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January 2023

Union cabinet approves incentive scheme for low value debit card transactions

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the incentive scheme for promotion of RuPay debit cards and low-value BHIM-UPI transactions (person-to-merchant) for a period of one year from April 2022. The approved incentive scheme in 2022-23 has a financial outlay of Rs 2,600 crore. Under the scheme, acquiring banks will be provided financial incentives for promoting Point-of-Sale (PoS) and e-commerce transactions using RuPay Debit Cards and low-value BHIM-UPI transactions (P2M) for the current financial year. In 2021-22, the government had approved an incentive scheme in compliance with the budget announcement of 2021-22 to give a further boost to digital transactions. As a result, total digital payments transactions have registered a year-on-year growth of 59 per cent, rising from 5,554 crore in l2020-21 to 8,840 crore in 2021-22. BHIM-UPI transactions have registered a year-on-year growth of 106 per cent, rising from 2,233 crore in 2020-21 to 4,597 crore in 2021-22. Various stakeholder in the digital payments systems and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) expressed concerns regarding potential adverse impact of the zero MDR regime on the growth of the digital payments ecosystem. Further, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) requested, among other things, for incentivisation of BHIM-UPI and RuPay Debit Card transactions to create a cost-effective value proposition for ecosystem stakeholders, increase merchant acceptance footprints and faster migration from cash payments to digital payments. This incentive scheme will facilitate building of a robust digital payment ecosystem and promoting RuPay Debit Card and BHIM-UPI digital transactions, official sources said. Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Fraud Alert: Beware of Bogus Websites Offering Govt Schemes; Loan on Phone

Even as we all are settling into the digital world, a primary issue that remains unresolved is knowing whether you are interacting with an authentic or genuine person, entity or organisation. Technology advances are allowing cybercriminals to get better and more efficient at impersonation—whether it is a person on social media or impersonating  government websites—to cheat people. They also manipulate search engine optimisation (SEO) to ensure that they appear among the top search results on the internet, sometimes ahead of the genuine websites. No wonder many people, especially those seeking to register for a government scheme, fall victim to such scamsters. In this column, I plan to discuss this and two fraud cases in the Mumbai suburban region. One is a loan fraud case where the Thane police arrested three people for duping borrowers under the pretext of providing a pre-sanctioned loan. And, in another case of similar cheating, the Dahisar police managed to recover Rs8.5 lakh from a fraudster who cheated a woman after offering her admission to a foreign law college. Bogus Websites Offering Govt Schemes Search engines like Google are a good place to quickly find information on any subject. Still, the increasing misuse of SEO by cyber criminals makes it difficult for people to get authentic information or links to a genuine portal unless they are careful. In a Twitter post, Abhijeet (@The_realist000) recently wrote about how fake websites often appear as top search results. After collecting basic information from those who access these websites, the fraudsters behind this game start demanding money under one or the other pretext. Abhijeet shared the example of how the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Energy Suraksha and Utthan Maha Abhiyan (PM-Kusum) scheme is replicated on some bogus websites for duping people. He says, “After receiving details, these people call and provide basic information about the scheme. They also inform you that it would cost you Rs51,000 to install a solar power pump for agriculture. They also ask for bank details and other documents.” “At the same time, they tell you about making a payment of Rs5,600 as registration, out of which they promise Rs5,000 would be refunded. It never happens. Their aim is only to garner money from gullible farmers. Several farmers have become victims of such bogus websites who are misusing names of government schemes,” he says in his tweet. Even the Union ministry of new and renewable energy has issued a warning about some fake websites offering solar-power pumps to farmers and collecting information and registration charges. Some portals mentioned by the ministry include kusumyojanaonline.in.net, pmkisankusumyojana.co.in, onlinekusumyojana.org.in and pmkisamkusumyojana.com, among others. To ensure you are accessing a genuine website of the Indian government and to know details of various schemes, it is best to visit the official portal of the concerned ministry. If you do not know the web address, then use India.gov.in portal to find out the authentic portal of the concerned ministry or department. India.gov.in also provides information about various schemes offered by the government. Here is the link that provides detailed information about PM-KUSUM scheme https://www.india.gov.in/spotlight/pm-kusum-pradhan-mantri-kisan-urja-suraksha-evam-utthaan-mahabhiyan-scheme. Loan on Phone The Thane police arrested three people for allegedly duping borrowers by pretending to be bank officials. According to a report from Mid-Day, these fraudsters acting as bankers called loan seekers, informing them that their loan had been sanctioned. They then asked for Rs30,000 as processing charges to clear the loan file. In a case registered with Manpada police station, the victim reportedly paid nearly Rs7.34 lakh to the criminals and filed a complaint when he realised he had been duped. Shekhar Bagde, senior inspector at Manpada police station, told the newspaper that, based on a tip-off, one accused was held from Shimla, and his interrogation led to the arrests of his associates from Noida and other parts of Uttar Pradesh. He is quoted as saying, “The modus operandi was to open bank accounts using fake documents and then to trap people who are on the lookout for loans. They would tell the victims that loans had been sanctioned and would keep fleecing them by way of fees and charges, some non-existent.” “The Rs7.34 lakh taken from the complainant has been recovered, while five mobile phones and ATM cards have been seized from the accused,” Mr Bagde says. Admission to Foreign College Costs Rs8.50 Lakh A woman from Dahisar, near Mumbai, was lucky to get her money back due to quick action by the police. In this case, assistant police inspector (API) Ankush Dandge and constable Shrikant Deshpande from the cyber cell tracked the bank account number where the money was transferred. Police approached the bank, asking them to freeze the account. The woman was offered admission to a US-based institute by a person she met at an international job fair. She paid Rs8.50 lakh to the agent in multiple transactions. “However, after this, the accused stopped responding to her calls and messages. The complainant realised she was duped and approached Dahisar police on 21 December 2022,” says a report from Mid-Day. Police also found that the bank account had more money than was transferred by the woman. Pravin Patil, senior inspector at Dahisar police station, told the newspaper, “We suspect that the accused has cheated others using the same modus operandi.”   The woman, in this case, was, indeed, lucky to get back her money, as reported. However, in case you come across someone who offers admission to some big foreign college or institute for a fee, be alert and stay away. source: moneylife.in.

