Judiciary and Executive: Courts & Masters, three opportunities - The Daily Guardian
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Judiciary and Executive: Courts & Masters, three opportunities

The Supreme Court of UK has itself dispensed with the traditional wig and gown subject to certain terms and conditions. In Australia, the court dress varies from state to state, from court to court and even within the same courtroom.

Sudhir Mishra Petal Chandhok and Rupali Gupta



Undoubtedly the last three months have been choppy waters for lawyers around different jurisdictions, where the entire focus has been to survive well and to sail through these times with minimal setbacks. We are still stunned.

At a complete loss to interpret the new situation where the courts and law offices are closed, there would be clients who might never come back resulting in many legal engagement opportunities being shunted out permanently. 

 Indeed COVID-19 has introduced many challenges, but it has also provided us some unique opportunities. For us lawyers it is probably to redefine the way we have been working in the legal sector.

On that thought, this lockdown has provided us an opportunity to dive into the sacred aspects of the age old legal traditions, customs and practices followed in legal practice and to do a “manthan” of the same. In our understanding Corona provides Indian legal fraternity, three terrific opportunities.


At the peak of COVID-19 the  measures taken up by the Indian  Judiciary are commendable and pathbreaking. One such measure is the exemption granted to advocates from wearing black gown and coats until further orders, as a preventive step to contain the spread of Coronavirus. 

Most of us feel that the black coat and gown has become a fundamental part and an identity for the legal fraternity. As it is often said that one may not recognise an IAS officer passing by but can easily identify a “Vakil” because of his black coat. Nonetheless we also cannot deny that the black coat, gown and the white band is a part and parcel of the imperial colonial legacy. This recognition, however, comes with its own set of prejudice and stigmas attached thereto.

The history of a dress code in the legal system dates back to the time of King Edward III of England. The wigs were also the fashion of that era. It was believed that the gown and wigs gave a degree of anonymity to the judges and lawyers. While exporting the treasures of “sone ki chidiya” to their homeland, the British imported their Colonial legacy of the gowns, coats and wigs to India. But after Independence this was simplified. The robes were made plain black and wigs were dropped so we remained partly colonial in our outlook.

While in 2011, the  Supreme Court of UK has itself dispensed away with the traditional wig and gown subject to certain terms and conditions. In Australia, the court dress varies from state to state, from court to court and even within the same courtroom. Whereas in various African Countries, court dresses are lightweight to suit the climatic conditions. In Sweden there is no official court dress for judges and in the United States, lawyers wear business attire in courts of all level.

Judge’s Dress Code Today

*Judges and lawyers appearing in criminal courts still wear traditional wigs and gowns which can be dispensed in cases involving children.

 Attorney’s Dress Code Today

*Judges and lawyers appearing in criminal courts still wear traditional wigs and gowns which can be dispensed in cases involving children.

Here the concept of “uniform” is not discouraging as it is crucial to project certain uniformity in the identity and purpose of the legal fraternity. There is no denial that “vesh bhusha” of legal professionals act as a distinguishing factor which makes us stand out in the crowd. But now we have an opportunity to relook and reimagine the dress code considering the climatic conditions specific to each state and other factors, while taking all the stakeholders into confidence. As every coin has two sides, no doubt that the black coat distinguishes us but at times it also leads to insinuations, caricatures, ridicule, stereotyping and above all generalisation of all the lawyers.

With the passage of time the colours black and white has been widely associated with the legal profession, therefore some permutation and combination of the same may be considered. In cities like Delhi white shirt with black trouser for male advocates with the crucial white band accompanied by a black Nehru jacket in winters, serves the purpose of distinguishing an advocate. Correspondingly, a combination of white and black salwar kameez, sari, etc. with the white band for female advocates serve the purpose.


It is often said, modern problems calls for modern solutions. The swift switch to digital ways of conducting court proceedings by way of video conferencing and e-filling is another remarkable measure that the Judiciary has taken to ensure that Courts in the nation especially the Supreme Court and the High Courts remain operational and functional to address urgent matters even during the entire lockdown. Such an upgradation was much needed which ensured that the hues and cries of people did not go in vain. 

