Polity & Governance
- SC upholds law on criminal defamation
- Protection to public servants upheld
- ICICI Bank launches the country’s first contactless business credit card
- India, WHO sign treaty for Global promotion of Traditional Systems of Medicine
- Indian vessel released as U.N. lifts sanctions
Science & Technology
- New IPR policy retains access to cheap drugs
Polity & Governance
SC upholds law on criminal defamation
The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of the country’s colonial-era criminal defamation laws, ruling that they are not in conflict with the right to free speech.
- The court said that the reputation of a person is an integral part of the right to life granted under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
- It observed that Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code make defamation a criminal offence. A person’s right to freedom of speech has to be balanced with the other person’s right to reputation and therefore the two Sections are necessary.
- Explaining the interplay of defamation and free speech rights, the apex court concluded there will be “no chilling” effect on the latter because of criminal sanctions.
- It also rejected an argument that defamation could become a criminal offence only if it incited to make an offence. It said that defamation had its own independent identity, which has enabled the state to maintain a balance between fundamental rights.
- The court also pointed out the distinction between sections 499 and 500 on one hand and section 66A (prosecution for obscene social posts) of the Information Technology Act on the other, saying the latter was struck down by the apex court on the ground of vagueness and procedural unreasonableness.
- The ruling was delivered on a petition filed first by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician Subramanian Swamy against provisions criminalizing defamation. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, among others, later became parties to the case. They now have to face criminal defamation proceedings initiated against them.
- The judgement will put politicians and media figures, some of whom are already facing charges of criminal defamation, on the defensive.
- The petitioners had alleged that the provisions of criminal sanction act as a censoring device thus violate the freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution.
Protection to public servants upheld
Calling public servants, a “different class”, the Supreme Court has upheld the validity of a provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC) allowing them to file a complaint in a sessions court through a public prosecutor for alleged defamatory comments on their official acts.
Supreme court’s key observations:
- The Supreme Court has observed that the provision gives public servants protection for their official acts. There cannot be defamatory attacks on them because of discharge of their due functions. In that sense, they constitute a different class.
- This provision makes it clear that a public servant is entitled to file a complaint through the public prosecutor in respect of his conduct in discharge of public functions. Public functions stand on a different footing.
- Also, one is bound to tolerate criticism, dissent and discordance but not expected to tolerate defamatory attack. And hence this right of a public servant to file a defamation complaint is over and above his or her right under Section 199 (6) to personally file a complaint before a Magistrate.
ICICI Bank launches the country’s first contactless business credit card
ICICI Bank has launched the country’s first contactless business credit card in association with Jet Airways for small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) and their employees.
- The card is named the ‘Jet Airways ICICI Bank Business Advantage Card’.
- This co-branded credit card will help customers to save on their business expenses.
- It will also provide customers dual advantage of reward programme on both spends as well as repayments of credit card on a list of business expense categories, including travel, dining, office stationery, online advertising and vendor payments.
- The card is powered by the ‘VISA payWave’ contactless technology that enables the cardholder to make payments by simply tapping the card at contactless enabled terminals in more than 48 countries, including India.
- The card can also be used by dipping or swiping at non-contactless merchants.
India, WHO sign treaty for Global promotion of Traditional Systems of Medicine
India has signed a Project Collaboration Agreement (PCA) with the World Health Organisation (WHO) for cooperation in promoting traditional medicine.
- AYUSH Ministry and WHO have signed a historic Project Collaboration Agreement (PCA) for cooperation on promoting the quality, safety and effectiveness of service provision in traditional and complementary medicine.
- The PCA aims to support WHO in the development and implementation of the ‘WHO Traditional and Complementary Medicine Strategy: 2014-2023’.
- It will also contribute to the global promotion of traditional Indian systems of medicine.
- The PCA for the period 2016-2020 will deliver for the first time WHO benchmark document for training in Yoga and WHO benchmarks for practice in Ayurveda, Unani and Panchakarma.
Indian vessel released as U.N. lifts sanctions
- Indian vessel MT Distya Ameya, which was detained by the United Nations for carrying disputed Libyan oil, has been freed after the U.N. lifted its sanctions on the vessel.
- This follows the intervention of the Indian government and the Directorate-General (DG) of Shipping.
What’s the issue?
- Indian vessel MT Distya Ameya was blacklisted by the U.N. on April 26 when it sailed from the Al-Herega port in Libya after picking up over 6.5 lakh barrels of oil for Malta.
- It was charged that the vessel violated the sanctions of the U.N. as the interim Government of Libya is not recognised by the global body.
- Following the instructions of the DG Shipping, the vessel sailed back to Libya and discharged its entire oil cargo.
Science & Technology
New IPR policy retains access to cheap drugs
The Union government has announced the long-pending, “all-encompassing” National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy.
- The new policy seeks to encourage innovation and improve access to healthcare, food security and environmental protection.
- The National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy will endeavor for a “Creative India; Innovative India: रचनात्मकभारत; अभिनवभारत”.
- The IPR policy approved by the Cabinet on Thursday night, comes in the backdrop of the US Trade Representative (USTR), in its annual (2016 edition) Special 301 Report (on the global state of IPR protection and enforcement) retaining India on the ‘Priority Watch List’ for “lack of sufficient measurable improvements to its IPR framework.”
Key features of the new policy:
- The Policy will allow compulsory licensing with restrictions in case of a public health emergency such as epidemics and it is compliant with the World Trade Organization’s guidelines.
- The policy makes the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) the nodal agency for regulating IP rights in the country.
- The Policy states that India shall remain committed to the (World Trade Organisation’s) Doha Declaration on Trade Related IPR Agreement (TRIPS) and Public Health.
- The policy seeks to put in place a legal framework that will encourage the IPR regime and reduce the time taken by the government to approve a trademark to a month by 2017. Currently, the process takes more than a year.
- It also says that India will continue to utilise the legislative space and flexibilities available in international treaties and the TRIPS Agreement. These flexibilities include the sovereign right of countries to use provisions such as Section 3(d) and CLs for ensuring the availability of essential and life-saving drugs at affordable prices.
- To ensure strong and effective IPR laws, the Policy states India will engage constructively in the negotiation of international treaties and agreements in consultation with stakeholders.
The Policy lays down the following seven objectives:
- IPR Awareness: Outreach and Promotion – To create public awareness about the economic, social and cultural benefits of IPRs among all sections of society.
- Generation of IPRs – To stimulate the generation of IPRs.
- Legal and Legislative Framework – To have strong and effective IPR laws, which balance the interests of rights owners with larger public interest.
- Administration and Management – To modernize and strengthen service-oriented IPR administration.
- Commercialization of IPRs – Get value for IPRs through commercialization.
- Enforcement and Adjudication – To strengthen the enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms for combating IPR infringements.
- Human Capital Development – To strengthen and expand human resources, institutions and capacities for teaching, training, research and skill building in IPRs.
[Ref: PIB, Hindu]