The financial stability report is released biannually and provides an account of collective assessment of the Sub-Committee of the Financial Stability and Development Council which is subsequently headed by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. As per the data the policy support and Vaccination has fostered the national recovery but the second wave of the pandemic has shown severe impacts on the economic activity. A major slip in the Gross NPA is expected in the entire banking system but furthermore the MSME is reported to be at risk as the retail loans given to the MSMEs or the quality of the credit is calculated to deteriorate which will serve a threat on the consumer credit.
Reserve Bank of India’s latest released financial stability report is like the grade card of its financial and banking sector throughout the pandemic. A preconceived notion of disruption of the banking sector has been proved inaccurate. As per the released report the banks fared much better and the non-performing asset ratio was systematically controlled and contained by the end of March 2021. The regulatory policies of forbearances and their strategic withdrawal have ensured limited impact on the balance sheets of the banks. The NPA ratio of banks stood at 7.5% for March 2021. The predictions given by RBI in July 2020 for NPA was the baseline scenario could range from 8.4 percent to 12.5 percent for March 2021, however the NPA settled at much better figures than the overestimation predicted.
Additionally, capital position of banks which is calculated as capital to risk weighted assets ratio (CRAR) was also reportedly deteriorated from 14.6 percent in March 2020 to 13.3 percent by March 2021. Banks incredibly raised capital through Public Issues and Qualified Institutional Placements resulting in an improved capital position during the financial year 2020-2021. The capital position of banks despite of the outbreak of the pandemic improved to 16% in March. Taking into ambit the stressed scenarios the Reserve Bank of India doesn’t anticipate the 46 banks to fall short of capital.
As per the report released by the Reserve Bank of India, banks have enough capital to recover from the collapse of any asset functioning or management. The allocated proportion of provisions to gross non-performing assets hiked from the figures of 66.2% in March 2020 to 68.9 to March 2021. There were various regulatory mechanisms announced by the central Government to strengthen and facilitate individuals who were hit by the pandemic and faced economic crisis due to lack of income facilities. The measures comprised of loan moratoriums, restructuring of loans, non-accounting of NPA and their timely withdrawal etc. has contained the hike in the non-performing assets. The cooperative ventures of the central Government and The Reserve Bank of India have facilitated and incentivized banks through instruments such as the Targeted Long Term Repo Operations (TLTROs) additionally aggressively granted the sectors that are most affected due to the pandemic.
The fragile spot and an important takeaway of the report is the MSME portfolio. Three loan restructuring schemes have been implemented since 2019 to assist the MSME sector but the stress on the MSME sector continued to remain elevated as the NPA ratio for Government owned banks stood at 15.9 percent for March 2021 compared to 13.1 percent in December 2020. A reported rise in the fiscal deficit is anticipated as there is a Rs. 3 Lakh crore burden which will eventually inflate the fiscal pressure to Rs. 14 Lac crore resulting in 3-4% to the current fiscal deficit of 9.3%. Furthermore, there can be an increased dependence on the government owned securities as per the reports as banks are finding recourse investing their liquidity in Government securities.
The two major elements that have resulted in the negative growth of the Gross Domestic Product is the Gross Fixed Capital Formation and the Private Final Consumption Expenditure. It is basically the expenditure that is incurred on the final consumption of Goods and services by the resident households. The Reserve Bank of India has incentivized the financial institutions with the credit support required during the pandemic. It has furthermore provided the banks with Collateral support and has opened new credit lines. The most important step of providing a moratorium and rolling it back systematically during the pandemic has helped in containing financial crisis.
As per the advisory guidelines in the Financial Stability Report issued by the Reserve Bank of India the banks are to reinforce their capital and the liquidity positions to fortify their status against the balance sheet distress. The demands have to be generated in the economy to balance the currents scenario, the role of the financial institutions and significant leaders will be impactful in this process. Apart from this the need for Second Generation reforms have to be initiated which shall comprise of rural development inclusive of agriculture and allied sectors and small-scale industries should be predominant. The major objective of revival of the rural economy will result in the overall economic growth and development of the country. Furthermore, increasing the efficiency of the Government owned Banks are to be prioritized. The difference between the Private and the Public service banks are just 5% in terms of NPA. The private sector banks in the baseline scenario will get to around 6% whereas the public sector banks shall be double of it resulting to be 12%. The efficiency quotient of the public sector banks is indispensable, the process of privatizing can be implemented so as to achieve the same. The private sector banks as per the end results have been more efficient and have proven be less affected by the pandemic due to their high management and strategic policies. One of the solutions to bring the banking industry out of the crucial stressed management cycle is the establishment of Bad Banks. The Bad Bank is the Asset Reconstruction Company or an Asset Management Company that takes charge of the Bad loans of the commercial banks and furthermore manages them and achieves the objective of recovering the money over a targeted period. The SARFAESI ACT of 2002 also aims to diminish or nullify the Bad loans and accounts and has been effective in achieving the set target. More stronger capital positions, good governance adding on the efficiency in financial intermediation can be the touchstones of this endeavour so that financing needs of productive sectors of the economy are met while the integrity and soundness of banks and financial institutions are secured on an enduring basis.
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Uttar Pradesh Population Bill, 2021: An analysis
India’s population is not really growing at a fast pace as it is made out to be; in fact, as per Census, India’s population has registered a sharp decrease in a span of two decades—population growth rate dropped from 21.54% in 1991-2000 to 17.64% in 2001-2011. Moreover, India’s fertility rate has dropped to 2.3 births per women in 2016 compared to 3.2 births per women in 2000. Also, population growth is not uniform across the nation with a rate varying from region to region. Sikkim, for example, has the lowest fertility rate as compared to Bihar which has the highest in India.
There is one thing India is prominently known for; it’s population, the second highest in the world. And we know that India has never worn population badge proudly. For decades successive governments have tried their best to control population but couldn’t achieve the desired goal.
After the government’s announcement to introduce new population policy for 2021-2030, the Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission on the occasion of World Population Day i.e- 11th July, has released the first draft of the bill aimed at the population control. The draft has been titled as “Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilisation and Welfare) Bill, 2021”. The bill has enlisted incentives for those limiting their families to two children or less. However disincentives or non-adherence to the two-child norm have also been laid down.
As per the law comes in force, there are certain incentives for the public servants, state government employees who voluntarily undergo sterilisation and adopts the two child policy are eligible for two additional increments during the entire service, subsidy towards purchase of plot or house site, soft loans for house purchasing, rebate on charges for utilities such as water, electricity, house tax etc, maternity/paternity leave for 12 months will full salary and allowances, and other such incentives. However non-adherence to the policy might attract disincentives such as debarring from benefit of the government sponsored welfare schemes, limitation of ration card up to four people. Apart from this on enactment of law one violating it shall be ineligible to contest the election to local authority or any body of the local self-government and apply for the government job under the state government. There are several exemptions as well like multiple births out of second pregnancy and adoption. If the first or first two child are disabled then third pregnancy will not be considered as violation. There are also provisions for polygamy and polyandrous marriages as well.
The bill lists out some government duties as well. It states that maternity centre will be established at all the primary health centres, the centres and NGO’s will distribute contraceptive pills, condoms, etc. The family planning methods awareness will be spread through community health workers and ensure mandatory registration of pregnancies, deliveries, births and debts across the state. Also it will be duty of the government to introduce a compulsory subject relating to the population control in all of the secondary schools.
As per the Population Census of 2011, majority of population is between the age of 5 years to 20 years and there have been an exponential increment in its pace since 2011.
India’s population is not really growing at a fast pace as it is made out to be in fact as per census India’s population has registered a sharp decrease in a span of two decades population growth rate went from 21.54% in 1991 to 2000 to 17.64% in 2001 to 2011. Moreover India’s fertility rate has dropped to 2.3 births per women in 2016 compared to 3.2 births per women in 2000. Also population growth is not uniform across the nation with a rate varying from region to region, for example – Sikkim has the lowest fertility rate as compared to Bihar which has the highest in India.
