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Supreme Court rejects pleas seeking review of 2018 Aadhaar verdict

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has dismissed a batch of pleas seeking review of its 2018 verdict which had upheld the Centre’s flagship Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid but struck down some of its provisions, including its linking with bank accounts, mobile phones and school admissions.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar, by a majority of 4:1, rejected the review pleas against the apex court’s September 26, 2018 verdict.

Justice D Y Chandrachud, one of the five-judges of the bench, dissented with the majority order and said that review petitions be kept pending until a larger bench decides the question related to certification of a bill as a money bill.

Justice Chandrachud, in his famous dissenting verdict in 2018 in the case, had held that Aadhaar Act should not have been passed as money bill as it amounts to a fraud on the Constitution and is liable to be struck down.

It was argued earlier in the apex court by the petitioners challenging the provisions of the Aadhaar Act that the Aadhaar Bill was certified as a money bill which enabled the government to get it cleared without getting the assent of a majority in the Rajya Sabha.

The present review petitions have been filed against the final judgment and order dated September 26, 2018. We have perused the review petitions as well as the grounds in support thereof. In our opinion, no case for review of judgment and order dated September 26, 2018 is made out, the majority order of January 11 said.

We hasten to add that change in the law or subsequent decision/judgment of a coordinate or larger bench by itself cannot be regarded as a ground for review. The review petitions are accordingly dismissed, the bench, also comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, S Abdul Nazeer and B R Gavai, said while also rejecting the prayer for open court hearing on the review petitions.

In his separate order, Justice Chandrachud said, I regret my inability to agree with the decision of the majority in dismissing the present batch of review petitions.

He noted that there were two critical questions among others — whether the decision of the Lok Sabha Speaker under Article 110(3) of the Constitution to certify a bill as a money bill’ under Article 110(1) is final and binding, or can be subject to judicial review and if the decision is subject to judicial review, whether the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 had been correctly certified as a money bill’.

Referring to another verdict delivered by a Constitution bench in September 2019, he said the majority opinion in 2018 Aadhaar judgement on whether the Aadhaar Act was a money bill’ under Article 110 has been doubted by a coordinate bench and the issues including what constitutes a money bill’, the extent of judicial review over a certification by the Speaker of Lok Sabha has been referred to a larger bench which has not been constituted.

Dismissing the present batch of review petitions at this stage – a course of action adopted by the majority – would place a seal of finality on the issues in the present case, without the court having the benefit of the larger bench’s consideration of the very issues which arise before us.

The correctness of Puttaswamy (Aadhaar-5J.) on issues pertaining to, and arising from, the certification of a Bill as a money bill’ by the Speaker of the House of People has been doubted by a co-ordinate constitution bench in Rojer Mathew, Justice Chandrachud said.

With the doubt expressed by another constitution bench on the correctness of the very decision which is the subject matter of these review petitions, it is a constitutional error to hold at this stage that no ground exists to review the judgment. The larger bench’s determination would have an undeniable impact on the validity of the reasons expressed in Puttaswamy (Aadhaar-5J.), on the constitutional issues pertaining to and arising out of the certification by the Speaker of the House of People, he said.

The failure to recontextualize the decision of the larger bench with regard to the Aadhaar Act being a Money Bill’ under Article 110(1) will render it a mere academic exercise, he said.

Justice Chandrachud noted that these review petitions had been filed before the judgment was delivered on November 13, 2019 in Rojer Mathew case.

If these review petitions are to be dismissed and the larger bench reference in Rojer Mathew were to disagree with the analysis of the majority opinion in Puttaswamy (Aadhaar-5J.), it would have serious consequences – not just for judicial discipline, but also for the ends of justice, he said, adding that these review petitions should be kept pending until the larger bench decides the questions referred to it.

In all humility, I conclude that the constitutional principles of consistency and the rule of law would require that a decision on the review petitions should await the reference to the larger bench, he said.

In the November 2019 verdict, the apex court had struck down in entirety the rules formulated by the Centre on appointment and service conditions for members of various tribunals, and referred to a larger bench the issue of examining the validity of the passage of the Finance Act 2017 as money bill which was vigorously opposed in Parliament by opposition parties.

Source: Press Trust of India

Appointments

Airtel appoints former Cabinet Secretary as independent director

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel, India’s premier communications solutions provider, today announced the appointment of PK Sinha and Shyamal Mukherjee as Independent Directors on its Board of Directors. The appointments are subject to approval by shareholders at Airtel’s upcoming Annual General Meeting.

PK Sinha, IAS (Retd.), served as the Cabinet Secretary for more than 4 years before moving to the Prime Minister’s Office. He retired from there in March 2021 after 44 years of continuous service to the nation. He has been a Government nominee Director in numerous major Public Sector Undertakings and is well versed with the principles of healthy corporate governance.

Shyamal Mukherjee is the former Chairman and Senior Partner of PwC lndia and was at the forefront of making PwC a future-ready firm. Shyamal began his professional journey with PwC in 1984 and became a partner in 1993. He held several leadership roles at PwC India, including Brand & Strategy leader and Leader of India Tax practice. Shyamal also serves as an Independent Director on the board of ITC Ltd and a member of its Audit Committee.