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Consumers Beware! Sharp Spike in Food Adulteration, Mis-labelling Cases

The number of cases registered against adulterated, sub-standard or misbranded food items has shown a rising trend during the past couple of years. As per the official data, total 24,195 civil cases and 3,869 criminal cases were lodged by the concerned food safety authorities in various parts of the country during 2020-21 which increased to 28,906 civil cases and 4,946 criminal cases in 2021-22. The food safety authorities analysed 1,07,829 samples in 2020-21 out of which 28,347 samples were found non-confirming to the prescribed standards. Similarly, total 1,44,345 samples were analysed in 2021-22 out of which 32,934 were found non-confirming. The government data said that a total 5,220 and 4,890 samples were found unsafe, out of the total samples analysed during 2020-21 and 2021-22. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the apex food safety body in the country, is mandated to lay down science-based standards for food articles and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. Section 31(1) of Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, 2006 provides that no person shall commence or carry on any food business except under a license. Surveillance of food business operators is conducted regularly through intensive surveillance drives by states and Union Territories (UTs). Officials said that the responsibility for implementation and enforcement of FSS Act 2006, Rules and Regulations made thereunder primarily lies with state and UT governments. While authorities analyse samples, penal action is initiated against the defaulting food business operators (FBOs) by the food safety officers of states/UTs as per the provisions of FSS Act, 2006, Rules and Regulations. Regarding foods for medical purpose including protein powder and other such items, FSSAI has notified FSS (Food or Health Supplements, Nutraceuticals, Foods Special Dietary Use, Foods for Special Medical Purpose, Functional Foods and Novel Foods) Regulations, 2016, which specify provisions for regulation of these products in the country. The articles of food covered under these regulations are required to comply with the general labelling requirements under the FSS (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011. Officials said that since these products are intended for specific physiological conditions or general maintenance of health and are required to be taken as per the regulated usage levels by the specific targeted group, labelling provisions for specific food product categories have also been specified under the said regulations. These regulations say that the label on such articles of food shall specify the purpose, the target consumer group and the physiological or disease conditions which they address and recommended duration of use. The label, accompanying leaflet or other labelling and advertisement of each type of article of food should also provide sufficient information on the nature and purpose of the article of food and detailed instructions and precautions for its use, and the format of information given shall be appropriate for the intended consumer. Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Fraud Alert: Universal Rules To Stay Safe Online in 2023 & Beyond

