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Centre suggests morality provisions for lawyers

The Centre has suggested the Supreme Court make a ruling to debar lawyers for the commission of any offence involving moral turpitude as do other professions like medicine, CA and engineering, as the existing law for advocates is silent.The government also said that the Apex court and high courts have power under the Constitution to frame rules with respect to contempt of court by lawyers.Filing a compilation on the consequence of contempt in related professions other than law, the government said that in professions like medicine, architecture, engineering, charted accountancy, company secretary etc, the respective Acts regulate the professions by debarring professionals on the commission of an offence related to moral turpitude.However, in the Advocates Act there is no provision to debar a lawyer who commits any serious offence involving moral turpitude. Even the Bar Council of India and the state bar councils have the power to suspend or disqualify only when the lawyer is found guilty of the offence, the government said.Furthermore the Advocates Act does not have any provision to debar lawyers from the profession for commission of any serious offence like rape, murder or corruption etc.Suggesting that the Supreme Court should interpret the law and rule on the issue, the government said “The Supreme Court of India should interpret section 24 A of the Advocates Act and give it wider meaning, including in its ambit the provision of debarring a professional if he commits an offence of moral turpitude.”Every high court in India under section 34 (1) of Advocates Act and the Supreme Court under Article 145 of the Constitution of India has the power to frame rules with respect to the contempt of court committed by the lawyers,” the government also said.On November 26, while hearing a contempt plea against an advocate for contempt of one of the courts in Uttar Pradesh, the Apex court had sought the Attorney General’s assistance. The court also asked him to give detailed legal provisions in regard to other professions dealing with debarring professionals for the commission of an offence involving moral turpitude.The Allahabad High Court had found the lawyer guilty of contempt of court for his ” repeated” misconduct towards a judge more than a decade ago . The lawyer was also restrained from appearing before the concerned trial judge in Etah.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Proposed Bill to lower culpability age violates international treaties: Experts

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Currently, under the Indian law, juveniles cannot be tried as per adult laws, and the minimum age under which a juvenile can be charged for an offence under the Indian Penal Code is seven years.

As the debate to pass the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Bill, 2000, hots up in Parliament, with the Bill most likely to come up for discussion on Tuesday, several voices have come up against the Bill’s passing. Many experts argue that it needs an afterthought as it violates several international treaties.Currently, under the Indian law, juveniles cannot be tried as per adult laws, and the minimum age under which a juvenile can be charged for an offence under the Indian Penal Code is seven years. The juvenile offender, as per present law, can’t be sent to jail. If the Bill is passed, juveniles involved in cheating, theft, etc, will serve anywhere between three and seven years in prison. And for heinous crimes (murder, rape and robbery), punishments will be the same as for adults — life imprisonment with a possibility of release. There will be, however, no death penalty for juvenile offenders.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the United States, those aged under 13 committing assault, murder, robbery, aggravated sexual abuse and drug abuse are punishable like adults, with the exception of life imprisonment and death penalty. In England, the juvenile culpability starts at 17, with those involved in murder, rape and causing explosions endangering life or property facing the same punishment as adults, without life imprisonment or death penalty.In Germany, however, children above 14 who commit sexual abuse, child abuse leading to death, and abuse of the disabled are punishable for up to 10 years. In France, children above 16 who commit murder, armed robbery, serious drug offences and rape are punishable on case by case basis with the maximum punishment being life imprisonment. In Australia, Pakistan, Syria and Thailand among others, the minimum age of criminal culpability is seven. While in Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay, the age is 18.The Justice Verma Committee, formed in the aftermath of the December 16 gang rape, recommended that the age of juvenile culpability should not be lowered to 16.Article 37 (A) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that no child aged under 18 should be subjected to capital punishment or life imprisonment without the possibility of release. India became a signatory to it and ratified it in 1992. The Bill also violates Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (requiring that laws and procedures are fair and reasonable) of the Indian Constitution.The Bill has also been criticised because of the number of rapes committed by juveniles formed 3.1% of all rapes, and the number of murders constituted 1.2% of all murders.

Arunachal Pradesh political crisis: Governor has acted within constitutional powers, says Kalikho Pul

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The Governor has summoned the House under Article 174 (Clause 1) of the Constitution and he has the power to summon the House as and when he deems fit, he said.

Dissident Congress MLA Kalikho Pul

PTI
Dissident Congress MLAs from Arunachal Pradesh on Saturday said that Governor J P Rajkhowa has acted within his constitutional powers by summoning the session of the state Assembly.”BJP MLAs in the House had moved a proposal to impeach Speaker Nabam Rebia and no notification regarding this was issued by the Speaker during the stipulated period of 14 days. It was only after the stipulated period was over that the Governor summoned the House,” dissident MLA Kalikho Pul said.The Governor has summoned the House under Article 174 (Clause 1) of the Constitution and he has the power to summon the House as and when he deems fit, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Governor has both discretionary and guiding role and he is protecting the integrity of the Constitution,” he added.The Gauhati High Court had stayed the decision of the Governor to advance the Assembly session from January 14 next year to December 16 and the proceedings of the House in the makeshift premises.”The matter is sub-judice and we will not say much about it but will appeal against the order in the High Court. We want the Court to give us a chance to explain and we have full faith in the judiciary,” he added.Pul also alleged that the Governor is “under threat and is not safe in the Raj Bhawan. The state DGP and Chief Secretary are not listening to him and so how can the common people be safe in the state?”The whole world has seen how the ministers owing allegiance to Chief Minister Nabam Tuki have misbehaved with the Governor and used unparliamentary language inside the Raj Bhawan. Their supporters have held dharnas and blocked roads with a patient dying on way to the hospital,” he said.

Arunachal Assembly: Ministers used unparliamentary words, says Governor

The Governor claimed that he had issued the order on December 9 advancing the winter session from January 14 to December 16 as per laid down provisions of the Constitution and the law and in exercising powers conferred on him under Clause (1) of Article 174 of the Constitution of India.

Arunachal Governor Jyoti Prashad Rajkhowa

Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prashad Rajkhowa on Tuesday night alleged that some ministers who called on him to request him to withdraw the order advancing the winter session of the state Assembly used “unparliamentary languages.””They used unparliamentary words and gestured in an animated and threatening manner against the Governor when they, along with Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, met him today,” a Raj Bhawan communique said.The Governor said they have legal option to challenge his order. The Governor claimed that he had issued the order on December 9 advancing the winter session from January 14 to December 16 as per laid down provisions of the Constitution and the law and in exercising powers conferred on him under Clause (1) of Article 174 of the Constitution of India. Legal experts were also consulted, the Governor claimed.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, not willing to listen to him, the ministers questioned his authority and judgement, he said.”Some of the ministers got very agitated and led by Education Minister Tapang Taloh, used unparliamentary words and gestured in very animated and threatening manner before leaving the Raj Bhavan,” the statement said.They also virtually “threatened” to disturb the Assembly session starting from tomorrow, it claimed adding the Governor expressed extreme disappointment at the behaviour of the ministers, particularly when the Chief Minister himself had sought the appointment for official deliberation.

J&K wants plea challenging Article 35A dismissed

Noting that despite direction from the court, the Centre has not filed the affidavit, the registrar of the court on Thursday passed the order directing the matter to be listed before an appropriate bench for further hearing.

A year after the Supreme Court’s notice to the Centre on a plea challenging Article 35A of the Constitution, which grants ‘special status’ to permanent residents of J&K and preventing rest of Indian citizens from acquiring immovable property and exercising voting rights in the state, the Union of India has failed to respond but the Jammu and Kashmir government has filed its reply seeking dismissal of the petition.Noting that despite direction from the court, the Centre has not filed the affidavit, the registrar of the court on Thursday passed the order directing the matter to be listed before an appropriate bench for further hearing.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Filing an affidavit, the Mufti government in the state said the apex court had already dealt with the President’s 1954 order which allowed only the permanent residents of J&K to buy and sale the immovable properties, getting government jobs and voting rights there and restrained others.It submitted that since Article 370 as enacted and amended remained in the Constitution as an integral part thereof and since the presidential order of 1954 has been recognised and acted on, as valid, ever since its promulgation, and when challenged, it was rejected by the two Constitution benches of the Supreme Court and sought dismissal of the petition.The petition was filed by ‘We the citizens’, a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation registered as a society, through its president Sandeep Kulkarni was first heard a year ago on August 19, 2014 by the Bench headed by Chief Justice. The court then sent notices to the Centre and J&K government.Petitioner’s counsel Varun K Sinha argued that “the state of J&K is integral part of India and therefore the citizen of J&K as well as citizen of other states of the country have got equal fundamental rights and on the ground of certain clauses/paras contained in the constitution application to J&K order 1954 are violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.”He also argued that although President has the power to modify/ clarify the Article 35 with regard to the state of J & K but his 1954 order was illegal saying “with the insertion of Article 35 A can only be done by the Parliament through an amendment.”Last year when the petition was filed, the BJP, then in the Opposition in Jammu and Kashmir and vying for a mission 44 ahead of elections, had not only supported it vociferously, but also promised to annul this legal provision to make citizenship laws uniform all over country. But now that it is sharing power with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), it is becoming increasingly difficult for the law department of Jammuand Kashmir government, as well as for the Central government to either support or oppose the plea.The Article 35A that forms basis of Permanent Resident law replicated actually a state subject law promulgated by the Dogra king Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927 following a strong campaign by Kashmiri Pandits who were opposed to the hiring of civil servants from Punjab, because it had affected their representation in the Dogra administration.The Kashmiri Pandits’ agitation of the time did not affect the Muslim majority because the Dogras as a policy kept Muslims largely out of the administration. Also, the law was brought to prevent rich landlords from the erstwhile undivided Punjab to claim property and permanent resident rights after marrying Kashmiri Muslim girls. A provision was incorporated that Kashmiri girls, marrying outside the state, will forfeit their immovable property rights.Earlier, dna had reported that Centre’s concerned ministries – law and justice and ministry of home affairs – were busy gathering inputs from various agencies on the implications, as in Kashmir, both the mainstream parties – the National Conference as well as ruling People’s Democratic Party – have warned the government of dire consequences on the issue. Both of them want the Central government to oppose the petition tooth-and-nail.

Married daughter eligible for deceased father’s govt job on compassionate grounds: Chhattisgarh HC

The HC cited that “policy of compassionate appointment excluding married daughters for consideration is a retrograde policy of the welfare state, and violative of Article 16 (2) (no discrimination on grounds of religion, caste, sex etc) of the Constitution.”

A married daughter is eligible to get government job of her deceased’s father on compassionate grounds, the Chhattisgarh High Court has observed. Justice Sanjay K Agrawal made the observation on Tuesday while hearing a petition filed by Sarojani Bhoi (28) who had challenged the state government on the ground that she was not given the job of her father who passed away in 2011.The HC cited that “policy of compassionate appointment excluding married daughters for consideration is a retrograde policy of the welfare state, and violative of Article 16 (2) (no discrimination on grounds of religion, caste, sex etc) of the Constitution.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Father of Sarojani, Jaldev Pradhan who was working as Amin Patwari in the water resources department of the state s Mahasamund district, died on January 6, 2011. He left behind his wife Hemkanti and two married daughters Sarojani and Sanyukta, he said.The petitioner made an application for compassionate appointment pleading that after the death of her father she is maintaining her family including her mother as she has no other source of income. The state government had rejected her application holding that as per clause 3 (1)(c) of the policy dated 10/06/2003, the married daughter of the deceased government servant is not entitled to compassionate appointment. Thereafter, Sarojani filed the writ petition challenging the legality and validity of the clause,Contending that the state policy is “unconstitutional” Sarojani said a married daughter holds equal rights as that of a married son to get her deceased father’s government job. After hearing arguments from both sides, Justice Agrawal observed that prohibiting the consideration of the married daughter from seeking compassionate appointment merely on the ground of marriage is plainly arbitrary and violative of constitutional guarantee envisaged in Article 14, (equality before law) 15 (no discrimination on grounds of religion, caste and sex etc) and 16 (2) of the Constitution of India, he said.The court further held the state government’s policy of 2003 in this regard was “void and inoperative” and ordered the state government to reconsider the claim of the petitioner within 45 days.

Rajiv Gandhi assassination case: SC says Tamil Nadu govt cannot release convicts without consent from Centre

“Tamil Nadu government cannot grant remission to convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case without concurrence of Centre. States do not have suo motu power to grant remission to convicts under CrPC provisions,” said the court.

Former PM Rajiv Gandhi

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the killers of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi cannot be released by the Tamil Nadu Government without the Centre’s consent.The apex court said the killers of the former prime minister will stay in the jails of Tamil Nadu, thus overruling the state government’s decision to release the convicts. “Tamil Nadu government cannot grant remission to convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case without concurrence of Centre. States do not have suo motu power to grant remission to convicts under CrPC provisions,” said the court.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It further added, “Centre will have primacy in granting remission to convicts in cases registered under central law and probed by central agencies like CBI.”The Supreme Court, however, refers to a three-judge bench the factual and legal aspects of grant of remission to convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.The Supreme Court was pronouncing its verdict on constitutional issues arising from Tamil Nadu government’s decision to set free the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, including the power of states to remit sentences.The bench, also comprising justices FMI Kalifulla, Pinaki Chandra Ghosh, Abhay Manohar Sapre and UU Lalit, had reserved the judgement on August 12 after hearing for eleven days the arguments advanced by Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, who appeared for the Centre, and others including senior advocates Ram Jethmalani and Rakesh Dwivedi, representing V Sriharan alias Murugan, one of the seven convicts, and Tamil Nadu government respectively. The court would be dealing with seven issues framed by the smaller bench on the scope of the Executive’s power of remission.It was also supposed to decide whether state governments also have power of remission in cases where central agencies like CBI are the prosecutor.”The issue of such a nature has been raised for the first time in this court which has wide ramification in determining the scope of application of power of remission by the Executives, both the Centre and the State.”Accordingly, we refer this matter to the Constitution Bench to decide the issue pertaining to whether once power of remission under Article 72 (by the President) or 161 (by Governor) or by this Court exercising Constitutional power under Article 32 is exercised, is there any scope for further consideration for remission by the Executive,” the apex court had said while referring the matter to the Constitution bench.It had said the Constitution bench would decide whether the sentence of a prisoner, whose death penalty has been commuted to life, can be remitted by the government. The bench would also decide whether life imprisonment meant jail term for rest of the life or a convict has a right to claim remission, it had said.Another issue for the constitution bench to decide is whether a special category of sentence could be provided for cases where death penalty might be substituted by imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term in excess of 14 years and to put that category beyond application of remission.The bench is also supposed to decide whether the Union or the State has primacy over the subject matter enlisted in concurrent list of 7th Schedule of the Constitution for exercise of power of remission.During the hearing, Centre had said that repeated mercy pleas before the President and the Governor by convicts seeking remission or commutation of their sentences violated the principle of finality. It had also asserted that the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi did nor deserve any mercy as the assassination was the result of a conspiracy involving foreign nationals.The Tamil Nadu government, on other had, had asserted the states have power to grant remission under the law and trashed accusations that its decision to release seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case was “political and arbitrary”.The state government had wanted to know as to why Congress governments at the centre delayed the decision on their mercy pleas that led to commutation of their death sentence in the first place.Jethmalani, appearing for one of the convicts, had sought dismissal of Centre’s plea, contending that the citizens could file writ petitions for enforcement of their fundamental rights and “Union of India is not a citizen but State under Article 12; it has no such rights vested in it”. The apex court had on February 20 last year stayed the state government’s decision to release three convicts – Murugan, Santhan and Arivu, whose death sentence had been commuted to life term by it two days before.It had later also stayed the release of four other convicts — Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran, saying there were procedural lapses on part of the state government.Santhan, Murugan and Arivu are currently lodged in the Central Prison, Vellore. The other four are also undergoing life sentence for their role in Gandhi’s assassination on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu.(With PTI and ANI inputs)

The flood story from Kashmir to Chennai: Why don’t we ever learn a lesson?

