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Andhra SEC requests Governor to take action against state govt advisor

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Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh) [India], January 29 (ANI): Andhra Pradesh Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar has written letters to Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan and state chief secretary Adityanath Das requesting them to take action against the government advisor Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy and Principal Secretary Praveen Prakash.
The SEC wrote a letter to the Governor ctated Reddy has been making political attacks against him. “Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy being a public servant can’t brazenly and blatantly hold party briefs, indulge in political activity, and attack a constitutional authority,” he stated.
The SEC further said that that he had no trust in the Advocate General of State Government and requested the Governor to refer the whole episode for a higher legal opinion of the Attorney General of India.
The SEC also requested the Governor to dismiss Reddy from the position of Advisor to the state government.
Kumar said that he is left with no other alternative but to approach the court.
However, the SEC stated he would like to submit to the Governor for one last time to advise the government advisor to refrain from indulging in such attacks.
Ramesh Kumar has written another letter to state Chief Secretary Adityanath Das which said the Commission has reached a well-considered view that the Principal Secretary was primarily responsible for scuttling the Video Conference meant to review the poll preparedness as well as to impart instructions to the Collectors.
“The General Administration (Poll) department headed by Praveen Prakash, also seems to have imparted instructions to Collectors and SPs as well as to other officers not to participate in the Commission meetings. The collectors were apparently instructed not to cooperate with the poll process as well. As a result, the commission was forced to reschedule 1st phase polls. Praveen Prakash has acted in a prejudicial manner to scuttle the conduct of free and fair elections,” he stated.
The SEC also mentioned that he had earlier written to the government to take action against some officers but the General Administration (Poll) department headed by Praveen Prakash chose not to take action and did not implement the directions of SEC.
He further said that the Commission under the circumstances issues the following order with immediate effect.
“The State Election Commission invokes its plenary powers under Article 243 read with Article 324 to transfer Sri Praveen Prakash, IAS, with a view to ensure free and fair elections. He is barred during the course of elections to have interaction with District Collectors and Superintendents of Police and any other officers who either directly or indirectly deal with matters relating to elections,” Ramesh Kumar stated.
Andhra Pradesh State Election Commission and State Government are at loggerheads regarding the conduct of local body elections. (ANI)

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New OTT guidelines intended to empower audience, safeguard platforms: I&B secretary

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By Sahil Pandey
New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): The newly formed guidelines to regulate Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms and digital media by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) are intended to empower the audience and also safeguard OTT platforms, said I&B secretary Amit Khare on Friday.
Khare said the government fully understands that there are different types of media but emphasised that there should be a level playing field.
“We are empowering the citizen to make informed choices and benchmarks we have kept about the age are an international practice. You go to any country then disclosure is made on the basis of self-classification unlike films where classification is done by the Central Board of Film Certification. Here classification will be done by the platforms but they will inform that this is as per the age criteria,” Khare told ANI.
The I&B Secretary, talking about OTT and online news media said that these fields are new and growing and are empowering citizens.
“There are three objectives: first, an institutional mechanism for this sector. Second, many times ordinary citizens feel helpless that they do not have any system of redressal for their grievances. So a grievance redressal system empowers the citizen in case there is any misapprehension or if they feel they have been wronged, then they can write to somebody and approach the authority. The third objective is to introduce a sort of a level playing field between different media. After when the same content is in print media, then there is different regulation; if it is on television then different regulation and if it is on OTT then there is no regulation,” Khare said.
The government fully understands the types of media are different but there should be a level playing field.
“There should be a level playing field and we understand it fully and I will repeat that we fully understand that type of media is different as TV is different from films and films are different from web series. We cannot have the same criteria but there should be some sort of similarity in the goal post and level playing field does not mean the same field for everybody but some sort of similarity in regulation should be there. Therefore, what has been announced is a soft touch self-regulatory mechanism with minimal interference of the government,” he added.
He also stressed that government has full faith in the Indian platform as guidelines are not much of compliance but more of a disclosure.
“We have full faith in Indian platforms either OTT players or digital news, as this is not much of compliance but more of a disclosure. They would be disclosing the information like who is the editor, who is the grievance officer to lodge any complaint. If there is a complaint against a newspaper then you write the letter to the editor. If there is a complaint against a TV program there is NBSA. One can write to them. We just want that they should disclose the information. If a citizen feels that some portal makes an allegation which that person wants to refute then he or she should know that where they can send a mail to refute back. It is more of a self-disclosure system. In the worst case which we do not anticipate, then provisions of IT Act will apply,” Khare said.
Khare added that the government stands for journalistic freedom and this was far more liberal than for print or TV or films and now the other three sectors demand that government should be more liberal with them.
There should self-classification of content for OTT platforms, said Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday while unveiling the new policies for digital media.
“For OTT, there should be self-classification of content for 13+, 16+, and Adult categories. There has to be a mechanism of parental lock and ensuring compliance that children do not see that,” Javadekar said during a press conference.
The OTT platforms, called the publishers of online-curated content in the rules, would self-classify the content into five age-based categories which are U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult).
As per the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as “A”.
The publisher of online curated content shall prominently display the classification rating specific to each content or program together with a content descriptor informing the user about the nature of the content, and advising on viewer description (if applicable) at the beginning of every program enabling the user to make an informed decision, prior to watching the program, read the guidelines.
The Rules seek to empower the users by mandating the intermediaries, including social media intermediaries, to establish a grievance redressal mechanism for receiving resolving complaints from the users or victims.
Intermediaries shall appoint a Grievance Officer to deal with such complaints and share the name and contact details of such officer. Grievance Officer shall acknowledge the complaint within 24 hours and resolve it within 15 days from its receipt.
To ensure online safety and dignity of users, especially women users, intermediaries shall remove or disable access within 24 hours of receipt of complaints of contents that exposes the private areas of individuals, show such individuals in full or partial nudity or in sexual activity or is in the nature of impersonation including morphed images. Such a complaint can be filed either by the individual or by any other person on his or her behalf.
According to the guidelines, users who wish to verify their accounts voluntarily shall be provided an appropriate mechanism to do so and provided with a demonstrable and visible mark of verification. (ANI)

