International Cyber Security Legal Services By LegalTech Project TeleLaw

Cyber security is a very complicated field that requires domain specific expertise. We have many good cyber security experts in India and other jurisdictions who are incessantly fighting against sophisticated and novel cyber attacks on daily basis. There are many good cyber security products and services too that can prove really handy in times of crisis. However, law and legal policies are always behind the technology in general and cyber law and cyber security in particular. These fields need yearly review and modification that are not done even for decades. The main reason why we cannot update cyber law and cyber security related laws and policies is because we do not have qualified lawyers in these fields in good numbers.

We at Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) have more than 17 years of experience in techno legal fields like cyber law, cyber security, cyber forensics, cloud computing, privacy and data protection, etc. We have been stressing upon techno legal skills development for lawyers and legal professionals for long. That is why we have launched an online skills development project for lawyers and legal professionals so that they can upgrade their cyber skills using our online portals.

So one part of the problem pertaining to cyber law and cyber security skills has been resolved to a great extent. Now the other part is providing of qualitative cyber law and cyber security services to national and international stakeholders. Even for this problem we have provided a unique and techno legal solution.

Our LegalTech company TeleLaw Private Limited has launched a unique online initiative named TeleLaw Project that is managing global cyber law and cyber security related legal services. So any person or company from any part of the world can seek its techno legal services that too in an online environment. We have many other techno legal projects that are supporting TeleLaw Project and it has been recognised as a startup by both DPIIT and MeitY.

So the field is all set for cyber law and cyber security related legal issues. However, it is a gigantic task to managed global cyber security issues. Not only it requires a sound knowledge of techno legal aspects but it also needs a good knowledge of conflict of laws and international cooperation and norms in this regard.

We are confident that with our 17 years experience in cyber law, cyber security, cyber forensics and related fields, we would be able to manage diverse and complicated cyber security issues that would arise in near future.

Source: CEICSLI.

Artificial Intelligence And Human Rights Issues In Cyberspace

Human rights or Civil Liberties issues are not considered in their true perspective world over. Traditionally Governments across the world have been investing heavily in knowing more and more about their citizens and residents. This hunger to know everything could have been catastrophic if civil liberties activists were not so active. Nevertheless, we are slowly moving towards a totalitarian and Orwellian world thanks to the super pervasive and intruding technologies.

We anticipated this trend way back in 2009 when we started discussing about Human Rights Protection In Cyberspace. Soon we realised that we need a much focused and dedicated initiative in this regard. So we launched world’s exclusive Techno Legal Centre Of Excellence For Protection Of Human Rights In Cyberspace (CEPHRC). Since then we have been continuously working to strengthen Civil Liberties and Human Rights in Cyberspace.

In the year 2019, the CEPHRC has been merged with the Techno Legal Projects Of TeleLaw Private Limited (TPL) and PTLB Projects LLP. This has been done to consolidate our Techno Legal LegalTech, EduTec, TechLaw and other similar projects. As both TPL and PTLB Projects LLP are recognised startups by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and MeitY Startup Hub, we are working to further rejuvenate the CEPHRC project soon.

In this post we are discussing the Techno legal issues associated with the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in various fields. We are more concerned with the Human Rights and Civil Liberties implications of AI and not the friendly or non friendly aspects of AI. Just for the sake of reference, the roots of concern about AI are very old. In fact, by 1942 these concerns prompted Isaac Asimov to create the “Three Laws of Robotics” – principles hard-wired into all the robots in his fiction, intended to prevent them from turning on their creators, or allowing them to come to harm. Also philosopher Nick Bostrom has said that superintelligent AI systems with goals that are not aligned with human ethics are intrinsically dangerous unless extreme measures are taken to ensure the safety of humanity. He believes that we should assume that a ‘superintelligence’ would be able to achieve whatever goals it has. Therefore, it is extremely important that the goals we endow it with, and its entire motivation system, is ‘human friendly’.This takes us to the concept of friendly artificial intelligence. Eliezer Yudkowsky asserts that friendliness (a desire not to harm humans) should be designed in from the start, but that the designers should recognise both that their own designs may be flawed, and that the robot will learn and evolve over time. Thus the challenge is one of mechanism design—to define a mechanism for evolving AI systems under a system of checks and balances, and to give the systems utility functions that will remain friendly in the face of such changes.

