Ministry of Home Affairs Current Affairs

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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Intelligence wing of Sashastra Seema Bal launched

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has launched full-fledged intelligence wing of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB). SSB is paramilitary force that guards India’s borders with Bhutan and Nepal.

The intelligence wing will gather actionable information in a bid to enhance operational efficiency. It will have 650 field and staff agents to gather actionable information. SSB’s intelligence wing personnel will be deployed on India-Nepal and India-Bhutan borders where there are no restrictions on movement of people on either side due to visa free regime.

Background

India shares 1,751 km-long border with Nepal and 699 km-long border with Bhutan. The border with Nepal touches Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim and border with Bhutan touches Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

India has visa free regime with both countries as border population on both the sides has strong regional, cultural and economic ties. Due to visa-free regime, there is trans-border movement of criminals and anti-national elements which pose major security challenge.

Comment

The intelligence wing of SSB will help to institutionalise a well-knit intelligence network of highest capability that can play important role in comprehensive border management. Based on intelligence SSB can undertake essential operations to prevent criminals and smugglers from taking advantage of friendly borders with Nepal and Bhutan.

WARB Application

The Ministry also launched Welfare and Rehabilitation Board (WARB) application to facilitate retire CAPFs and Assam Riffles personnel to get their grievances redressed, seek skill development, re-employment and other relevant and important information.

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