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Scope of the application of doctrine of identification to company law in India

In H.L. Bolton Company v. T.J. Graham & Sons, Lord Denning explained the position and
said that the company could in many terms be equated with a human body. They do have a
brain and a nervous centre which controls the entire body. They have people as their hands
and legs, under instructions of whom work of the nervous centre is carried out.

Vijpreet Pal

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INTRODUCTION

The concept of Doctrine of Identification finds its roots in the English Law. The growth of this doctrine has helped in the implication and prosecution of the criminal activities of directors/ managers of many companies. The corporate personality of a company is different and separate from the promoters, directors or owners of the company. This is a widely known principle in law and has its source in the celebrated case of Solomon v. Solomon. In this case, the Court held that the corporate entity is different from the people who are in the business of running of the company. The misuse of this principle led to “Lifting of the Corporate Veil” wherein the shareholders or creditors of the company are protected if the company is engaged in any fraud or other criminal activities.

A corporate entity can sue and be sued in its own individual name. In criminal cases, the company can be prosecuted against but it is quite ineffectual as the company cannot be punished with imprisonment or death. The only punishment that can be levied on the company is by way of fine, which at times is quite minimalistic. The question then raised is whether a company can ever be prosecuted for criminal offences and be punished with more than just a monetary fine.

EVOLUTION OF THE DOCTRINE OF IDENTIFICATION

The 1940s saw the emergence of a new mechanism to impute criminal liability to Corporations in the form of the “identification principle.” Until the 1940s, the courts stuck firmly to the view that it was inappropriate to bring a prosecution against a Company for common law offences requiring proof of a subjective mental element. However, through the 1940s it was observed in a variety of cases that a Company is capable of being malicious, can intend to deceive and can conspire.

First, was the case of DPP v. Kent and Sussex Contractors, in which the Company was charged under the Defence (General) Regulations, 1939 of making use of a document which was false in a material particular and making a statement which they knew to be false in a material particular, with an ‘intent to deceive.’ The Company was made liable.

Next, was the case of R v. ICR Haulage Ltd., in which the Company was charged and found guilty for ‘conspiring to defraud’ and thirdly, was the case of Moore v. Bresler, in which the Company faced charges for embezzlement and tax evasion under the Finance Act No. 2, 1940.

Among the three, the most important was the case of R v. ICR Haulage, since it was the only case among the three to deal with a nonstatutory offence.

In H.L. Bolton Company v. T.J. Graham & Sons, Lord Denning as explained the position and said that the company could in many terms be equated with a human body. They do have a brain and a nervous centre which controls the entire body. They have people as their hands and legs, under instructions of whom work of the nervous centre is carried out. Lord Denning equated the brain and nervous system to the directors and managers who represent the directing will of the company. He held that:

“The state of mind of these managers is the state of mind of the company and is treated by law as such. So also in the criminal law, in cases where the law requires a guilty mind as a condition of a criminal offence, the guilty mind of the directors or the managers will render the company themselves guilty.”

 In the celebrated case of Tesco Supermarkets Ltd. v. Nattrass, the Appellant was marketing a packet of washing powder at a price lower than the market price, but the Defendant did not find the packet of washing powder at the reduced price, as advertised. The Defendant therefore filed a complaint under the Trade Descriptions Act, 1968. One Mr. Clemant of the Appellant was in charge of the packets with the reduced price being displayed in the store. Lord Reid discussed the law relating mens rea and the importance of the same in criminal law.

“A living person has a mind which can have knowledge or intention or be negligent and he has hands to carry out his intentions. A corporation has none of these: it must act through living persons, though not always one or the same person. Then the person who acts is not speaking or acting for the company. He is acting as the company and his mind which directs his acts is the mind of the company. There is no question of the company being vicariously liable. He is not acting as a servant, representative, agent or delegate. He is an embodiment of the company or, one could say, he hears and speaks through the persona of the company, within his appropriate sphere, and his mind is the mind of the company. If it is a guilty mind then that guilt is the guilt of the company. It must be a question of law whether, once the facts have been ascertained, a person in doing particular things is to be regarded as the company or merely as the company’s servant or agent. In that case any liability of the company can only be a statutory or vicarious liability”

Lord Reid also discussed which people can be ‘identified’ with the company. He stated that the main considerations are the relative position he holds in the company and the extent of control he exercises over its operations or a section of it without effective superior control. In this case, it was held that the shop manager could not be identified with the company.

In Meriden Global Funds Management Asia Ltd. V. Securities Commissioner, Lord Hoffman discussed the principle of identification and stated that if an employee had be considered the ‘directing mind and will’ of the company, the employee should have the authority to act as he did. In the same case, the Court in its obiter stated that conviction of a smaller company is easier (on application of this principle) because the relationship between the culprit and the company can be identified with more ease and certainty. That is not the case in larger companies.

 In Lennard’s Carrying Co. v. Asiatic Petroleum Co., Viscount Haldane propounded the “alter ego” theory and distinguished that from vicarious liability. The House of Lords stated that the default of the managing director who is the “directing mind and will” of the company, could be attributed to him and he be held for the wrongdoings of the company. It was famously stated that:

“a corporation is an abstraction. It has no mind of its own any more than a body of its own; its active and directing will must consequently be sought in the person of somebody who for some purposes maybe called an agent, but who is really the directing mind and will of the corporation, the very ego and centre of the personality of the corporation.”