India does have a population control bill if we are to talk about it but it has never been passed. In 2016 and 2019 the population regulation bill was stabled and discussed but it never went to vote. The bill penalizes those having more than two children debarring from political participation, government jobs and even government schemes while India does not have a national law on population control yet individuals states are implementing their own versions of it with most of state laws penalizes families for having more than two children.
Then why the bill has not been passed and is not a law yet?
If the government were to bring in a law to control population, there are number of repercussions it could produce. Firstly during the 1970’s emergency period India Strikes forced sterilization which didn’t go down well. Also the family planning program mostly targeted the poor, some accounts state that men were dragged away forcefully for vasectomies many of whom also died due to complications and unhygienic practices. Secondly we have an example of our neighbouring country China as its one child policy gives a wider glimpse into the ills of adopting such a law. China now struggles with disproportionate numbers of aging population as compared to the younger population. The one child policy also resulted in one of the world’s most skewed sex ratio with 1.15 males for every female in China as per the data available for 2016. While China has since ended the policy but its impact continues to linger. Thirdly China’s concern could be India’s too as the country still has preference for male children. According to Sample registration system SRS report shows that sex ratio at birth in India decreased from 906 females to every 1000 males in 2011 to 899 females in 2018. The normal sex ratio at birth is 950 females to 1000 males. Broadly the primary victims of the Draft Bill will be Indian women in general, of this generation as well as future generation. In many areas already women do not have the option to refuse marriage or to reproduce and several are forced to undergo non-voluntary birth control measures. The 1991 census found that in states which has penalized with more than two children had resulted in men divorcing their wives as soon as they become pregnant with the third child.
These habits will only intensify under a law that passively legitimises such actions, including forced sterilisation, IUD insertion and use of hormonal contraceptives (even when they may be medically inadvisable). Female infanticide will also likely worsen, from the current skew of 909 female births per 1,000 male births.
And lastly the burden of family planning disproportionately falls on women the national family health survey for data shows that out of 47.8% of the total modern contraception used in India 41.6 are for the use of women or bodies with uterus, more than 75 of the overall modern contraceptive used in India is bored by the women while contraception has drastically declined. In an unintended effect, the Bill will ensure the continued marginalisation and erasure of women from public life.
This Bill seeks to revitalize the efforts and provide for measures to control, stabilize and provide welfare to the population of the state by implementing and promoting two child norms. However the basic rule under the Constitution is equality of opportunity for every person in the country. The provisions of the Constitution mandate the State to give preferential treatment to only socially, educationally or economically disadvantaged people. It does not provide for similar reservations on the basis of the birth of the children. UNESCO defines educational discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, limitation or preference which being based on race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic condition or birth has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the equality of treatment in education.”
According to the Draft Bill, if a person acts in contravention of two child policy, then that person shall be ineligible to avail any incentives and shall be subject to disincentives like debarring them from government sponsored welfare schemes and limit upto four will imposed on ration card. It is not specified whether a person will be barred from State welfare schemes or Central welfare schemes. It is open ended clause and implies if a third child is born, he will not be provided with social benefits like right to food, right to housing. There are many welfare schemes that operate under Central government and States are bound to follow and every person who is eligible under Central government welfare schemes cannot be barred. Like Anganwadi and Mid-day Meal schemes. The objective of this scheme is to combat child hunger and malnutrition. The Midday Meal scheme provides food to school children in schools in order to avoid the classroom. hunger, increase school enrollment and address malnutrition. Funding pattern of midday meal schemes is 60:40 between the Central and State governments. It is covered under National food Security act 2013 (NFS) and the state government is bound to implement the NFS act and midday meal scheme. And all children studying in Primary and Upper Primary Classes in Government, Govt. Aided, Local Body, EGS and AIE Centres, Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and NCLP Schools run by Ministry of Labour are eligible for Mid-Day Meal. Thus, the state government cannot bar the welfare rights of having the right to food to any child as it comes under ambit of the Central government and state government is bound to implement. So, according to the provision of UP population policy if a person does not adhere to the two-child norm policy, the state bars the third child from government welfare schemes. But the State is bound to implement these welfare schemes and eligible persons cannot be barred.
The Draft Bill, especially sections 5, 6 and 7, contemplates additional incentives than the ones prescribed under the general scheme of the bill. Section 5 lays down that public servant who have only one child and who opt for “voluntary sterilization operation upon himself or spouse, in addition to the incentives provided in the usual scheme under the present Bill”. Section 7 is mutatis mutandis to that of its preceding part except it extends to the general public And Section 8 moves a step further and is applicable to the “couple living below poverty line”. The concern that is raised here is that if in the normal course of action and without any due process of law, the state tries to sterilise its citizens to advance the limited child policy as is the general scheme of the present act, it will be unconstitutional on multiple fronts specially violating the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
The state’s fertility rate is 2.7% which is second most in the country after the Bihar which has the fertility rate of 3.2 whereas it should ideally be less than 2.1%.
The estimation is that while India may remain the country with the highest population perhaps even overtaking china one day the population will gradually decrease naturally.
The data states that in Uttar Pradesh there are limited ecological and economic resources at hand hence, it is necessary and urgent that the provision of basic necessities of the human life including affordable food and safe drinking water, decent housing, access to quality education, economic livelihood opportunities, power or electricity for domestic consumption and a secure living is accessible to all the citizens and thus it is imperative to have two-child policy or population control.
According to the Draft Bill, if a person acts in contravention of two-child policy, then that person shall be ineligible to avail any incentives and shall be subject to disincentives like debarring them from government-sponsored welfare schemes and limit up to four will imposed on ration card. It is not specified whether a person will be barred from state welfare schemes or Central welfare schemes. It is an open-ended clause and implies if a third child is born, he will not be provided with social benefits like right to food, right to housing. There are many welfare schemes that operate under Central government and states are bound to follow and every person who is eligible under Central government welfare schemes cannot be barred. Like Anganwadi and Mid-Day Meal schemes. The objective of these schemes is to combat child hunger and malnutrition.
DIMENSIONS OF BUSSINESS ETHICS AND CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: BRINGING SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION IN INDIA
This research paper clearly brings about the Concept of Corporate Social Responsibility in much broader terms and also the interlink age with Business and market control. This paper plainly achieves the Concept of Corporate Social Responsibility in a lot more extensive terms and furthermore the interlink age with Business and market control. This paper will feature the vital idea of Business morals and job of CSR in India and advancements made till now. For the most part CSR is the solitary stage with the assistance of which the corporate or the business world location the partners. It is fundamentally the organizations’ sole obligation to deliver a general positive effect on society. CSR is just a full-fledged opportunity for exposure as a firm attempts to look great through different earth or socially amicable activities without rolling out fundamental improvements that will have long haul constructive outcomes.
India isn’t an exception. The concept of CSR isn’t new to India; traditionally speaking, social.duty of corporations is a well-set up phenomenon in India, and the u . s . a . has one of the global’s richest traditions of CSR. In its oldest paperwork, CSR in India covered the idea of corporate philanthropy and the Gandhian Trusteeship version. however the liberalization of the Indian financial system inside the Nineties led to a essential shift from the philanthropy-based version to a multistakeholder technique wherein businesses are deemed chargeable for all stakeholders, inclusive of economic stakeholders, personnel and the community.
It is often said that lets “Treat people as an end, and never as a means to an end.” – Immanuel Kant Globalisation supplemented by innovation has brought many vigorous changes to the nature and outline of the market as well as to its customers i.e. on the one part very own business organisations is heading on the supply side and similarly consumers are heading on the demand side Now generally many companies look for the broader outcome and objectives including financial gain as well.
