28 April 2015

Plagiarism: Know the law before you ‘Ctrl + C’ and ‘Ctrl + V’!

Authored by Aarti Aggarwal

Plagiarism is primarily an ethical issue. It involves using the work of another author without attributing it to them. To have committed plagiarism, it is not necessary to exactly copy the words. Incorporating the original ideas expressed by another person without according credit to them also amounts to plagiarism. The use of unpublished work, for example, that of another student, is treated just the same.

It is surprising to note that the law in India does not expressly mention plagiarism as a criminal offence anywhere. However, it can be read into the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 by virtue of what it means and what it doesn’t. Apart from consequences under the act, you can also be subject to your respective university guidelines (which I suggest you all should look into, perhaps? FYI: At the end of the article). Here’s a quick sneak peak into what plagiarism means, in the larger legal sense.

27 April 2015

Should the names of the people accused for committing rape be disclosed before they are charged?

Authored by Dwayne Farnandez

Rape is a very sensitive issue in society. It is understood as the ‘ravishing’ and ‘violation’ of a woman. Violation of not only a woman’s body, but also her modesty and integrity. When a woman complains about having been raped, the police make a fair investigation pertaining to the allegations. The police take the suspected people (accused) into custody and conduct tests and record statements based on which the case is either suspended at that point or is taken forward. The main issue with society today, and with some people, is that they are aware about the consequences of committing rape. Women deserve the right to be protected, as do men. In this generation, women have started taking advantage of the fact that rape can get a ‘man’ into a lot of trouble under the law, and therefore we see false allegations being filed against men who at times are not involved with the incident, or such an incident is just concocted by the woman in order to get the man behind bars. Keeping this in mind, wouldn’t it be unfair to disclose the names of the people accused for rape before they are tried and charged?

Police: Extent of Investigatory Powers

Authored by Deepti Narayanan

India, although touted as the world's largest democracy, happens to espouse values and rights on a slightly different priority basis in comparison to what is often considered to be the world's largest democracy - namely, United States of America. For instance, the right to freedom of speech and expression is so highly valued in United States of America that a citizen is considered to be well within their rights to even burn their national flag. It is merely considered an expression of their emotions/beliefs towards the country. Don't try this in India, because while we do have the right to freely speak and express ourselves, there are certain limitations placed on this right of ours. Not only are these restrictions kept in place for reasons such as security of the state, but also another scenario in which you might feel your right to freedom of speech or expression under scrutiny is when a manifestation of that very right to freedom of speech of expression comes under the purview or ambit of a police investigation. 

Myth Buster #4

Authored by Pujita Makani

What is the evidentiary value of a child's witness testimony?

Witness testimonies are one of the prime ingredients used for laying the foundation of evidence in a criminal case. The credibility of witnesses is definitely of key concern during a trial in order to dispense justice. What if a child steps into the witness box? Would his/her statements pass the test of credibility and be considered to possess evidentiary value?  
This issue was discussed and the relevant case law were amalgamated in the Supreme Court judgement of State of M.P. v. Ramesh and Anr.[1] In short, yes. Children’s testimonies do possess evidentiary value and need not even be corroborated! Merely because the evidence was obtained from a child witness does not vitiate it. Of course there are ifs and buts to this stance…
The competence of a witness is determined in accordance with the provisions of Section 5 of Indian Oaths Act, 1873 and Section 118 of Evidence Act, 1872. Every witness must be able to understand the questions and provide rational answers, this requirement is pretty straightforward. However in the case of a child witness, the court[2] observed that children are prone to be ‘tutored’ or instructed but this cannot be the sole reason to discredit their testimony. There must be clear evidence that the statements deposed were tailored to suit the party.

There are few pointers in determining the competence of a child:

Whether he/she has the capacity to understand the weight of his statements and the consequences thereof, whether he is able to comprehend the obligation of an oath and distinguish between right and wrong.

After careful scrutiny, in the absence of any obstacle, the evidence must be accepted[3]. If however the statement is partly ‘tutored’ the court may severe it from the rest and consider the untutored part[4].

Hope this post has made you aware of the legal and evidentiary stance on testimonies deposed by child witnesses.

[1] 2011(2)ACR1969(SC)
[2] Mangoo & Anr. v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1995 SC 959
[3] Himmat Sukhadeo Wahurwagh & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 2009 SC 2292
[4] Gagan Kanojia & Anr. v. State of Punjab, (2006) 13 SCC 516

15 April 2015

The law regarding Sexual Harassment

Authored by Ishita Gugnani

It has been almost 18 years since the Vishakha guidelines came into being and the word “sexual harassment” was recognized by the Supreme Court for the first time. So why are we still talking about it today and every other day? It is because every day the newspapers are filled with atrocities committed against women. Such acts have brought the Indian penal system under scrutiny and numerous changes have been made in our legal system, especially through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.