There was a different view taken in Tesco Stores Ltd. V. Brent London Borough Council wherein a store clerk sold a over -18 video to an underage customer. The Court noted that Doctrine of Identification could not be applied here and the company was hence not liable. The reason for this decision was that in a large company, the senior management could not be expected to know each and every customer and whether the customer was a minor or not. In that event to locate a person for this knowledge was hence impossible and the doctrine of identification was hence inapplicable in this case.

 Again in R v. Redfern & Dunlop Ltd. (Aircraft Division), the Court held that where the employees who were not in the decision making level could not be ‘identifiable’ with the company and therefore were not deemed to be the controlling mind of the company. The question that comes up is that if a person at a lower level commits a crime in the name of the company, the company cannot be held liable for the same. This may pose to be a problem in the sense that the company may make a division between the senior management and the employees to avoid criminal proceedings against them.

SCOPE IN INDIA

We are also going to examine the growth and importance of the Doctrine of Identification in Indian Law during the recent years. The most recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the Reliance Natural Resources Limited v. Reliance Industries Limited, discusses the Doctrine of Identification. This case is a dispute over two brothers namely Mukesh Ambani led RIL and Anil Ambani led RNRL. After the death of their father Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani, the entire Ambani Group of Companies was divided between the two brothers. An arrangement was reached between the parties, with their mother as the mediator. Mukesh Ambani had in this family arrangement, made certain concessions on behalf of the RIL, which RNRL had sought to rely upon in the present case.

The Bombay High Court in its judgment held that Mukesh Ambani being the majority shareholder of the company was hence the ¨controlling mind and will¨ of the company. The observation of the judges was that in the Identification Doctrine, the company was “identified with such key personnel through whom it works”. These “key personnel” were described to be the alter ego of the company and their actions were deemed to be the actions of the company itself.

The Supreme Court overruled the judgment of the Bombay High Court in respect of the Identification Doctrine. It observed that the family arrangement was between three parties namely the mother and the 2 sons.

The legal entity of the company was different than the individual entity and in the present case, the company having more than a million shareholders, one person could not be said to have had the knowledge with respect to the company, which knowledge he had in his personal capacity. The court discarded this doctrine on the fact that the facts of the case did not fall into their preview.

The other Indian cases where the Courts have followed the doctrine of identification are Union of India v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd. and others and Assistant Commissioner, Assessment –II, Bangalore and others v. Velliappa Textiles Ltd. & Ors.

 The first case was about an accident that occurred at an unmanned level railway crossing in Kerala when a hired vehicle was hit by a train passing through and passengers were injured and the driver was also killed. Claims were made by the injured and the relatives of the deceased and after many appeals, the case reached the Supreme Court. The question in that scenario was whether the passengers were to be held liable as the driver who was negligent was appointed or retained by them. The court discussed the principle of identification or imputation, in the present case whether the defendant can plead contributory negligence of the plaintiff or of an employee of the plaintiff where the employee is acting in the course of his business.

In the second case, the question was whether in the case of criminal misdemeanors, the employees can be charged with imprisonment or is the company is liable for fine and/or imprisonment. The Court held that the director / mangers of the company, who are the directing will and mind of the company, should be held liable. The case of U.S. Supreme Court in New York Central & Hudson River Railroad Company v. United States stated that.

 “It is true that there are some crimes which, in their nature, cannot be committed by corporation. But there is a class of offences, of which rebating under the Federal statutes is one, wherein the crime consists in purposely doing the things prohibited by statute. In that class of crimes we see no good reason why corporations may not be held responsible for and charged with the knowledge and purposes of their agents, acting within the authority conferred on them. If it were not so, many offences might go unpunished and acts be committed in violation of law where, as in the present case, the statute required all persons, corporate and private, to refrain from certain practices, forbidden in the interest of public policy.”

CONCLUSION

The directors/ managers try to avoid the penalty by taking the defense that the company being a separate legal entity, should be prosecuted separately. The problem that arises in particularly criminal cases is that, the punishment for the crimes are fine and / or imprisonment. If the offender is a company, only a monetary penalty can be imposed. This led to more offences being committed on the name of the company by the directors/ managers, who are protected under the “separate legal entity” theory.

By this doctrine of identification, those offenders are being held liable for the acts committed by the company. The main objective of the doctrine is to punish the people who are actually committing the crime who are the brain and mind of the company through which the crime is being committed.

The Bombay High Court in its judgment held that Mukesh Ambani being the majority shareholder of the company was hence the ¨controlling mind and will¨ of the company. The observation of the judges was that in the Identification Doctrine, the company was “identified with such key personnel through whom it works”. These “key personnel” were described to be the alter ego of the company and their actions were deemed to be the actions of the company itself

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Policy & Politics

Is it safe to rely exclusively on ‘extrajudicial’ confession?

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Before dwelling upon extra judicial confession, it is incumbent to first of all understand what exactly confession is. It has not been defined anywhere in the Evidence Act. Stephen in his ‘Digest of the Law of Evidence’ (Article 21) defines it as: “A confession is an admission made at any time by a person charged with crime stating or suggesting the inference that he committed that crime.”

