducting the investigation in that state.

There are two kinds of consent: case-specific and general. Given that the CBI has jurisdiction only over central government departments and employees, it can investigate a case involving state government employees or a violent crime in a given state only after that state government gives its consent.

“General consent” is normally given to help the CBI seamlessly conduct its investigation into cases of corruption against central government employees in the concerned state. Almost all states have given such consent. Otherwise, the CBI would require consent in every case. For example, if it wanted to investigate a bribery charge against a Western Railway clerk in Mumbai, it would have to apply for consent with the Maharashtra government before registering a case against him.

It means the CBI will not be able to register any fresh case involving a central government official or a private person stationed in these two states without getting case-specific consent. “Withdrawal of consent simply means that CBI officers will lose all powers of a police officer as soon as they enter the state unless the state government has allowed them,” said a former CBI officer who has handled policy.

Under what provision has general consent been withdrawn?

GO (government order) number 176 issued by the Andhra Pradesh Home Department by Principal Secretary A R Anuradha on November 8 states: “In exercise of power conferred by Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (Central Act No 25 of 1946), the government hereby withdraws the general consent accorded in GO No 109 Home (SC.A) Department dated August 3, 2018 to all members of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise the powers and jurisdiction under the said Act in the State of Andhra Pradesh.’’

The rise in government requests for Facebook data: News in Numbers

Section 6 of the Act says, “Nothing contained in Section 5 (which deals with jurisdiction of CBI) shall be deemed to enable any member of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise powers and jurisdiction in any area in a State, not being a Union Territory or Railway, area, without the consent of the Government of that State.”

Does that mean that the CBI can no longer probe any case in the two states?

No. The CBI would still have the power to investigate old cases registered when general consent existed. Also, cases registered anywhere else in the country, but involving people stationed in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, would allow CBI’s jurisdiction to extend to these states.

There is ambiguity on whether the agency can carry out a search in either of the two states in connection with an old case without the consent of the state government. However, there are legal remedies to that as well. The CBI can always get a search warrant from a local court in the state and conduct searches. In case the search requires a surprise element, there is CrPC Section 166, which allows a police officer of one jurisdiction to ask an officer of another to carry out searches on his behalf. And if the first officer feels that the searches by the latter may lead to loss of evidence, the section allows the first officer to conduct searches himself after giving a notice to the latter.

Withdrawal of consent will only bar the CBI from registering a case within the jurisdiction of Andhra and Bengal. The CBI could still file cases in Delhi and continue to probe people inside the two states.

An October 11, 2018, order of the Delhi High Court makes it clear that the agency can probe anyone in a state that has withdrawn “general consent” if the case is not registered in that state. The order was given with regard to a case of corruption in Chhattisgarh, which also gives consent on a case-to-case basis. The court ordered that the CBI could probe the case without the prior consent of the Chhattisgarh government since it was registered in Delhi.

Thus, if a state government believes that the ruling party’s ministers or members could be targeted by CBI on orders of the Centre, and that withdrawal of general consent would protect them, it would be a wrong assumption, experts say. A CBI officer said: “CBI could still register cases in Delhi which would require some part of the offense being connected with Delhi and still arrest and prosecute ministers or MPs. The only people it will protect is small central government employees.”

Is it the first time a state government has withdrawn consent?

No. Over the years, several states have done so, including Sikkim, Nagaland, Chhattisgarh, and Karnataka — which stands out as an example. In 1998, the Janata Dal-led government of J H Patel had withdrawn general consent. In 1999, the S M Krishna-led Congress government took over and did not revoke Patel’s order. The then state Home Minister was Mallikarjun Kharge, current Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha. “General consent wasn’t renewed for eight long years. The CBI had to virtually close down its office,” said an officer who was in the CBI then. He added that the agency had to seek permission of the state government for every case and every search it conducted on central government employees.

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Jammu and Kashmir: Time to get ready for President’s Rule

As stated by the Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik, the state is all prepared to come under President’s rule in January and this is because there are no plans to dissolve the Assembly yet.

Since J&K has a separate Constitution, Governor’s rule is imposed under Section 92 for six months after an approval by the President. In case the Assembly is not dissolved within six months, President’s rule under Article 356 is extended to the State. Governor’s rule expires in the State on January 19.

The imposition of governor’s rule in J&K is slightly different than that in other states. In other states, the president’s rule is imposed under Article 356 of the Constitution of India. In J&K, governor’s rule is mentioned under Article 370 section 92 – ‘ Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in the State.’

Article 370 section 92: Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in the State:

If at any time, the Governor is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the Government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution, the Governor may by Proclamation:

Assume to himself all or any of the functions of the Government of the State and all or any of the powers vested in or exercisable by anybody or authority in the State.

Make such incidental and consequential provisions as appear to the Governor to be necessary or desirable for giving effect to the objects of the Proclamation, including provisions for suspending in whole or in part the operation of any provision of this Constitution relating to anybody or authority in the State.

Any such Proclamation may be revoked or varied by a subsequent Proclamation. Any such Proclamation whether varied under subsection (2) or not, shall except where it is a Proclamation revoking a previous Proclamation, cease to operate on the expiration of six months from the date on which it was first issued.