Large parts of the city under water, ceiling-high grime in the lower floors of thousands upon thousands of houses, tens of thousands sick in hospitals, losses amounting to tens of thousands of crores …it’s a dismal list. This was the story of Chennai a week ago. It was the same story in Srinagar 3,000 kilometres to the north just 15 months ago.

The rest of the story too is common to both places: failure to de-silt water bodies, colonies built on former marshes and wetlands, reclaimed lakes, vast rural-to-urban migrations… yes, regarding causes too, the story is long, and it is depressing.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

For, if there were lessons to be learnt, they would have been learnt from the Kashmir floods last year. But no lessons were learnt. That devastation was put down simply to flooding of the river Jhelum – floods which the state government kept telling us were unexpected. Of course, the cyclonic storms off the Chennai coast in the Bay of Bengal can be called unexpected even more easily.

It is of course tough to predict when exactly a flood will come. But an array of factors can make obvious how badly a flood will affect populations if and when it does come – factors that are not only predictable but manmade. But if causes were to be acknowledged, the state government, city officials, and the Centre, would have to take some responsibility for dereliction of duty – and no one is willing to do that.

In both places, one in the Himalayas and the other on the Deccan coast, the marshes, wetlands, lakes and other waterways that served as natural catchments for excess water had been taken over by concrete jungles – extensions of each of those rapidly expanding city.

In each place, politicians had ignored the likely consequences of this unregulated expansion. Their responses were shaped by populism, and even more so by the nefarious influence which property investors exercise on politicians and officials – not to speak of the property investments of the corrupt in both categories.

A historical review of Google maps of both areas makes clear the extent to which both have been ravaged by haphazard urban expansion, and the extent to which construction has obstructed the natural flow-paths to and in catchment areas.

Natural gradients allow excess water to flow freely from higher planes to low-lying catchment areas such as marshlands, swamps, rivers, lakes, wet lands and other minor and major water bodies. But official are callous about the likely effects of disturbing the natural equilibrium. So much so that the Srinagar Development Authority has built a huge office building and `habitat centre’ on what was wetland, cheek-by-jowl by Kashmir’s main flood overflow channel.

It has benignly allowed colonies to come up in nearby areas that used to be lakes and marshes. Of course, these were the first parts of the city that were severely flooded when the waters rose last year – for silt had simultaneously been allowed to make the river, the remaining lakes, and the flood channel – all the catchment – much shallower than before.

The situation is no better around Chennai. Real estate sharks have encroached on the city’s biggest fresh water lake, and built high rise apartments. Not far, an educational institution has put up signboards claiming that it owns the lake, and has reclaimed a part of it.

Some of the biggest commercial complexes and business centers have been built on the lake, canal, or part of the river bed. Chennai’s builders learnt no lessons after the collapse of a 13-storey residential building, which was being built on a wetland.

Not just Srinagar and Chennai, cities across the country have woefully inadequate drainage, sewerage and other proper facilities. This applies even to towns such as Gurgaon that have some of the highest priced real estate globally.

Waves of migrants have come to both Srinagar and Chennai over the past couple of decades, pushed there by government policies and the lure of opportunities. Most of them look to buy a small plot or apartment as cheaply as they can, oblivious to the dangers of flooding. Government officials and politicians, often influenced by property developers and hoping for migrant votes, fail to regulate construction.

The state governments in both Tamil Nadu and Jammu and Kashmir failed to de-silt the rivers and other water bodies that remain. If they had, those channels might have been deep enough to carry more flood water without overflowing. Both have increased the city limits without proper plans in place.

Dismissive attitudes to the environmental dangers are not just callous. It is unconstitutional. Article48 of the Directive Principles mandates the State Authority to protect the environment. Article 51 makes it the responsibility of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife.

Before getting excited about `smart cities,’ as some residents of both Chennai and Srinagar have recently been, the entire country needs to wake up to the dangers of greed-based and shortsighted `development.’

Imagine status of woman if Sharad Yadav had drafted Constitution: Smriti Irani

“I think it is paradoxical that today Sharadji, a very senior parliamentarian, yet again told me ‘sit down, sit down.

Taking a dig at senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani on Friday wondered what would have been the position of women had such politicians been part of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution. Referring to a comment by Yadav, the Minister said “I think it is paradoxical that today Sharadji, a very senior parliamentarian, yet again told me ‘sit down, sit down.Imagine if such a politician was a part of the Drafting Committee. “Participating in the debate on commitment to the Constitution in Rajya Sabha, she said as a woman in India, she celebrate the fact that women in many nations across the world had to struggle to get their right to vote. Irani said she got it because my Constitution gave it so at the birth of this very nation as a Republic in 1950. “But imagine, as the Leader of the House said today, what kind of restrictions such a senior parliamentarian would have imposed on a woman like me while this was being drafted. Would I have been told ‘You have dark complexion, so you don’t have right to vote?’ Would I have been told ‘you have short hair, you have no right to vote?'<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I see that some are disturbed by what I say. But apart from the social realities that were counted in this very House today, this also is a realty we must embrace, for the victims of such realty do not reside only outside this House, but we have witnessed this in this very House” she said. Irani further said that in September, 1949, B R Ambedkar sponsored Sanskrit as the official language of the Indian Union and supporting him, amongst many, was a gentleman called Naziruddin Ahmed. She further said a correspondent went to Babasaheb and said, “Why is Sanskrit?” and he replied “What’s wrong with Sanskrit?”. “It is ironical that six-and-a-half decades later, I too get posed that question and I have a similar response. But, this is the very evidence and the essence of a thriving Constitution which allows debates to permeate over decades till such time a consensus emerges,” the Minister said. On the notification for celebrating Constitution Day in schools, Irani said said on August 26, 2015 there was a notification, which indicates to another notification dated May 30, which included in it the need to increase awareness about the Constitution among citizens, particularly, children on the November 26. She said there has been a debate that November 26 was the day when the draft was adopted, but it was actualised in January, 1950. “But, as Indians, we cannot ignore the fact that this is the rock on which we sought to build the political salvation of our country…,” the Minister said. She further said In 1999, Justice J S Verma worked with a group of Indians to operationalise how fundamental duties are to be seen in the education sector. “…he said, presentation of the values inherent in each clause of Article 51A through anecdotal talks at morning assemblies in schools should be organised. “This, Sir, is the notification, which was subsequently given to the Central Board of Secondary Education, which said, amongst the events for the day, the School Head may address the students briefly about the significance of celebrating this day, and, also recite the Preamble to the Constitution,” Irani added. The Minister informed the House that in all CBSE schools yesterday, children flocked the morning assemblies to take oath to preserve the very values enshrined in the Constitution to celebrate the journey of this Constitution and the future it envisions for these children.

EC to approach govt to push multiple cut-off dates proposal for enrolling voters

New Delhi: Unfazed by legal hurdles in its plan to register young citizens as voters as soon as they turn 18, the Election Commission has decided to approach the government to push its proposal to have multiple cut-off dates to enrol voters.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The Commission has formally asked the Law Ministry to discuss the issue in the coming days. The meeting could be attended by top EC brass and Law Ministry officials.

“Based on the meeting, the Commission will take a decision,” said a senior functionary.

The Legislative Department in the Law Ministry is the administrative ministry for the EC.

But according to the Law Ministry, a change in rules or even an amendment to the Representation of the People Act will not help.

“It is for the policy makers to decide whether multiple cut-off dates are actually required. Less than one per cent of people are affected due to a single cut-off date,” a senior law Ministry official explained indicating the lack of enthusiasm on part of the government to have multiple cut-off dates.

The Attorney General had recently red flagged Commission’s plan to have multiple cut-off dates to enrol voters, saying it contradicts provisions of the Constitution.

EC had last year told the government that the 1 January cut-off date set for the purpose deprives several youths from participating in the electoral exercise.

The Law Ministry had opposed the move, but following EC’s persistent demands, it had referred the matter to Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi for his opinion.

Rohatgi had supported the view of the Law Ministry that the move to have multiple cut-off dates “contradicts” Article 326 of the Constitution and to have such a system is not practical.

Article 326 mentions a cut-off ‘date’ and not ‘dates’, the Ministry and the AG had pointed out.

According to the EC guidelines on enrolment of voters, for an election to be held in a particular year, only an individual who has attained the age of 18 years as on 1 January of that year is eligible to be enrolled in the voters’ list.

As a result, if a person is becoming 18 years on 2 January, he cannot be registered. Therefore, a person who is turning 18 beyond 1 January will have to wait for next year to get registered. In case elections are taking place subsequently, they will have to wait for a longer period, the Election Commissioner has maintained.

Article 326 states that every person who is a citizen of India and who is not less than 18 of age on such “date” as may be fixed in that behalf by or under any law made by the appropriate legislature shall be entitled to be registered as a voter at any such election.

“The elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assembly of every State shall be on the basis of adult suffrage; but is to say, every person who is a citizen of India and who is not less than twenty one years of age (which was later amended to 18 years) on such ‘date’ as may be fixed in that behalf by or under any law made by the appropriate legislature…,” says Article 326.

A proposal made in the early 1970s had suggested multiple cut-off dates of 1 January, 1 April, 1 July and 1 October for those attaining the required age to register as voters. But the proposal could not take off.

PTI

Rahul Gandhi is British: Congress rubbishes Subramanian Swamy’s claims

“From the day he was born, Shri Rahul Gandhi has held Indian citizenship and Indian passport and has never held citizenship of any other country nor has he represented as such.” – Congress

File Photo

Hitting back at Subramanian Swamy’s claims that Rahul Gandhi was a British citizen, the Indian National Congress released documents that showed Rahul Gandhi is an Indian citizen. A Congress press release claims that: “From the day he was born, Shri Rahul Gandhi has held Indian citizenship and Indian passport and has never held citizenship of any other country nor has he represented as such.”The release also says that he never held any account in Pictet Bank, Zurich, nor has he ever been questioned or detained at Logan Airport, Boston with undeclared cash. This is a complete falsehood that Shri Swamy is in habit of falsely repeating for decades for his malicious political motives and to gain cheap publicity.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Subramanian Swamy had earlier said: “While UK permits dual citizenship, India emphatically does not. Article 18 prohibits an Indian citizen from accepting even foreign titles. Hence, Mr Rahul Gandhi has, prima facie, committed an unconstitutional act and therefore liable to be stripped of his citizenship and membership of the Lok Sabha.” (Read: Subramanian Swamy’s shocking claim)

Subramanian Swamy’s shocking claim: Rahul Gandhi is a British citizen

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“While UK permits dual citizenship, India emphatically does not. Article 18 prohibits an Indian citizen from accepting even foreign titles. Hence, Mr Rahul Gandhi has, prima facie, committed an unconstitutional act and therefore liable to be stripped of his citizenship and membership of the Lok Sabha,” Dr Swamy said.

File Photo

According to various media reports, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy fiercely attacked Rahul Gandhi, claiming that the Congress vice-president was a citizen of UK. He said that since India doesn’t allow the citizenship of two countries, his Indian citizenship should be cancelled. He claimed that he had evidence that Rahul Gandhi had declared himself a British citizen from 2003-2009 for the purpose of floating a private company in London.Swamy wrote a letter to PM Narendra Modi demanding the government strip Gandhi of his citizenship.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”While UK permits dual citizenship, India emphatically does not. Article 18 prohibits an Indian citizen from accepting even foreign titles. Hence, Mr Rahul Gandhi has, prima facie, committed an unconstitutional act and therefore liable to be stripped of his citizenship and membership of the Lok Sabha,” he said. The Congress’ Ajay Maken meanwhile dismissed the allegations saying that Swamy always made silly statements in order to try to seek publicity and nobody took his statement seriously.

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Rahul GandhiSubramanian SwamyNarendra ModiWeb Exclusive

Those insisting on eating beef want ‘freedom to insult Hindus’: Organiser

The article said, “This pseudo-secular Jamaat has coined new phrases and meanings wherein freedom to eat means freedom to insult. Any reaction is propagated nationally and internationally as intolerance under Modi Government. And the new tag line being ‘Damn the Hindus, Damn the law, we are Secular’.”

