The Criminal Law

THE CRIMINAL LAW (AMENDMENT) ORDINANCE, 2018 – ANALYSIS OF THE COHERENCE OF THE STEP BY THE GOVERNMENT

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 (“Ordinance”), as promulgated by the President on 21st April, 2018, provides for certain amendments in the Indian Penal Code, 1908 (“IPC”), Indian Evidence Act, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (“CrPC”) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (“POCSO Act”). The Ordinance has brought in some positive changes to the aforementioned statutes as following:

  1. NEW OFFENCES UNDER THE IPC:
  2. Age Group: Below 12 years

Offence: Rape

Punishment: Rigorous imprisonment of at least 20 years extendable to life imprisonment, along with fine, or, death.

Provision: Section 376AB of IPC

 

  1. Age Group: Below 12 years

Offence: Gang Rape

Punishment: Life imprisonment, along with fine, or, death

Provision: Section 376DB of IPC

 

  1. Age Group: Below 16 years

Offence: Rape

Punishment: Minimum rigorous imprisonment of at least 20 years, extendable to life imprisonment, along with fine

Provision: Section 376(3) of IPC

 

  1. Age Group: Below 16 years

Offence: Gang Rape

Punishment: Life imprisonment, along with fine.

Provision: Section 376DA of IPC

 

  1. AMENDMENTS TO CrPC, :
  • Time-bound investigation: The Ordinance amends Section 173 of CrPC, thereby reducing the time for completion of investigation from the earlier prescribed period of three months to two months.
  • Appeal: The Ordinance amends Section 173 of CrPC, thereby providing that an appeal against a sentence related to rape cases must be disposed of within six months from the date of filing of such appeal.
  • Anticipatory Bail: The Ordinance amends Section 438 of CrPC, thereby restricting the grant of anticipatory bail in cases under Section 376AB, Section 376DB, Section 376(3) and Section 376DA of IPC.
  • Day-to-day trial: U/s 309 of CrPC, inquiry or trial in the proceedings shall be continued from day-to-day, until all the witnesses have been examined. The Ordinance extends this provision to cases under Section 376AB, Section 376DB, Section 376(3) and Section 376DA of IPC.
  • Compensation: Section 357B of CrPC provides that the compensation u/S 357A of CrPC payable by the State Government to the rape victim and the dependents shall be payable, in addition to the fine payable to the victim u/S 326A or section 376D of IPC. Apart from this, Section 357C of CrPC provides the victim shall be provided first-aid or medical treatment free of cost at all hospitals run by the Central Government, the State Government, local bodies or any other person These two provisions i.e. Sections 357B and 357C have now been extended to cases under Section 376AB, Section 376DB, Section 376(3) and Section 376DA of IPC.

 

  1. AMENDMENTS TO THE INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT, 1872 :

In Section 53A of the Indian Evidence Act, evidence of character or previous sexual experience of the victim is not relevant where the question of consent is in issue. Further Section 146 of the Act provides that when a witness is cross-examined, he may be asked any question which tends to test his veracity, to discover who he is and what is his position in life, or to shake his credit, by injuring his character. Both these provisions i.e. Sections 53A and 146 have now been extended to cases under Section 376AB, Section 376DB, Section 376(3) and Section 376DA of IPC.

 

COMMENT:

The amendment enhancing the punishment for offenders is a step forward. The Ordinance has introduced less ambiguous provisions which are more stringent which may act as a deterrent to curb the commission of the offence. It effectively addresses the heinous crimes against the girl child. However, there is also a need to provide for similar provisions which address similar offences against the male child under the age of 12 years. For this, the government has proposed to amend the POSCO Act to make it more gender neutral.

 

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A TURF WAR BETWEEN CCI AND TRAI HAS MOVED THE SUPREME COURT

An information under Section 19 (1) of the Competition Act, 2002 (hereinafter referred to as “Act”), was filed by Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (hereinafter referred to as “RJIL”) in 2016 before the Competition Commission of India (hereinafter referred to as “CCI”) against the Cellular Operators Association of India (hereinafter referred to as “COAI”), Vodafone India Limited, Bharti Airtel Limited and Idea Cellular Limited (hereinafter referred to as the “Opposite Parties”), alleging “cartelisation” by acting in concert and denying adequate Point of Interconnections to RJIL.