If the Government or by a Proclamation under his section assumes, to himself any, of the powers of the Legislature to make his laws, any law made by him in the exercise of that power shall, subject to, the terms thereof continue to have effect until two years have elapsed from the date on which the proclamation ceases to have effect, unless sooner.

No Proclamation under this section shall, except where it is a Proclamation revoking a previous Proclamation, be laid before each House of the Legislature as soon as it is convened.

What is the President’s Rule in the Indian context?

The imposition of Article 356 of the Constitution on a State following the failure of constitutional machinery is called President’s Rule in India. Once the President’s Rule has been imposed on a state, the elected state government will be temporarily dissolved, and the Governor, who is appointed by the government at the Centre, will replace the Chief Minister as the chief executive of the State.

The state will fall under the direct control of the Union government, and the Governor will continue to behead the proceedings, representing the President of India – who is the Head of the State.

The imposition of the President’s rule requires the sanction of both the houses of Parliament. If approved, it can go on for a period of six months. However, the imposition cannot be extended for more than three years and needs to be brought before the two houses every six months for approval.

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WCD Ministry nominates three members of NCW

The Women and Child Development Ministry (WCD) has nominated three people to be members of the National Commission for Women.

The three members are Chandramukhi Devi, Soso Shaiza and Kamlesh Gautam, the ministry said in a statement.

They shall hold office for a period of three years or till the age of 65 years or until further orders from the date of assumption of charge of the office, whichever is earlier, the statement said.

Devi is from Bihar and has been on state women commission from 2011 to 2014. Soso is a BJP national council member and hails from Manipur while Gautam is from Kanpur.

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Long cohabitation is presumed marriage: SC

The Supreme Court has upheld the “presumption” that a couple who live together as husband and wife are legally married and the woman can claim maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Citing past judgments of the apex court, the Bench quoted that “where a man, who lived with a woman for a long time and even though they may not have undergone legal necessities of a valid marriage, should be made liable to pay the woman maintenance if he deserts her”

“The man should not be allowed to benefit from the legal loopholes by enjoying the advantages of a de facto marriage without undertaking the duties and obligations. Any other interpretation would lead the woman to vagrancy and destitution, which the provision of maintenance in Section 125 is meant to prevent,” the court said in a recent judgment.

The judgment was based on an appeal filed by a woman against a Karnataka High Court decision of June 2009. The High Court set aside a family court order, directing the man she lived with since 1998, and had two children by, to pay maintenance. Their relationship had been solemnized in a temple. He had later abandoned the family.

The family court had ordered him to pay the woman ₹3000 and the children ₹2500 each on a monthly basis. The court said they were accepted as husband and wife by society. The man had, however, moved an appeal in the High Court, which pronounced that there was no proof that she was his legally-wedded wife.

Citing past judgments of the apex court, the Bench quoted that “where a man, who lived with a woman for a long time and even though they may not have undergone legal necessities of a valid marriage, should be made liable to pay the woman maintenance if he deserts her”.

“The man should not be allowed to benefit from the legal loopholes by enjoying the advantages of a de facto marriage without undertaking the duties and obligations. Any other interpretation would lead the woman to vagrancy and destitution, which the provision of maintenance in Section 125 is meant to prevent,” the court said in a recent judgment.

The judgment was based on an appeal filed by a woman against a Karnataka High Court decision of June 2009. The High Court set aside a family court order, directing the man she lived with since 1998, and had two children by, to pay maintenance. Their relationship had been solemnized in a temple. He had later abandoned the family.

The family court had ordered him to pay the woman ₹3000 and the children ₹2500 each on a monthly basis. The court said they were accepted as husband and wife by society. The man had, however, moved an appeal in the High Court, which pronounced that there was no proof that she was his legally-wedded wife.

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No double jeopardy bar if there was no trial: Supreme Court

The bar of double jeopardy does not arise if an accused was discharged of a criminal offense, even before the commencement of trial, on the basis of an invalid sanction for prosecution, the Supreme Court has held.

The judgment is based on an appeal filed by the State of Mizoram against an order passed by the Guwahati High Court in August 2015.

The corruption case was filed by the Aizawl police in February 2009 for misappropriation of public money. During the inquiry, it was detected that the respondent had acquired valuable assets disproportionate to known sources of income.

The first invalid sanction for prosecution was issued by the Commissioner-Secretary, Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms (DP & AR) directly without the Governor’s approval.

Following the discharge of the accused by the special court, the Governor accorded a fresh sanction in December 2013. However, the High Court upheld a Special Court decision to decline to entertain a second charge sheet filed in a corruption case against the accused on the ground of double jeopardy.

Article 20 (2) of the Constitution mandates that a person cannot be prosecuted or punished twice for the same offense.

The court held that if an accused has not been tried at all and convicted or acquitted, the principles of double jeopardy cannot be invoked at all. If an earlier order of sanction was found to be invalid, there is no bar for the competent authority to issue a proper order of sanction for prosecution.

