Category Archives: Law

Supreme Court of India refuses to review gay ban

The controversial Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that deals with “unnatural offenses” criminalises homosexuality in India.

Section 377

The Indian Penal Code is a 153-year-old act that was introduced during the British rule in India. Section 377 deals with unnatural offenses.

“Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Naz Foundation v. Govt of NCT of Delhi

Naz Foundation, a non-governmental organisation that supports gay rights had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court in 2001 seeking legislation of homosexual intercourse between consenting adults.

In 2006, the National AIDS Control Organisation filed an affidavit stating that Section 377 violated LGBT rights.

The Delhi High Court declared Section 377 as unconstitutional with respect to sex between consenting adults on 2 July, 2009 in Naz Foundation v. Govt of NCT of Delhi. The court claimed that Section 377 violated the fundamental rights to equality before law, freedom from discrimination and life and personal liberty under Articles 14, 15 and 21 respectively of the Constitution of India.

The Supreme Court overturned this ruling and upheld the provisions of the constitution on 11 December, 2013. The Supreme Court ruled homosexuality to be a criminal offense setting aside the 2009 judgment passed by the Delhi High Court. The judgment declared that it was upto the parliament to amend the law and the judiciary did not have the mandate to rule on it.

Future of the LGBT community

Homosexuality is considered a taboo in India. Sex between people of the same gender is punishable by law.

Following the ruling in 2009 by the Delhi High Court, Gay people found hope and several came out of the closet sensing a bright future. However, on 28 January, 2014, the Supreme Court dismissed the review petition filed by the Central Government, Naz Foundation and several others.

The community can now file a curative petition to have the law overturned or can seek the parliamentary route to have the law amended.

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Saudi women defy driving ban

On 26th October, women of Saudi Arabia drove on the streets to defy the driving ban. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving. The punishment is 10 lashes.

The law

There is no written ban on women driving. However, women must obtain a locally issued license to drive. These licenses are not issued to women. Therefore, this effectively prevents women from driving

The defiance

More than 16,000 signatures were obtained on the campaign website to change the law. Later in the day, the website was hacked.

The women to drive movement

The women to drive movement is a campaign started by Saudi Arabian women who are trying to enforce the right to drive motor vehicles on public roads in Saudi Arabia.

The protest began in 1990, when women in Riyadh drove their cars in protest. They were imprisoned for a day, their passports were confiscated and some of them lost their jobs.

In 2007, Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia Al-Uyyouni of the Association for the Protection and Defense of Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia appealed to King Abdullah with a petition of 1,100 signatures. On International Women’s Day, al-Huwaider filmed herself driving and posted the video online. The following week she was arrested after she posted a video of Manal al-Sharif driving.

Several other protests have taken place in Saudi Arabia since then. The movement has garnered support from the international community as well.

Video that went viral

Saudi Arabia based comedian Hisham Fageeh posted a video that went viral over the internet to bring more attention towards the plight of women. The video got over 450,000 views on YouTube. The song titled No Woman, No Drive is his rendition of Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry.

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Jail term for Laloo Prasad Yadav

Indian MP, former Minister of Railway and Chief Minister of Bihar has been awarded a sentence of five year imprisonment and Rs. 25,00,000 (approx. £25,000) fine for his involvement in the Fodder Scam

The Fodder Scam

The Fodder Scam was a corruption scandal that involved the embezzlement of state funds to buy food for cattle. The corruption scheme involved fabrication of a herd of fictitious livestock for which fodder, medicines and animal husbandry medicines were supposedly procured. Rs. 944 crore (approx. £94m) was siphoned off from the animal husbandry department.

The scandal came to light in 1996.

The verdict

Seventeen years after the scandal broke, a special court in Ranchi delivered the verdict on 3rd October. This judgement is a landmark step in tackling rampant corruption among politicians in India. Laloo Prasad Yadav will lose his MP seat due to this conviction.

During the trial, 56 people were accused. Out of them, seven died during the course of the trial.

Former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra and Janata Dal – United (JDU) MP Jagdish Sharma have been sentenced to four years imprisonment.

Appeal

Yadav’s counsel will appeal against the judgement in the Jharkhand High Court on 17th October. For now, he is prisoner no. 3312 at Birsa Munda jail in Ranchi.

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UK Courts to go the US way

From October onwards, cameras will broadcast cases from England’s Court of Appeal has been approved by the House of Commons. The proposal will now be debated in the House of Lords prior to coming into effect in October.

The positive move

The UK Supreme Court proceedings are already streamed live on the Internet since 2011. The Royal Courts of JusticeFilming inside has been banned under Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925 and Section 9 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981.

The cost of filming in court will be covered by media organisations.

Courts Minister Helen Grant said, “ Justice must be seen to be done, that is why we are introducing limited television broadcasting in courts from next month.”

The limitations

Victims, witnesses, jurors and defendants will not be filmed.

