INTERNET’S FOUNDING FATHERS CALL ON US CONGRESS TO SAVE INTERNET FROM TRUMP’S MAN

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Tim Berners-Lee and Vinton Cerf, the founding fathers of the Internet, have written to the US Congress to save the Internet from the disastrous consequences of a proposed repeal of a Barack Obama era law on net neutrality that ensured level playing field for all content and every sort of data by ensuring stiff regulations for the Internet service providers (ISPs).

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), under the Barack Obama presidency, had adopted the net neutrality rules in February 2015 and enacted it in a law in June that year. The law gave the US government sweeping power over the network providers to check the discriminatory practices with the content flowing through their channels.

Here, in India, we are going through the grinding of that process and thankfully, after over a year of consultation papers, public comments and meetings, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) last month decided to uphold the supremacy of net neutrality in India.

Now Ajit Pai, son of Indian immigrants and a Republican, who was made the FCC chief by US President Donald Trump in January 2017, is bringing a repeal proposal to that landmark law which is scheduled for voting on December 14.

But the reports that the proposed repeal plan is expected to be approved have worried the proponents of a free internet accessible for all, and the letter by the founding fathers of the Internet reflects that sentiment.

The letter addressed to the Democratic and Republican chairs that control the FCC says that “the FCC’s proposed order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology” terming the proposed Restoring Internet Freedom Order an imminent threat to the Internet, “The FCC’s rushed and technically incorrect proposed order to repeal net neutrality protections without any replacement is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create. It should be stopped.”

The letter has urged to US lawmakers to cancel the proposed vote. The open letter that is signed by 19 other internet pioneers including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker and Internet Achieves founder Brewster Kahle, alleges the FCC headed by Pai is acting in haste ignoring exerts’ comments, over 23 million pro net neutrality comments by public and against the established practice, has not held even a single public meeting to discuss its proposed repeal order.

The open letter also alleges that the FCC didn’t bother to investigate and explain to people the flaws of its online comment system “including bot-generated comments that impersonated Americans, including dead people, and an unexplained outage of the FCC’s on-line comment system that occurred at the very moment TV host John Oliver was encouraging Americans to submit comments to the system.”

BELOW IS THE TEXT OF THE OPEN LETTER SIGNED BY THE INTERNET’S FOUNDING FATHERS AND PIONEERS:

We are the pioneers and technologists who created and now operate the Internet, and some of the innovators and business people who, like many others, depend on it for our livelihood. We are writing to respectfully urge you to call on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to cancel the December 14 vote on the FCC’s proposed Restoring Internet Freedom Order (WC Docket No. 17-108 ).

This proposed Order would repeal key network neutrality protections that prevent Internet access providers from blocking content, websites and applications, slowing or speeding up services or classes of service, and charging online services for access or fast lanes to Internet access providers’ customers. The proposed Order would also repeal oversight over other unreasonable discrimination and unreasonable practices, and over interconnection with last-mile Internet access providers. The proposed Order removes long-standing FCC oversight over Internet access providers without an adequate replacement to protect consumers, free markets and online innovation.

It is important to understand that the FCC’s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017. Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained. The technically-incorrect proposed Order dismantles 15 years of targeted oversight from both Republican and Democratic FCC chairs, who understood the threats that Internet access providers could pose to open markets on the Internet.

The experts’ comment was not the only one the FCC ignored. Over 23 million comments have been submitted by a public that is clearly passionate about protecting the Internet. The FCC could not possibly have considered these adequately.

Indeed, breaking with established practice, the FCC has not held a single open public meeting to hear from citizens and experts about the proposed Order.

Furthermore, the FCC’s online comment system has been plagued by major problems that the FCC has not had time to investigate. These include bot-generated comments that impersonated Americans, including dead people, and an unexplained outage of the FCC’s on-line comment system that occurred at the very moment TV host John Oliver was encouraging Americans to submit comments to the system.

Compounding our concern, the FCC has failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests about these incidents and failed to provide information to a New York State Attorney General’s investigation of them. We therefore call on you to urge FCC Chairman Pai to cancel the FCC’s vote. The FCC’s rushed and technically incorrect proposed Order to abolish net neutrality protections without any replacement is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create. It should be stopped.

