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Time for RBI’s little brother NBFC to become Big brother for Fintechs

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Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) are financial institutions that play a complimentary role in the banking sector along with the Financial Technology (Fintech) companies paving way for financial inclusion. However, certain events have brought online lending platforms in bad light recently:

• Bold steps taken by the Government to check any investment which is coming from China directly or indirectly by the Chinese resident or citizen or via fund house or venture capital or private equity shall be highly monitored and to get prior approval by the Government.

• Cases of suicide due to harassment by the employees of money lending apps reported in Telangana, where recovery agents resorted to threatening calls to individuals and family members.

In light of this, The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has constituted a working group on digital lending — including online platforms and mobile apps — to study all aspects of digital lending activities in the regulated financial sector as well as by unregulated players. The working group shall evaluate digital lending activities and assess the standards of outsourced digital lending activities in RBI regulated entities. The group shall identify the risks posed by unregulated digital lending to financial stability, regulated entities and consumers; and suggest regulatory changes that supports online lending innovation while regulating the risks involved at the same time.

The narrative that seems to be lost here is that NBFCs have been beneficial to the economy as they serve the customer base that are under-served by the banks and are critical in terms of their wider reach and range of services to the financially excluded.

Fintech applications/websites act as intermediaries or aggregators between the customers and NBFCs where they facilitate customer acquisition for NBFCs in return of a fixed commission. Fintech applications attract customers in need of credit facilities who cannot comply with the list of obligations required by traditional banks for loans. These algorithms use advanced machine learning to extract information from vast sources of alternate data to predict individual’s creditworthiness. In the absence of any regulation regarding the usage of data by Fintech, the data collected by them is sometimes used to apply coercive measures of debt recovery (e.g., repeated calls to individual and family members).

Whereas Fintech applications are left unregulated in this ecosystem, NBFCs are regulated and supervised by the RBI through Directions on Managing Risks and Code of Conduct in Outsourcing of Financial Services by Banks, 2017 (Outsourcing Guidelines). This in turn leads to imposing of penalties by the RBI on such NBFCs which tie-up with Fintech Companies who do not comply with the Fair Practices Code referred to in the Outsourcing Guidelines. This creates a wide gap of power between the NBFCs and traditional banking institution that co-exist in the same banking ecosystem and carry similar lending operations. The NBFCs being penalized for the faults of Fintech applications jeopardize the scope of innovation in the Indian digital lending space. The present situation obviates the need to regulate Fintech applications instead of imposition of penalties on already cash strapped NBFCs.

RBI has been used to take the ‘Big Brother approach’ in order to regulate the financial space effectively. The business model that the NBFCs adopt majorly revolves around getting funds or borrowing money at cheaper rates and providing loans and other credit facilities at a higher rate of interest. RBI employs various channels through which the NBFCs get their funding depending on the way they perform and their ratings. RBI’s targeted long-term repo operation (TLTRO) is one of the channels used by RBI to fund the cash-strapped NBFCs. These were aimed at providing system-level liquidity as well as targeted liquidity to sectors and entities experiencing liquidity constraints and restricted market access because of COVID-19. However, the data released by RBI suggests that NBFCs that have benefited the most from these operations were strong. This indicates that NBFCs have to show good results to get funds from traditional banking institutions as they would perform due-diligence at their part before making an investment. TLTRO was targeted towards infusing more liquidity into NBFCs with traditional banks having the onus to check which NBFCs they shall invest in, based on the market performance. This gives more power to banks and indirectly forces NBFCs to ensure compliance with RBI norms to get the funding from banks.

This clearly shows how banking institutions are significant for NBFCs, similarly NBFCs are important for Fintech applications to continue their business. Instead of imposing more regulations on the NBFCs, regulation of Fintech applications could be done by RBI indirectly through the NBFCs if they are given more powers over such applications. RBI could create a system where NBFCs shall be rewarded for pointing out Fintech applications not in compliance with guidelines that could be enacted, to provide fair practices to be followed by such applications operating in the digital lending ecosystem. This shall give NBFCs the incentive and power to ensure compliance with the directions of RBI and blacklist the Fintech applications that do not comply.

