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So Far, Still So Good: Clarifications regarding allegations of misrepresentation of placement data by ILNU

By | Newsupdate, NIRMA University; Allegations; misreporting; placements; | 31 Comments

Allegations have been raised against a post was published on 12th May 2017 in the Ahmedabad Mirror claiming that the University had misrepresented placement data. 
On 15th May 2017, an anonymous article was published in the Libertatem Magazine accusing ILNU and Ahmedabad Mirror of misrepresenting placement data. Following the same, the Ahmedabad Mirror, on 17th May, covered the story alleging misrepresentation of data by ILNU. The major contention of the Author’s of both the aforementioned articles, the replies provided by the University Management and the results of a little digging by Arguendo are provided below;

Allegation 1: The student of ILNU who had received the 16L offer, had not done so through the College Placement Cell but had received a PPO through their own efforts. 
Clarification issued by the University: 

Institute had shared the interim report of graduating students and their placement wherein it was mentioned that one of our students got an offer through PPO of approximately around 16 lakh. which was shared by the student himself to the institute. This PPO he has earned through the rigorous internship at the firm that we all know. the report of the institute had nowhere mentioned that he has got this offer through CRC (Campus Recruitment Committee consists of students and faculty incharge) by bringing the law firm at the campus. it was never intended to misguide or misrepresent the fact the only intention was to feel proud of our student and share that pride.

Arguendo’s Analysis: 
Picture 1 is the actual Press Note supplied by the University to Ahmedabad Mirror, which has been provided to us by the University. 


Picture 2 is the version published by Ahmedabad Mirror (accessible here.)


We have highlighted the disputed part to make it clear that as per the interim report which was released by NIRMA University, the University had never claimed that the got his offer from the College. The interim note states that;

The highest package offered was around Rs 16 lakh per annum and the average package comes to around Rs5.25 lakh, offered by top domestic law firms and corporates among others. Overall, the feeling is that all the recruiters who have visited the campus or who have opted off campus placement drives, were extremely happy with the quality and skills of the students of ILNU….”

What is even more blatantly obvious is that Ahmedabad Mirror choose to edit and change the verbatim of the Press Note and published something which was not only ambiguous but also started this entire fiasco in the first place.
Essentially every single accusation being leveled towards NIRMA University in this instance stems from the fact that the Editor of Ahamabad Mirror apprently left out some words in the middle of the sentence.
[We have reached out to AM but have got no response till the time of publishing this]




Allegation 2: That the student in question himself was unaware of his package and hence Nirma University announcing that the student had received a package of 16L was misleading.
Clarification issued by the University: 
According to the Ahmedabad Mirror itself, the placement coordinator for Nirma has already clarified this stating, “No law firm provides written details about pay package. Students are informed verbally about it at a later stage. We calculate the average package based on information provided to students and through figures available about the pay packages from the market.”

Arguendo’s Analysis: The author of the articles in both Ahmedabad Mirror and Libertatem Magazine fail to take into account that Law firms have standard fixed packages in general. As per available data published in Legally India, the last mass hike in salaries across top law firms was in the year 2015 and from 2016 salaries ranged in tightly fixed stable brackets.  Essentially if you make it into a top law firm, it can reasonably be guessed as to what will be the pay package offered to you.
Other places which give an overview of previous years salaries offers are here, here, here and here.

Again, at no place has the management of NIRMA University even remotely misrepresented on any aspect but merely drawn an inference from available data.

Subsequently, on the 18th of May 2017, Ahmedabad Mirror went ahead and covered a story stating that Nima was apparently threatening its students with defamation and restricting them from speaking against the college.  

Arguendo got in touch with the Director of Institute of Law, Nirma University, who was kind enough to forward to us the email in question, which was sent to students after the first articles were published. 
It is being reproduced below with their permission;
Dear ILNUits 

I came to know recently about some very shocking state of affairs. Some of our students indulging and trying to defame the institute where they studying.  If any students has got any issue any query can directly write to administration but engaging yourself in an activity which belittle the institute is not tolerated. It’s ultimately damaging the future prospects of you all existing students. 

The first and fundamental lesson of law education is not to be judgmental if you do not have facts in your hand. Get your facts corrected before you opine and defame your institute on social media. Approach an appropriate authority to present your grievances/issues/comment if any. The difference between law man and layman lies here. It’s very easy to belittle an image of an individual or an institute making of which might have taken huge sacrifices and sheer hardwork of many people. 

I make a sincere appeal to all of you to take care of this and refrain from any activity which ultimately harms the students’ future prospects.”

Arguendo’s Analysis:  We leave the readers to judge this for themselves. But we clearly fail to see how websites like Lawctopus, Legally India and any other websites which may have alleged the same, reach the conclusion that the students of the University were “threatened with defamation” or their “freedom of speech were curtailed“.
It seems evident that the Management, in the email shared above, only pointed out that if there were any grievances, there were proper channels of redressal for the same. Spoiling the name of the institution would only damage current students. The established process of grievance redressal is in all Universities and it would be quite a stretch to think that requesting that students respect the process cannot be a threat as such. 

It is also interesting to note that Lawctopus, Legally India, and Ahmedabad Mirror cited and shared an email sent by an ex-student, who had raised multiple allegations against the University. However surprising all the three previously mentioned websites fail to do however is share the reply by the University which clarified and rebutted all the allegations of the ex-student.
{Arguendo has been provided with a copy of the email thread but would not be sharing/publishing private emails without the express permission of the University.}




[We would like to thank Prof. (Dr.) Purvi Pokhariyal, Director & Dean, Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat for sparing some time from her schedule to revert to our queries and providing us all clarifications with respect to this.]


[In case there are any current students of Institute of Law, Nirma University who would either want to challenge this version of the events or issue a state in support of the same please do write to us at fsa712@gmail.com.]


