India Current Affairs 2017

TK Viswanathan Committee Recommendations to deal with hate speech on internet

An expert committee headed by former Lok Sabha secretary general TK Viswanathan to deal with cybercrimes especially online hate speech has submitted its report to Union Home Ministry.

The committee was formed after Supreme Court struck down Section 66 A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 in Shreya Singhal vs. Union of India. Section 66 A of IT Act was added to criminalize sending of offensive messages through a computer or other communication devices.

Recommendations

The committee has recommended appointing cybercrime coordinators in all states and establishing cybercrime cells in each district. They will deal with those fomenting trouble or spreading hate against anybody on rounds of religion, race, caste or community, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, language, place of birth or residence, disability or tribe through any means of communication.

It has suggested replacing some clauses of the IT Act, 2000 and amending some sections of IPC like 153 (want only giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 505A (false and mischievous reports intended to upset public tranquillity) to deal with online hate crimes.

It has recommended punishment under amended clause dealing with prohibiting incitement to hatred of two years imprisonment or fine of Rs 5,000 or both. It has suggested that offences under amended Section 505A be punishable with imprisonment of up to one year or fine or Rs 5,000 or both.

The committee suggested that state cybercrime coordinator should be an officer not below the rank of Inspector General of Police (IGP). The district cybercrime cell should be headed by an officer not below the rank of sub-inspector of police.

Background

The Union Home Ministry had constituted committee under chairmanship of former Law Secretary TK Viswanathan to assist government in establishing effective legal framework to deal with cybercrimes related to hate speech on internet. It was having members from Law Ministry, CBI and Ministry of Home Affairs.

It was tasked to study and examine existing domestic cyber laws and international cyber legislations and propose measures, amendments to present laws. It was also mandated to recommend amendments to Information Technology Act, 2000 and corresponding provisions in IPC, CrPC and Evidence Act to facilitate establishment of strong legal framework to fight cybercrimes. It was also mandated to draw a roadmap taking into account the need of legal competence and expertise on cyber laws from investigation, prosecution and judiciary angles.

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Government finalising Electoral Bonds Scheme

The Union Government is finalising electoral bonds scheme in order to bring greater transparency in funding of political parties. The scheme was announced in 2017-18 Union Budget as part of certain electoral funding reforms. It will make India first country in the world to have such unique bonds for  electoral funding.

Need for such Scheme

According to Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), most political parties use lax regime on donations to accept cash donations from anonymous sources. Nearly 70% of Rs. 11,300 crore in party funding over an 11-year period came from unknown sources. The electoral bonds will prompt donors to take banking route to donate, with their identity captured by the issuing authority.

Electoral Bonds Scheme

Under the scheme, proposed electoral bonds will resemble promissory note and not an interest-paying debt instrument. These bonds will only be issued by notified authorised bank and can only be bought using cheques or digital payments. These bonds purchased by donor will be given to political party for fixed period of time.

The electoral bonds will not carry name of donor and routing of money through banks will ensure that only tax paid money comes into political system. To avail benefit of this scheme, it is mandatory for all political parties to notify their bank account to the Election Commission of India. Political party using their notified bank account can convert these donated electoral bonds into money.

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