A similar model has been earlier adopted by Indian Banking Association (IBA), in 2009 through Procedural Guidelines for Reporting Names of Third Parties involved in Frauds to IBA for inclusion in the Caution List. This requires Banks to furnish Fraud Monitoring Return (FMR) in individual fraud cases, irrespective of the amount involved, to RBI electronically using FMR Application supplied to them within three weeks from the date of detection.

In light of the recent developments, the regulatory norms being proposed for the NBFCs are going to be stringent in the near future, nevertheless it is time to give the NBFCs some powers over the present-day Fintech applications which shall create a compliance oriented self-regulatory ecosystem which will be invention oriented in the lending ecosystem and customer friendly at the same time.

Mr. Sarpret Singh, Director – External Affairs, Home Credit India

Fintech applications/websites act as intermediaries or aggregators between the customers and NBFCs where they facilitate customer acquisition for NBFCs in return of a fixed commission. Fintech applications attract customers in need of credit facilities who cannot comply with the list of obligations required by traditional banks for loans.

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Policy & Politics

Making it happen: Indus Action

Anil Swarup

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I had superannuated as Secretary, School Education and Literacy, Government of India in 2018 but it was difficult to get “disconnected” with this sector. And, when the invite came from Indus Action for the launch of a study they had conducted regarding the implementation of Section 12(1)(c) of Right to Education Act (RTE), I couldn’t say no because I had witnessed the wonderful work this NGO was doing when I was in harness.

India has enacted many progressive legislations that entitle its most vulnerable citizens to basic rights. These include: education, food security, benefits and rights to those with disabilities, information, pension, public services and more. The Directive Principles and, more recently, the SDG commitments reflect our commitment to eliminate poverty and minimize socio-economic inequality.

Indus Action, an NGO based out of Delhi, works in the area of policy implementation. The objective is to ease access of legislated rights for disadvantaged families across India. Its mission for 2030 is to move a million families out of poverty by providing them access to a portfolio of rights-based interventions that benefits all members of a family.

Tarun Cherukuri, the founder and CEO, grew up in rural Andhra Pradesh, at a time when it wasn’t as prosperous as now. Scholarships enabled him access to world class education. At 25, he quit his promising corporate career at an FMCG giant to join the first cohort of Teach of India fellows. He studied public policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Access to such scholarships motivated him to work to ensure kids from disadvantaged backgrounds had access to a school of their choice. As a former teacher, he also saw that a diverse class of students cultivated friendships across socio-economic boundaries and that made them more engaged and empathetic students and citizens.

Indus Action’s journey began as a Master’s thesis at the Kennedy school. Then, it was a humble beginning with its presence in a neighborhood in Delhi to provide entitlements to deserving sections of society under Section 12(1)(c) of RTE in 2013. Indus Action now has presence in 19 states in India with MoUs with 12 State Governments. Till date it has enrolled over 2,39,000 children in schools, with a retention rate of 83% and helped over 6,28,000 families apply to schools of their choice.

The focus, as mentioned earlier, is on Section 12(1)(c) of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 which entitles children aged 4-14 from disadvantaged families to free education in private unaided schools. Initially, the effort was to create awareness and help a couple thousand students get admission under the policy. A multi-stakeholder approach was adopted so that it could impact lakhs of students.

The School Readiness Program at Indus Action stemmed from its work in understanding retention and the possible hindrances in ensuring a seamless transition of children from more disadvantaged backgrounds while blending with their more privileged peers.

Realizing that the child taking admission under RTE would take time to adjust and wasn’t likely to fare well without additional support if their basic needs of nutrition weren’t met in their early childhood years, work was started on the Right to Food, under the National Food Security Act, 2013. Major focus areas were the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojna (PMMVY) and the Janani Suraksha Yojna (JSY), complementary maternity entitlement programmes that ensured a direct benefit transfer of Rs. 6400 in instalments.

Having prioritised children and their mothers in the first 2000 days through the existing programmes, the subsequent effort has been to expand legislated rights to include other members of the family. Work has commenced to this effect on livelihood entitlements under Building and Other Construction Workers’ Act and Street Vendors Act during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

The model entails working with three major stakeholders:

1. The community, who should receive the benefits, to ensure they are aware of their rights and equipped to fight for them.

2. The government, to ensure better implementation of the policies by building capacity at different levels of governance, as well as advocating policy changes.