The information addressed an attempt by the above-mentioned telecom giants to frustrate RJIL’s new project/entry in the telecom market, which resulted in “congestion” and thus failure of calls of RJIL, on other operators’ networks. This alleged action in concert falls within the ambit of Sections 3 and 4 of the Act. CCI had passed an order under Section 26(1) of the Act on 21.04.2017, holding that there was prima facie contravention of Section 3(iii) (b) of the Act as the aforementioned telecom companies appeared to have entered into an agreement amongst themselves along with COAI, and have acted in a concerted manner to restrict RJIL’s entry into market and to further, deny the Point of Interconnections to the RJIL, thus, directing an inquiry by the Director General against the Opposite Parties.

The telecom companies challenged the above order passed by the CCI before the Bombay High Court. The show cause notices issued by Director General were also challenged.

The Bombay High Court in the case of Vodafone India Limited & Ors. v. The Competition Commission of India & Ors. [2017]144SCL580(Bom.), was of the opinion that the order passed by the CCI had caused great injustice, hardship and prejudice to the legal rights of the service providers. On the question of jurisdiction of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (hereinafter referred to as “TRAI”) or CCI, the court opined that the Act aims to ensure fair competition in the market and to avoid appreciable adverse effects on competition, while the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 (hereinafter referred to as “TRAI Act”) regulates the telecommunication services, adjudicates the disputes and protects the interests of the service providers and the consumers. According to the court, the clauses under the agreements entered between the various service providers/Petitioners and RJIL require strict interpretation by the appropriate authority under the TRAI Act, for adjudication of the allegations raised and to determine the rights and obligations of the parties. If there is any non-compliance or breach of clauses, the dispute is required to be redressed before the appropriate Authority under whose control the rights and obligations are defined, and CCI is not the right forum for the same.

The Commission has overlooked Section 21(A) of the Act which empowers it to refer the matter to the competent authorities in case of any doubt or clarification of issues, and instead has ousted its jurisdiction to decide the contractual terms, rights and obligations between the service providers, arising out of the contracts they enter into, who are governed and regulated by the TRAI Act. It was not right on the part of CCI to have proceeded for inquiry and investigation, by expressing “prima facie opinion” under Section 26(1) of the Act.

In particular, in case of any dispute or any question of interpretation of contractual terms between the telecom service providers and RJIL, it will be dealt with and decided by the authorities under the TRAI Act and not by the CCI. Though, there is no conflict of jurisdiction of the two authorities, but the authority under the Act itself is not sufficient to decide and deal with such issues. Every aspect of telecommunication market is to be regulated and controlled by the concerned department under the TRAI Act. Thus, it was held that the CCI, overlooking the provisions of the TRAI Act, independently proceeded and directed for the investigation, which was held to be “perverse, illegal and impermissible” by the Bombay High Court.

This decision of the Bombay High Court declining the authority of CCI has now been challenged in five petitions before the Hon’ble Supreme Court by CCI and RJIL claiming that the CCI has the right to direct investigation into RJIL’s allegations under Section 26(1) of the Act, which is pending till date. Recently, TRAI has also filed an Intervening Application claiming that it has the ‘exclusive jurisdiction’ on the matters of telecom sector. Meanwhile, a stay has been granted to the investigation into the alleged actions of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular/ Petitioners.

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Delhi High Court allows enforcement of Arbitral Award against Ranbaxy’s owners

The High Court of Delhi on 31.01.18, allowed a Japanese drug maker Daiichi Sankyo Company Ltd., to enforce a Foreign Arbitral Award passed by a Singapore Arbitral Tribunal, ordering former Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. owners (Singh brothers) and 13 others to pay around Rs. 3,500 crore (Rs. 2,563 crore in damages, along with interest @ 4.44% per year from November 7th, 2008 to the date of the Award) to the company.

Daiichi had accused the Singh brothers on charges of non-compliance with drug manufacturing quality norms and related falsification of data in filings to the US Food and Drug Administration. Daiichi had acquired a majority stake of the company in 2008, for $4.6 billion, through a Share Purchase and Share Subscription Agreement (“SPSSA”).

When disputes arose in November 2013,  Daiichi invoked the Arbitration Clause of the SPSSA, seeking compensatory damages from the Singh brothers and 13 others, accusing them for ‘concealment and misrepresentation’, before an Arbitral Tribunal in Singapore.