According to various reports, a total of 116 benches of different permutations and combinations of the Supreme Court heard 835 matters during a total of 22 days between March 23 and May 01, 2020. Similarly all the courts in Delhi, including the Delhi High Court, have dealt with more than 11,427 urgent matters after the lockdown till May 02, 2020. Further, as per the data collected by National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG), 832 civil cases out of 3094 and 40,095 criminal cases out of 90,742 filed during the pandemic have been disposed-off. These statistics surely comes as a ray of hope from the Judiciary. 

 While Indian Judiciary has taken giant steps to ensure e-filing of matters, the effect of such filing in enhancing justice delivery has been phenomenal. In fact, the series of e-filing which Trust Legal did before the Delhi High Court for urgent litigations were a breeze in comparison to physical filing. This brings us to the next big step which can be taken, i.e. to completely do away with all physical filings as it will not only benefit the lawyers but will also save valuable hours of court staff for more productive work.


 In another first, with the advent of June 2020, Court No. 3 of the Supreme Court went paperless on the first day of June 2020. In the absence of files and papers the Judges were also seen making notes on their respective systems. Hon’ble Mr. Justice D.Y Chandrachud who is also the Chairman of Ecommittee, Supreme Court, and a pioneer advocating the cause of digitalization and e-filing led the three judges bench to conduct the first paperless proceeding. 

 Being an environment lawyer for majority of my career and being the award winning law firm in the category of Environment by the IBLJ, 2020 we feel responsible to highlight the importance and necessity to effectively switch to e-filing. Simply computing, there are over 60,000 matters pending before the Supreme Court as on March 01, 2020. Assumingly each matter is of 100 pages and if approximately 8 set of files are required for each matter, which can also increase depending on the number of parties involved, it can alone account for 4,80,00,000 pages which undoubtedly is massive.

Statistics Depicting the Trees and Water required for the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s filing in 10 Months

Further, as per our basic research, more than 39,000 cases were instituted before the Delhi High Court in 2019. Assuming that a bare minimum of each petition consist of 50 pages of 4 sets of each, it accounts for 78,00,000 pages in just the Delhi High Court. Needless to say, other major High Courts which caters to the needs of a much larger population like the Allahabad High Court, would have a much more significant number of pages. 

Similarly, there are various National level Appellate Tribunals, in some of which like the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) 4 sets of petition are required to file. In 2019 about 1011 petitions were filed before APTEL, accounting to 4,04,400 pages assuming a bare minimum of 100 pages per petition were used.

In computing the above, we have not taken into account other documents like the replies, rejoinders, evidences, applications, etc. and the pages utilised thereof. The more deeply we look the grimmer the situation is.

 A shift to a virtual mode of hearing and e-filling is no longer an option but a necessity. It will make the Courts more accessible to litigants and advocates in various parts of India, reduce the considerable amount of expenses incurred in travelling and ofcourse save paper so as to ensure that adverse environmental impacts are also mitigated. 

 Interestingly, the Government has also done a commendable job with setting up the system of e-filing of Income-Tax returns, GST returns, ESI/PF filings, TDS, e-tenders and many more.

Ofcourse a sudden paperless judicial system is not expected, but we can definitely aspire to move in that direction even after COVID-19 crisis is over and take our first steps for the same. The easiest way to move in the said direction is to first digitalise and bring the Efiling system in place permanently for the Supreme Court, the High Courts and Tribunals across India. Also not to miss, it is necessary that this exercise is made simpler to ensure that the benefits of digitalisation reaches the ground level.

Once Corona deports from our lives, maybe we can objectively assess that apart from the devastation it brought, what are the permanent positive impact it left on the legal practice world. A fundamental shift towards business attire suiting our climatic conditions, shifting to electronic filing for all purposes, saving exceptions and reducing paper consumption will be lauded by the future generations.

Sudhir Mishra is an Advocate and Founder & Managing Partner at Trust Legal. Petal Chandhok is Partner, Trust Legal Rupali Gupta is an Associate, Trust Legal.