Against the backdrop of Kerala House beef controversy, an article in ‘Organiser’ has said those insisting on eating cow meat wanted the “freedom to insult Hindus” and have “indirectly silenced sane voices”.”In the name of freedom to eat food of one s choice, they are demanding freedom to insult Hindus. Issue for them is not about fundamental right to eat, but the issue is fundamental right to insult the Hindus.”…These bunch of people who have enjoyed the spoils of power under the Congress Government have indirectly silenced all sane voices,” it said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The article said, “This pseudo-secular Jamaat has coined new phrases and meanings wherein freedom to eat means freedom to insult. Any reaction is propagated nationally and internationally as intolerance under Modi Government. And the new tag line being ‘Damn the Hindus, Damn the law, we are Secular’.”The article in the publication brought out by RSS symapthisers said the Kerala House beef curry controversy and the subsequent protests by Chief Minister of Kerala and some other states have shocked the law abiding citizens of the country.Criticising Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy for calling the Delhi police’s action as highly objectionable, it said Chandy’s protest “was itself illegal and contrary to the letter and spirit of the oath taken by him of upholding the law”.”In fact, all the Chief Ministers opposing the action of police had overstepped their limits and contravened their oath,” the article said.Talking about a beef party on the road in Kolkata by a group of demonstrators, it said, “It is against law of the land and the police again seemed to be helpless as usual and in captivity of such rogue elements who leave no opportunity to damn the Hindus”.”So what if the Hindus respect cow and revere it as their mother, so what if it is illegal to serve beef curry, so what if Article 48 of Constitution directs Government of Bharat to protect cows and make efforts to ban cow slaughter, so what if the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi advocated ban on cow slaughter to be the first law of independent Bharat, we will eat cow meat. Damn the Hindus, damn the law, damn the police,” the article said.It said if any institution or individual tries to raise a question or protest, “our secular brethren who have received Congress-Communist patronage for the last 60 years since Independence will return their awards, resign from their posts and create an atmosphere in the country that their legitimate, secular voices were being throttled and curbed under the Modi Government”.”They will further have their international co-conspirators advise Modi government to be more tolerant towards the minorities in Bharat,” the article said.

Pro-RSS journal accuses media of ‘intolerance’

It claimed that “anyone watching TV these days would think the country is in danger, societal tolerance is reducing, there s a civil-war like situation, as if there s bloodshed all around.”

It also attacked the role of the media for “overplaying” that veteran lyricist Gulzar returned his award over intolerance recently

File Photo
An article in RSS mouthpiece ‘Panchjanya’ has accused the media of bias and intolerance towards an alternative point of view on a “manufactured” debate over “shrinking” space for dissent. The article charged the media with overplaying a series of recent incidents including return of awards by intellectuals and artistes and the Kerala House beef row, the article in pro-RSS publication. It claimed that “anyone watching TV these days would think the country is in danger, societal tolerance is reducing, there s a civil-war like situation, as if there s bloodshed all around.” The article said “this manufactured atmosphere created on the eve of Bihar polls would give anyone watching TV a sense of fear.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Kerala House witnessed a controversy over beef. Police went there and sorted it out. But how could the media sit silently? By the evening, every channel was debating how sinful the police had been in visiting Kerala House upon receipt of a complaint over beef sale. Kerala House is not an embassy of another country,” the article said.It also attacked the role of the media for “overplaying” that veteran lyricist Gulzar returned his award over intolerance recently but “conveniently glossing over the fact that Gulzar had campaigned against Narendra Modi in Varanasi during 2014 Lok Sabha elections” and saying, “people have the right to know that their favourite lyricist has political affiliations.””While TV channels showed Gulzar returning the award, they didn’t say that Gulzar had canvassed against Narendra Modi in Varanasi in general elections. Isn’t Gulzar’s presence in Patna during Bihar polls strange? People have the right to know that their favourite lyricist has political affiliations,” according to the article. Accusing the media of not showing pro-government versions in the debate on intolerance, the article in the publication asked why when channels showed scientist P M Bhargava s anti- government statements and “blacked out” pro-government statements of another acclaimed scientist G Madhavan Nair.”Extremely secular journalists continue to insult Hindu traditions and have through articles mocked the Hindu festival of Karvachauth as conservative,” the article says. The article in the publication also questions the media over not being “anguished over the intolerance shown to poet Munawwar Rana who recently met PM Modi on his invitation”. “Rana is being attacked because he met PM Modi but the progressive media is silent over intolerance being shown to him,” the ‘Panchjanya’ article says, adding that the media “conveniently went silent when it was revealed that filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee returned an award he never even received”. “It was only when the producer of film ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’ revealed this truth that it became known that Dibakar Banerjee had not even received the award but the media went silent despite earlier overplaying it,” the article said, adding that the “social media is closer to the truth than the mainstream media”.The publication especially praised the role of the social media in projecting how the recent “anti-India” remarks by credit rating agency Moody s were “actually personal views of a junior analyst at the organization”.

Article critical of Thackeray family goes viral; Raju Parulekar says writers can’t be restricted

An article critical of Thackeray family has gone viral after the writer published it on his personal blog saying the writers can’t be restricted.

An article critical of Thackeray family has gone viral after the writer published it on his personal blog saying the writers can’t be restricted.Raju Parulekar, a Pune-based journalist, who was once close to Raj Thackeray has written the article ‘Anatomy of Thackeray Family’ for a Diwali magazine. However, Parulekar believes that the article might not get published as it is regarding Thackeray family and therefore, he decided to publish it on the blog – ‘I Can So I Will’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Before beginning the article, Parulekar wrote, “This article has been originally written for Diwali magazine (print) of Grahak Hith, in the section called ‘legacy and lineage’. Editor of the magazine requested me to write on Thackeray family. It was with my conviction I wrote this article. Now article is with Grahak Hith. They might print it, they might not. When I spoke to them, I realised they were shaken. On their part nothing is wrong but I took my decision to publish it on my blog. Ultimate responsibility is mine.”Parulekar says that the article (Anatomy of Thackeray Family) does not refer to entire Shivsena and/or Maharashtra politics but refers only to the family of Thackeray’s. Hence, this article has few limitations, yet Balasaheb Thackeray remains the ‘Life-Giving Sun’ for the ‘Sons & Cousins of Thackeray Family.Parulekar was shot to fame after he claimed that the Anna Hazare wanted to remove undemocratic and fascist Kejriwal, Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and their pawns from his core team.Stating that Balasaheb Thackeray was not much involved in Samyukta Maharashtra Movement, he added, “All we can say that he witnessed the movement as a cartoonist. However, Balasaheb Thackeray had organisational skills which Acharya Atre lacked and post Samyukta Maharashtra Movement.”He also added that Balasaheb Thackeray accidently grabbed the golden opportunity to consolidate orphan anger of Marathi people.Further mentioning that Balasaheb’s slogans were a sheer lie, Parulekar wrote, “Balasaheb Thackeray did not let Shivsainiks and Maharashtra know that he wanted to make a business out of politics. Remember his famous, smart slogans – ‘Our policy is 20% Politics and 80% Social Work’, ‘Politics is nothing but Eczema’! That was a sheer lie.”To read the article: Anatomy of Thackeray Family

Only Parliament can decide whether Article 370 should be scrapped, says Supreme Court

“Will it be done by the court or by Parliament? Can we ask Parliament to delete a provision from the Constitution? It is not for this court to do so,” observed the bench.

Supreme Court

Two weeks after the Jammu and Kashmir HC observed that Article 370 is a ‘permanent’ provision of the Constitution, the Supreme Court on Friday said that only Parliament can take a call on scrapping Article 370, said a report in Indian Express.The Article 370 accords special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir. Refusing to entertain a PIL that wanted Article 370 removed from the Constitution, a bench led by Chief Justice HL Dattu said that the apex court cannot decide on the matter. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Will it be done by the court or by Parliament? Can we ask Parliament to delete a provision from the Constitution? It is not for this court to do so,” observed the bench.PIL petitioner BP Yadav, a lawyer based in Andhra Pradesh, wanted the Supreme Court to quash Article 370, but the bench turned down his plea. “We can strike down a provision if it is unconstitutional but we cannot be asking Parliament to remove a provision. It has to be done by them (Parliament),” said the bench. The plea had also sought direction for removal of the words ‘except Jammu and Kashmir’ from all the pertinent statutes where laws are made applicable to all other states and union territories. Yadav contended that Article 370 and the consequent Presidential Order abridge the Constitutional scheme and also violate Part III, which relates to the fundamental rights of people and comprises the basic structure. He pointed out that Article 370 has been titled as a ‘temporary provision’ that makes it amply clear that it had to go after some time. However earlier this month, the J&K High Court had taken a contradictory stand. It observed that notwithstanding its title ‘temporary provision’, Article 370 is a permanent provision of the Constitution. “It cannot be abrogated, repealed or even amended as mechanism provided under Clause (3) of Article 370 is no more available,” the court observed in its judgement. Noting that Article 35A protected the existing laws of the state, the High Court said that Jammu and Kashmir had retained limited sovereignty while acceeding to the Dominion of India, and did not merge with the Dominion of India like the other princely states that signed the Instrument of Accession.

Editor of Haryana govt magazine removed after it highlighted health benefits of beef

Chandigarh: The Editor of a Haryana government magazine, which carries an article mentioning positive effects of beef-eating, has been removed.

The magazine Shiksha Bharati has included “beef” besides “veal” (meat of young cows) among four “enhancers” which “directly affect absorption of iron in human body.”

The article details the importance of iron as “one of the important micro-nutrient which is required for human body on a daily basis and elaborates on the ill-effects of iron deficiency, its impact on health and various sources of iron.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma told reporters that the article “Iron-Vital for strength” was carried in the bi-lingual magazine which contains articles in Hindi and English and is published and printed by “President, Shiksha Lok Society-cum-Director, Secondary Education” from the office of Director, Secondary Education, Haryana, Panchkula.

He said that the Editor of the magazine clarified that the article was carried as it was based on a scientific report. Beef was mentioned along with lamb, veal and pork as enhancers with other animal food in the article.

“We said that it should not have been published in the Haryana magazine. We have removed the Editor of the magazine,” Sharma said adding further action in the matter will follow later.

The online edition of the 52-page magazine has been removed from the official website of the Primary Education Department.

However, the online edition of the magazine is still available on the official website of the Secondary Education Department.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who had sparked a controversy saying that Muslims should give up eating beef if they want to live in India, is the chief patron of the body publishing the magazine with Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma as the patron.

The magazine in its initial pages carries a disclaimer saying the views mentioned are of the contributors and it was not necessary that the department agrees with the views.

Jawahar Yadav, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the Chief Minister, declined to comment on the issue.

The Haryana Assembly had recently passed the Gau Sanrakshan Avm Gau Samwardhan Bill 2015′ Bill which favours complete ban on cow slaughter in the state and rigorous imprisonment ranging from three years to ten years for killing the animal.

PTI

Uniform Civil Code: Government to seek more time from Supreme Court?

Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda will hold consultations with his senior cabinet colleagues and legal experts, government sources said here on Wednesday

The government is expected to seek more time from the Supreme Court on the issue of Uniform Civil Code for holding wider consultations with all stakeholders when the matter comes up for hearing next week.Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda will hold consultations with his senior cabinet colleagues and legal experts, government sources said here on Wednesday. Under directions of the Supreme Court, government has been tasked with filing an affidavit before it on the issue by next week. There is a clear view in the government that the common code can only be implemented after taking all stakeholders on board. Gowda had recently said that a Uniform Civil Code is necessary for national integration but made it clear that no hasty decision will be taken on it.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Law Minister had made these observations after the Supreme Court had on October 12 sought to know from the government whether it was willing to bring the common code in the country. It had asked the Solicitor General to seek the government’s view and posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks. “…Even the Preamble of our Constitution and Article 44 of the Constitution do say that there should be a Uniform Civil Code. For the interest of national integration, certainly a common civil code is necessary. But it is a very sensitive issue. It needs very wider consultation. Even communities, even across the party line, even various organisations…it need to have a wider consultation,” Gowda had said.He had said a decision “cannot be done in a day or two. It will take its own time.”

‘Seculars’ using Dadri lynching as protein for ‘politics’: RSS

Another article in the ‘Organiser’ said, “Dadri killing is not something unprecedented, unheard of in the history of Independent Bharat. So about Kalburgi murder. The conscience of over two dozen eminent persons of literature got so severely pricked by these two incidents that they returned their awards in protest.”