According to Wigmore: “A confession is an acknowledgement in express words, by the accused in a criminal case, of the truth of the guilty fact charged or of some essential part of it. It is to this class of statements only that the present principle of exclusion applies.” Blackstone has mocked at confession as “the weakest and most suspicious of all evidence.” Bertrand Russel says in ‘Power’: “In India it is rampant……… For the taming of the power of the police one essential requirement is that a confession shall never in any circumstances be accepted as evidence.”

One can easily discern after going through the definition forwarded by Stephen that the words ‘suggesting the inference that he committed that crime’ fail to convey the real import. It is in this context that to clear the fog and see the true picture , we must also carefully read what was spelt out by Lord Atkin in Pakala Narayana Swami v Emperor, AIR 1939 PC 47 (52). He said that, “… no statement that contains self-exculpatory matter can amount to a confession, if the exculpatory statement is of some fact which if true would negative the offence alleged to be confessed. Moreover, a confession must either admit in terms the offence, or at any rate substantially all the facts which constitute the offence. An admission of a gravely incriminating fact is not of itself a confession, e.g., an admission that the accused is the owner of and was in recent possession of the knife or revolver, which caused a death with no explanation of any other man’s possession is not a confession even though it strongly suggests that the accused has committed the murder. Some confusion appears to have been caused by the definition of confession in Article 21 of the Stephen’s Digest of the Law of Evidence, which defines a confession as an admission made at any-time by a person charged with a crime stating or suggesting the inference that he committed that crime. If the surrounding articles are examined it will be apparent that the learned author, after dealing with admissions generally, is applying himself to admissions in criminal cases, and for this purpose defines confessions so as to cover all such admissions, in order to have a general term for use in the three following articles confession secured by inducement, made upon oath, made under a promise of secrecy. The definition is not contained in the Evidence Act, 1872; and in that Act it would not be consistent with the natural use of language to construe confession as a statement by an accused suggesting the inference that he committed the crime.”

It is imperative to mention here that the Apex Court too has endorsed the landmark ruling of Privy Council which I have just cited in the landmark case of Palvinder Kaur v State of Punjab, AIR 1952 SC 354. Justice Mahajan in this landmark case very elegantly elucidates that, “The confession must either admit in terms the offence or at any rate, substantially all the facts which constitute the offence. The admission of gravely incriminating fact, even conclusively incriminating fact is not by itself a confession. The statement that contains self-exculpatory (self-defending) or other matter cannot amount to a confession, if the exculpatory statement is of the same facts which, if true, would negative the offence alleged to be confessed. The statement which when read as a whole is of exculpatory character and in which the prisoner denies his guilt is not confession, and cannot be used in the evidence to prove his guilt.”

About confession, Phipson states that, “An unambiguous confession is in general sufficient to warrant a conviction without corroboration.” Confession is based on the latin maxim ‘habemus optimum testem, confitentem reum’ which literally means that, “We have the best witness, a confessing defendant.” In other words, it means that the confession of an accused is the best evidence against him.

Having dwelt in detail about what confession is, I must now divulge here what is well known that confession is divided into two classes: Judicial and Extra-judicial. Needless to say, a judicial confession is that which is made before the Magistrate or Court in the due course of legal proceedings. As for instance, a confession which is recorded under Sections 164 and 364 of the CrPC. A confession made to anybody other than a Magistrate or Court or any judicial body does not come within the purview of judicial confession. Let me add here that a confession which is neither made to a Magistrate nor in the course of legal proceedings and is made outside the court or before any person other than a Magistrate is an extra-judicial confession. In other words, confessions made to private persons, to police officers or to judicial officers in their private capacity fall within the realm of extra-judicial confession.

While it is true that a confession made to a Magistrate cannot be an extra-judicial confession but what we must not lose sight of is the fact that under certain circumstances even a confession made to a Magistrate can amount to an extra-judicial confession. As for instance, in R v Gopinath , 13 WR 69, it was held that a confession made before a Magistrate, in his private capacity is an extra-judicial confession. In Emperor v Sidheshwar Nath, (1933) 56 All 730, it was held that a confession made to a Magistrate while in the custody of the police is admissible. In State of Punjab v Harjagdev Singh, AIR 2009 SC 2693, it was held that an extra-judicial confession can be made to or before a private individual. It can also be made before a Magistrate who is not especially empowered to record confessions under Section 164 of CrPC or who receives the confession at a time when Section 164 is not applying. The Court also added that every inducement, threat or promise does not vitiate a confession.

Before proceeding ahead, let me tell you that while I don’t deny that extra-judicial confessions are considered generally as weak evidence but still if found reliable courts can convict an accused based on it and there is nothing wrong with it. There are many such cases where conviction has been given to an accused based on extra-judicial confession. As for instance, it was held in State of UP v MK Anthony , AIR 1985 SC 48 that there is no inflexible rule of law or prudence that an accused cannot be convicted on the basis of an extra-judicial confession without corroboration, though it is considered to be a very weak evidence. It was also held that it can be sufficient to found conviction provided –

1. It comes from the mouth of witnesses who appear to be unbiased and not even remotely inimical to the accused;

2. There is nothing to indicate that the witness may have motive for attributing untruthful statement to the accused;

3. The evidence given by the witness is clear, unambiguous and unmistakably conveys that the accused committed the crime;

