Wednesday, June 29, 2011


‘B’ khata is bogus: Siddaiah, Commissioner, BBMP,Bangalore, June 29,
Palike Commissioner says no such category exists

BBMP Commissioner Siddaiah said on Wednesday that there is no such document called ‘B’ khata, which, ironically enough is issued by the Palike offices. There is now every reason to believe that the ‘B’ in the ‘B’ khata, the semi-official document being used in land transactions stands for ‘bogus.’

The general perception among the public has been that a ‘B’ khata on a revenue property is a kind of surety that their property is not illegal. It is not true. Banks that had given loans on the strength of the document later stopped doing so when they realised that the document was not valid.

On Wednesday, the floor leader of JD(S) Padmanabha Reddy raised the issue in the House, declaring that the ‘B’ khata is “nothing but a mirage”. Yet the BBMP officials harass people for issuing a B khata, said Reddy, adding that the arrangement was only to make every property owner in Bangalore pay tax.

Reddy told the House that there are two registers of properties in the revenue offices - the ‘A’ register listing legitimate residential or commercial property, and the ‘B’ register listing properties that are illegal as per the KMC Act.

“There is no provision under the KMC Act to issue ‘B’ khata. Because an illegal property is listed in the ‘B’ register, the Palike devised on its own a ‘B’ khata,” said Reddy.

Palike Commissioner Siddaiah, who was unaware of this practice of the Palike officials initially, said the ‘B’ khata is a valid document, but later when the deputy commissioner (revenue) briefed him that Reddy’s statement was correct, he too had to admit that there is no significance of ‘B’ khata as such. The commissioner then said Palike officials may have devised the practice to tax the facilities provided to the property owners of illegal layouts.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cyber laws- An Amendment

