Current Affairs (24th July 2021)
The ‘Right to be Forgotten’
- Ashutosh Kaushik who won reality shows Bigg Boss in 2008 and MTV Roadies 5.0 has approached the Delhi High Court with a plea saying that his videos, photographs, and articles etc. be removed from the internet citing his “Right to be Forgotten”.
- In the plea, Kaushik also maintains that the “Right to be Forgotten” goes in sync with the “Right to Privacy”, which is an integral part of Article 21 of the Constitution, which concerns the right to life.
- The Right to be Forgotten falls under the purview of an individual’s right to privacy, which is governed by the Personal Data Protection Bill that is yet to be passed by Parliament.
- In 2017, the Right to Privacy was declared a fundamental right by the Supreme Court in its landmark verdict.
- The court said at the time that, “the right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution”.
Personal Data Protection Bill:
- The Personal Data Protection Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 11, 2019 and it aims to set out provisions meant for the protection of the personal data of individuals.
- Clause 20 under Chapter V of this draft bill titled “Rights of Data Principal” mentions the “Right to be Forgotten.”
- It states that the “data principal (the person to whom the data is related) shall have the right to restrict or prevent the continuing disclosure of his personal data by a data fiduciary”.
- Therefore, broadly, under the Right to be forgotten, users can de-link, limit, delete or correct the disclosure of their personal information held by data fiduciaries.
- A data fiduciary means any person, including the State, a company, any juristic entity, or any individual who alone or in conjunction with others determines the purpose and means of processing of personal data.
- Even so, the sensitivity of the personal data and information cannot be determined independently by the person concerned but will be overseen by the Data Protection Authority (DPA).
- This means that while the draft bill gives some provisions under which a data principal can seek that his data be removed, but his or her rights are subject to authorisation by the Adjudicating Officer who works for the DPA.
- While assessing the data principal’s request, this officer will need to examine the sensitivity of the personal data, the scale of disclosure, degree of accessibility sought to be restricted, role of the data principal in public life and the nature of the disclosure among some other variables.
Essential Defence Services Bill
- Amid the din in Parliament over allegations of snooping by the government using the Pegasus Spyware, and the three farm bills, Minister of State for Defence introduced the Essential Defence Services Bill in the Lok Sabha.
What is the bill and what is its objective?
- Essentially, the Essential Defence Services Bill is aimed at preventing the staff of the government-owned ordnance factories from going on a strike. Around 70,000 people work with the 41 ordnance factories around the country.
- The Bill mentioned that it is meant to “provide for the maintenance of essential defence services so as to secure the security of nation and the life and property of public at large and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.
- Indian Ordnance Factories is the oldest and largest industrial setup which functions under the Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence.
- The ordnance factories form an integrated base for indigenous production of defence hardware and equipment, with the primary objective of self-reliance in equipping the armed forces with state of the art battlefield equipment.
- Since it is essential that an uninterrupted supply of ordnance items to the armed forces be maintained for the defence preparedness of the country and the ordnance factories continue to function without any disruptions, especially in view of the prevailing situation on the northern front of the country.
- It was felt necessary that the Government should have power to meet the emergency created by such attempts and ensure the maintenance of essential defence services in all establishments connected with defence, in public interest or interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India or security of any State or decency or morality.
What does it allow the government to do?
- The Bill empowers the government to declare services mentioned in it as essential defence services “the cessation of work of which would prejudicially affect the production of defence equipment or goods; or the operation or maintenance of any industrial establishment or unit engaged in production of goods or equipment required for any purpose connected with defence; or repair or maintenance of products connected with defence”.
- It also prohibits strike and lockouts in “any industrial establishment or unit engaged in essential defence services”.
- It has a direct bearing on around 70,000 employees of the 41 ordnance factories around the country, who are unhappy with the corporatisation of OFB, fearing that it will impact their service and retirement conditions.
Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Specialty Steel
- Union Cabinet approved the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for specialty steel.
- The duration of the scheme will be five years, from 2023-24 to 2027-28.
- The five categories of specialty steel which have been chosen in the PLI Scheme are:
- Coated/Plated Steel Products
- High Strength/Wear resistant Steel
- Specialty Rails
- Alloy Steel Products and Steel wires
- Electrical Steel
- There are 3 slabs of PLI incentives, the lowest being 4 % and highest being 12% which has been provided for electrical steel (CRGO).
- With a budgetary outlay of ₹6322 crores, the scheme is expected to bring in investment of approximately ₹40,000 crores and capacity addition of 25 MT for speciality steel.
- It is expected that the speciality steel production will become 42 million tonnes by the end of 2026-27.
- Speciality steel has been chosen as the target segment because out of the production of 102 million tonnes steel in India in 2020-21, only 18 million tonnes value added steel/speciality steel was produced in the country.
- A special CBI court awarded life sentences to two policemen for the custodial death of a murder accused. The judgment relied heavily on the ‘dying declaration’ made by the victim prior to his death.
- Section 32 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 deals with cases in which statement of relevant fact is made by a person who is dead or cannot be found.
- The law presumes that no person will meet their maker with a lie in their mouth, and so it accepts the veracity of the person’s statement, dispensing with the requirements of oath and cross-examination.
- An exclusion of this dying declaration would also leave the court without a scrap of evidence.
- The general rule under Section 60 of the Act is that all oral evidence must be direct – he heard it, saw it, or perceived it.
- The grounds of admission under a dying declaration have been based on two broad rules,
- The victim being generally the only principal eye-witness to the crime; and
- The sense of impending death, which creates a sanction equal to the obligation of an oath.
Reasons to set aside dying declaration:
- Though a dying declaration is entitled to great weight, it is worthwhile to note that the accused has no power of cross-examination.
- Therefore, the courts say that the dying declaration be of such a nature as to inspire full confidence of the court in its correctness.
Duty of the Court:
- The courts must check if the deceased’s statement was a result of either tutoring or prompting or a product of imagination.
- The Court must be further satisfied that the deceased was in a fit state of mind after a clear opportunity to observe and identify the assailant.
- The Supreme Court had noted that the dying declaration made through signs, gestures or by nods are admissible as evidence.
- But in the case of Orissa vs Parasuram Naik (1997), the accused was alleged to have poured petrol on his wife’s body and lit a fire causing extensive burns.
- It was held that the oral dying declaration cannot be accepted because there was no medical officer certifying that the deceased was medically fit to make a statement.
Recording of dying declarations:
- Anyone can record the dying declaration of the deceased as per law. The law does not compulsorily require the presence of a Judicial or Executive Magistrate to record it.
- A dying declaration recorded by a Judicial or Executive Magistrate will muster additional strength to the prosecution case though.
- A dying declaration can form the sole basis of conviction. The rule requiring corroboration is merely a rule of prudence.
- It is not to be rejected, equally merely because it is a brief statement. On the contrary, the shortness of the statement itself guarantees truth.
- A dying declaration which suffers from infirmity cannot form the basis of conviction and merely because a dying declaration does not contain the details as to the occurrence.