In May 2016, Daiichi sought enforcement and execution of the Foreign Award passed by the Tribunal in the Delhi High Court, which was objected by the Singh brothers u/s 48 of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”), arguing that the Award granted consequential damages which were beyond the Tribunal’s jurisdiction, as the SPSSA specifically prohibited the grant of consequential damages and hence is unenforceable.

Few Respondents were minors and they objected to the enforcement of the Award, contending that a minor cannot be penalized for entering into a contract which per se was not enforceable. The High Court allowed their objection u/S 11 of the Contract Act, under which, a person competent to contract must be major and a contract must be entered into by a person who can make a promise or an offer.

Further, the court also considered Article 15, 39 (e) and (f) and 45 of the Constitution of India and noted that the present Award against the minor was “disproportionate”.

The objections of all other Respondents were dismissed by the Court, citing reasons that the scope of inquiry u/S 48 of the Act does not permit the court to “review” the Foreign Award on merits. Moreover, the Court does not exercise appellate jurisdiction over the Foreign Award and any procedural defect (like taking into consideration inadmissible evidence or ignoring any evidence of a binding nature) in a foreign arbitration does not lead to the non-execution of the Foreign Award on the ground of “public policy” under the said section. The Court held that the phrase “consequential damages” would not have been intended to oust/ exclude award of damages.

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LONG TERM CAPITAL GAINS TAX IN BUDGET 2018: AMBIGUITIES AND IMPLICATIONS

The budget for financial year (“FY”) 2018-19 (“Budget”) has proposed a 10% tax on transfer of listed equity shares, units of an equity oriented mutual fund and units of a business trust, where such gains exceed INR 100,000 (approx. USD 1500), with effect from April 1, 2018.

Previously, in 2004, Securities Transaction tax (“STT”) was introduced in India in place of Long Term Capital Gains Tax (“LTCG”). STT is a direct tax payable on the value of taxable securities transactions done through a stock exchange. The introduction of LTCG tax while retaining STT has made India the only country in the world to have both taxes at the same time.

While the new tax will be applicable to all investments, the reference price would be the highest quoted price on January 31, 2018, or the cost of acquisition, whichever is higher. This technical construct means that the realized/notional gains made until January 31, 2018 will be grandfathered. If the actual cost is less than the fair market value of such asset as on 31January, 2018, the fair market value will be deemed to be the cost of acquisition, thus, protecting gains incurred before 31January, 2018.

However, there is no clarity with respect to valuation and computation of gains in case of unlisted companies as well as ESOPs. Introduction of LTCG Tax while the former STT remains may drive away Foreign Portfolio Investment away from India to other offshore countries which have a more tax friendly regime for (foreign) investors. It will entail additional tax compliance and operational costs for investors.

Further, in the case of equity shares, STT is paid both at the time of acquisition and at the time of transfer. In the case of Public Issue, STT is not paid at the time of acquisition of Equity Shares. The method of computation of Long Term Capital Gains in such cases needs clarification. Another clarification is required in the case of off -market purchase and sales as well as gifts. STT is not required to be paid in such transactions. The method of computation and the exemption, if any, applicable to such transactions needs clarification. The biggest disadvantage of this development is to the middle class pensioners, whose source of income from investment of savings in mutual funds will be affected.

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LEGAL TUSSLE BETWEEN FAST FOOD GIANT MCDONALDS AND ITS FRANCHISE IN NORTHERN AND EASTERN INDIA

The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), in an award passed on 12 September, had asked Vikram Bakshi to sell his stake in Connaught Plaza Restaurants Ltd (“CPRL”), the McDonald’s franchise for northern and eastern India as CPRL defaulted in payment of royalties to the tune of Rs. 61 Crore for the past two years. Vikram Bakshi has now approached the High Court of Delhi, challenging this London Arbitration Court Award that had asked him to sell his stake in Connaught Plaza Restaurants Ltd (CPRL) to the US burger chain.

Mc Donalds’s US Giant has also filed a petition in Delhi High Court to stop CPRPL from using its brand name. On the other hand, Connaught Plaza Restaurants Pvt. Ltd. (CPRPL), a McDonald’s franchise, has contended before the Delhi High Court that the US fast-food giant’s petition to stop it from using the brand name was a serious abuse of the process of law. McDonald’s has sought that the franchise be restrained from using its name as the franchise agreement with the Indian entity has been terminated.

