Current Affair – May 26, 2021

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CURRENT AFFAIRS

Interpol

∙ Mehul Choksi, alleged mastermind of the ₹13,578 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case, is said to have gone missing in  Antigua where he has been facing extradition proceedings. 

 ∙ He already has an Interpol Red Notice pending against him.

Therefore, he can be detained in any of the Interpol member  countries and deported to India.

About Interpol

International Criminal Police Organization is an intergovernmental organization. It has 194 member  countries. 

∙ It is headquartered in Lyon, France.

 ∙ It was formed in 1923 as the International Criminal Police Commission and started calling itself Interpol in 1956.

∙ India joined the organisation in 1949.

Interpol Notices

∙ INTERPOL Notices are international requests for cooperation or alerts allowing police in member  countries to share critical crime-related information. 

∙ Notices can also be used by the United Nations, International Criminal Tribunals and the International  Criminal Court to seek persons wanted for committing crimes within their jurisdiction, notably genocide, war  crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Source: The Hindu

New social media code- The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code)  Rules, 2021

∙ While the new stricter rules for social media intermediaries such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Google. Twitter and  Telegram, come into effect on May 26 2021, a majority of platforms are yet to fully comply with ‘The Information  Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021’. ∙ Under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, the intermediaries are not liable for user generated content,  provided they adhere to the rules — “an intermediary shall not be liable for any third party information, data, or  communication link made available or hosted by him,” it states. These rules have been tightened now.

Features of New Rules

1. The broad themes of the guidelines revolve around 

o Grievance redressal 

o Compliance with the law 

o Adherence to the media code 

2. Social media platforms like Google or Facebook, or intermediaries, for instance, will now have to appoint a grievance  officer to deal with users’ complaints. 

3. Social media intermediary would have to “enable the identification of the first originator of the information on its  computer resource” as may be required by a judicial order.  

4. For digital publishers of news and current affairs as well as video streaming services, an identical three tier structure  for grievance redressal has been mandated. 

5. It includes the ‘Norms of Journalistic Conduct’ as prescribed by the Press Council of India, as also content that  shall not be published — “content which is prohibited under any law for the time being in force shall not be  published or transmitted”, and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act,  1995.  

6. The guidelines also require streaming services to classify content based on its nature and type. For instance, content  “for persons aged 16 years and above, and can be viewed by a person under the age of 16 years with parental guidance  shall be classified as U/A 16+”. 

7. The three tier regulatory mechanism will seek to redress complaints with respect to the digital platforms’ adherence to a  Code of Ethics, which among other things includes the ‘Norms of Journalistic Conduct’, compiled by the Press Council  of India, the Programme Code of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, as also a negative list of content that  shall not be published (essentially what one would encounter under law as reasonable restrictions to free speech) 

8. The scope of regulation of the digital space has been expanded. The new guidelines not only replace the  Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011, but go a step further. They also regulate digital  news publishers and streaming services, which was not the case earlier. The 2011 rules were a narrower set of  guidelines for intermediaries.

Sources: The Hindu

Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws to define hate speech

∙ A panel constituted by the Union Home Ministry to suggest reforms to the British era Indian Penal Code (IPC) is likely  to propose a separate Section on “offences relating to speech and expression.” 

As there is no clear definition of what constitutes a “hate speech” in the IPC, the Committee for Reforms in  Criminal Laws is attempting for the first time to define such speech. ∙ The suggestions received by the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws will be examined by the Ministry before the  changes are adopted. The committee is examining a gamut of subjects pertaining to reforms in the IPC.

Who will decide what constitutes a hate speech?

∙ Legally speaking, for criminal Sections to be invoked, any such speech has to lead to violence or disturbance of law and  order. Merely criticising someone is not hate speech.

∙ Bureau’s definition: The Bureau of Police Research and Development recently published a manual for investigating  agencies on cyber harassment cases that defined hate speech as a “language that denigrates insults, threatens or targets an  individual based on their identity and other traits (such as sexual orientation or disability or religion etc.).”