If you are a software designer or coder you design/code the software as per your conceptions and ideals. You may create a software as open source or you may prefer to sell it as a commercial software. You may give a limited features free trial or you may give a full fledged version as a free trial. You may create the software for Linux or you may create it for Windows systems. You may create the software for a particular country or language or you may create a global software with multiple languages. In short, no two software are created with same ideology and objectives. What is more concerning is the fact that we create things keeping in mind our own experience, ideology, political allegiance, etc. We may create a software for law enforcement and intelligence agencies for the sole purpose that it can be used by them for snooping, spying or even violating the Civil Liberties of people.

However, in all these activities “Human Element” is present. Now think what would happen if a spying software is managed by an AI driven system without involvement of human beings at all? We do not wish to be alarmist in this regard but the least we can expect from the AI makers is that Human Rights and Civil Liberties safeguards are hardwired into all AI systems. We have a tendency to pass on our bias and prejudice and have a tendency to violate Human Rights of our fellow humans. Naturally we would pass these negative traits to AI too if proper safeguards are not put at place. Also using AI without adequate Cyber Security, Privacy and Data Protection is a recipe for disaster. Whether we like it or not, atrocities of Orwellian technologies would further increase in future and putting in place sound Human rights Protection in Cyberspace is essential.

We at TeleLaw Project, CEPHRC and PTLB Projects are working on these issues presently and we would come up with a sound Techno Legal Policy that would ensure Human Rights Protection in Cyberspace at large. Interested stakeholders are requested to collaborate with us in this regard so that world at large can be benefited.

Source: CEPHRC.

PTLB Projects Invites Collaboration Proposals For Its Online Skills Development Projects

India is facing a major unemployment related crisis. Part of the problem can be attributed to the global recession but a major part of the problem pertains to unqualified manpower. We have a mammoth force of professionals  who are unqualified for corporate and government jobs. We cannot blame such professionals as our education system and its policies are defective. Instead of focusing upon practical and technical skills, our colleges and educational institutions are imparting academic and outdated education.

Take the example of legal education in India. There are only a handful of colleges which are providing courses in fields like cyber law. When even basic course on cyber law is missing from our legal education system, how can we produce world level lawyers in fields like cyber law, cyber security, cyber forensics, etc.

That is why we launched the first every Virtual Law Campus of the world that would provide online skills development in fields like cyber law, cyber security, cyber forensics, artificial intelligence, internet of things, machine learning, big data and data analysis, privacy and data protection, human rights protection in cyberspace, space law, conflict of law, etc. Best part is that the Virtual Law Campus of PTLB has been recognised as an EduTech startup by both DPIIT and MeitY.

The Virtual Law Campus is the exclusive techno legal project of its type in the entire world and it is supported by both PTLB Projects LLP (PPL) and TeleLaw Private Limited (TPL). Both PPL and TPL are startups recognised by DPIIT and MeitY in EduTech, LegalTech and TechLaw fields. It would also get support of our TeleLaw Project portal so that the skilled professionals  can get best out of every possible situation.

National and international universities, colleges, educational institutions, skills development providers, etc are requested to contact us with their proposals so that together we can create a global skilled workforce.

Legal Tech And Tech Law Company TeleLaw Is Planning National And Global Expansion

Indian Government is encouraging startups and entrepreneurs like no other country. Policies have been drafted to make functioning of startups in India smooth and hassle free. Taxation and other benefits have been given to Indian startups, especially if they have been approved by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). We are happy to share that TeleLaw Private Limited is a recognised startup by both DPIIT and MeitY Startup Hub. So if you are an Indian Government/SEBI accredited investor, you would not be liable to “Angel Tax” if you invest in the highly profitable and very promising legal tech projects of TeleLaw Company.

So both legal and policy measures have already been taken care of by TeleLaw Company and with this in mind we have decided to explore the next level of growth and expansion of TeleLaw Company in legal tech and tech law fields. Although TeleLaw Company is a recently incorporated company yet the techno legal projects managed by it and PTLB Projects LLP (another DPIIT recognised startup) are managed by us for more than a decade. For instance, we have been dealing in online dispute resolution (ODR), e-courts, online tech law and legal tech skills development, etc since 2006. So we are well aware of the legalities and technicalities of legal tech and tech law. That is why our portal is covering techno legal services in fields like Artificial Intelligence, IoT, Machine Learning, Cyber Law, Cyber Security, Cyber Forensics, E-Discovery, Cloud Computing, Privacy and Data Protection, Civil Liberties Protection in Cyberspace, etc.

As for any expansion and growth, even legal tech and tech law projects of TeleLaw need capital. We believe that besides market growth a startup must also focus upon getting profitable. The profitability may be modest but the startup must not be in loss even if it is not profitable. So the focus of TeleLaw is, and would always remain, on profitability cum market share instead of market share cum profitability. If this is the scenario, all investments in TeleLaw legal tech company would provide good return on investment.