Note From Our Editor: No University is perfect. There were allegations of nepotism, corruption, and mismanagement even in Universities such as NUJS, NUSRL, and NLSIU among some. As Law students and future lawyers of this Country, it is the duty of ever student to raise a voice whenever they see something wrong happen. But such voice should not be raised merely for the sake of hearing loud voices. As Law students, we have the greater responsibility to verify everything we say or post. Unverified allegations without proof are not something we as Law students should be buying into. No University is perfect. But something close to perfection can be achieved once students and management work together in tandem. 

Finance Bill 2017: What the Public needs to know about Aadhaar & Political Donations.

By | Aadhaar; Right to Privacy, Newsupdate, YOUR VOICE | One Comment

Sri. Arun Jaitley’s amendments to the Finance Bill, 2017 has been passed in Lok Sabha on the 22nd of March, 2017. A “money bill”, it will not be sent to Rajya Sabha for discussion, but only for their recommendations, which can be rejected by Lok Sabha, and then will be sent to the President of India for his assent.
Apart from introducing 40 amendments to different laws, Finance Bill, 2017 has a string of amendments that will impact a variety of existing taxation laws involving funding of political parties, use of Aadhaar, income tax returns and raids, caps in cash transaction, and a host of other issues.
There are two major worrying things in this Finance Bill, 2017. 
1) The amendments to the Finance Bill, 2017 propose to remove: 
(i) the limit of 7.5% of net profit of the last three financial years, for contributions that a company may make to political parties, 
(ii) the requirement of a company to disclose the name of the political parties to which a contribution has been made. 

In short, keeping in mind that Political Parties are exempted from RTI, a company can literally buy out an entire party and the public would be no wiser!

A token ‘good’, is that the Finance Bill also makes all contributions being made to the Political parties to be made electronically.

2) It has been mandatory for every person to quote their Aadhaar number after July 1, 2017, when:
(i) applying for a Permanent Account Number (PAN), or 
(ii) filing their Income Tax returns. In case a person does not have an Aadhaar, he will be required to quote their Aadhaar enrolment number, indicating that an application to obtain Aadhaar has been filed. 

Every person holding a PAN on July 1, 2017, and who is eligible to hold an Aadhaar, will be required to provide the authorities his Aadhaar number, by a date and in a manner notified by the central government. A failure to provide this number would result in the PAN number being invalidated, and the person would be treated at par with anyone who has not applied for a PAN. The government may exempt persons from this provision through a notification. 
What is the fuss with the Government asking us to get Aadhar cards you say? The Supreme Court in the case of Justice K.S.Puttaswamy(Retd) & Anr vs the Union Of India and Or [(2015)8 SCC735], via its interim order dated 11th August, 2015 clearly stated that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for all Government services till a Constitutional Bench decided on whether Aadhar violated the right to privacy.
The Ratio (applicable portion) of the Order is reproduced below;

“Having considered the matter, we are of the view that the balance of interest would be best served, till the matter is finally decided by a larger Bench if the Union of India or the UIDA proceed in the following manner:-

1. The Union of India shall give wide publicity in the electronic and print media including radio and television networks that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card;

2. The production of an Aadhaar card will not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen;

3. The Unique Identification Number or the Aadhaar card will not be used by the respondents for any purpose other than the PDS Scheme and in particular for the purpose of distribution of foodgrains, etc. and cooking fuel, such as kerosene. The Aadhaar card may also be used for the purpose of the LPG Distribution Scheme;
4. The information about an individual obtained by the Unique Identification Authority of India while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a Court for the purpose of criminal investigation.”


It is important to note that the Government of India had filed a petition to amend this order, in front of a 5 judge Bench in the case of Justice K.S.Puttaswamy(Retd) & Anr vs the Union Of India and Or [ (2015) 10 SCC 92], and even there the Hon’ble 5 judge bench of the SC, by its order dated 15 October 2015, had reiterated that the Aadhaar scheme “is purely voluntary and cannot be made mandatory” till the Supreme Court ruled on the issue in its finality.

Despite this, in clear violation (and alleged contempt) of the Supreme Court’s order, not only has the Finance Ministry decided to make Aadhar compulsory by what could only be termed as colourable exercise, but also the Telecom Department has issued a circular dated 23/03/2017, calling for 100% Aadhaar linked KYC within the next one year. 
It is interesting to note that the Telecom Department has issued to circular in apparent compliance with another Supreme Court order, dated 06/02/2017, in the case of Lokniti Foundation vs the Union of India (WP 607 of 2016), the Order of the Court in Lokniti Foundation, being that of a smaller Bench (2 judge) cannot be deemed to have overruled the Order of the SC in the 5 judge bench stated above. 
Finance Bill 2017 (without latest amendment suggested by Sri. Jaitley)
[Article last updated: 24/03/2017]

The SPB-Ilayaraja Copyright Tussle Explained

By | Blogging, IPR, Newsupdate | No Comments
There have been many assumptions and interpretations (most of them completely flawed) put forward by multiple newspapers (Yes, looking at you Outlook India) about the law regarding the recent copyright tussle between music director and singer S P Balasubrahmanyamand and composer Ilayaraja issue, so Harshavardhan Gaanesan, Foreign Associate at a leading Law Firm in the US, was gracious enough to throw a bit of legal clarity on the issue:

1. Ilayaraja is 100% right in law. The Copyright Act protects musical works and grants the composer the sole right to musical works, and if it has been registered, the Lyricist, rights in the lyrics of the song. And of course, the producer’s rights in the sound recording.
Ilayaraja
The difference in copyright law between a musical work and a sound recording is of paramount importance.
A musical work refers to the composition, the arrangements of instruments and lyrics too.
The sound recording refers to the actual recording with singing, recordings of the artists, of the instruments mixed with the lyrics etc.
So the division arises in a situation when for example a restaurant plays Mental Manadhil, without permission. They are actually violating 2 copyrights. One of the composer (AR Rahman) in the musical work and second, of the producer( here is where the divvying up comes into play) in the sound recording.
Here Ilayaraja argues that by singing the songs, it violated his musical work copyright (Obviously not the sound recording copyright). Legally what ilayaraja did is completely justified.
2. My grouse, however, and the grouse of many fans is on 2 accounts, primarily, the timing of the legal notice and second, the use of a legal notice as a means towards achieving these ends. I think something needs to be said for issuing a notice when you’ve already known that the concerts are going to take place. Further, SPB has said that had he sent him a mail or a call, the outcome might have become very different. Hypothetical, sure, but nonetheless justified.
Second, anyone with knowledge of SPB and his history of venerating his Music directors know that he constantly performs musical tributes for his favorite musical directors. In fact, he’s gone as far to say he wouldn’t be the same without Ilayaraja. To interject something as cold as a legal notice when there’s such an effusive feeling of warmth is malicious. Even in the absence of positive feelings between SPB and raja, the mode and means of doing it leave a lot to be said.
Some arguments that people have raised:
1. “AR Rahman has been doing for years now”. Arguendo, if he has, the point once again isn’t Ilayaraja asking for royalties. In fact, he went as far to say he would share the money he gets from royalties with producer, singers, and lyricists. ( For some reason he seems to believe that the sound recording right also exists in the tracks and therefore the lyricists, producers and singers will get paid. I disagree, however that is an argument for another time). It’s the mode and method I disagree with.
2. “SPB is making lakhs through his concerts” I’m grossly unaware of the amounts that go to the
Ilayaraja and SPB
singers of concerts, and the amount doled out to orchestra musicians, technicians etc. If he is making lakhs, that’s mostly because the problem is systemic. The day to day administration of IPRS and PPL shows how corrupt the system is from the top down, where performers never seem to be able to receive their proceeds from licenses, even after the 2012 amendment. While these singers are painted as pop culture icons, and that’s how we see them, that’s certainly not a depiction of their financial situation. The most famous example is of course how Ustad Bismillah Khan was piss poor and Kapil Sibal wrote him a cheque. This was a watershed moment for Indian Copyright law ( At least in my head).
3. “I have an idea da, Why does he even have to sing, what if the orchestra just played the music”? That would still be a violation of Ilayaraja’s copyright over the Musical Work.
4. “Dai what about in these random events, and these marriages when people sing these songs, they can be sued too a?” Well, the question depends on whether the situation falls under one of the fair use principles enumerated in the Copyright Act, examples include performances not done for profit, or those for educational purposes. Arguendo, assuming that no fair use exception exists, most producers/composers do not have the time, and neither the inclination to sue random stray occurrences like these. That would be akin to committing PR harakiri that even Jerry McGuire and CJ Cregg would be unable to do.
5. “Wait a minute, then all Thyagaraja’s and Dikshitar songs can’t be sung by anyone, how are they allowing that?”
Not true. Copyright lapses into the public domain ( Anyone is free to use it) after a period of 60 years after the death of the author. Given that Thyagaraja passed away in 1847, I would think the OS Aruns and Bombay Jayashris of the world don’t have to fear a copyright infringement suit anytime soon.
I think finally, there is something to be said about excessive protection of IP as a whole. (I for one disagree with a utilitarian justification for Intellectual Property). To ground it in reality: Imagine if every single time there was a cover of ‘Why this Kolaveri di’, money was owed to Anirudh, and the producers, and if not paid, the videos were taken down on Youtube. It might not be a far cry to say that the song wouldn’t have been the viral sensation it was without covers. I’ll leave this discussion at that.
About the Author: 



Harshavardhan Ganesan holds an LLM from the University of Law Berkeley and is a current Foreign Associate at a leading Law firm  Washinton, US. Harsha has been an avid debater, Munner, orator, actor and basically someone who loves the sound of his own voice and wants others to do the same as well.

The Leak we haven’t fixed: The Essar Scandal

By | Blogging, Featured, Newsupdate, YOUR VOICE | One Comment

The Essar leaks include e-mails, office memos, telephone conversations and other records allegedly leaked from the systems of the Indian business conglomerate Essar Group.

Events leading to the Leak
In 2015, a whistleblower approached lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan, and leaked a set of internal e-mails and memos from Essar Groupalleging that the conglomerate had granted favours to several politicians, bureaucrats and journalists. Bhushan’s Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) filed a PIL before the Supreme Court of India, requesting an investigation into these allegations.[i] The Essar Group filed an affidavit seeking dismissal of the PIL, calling the favours as legally justifiable “common courtesies”.[ii]
In May 2016, lawyer Suren Uppal reported the existence of a new set of secretly recorded conversations to the Prime Minister. The conversations involve influential politicians, bureaucrats, businesspeople, bankers, and other VIPs. Uppal claimed to have received these tapes from the former Essar employee Albasit Khan, who later denied Essar’s role in tapping the conversations and stated he had received these tapes from the now-deceased Mumbai Police officer Vijay Salaskar, a claim denied by Mumbai police. In June 2016, after the Outlook magazine made Uppal’s claims public. Khan and Essar completely denied the story, accusing Suren Uppal of being an extortionist. Uppal denied the allegations, and promised to release the tapes to the Supreme Court of India.