3. Civil society partners, to ensure this reaches the grassroots.

It is the nexus of these three that helps make it a sustainable process. Technology is used as a driver to ensure transparency and accountability. These are built into the system that also help build the capacity to understand that technology.

It is in the aforementioned context that work had commenced in Raipur district in Chhattisgarh. Starting with a pilot in the state’s capital, assistance was provided by the then District Magistrate, O.P. Chaudhary and the District Education Officer as 6,000 admissions in the district were ensured through the first-ever online application and admission system. The success of the pilot led to an MoU with the State Education Department, in 2017. This was driven by a committed officer, Vikas Sheel who held the charge of Principal Secretary, Education. Subsequently, during the next year and a half the state shifted its system from an off-line paper based system to an on-line one under the able guidance of his successor Gaurav Dwivedi and Director, School Education, S.Prakash. Under the new system, information was triangulated and its veracity could be ensured. Not only did the admission process shift online, the state started documenting information of students studying under the policy since its inception in 2010. It directly impacting the reimbursement received by schools. In view of the utility of the arrangement, despite the pandemic this year, Chhattisgarh has been among the few states to continue with the process, making the lottery processes simpler and online. There has also been direct reimbursement to the schools.

One of the reasons Chhattisgarh is doing as well is due to the same belief that Indus Action holds – parents should be given an opportunity to choose where they wish to educate their children. The consequence of birth should not be a limiting factor, when it comes to the power of choice.

Indus Action has demonstrated that despite many limitations, good work can happen and it can be scaled through public-private partnership. They made it happen

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.

Indus Action’s journey began as a Master’s thesis at the Kennedy school. Then, it was a humble beginning with its presence in a neighbourhood in Delhi to provide entitlements to deserving sections of society under Section 12(1)(c) of RTE in 2013.

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Policy & Politics

Why are China and Pakistan upset by PM Modi’s trip to US for Quad?

India has opportunity to become a major player.

Vijay Darda

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If you have watched the live telecast of the meeting of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden, you must have noticed Modiji’s body language. You must have also paid attention to his simple statements. It was felt that the leaders of the world’s oldest democracy and the largest democracy are sitting face to face and talks are taking place on a level playing field. Joe Biden has begun to understand the geopolitical reality and Modiji already knows that in the midst of all the challenges, this is also a big opportunity for India. If the diplomatic move is executed immaculately, the direction of the wind can be tweaked in India’s favour.

Diplomacy is a very complicated art. What is seen does not happen and what happens is not seen. Though both the leaders were praising each other, different subjects must have been flashing in their minds. India’s biggest worry at the time is Afghanistan because Pakistan is playing its game in that land-locked country and China is planning to use it as cat’s paw.

India knows that Pakistan will use the terrain of Afghanistan against India! India wants the US to use its pressure to stop it. On the other hand, the US is more worried about China and Iran rather than Afghanistan at the time because China is challenging its supreme power and Iran is constantly defying it. That Afghanistan will keep an eye on Iran is also said to be a part of the deal between the US and Afghanistan.

However, the US, which has nurtured Pakistan for seventy years, knows that if there can be any partner in its war against China, it is India. India is a big country. There is a big market and it is a great power too.

The US has realised that Pakistan is dancing to the tune of China. It has become clear to the US that in the name of fighting against terrorism, Pakistan has supported the terrorists even after swallowing trillions of dollars. It sheltered Osama bin Laden in its safe haven. What I mean to say is that the US needs India the most at this time. India is one of the biggest markets in the world and by making this market powerful, the economic power of China can be weakened.

Many American companies are currently in China and if they are diverted to India, China’s economic imperialism can surely be stopped.

There is no such potential in any other country. India knows that it also needs the US in the war against terrorism, but diplomacy demands that both the countries avoid saying anything clearly about the future.

The question may arise in your mind whether the US needs India more or vice versa? In my view, both need each other, but the US needs us more because its unchallenged dominance is being challenged and Joe Biden’s graph is falling rapidly at the domestic level.

The US’ credibility has been dented at the world level due to the sudden departure from Afghanistan. It will take a long time to make up for the damage done to its reputation. That is why the question is being asked in India as to how much trust should be placed in the US? Should this friendship with the US be at the cost of Russia? I think Russia is our very old and trusted partner. It should not be displeased. We should not sit in anyone’s lap at all.