Taunting ‘liberals’ for using cow slaughter as a “protein for their secular politics”, RSS organ ‘Organiser’ has accused them of using the Dadri lynching as an opportunity to attack Hindu beliefs as it termed the killing as “not something unprecedented” or “unheard of”.Citing the “killings” of Sikhs and kar sevaks in Godhra, it questioned those protesting against the Dadri incident saying why those incidents did not evoke their conscience earlier. “One fails to understand how a ban on slaughter of cows and calves would deprive people of a cheap source of protein. Were Constitution makers less protein-conscious than present liberals who of-late have shown almost athletic interest in the matters of Hindu sentiments. “But, as usual, liberals have got this one wrong as well. Beef is not the cheapest source of protein,” an article in the ‘Organiser’ said sarcastically to those protesting the Dadri incident.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Related Read: RSS mouthpiece defends Dadri lynching, calls it a ‘natural reaction’ to ‘sin’ of cow slaughterWhile ruing that the body of Dadri victim had become a site of politics, it said, “Dadri’s incident is a cruel reminder of how a dead body can become a site of political maneuvering and out maneuvering.””Every murder is unfortunate, and cruel… and calls for strict action by law enforcing agencies. But what is different about Dadri’s case is that here a murder is being used by the media and self-proclaimed seculars and liberals as an opportunity to put the beliefs of Hinduism in dock,” it added.Another article in the ‘Organiser’ said, “Dadri killing is not something unprecedented, unheard of in the history of Independent Bharat. So about Kalburgi murder. The conscience of over two dozen eminent persons of literature got so severely pricked by these two incidents that they returned their awards in protest.”It, however, cited incidents when thousands of Sikhs were killed in 1984, 59 kar sevaks were burnt alive at Godhra railway station sparking the Gujarat riots and 16 policemen involved in killing of 42 innocent Muslims acquitted after 28 years a few months ago. The article while taking on RJD chief Lalu Yadav for saying Hindus also eat beef and used to eat it in Vedic times, remarks, “This is bogus.” On SP leader Azam Khan’s comparison of Indian Muslims with those in Iraq, the article says, “Azam Khan, a secular leader of a secular outfit, compared Muslims’ situation in Bharat to that of Muslims in Iraq. Phonetic similarity between Dadri and Babri provided him a poetic concern over their impact. Azam Khan, in past, has justified the acts of terrorism.” “I wonder, why no one has ever asked him and other liberals with same views why Hindus have not become terrorists in Pakistan and Bangladesh where their temples are demolished almost every month and why they haven’t become suicide bombers?” the article in RSS organ said.It goes on to question former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah’s recent remarks that while Islam prohibited pork eating, he wouldn’t beat up anyone eating pork, and asks, “Does he (Omar) wish to suggest that pigs have the same holy significance for him as cows have for Hindus?” Calling for a probe into Dadri death, it taunts “liberals” protesting the incident, asking what exactly is their idea of India.”So, what exactly is liberals’ idea of Bharat? Is it the idea of a Bharat, where cows are slaughtered publicly, beef festivals are organized regularly, Mahisasur Day is celebrated with fanfare and concepts like ‘Qaafir’, Dar-ul-ulum and Dar-ul-harb are ingrained in the minds of adolescent, on state subsidy.Related Read: Writers renouncing honours suffer from ‘disease of secularism’, says RSS”Is this their vision of a liberal Bharat, where terrorists like Yakub Memon’s cremation is attended by hundreds and books in favour of Afzal Guru are sold in the heart of the capital? And where beef becomes the singular source of protein?” the article questions.It accuses protesters of Dadri incident of creating a false sense of growing intolerance in India and says, “Ever since the unfortunate killing of Mohammad Akhlaq at Dadri, propaganda has preponderated policies and unsubstantiated allegations have replaced reasoning. And in the eye of storm lies once again the Hindus and their core beliefs. Self proclaimed seculars are worried that the idea of Bharat is under threat from fascists.” Another article in the RSS organ said the writers and protesters are trying to create a fear psychosis and do not mind presenting India in poor light across the world.”They will create a fear psychosis and frighten minorities and others to claim that nothing is going right. They will not mind Bharat being seen in poor light across the globe. It seems they are winning the propaganda battle for now, but they will lose the ideological war, no doubt,” it said.Yet another article said, “The present award returning spree in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘secularism’ depict the symptoms of selective amnesia of Left liberal intellectuals and literary figures. These double standards demean the individuals, awards and the institutions they represent.” It also said, “Left secular lobby with the help of electronic media has succeeded in creating an atmosphere in the country and also outside since last a few weeks as if all the Hindus are out on the street killing ‘minorities’ read Muslims to save ‘mother cow’ and stop beef eating. It seems Bharat is in a time warp for more than 15 days.”All TV channels seem to have plumbed to pessimistic depth. There has been outrage all round as if Bharat is up in flames with one person’s reprehensible killing; as if before that Bharat was living in blissful harmony for earlier 67 years. ‘Sahitya Akademi’ awardees’ drama has added fuel to fire.”

From Dadri to Sahitya Akademi row: PM Modi should take high ground on free speech, tolerance

With writers and intellectuals now competing to return awards – from Sahitya Akademi it has now moved to Padma Shri – it is clear that the Modi government’s moral authority will be seen as slipping. Not responding to this development is no longer an option, and the Prime Minister would do well to not dismiss all anti-government statements – even if many are driven by personal and political bias – as motivated and ill-conceived.

When writers speak up it is a good thing. It is thus time for Modi too to speak his mind. It is good that he has made a beginning by telling Ananda Bazar Patrika (ABP) in an interview that “incidents like Dadri and Ghulam Ali are really sad, but what is the role of the centre in these incidents?” He added: “These issues are related to law and order and are the concern of the state governments.”

Narendra Modi. PTINarendra Modi. PTI

Narendra Modi. PTI

But given the climate of hostility to his government, it is unlikely that Modi’s critics will accept “facts”. Moreover, as Prime Minister, he should be taking the higher moral ground, and, if possible, also fling the gauntlet to his opponents. Here is what Modi should be saying in his next Mann ki Baat, or, for that matter, his next “bhaiyon aur behenon” speech to the nation.

“I have been saddened by the rise of intolerance in this country for a long time, and recent incidents in Dadri and some earlier killings of people who spoke against blind faith are simply unacceptable. I condemn all violence and intolerance of any kind. I am equally pained by the decisions of some writers to return their Sahitya Akademi awards. While I do not accept their claim that intolerance in a recent phenomenon, I accept their feelings as genuine and many of those returning their awards are doing so for non-political reasons as well.

I would like to take this opportunity to assert my full backing for free speech and against attempts to impose one segment’s views on another. As for violence, there is simply no place for it in India. I urge state governments to act proactively to prevent violence of any kind.

But the real issues are broader. In this context, I would like to do more than just make a speech on free speech and outline the steps we will take to reverse the climate of intolerance that began with the first post-independence government’s attempts to curtail the ambit of Article 19 of the constitution. The first amendments to article 19 in 1951 put us on a slippery slope as it puts too many restrictions on free speech. This article is the genesis of our descent into intolerance as it takes the view that hurting someone’s feelings itself is a crime. So, anyone claiming hurt feelings can threaten law and order, and state governments then ban free speech in the name of public order. This can’t continue.

So, I would like to begin by proposing changes to article 19 of the constitution, especially clause (a) which pertains to free speech.

Article 19 (1)(a) guarantees freedom of speech and expression subject to eight restraints. These exceptions to free speech are: i) protecting the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, ii) the security of the state, iii) friendly relations with foreign States, iv) public order, v) decency or morality, or in relation to vi) contempt of court, vii) defamation or viii) incitement to an offence

I propose that we drop five of the limitations to the right to free speech: friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, contempt of court, and defamation. No government can stifle opinion in the name of friendly relations with other countries, no government can shut people up in the name of law and order, no government can define decency and morality (we can leave that to the courts, if cases come up), and courts can anyway decide if some forms of free speech result in contempt. They are empowered on this front. As for defamation, our normal laws are enough to deal with the issue.

I invite all political parties to support this expansion of citizen’s freedom to the maximum limit, and I hope the writers now returning awards will also lend their intellectual weight to this proposed change. If they don’t, they cannot claim to stand for free speech and against intolerance.

But even before we amend the constitution to restore free speech, as an earnest example of our resolve to expand the ambit of free speech, the centre will, through a notification, revoke bans on any book or film imposed by it, and we urge state governments to do the same on books and artistic works that they have banned. As a gesture, I propose to invite Salman Rushdie, Perumal Murugan, Taslima Nasreen and others whose books were banned to a meeting to felicitate them for their literary work and to emphasise our commitment to free speech. I will also invite those writers who returned their awards to accept them again.

The second point I would like to make is one of law and order. When speech is free, it can be protected only when governments are able to ensure law and order without fear or favour. This means freeing state and central police forces from political control. We shall do this at the centre, and we will encourage state governments to do the same. I will also emphasise that intolerance is not a feature of the centre alone for enforcement of the law is a state subject. If states are intolerant, and cartoonists and writers are attacked or jailed for their work, the centre can do little to protect free speech. I would thus urge all political parties and intellectuals to keep up the pressure on states to develop tolerance for dissent and ensure law and order.

A third point is that freedom is indivisible. It cannot be given to one and not to the other. If it is denied to one community, that community will demand similar restrictions on the other, thus heightening the ban culture and curbing freedom.

In this context, I would like to promote some amendments to articles 29 and 30 which deal with minority rights. I would like to point out that the rights of minorities are a subset of the rights of the individual. It is individual human rights that enable minorities to derive their own freedom for the purposes they collectively wish to pursue. In India, the protection to minority institutions has come to mean that these protections will not be available to the so-called majority, where the state will continue to interfere in their religious and institutional rights, even while safeguarding the rights of communities deemed to be in a numerical minority in states.

This has had two perverse results. Now all communities are demanding minority status. Some years ago the Ramakrishna Mission too wanted to be declared a minority institution, but the courts rightly refused to entertain the idea.

The second perverse result of trying to protect minorities and not individuals is that this amounts to giving powerful vested interests and patriarchal forces the right to suppress their own community members and dissenters – whether women or apostates or even people with different sexual orientation.

The changes I propose to make are the following; in Articles 29-30, I wish to insert two additional clauses. One will say that nothwithstanding any protection given to minority institutions mentioned in this article, the state will not be barred from making laws beneficial to all citizens, including the writing of a uniform and liberal civil code – something the Supreme Court has been repeatedly asking for. Another new clause will specifically bar the government, both centre and states, from supporting or opposing or even seeking to control any religious institution except for brief periods when fraud or mismanagement is alleged. The centre or states can then temporarily appoint an administrator to clean up the administration of religious, cultural or educational institutions and hand them back to the community which set them up. I urge states to get out of managing religious institutions. Religion and state need to be separate. The resources of religious institutions belong to the communities that contribute to them, and not the state.

With these thoughts I make a fervent appeal to all Indians to adopt a liberal approach – which was the spirit embodied in Vedantic thought, and in the precepts of Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Liberalism is central to Indic culture, and we need to remind ourselves repeatedly about this.

Free speech and tolerance are vital to the survival of our country. Curbing free speech is no different from intolerance. We need to give back our freedoms

Need to garner consensus before implementing uniform civil code: Union Law Minister

The high courts of Kerala and Karnataka have already given their judgment regarding marriage laws, saying a common code is the “need of the country”.

Sadananda Gowda

A day after the Supreme Court asked the Centre to make its stand clear on uniform civil code, Union law minister DV Sadananda Gowda said that the code is necessary for national integration but any decision to bring it can be taken only after wider consultations. The minister termed it as a “national issue” saying that he would consult the prime minister, his Cabinet colleagues and top law officers before the government files its affidavit in the apex court. Gowda said “wider consultations” would be held with various personal law boards and other stakeholders to evolve a consensus and the process may take “some time”.”Unless everybody is satisfied and everybody feels that this is how it should be, only then should we go (ahead)…consultation should be held first then we would arrive at a consensus,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “…Even the Preamble of our Constitution and Article 44 of the Constitution says that there should be a uniform civil code. For the interest of national integration, certainly a common civil code is necessary. But it is a very sensitive issue. It needs very wide consultation. Communities, even across party lines, and even various organisations… need to have a wider consultation,” Gowda said, adding that a decision “cannot be taken in a day or two. It will take its own time”. “But, the concept of the Preamble of the Constitution and Article 44 is in national interest, and we need to go a step further in this direction,” he added. The high courts of Kerala and Karnataka have already given their judgment regarding marriage laws, saying a common code is the “need of the country”. He said that the contents of the proposed affidavit would be finalised after consultations with the prime minister, his cabinet colleagues, the attorney general and the solicitor general. Asked why the government has not gone ahead with it despite a common code being part of the core ideology of the BJP, Gowda said, “Till today we could not go further because the matter was pending in some high courts and even in the apex court. Gradually, we have to take up this issue.”Responding to a question on the Ram temple in Ayodhya, abrogation of Article 370 and a common code being part of the BJP’s manifesto, Gowda said that the party had never said that “they would be implemented immediately”.To another question on the recent judgment by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on the need to continue with Article 370, he said he is yet to go through the order and the concerned additional solicitor general has been asked to provide the law ministry with a copy.

Uniform Civil Code necessary but consensus needed, says Law Minister Sadananda Gowda

The Minister also said that he would consult the Prime Minister, his Cabinet colleagues and top law officers before government files its affidavit in the apex court.

Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda

PTI
A Uniform Civil Code is necessary for national integration but any decision to bring it can be taken only after wider consultations, Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda said on Tuesday, a day after the Supreme Court asked the Centre whether it is willing to bring in a common code.The Minister also said that he would consult the Prime Minister, his Cabinet colleagues and top law officers before government files its affidavit in the apex court.Gowda said “wider consultations” will be held with various personal law boards and other stakeholders to evolve a consensus and the process may take ‘some time’…Even the Preamble of our Constitution and Article 44 of the Constitution do say that there should be a Uniform Civil Code. For the interest of national integration, certainly a common civil code is necessary. But it is a very sensitive issue. It needs very wider consultation. Even communities, even across the party line, even various organisations…it need to have a wider consultation,” Gowda said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said a decision “cannot be done in a day or two. It will take its own time.””But the concept of the Preamble of the Constitution and Article 44 and today in the national interest, certainly a step further need to be taken in this direction,” he said. The minister said he had made a similar statement in the Lok Sabha in April when the issue came up for discussion. He said the high courts of Kerala and Karnataka have already given their judgment when they were dealing with some marriage laws saying a common code is the “need of the country.””But a decision has to be taken after due consultation with various stakeholders,” he said. He said the contents of the proposed affidavit will be finalised after his consultations with the PM, his cabinet colleagues, the Attorney General and the Solicitor General.He said while the affidavit’s contents will be decided after government’s internal consultations, a decision on when to implement a common code can only be taken after “wider consultations” with chairpersons of personal law boards and other stakeholders. Terming it as a “national issue”, he said if tomorrow a small discussion is left out, then it will become a big issue.”There are several issues across the country today wherein people are finding something, so it will take some time.”

Article 370 of constitution is permanent, rules Jammu and Kashmir High Court

The Court also said that Article 35A gives “protection” to existing laws in force in the State. “Article 370 though titled as ‘Temporary Provision’ and included in Para XXI titled ‘Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions’ has assumed place of permanence in the Constitution,” a division bench of justices Hasnain Masoodi and Janak Raj Kotwal ruled in a 60-page judgement.

Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ruled that Article 370, granting special status to the state, has assumed place of permanence in the Constitution and the feature is beyond amendment, repeal or abrogation.The Court also said that Article 35A gives “protection” to existing laws in force in the State. “Article 370 though titled as ‘Temporary Provision’ and included in Para XXI titled ‘Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions’ has assumed place of permanence in the Constitution,” a division bench of justices Hasnain Masoodi and Janak Raj Kotwal ruled in a 60-page judgement. “It is beyond amendment, repeal or abrogation, in as much as Constituent Assembly of the State before its dissolution did not recommend its Amendment or repeal,” the bench added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Court also observed that the President under Article 370 (1) is conferred with power to extend any provision of the Constitution to the State with such “exceptions and modifications” as may be deemed fit subject to consultation or concurrence with the State Government. “And such power would include one to amend or alter the provision to be applied, delete or omit part of it, or make additions to the provisions proposed to be applied to the State. Such power would extend even in case of provisions of the Constitution already applied,” the court said.In the circumstances, the court said, additions made to the existing Constitutional provisions through various Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) orders on their application to the State like Proviso to Clause (2) Article 368, fall within four corners of Article 370(1). The Court said Jammu and Kashmir, while acceding to Dominion of India, retained limited sovereignty and did not merge with Dominion of India, like other Princely States.”State continues to enjoy special status to the extent of limited sovereignty retained by it.”The limited sovereignty or special status stands guaranteed under Article 370 the only provision of the Constitution that applied to the State on its own. The only other Constitutional provision made applicable by Article 370 of the Constitution to the State is Article 1. “No other provision of the Constitution as provided under Article 370 (1), would be applicable to the State except, by Presidential order in consultation with the State in case the provision is akin to subjects delineated in Instrument of Accession and with concurrence of the State, in case it does not fall within ambit of Instrument of Accession,” the court said.The Constitutional framework worked out by Dominion of India and the State reflected in Article 370 has its roots in paras 4 and 7 of Instrument of Accession, the court said. In terms of Article 370, the court said Parliament’s legislative power over the State is primarily confined to three subjects mentioned in the Instruments of accession — Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communications.”The President, however, has power to extend to the State other provisions of the Constitution as also other laws that relate to the subjects specified in the Instrument of Accession. While extending such provisions and laws, the exercise of the power involves consultation with the State Government,” it said.The court said the Constituent Assembly in terms of proviso to Clause (3) Article 370 is conferred with power to recommend to the President that Article 370 be declared to cease to be operative or operate only with the exceptions and modifications mentioned in the recommendation, if any so made.The court pointed out that it is only on such recommendations that the President in terms of Clause (3) Article 370 of the Constitution may, by public notification, declare that Article 370 shall cease to be operative or shall be operative only with such exceptions and modifications and from such date, specified in the notification. “The Constituent Assembly did not make such a recommendation before its dissolution on January 25th, 1957,” it said.”Resultantly, Article 370, notwithstanding its title showing it a ‘temporary provision’ is a permanent provision of the Constitution. It cannot be abrogated, repealed or even amended as mechanism provided under Clause (3) of Article 370 is no more available,” it said adding, “furthermore, Article 368 cannot be pressed into service in this regard, inasmuch as it does not control Article 370 – a self contained provision of the Constitution”.To suit autonomy granted to the State, the court said, provisions like Article 35A and proviso to Article 253 and proviso to Clause 2 Article 368 have been added to the provisions of Constitution, as applied to the State.”The Article 35A gives protection to existing laws in force in the State and to any law enacted after 1954 by the State legislature,” it added

National Conference announces boycott of J&K Assembly session as protests continue

Srinagar: The National Conference today announced a boycott of the rest of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly session after the Speaker suspended two of its members as Opposition protests led to chaotic scenes in the House for the second day.

NC Leader

Omar Abdullah

hit out at Speaker Kavinder Gupta, saying he was “throttling” the voice of opposition after the Speaker rejected their demand for suspension of Question Hour to discuss the issue of Article 35-A, which upholds the unique status of the permanent residents of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

“We will boycott the rest of the session,” said Omar, who led a walkout of the partymen after the Speaker ordered eviction and suspension of Altaf Wani and Abdul Majeed Larmi for the rest of the session following protests by NC MLAs who even conducted parallel mock proceedings in the well.

MLAs clash in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly. PTI

MLAs clash in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly. PTI

As soon as the House assembled, several National Conference members were on their feet showing banners, calling for upholding and strengthening of Article 35-A.

The NC members demanded suspension of Question Hour to discuss the issue of Article 35-A, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

Congress members displayed banners demanding discussion on the issue of regularisation of daily wagers and other contractual staff of the government.

Speaker Kavinder Gupta said Article 35-A could not be taken up for discussion as it is sub-judice before the Supreme Court while other issues could be discussed after the Question Hour.

The Speaker’s remarks prompted the opposition members to storm the well of the House, leading to pandemonium.

The speaker, however, did not adjourn the House and conducted the proceedings amid din and sloganeering by the protesting MLAs.

The opposition members then staged parallel proceedings in the well of the House. A chair was placed at the opposite end of the Assembly hall for former Speaker and NC MLA Mubarak Gul to preside over the proceedings.

Though the chair was immediately removed by the assembly staff, Gul conducted mock proceedings with protesting MLAs.

Some NC MLAs later tried to climb the tables of assembly reporters, prompting the Speaker to order eviction and suspension of Altaf Wani and Abdul Majeed Larmi for the rest of the session.

Infuriated NC members then staged a walkout and raised slogans against the Speaker.

“This Speaker is hiding behind the Supreme Court and the garb of something being subjudice. The person compromising the decorum of the House is the Speaker,” Omar said.

Opposition protests over beef ban and other issues had yesterday rocked the Assembly with banner-waving NC and Congress members storming the well, climbing tables and clashing with marshals, leaving a lawmaker and a security staff injured.

PTI

Opposition protests in J&K Assembly for second day

Jammu and Kashmir Assembly was rocked by protests for the second day today as opposition members stormed the well of the House demanding adjournment of Question Hour to discuss various issues including regularisation of casual workers.

Uproar in J&K assembly

Image courtesy: ANI’s Twitter handle
Jammu and Kashmir Assembly was rocked by protests for the second day today as opposition members stormed the well of the House demanding adjournment of Question Hour to discuss various issues including regularisation of casual workers.The opposition members also demanded a discussion of Article 35 A which upholds the unique status of the permanent residents of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.Yesterday, opposition members had protested over beef ban and other issues in the Jammu and Kashmir legislature with banner-waving MLAs of NC and Congress storming the well, climbing tables and clashing with marshals in the Assembly, leaving a lawmaker and a security staff injured.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>National Conference (NC) had raised the issue of beef ban in both the legislative assembly and the legislative council with its leader Omar Abdullah questioning why the PDP-BJP Government approached the Supreme Court when the legislature is “free” to scrap the 1932 provision in the Ranbir Penal Code prohibiting cow slaughter.The protests had started after the chair in the Assembly and the Council disallowed motions moved by NC seeking suspension of Question Hour over beef ban issue and also by Congress for a discussion on rehabilitation of flood victims and imposition of service tax on helicopter services for Vaishnodevi pilgrims.

Vice President Hamid Ansari voices concern over attempt to curtail right to dissent

He was addressing the First Ram Manohar Lohia Memorial National Lecture organised by a city university in Gwalior on Wednesday evening.
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dna Research & Archives
Vice President Hamid Ansari has expressed concern over attempts to curtail the voice of dissent in democracy, specially of NGOs in the country in last few years.”In the globalising world of today and in most countries having a democratic fabric, role of civil society in the articulation of dissent has been and continues to be comprehensively discussed; so does the question of its marginalisation or suppression,” the Vice President said.He was addressing the First Ram Manohar Lohia Memorial National Lecture organised by a city university in Gwalior on Wednesday evening.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Dissent as a right has been recognised by the Supreme Court of India as one aspect of the Right of Freedom of Speech guaranteed as a fundamental right by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution,” he said.Ansari said the apex court has observed that the restrictions on the freedom of speech must be couched in the narrowest possible terms and that the provision of Article 19 (2) is justiciable in the sense that the restrictions on it have to be ‘reasonable’ and cannot be arbitrary, excessive or disproportionate.Referring to the civil society concerns on the issue, Ansari said, “Despite the unambiguously stated position in law, civil society concerns about constraints on the right of dissent in actual practice have been articulated powerfully.” Referring to the new reporting requirements for NGOs, he said, “Nothing is more fatal for disagreements and dissent than the idea that all of it can be reduced to hidden sub-texts or external agendas. The idea that anyone who disagrees with my views must be the carrier of someone else’s subversive agenda is, in some ways, deeply anti-democratic.”It does away with the possibility of genuinely good faith disagreement. It denies equal respect to citizens because it absolves you of taking their ideas seriously. Once we have impugned the source, we don’t have to pay attention to the contents of the claim.. This has serious consequences for dissent,” he said.”Every citizen of the Republic has the right and the duty to judge. Herein lies the indispensability of dissent,” he said.On to Lohia, the Vice President said for over two decades, he was the ‘stormy petrel’ of the Indian politics.”

Beef ban row: Jammu and Kashmir High Court issues notice to state government

Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday gave a week’s time to the state government to file its response to a writ petition seeking to strike down the Constitutional provisions criminalising bovine slaughter in the state.

Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday gave a week’s time to the state government to file its response to a writ petition seeking to strike down the Constitutional provisions criminalising bovine slaughter in the state.The notice was issued by a division bench comprising justices Mohammad Yaqoub Mir and Bhansi Lal Bhat after hearing a writ petition filed by Afzal Qadri through his advocate Syed Faisal Qadri seeking to strike down the relevant provisions of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) which criminalises the slaughter of bovines.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The court admitted the petition and gave a week’s time to the government to file its response,” Faisal Qadri told PTI.He said the court also ruled that the petition would not be a bar in case the legislature seeks to amend or repeal the said provisions of RPC.Qadri said he challenged the provisions incorporated under Chapter 15 of the RPC in the form of Sections 298-A, 298-B, 298-C and 298-D on the grounds that they are ultra vires to Section 14, 21, 25 and 29 of the Constitution of India as well as the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.In his petition, Qadri said, the said provisions have a direct interference with the personal liberty of the petitioner in as much as it allows an intrusion into the religious as well as private life.”The said provisions are further excessive in nature apart from being discriminatory and prejudicial to the rights guaranteed to the petitioner under Article 14 of the Constitution.Furthermore, the said provisions curtail and criminalise the right to profess and propagate ones religion, which otherwise is a fundamental right,” he said.The petitioner said the said provisions have no nexus with the Article 48 of the Constitution and therefore cannot be a basis to criminalise an act of a citizen which otherwise is provided to him by the divine law of nature in the nature of his religious practices and rituals.Last week, a division bench of High Court in Jammu ordered the police to strictly enforce the beef ban in the state.The court order triggered angry reactions in the Valley with the separatist and religious groups terming it as “interference in religious affairs”.

Beef ban row: Jammu and Kashmir HC issues notice to state government

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court gave a week’s time to the state government on Wednesday to file its response to a writ petition seeking to strike down the Constitutional provisions criminalising bovine slaughter in the state.

The notice was issued by a division bench comprising justices Mohammad Yaqoub Mir and Bhansi Lal Bhat after hearing a writ petition filed by  through his advocate Syed Faisal Qadri seeking to strike down the relevant provisions of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) which criminalises the slaughter of bovines.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“The court admitted the petition and gave a week’s time to the government to file its response,” Faisal Qadri told PTI.

He said the court also ruled that the petition would not be a bar in case the legislature seeks to amend or repeal the said provisions of RPC.

Qadri said he challenged the provisions incorporated under Chapter 15 of the RPC in the form of Sections 298-A, 298-B, 298-C and 298-D on the grounds that they are ultra vires to Section 14, 21, 25 and 29 of the Constitution of India as well as the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.

In his petition, Qadri said, the said provisions have a direct interference with the personal liberty of the petitioner in as much as it allows an intrusion into the religious as well as private life.

“The said provisions are further excessive in nature apart from being discriminatory and prejudicial to the rights guaranteed to the petitioner under Article 14 of the Constitution. Furthermore, the said provisions curtail and criminalise the right to profess and propagate ones religion, which otherwise is a fundamental right,” he said.

The petitioner said the said provisions have no nexus with the Article 48 of the Constitution and therefore cannot be a basis to criminalise an act of a citizen which otherwise is provided to him by the divine law of nature in the nature of his religious practices and rituals.

Last week, a division bench of High Court in Jammu comprising Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Janak Raj Kotwal ordered the police to strictly enforce the beef ban in the state.

The court order triggered angry reactions in the Valley with the separatist and religious groups terming it as “interference in religious affairs”.

PTI

Kashmir Valley simmers over court enforced blanket ban on beef sale

Srinagar: Just two days after Kashmir shutdown to protest callous approach of the state government towards rehabilitating flood victims, the valley is on the boil again. This time it is the Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s decision on Wednesday to enforce a statewide ban on the sale of beef.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

In 2014, Parimoksh Seth, an advocate in Jammu, had filed a Public Interest
Litigation (PIL) against cow slaughter in the state. It had said the
slaughtering or killing of bovine animals was an offence punishable under
Section 298-A and possession of such slaughtered animal an act punishable
under Section 298-B of the RPC.

The courts decision has put the majority Muslim population, separatist leaders, religious organisations and even mainstream political parties at
loggerheads with the PDP-BJP coalition government. The state wide ban is
seen as an infringement into “religious matters”. The situation, it seems,
is brimming to go out of control.

Seth, now deputy advocate general of the state government in Jammu High
Court, says slaughtering of cows in the state was not only against the law
but it severally affected religious sentiments of a section of the
society. But he also said he was removing his name from the plea as he holds a public office now.

When the state government failed to file an appropriate response regarding
the smuggling and slaughtering of bovine animals, a division comprising of
justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and justice Janak Raj Kotwal directed DGP Jammu and Kashmir to ensure that appropriate directions were given to all SSPs, SPs and SHOs of all districts and police stations in Jammu and Kashmir that there shall be no sale of beef across the state.

The court’s decision came just two weeks ahead of the Muslim festival of
Eid. Interestingly, while the people in Jammu are celebrating the verdict, in Kashmir people have taken to the streets.

On Friday, six people were injured in clashes with security forces in South
Kashmir’s Pulwama district. They were protesting against the court order.
In Srinagar, sources said more than two dozen cows were slaughtered as
a sign of defiance against the court order.

Kashmir remained shut on Saturday following a strike call given by Hurriyat leaders both moderate and hawks, and almost every other section of
the society. Even some sections of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party supported the strike.

Peoples Democratic Party youth president and political analyst in Chief
Minister’s Office, Waheed-Ur-Rehman Para said people should be the best
judges to decide what to eat and what not to.

“Let people decide what they want to eat and what they dislike. We don’t
need law enforcing agencies to tell us what we should eat in our dinner,”
Para said.

The decision has not only irritated religious organisations and majority of
the Muslim population but even provided separatists with more reasons to train guns against the coalition government.

Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) chairperson, Shabir Ahmad Shah, said the
court judgment banning the sale of beef is unacceptable.

“This order is unacceptable and aimed at hurting the sentiments of Muslims.
We strongly condemn such interference in religious affairs by judiciary,”
Shah said.

