The Lok Sabha could not take up the two no-confidence motions against
the NDA government yet again, and was adjourned by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan
for the day minutes after noon.
With the Rajya Sabha, too, being adjourned for the day by Chairman M.
Venkaiah Naidu minutes after it met at 11 a.m., Parliament could not
transact any business for yet another day in the second half of the budget
Parliament has been adjourned amid protests for 11 days in a row, ever
since it met on March 5 after the recess.
In the Rajya Sabha, TDP members and K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao of the
Congress trooped into the Well, shouting slogans in support of special
status for Andhra Pradesh, while DMK and AIADMK members raised the Cauvery
Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu repeatedly asked the members to allow the
House to function and called for taking up listed zero hour mentions of
issues of public importance.
But with protests continuing, he adjourned the House for the day within
10 minutes of the commencement of proceedings.
Law on Hate Speech soon from Centre
Moving a step ahead towards framing a distinct law for online “hate
speech,” the Home Ministry has written to the Law Commission to prepare a
The provisions will deal with offensive messages sent through social
media and online messaging applications.
The decision came after a committee headed by former Lok Sabha Secretary
General T.K. Viswanathan submitted a report recommending stricter laws to
curb online hate speech.
The panel was formed after Section 66A of the Information Technology
Act, 2000, was scrapped by the Supreme Court in 2015.
The scrapped provision provided punishment for sending offensive
messages through communication services.
A senior National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) official said there is no
comprehensive data available on cases in which rumours and hate speech
insinuations were made through social media and WhatsApp.
If the law is amended, it will provide us with the extent of the
problem,” said the official. The 267th report of the Law Commission had
recommended inserting additional provisions in Sections 153 505 of the
Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The proposed 153 C (b) IPC —‘incitement to hatred,’ recommended that the
crime be punishable by two years imprisonment and Rs. 5,000 fine or both.
Law Commission has been asked to include its earlier recommendations,
and those from the Viswanathan and M.P. Bezbaruah committees, to give a
“comprehensive draft law.”
The Bezbaruah committee had proposed to insert two stricter anti-racial
discrimination provisions in the IPC. Only four states Manipur, Meghalaya
and Mizoram, Uttar Pradesh and three union territories — Andaman and Nicobar,
Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Lakshwadeep agreed to the Centre’s proposal.
Want India on board to ease rohingya crisis: US
Amid growing worries about the coming monsoon that could flood a third
of the main Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, Washington has
offered to partner with New Delhi on joint efforts to assist Bangladesh.
Confirming the offer, a senior U.S. administration official said, “We
think India also has an interest in seeing this situation resolved.”
“We will look for ways to work with India to provide for the needs of
the Rohingya in Bangladesh, but also to work together to create that
pressure on Burma [Myanmar] to create the conditions required for their safe
and voluntary return,” added the official, calling India a “like-minded”
The offer was made during a recent visit to the region by Deputy
Assistant to U.S. President Donald Trump and the Director for South and
Central Asia, Lisa Curtis, as well as Director for India and the Indian
Ocean Basant Sanghera.
The Foreign Secretary is now expected to visit Dhaka in April, while a
number of Ministers will visit Bangladesh in the next few months to “take
the development partnership agenda to its conclusion”, an External Affairs
Ministry official said.
While the official accepted that the U.S. proposal for a joint effort to
aid Bangladesh was being discussed at the Foreign Secretary level, the
Ministry declined to comment on whether the U.S. and India would work on
joint measures to “pressure” Myanmar to repatriate the Rohingya.
While the U.S. has called the action of Myanmar authorities in driving
nearly a million Rohingya men, women and children out of villages, a case of
“ethnic cleansing” and threatened targeted sanctions against the officials
responsible, India has been comparatively silent on the issue in an effort
to keep its ties with Nay Pyi Taw intact.
The U.S. proposal to India may be seen as an attempt to counter China
that had last year brokered a repatriation agreement signed by Bangladesh
and Myanmar. The agreement, however, is yet to be implemented.
ED to challenge 2G case verdict
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) moved the Delhi High Court challenging
a Special CBI court verdict acquitting former Telecom Minister A. Raja, DMK
MP Kanimozhi and others in a money laundering case arising out of the 2G
The ED submitted that the CBI court, while acquitting all 10 individuals
and nine entities from the money-laundering charges, did not properly
appreciate the facts and evidence in the case.
On December 21 last year, a CBI court had dismissed the ED’s charge of
money laundering saying there was no “proceeds of crime” as all accused had
been acquitted in the main case filed by the CBI.
The ED’s case is that Mr. Raja received illegal gratification of Rs. 200
crore for favours shown by him to Swan Telecom Pvt. Limited (STPL) while
granting 13 UAS licences and allocation of spectrum in the year 2008-09.
The ED has claimed that illegal gratification of Rs. 200 crore was paid
by companies of Dynamix Balwa Group through partnership firm Dynamix Realty,
Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt. Limited and Cineyug Films Pvt. Limited,
which was ultimately parked in Kalaignar TV Pvt. Limited.