CONCEPT OF BUSSINESS ETHICS
Now days there are many challenging issues of business ethics that are increasing day by day and its way more important in this globalised world and corporate environment and also the thing which is the centre point of these business rules are the comparative advantage parameter and the way ahead competitive edge and quality of decision making matters a lot in business world .CSR and business both have its own important in this globalised economy In a highly diverse and intensely competitive environment, managers are faced with difficult situations and often have to take tough decisions, which are not only right, fair, and proper but also effective
CHARACTERISTICS OF BUSINESS ETHICS
When we talk about, ethics and its role in business so it is the application of moral and ethical values that is the core of any business foundation. While running a business every business has the code of conduct that has to be complied in terms of financial and social environment to. And generally, if the query in regard to what is right or what can be right or what can be generally wrong is based on every body’s or a person’s priorities that is set and its predefined and along with it there is certain obligation which is connected with the society.
Working in a ethical way means working in a right direction or choosing a right path and identifying the right and wrong in the business. They should not unlawfully use copyrighted materials and processes. Company should also not indulge in bribery.
The various characteristics of business ethics are as follows:-
a) Code of conduct: Business ethics is a code of conduct. It states what to do and what not to do for the welfare of the entire society. Everyone should follow this code who wishes to be the business man
b) Based on moral and social values: Generally, principles of business ethics contain core rules and moral values for business.
BUSSINESS ETHICS IN INDIA
The Indian economy has been under two distinct and diverse forces of “Swadeshi” i.e., buy Indian goods and the need to integrate with the larger world economy. Both forces have significant economic and political implications in the region. Liberalization of the Indian economy in the late 1980s and early 1990s also saw the re-establishment of the transnational corporations on the Indian horizon. There is much need to bring awareness about the need for ecological sustainability that has paved the way for a new generation of business leaders concerned about the responses of the community and sustainability of the environment.
INTRODUCTION TO CSR
From last few years corporate social responsibilities in India has attracted lot of attention of majorly all the countries of the world. The reason for such attention can be understood to its significant nature. Generally India is the first country to statutorily mandate CSR for the corporations fulfilling prescribed conditions. Now all the countries are looking forward and they are vigilant to the way it will be carried forward and how will it bring the drastic changes in India.
Though corporate social responsibility is not something very new, it has existed in our socio-economic system since the ages. Earlier kings were engaged in doing benevolent activities like construction of water reservoir, inns (dharamshalas) for travelers, gurukuls etc.
CSR IN INDIA
CSR under Indian law system has been defined in Generally under Rule 2 of Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Rules, 2014 in terms of the activities that companies need to perform according to their strategy. CSR includes activities that promote poverty reduction, environment sustainability, health, education, gender equality, vocational skills development and like others. India’s CSR is based on the triple bottom line (TBL). It is to be clearly understood that CSR today is not charity.
CO-RELATION BETWEEN BUSSINESS ETHICS AND CSR
Today in literature of Academics, these two concepts of business ethics and CSR, Also in the academic literature, there is no space for concurrence of opinions about which concept supersedes the other: for instance, in some cases, business ethics is considered part of corporate social responsibility, whereas in other cases corporate social responsibility is thought to be just one aspect of business ethics. So, is there any relationship between the two academic disciplines? Ethics is defined as the study of what is good or right for human beings. Ethics are generally concerned with the goals and aims that people tend to pursue and the actions they ought to perform.
Corporate Governance is concerned with holding the balance between economic and social goals and between individual and communal goals. The corporate governance framework is there to encourage the efficient use of resources and equally to require accountability for the stewardship of those resources. The aim is to align as nearly as possible the interests of individuals, corporations, and society.
EVOLUTION OF CSR IN INDIA
The roots of corporate social responsibility are deep down the immemorial lane of our past. “Our ancient scriptures also of the view that ‘all that exists in this universe is the abode of almighty’’. Therefore, one should enjoy the good things in life by sharing them with others.” Even our very own rulers of ancient India and rich persons were engaged in doing benevolent activities like construction of water reservoir, inns (dharamshalas) for travelers, construction of schools and wells etc. The emperor Ashoka was known as ‘great emperor’ because he initiated the construction of schools and well, planted trees on both the sides of roads. Thus, he was a great environmentalist of that era.
CURRENT STATUS OF CSR IN INDIA
CSR in India has customarily been viewed as a humanitarian movement. Furthermore, with regards to the Indian custom, it was an action that was performed however not pondered. Accordingly, there is restricted documentation on explicit exercises identified with this idea. Nonetheless, what was plainly obvious that quite a bit of this had a public character typified inside it, regardless of whether it was blessing foundations to effectively taking part in India’s opportunity development and inserted in the possibility of trusteeship.
The Companies Act, 2013 has introduced the idea of CSR to the forefront and through its disclose-or-explain mandate, is promoting greater transparency and disclosure. Schedule VII of the Act, which lists out the CSR activities, suggests communities to be the focal point. On the other hand, by discussing a company’s relationship to its stakeholders and integrating CSR into its core operations, the draft rules suggest that CSR needs to go beyond communities and beyond the concept of philanthropy. It will be interesting to observe the ways in which this will translate into action at the ground level, and how the understanding of CSR is set to undergo a change.
SECTION 135 OF THE COMPANIES ACT 2013
The CREP (Corporate Social Responsibility for Environment Protection) 2003 recognized CSR formally for the first time in India. All such charitable acts, now termed as activities undertaken to discharge a company’s CSR, are characterized by a voluntary urge to “give back‟ to the society. To put it in terms of economics, society understands that free market fails to deliver merit goods such education, health etc. in right quantity and quality.
FORMATION OF CSR COMMITTEE
Every company that meets the net profit, net worth, or turnover criteria of the Act has to constitute a CSR Committee of its Board. The Committee must consist of 3 or more members from the directors of the Company Board. Moreover, at least one of the members of the committee has to be an independent director. While an unlisted or a private limited company is exempted from having an independent director as a member, a private limited firm may have only 2 member directors in the Committee. A foreign firm may have 2 members, comprising of one resident in India [Section 380(d)] and another nominated by foreign firm.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF CSR COMMITTEE
The CSR Committee thus constituted must formulate and recommend a CSR Policy for the company to the Company Board. The CSR Policy must indicate the activities to be undertaken by the company as per Schedule VII (see below), recommend the amount of expenditure to be incurred on the activities, institute a transparent monitoring mechanism for the implementation of the policy, and monitor the CSR policy from time to time.
CSR RESTRICTED ACTIVITIES
All CSR activities that fall under Schedule VII must be undertaken in India alone. Companies may build CSR capacities of their own personnel and/or of the implementing agencies though institutions with established track record of at least three financial years. However, such expenditure is restricted to not more than 5% of total CSR expenditure of the company in a financial year. The CSR policy of the company must also specify that any surplus arising out of the CSR activities shall not form part of the business profit of the company.
BUSINESS ETHICS AND CSR IN NEW ECONOMY
Just as the economic economy gradually evolved from the agricultural economy, therefore the industrial economy is currently giving thanks to the emerging digital economy. within the new economy technology becomes the dominant factor of wealth generation “rather than land, labour and particularly capital”, whereas “information and its proper management through information technology are making the difference and separating the winners from the losers”. within the digital environment the balance of power shifts inexorably from the manufacturer to the buyer .
Author is Academic Tutor & TRIP Fellow, O.P Jindal Global Law School, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
CSR in India has customarily been viewed as a humanitarian movement. Furthermore, with regards to the Indian custom, it was an action that was performed however not pondered. Accordingly, there is restricted documentation on explicit exercises identified with this idea. Nonetheless, what was plainly obvious that quite a bit of this had a public character typified inside it, regardless of whether it was blessing foundations to effectively taking part in India’s opportunity development and inserted in the possibility of trusteeship.
Environmental criminal law: Is it the need of the hour in India?