As we gear up to welcome 2023 with great enthusiasm and hope, we must remember that criminal gangs also feel the same. They have also lined up great plans to dupe people with their ever-successful toolkit of fear and greed. So what we, as end-users of online and digital products, should do is stay vigilant and aware of traps laid by cybercriminals. This is important because those who follow some universal rules of online engagement are less likely to be harmed in 2023 and beyond. I also want to tell you about recent cases of fraud, where criminals targeted bank accounts and insurance policies of people who are dead. Impersonating the Dead! A few months ago, I had warned about a new scam where fraudsters are found impersonating individuals or businesses. Cybercriminals are now finding easier targets – people who are not in a position to be vigilant or check their accounts because they are dead. Criminals have found ways to withdraw money from bank accounts or file insurance claims in the names of deceased persons. How does this work? According to a report from Mid-Day, the police registered two cases wherein fraudsters have withdrawn money from bank accounts of deceased persons. Salim Beg died in February 2021. His wife Akhtari went to Great Bombay Co-Operative Bank Ltd in Dahisar East, to submit her husband’s death certificate and claim the funds in his accounts. The bank manager told her to produce an affidavit and succession certificate to claim Mr Beg’s account. She filed an application in the Bombay High Court (HC) for the succession certificate. However, a couple of months later, she received a call from the bank manager about transactions in her husband’s account, where someone had transferred Rs5.89 lakh. “According to the manager, two similar incidents had occurred in the branch earlier and the people concerned had lodged complaints at the Dahisar police station,” the report says. In another case, two employees of an outsourcing agency were arrested by the Goregaon police on 15 December 2022 for allegedly stealing Rs1.30 crore from the account of Dr Hirendra Pal, a customer of State Bank of India (SBI), who died in October 2014. “Police investigation revealed that the victim’s know-your-customer (KYC) details were updated at the Jawahar Nagar branch of SBI in Goregaon and once this was done, the amount was transferred via mobile banking to over dozens of bank accounts in Mumbai,” the report says. The newspaper report also shares how two employees of an insurance company settled about 50 policies by transferring Rs1.5 crore to their relatives’ bank accounts. Both the employees had access to the policy and bank details of customers from across the country as part of their job of handling cases where policyholders have stopped paying premiums. Police have arrested the duo. According to a former banker and consumer activist, Abhay Datar, the family members of a deceased person can file an application with the bank and request a debit freeze on the account. “This,” he says, “will prevent withdrawals or outbound transfers from the account while keeping creditline intact to receive payments, if any, in the deceased person’s bank account.” Whether sudden or expected, the death of a loved one or parent is a difficult time for us. In these circumstances, handling financial matters while coping with emotional pain can be stressful. You may want to read an article on ‘How To Handle Inheritance Issues on the Death of a Parent/ Spouse?’ Universal Rules To Stay Safe Online The end of the year is traditionally a time for reflection and also to look at the emerging trends shaping our future. Here I am talking about our digital lives. Security software provider Avast has three major predictions for 2023. Ransomware will become an increasingly serious problem; scams will continue to be a favourite method for cybercriminals; and cybercrime as a business will become even more sophisticated, it says. Michal Salat, threat intelligence director at Avast, says, “Cybergroups go to many lengths to tap into people’s worst fears to deceive them into sending money or giving up personal data because it is easier to make people vulnerable than hacking their devices.” As experts keep pointing out, cybercrime has become a business, growing at an alarming speed, and thus capturing various spaces in cyberspace. A more worrying factor is the easy availability of hacking tools, malware and other toolkits used for cybercrimes. For example, some open-source malware are now readily available for distribution on platforms like Discord. “People, including young people with less technical knowledge, can now get their hands on malware and may be more inclined to join the dark side given current economic hardships,” Mr Salat says. While no remedy or permanent injection is available to remain safe online, here are some universal rules to follow. Dos: For support, visit the official website of service-providers Remember that no service-provider will ever ask you to verify your account over a call. Regularly change passwords and personal identification numbers (PIN) of accounts and credit cards. If the option for two-factor authentication is available, then use it. Don’ts: Don’t click on links shared by unknown people through SMS, e-mail and WhatsApp. Don’t download any unauthenticated app on your mobile suggested through a suspicious SMS, e-mail and WhatsApp. Avoid clicking on links and downloading attachments. Trojans, which can bring rootkits, spyware or adware with them, often slip into your device disguised as a harmless attachment. Don’t use search engines for customer support numbers. Don’t share sensitive and confidential information like your user (login) ID, account number, debit or credit card details and one-time passcode (OTP) with anyone. How To Report Cyber Fraud? Do report cyber crimes to the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal http://cybercrime.gov.in or call the toll-free National Helpline number, 1930. To follow on social media: Twitter (@Cyberdost), Facebook (CyberDostI4C), Instagram (cyberdostl4C), Telegram (cyberdosti4c). Source: moneylife.in