4. Nothing is omitted by the witness which may suggest different conclusion; and

5. The evidence passes the rigorous test of credibility.

In Piara Singh v State of Punjab, AIR 1977 SC 2274, the Supreme Court while convicting the appellants on the basis of extra-judicial confession and underlining its importance held that, “The learned Sessions Judge regarded the extra-judicial confession to be very weak type of evidence and therefore refused to rely on the same. Here the learned Sessions Judge committed a clear error of law. Law does not require that the evidence of an extra-judicial confession should in all cases be corroborated. In the instant case, the extra-judicial confession was proved by an independent witness (Sarpanch) who was a responsible officer and who bore no animus against the appellants. There was hardly any justification, for the Sessions Judge to disbelieve the evidence of the Sarpanch particularly when the confession was corroborated by the recovery of an empty cartridge from the place of occurrence.” In State of AP v Gangula Satya Murthy, AIR 1997 SC 1585, the Supreme Court held that minor discrepancies should be ignored in appreciating the evidentiary value of extra-judicial confession. In this case, the record showed a discrepancy as to the time of confession when the words were spoken and the time appearing in police records . The Court said that this should have been ignored. There could have been an error in recording a.m. for p.m. The Court also said that at any rate it was not proper to jettison an otherwise sturdy piece of evidence of an extra-judicial confession on such a rickety premise.

Be it noted, in the famous Nanavati case, a statement made by the accused Nanavati to the Chowkidar of the building immediately after the shooting when he saw his wife in objectionable state with another man, was held to be an extra-judicial confession and treated as a direct piece of evidence of the guilt of the accused. In Ratan Gond v State of Bihar, AIR 1959 SC 18, the Supreme Court accepted the extra-judicial confession made by the accused in the house of the Mukhia of the village before some villagers. Similarly, in Sivakumar v State by Inspector of Police, (2006) 1 SCC 714 (723) (para 41), the Apex Court accepted the extra-judicial confession made before a village headman.

While craving my readers indulgence, let me further mention here that the principles which would make an extra-judicial confession an admissible piece of evidence quite capable of forming the basis of conviction of an accused have been well highlighted by Supreme Court in Sahadevan v State of TN, (2012) 6 SCC 403, in which it has been pointed out that –

1. The extra-judicial confession is a weak evidence by itself. It has to be examined by the court with greater care and caution.

2. It should be made voluntarily and should be truthful.

3. It should inspire confidence.

4. An extra-judicial confession attains greater credibility and evidentiary value if it is supported by a chain of cogent circumstances and is further corroborated by other prosecution evidence.

5. For an extra-judicial confession to be the basis of conviction, it should not suffer from any material discrepancies and inherent improbabilities.

6. Such statement essentially has to be proved like any other fact and in accordance with law.

For my esteemed readers exclusive benefit, let me tell them that the Supreme Court has in many cases acquitted the accused whenever it found that the extra-judicial confession was not reliable or was weak or there was no corroboration or on any other ground which it considered as relevant for acquitting the accused. I will discuss some of them here of which I am aware and which I would like to also share with my readers. In Keshav v State of Maharashtra, (2007) 13 SCC 284(287) (para 9), it was alleged that the accused made confession to the wife of the deceased, who neither disclosed it to anyone nor lodged an FIR in that respect. The Apex Court held that the said extra-judicial confession was not reliable. In Polyami Sukada v State of MP, AIR 2010 SC 2977, it was held that the witnesses of confession did not inspire confidence. Their evidence was slippery. It was also held that conviction was not proper even if there was recovery of weapon on the basis of confession. But at the same time, the Apex Court also held that an extra-judicial confession need not be corroborated in all cases and conviction can be based solely on such confession. In Pakkirisamy v State of TN, AIR 1998 SC 107, it was held by Supreme Court that the extra-judicial confession of an accused cannot be taken into consideration in determining his guilt when it is not put to him in his examination under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

It is worth noting that in Jagta v State of Haryana, AIR 1974 SC 1545, the Apex Court held that, “An extra-judicial confession is, in the very nature of things a weak piece of evidence. There should be no difficulty in rejecting it if it lacks in probability.” In State of Karnataka v AB Nagaraj, AIR 2003 SC 666, it was alleged that the girl was killed by her father and step-mother in the national park. The confession was supposed to have been made during detention in the ‘Forest Office’ and there was no witness present. The evidence of extra-judicial confession was rejected. In Baldev Singh v State of Punjab, (2009) 6 SCC 564, the Apex Court held that the evidence of extra-judicial confession is generally of a weak nature. It was also held that no conviction ordinarily can be based solely thereupon unless the same is corroborated in material particulars and extra-judicial confession must be found to be reliable.

As pointed above, it is one of the most fundamental canon of criminal justice system that an extra-judicial confession to be reliable must be voluntary. Lord Parker, C.J., in Reg. v Smith, (1959) 2 Q.B. 35 at p. 39 held that, “It has always been the fundamental principle of the courts that a prisoner’s confession outside the court is only admissible if it is voluntary. In deciding whether an admission is voluntary the court had been at pain to hold that even the most gentle threats or slight inducements will taint a confession.” In State of Haryana v Jagbir Singh, 2003 (4) RCR (Criminal) SC 555, it was held by the Supreme Court that in order to make an extra-judicial confession reliable it must be shown that it was voluntarily made. Apart from the extra-judicial confession being voluntary, there are many other factors that needs to be taken into account to determine its genuineness. For example, it was held in Chattar Singh v State of Haryana, AIR 2009 SC 378, it was held by the Supreme Court that, “Whether the accused was a freeman when he confessed , one of the relevant factors. The value of the confession is determined by the veracity of the person to whom the confession is made and who appears to testify to it.” In Vinayak Shivajirao Pol v State of Maharashtra, AIR 1998 SC 1096 , confession of a military sepoy to his superior’s as to how he killed his wife and disposed off the dismembered parts of the body substantiated by recoveries, held to be capable of supporting conviction for murder without more.