Even a single thought about the Bhopal Gas Tragedy never fails to send a chill down the spine- this is enough to address the grave consequences of the disastrous activities of the profit-sucking corporations that the people and the environment are exposed to. It is indeed thought-provoking how the gravity of such crimes go unnoticed even if they take the lives of hundreds of people, while an act of murder is seen with great contempt. Are these crimes less than murder? Indeed not. Environmental crimes are a simultaneous murder of not one but many people, and of the environment. The only method to curb such crimes is through a strong legal framework which currently is not up to the mark be it the legal provisions or the judicial pronouncements. The article, therefore, seeks to address and analyse the issues that the liberal perception of this crime raises.
The primary focus has been on analysing the liability of corporations in environmental crimes. To that effect, this article has been divided into four major sections. The first section of the article discusses and describes the concept associated with Environmental Crime. The second section of the article presents a detailed legal analysis of the criminalisation of corporate environmental crimes. The third section of the article highlights the lacunae concerning the incapacity of three legislations, i.e., the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Environment (Protection) Act to deal with environmental crimes. The fourth and the final major section of the article based on some of the case laws, analyses the paradigm shift in the judicial trend that the concept of Environmental Crimes in India has gone through.
The term ‘Environmental Crimes’ does not have a universally accepted definition, and is in most instances defined based on the convenience to interpret. The genesis of such an idea can be owed to the deleterious acts/omissions that are responsible for the violation of the environmental law.1 Y. Situ and D. Emmons2 cumulatively put forth the definition as “an environmental crime is an unauthorised act or omission that violates the law and is therefore subject to criminal prosecution and criminal sanction”. According to the United Nations Crime and Justice Research Institute, “environmental crimes encompass a broad list of illicit activities, including illegal trade in wildlife; smuggling of ozone-depleting substances; illicit trade of hazardous waste; illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing; and illegal logging and trade in timber”.3 Legally speaking, for an act or omission to be categorised as an ‘Environmental Crime’ it should- a) cause direct/indirect damage to the environment, and b) be prohibited by the law.4 These interpretative definitions, though objective, do not suffice in toto. On analysing the proposed array of definitions available, a few shortcomings could be highlighted- firstly, the lack of a universally accepted definition creates uncertainties regarding a common ground for accepting an act as an environmental crime; secondly, the lack of a well-defined area of activities the definition would encompass; thirdly, the jurisdictional and geographical limitations- what is a crime in one nation may not be a crime in the other.
It is per se called a ‘crime’, for it endangers people’s health and causes irreparable damage to the environment. Such long-lasting and grievous harm is bound to have grave consequences not only on the present generation but also on the future generation, undermining the idea of Sustainable Development. It is the disastrous and far-reaching consequential nature of the act or omission that calls for criminal sanctions being associated with an environmental offence. There is no reason acceptable enough that would outweigh the costs over benefits of such heinous acts. As the telos is merely to serve either of the two- a) Corporations, or b) Individuals. These acts are unapologetically used as a means to serve the end of profit-making or financial gain. Corporations, under the veil of capital generation and lucrative business, blatantly ignore environmental and public concerns. Therefore, the present research seeks to deal with the Corporate Criminal Liability that arises out of the Corporate Environmental Crimes committed by industries and corporations.
THE CRIMINALISATION OF CORPORATE ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMES: AN ANALYSIS
There are three kinds of stances that are put forward concerning the corporate liability for environmental crimes.5 First, the traditional view argues that since a corporation does not have a mind of its own, so the criminal act would lack the requisite mens rea, therefore, the corporate bodies cannot be charged criminally. The supporters of this view majorly argue that a corporation though a separate legal personality has no physical existence, therefore, imposing criminal liability would render the punishment of imprisonment meaningless. Some European countries like Germany, Greece, Hungary, Mexico, Sweden, etc., support the traditional view. Second, are the ones who support imposing criminal liability on corporations for the commission of environmental crimes. In this scenario, the corporation and the persons responsible for running the corporation would be held liable personally. Countries like the USA, Australia, Denmark, France, Finland, Netherland, Belgium, United Kingdom, etc., favour this view. Moreover, the International Environment Law contemplates a mandatory obligation on all parties to the convention to incorporate within their domestic law- provisions imposing criminal sanctions on the erring corporations.6 Third, this view is mediatory, which suggests that criminal liability ought to be adopted as a last resort. It is only supposed to be chosen in the cases where the other remedies fail to deter the actions of the offender.
This article seeks to support the second stance- the one of making corporations criminally liable for environmental crimes. To refute the argument put forward by the traditional view- that seeks to not make corporations liable for their criminal activities associated with the environment, the following premises are vital. Corporations are non-physical entities but have a distinct legal persona. Moreover, corporations are run by individuals like the directors, who are said to be the ‘mind of a company’. Oftentimes, the Courts have treated such officers as the mind, body and soul of the corporate body.7 Though legally, it may appear to be a non-physical entity, however, in reality, it is an association of persons. A corporation cannot be run without individuals associated with it. Therefore, it is wrong to hold that a corporation lacks mind and that it cannot have the requisite mens rea to commit a crime. Furthermore, a widely accepted rule of corporate law is the lifting of the corporate veil used to make such offenders personally liable who seek to commit the offence under the guise of the corporation. This rule becomes cardinal while seeking to make the officials of a corporation liable for environmental crimes. The mediatory view of adopting criminal liability as a last resort is certainly not acceptable provided the egregious nature of these crimes and the incapacity of penalty to alone suffice for punishments in such grave cases.
The Bhopal Gas Tragedy of 19848 has come to be known as one of the ‘World’s Worst Industrial Disasters’. The Bhopal plant of Union Carbide Corporation negligently released Methyl Isocyanate and Hydrogen Cyanide gas into the atmosphere. This incident killed at least 3,800 people immediately. The toll of death has risen to an approximate number of 25,000 in the three subsequent decades. This disastrous incident not only took away the lives of many people but also gravely affected the survivors who were present inside the corporation and who resided in its vicinity. Some half a million survivors suffered respiratory problems, eye irritation or blindness, and other maladies resulting from exposure to the toxic gas. Such industrial disasters have an inherently detrimental impact on the people and the environment which continues to haunt in the years to come. In the early 21st century, 400 tons of industrial waste was said to be present on the site of the disaster. This industrial waste has contaminated the soil and the groundwater to an extent that the consumption has led to chronic health problems and birth defects among the inhabitants of the area. This incident has been a major contributor to all three kinds of pollution- air, soil and water.
So, the whole point around emphasising the need for the criminalisation of corporate environmental crimes, a sub-type of white-collar crimes, is because of its inherently vast nature and capacity to cause harm. Industries significantly contribute to polluting the environment in diverse ways- intentional littering, improper disposal of nuclear and hazardous waste, releasing toxic substances into air and water bodies. Most of these above-stated activities are well-known to the officials and are not mere cases of negligence. Such activities not only affect the environment but also affect countless people, rendering them victims of a plethora of respiratory illnesses and other problems. The argument of making the corporations criminally liable for environmental offences gains efficacy in light of the following reasons.9 Criminal sanctions mostly deter violations in ways that are efficient to the other methods of punishment. “Deterrence works best on people who have not had contact with criminal justice and for whom prosecution or even investigation will have severe personal consequences.”10 Corporate officials are known to be a “social group that is exquisitely sensitive to status deprivation and censure”.11 The accusation of a crime would be degrading to their corporate image since the publicity value means a great deal to their job. Criminal sanctions can have certain systematic effects as well, like disqualification of a corporate official may change his attitude towards the environment thereby, reducing the chances of prospective violations by him. Furthermore, on moral grounds, it could be argued that the affluent persons who used to escape liability by affording even heavy penalties would become more responsible towards the environment in the absence of an alternative. Last but not least, oftentimes, the gravity of environmental crimes is so high that such behaviour must only be addressed with the criminal law.