Signed,

Frederick J. Baker, IETF Chair 1996-2001, ISOC Board Chair 2002-2006
Mitchell Baker, Executive Chairwoman, Mozilla Foundation
Steven M. Bellovin, Internet pioneer, FTC Chief Technologist, 2012-2013
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web & professor, MIT
John Borthwick, CEO, Betaworks
Scott O. Bradner, Internet pioneer
Vinton G. Cerf, Internet pioneer
Stephen D. Crocker, Internet pioneer
Whitfield Diffie, inventor of public-key cryptography
David J. Farber, Internet pioneer, FCC Chief Technologist 1999-2000
Dewayne Hendricks, CEO Tetherless Access
Martin E. Hellman, Internet security pioneer
Brewster Kahle, Internet pioneer, founder, Internet Archive
Susan Landau, cybersecurity expert & professor, Tufts University
Theodor Holm Nelson, hypertext pioneer
David P. Reed, Internet pioneer
Jennifer Rexford, Chair of Computer Science, Princeton University
Ronald L. Rivest, co-inventor of RSA public-key encryption algorithm
Paul Vixie, Internet pioneer
Stephen Wolff, Internet pioneer
Steve Wozniak, co-founder, Apple Computer

©SantoshChaubey

BEING A GOOD CITIZEN: THIS IS WHAT I WROTE TO OBAMA FOUNDATION

This is what I wrote in response to the Obama Foundation mailer on what “I think about being a good citizen.” And on what the Obama Foundation should be? Well, anything that can bring smile to the majority of this planet, something that other honest organizations working in the social sector are trying to do, irrespective of societies, boundaries and countries.

MY RESPONSE

What I am going to write here is based on my experiences in the Indian context and I believe it will stand true for any other society that needs large scale social intervention. India is slated to become the world’s most populous country but its majority is still poor and forced to live a life of misery, something that the government alone cannot address.

The basic needs of life, food, i.e., shelter, health, education, are still not on their radar. And how can it be when they have to go through the grinding of feeding themselves first, day after day, month after month, year after year. Everything else comes later.

We need to accept the ground reality if we have to bring the change here. The process to change a society and undoing its wrongs and malaise can only begin once we have this realization.

And the most important thing is – the government cannot do it alone. The society must contribute. And we must contribute. We all must feel duty-bound with the sense of ‘giving it back to the society’ for our very existence here – in whatever capacity we are. For me, that is all about being a good citizen.

On a larger and more organized scale, someone once had told me that in order to bring empowerment to the needy, one needs to be an activist and not a fighter. A fighting spirit is good but many a times, the trade-off between ‘fighting the system’ and ‘fighting over your way out of the system’ becomes too costly for the people you are fighting for.

An example will be apt here. Natural calamities, if displace many, are also opportunities for the corrupt souls in a system. You know there is corruption but your priority must be rehabilitating those displaced – and you have to work in tandem with the system – even if the system is corrupt. Your integrity and tenacity lie in how you can take work from the system. There is always the time to fight the menace of corruption later.

As always, committed social work needs a committed soul more than anything else, otherwise there is always the chance to drift away, especially when in India, where everything is so political that in order to get things done, one needs to be inside the system, knowing how to take work from it, keeping in mind the fine line between manipulating a system and taking work from it.

I believe this should be the story of every not-for-profit or every individual working in the social sector – no compromise with ethics – and no compromise with patience – because I think we just do not deal with the mindset or the behavioural change here only – but more importantly, we also deal with the exterior of a person – the society he lives in – with all sorts of good and bad people and institutions.

THE OBAMA.ORG MAILER

We’re so glad you’re a part of this startup for citizenship. Working together, we’re going to build a working, living center for developing the next generation of active leaders all over the world. We have a lot of work to do, and we’re going to count on your ideas to inform our efforts.

That’s why we’re asking you to add your voice today, and that’s why we’ll continue asking you to share your ideas in the months and years ahead. Let us know what’s on your mind, what good citizenship means to you, and what you want this Foundation to be.

©SantoshChaubey

FAMILY MEMBERS BEHIND HALF OF CHILD TRAFFICKING CASES, SAYS UN-BACKED DATA STUDY

The article originally appeared on India Today.

It is a family member in almost half of the cases who forces a child into human trafficking, says a first of its kind study by the United Nations’ migration agency- the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Statistics from the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC), an IOM imitative, reveal that children are “most commonly trafficked for sexual exploitation, beggary and domestic work and are most likely to be coerced into trafficking through physical, sexual and psychological abuse”. The study emphasises on the need to have more specific prevention efforts keeping this in mind.