As we can see Indian investors are not very enthusiastic about legal tech but foreign investors are investing heavily in legal tech fields. It would be a waste of golden opportunity if Indian investors stay away from investing in Indian legal tech companies like TeleLaw. In their absence, foreign investors would invest in such companies and a crucial opportunity would be lost. Indian investors must invest in diversified fields like education, agriculture, financial tech, legal tech, etc and their portfolio must have investment in diverse range of Indian companies. At Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) we have diverse range of Techno Legal Projects and we look forward to Indian investors to carry forward our journey together.

Startups in India can not only create wealth for Indian economy but they can also generate employment for many people. But in order to do that they need funding from both government and private sources. However, getting capital or funding from PSU banks or government portals is next to impossible. They are not user friendly and there is no support system to help startups getting the funding. Out government must either make these portals effective or outsource their works to private companies who can manage them in a professional and user friendly manner. SIDBI and RBI are also required to take these issues seriously and if PSU banks cannot deliver on time, RBI must take control of funding aspects to MSMEs, startups, priority sector lending, etc. Right now there is no loan facilities for MSMEs, startups and other segments belonging to priority sectors on ground level and in reality.

We have also provided our suggestions for enhancing ease of doing business and startup culture in India. We have also proved how Digital India is not at all implemented in Ministries like Ministry of MSME, Government of India. Even an open letter to PMO India in this regard has not yielded any result so far. So lack of funds and inefficiency in government departments/ministries/PSU banks are two of the major hurdles before Indian startups to become global brands. We hope Indian Government would remove these hurdles on priority so that the wonderful startups of India can create global impressions.

TeleLaw Is Now Resolving Global Cyber Security Legal Issues Using Legal Tech And Tech Law Projects

It was the year 2002 when we first decided to try our hands on entrepreneurship. At that time startup, legal tech and tech law business concepts were not in existence in India. But we were very clear in mind that we would establish ourselves as a a global leader in Techno Legal field. And from there the Perry4Law Law Firm was originated in August 2002. As we further progressed we realised that there are many Techno Legal issues that need a specialised and focused approach and handling. So We created Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) as the umbrella organisation that would manage all our Techno Legal projects and services. Also Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB) was established so that Techno Legal Projects can be dedicatedly managed by it.

It took us 17 years to reach at the stage where we are today. In the year 2019 we created PTLB Projects LLP and TeleLaw Private Limited (TPL) and both were recognised as a Legal Tech and Tech Law Startups by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and MeitY Startup Hub. This is the penultimate stage and after this stage we would be working hard to make India a global leader in Techno Legal fields.

The launch of website of TeleLaw Project is and indication that we are very serious in our endeavour to make India a global hub for Techno Legal services. As can be seen from the numerous Techno Legal services that TeleLaw Project is catering to, our aim is to bridge the gap between technology and law. No matter whatever automation and technologies we use, the gap created by lack of skilled lawyers is significant. Automation cannot help unless we have skilled workforce and cyber security lawyers across the world. PTLB is providing online Techno Legal skills development and training for legal and non legal professionals world wide. We intend to expand this project further at the end of this year.

Law firms and lawyers are not very comfortable with use of technology or dealing in technology related issues. Various survey and reports have also confirmed this fact. We at Perry4Law are already dealing  in fields like Cyber Law, Cyber Security, Cyber Forensics, E-Discovery, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Cloud Computing, etc for long. So managing legal issues of cyber security was no problem for us. But our reach was somewhat limited to Asian region and we felt a need to make it global. That is why our TeleLaw Project is covering the entire globe and any person residing in any part of the world can seek our Techno Legal services.

It is one thing to manage local or national legal issues and it is altogether a different game to manage global cyber security issues. We were aware that Conflict of Laws would create serious challenges before lawyers and law firms. That is why we have been doing research and analysis of laws of foreign countries like US, UK, Europe, Asia, etc in this regard for more than a decade. In fact, we have launched dedicated portal titled “Conflict Of Laws In Cyberspace, Internet And Computer Era” to make national and international stakeholders aware of international cyber security issues. Another dedicated portal titled “International Legal Issues Of Cyber Attacks, Cyber Terrorism, Cyber Espionage, Cyber Warfare And Cyber Crimes” has been launched by P4LO to make our cyber security related efforts more comprehensive and effective.

In the year 2016, P4LO ad PTLB launched the exclusive Techno Legal Centre Of Excellence For International Cyber Security Law Of India (CEICSLI). It aims to be a single place resource for international cyber security law and international cyber security treaties. Besides Cyber Security, the CEICSLI is also working in the fields like Cyber Law, Cyber Forensics, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, etc that have international and trans border implications.

