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NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Friday asked all private satellite television channels to adhere to the Programme Code and emphasised that no programme should criticise, malign or slander any individual or certain groups.

The advisory comes in the wake of actor Rakul Preet Singh’s plea in the Delhi High Court alleging defamatory programmes being run against her in connection with a drugs probe related to the Sushant Singh Rajput death case.

In its advisory, the ministry said on various occasions in the past, it has issued advisories to private satellite TV channels to broadcast content strictly adhering to the Programme and Advertising Codes as prescribed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the rules framed thereunder.

Attention is drawn to the provisions of the Programme Code as per which no programme should contain anything obscene, defamatory, deliberate, false and suggestive innuendos and half truths, the advisory said.

As per the Code, no programme should criticise, malign or slander any individual in person or certain groups, segments of social, public and moral life of the country, the ministry said.

“All private satellite TV channels are requested to ensure compliance with the directions above,” it said.

The high court had, in its September 17 order, said, “It is hoped that the media houses and television channels would show restraint in the reporting and abide by the provisions of the Programme Code as also the various guidelines, both statutory and self regulatory, while making any report in relation to the petitioner.”

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

Hearing through video-conferencing successful, says SC, allows HCs to decide on virtual proceedings

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday said the system of video-conferencing in providing access to justice to citizens during the ongoing pandemic situation has been “extremely successful” and granted liberty to the high courts to frame rules for such virtual hearings for themselves and the subordinate courts.

The apex court said it would think later over the issue of live-streaming of its proceedings, when Attorney General K K Venugopal referred to such practices being adopted in the Madras High Court.

The top court, after taking suo motu (on its own) cognizance of a letter written by former Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president and senior lawyer Vikas Singh, had on April 6 issued a slew of directions to use technology for conducting hearings in courts across the country to avoid congregation due to the “extraordinary” outbreak of Covid-19.

“We must say that the system of video-conferencing has been extremely successful in providing access to justice,” a bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao said, adding that the directions issued by it earlier need not change except the one related to the power of the high courts to decide on the course of the virtual hearings.

“We propose to substitute sub-para (vii) of Paragraph 6 with the following: The Video Conferencing in every High Court and within the jurisdiction of every High Court shall be conducted according to the Rules for that purpose framed by that High Court.

“The Rules will govern Video Conferencing in the High Court and in the district courts and shall cover appellate proceedings as well as trials. We are given to understand that several High Courts have framed their rules already. Those High Courts that have not framed such Rules shall do so having regard to the circumstances prevailing in the state. Till such Rules are framed, the High Courts may adopt the model Video Conferencing Rules provided by the e-committee, Supreme Court of India…,” it said in the order.

The bench also noted in the order that its directions were issued “in furtherance of the commitment to the delivery of justice” and were intended primarily to cover the measures that the top court had to adopt to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic.

“There has been a change in the situation since April, 2020. In many states, the situation has eased and it has been possible to even commence hearings in congregation,” the bench said.

At the outset, Venugopal said the system of video-conferencing has worked very well and pointed out the “glitches” in the functioning of the facility in the apex court, while urging Justice Chandrachud, who is heading the e-committee, to take the necessary steps.

Justice Chandrachud said tenders have been issued to find a person to take care of the complete video-conferencing facility of the apex court and for the high courts and trial courts, a national tender would be given to ensure a common virtual hearing platform.

“Right now, every high court is either on Zoom or Cisco or Vidyo,” he said.

“Once we are doing that on a pan-India basis, some degree of financial help will be needed from the Centre. We have appointed a committee of four high court judges. That committee has formulated rules for the video-conferencing, which was circulated to all the high courts, and the suggestions have been incorporated and the model rules formulated. Eleven high courts have adopted the model rules,” the judge said.

Venugopal raised the issue of live-streaming of the apex court’s proceedings and said it has been working well in Madras High Court.

The court said there are a lot of issues that cannot be discussed publicly and it would think over the matter later.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said live-streaming would lead to people filing petitions just for the sake of “being heard all across the country”.

Granting the liberty to the high courts to decide as to what kind of video-conferencing facilities they would like to use, the bench said there is the issue of “e-literacy” as well and moreover, there are issues related to the types of network available in a particular state.

“We would like the Centre to give us access to the optical fibre network. Earlier, we wanted the Centre to give us the satellite but later, was advised against it and now, we seek access to the optical fibre network. We have an eye on the e-filing of cases,” the bench said and asked Venugopal to consult government officials and help the e-committee.

Senior advocate Harish Salve told the court that Reliance Jio has the “best optical fibre network”, which is not expensive.

The bench told Salve that the company can formally meet the e-committee of the apex court in this regard.