In India, nearly one lakh children go missing every year, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs data.

The CTDC data also reveals that a family member is more likely to target boys than girls. Statistics also say that the “family involvement is up to four times higher in cases of adult trafficking.”

The 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons by the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also corroborates this revelation confirming the insider hand of family, “Most of the time, the trafficking is not committed by highly organized criminal networks, but rather by family members, acquaintances and neighbours.”

With increasing awareness and tough legal actions, the human traffickers’ focus is shifting from women trafficking to the trafficking of men and children.

While 51 per cent of the trafficked victims are still women, the number has gone down from 66 per cent in 2006 whereas in the same period, the number of trafficked men and children has gone up from 34 per cent to 49 per cent now. For children, this figure is now 28 per cent from 22 per cent in 2006.

CTDC is the first global database on human trafficking, hosting information from across the world. It is first of its kind portal that presents to the world an open access to a repository of human trafficking data from multiple counter-trafficking agencies. The portal also hosts 80,000 case studies of human trafficking with victims from as many as 180 countries.

William Lacy Swing, IOM’s Director General says “his organization is taking a leading role in increasing the access to the critical information in order to strengthen counter-trafficking interventions” and has called on governments and other agencies to partner and step up efforts.

©SantoshChaubey

INDIAN RAILWAYS ENQUIRY SYSTEM – LYING, AS USUAL….

My parents were travelling from ShivGanga Express (12559 – Varanasi to New Delhi) last evening. The train, considered the most important one between Varanasi and New Delhi, starts from the Manduadih station (MUV), one of the sub-stations of the Varanasi Railway Junction, at 7:40 PM and arrives in New Delhi (NDLS) at 8:10 AM the next day. And the thing is, its gets delayed daily. Okay, don’t get swayed by Indian Railways’ National Train Enquiry System (NTES) app on your smartphone or – https://enquiry.indianrail.gov.in/ntes/ – its desktop version.

They work overtime to do the damage control that has become synonymous with Indian Railways – chronic delays. Most of the time, they end up showing ‘earlier than real’ time of a train’s arrival. But this ‘jugaad’ hurts the Indian Railway’s misplaced pride even more. The network that has been busy fleecing passengers during some last years to increase its revenue, with measures like dynamic fare pricing as air carriers do or Premium Tatkal scheme that makes even a sleeper class ticket as expensive as AC-II or AC-III, has absolutely failed to meet the most basic need of any transport network – timely arrival and departure of trains. And mind you, most of this is due to its human network. The irony of all this is, you can easily find cheaper airfares for the same route than what some of premium trains offer.

And when even most of its premium trains routinely get delayed – including Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto – we don’t need to do much data digging about the state of affairs with the superfast trains, like the one my parents were travelling from. And last evening and this morning were no different. The train usually starts getting late as it passes the Allahabad Junction. By the time the train arrives in Kanpur, already an hour or two late, it enters the phase where it adds up delayed minutes to its quantum quite regularly, so much so, that by the time it reaches in the catchment area of Delhi, it becomes a nightmare for passengers.

These are the snapshots of the NTES app this morning that show how Indian Railways takes us for a ride. The screenshots taken at 10:36 AM show the train is delayed by 2.21 hours and will reach Delhi by 10:31 AM. We can give the NTES benefit of doubt here as the site may take some minutes in updating the information.

So I called my parents at 10:41 AM to confirm if the train had arrived so that I could ask the driver to approach them but what they told me, in turn told me, that the train was still hours away, even if it was just 15 Kms away from the New Delhi railway station. The train was just crossing the Anand Vihar Terminal. I again called them at 11:10 AM and they said the same thing, that they were still in the Anand Vihar area.

I again checked the NTES app at 11:13 AM. It was now showing the train was delayed by 2.48 hours with its expected New Delhi arrival at 10:48 AM. But here is this thing to see. This information on the NTES app was updated at 10:39 AM, 39 minutes after the last update at 10 AM as we can see in the screenshots but both show the same last station departed – ‘Departed from Chipyana Buzurg at 9:55 AM 23 Nov. 29 Kms to arrive New Delhi.’ So, in a sense, no real time update. The maps of the train route are also showing the same pointers.