The Company added that Manish Kejriwal, Lead Independent Director, would be retiring on September 25, 2022 on completion of his second tenure. Shishir Priyadarshi would be leaving the board with effect from October 31, 2022 to devote time towards his other professior,21 commitments. D. K. Mittal IAS (Retd.), would be designated as Lead Independent Director with effect from September 26, 2022.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Airtel said: “Airtel takes pride in having one of the most distinguished Board of Directors that is committed to high standards of corporate governance. These appointments are made with a long term view – to make the board future-ready, address the long term requirements of the Company and ensure smooth transition in key board positions. On behalf of the Board, I welcome PK Sinha and Shyamal Mukherjee and their valuable experience will add immense value to Airtel’s growth journey. I also want to thank fv1ani:;h Kejriwal and Shishir Priyadarshi for their tremendous contribution to Airtel.”

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5g

Narendra Modi inaugurates India’s first 5G testbed; says aims to roll out 6G end of decade

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NEW DELHI: India is targeting the rollout of 6G telecom network, which will provide ultra high speed internet connectivity, by the end of the decade, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday.

India currently has 3G and 4G telecom networks and companies are gearing up to launch 5G over the next few months.

Speaking at the silver jubilee event of telecom sector regulator TRAI here, he said it is estimated that the 5G network rollout will add USD 450 billion to the Indian economy.

“This is not just increasing internet speed but also the pace of development and creating jobs,” he said, adding the 5G technology will bring positive change in governance of the country, ease of living and ease of doing business.

It will boost growth in agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and logistics, he said.

Connectivity, Modi said, will decide the progress of the country in the 21st century and so modern day infrastructure needs to be rolled out.

According to the prime minister, a task force has started work on rolling out 6G network by the end of the decade.

Taking potshots at the previous Congress-led UPA government, Modi said the 2G era was symbolic of policy paralysis and corruption.

The country, under his government, has moved transparently to 4G and is now going to 5G.

Teledensity and internet users are fast expanding, he said, adding that mobile manufacturing units in India have expanded from 2 to over 200 and the country is now the world’s biggest mobile manufacturing hub.

The prime minister also said that his government has encouraged healthy competition that has led to India having one of the cheapest telecom data charges in the world.

Indigenous 5G test bed in telecom sector is an important step in India’s self-reliance, he added.

PM Modi virtually inaugurates India’s first 5G testbed costing Rs 220 crore

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday inaugurated the country’s first 5G testbed to enable startups and industry players to test and validate their products locally and reduce dependence on foreign facilities.

The testbed has been set up at a cost of around Rs 220 crore. Speaking at the silver jubilee celebrations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), the Prime Minister said the 5G testbed is an important step for self-reliance in the direction of critical and modern technologies.

“I invite youth friends, researchers and companies to utilise the testing facility for making 5G technology,” Modi said.

The 5G testbed has been developed as a multi-institute collaborative project by eight institutes led by IIT Madras.

In the absence of a 5G testbed, startups and other industry players were required to go abroad to test and validate their products for installation in a 5G network.

The other institutes that participated in the project are IIT Delhi, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur, IISc Bangalore, Society for Applied Microwave Electronics Engineering & Research (SAMEER) and Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT).

The testbed facility will be available at 5 different locations.

Source: Press Trust of India

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5g

5G now in 1947 cities across 72 countries

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NEW DELHI: Viavi Solutions said that it has released new industry data revealing that the number of cities with 5G networks now stands at 1,947 globally. Despite the pandemic, 5G cities came online at a rate of nearly two per day, with the addition of 635 new 5G cities in 2021, according to the new VIAVI report “The State of 5G,” now in its sixth year.

By the end of January 2022, 72 countries had 5G networks in place, with the newest crop of 5G countries comprising Argentina, Bhutan, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Malta and Mauritius, which all came online in the second half of 2021. Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) has overtaken Asia Pacific including Greater China (APAC) to become the region with the most 5G cities at 839. APAC has 689 5G cities and the Americas has 419.

Not surprisingly, the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China are the countries with the most 5G cities. China now has 356 5G cities and the United States has 296. The Philippines remained in the third spot globally with a total of 98 5G cities.

Currently, most 5G networks deployed are Non-Standalone (NSA) networks, meaning that 5G equipment is added to existing 4G network infrastructure. There are currently 24 Standalone (SA) 5G networks globally, meaning that they have been built using a new 5G core network. It is widely considered that many of the next-generation use cases and monetization models associated with 5G, beyond enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) will only be possible when Standalone 5G networks built on new 5G core networks are in place.

The State of 5G also highlights the growing Open RAN ecosystem, combining mobile operators as well as software and infrastructure vendors, seeking to develop an open, virtualized Radio Access Network (RAN) with embedded Artificial Intelligence (AI) control. As of March 2022, 64 operators have publicly announced their participation in the development of Open RAN networks. This breaks down to 23 live deployments of Open RAN networks, 34 in the trial phase with a further seven operators that have publicly announced they are in the pre-trial phase.

“5G continued to expand, despite the headwinds of a global pandemic,” said Sameh Yamany, CTO, VIAVI Solutions. “What comes next in 5G is the reinforcement of networks. This will take a couple of forms. Firstly, we expect to see more Standalone 5G networks, which will deliver on much of the promise of 5G, both for the operator and for the wider ecosystem of users. And secondly, we expect to see Open RAN continue its rapid development and start to become a de facto standard. VIAVI will continue to play a central role in testing those new networks as they are built and expanded.”

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