NHRC: Notice issued to Centre and Maharashtra Govt over suicide of 639 farmers in Maharashtra between March to May, 2018

National Human Rights Commission: NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that the Government of Maharashtra in the State Assembly has informed that 639 farmers committed suicide in the State between March and May, 2018. The reported reasons were crop failure, debt and inability to repay bank loans. The Commission has issued notices to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Agriculture and the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra calling for the detailed reports in the matter, specifically mentioning the status of implementation of the schemes for the farmers and relief to the aggrieved families. The response is expected within four weeks. The Union Government is expected to inform the Commission, if they have any specific plan or mechanism in their mind to effectively address the situation. The Commission has observed that it is not for the first time that such news has come to its notice. It has been receiving complaints regarding the deaths of farmers across the country, including the State of Maharashtra. It has also taken suo motu cognizance of such matters. Committing suicide by the farmers in such a large number is a serious matter as it involves the right to life of the victims. Their families also come under tremendous pressure due to sudden demise of an earning member.…
Continue reading

No merit in Cyrus Mistry’s petition against removal as Chairman (Tata Sons): NCLT

National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT): The petitioner’s who held over 18% equity shares in Tata Sons Ltd., were propelled to file the company petition against Tata Sons Ltd., Ratan Tata (Chairman Emeritus) and others. The petition arose consequent to the incident on 24-02-2016 wherein the Co.  Board meeting, Cyrus Mistry (Chairman) was removed from his position without giving 15 days notice. The petitioners alleged that the respondents conducted the affairs of the Co. In an oppressive manner which was prejudicial to the interest of the petitioners, the Co., and the public. As per the petition, the factum of oppressive, arbitrary and prejudicial mismanagement lies in bleeding of Corus acquisition and overpriced take over, doomed Nano car project, Ratan Tata’s relationship with C. Sivasankaran (owner of Sterling Infotech Ltd.), DoCoMo Arbitration, and unjust investment of Ratan Tata at the cost of the Co., aviation industry misadventures, removal of Cyrus Mistry as Chairman of the Co., loss to the Co., in purchase of shares of Tata Motors. It was alleged that over time Tata Trusts directors had become the handmaiden of Ratan Tata and his lieutenant Noshir A. Soonawala (Vice Chairman, Tata Sons Ltd.); they had become a ‘Super Board’. They were alleged to control the Trusts Nominee Directors and thereby suppress the minority shareholders, the petitioners.…
Continue reading

Claim for ‘disability pension’ denied on grounds of minimal exposure to military training

Armed Forces Tribunal, Lucknow Bench: The Bench comprising of S.V.S Rathore J. and Air Marshal BBP Sinha, Member dismissed an original application filed under Section 14 of the Armed Forces Tribunal, 2007. In the present application, the applicant was enrolled in the Army Medical Corps and was invalidated from service after a span of 3 months and 16 days of his joining on account of being diagnosed with a disability as ‘Complex Partial Seizure’ as detected by the medical board. The applicant claimed compensation for the same but was denied on the grounds that the disability was neither attributable to nor aggravated by military service and it was constitutional in nature. The applicant claims to have been admitted in the Indian Army in a physically fit condition and states that the disability occurred during the army service, therefore, he is entitled to disability pension. Further, on due consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, it was observed that ‘Seizure’ is a disease that cannot be detected at the time of enrolment. Therefore, going by the medical opinion that ‘the disease is constitutional in nature and is neither attributable to nor aggravated by military service’, is correct which eventually leads to the dismissal of the Original Application.…
Continue reading

CCI: Orders passed against Broadcasting Service Providers for rigging bids in tenders by Sports Broadcasters, under Lesser Penalty provisions

Competition Commission of India (CCI): CCI took up the case  suo motu under Section 19 of the Competition Act, 2002 (‘the Act’) based on the disclosure by Globecast India Private Limited and Globecast Asia Private Limited (collectively referred to as ‘Globecast’) under Section 46 of the Act read with the Competition Commission of India (Lesser Penalty) Regulations, 2009 (‘Lesser Penalty Regulations’). Essel Shyam Communication Limited (ESCL), now Planetcast Media Services Limited, subsequently also approached CCI as lesser penalty applicant during investigation. CCI imposed penalty on Globecast, a subsidiary of the Orange Group (earlier France Telecom Group), a global service provider of broadcasting services and ESCL, a technology service provider in India since 1998 with specialisation in media broadcasting, for indulging in bid-rigging in tenders floated by sports broadcasters for procurement of  end-to-end broadcasting services i.e. ground segment services as well as satellite bandwidth services, for various sporting events during the period July 2011- May 2012 including Indian Premier League 2012 (IPL-2012). On the basis of the evidence collected in the case, CCI found that ESCL and Globecast operated a cartel amongst them in the various sporting events held during the years 2011-12 including IPL-2012. While submitting bids for the tender floated by various broadcasters during the period July 2011-May 2012 for provision of end-to-end broadcasting services, they exchanged information and quoted bid prices as per the arrangements arrived at amongst them.…
Continue reading