I again checked the NTES app at 11:24 AM. And bingo, this time it showed the train had arrived New Delhi at 11:05 AM (delayed by 2.55 hours). The information was updated at 11:18 AM. Keeping in mind the history of the NTES app for giving misleading information, I called my parents at 11:25 PM to confirm it. And guess what they said. They told me that the train was still standing at the Shivaji Bridge station, almost 1.5 Kms away from the New Delhi railway station. The train finally arrived at the New Delhi railway station at 11:37 AM, delayed by 3.27 hours.

©SantoshChaubey

SUPREME COURT: SHUTTING DOWN INDUSTRIES A PRICE TO PAY FOR RIGHT TO LIVE IN HEATHY ENVIRONMENT

The killer smog of Delhi has again forced us think where are we heading with rapid industrialisation of our country and its reflection in the society, especially when the governments have failed to take effective corrective measures to check the worsening situation and we are looking again to our courts, the custodians of our Constitution and thus the guarantor of our lives, for relief.

While the National Green Tribunal (NGT) today rapped the Delhi Government again as it failed to come up with a concrete plan to deal with Delhi pollution in spite of the smog continuing for over a week, the Supreme Court of India agreed to hear later today a plea on alarming level of pollution in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR). While accepting the pea filed by Supreme Court lawyer RK Kapoor, Chief Justice Dipak Misra observed that the problem had reached to such levels that it could no longer be ignored.

The higher courts, led by the Supreme Court of India, have, from time to time, worked as environmental watchdogs reminding the government and the industry where to draw the line whenever pollution reaches to alarming levels threatening the ecological balance. The Supreme Court, in fact, way back in 1988 had clearly laid out that if pollution by industries reached to an alarming level, they must be shut down irrespective of the investment made in them and their importance for making products useful for society.

RURAL LITIGATION & ENTITLEMENT KENDRA VS STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH – AUGUST 30, 1988
(DEHRADUN QUARRYING CASE)

This case was a first where the Supreme Court, concerned by environmental degradation and ecological imbalance it could have caused, passed a landmark order to stop illegal mining. Through this judgement, the apex court tried to define the limit up to which natural resources (here forest) could be exploited to meet the demands of industry and development.

The case goes back to 1980s. Decades of mining in limestone quarries of the Dehradun Valley stripped the Himalayan Mountains of green vegetation in the state of Uttar Pradesh (now Uttarakhand) against which the Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, an NGO, wrote a letter to the Supreme Court in 1983.

The court treated the letter as a writ-petition starting thus a series of hearings which finally ended in a verdict that for the first time dealt comprehensively with environment review, assessment of national needs from mining activities and reforestation of the affected area.

While delivering the verdict, the court came down heavily on the mining industry of the area, closed their operations and said it was a price that had to be paid to ensure the right to healthy environment, “The consequence of this Order made by us would be that the lessees of lime stone quarries which have been directed to be closed down permanently under this Order or which may be directed to be closed down permanently after consideration of the report, would be thrown out of business in which they have invested large sums of money and expanded considerable time and effort. This would undoubtedly cause hardship to them but it is a price that has to be paid for protecting and safeguarding the right of the people to live in healthy environment with minimal disturbance of ecological balance and without avoidable hazard to them and to their cattle, homes and agricultural land and undue affectation of air, water and environment. “

The apex court also put the government’s responsibility in clear terms while passing the order under the recently enacted Environment (Protection) Act of 1986, “Maintenance of the environment and ecological balance was the obligation of the State and the Central Governments.”

©SantoshChaubey

RIGHT TO HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT: SHRIRAM GAS LEAK CASE

M.C. MEHTA VS UNION OF INDIA & OTHERS – DECEMBER 20, 1986
(THE SHRIRAM GAS LEAK CASE)

Shri Ram Food and Fertilizers (SFF) was a DCM subsidiary, in fact one of its most profitable ventures. It had various units housed in single complex producing Chlorine and other chemicals. The facility was surrounded by thickly populated localities like West Patel Nagar, Punjabi Bagh, Tri Nagar, Shastri Nagar, Ashok Vihar and Karampura.

In December 1985, oleum gas, that was used in making DDT, leaked from a tank of the SFF factory and soon spread to the populated areas around the factory. The aftermath saw around 700 people being hospitalised for eye irritation and respiratory symptoms and death of a lawyer seven Kms away from the factory, at the Tis Hazari court complex.