It also must be brought out here that the extra-judicial confession may be either in writing or in oral as both of them are valid. Now when it comes to written confession the writing itself will be the best evidence but in case it is lost or is not available, then under such circumstances, the person before whom the confession was made can certainly be produced before the Court to depose that the accused made the statement before him.

It is imperative that before accepting extra-judicial confession on the basis of testimony of witness, the credentials of witness must be ascertained and examined properly. If witnesses are not reliable, it is not safe to rely on the extra-judicial confession made by the accused to them and on that basis alone convict the accused without any other evidence or independent corroboration. It is also imperative that the words used by those witnesses must be thoroughly examined before relying on them. In Heramba Brahma v State of Assam, AIR 1982 SC 1595, where a confession was made by an accused person to under trial prisoners who were awaiting trial for a heinous crime like dacoity which itself indicates that they were criminals and the High Court straightaway accepted their evidence without resorting to examining in minute detail the credentials of witness and without ascertaining in any manner the words used, the Supreme Court held that the evidence of extra-judicial confession was unworthy of belief and therefore liable to be rejected.

Now coming to another moot question: “Does delay in recording evidence in any manner affect the authenticity of extra-judicial confession?” Delay in recording evidence certainly affects the credibility and authenticity of extra-judicial confession if it is not properly explained but if it is properly and satisfactorily examined then it does not make any difference and conviction can still be based on extra-judicial confession. In this regard, it would be pertinent to discuss what happened in Ram Khilari’s case. In Ram Khilari v State of Rajasthan, AIR 1999 SC 1002, the appellant was convicted under Section 302, IPC on the basis of extra-judicial confession made by him to one Ram Kishan , who was father-in-law of his sister. His conviction was rightly upheld by the Apex Court as there was just no reason to disbelieve the statement of Ram Kishan. It was held to be quite probable that the appellant might have thought that he could get shelter in Ram Kishan’s house and therefore informed him what happened. The delay of 20 days in recording evidence was satisfactorily explained by the investigation and therefore no interference was warranted in his conviction on the basis of extra-judicial confession.

It must be underscored that any Court before basing a conviction on extra-judicial confession alone must be very careful when it comes to the words used by the accused while interacting with the witnesses and must make ensure that fabrications, concoctions and exaggerations don’t creep in any manner as that can push an innocent accused to conviction which would certainly tantamount to a great travesty of justice. In Mulk Raj v State of UP, AIR 1959 SC 902, it was held by Supreme Court that though court will require the witness to give the actual words used by the accused, yet it is not an invariable rule that the court should not accept the evidence if actual words are not given. Macaulay in his ‘History of England’, Vol 1 on page 283 very rightly points out that, “Words may easily be misunderstood by an honest man. They may easily be misconstrued by a knave. What was spoken metaphorically may be apprehended literally. What was spoken ludicrously may be apprehended seriously. A participle, a tense, a mood, an emphasis may make the whole difference between guilt and innocence.” Therefore, it merits no reiteration that wordings make a huge difference and it is the bounden duty of all courts concerned to fully understand in which sense the words have been used before basing any conviction on the basis of extra-judicial confession alone! It also must be borne in mind that many times a witness acts in good faith but there is unintended tricks of memory due to which there is misinterpretation and because of which an innocent accused can wrongly be convicted on the basis of extra-judicial confession alone which at all cost must be prevented by all concerned courts as that would result in a grave miscarriage of justice! At the same time all courts must bear in mind what the Supreme Court held in Narayan Singh v State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1985 SC 1678 that, “It is not open to any Court to start with a presumption that extra-judicial confession is a weak type of evidence. It would depend on the nature of the circumstances, the time when the confession was made and the credibility of the witness who speaks to such a confession.” A balance thus has to be struck before a conviction or acquittal is recorded in such cases!

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Policy & Politics

Rewiring Brain: Neuroplasticity 

Researches reveal that learning any new language enhances brain’s functioning with respect to memory, attention, emotions, creative thinking skills and ability to multitask as it works on the grey as well as the white matter of the brain.

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INTRODUCTION

Until recently it was believed that our brains are hard-wired, just like computer or any other such equipment thus can never undergo changes and one has to remain with the type of brain he is born with. But researches show that the brain has the power to change itself. This idea of changes in brain’s function as well structure is termed as neuroplasticity. Earlier the Neuroscientists hold that neuroplasticity manifests in childhood only the research done in later half of the 20th century revealed that several aspects of brain can undergo alterations even in the adulthood. Moreover neuroplasticity insists don’t hold your brain as your in charge on contrary consider yourself as the in charge of your brain.

Rewiring your brain might sound complicated, but this is something very easy that can be done at home. Yes so here are some ways that would certainly help you to change the entire scene-

Play games- Yes, playing games is beneficial. Different games yield different benefits. Such as puzzle games improves brain connectivity, boosts problem solving while 3D adventurous games tends to improve memory, problem solving and scene recognition. Rhythm games like dance can help to improve the visuospatial memory as well as attention of the individual. Thus playing games can do miracles. Point to keep in mind that these effects emerge after about 16 hours of gameplay. But that shouldn’t be played at once.