The Statutory Provisions Dealing with Environmental Crimes- An Analysis
The major lacuna that the Indian environmental law suffers from is the lack of the consideration that environmental crimes are serious and may take the shape of even an organised crime12. Such crimes are even lowly ranked in the law enforcement priority list. The Law Commission of India has recurrently recommended that the liberal punishments concerning environmental crimes must be amended to include stricter punishments so that the responsible corporations do not go scot-free.13 There is a wide array of provisions and legislations which have been enacted by the Indian government with respect to environmental protection. Some of the important ones are discussed hereunder:
THE INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860
Chapter XIV of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with “offences affecting the public safety, health, convenience, decency and morals”.
Section 268 provides for the offence of public nuisance- A person is held liable for the offence of public nuisance if he engages himself in any act/omission which causes- a) common injury, b) danger/annoyance to the public/people in general who live or occupy property in the vicinity, c) necessarily causing injury/obstruction/danger/annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use any public right. Further, Section 290 provides for the punishment of public nuisance with a maximum penalty of two hundred rupees. It is indeed dispiriting to know that the perpetrators of an egregious environmental offence like public nuisance can go scot-free by paying a mere penalty of a maximum of two hundred rupees or even less than that. This penalty can never succeed in deterring the violations towards the environment by the big corporations.
Fouling of the water of a public spring or reservoir is contemplated to be an environmental crime under section 277 of the IPC. Under this section, to voluntarily corrupt or foul the water of any public spring or reservoir is an offence and the person held liable would be punished with imprisonment for a maximum term of three months, or with a maximum fine of five hundred rupees, or with both. Moreover, the making of atmosphere noxious to health is punishable under the IPC under section 278. Under this section, to voluntarily vitiate the atmosphere in any place making it noxious to the health of persons in general dwelling or carrying on business in the neighbourhood or passing along a public way is a punishable offence. The offender is bound to be punished with a maximum fine of five hundred rupees.
The above-stated two provisions are directly related to environmental protection as they seek to prevent water and air pollution through a penal strategy. However, firstly, the problem with all these environmental offences is that the nature of punishment is not effective to cause a deterrent effect among the corporations. They are too lenient for offences as big as the ones where, for example, the industries pollute the only source of drinking water and the consumption of which causes mass public suffering.14 Secondly, the effective application of these provisions in achieving the objective of environmental protection is doubtful because the technicalities of Indian criminal law require a complete satisfaction of the ingredients of the offence as stipulated in the penal provisions making the process of delivery of the criminal justice system tedious.
THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, 1973
Chapter X of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 deals with the “maintenance of public order and tranquillity”. Part B and Part C enumerates provisions relating to Public Nuisance and urgent cases of nuisance and apprehended danger respectively- both relevant to be considered for environmental protection.
Section 133 (Part B) provides for the conditional order for the removal of the nuisance. The District Magistrate/Sub-Divisional Magistrate/Executive Magistrate is empowered to pass a conditional order for the removal of the nuisance on a report by the police officer or based on any other information after considering the evidence (if any). This has been proved to be an effective remedy to resort to abating public nuisance associated with environmental harm.
Section 144 (Part C) provides for urgent powers of the District Magistrate/Sub-Divisional Magistrate/Executive Magistrate to issue an order in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger in situations where a speedy remedy is desirable. This section particularly confers wide powers on the Magistrate to deal with urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger.
ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION ACT, 1986
The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 was enacted in an aftermath of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy and in accordance with the decisions taken at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm in June 1972.15 The Act seeks to provide for protection and improvement of the environment and the prevention of hazards to human beings, other living creatures, plants and property.
Chapter III of the Act provides for the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution. The following provisions are relevant to the corporations for environmental protection. Under Section 7 of the Act, the persons carrying on industry operations, etc., are not supposed to emit or permit to be discharged/emitted any environmental pollutants above the prescribed standards. Further, Section 8 provides that a person handling hazardous substances must comply with the procedural safeguards.
The penal provision of the enactment has been incorporated under Section 15 of the Act. This section, in case of contravention of the provisions and rules, orders and directions of the Act, provides for imprisonment of a maximum period of five years and a maximum fine of one lakh rupees. If the contravention is continuing then an additional fine of a maximum of five thousand rupees can be imposed every day. Furthermore, if the contravention exceeds beyond a period of one year after the date of conviction, the punishment can be extended to a maximum period of seven years.
The Act under section 16 provides a specific provision for environmental offences committed by companies. This section very appropriately makes all such persons liable for the offence who were directly in charge of and were responsible to the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company. Such persons would be held liable and be punished accordingly. However, a person can escape from liability under section 16 if he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence.
THE JUDICIAL TREND
1984- Union Carbide Corporation v. Union of India16 (The Bhopal Gas Tragedy Case): The very fact that in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy (the world’s worst industrial disaster) the Union Carbide Corporation was not held criminally liable suggests that the development of criminal jurisprudence of environment did not start off on the right foot. The UCC was absolutely exempted from the criminal liability and the Court held that the pending criminal prosecution was a separate and distinct proceeding unconnected with the suit from an interlocutory order. Since the Court did not have the power to withdraw the criminal proceedings, it urged to quash the order. “The order of February 15th, 1989 provided: All such criminal proceedings including contempt proceedings stand quashed and accused deemed to be acquitted.”17
1987- M.C. Mehta v. Union of India18 (The Oleum Gas Leak Case): This case is based on yet another instance of the leakage of gas that happened soon after the disastrous Bhopal Gas Tragedy. In one of the units of the Shriram Food and Fertiliser Industries, a major leakage of oleum gas was reported which caused considerable damage to the workers and the people residing in the vicinity of the factory. It was alleged that an advocate also died due to the gas leak. The Court very appropriately sought to hold the chairman and Managing Director and other officers along with the operator and head of the concerned plant personally responsible for this mishap. Such officers have often been treated as the mind, soul, and body of the corporation.19
However, the outcome of this case was particularly disappointing as the Court later decided to change the First Order. Subsequently, the Court ordered that the officials could be exempted from being held responsible if they prove that the escape of the gas was due to an Act of God or vis major or sabotage. On a positive note, the case particularly holds landmark importance in the development of criminal law in environmental jurisprudence and has also led to the incorporation of the tortuous doctrine of absolute liability in India.
1992- Dwarka Cement Works v. the State of Gujarat20: The absence of a strict legal framework provides the chance to the corporations to frame excuses to get rid of their responsibility in environmental offences. This is one such case where the corporation framed a lame excuse to escape liability.
Please read concluding on thedailyguardian.com
The Chairman, Director and the General Manager who were involved in the environmental crime contended that there was nothing in the complaint that concerned them with regards to the management of the industry, and, therefore, they could not be personally held liable for the harm caused. However, the Court did not allow their plea on account of their tricks to escape liability.
2003- M.C. Mehta v. Union of India21: This case marked the success of the environmental illuminary Mr M.C. Mehta in the unveiling of criminal sanctions on the respondent of the case. The Supreme Court ordered the respondent to close the hot mix plant unit. However, he alleged that the High Court had approved of his activities. Moreover, when the contempt notice was served on the respondent, he again chose to allege but this time it was the Apex Court, with contumacious statements. Therefore, the SC given the highly contemptuous statements decided ‘to give a strong signal to the respondent so that like-minded people do not repeat the same and such recurrence is thwarted in future’ who was responsible for causing the risk of deleterious effects of air pollution on the health of the society.22 Concerning the criminal sanction- he was punished with one week of simple imprisonment and a fine of one lakh rupees. One week of simple imprisonment seems too liberal for a criminal sanction, however, this case attempted to apply criminal sanction in environmental jurisprudence in a full-fledged manner.
Suggestions and Conclusion
The need of the hour is a shift in the environmental jurisprudence from tortious liability to criminal sanctions for crimes that affect the health and lives of people en masse and irreparably degrade the environment. The Courts must not allow the criminals to go scot-free.