We kept on improving our projects and services and we realised that there must be a single place where all Techno Legal issues of national and international importance can be managed. After much deliberation, our team decided to launch the website of TeleLaw Project so that international cyber law and cyber security issues can be handled by us from a single place. We are also aware of the significance of international cooperation and collaboration in the cyber security and cyber law fields and that is why national and international organisations, governments, etc can make a reference for our services. We would give due consideration to such references and even if any person or organisation fails to get such reference, P4LO, PTLB, TeleLaw, etc can give that reference.

So we have put our 17 years of Techno Legal Expertise and Projects behind TeleLaw Project with multiple purposes. We wish to bridge the gap between technology and law/lawyers, we wish to ensure Access to Justice (A2J) and Justice for All, we wish to help in harmonisation of international laws on cyber law, cyber security, etc, we wish to make India a global hub for Techno Legal Services, etc. The potential of TeleLaw Project is tremendous and with appropriate funding and right team, we can do wonders.

TeleLaw Has Been Recognised As A Legal Tech And Tech Law Startup By DPIIT And MeitY

TeleLaw is a very recent project that has shown tremendous potential and capabilities. It was started in May 2019 and within few months it has become a world renowned project. As we saw great potential in this Techno Legal Project of PTLB Projects, we incorporated a Private Limited Company and applied before the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) to be recognied as a startup. Meanwhile, the MeitY Startup Hub had already recognised the TeleLaw Project as a Legal Tech and Tech Law startup. Subsequently, the DPIIT also recognised TeleLaw Private Limited as a startup as per DPIIT norms.

Now that TeleLaw Project has been recognised by both DPIIT and MeitY, it is only natural that we should work upon its regional and global expansion. That, of course, would need funds and for that we are open to funding and investment offers from national and international stakeholders. We would prefer a fund that can give us complete freedom and flexibility to work upon the TeleLaw Project. When we can create a global project in 6 months and get it recognised as a startup by both DPIIT and MeitY, we believe the investors can trust us with the management aspects of the project.

Indian Government has been streamlining the functioning of startups in India along with making investments in them more friendly. For instance, exemption of Category I and II alternate investment funds (AIFs) from “Angel Tax” is a big move that would help Private Companies to raise capital and investment. This is more so if such Private Companies are registered as a startup with DPIIT as in that case a mere self declaration would be sufficient to comply with the requirements of Indian Income Tax at the stage of investment. Also taxability of investments in Indian startups recognised by DPIIT has also been made simpler. Now tax officials cannot question such investments if there is a self declaration filed by the company. Also tax officials now need prior approval of their senior officials to question DPIIT recognised startups in India.

As TeleLaw Project is a recognised startup by not only DPIIT but also by MeitY so there is no question of any legal and taxation troubles if the national and international investors invest in this highly viable project. Our strategy and approach towards startups is also different as we believe in focusing upon “Profitability” instead of “Market Share/Worth”. Another unique feature of TeleLaw Project is that it is the exclusive Techno Legal Project of its type in the entire world. So there is no competition and we have an experience of more than 17 years to make TeleLaw Project a global success.

However, what makes us a class apart is the fact that we are providing domain specific and highly specialised and skilled Techno Legal services in fields like Cyber Law, Cyber Security, Cyber Forensics, E-Discovery, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning, Privacy and Data Protection, Space Law, Automated Functions, FinTech, AgriTech, LegalTech, Techlaw, etc. The list is just illustrative and complete list can be found on the website of TeleLaw Project.

TeleLaw Project would also not be affected no matter whatever technological changes take place. We would remain unaffected by any burst of tech or automation bubble as our services are not low end services but services of domain specific and highly skilled nature. Tech and automation would only strengthen our project but they can never pull it down as our team and manpower is well capable of handling any form of ups and downs.

We are also working in the background to test more features and technological upgradations to our websites and projects. Also other Techno Legal Projects of PTLB Projects and Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) are also supporting TeleLaw Project for providing very comprehensive and holistic Tehno Legal services at a single place. For instance, if you need e-discovery, cyber forensics or cyber crimes investigation support, our Digital Police project would also join in that particular assignment. So the services, quality and scope of working of TeleLaw Project is unique and matchless.

We assure you that it would be an elegant and enriching journey if you are part of TeleLaw Project. You would be part of something that would create history and something that would be remembered forever. So if you are as excited and enthusiastic as we are, we would love to have you on the board.