The Union Ministry of Communications and Information Technology notified new rules under the Information Technology Act, 2000, to regulate the use of the Internet on 11th, April, 2011.  This led to widespread apprehensions that the government and private persons might gain free access to sensitive personal information concerning Internet users. The government, however, clarified in a press release that the intent of the rules was to protect sensitive personal information and not to give the government undue powers to access such information. The government added that wide public consultations had been held before finalising the rules and that the rules had been endorsed by the stakeholders.
As the government is empowered to make rules in order to carry out the purposes of an Act, it is necessary to examine whether the rules have a nexus with such purposes. Among the four sets of rules notified on April 11, The Information Technology (Reasonable security practices and procedures and sensitive personal data or information) Rules, 2011, caused serious concern in civil society.
Rule 3 in this set defines sensitive personal data or information as “such personal information which consists of information relating to password; financial information such as bank account or credit card or debit card or other payment instrument details; physical, physiological and mental health condition; sexual orientation; medical records and history; biometric information; any detail relating to the above clauses as provided to body corporate for providing service; and any of the information received under above clauses by body corporate for processing, stored or processed under lawful contract or otherwise”.
Rule 3 has an important proviso, which says that any information that is freely available or accessible in the public domain or furnished under the Right to Information Act, 2005, or any other law, shall not be regarded as sensitive personal data.
Rule 2(b) defines “biometrics” as technologies that measure and analyse human body characteristics, such as “fingerprints”, “eye retinas and irises”, “voice patterns”, “facial patterns”, “hand measurements”, and DNA for authentication purposes.
The controversial provision is Rule 6, which deals with disclosure of information. Rule 6(1) lays down that disclosure of sensitive personal data by a body corporate to any third party shall require prior permission from the provider of such information, unless such disclosure has been agreed to in the contract between the body corporate and the provider of information, or where the disclosure is necessary for compliance of a legal obligation.
Rule 6(1) carries a key proviso, which, its critics say, can be misused. It lays down that such information shall be shared, without obtaining prior consent from the provider of information, with government agencies mandated under the law to obtain information, including sensitive personal data for the purpose of verification of identity, or for prevention, detection, investigation, including cyber incidents, prosecution, and punishment of offences. The government agency, under this proviso, shall send a request in writing to the body corporate possessing the sensitive personal data or information, stating clearly the purpose of seeking such information. The government agency shall also state that the information so obtained shall not be published or shared with any other person. Many consider Rule 6(2) to be even more draconian. It says that notwithstanding anything contained in Rule 6(1), any sensitive personal data shall be disclosed to any third party by an order under the law. The safeguards in Rule 6(3) and 6(4) that the body corporate or the third party receiving such sensitive personal data shall not publish or disclose them further are considered weak.
Rule 7 elaborates on this. As the bar on the body corporate is only against publishing sensitive personal data, it may transfer such data to any other body corporate or a person in India, or located in any other country, that ensures the same level of data protection that is adhered to by the body corporate as provided for under these rules. The rule says that the transfer of such data may be allowed only if it is necessary for the performance of the lawful contract between the body corporate or any person on its behalf and the provider of information or where such person has consented to data transfer. Critics ask whether these safeguards will be complied with absolutely, and if not, what the remedies available to a victim are.
Rule 3 (2) requires that such rules and regulations, terms and conditions or user agreement shall inform users not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, update or share any information that belongs to another person and to which the user does not have any right to, and is grossly harmful, blasphemous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically objectionable, disparaging, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or otherwise unlawful in any manner whatever.
Concerns have been expressed over another set of rules, too. The Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules, 2011, impose certain duties on intermediaries such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to observe due diligence. Rule 3 in this set requires that the intermediary shall publish the rules and regulations, privacy policy and user agreement for access or usage of the intermediary's computer resource by any person.
Rule 3 (2) (i) requires the intermediary to ensure that the content posted by the user does not threaten the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign states, or public order or cause incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence or prevent investigation of any offence or is insulting to any other nation. Again, this rule is loosely phrased, and does not explain how the intermediary can conclude that a particular post “threatens to…”.
Rule 3(4) is even more mischievous. It requires that the intermediary, upon obtaining knowledge by itself or being brought to actual knowledge by an affected person in writing or through e-mail signed with electronic signature about any such information as mentioned in Rule 3(2), shall act within 36 hours and work with the user or owner of such information to disable it. Further, the intermediary has also to preserve such information for at least 90 days for investigation.
Rule 3(11) provides the remedy for an aggrieved user. It requires the intermediary to publish on its website the name of the grievance officer and his contact details as well as the mechanism by which users or any victim who suffers as a result of access or usage of computer resource by any person in violation of Rule 3 can notify their complaints. The grievance officer has been asked to redress such complaints within one month from the date of receipt of a complaint. Ironically, the rules do not provide content writers a means to defend their work or appeal a decision by the intermediary to remove content. The absence of natural justice in the rules will make it easy for critics to challenge them legally.
Powers to censor content
The loose language of this rule, critics fear, can be interpreted widely, and the intermediaries may enjoy extraordinary powers to censor content, resulting in unnecessary restrictions on freedom of expression.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Governments Lokpal will have jurisdiction over all NGOs in the country but it will have jurisdiction over less then o.5% of all government employees.
Government argued that the Lokpal would get overwhelmed with too many cases if all public servants were brought under its ambit. So, government has restricted its jurisdiction only to 65,000 Group` A` officers. Also, state employees will not be covered by Lokpal. There are 4 million central government employees and 8 million state government employees.