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NCDRC Directs Kokilaben Hospital and Doctor To Pay Rs40 lakh to Patient for Medical Negligence and Deficiency in Service

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) directed Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and Medical Research Institute in Juhu (Mumbai) and a doctor from the hospital to pay Rs40 lakh compensation in equal proportion to a patient for alleged medical negligence and deficiency in service. The order, if not implemented within six weeks, will carry an interest of 9% per annum till its realisation. The patient had suffered paraplegia after surgery at the Hospital and informed consent about it was not undertaken. In an order issued this week, presiding member Dr SM Kantikar says, “Dr Mihir Bapat is held liable for the act of ‘commission’ and ‘omission’ during the treatment of the patient. Also, the hospital is vicariously liable for the deficiency in services. It was the duty of the hospital to ensure the standard of patient care. The doctors or the concerned staff were accountable, who failed to adhere to the Standard operating procedures (SOP).” “Adverting to the compensation, I would like to rely upon the law laid down by the Supreme Court. The patient post-operatively suffered irreversible damage- i.e. paraplegia for his remaining life. The complainant deserves just and reasonable compensation because such a patient needs an electric bed, air mattress to avoid bed sores, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) pump to avoid deep vein thrombosis, automated wheelchairs and walker,” NCDRC noted. The case is related to a complaint filed by Rohandeep Singh Jaswal, through his constituted attorney and father, Sanjeev Jaswal, against the Hospital and its 12 doctors, including Dr Bapat. Mr Jaswal had consulted Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi for his son’s kyphoscoliosis spinal deformity when he was 12 years old. It was diagnosed as an intramedullary tumour and operated in October 2004. The tumour was reported as non-cancerous ganglioglioma, but the doctors advised to take care and accordingly, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was done yearly. In 2012, the MRI revealed a tumour of shrunken size. Since the Jaswals had moved to Ahmedabad, he sought consultation at Shalby Hospital there. The doctors suggested 65% correction through surgery with a neuro-monitoring machine and related facilities to avoid neurological complications. In February 2014, the patient consulted Dr Bapat at Kokilaben Hospital in Mumbai. It was alleged that the patient was told that as the spine is flexible, 80%-90% correction is possible. The operation was scheduled on 16 April 2014, but was postponed to 23 April 2014, as the neuro-monitoring machine was under maintenance. Mr Jaswal, in his complaint, alleged that no informed consent was taken. “The surgery took a long time, from 7am to 4pm. After the surgery, the patient was shifted to a room. Dr Bapat came to the room and informed that the patient regained consciousness but not moving his legs; therefore, re-surgery was necessary for releasing the implants and to reduce the correction as carried out in the spine.” However, after surgery, the patient’s parents were shocked to hear that there was no leg movement and there was no sensation below the chest (rib cage) of their son. The patient also suffered from meningitis. It was further alleged that the patient heard the doctors’ conversation that they should not have accepted and operated on the case. Dr Bapat did not inform the condition as it was ‘paraplegia’. After that, the condition of the patient continued to deteriorate. On 27 July 2014, Rohandeep was discharged from Kokilaben Hospital in paraplegic condition (loss of senses below the rib cage), with no bowel and urine control. For the daily routine activities of the patient, an attendant was needed. Till 7 February 2015, he remained admitted to Dhirubhai Ambani Occupational Health. The family consulted a number of doctors, but Rohandeep’s condition did not improve. As advised by Dr Bhoj Raj on 4 October 2014, a contrast computerised tomography (CT) myelography test was performed. It revealed D-8 vertebra was slightly wedged before surgery and got totally crushed during the surgery, indicating severe stretching or blockage at the point of the vertebra. The Jaswals then filed a complaint before NCDRC seeking compensation of Rs58.92 crore from the Hospital and the doctors. The Commission, in its order, observed that the consent forms for anaesthesia and surgery were devoid of details about the risks of paraplegia. It also said that the doctor did not seek the opinion of a neurosurgeon. “A specific query was put to the authorised representative (AR) (of Dr Bapat) about the informed consent in the instant case. He submitted that the patient had the knowledge of spinal surgery and moreover during every visit and discussion with Dr Bapat, it was explained to the patient and his parents about the operation and its complications. According to AR it was deemed to be consent. The documents on record are unsigned prescriptions which in my view it does not construed as ‘informed consent’. Thus it is evident that Dr Bapat failed to obtain informed consent for surgery in the instant case,” Dr Kantikar from NCDRC says. Describing informed consent as one with four components – decision capacity, documentation of consent, disclosure, and competency – the NCDRC stated that the two well-recognised exceptions are medical emergencies and another is a ‘rare’ case. Calling neurosurgery and orthopaedic surgery as two high-risk specialities associated with some of the highest numbers of medical negligence litigations, the Commission said that spinal surgery, most commonly at the lumbar level, has the highest rates of litigations. Source: moneylife.in