Aadhaar Is A Digital Panopticon And Is The Worst Human Rights Nightmare Of The World

Aadhaar is a Digital Panopticon and is the worst Human Rights nightmare of the World. India cannot be trusted with issues like Civil Liberties, Privacy, Data Protection and Human Rights Protection in Cyberspace. That is why we at PTLB have created a “No Aadhaar Zone” that is an “Aadhaar Cancer Free Zone”.

Aadhaar is an Orwellian project of highest magnitude and is the worst Digital Panopticon of the Human History. Aadhaar is also a classic example how Rule of Law and Constitution can be compromised by a collusion of Executive, Judiciary and Parliament. There is no second opinion that Supremacy of Constitution is no more there in India.

Irrespective of these negative developments and “Digital Emergency” that are in existence in India, some brave warriors are still fighting against unconstitutional and Orwellian Aadhaar. But none can deny the fact and truth that Indian Supreme Court is passing through a time worst than the Jabalpur Era time. The Emergency imposed by Congress was limited for some years but the Digital Emergency imposed by the BJP is perpetual and soon Indians would face very dangerous consequences of Aadhaar.

So far the Aadhaar Crimes have been reported in the form of data breaches, cyber security breaches, deaths due to denial of food and healthcare, social exclusions, denial of employment and employment related discriminatory issues, etc. We at PTLB are already in a tussle with Indian Government as we are working to Scrap Aadhaar and we would not allow Indian Government and its Ministries/Departments to hide behind the facade and political rhetoric of Aadhaar.

All the policies and schemes of Indian Government are political rhetoric to fool Indians and to deny them of their legitimate Human Rights and Fundamental Rights. We have given critical evaluation of each and every such political rhetoric of BJP Government whether it relates to pension scheme for farmers and small traders, benefits for MSMEs and startups, employments lies, loans lies, etc.

What we have seen in our 10 years fight against unconstitutional and Orwellian Aadhaar is that Aadhaar would never empower Indians. By its very design Aadhaar is meant for either Death or Digital Slavery for perpetuity. So there is no case for keeping this menace in India as it would plague the future generations too. Parents are enrolling their children without realising the dangers of Aadhaar and many of them treat it as a privilege.

I am happy that other countries have escaped from this “Human Rights Cancer” and I strongly recommend that they should stay thousand miles away from this menace. As for Indians, they must fight back and demand scrapping of unconstitutional Aadhaar. The starting point can be non use of Aadhaar for PAN, tax returns, banks, mobile SIM connections, etc. Indian Government is using coercion and fear to oppress Indians with this Digital Slavery but it is worth to stay free and safe by boycotting Aadhaar.

Another Failure Of Digital India Project Is The RTI Portal Of Modi Government

The amount of money that Modi Government wasted on advertisements and propaganda to promote Digital India could have been better utilised by using it for technology and pushing use of electronic records and Digital India in Government Departments and Ministries like MSME.

Narendra Modi Government has been advertising about Digital India project since 2014 but till June 2019 the project has remained a big failure. From Government Departments/Ministries to basic level public service portals, everything is in bad shape.

We at PTLB Projects are already working upon to bring transparency and accountability in Government Departments/Ministries on the one hand to strengthen Digital India on the other. We have launched many successful Digital India projects like TeleLaw Project that have actually made Digital India successful.

But on the Government side the position is really bad. Ministries like MSME are openly flouting Digital India norms and Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is silent on the same. First we lodged a grievance with the PMO and the grievance officer of PMO sat upon the grievance. It is only after we filed the Right to Information (RTI) application, that the grievance was forwarded to Ministry of MSME.

But this has given rise to another problem. The RTI portal of Modi Government is in a very bad shape and it proves that Digital India is a political rhetoric. Compare the RTI portal of Modi Government with RTI portal of Delhi Government (AAP), and differences are very clear. If RTI portal of Delhi gets a score of 8 out of 10 (greater being good), the RTI portal of Modi Government would hardly get 4 out of 10.

The RTI portal of Modi Government has a unique feature. It completes everything, including payment deduction, and then flashes a message of failed filing. Applicants have to run after the portal administrator for 2 days to get the RTI application number. Without the RTI application number the application would not be pursued further though the concerned Department/Ministry is aware about the filing and contents of such RTI application.

We filed an RTI application before PMO on 01-07-2019 and till the time of writing of this article, the RTI application number has not been generated. The portal claims that a maximum time of 48 hours is taken to manually tally the payment to the RTI application but even that time period is over.

What is frustrating is the fact that this is not a one time experience but a regular process at the portal. Still neither the portal nor the Modi Government deemed it fit to remove this nuisance.