It also said a committee comprising some apex court judges, the attorney general and the solicitor general would be formed to consider suggestions to improve the functioning and facilities in the apex court.

Earlier, the top court had issued a slew of directions on the functioning of courts through video-conferencing during the pandemic.

A court hearing in congregation must become an “exception” during the “extraordinary outbreak” of the Covid-19 pandemic and it is necessary that all courts respond to the call of social distancing to ensure that they do not contribute to the spread of virus, it had said.

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INDIA

Monkey dancing to someone else’s tunes: Bihar minister Sanjay Jha about Chirag Paswan

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PATNA: Ahead of the assembly polls in Bihar, state minister Sanjay Kumar Jha hit back at Chirag Paswan’s “will send Nitish to jail” diatribe by likening the Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) chief to “a monkey dancing to someone else’s tunes.”

“He (Chirag) starred with Kangana Ranaut, now see where Kangana has reached. Similarly, Sushant Singh Rajput without any background made his mark in Bollywood. ‘Jamura hota hai naa, usko nachata hai madari. Ye jamura bane hue hain.’ (He is the monkey who is dancing to someone else’s tunes),” Jha told ANI here.

Jha, when asked about who the behind the controller of the scene for the LJP chief said, “It is open to interpretations.”

The state minister also took a jibe at Chirag Paswan’s acting career stating that the latter will fail as a politician just like his acting career went south.

“This kind of low level of politics has not been witnessed ever in Bihar. In recent times, he worked in a movie and it was that kind of a movie where people left the theatre before the interval. After the first phase of the polls, a similar fate will meet him in politics,” he added.

Jha defended the Bihar CM by stating, “Nitish Kumar has an untainted image in Bihar. You can question his work, but the work is visible to the public and they will decide on it.”

The LJP president on Sunday had said that if his party was voted to power, all those involved in “corruption” in the Nitish Kumar government’s Saat Nischay scheme, including the Chief Minister himself, would be sent to jail.

The Bihar Assembly elections will be held in three phases on October 28, November 3 and November 7. The counting of votes will be held on November 10.

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INDIA

2+2 talks: India, US clinch defence pact on satellite data

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NEW DELHI: India is set to sign a military agreement with the United States for sharing of sensitive satellite data, the defence ministry said on Monday, as New Delhi tries to narrow the gap with the powerful Chinese military.

The deal will be signed during the top-level 2+2 dialogue between the defence and foreign ministers of the two countries.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and defence secretary Mark Esper arrived in New Delhi earlier today for talks with external affairs minister S Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh.

Live updates: India-US 2+2 dialogue

The high-level visit comes at a time when India is locked in a serious military standoff with China along the LAC in eastern Ladakh.

The landmark defence pact, known as Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement on Geospatial Cooperation, or BECA, will allow India access to topographical, nautical and aeronautical data for better accuracy of weapons like missiles and drones.

It would also allow the United States to provide advanced navigational aids and avionics on US-supplied aircraft to India, an Indian defence source said.

US companies have sold India more than $21 billion of weapons since 2007 and Washington has been urging the Indian government to sign agreements allowing for sharing of sensitive information and encrypted communications for better use of the high-end military equipment.

“The two ministers expressed satisfaction that agreement of BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) will be signed during the visit,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, Rajnath Singh and his US counterpart Mark Esper held talks on various defence and security issues ahead of 2+2 dialogue between both the countries scheduled on Tuesday.

The India-US talks on military issues here on Monday were “fruitful” and aimed at further deepening defence cooperation between two largest democracies in the world, Rajnath said after his meeting.

In its statement, the defence ministry said Singh and Esper reviewed bilateral defence cooperation spanning military-to-military cooperation, secure communication systems and information sharing and defence trade.

The ministry said the two ministers also called for continuation of existing defence dialogue mechanisms during the pandemic, at all levels, particularly the Military Cooperation Group (MCG).

They also discussed requirements of expanding deployments of liaison officers in each other’s facilities.

Apart from strengthening military-to-military cooperation and boosting partnership in the Indo-Pacific region, the issue of expeditious supply of contracted weapon systems by the US to India figured prominently in the deliberations.

The sources said, while deliberating on regional security challenges, the two sides briefly touched upon India’s border row with China in eastern Ladakh.

The India-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the last few years. In June 2016, the US had designated India a “Major Defence Partner” intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.

The two countries inked the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies as well as provide for deeper cooperation.

The two countries signed another pact called COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 that provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for sale of high end technology from the US to India.

According to the US government, India maintains the largest fleet of C-17 and P-8 aircraft outside of the US, and as of 2020, Washington has authorised more than $20 billion in defence sales to India.

(With inputs from agencies)

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