It is high time for the environmental provisions to be amended to- a) include organised environmental crimes as separate and specific offences and b) raise the strictness of the currently liberal penalties.
The wide array of legislation on the environment should be consolidated to form a separate and specific piece of legislation that would precisely provide for environmental offences and their stipulated penalties.
The lame excuses of the corporations continue to take advantage of the weak legal framework and degrade the environment. Therefore, it is highly recommended to allow the full operation of absolute liability in environmental offences.
Considering the heinous, grave and egregious nature of environmental crimes, significant efforts should be made to formulate a definition and classify the acts that would result in environmental crime. The lack of a universally accepted definition, the liberal penalties, the weak legal framework and the absence of judicial activism has exacerbated the consequences of such a crime altogether. All of these lacunae should be given wide importance and be looked at with immense concern. Otherwise, profit-sucking corporations would continue to work in neglect to deteriorate and damage the environment. After all, it is not some temporary damage to the environment but serious, irreversible deterioration that affects not only the present generation but also the generations to come.
1 C.M. Jariwala, Corporate Environmental Criminal Liability in India: Reality or Myth, 3-5 RMLNLUJ 98 (2011-2013).
2 Y. Situ, D. Emmons, Environmental Crime: The Criminal Justice System’s Role in Protecting the Environment 3 Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks (2000).
3 UNITED NATIONS INTERREGIONAL CRIME AND JUSTICE RESEARCH INSTITUTE, http://www.unicri.it/topics/environmental (last visited June 29, 8:23 PM).
4 Stuart Bell, Donald McGillivray, Environmental Law 254 Oxford University Press (2008).
5 C.M. Jariwala, Corporate Environmental Criminal Liability in India: Reality or Myth, 3-5 RMLNLUJ 98 (2011-2013).
6 The Resolutions of the XVth International Congress on Penal Law, (Rio) Res. 12, 14 and 20, 1994.
7 Moore v. Brester, (1944) 2 All ER 515; Tesco Supermarket Ltd. v. Nattrass, 1972 AC 153.
8 BRITANNICA, https://www.britannica.com/event/Bhopal-disaster (last visited June 29, 8:23 PM).
9 Joseph F. Dimento, Criminal Enforcement of Environmental Law, 525 The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 134-146 (2013).
10 Greider, Fines Aren’t Enough: Send Corporate Polluters to Jail, Rolling Stone 46 (1984).
11 Susan Hedman, Expressive Functions of Criminal Sanctions in Environmental Law, 59 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 889-99 (1991).
12 Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra v. State of U.P., AIR 1985 SC 652; Indian Council For Enviro-Legal Action v. Union of India, AIR 1996 SC 1446.
13 The Report of the Law Commission of India (Forty-first) 1969; The Report of the Law Commission of India (Forty-seventh) 1972.
14 Vellore Welfare Citizen Forum v. Union of India, AIR 1996 SC 2715.
15 Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, No. 29, Acts of Parliament, (1986) India.
16 Union Carbide Corporation v. Union of India, AIR 1992 SC 248, 281.
18 M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, AIR 1987 SC 965.
19 Moore v. Brester, (1944) 2 All ER 515; Tesco Supermarket Ltd. v. Nattrass, 1972 AC 153.
20 Dwarka Cement Works v. State of Gujarat, (1992) 1 Guj L Her 9.
21 M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, (2003) 5 SCC 376.
22 C.M. Jariwala, Corporate Environmental Criminal Liability in India: Reality or Myth, 3-5 RMLNLUJ (2011-2013) 98.
How cyber crime has become a serious concern for society
Cyber world is considered a massive community consisting of millions and billions of users from all around the globe. Particularly, in India, there has been a rapid growth in the number of Internet users in the recent years. According to the IAMAI-Kantar ICUBE 2020 report, ‘The number of India internet users is expected to increase by 45% in the next five years to 900 million in 2025 from around 622 million in 2020.’
The technological advancements we all have undergone through the arena of revolution have totally made our lives way easier than ever thought. Its emergence has provided us myriad of opportunities but at the same time it’s inevitable for cyber offenders to grab such opportunities to make themselves rich at the cost of others privacy. Cyber laws are itself becomes prime importance especially in today’s technology driven era in which person’s privacy and safety becomes the first priority as the internet user gradually increasing all over the World. This article certainly aim to point out what all revolves around such mishaps and malicious activities. Author with the help of this write-up made an endeavor to fathom the concept of cybercrime in depth so that everyone knows what actually threat them and accordingly protect themselves against the same to stay safe during online transactions and business.
Let’s throw some light towards the meaning of cyber crime and understand exactly what it constitutes. Cyber Crime also known as computer crime can be defined as a systematic criminal act involves a network and a computer as a means to commit an illegal activity. Here illegal activity has a wide arm and includes series of issues apart from stealing someone’s data such as theft to using system or IP address as a tool for committing a crime.
TYPES OF CYBER CRIME
Cybercrime is not a new term for anyone living in the 21st century, but many have not an idea about the forms in which this hazardous act can occur. Speaking in a broad sense cyber crime can be classified into three major groups. These categories are Individual, Property and Government.
Cyber Crime against Individuals: These are offences that are committed by the cyber offenders against a person. In this classification Cyber Crime may take the form of Email spoofing, Spamming, Cyber defamation, Cyber trafficking, Cyber stalking, Phishing, Financial fraud, Internet Relay Chat (IRC) Crime and so forth.
Cyber Crime against Property: Just like in the real world the crimes such as theft, robbery is committed against the property of a person, in the same parlance in techno savvy world it is committed against the data of an individual. These crimes are known as Cyber Crime against the property and includes Intellectual (Copyright, patented, trademark etc) Property Crimes, Online threatening, etc.
Cyber Crime against Government: In this category crimes are commonly denoted as cyber terrorism because there always a terror of attack which can get hold of all essential official documents of national importance. There is huge number of cases where a terrorist hacks an important government databases.
The perpetrators of all the above discussed forms of Cyber Crime are increasing at an alarming rate and thereby causing a significant threat at the same time loss to the individual and organizations.
CYBER CRIME IN INDIA
The Cyber World is considered as a massive community consisting of millions and billions of users from all around the globe. Particularly, in India there has been a rapid growth in the number of internet users in the recent years. According to the IAMAI-Kantar ICUBE 2020 report, “the number of India internet users is expected to increase by 45% in the next five years to 900 million in 2025 from around 622 million in 2020.” People access it for variety of purposes starting from online dealing to the online transaction and so on. The advancement in the age of Technology no doubt opened the easy to approachable world full of information. Besides this, it also gives birth to the cyber crime. In the present scenario, India is one of the favorite hotspots for the Cybercriminals. “More than 27 million Indian adults experienced identify theft in the past 12 months and 52% of Indian adults admitted they don’t know how to protect themselves from cybercrime”, according to the 2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report by NortonLifeLock. Thus, it is quite clear that due to the huge reliance on internet and lack of awareness there is a much folded increase in Cyber Criminal Activity. So, here Cybersecurity in order to counter these issues has becomes a major concern for a society in large.
LAWS RELATED TO CYBER CRIME
Cyber Law emerges as a tool to prevent the crime committed during course of activities and transactions that occur on the internet or on other communications platforms. Cyber Law plays a pivotal role in this new evolving era of technical society. In India, to curtail the spread of Cyber Crime and to safeguard the confidential data of people the legislature has enacted number of statues and regulations. The Information Technology Act (IT Act), 2000 and the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 serve as protection against a menace of Cyber Crime. Apart from this, there are also many cyber cells were established that aid the whole process of penalizing the offenders. The Information Technology Act, 2000 is based on the United Nations Model Law on Electronic Commerce 1996 and is considered the most important law that deals with digital crimes in India. Some highlighting points of IT Act, 2000 are:
• The most important feature of this Act is addressing the issue of security. The Act introduced the construct of digital signatures which will help in verifying the identity of an individual on internet.