The courts are not to quash or stay the proceedings under any Act merely on the ground of an error, omission or irregularity in the sanction granted by the authority unless it is satisfied that such error, omission or irregularity has resulted in the failure of justice, the SC observed.

About Article 20- Protection in respect of conviction for offenses:

No person shall be convicted of any offense except for violation of the law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offense, nor be subjected to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offense.

No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offense more than once.

No person accused of any offense shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.

Article 20 has taken care to safeguard the rights of persons accused of crimes.

Persons here means the citizens, non-citizens as well as corporations.

This article cannot be suspended even during an emergency in operation under article 359.

Article 20 also constitutes the limitation on the legislative powers of the Union and State legislatures.

Ex-Post facto Law Article 20 (1):

It says that no person shall be convicted of any offense except for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the Act charged as an offense, nor be subjected to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offense. This is called Ex-Post facto Law. It means that legislature can not make a law which provides for punishment of acts which were committed prior to the date when it came into force. This means that a new law can not punish an old act.

The doctrine of Double Jeopardy:

Article 20(2) says that no person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offense more than once. This is called Doctrine of Double Jeopardy. The objective of this article is to avoid harassment, which must be caused for successive criminal proceedings, where the person has committed only one crime.

There are two aspects of the Doctrine of Jeopardy viz. autrefois convict and autrefois acquit. Autrefois convict means that the person has been previously convicted in respect of the same offense. The autrefois acquit means that the person has been acquitted on the same charge on which he is being prosecuted. Please note that Constitution bars double punishment for the same offense. The conviction for such offense does not bar for subsequent trial and conviction for another offense and it does not matter some ingredients of these two offenses are common.

Self Incrimination Law:

Article 20(3) of the constitution says that no person accused of any offense shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. This is based upon a legal maxim which means that No man is bound to accuse himself. The accused is presumed to be innocent until his guilt is proved. It is the duty of the prosecution to establish his guilt.

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Govt approves mechanism for sale of enemy shares worth Rs 3,000 cr; proceeds to be used for development

The government approved a mechanism for sale of enemy shares which at the current price is estimated at around Rs 3,000 crore.

According to Enemy Property Act, 1968, “Enemy property” refers to any property belonging to, held or managed on behalf of an enemy, an enemy subject or an enemy firm.

The decision, taken by the Union Cabinet, will lead to monetization of movable enemy property lying dormant for decades and the proceeds will be used for development and social welfare programmes, an official statement said.

A total number of 6,50,75,877 shares in 996 companies of 20,323 shareholders are under the custody of Custodian of Enemy Property of India (CEPI).

Total shares, known as “enemy shares numbering 6,50,75,877 worth Rs 3,000 crore, are lying unutilized because enemy property act includes movable and immovable property, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said after the Cabinet meeting.

Of these companies, 588 are functional/ active companies, 139 of these are listed with remaining being unlisted.

The decision will lead to monetization of movable enemy property lying dormant for decades and the proceeds will be used for development and social welfare programmes.

Total shares, known as “enemy shares numbering 6,50,75,877 worth Rs 3,000 crore, are lying unutilized because enemy property act includes movable and immovable property. Of these 996 companies, 588 are functional/ active companies, 139 of these are listed with remaining being unlisted.

When wars broke out between India and China in 1962, and India and Pakistan in 1965 and 1971, the central government took over properties of citizens of China and Pakistan in India under the Defence of India Acts. These Acts defined an ‘enemy’ as a country that committed an act of aggression against India, and its citizens.

The properties of enemies in India were classified as enemy property. The properties included land, buildings, shares held in companies, gold and jewelry of the citizens of enemy countries. The responsibility of the administration of enemy properties was handed over to the Custodian of Enemy Property, an office under the central government.

Enemy properties Act:

After the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, the Enemy Property Act was enacted in 1968, which regulates such properties and lists the custodian’s powers.

The government amended the Act in the wake of a claim laid by the heirs of Raja Mohammad Amir Mohammad Khan, known as Raja of Mahmudabad, on his properties spread across Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

The government has vested these properties in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India, an office instituted under the Central government.

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Infusing competition in public procurement is a priority: CCI Chairperson

A ‘National Conference on Public Procurement & Competition Law’ is being organised by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) in Delhi on 5th November 2018 with a view to scale up Competition Advocacy and reach out to important stakeholders in public procurement ecosystem. Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Shri Arun Jaitley will be the keynote speaker and the chief guest for the National Conference.

The National Conference is being organised in association with Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA), a think tank under the aegis of Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) was established under the Competition Act, 2002 for the administration, implementation and enforcement of the Act, and was duly constituted in March 2009. Chairman and members are appointed by the central government.

The following are the objectives of the Commission:

  • To prevent practices having an adverse effect on competition.
  • To promote and sustain competition in markets.
  • To protect the interests of consumers.
  • To ensure freedom of trade.

It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having an adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.

The Commission is also required to give an opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.

The Competition Act:

The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.

In pursuance of its objective of ensuring that Legislation is in sync with the needs of strong economic fundamentals, the Government recently constituted a Competition Law Review Committee to review the Competition Act headed by Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

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