The franchise on the other hand has challenged the termination in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) where it is pending consideration, hence, the contention of CPRPL that the current plea is an abuse of the process of law.

As per the franchise, McDonald’s is in contempt of orders of non-interference from the NCLT. The Court refused to grant a restraining order against CPRPL from selling the products of the fast food giant.

McDonald’s India had communicated to CPRPL not to use its brand system, trademark, and designs and associated intellectual property among other things, within 15 days of the termination notice which expired on September 6, 2017. As per their pleadings the royalties to the tune of Rs. 61 Crore for the past two years remain unpaid. McDonald’s India had terminated its franchise agreement with CPRL on the grounds of “default in payment of royalties by CPRL”.

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Apex Chamber of Industry and Commerce of NCT, Delhi Challenges Government Notification for hike in Minimum Wages.

The Delhi Government, by a notification dated 3rd March, 2017, cleared a significant 37% hike in minimum wages of workers in the State. An unskilled labourer will now be entitled to a minimum wage per month of Rs. 13,350/- from the earlier Rs. 9,724/-. Likewise, the minimum wage per month for semi-skilled workers would go up from Rs. 10,764/- to Rs. 14,698/- and from Rs. 11,830/- to Rs. 16,182/- for skilled labourers. The sole objective of the Government behind the scheme is to provide financial security to the impoverished, thus increasing their purchasing power, which in turn would stimulate growth in the trade and industry.

Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the representative body for free industries in Delhi. It aims to facilitate the common interests of trade and industry for its members thereby creating a constructive trade and industrial relationship, competitive, transparent, free and fair environment for its members. The Apex Chamber in a letter to Lieutenant Governor opposed the figures proposed in the said order by Delhi Government.

While fixing the rate of minimum wages, the fundamental components that are taken into account include food, clothing, house, light, fuel and education. The Seventh Pay Commission has laid down 2700 calories per day for a workman who performs moderate activities. The representative body for trade and industry has stated that the minimum calorific value taken into consideration while calculating minimum wages was 3447 calories, which is much higher that the value fixed by the Seventh Pay Commission. It is also argued by the representative body that the legislative scheme under Section 9 of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 has been completely violated in as much as it requires equal number of representation of employers and employees as well as independent persons not exceeding 1/3rd of its total members. In W.P. (C) 12088/2016, before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi, in the matter of Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry of NCT Delhi v LT. Governor of Delhi, a bench comprising of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Delhi and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal has passed an interim order stating that no coercive action shall be taken against the petitioner therein, pursuant to the Notification dated 3.03.2017 by the Delhi Government until further orders.

The bench is yet to decide the matter filed by the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the matter is listed before the Delhi High Court for 11th September, 2017. In the interim period, no coercive steps shall be taken as per the Court order dated 7th March, 2017.

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New MRP Rules under GST notified by Central Government

Maximum Retail Price (“MRP”) is the highest price that can be charged to a consumer by the last point in the supply chain which is inclusive of all taxes. But, post Goods and Services (“GST”) Tax introduced in the country on 1 July 2017, the rate of tax has changed in some commodities, thus, affecting the MRP in some cases. This has created a crisis like situation for several businesses which are left with huge volumes of unsold pre-packed items with the previous MRP before the GST came into force.

By way of respite, the Government has issued a notification on 4 July 2017, allowing companies to print, stamp, or use stickers to show the revised MRP on a product package. The old MRP will have to be clearly visible along with the revised MRP sticker. Also, it has been further directed that companies should advertise the change in prices of their products, in at least two newspapers, if they are raising the price of any product featuring both the new (post-GST) and old (pre-GST) MRPs on the packaging. However, no advertisement is required in case of lowering of price. This step is aimed to ensure that the companies and retailers have a way of dealing with the older (pre-GST) stock and preventing profiteering.

This transitional measure can be availed till 30 September 2017, after which all pre-packed goods will have to have just one MRP including the GST.

That said, this notification has come out as a ‘sticker shock’ to the companies who point out that the step is horrendously complicated, time-consuming and tedious as it would be a formidable task for the manufacturers to use stickers that reflect the new MRP as millions of packages are already in stock with distributors and retailers countrywide. Not only would this be virtually impossible but also, it would impose a crushing financial burden on the sellers.