“We are opening up the court process to allow people to see and hear the judges’ decisions in their own words, but we will also ensure that victims and witnesses will not be filmed and will remain protected,” added Grant

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Weird laws to watch out for

Who knew that you could be fined for feeding a pigeon in Venice or could be arrested and detained for photographing government buildings, palaces and military installations in Saudi Arabia?

These things could seem innocent to several people but could be some of the reasons why people pay hefty fines and are arrested and detained abroad.

“Every year British nationals find themselves on the wrong side of the law unexpectedly, resulting in fines or in some cases arrests or even jail sentences,” says Charles Hay, Director of Consular Services in a statement issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the UK following the FCO British Behaviour Abroad Report 2013.

The FCO assisted 19,244 British nationals in 2012/13.

Some examples of weird laws

Country

Law

Penalty/Consequences

Netherlands Don’t carry or use drugs. While the Netherlands has a reputation for being tolerant on the use of so-called ‘soft drugs’ this exists only for designated areas. Possession of prohibited substances or buying them can carry a prison sentence Arrest, detention
Venice Feeding the pigeons is against the law Fines
Japan It is illegal to take some commonly available nasal sprays containing pseudoephedrine into Japan Fines
Barcelona It is against the law to wear a bikini, swimming trunks or to go bare-chested away from the beach front area in Barcelona Fines
Singapore Chewing gum on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in Singapore is strictly prohibited Fines
Thailand It is illegal to import more than 200 cigarettes into Thailand Large fines and confiscation
Italy (Florence) It is an offence to sit on steps and courtyards or to eat and drink in the immediate vicinity of churches and public buildings in Florence Large fines
Saudi Arabia In Saudi Arabia photographing government buildings, military installations and palaces is prohibited Arrest and detention
Barbados It is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing Fines
Nigeria It is illegal to take mineral water into Nigeria Fines, confiscation
Fiji Sunbathing topless is prohibited Fines
Maldives Public observance of religions other than Islam is prohibited for non-Maldivians and visitors Arrest, detention

How to avoid such consequences?

One can easily avoid these circumstances by researching travel destinations thoroughly in advance. It is worth keeping in mind that the laws of the land are in force irrespective of the persons nationality.

“Consular staff often find that travelers are unaware that local laws apply to them and many British nationals think of their British passport as a ‘get out of jail free’ card,” adds Charles Hay.

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Finders keepers or imprisonment?

What would you do if you found a £10 note fallen down on the road? Would you rather hand it over to authorities or keep it with the justification “finders keepers, losers weepers”?

Essex resident Sacha Hall, 21, was accused for helping herself to food items such as potato waffles, pies and ham that had been thrown out by Tesco following a power cut.

The police arrested Sacha from her home for an offense called “theft by finding”. The offense carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment of seven years.

Theft by finding

If a person finds an object, he should assume that the original owner would claim it back and not think of it as a freebie.

The finder should take reasonable steps to find the owner and hand it in to the police. If the finder keeps the object, he will be charged for theft by finding. The person in possession of stolen goods is liable for prosecution.

The Theft Act, 1968

In English law, Section 1 of The Theft Act, 1968 states the definition of a theft as “A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it; and ‘theft’ and ‘steal’ shall be construed accordingly.”

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The Draconian Olympic Act

The Olympic symbol is one of the most recognisable symbols in the world. Is it so easy to use?

The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, restricts the use of words associated with the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in London.

These words include 2012, Twenty twelve, Two thousand and twelve in conjunction with medals, London, sponsors, summer, games, gold, silver and bronze in combination except by those who are official sponsors of the games.

Businesses who are not official sponsors of the Games cannot use any marks that could suggest the Olympics. These include words with “Olympi—” prefixes, the interlocking rings symbol and the Olympic motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius.”

The action taken

The act also allows the Games’ authorities to enter private residences and may use “reasonable force” to remove the infringing material whether commercial or non-commercial use.

The person guilty shall be fined an amount not exceeding £20,000

Used to combat ambush marketing

The draconian measures to protect the trademark are used to prevent ambush marketing. Ambush marketing enables brand owners who are not official sponsors of the Games to be associated with the Games.

During the 1996 Summer Olympics in USA, Nike bought billboard space around the venues and constructed a Nike Village near the athletes’ village. Nike went to the extent of distributing Nike flags, ‘ambushing’ Reebok, the official sponsor. Nike was immediately asked to take down their banners and the village but by then the damage was already done. Television audiences were asked to recall the names of official sponsors. 22% cited Nike while only 16% cited the official sponsors, Reebok.

During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, several countries were tuned into the Opening Ceremonies. Olympic gymnast Li Ning lit the torch. Li Ning owns a shoe company with the same name and is a direct rival of Adidas in China. Adias was an official Olympic sponsor. The irony though was that Li Ning was wearing Adidas clothing during the ceremony.

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