In sharp (STRANGE)contrast, all` NGO`s are covered under governments Lokpal, small or big, whether in state or centre. Even unregistered groups of people in remote villages are covered under the ambit of Lokpal. So, in a remote village, if a group of youngsters detect corruption in panchayat works using RTI, the youngsters can be hauled up by Lokpal but Lokpal would not have jurisdiction over Sarpanch, BDO or their corruption.
Whereas Lokpal would not have jurisdiction over Delhi government officials, it would have jurisdiction over all RWAs in Delhi. All small neighborhood groups who raise donations to do Ramlila or Durga Puja would be under Lokpals scanner. Lokpal could haul up activists from any of the farmers, labour, anti-corruption, land, tribal or any other movements. All the movements whether registered or not, are under the jurisdiction of Lokpal.
There are 4.3 lakh registered NGOs. But there would be several million unregistered groups across the country. Lokpal would have jurisdiction over all of them. No one can dispute the fact that corruption in NGOs needs to be addressed. But how can you leave most public servants out of Lokpals purview but bring NGOs upto village level within its purview?
Governments view 
Prime Minister
Lokpal should have power to investigate allegations of corruption against PM. Special safeguards provided against frivolous and mischievous complaints
PM kept out of Lokpals purview.
As of today, corruption by PM can be investigated under Prevention of Corruption Act. Government wants investigations to be done by CBI, which comes directly under him, rather than independent Lokpal
Lokpal should have powers to investigate allegation of corruption against judiciary. Special safeguards provided against frivolous and mischievous complaints
Judiciary kept out of Lokpal purview.
Government wants this to be included in Judicial Accountability Bill (JAB). Under JAB, permission to enquire against a judge will be given by a three member committee (two judges from the same court and retd Chief justice of the same court). There are many such flaws in JAB. We have no objections to judiciary being included in JAB if a strong and effective JAB were considered and it were enacted simultaneously.
Lokpal should be able to investigate allegations that any MP had taken bribe to vote or speak in Parliament.
Government has excluded this from Lokpals purview.
Taking bribe to vote or speak in Parliament strikes at the foundations of our democracy. Governments refusal to bring it under Lokpal scrutiny virtually gives a license to MPs to take bribes with impunity.
Grievance redressal
Violation of citizens charter (if an officer does not do a citizens work in prescribed time) by an officer should be penalized and should be deemed to be corruption.
No penalties proposed. So, this will remain only on paper.
Government had agreed to our demand in the Joint committee meeting on 23rd May. It is unfortunate they have gone back on this decision.
Anti-corruption branch of CBI should be merged into Lokpal.
Government wants to retain its hold over CBI.
CBI is misused by governments. Recently, govt has taken CBI out of RTI, thus further increasing the scope for corruption in CBI. CBI will remain corrupt till it remains under governments control
Selection of Lokpal members
1. Broad based selection committee with 2 politicians, four judges and two independent constitutional authorities. 2. An independent search committee consisting of retd constitutional authorities to prepare first list. 3. A detailed transparent and participatory selection process.
1. With five out of ten members from ruling establishment and six politicians in selection committee, government has ensured that only weak, dishonest and pliable people would be selected.
2. Search committee to be selected by selection committee, thus making them a pawn of selection committee
3. No selection process provided. It will completely depend on selection committee
Governments proposal ensures that the government will be able to appoint its own people as Lokpal members and Chairperson. Interestingly, they had agreed to the selection committee proposed by us in the meeting held on 7th May. There was also a broad consensus on selection process. However, there was a disagreement on composition of search committee. We are surprised that they have gone back on the decision.
Who will Lokpal be accountable to?
To the people. A citizen can make a complaint to Supreme Court and seek removal.
To the Government. Only government can seek removal of Lokpal
With selection and removal of Lokpal in governments control, it would virtually be a puppet in governments hands, against whose seniormost functionaries it is supposed to investigate, thus causing serious conflict of interest.
Integrity of Lokpal staff
Complaint against Lokpal staff will be heard by an independent authority
Lokpal itself will investigate complaints against its own staff, thus creating serious conflicts of interest
Governments proposal creates a Lokpal, which is accountable either to itself or to the government. We have suggested giving these controls in the hands of the citizens.
Method of enquiry
Method would be the same as provided in CrPC like in any other criminal case. After preliminary enquiry, an FIR will be registered. After investigations, case will be presented before a court, where the trial will take place
CrPC being amended. Special protection being provided to the accused. After preliminary enquiry, all evidence will be provided to the accused and he shall be heard as to why an FIR should not be regd against him. After completion of investigations, again all evidence will be provided to him and he will be given a hearing to explain why a case should not be filed against him in the court. During investigations, if investigations are to be started against any new persons, they would also be presented with all evidence against them and heard.
Investigation process provided by the government would severely compromise all investigations. If evidence were made available to the accused at various stages of investigations, in addition to compromising the investigations, it would also reveal the identity of whistleblowers thus compromising their security. Such a process is unheard of in criminal jurisprudence anywhere in the world. Such process would kill almost every case.
Lower bureaucracy
All those defined as public servants in Prevention of Corruption Act would be covered. This includes lower bureaucracy.
Only Group A officers will be covered.
One fails to understand governments stiff resistance against bringing lower bureaucracy under Lokpals ambit. This appears to be an excuse to retain control over CBI because if all public servants are brought under Lokpals jurisdiction, government would have no excuse to keep CBI.
The same bill should provide for Lokpal at centre and Lokayuktas in states
Only Lokpal at the centre would be created through this Bill.
According to Mr Pranab Mukherjee, some of the CMs have objected to providing Lokayuktas through the same Bill. He was reminded that state Information Commissions were also set up under RTI Act through one Act only.
Whistleblower protection
Lokpal will be required to provide protection to whistleblowers, witnesses and victims of corruption
No mention in this law.
According to govt, protection for whistleblowers is being provided through a separate law. But that law is so bad that it has been badly trashed by standing committee of Parliament last month. The committee was headed by Ms Jayanthi Natrajan. In the Jt committee meeting held on 23rd May, it was agreed that Lokpal would be given the duty of providing protection to whistleblowers under the other law and that law would also be discussed and improved in joint committee only. However, it did not happen.
Special benches in HC
High Courts will set up special benches to hear appeals in corruption cases to fast track them
No such provision.
One study shows that it takes 25 years at appellate stage in corruption cases. This ought to be addressed.
On the basis of past experience on why anti-corruption cases take a long time in courts and why do our agencies lose them, some amendments to CrPC have been suggested to prevent frequent stay orders.
Not included