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Fraud Alert: Beware of Privacy Breach, Security Risks of ‘Smart’ Gadgets

Security experts have regularly warned that great convenience or ease of use usually comes with serious negative implications for your privacy and security risks. The newest and hottest electronics or internet of things (IoT) gadgets, such as smart speakers, video doorbells and fitness trackers, are no exception. They have been found to be ‘listening’ to your conversations or ‘recording’ your moves without your knowledge or permission. I am not even talking about hacking or exploitation of gadgets by cybercriminals for collecting information, but an invasion of privacy and data collection that is happening most routinely in order to sell information to advertisers who will then pitch products and services to you. IoT gadgets such as Amazon Echo, Alexa smart home or Google Nest are a great convenience for most people. For those who sell you these devices, it is an opportunity to track your every activity and to measure, collect and analyse what you do to generate a comprehensive and ever-increasing variety of behavioural statistics. This data could then be sold and also be used by their own group entities for targeted marketing of products and services. For example, one evening, Calder B Price, a writer, discussed French callipers, and suddenly she was bombarded with advertisements of it across all websites. She is not alone, though. There are many users of these ‘smart devices’, who found similar bombardment for products or services that they discussed, which probably was ‘heard’ by the smart devices in their homes. IoT is the inter-networking of physical (smart) devices, vehicles, buildings and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data. The ‘things’, in the IoT sense, refer to a wide variety of devices, such as heart-monitoring implants, bio-chip transponders, electric clams, automobiles with built-in sensors, DNA analysis devices and field operation devices that assist fire-fighters in search and rescue operations, to name a few. There are three interconnected aspects that define IoT: sensors, processors to analyse and actuators. In other words, sensors are the eyes and ears, smart processors are the brain, and actuators are the hands and feet of the IoT. This is the classic definition of a robot. The IoT gadget market, which was flooded with ‘mass produced’ (read Chinese) devices, now has some well-established players like Amazon and Google. Unfortunately, both of them are at the forefront when it comes to collecting data from users. In a blog post, Emma McGowan from Avast says, “Amazon is perhaps the most famous data-driven, data-consuming, data-tracking company out there. Google is also a little tricky in how they use the information gathered. As Mozilla’s excellent Privacy Not Included guide points out, Google promises not to use your actual voice recordings to gather info to sell you ads. However, they will use transcripts of those voice recordings, which seems like a semantic difference rather than a real one to us.” Amazon, however, claims that its smart devices have built-in privacy protection. “Alexa and Echo devices are built with multiple layers of privacy protection. For example, Echo Dot has a microphone off button that electronically disconnects the microphones. You also have control over your voice recordings,” it says on its product description page. Amazon Echo, Alexa smart homes, or Google Nest need to be woken up using a ‘wake word’. For example, Amazon uses ‘Alexa’, while on Google devices, it is ‘Ok Google’. Once these devices are made active using the wake word, they start recording and providing feedback. However, there have been concerns about these devices mistaking other words as the wake word and recording when people do not want them to. For example, instead of ‘Ok Google’, the device could be woken up by ‘Cocaine Noodle’ as well. And I am not even talking about voice modulation here.  When asked about security vulnerabilities, Amazon and Google keep saying that their voice assistant systems are secure. Maybe. But, as we know, modulating voice or fooling someone with another person’s voice has been the favourite game we have been playing since our childhood days. Add to this, voice recognition systems used for voice assistants and you will understand how easy it is to fool them too. Ms McGowan from Avast took a close look at the Ring video doorbell from Amazon. “Ring is, first and foremost, a surveillance tool. It’s marketed as helping you surveil your surroundings, but don’t forget that it’s keeping track of you and your family as well. Ring – and Amazon, its parent company – knows your name, email, postal address, and phone number. It also knows the geolocation of your phone, information about your Wi-Fi network and signal strength, and your product’s model, serial number, and software version. If you use Facebook or another third-party login, it also can “obtain information” from that third party.” “And then there is the issue of security. While Amazon is pretty good on that front, users generally are not. Anything from an unsecured network to a weak or stolen Wi-Fi password could let malicious actors gain access to the very sensitive information on your Ring. So if you do choose to get one this holiday season, make sure it is protected and updated regularly,” she advises. This brings us to the main question, whether one should buy and use these smart or IoT gadgets. These smart devices undoubtedly offer a wide range of benefits and are sometimes helpful. The other day, I heard my friend’s granddaughter ordering Alexa to play her favourite song… repeatedly (I doubt if the grandpa or grandma would sing the same song repeatedly as per the command of the toddler!). A straightforward solution could be to switch on the smart devices only when needed. However, when it comes to switching off devices, many of us behave like lazy people (do you remember how many times you have switched off the TV using the remote and not through the power button on the switchboard?). At the same time, we should