Also, a downside of the step is that the notification issued would result in non-compliance of the provisions under the Legal Metrology Act, 2009, which prohibits manufacturers from changing MRP tags once goods are out of the factory.

The Food and Consumer Affairs Minister, has taken to social media to inform that if the provisions regarding revised MRP, as stated in the rules, are not properly followed, then legal action will be taken against such shopkeeper.

In conclusion, it would be best to state that though the Government may be well intentioned, the steps being taken are harm handed, and punitive and impractical.

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Abolition of Foreign Investment Promotion Board

The entry of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country has hitherto been  regulated by two routes, one by an automatic route and the other, by an approval route which involves an approval by an inter-ministerial body, named as Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), housed in the Department of Economic Affairs under the Ministry of Finance. The Finance Minister would approve proposals with total foreign equity inflow below 3000 crore rupees, after consideration of recommendations from FIPB. However, the proposals involving total foreign equity inflow above 3000 crore rupees were approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs after consideration of recommendations from FIPB.

The Union Government has made certain policy changes by way of economic reforms to make India a more attractive destination for foreign investment and to upscale the ‘ease of doing business in India’, and thus the Government has phased-out FIPB to facilitate foreign investment in the country. According to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, India ranks 130 amongst 189 other countries which is a rather undesirable ranking to have.

FIPB was first constituted in the early 1990s, chaired by the Economic Affairs Secretary with other permanent members. Now, the Board would be replaced by the administrative departments under the concerned ministries who would deal with the approval to the FDI proposals in consultation with Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). The DIPP would also formulate a detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) so as to guide the ministries in the process of approving the applications to ensure consistency of treatment with the applications and uniformity of approach across the sectors. Also, to make them more accountable, strict time-lines would be fixed under the SOP and the concurrence of DIPP is mandated for rejection of proposals. Additionally, the administrative department of the ministries will be responsible for monitoring the compliances imposed under the FDI approval mechanism.

This step hopes to effectively eliminate the bureaucratic hurdles that investors face before investing in the country and since DIPP and FIPB were two separate entities, the proposals occasionally did get held up because of differences in opinion or perception between different ministries engendering unnecessary delays in getting the proposals approved. An investor at times got squashed between DIPP, FIPB and RBI for any FDI-related issue. Further, the fact that the FIPB was constituted with officials from various ministries and regulators, there was a perceived lack of  transparency in the decision-making process.

That being said, it appears that the Government’s decision may turn out to be  little more than a symbolic gesture. While granting the fact that the FIPB may have delayed clearances at times, the efficacy of this move will be determined by the capability of individual ministries to take decisions efficiently and expeditiously, qualities that continue to evade much of our bureaucracy.. This step means that individual ministries (that often function as political and/or bureaucratic fiefdoms) could also exercise their ‘discretionary’ powers without the alleged fear, favour or the cover provided by a collective decision-making body. It will be interesting to see how well these ministries fall in line  with the nuances of the FDI policy and maintain consistency/transparency and continuity in the process, which is of paramount importance for attracting foreign investors.

This move by the Central government is hopefully a step towards liberalization of FDI in India albeit its success would depend largely on the structure of comprehensive guidelines issued by the DIPP in consultation with the ministries.

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ICDS draft for Real Estate Transactions

The Central Government had notified Income Computation and Disclosure Standards (ICDS) vide notification dated 29th September, 2016 by way of powers conferred under Section 145 (2) of Income Tax Act, 1962. The notified standards have mentioned identification of revenue from construction contracts, sale of goods and providing of services. However there was no standard for recognition of revenue from real-estate transactions.
Thereafter, the CBDT placed the ICDS drafts for recognition of income from such transactions on 11th May, 2017. This Income Computation and Disclosure Standard shall be applicable for determination of income from all forms of transactions in real estate, which refers to land as well as buildings and rights in relation thereto. The draft provides that where the economic substance is similar to a construction project, project revenue and cost shall be recognized by referring to the stage of completion of the project on the last date of financial year. Further, it is stated that where the substance of the project is not similar to that of a construction project, the income will be recognized in accordance with income from sale of goods as prescribed in ICDS IV.
Indicators that economic substance of a project is similar to a construction contract are: (a) The duration of such projects is beyond 12 months and the project commencement date and project completion date fall into different previous years, (b) Project involves activities similar to construction contracts such as land development, structural engineering, architectural design, construction or activities of similar nature, (c) While individual units of the project are contracted to be delivered to different buyers these are interdependent upon or interrelated to completion of a number of common activities with or without provision of common facilities and (d) The construction or development activities form a significant proportion of the project activity.
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Embassies to inform Foreign Nationals to be aware of Indian Laws: Delhi High Court

