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Supreme Court Preserves Dissenting Creditors’ Rights in IBC – Championing Fairness and Security

The provisions of Section 30(2) (b)(ii) by law provides assurance to the dissenting creditors that they will receive as money the amount they would have received in the liquidation proceedings. This rule also applies to the operational creditors. This ensures that dissenting creditors receive the payment of the value of their security interest.”

 

In Case of DBS Bank Limited Singapore v. Ruchi Soya Industries Limited and Another [Civil Appeal no. 9133 of 2019] The facts of the case initiates when , DBS Bank Limited Singapore and Ruchi Soya Industries Limited are embroiled in a dispute concerning the payment of a dissenting financial creditor under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), incorporating amendments introduced in 2019. The crux of the matter lies in DBS Bank’s claim that its security interest holds superior standing compared to other creditors, justifying its entitlement to the minimum value of its security interest. Despite DBS Bank’s assertion, the Committee of Creditors approved a resolution plan that did not acknowledge the bank’s argument, prompting DBS Bank to file appeals with the National Company Law Tribunal and Appellate Tribunal.

The court’s scrutiny delves into the intricacies of the resolution process governed by the IBC. The resolution professional’s assessment encompasses various facets, including payment priority, creditor disbursements, management plans, compliance with legal requirements, and other specifications outlined by the board. Recent amendments, applicable to ongoing proceedings, underscore the authority to implement changes at both the original and appellate stages. The court emphasizes that dissenting financial creditors must, under the IBC, receive at least the liquidation amount, aligning with the overarching objectives of balancing stakeholder interests, resolving insolvency, attracting investments, maximizing asset value, and enhancing credit availability. Legal provisions safeguard minority creditors’ autonomy by ensuring that dissenting financial creditors receive no less than the liquidation value. The court clarifies that payments to dissenting creditors should be in the form of money, preserving fairness in the distribution process. It underscores the importance of adherence to statutory requirements, preventing inequitable scenarios, and promoting insolvency resolution over liquidation. The judgment stresses the delicate balance between protecting dissenting financial creditors’ rights and maximizing asset value during the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) period. The ruling rejects claims challenging the workability of the code and underscores dissenting financial creditors’ statutory right to object to the distribution of proceeds under a resolution plan, thereby safeguarding their entitlement in the insolvency resolution framework.

The matter be, Accordingly  placed before the Hon’ble the chief Justice for appropriate orders.

 

 

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A Close Look at the Farmers Protests: Turning the Soil, Planting Change

INTRODUCTION:

Indian farmers have staged large-scale protests  on the roads over the past few years. These protests are the result of the government’s controversial agricultural reforms. Farmers worry that the resulting changes could put their livelihoods in danger and expose them to corporate interests. They have persisted in demanding justice in spite of the severe weather and the difficulties brought on by the pandemic. Although the protests led to major policy reversals, farmers are still fighting for additional basic rights, such as minimum support prices with other demands.

 BACKGROUND FOR PROTESTS:

These protests originated in response to three proposed laws that would loosen rules governing the sale, pricing, and storage of farm produce – rules that had previously protected farmers from the free market for decades. Farm unions claimed that these laws would make farmers vulnerable to big corporations while jeopardizing their livelihoods.

The Indian government unveiled three historic farm bills in an attempt to modernise the agriculture industry and solve long-standing issues faced by farmers. These bills aim to empower farmers, expedite trade, enhance the agricultural ecosystem, and promote private investment. By enabling farmers to sell their produce outside of conventional market yards, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill seeks to liberalise the agricultural trade by providing them with access to a larger market and the possibility of higher prices. Agribusinesses and farmers can enter into contract farming agreements through the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, which guarantees farmers’ prices and access to contemporary technology.

And the third, the goal of the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill is to deregulate the production and sale of necessities in order to boost market competition and encourage private sector participation in agriculture. Even though these bills have generated discussion and opposition, they represent a significant advancement in modernising India’s agricultural industry and raising the standard of living for millions of farmers across the nation.

While protesting farmers have blocked the road, the Supreme Court has directed the Central Government to find a solution if roads remain blocked as a result of the farmers’ agitation against three agricultural laws. While hearing a petition, the court directed the central government to find a solution; farmers have the right to protest, but roadways between Noida and Delhi cannot be obstructed.

After fighting for months that the reforms would not help farmers, the prime minister declared that his government would be repealing the laws. Later, a bill repealing the reforms was passed by the parliament.  Farmers persisted in their protests until the government sent a formal letter granting many of their other demands, though, and did not leave their protest areas right away.