The Supreme Court, taking a tough stand in the case, for the first time laid down the principal of absolute liability holding the SFF responsible for putting people’s life at risk by compromising environment. The court observed,

“….gas is admittedly dangerous to life and health. If the gas escapes either from the storage tank or from the filled cylinders or from any other point in the course of production, the health and wellbeing of the people living in the vicinity can be seriously affected. Thus Shriram is engaged in an activity which has the potential to invade the right to life of large sections of people.”

Refuting all the contentions made by the DCM that since it was a private corporation, it could not come under the ambit of activities affecting the Article 21, the apex court went on to enlarge its scope including the right to healthy environment as it directly affected the quality of human life. While accepting the compensation claims made in the case, it said the “applications for compensation were for enforcement of the fundamental right to life enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution and while dealing with such applications, the court could not adopt a hypertechnical approach which would defeat the ends of justice.”

©SantoshChaubey

PRADYUMAN MURDER CASE: HOW THE PINTOS HAVE GOT THEM BAILED SO FAR

BOMBAY HIGH COURT

SEPTEMBER 11: AUGUSTINE PINTO AND GRACE PINTO, FOUNDERS AND TRUSTEES OF THE RYAN GROUP OF INSTITUTIONS AND THEIR SON RYAN PINTO, CEO AND TRUSTEE OF THE RYAN GROUP, MOVED TO THE BOMBAY HIGH COURT SEEKING TRANSIT ANTICIPATORY BAIL – THEY SOUGHT PROTECTION FROM ARREST TILL THEY APPROACHED THE CONCERNED COURT (PUNJAB & HARYANA HIGH COURT IN THIS CASE) TO FILE THEIR REGULAR ANTICIPATORY BAIL PLEAS.

SEPTEMBER 12: THE BOMBAY HIGH COURT GRANTED AUGUSTINE PINTO AND GRACE PINTO PROTECTION FROM ARREST TILL SEPTEMBER 13. RYAN PINTO’S PLEA WAS NOT LISTED.

SEPTEMBER 13: PRADYUMAN’S FATHER MOVE TO THE BOMBAY HIGH COURT SEEKING TO OPPOSE THE PINTOS’ ANTICIPATORY BAIL PLEA – THE COURT EXTENDED STAY ON ARREST TILL SEPTEMBER 14 AS REQUIRED SUBMISSIONS IN THE CASE COULD NOT BE MADE.

SEPTEMBER 14: THE BOMBAY HIGH COURT REJECTED THE PLEA OF RYAN PINTO AND HIS PARENTS FOR THE TRANSIT PRE-ARREST BAIL BUT GRANTED THEM PROTECTION FROM ARREST TILL SEPTEMBER 15 TO ENABLE THEM TO FILE PLEA IN PUNJAB & HARYANA HIGH COURT ON SEPTEMBER 16.

PUNJAB & HARYANA HIGH COURT

SEPTEMBER 16: RYAN PINTO AND HIS PARENTS APPROACHED THE PUNJAB & HARYANA HIGH COURT, SEEKING ANTICIPATORY BAIL.

SEPTEMBER 20: THE HIGH COURT ISSUED NOTICE TO THE HARYANA POLICE SEEKING ITS RESPONSE ON THE ANTICIPATORY BAIL PLEA FILED BY THE RYAN OWNERS.

SEPTEMBER 22: CBI TOOK OVER INVESTIGATION IN THE CASE.

SEPTEMBER 25: THE PUNJAB & HARYANA HIGH COURT MADE CBI A PARTY IN THE PETITION SEEKING ANTICIPATORY BAIL.

SEPTEMBER 28: THE HIGH COURT STAYED THE ARREST OF THE THREE RYAN TRUSTEES TILL OCTOBER 7.

OCTOBER 7: ANTICIPATORY BAIL GRANTED TO THE PINTO FAMILY TILL DECEMBER 5 BY THE PUNJAB & HARYANA HIGH COURT.

PRADYUMAN’S FATHER MOVES THE SUPREME COURT

OCTOBER 3: PRADYUMAN’S FATHER MOVED THE SUPREME COURT SEEKING CANCELLATION OF THEPINTOS’ ANTICIPATORY BAILS BY SETTING ASIDE THE PUNJAB & HARYANA HIGH COURT ORDER.

