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SC Notice to Centre on Content Streamed by Online Platforms

Unlike the apex court, the High Court did not issue notice on the NGO’s petition but had only sought the government’s response

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A gardener works on the lawns of the Supreme Court in New Delhi, India, Aug. 22, 2017. VOA

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to respond on a plea seeking guidelines on the regulation of uncertified and sexually explicit content being streamed on global online platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna issued notice after hearing the petitioner. Earlier, the plea was dismissed by the Delhi High Court on February 8. The petitioner had moved the apex court challenging the High Court order.

The petitioner, Justice for Rights Foundation through its advocate H.S. Hora stated that online streaming platforms do not have a licence to function, and the same argument was accepted by the ministries concerned in their response on the plea in the High Court.

According to the petitioner, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had said that for these streaming platforms, it is not mandatory to get a licence from the ministry. Later, the High Court dismissed the petition.

The plea said: “The said online platforms are displaying unlicensed, unregulated, uncertified content and collecting subscription amounts from Indian consumers whereas the content telecast on the online platforms is illegal to the extent that certain movies are banned under the provisions of the Indian Cinematograph Act.”

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The new plans appearing on Netflix India’s website lists the weekly mobile-only plan for Rs 65, basic plan for Rs 125. Pixabay

Arguing in the High Court, the petitioner contended that series like “Sacred Games”, “Game of Thrones” and “Spartacus”, broadcast on platforms such as Netflix, contain sexually explicit content and depict women in objectionable manner.

The petitioner argues that the online content has not even passed by the Central Board for Film Certification.

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Unlike the apex court, the High Court did not issue notice on the NGO’s petition but had only sought the government’s response.

The NGO, in its petition in the High Court, had claimed that online media streaming platforms, including Hotstar, show content which is not regulated and also not even certified for broadcast in public. (IANS)

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Supreme Court Expresses Concern For Not Providing Protective Gear To Workers

The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed concern over existence of untouchability and caste discrimination despite 70 years of Independence

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Sewer, Workers, Untouchable, SC, India
Justice Arun Mishra criticised the governments and said that caste discrimination, unfortunately, continues to prevail in society. Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed concern over existence of untouchability and caste discrimination despite 70 years of Independence and pulled up the Centre and state governments for not providing protective gear to such workers.

“Untouchability was abolished, but this is a question before everyone: do you even shake hands with manual scavengers,” the court asked, pointing out that untouchability is still being practised.

The court’s remarks came while hearing the Centre’s plea seeking the recall of a 2018 judgement which virtually diluted the stringent provisions of immediate arrest and denial of anticipatory bail to the accused on a complaint filed under the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra criticised the governments and said that caste discrimination, unfortunately, continues to prevail in society even after 70 years of Independence.

Observing that caste discrimination continues to exist in society and criticising the deaths of people while involved in cleaning places like manholes and drains, the Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the Centre and state governments for not providing protective gear to such workers.

Sewer, Workers, Untouchable, SC, India
Despite 70 years of Independence and pulled up the Centre and state governments for not providing protective gear to such workers. Wikimedia Commons

Expressing concern on the issue, the apex court said that nowhere else in the world are people sent to die into gas chambers, referring to the recent deaths in different municipalities of cleaners who had descended for cleaning blocked sewer drains.

The bench also said that it is the “most uncivilised and inhuman situation where people involved in manual scavenging are dying every day and no protective gears are provided to them and no action is taken against the authorities.”

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said that no law of tort, which deals with civil wrong and its liabilities thereof, has been developed in the country.The court also noted that there is no law of tort being practiced in India.

“What have you done for manual scavenging? In no other country, people enter manholes without protective gears. What have you done about it?,” the bench asked. “All humans are equal, and when they are equal, you should provide them equal opportunities,” the court said, adding the governments are not even providing such workers an equal chance and basic facilities to clean themselves.

Sewer, Workers, Untouchable, SC, India
Most uncivilised and inhuman situation where people involved in manual scavenging are dying every day and no protective gears are provided to them and no action is taken against the authorities. Wikimedia Commons

The bench, meanwhile, reserved order on the Centre’s plea seeking recall of its 2018 judgment, the case it was hearing originally. The apex court also asked the parties to submit their written submissions and said that the batch of petitions challenging the Amendment to the Act will be heard separately, next week. The Supreme Court on Friday had referred the Centre’s plea on the 2018 judgment to a larger bench.

The Centre had stated that the judgment diluting the stringent provision of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act had “seriously affected the morale of these communities and the confidence in the ability of the state to protect them”.

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The apex court in its March 20 judgement had said: “…in absence of any other independent offence calling for arrest, in respect of offences under the Atrocities Act, no arrest may be effected without the permission of appointing authority in case of public servant or that of Senior Superintendent of Police in case of general public”.

The court had said it was providing the safeguard “in view of acknowledged abuse of law of arrest” under the Act. “It’s necessary to express concern that working of the Atrocities Act should not result in perpetuating casteism, which can have an adverse impact on integration of the society and the constitutional values,” it said. (IANS)