In addition, the government pledged to compensate the families of farmers who were killed in the protests. The government agreed to establish a committee made up of representatives from the central and state governments, agricultural scientists, and farmer organisations in response to the demand for a minimum support price for the farmers.

 WHY PROTESTING NOW:

The reason for the current protests is that farmers’ demands have not been met by government.
The protesters assert that the government has not moved forward with other important demands, including loan waivers, double farmers’ incomes, and minimum support price. The main focus of their protests is the need for legislation that ensures minimum support price.
They also assert that the families of farmers who were killed in earlier protests have not received compensation from the government.

In order to help shore up food reserves and prevent shortages, the government established a minimum purchase price for a number of essential crops in the 1960s. This system protects agricultural producers from abrupt drops in farm prices. Farmers advocate for legislation that protects all produce.

In addition, they have requested that the government forgive their debts and grant them pensions. Furthermore, the demonstrators demand that India revoke all free trade agreements and leave the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Farmers demanded penalties for those who sell fake fertiliser, pesticides, and seeds. They want the government to expand the rural employment guarantee programme to 200 workdays.

CONCLUSION:

India’s farmer protests have been a potent illustration of the tenacity and grit of those who toil the land. These farmers have refused to back down in the face of harsh circumstances and obstacles, demanding justice and equitable treatment. Although there have been policy reversals, the fight for minimum support prices for their crops and other basic rights is still ongoing. Their voices reverberate through the streets and fields, reminding us that we can hold governments responsible and influence policy through collective action.

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The Case for EVMs: Modernizing Electoral Processes and Safeguarding Democratic Principles

Brining back ballot paper in India

In India, there is a rising controversy about using electronic voting machines (EVMs) in elections instead of traditional paper ballots. The issue of restoring vote paper in India has stirred debate among politicians, activists, and residents alike. “Public trust in EVMs has never been lower than it is today. This is because EVM voting does not comply with the essential principles of democracy that any electoral system should satisfy” [1]are the criticisms that the Election commission of constantly receive.

Historical context

Electronic voting machines (EVMs) were deployed in Indian elections in the 1990s to reduce fraud and improve voting efficiency. However, concerns have been expressed concerning the security, dependability, and openness of EVMs. Critics claim that EVMs can be tampered with, casting doubt on the integrity of election outcomes. In recent years, there have been multiple reports of EVM faults and tampering, escalating the dispute about the usage of EVMs.

Challenges due to EVM

One of the primary complaints about EVMs is the lack of a paper trail. Unlike traditional ballot paper voting, which retains physical evidence of each vote, electronic voting machines do not give a tangible record for verification or recount. This opacity casts doubt on the accuracy of election results and erodes public trust in the political process.
Furthermore, the centralized control and programming of EVMs has prompted concerns about manipulation by political parties or other entities. Despite promises from authorities about the security of EVMs, the lack of transparency and independent inspection gives cause for mistrust.

Recent developments in ballot paper voting

To address concerns about transparency and accountability, the Election Commission of India (ECI) implemented VVPAT machines. These devices issue voters a printed receipt certifying their vote, which is subsequently deposited in a sealed box. In addition to electronic voting, VVPATs provide a tangible paper trail, which improves the electoral process’s integrity.
Advances in printing technology have enhanced the quality and security of ballot sheets. Modern printing techniques enable the creation of tamper-evident ballots that include watermarks, serial numbers, and other security features to prevent fraud and manipulation.

Influential individuals

Several important persons have contributed to the cause of restoring vote paper in India. One such people is G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, a Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) member and spokesperson. Rao has defended the use of EVMs, claiming that they are a secure and trustworthy voting system. He has underlined the significance of modernizing the electoral process and advocated for increased use of technology in elections.
Another significant figure in this sector is Prashant Bhushan, a lawyer and activist. Bhushan has been a strong critic of EVMs, expressing concerns about their vulnerability to hacking and tampering. He has filed multiple petitions in the Supreme Court, opposing the use of EVMs.

 Challenges with brining back ballot paper

One major concern is the possibility for logistical issues and inefficiencies with paper-based voting systems. Paper ballots demand significant resources for printing, distribution, storage, and hand counting, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Furthermore, the use of paper ballots raises the possibility of human mistake, such as miscounting or mishandling ballots, which could compromise the accuracy and trust of election outcomes. Furthermore, paper-based voting may be impractical in remote or impoverished locations with little infrastructure. As a result, while acknowledging the advantages of paper ballot voting, it is critical to carefully balance these considerations against the potential negatives before pushing for its introduction.