As far as the ‘Quadrilateral Dialogue’, i.e. ‘Quad’ comprising the US, Japan, India and Australia is concerned, I welcome the initiative to strengthen it because it will definitely help in putting a halt to China’s imperialism in our region.

We hope that this should also help us in the military technology field. If we want to compete with China, we need new technology in any case. Indian diplomacy is moving in the right direction in this matter. But the most important thing is that the more financially capable we are, the farther the battlefield will be. In the present era, only those who have wealth, knowledge and science are befriended.

Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi understands this very well. Keeping this in mind, Modiji during his visit to the US met the chief executive officers (CEOs) of five big companies to attract them to India. Among the CEOs were Shantanu Narayanan of Adobe, Vivek Lal of General Atomics, Cristiano Amon of Qualcomm, Mark Widman of First Solar and Stephen Schwarzman of Black Stone. Shantanu and Vivek are of Indian origin. Let me tell you that Adobe is a very important company in the IT and digital sector. General Atomics is a military drone manufacturer and India is a buyer of drones. Qualcomm is a major player in the software, semiconductor, wireless and first solar energy sector. If they come with us, it will be a giant leap for India!

In order to take this leap, meticulous assessment is very important. Let us not just fall in love with the US, but analyse what is important to us!

Global politics is like a game of chess. Many moves are combined with every move, but one accurate move is enough to beat the opponent.

The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.

The visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US has come at a time when the diplomacy of the whole world is badly entangled. Whoever will settle it in its favour will be considered a big player of the present time. India has the opportunity to become a big player, but for this, it will have to be very careful. However, there are many obstacles in the way.

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Policy & Politics

IN INDIA, EVERY STATE ACTION MUST BE FAIR, FAILING WHICH IT WILL FALL FOUL OF ARTICLE 14: SC SETS ASIDE DIRECTION TO SHIFT NH TOLL PLAZA

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In an interesting turn of events, we saw just recently on September 23, 2021, the Apex Court in a well-articulated, well-analysed, well-substantiated, well-justified and well-concluded judgment titled National Highways Authority of India & Others vs Madhukar Kumar & Others vs Madhukar Kumar & Others in Civil Appeal No(s). 11141 of 2018 in exercise of its civil appellate jurisdiction set aside a Patna High Court judgment which directed the National Highway Authority of India to shift the toll plaza on Patna-Bakhtiyarpur four-lane road (NH-30) from Karmalichak near Deedarganj. Quite remarkably, the Bench of Apex Court comprising of Justice KM Joseph and Justice S Ravindra Bhat observed forthrightly that, “Undoubtedly, in India, every state action must be fair, failing which, it will fall foul of the mandate of Article 14. It is, at this juncture, we may also notice that the duty to give reasons, would arise even in the case of administrative action, where legal rights are at stake and the administrative action adversely affects legal rights.” Very rightly so!

To start with, this learned, laudable, landmark and latest judgment authored by Justice KM Joseph for a Bench of Apex Court comprising of himself and Justice S Ravindra Bhat sets the ball rolling by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “Respondent Nos. 1 to 17 in this appeal (hereinafter referred to as, ‘the writ petitioners’), filed Writ Petition No. 5643 of 2012. The relief sought in this Writ Petition was to restrain the construction of a toll plaza at 194 km of NH30 in the four-laning of Patna-Bakhtiyarpur section of NH30, in violation of Rule 8 of the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008 (hereinafter referred to as, ‘the Rules’, for short). The said Writ Petition was heard along with Writ Petition No. 4526 of 2013, filed by one Shri Ritesh Ranjan Singh @ Bittu Singh. By Judgment dated 22.07.2014, the Writ Petitions were allowed in the following manner by the learned Single Judge:

“32. Thus, on the basis of aforesaid discussions, these writ petitions are allowed and respondents no. 6 and 11 are directed to shift the proposed construction of Toll Plaza at 194 km milestone of Patna-Bakhtiyarpur Section of N.H. 30 from its present location to any other place on new alignment which separates from old N.H. 30 so that the violation of Rule 8 of Rules 2008 could be avoided and the persons who do not have intend to use toll road could be exempted from paying toll tax. The respondent no. 6 should take the decision of shifting the above stated Toll Plaza to any other place as discussed above within six weeks from today and till then respondents shall not collect the toll tax from those persons who do have intend to go through the old N.H. 30 without using the new alignment of toll road. The parties shall bear their own cost.””

