06 March 2021
A) Supreme Court says government’s rules to regulate OTT platforms ‘lack teeth’
The Supreme Court on Friday said the government’s new rules to regulate OTT (over-the-top) platforms lacked teeth to punish violators or to screen offensive content even as it protected Amazon Prime Video India Commercial head Aparna Purohit from arrest in the ‘Tandav’ web series row. They went through your Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules of 2021 these are merely guidelines. There is no provision for punishment or fine. What is the mechanism to control it [content]? Justice Ashok Bhushan, heading a Bench, asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. Mehta agreed to consider drafting new regulations or even legislation to address the concern raised by the court about OTT platforms. They can come out with it. They can come out with a draft and place it before the court, he stated. The Bench ordered that the regulations/legislation, once done, should be placed before the court. During the hearing, Amazon, represented by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, complained about an oral remark made by Justice Bhushan that some of the films featured on OTT platforms had pornographic content. Rohatgi said the remark had been picked up by the media and bandied about. Amazon does not show pornography, he said. Mehta intervened to say that Justice Bhushan did not mean pornography literally, but meant that some content was almost pornographic.
B) Owner of vehicle parked near Ambani residence found dead; Maharashtra ATS to probe.
Hiren Mansukh, owner of the vehicle with explosives which had been found parked near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence last week, was found dead in a creek in neighboring Thane on Friday, police said. The investigations will now be handled by the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), Home Minister of Maharashtra Anil Deshmukh said on Friday. He also stated that the explosive-laden Scorpio car belonged not to Mansukh but to another person identified as Sam. Mansukh (45) had gone missing on Thursday night. The body was found on the banks of the creek along the Mumbra Reti Bunder road, a senior official of Thane Police said. A Scorpio with gelatin sticks inside was found near ‘Antilia’, Ambani’s multi-storey residence in South Mumbai, on February 25. Police had earlier said it had been stolen from Airoli-Mulund Bridge on February 18. Crime Branch of Mumbai police had recorded Mansukh’s statement in the case. Mansukh, who was in vehicle spare parts business, had said he had lodged a police complaint after the SUV was stolen. On Friday afternoon his family members approached Naupada Police Station in Thane saying he had gone missing. Speaking to reporters in Mumbai, Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Devendra Fadnavis said the death of a prime witness showed that something was fishy.
C) Mamata to contest from Nandigram, announces TMC candidates list.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday announced the candidates for 291 of the 294 assembly seats in the State. The Bimal Gurung faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha will announce names for remaining three seats of the Darjeeling hills. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chairperson said she would contest from the Nandigram assembly constituency of Purba Medinipur district. She will contest from Nandigram, she had given her word and will stick to it, she said. She made it clear that she would not contest Kolkata’s Bhawanipur seat, which she had represented for the past two terms. The party’s candidates’ list comprises people from different sections of society such as women, youth, film stars, sportspersons and retired bureaucrats. The list has 51 women, 79 Scheduled Caste, and 17 Scheduled Tribe candidates. Banerjee said the party had taken a decision not to field anyone above 80 years of age. It would set up a Bidhan Parishad to accommodate several senior leaders who were not contesting. Finance Minister Amit Mitra and Minister for Technical Education Purnendu Bose would not contest now.
D) Bihar court sentences nine to death in 2016 hooch tragedy case.
Nine persons were sentenced to death and four women to life imprisonment by Gopalganj Additional District Judge-2 Luv Kush Kumar on Friday after they were convicted in the Khajurbanni locality hooch tragedy. Nineteen people died and six others lost their eyesight in August 2016 after consuming illicit liquor in dry Bihar. Fourteen persons had been named accused in the case. One of them died during trial, said Special Public Prosecutor Ravi Bhushan Srivastava. Those sentenced to death in the case are Chhathu Pasi, Kanhaiya Pasi, Nagina Pasi, Lalbabu Pasi, Rajesh Kumar, Sanoj Kumar Pasi, Sanjay Pasi, Ranjit Chaudhary and Munna Chaudhary. The women convicts are Laljhari Devi, Kailasho Devi, Indu Devi and Rita Devi. They will approach to Patna High Court against the judgment, said Ved Prakash Tiwari, the lawyer representing the accused persons. In June 2020, 21 policemen three Sub-Inspectors, five Assistant Sub-Inspectors and 13 Constables were dismissed in connection with the hooch tragedy, which struck months after Bihar was declared a dry State.
E) NCB files charge sheet against Rhea Chakraborty, others.
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Friday has filed a 11,700-page charge sheet against 33 persons, including actress Rhea Chakraborty and her brother Showik, in an alleged drug smuggling case. Eight of the accused are currently in judicial custody while the rest are out on bail. The chargesheet has been filed by the NCB’s Mumbai Zonal Unit. The case is an off-shoot of a money-laundering probe initiated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) based on an FIR registered by the Patna police on July 25, 2020. The police case was lodged by late actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s father, who accused Chakraborty and others of abetment to suicide, criminal conspiracy, cheating, breach of trust, theft, wrongful restraint and confinement. It was later taken over by the CBI.