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BBMP administrator reviews progress of ‘Smart City road projects’ in Bengaluru

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Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], February 26 (ANI): Administrator of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Gaurav Gupta along with other officials concerned, reviewed the progress of Smart City road projects undertaken by BBMP on Friday.
“Chief Minister of Karnataka BS Yediyurappa will soon be inaugurating nine roads developed under Smart City Ltd,” Gupta said.
“Out of the 36 roads that are being constructed, five have been thrown open to the public so far,” he said.
Gupta visited Raj Bhavan Road, Nehru Planetarium Road, Cantonment Road, Queen’s Road, Kasturba Road and Raja Ram Mohan Roy Road and inspected the progress. He instructed the authorities to complete the pending work immediately.
Gaurav Gupta instructed the officials to take necessary actions to clear the pedestrian underpass at Raj Bhavan Road as it is not being used.
“Illegal OFC cables dangling from the trees towards the pedestrian tracks must be immediately cleated,” Gupta informed.
The administrator said that Smart City projects must make sure that the pedestrian tracks must be even and uniform especially around the tree structures as they are in the TenderSure model.
Gupta also visited Cantonment Road and Queens Road on the occasion. He ordered the smart city officials to install the electrical cables underground and said that the roads must be asphalted soon after the completion of the construction work.
Gupta instructed that the public toilets on the pedestrian track to be cleared as it will cause inconvenience to the pedestrians. (ANI)

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Delhi reports 256 new COVID-19 cases, active count at 1,231

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New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): Delhi reported 256 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the cumulative count of people infected with the virus to 6,38,849, said health officials on Friday.
As many as 193 people recovered from the virus, while one person succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours.
According to the Delhi Health Department’s bulletin, the cumulative positive cases include 10,906 deaths and 6,26,712 recoveries.
The total number of active cases stands at 1,231. The cumulative positivity rate in the national capital is 5.21 per cent as of Friday.
The recovery rate in the national capital is 98.1 per cent. The positivity rate in the national capital stands at 0.41 per cent.
62,768 people underwent COVID-19 tests in the last 24 hours.
Delhi presently has 550 containment zones.
Meanwhile, 16,577 new COVID-19 cases and 120 deaths were reported in India during the last 24 hours, informed the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on Friday.
With this, the total coronavirus caseload in the country has gone up to 1,10,63,491, including 1,55,986 active cases and 1,07,50,680 discharges.
As per the Health Ministry, a total of 1,34,72,643 people in the country have been vaccinated against the virus. (ANI)

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Responsibility of channel’s owner to ensure programme does not violate cable TV rules: Centre tells Delhi HC

