Media houses to pay Rs 10 lakh each revealing the identity of the victim: Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court has directed media houses to pay Rs. 10 lakh each as penalty for revealing the identity of the eight-year-old Kathua rape victim, stated sources. The order was pronounced by a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar after the media houses apologised following notices sent to them by the court over the issue. The notices were reportedly issued to 12 media houses on April 13 for disclosing the identity of an eight-year-old girl who was gang-raped and killed in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir. The court had taken suo-motu suo moto cognizance of the matter. The money has to be paid to the Jammu and Kashmir Victim Compensation Fund within a week, the media reports stated. The advocates representing the media houses are reported to have told the court that they revealed the identity of the victim by mistake and ignorance of law because they thought it was okay to name her as she was dead. Pronouncing the order, the bench also directed that information about the law regarding privacy of victims of sexual offences and punishment for revealing their identities should be publicised. The court had earlier prohibited the media houses “from effecting any publication including the name, address, photograph, family details, school details, neighbourhood or any other particulars which may have an effect of leading to the disclosure of the identity of the child victim”.…
Continue reading

NRI woman allowed giving consent for a mutual divorce through Skype: Bombay HC

In a landmark verdict, the Bombay High Court allowed an NRI woman to give her consent for a mutual divorce from her alienated husband through “Skype or any other technology”. Harshada and her husband Bharat filed a petition before the family court for dissolution of marriage through mutual consent under Section 13 B of the Hindu Marriage Act. Although Bharat had signed the said petition, Harshada’s father, who is also registered power of attorney holder, had signed the petition on her behalf. The family court held that both parties must remain present for filing such a petition and dismissed it on the same ground. Justice Bharati Dangre revoked the Family Court’s order rejecting to register the US-based woman’s petition for divorce on the grounds that she was not personally present to file it despite the woman having given her father power of attorney in the divorce proceedings. “Due to globalisation and since educated young persons are crossing the borders of India, it is not possible to remain present (to file petitions),” the high court said. “There is no legal lacunae in filing of the petition through a registered power of attorney… the family court will not insist on the presence of the parties before the court and would arrange for the consent terms to be recorded either through Skype or adopting any other technology,” added the Judge.…
Continue reading

Plea against 70% solar imports safeguard dismissed: Madras HC

The petition challenging the Directorate General of Safeguards’ recommendation of 70% safeguard duty on import of solar panels and modules has been dismissed by the Madras High Court, revealed sources. The subsequent step, after the dismissal of the petition, has paved the way for public hearing. To take the final call the report will be sent to panel of secretaries of commerce, revenue, industrial policy, external affairs and new and renewable energy ministries. Acting on a petition from domestic solar manufacturers who claimed imports of solar panels and modules were causing their industry serious injury, the Directorate General of Safeguards had in mid January 2018 suggested slapping a whopping 70% levy on solar imports. Over 90% of solar equipment used in Indian projects is imported, mostly from China and Malaysia. The solar developers of India were distressed by the recommendation of Directorate General of Safeguards. The developers claimed that it will increase construction costs and thereby will result in steep rise of solar tariffs. “Though there is widespread fear that duties will slow down the sector, the court’s decision provides much needed clarity to all stakeholders and allows them to plan their next steps,” said Vinay Rustagi, Managing Director of Solar Consultancy Bridge to India.…
Continue reading

Bill granting ZECs to nuclear power plants passed: New Jersey state legislature

On April 12, the New Jersey state legislature passed three bills designed to maintain and enhance access to low-carbon resources in the Garden State. The bill states that the nuclear power plants in New Jersey are necessary to meet the Energy Master Plan of New Jersey’s goal of 100 percent clean energy generation by 2050 and the Global Warming Response Act’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. The bill also states that “the retirement of nuclear power generation will inevitably result in an immediate increase in air emissions within New Jersey due to increased reliance on natural gas-fired generation and coal fired generation.” The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is directed to create a community solar program and evaluate the ZEC program within 10 years. The legislation also provides for up to $100 million in tax credits for qualified wind energy projects in an eligible wind energy zone. If the bill holds up, New Jersey will become the latest state to implement a Zero-Emission Certificate (ZEC) program for struggling nuclear plant operators, following in the steps of New York and Illinois. Nuclear power plants who wish to participate in the program will have to be certified by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.…
Continue reading