The state government has so far maintained its silence on the issue.

Valley-based political party Jamat-e-Islami on Thursday threatened to launch an agitation against the ban. “Even if such bill is passed
by the state assembly and ratified by Indian Parliament no law can come
between us and the Sharia law,” said GM Bhat, the party’s newly elected chief.

Separatists on the other hand launched a scathing attack on the government
alleging direct interference in the ‘religious affairs’ and ‘programme to
create communal tensions’.

In the 80s, a Hindu groups had demanded ban on the sale of beef after which the then governor Jagmohan tried implementing the ban, which however backfired. It brought, Qazi Nisar, a little known clerk in south Kashmir to the centre stage of politics in Kashmir, after he slaughtered a cow in the main Chowk in Anantnag. Later he become one of the founders of the Muslim United Front (MUF), an amalgamation of religious parties which took on the Congress-National Conference coalition in the 1987 elections that was rigged. Hizbul Mujahideen chief Mohammad Yousuf Shah alias Syed Salahuddin too was a member of MUF and had fought election too.

Constitutional expert, Zaffar Ahmad Shah, says the government can revoke
the ban by scraping of Article 298 of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC). Revoking
Article 298 of RPC will render the ban null and void.

It is highly unlikely the court orders will have an impact on the beef sale
in Kashmir valley but it unintentionally would further the divide between
Hindu Jammu and Muslim Kashmir.

Beef ban in Jammu and Kashmir: Socio-religious organisations fume at decision

Senior separatist leader Masarat Alam led Muslim League also threatened to protests against the order by urging people in the valley to sacrifice cows during the coming Eid-ul-Zuha next week.

It is absolutely not possible to convince the Muslim community to go against their own religion, says Jamaat-e-Islami head

Following the decision of Jammu and Kashmir High Court to enforce the ban on sale of beef in the Muslim majority state, different socio-religious and political organisations in the state have threatened a stir against the order.The meat-sellers and shopkeepers have also expressed ‘shock’ over the decision negating the high court decision. A meat-seller in Lal Chowk area, who has been in the business for more than a decade, says that he will not accept the order. “We will continue to sell mutton as well as beef at our shop even if there is a court order,” the shopkeeper said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The High Court bench comprising of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Janak Raj Kotwal directed Director General of Police to ensure that there is no sale on beef in anywhere in the state and strict action is taken in accordance with law against those who indulge in it.Anjuman Shari Shian, a socio-religious organisation, vehemently opposing the ban has threatened to launch a protest against the order terming it a breach in the law of religion. “We oppose the decision tooth and nail. No law is beyond our religious laws,” group’s head Aga Hassan told iamin.The decision came during a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) hearing. The PIL contended that the slaughtering and sale of bovine animals is rampant in some parts of the state which severely affected religious sentiments of a section of the society.The PIL further stated that the practice continues despite the the fact that penal provisions of Ranbir Penal Code(the penal code that is applicable in the state of Jammu and Kashmir) make killing of bovine animals an offence punishable under Section 298-A.Earlier, in 2014, valley based Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti had filed an RTI in the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) seeking information regarding the licences given to beef sellers in the city. It was informed that SMC had not given any licence to any seller. “The ban was already there. We demanded that the beef shouldn’t be sold in full public view that hurt the sentiments of a particular community,” KPSSs Sanjay Tickoo said.Stating that the Pandit organisation is not against any religious community, they only want the ban to be implemented as per the state Constitution which already has a provision.”If the ban is not implemented, it can be termed as a breach in the state’s special status which is safeguarded under Article 370,” Tickoo points-out adding that it can set a precedent for other orders which can lead to abrogation in Article 370, which grants special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.Valley’s largest socio-political organisation Jamaat-e-Islami, however, termed the decision as totally ‘unacceptable’. “It is absolutely not possible to convince the Muslim community to go against their own religion, so we oppose it,” Jama’at head GM Bhat said.Bhat added that safeguarding Article 370 in this case becomes ‘totally irrelevant’. “If the state assembly passes the bill against beef sale and then even if Indian Parliament ratifies it, the order will still have no acceptability in the Muslim majority state,” he shared.Senior separatist leader Masarat Alam led Muslim League also threatened to protests against the order by urging people in the valley to sacrifice cows during the coming Eid-ul-Zuha next week. “We will also sacrifice a cow in the city centre to register our protest against the sale of beef,” Bhat added.

Manipur agitation: Tension prevails in Churachandpur; govt says bills don’t infringe on tribals’ rights

The violence has been triggered by passage of three bills — Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh amendment) Bill, 2015 and Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015.

Irate protesters burn a police vehicle in Churachandpur district of Manipur on Tuesday in protest against the passage of allegedly “anti-tribal” bills in the Manipur assembly.
File Photo
PTI photo
Tension prevailed in Manipur on Wednesday with a government building being torched in Churachandpur district despite curfew even as the government clarified that the three bills passed by the assembly do not infringe on the existing rights of the tribal community. Protestors set ablaze the Zonal Education Office (ZEO) in even as the indefinite curfew continued for the third day.Reports from Churachandpur quoting eyewitnesses said the building was reduced to ashes. The situation remained tense as the agitators gathered at vulnerable points defying curfew.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Violence, which broke out in Churachandpur on Monday, has claimed eight lives. Six houses belonging to a cabinet minister of Manipur, a Lok Sabha MP, the chairman of Hill Areas Committee of Manipur assembly and other four MLAs were also gutted.The violence has been triggered by passage of three bills — Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh amendment) Bill, 2015 and Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015. Tribals fear that these legislations would allow “outsiders” to have rights over tribal land and not protect the indigenous people.The government, in a press release today, clarified that the bills do not infringe on the existing rights of the tribal community settled in the state and also do not impinge on the provision of Article 371C and the presidential order of 1972 which provides for scheduled areas and matters as also the Manipur State Hill People Regulation, 1947. It also clarified that the present amendment of Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act does not extend to the hill areas.The government appealed to all sections of the people to maintain peace and calm in the state and assured that any difference may be discussed and settled across the table.”Manipur deserves peace and tranquility for its people, especially the children and youth,” it said and requested all stakeholders to come forward for discussions with the government to bring a solution to the present situation prevailing in the state.

Death penalty for heinous crimes not inhuman: Supreme Court

The SC also said that sentencing should be proportionate to crime committed.

The SC also said that sentencing should be proportionate to crime committed.

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In the light of the debate over death penalty triggered by the execution of 1993 Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memon, the Supreme Court has said that a death sentence in case of heinous crimes is not inhuman and barbaric and will not violate right to life and liberty.A three-bench judge made this observation while hearing an appeal from a murder case convict who was awarded the death sentence. The convict Vikram Singh had challenged the death penalty arguing that capital punishment is applicable only for terrorists, reports NDTV. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>But the judges, Justices TS Thakur, RK Agrawal and AK Goel said, “A sentence of death in a case of murder may be rare, but if the courts have found it is the only sentence that can be awarded, it is difficult to revisit that question…” The SC also said that sentencing should be proportionate to crime committed. “Death penalty in a case of kidnapping or abduction will not qualify to be described as barbaric or inhuman so as to infringe the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution,” the judges said.Death penalty is awarded in rarest of rare cases. High profile cases of capital punishment includes 26/11 attacker Ajmal Kasab and 2001 Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru. The recent execution of Afzal Memon set off a debate on death penalty.Singh was arrested for abducting and murdering a school student, Abhi Verma in 2005 and was awarded death sentence by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. which was confirmed by the apex court. He was awarded death penalty for kidnapping for ransom (Section 364A) and he had challenged the death sentence under this section. With inputs from agencies

Shiv Sena asks Tehelka editor to apologise for calling Bal Thackeray a terrorist

Shiv Sena district chief and cabinet minister Eknath Shinde condemned the article and demanded an unconditional apology.

Eknath Shinde
File Photo

Shiv Sena on Sunday staged a protest against weekly news magazine Tehelka over an article on late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray in its latest issue. Shiv Sena district chief and cabinet minister Eknath Shinde, who led the agitation, condemned the article and demanded an unconditional apology from the editor of Tehelka. “If Tehelka weekly fails to apologise, the Sena would intensify its agitation,” he said. Sena protesters shouted slogans against Tehelka and also burnt copies of the weekly. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

PDP colluding with BJP to weaken Article 370, 35A: National Conference

In an apparent reference to Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh’s recent rhetoric on the special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Rana accused BJP of manipulating and exploiting Article 370 as per its political exigencies and in a vein bid to cover up its credibility deficit.
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PTI photo
The Opposition National Conference on Friday accused ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of colluding with BJP to “weaken” Article 370 and 35A.”In this unholy pursuit, the PDP had volunteered to be a facilitator in order to weaken Article 370 and 35A,” Provincial President, National Conference, Devender Singh Rana said while addressing workers in Nagrota Assembly constituency. He said the NC will not allow it to happen as it will mean trampling of the constitutional guarantee held out to the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rana said any attempt to weaken Article 35A will be detrimental, not only to particular region or community, but the people of all faiths, regions and sub-regions of J&K. Article 35A of Constitution allows the state of Jammu and Kashmir to grant special privileges and rights to permanent residents.In an apparent reference to Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh’s recent rhetoric on the special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Rana accused BJP of manipulating and exploiting Article 370 as per its political exigencies and in a vein bid to cover up its credibility deficit.”BJP justified putting Article 370 in the backburner while entering into alliance with equally opportunistic PDP and when the people of Jammu turned tables on it for breaking promises, it attempted to rake it up again in the mistaken belief of befooling people,” Rana said.The Provincial President decried myopic saffron politics, saying it lacked even basic knowledge about the Indian Constitution which has guaranteed special provisions to various states of the country, including Jammu and Kashmir, as per urges and aspirations of the people. He asked those raking up Article 370 just for whipping up passions and further alienating the people of Jammu and Kashmir from national mainstream to have indepth study of the Constitution of India and get updated how other parts of the country like Nagaland, Mizoram, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Goa etc enjoyed special status as per various sub sections (A to G) of Article 371.Rana lamented that Jammu and Kashmir was being singled out just to satiate the communal agenda of BJP. He said Jammu and Kashmir was undergoing through a nightmarish phase with development take rear seat and rhetoric guiding the political discourse of the anti-people coalition government.”By diverting the attention of Jammuties from the real problem related to setting up of a separate and independent AIIMS, along with the one in Kashmir, BJP is unsuccessfully attempting to hoodwink the public opinion,” he said, adding that the people were wise enough to see through the nefarious designs of PDP-BJP combine.

Bombay High Court sets aside order imposing ban on manufacture/sale of Maggi Noodles in India

The Bombay High Court on Thursday quashed an order passed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), imposing a nation-wide ban on the manufacture and sale of Maggi noodles, a product of Nestle India Private Limited.A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice B P Colabawala held the ban order as arbitrary and unjust. However, it directed the company to re-test samples of the nine variants of the noodles at three independent laboratories – in Punjab, Jaipur and Hyderabad — to ascertain the amount of lead within six weeks. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>If the lead content is within permissible limits, the company can start the sale of its products. The company also said that it will remove the ‘no added MSG’ tag from its packets.On June 5, FSSAI issued the ban order, stating that a test carried out at a laboratory indicated high presence of lead content, which is harmful to the health of consumers. A day later, state Food and DrugAdministration (FDA) issued a similar order, imposing the ban in Maharashtra.The judges ruled that the principles of natural justice had not been followed in this case as the company had not been given a show-cause notice before imposing the ban. The high court was also of the opinionthat the laboratory in which the samples were tested was not affiliated to the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).The samples for fresh test would be drawn from 750 crates. The FSSAI and FDA sought a stay on the judgment, in order to appeal in the apex court. However, the request was turned down by the court. The company gave an undertaking that it would not manufacture or sell Maggi noodles till the results of the three laboratories were received.On a plea by food regulators that the petition filed by Maggi was not maintainable, the high court said it had the jurisdiction to hear the matter under powers derived by it under the Article 226 of theConstitution.Nestle had argued that its product did not contain ‘lead’ in excess of permissible ceiling and challenged the tests by FSSAI and FDA, while the food regulators contended that the lead content in noodles detected during tests in reputed laboratories was harmful to public health.The High Court had earlier asked both sides to mutually decide on a suggestion by the judges to give their consent for a fresh independent test. However, the parties did not arrive at a consensus, following which the bench directed the company to go in for a fresh test in three renowned labs across the country.The court made it clear that it was ordering a fresh test of Maggi samples because it had consumer interest uppermost in its mind and also because it wanted the issue to be resolved amicably.According to FSSAI, 30 out of 72 samples of the popular Maggi noodles had tested positive for dangerously high levels of lead and even MSG, despite packets proclaiming ‘no added MSG’.“The action of the state in not supplying the material on the basis of which the action was taken and not giving a personal hearing to the petitioner and issuing a ban order when the petitioner itself had withdrawn the product clearly falls within the four corners of arbitrariness and is therefore violative of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution of India,” the judgment said.In fact, the entire sequence culminating in the imposition of ban on June 5 shows that there is something more than what meets the eye, which has resulted in passing the impunged orders.The maximum penalty for misbranding product even in criminal prosecution as laid down under Section 52 of the Act is to the extent of Rs 3 lakh. Misbranding of the product, therefore, could not be a ground for banning the product indefinitely.

Supreme Court asks Centre to reply on PIL challenging CVC, VC appointment

Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who also appeared in the case supporting the plea, sought the court’s permission to inspect the records filed by the central government in this regard.

The Supreme Court on Thursday sought response from the Centre and recently appointed Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) K V Chaudhary and Vigilance Commissioner (VC)M Bhasin on a fresh plea challenging the appointments on the ground that the two persons do not have clean record.A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu sought their response within two weeks on the PIL filed by NGO Common Cause.The bench, meanwhile, asked lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, to file an application for seeking various records pertaining to the CVC and the VC.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who also appeared in the case supporting the plea, sought the court’s permission to inspect the records filed by the central government in this regard.”Records should come to us first. Records must be inspected by us first,” the bench also comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy said.The plea had challenged the appointment of the CVC and the VC alleging that they did not have “clean record” and that a “complete non-transparency” procedure was followed while appointing them.While Chaudhary was appointed as the CVC on June 6, this year, Bhasin took charge as the VC on June 11.The PIL alleged that their appointments were “arbitrary, illegal and in violation of the principle of institutional integrity”.”The government did not even place the names of short- listed candidates in public domain or the fact that Chaudhary and Bhasin were being considered for the appointment to such important positions,” the plea said.It said that this complete non-transparency renders the appointment “void and illegal”, and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.The apex court, which has been hearing a similar petition filed by NGO Centre for Integrity, Governance and Training in Vigilance Administration, had on May 13 lifted its embargo and allowed the Centre to go ahead with the appointment of CVC and VC from the list of candidates shortlisted by it.In December last year, the apex court had asked the Centre to take its prior “leave” before going ahead with appointments for which 10 candidates each were shortlisted after scrutinising 130 applications.