According to Uppal,until 2005, the surveillance was carried out over the BPL Mobile network, which had been under Essar’s control. The network was also used by Essar’s rival Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), which allowed Essar to tap their conversations. However, RIL moved out of this network after 2005. After that, Essar allegedly used Hutchison network for the tapping.[iii]
Contents of the leak
The Essar leaks allegedly show that the businesses unfairly influenced the Indian government and judiciary during both UPA and NDA tenures.[iv] The leaks include the following:
·         A November 2002 conversation between politicians Amar Singh and Kunwar Akhilesh Singh reveals how Amar Singh lobbied in favour of Reliance Petroleum as a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee.[v]
·         A December 2002 converstaion between RIL executives Mukesh Ambani and Satish Seth discusses how the Supreme Court was “managed” through minister Pramod Mahajan.[vi]
·         In another conversation, Mukesh Ambani and Satish Seth discuss how to break the Cellular Operators Association of India by paying millions to MP Rajeev Chandrasekharand the BPL Mobile founder.[vii]
·         In a June 2009 memo, senior executive Sunil Bajaj suggested giving 200 high-end cell phones to senior politicians and bureaucrats of the new UPA government, in order to “invest on right people at the right places for reaping long-term benefits”. He stated that Airtel and Reliance were already “experiencing the benefits” of this strategy.[viii]
·         In another 2009 e-mail, Sunil Bajaj suggested earmarking at least 200 recruitment slots for job referrals from powerful politicians and bureaucrats. He argued that the recommended candidates were often “highly qualified”, so the company would not have a problem hiring them.[ix]
·         A set of e-mails reveal that the Steel ministry’s joint secretary Syedain Abbasi was granted accommodation at Essar’s guest house in Delhi, although he was eligible for government-granted accommodation. In a 2013 email, the Essar executive Rajamani Krishnamurti describes Abbasi as “a very important person” who was handling the “majority of Essar’s issues”. The e-mail reveals that Abbasi had advised Essar to oppose a particular government proposal through industry bodies such as ASSOCHAMCII, and FICCI.[x]
·         An e-mail sent by Sunil Bajaj before the Diwali festival of 2013 suggested distributing gifts “to person in the middle and the lower ranks in various ministries, who are very vital in sustenance and procurement of important information and documents.” The e-mail indicate that the Essar officials had access to confidential government communication from multiple ministries, including Coal, Environment, Finance, Petroleum, Railways, Shipping and Steel. The Essar officials were in close contact with the Petroleum MinisterVeerappa Moily, and had access to the 2012-13 budget proposals for his Ministry.[xi]
·         E-mail correspondence between Essar executives shows that BJP leader Nitin Gadkari and his family enjoyed a 2-night stay on an Essar luxury yacht in French Riviera during 7–9 July 2013. Essar also arranged their stay on the Sunrays yacht for a day, including a helicopter trip to and from the Nice airport.[xii]
·         Essar’s internal records show that the company executives regularly arranged cabs for some Delhi-based journalists.[xiii]These journalists included Anupama Airy (Hindustan Times), Meetu Jain (CNN-IBN), and Sandeep Bamzai (Mail Today). [xiv]
Reactions
·         Essar filed a police complaint for data theft, and threatened legal action against media outlets that publish “any allegations based on any email stolen from the system”:[xv]
“In the last few weeks we have received anonymous phone calls from people purported to have mail stolen from our systems and on which basis there have been some demands for money at the threat of publishing prejudicial material. It is curious that some of the queries reflect the kind of material on which we were sought to be blackmailed.
It is apparent that some of the material is fabricated and some of the allegations are conclusions and inferences being drawn from email stolen from our computers.”
·         When The Caravan published a cover story critical of the company, the Essar group filed a ₹ 2500 million defamation suit against the magazine.[xvi]
·         Essar also claimed that some of the leaked material was fabricated, and was being used to blackmail them. The leaked records allegedly contain evidence of politician-corporate nexus in India, and show how business interests unfairly manipulate Indian government and judiciary.
·         In the 2015 affidavit seeking dismissal of CPIL’s request for investigation, the Essar Group stated that they had not derived any benefits from the alleged favours. The affidavit stated that there was no evidence of any criminal offence by Essar Group, and the alleged favours “common courtesies extended by corporate houses”.[xvii]
·         Essar also questioned the authenticity of the leaked e-mails, calling them “unverified” and “pure hearsay”. It stated that the company had not recruited people based solely on VIP recommendations, calling such recommendations legal and proper in Indian context.[xviii]
·          Essar accused CPIL of launching a smear campaign against them to seek publicity.[2]
·         The Aam Aadmi Party and the Indian National Congress demanded that the alleged tapes be made public.[xix]
·         The Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the Home Ministry to conduct an inquiry, and submit a detailed report.[xx]
Conclusion
Uppal claims are only the “tip of the iceberg” and that there were “far more incriminating conversations that expose invariably all aspects of corruption in the business milieu, Governance, policy making and judicial pronouncements that have marred our national pride and progress.”
The politician on the Yacht defends himself by saying that the Essar group owners have been his personal friends for several years and hence he doesn’t see any conflict of interest. Other politicians dismiss the story suggesting, public representatives must be seeking jobs for those from their constituencies. The only sphere, in which the “morality stick” has been cracked, is journalism and that’s where my basic objection lies.[xxi]
In conclusion, if we are genuinely concerned about media ethics, the first step is to acknowledge the real issues and by not avoiding to look at the genuine issues.


[i]Krishn Kaushik,Doing The Needful, Caravan (1 August 2015), available athttp://www.caravanmagazine.in/reportage/doing-needful-essar-industry-influence ,last seen on 29/06/2016.
[iii]Meetu Jain,Mumbai Police Dismiss Essar Whistle-Blower’s Claim That Crime Branch Was Tapes’ Source, Outlook (18 June 2016), available at  http://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/mumbai-police-dismiss-essar-whistle-blowers-claim-that-crime-branch-was-tapes-so/296982, last seen on 29/06/2016.
[v]Id.
[vi]Id.
[viii]Appu Esthose Suresh and Ritu Sarin, Essar Leaks: Wooing politicians with high-end phones, journalists with cabs,Indian Express(27 February 2015), available athttp://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/wooing-politicians-with-high-end-phones-journalists-with-cabs/, last seen on 29/06/2016.
[ix]Supra i.
[x]Id.
[xi]Id.
[xiv]Archna Shukla,Essar Leaks: 2 journalists resign, third put on notice,Indian Express (28 February 2015), available athttp://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/essar-leaks-2-journalists-resign-third-put-on-notice/, last seen on 29/06/2016.
[xv]Supra xii.
[xvi]Shreeja Sen , SC declines to transfer Essar defamation suit against ‘Caravan’ to Delhi, Live Mint.(9 September 2015), available athttp://www.livemint.com/Companies/l7p8QtAzYYCRFzRHWVTZ0I/SC-declines-to-transfer-Essar-defamation-suit-against-Carav.html, last seen on 29/06/2016.
[xvii]Supra ii.
[xix]Congress responds to Indian Express report on Essar tapes, demands the tapes be made public, Indian Express( 17 June 2016), available at http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/congress-responds-to-indian-express-report-on-essar-tapes-demands-the-tapes-be-made-public-2858448/, last seen on 29/06/2016.
Essar leaks: AAP joins chorus, demands the tapes be made public, Indian Express(18 June 2016), available at http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/essar-leaks-aap-joins-chorus-demands-the-tapes-be-made-public-2861057/, last seen on 29/06/2016.
[xx]Rahul Kanwal,Modi orders probe into Essar leaks, asks Home Ministry to submit report, India Today(19 June 2016), available at http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/essar-leaks-narendra-modi-indian-express/1/695383.html, last seen on 29/06/2016.
[xxi]The Essar leak case, journalism and selective outrage, available at http://www.bhupendrachaubey.com/news/The-Essar-leaks-case-and-journalism, last seen on 29/06/2016