Vishwanath Committee

∙ In 2018, the Home Ministry had written to the Law Commission to prepare a distinct law for online “hate speech” acting  on a Viswanath committee which recommended stricter laws.  

∙ The committee was formed in the wake of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, that provided  punishment for sending offensive messages through communication services being scrapped by the Supreme Court in  2015. ∙ In 2019, however, the Ministry decided to overhaul the IPC, framed in 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)  after seeking suggestions from States, the Supreme Court, High Courts, the Bar Council of India, Bar Councils of States,  universities and law institutes on comprehensive amendments to criminal laws.

Source: The Hindu

Cyclones in Bay of Bengal

The Bay of Bengal, where Cyclone ‘Yaas’ has formed, is at least two degrees warmer than what is normal for this  time of the year.  

∙ The North Bay of Bengal is exceptionally warm with temperatures up to 32 degrees Celsius. Distance to landfall is  short, preventing it from drawing that energy and intensifying into an extremely severe cyclone. ∙ Generally, cyclones in the Bay of Bengal are ferocious and cause significant devastation. Amphan was a super cyclone  that ravaged West Bengal in March 2020. It was the strongest storm that hit India’s eastern coast since the super  cyclone of 1999 that struck Paradip, Odisha.  

Before Amphan, Fani in 2019 also hit Odisha, causing immense damage that lasted weeks. ∙ Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal are not unexpected in May and result from increased ocean surface temperatures. The  formations of storms in this period are favourable for drawing in the monsoon into the Andamans and  subsequently to the Kerala coast. ∙ Trends suggest a relative decrease in the number of cyclones in the Bay of Ben gal and a rise in the Arabian Sea. About  60% of the cyclones that form in these seas make landfall in India causing damage and devastation.

Yaas

∙ The maximum wind speeds from Yaas are expected to touch 125 kmph. ∙ The name has been furnished by Oman’s meteorological agency.

Source: The Hindu

CBI Director Appointment

∙ Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana’s opinion in the high level committee to avoid officers with less than six months left  to retire for appointment as CBI Director is a simple “statement of law”.  ∙ The committee’s selection of officers should be able to with stand the “scrutiny of law in the future”. For this, officers  with a “few days left” in service should not be considered. In this context, 10 of the senior most officers of the 1984  batch, scheduled to retire soon, were not considered .

Prakash Singh case

The 6 month minimum residual tenure rule was introduced by the Supreme Court on March 13, 2019 in Prakash  Singh case.

∙Though the order in the Prakash Singh case pertained to the appointment of DGPs, it was extended to CBI Director too.

∙ It clarified that the “recommendation for appointment to the post of Director General of Police by the Union Public  Service Commission and preparation of panel should be purely on the basis of merit from officers who have a minimum  residual tenure of six months, that is, officers who have at least six months of service prior to retirement”. 

∙ The apex court had indicated the possibility that officers with only a few days of service may be in an insecure state  of mind.  ∙ In the Prakash Singh case, the Supreme Court had stressed the point that appointment of DGPs “should be purely on  the basis of merit and to insulate the office from all kinds of influences and pressures”.

Union of India versus C. Dinakar

∙ The CJI had also studied a Supreme Court judgment, Union of India versus C. Dinakar, reported in 2004, in the context  of the appointment process. ∙ In this, the apex court had held that “ordinarily IPS officers of the senior most four batches in service on the date of  retirement of CBI Di rector, irrespective of their empanelment, shall be eligible for consideration for appointment  to the post of CBI Director”.

CBI Director

∙ He/she is selected by a high powered selection committee headed by Prime Minister of India. Leader of Opposition  and Chief Justice of India are the other two members of the committee. ∙ The Director is to hold the post for not less than two years as held by the Vineet Narain judgment of 1998.  ∙ He/she may not be transferred except with the previous consent of the high level committee.  ∙ CBI has jurisdiction to investigate offences pertaining to 69 Central laws, 18 State Acts and 231 offences in the IPC.

Source: The Hindu

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