(1) Update I (04-07-2019): Even after 3 days and deduction of Rs. 10 for filing the RTI Application at Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the RTI Application has still not been registered. When we tried to file a second RTI Application to PMO, the RTI portal collapsed and it remained so till late evening.

(2) Update II (04-07-2019): Despite many e-mail reminders and Twitter discussions, the DoPT failed to tally the payment of Rs. 10 with the RTI Application filed on 01-07-2019. Frustrated with the bad e-governance and worst e-delivery of services in India, we were forced to file a second RTI Application on 04-07-2019. However the second RTI Application also faced similar fate. RTI Portal of Modi Government is a big failure and shouting slogans of Digital India and Digital India New India is futile.

(3) Update III (04-07-2019): On the contrary the RTI Portal of Delhi disposed off our RTI Application in just 1 day. This is incredibly good and Digital India project of Modi Government is in serious trouble. It is devoid of any e-delivery and digital empowerment goals.

(4) Update IV (05-07-2019): After much follow up, the RTI at PMO was finally registered today. While RTI Portal of Delhi Government is instantly registering the RTIs yet RTI Portal of Modi Government is taking 4 days just to register and communicate the RTI  number. Now think how much time would be taken by Modi Government to dispose off the RTI Application. On the other hand, RTI Applications in the Chief Minister Office (CMO) and Deputy Chief Minister Office  (DyCMO) of Delhi are moving in a 1 day cycle. So a RTI filed before Delhi Govt is not only instantly filed but it is also forwarded for prompt action within 1 day and this includes the time of filing of RTI Application too.

PTLB Projects Is Rejuvenating Grievance System And RTI Mechanism In India

During the first term of Modi Government, bureaucrats and government departments/ministries were given complete freedom even at the cost of efficiency and good governance. As a result the grievance system and RTI mechanisms were severely compromised. The same thing was happening in the second term as well and after bringing this fact to the knowledge of Indian Government through social media, we at PTLB Projects decided to act.

We at PTLB Projects started the biggest exercise to bring accountability among Government Departments and Ministries. We are also developing an e-delivery system that would use technology and Digital India to bring digital empowerment and access to justice to national and international stakeholders. This exercise started as the Ministry of MSME is engaging in contempt of court by illegally forcing Aadhaar and not following the laws of India and norms of Digital India for acceptance of electronic documents for official purposes.

It would not be proper to disclose more details about this exercise at this stage as the matter is still sub judice but we would share more details soon. Also Indian Government has taken a hint from our exercise and has already started strengthening of the dying grievance system of India. While we appreciate the efforts of Indian Government in this regard yet there is still too much to be done, especially accountability and punishment of officials responsible for failing grievance system and RTI mechanism.

If you come across cases and incidences of failure of grievance system and RTI mechanism, you can report the same at our pro bono ODR Portal and we would help you in best possible manner. Administrators at the ODR Portal also have the power to make a reference to the TeleLaw Project of PTLB. Once that reference is made, the TeleLaw Project of PTLB would help the concerned person as per its policies and rules.

(1) Update I (28-06-2019): Today we received an online response from Shri. Satish Kumar, US (Estt.A.III) of Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) for the RTI Application made by us and allotted to multiple CPIOs of DoPT.

The response has been provided within a period of 7 days as the RTI Application was made by us on 21-06-2019. This is a positive development and we at PTLB Projects welcome and appreciate this swift action of Shri. Satish Kumar.

We asked for the relevant provisions of the service rules or other laws/rules where a secretary or/and head of a department can be “punished for non performance” or where “disciplinary actions or administrative actions” can be initiated against them for neglecting their “official duties”. Our RTI Application also covered their liability for other civil and criminal wrongs as well.

Shri. Satish Kumar informed us that violation of any of the provisions of CCS (Conduct) Rules, 1964 may attract disciplinary action under Rule 14 or 16 of CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965 and penalties may be imposed under Rule 11 of CCS (CCA) Rules. He clarified that Rule 12 of the CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965 prescribes the “concerned authority” who can take “disciplinary action or administrative action” against guilty officials and bureaucrats.

He also informed that our application has also been marked to other concerned CPIOs of this Department for providing information directly to us. We have to wait for the response of other CPIOs as well before we take the biggest step in the history of India to bring transparency and accountability of government officials and bureaucrats.

(2) Update II (01-07-2019): Today we filed a RTI Application before the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) regarding establishing transparency and accountability among Government Departments and Ministries. We also sought information about the Government’s pet project Digital India so that its actual implementation and truth can be revealed.