Learning new Language- Researches reveal that learning any new language enhances brain’s functioning with respect to memory, attention, emotions, creative thinking skills and ability to multitask as it works on the grey as well as the white matter of the brain.

Music Therapy- A research from 2017 shows that music when combined with dance, gaming, exercise etc. helps in improving neuroplasticity. People associated with music have better focus and attention, better motor coordination and better visual perception.

Travel- if you enjoy traveling then there is one more reason to love traveling. It enhances cognitive flexibility, nourishes creativity and broadens world general view.

Enjoy relaxing moments- Take a break from work and give some time to brain for rest. This rest improves the creativity, helps to find out new solutions to the prevailing problems.

Meditation- Meditational practices strengthens the neural connections. Regular practice leads to good brain health, sustained focus and slackening mental stress. Calm brains have the power to hold overwhelming emotions and guards individual against unproductive worries.

Video Games- Playing video games undoubtedly harms our eyes and is being criticized for few problems associated to it but still it has various cognitive benefits such as motor coordination, spatial navigation, decision making, reasoning and resilience.

CONCLUSION

Psychologists as well as other experts use to stress that no changes are expected in brain after a certain point of age. But now this view has been discarded. As they now know that all this is possible at any point of age in entire lifespan.

All that one requires is just some time, dedication and patience. All the suggested activities may look quite simple but have huge impact.

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Policy & Politics

Marriage can be registered through video conference: Special Marriage Act

The court also batted for a common marriage law so as to shift everything online to make registration of marriage and divorce easier in tune with evolving technology.

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With the technological advancement, marriages can be registered under Special Marriage Act (SMA) 1954 through video conferencing said by Kerala High Court (Dhanya Martin V State of Kerala).

The observation was given by the two judges bench (Divisionbench) comprises of Justices A. Muhamed Mustaque and Kauser Edappagath. The observation was given while hearing the sets of petitions filed by person looking to solemnize their marriages under the Special Marriage Act through video conferencing.

The cases were referred by the single judge bench before the Division bench on 25th August, 2021. The Court held that it was only concern the way of identification of parties for the online registration of marriage and it is inclined to allow the matter. There is no difficulty to hold that in the era of technological advancement, marriage can also be registered without physical presence of the parties before the marriage officer. Therefore, marriage officer must be in a position to identify the parties through online video conference. The way to conduct such type of identification online has to be discussed.

The Court added that the parties have recommended two methods of identification. First method is the physical presence of the parties before the commission; if they are living abroad. Second method is the modern gadgets for identifying the parties with reference to facial recognition and biometric identifications.

STATEMENT OF ASG

The Court also informed the R Suvin Menon; Assistant Solicitor General (ASG) that it would needed the Union Government help in framing a mechanism that would permit usage of modern data and technology for this purpose. The ASG raised the concerns regarding the misuse of data and limitations on usage of facial recognition even in criminal prosecutions, the Court states that such concerned can be addressed but positive purposes for technology must be encouraged.

The Court said that the technology must have some restrictions against a person, but also can be used for the interest of individual. We can maximise the positive aspects and limits the negative one. The Court high lightened the importance of ease of setting up of uniform marriage law for the online registration and divorce.

The Bench said that court should switch everything online. This is the only reason for the requirement of common marriage law. Every marriage should be compulsory registered either private or personal. The marriage should be covered under the public law. In the modern technology, people can’t still bank on the physical method of marriage registration.

Public Prosecutor appearing for the Kerala government Gopi Nathan opposed and said that there is no provision under Special Marriage Act to register marriages before solemnisation before a marriage officer. In view of the Information Technology Act, no such type of provision is needed said by the Court. The provisions of the IT Act, especially Sections 4, 5 and 6, are read into all relevant present statutes.

OBSERVATION

In the case of State of Maharashtra V Paful B Desai, the Supreme Court held that evidence could now be recorded by means of video conferencing. It means that victim or witness can reported their statement through online video conferencing.

The Bench said that court should switch everything online. This is the only reason for the requirement of common marriage law. Every marriage should be compulsory registered either private or personal. The marriage should be covered under the public law. In the modern technology, people can’t still bank on the physical method of marriage registration.

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Policy & Politics

All-time high exports of engineering goods in August suggest pandemic may be behind us: EEPC India chairman

Tarun Nangia

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Reflecting strong demand from its key markets, engineering goods exports to 24 out of 25 top nations recorded positive growth in August, 2021 blowing past its previous monthly record of US$ 9.13 billion in July.

Unlike the previous months, exports to China registered the second largest export destination witnessing positive monthly growth in August 2021. Shipments to China rose 15% in August to reach US$ 613.3 million as compared to US$ 531.3 million in the same month last year.

Malaysia was the only country which saw a negative trend in import of engineering goods from India.

The US continued to be on top of the chart with August import of engineering goods from India growing 42% to US$ 1.3 billion as compared to US$ 916.5 million in the same month last year.

All the European countries for India’s top 25 engineering export destinations – Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belgium, UK, Poland, Spain and France recorded high positive growth during August as well as on a cumulative basis this fiscal.