Needless to say, the Bench then observes in para 2 that, “The appellants before us, who are NHAI, its Chairman and the General Manager, filed LPA No. 388 of 2015 against Writ Petition No. 5643 of 2012. The said Appeal came to be heard along with LPA No. 236 of 2015, filed by the concessionaire, arising from Judgment in Writ Petition No. 5643 of 2012 and LPA No. 332 of 2015 filed again by the concessionaire against Writ Petition No. 4526 of 2013, and by the impugned Judgment, the Division Bench confirmed the Judgment of the learned Single Judge.”

Most significantly, what forms the cornerstone of this brief, brilliant and balanced judgment is then summed up in para 60 wherein it is postulated that, “We would hold that as noticed by the Bench of three Judges in M/s. Mahabir Jute Mills Ltd., Gorakhpore (supra), there is no general duty, when an administrative decision is taken, to give reasons. A Statute may, however, explicitly provide that the Executive Authority must provide reasons and it must be recorded in writing. A case in point is the first proviso to Rule 8 of the Rules itself. The desirability of a general duty, in the case of administrative action to support decisions with reason, is open to question. One of the most important reason is, the burden it would put on the administration. It is apposite, at this juncture, to notice that administrative decisions are made in a wide spectrum of situations and contexts. The executive power of the Union and States are provided in Articles 73 and 162 of the Constitution of India, respectively. Undoubtedly, in India, every state action must be fair, failing which, it will fall foul of the mandate of Article 14. It is, at this juncture, we may also notice that the duty to give reasons, would arise even in the case of administrative action, where legal rights are at stake and the administrative action adversely affects legal rights. There may be something in the nature or the context, under which, the administrative action is taken, which may necessitate the authority being forthcoming with rational reasons. There are other decisions, which essentially belong more to the realm of executive policy-making, which ordinarily may not require the furnishing of reasons. The advantages, undoubtedly, of introducing a reasons driven regime, are as follows.”

As a corollary, the Bench then observes in para 61 that, “Persons, who may have a right or an interest, would know, what are the reasons which impelled the Administrator to take a particular decision. Judicial review, in India, which encompasses the wide contours of public interest litigation as well, would receive immeasurable assistance, if the reasons for particular decisions, are articulated to the extent possible. The giving of reasons also has a disciplining effect on the Administrator. This is for the reason that the reasons would capture the thought process, which culminated in the decision and it would help the Administrator steer clear of the vices of illegality, irrationality and also disproportionality. Reasons could help establish application of mind. Conversely, the absence of reasons may unerringly point to non-application of mind. The duty to act fairly, may require reasons to be recorded but the said duty, though there is a general duty on all state players to act fairly, may have its underpinnings, ultimately in legal rights.”

Interestingly enough, the Bench then envisages in para 62 that, “It is one thing to say that there should be reasons, which persuaded the Administrator to take a particular decision and a different thing to find that the reasons must be incorporated in a decision. The question, relating to duty to communicate such a decision, would arise to be considered in different situations, having regard to the impact, which it, in law, produces. In fact, the second proviso to Rule 17 of the Rules, provides not only for there being reasons, but the reasons for refusal to permit barricades, must be communicated. If the law provides for a duty to record reasons in writing, undoubtedly, it must be followed and it would amount to the violation of the Statute, if it were not followed. Even if, there is no duty to record reasons or support an order with reasons, there cannot be any doubt that, for every decision, there would be and there must be, a reason. The Constitution does not contemplate any Public Authority, exercising power with caprice or without any rationale. But here again, in the absence of the duty to record reasons, the court is not to be clothed with power to strike down administrative action for the mere reason that no reasons are to be found recorded. In certain situations, the reason for a particular decision, may be gleaned from the pleadings of the Authority, when the matter is tested in a court. From the materials, including the file noting’s, which are made available, the court may conclude that there were reasons and the action was not illegal or arbitrary. From admitted facts, the court may conclude that there was sufficient justification, and the mere absence of reasons, would not be sufficient to invalidate the action of the Public Authority. Thus, reasons may, in certain situations, have to be recorded in the order. In other contexts, it would suffice that the reasons are to be found in the files. The court may, when there is no duty to record reasons, support an administrative decision, with reference to the pleadings aided by materials.”