The Panama Pandemonium: The leak that shocked the World.

By | Blogging, Featured, Newsupdate, YOUR VOICE | No Comments
                 The Panama Papers are an unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.[1]Süddeutsche Zeitung  is one of Germany’s leading newspapers which has its headquarters in Munich.  Its team has cooperated with other media organizations on a number of projects, including Offshore Leaks, Swiss Leaks, and Lux Leaks, which ICIJ coordinated.[2]  The records were shared by Süddeutsche Zeitung to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which further shared it with a large network of international partners, including the Guardian and the BBC.

Over a year ago, an anonymous source contacted the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and submitted encrypted internal documents from Mossack Fonseca. In the months that followed, the number of documents continued to grow far beyond the original leak. Ultimately, SZ acquired about 2.6 terabytes of data, making the leak the biggest that journalists had ever worked with. The source wanted neither financial compensation nor anything else in return, apart from a few security measures.[3]
The data provides how a global industry led by major banks, legal firms, and asset management companies secretly manages the estates of the world’s rich and famous.The documents show ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes. Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.[4]
 Vladimir Putin has a $2bn trail.  Among national leaders with offshore wealth are Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister; Ayad Allawi, ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president of Iraq; Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine; Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt’s former president; and the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davio Gunnlaugsson.[5]
The company at the center of all these stories is Mossack Fonseca. Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm whose services include incorporating companies in offshore jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands. It administers offshore firms for a yearly fee. It sells its shell firms in cities such as Zurich, London, and Hong Kong. Mossack Fonseca operates in havens including Switzerland, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands, and in the British crown dependencies Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.[6]Its website boasts of a global network with 600 people working in 42 countries.[7]
The data
The Panama Papers include approximately 11.5 million documents – more than the combined total of the Wikileaks Cablegate, Offshore Leaks, Lux Leaks, and Swiss Leaks. The data primarily comprises e-mails, pdf files, photo files, and excerpts of an internal Mossack Fonseca database. It covers a period spanning from the 1970s to the spring of 2016. 
About two years ago, a whistleblower had already sold internal Mossack Fonseca data to the German authorities, but the dataset was much older and smaller in scope: while it addressed a few hundred offshore companies, the Panama Papers provide data on some 214,000 companies. [8]
The leaked data is structured as follows: Mossack Fonseca created a folder for each shell firm. Each folder contains e-mails, contracts, transcripts, and scanned documents. In some instances, there are several thousand pages of documentation. First, the data had to be systematically indexed to make searching through this sea of information possible. Süddeutsche Zeitung and ICIJ uploaded millions of documents onto high-performance computers. The journalists compiled lists of important politicians, international criminals, and well-known professional athletes, among others. The digital processing made it possible to then search the leak for the names on these lists. The “party donations scandal” list contained 130 names, and the UN sanctions list more than 600. In just a few minutes, the powerful search algorithm compared the lists with the 11.5 million documents.[9]
                               
http://panamapapers.sueddeutsche.de/articles/56febff0a1bb8d3c3495adf4/_modules_6_image_url.png
Courtesy: http://panamapapers.sueddeutsche.de/articles/56febff0a1bb8d3c3495adf4/
The leak has made several tax havens and industrialists who have hidden their money and assets off shore. French President Francois Hollande hailed the “good revelations” which would “increase tax revenues from those who commit fraud”. Jennie Granger, a spokeswoman for UK’ tax authority has exclaimed that the organization has received a great deal of information on offshore companies.[10]
The tax revenues would surely increase from the people at fraud and who have not paid the appropriate amount of taxes. This revelation would also help identify the money stored offshore and bring that back for betterment of country.




References:
[1] What are the Panama Papers? A guide to history’s biggest data leak, available at http://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/apr/03/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-panama-papers, last visited on 26/05/2016
[2]Frederik Obermaier, Bastian Obermayer, Vanessa Wormer and Wolfgang Jaschensky, About the Panama Papers, available at http://panamapapers.sueddeutsche.de/articles/56febff0a1bb8d3c3495adf4/, last visited on 26/05/2016
[3] Ibid
[4] Supra 1
[5] Ibid
[6] Ibid
[7] Ibid
[8] Supra 2
[9] Ibid
[10] Richard Bilton, Panama Papers:Mossack Fonesca leak reveals elite tax havens, available at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-35918844,  last seen  on 26/05/2016



About the Author:

Sanya Darakhshan Kishwar is a third year BSc.LLB. student from Central University of South Bihar, Gaya. She is currently interning at For the Sake of Argument.She is passionate about books and loves to read case laws in her free time.