Even though, this topic has already garnered quite a lot of attention in recent times, it is important to be aware of what you can do and what protection is offered by law in such cases. This article aims at arming you with all the provisions that protect you against all forms of sexual harassment which we face (or atleast hear about) on a daily basis.

Eve-Teasing: The Annoying Reality

Authored by Pujita Makani

From whistling to catcalling women in India are no strangers to lewd comments. For something that is a widespread and commonly shared problem why is it best left ignored? “Men being men” is often the standard reason when she walks away from the suggestive remarks with her head bowed and eyes trained to her feet. What else would one do? A legal recourse would be her safest bet but for now, that option also seems to disappoint.

How far can your ex trouble you? How far can you be troubled? Know the law...

Authored by Aarti Aggarwal

How would you feel if your ex were to put up your intimate pictures online to your horror? 

Well, the term revenge porn stems from this very idea. The idea is that ‘a way to get back at’ or ‘take revenge’ on an ex may be to publicly send out nude or sexually compromising images of the ex by means of the web. As the terminology denotes, it is the nonconsensual publication of sexually explicit (nude or semi-nude) images online, as a tool for seeking revenge. The accused generally uses a fake IP (Internet Protocol) address to upload the offensive videos and pictures. The pictures or videos uploaded might be shot with the subject’s consent but the dissemination is actually without his/her consent.
What does the law say?

Is Narco-Analysis Test a compelled testimony?

Authored by Sumeir Ahuja 

Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only terrorist in the November 26 Mumbai terror strike to be captured alive, was subjected to a narco analysis test to corroborate all that he had confessed and to get more information about the conspiracy.
The two main accused in the Nithari serial killings Mohinder Singh Pandher and Surendra Kohli underwent the narco analysis tests in Gandhinagar in Gujarat.

Most of us have heard about the narco analysis test but don’t really know what it is. So in this article I will answer two main questions:

1.       What exactly are these tests and how do they help investigators?

2.      And more importantly are the results of these tests admissible in court?

Demystifying Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code #3 Myth Buster

Authored by Soumyadeep Bera

The propaganda concerning the constitutionality of Section 377[1] of the Indian Penal Code evoked a great sense of despair and upheaval amongst the LGBT community and the Indian youth. The constant protests in the capital and elsewhere led mostly by students demanded equitable treatment guaranteed by the Fundamental Rights regardless of sex, caste, creed, and class. The broader and perhaps more rudimental objective was to promote a progressionist agenda, soliciting the acceptance of homosexuals and transgenders into the Indian Society. Thus the Supreme Court’s judgment reinstating Section 377 was obscured by the tidal surge of varied interpretations made by eminent lawyers, media and political parties. It also led to popular misconception classifying homosexuals as criminals.       

Pre- Trial- India and China

Authored by Rydhum Raparia

Pre-Trial? I wonder how many people are aware of this term? So just to enhance your knowledge on this topic, here is an article that will contrast the Pre Trial process that takes place in India and China. When a person faces a case in a court of law, the word that comes across is how the Trial is initiated and many people are not aware of the procedure or process of initiating the trial. 

Laws regarding Confessions and Self-Incrimination

 Authored by Shreya Valiramani

Confessions by an accused or a witness and the admissibility of it are tools of evidence that create substantial testimony and shape a trial. The concern arises when it prejudices the interests of the accused or the witness when the latter is forced to confess against himself/herself to an offence in a court of law. In the following article, I bring to you a comparative perspective on the laws regarding confession between India and the U. S.

Laws regarding Arrest

 Authored by Dwayne Darryl Fernandez

This piece aims at contrasting the laws relating to arrest in the United States of America and India.

In the United States, if a substantial claim gains its foundation with the help of complaints and affidavit(s) that an accused has committed a crime, the judge must issue an arrest warrant to an authorized officer for the arrest to be carried out. The judge, in his power, can issue more than one warrant or summon. In case of failure to appear once a summon is served, the judge may issue a warrant. The judge must issue a warrant on request from an attorney working for the government if the accused fails to appear after a summon is produced  (Federal rule of Criminal Procedure, title II (Criminal Proceedings) Rule 4.)   

A warrant and summon must mention: (i) the name of the defendant (name or identification which can help identify the defendant with reasonable certainty); (ii) the offence for which the accused is called forth.  

6 April 2015

The Legal Truth about the Lie Detector

Authored by: Aarti Aggarwal

Secret service agents, law officers and espionage recruits have the most fascinating toolboxes (Yes, that’s my love for movies talking). Their occupations center on discovering "the truth" (or a convincing substitute at least) in environments where truth is patchy. So they make use of methods, which attempt to coerce or scare the truth out of those who may possess it. One of the most common interrogation tools in the history of the trade has been the lie detector. Over the years, these machines have helped put people in prison, destroy careers, and possibly even end lives! They are now better known in the industry as the ‘polygraph test’. But can these ‘machines’ actually be used legally in India? Let’s find out…

5 April 2015

Help! Some stranger just clicked a picture of me.