(3) Update III (02-07-2019): Yesterday we filed a RTI Application at PMO as the grievance officer was sitting upon our grievance. Today the grievance officer has forwarded our grievance to the head of the department at Ministry of MSME. We are committed to bring digital governance, Digital India, e-delivery and Good Governance in all Govt Departments and Ministries in India.

Policy Document By PTLB Projects For Enhancing Ease Of Doing Business And Startup Culture In India

We are glad to share our suggestions for the topic “Enhancing Ease of Doing Business and Startup Culture in India”. These suggestions were shared with Indian Government on 30-05-2019 and they must have already been considered by Indian Government till now.

Our suggestions in this regard are as follows:

(1) Power Of Central Government: The first and foremost requirement is to enhance the role and power of Central Government in this field. This can be achieved as follows:

(A) More powers should be exercised by Central Govt to enhance Ease of Doing Business and to promote Startups. These must include power to entertain appeal, review petition, power to remove difficulties and power to give directions. Once corresponding Rules are framed/modified and approved by the Central Govt in this context, a notification in Official Gazette must be published by Central Govt in this regard.

(B) Not only Central Govt but even the CBDT and IMB must have review powers. Review can be granted in exceptional circumstances only where:

(i) The Central Govt, on an application in this regard by the applicant Startup, directs the CBDT or IMB to review a case in hand. Such a direction can be given by the Central Govt on case to case basis, or

(ii) Any member of CBDT or IMB involved in the exemption granting process is satisfied that such a review is required after examining an application made by a Startup in this regard whose exemption application has been rejected by the CBDT/ IMB at the first instance.

Explanation I: Reasons shall be recorded by Central Govt/CBDT/IMB for approval or rejection of such review application.

Explanation II: While deciding upon approval or rejection of such review application, Central Govt/CBDT/IMB shall consider any award, recognition, intellectual property granted or applied for, mention by research scholars and research community about the Startup or its parent/promoting company/organisation, pro bono services provided by the Startup, social services of Startup, any favourable report given by NRDC in favour of Startup, etc.

Explanation III: The Central Govt, CBDT and IMB can ask for such documents, explanation and information from the review applicant as they may deem necessary to decide upon such review application.

(2) Empowering Startups: The Central Govt can strengthen Ease of Doing Business and further empower Startups with the following relaxations in favour of Startups:

(A) Exemption criteria for Startups under Section 80-IAC can further be relaxed. Currently the exemption criteria of Section 80-IAC is heavily relying upon the parameters and essentials of granting of a Patent. A Startup is much more than a business having novelty, originality and innovation.

For instance, if a Startup is providing services crucial to the society should we deny exemption to it simply because it is not innovative? We must ask the question what is more important innovation or utility? A thing may be innovative but it may have limited utility whereas a thing may be of tremendous utility still it may have no elements of originality or innovativeness. For instance, traditional knowledge, plant varieties, etc are well known and there is no innovation in them. Still they are of tremendous utility to people.

There is another reason that supports the utility aspect. A Startup recognised By DPIIT has already cleared the test of innovation, utility and problem solving model. So the same tests should not be rigidly used while granting exemption under Section 80-IAC, especially if the Startup is providing utility services or services that are important for masses.

So exemption criteria should be based upon utility plus innovation instead of innovation plus utility. In case of conflict between utility and innovation, the former (utility) must prevail for exemption purposes.

(B) If CBDT or IMB has rejected an application of a Startup for seeking tax exemption under Section 56(2) (VIIB) and Section 80-IAC respectively, a second chance should be given to the Startup to make the application again. Such second application cannot be made unless:

(i) A period of 1 year or a reduced period, as approved by the Central Government on an application made by the Startup/ Group of Startups, has elapsed, and

(ii) Any ONE of the following conditions is fulfilled:

* There are changed circumstances for the Startup like funding has been granted to the business, chances of the business obtaining scalability are there, the business has created wealth for India or generated employment for at least 10 people, etc. Such changed circumstances have to be proved with supporting documents in this regard by the applicant Startup, or

* There has been a change in the norms, rules or exemption criteria for Startups after the initial application of the Startup has been rejected and such change has now entitled the Startup to apply again, or

* The Central Govt has directed the CBDT or IMB to reconsider such application of the Startup either on its own or on the basis of an application made by the Startup/ Group of Startups requesting such direction.

Provided that the Central Govt may waive the initial waiting period of 1 year to such period as it may deem fit but not below 3 months on its own or on an application made by the Startup/ Group of Startups, generally or for a particular class of Startups, as the case may be.