Maharashtra National Law University, Mumbai’s 1st Foundation Day Celebration

By | Law Colleges, MNLU, Newsupdate | No Comments
Mumbai, October 10, 2015: Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai (MNLU) today celebrated its 1st Foundation Day Celebration at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). The celebration was graced by Shri. Devendra Fadnavis Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Shri. Vinod Tawde Hon’ble Minister of Higher & Technical Education.
MNLU is the first law university for the State of Maharashtra, and is currently offering courses such as BA, LL.B Hons. Five year integrated program and one year LL.M (Legal Pedagogy and Research) program. The university has received a very positive response of around 3000 applications for its opening batch. The classes for this batch are already under way.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri. Devendra Fadnavis Hon’ble Chief of Maharashtra said; “It was always a dream for our government that we should have institutes of national repute for imparting legal education and the government decided to have 3 such institutions at Mumbai, Aurangabad and Nagpur. I am happy that we could start the first one at Mumbai.”


He further announced that the Government of Maharashtra is going to start an International Arbitration Centre in Mumbai as there is a huge scope for it, as most global companies have their presence here. While referring to students he added, “MNLU has offered you an opportunity to be part of a mechanism which caters to the youth of India and I am sure you will use it to the fullest.”


MNLU is currently housed and is temporarily being operated from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) campus until an independent and new campus for “Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai”. The MNLU students have been offered the same facilities as TISS students. The students also have access to TISS library for their research/study purposes.


Shri. Vinod Tawde Hon’ble Minister of Higher & Technical Education expressed his desire that MNLU should include certain other novel disciplines such as International Maritime law and International Humanitarian law. He also assured the students that MNLU will celebrate its next Foundation Day at its own campus and congratulated them on the launch of its maiden newsletter, “NYUSURETA” (means newsletter in Japanese).


“Starting of a new campus was a challenge. Understanding our concerns and challenges, the support offered by The Govt of Maharashtra and TISS has helped MNLU become operational quickly and has also created a healthy environment for students to pursue their courses. As a pioneer law university in the state of Maharashtra NLU will look forward to produce and groom the talent” said Prof. (Dr.) Bhavani Prasad Panda, Vice Chancellor, Maharashtra National Law University

Speaking on MNLU and TISS association, Dr S Parasuraman, Director, TISS said “We welcome MNLU, the presence of university at the campus will encourage dialogue/ conversations and engagement amongst students from both institutes and also offer opportunity to learn from each other.”He further added that “In a country like India, optimum utilization of resources (sharing attitude) at educational institutes will not only be beneficial to students but also contribute in growth of the economy as a whole.”

IPL Scandal Time Line & Overview: Mudgal & Lodha Committee Reports

By | Blogging, Featured, IPL, Newsupdate, Scams & Scandals, YOUR VOICE | No Comments
        Controversy thy name is Indian Premier League. The Indian Premier League since its inception has been the centre of controversies which seems to be a part and parcel of the IPL. It not only attracted a nationwide hype when the former Commissioner of IPL, Lalit Modi, faced as many as 22 charges of money laundering, but another reason for its being in the news is the 2013 scandal whose scores were  finally settled by the ‘Justice Lodha Committee’ this year. The IPL scandal of 2013, involved charges of betting and match fixing certain IPL matches, where the officials from Chennai SuperKings and Rajasthan Royals were found guilty. The IPL scandal dates back to May 16, 2013 when the Delhi Police arrested Rajasthan Royals players Srisanth, Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandila in Mumbai for spot fixing. It also involved Vindoo Dara Singh who revealed that Gurunath Meiyappan’s and Raj Kundra’s involvement in the same. 
Left: Gurunath; Right: Kundra
Gurunath Meiyappan is a member of the AVM family and is the son-in-law of Indian industrialist, former president of the BCCI, and Chairman of the ICC, N. Srinivasan. Coincidentally, Mr. Srinivasan is also the owner of Chennai SuperKings. Raj Kundra is a British businessman, who also has interests in both cricket and mixed martial arts. He is married to Shilpa Shetty, the Bollywood actress.On May 25, 2013 Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested on the charges of betting, cheating and conspiracy and on 26 May, 2013 he was suspended by the BCCI. On the very same day the BCCI appointed a three member commissionto look into the case against Gurunath and Kundra. However, the Commission gave a verdict of ‘not guilty’ to Gurunath as well as Raj Kundra issuing a statement saying that there were no evidence against them that could prove any wrong doing on their part.The BCCI panel’s decision to let off Meiyappan and Kundra was challenged by the Cricket Association of Bihar secretary Aditya Verma in Bombay High Court and on July 28, Bombay High Court judges found the BCCI probe panel illegal and the report was declared null and void. On August 5, a Special Leave Petition was filed in Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court order by BCCI and on October 7, the apex court appointed a three-member committee, headed by former High Court Judge Mukul Mudgal. The panel was mandated to investigate but not impose any punishment. The Mudgal panel submitted its report to the Supreme Court on February 10, 2014 which said that Meiyappan was involved in betting and sharing team information and Kundra also participated in betting. The Supreme Court on January 22, 2015 set up the Lodha Committee, headed by the Ex Chief Justice of India, R M Lodha, to determine amount of punishment for Meiyappan, Kundra and their respective teams. The Lodha Committee was formed on January 22, 2015 comprising of retired Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha and retired Supreme Court judges Ashok Bhan and R Raveendran to determine:
(i). Punishments for Gurunath, Kundra and their respective franchises Chennai SuperKings and Rajasthan Royals
(ii.) Suggest amendments to the process followed by the BCCI in order to prevent frauds and conflict of interests.
The Supreme Court committee proposed a two year ban on each Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals. Raj Kundra as well as Gurunath were banned for life from any cricketing activity. However, the players of both the franchises are not banned for the respective term and can play for any other team. The Committee gave the judgment on 22 July, 2015.
Following the judgment of the Lodha Committee, BCCI has constituted an IPL Working Group to study the verdict of the committee. The working group shall consist of four members including the IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur, BCCI treasurer Anirudh Choudhary and former Indian Cricket Team captain Saurav Ganguly. According to the twitter posts of the BCCI, the group will work within a time bound period of 6 weeks and report their recommendations.