The High Court of Delhi has asked the Ministry of External Affairs to inform the Embassies and High Commissions in Delhi that their citizens should be well aware of the local laws in order to avoid inadvertent violations.
The Delhi High Court has directed the Ministry of External Affairs to send a communication to all Embassies, Consulates or High Commissions in India advising foreign nationals travelling to this country as to the desirability to bear in mind the local laws, particularly laws such as the Arms Act.
The Court heard two Petitions filed for quashing of FIRs lodged under the Arms Act against two foreigners, one from the UK and another from Kenya. Both citizens had travelled to India on a valid visa, and were found to be carrying bullets at the time of leaving the country. The two have now filed a quashing petition stating that the FIRs against them be quashed as the cartridges were not in their conscious possession and, therefore, they did not commit any intentional acts of commission or omission to constitute offence under Section 25 of the Act.
The Court noted that the FIRs as well as investigation in both cases did not indicate anything suggesting conscious possession. The court therefore quashed the FIRs against the two citizens.
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Competition Commission of India on Predatory Pricing and Privacy Policy of WhatsApp Inc.

In a recent judgment by the Competition Commission of India [CCI], by the bench headed by Mr. Devender Kumar Sikri Chairperson in the case of Vinod Kumar Gupta vs. Whatsapp Inc. [decided on June 1, 2017 ], it has been held that even though ‘WhatsApp’ appeared to be dominant in the relevant market, the allegations of predatory pricing had no substance and the WhatsApp had not contravened any of the provisions of Section 4 of the Competition Act.

Vinod Kumar Gupta, the Informant had filed Information under Section 19(1)(a) of the Competition Act, 2002 (the ‘Act’) against WhatsApp Inc., alleging contravention of the provisions of Section 4 of the Act.

It was stated that the WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook Inc. (‘Facebook’), the largest social networking site, on 19th February, 2014 for approximately US$19.3 billion.

As per the Informant, WhatsApp had introduced many changes to its privacy policy on 25th August, 2016 whereby the users of ‘WhatsApp’ were forced to share their account details and other information with ‘Facebook’ in order to continue availing the services of ‘WhatsApp’.

The Informant had made the submission that the “relevant product market” in this scenario would be ‘free messaging App available to smartphones’ and the relevant geographical market was ‘Global’.
As per the Informant, by removing subscription fees, WhatsApp has enlarged its consumer base substantially from 450 million to over 1 billion and it is providing the services by sourcing funds from its parent company i.e. ‘Facebook’.

The Commission also observed the submission of WhatsApp regarding its users safeguards that all types of ‘WhatsApp’ messages (including chats, group chats, images, videos, voice messages and files) and ‘WhatsApp’ calls are protected by end-to-end encryption so that third parties and ‘WhatsApp’ cannot read them and also the message can only be decrypted by the recipient.

Further, as stated by WhatsApp, nothing a user shares on ‘WhatsApp’, including his/ her messages, photos, and account information, is be shared onto ‘Facebook’ or any other apps of ‘Facebook family of companies’ for any third party to see, and nothing a user posts on those apps will be shared by ‘WhatsApp’ for any third party to see.

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GOVERNMENT MAKES RULES TO PREVENT PUBLIC SLAUGHTER OF ANIMALS

 

The Environment and Forests Ministry has notified rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, banning the sale of buffaloes and cows for slaughtering in the animal markets.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 permits animal trade only between farmland owners. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 have also been notified by the Central government. This notification covers steers, buffaloes, heifers, buffaloes, cows, bulls and calves, and also on trade of camel.  These rules also mandate an undertaking stating that the animals bought under the transaction are bought for trade purposes only and not for slaughter.

Rules also provide for constituting District Animal Market Monitoring Committee, which shall regulate the animal market in the district. These rules further prohibit many prohibit many practices as “cruel and harmful”. These include the methods for animal identification, painting and shearing of horns, ear cutting of buffaloes, using any harmful chemical on the body parts of the animals. The person incharge of animal shall also ensure that no injury, pain or suffering has been inflicted upon the animal.