OCTOBER 13: THE SUPREME COURT ISSUED NOTICE TO THE PINTOS AND THE CBI ON THE PLEA OF PRADYUMAN’S FATHER.

NOVEMBER 6: WHILE GRANTING INTERIM BAIL TO THE PINTOS, THE APEX COURT ASKED THE PUNJAB & HARYANA HIGH COURT TO DECIDE ON THE MATTER IN 10 DAYS (BY NOVEMBER 16).

©SantoshChaubey

PRADYUMAN MURDER CASE: HOW PINTOS HAVE EVADED THE LAW SO FAR

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Pradyuman Thakur, a Class 2 student at Gurgaon’s Ryan International school, was found killed in a washroom on the school premises at around 7 am on September 8. The school belonged to the Ryan International Group, a chain of educational institutions, founded by Augustine Pinto and Grace Pinto. Their son, Ryan Pinto, is the group’s CEO.

The gruesome murder had created national outrage, forcing the Pintos – who have had history of changing political affiliations with shifting power equations in Mumbai and Delhi – to seek anticipatory bail. That happened after some senior officials of the Ryan Group of Institutions were arrested.

Ryan Pinto was widely criticized for being insensitive when he tried to portray his family as being victimised in the case. To add to the Pinto’s problems, the CBI made a sensational claim: it informed the Punjab and Haryana High Court on October 7 that it had prima facie found that Ryan Pinto could possibly be involved in a conspiracy behind the murder of Pradyuman and its abetment, and in the destruction of evidence. The Haryana Police initially investigated the case and claimed to have cracked it by arresting a bus conductor who worked for the school. But many, including Pradyuman Thakur’s parents, weren’t ready to accept that the conductor was guilty. Increasing pressure forced the Haryana government to transfer the probe to the CBI.

And today, the CBI give a clean chit to the bus conductor. The agency found that a class XI student of Ryan International had killed Pradyuman. Until today, that student was one the Haryana Police’s prime witnesses.

And why did the student – allegedly – kill Pradyuman? The CBI theory says he wanted to get exams postponed, and thought he could make that happen by murdering someone.

Now, whether the Haryana Police could not handle the pressure and claimed to crack the case in sheer desperation or whether there was something else behind it, can only be determined after further investigation. But while all this has happened, the Ryan International Group’s owners – the Pintos – have filed multiple bail applications, and ultimately secured it.

Today’s revelation will certainly give the Pintos a breather, especially on the charges of abetment and murder. But the destruction of evidence by the Pintos to cover up the crime and save their organization from infamy still can’t be ruled out.

Here’s a timeline that tracks what the Pintos have done in the weeks that followed the murder of Pradyuman Thakur.

BOMBAY HIGH COURT

September 11: Augustine, Grace and Ryan Pinto move the Bombay High Court seeking transit anticipatory bail: they seek protection from arrest until they approach the concerned court (The Punjab and Haryana High Court in this case) to file their regular anticipatory bail pleas.

September 12: The Bombay High Court grants Augustine Pinto and Grace Pinto protection from arrest till September 13. Ryan Pinto’s plea isn’t listed.

September 13: Pradyuman’s father moves the Bombay High Court seeking to oppose the Pintos’ anticipatory bail plea. The court extends the stay on arrest till September 14, as the required submissions couldn’t be made.

September 14: The Bombay High Court rejects the plea of Ryan Pinto and his parents for the transit pre-arrest bail, but grants them protection from arrest till September 15 – to enable them to file plea in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on September 16.

PUNJAB & HARYANA HIGH COURT

September 16: Ryan Pinto and his parents approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking anticipatory bail.

September 20: The court issues a notice to the Haryana Police, seeking its response on the plea.

September 22: CBI takes over the investigation in the murder case.

September 25: The Punjab and Haryana High Court makes the CBI a party in the Pintos’ petition.

September 28: The High Court stays the arrest of the three Ryan trustees till October 7.

October 7: The court grants the Pinto family anticipatory bail till December 5

PRADYUMAN THAKUR’S FATHER MOVES THE SUPREME COURT

October 3: Pradyuman’s father moves the Supreme Court seeking cancellation of the Pintos’ anticipatory bail.

October 13: The Supreme Court issues a notice to the Pintos and the CBI

November 6: While granting interim bail to the Pintos, the apex court asks the Punjab and Haryana High Court to decide on the matter in 10 days (by November 16).

