Govt Looking For Solutions To Curb Misuse Of Messaging Apps

The government has no intention of imposing a blanket ban on messaging applications and is looking for other “technical solutions” to control instances of fake news and misuse of these apps, a senior official said on Thursday.Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a conference here, Department of Telecommunications (DoT)Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said that “technical solutions” would be worked out based on technologies such as metadata and artificial intelligence (AI) to address the concerns.

According to earlier reports, the Department had asked telecom operators to look for ways to block messaging applications in the wake of increasing fake news on social media.

Responding to the reports, the Cellular Operators Association of India had said it would be very difficult for telecom operators to block individual mobile applications and suggested that the government should look at “more effective” steps to curb fake news and maintain public order.On Tuesday, Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad met WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels and asked the visiting official to comply with Indian laws and take “suitable” steps to prevent the misuse of the instant messaging platform.According to Prasad, Daniels assured him that the Facebook- owned platform will soon take steps in this regard.





UIDAI Made Facial Recognition Mandatory To Link Adhaar

As the debate over the reach of Aadhaar and the security of the world’s largest biometric database continue, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has made facial recognition mandatory for all services that require Aadhaar authentication including banking and mobile operators and government welfare schemes.The authentication will happen by taking on-the-spot pictures in addition to the photo submitted for KYC formalities.

The feature is meant to complement the existing authentication procedures for iris (eye) and fingerprint scans. An individual will be required to have facial recognition done along with either an iris scan or a fingerprint scan.
According to the UIDAI, the move has been implemented to increase the inclusiveness of the Aadhaar programme. The move is expected to help those who are unable to get Aadhaar verification done due to problems in scanning fingerprints. These include the elderly as well as labourers.
As of now, all telecom service providers have been asked to ensure that their ecosystems have this technology required to implement facial recognition. They have also been informed that from September 15, at least ten per cent of their total monthly transactions should employ facial recognition, failing which they will be charged a fee per transaction.

The circular also states that non-compliance with the rule will constitute a criminal offence under the Aadhaar Act 2016, punishable by imprisonment or a fine.This move is likely to attract backlash because, in an earlier circular, facial recognition was not mandatory.The timing of the move, which comes just before the Supreme Court is expected to announce its verdict on making Aadhaar mandatory for availing services is also likely to create resentment among people.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s Bail Denied By Panchkula CBI Court

Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, serving a 20-year jail term each in two rape cases, was denied bail today by a Panchkula CBI court in another case involving castration of 400 of his followers. Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s bail plea was dismissed three days after he had moved the court for it.

In the castration case, the Panchkula court had recently framed charges of cheating, criminal intimidation and the one for causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons against Gurmeet.

He was also charged with criminal conspiracy along with two doctors, Pankaj Garg and M P Singh, allegedly involved in castration of nearly 400 of the sect followers.

The CBI earlier had filed a charge sheet against Gurmeet and the two doctors for allegedly subjecting the sect followers to castration.

It had been alleged that they castrated the men at the Sirsa-based dera telling the victims that it would lead to realisation of god through the dera chief. The charge sheet had been filed in a special CBI court in Panchkula.

The agency had registered the case of alleged criminal conspiracy for voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons among other charges under the Indian Penal Code against Ram Rahim and others in 2015.

The probe was handed over to the agency by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on a plea by a dera follower.

The CBI court, meanwhile, granted permission to Dr Garg to visit the UK from November 3 to November 11 to attend a medical conference.


Revision On Reservation Exsiting Laws:SC

Supreme Court set out a series of questions, asking the all important question about the extent of quotas in Government Jobs. The object of the discussion was the extent of quotas in regards promotion in government job. The apex court even asked the question as to till when should a backward class considered in need of assistance. The court asked if ‘Scheduled Casts and Scheduled tribes would continue to be backward forever?’ and if the perpetuation of quotas even for promotion was required.

A five judge bench led by by CJI Dipak Misra and comprising of Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Indu Malhotra yesterday questioned the legality and interest of allowing quotas in promotion and also mulled the prospect of eliminating the ‘creamy layer’. The response was given after Senior Advocates including additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, Nidhesh Gupta,  Rupinder S Suri, A Mariarputham, Dinesh Dwivedi, Indira Jaising and Sanjay Hegde argued for the quota in promotion and drew reference to SC’s Nagraj Judgement of 2006.

The advocates, representing the states as well as the SC/ST employees were however told by the bench that there must be a rationale behind reservation an a timeline as well as an extent of reservation. As reported by TOI, the bench asked the advocates as to till when reservation should be provided on the account of backwardness.