CIC directs BCCI to explain the grounds for not declaring it a ‘Public Authority’

Central Information Commission (CIC):  The Commission recently dealt with an appeal seeking information on the provisions/guidelines under which BCCI represents INDIA also whether the players selected by BCCI, play for India or BCCI? The above appeal constituted the facts that the appellant had sought information primarily on whether the players selected by BCCI play for India or BCCI? And if so, how BCCI being a ‘private association’ represents India in the National and International cricket tournaments? The appellant was not satisfied with the response filed by the CPIO, which led him to approach the Commission. Further, on dealing with the appeal filed, the Commission considered the issue on the ‘status of the Cricket team’ to be addressed on priority. The Apex Court and High Courts have expressed several times that the BCCI is directly related to the public activity which makes it accountable to the general public and answerable under the Right to Information Act, 2005. Therefore, on keeping the facts of the appeal in due consideration and in public interest, Commission considered its responsibility towards putting an end towards the prolonging dilemma on the non-transparency and unaccountability of the whole process. On the same reasoning and grounds stated, Commission directed CPIO/authorised representative of BCCI to state an explanation on not declaring BCCI as ‘public authority’ even after several judicial pronouncements along with the recommendation in Law Commission’s 275th report.…
Continue reading

CCI issues order against All India Chess Federation for abuse of dominant position and anti-competitive conduct

Competition Commission of India (CCI): CCI received information from 4 chess players who were subjected to disciplinary action by All India Chess Federation (AICF) for participation in a chess event not authorised by it. The case concerned several stipulations of AICF on chess players, organisation of chess tournaments, discretionary nomination of players, etc. After a detailed investigation by the Director General, CCI conducted further inquiry in the matter and found AICF to enjoy dominant position in the markets for organization of professional chess tournaments/events in India and services of chess players in India. In its order under Section 27 of the Act, CCI observed that AICF’s restriction on chess players to participate in unauthorised events and attendant punitive consequences restricted the movement of chess players and placed them and potential organisers of chess tournaments in a disproportional disadvantage. Hence, such stipulation was held as an unreasonable restriction on chess players and denial of market access to organisers of chess events/tournaments, in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(1) read with Section 4(2)(b)(1) and Section 4(2)(c) of the Act. The restrictions on chess players was further held to be in the nature of exclusive distribution and refusal to deal, in contravention of Section 3(4)(c) and Section 3(4)(d) of the Act.…
Continue reading

Leave records of other employees cannot be declared unless applicant shows involvement of larger public interest

Central Information Commission (CIC): CIC has observed that leave records of other employees cannot be declared unless the applicant shows the involvement of a larger public interest. In this case, the appellant filed RTI application seeking leave records of a certain duration of all the executives working under Director (HR) and Director (CM). The Commission observed that such information cannot be provided to the third party in terms of Supreme Court’s judgments in Canara Bank Rep. by its Deputy Gen. Manager v. C.S. Shyam, (2018) 11 SCC 426, Girish Ramchandra Deshpande v. Central Information Commissioner, (2013) 1 SCC 212 and R.K. Jain v. Union of India, (2013) 14 SCC 794. The Apex Court had held in these cases that information relating to the personal details of individual employee such as the date of his/her joining, designation, details of promotion earned, date of his/her joining to the Branch where he/she is posted, the authorities who issued the transfer orders, etc. cannot be provided in view of exception laid down under Section 8(j) of the RTI Act unless the applicant discloses any larger public interest involved in seeking such information of the individual employee. The Commission applied the same test in this appeal and concluded that no intervention was required by it as the appellant failed to show the involvement of larger public interest in seeking leave records of other employees.…
Continue reading

CCI reiterates principles for granting interim order under Section 33 of the Competition Act

Competition Commission of India (CCI): Disposing of an interim application under Section 33 of the Competition Act, 2002 (‘the Act’) by the informant Indian National Shipowners’ Association (‘INSA’ or ‘Informant’) against Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (‘ONGC’ or ‘Opposite Party’) the Commission reiterated the conditions that have to be satisfied before interim relief can be granted under this section. The main clause which was alleged to be one-sided and unfair in this case was Clause 14.2 of the Special Contract Conditions (hereinafter, referred to as ‘SCC’), giving unilateral right of termination without assigning any reason. The Commission had, vide its order dated 12.06.2018 passed under Section 26(1) of the Act, held the Opposite Party to be prima facie dominant in the relevant market. The Commission was of the view that the stipulation of Clause 14.2 of the SCC was one-sided as it gives an unfettered right to a dominant party to use it in its favour without giving any reciprocal right to the other party and this was prima facie in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Act. Further, the manner in which the termination notices were sent and then consequently withdrawn by the Opposite Party on receiving a reduced offer from the members of the Informant, indicated the imperious approach adopted by the Opposite Party.…
Continue reading