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Legally Speaking

Supreme Court upholds cancellation of fair price shop vacancies in West Bengal to implement Food Security Act, “no estoppel against statue”



The Supreme Court in the case State of West Bengal vs Gitashree Dutta (Dey) observed in view of the implementation of National Food Security Act, 2013 and the court further noticed and dismissed the challenges faced against the cancelation of the declaration of Fair Price Shop vacancies.

The bench observed while agreeing to these contentions and therefore allowed the appeal:

While going by the observations of the Division Bench in the impugned judgment, that the State was aware of the 2013 Act while issuing the vacancy notification on 30th April 2014, the said notification cannot be sustained and the notification being contrary to the mandate of the National Food Security Act, 2013, more importantly of Section 12 thereof, there can be no estoppel against a statute. the appellants endeavoured to enforce the statute, The respondent herein being a mere applicant in an unfinalized selection process and when by recalling the vacancy notification it is seen that the respondent has no vested right in his favour to seek

The respondent in an unfinalized selection process has no vested right in his favour to seek continuation of the notified vacancies and further it was contended before the court that there can be no estoppel against a statute as the State endeavoured to enforce the statute while recalling the vacancy notification

Before the Apex Court, the State contended that it was reposed with a responsibility for implementing the 2013 Act which, inter alia, entrusted a responsibility to reform the existing Targeted Distribution System.

Inter alia praying for quashing of the Notification dated 17th August 2015, the respondent filled a writ petition before the High Court of Calcutta. The Writ petition was dismissed by High Court single bench as This notification was issued in the light of implementation of the 2013 Act. the Division bench of the High Court held while allowing the intra court appeal that the State of West Bengal failed to justify the decision to recall the vacancies and that it has acted in an arbitrary and unreasonable manner, and hence, it is being said to quash the Notification dated 17th August 2015. However, no final order appointing the respondent was issued by the State Authority and the application of the respondent was pending before the court. The Food and Supplies Department of the State of West Bengal issued a notification dated 17.08.2015 while cancelling the declaration of vacancies.

The Bench comprising of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and the Justice Vikram Nath observed that the State endeavoured to enforce the statute and that there can be no estoppel against a statute, while recalling the vacancy notification.

The Food and Supplies Department of the State of West Bengal issued a notification dated 17.08.2015 while cancelling the declaration of vacancies.

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Legally Speaking

To clear wage arrears of sweepers within 8 weeks, the Supreme Court directs Jammu & Kashmir



The Supreme Court in the case Dr. Kunzes Dolma and Anr. v. Mehraj-ud-Din Kumar and Ors observed and directed the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to clear the wages of sweeper from March 2015, within 8 weeks as the arrears of sweepers sustaining at a monthly wage of as the minimum wage of sweeper is of Rs. 100/- per month (Rs. 3 per day).

In an order dated May 7, 2016 the LPA was preferred by the Department against which the High Court refused to entertain and passed the impugned order.

the Jammu and Kashmir High Court vide order dated May 7, 2016 confirmed the earlier order and again directed those minimum wages to be paid by the sweeper is to the extent of Rs. 4500 per month. Thereafter the order dated 06.11.2015 was not being implemented However in the contempt petition and since the Contempt Petition was preferred by the sweepers.

On 06.11.2015, the Single Judge of High Court directed in their favor for the release of the unpaid minimum wages.

the part time sweepers with wages of Rs 4500 each which has been done without any approval and authorization from any authority as accordingly in an order passed by the Chief Medical Officer The sweepers were aggrieved by the clubbing of plan grants into non plan which was done on the account.

For challenging the grant of same wage irrespective of the enhancement Part Time Sweepers in different Health Centers in District Kupwara by the then District/Block Level Officers who were entitled to monthly wages @Rs.100/- had approached High Court, a case before Jammu & Kashmir High Court.

It is being noticed by the bench in the impugned judgement that the sweepers continued to be paid meagre wages of INR 100 per month despite of repeated directions.

In an order dated 05.15.2019, the Top Court issued the directions while considering SLP assailing Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s, the top court further observed and refused to entertain the LPA.

The directions issued by the Top Court while considering an order dated May 15, 2019 as in the said order the SLP assaulted Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s while refusing to entertain the LPA furthermore the Court observed that the same was an abuse of the process of law.

