Allow cops to raid homes if citizens possess beef: Maharashtra to SC

In another bizzare move that could spark yet another controversy, the Maharashtra government has appealed to the Supreme Court for the revival of a provision that makes possession of beef (cow, bullocks and buffalo) at home from outside the state illegal.

A law, Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act was struck down by the Bombay High Court that allowed any police officer to stop and search any person suspected of possessing beef slaughtered outside Maharashtra. It also empowered the police to carry raids in the suspect’s houses.

The keyword being suspect, it would be important to note that this move from the state government comes right when the Supreme Court concluded that right to privacy is not a fundamental right but a part of right to personal liberty.

Joachim Colaco, trustee of the United Christian Community Centre told the Hindustan Times that they would certainly go by the rules, but this was certainly not the right way.

Last year the Bombay High Court struck down the law in a strongly worded 245 page judgement, the court believed that the law was an intrusion into a citizen’s home and preventing from possessing and eating the food of his choice.

News Source: Hindustan Times, Huffington Post

Image Source: Reuters

20,000 Aadhaar card numbers leaked on Punjab Govt Website

The Aadhaar card numbers of over 20,000 individuals were published on a website of Punjab government, becoming the latest among a series of privacy breaches by government organisations in relation to Aadhaar card.

Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority (GLADA) had earlier invited applications for low-cost housing from the economically weaker sections in Ludhiana and Jagraon under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) programme. Following this, the names of the applicants, their Aadhaar card numbers and that of their fathers’ were then put up on their website. The GLADA officials, however, seemed unsure as to how these details ended up online. Although the links were removed from the website by Monday evening, the list remained accessible to anyone who had the direct link on Tuesday as well.

The Aadhaar card number is a twelve digit identity number linked to a person’s biometric details that have become increasingly mandatory for citizens to avail any kind of government service. As per Section 29 (4) of the Aadhaar Act, no Aadhaar number or core biometric information can be published, displayed or posted publicly, except for specified purposes and violation of the same is punishable by up to three years of imprisonment.

The Supreme Court is currently determining whether the Aadhaar program is a violation of an individual’s right to privacy.

News Source: Hindustan Times, OneIndia

Image Source: Hindustan Times

Supreme Court Awards Two Years of Imprisonment to former UP Chief Secretary Neera Yadav in Corruption Case

The Supreme Court (SC) upheld the conviction of former UP Chief Secretary Neera Yadav in the Noida land-allotment scam case and sentenced her to two years of imprisonment. A former IAS officer Rajiv Kumar was also awarded a two year jail term in the case.

Noida Entrepreneurs Association had filed a writ petition against New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA) in 1997 claiming large scale discrepancies in the allotment of land in various sectors during the tenure of Yadav and Kumar as the CEO and Deputy CEO of the Authority respectively.

The Supreme Court ordered the CBI to carry out a probe into the case, following which they were each sentenced to three years of imprisonment on November 20,2012.

The CBI had alleged that Yadav, a 1971 batch IAS officer, had violated the norms in allotment of a land in Noida to a company, Flex Industries, owned by the industrialist Ashok Chaturvedi.

She is accused of having used her power as a public servant to alter the criteria for eligibility of land to benefit Chaturvedi. As per the chargesheet filed by CBI this resulted in the government suffering losses of over a crore.

It was also alleged that she had got land allotted in her name as well in the names of her two daughters, in violation of the rule that permits only one plot of land per family in Noida.

Yadav had joined the BJP, ahead of the 2009 parliamentary polls, during the tenure of Rajnath Singh as the national president.

SOURCES: HINDUSTAN TIMES, THE INDIAN EXPRESS

IMAGE SOURCE: ANI

Right to Privacy: An unenumerated right or an absolute right?

A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court which was setup to look into the issue of Aadhar Card and it’s infringement into Right to Privacy said that Privacy is not an absolute right.

Justice Chelameswar called the term privacy an ‘amorphous’ term, while Justice Chandrachud, another member of the 9 member bench, mentioned that we need to know the ‘contours’, ‘contents’ and ‘obligations’ under the definition of privacy, to the petitioners.

