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Archives for : August2018

India – Personal Data Protection Bill: Creation of Another Elite Authority?

Almost 12 years after the initial Personal Data Protection Bill 2006 has lapsed, a new Data Protection Bill has been submitted to Parliament. The jury is still out on the pros and cons of the proposed bill. There are reports of gaping holes in the Bill, as well as some wholesome provisions to protect the personal data of citizens. One aspect that is overlooked by various erudite reports on the subject, so far, is the gargantuan nature of the proposed Data Protection Authority and role of the police in protection of personal data.

The setting up of a Data Protection Authority (DPA) has to be seen in the perspective of one basic hypothesis in the proposed Bill. This hypothesis is about treating personal data as a matter of trust. If something has to be treated as a matter of trust and not as property then surely there is a need of an adjudicating authority. It is this assumption that led to the proposal of setting up a Data Protection Authority at the center with a large staff selected from the government and judiciary.
At the outset, very proposition of setting up of a new Data Protection Authority seems to assume that existing institutions are incapable of handling  the work involved. All violations of  personal data, barring a few, which have been made criminal offences, are to be enquired into by this authority. The DPA also has powers of search and seizure and can requisition police officers in case of need. It is proposed to be manned by persons from judiciary and bureaucracy. The retirement age of members has been set at 65 years, which, in addition to other ramifications, clearly promotes a ‘post retirement’ benefit plan for many senior bureaucrats who are nearing their superannuation in government.
The moot question is, whether this DPA is really required at all? The European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which seems to have had a great influence on this proposed Bill, treats personal data as property and applies the same rules as would be applicable to any other loss of property. Surprisingly,  while most sections of the proposal are complete copies of GDPR, this very basic attribute of personal data has been diluted in the present Bill. In hindsight, this appears to have been done on purpose. As, without this, the civil nature of adjudication would not have arisen and the need of authority would not be there.
Even if one accepts the proposal for a separate authority, there is probably a constitutional flaw here. The Bill in its present form takes away the supervision of the High Courts in matters emanating out of the Appellate Tribunals.
 Appeals against Appellate Tribunals will lie only in the Supreme Court. No one can deny that personal data relates to personal privacy. Right to Privacy is a fundamental right, which is enforceable by High Courts of the States. This Bill somehow proposes to take away the supervision of High Courts on such a basic and fundamental issue, which relates to the right of privacy of individuals.
This assumption flows from the fact that the Bill does not even mention the authority of the State. Policing is a state subject as per the Constitution of India. It appears that there has been a clear attempt to keep the States out of the picture in this Bill. The proposed Authority is proposed as a Central government institution and there are no state bodies recommended. It is surprising that the elite members on the drafting committee of the Bill looked at the issue of personal data as a central subject, when it is clearly in the domain of the States. This was probably overlooked as police was not involved in the drafting the Bill.
The proposed Bill also envisages a minimal role for the police. This stems from two facts. One, that personal data was treated as trust and not as property. Second, that DPA is envisaged as a central government body while policing is a state responsibility and hence there would be no role for the police.
This is no to deny that there are certain provisions where police officers do figure. The proposed Bill deems certain violations as criminal offences. These offences have been made non-bailable and cognizable. Police officers of the rank of inspectors and above are proposed to be given powers to investigate such offences. However, since the vast chunk of violations are not made criminal offences and are under the DPA, the role of the police in securing protection of personal data is indeed minimal.
Dilution of personal data to the status of mere trust and overlooking the role of the state and the original jurisdiction of the High Courts are issues that need to be addressed. If left unattended, in its present shape, the proposed Bill will lead to creation of yet another elite authority, which will remain out of reach of ordinary people.
(Sanjay Pandey, an IPS officer from the 1986-batch, is Director General of Police and Commandant General, Home Guards and Director, Civil Defence, Maharashtra)

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Bihar Govt provided Rs 40 Lakhs To Brajesh Kumar To Run The Shelter Home Where 34 Girls Were Raped

Muzaffarpur Gang Rape Case

Image Credits: Catch News

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has taken over the rape case in the ‘Balika Grih’ shelter home in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. It has been confirmed that 34 girls are victims of rape, torture and assault which happened for months. One victim, who was rescued, claimed that most of the girls who were residing there were raped by the journalist Brajesh Thakur, along with Vineet Kumar, a member of a child welfare committee. After reports of this sexual crime emerged, other NGOs run by Brajesh Thakur was reviewed and one of the NGOs is missing 11 girls. There has been no communication on record from the NGO to the Social Welfare Department about their whereabouts.