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Cinemas Private Property, Movie-goers Carrying Outside Food, Drinks Can Be Regulated: SC

The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday said that the cinema halls have the right to set terms and conditions for the sale of food and beverages inside the halls and bar carrying of food items from outside. A bench, headed by chief justice DY Chandrachud said a cinema hall owner has the right to regulate the entry of food and beverages into the movie hall. The bench, also comprising justice PS Narasimha, said whether to consume what is available is entirely upon the choice of the movie goer and pointed out that viewers visit the hall for entertainment. The bench orally observed that cinemas are private properties and the owner can decide on the rights of prohibition. It added that if one wants to take ‘jalebi’ into the movie hall, the owner can object to it, because after eating the jalebi, the person might wipe his hands with the chair and ruin it unnecessarily. It said the cinema hall owner is entitled to put such terms and conditions which he deems fit if they are not contrary to public interest or safety. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court had directed owners of multiplexes/cinema halls of the state not to prohibit cinema-goers from carrying their own food articles and water inside the theatre. The cinema hall owners moved the apex court against the high court order. Senior advocate KV Viswanathan contended that since cinema halls were private properties, they reserved admission rights and prohibitions ensured security and could be seen at airports amongst other places as well. Counsel for the original petitioner submitted that the cinema ticket represents a contract between a movie-goer and the movie hall, since the prohibition is not printed on the ticket, outside food could not be prohibited. The bench said the cinema has a right to reserve admission and the cinema owners have a right to sell their own food and beverages. It further queried how can the high court say that they can bring any food inside cinema halls. Viswanathan argued that there is no compulsion to buy food in the movie halls and precincts of cinema halls are not public property. The bench added that hygienic drinking water is available for everyone for free and food for infants is also allowed, but not every food can be allowed inside the premises. It further remarked that it needs no emphasis that the rule-making power of the state must be in consonance with the fundamental right of cinema hall owners to carry out a business, trade, etc. The top court said the high court transgressed the limits on the exercise of its jurisdiction and set aside the direction to multiplexes and movie theatres not to prevent movie-goers from carrying their own food and beverages into movie halls. Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.  Source: moneylife.in

