Daily Current Affairs 09.04.2023 ( Murmu becomes third President to fly a sortie on a Sukhoi fighter jet, SC to hear petition on protecting copyright of live-streamed cases , Trials can be transferred only in exceptional cases: SC , Networks, content players diverge on converged norms )

Daily Current Affairs 09.04.2023 ( Murmu becomes third President to fly a sortie on a Sukhoi fighter jet, SC to hear petition on protecting copyright of live-streamed cases , Trials can be transferred only in exceptional cases: SC , Networks, content players diverge on converged norms )


1. Murmu becomes third President to fly a sortie on a Sukhoi fighter jet

President Droupadi Murmu takes a sortie on the IAF’s fighter aircraft Sukhoi-30MKI at the Tezpur Air Force Station on Saturday.

President and Supreme Commander of the armed forces Droupadi Murmu took a sortie on an Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft at the Tezpur Air Force Station in Assam on Saturday. She is the third President and second woman President to undertake such a sortie.

The President flew for approximately 30 minutes covering the Brahmaputra and the Tezpur Valley with a view of the Himalayas before returning to the Air Force Station, a statement from the Rashtrapati Bhavan said.

“It was an exhilarating experience for me to fly in the mighty Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft of the IAF. It is a matter of pride that India’s defence capabilities have expanded immensely to cover all the frontiers of land, air and sea. I congratulate the IAF and the entire team of Air Force Station, Tezpur for organising this sortie,” Ms. Murmu wrote in the visitor’s book.

The SU-30MKI flew at a height of about two kilometres above sea level and at a speed of about 800 kmph and was flown by Group Captain Naveen Kumar, Commanding Officer of 106 Squadron.

IAF briefs Murmu

The President was also briefed on the operational capabilities of the aircraft and the Indian Air Force (IAF). She expressed satisfaction on the operational preparedness of the IAF, the statement added.

In March, Ms. Murmu visited INS Vikrant and interacted with officers and sailors on board the aircraft carrier commissioned last September.

2. SC to hear petition on protecting copyright of live-streamed cases

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday a petition seeking protection of the copyright of proceedings beamed live on the Web through YouTube. A 2018 judgment in the Swapnil Tripathi case had given the green signal for live-streaming of the top court’s proceedings and safeguarding them from misuse.

According to the April 10 cause list, uploaded on the Supreme Court website, a Bench comprising Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala would hear the plea.

In an earlier hearing, the Centre had said it was working on a “self-contained, self-reliant ecosystem” to live-stream Supreme Court proceedings even as the top court responded to criticism about the lack of safeguards by petitioner, former RSS ideologue K.N. Govindacharya. CJI Chandrachud had observed that “it is always easy to criticise others and it is always easy to throw a stone at somebody”. “You tell us, what are the modalities which can be followed to live-stream? Do you want live-streaming of court proceedings to be stopped?” a Bench led by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud had asked advocate Virag Gupta, appearing for the petitioner.

The court had asked what modalities could be followed for live-streaming at a time when the National Informatics Centre (NIC) was saying it did not have sufficient technical and infrastructure wherewithal to live-stream court proceedings without third-party applications. The lawyer had said a special agreement could be made with the YouTube platform for safeguarding the copyright over the court’s live-streamed proceedings as held in a 2018 judgment.

Additional Solicitor-General Aishwarya Bhati, for the government, had said work was on to build self-reliance as early as possible. The Bench had said the top court itself was in the process of strengthening the live-streaming mechanism.

3. Trials can be transferred only in exceptional cases: SC

Declining the petition to transfer a case out of West Bengal, the top court said the power to transfer cases should be used sparingly and only when justice was apparently in grave peril

The Supreme Court has held in a judgment that criminal cases under trial should be transferred from one State to another only in “exceptional circumstances”. Unnecessary shifting of cases would affect the morale of the State judiciary and prosecution agency.

A Bench led by Justice Surya Kant was recently dealing with the murder of a political worker, Kurban Sha, in Purba Medinipur, West Bengal.