Govt may call special joint session of Parliament to pass GST bill

While an ordinance has a life of six months, it has to be approved by Parliament within six weeks of the commencement of the session which follows its promulgation. An ordinance cannot be re-promulgated while the House is in session.

Representational image

PTI
Talk of a short special session of Parliament has gained ground as Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs meets on Thursday on the last day of the Monsoon Session, which was virtually a wash out.There is a speculation that the government may call a short special session of both Houses of Parliament to pass the GST Bill, if it is not passed tomorrow, government sources said.The meeting is also significant as the land ordinance issued for the third time last month will expire on August 31 and if the government wants to re-issue it for a record fourth time to “maintain continuity”, one of the Houses will have to be prorogued to keep the ordinance alive as was done after the Budget Session earlier, they said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While an ordinance has a life of six months, it has to be approved by Parliament within six weeks of the commencement of the session which follows its promulgation. An ordinance cannot be re-promulgated while the House is in session.Under Article 85(2) of the Constitution, the President is vested with the power to prorogue (end a session) both Houses of Parliament. If Houses are not prorogued and are only left at being adjourned sine die by Chair in Parliament, the same session continues and can be reconvened at any time.There was a speculation in the government circles that if the government manages to rope in regional parties and chooses to press for the GST bill, then it may not recommend to the President for the prorogation of any House after their adjournment sine die.This could enable it to call a short session at a short notice, they added.Government had yesterday moved for consideration of Rajya Sabha the Constitution amendment bill for introduction of GST but a debate on it was blocked by a vociferous Congress which raised procedural issues.With some regional parties like BJD, SP and INLD voicing disapproval of the disruptions in Parliament, there is a view in the government that the pro-reform measure GST can be pushed for which Trinamool Congress had already made a strong push. Government is also trying to bring NCP on board on the GST.

Aadhaar card not mandatory for availing benefits: Supreme Court

“No personal information of Aadhaar card shall be shared by any authority,” a three-judge bench said and took on record Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s averment to this effect.

Aadhaar card will not be mandatory for availing benefits of government’s welfare schemes, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday as it barred the authorities from sharing personal biometric data collected for enrolment under the scheme.A Constitution bench of the apex court will also decide the larger question of whether collecting biometric data for preparing Aadhaar cards infringed an individual’s privacy and if right to privacy was a fundamental right.”No personal information of Aadhaar card shall be shared by any authority,” a three-judge bench said and took on record Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s averment to this effect.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”UIDAI/Aadhaar will not be used for any other purposes except PDS, kerosene and LPG distribution system,” the bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar said, but made it clear that even for availing these facilities Aadhaar card will not be mandatory.The bench, also comprising Justices SA Bobde and C Nagappan, directed that the information received by UIDAI shall not be used for any other purposes, except in criminal investigation and that too with the permission of the court.It, however, did not allow the interim pleas of the petitioners, who have challenged the Aadhaar scheme, to stop the process of ongoing enrolment.Earlier in the day, the same bench had referred to a Constitution Bench the batch of petitions challenging the Centre’s Aadhaar card scheme to decide whether right to privacy is a fundamental right.The petitioners have claimed that collection and sharing of biometric information, as required under the scheme, is a breach of the “fundamental” right to privacy.Allowing the Centre’s plea, the court framed various questions, including as to whether right to privacy is a fundamental right, to be decided by a Constitution Bench.”If yes, then what would be contours of the right to privacy,” the bench said while referring the matter to Chief Justice H L Dattu for setting up the larger bench.At an earlier hearing, Rohatgi, while backing the Aadhaar card scheme, had contended that right to privacy was not a fundamental right.”No judgment explicitly cites right to privacy as a fundamental right. It is not there under the letters of Article 21 either. If this court feels that there must be clarity on this subject, only a Constitution Bench can decide,” he had said

Right to privacy: Supreme Court says contrary verdicts raises issue of judicial discipline

He had cited judgements pronounced by six to eight-judge benches which had held that right to privacy is not a fundamental right and subsequently smaller benches had held a contrary view.

Supreme Court

File Photo
Holding that the view of smaller benches was contrary to the verdicts of larger benches, the Supreme Court on Tuesday referred to a Constitutional bench the issue whether right to privacy is a fundamental right because it raises the question of “institutional integrity and judicial discipline”. A three-judge bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar agreed with the submission of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that an authoritative pronouncement from the bench of appropriate strength was needed as there have been inconsistent decisions.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He had cited judgements pronounced by six to eight-judge benches which had held that right to privacy is not a fundamental right and subsequently smaller benches had held a contrary view. The bench said there appears to be “certain amount of apparent unresolved contradiction in the law” declared by the apex court and quietus has to be given to the kind of controversy raised in this batch of cases once for all. The three judges were of the opinion that the cases on hand raise far-reaching questions of importance involving interpretation of the Constitution. “What is at stake is the amplitude of the fundamental rights including that precious and inalienable right under Article 21. If the observations made in MP Sharma (supra) and Kharak Singh (supra) are to be read literally and accepted as the law of this country, the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India and more particularly right to liberty under Article 21 would be denuded of vigour and vitality.”At the same time, we are also of the opinion that the institutional integrity and judicial discipline require that pronouncement made by larger benches of this court cannot be ignored by smaller benches without appropriately explaining the reasons for not following the pronouncements made by such larger benches,” the bench said.

‘We don’t want to do moral policing’: Modi govt’s bizarre doublespeak on porn ban

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi made eminent sense in the Supreme Court yesterday.

This is what he told the court about the infamous muddled pornography ban.

“How can you stop in on the privacy of your phone? The other thing is that if someone wants to watch it in the privacy of their bedroom, how can we stop that? These are now issues of 19(1).”

Article 19 (1) is about freedom of speech.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

That’s pretty much what the Chief Justice had told the porn ban petitioners in the first place.

“Somebody can come to the court and say, ‘Look, I am an adult and how can you stop me from watching it within the four walls of my room?’ It is a violation of Article 21.”

Article 21 is about a right to personal liberty.

So if both were on the same page anyway, why did the government wilfully slap egg on its own face and make itself the butt of jokes last week with its 857-site ban which Rohatgi himself admits “the department went and blocked without verifying”?

Perhaps it was an over zealous government lawyer like Pinky Anand who was responsible but Rohatgi does not mention that. What’s baffling in his statement to the court is that it seems to blithely ignore the fact that it was the government itself that had imposed the blocks in the first place and is now arguing is infeasible.

“There are many issues and we don’t want to do moral policing. There is also difficulty: the websites can change their names and change their website, and it becomes difficult. We will obey court orders, but we don’t want to become a moral police.”

But sir, the court did not ask you to be the moral police. It did not say go forth and ban these sites. The government chose to be the moral police and now it’s piously arguing before the court that it does not want to be the moral police.

Either it thinks our attention spans are so short that no one remembers what happened a week ago. Or the government’s left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

Sometimes the left hand and right hand which seem to be acting at cross purposes can literally belong to the same person.

Nikhil Pahwa of Medianama points out that while Rohatgi was championing the cause of adults and privacy in this case, the same Attorney General had repeatedly told the Supreme Court that there was no fundamental right to privacy in India. That was a case challenging the Aadhaar card on the grounds of privacy. In that context Rohatgi had said “The invasion of privacy is of no consequence because privacy is not a fundamental right and has no meaning under Article 21.”

No wonder the Internet Service Providers Association complains there is conflict between the directives it is getting from the government. “We will block whatever you want us to block, but we cannot block on our own because it’s a violation of our license. In the interim those websites are blocked. Let the government give a clear instruction of URLs.” (What that list of 857 contained were websites, not URLs.)

But the larger issue is not about #PornFree or #PornBan.

It has become one about chronic double speak. Even as Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad assures us that the government is “100% committed to the freedom of speech and expression, including on social media”, news comes that the government has directly issued show cause notices to three television channels for disrespecting the office of the President and the Supreme Court by broadcasting interviews with people who had differing opinions about the fate of Yakub Memon. An editorial in The Hindu calls it an “outrageous overreach” of the government’s powers:

“A perusal of the content under question shows only critical discussion by individuals of the judgment dismissing the mercy petition. There was nothing there amounting to defamation or contempt of court, nor was any aspersion cast on the office of the President beyond mere criticism of the decision to reject the mercy petition.”

The Hindu points out that part of the problem is print is given more leeway in terms of freedom of expression than broadcast because the latter is believed to have “more instantaneous impact” and the broadcast spectrum is a public resource. “The distinction between the print and broadcast media should be removed and the broadcast medium allowed in full the freedom of expression guaranteed under the Constitution,” opines the editorial.

Well, you have to be careful what you wish for.

The government might be thinking about parity but not exactly along the lines The Hindu imagined. The Telegraph reports the government is now mulling expanding its scrutiny of the Yakub Memon coverage from television to print media as well. “Action so far has been initiated against four broadcasters because they violated the programming code, but if some newspapers have also committed those mistakes, we will look into the matter,” a senior official tells The Telegraph.

A government that prided itself on its finely tuned and focused communication strategy seems to be either schizophrenically confused or speaking out of both sides of its mouth depending on its audience. Either way it’s richly ironic that Rohatgi stood up and told the court that without self-regulation, we risk becoming a “totalitarian state… tomorrow they will say stop this, stop that.”

Perhaps like eating beef. Or 28 cuss words on film. And who’s the “they” anyway?

The likes of a Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti or Giriraj Singh make hot-headed inflammatory comments. The upper echelons of government distance themselves from it, assure the media it’s not the view of the key cabinet members but do little else to counter it. The offending politician after a token half-apology carries on unfettered anyway never visibly suffering any consequence for their intemperate ways. That in itself sends out a mixed message.

And when enough of these mixed messages get out there, the question becomes will the real NDA government please stand up?

Ban porn, what we watch, write, eat and do in private. Is this really India?

Before they came to power, their lawless bullies roamed the streets and enforced self-declared edicts of morality on girls by not allowing them to hang out with boys and visit recreational facilities. When they came to power, they officially used the police to crack down on hotels to see what men and women were doing in private and how they could control it.

If the bullies of Sri Ram Sena in Mangalore chased and punched young girls because they visited pubs, in Maharashtra, the police rounded up several couples who were spending time in hotels near Mumbai, manhandled them, humiliated them and got away after imposing a fine for “public indecency” for whatever they did in private. In Kerala, when a group of people orgnanised a unique “kiss of love” protest last year against the rising menace of culture policing, they came under attack from street bullies calling themselves Hanuman Sena and Shiv Sena among others. In the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border, thugs have severely disrupted cattle-trade because they don’t like people eating beef.

Before coming to power, they wanted to control what we ate and what we drank; after they came to power, they banned beef. Before they came to power they had a problem with even the limited scientific rigour and liberalism that our cultural, science, educational and research institutions pursued; after they came to power, they started to rearrange the genetic composition of these institutions so that their future will be shaped by a certain ideology. Probably, Indian school children will soon be taught of a new national movement and a new version of the independence struggle as the Nazi children were taught about the heroic deeds of the Teutonic knights of the middle ages. Just as the imagery of Teutonic Knights was important for German nationalism and Nazi ideology, an Indian revisionist story through alternative heroes is important for their political ideology.

Representational image. AgenciesRepresentational image. Agencies

Representational image. Agencies

Before coming to power, they also wanted to control what we read, what we saw/watched and what we did online. After coming to power, they made a mockery of film censorship, banned Internet porn, blocked websites, filed cases against TV channels and have even begun thinking about bringing back the draconian elements of the IT act. Many Right To Information (RTI) queries don’t come back with an answer. India’s new nationalist idiom of good governance can thrive without the bedrock of transparency.

In a year, effectively they have changed or controlled what we eat (no beef), how we socialise (no pubbing for girls), how we spent our private time with partners (no shacking up), what we read and watch (more beeps and cuts in movies), who we revere as our national heroes (statues for Godse and new icons), what and how we study (new textbooks), how we conduct research (new ideals and protocols) and how we communicate in social media (foul-mouthed armies of trolls)

And the most scary is the idea that the State is watching. Even without drifting to a zone of paranoia, one with a liberal mind may feel like Winston Smith in George Orwell’s 1984. The new nationalist rhetoric is so similar to Mussolini’s “everything for the state, nothing against the state, nothing outside the state”. Is the state taking control of one’s private and public lives and even one’s thoughts in an Orwellian way?

This aggressive cultural nationalism playing out as bans, ideological re-imagination of the country’s political and cultural past, ideological takeover of national institutions, threats to dissent by the State and its cronies, and abusive online armies of vigilantes, who are particularly vulgar on women, together denote a mini Talibanisation in progress. This is how the Taliban began with its Pastunwali code and in no time took away all the liberties and rights of people while banishing women from public life. Although some loud women seem to be part of this drive of nationalistic takeover, historically they had been excluded from the final scheme of things all over the world. What’s happening now is that these women are acting like their male counterparts because of prejudice, intolerance and ignorance – as it repeatedly happened in history, but ultimately, as in a Taliban controlled Afghanistan, women will be among the worst sufferers. Finally, there will be no people, but only the ideology, the State and their cronies.

The ban by the new Censor Board of India on 28 “cuss-words”, the ban on beef and punishment for even its possession, the ban on porn – which even the SC was not ready to do because of possible infringement of Article 21 -, replacing academics with ideologues and card-holders, and resetting educational materials and research have unmissable imprint of Taliban’s cultural nationalism. As history teaches us, Fascism rides on nationalism. If they get away with this campaign, that’s what’s waiting for us.