The amount was returned along with an additional sum just to show the
receipt of illegal payment as bona fide financial transaction, the ED said.
In its appeal, the Directorate contended that the CBI court was
“misdirected” in holding that the money-laundering offence had not taken
place merely because of acquittals in the CBI case.
The agency said the accused were acquitted on the ground that the CBI
case did not stand, ignoring judgment by various courts holding money
laundering as an independent offence.
The ED also argued that the CBI court failed to appreciate that the
Supreme Court had itself examined a large number of documents and ordered
cancellation of 122 licences granted during Mr. Raja’s tenure.
Construction workers get no social or economic justice: SC
For millions of construction workers, mostly women and children, there
is no social or economic justice to be given, the Supreme Court lamented in
a 57-page judgement delivered.
The apex court found that Rs. 28,000 crore meant for the welfare of
construction workers lies stagnant in state coffers.
This is mainly because successive governments have failed to make use of
the money for the health, safety or service conditions of unnamed and unsung
construction workers, who, the Supreme Court said, play a great role in
The Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta rued that it can
give construction workers only “symbolic justice” and nothing real or
The judgment authored by Justice Lokur said the “total lack of concern
and apathy on the part of the powers that be in doing anything substantial
for the benefit of construction workers puts a Shakespearean tragedy to
It said that the State governments have been collecting welfare funds
for construction workers since the Parliament passed the Building and Other
Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service)
Act and the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act’, both
A total of Rs. 37,400 crore was collected for the benefit of
construction workers over 22 years. Only Rs. 9,500 crore was utilised for
The court recorded that government estimates show there are over 4.5
crore building and construction workers in the country.
As of now, 2.8 crore workers have been registered under the 1996 laws
But there is no source for these statistics and the court dismissed
these figures as mere “guesstimates”.
It pointed out that even if the government wanted to do good now by
distributing the funds, it cannot as “some of these construction workers
from the 1990s, and even later, may perhaps have unfortunately passed away
or might be untraceable”.
Hoping that “someone, somewhere, at some point” would understand the
gravity of the situation, the Supreme Court issued a slew of guidelines.
It included identity cards for construction workers, the provision of
maternity benefits and minimum wages, and even bringing them under the
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
New governance norms to be introduced in phased manner: SEBI
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) plans to introduce new
corporate governance norms as proposed by the Kotak Committee, in a phased
manner for listed entities.
It is with only the bigger companies required to comply in the initial
phase as opposed to all the listed companies.
The board of the capital market regulator, which is scheduled to meet on
March 28, will discuss the committee’s proposals before giving it the
go-ahead for implementation for listed companies.
“The aim is to implement the new norms with minimum disruption and so
the top 200 or 500 companies would be initially mandated to comply with the
new rules,” said a person familiar with the development.
“There are proposals that, if implemented for the complete market at one
go, would create genuine hurdles and so the view is that a phased
implementation would work better,” he added.
He declined to be identified as the proposals were yet to be approved.
The 23-member committee under the chairmanship of Uday Kotak had
submitted its 177-page report to SEBI in October.
The committee also proposed that listed companies should be required to
have at least six directors on the board with a minimum of 50%
representation of independent directors, including one woman director.
Meanwhile, the board of the regulator, which has representation from the
government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), will also review the
compliance requirements for investors wanting to trade in the derivatives
This is part of the regulator’s attempts to ensure that only
well-informed investors with the required risk appetite trade in
Incidentally, the market regulator had released a discussion paper in
July last year for the ‘growth and development of equity derivative market
This among other things, highlighted the rapid growth in the derivatives
turnover over the years, along with the kind of participants trading in the
An e-mail query sent to SEBI seeking comments on the board meet remained
unanswered till the time of going to press.
Tribunal’s order to be appealed by IRDAI
IRDAI, currently without a chairman, is facing a crisis after the
Securities Appellate Tribunal described an order passed by a member of the
regulator as one that “virtually amounts to aiding and abetting corruption.”
The legal department of the Insurance and Regulatory and Development
Authority is examining options to appeal against the Tribunal’s order in the
Supreme Court and a decision is likely by the weekend, sources familiar with
the matter said.
IRDAI has remained without a Chairman since February 21, when T.S.
Vijayan demitted office on completing five years.
Though candidates, many from the insurance sector, were interviewed, no
announcement has yet been made.
In the complaint filed with IRDAI in August 2015, Atkins said between
2002 and 2012 it had provided international reinsurance cover to Jagson
International on annual brokerage or commission basis.
Atkins accused Jagson International chairman Jagdish Gupta of demanding
a cut, from 2010, in the commission it earned.
In 2012, the re-insurance business of Jagson went to Marsh India
Detailing the sequence leading to the complaint, the SAT order said
Atkins had engaged a global investigating firm as it suspected illegal means
were used to divert the business, and that the agency, in its report, said
kickbacks were given to Mr. Gupta.