Provided further that all second exemption seeking applications, except the one where Central Govt has given the direction, shall be forwarded to Central Govt electronically within 48 hours of receiving the same. The Central Govt shall have the power to reject any such application within 7 working days of receipt of such application. In case there is no response from the Central Govt regarding that application within 7 days of receipt of such communication, it shall be deemed that the Central Govt has no objection regarding such application and CBDT or IMB can proceed with such application as per the applicable procedure and norms.

Provided further that unless the Central Govt has itself made the directions, this second exemption seeking opportunity shall not be available to the Startup if the Central Govt is of the opinion that the second exemption application has been made with an intention to evade tax or there would be an unreasonable loss to Govt Exchequer. Such an opinion must be communicated by the Central Govt within 7 days of receipt of communication of second application from CBDT or IMB respectively. In case if no such opinion has been  given by the Central Govt regarding any application within 7 days of receipt of such communication, it shall be deemed that the Central Govt has no objection regarding such application and CBDT or IMB can proceed with such application as per the applicable procedure and norms.

(C) 3 years consecutive exemption benefits should be extended to 4 years with an option to claim them together or as 2 years at a time with minimum gap of three years between the second 2 years exemption seeking. For instance, if a Startup has sought exemption for 2 consecutive years after initial 3 years, next exemption for 2 consecutive years shall start after the 8th year of incorporation of the entity. We believe that the time frame for tax exemption purposes has been extended to 10 years from previous 7 years period. If that is not the case, the 7 year period must be extended to 10 years for this suggestion to work.  [https://www.startupindia.gov.in/content/sih/en/startup-scheme.html says 10 years].

An option should also be given to the Startup to discontinue 4 years consecutive exemption already sought and granted by IMB and convert it into 2 years exemption after initial 2 years if circumstances of Startup warrant so. Such an option can be given only if the Startup expresses its desire to do so at least 6 months before the expiry of  initial 2 years period (i.e. not later than initial 18 months of the exemption period).

Also if a Startup is lucky enough to get a funding in the very first year of incorporation, it should not compulsorily with for 3 years before it can apply for the tax exemption. Such a Startup should be allowed to apply in the first year itself. The IMB can ask for relevant documents to satisfy itself that the funding necessitating such exemption request is actually received or would be received in near future (say within 6 months of granting of exemption).

If the Startup fails to get the funding within 6 months of granting of tax exemption by IMB, such exemption can be temporarily suspended by the IMB till the time funding arrives. If the Startup fails to get the funding even after 1 year of granting of exemption certificate under this clause, the IMB shall have the power to cancel such exemption certificate. If such cancellation happens, any tax or other monetary benefit derived and enjoyed by the Startup shall be refunded by it with reasonable interest, calculated from the date the Startup first availed of the benefits due to such exemption.

(3) Taxation Reforms: We also need few taxation reforms and clarifications in this regard. These are as follows:

(A) We need better and clear taxation treatment of funds granted to Startups by Govt, Private Investment players, PSUs, etc. For instance, if funds are granted to a Startup (Company/LLP), what would be its tax treatment and whether it would be allowed 3 years (or proposed 4 years) tax exemption too?

Currently a DPIIT recognised Startup is eligible to apply to the IMB for full deduction on the profits and gains from business. An entity remains a startup for 10 years if its annual turnover does not exceed Rs. 100 crore for any of the financial years since incorporation/registration. If A Startups is granted funding of 90 crore will that funding be treated as turnover or profits and gains from business for full tax deduction purposes?

Explanation I: For the purposes of this clause and for granting of 3 years (or proposed 4 years) tax exemption under Section 80-IAC, the term profits and gains of a business shall include gross receipts, turnover, funding, financing, investments, etc provided that they do not exceed Rs. 100 crore for any of the 10 financial years for which the Startup has been granted a recognition.

(B) Can a company claim both Section 56(2) (VIIB) and Section 80-IAC exemptions? If yes, how the limits of 100 crore for Startup purposes would be calculated? We need a clarification upon this aspect.

(C) Synergy and coordination between Central Govt, CBDT and IMB should be further improved and their decisions should be communicated instantaneously to all others in a safe, secure and digital manner using digital signatures (DSC). Decisions of Central Govt, CBDT and IMB should also be stored at a centralised location (server) in secure manner, which can be accessed by Central Govt, if and when required.

(D) Binding value of decision by CBDT and IMB must be established and communicated by Central Govt in writing. Decisions once taken by CBDT and IMB must be final and not open to challenge by taxation or other authorities, except through a review application or direction issued by the Central Govt. A notification in Official Gazette must be published by Central Govt in this regard.