The share of India’s engineering exports to its top 25 nations accounted for 76.8% of India’s total engineering exports in April-August 2021. This significant high share is indicative of the dependence of India’s engineering export on the traditional markets.

India’s engineering exports was at its all-time monthly high for the second straight month in August. The robust performance of the sector resulted in the share of engineering goods in total merchandise exports during the previous month rising significantly.

Share of engineering in total merchandise export was 27.68% in August 2021 as against 25.82% in July, 27.19% in June, 25.44% in May, 24.83% in April 2021 and 25.36 percent in March 2021.

“In the month of August, engineering goods exports recorded more than 40% growth even when compared with the same month in 2019. It now seems that the pandemic is behind us. We are positively hopeful that as a result of a turnaround in global trade and policy support the sector would do better than expected in the full financial year,” said EEPC India Chairman Mr Mahesh Desai.

“The annual target of US$ 107 billion looks very doable even though the achievement till August fell a bit short of the target when calculated on a pro-rata basis,” he said.

During April-August period of 2021-22, India’s engineering exports have fallen short of the target set by about US$ 1.82 billion calculated on a pro-rata basis achieving 40% of the target against 42% of desired level for the full year.

Engineering exports crossed US$ 9 billion mark consecutively for the second time after the month of July, reaching an all-time high of US$ 9.21 billion in August.

Cumulative engineering exports during April-August 2021-22 stood at US$ 42.91 billion registering 66.18% growth over the shipments of April-August 2020-21 at US$ 25.82 billion.

Out of 33 engineering panels or product groups, 29 panels witnessed positive growth in exports and remaining four panels witnessed negative export growth during August 2021 vis-à-vis August 2020.

Exports of iron and steel recorded a continuous growth to the extent of 142% in August 2021 compared to the same period last year. In case of non-ferrous metals, sectors like Zinc and products exhibited negative growth in exports to the extent of 26% during the month of August 2021 vis-a-vis August 2020. All the remaining segments showed positive growth.

All the seven panels under Industrial machinery exhibited positive growth in August 2021 which led the total industrial machinery panel increase by 39% during August 2021.

Electrical Machinery and equipment which is a major engineering exporting sector for India experienced a growth in exports both monthly and on cumulative basis increasing to the extent of 26.8% from US$ 692.9 million in August 2020 to US$ 878.4 million in August 2021.

The automobile sector (combination of Two and Three wheelers and Motor vehicles and Cars) recorded consecutive massive jumps in exports to the extent of 57.5% primarily due to sharp jump in exports of Two and Three Wheelers by 72.4% and Motor Vehicles by 52.5% during August 2021.

Exports of Aircrafts and Spacecraft parts and products recorded 12.8% negative monthly growth while ‘Ship, Boats and Floating Bodies’ exhibited a monthly decline of 21.7%.

“The government has relentlessly supported the industry and we hope that the two key issues of high raw material prices and container shortage would also be looked into. The industry is awaiting proper rates under RoDTEP,” said EEPC India Chairman.

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Policy & Politics

Centre provides a massive relief to the exporters

The government releases Rs 56,027 crore under various Export Promotion Schemes.

Tarun Nangia

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The Government of India has decided to budget Rs 56,027 crore in this Financial Year FY 21-22 itself in order to disburse all pending export incentives due to exporters. This amount includes claims relating to MEIS, SEIS, RoSL, RoSCTL, other scrip based schemes relating to earlier policies and the remission support for RoDTEP and RoSCTL for exports made in the 4th quarter of FY 20-21. Benefits would be disbursed to more than 45,000 exporters, out of which about 98% are small exporters in the MSME category.

The amount of Rs 56,027 crores of arrears is for different export promotion and remission schemes: MEIS (Rs 33,010 crore), SEIS (Rs 10,002 crore), RoSCTL (Rs 5,286 cr), RoSL (Rs 330 crore), RoDTEP(Rs 2,568 crore), other legacy Schemes like Target Plus etc (Rs 4,831 crore). This amount is over and above duty remission amount of Rs 12,454 crore for the RoDTEP scheme and Rs 6,946 crore for RoSCTLscheme already announced for exports made in this year i.e. FY 2021-22.

Exports in India have seen robust growth in recent months. Merchandise exports for April-August, 2021 was nearly $164 billion, which is an increase of 67% over 2020-21 and 23% over 2019-20. This decision to clear all pending export incentives within this financial year, will lead to even more rapid export growth in coming months.

For merchandise exports, all sectors covered under MEIS, such as Pharmaceuticals, Iron and steel, Engineering, Chemicals, Fisheries, Agriculture and allied Sectors, Auto and Auto Components would be able to claim benefits for exports made in earlier years. Benefits would help such sectors to maintain cash flows and meet export demand in international market, which is recovering fast this financial year.

Service sector exporters, including those in the travel, tourism and hospitality segments will be able to claim SEIS benefits for FY 2019-2020, for which Rs 2,061 crore has been provisioned. The SEIS for FY 2019-20 with certain revisions in service categories and rates is being notified. This support would have a multiplier effect and spur employment generation.

The apparel sector, which is a major labour-intensive sector, would get past arrears under ROSCTL and ROSL, and all stakeholders in the interconnected supply chains would be strengthened to meet the festive season demand in international markets.