References:NDTV

Vyapam Scam: All You Need To Know

By | Blogging, Featured, Newsupdate, Vyapam Scam, YOUR VOICE | No Comments
India has been associated with large scale scams since a considerable amount of time. Every now and then the media is flooded with the news on one or the scam that has been exposed. Another name that is added to the long history of Indian scams is the ‘Vyapam Scam’. Vyapam (Vyasayik Pariksha Mandal) is the Hindi acronym of Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB). MPPEB is a government body which is endowed with the responsibility of conducting entrance examinations which are used for recruitment to the government offices and admissions to educational institutions in the State. The scam was collusion between candidates, politicians, bureaucrats, government officers and middleman. The undeserving candidates bribed the politicians and other officers through middlemen who in return gave them a high rank in the examination which in ordinary circumstance they could never qualify.

What is Vyapam?
Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board popularly known as Vyapam was established in 1982 in the state’s capital Bhopal. It is a professional examination conducting body responsible for conducting MP-PMT, Pre-Polytechnic test, Pre-Agriculture Test, Pre-P.C. Entrance Test, Police Recruitment test etc.
The math of Vyapam Scam:
An undeserving student bribes government officials and middleman who in return offer them high percentage of marks in the qualifying exams. The math is very simple and before the whole thing came into light, the people involved in the same got out of it scot free. Various tricks are used by such people operating the scam. It works in the following manner –
  1. Impersonation : Students who are previous years’ toppers or practicing doctors are paid high amounts to impersonate the undeserving exam candidate by replacing their photograph in the admit by the impersonator’s photograph; which was after the exam changed back to the original. All the details in the admit card remained the same except the photograph. This was done by the help and support of the already bribed corrupt government officers.
  2. Leaking the answer key: in order to help the undeserving candidate often the answer key was leaked so that the candidate could qualify the exam.
  3. Manipulation of records and answer sheet : the undeserving candidates left the OMR sheet unanswered or fill up the answers they were sure about and rest was the duty of the corrupt board officials gave them high ranking and marks. The candidates in order to avoid being caught often filed an RTI and asked for the answer sheet so that they could simply fill the answers according to their marks. Sometimes they were supplied with solved OMR sheets before they took the exam.
  4. Copying / Engine Bogie system: the copying of answers in the Vyapam scam is not like how a student normally cheats and copies in exams. Here the whole cheating system was a step ahead because the undeserving candidates were made to sit strategically next to a brilliant dummy candidate who would either exchange answer sheet in the end of the exam or let the candidate copy his answers. Each and every one involved was bribed to do so.


Unearthing of the scam- Timeline of the unfolding of the scam
Complaints of irregularities and malpractices in Vyapam had been reported since 2000, when the. However, it was in 2013 that the cover was blown and the naked truth came in front of the world. The following is how it all began:
2000 – First FIR was filed of malpractice and irregularities in Chattarpur District.
2004– Seven cases were registered in Khandawa district. [1]
2007– Before 2007, all the cases of irregularities were seen as isolated cases but after 2007, the Vyapam scam started to come in light. The MP Local Fund Audit office found financial and administrative irregularities in Vyapam including unauthorized disposal of application forms. [1]
2009– Fresh complaints of irregularities in the Pre- Medical Test surfaced.[2] A Public Interest Litigation was filed in the MP High Court by activist Anand Rai in which he claimed malpractice and fraudulent ways being adopted in admissions and recruitments. [3] In the same year a Committee was formed by the then Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan which was headed by State Joint Director of Medical Education to inquire in the matter. [4]
2011– In July, MPPEB monitored 145 suspects during the Pre- Medical Test in which 8 were caught impersonating others. Biometric technology was used for the first time and all students who took the examination were made to give their thumb impressions, and their photographs were taken. The inputs were then matched at the time of counseling [5]
In November 2011, the Committee formed by Shivraj Chauhan submitted its report and it was stated in the report that as much as 114 candidates passed the PMT due to impersonating and the middlemen charged up to Rs 4 million. State Minister for medical education Mr. Mahendra Hardia confirmed that 114 people gained admissions to MBBS courses through fraudulent means and many of them have passed the institution and are practicing medicine. FIRs were registered against 56 students [6]
2013– Special Task Force investigating the pre-Medical test scam produced a supplementary charge sheet of 23,000 pages against 34 accused of which 30 are students and their guardians who got admissions in the medical college through fraudulent means. [7]
2014– In March 2014, the government announced that the STF arrested 127 people. Identified accused number rose from 8 to 865. [8]
According to the STF report for 21012 – 2013 the MPPEB scam is said to be worth over Rs 10,000 crore and more than 2.5 million young people have been affected by the scandal. [9]
Notable Arrests:
More than 2000 people have been arrested till date and the following are the notable arrests.
  1. Lakshmikant Sharma, ex- education Minister of M.P.
  2. OP Shukla
  3. Sudhir Sharma
  4. R.K. Shivhare, Suspended IPS Officer
  5. Ravikant Dwivedi, Suspended Joint Commissioner (Revenue)
  6. Dr Jagdish Sagar
  7. Dr Sanjeev Shilpakar
  8. Pankaj Trivedi, MPPEB Examination Controller
  9. C.K. Mishra, Officer, Vyapam
  10. Nitin Mahendra, Principal System Analyst
  11. Ajay Sen, Senior System Analyst
CBI probe in the scam:
The Indian National Congress demanded a CBI probe in the Vyapam scam under the supervision of the Supreme Court after ridiculing the Chief Minister Shivraj Chauhan’s demand of CBI under the supervision of the High Court calling it a ‘hogwash’ and said that the government seems to lack sensitivity and interest in the issue. The opposition also demanded the removal of Chauhan as the C.M. [10]
The Supreme Court on July 9, 2015 ordered a CBI probe in all the Vyapam related matters. The Supreme Court also issues a notice to the Centre, M.P government and to the Governor Ram Naresh Yadav on a plea seeking his removal for his alleged role and involvement in the Vyapam scam. The Supreme Court’s order came after the M.P government gave its consent to shifting from the High Court monitored special investigation team (SIT) and the Special Task Force (STF), which was accused of showing a slack approach in their investigation. The Court said that all the Vyapam related cases shall be transferred to the CBI from July 12, 2015 and the agency shall file its report on July 24, 2015. The decision of the apex court has been welcomed by the whistleblowers and the petitioners. [11]
The timeline of death counts-
The Vyapam scam has another reason to be in the news since its cover was blown off and that reason is the bloodshed that followed after its exposure.  It’s the bloodiest scam in the Indian history and is covered in blood and gore from every angle. The reason I say this is because of the fact that more than 40 people have died in mysterious circumstances since 2009 when the incident came in light. However, the activist firmly believe that the death count mat be as much as more than 150 people. The following is the list of the most talked about and mysterious deaths:
  1. Namrata Damodar: 19 year Medical student died in January 2012 and the autopsy revealed the reason to be strangulation.
  2. Dr D.K. Sakalle: The dean of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Medical College, Jabalpur was found dead I his home burn on July 4, 2015.
  3. Akshay Singh: a journalist of AAJ tak channel died mysteriously while he was investigating the death case of Namrata Damodar and the reason of his sudden death is still not clear.
  4. Sanjay Kumar: Yadav was a police constable in Madhya Pradesh who was supposed to appear as one of the witness in the Vyapam case.
  5. Narendra Singh Tomar – This death was what brought the Vyapam scam back in the limelight in June 2015 after another accused in the high-profile MPPEB scam died under mysterious circumstances in an Indore jail.
  6. Sharma – Sharma was the dean of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Medical College in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. He was suspected of having links to some accused in the Vyapam scam, was found dead under mysterious circumstances at a hotel in south-west Delhi’s Dwarka on 6 July. The body of Sharma was found in his room at the hotel.
  7. Dr Rajendra Arya – The 40-year old died within 24 hours of Tomar’s death at Birla Hospital in Gwalior. He had been on bail for one year, had gone to Kota and was returning when his condition turned critical.
  8. Shailesh Yadav – He was the son of MP Governor Ram Naresh Yadav and was one of the accused in the Vyapam scam. He was found dead at his residence, the Governor’s bungalow in Lucknow in March 2015.
  9. Vijay Singh – Another accused, Singh was found dead under mysterious circumstances at a lodge in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district in April 2015.
  10. Ramendra Singh Bhadoria – The 30-year old was found hanging at his home in Gwalior a few days after an FIR was registered in January 2015. His family members claimed he was being mentally tortured by those involved in the MPPEB scam to keep quiet.[12]