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Home Loan: Make Sure Builder’s Promise To Pay EMIs till Possession Is Mentioned in the Agreement

For those home-buyers who believe in oral promises of builders to pay equated monthly instalments (EMIs) on home loans till possession, here comes a shocker from the apex consumer forum. In a ruling, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) dismissed complaints filed by several home-buyers against Rajesh Lifespaces Pvt Ltd and Rajsanket Realty Ltd, the builder and developers and ICICI Bank Ltd about the builder paying EMIs till the possession of the flat is handed over to buyers. In an order combining seven complaints and issued earlier this month, the bench of justice Ram Surat Ram Maurya (presiding member) and Dr Inder Jit Singh (member) says, “Clause 9 of the sale agreement dated 17 August 2013, between the complainants and builders, mentioned that the promoters had entered into an agreement with ICICI Bank to promote subvention scheme popularly known as 20:80 for the benefit of their purchasers. It only means that the bank was ready to give a loan to the extent of 80% of the cost of the flat under the subvention scheme. It does not mean that the liability of the complainants to repay the loan or EMI was absolved till delivery of possession, as there was no such contract between the bank and the complainants. As such, the argument in this respect cannot be accepted.” One complainant, Akshay Gupta, had submitted two emails dated 23 July 2013 and 28 August 2013. In these emails, it was mentioned that “This loan is under developer subvention scheme for 36 months or possession, whichever is later.”  “In this sentence, it has been clearly mentioned that the loan is under the developer subvention scheme and not under any scheme of the bank. Similar sentence is incorporated in the agreement to sale between the complainants and the builder. The builders paid pre-EMI till April 2019. Under the facility agreement (standard format of the loan agreement) and undertaking, the complainants are bound to pay EMI if the builders stop payment,” NCDRC says. In this case, the complainants obtained a home loan and executed facility agreements. The bench observed that the buyers are liable to repay (loan) in accordance with the facility agreement, for which the complainants also executed an undertaking in which they took the liability to pay the EMI if the builder stopped payment of it. “Therefore, the complainants cannot deny the payment of EMI on the ground that under the sale agreement, the builders were liable to pay EMI till the date of delivery of the possession. Admittedly, the complainants withdrew from the sale agreement in 2018, therefore, there was no question of delivery of possession to them,” it says. The buyers have booked flats in Raj Infinia at Valnai in Borivali, Mumbai. Allured with the ‘subvention scheme’, the complainants applied and obtained home loans from ICICI Bank. The builders executed an agreement for sale on 17 August 2013, in favour of the complainants, stating in clause 9 that interest on the bank loan would be borne by the builder till the handover of the possession. However, in an email on 30 May 2019, the builders informed the home-buyers that they cannot pay EMI due to their poor financial condition. On 13 July 2019, ICICI Bank issued a letter informing the buyers that an EMI of Rs312,070 was due for more than 60 days and asked the borrowers to pay this amount within seven days. Since the EMIs were not paid, on 19 September 2019, ICICI Bank issued loan recall notices to these borrowers. During the hearing, ICICI Bank submitted that it did not have any agreement with the developers for the promotion of the project. “The complainants directly approached the bank for sanction of the loan. The complainants were defaulters; therefore, the loan recall notice was issued on 19 September 2019.” NCDRC also clarified a circular issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 3 September 2013. It says, “…it (RBI circular) is advisory in nature and will have prospective application. The loan of the complainants was already sanctioned and facility agreement, as well as undertaking, were executed on 21 August 2013. The circular will have no effect on it.” RBI had issued an advisory on 3 September 2013, and had asked all scheduled commercial banks that housing loans to individuals should be closely linked to the stages of construction of the housing project as the banks run disproportionately higher exposures with concomitant risks of diversion of funds under 80:20 or 75:25 schemes.  (Consumer Case Nos63/172/174/175/177/255/67 of 2020  Date: 2 January 2023) Source: live Law

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