The bench pointed out, “Entry-level reservation in employment on the basis of backwardness is no problem. But what is worrying us is the accelerated promotion to all SC/ST employees without looking into their status of employment.” Adding further context, the bench asked, “Suppose a person by virtue of reservation gets into IAS and becomes secretary through reservation in promotion. Can a very senior bureaucrat’s grandson and great-grandson be treated as backward for promotion in employment, and that too in perpetuity?”


NASA To Launch Laser-Armed Satellite To Measure Earth’s Changing Ice

NASA is launching a laser-armed satellite next month that will measure — in unprecedented detail — changes in the heights of Earth’s polar ice to understand what is causing ice sheets to melt fast. In recent years, contributions of melt from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica alone have raised global sea level by more than a millimeter a year, accounting for approximately one-third of observed sea level rise, and the rate is increasing.

Called the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2), the mission is scheduled to be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on September 15, NASA said in a statement late on Thursday. ICESat-2 will measure the average annual elevation change of land ice covering Greenland and Antarctica to within the width of a pencil, capturing 60,000 measurements every second.

ICESat-2 will improve upon NASA’s 15-year record of monitoring the change in polar ice heights. It started in 2003 with the first ICESat mission and continued in 2009 with NASA’s Operation IceBridge, an airborne research campaign that kept track of the accelerating rate of change. ICESat-2’s Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) measures height by timing how long it takes individual light photons to travel from the spacecraft to Earth and back.

“ATLAS required us to develop new technologies to get the measurements needed by scientists to advance the research,” said Doug McLennan, ICESat-2 Project Manager. “That meant we had to engineer a satellite instrument that not only will collect incredibly precise data, but also will collect more than 250 times as many height measurements as its predecessor,” he added.

No Re-election In Rural Seats Won By Mamata Banerjee

There will be no re-election for over 20,000 rural seats in Bengal that were won uncontested by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress in May, the Supreme Court said today, in a huge reprieve for the state’s ruling party.The court, however, left room for petitions from candidates who have alleged that they were stopped from filing their nominations for the seats.

The Trinamool Congress bagged 20,178 seats without contest in the West Bengal panchayat election, which led to opposition allegations of violence and terror tactics by the ruling party. The opposition had alleged that no other candidate could file nominations to contest those seats because of violence and attacks by Trinamool Congress workers.

“Keeping in view the seriousness of allegations of nominations being stopped, Supreme Court allows individuals to take legal recourse,” the judges said, giving 30 days for such petitions.The results for those seats, held back on court orders, can now be declared.

A re-poll would have been hugely embarrassing for the Mamata Banerjee government, which has vehemently denied opposition charges.A special leave petition was filed by Bengal’s State Election Commission in May. Opposition parties including the CPM, the BJP and Congress had gone to the Calcutta High Court in the run-up to the panchayat polls, pleading that their candidates could not file nominations because of alleged violence by the Trinamool.

There were instances of alleged Trinamool workers on motorcycles, armed with swords, scaring aspirants away from election centres on nomination day in the West Bengal panchayat election.

The high court then ordered the State Election Commission to accept electronically filed nomination papers. But the State Election Commission challenged that in Supreme Court, which has set aside e-nominations.

In court, the CPM and the BJP raised the uncontested wins. The Supreme Court expressed shock at the huge number of seats — 34 per cent — won without contest by the Trinamool.

Elections were held in phases for 48,650 posts in gram panchayats, 825 posts in zilla parishads and 9,217 posts in panchayat samitis in May.



Lalu Yadav Asked To Surrender Till August 30:Jharkhand HC

The Jharkhand High Court declined to extend Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s provisional bail anymore and directed him to surrender before the court on August 30. He has been convicted in four fodder scam cases by the special CBI Court, Ranchi.Senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Lalu, on Friday pleaded before the bench of Apresh Kumar to extend the bail for three months, but the court agreed for only three days and directed the RJD chief to surrender on Aug 30.“Now he will undergo treatment at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi. He will be brought from Mumbai’s Asian Heart Institute where he is currently admitted,” said Prabhat Kumar, one of the lawyers of Lalu.

After visiting his father at Asian heart Institute in Mumbai on Monday, Tejashwi Yadav wrote on social media that his father was admitted due to ‘various diseases’.

