Dear Reader,

The need of the police and investigating agencies to access citizens' data for fighting crime and terror, and the citizen's own right to protect his data from omnibus surveillance, is an oft-debated and vexed issue.

Civil society groups' main concern has been the state’s unregulated and unbridled use and access of citizens' Metadata - a record of individual electronic devices and network activities. The police argue that access to Metadata is imperative for determining the investigation roadmap and connecting seemingly disparate dots. However, the worry is the scope and extent of the resort to citizens' data and whether law enforcement is adhering to and following rules and laws enshrined.

In a detailed and painstaking investigation over a month, MediaNama explores the critical questions involved in the measures adopted by the crime busters and their impact on public weal.

The Indian Evidence Act of 1872 is over a century and a half old. However, its antiquity has not stopped it from being the principal statute governing proof and adjudication in most civil and criminal cases in India. This has been a much lamented and nagging neglect.

Three months ago, the Union government introduced a bill in Parliament seeking to replace the archaic provisions and usher in the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill to indigenise and modernise India's evidence ecology. However, The India Forum points out that the working of the committee that drafted the legislation, which will have a profound impact on the lives of the citizens, has been "shrouded in secrecy". There is no discernible engagement with the past reports of the Law Commission or with the body of scholarship that has gone deep into the workings of the Evidence Act.

Another challenge to the citizens’ privacy has emerged in the national capital, Delhi. Delhi is now one of the most surveilled cities in the world, with over two-and-a-half lakh government-installed CCTV cameras, which is set to go up to over four lakh in the coming months. Article 14, citing a study by independent researchers, reveals that the state is coercing citizens to install CCTVs at their homes and businesses, ushering in an era of "warrantless surveillance". And, in turn, compromise the privacy of citizens.

And, Birsa Munda was a revered freedom fighter and folk hero who led a movement against land-grabbing by the British, in connivance with the local powers, in the later years of the 19th century. Over the recent years, ambitious schemes have been announced and launched, worth crores, from the village of his birth – Ulihatu in Jharkhand – for the development of tribals in the region. However, Mojo Story reports from Ulihatu that the schemes have belied their ambitions. The promised housing, access to gas cylinders, usable toilets and potable water have fallen far short of expectations.

For more such stories from the grantees this week, please read on.


Sunil Rajshekhar

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How India's Police Is Using Metadata

In a detailed and deep-sourced investigation, MediaNama unveils how security agencies use Metadata to solve and prevent crimes but how the scope of its misuse has implications for citizens' privacy and safety.

Read Here

The Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023: A New and Unimproved Evidence Act

Why does the new legislation to replace the century-and-a-half-old Indian Evidence Act not seem to be a product of consultations and discussions with scholars and experts? The India Forum analyses the consequences of this aberration.

Read Here

How The State Is Using Section 144 & Private Citizens For 'Warrantless Surveillance'

Article 14 cites independent research to tell us how the state is using "positive obligations" not envisaged by the law to coerce citizens to install CCTVs, which impacts the privacy rights of Delhi's residents.

Read Here

कैसा है Birsa Munda के गांव का हाल जहां से PM मोदी ने Tribals के लिए 24 हज़ार करोड़ की योजना का किया ऐलान

Mojo Story does a reality check from Ulihatu, the tribal village in Jharkhand, the birthplace of revered freedom fighter Birsa Munda, on the state of the promised facilities – water, toilets, housing and access to cooking gas.

Read Here

More from the grantees
एक ऐसा जिला जहां आदिवासी पूरे परिवार के साथ करते हैं पलायन - ग्राउंड रिपोर्ट
In Banswara, Kushalgarh and Sajjangarh in southern Rajasthan, entire families of tribals, more than half the population, migrate to Gujarat in search of livelihood, to work as unskilled labourers at construction sites, factories and brick kilns. The Mooknayak brings you the story of their lives, lived at the edge of destitution.
ടൂറിസ്റ്റ് ലോബിക്ക് വേണ്ടി തീരം ഒഴിപ്പിക്കുന്ന സര്‍ക്കാര്‍
TrueCopy Think narrates the story of the plight of the fishing community in Kozhikode, forced to relocate for their safety by the government but offered paltry and inadequate sums for their rehabilitation.
सरकारी उदासीनता और हीलाहवाली से गाजीपुर के किसानों का अफीम की खेती से हो रहा है मोहभंग
In UP's Ghazipur district's Zamania block, opium cultivators, operating under strict government controls, and producing poppy – a critical component for some lifesaving drugs – are a disillusioned lot and turning away to alternate crops. Gaon Ke Log reports.
ग्राउंड रिपोर्ट: मुजफ्फरपुर के 42.7 फीसदी बच्चे कुपोषित, भरपेट भोजन से वंचित है बड़ी आबादी
Janchowk reports from Muzaffarpur in Bihar on how, despite the Anganwadi centres and mid-day meal schemes, malnutrition persists in the region, with 42.7% of children affected.

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