Sha was shot dead by goons in 2019. The family of Sha had approached the top court to transfer the trial to Assam. They alleged that a fair trial was not possible in West Bengal.

The State government suddenly, in 2021, ordered the public prosecutor to withdraw the prosecution against the accused. The Calcutta High Court pro-actively stepped in and annulled the government notification. The trial court also refused to grant bail to the accused after the victim’s family and witnesses complained of threats.

In his judgment for the top court Bench, Justice Kant commended the interventions of the judiciary, saying that “justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done”. Declining the plea to transfer the case out of West Bengal, the court said the power to transfer cases under Section 406 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC) should be used sparingly and only when justice was apparently in grave peril.

“This court has allowed transfers only in exceptional cases considering the fact that transfers may cast unnecessary aspersions on the State Judiciary and the prosecution agency. Thus, over the years, this court has laid down certain guidelines and situations wherein such power can be justiciably invoked,” Justice Kant observed.

The judgment summarised a catena of apex court verdicts giving the possible situations in which an ongoing trial could be transferred. These include when the State or prosecution is acting hand in glove with the accused; when there is material to show that the accused may influence the prosecution witnesses or cause physical harm to the complainant; when comparative inconvenience and hardships are likely to be caused to the accused; when there is a communally surcharged atmosphere indicating some proof of inability of holding fair and impartial trial because of the accusations made and the nature of the crime committed by the accused; existence of some material from which it can be inferred that some persons are so hostile that they are interfering or are likely to interfere either directly or indirectly with the course of justice.

The convenience of parties and witnesses as well as the language spoken by them could also act as a relevant factor when deciding a transfer petition, the court said. Besides the pro-active exercises, the Bench said transferring the current case would present logistical issues. More than 90 witnesses, most of whom are Bengalis, are yet to be examined.

4. Networks, content players diverge on converged norms

The TRAI has issued a consultation paper on bringing about a convergence of broadcasting and content regulations.

Traditional broadcasting and telecom companies say they are being undercut by unregulated digital players, who seek different approaches for regulating content and its carriers

A consultation paper by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on bringing about a “convergence” of broadcasting and content regulations has divided content providers, broadcasters and telecom operators. While telecom operators and broadcasters are arguing that content providers and messaging apps are undercutting their services through online distribution, the digital industry is defending existing regulatory frameworks, demanding a difference in approach towards content and its delivery.

“Due to the convergence of technologies, many new-age services including social media, OTT [over-the-top] communication and broadcasting services, online video streaming, etc. are operating at the intersection of these compartmentalised functions of the [government] departments and may remain out of the necessary oversight and policy frame of the government despite being functionally similar to licensed services,” Reliance Jio said in its submission.

‘No actual convergence’

Online content providers are not convinced, however, that there is a need to bring the administrative regulation of these functions together. “Mere convergence of devices, services or networks does not warrant drawing of the conclusion that there is ‘convergence’ of telecom and broadcasting services,” the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) said in its submission. (The Hindu is a DNPA member.)

The Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA), which represents Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ Hotstar, insisted that there was no actual convergence going on, and that content and carriage needed to be regulated separately.

“Whilst cooperation of regulators already occurs, e.g. with TRAI and MIB [the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting] coordinating on issues such as Net neutrality, consumer protection and anti-competitive practices, we would advocate for greater cooperation across regulators, along with harmonisation of legislation, rather than additional regulations or a converged regulator,” the association said in its filing.

There is a more fundamental tension in the carriage-versus-broadcasting debate — telecom operators and broadcasters complained that they faced extensive regulatory burdens and levies, often to their detriment and to the benefit of online players. Tata Play, which runs a satellite TV business and also bundles streaming platforms, underlined this tension: “… we have been making laws not for the basic components [of content delivery] but combinations of components, as and when they have emerged,” the company said. “As a consequence, the combinations that escaped regulations have thrived while the ones that got regulated, are languishing.”

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