• Now e-mail is considered as a valid and legal form of communication.
• With the introduction of the Act, the Digital Signatures and etc. are given legal validity.
• Act has given birth to new business to new business to companies to issue digital certificates by becoming the Certifying Authorities.
• The Act allows the communication between the companies or the company on the one side and the government on the other side through internet. The Act also gives power to government to issues notices on platform of internet through e-governance.
• The Act provides the compensation in the form of many to company if any harm or loss suffered by the company due to any criminal activity.
Later, to keep pace with the changing time the Parliament in 2008 amended the IT Act, 2000. The new IT (Amendment) Act, 2008 which was made effective from 27 October, 2009 has brought several changes in the IT Act, 2000 on certain counts. The key features of the IT (Amendment) Act, 2008 are as follows:
• With the IT (Amendment) Act, 2008 India has adopted the electronic signatures as a legally valid mode of executing signatures. Electronic signature has a wider ambit and also includes digital signatures as one of the mode.
• The amended Act provides the distinction between the terms ‘contravention’ and ‘offence’ by introducing the new element of mens rea for an offence.
• Through the amendment in the IT Act in 2008 certain definitions are added. The two important definitions that are inserted through the IT Act, 2008 are: ‘Communication device’ under section 2(ha) and ‘intermediary’ under the section 2(w). The addition of these definitions further clarifies the term and removes any ambiguity.
• The power of the Adjudicating officer under the amended Act of 2008 limits to decide claims for injury or damage where it exceeds 5 crores. Beyond this amount the jurisdiction now vests with competent court.
• Under the Section 46(5) a new change is made whereby the officers who are adjudicating have conferred with the powers of execution of orders passed by them, including order of attachment, sale of property, arrest and detention of accused.
• The IT (Amendment) Act, 2008 changed the composition of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal (CAT). Now it consists of Chairperson and such other members as central government directs.
• By the amended Act many new Cyber Crimes such as sending of false or offensive messages, receiving stolen computer resource, identity theft, cheating by personation, violation of privacy and so on are included.
Surprisingly, none of the legislations (IT Act & IPC) define the term Cyber Crime. Moreover, there are number of parallel provisions of IT Act and IPC that overlap with each other. There exist several dots in the operational system of investigation of cases of Cybercrime.
THE WAY FORWARD
At the initial phase, Cyber Crime cannot be easily detectable but after causing significant consequences it come into notice. Cyber Crime of all types drastically affects the lives of people by breaching their privacy and causing a huge amount of loss. Cyber Crime is not something which cannot be prevented. Thus, to tackle this malicious threat here is some of the suggestive measures. Till today, the Indian Policing System for the purposes of investigation is stuck to the old methodology. Thus, it is the high time for reforms in the Police system and they should gather new modern ways of collecting information against the suspects.
• One of the major lacuna and also highly debatable issue is the concept of territorial jurisdiction which needs to be tackled.
• There needs to be a proper implementation of the Cyber Crime related laws and for this purpose a well established mechanism should be adopted. Also there is a requirement of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to reduce the ambit of ambiguity.
• To effectively counter this there is a demand for judges, police personals who are well equipped with IT and there exist an imperative need to impart them legal and technical training.
• In India to efficiently investigate cybercrimes we need officers well equipped with technicalities of forensic science and cyber law.
• By educating the common man and informing them about their rights and obligations in Cyberspace is also the one way which facilitates the proper enforcement of cyber laws in our country.
Above all, while working with advanced technology one should follow security measures and use their common sense and logic. As there is a very famous saying, “Prevention is better than cure.”
The proliferation of cyberspace is at the peak during this unpredictable time of COVID 19. This dramatic rise also makes an uneven increase in the rates of Cyber Crime, thereby creating the situation worse than ever. There are many reports which states that there is an increased in cyber frauds during the pandemic. Apart from this, for the very first time our nation, had a “the number of India internet users is expected to increase by 45% in the next five
years to 900 million in 2025 from around 622 million in 2020.” in September 2018. It was held with the aim of creating a common platform for the investigators, forensic teams and other officials to discuss the ways to curb the cyber related offences. Like this, law enforcement agencies should take more encouraging steps. The Cyber Crime related Acts should be revised and modified according to changing needs for our nation. As Cyber Crime is not only becomes the great threat to the mankind but also violates the basic human rights of an individual such as Right to life, Right to privacy, etc. Protection against the same is essential for every aspects of our nation, be it, social, cultural or economic. So, there is an exigency of the hour that this issue must be addressed to maintain the harmony and peace in the society. In sum, Antonie de Saint-Exupery rightly said that “The time for action is now. It’s never too late to do something.” But at the same instance it should kept in mind that “Action should be taken before it’s too late.
The cyber crime-related Acts should be revised and modified according to changing needs for our nation. Cyber crime has not only become a big threat to the mankind, but also violates the basic human rights of an individual such as Right to Life, Right to Privacy, etc. Protection against the same is essential for every aspect of our nation, be it social, cultural or economic. So, there is an exigency of the hour that this issue must be addressed to maintain the harmony and peace in the society.
Making it happen: Arpan’s journey to respond to child sexual abuse
This was 2017. As Secretary, School Education, Government of India, I was sitting on the last bench of a class-room, along with students of class 5, in a school in Mumbai. I was extremely impressed and least embarrassed at what was being taught primarily because of the manner in which a sensitive subject of child sexual abuse was being discussed so effortlessly with the children. With me was Pooja Taparia, the founder-CEO of Arpan, an NGO that was originally set up in 2003 to improve the lives of the underprivileged.
The journey to deal with Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) started in June 2006 after Pooja Taparia was influenced by a play ‘30 Days in September’ on this subject. It gave her a new vision and direction for Arpan. When she embarked on this journey, she saw a world that was seemingly silent and quiet to the sexual abuse of children. There was a tremendous social and cultural taboo on conversation around sexuality and awareness about CSA was non-existent. Sexual abuse of children was often hidden and under-reported and there was a limited acceptance of its prevalence and negative consequences. A broad variety of societal, cultural, individual and family-related normative frameworks restricted initiating the required conversations. Amidst this silence, the idea was to ignite the movement to prevent CSA as it was felt strongly that CSA needed to be prevented because of its high prevalence and negative impact. This was only possible if the tribe grew and each one played her part in child protection and took the pledge to create ‘A World Free of Child Sexual Abuse’.
To initiate the work on CSA, the need was to demystify it, create awareness that the phenomenon exists and it exists in our families and homes. The second step was to develop a scientifically researched prevention model that can address a multifaceted problem like CSA in the Indian context. Arpan developed the Personal Safety Education (PSE) programme which is a school-based comprehensive and holistic intervention model to respond to CSA by helping children identify and seek help in an unsafe situation so that they can participate in their own safety and strengthening their safety net. Since then, Arpan has implemented the PSE programme with 133,000 children and 104,000 parents and teachers, non-teaching staff across 218 schools, 6 institutions and 23 communities in 3 districts of Maharashtra. From its inception, Arpan believed that prevention investment must include greater provision for scientifically rigorous, large-scale outcome evaluation studies. External evaluation of the PSE programme by International Market Research Bureau (2014) revealed that out of the 8% of children reported to have faced an unsafe situation, 90% were able to seek immediate help. A Case Study (2017) also revealed that all who faced sexual abuse experience were able to stop the abuse and seek help. Based on an evaluation of the ideal gap period for implementation of PSE (2018), Knowledge retention ranged from 92% to 69%.