Cognizant to pay Rs 420 cr tax in two days: Madras HC

On April 4, the Madras High Court has ordered Cognizant Technology Solutions, involved in a Rs 2,800-crore tax dispute with the I-T department, to pay 15% (Rs 420 crore) of the demanded amount in two days. To aid them with their payment, the court has ordered unfreezing of the company’s bank account with JP Morgan in Mumbai. However, its accounts with other banks will remain frozen. The HC bench said, “There shall be an order of an interim stay on the income tax proceedings, subject to the condition that Cognizant pays 15% of the tax demanded, and furnishes a bank guarantee or security by way of fixed deposit for the remaining tax demanded. For proper compliance to the condition, the attachment of bank account with JP Morgan Chase Bank, Mumbai, shall stand lifted forthwith. However, the attachment in respect of other banks SBI, Deutsche, Corporation and HDFC Bank shall continue till the compliance of the direction. Similarly, the attachment of nine bank deposits to the tune of Rs 2,650 crore shall continue subject to the lien being created for remaining amount of taxes.” Justice T S Sivagnanam passed the interim direction on a plea moved by Cognizant assailing the tax demand and the freezing of its 68 bank accounts.…
Continue reading

State to frame policies to regulate food prices at cinema halls: Bombay HC

On April 4, noting that the cost of food and water inside multiplexes was exorbitant; the Bombay High Court opined that it should be sold at regular prices. The State government informed the court that it is working on formulating a policy to regulate food prices being sold inside theatres. A division bench of justices S M Kemkar and M S Karnik was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by city resident Jainendra Baxi, challenging the prohibition on carrying outside food inside movie theatres and multiplexes across the state. The petitioner’s lawyer, Aditya Pratap Singh, told the court there does not exist any legal or statutory provision that prohibits one from carrying personal food articles or water inside movie theatres. Agreeing to this, Justice Kemkar said, “The price of food and water bottles sold inside movie theatres are, indeed, exorbitant. We have ourselves experienced it. You (multiplexes) should sell it at the regular price.” The court said that if multiplexes were prohibiting people from bringing outside food, then there should be a total prohibition on eatables. “Then you (multiplexes) cannot have your own vendors selling food and other snacks inside,” Kemkar said. The PIL said the restriction on bringing food by cinema goers violates the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution, which particularly affects the elderly and persons with medical conditions.…
Continue reading

Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar appointed Acting Chief Justice: J&K HC

Justice Ramalingum Sudhakar has been appointed by President Ram Nath Kovind to perform duties of Chief Justice after the retirement of incumbent Chief Justice of Jammu Kashmir High Court, Badar Durrez Ahmed. “In exercise of the powers conferred…the President is pleased to appoint Justice Ramalingum Sudhakar, senior most judge of the J&K High Court to perform the duties of the office of the Chief Justice of that High Court with effect from 16 March 2018 consequent upon the retirement of the Justice Badar Durez Ahmad, Chief Justice of the J&K High Court,” said an order issued by Union law ministry. Justice Sudhakar, who is the senior most Judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, will assume office on March 16.…
Continue reading

Two MoUs signed between Bangladesh, Singapore

On March 12, Bangladesh and Singapore signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) on cooperation in the areas of air services and private public partnership. Following the official meeting that took place between the Prime Ministers of both the countries, the pact was signed at Istana in Singapore. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien witnessed the signing ceremony. The two deals are an MoU on Public Private Partnership signed between International Enterprise Singapore and the Public Private Partnership Authority of the Prime Minister’s Office of Bangladesh and Confidential Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) to expand the air services. CEO of Private Public Partnership Authority (PPPA) of Bangladesh Syed Afsor H Uddin and Assistant CEO of International Enterprise of Singapore Tan Soon Kim singed another MoU on cooperation in Public Private Partnership on behalf of their respective sides.…
Continue reading