According to BBC, it has also been revealed that Thakur was getting 40 lakhs per annum from the state government to run the shelter. He was given a tender to run an old age home and a Juvenile home as well. The ‘Balika Grih’ shelter home was run by an NGO called Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti.  As per reports, Brajesh was given the tender to run the shelter home by the state Social Welfare Department.

Shelter home flouted many rules

For his other shelter homes, Brajesh was given Rs 15 Lakh for the juvenile home, and 19 Lakh for old age home. Till now, no official response has been given by the Bihar social welfare committee or by the Bihar child welfare department. The state social welfare department allegedly sanctioned another project to the NGO running the shelter on May 31 — the same day police lodged an FIR against the NGO.

The Muzaffarpur Superintendent Of Police told BBC that many rules were flouted while giving the tender to Brajesh Thakur. She further said that “One by one a lot of discrepancies came up through the investigation. It has been found that the house which was selected for the shelter home did not meet the criteria under the guidelines set for shelter homes. Another major fault is that Brajesh used to live on the same campus and even his newspaper was running from there. According to the guidelines, CCTV cameras are mandatory in any shelter homes, but there were no CCTV cameras. All these things are taken into consideration.”

Surprisingly, every month a team from Child Welfare Department visited the shelter home for inspection but still no report of any misconduct was filed by the department. The Logical Indian spoke to the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Muzaffarpur, Anil Singh who also said that the shelter home did not follow many rules. He added that the police are not supposed to look into the discrepancies of shelter homes, it is the  Welfare Department who should take the responsibility. “From our initial investigation we found out that there were no CCTV cameras and that most of the guidelines were not followed, but now the case has been transferred to the CBI which will look into the matter,” he said.

When we asked him about the initial findings of the police and if any officials were interrogated in the matter, he said, “I don’t have enough details of the case, the police did interrogate the official of Tata Institute of Social Sciences who filed the complaint, rest the CID will decide,” he added.

“Crorepati” Thakur

Muzaffarpur police in their supervision report stated that Brajesh Thakur has illegal property in his name.

According to the report, “The staff and the top positions holders in Thakur’s fake NGO are his relatives, or dummy names. Thakur has earned millions of rupees from such illegal businesses. In these illegal activities, top officials of the department, employees and bankers were also involved.”

On Sunday, the case was transferred to the CBI. The shelter home was sealed after the sexual abuse came to light during a social audit by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. The report was submitted to the state Social Welfare Department, which directed officials to complain.

The girls who were rescued from the shelter home are all below the age of 18. The minors were allegedly given “keede maarne ki dawa” (drug) which made them unconscious. According to their statement, the girls always woke up naked and in pain, reports, PTI. “When the girls used to become pregnant after sexual abuse, they were forced to undergo abortions in this operation theater in the shelter home.” said Sangita Sahni, Additional Public Prosecutor, reported India Today.

All the girls, whose medical reports have confirmed rape, have named Brajesh Thakur in their statements before the Sub-Divisional Magistrate.

The Logical Indian take

This shelter was supposed to be a safe haven for girls who had difficult lives. In such kind of place, by people in the position of trust and power, this kind of heinous crime is despicable and spine-chilling. The statements made by the girls and the account given by TISS tells a harrowing tale. To add to this, the monthly inspection visits did not once flag the situation even though the police is saying that many rules were visibly flouted, including the mandatory rule of having CCTV cameras. How can a small-time journalist create such a den of crime if he is not protected by people in power?

Moreover, now cases are coming to light that even in Brajesh’s other shelter homes, crimes like this were committed on a regular basis.

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India – BJP using low-cost-drug scheme to promote itself #WTFnews

Political Advertising in the Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana?
The PMBJP logo is a more blatant political advertising than naming a scheme after a former prime minister.
NEW DELHI: Public health activists have criticised the government for using the Jan Aushadhi scheme to “advertise” the name of the Bharatiya Janata Party. All medicines being sold through this scheme across the country carry a logo that highlights the Hindi letters “Bha”, “Ja” and “Pa” in saffron in the scheme’s acronym (see image).

Not only all medicines, even the website of the scheme carries this official logo. “A scheme run using government funds is being used to advertise the name of a particular party,” said Dr Amit Sengupta of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan. “This is nothing but surrogate advertising for BJP with public money”.


“It looks like the name of the scheme has been intentionally altered to make it PMBJP. Renaming it to add ‘Bhartiya’ otherwise just doesn’t make any sense,” said Chhaya Pachauli of Prayas, an organisation working on public health in Rajasthan. Attempts to get a response from the government on the charges being made by the activists proved futile.