The third step has been to put in concentrated effort to mainstream PSE starting in early childhood and to sustain it during subsequent years. Towards this, public-private partnership has been pivotal as without the strategic deployment of government machinery, it would not have been possible to successfully achieve a safe childhood for all children. Arpan has trained 189,000 individuals and professionals through public-private partnership as well as partnership with large school chains and NGOs. Of these 139,000 professionals (govt. and non-govt. teachers, social workers and mental health professionals) were trained to replicate prevention and intervention models of Child Sexual Abuse. These professionals have reached out to over 1.13 million children and adults all over the country. This model of replication has been able to deliver impact – ~80% of children taught by the training participants remember 75% of the key concepts.
Arpan worked closely with various Government Ministries and Departments both at the central and state levels to integrate PSE within their curriculum and training. It has been part of a Life Skills think-tank initiated by the Ministry of Education (MoE) and working closely with an extremely committed set of officers like Saroj Yadav at National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and at Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to ensure that the curriculum on Health and Wellness of school-going adolescents under the aegis of the school health programme of Ayushman Bharat incorporate messages of Personal Safety. This curriculum will take PSE to twenty-five crore children and fifteen lakh schools across India. Arpan has been able to integrate Personal Safety in Maharashtra SCERT school safety and security module as well which will also be transacted to all school-going children in Maharashtra.
Initiatives have been taken to integrate PSE in a number of states like Bihar, Delhi (where an energetic young officer, Ira Singhal along with Neelam Kumari and Advisor in the Education Department of the State, Shailendra Sharma provided all support and guidance) and Maharashtra (where the Education Commissioner, Vishal Solanki took the lead). Training of Master Teacher trainers and Teachers across these states has already started. On implementation, the programme will reach 30 million children through 700,000 teachers. As a part of the Nationwide Safe Neighbourhood campaign, initiated by the Ministry of Women & Child Development Department (WCD), Arpan has conducted trainings with regional officers from Childline who are in turn conducting trainings with all teachers across the country under the Nishtha programme.
Arpan also partners with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (where Dr. Zoya Ali Rizvi has been proactive and supportive) for trainings of Adolescent Health Counselors and Medical Officers across the country.
Work also commenced with Chandrapur District Administration, Akola District Administration, Kolhapur Zilla Parishad (under able guidance of a committed IAS officer, Aman Mittal, CEO), Kolhapur Municipal Corporation, Thane Municipal Corporation and slowly moving towards creating these as Sexual Abuse Free Districts of Maharashtra
Realizing the potential of an interactive e-Learning platform as an easy and efficient learning tool to transcend geographical boundaries and scale PSE programme, a responsive website www.arpanelearn.com was launched in 2019. 78,000 children and 2800 adults have taken the digital courses of PSE. With the support and guidance of Dr. Amarendra Behera and Dr. Abhay Kumar at the Central Institute of Education Technology (CIET), Arpan’s digital courses are also being showcased on Doordarshan’s Swayamprabha channels. This digital journey that Arpan initiated is proving to be useful during COVID time.
Arpan plans to build collaboration with 10-15 states and integrate Personal Safety in the curriculum over the next 5 years. Simultaneously, digital technologies will be leveraged to scale reach and teach personal safety to every child in the country. This will have a cascading effect to reach millions of children and adults and help the country take a step towards world free of Child Sexual Abuse.
Arpan, under inspired leadership of Pooja Taparia, with an amazing team comprising committed persons like Aditi Ray, made it happen in a domain that was considered to be kept at a safe distance and not even discussed on account of perceived embarrassment. This wonderful team brought this out in public discourse and sought to remedy the malaise. They have succeeded on account of their commitment, dedication, meticulous planning and immaculate execution.
Anil Swarup has served as the head of the Project Monitoring Group, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Offic. He has also served as Secretary, Ministry of Coal and Secretary, Ministry of School Education.
Horrendous atrocities being committed on women and girls in Afghanistan
When America suddenly decided to withdraw its troops, the ground slipped under the feet of the women of Afghanistan. Who will stop the Taliban now?
A short video clip uploaded by an international news channel has shaken me to the core. In that video, a fourteen-fifteen-year-old girl is seen screaming and shrieking. Her parents are begging for mercy but Taliban terrorists are forcibly taking away the girl from the family.
The girl will now be turned over to some Taliban terrorist to quench his lust. If that monster is killed someday in the war, then the child will be given to another monster! This is the fate of that girl!
And that girl is not the only unlucky one. This is the fate of lakhs of girls like her in Afghanistan. In the areas which the Taliban has occupied so far, they have started barbarity in the name of Sharia. It has decreed that a list of unmarried girls above the age of fifteen years and widows should be prepared. It is evident that all these girls and women will be used for quenching the lust of terrorists.
Although the leadership of the Taliban based in Qatar is ruling out such incidents, the Taliban terrorists who are bloodying Afghan soil are kidnapping girls every day. In those areas, even the media is not working now so that the whole truth could come out. But the pictures and news that are coming out after filtering fill the mind with pain.
When the Taliban captured the whole of Afghanistan in 1996, it was women who had to bear the brunt of their brutality. The education of the girls had stopped. You must recall how an attempt was made on Malala because she was secretly spreading her voice to the world in favour of the education of the children. So will the girls be imprisoned in homes again? When asked, Suhail Shaheen, Taliban spokesman in Qatar, said that women will have freedom of education and work but under Sharia law they will also have to wear hijab. Let us remind you that during the Taliban regime from 1996 to 2001, it became notorious for their misogyny and violence against women. The women who did not wear the hijab or even those, whose fingers were visible, were also lashed publicly. A woman could not step out of the house without a male member of her household accompanying her. The actions of the Taliban are showing that the old dark days and dreadful nights are about to return.
When American troops landed on Afghanistan’s soil in 2001 and the Taliban started shrinking, there was a ray of light in the lies of the women there. The girls started going to school. Cruelty to women decreased. Women started going out for work. A lot has changed in Afghanistan in the last 20 years. But when America suddenly decided to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, the ground slipped under the feet of the women of Afghanistan. Who will stop the Taliban now?
However, the rural women there have an inborn conditioning to discrimination because no woman’s name is even taken outside the house. Even on the doctor’s prescription slip it is written ‘daughter of so and so’ or ‘wife of so and so’. Her name is neither on her birth certificate nor on her death certificate. This irony is a part of their life. But the condition in urban areas was getting better. The arrival of the Taliban has raised a fog of fear and suspicion. The problem is that in Afghanistan there is no one to raise the voice of women and anyway, Taliban does not listen to anyone’s voice.
Interestingly, this time some brave Afghan women have come forward to raise their voice against the Taliban. In Afghanistan’s urban areas such as Kabul, Faryab, Herat, Jowzjan and Ghowr, hundreds of Afghan women took to the streets carrying Kalashnikov rifles and Afghan flags. They are trying to show to the world that they do not approve of Taliban rule. That is why they are with the National Army in the war against the Taliban and the barbaric terrorists should also understand that women are not lumps of meat for their lust. They too an fight the war and are ready for the war. It is possible that the Afghan army will also train and equip such brave women. However, in cities it may be possible to join and fight alongside the National Army, but what will happen in rural areas?
The painful and bitter reality of the present time is that the Afghan army has also left the rural areas defenceless. The Afghan National Army is focusing all attention on the security of the country’s
capital Kabul and various provincial cities. The Taliban took advantage of this vacuum immediately and took over the rural areas. Right now it is difficult to say how much of the country is with the Taliban and how much is with the army. But wherever there is Taliban, the life of women has become worse than hell. The number of women in Afghanistan’s population of 3.80 crore is about 1.8 crore. Today, after two decades of tasting freedom, Afghan women and girls are again scared of a repeat of that dark era of confinement as the Taliban advances and the world remains a mute spectator!
I feel like crying at the plight of these women..!
The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.
In Afghanistan, the terror outfit Taliban is committing horrendous atrocities on girls and women. It had been doing the same in the earlier regime too. But this time it is introducing sweeping restrictions on women in areas controlled by it. In defiance, women in many cities have picked up Kalashnikov rifles to defend their motherland against the Taliban.
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