The 350-crore-rupee mystery: The financial transactions that led to SEBI’s order asking VCPL to make an open offer for NDTV

By KRISHN KAUSHIK | 28 June 2018
On 26 June, the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) ordered Vishvapradhan Commercial Pvt Ltd (VCPL) to make a public offer for acquiring shares of NDTV. In 2009, VCPL had indirectly assumed a controlling stake in the media company, by giving a loan of Rs 350 crore to its promoters Radhika Roy and Prannoy Roy Holdings Pvt Limited, effectively acquiring 52 percent of NDTV. SEBI stated that this was done in violation of their takeover norms. SEBI noted that the takeover exercise “has been conveniently couched as a loan agreement.” It further directed VCPL to pay 10 percent interest on top of a takeover fee to the former shareholders of the company.

Justice Chelameswar as the textualist, the critic and the dissenter

By Satya Prasoon | 27 June 2018
In a press release issued on 24 June, the Bar Council of India condemned the former Supreme Court judge Jasti Chelameswar for his comments to several media organisations after his official retirement two days earlier. The release states, “The amount of damage which has been to the institution since last January, would take a long time to be repaired and rectified.” That month, Chelameswar, along with three other senior judges of the Supreme Court, addressed a landmark press conference that will mark his legacy and remain etched as a defining moment of India’s judicial history. In the conference, the judges raised fundamental and damning concerns with the administrative functioning of the court. Chelameswar had told the press, “Unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country”—an ironic statement in the context of the bar association’s release.

हापुड़ हत्‍याकांड: हमलावरों के परिवारों ने माना कि गोकशी के संदेह में ही भीड़ ने हमला किया था, फिर भी पुलिस मामले पर परदा डालने में जुटी है

By Sagar | 26 June 2018
ईद-उल-फि़तर के दो दिन बाद की घटना है। हापुड़ के पिलखुआ निवासी मोहम्‍मद कासिम (50) के पास 18 जून को एक फोन आता है। उसके तुरंत बाद वे घर से निकल जाते हैं। सुबह दस साढ़े दस बजे के बीच की बात होगी। अपने बेटे महताब को वे कह कर जाते हैं कि वापसी में एक बकरा या भैंसा लेकर आएंगे। उन्‍होंने बेटे को फोन करने वाले का नाम तो नहीं बताया लेकिन इतना कहा कि सात किलोमीटर दूर बझेड़ा खुर्द गांव में मवेशियों की खरीद पर एक बढि़या सौदा पट गया है। महताब ने मान लिया कि फोन करने वाला पिता का कोई परिचित ही रहा होगा।

How the Delhi Police was forced to participate in the sterilisation drive during Emergency

By John Dayal and Ajoy Bose | 26 June 2018
On 25 June 1975, the prime minister Indira Gandhi declared Emergency. The subsequent months have come to be referred to as one of the darkest moments of Indian democracy—the period saw disturbing censures of the press, an excessive control over the government and the judiciary, and the implementation of policies such as a draconian family-planning scheme launched by Sanjay Gandhi, Indira’s younger son.

Hapur Lynching: Police attempt a cover-up even as families of assailants admit to mob attack on suspicion of cow slaughter

By Sagar | 24 June 2018
Two days after Eid-ul-fitr, on 18 June, Mohammad Qasim, a 50-year-old residing in Hapur district’s Pilkhuwa town, received a phone call. He left home soon after—between 10 and 10.30 am. He told his son Mahtab that he would return with a goat or buffalo. He did not name the caller, but said that he had been offered a deal on the purchase of the animals in Bajhera Khurd, a village about 7 kilometres away. Mahtab assumed that the caller was an acquaintance of his father’s.

Aadhaar security failure: Government webpages provide unsecured access to demographic authentication

By Aria Thaker | 22 June 2018
In another exposure of Aadhaar’s cybersecurity weaknesses, over 70 subdomains under a Government of India website are providing access to demographic-authentication services without requiring identity verification from the requester. The websites allow users to access an application programming interface, or API, in which anyone can enter a person’s Aadhaar number, name, gender and date of birth, and be directed to a page that either reads “yes” or displays an error message, indicating whether or not the information corresponds to a valid entry in the Aadhaar database. Providing such unrestricted access to this API raises major concerns of privacy, and may be exploited by hackers seeking to uncover people’s Aadhaar numbers. It also violates the Aadhaar Act, the law governing India’s nationwide digital-identity programme.

The BCCI’s fight to prove that the IPL is entertainment comparable to a soap opera, not a distinct form of cricket

By Sagar | 22 June 2018
Since 2010, the Board of Control for Cricket in India has been fighting to prove that the Indian Premier League is comparable to a soap opera. The board has been attempting to show the Competition Commission of India that the IPL is not primarily a “unique format of cricket,” but rather an entertainment programme. The BCCI contends that the IPL is just another sporting event “designed for commercial purposes and to attract television broadcasters.” In fact, the cricketing body has argued that the IPL is an entertainment programme that competes with, among other shows, the talent show “India’s Got Talent” and the drama “Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai.”

Claims that Shujaat Bukhari Was Killed for Attending a Track Two Conference Are Built on Shaky Foundations

By Omair Ahmad | 20 June 2018
As with any other high-profile murder in Kashmir, Shujaat Bukhari’s killing has thrown up a number of claims long before real evidence has been publicly presented. Two articles—one in The Quint and one in Asia Times—have suggested that the veteran journalist’s leading role in a Track Two conference led to his assassination.

Was the PDP-BJP coalition Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s biggest miscalculation?

By PRAVEEN DONTHI | 19 June 2018
The Bharatiya Janata Party has pulled out of its alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir. In the January 2016 cover story, Praveen Donthi reported on Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and how he came to be the centre’s man in Kashmir. Sayeed, who founded the PDP, became chief minister after the alliance was formed in early 2015; his daughter, Mehbooba, succeeded him after he died. “To understand Sayeed ... is to understand how the government of India has, over decades, warped the very nature of democracy in Jammu and Kashmir, often distorting it beyond recognition,” Donthi wrote.

Excessive force, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, lack of access to justice, health: Extracts from the first-ever UN Report on Kashmir

By The Caravan | 18 June 2018
On 14 June, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a report on the human-rights conditions in Jammu and Kashmir as well as Pakistan-Administered Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan. The report examines the conditions that have prevailed in the region following the killing of the militant leader Burhan Wani in July 2016 by Indian security forces, which triggered the fiercest protests the valley has seen since 2010. “Indian security forces responded to protests with force, which led to casualties and a wide range of alleged related human rights violations throughout the summer of 2016 and into 2018,” the OHCHR report noted. The report noted that the Indian security forces used “excessive force” that led to “unlawful killings and a very high number of injuries.” It added that laws such as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1990, or AFSPA, and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978—or PSA—have “created structures that obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardize the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations.” Despite accusations of abuse including sexual violence, in the nearly 20 years that the AFSPA has been in force, the report noted, “there has not been a single prosecution of armed forces personnel granted by the central government.”
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