Contemporary outlook

There are diverse views on the issue of reintroducing vote paper in India. Supporters of EVMs believe that they are a more efficient and trustworthy voting technique than paper ballots. They highlight the advantages of EVMs, such as lowering the possibility of human error and speeding up the counting process.
EVM sceptic’s, on the other hand, claim that they are prone to hacking and manipulation, casting doubt on the accuracy of election results. They say that paper ballots are a more secure and transparent voting method that can contribute to the integrity of the political process.

Future Development

The question of bringing poll papers back to India is likely to be difficult in the coming years. The controversy over the use of EVMs vs paper ballots is certain to flare up if additional charges of tampering and malfunctioning are revealed. Political parties and activists will continue to advocate for electoral reform and increased openness in the election process.

Conclusion

To summarize, the case of reintroducing ballot paper in India caused an intense discussion about the use of EVMs in elections. The impact of this case has emphasized the need for electoral changes and raised concerns about the integrity of the election system. As disagreement continues, officials must evaluate all perspectives and potential future developments on this topic. Lastly, the goal should be to ensure that the voting process is fair, transparent, and secure, reflecting the will of the people.

[1] https://thewire.in/rights/the-case-for-bringing-paper-ballots-back

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Bridging Bytes and Boundaries: Exploring the Dynamic Relationship of Internet Censorship and Freedom of Speech in India

INTRODUCTION:

In the context of the internet, the relationship between internet censorship and freedom of speech is central to a complicated legal framework. Freedom of speech, which is based on international human rights legislation and constitutional principles, is up against a lot of opposition as the digital era changes the nature of communication. Governments struggle to create regulations that strike a careful balance between protecting the general welfare and upholding individual rights. This legal viewpoint explores the conflicts that arise from addressing cyber threats while preserving fundamental rights, as well as the constitutional and international bases that support the control of online expression. Understanding the legal complexities of internet censorship and freedom of speech becomes essential for developing a legal framework that balances societal objectives with individual rights in the digital age, where legal borders are ill-defined.

THE EVOLUTION OF THE INTERNET AND DEFINING INTERNET CENSORSHIP:

With the advent of the internet, a revolutionary era was ushered in where knowledge was freely shared across national lines and a global interchange of ideas. But as the internet developed, so did the worries about its improper usage. The limitations of free speech in the digital age have been reevaluated by governments and online companies in response to issues like terrorism, hate speech, fake news, and cyber bullying. Today, the internet continues to evolve, shaping economies, communication, and societal structures in unprecedented ways. Internet service providers, governments, and other organisations regulate or control content available online. This practice is known as internet censorship. Censorship may be implemented for a number of reasons, such as maintaining public order, safeguarding children, preventing hate speech, or protecting national security. Although these goals appear plausible at first glance, the difficulty is making sure that the actions performed do not violate the freedom of speech, which is the cornerstone of democratic nations.

VARIOUS ASPECTS OF INTERNET CENSORSHIP:

Different types of internet censorship are used in India to control what can be found online. Section 69A of the Information Technology Act permits authorities to restrict access in the interest of public order and national security. One typical practice is the blocking of websites or entire domains. The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, contain rules and regulations that apply to social media platforms, instant messaging apps, and digital media businesses. Intermediaries are required by these regulations to keep an eye on and delete particular kinds of content. Online platforms and intermediaries are obligated to cooperate with requests to delete anything that is deemed harmful or against the interests of the state. As a result, content takedowns are commonplace. In addition, the government may use surveillance techniques to keep an eye on what people are doing online, particularly in emergency situations where social media and internet access limitations may be put in place to keep the public order stable and prevent the spread of false information. The continuous difficulty of striking a balance between security and individual rights in the digital sphere is shown by the fact that worries about possible violations of freedom of speech and expression remain, even though these actions are frequently justified on the basis of national security.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN THE DIGITAL AGE AND LEGITIMATE RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH:

A fundamental component of democratic society, freedom of speech is protected by numerous international agreements and national constitutions. For instance, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights expressly acknowledges the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The boundaries of this fundamental freedom have grown to include online platforms in the digital age, turning the internet into a battlefield where free speech and the need to control dangerous content fight. The right to free expression is important, but it is not inalienable. Global legal systems acknowledge the possibility of imposing certain limitations in order to safeguard the larger welfare. Philosopher John Stuart Mill introduced the idea of the “harm principle,” which holds that speech limitations are acceptable where there is an obvious and present risk of harm to others. When considering the necessity of internet censorship to stop the spread of information that encourages terrorism, incites violence, or aids in other illegal activities, this idea becomes very pertinent.