Export claims relating to earlier years will need to be filed by the exporters by 31st December 2021 beyond which they will become time barred. The Online IT portal will be enabled shortly to accept MEIS and other scrip based applications and would be integrated with a robust mechanism set up by Ministry of Finance to monitor provisioning and disbursement of the export incentives under a budgetary framework.

A decision to clear all pending export incentives within this Financial Year itself despite other budgetary commitments arising out of the pandemic is with the objective of providing timely and crucial support to this vital pillar of Indian economy.

FIEO HAILS GOVERNMENT’S DECISION TO DISBURSE ALL PENDING EXPORT INCENTIVES TO EASE THE LIQUIDITY AT MOST CHALLENGING TIMES: DR SAKTHIVEL

Welcoming the government’s decision of budgeting an amount of Rs 56,027 crores to disburse all pending export incentives due to exporters as claims related to different export promotion and remission schemes including MEIS, SEIS, RoSL, RoSCTL, other scrip-based schemes relating to earlier policies and the remission support for RoDTEP and RoSCTL for exports made in the 4th quarter of FY 20-21, FIEO President, Dr A Sakthivel said that such a move will help the sector in meeting the liquidity concerns and maintaining cash flow of the exports sector thereby further facilitating in addressing the export demand in the international market.

Benefits to be disbursed to over 45,000 exporters, specially those from the MSME sector has come as a booster dose for them as it would help them to be able to complete their booked order more efficiently, said Dr Sakthivel. Thanking the Hon’ble Prime Minister, the Union Commerce & Industry and Textiles Minister and the Union Finance Minister, President, FIEO added that the decision will lead to an even more rapid growth in exports in coming months.

FIEO Chief said that support to Service sector exporters, including those in the travel, tourism and hospitality segments, with certain revisions in service categories and rates being notified will not only have a multiplier effect but will also help in employment generation. Incentivising major labour-intensive sectors and all the stakeholders including those from the supply chain will help in strengthening their endeavours to meet the festive season demand in the international market.

Such support and handholding to the sector during these challenging times, when the whole exporting community is showing their commitment and resilience to perform impressively has definitely given a boost to the government vision of achieving USD 400 billion exports for the fiscal. Dr Sakthivel said that these announcements has further infused confidence in exporters that the Government is working hand in hand with exporters as promised by our Hon’ble Prime Minister.

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Policy & Politics

Analysing a bill passed by Rajasthan Assembly that allows registration of child marriages

Surya Pratap

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“Unity is meaningless without the accompaniment of women. Education is fruitless without educated women and agitation is incomplete without the strength of women.”

— Dr BR Ambedkar

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) charged on September 17 that the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which was passed by voice vote in the state Assembly to amend a 2009 Act on mandatory marriage registration within 30 days of the union, will legitimise child marriages.

Despite parliamentary affairs minister Shanti Kumar Dhariwaldefended the Bill by claiming that registering child marriage does not make it legitimate, the opposition staged a walkout. He also promised that anyone who organise child weddings, even after they have been registered, will face consequences.

JUDGMENT OF THE SC IN 2006

The minister further informed the House that the Supreme Court had ordered that all forms of weddings be registered in its 2006 decision in Seema vs Ashwini Kumar.

He claimed that registering child weddings does not legitimisethem, and that if a kid gets married, he or she will have the ability to dissolve the marriage once they reach adulthood.

WHAT DOES THE BILL STATE?

On 17 September, the Rajasthan Assembly passed the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which changes the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, 2009, and requires parents or guardians to provide information on child marriages within 30 days after the wedding.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) questioned the need for child marriage registration and asked that the law be withdrawn. “How can they include child marriage in this Bill if child marriage is prohibited? All of this is done by Congress in order to create a vote bank.” If this measure passes, the assembly will have a bad day. Is it possible for the assembly to agree to legalise child marriages? We shall approve child weddings by a show of hands. The bill would write a dark chapter in the assembly’s history. Ashok, a BJP MLA.

WHAT DOES THE GOVERNMENT SAY?

Shanti Kumar Dhariwal, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, defended the legislation, saying, “The bill makes no mention of the legality of child marriage. According to the bill, only registration is required after marriage. This is not to say that child marriage is legal. The district collector can still take action against underage marriages if he or she so desires.”

Dhariwal further stated that the legislation now allows for registration at the District Marriage Registration Officer, Additional District Marriage Registration Officer, and Block Marriage Registration Officer levels. These officers will be able to monitor and review the work of registration. This will make it easier for the general public to register. This will bring simplicity and transparency to the work. He further said that the marriage registration certificate was a legal document without which widows would be unable to benefit from numerous government programmes. According to him, any or both parties in a marriage will be entitled to file for marriage registration and get a certificate as a result of the mandatory registration.

MARRIAGES IN INDIA

Although no comprehensive data is available, estimates show that at least 1.5 million girls under the age of 18 marry each year in India, making it the country with the most child brides in the world, accounting for a third of the global total. While the percentage of females marrying before the age of 18 has decreased from 47% to 27% between 2005-2006 and 2015-2016, it is still too high.

Multiple reasons, including greater maternal literacy, improved access to education for girls, robust laws, and migration from rural to urban regions, may be contributing to the reduction. Among the reasons for the shift include increased rates of girls’ education, aggressive government investments in teenage girls, and strong public messaging about the illegality of child marriage and the harm it causes.

At the global level, child marriage is included in Goal 5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” Under Target 5.3 “Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation”.

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