PIL Current Affairs - 2019

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PIL in Supreme Court against govt’s order to snoop on computers

A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma challenging the government’s notification authorising 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt any computer system.

What was the Order of the Home Ministry?

As per the notification of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, 10 central probe and snoop agencies are empowered under the Information Technology (IT) Act to carry out interception and analysis of data stored in any computer.

The 10 agencies empowered were Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (for Income Tax Department), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in service areas of J-K, North East and Assam) and Delhi Police commissioner.

The order binds the service providers or any person in charge of the computer resource to extend all facilities and technical assistance to the agencies and a failure to do so is penalised with seven-year imprisonment and fine.

Why the order has been challenged?

The reasons cited by the Advocate Manohar Lal Sharma in his PIL are:

  • The notification was illegal, unconstitutional and ultra vires to the law.
  • The notification was being issued to restrict the political opponent, thinker and speaker to control the entire country under dictatorship to win coming general election under an undisclosed emergency as well as slavery which cannot be permitted within the Constitution of India.
  • The notification provides for blanket surveillance which must be tested against the fundamental right to privacy.
  • The notification enables the state to access every communication, computer and mobile and to use it to protect the political interest and object of the present executive political party.
  • The notification tries to create a surveillance state.

The government has defended the decision citing national security and claiming that the order was a mere repetition of the rules passed during the UPA regime in 2009.

Month:  Categories: Governance & Politics
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Delhi High Court Orders Ban on sale of Online Medicines

The Delhi High Court has ordered a ban on the sale of online medicines by E-pharmacies across the country. A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao has also ordered central and delhi governments to implement the order.

Background

The court was acting on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Zaheer Ahmed, a Delhi based dermatologist. The main complaints in the PIL were as follows:

  • Medicines worth Lakhs was being sold online everyday without much regulation and posing a huge risk to patients as well as doctors.
  • Online sale of medicines is not permitted under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Pharmacy Act, 1948.
  • The Drug Controller General of India in 2015 had clearly directed all state drug controllers to protect the interest of public health by restraining such sale online.
  • By allowing unchecked online sales, the government has failed in its responsibility to protect public health and fulfill its obligation under Article 21 of the constitution (right to life).
  • Drugs are different from common items; and their misuse and abuse can have serious consequences for public health.
  • Internet is used by a large number of children, minors and also uneducated people in rural areas. They can become victims of wrong medication.
  • Online pharmacies are working without drug licenses and are also indulged in selling psychotropic substances.

Legal Status of Online Pharmacies

The Union Health Ministry had come out with draft rules on sale of drugs by E-pharmacies in September 2018. The objective of these rules was to regulate the sale of medicines across India. The government did not ban the sale of drugs online because such sale also provides the patients in remote areas access to genuine drugs from authentic portals. The draft rules had mandated that no person will distribute or sell, stock, exhibit or offer for sale of drugs through e-pharmacy portal unless registered.