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New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): The Centre has told Delhi High Court that it is the responsibility of the private TV channel owner to ensure that programmes it telecast does not violate the Programme Code prescribed under Rule 6 of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994.
It, however, clarified that a unit has been set up to take cognisance of fake news.
A Fact Check Unit (FCU) has been set in Press Information Bureau under the Ministry which takes cognisance of fake news and misinformation reported on social media both on suo motu and by way of queries or through email or Whatsapp. The unit also maintains a Twitter account and posts case of fake news, being busted, on the same on regular basis.
The FCU has received 49, 625 queries on WhatsApp/email between April 26, 2020, to February 18, 2021. Out of these, the actionable cases of 15,992 have been countered/replied and the PIB has busted 505 cases during this, the government told the court.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting response came on an affidavit filed through advocate Ajay Digpaul. The reply has been filed in two petitions moved by Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Manjit Singh GK seeking to frame the necessary guidelines and to constitute a committee for handling the fake news on various social handles.
The Ministry told the Court that as per Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, there is no pre-censorship of a programme telecast on private TV channels, however, Section 5 of the Act provides that “no person shall transmit or re-transmit through a cable service any programme, unless such programme is in conformity with the prescribed programme code.”
Thus, it is the responsibility of the channel’s owner to ensure that a programme telecast on a private TV channel does not violate the programme code prescribed under Rule 6 of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994. Whenever a violation of the Programme Code is brought to the notice of the Ministry, appropriate action is taken as per Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, it was informed. (ANI)

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NHRC issues show cause notice to Defence Ministry over relief amount for death of citizen in Army firing in Arunachal

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New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) India on Wednesday issued a notice to the Union Ministry of Defence to cite a reason why Rs 5 lakh could not be paid as relief to the next of the kin of an innocent citizen Thingtu Ngemu, who died in the uninformed and indiscriminate firing by the Army unit of 21 Para Special Forces during an operation against Naxalites in Arunachal Pradesh in 2017.
According to a statement issued by NHRC on Friday, the Commission has communicated that the case needs to be treated as special because the Judicial Enquiry Magistrate has held that the PSF personnel are responsible for the death of an innocent citizen.
The Commission has also emphasized that if the Defence Ministry pays the relief amount to the victim’s family on the basis of its show cause notice in such cases, it will send positive signals amongst the locals and the credibility of the Armed Forces shall also improve. The response is expected within four weeks.
The Commission had registered the case on June 29, 2017, on the basis of intimation from the Superintendent of Police of Arunachal Pradesh’s Changland, regarding the death of Thingtu Ngemu during an action by the security forces against naxalites in Nantok circle District Changlang.
Subsequently, the Commission through its Investigation Division found that the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, District Changlang, had conducted the enquiry in the matter. It is recorded, in his report that the PSF personnel neither cooperated nor submitted any statements regarding the operation despite official letters and request of the Enquiry Magistrate.
After considering the relevant evidences, the Judicial enquiry officer found that the Army Unit of 21 Para Special Forces (PSF) of Jorhat had laid ambush within the reachable range of civilian/villagers, without any knowledge of local civil police or villagers, which was undesirable and dangerous for the inhabitants. Further, the PSF personnel detained a local innocent villager Tuwang Ngemu till late night without any reason, while he was returning from his own garden. He should have been allowed to go home after ascertaining his identity.
As a result, the other villagers and family members came towards the forest in search of Tuwang Ngemu. The PSF should have used night vision glasses/equipment to see through the dark night hours and should have identified innocent empty handed villagers. They should have also heard the shouts of the villagers, who were searching their man, who was already detained by the PSF. Instead they resorted to blind firing without any provocation, which led to the killing of an innocent villager under the pretext of “mistaken identity”.
The enquiry Magistrate has also reported that the PSF continued firing indiscriminately from one side till 3 am of next morning of June 15, 2017 without any retaliation or any cross-firing from anywhere. Such a blunder and irresponsible action is unjustified.
Holding the PSF personnel responsible for the death of Thingtu Ngemu, the enquiry magistrate noted that the victim was innocent and had no connection with any outfit. The deceased is survived by his old ailing parents, wife and two small children. He was the primary bread earner and now the family has no source of livelihood.
Based on the analysis and inputs of the facts by its Investigation Division, the Commission, U/s 19 of PHR Act, has issued the show cause notice why the victim’s family should not be paid the monetary relief. (ANI)

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Yediyurappa launches KSRTC’s ‘Namma Cargo’ service

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Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], February 26 (ANI): Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Friday inaugurated new ‘parcel and cargo’ services ‘Namma Cargo’ services at Vidhana Soudha.
According to a press statement issued by Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), the Parcel and Cargo Service is being implemented in Karnataka and select locations of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Goa, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
“The step has been taken to generate revenue,” the statement read.
It is estimated that luggage revenue generation will go up to Rs 70 to Rs 80 crores per annum.
In the first phase, 88 taluks and bus stations of Karnataka and 21 inter-state places and 109 bus stations are covered in this new project.
In the coming days, this project will be extended to other bus stations in the state and home delivery services will also be provided under this project.
Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar and several other dignitaries were present at the event.
“Mobile Blood Donation Bus” was also inaugurated in collaboration with KSRTC, KIDWAI and ROTARY.
The Blood Donation Bus will be utilised to motivate the self-inspired blood donors. (ANI)

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