Authored by: Astha Singh

If someone takes out a camera/phone and clicks a picture of you, without your consent, can you make sure that he/she has deleted it or determine how they use it? This may come as a surprise, but you have no control over what they do with that photo in most situations. This is true in almost all of Europe, Asia and the Americas. Thankfully, it has some limitations.

Attention Smokers: Know the law!

Authored by: Vasudev Devadasan

If you are a smoker in 2015, it may seem as though the world is against you. In India especially, there is still plenty of social stigma attached to smoking, and the government loves to reinforce this by flashing a pair of diseased lungs in your face every time you are in a theatre. This may or may not change your mind, and that’s a private choice. But when you light a smoke in public, it’s no longer private, and now the cops get to do what they do best, take your money. So what exactly are the rules around public smoking? And does anybody really care?

Encounter Killings- Legitimate means of disbursing justice?

Authored by: Pujita Makani

“‘We've got facts’, they say. But facts aren't everything; at least half the battle consists in how one makes use of them!” 
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

The prevalence of encounter killings, (an extra judicial killing of an alleged criminal) has plagued the Indian justice system for many years now. What exactly are the justifications to these instances and how are these provisions manipulated by the Police? How has the law evolved to tackle this grave issue?

Myth Busters #1

Myth #1 - Women cannot be arrested in the absence of a female police officer.
Myth #2 - The police can refuse to register an FIR for you.
Myth #3 - An FIR can be filed only in the police station within whose geographical limits the crime took place.

Authored by Dwayne Fernandes

Myth – Women cannot be arrested in the absence of a female police officer.

Busted - We often hear people saying that ‘Women cannot be arrested in the absence of a female police officer’, however this statement is true, but just to a point. If a woman is charged for a cognizable offence, she is liable to be arrested. So what is done when there is no female police officer present?

24 March 2015

First Step of Investigation: Filing a FIR in India v. Singapore

Authored by Pujita Makani
For a country that fines people for not flushing toilets and bans the import and sale of chewing gum you are probably wondering how these offences are policed. Let’s take it up a notch, what happens when you encounter a slightly graver offence. Imagine you trying to take a selfie with The Merlion. While you’re figuring out the perfect angle that accommodates the great gigantic mass, the spout of water and your face, you are assaulted and left bereft of your passport, wallet and most importantly your iPhone. What do you do? File a FIR (First Information Report) in the case of a cognizable offence (where the offender can be arrested by the Police without the prior permission of the Magistrate in the form of a warrant) if you were in India, but you aren’t…

First Step of Investigation: Filing a Criminal Complaint in the USA

Authored by Aarti Aggarwal

In India, a criminal investigation usually begins with the filing of an FIR.  If you want more information about how an FIR works in India, click here. Assuming you have clicked on “here” and are now acquainted with the Indian procedure of filing an FIR (somewhat), what if you weren’t in India?  Most of us would wonder how an investigation is triggered in USA (Holiday in America this summer, anybody?). This article should give you a quick peek into the real game there.

Caught Intoxicated? Dodge the Breathalyzer.

Authored by  Bhavna Raghunath & Ishita Gugnani

It’s a good night out with friends, and you are a few drinks down. But you're not drunk, surely you can drive yourself back home. You are minutes away from home, and you are waved down by a policeman. Within a second realization strikes and you know you are going to be subjected to the Breathalyzer. Your mind is immediately flooded with a million questions. This post is aimed at arming you with relevant information regarding your rights in such a situation.

23 March 2015

Myth Busters

Authored by Anmol Mathur, Astha Singh and Rajat Asolkar.

It is said that movies derive inspiration from real life. That is a tall claim considering the fact that if one tried half the things that are showed in Bollywood movies, he/she would probably have a hard time bailing out of the mayhem that will follow. Here are 7  things about criminal law that work fine on the silver screen but are a disaster if you try them in real life.

Test Your Breath- Science and Law behind Breathalyzers

Authored by Sumeir Ahuja

Everybody fears the breathalyzer. Whether you are driving home after a few drinks or returning to campus after enjoying Haryana’s low liquor tax. So what exactly is a Breathalyzer and what are the laws and limitations with regards to its use?

Stripped of Rights- Law Regarding Strip Search

Authored by Shreya Valiramani

The Strip Search. Yes, we’ve all heard about it from people, newspapers and scarily enough, in our own college. Headlines that read; ‘School girls in Punjab strip searched’, have increased awareness about such instances, but mostly our knowledge is limited to isolated circumstances and consequences.. How many of us really do know if there is a law on strip searches? And if there is, then what is the punishment for it? Have the courts in the country ruled or set any guidelines for the same? Can one refuse to the search being conducted on their person? Are there any necessary procedures to be fulfilled before a strip search is conducted? For all of you,those who don’t know, I’m going to answer all these questions here.