In an order dated 15.05.2019, while considering SLP assailing Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s by which it further observed while refusing to entertain the LPA that the same was an abuse of the process of law, the directions issued by the Top Court.

The bench comprising of Justice BR Gavai and the Justice AS Bopanna observed and further directed for paying the monthly payment to the sweepers from the month of May, 2022 and which is to be paid a regularly without any break.

In an order dated 05.15.2019, the Top Court issued the directions while considering SLP assailing Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s, the top court further observed and refused to entertain the LPA.

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Legally Speaking

Supreme Court: Asks Comptroller of Examinations to examine students grievances about differences in marks allotted by CBSE exam



The Supreme Court in the case Jay Dhande & ors vs Union of India & ors observed and directed the Comptroller of Examinations to reconsider grievances of the students and take appropriate decision as there is a difference in marks calculated by CBSE and the respondent School.

It was argued by the school that the CBSE is trying to cover up this inaccuracy and now the CBSE has used the opportunity to put the entire blame on the school.

According to the School Committee, it was submitted that the CBSE portal was an all-inclusive portal and the portal worked as per the algorithm/program as designed by CBSE and if there is a wrong or inaccurate moderation process, the onus and the responsibility of that lies with the CBSE and not the school, according to the School Committee.

Thereafter it was being argued that as per the CBSE instructions, the entire process was done precisely and as now the CBSE is putting the onus of its wrongs on the School as the School had no independent rule either in moderating or assigning the marks.

Further it was argued by the School Committee that the school did not have any power or any option to moderate or assign marks on its own and the school as mentioned in the CBSE portal, the school meticulously followed each and every instruction

It was further argued by the petitioner that the CBSE does not have any authority and the CBSE has changed the marks given by the School and the CBSE has awarded much less marks given by the school

In the present petition the main grievance is that the marks uploaded by CBSE are much less than the marks given by the school whereas the CBSE results that are uploaded reveal by the present petitioner school students is that according to their school, the school allotted them particular marks.

Further it being clarified by bench that it hasn’t expressed any opinion on the contentious issue.

No expressed opinion on the contention issue is being expressed by Bench, as bench clarified

In this case the main dispute is in regards with the marks allotted to the students as per 30:30:40 formula for class X, XI, XII respectively for the 2021 exams, where an alternative assessment is being restored by the Board in lieu of written exams due to.

The bench comprising of Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice JB Pardiwala has asked to explain the flow of algorithm and software which provides for different deduction of different marks student-wise to take assistance of technical team by the Comptroller of Examination

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Supreme Court: Asks Petitioner On Plea Challenging Talaq-E-Hasan, To Mention Next Week



The Supreme Court observed the Muslim personal law practice of Talaq-E-Hasan which was mentioned before a vacation bench for urgent listing. A petition was filed before the Supreme Court challenging the Muslim Personal Law Practise.

The petitioner argued before the court that the practise is arbitrary and is a violation of Article 14, Article 15, Article 21 and Article 25 of the Constitution and is therefore unconstitutional as the practise is discriminatory since only men can exercise the same and seeks a declaration. As it is not an essential practice of Islamic faith, according to the petitioner.

the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana had refused to grant urgent listing for the plea on 09.05.2022.

by pronouncing “talaq” once a month for three months, a Muslim man can divorce his wife as per Talaq-E-Hasan.

Ms. Anand submitted that as on April 19, first noticed was issued and Now second notice has been issued and he further submitted that we are challenging the proceedings and hence for Talaq E Hasan, a notice have been issued through lawyer.

The bench led by Justice Chandrachud further remarked that “Why under Article 32?”.

Ms. Anand submitted that the Talaq-E-Hasan was left out and the only issue of Talaq E Biddat was considered was considered in Shayra Bano.

Justice Chandrchud further remarked that there is no urgency and We will keep it on the re-opening day after vacations.

As it will be over, she has received the second notice on 05.19.2022 and on 06.20.2022.

She has received the second notice on May 19 and on June 20 it will be over”

on May 19 and on June 20 she has received the second notice and by the time it will be over as by that time everything third talaq will be given and everything will be over.

The bench led by Justice Chandrachud further remarked that there is no urgency as the first notice issued was on April 19 and wait for a period to come here.