About the Author: 


Anjali Bisht, is a current final year student of Law College Dehradun, who is Interning with For the Sake of Argument.
 She considers herself a zealous person with a serious case of curious bone. With reading as her best friend, she like to write because,that is the best way of expression.






References:

  1. The News Minute , 2015-07-06
  2. The Indian Express , March 15, 2015
  3. Outlook, June 1, 2015
  4. Catch News, 2015-06-30
  5. The Indian Express, 2011-07-26
  6. The Times of India,2011-12-29
  7. DNA, December 27, 2013
  8. The Free Press Journal, March 4, 2014
  9. Hindustan Times, July 10, 2015
  10. The Indian Express, 8 July 2015
  11. Hindustan Times, July 10, 2015
  12. First Post, July 9, 2015

TRAI Consultation Paper on Net Neutrality

By | Net Neutrality, Newsupdate, YOUR VOICE | One Comment

TRAI has requested “Stakeholders”, which in this case means all of us concerned citizens, to send their comments preferably in electronic form by 24th April, 2015 and counter comments by 8th May 2015 on email id advqos@trai.gov.in on 20 simple questions regarding Net Neutrality.
For any clarification / information, Shri A. Robert. J. Ravi, Advisor (TD & QoS) may be contacted at Tel. No. +91-11-23230404, Fax: +91-11-23213036.


Consultation Paper:   Here

How Consultatiuon Process Works

The public has been asked 20 questions based on above 2 points. You have to send mail to a TRAI email ID with answers to these questions. You can do this till April 24, 2015. Time will be provided for counter comments from April 24th to May 8th.
To make sure that anti net neutrality rules aren’t formed in India, we need each others help. Please mail TRAI and let them know we do not want to compromise on our internet Freedom.
You need to send a mail to TRAI mail id advqos@trai.gov.in in support of net neutrality and against differential pricing/speeds.
Why should you be bothered?
If TRAI does not get enough public mails in support of Net Neutrality, this is what you can expect:-
You will have different packages for accessing internet.

1 GB data for Rs 252 + Rs 50 for Google + Rs 25 for facebook and so on.
1 GB data pack would be like the base pack of your DTH.
But you will have to add packs for carrier decided pricing to be able to use all apps.



This isn’t even the worst thing.!
ISPs can slow down some sites on while giving faster speeds to the companies that pay them more.
Governments will no more need draconian laws to curb free speech. It can just ask the operators to make critical sites costly to access and also clamp down their speeds. Telcos that already have vested interests from the governments will happily oblige.
Do not sit silent. Drop them an email now.!!! Tweet to the PMO.! Let them know we value our freedom.!!
SHARE THIS. TWEET THIS. LET EVERYONE KNOW WHAT IS AT STAKE.!!

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CASE LAWS: Shreya Singh vs Union of India [Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 167 of 2012]

By | Caselaws, Newsupdate | No Comments
DNA India: In a landmark judgment, Supreme Court has struck down Section 66A  of the IT Act. In their order, the court said, Section 66A is violative of Article 19(1)(a), not saved by Article 19(2), hence unconstitutional. 
The division bench said  public’s right to know is directly affected by Section 66A of Information Technology Act.  The apex court also said Section 66A of IT Act clearly affects Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression enshrined under Constitution.
SC, however, refused to strike down two other provisions of the IT Act that provide blocking of sites. 
Thr Court said there is a difference between discussion, advocacy and incitement.Discussion & advocacy, no matter how annoying, is allowed said the division bench in it’s judgment. Court while delivering the verdict said liberty and liberty of thought is of paramount importance in a country like India.


Judgement HERE