“Perturbed to see his falling health & increased infection. Praying that he may recover soon under the around-the-clock monitoring & continuous medical care of specialist doctors,” he said. Lalu had undergone a bypass surgery at the same hospital a few years ago.

The former CM of Bihar has been on medical bail since he was convicted in December 2017 in a fodder scam case. He was also convicted in two other cases in January and March 2018 and was awarded 14 years imprisonment. In 2013, he was convicted in the first fodder scam case and sentenced to jail for five years.According to reports, Lalu’s diabetic condition has caused a delay in his recovery.


Indian Rupee Weakened Against US Dollar

The Indian rupee along with emerging Asian currencies weakened further against the US dollar on Friday as prospects for a quick resolution of the US-China trade war faded after two days of talks ended with little progress. Traders are waiting for a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell later in the day. At 9.10am, the rupee was trading at 70.23 a dollar, down 0.15%, from its Thursday’s close of 70.11. The home currency opened at 70.20 a dollar and touched a low of 70.23.The 10-year bond yield stood at 7.895%, from its previous close of 7.879%. Bond yields and prices move in opposite directions.

Trade talks between the US and China wrapped up on Thursday with no major progress, setting the stage for further escalation of the trade war between the world’s two largest economies. The two sides had met low expectations for this week’s meetings and no further talks had been scheduled.Powell is due to speak at 10am New York time where analyst expects that he will keep a hawkish stance. The Fed’s most recent policy meeting minutes showed that the US central bankers are ready to raise interest rates again if the economy remains strong. That left little doubt that Chairman Jerome Powell plans to raise the benchmark lending rate next month.

“At its August meeting, the FOMC mapped out its fall agenda by signaling a change in forward guidance, deeper discussion over the balance sheet, and the risk of a “major escalation” in trade tensions—all with the backdrop of an economy with “considerable momentum” that warrants further hikes”, said Morgan Stanley in a report to its investors.“We continue to look for two more hikes this year—in September and December. Thereafter, we look for two additional hikes in 2019, at the March and June meetings, where we expect the FOMC to rest in this hiking cycle”, Morgan Stanley report added.
Benchmark Sensex Index rose 0.28% or 107.89 points to 38,393.64. Since January, it has gained 12.6%.

So far this year, the rupee has weakened 8.9%, while foreign investors have sold $493.40 million and $5.57 billion in equity and debt markets, respectively.Asian currencies were trading weaker. South Korean won was down 0.2%, China renminbi 0.16%, Indonesian rupiah 0.16%, Japanese yen 0.12%, Malaysian ringgit 0.11%, Taiwan dollar 0.11%, Philippines peso 0.08%. However, China Offshore was up 0.17%.

NCLAT Refused Conversion Of Tata Sons Into A Private Company

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) refused to stay the conversion of Tata Sons into a private limited company from a deemed public company. The two-judge NCLAT bench, headed by Justice S.J. Mukhopadhyay, said it would decide on the conversion after hearing final arguments next month.

The appellate tribunal also said Tata Sons could not “force” Cyrus Mistry to sell his shares in the company while admitting a petition filed by Cyrus Investments Pvt. Ltd seeking an interim stay on the conversion. The appeal was in challenge to the 9 July order passed by the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

In its last hearing, the tribunal had reserved its judgment on the conversion of Tata Sons and had said the question of interim relief would come up once the plea filed by Cyrus Investments was admitted.

Shareholders of Tata Sons, holding company of the $103 billion Tata group, had last September voted in favour of turning it into a private limited company despite opposition from ousted chairman Cyrus Mistry’s family firms that own a minority stake in the holding company.

Mistry had filed the appeal with the NCLAT through two family-run investment firms, Cyrus Investments and Sterling Investments Corp.

Mistry’s petition before the NCLAT has alleged that the NCLT Mumbai bench judgment is replete with errors of reasoning and errors of law.

On 9 July, the Mumbai bench of NCLT dismissed the petition filed by the Mistry family’s investment firms, saying it found no merit in the case.

Mistry, whose family is the single biggest shareholder in the Tata group, was named Tata Group chairman in November 2011 and took over in December 2012 after the retirement of Ratan Tata.

On 24 October 2016, the board of Tata Sons dismissed him as chairman and said former chairman Ratan Tata would take over as interim chairman. Mistry contended that the articles of association of Tata Sons were biased against the rights of minority shareholders and thereby oppressive, a charge Tata Sons dismissed, saying Mistry, who had been on its board since 2006, had never raised this issue until he was fired.

The matter will be heard next on 24 September by the NCLAT.