Shreya Singhal v. Union of India (2015):

The legitimacy of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which made it illegal to send offensive communications using communication devices, was at issue in this historic case. Section 66A was overturned by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it infringed upon the right to freedom of speech and expression.

The Supreme Court ruled in Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India “an indefinite suspension of internet would be illegal.” Such limitations on the right to free speech and expression must pass the proportionality and necessity standards.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK:

Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution gives its inhabitants the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. Nevertheless, under Article 19(2), this freedom may be limited for purposes like public order, morality, decency, and national security. Achieving a fine balance between safeguarding individual liberty and national interests is the task. The Information Technology Act, 2000 and its revisions are the main laws that control content on the internet in India. The Act’s Section 69A gives the government the authority to censor information for the public on the basis of defense, security, integrity, sovereignty, and amicable relations with other countries. In addition, internet intermediaries must adhere to strict requirements set forth by the Information Technology (Intermediary requirements and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, which mandate that they monitor and remove undesirable information. India has ratified international agreements including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that protect the right to freedom of expression. To guarantee that the nation’s legal system complies with international human rights standards, any limitations on internet material must adhere to these criteria.

In Brij Bhushan v. State of Delhi                                                        Pre-censorship of a newspaper is an infringement on press freedom, which is a fundamental component of the free expression granted by article 19(1)(a),” the court declared in overturning the regulation.

In Ekin Association v. France, the Court emphasised that the scope of restraint should be closely regulated by a legal framework of censorship. Due to the fact that these filtering techniques frequently violate people’s fundamental human rights, effective judicial review is essential to preventing any abuse of power.

CHALLENGES TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH:

Internet filtering presents serious obstacles to the right to free speech. One significant concern is the possibility of overreach, whereby ambiguously worded laws and regulations could give authorities the ability to stifle criticism and restrict free speech. Concerns are further raised by the lack of accountability and transparency in censorship decisions, which could result in the removal of content arbitrarily and without following the proper procedures. Furthermore, the rapid evolution of online platforms poses challenges to the development of just and efficient legislation. Maintaining individual liberty while safeguarding national interests is an ongoing challenge for governments dealing with the intricacies of policing a broad and varied digital realm. It is essential to find solutions that address valid concerns and uphold the right to free expression in order to preserve a positive and transparent online community.

RECENT SHIFTS IN THE AREA:

During 2022 time period CERT-In imposed new regulations pertaining to national security, which mandated that VPN, web hosting, and cloud service providers retain customer data for a period of five years. To protect their users’ privacy, a few VPN service providers, like Express VPN and Surfshark, said that they would no longer use servers located in India. Moving forward towards 2023 new rules that mandate online intermediaries censor and remove content determined by an appointed body from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to be incorrect or misleading were passed in April 2023. Recent developments concerning free speech and censorship in digital India include ongoing debates and discussions regarding social media regulations, content moderation policies, and government scrutiny of online platforms. The Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code are two of the regulations that the Indian government has proposed to regulate social media companies. These regulations mandate that platforms designate grievance officers, set up procedures for handling requests for material removal, and abide by court orders to delete specific kinds of content. Experts and civil society organisations have expressed concern about how content control policies affect the right to free speech. While some contend that these regulations may result in excessive censorship and the repression of free speech, others think they are essential to stop the spread of false information, hate speech, and other dangerous materials. Online platforms are under closer scrutiny from the Indian government, especially with regard to how they handle sensitive information and adhere to local regulations. The government and digital giants are now at odds over controversial themes including data privacy, encryption, and complying with takedown demands.

CONCLUSION:

The complex balancing act between internet censorship and freedom of speech calls for careful examination of legal, ethical, and cultural factors. While acknowledging the justifiable worries that motivate censorship efforts, it is crucial to make sure that any limitations placed do not jeopardise the fundamental values of democracy. The legal frameworks governing internet censorship must change in tandem with the rapid advancement of technology to maintain the free flow of ideas while safeguarding persons and society from real harm. Achieving this balance is essential for the growth of democratic principles in the digital age, as well as being required by law. In India, striking a balance between internet restriction and free speech demands a strategic approach that protects national interests without sacrificing individual liberty. The future of internet regulation in the nation will be shaped by the changing legal environment, judicial review, and adherence to international standards. To promote a digital environment that values citizens’ fundamental rights and the diversity of viewpoints, it is crucial to find the correct balance.