Ms. Anand submitted further submitted that it is about a woman being abused and by reopening everything will be over.

On which Justice Chandrachud further remarked to take his chance and mention it next week.

The Vacation Bench comprising of Justice DY Chandrachud and the Justice Bela Trived contended that the petitioner has received the second notice of talq as the Public Interest Litigation petition filed by Senior Advocate Pinky Anand

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The Kerala High Court directed the State Government to take steps for the resumption of such land, notify and exempt the provisions of required and further the court directed that no quarrying activities are permitted on the land assigned for cultivation in the case Raphy John v. Land Revenue Commissioner & connected matter.

It was being contended that through the rule the authorities had made a conscious decision not to grant or renew any quarrying lease if the land was assigned for a specific purpose. The revenue authorities would be incapacitated from verifying if the land was assigned for cultivation as the appellants had argued that if quarrying permits are sought for such lands. The amendment was brought in since it was impossible to distinguish between assigned lands in an appeal moved by the State while citing and the week after the judgment was delivered and lands sold to third parties, The impugned decision was, however, put on hold by the Court.

It was mandate by the impugned rule made that for granting or renewing any quarrying lease a Certificate is required from Village Officer and if such lands are assigned for any specific purpose, the village officer has to certify it.

It was being observed by the bench led by a Single Judge that since a quarrying lease was executed by the State and the bench further stated that the State has given sanction to conduct quarrying on assigned land, it can be presumed

In January 2018, the bench comprising of Single Judge had interfered with the amendment in the Kerala Minor Mineral Concession Rules brought in by the State to prevent quarrying on assigned lands and then sold it to third parties through assignees.

once an application for the same is received, the State may take a decision on the land classification, in furtherance with the decision made.

The order issued by the Revenue Department barring other constructions on agricultural land shall be strictly enforced was also being emphasized by the Bench And it has also been established under the Kerala Land Assignment Rules, 1964 and that there will be a violation of the Land Acquisition Act if there are any other construction activities on assigned lands and that assigned lands could not be used for any other purpose.

It has also opined that the Revenue authorities are empowered to take action to suspend all quarries that are currently operating on such lands the Court all the work assigned on lands including the other constructions and has also stayed of all resorts and petrol pumps while emphasizing that quarries are not allowed on such land.

A division bench comprising of Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly, while ruling a single Judge Decision, in a batch of petitions moved by filed by the quarry owners and the Stated related to quarrying in lands assigned for rubber cultivation at the State’s capital.

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Legally Speaking




The issue around digital privacy, or rather the lack of it, has been a hot topic of debate in India and has even made its way to the Parliamentary lobbies. In India, personal data is collected and stored by various merchants, big tech companies and other entities through the innumerable digital applications and devices that people use. From digital payment and ecommerce applications to social media platforms, personal data collection and storage is happening en masse, all while individuals still scramble to understand its repercussions. What’s worse — this personal, often sensitive information including financial and medical records, of millions of Indians is available for sale online through “data brokers” who have put a price tag to these records.


Going a step further, there is an urgent need to look into this invasion of digital privacy from the lens of India’s municipal workers. Over the past few years, there have been several news pieces buried amid the bulk of eye-catching headlines, about municipal workers across several Indian cities being made to wear smartwatches to track their daily working hours. As per news reports, municipal corporations in cities like Nagpur and Chandigarh have made it mandatory for sanitation workers to wear GPS-enabled watches that are used to monitor their arrival at work, attendance record, number of hours clocked at work and the end of their shifts. The reports suggest that some of these watches have in-built cameras and microphones to allow the supervisors to monitor them by the minute. To make things worse, any discrepancy in the recorded number of hours at work is reportedly manifesting itself in the form of workers’ salary deductions. Thus, workers have been protesting the use of these digital trackers as being humiliating and violating their privacy in the garb of improving work efficiency.