Florida governor signs gun-safety bill into law after school shooting

On March 9, Florida Governor Rick Scott, a faithful ally of the National Rifle Association (NRA), signed into law, a bill imposing a 21-year-old age limit and three-day waiting period on all gun purchases and allowing the arming of some school employees. After a gunman opened fire with a semiautomatic assault-style rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public in Parkland, Florida, killing 14 students and three faculty members, the law has been passed. Currently, the U.S. Senate has no gun control bill scheduled for debate, and the only measure moving in the House of Representatives is a bill seeking for more training for students and teachers to address the school shooting. The law raises the minimum age to purchase all firearms from 18 to 21 years – a move opposed by the powerful National Rifle Association lobby group that bans modification devices which make a semi-automatic weapon fully automatic and expands mental health funding. “I am going to do what I think are common sense solutions,” Scott said after the signing. “I think this is the beginning. There is now going to be a real conversation about how we make our schools safe.” The aim of the program is for staff such as coaches and school personnel, with teachers eligible if they have military or law enforcement experience.…
Continue reading

Following communal riots, SriLanka Prez removes PM Wickremesinghe as law and order minister

On March 8, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena replaced Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the law and order minister amidst fresh violence between majority Sinhala Buddhists and minority Muslims in the Kandy district despite imposition of nationwide emergency. On March 8, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, a senior politician from Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) was sworn in as the new minister in charge of the police. From March 5, Wickremesinghe’s 11-day tenure as the law and order minister was marred by racial tension in the central district of Kandy. Muslim owned businesses and religious sites came under attack from majority Sinhala mobs, forcing the government to enforce curfew. On March 7, the Sri Lankan government suspended internet services and blocked access to social networking websites and messaging platforms like Whatsapp in the riot-hit areas. “In accordance with the people’s request to remove the curfew for a short period to attend their essential activities including purchasing of food and other items, President Maithripala Sirisena has decided to remove the curfew from 10:00 am and re-impose at 6:00 pm in the Kandy district,” Director General of Government Information Sudarshana Gunawardhana said in a statement. The leader of the main Tamil party TNA R Sampanthan questioned the inaction of law enforcement authorities in response to the attacks on Muslim establishments.…
Continue reading

Washington becomes first state to enact its own net-neutrality requirements

With Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, signing on a bill on March 5, Washington became the first state to enact its own net-neutrality requirements, which ban Internet providers from blocking content or interfering with online traffic, after U.S. regulators repealed Obama-era rules designed to keep the Internet an even playing field. Before signing the bipartisan measure, Gov. Inslee said, “We know that when D.C. fails to act, Washington State has to do so.” According to a press release issued by the governor’s office, “Washington’s new law, House Bill 2282, protects those net neutrality rules at the state level, ensuring that Internet providers cannot advantageously manipulate Internet speeds and access to content. The law will prohibit companies that offer Internet services from blocking legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices. It will prohibit them from impairing — or throttling — Internet traffic based on the content Internet users consume, or the apps, services, and devices they use. And it will prohibit them from favoring certain traffic for the company’s own benefit, a practice referred to as paid prioritization.” The new law also requires Internet providers to disclose information about their management practices, performance and commercial terms. Violations would be enforceable under the state’s Consumer Protection Act.…
Continue reading

Tech companies challenge FCC’s rollback of net neutrality protections

On March 5, several tech companies, including Etsy (ETSY), Kickstarter, Foursquare, and Shutterstock (SSTK), filed a petition in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) rollback of net neutrality protections. Notably, many states are also taking the FCC to court over the issue. Shutterstock General Counsel Heidi Garfield said, “Net neutrality is essential to empower anyone, regardless of economic status, with access to information and resources to contribute to the digital economy. Progress often comes through disruption and collaboration and a free and open Internet facilitates both.” In January, Attorneys General of more than 20 states had filed a petition to stop the repeal of net neutrality protections. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had then said, “The repeal of net neutrality would turn Internet service providers into gatekeepers, allowing them to put profits over consumers while controlling what we see, what we do, and what we say online.” Net neutrality repeal is scheduled to formally take effect on April 23.…
Continue reading