©SantoshChaubey

INDIA’S BLACK MONEY CHRONICLES: THE LIECHTENSTEIN LIST AND INDIAN NAMES

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Liechtenstein is a tiny landlocked principality between Switzerland and Austria. The 160 Sq. Km. country that is almost one-tenth of Delhi’s 1500 Sq. Km. is known as a tax haven and its 38000 residents owe much of its wealth to illegal financial transactions through it’s over a dozen banks and many trusts. Liechtenstein is one of the richest countries of the world with its GDP per capita ($179,478.58) being highest in the world.

Earlier this year, on March 21, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley informed the Rajya Sabha during the Question Hour that the probe into the Indian names stashing black money in Liechtenstein banks was complete and undeclared income of around Rs 6500 crore was found.

The Liechtenstein scandal broke in February 2008 when a bank employee sold incriminating data to various countries containing names of account holders. In March 2009, under Indo-Germany Double Taxation Avoidance Convention, India got a list from the German government with names and details of Indians having accounts in Liechtenstein’s LGT Bank.

Since then, there have been many reports of Indians stashing their wealth in Liechtenstein, creating controversies and becoming a source of political mud-slinging in the country. From time to time, many news organisations have dug in and published list of account holders but there had been no clear official word about it from the Government of India until the Supreme Court forced it to do so.

Though the government launched a probe on the list provided by Germany, it never looked in hurry to take it to a logical conclusion. It, in fact, desisted from making the names public in the name of confidentiality clause with Germany and even resisted the Supreme Court order for three years before finally giving in.

The Supreme Court, in its July 4, 2011 order, had clearly laid out directives to make the names in the LGT list public and to constitute a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to comprehensively investigate the black money issue while hearing a petition filed by Ram Jethmalani and five others in the Supreme Court in 2009 to direct the government to recover the money stashed by Indians in foreign banks. The petition was filed against the Union of India, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).

On April 29, 2014, then Manmohan Singh’s United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, submitted an affidavit the Supreme Court revealing names of 18 people. The affidavit also named the trusts involved. While prosecution had been initiated against them, the centre also informed the court that it had found no grounds of tax evasion in eight other cases and requested not to make them public.

Ambrunova Trust and Marline Management: Manoj Dhupelia and Rupal Dhupelia, Bhavya Manoj Dhupelia, Mohan Manoj Dhupelia, Ambrish Manoj Dhupelia
Manichi Trust: Hasmuk Ishwarlal Gandhi, Chintan Hasmukh Gandhi, Madhu Hasmukh Gandhi, Late Mirav Hasmukh Gandhi
Ruvisha Trust: Rajesh Chandrakant Gandhi, Chandrakant Ishwarlal Gandhi, Viraj Chandrakant Gandhi, Dhanalaxmi Chandrakant Gandhi
Dainese Stiftung Trust: Arunkumar Ramniklal Mehta
Dryade Satiftunf Trust: Harshad Ramnikal Mehta
Webster Foundation: KM Mammen
Urvashi Foundation: Arun Kochhar
Raj Foundation: Ashok Jaipuria

WHAT CENTRE SAID IN ITS AFFIDAVIT

“It is respectfully submitted that the information regarding deposits/outstanding amounts in the accounts maintained by 12 trusties/entities with LGT bank in Liechtenstein was received by government from German tax authorities in March 2009 under the Indo-Germany Double Taxation Avoidance Convention.”

“The 12 trusts/entities involved 26 individuals of Indian origin. Out of the 26 cases, investigations in 18 cases have been concluded by the I-T department and prosecutions have been launched in 17 cases (one tax payer has expired).”

BLACK MONEY SIT

But the UPA government still did not come up with any word on forming the black money SIT. It, in fact, tried all to kill the issue. First it resisted any notion of forming the SIT during hearings but when it failed, the government filed an application to recall the entire 2011 verdict which was also dismissed by the apex court on March 26, 2014. But to stall the SIT formation, the UPA government again filed a review petition on May 8, 2014. It was also bound to be dismissed by the Supreme Court as it too had highlighted the same grounds as in its earlier appeals.

The 2014 parliamentary elections ousted the Manmohan government and Delhi’s power corridors were replaced by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Narendra Modi which, in its first official decision, constituted the black money SIT to headed by Justice (Retd.) M.B. Shah.

©SantoshChaubey