The fact that sanitation workers are often unaware of the ramifications of surveillance of this kind, as is enabled by these digital trackers, goes to show how their informed and aware consent is not likely sought while implementing this technology. In this case in particular, the employer being the State, these rules amount to digital snooping on citizens by a government. This form of a ‘surveillance state’ directly impinges on citizens’ right to privacy, a fundamental right that flows from Article 21 of the Indian Constitution (K.S. Puttaswamy & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors.). While one can argue that this right is not absolute and there can be certain grounds for restricting the same (legitimate state interest, necessary and proportionate to achieve the interest, among other things), this is a justification that would hold up when a comprehensive and well-defined legislation is in place to regulate the collection and storage of such personal data of citizens.


At present, the only legislation that to some extent deals with the handling of personal data of individuals is the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2008, and the subsequent rules framed by the government. However, the coverage of this law is very limited in that it does not apply to collection and use of personal data by various entities (Section 43A of the IT Act 2000 recognises personal data dealings by a ‘body corporate’ and the compensation in that regard). It primarily focusses on information security as opposed to personal data protection. There exist other sectoral, subject-specific laws that regulate data dissemination in the respective segments, however, these are very narrow in their scope of protection. Further, while the Privacy Rules 2011 define what comes under the meaning of personal information and sensitive personal data, but how far the data collecting entities adhere to compliance standards and rules on storage and disclosure, grievance redressal and user safety is a big question mark.

The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, can be viewed as a step in the direction of chalking out the contours of digital privacy and collection, storage and dissemination of personal data of individuals in India. To begin with, the bill seeks to define what all would come within the ambit of ‘personal data’, and would govern the processing of personal data by governments, Indian and foreign companies. This is especially significant as it would plug the gaps that exist in the IT Act and rules subsequent thereof. Further, it would also outline the rights of individuals with respect to their personal data and the remedies available. However, it has been in the pipeline for some time, with objections having been raised over several aspects of the proposed law.


The recent mandate by city municipal corporations requiring workers to wear the digital trackers (Human Efficiency Tracking Systems, as they’re being referred to) takes on another hue when viewed from the lens of worker exploitation. Reports suggest that the trackers are being used to map the daily hours of every employee, and failure to wear the watch at all times or getting disconnected could result in salary deductions. Also, in the event of device malfunction, the workers would have to bear the brunt of the pay cut despite having clocked their daily hours. How and when such grievances would be addressed and dealt with is not very clear. Thus, workers’ woes take a backseat in the productivity and efficiency-focused surveillance work environment. Since municipal workers and sanitation staff employed by city corporations are usually not very tech-savvy or comfortable with tech-based gadgets, they are wary of how the system works. It can result in unnecessary anxiety regarding loss of earnings due to technical glitches.

Another issue is the alleged in-built cameras and microphones in these trackers. For workers who are not very well versed in such gadgets, the fear of being watched constantly could be debilitating, more so in the case of female workers. Their movement at work is tracked down to minutes, even seconds, linking the same to productivity targets and goals. Failure to meet these targets and minute-to-minute monitoring requirements could lead to reduction in the month-end salary payments. Automated workplace management is a concern that is prevalent across countries, and a parallel can be seen in the surveillance systems implemented by tech giant Amazon at its warehouses across the United States. The hazards of this surveillance system, like higher rate of injuries at workplace or even leaving workers without bathroom breaks, is similar to what is being witnessed in the case of India’s digitally-tracked municipal workers. The only major difference in the above-mentioned sets of scenarios is the place of occurrence and the entity engaging in worker surveillance. In India, the State is the data collector, often times undertaking this feat with the help of a third-party IT services firm. This makes the workers’ situation more precarious as their personal, sensitive information could be easily accessible to such contractual firms, especially in the absence of a data privacy law to regulate the same.

With increasing technological advancement and innovation, the cost of such surveillance methods has dropped, thus making it easier and more convenient for employers to adopt and implement. In contrast, this weakens the position of workers and the unions advocating for them as there is limited knowledge and legal recourse in this regard.


Thus, these GPS trackers are problematic on various fronts- they infringe individual privacy, operate in regulatory grey areas (as there is no proper oversight) and finally and most importantly, they constantly dehumanize the workers by treating them in a manner similar to bonded labour and robots. The human element of taking into account genuine issues being faced by employees or the context as to why they may not have been available on the tracking systems throughout the day (like poor internet connection, device malfunction, etc.) is completely ignored and disregarded.

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