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, who was representing the Centre, said that there was a reason why the Constitution makers did “consciously avoid” putting Right to Privacy under the Constitution.

The petitioners represented by senior lawyers Gopal Subramanium, Soli Sorabjee, Shyam Divan and Arvind Datar, said that Right to Privacy can be derived from Article 21 i.e. Right to Liberty.

Lawyer Sorabjee even compared Privacy with Freedom of Press saying that Freedom of Press has also been derived as an unenumerated right under Article 19 (1) i.e. Right to Freedom of Expression. As many as 30 rights have been taken from existing rights as unenumerated rights, as reported by Scroll.

The court would also be hearing the petitioners on Thursday, July 20, 2017 before reserving their judgement.

News Sources- The Hindu, NDTV 

Privacy, not “Absolute”, observes SC

The nine judge bench of the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday observed that Right to Privacy is not absolute and cannot prevent the states from imposing reasonable restrictions on its citizens.

The case was heard by a nine-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) JS Khehar. The rest of the bench included Justices J Chelameswar, SA Bobde, RK Agarwal, Rohinton Fali Nariman, Abhay Manohar Sapre, DY Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer.

The bench yesterday examined the lack of right to privacy in the fundamental rights questioning the government’s apparent effort to make the unique identification number Aadhaar a must for subsidised service; it today noted that ‘right to privacy’ itself was an “amorphous” term, reports The Hindu.

In a packed courtroom today, Justice Chandrachud questioned the petitioners’ plea of right to privacy being non-negotiable “If people have put themselves in the public realm using technology, is that not a surrender of their right to privacy”.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan representing the petitioner submitted that at the current age and date a person should have their own right to “informational self-determination”. He further argued that a person should also have the legal right to be in control of how much data to put forward and not compelled to.

In reply, Justice Chandrachud observed that right to privacy cannot be linked to data protection and instead of focussing on privacy, steps need to be taken to give statutory recognition to data protection.

The court also said that like the freedom of the press is deduced from the constitution without there being a law about it, similarly, privacy can also be deduced from other fundamental rights as well.

These observations will have repercussions on the Adhaar issue because various petitioners in a batch of petitions to the court had earlier pointed out that collection of biometric data and the laws related to it under the Adhaar Bill is a direct violation of their privacy.

The matter now will go back to the original three judge bench to decide on the original issue.

Sources: Indian Express and NDTV

Indian American chosen as OIRA head

The White House has appointed Indian American lawyer Neomi Rao to lead the office of Information and Regulatory Affairs(OIRA). The senate made this announcement, as there was a vote of 54-41 in her favour. She will now lead the White House overseeing regulations.

The OIRA reviews the requests it receives from the federal agencies to collect information from the public. The office has a total of five branches. Food, health and labor branch, information policy branch, natural resources and environment branch, statistical and science policy branch and transportation and security branch.

According to The Hindu, this decision has come at a time when the Senate is divided on party lines and the opposition Democrats have blocked several nominations. Neomi Rao has also worked under the Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas. She worked on Senator’s staff couple of years ago. Right now she is a public member of Administrative Conference of the US. Rao served in all three branches of the federal government. She has received her JD from University of Chicago ad her BA from Yale University. Rao has practiced public interest law and arbitration at Clifford Chance LLP in London.

Sources: The Hindu, India Today

SC extends Madras HC stay on cattle trade rules

The Supreme Court on Tuesday has ordered a nationwide stay on the Narendra Modi government’s ban of slaughtering cattle for trade.

According to the Hindustan times, the order from the apex court came after the Centre told the court that the public protests across the country had forced the government to rethink the rules of the ban. Additional Solicitor General P S Narsimha had requested the court to not issue any order since the rules were being examined by the government and they would be notified of the changes by the end of August.

However, the Supreme Court on extending the stay given by he Madras High Court said that livelihoods cannot be subjected to uncertainties and the new rules can be notified but the current rules’ operation for the entire country will stay.

Due to the protests all over the country by the state governments of Kerala and West Bengal, the government is forced to rethink its policy. This brings a big sigh of relief for the cattle traders whose livelihood had been affected extensively.

What remains to be seen is what kind of changes does the government bring to the policy and it’s implications.

Sources: Indian Express, India Today