It is worth noting that the Bench then enunciates in para 82 that, “We have referred to the pleadings. We have also noticed the relevant parts of the DPR. In the Writ Petition, petitioners themselves have pleaded that the road in question is a national highway, and what is more, that it has been constructed merely for the use of the residents of the Patna Municipality Area. In our view, this pleading is fatal to the case of the petitioner that there is violation of the second proviso. As already found by us, the only requirement to locate the toll plaza within the municipal limits, is that a section of the national highway, inter alia, is constructed within the municipal limits and the construction must be primarily for the residents living in the said municipal limits. There is hardly any dispute that the national highway, which means the project road, commences from 181.300 kms from the Patna side and it goes to the east and till 196 kms, it is located within the municipal limits. After 196 kms, it branches of towards the south, which is the new bypass consisting of nearly 36 kms. The total stretch consists of a little over 50 kms. For nearly 14 kms, the road project road passes through the municipal limits.”

Furthermore, the Bench then observes in para 83 that, “The DPR would show that the construction of the project road and other roads, will bring about greater circulation of traffic in the area. In other words, it means that, the project road which begins from 181.300 kms, which was a two-lane road was widened to a fourlane road and the project road ends at 231 kms, where NH30 meets NH31. The Project Report also makes it clear that from km 180 to km 190 of the bypass section, there is a very congested stretch. From km 190 to km 195, it is further stated that there is agricultural land on both sides. Didardanj is located even further to the east, and still further is, Fatua town. Construction of the bypass in that area, was found to be impracticable and it is accordingly that from 196 kms, the new alignment towards the south, was carried out. The Project Report further reveals that the project road is only 50 kilometres long. Only one toll plaza could be provided. In this regard, Rule 8(2) contemplates the distance of 60 kilometres between two toll plazas. The Project Report further reveals that the NHAI Officials were available at the site along with the persons who prepared the DPR, and it is thereafter that this location was quite clearly accepted by the NHAI, as when it entered into the agreement with the Concessionaire, the agreement itself provides for the site of the toll plaza being km 194. It may be true that there may not be any decision which specifically incorporates the view of the NHAI regarding the site. What has apparently happened is, in keeping with the newly introduced Rule (Rule 8 of the 2008 Rules), the NHAI has proceeded to accept the recommendation of the Expert Body to locate the toll plaza at km 194.”

Frankly speaking, the Bench then observes in para 84 that, “We are not unmindful of the fact that counter affidavit of the appellants betrays a certain degree of ambiguity. This is for the reason that, what is pleaded in both the counter affidavits, was that, even if the toll plaza is located within the municipal limits, the second proviso to Rule 8 comes to the rescue of the appellant. This is sought to be exploited by the Writ Petitioners to point out that even appellants were not clearly aware, whether the toll plaza was being located within the municipal limits or not. Writ Petitioners also harp upon the clarity being infused by the counter affidavit filed by the Municipal Council of Patna that the toll plaza was located within the municipal area. We also agree that the matter becomes a little worse, when we read the pleadings of the Concessionaire. In the first counter affidavit, it was contended that the proposed toll plaza at km 194 is much beyond 5 kilometres stipulated in the first proviso. There is also pleading, which indicates that understanding of the Concessionaire was that the construction was for the overall population of the area. However, we must also not ignore that the upgradation was stated to be also aimed at benefitting the local population for the speedy movement from Patna to Bhaktiyarpur and vice-versa. In the second supplementary counter affidavit, it is contended that the four-laning was initiated to reduce the pressure of the local traffic as well and that it is primarily for the benefit of the local residents.”