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WannaCry: India more prone to Risks

WannaCry, also known as WannaCrypt has infected around 45,000 computers across 74 countries. WannaCry is a kind of ransomware which encrypts the computers data in seconds and displays a message on the screen asking the user to pay amount of $ 300 in Bitcoins to decrypt the data and restore user’s access. This ransomware has targeted Microsoft Windows devices specifically. According to Microsoft it had released the security update addressing the vulnerability posed by such attacks.

In India, most official computers use windows, there is no surety of regular updates, thus the risk of Indian computers being attacked by this worm is very high. Personal data of billions of Indians is now connected to the Aadhar database. Even the user’s bank account is now linked to the Aadhar number; this ransomware can encrypt the entire database and make it inaccessible until the ransom is paid. A greater chunk of individuals and companies are using the pirated versions of the Windows operating system and other miscellaneous softwares which makes India an easy target. In India this ransomware has already infected the Andhra Pradesh police system, manufacturing companies, retailers, banks and a Chennai based automaker facility.

A distinctive feature of this ransomware is that it also works as a worm. It spreads across like a contagious disease, from one system to another. Indian computers are most vulnerable to attacks owing to lack of antispyware or malware software installed in their systems. WannaCry is a mutating ransomware; it changes with time and spreads in the network.

Indian Computer Emergency Response Team says, “The ransomware called WannaCrypt or WannaCry encrypts the computer’s hard disk drive and then spreads laterally between computers on the same LAN. The ransomware also spreads through malicious attachments to emails.” Microsoft too has grieved over the matter.

Even if the virus is on spread, the ransomware baiters would be receiving money and might come up with irrepressible worms against which the best of security patches will prove ineffective.

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PCB v BCCI: This is no friendly match!

 

The Pakistan Cricket Board has forwarded a legal notice to the Board of Control for Cricket in India for dishonouring the Memorandum of Understanding between the two. The MoU signed between PCB and BCCI was on the terms that they agreed to play six bilateral series from 2015 to 2023. The MoU has not received clearance on the schedule of series due to strained diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan.

Under the said agreement, India and Pakistan were scheduled to play in the month of November – December 2015, but India refused to play on neutral grounds like Saudi Arabia or Sri Lanka

The PCB while taking advice from an English Law Firm claims that due to the refusal of India to play the series which was supposed to be hosted by Pakistan, they have lost about $200-300 million. The PCB notice claims that due to India’s repeated refusal, three series have not been played since 2015, two of them which Pakistan was supposed to host.

The PCB has initiated the legal process through a Notice of Dispute under the Dispute Resolution Committee Terms of reference of the International Cricket Council.

 

 

 

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Roche in Problème juridique

The Competition Commission of India has initiated an inquiry regarding unfair trade practices by F. Hoffmann-La Roche.  In the month of July last year Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Biocon Limited had approached the CCI, alleging that Roche was involved in anti-competitive practices with regards to their breast cancer medicine: Trastuzumab.

The CCI, prima facie has found some substance in the allegation of misuse of dominant status by F. Hoffmann-La Roche. An inquiry has been ordered by the CCI the report of which is too be submitted within 60 days.

La Roche has been accused of influencing regulatory authorities, raising unwarranted concerns regarding the efficacy of biosimilars. The Pharma giant is also accused of stalling the approvals and marketing of biosimilars.

Trastuzumab is a biological drug for the treatment of Breast Cancer. Biocon manufactures a biosimilar to this drug. La Roche has apparently approached a few hospitals and raise unwarranted claims and questions about the efficacy of such biosimilars. It is also alleged that women are practically forced by hospitals into using La Roche’s Trastuzumab for their treatment. If they refuse of intend to use a cheaper alternative, they are either refused treatment, or cautioned that the hospital shall bear no responsibility for adverse consequences.

The CCI in its 36 page order referred to an ongoing Delhi High Litigation between La Roche and Biocon, where Roch has questioned the approval of Biocon’s products, has observed that there are questionable practices adopted by Roche to create a negative image about biosimilars. The CCI’s order also mentions that Roche has adopted legal methods to delay the launch of biosimilars, like the launch of TrastuRel , the biosimilar version by Reliance Life Science’s was delayed by almost a year because of the law suit instituted by Roche against them in the Delhi High Court.