REFERENCES:

  1. Raagya Priya Zadu, Internet Censorship is the freedom of speech and expression being misused or is internet the new platform to stage the views of the world’s largest democracy…, University of Pune (Jan. 20, 2024)
  2. Internet censorship: Misuse of the Freedom of Speech and Expression by: Devanshee Raifrom NMIMS, School of Law, Bengaluru. Available at: https://blog.ipleaders.in/internet-censorship-misuse-freedom-speech-expression/
  3. http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/946/Internet-Censorship.html
  4. Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, AIR 2015 SC 1523
  5. Brij Bhushan v. State of Delhi,  AIR 1950 S.C. 129
  6. Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India citation, AIR 2020 SC 1308
  7. https://www.lawpluralism.unimib.it/en/oggetti/153-association-ekin-v-france-no-39288-98-e-ct-hr-third-section-17-july-2001
  8. Singh, Manish “Explainer: New VPN rules, why companies are upset and what they mean for you” (17 June 2022). Available at- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/gadgets-news/explainer-new-vpn-rules-why-vpn-companies-are-upset-and-what-they-mean-for-you/articleshow/92270798.cms
  9. Singh, Manish, “India to require Facebook and Twitter rely on gov’t fact checking”. TechCrunch (6 April 2023). 

Available at: https://techcrunch.com/2023/04/06/india-cracks-down-on-betting-games/

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 Supreme Court Balances Justice and Democracy in the Face of Political Conviction

TITLE: AFJAL ANSARI V. STATE OF UP

CITATION: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 3838 OF 2023 (ARISING OUT OF SPECIAL LEAVE TO APPEAL (CRL.) NO. 11129 OF 2023)

DECIDED ON: 14 DECEMBER 2023

CORAM: JUSTICE SURYA KANT, JUSTICE DIPANKAR DATTA, JUSTICE UJJAL BHUYAN

 

Justice Surya Kant, Justice Dipankar Datta, Justice Ujjal Bhuyan states that “it is the bounden duty of this Court to uphold the rule of law which entails equality before the law and equal subjection of all classes to the ordinary law of the land. No court, much less this Court, should feel chained by misplaced sympathy towards assumed or imagined ramifications on the constituency of the parliamentarian/legislator who has been convicted”.

 

Brief Facts:

Afjal Ansari, a sitting Member of Parliament from Uttar Pradesh, filed Criminal Appeal No. 3838 of 2023 challenging the High Court’s partial approval of his application for a stay on sentence and conviction under the UP Gangster Act. The conviction posed a substantial threat to Ansari’s political career and his right to represent his constituency. The High Court’s decision had disqualified Ansari partially, raising concerns about the potential irreparable damage to his political standing.

Court’s Observation and Analysis:

The Supreme Court delved into an intricate analysis of the case, primarily focusing on the application of Section 389(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). This examination involved a thorough consideration of several factors, including the unique circumstances surrounding the case, the absence of conclusive evidence, Ansari’s previous acquittal, and the foreseeable irreparable consequences of upholding the conviction.

The Court, recognizing the urgency inherent in the matter, leaned towards a nuanced approach in favor of partially staying the conviction. This decision was rooted in the Court’s concern for preventing irreversible damage to Ansari’s political career, acknowledging the potential impact on his constitutional right to represent his constituency.

In emphasizing the significance of Section 389(1) of the CrPC, the Court underscored its role in drawing attention to the possible repercussions when appealing a conviction. The provision grants the Court the authority to suspend an order of conviction, subject to evaluating the specific circumstances and imposing necessary conditions.

The constitutional and statutory framework, notably Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, played a pivotal role in shaping the Court’s perspective. The Court recognized the wide-ranging consequences of Section 8(3), clarifying that a stay of conviction would suspend disqualification, preventing undue prejudice. This acknowledgment was crucial in understanding the impact on Ansari’s public life and the electorate’s rights.

Despite differing opinions, the Court’s decision to dismiss the appeal underscored its commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring legal accountability. The lack of exceptional circumstances and inadequate pleadings were considered valid grounds for the dismissal, establishing a precedent that prioritizes consistency in the application of the law and maintains the integrity of elected officials. The decision reflects the Court’s careful balance between individual rights and the broader societal and democratic interests at stake.

 

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