Be it noted, the Bench then points out in para 85 that, “We are, indeed, troubled by the manner in which the case was approached by the Concessionaire, in particular. However, the appellants definitely set up the case under Rule 8 in both the counter affidavits filed by it. The statement that the second proviso applies, even if the construction is made within the municipal limits, is emphasised by the Writ Petitioners, to show the non-application of minds. We must, in this regard, bear in mind the nature of the lis, as also the rights of the Writ Petitioners. The High Court did not find any Fundamental Rights with the writ petitioners in the matters. The only issue is relating to violation of Rule 8. We have already found that upon the satisfaction of the objective criteria laid down in the second proviso, construction of the toll plaza, as provided therein, is permissible. Apart from the statement of the Writ Petitioners themselves, that the road is a national highway and it is merely for the use of the local residents, the undeniable fact is that, in place of the two-lane road, after a huge investment, it was upgraded to a four-lane road and nearly 14 kilometres of the project road, indisputably, passed through the municipal limits and the most important beneficiary of the said construction, can clearly be stated to be the residents in the municipal area. The project road, did enure chiefly to the residents of the Patna Municipality. The road from 180 to 190 kms was found to be a very congested stretch. The construction of the widened road, undoubtedly, helped mainly the residents of the municipal area. There are other features, apart from widening, including the graded separators. No doubt, it may be true that many persons may be using the said stretch, who may not be residents of the Patna Municipality, would also benefit from the construction, but that cannot detract from requirement of the second proviso being fulfilled, viz., that the construction was primarily for the benefit of the residents of the municipal area. The second proviso does not require that the construction must be solely for the benefit of the residents of the municipal area.”

Simply put, we cannot gloss over that the Bench then hastens to add in para 86 that, “There is another aspect, which we cannot ignore. The construction was completed in accordance with the agreement with the Concessionaire. The Judgment of the Division Bench came to be stayed by this Court and the toll has been collected from the toll plaza. Secondly, the High Court may not be justified in finding that the commercial expediency trumped the law. Commercial expediency is, undoubtedly, a relevant fact. The exact location of the toll plaza is also geared to garner maximum revenue. Concessionaire Agreement lasts for a particular period of time. It is the Concessionaire, who makes the construction, after making the entire investment. The contract contemplates “Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (the “DBFOT”) under Rule 16 of the Rules, upon the expiry of the agreement, the fee is to be collected by the Central Government or the Executing Authority. Therefore, in such circumstances, any leakage in the toll, would naturally be sought to be avoided. As long as the site of the toll plaza is otherwise supportable, with reference to the second proviso, then, the area of judicial review, in such matters, would be extremely narrow.”

Quite significantly, the Bench then makes it clear in para 94 that, “It is the case of the Writ Petitioners that the decision to locate site of toll plaza at 194 kilometre is arbitrary. Under Article 14 of the Constitution, no State action can pass muster, if it is found to be arbitrary. But, then, a different or even an incorrect decision, would not make an otherwise lawful decision vulnerable to judicial scrutiny. An arbitrary decision would be one which is bereft of any rationale or which is capriciously wrong, and not merely an erroneous view, in the perception of the Court. Any other view would tantamount to substituting its view for that of the Authority. Judged by the said standard, and also the nature of dispute, it cannot be held that toll plaza, having been located at a point where there was sufficient space and which would prevent the leakage of traffic, and also noticing that stretch itself consisted of a little over 50 kilometres, quite clearly, the case based on arbitrariness, is only to be repelled.”

Finally and far most significantly, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 97 that, “The upshot of the above discussion is that we find as follows:

(1) The construction of the toll plaza at 194 kilometre was not illegal or arbitrary;

(2) The direction by the High Court, to shift toll plaza, cannot be upheld and it is liable to be set aside;

(3) The appellants will look at the barricades (closing of service roads) in regard to the toll plaza and permit such barricades only as are permitted in Rule 17 of the Rules. Any unauthorised barricades will be removed without any delay and at any rate within 2 weeks from today.

(4) The First Appellant will issue suitable directions to all Executive Authorities to maintain distinct records containing the decision, invoking the second proviso to Rule 8 of the Rules. Such direction shall be issued within 3 weeks from today.

(5) We direct the appellants as also the Concessionaire to extend the fullest benefits of the concessions under Rule 9 of the Rules.

(6) Resultantly, we allow the Appeal and set aside the impugned Judgment and the direction to shift the toll plaza is set aside.

(7) There shall be no order as to costs.”

To conclude, the upshot of the above discussion of this notable judgment of the Apex Court is that it goes beyond doubt that in India every state action must be fair failing which it will fall foul of the mandate of Article 14 of the Constitution. The Apex Court also made it clear that the duty to give reasons would arise even in the case of administrative action where legal rights are at stake and the administrative action adversely affects legal rights! Thus the decision by the Apex Court to set aside the Patna High Court judgment stands well justified! No denying it!

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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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