Dismissal of corrupt government servant
After completion of investigations, in addition to filing a case in a court for prosecution, a bench of Lokpal will hold open hearings and decide whether to remove the government servant from job.
The minister will decide whether to remove a corrupt officer or not. Often, they are beneficiaries of corruption, especially when senior officer are involved. Experience shows that rather than removing corrupt people, ministers have rewarded them.
Power of removing corrupt people from jobs should be given to independent Lokpal rather than this being decided by the minister in the same department.
Punishment for corruption
1. Maximum punishment is ten years
2. Higher punishment if rank of accused is higher
3. Higher fines if accused are business entities
4. If successfully convicted, a business entity should be blacklisted from future contracts.
None of these accepted. Only maximum punishment raised to 10 years.

Financial independence
Lokpal 11 members collectively will decide how much budget do they need
Finance ministry will decide the quantum of budget
This seriously compromises with the financial independence of Lokpal
Prevent further loss
Lokpal will have a duty to take steps to prevent corruption in any ongoing activity, if brought to his notice. If need be, Lokpal will obtain orders from High Court.
No such duties and powers of Lokpal
2G is believed to have come to knowledge while the process was going on. Shouldnt some agency have a duty to take steps to stop further corruption rather than just punish people later?
Tap phones
Lokpal bench will grant permission to do so
Home Secretary would grant permission.
Home Secretary is under the control of precisely those who would be under scanner. It would kill investigations.
Delegation of powers
Lokpal members will only hear cases against senior officers and politicians or cases involving huge amounts. Rest of the work will be done by officers working under Lokpal
All work will be done by 11 members of Lokpal. Practically no delegation.
This is a sure way to kill Lokpal. The members will not be able to handle all cases. Within no time, they would be overwhelmed.
Only government funded NGOs covered
All NGOs, big or small, are covered.
A method to arm twist NGOs
False, Frivolous and vexatious complaints
No imprisonment. Only fines on complainants. Lokpal would decide whether a complaint is frivolous or vexatious or false.
Two to five years of imprisonment and fine. The accused can file complaint against complainant in a court. Interestingly, prosecutor and all expenses of this case will be provided by the government to the accused. The complainant will also have to pay a compensation to the accused.
This will give a handle to every accused to browbeat complainants. Often corrupt people are rich. They will file cases against complainants and no one will dare file any complaint. Interestingly, minimum punishment for corruption is six months but for filing false complaint is two years.


Companies looking to encash on a rival’s reputation by launching a phonetically similar brand beware! The Delhi High Court has warned that such deceptive marketing techniques need to be curbed.
The court’s warning came during the hearing on a dispute involving two pharmaceutical companies.

Justice VK Jain restrained XXXX Healthcare Pvt. Ltd. from making a cough syrup under the brand name XXXX as it sounded like XXXXXX Products’ popular cough syrup by the name XXXXX.

Holding that companies cannot cash in on reputation of popular brands by deceptive means, the court said: “A competitor cannot usurp the goodwill and reputation of another by adopting a mark similar to the established mark of its competitor and thereby cause injury to the reputation and business of that person.”
“Any attempt on the part of another person to encash upon the brand value generated by another person needs to be curbed by the court,” said Justice Jain in his order delivered earlier this month.
It also alleged that there was likelihood of customers getting induced to believe that the product offered by the defendant was of the same quality as the product of the plaintiff.
The court further observed “We cannot be oblivious of the fact that despite statutory requirements, the chemist and druggist in our country do not hesitate in selling drugs such as cough syrups and expectorants, without insisting upon prescription by a medical practitioner, even if such a prescription is statutorily required,” .
“Drugs such as cough syrups are available over the counter without medical prescription and such similarity in brands would make an impression that they were buying the product of the company which is reputed and well-known,” the court said.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Forbes Asia today announced its 'Heroes of Philanthropy' list for the fourth year running, with four Indians among the top 48 philanthropists.

Giving poor children access to education is a top priority for Indian philanthropists, said Forbes.

Billionaire Shiv Nadar of HCL Technologies takes the brightest children from the poorest villages of rural India and sends them to boarding school, noted Forbes. 

Another tycoon, India's biggest philanthropist Azim Premji of Wipro, transferred nearly USD 2 billion of his wealth last December to an irrevocable trust that focuses on education and children's health and nutrition.

Infrastructure-based GMR Group founder Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao, 61, pledged USD 340 million in March, his 12.5 per cent personal stake in the business and one-eighth of his family's share, through an irrevocable endowment to the  GMR Varalakshmi Foundation. It works primarily to educate and train poor youths in 20 locations in India and two in Nepal.  Rao started his philanthropy early in career, when he ran a small business and built a school in his village.

Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi leverages on his star power to give back through his foundation. The 34-year old has donated USD 3 million to date and helped raise USD 25 million to support education, health and disaster relief.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011





BBMP-Planning to regularise(convert) B Katha to A Katha

The BBMP has sent a proposal to the State Government of Karnataka to regularise (convert) B katha properties (vacant properties-without an...