F) State-Centre ties further strained as Customs shares testimony ‘implicating’ Kerala CM, Speaker. The Customs today informed the Kerala High Court that Swapna Suresh, one of the prime accused in the diplomatic gold smuggling case, has revealed with clarity that smuggling of foreign currency was done at the instance of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Assembly Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan. Sumit Kumar, Commissioner of Customs (Preventive), Kochi submitted in a statement filed before the High Court that she had made a shocking revelation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s close connections with the previous Consul General of UAE and the illegal monetary transactions. The Customs Commissioner added that Swapna Suresh had also made revelations about three ministers in the State cabinet. Reacting to the development, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) has described it as a political plot to tarnish the government ahead of the Assembly polls. The state government has also upped the ante by announcing that Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) officials would not answer the Enforcement Directorate (ED)’s summons on Friday. LDF convener A. Vijayraghavan said the Centre had resorted to underhand politics to discredit the government. The Customs was merely a cat’s paw of the BJP, he said, adding that the department had leaned heavily on a COFEPOSA detainee’s questionable statement to raise false allegations against the administration. It had also attempted to implicate three Cabinet ministers in the smuggling case falsely, he said. The CPI(M) State secretariat said the Centre’s disinformation would not fool the voters. The Central agencies had in various sworn depositions merely parroted the allegations raised by the BJP and the Congress, it said.
G) No coercive action on Amaravati illegal land case.
The Andhra Pradesh government orally stated in the Supreme Court on Friday that it would not take any coercive action against persons named in an FIR concerning the illegal purchase of land in Amaravati and was further willing to hand over the case to the CBI for a court-monitored investigation. The statement was made before a Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Andhra. The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by the Andhra Pradesh government against a High Court stay on investigation into the FIR that named former Advocate General Dammalapati Srinivas and others, including relatives of a sitting Supreme Court judge. The FIR shows offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, criminal breach of trust, and cheating under the Indian Penal Code. The allegations include abuse of official positions in the State, sharing of privileged information, and causing loss to the public exchequer during the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) regime. The High Court had stayed the investigation and barred the State from taking any coercive action against the persons named in the FIR.
H) Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq disallowed from leading prayers.
Hurriyat chairman and Valley’s chief cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was placed under house arrest and allegedly disallowed from leading the Friday prayers at the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, days after the Jammu and Kashmir administration said he was free to go anywhere. A Hurriyat spokesman said police officials on Thursday evening visited Mirwaiz’s residence to convey to him that he continues to be under house arrest and will not be allowed to go to Jamia Masjid for Friday prayers. The spokesman alleged that since Friday morning additional forces had been deployed outside Mirwaiz’s house and the area converted into a garrison. The Hurriyat expresses strong resentment and regret over the latest government move after announcing the release of the Mirwaiz after 20 months of detention. It seems the J&K authorities have reneged on their own statements that the Mirwaiz was a free person, a Hurriyat spokesman said. The Mirwaiz was arrested and later detained in his house since August 4, 2019, when the Centre ended Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional position. Earlier, the Hurriyat had announced that the Mirwaiz, in the wake of the government decision to set him free, would meet religious leaders on Friday and also deliver a sermon at the Jamia Masjid. Scores of the Mirwaiz’s followers, including women carrying garlands, were preparing for a reception on the premises of the mosque. They condemn this authoritarianism. This comes after the recent remarks of the Minister of State for Home Affairs that no one in J&K was under house arrest. If that is so, why does the Mirwaiz continue to be detained? the spokesman said.
A) More bloodshed in Myanmar as UNSC set to meet on crisis.
A protester was shot dead in Myanmar on Friday in the latest round of bloodletting at anti-coup demonstrations, as the UN Security Council prepared to meet on the escalating crisis. Despite an increasingly brutal crackdown by the military authorities that has seen more than 50 people killed, protesters took to the streets again in towns around the country to denounce the February 1 coup. The violence has brought condemnation from around the world, with the UN rights chief demanding the junta stop murdering and jailing protesters, and the Security Council is set to discuss the crisis later Friday. But despite the mounting international pressure, the Generals have shown no sign of heeding calls for restraint. In Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city, hundreds of engineers took to the streets crying Free our leader in reference to ousted State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, detained by the military since the first night of the coup. The killing follows the deadliest day of the crackdown so far on Wednesday, when the UN said at least 38 people were killed as gaphic images showed security forces firing into crowds and bloodied bodies dragged away. In the southern city of Dawei police fired tear gas at demonstrators, while there was defiance despite the danger at protests in the commercial capital Yangon. Meanwhile, in the country’s north, a number of people have crossed the border into India in a bid to escape the crackdown.
B) India reaffirms Lanka defence ties.
With the participation of the Indian Air Force Chiefand 23 aircraft in the three-day event in Colombo to mark the 70th anniversary of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SIN). India sought to reaffirm its strong defence cooperation with Sri Lanka. ‘Nie last time Indian aircraft took part in such an event was in 2001, on the occasion of the SIÄF’s 50th year, according to Captain Vikas Sood, De fence Adviser at the Indian High Commission. A team of 4 Sarang Advance Light Helicopters, Surya Kiran (Hawks), Tejas Fighter Aircraft, Tejas Trainer and the Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft from India were in Sri Lanka this week, to participate in a fly past and acrobatic display event with the SIN, held by Colombo’s seafront. Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauri called on Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and met senior defence officials. The engagement was very positive. we look forward to building on our strong ties, Captain Sood said. During Sri Lanka’s over three decade civil war, India played a crucial role, politically and at times using its military. While the controversial Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) presence here, and Operation Poomalai’ of 1987 when the Indian Air Force dropped food supplies in Jaffna drew criticism from sections, the Indian military support has been repeatedly acknowledged by Sri Lanka’s national leaders.