The scheme is being implemented through the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India, under the Department of Pharmaceuticals. According to the scheme’s official website, as on March 15, 2018, 3,200-plus Janaushadhi stores were functional offering more than 700 drugs and 154 surgicals & consumables. However, reports from the ground suggest problems of availability of drugs at these stores.

The ‘Jan Aushadhi’ scheme launched in 2008 by the government to sell low-cost generic medicines was re-branded twice by the in the last three years. Now the and of the flagship programme for the poor has taken a complete and BJP hue — literally.

The saffron-hued logo of the scheme — with Bha Ja Pa in Devanagari, also the short form for the (BJP) in Hindi — stands out starkly.

It can be seen on the website of the rebranded Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) and packaging of the medicines sold at special outlets under the flagship programme of the 


Earlier the packages carried the logo of the medicine manufacture — Bureau of Pharma PSUs of (BPPI) established in December 2008.

“The packaging till last few months was not like this. Now it includes Bha Ja Pa in colour,” said a store owner selling generic medicines under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Pariyojana (PMBJP).

The scheme, originally launched as ‘Jan Aushadhi’ in 2008, was renamed in 2015 to Pradhan Mantri Yojana by  Later in 2016, the scheme was again renamed to Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP).

Earlier, when the name of the scheme was changed, its packaging remained the same. However, medicines sold under the scheme at specialised outlets come in new packages that has writ large on its logo.

IANS visited some PMBJP stores in and to check packages of the medicines manufactured in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Those manufactured before January 2018 had the original logo of the scheme with only ‘— Quality Medicines at Affordable Prices for All’ written on the packs.

But the medicines manufactured after January 2018 have the new logo and colour on their packages.

The scheme was launched to make quality medicine accessible to all at an affordable price.

The medicines are available at a ‘Jan Aushadhi Medical Store’, whose name has also changed to Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendra with a photo of Modi and the new logo.

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India – Call to defeat ‘Bharat Jalao Party’

Arundhati Roy rings pre-poll alarm

Arundhati Roy in New Delhi on Friday. Picture by Prem Singh

New Delhi: Several counter-establishment figures on Friday called for unity to oust the BJP from power at a large gathering demanding the release of political prisoners, including alleged Maoists arrested on the charge of inciting violence.

“Those who kill thousands in the country now sit in Parliament. Our task is not just to defeat them but to send them to jail,” Booker winner Arundhati Roy said.

“They won’t inquire into the mysterious death (of judge B.H. Loya) but they will arrest you and me and call us traitors. The next few days will be very dangerous. What they have started from Assam will be brought to Bengal and Delhi. They will decide who is a real Indian; the rest won’t get rice or a vote or Aadhaar.”

She added: “If we fight each other then the flames will burn for a thousand years. This Bharat Jalao Party is ready with matchsticks, before the polls…. They are afraid. They know they stand on the edge of defeat. What will they not do to return to power? What lies will they not spread…. These people have to be removed from Parliament this time.”

Far Left outfits, Ambedkarite and human rights groups had gathered to demand the release of Rona Wilson, spokesperson for the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners; Sudhir Dhawale, editor of Marathi fortnightly Vidrohi; lawyer Surendra Gadling, academic Shoma Sen, former Prime Minister Rural Development Fellow Mahesh Raut, Bhim Army leader Chandrashekhar Azad, CPIML Red Star’s Alik Chakraborty and others.

Punjab MP Dharamvira Gandhi, suspended from the Aam Aadmi Party, was among those who addressed the rally, which attracted several Punjabi peasants from communist groups.

Gandhi told The Telegraph: “I came to speak for human rights defenders whose lives are under threat for speaking up for Dalits, tribals and farmers…. We are here to fight against this targeting of activists by the state that is imposing this corporate-funded nationalism and religious fanaticism.”

A former Bombay High Court judge, Justice (retired) B.G. Kolse-Patil, one of the organisers of the Elgaar Parishad, which is under the glare of the Pune police, said: “When the country wants to progress, these rulers want India to go back to what it was 5,000 years ago…. When I retired, I promised that I wouldn’t fear the police or prisons…. Those who opposed the freedom movement are now running the show. Unless and until we unite, we cannot fight these forces.”

The Bhim Army’s Vinay Ratan Singh said: “I believe in the Constitution but I feel bad that those who work for education and young people are made Naxals by this government…. We know how to form governments and also how to pull them down. I challenge the state to do what they want, I challenge MPs to debate with eight and 14-year-olds from our Bhim Army schools.”

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