A consumer farmer shall not suffer for failure of Seed Inspector or District Level Enquiry Committee to follow the procedure, if complainant is otherwise able to prove his case

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): A Single Member Bench of NCDRC presided by V.K. Jain, J. upheld the order of State Commission of Haryana granting relief of about Rs two lakh from the Indian Farmers Fertilizers Cooperative Limited (IFFCO, the petitioner) for selling “adulterated” seeds to two farmers who suffered financial losses due to poor yield. According to the complainant farmers, they were assured by the petitioner that the seeds would give proper yield of 8 to10 quintals per acre. On poor yield, they made complainants to the Agriculture Department which carried out an inspection and found the plants to be of different variety and about 60-70% of the plants with high growth without any fruits. The complainants approached the  District Forum concerned. Their claims were denied by the District Forum but were upheld by the State Commission on appeal. Aggrieved petitioner approached NCRDC. The emphasis of the petitioner’s arguments was that that despite circular dated 03.01.2002, the Agriculture Department did not associate representative of the Seed Agency and the Scientists of KGK/KVK, HAU in the inspection and the report was prepared at the back of the petitioner without any notice to it. Commission relied on its own decision in Reliance Life Sciences Pvt.…
Continue reading

Orders of CCI are in rem and not in personam

Competition Commission of India (CCI):  The present case was filed by Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association under Section 19(1)(a) of the Competition Act (hereinafter ‘the Act’) against Federation of Western India Cine Employees (OP-1) and its affiliates (OP-2 to OP-21) alleging contravention of the provisions of Sections 3 and 4 of the Act. Primarily, the allegations related to directing the Informant and its members through frequent diktats on multiple issues such as observing mandatory holidays on second Sunday of every month in addition to a list of holidays for the year 2017 on religious occasions; directives on wage hike of 22% in the wage rate of craftsmen; and non-cooperation directives against members of the Informant for non-payment of dues etc. The Commission referred to its case Vipul A. Shah v. All India Film Employee Federation, 2017 SCC OnLine CCI 53 which was disposed of while this matter was under consideration of the Commission and the Commission had already passed cease and desist order against the OPs except OP-21 of the present case under Section 27 of the Act in Vipul A. Shah Case on issues overlapping with this case. Commission clarified that its orders are in rem and not in personam.…
Continue reading

NHRC notice to Govt of Jammu & Kashmir calling for reports into the killing of journalist Shujaat Bukhari and his 2 security guards and steps taken for security of journalists

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC): The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that the network of editors and media practitioners, namely, SAMDEN has urged the NHRC to seeks swift probe into Shujaat Bukhari’s killing along with his two personal security officers in Lal Chowk area of Srinagar in Jammu & Kashmir on 14.06.2018. Reportedly, SAMDEN has also demanded swift action to be taken by the Central and the State Government for the necessary steps ensuring safety and security of all the journalists across the country. As per news report, the deceased journalist had been under police protection since the year 2000. He was reportedly facing threats, being a rare voice of moderation and an advocate for peace and justice. Many other NGOs and human rights defenders have also raised their voice against the threats, attacks and murders carried out against the media persons. The Commission has observed that in view of special provisions laid down under Section 1(2) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 in connection with the State of Jammu & Kashmir, it generally does not intervene into the matters relatable to entries enumerated in the List II (State List) mentioned under Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India.…
Continue reading

Winding up of ‘Collective Investment Scheme’ ordered for contravention of Section 12(1b) SEBI Act

Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI): The whole time member of SEBI,  G.Mahalingam in accordance to the interim order given earlier issued directions under Section 19 of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 and Sections 11(1), 11(B) and 11(4) thereof and regulation 65 of the SEBI (Collective Investment Schemes) Regulations, 1999  to NICL India Ltd. for engaging in Collective Investment Schemes without ‘certificate of  registration’ from SEBI. NICL  India Ltd. was involved in illegal mobilization of funds from the public through ‘Collective Investment Schemes’, without obtaining the certificate of registration resulting in the contravention of Section 12(1B) of the SEBI Act, 1992 with Section 11 AA and Regulation 3 of CIS Regulations. It has also been stated that NICL was alleged of contravention of Regulation 4(2)(t) of ‘Prohibition of Fraudulent & Unfair Trade Practice Relating to Securities Market Regulations, 2003. The interim order that had been said to be passed carried certain directions towards the NICL directors and further in reference to that,  they were asked to file reply, if any.  NICL through the further correspondence of letters kept asking for the extension of time to refund the investor’s money. SEBI received complaints subsequently in which one was from RBI as well, in regard to the ‘mobilization of public fund’, after NICL had claimed to adhered all the stated directives in the interim order.…
Continue reading