It’s not surprising that many of them also imagine a powerful, prosperous nation without any application of reason. Many of the online lumpen are also ambassadors of this imagined India. And this is also not new in history, and is part of a nationalistic package. As Italian historian Emilio Gentile noted, the “cultural roots of futurism and fascism intersect in the common terrain of modernist nationalism.”

We get carried away by fake images and rhetoric of a glorious past and a powerful future as our rights are being robbed off and our private spaces are occupied by the cultural police. And there are people to advise us: if you are not happy, go to Pakistan.

Dear Mumbai Police, can you please stay out of my bedroom?

It looks like the Malvani police watched Neeraj Ghaywan’s ‘Masaan’ and got some twisted inspiration..

dna Research & Archives
Life in Mumbai is getting more draconian as we speak. You can’t eat beef, you can’t watch movies without Pahlaj Nihalani ‘Alok Nathifying’ the content, you can’t have consensual sex with your partner if he is of the same gender, you can’t watch ‘offensive’ roasts and comedy shows, and now – you can’t even spend some quality time with your loved one in a hotel without the police barging in and demanding that you call your parents!<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Spoiler Note: The following article contains some plot revelations about Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan. So what if the same police failed to prevent the hooch tragedy where some officers were in collusion, they quite made up for it by busting 40 couples and dragging them to the police station because they were engaging in the most heinous crime known to middle-class Indians – staying in a hotel room without getting approval from parents, astrologers and strangers. Prima facie, it looks like the Malvani police watched Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan and got some twisted inspiration. For those of you who haven’t watched the movie, one of the plot revolves around a misogynist, corrupt cop who catches Richa Chadda’s character and her boyfriend in the hotel room, threatens her father by saying that he’ll release a video of her online and even contrives to charge her with abetting suicide after her boyfriend takes his life.First, let us examine the facts of the events that took place on Thursday afternoon. After being tipped off by an informer, the police, under the supervision of DCP Vikram Deshpande conducted a raid on the hotels, ostensibly to bust a prostitution racket.What followed was indeed astonishing. The police rounded up around 40 couples, all of them adults, and took them to the police station. While three people were booked under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act – ITPA, the rest of the couples were booked under Section 110 (indecent behaviour in public), kept at the police station till 10pm in the night and let off with a Rs 1200 fine, even though no one has been to explain how a private hotel can be considered ‘public’.But the humiliation didn’t end there, the police decided to call up the parents of the couples who were college students. According to a report in Mid-Day, one 19-year-old girl is contemplating suicide after her parents refused to talk to her after hearing about the incident. Another 21-year-old claimed that she was slapped by a female constable for daring to protest against their action. The cops also took the parents to task, making them feel like their children had committed a heinous crime. Thankfully, Mumbai Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria observed that it was wrong to charge couples with indecency in public if they were in their hotel rooms. He was quoted saying: “If two adults are inside a hotel room with their consent, then it is none of our business.” He also initiated a probe into the incident and has asked the Additional Commissioner of Police (North Region) to inquire into the matter and submit a report to him.Maria’s reaction is better than the reaction of former Commissioner and current BJP MP Satyapal Singh, who bizarrely equated public display of affection with rising rape cases. “That is why I’m asking whether on one hand couples should be allowed to kiss in public and on the road, should they be allowed to indulge in obscene things?” he had said. “On the one hand you want to have a promiscuous culture and on the other hand you want a safe and secure environment for the people.” Displaying no understanding of the concept of consent, his views seem to suggest that we have only two options — a Talibanised conservative society or a Mad Max-esque jungle land without any rules. If it’s still unclear, the Supreme Court had noted in 2010 that a man and woman living together without being married or participating in pre-marital sex was not a criminal offence. Pointing out the example of Krishna and Radha, the court claimed that even they lived together without being married, according to mythology.The court had made these observations while hearing south Indian actress Khusboo’s petition to quash 22 criminal files filed against her for allegedly endorsing pre-marital sex in interviews. The counsel arguing against her had claimed that her views would adversely affect the minds of young people and lead to a decay in moral values and the country’s ethos. The court also pointed out that living together was a right to life and liberty which was covered under Article 21.To put it simply, the police or the state has no business in my bedroom. Chief Justice of India HL Dattu had observed before the ill-conceived temporary porn ban, that the state couldn’t tell an adult what to do within the confines of his or her bedroom.He had said, “Such interim orders cannot be passed by this court. Somebody can come to the court and say ‘Look, I am an adult and how can you stop me from watching it within the four walls of my room? It is a violation of Article 21 (right to personal liberty) of the Constitution.”So dear Mumbai Police, please do us a favour and leave couples alone. If you were that bothered about cracking down on ‘public indecency’, there are lots of people who are actually being indecent in public, as comedian Aditi Mittal pointed out recently.[View the story “#MyFirstPublicIndecency” on Storify]

Editors Guild condemns I&B Ministry notices to 3 news channels for their coverage on Yakub Memon’s execution

The Guild’s President N Ravi said in a statement that “it is shocking that the Information and Broadcasting Ministry should have issued notices to ABP News, NDTV and Aaj Tak for their coverage of the Yakub Memon issue under the cable TV regulations.
File Photo
PTI photo
The Editors Guild of India on Saturday condemned the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s issuing show cause notices to three TV news channels for their coverage related to Yakub Memon hanging, terming the action as “shocking” and called for immediate withdrawal of the notices.The Guild’s President N Ravi said in a statement that “it is shocking that the Information and Broadcasting Ministry should have issued notices to ABP News, NDTV and Aaj Tak for their coverage of the Yakub Memon issue under the cable TV regulations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Those regulations were never meant to be used to stop the free and vigorous discussion of matters of public interest however disagreeable the content might be to the government. Yakub Memon’s case before the Supreme Court and the President and the subsequent execution were matters of widespread public interest with sharply polarised viewpoints. The discussion of the issues was obviously in the nature of political speech that should be allowed free expression without curbs,” the statement said.It said that “viewpoints unacceptable to the government ought not to be penalised on the specious plea that they would incite violence or spread hatred.””The Editors Guild of India calls upon the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to withdraw the notices forthwith,” the statement said.The Guild said that “it is also time for a re-examination of the broadcasting regulations that on the face of it look over-broad and leave room for misuse in violation of the right to Freedom of Expression under Article 19 1(a) of the Constitution.

Did the government of India slyly ban porn sites?

It appears that several porn sites are currently inaccessible in India through various internet service providers (ISPs).

Representational Image

It appears that several porn sites are currently inaccessible in India through various internet service providers (ISPs). Some users, those who used MTNL, BSNL and ACT ISPs reported that were getting either blank pages or messages which said: “”The site has been blocked as per the instructions of Competent Authority.” Meanwhile, others who were using services like Airtel and Tata Photon reported no such problem.The observation that several porn sites were unavailable started a conversation on Twitter and a thread on Reddit. The sites seem to be opening fine for ISPs like Airtel and Tata Photon. One user reported that: “The site has been blocked as per the instruction of the Competent Authority.” According to a piece in Legally India, which used a Delhi broadband connection provided by Spectranet, 11 out of the 13 most popular porn sites were not accessible. On the other hand, most websites seem to be working fine when they are being accessed form mobile phones.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier Chief Justice of India HL Dattu had observed that banning the watching of porn at home would be “a violation of Article 21”, the right to personal liberty. Dattu had earlier said that such orders couldn’t be passed. He had said: “Such interim orders cannot be passed by this court. Somebody can come to the court and say ‘Look, I am an adult and how can you stop me from watching it within the four walls of my room? It is a violation of Article 21 (right to personal liberty) of the Constitution.’ Yes the issue is serious and some steps need to be taken. The Centre has to take a stand, let us see what stand the Centre will take.” The remarks came after lawyer Vijay Panjwani, representing an Indore-based advocate Kamlesh Vaswani, had put forward a PIL seeking the ban of all porn sites.Here’s how Twitter reacted to the news:

Supreme Court issues notice to centre and Delhi government over groundwater depletion

Observing that groundwater is a common resource and ought to be regulated, a bench led by Justice JS Thakur asked the governments to reply within six weeks.

The Supreme Court on Friday, took note of another looming threat to New Delhi’s water woes, and issued notice to the central government and to the state government over a petition seeking metering and pricing of groundwater in the country to ensure that it is not wasted.Observing that groundwater is a common resource and ought to be regulated, a bench led by Justice JS Thakur asked the governments to reply within six weeks.The petitioner, represented by senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan, approached the Supreme Court after the Delhi High Court dismissed his earlier PIL on the matter. Hence, this petition questions whether the High Court is in the right by holding “government policy on distribution of natural resources” outside its scope, and should it not have directed the state and central governments to regulate and price the usage of groundwater.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Distribution of and access to water in Delhi is highly uneven across economic strata, and fraught with difficulties for majority. As the petition mentions, while residents of poorer areas stand in long serpentine queues to collect buckets of water from water tankers, the rich install pumps to draw up groundwater for their private use. This results in litres upon litres of running water being wasted to “wash their verandas and vehicles, and for gardening”.The petition calls upon the state to meter this usage of groundwater, so as to check and possibly stop rampant, ill-afforded wastage of a natural resource.It lays this responsibility on the State by referring to the Constitution that says “the state shall direct its policy to see that the ownership and control of natural resources of the community are so distributed as best to subserve the common good”.Ground water is an integral natural resource, hence in charge of the state.For the past few years, news reports from summer months are remarkably similar, all mentioning the alarming rate of groundwater depletion. Dharnas by residents of various colonies and settlements, especially those susceptible to ‘tanker mafia’, having to buy water at exorbitant rates, had become a common sight outside Jal Board offices. As the petitioner writes, “groundwater depletion is of grave concern, and limiting its use, metering it and charging against such water consumption will not only help the water conservation but will also bring revenue to the government which can further be used for other incidental activities by the government to safeguard the degrading underground water table.”The petition uses the landmark ‘Coca Cola’ case where the Kerala High Court passed a judgement that held the state as a trustee with a legal duty to protect natural resources and “the State has got a duty to protect groundwater against excessive exploitation and the inaction of the State in this regard will tantamount to infringement of the right to life of the people guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

SC expresses disagreement with Justice Kurian on Yakub Memon’s plea

The larger bench accepted the submission of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the Supreme Court rules entitle the three senior most judges to decide curative petition as it emanates from the main judgement complained of and not the review petition.
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Image courtesy: en.wikipedia.org
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday disagreed with Justice Kurian Joseph that correct procedure was not followed by the three senior-most judges of the apex court in dismissing the curative petition of Yakub Memon, the sole death row convict in the Mumbai blasts case.Justice Kurian had differed on Tuesday with Justice A R Dave and dug out a point on the issue of curative petition not raised in the petition seeking stay of the death warrant for execution of Memon.He was of the view that the curative petition of Memon should be heard afresh.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Justice Kurian’s view that the curative petition should have been referred to the bench, comprising Justices Dave, J Chelameswar and himself, which had decided the second review petition of Memon was not accpeted by a three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra.The larger bench accepted the submission of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the Supreme Court rules entitle the three senior most judges to decide curative petition as it emanates from the main judgement complained of and not the review petition.”The submission canvassed by Attorney General deserves substance and accordingly we hold that the curative petition decided by three judges cannot be regarded as void or nullity or it suffers from any impropriety,” the bench, also comprising Justices Prafulla Chandra Pant and Amitava Roy, said.”We are absolutely in concurrence that judgements are not be read as statutes and thus have to be read in proper perspective. Thus we disagree with the view expressed by Justice Kurian Joseph in this regard,” it further said.”On our studied scrutiny of paragraphs (Rupa Hurra judgement), it is a requirement that the curative petition has to be circulated to the three senior-most judges of this court and also to the judges of the judgement complained of, if available. According to the Hurra principle, the second review is not permissible. However, curative petition is evolved by the apex court in the exercise of power under Article 142 of the Constitution to avoid miscarriage of justice and to avoid that there is no violation of natural justice,” the bench said.The apex court said the principle of review requires relook, revisit of principal judgement which in this case was of March 21, 2013 by which this court had upheld the conviction and death sentence awarded by a TADA court to Memon.”While dealing with the curative petition, it is the principal judgement or the main judgement that comes under attack,” the bench said adding that Curative petition is filed against the judgement and petition under Article 32 cannot be filed against the order of review or curative petition.Noting the submission of the Attorney General that the three senior-most judges are required to go into the curative petition by circulation, the bench said “it cannot become void.””As a sequitur, decision on curative petition by three senior-most judges of this court has to be regarded as correct and not vitiated by any procedural irregularity,” the bench held while disagreeing with Justice Kurian that the curative petition of Memon has to be heard afresh.In a split verdict, Justice Kurian had said, “I do not think that technicality should stand in the way of justice being done”. He had said it has been found that the procedure prescribed under the law has been violated while dealing with Memon’s curative petition and that too, dealing with life of a person.”There is an error apparent on the face of the order in the curative petition. The mandatory procedure prescribed under law has not been followed,” Justice Kurian had said.”When this Court as the protector of the life of the persons under the Constitution has come to take note of a situation where a procedure established by law has not been followed while depriving the life of a person, no technicality shall stand in the way of justice being done. After all, law is for man and law is never helpless and the Court particularly the repository of such high constitutional powers like Supreme Court shall not be rendered powerless,” he had said.

History needs to be rewritten in the right perspective: Subramanian Swamy

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said on Sunday that history needs to be rewritten with the right perspective to enable India to emerge as a powerful nation.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said on Sunday that history needs to be rewritten with the right perspective to enable India to emerge as a powerful nation.”History needs to be rewritten in the right perspective, so that the young generation gets rid of their low self-esteem imposed through distorted history, if India has to emerge as a powerful nation in the next couple of decades,” Swamy said at Predation auditorium, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Kanya Baal Kandahar Talk.At the function organised by the Kanya Talk Samara Mandala, he said, “We were invaded by the Murals who subjected our people to physical harassment while the British, used mental and psychological tactics to make us feel inferior. They made us like big cats which obey ring masters despite superior strength”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said that India could emerge as a strong economy since 70% of its population is under 35 years of age. If the government invested in their education and health, apart from making them mentally strong, India could emerge as a strong nation, he said.Swamy stressed that Kashmir is an integral part of India and that Article 370 was a blunder made by Jawaharlal Nehru, which needs to be revoked, since it was adopted only for a temporary period.

Late RAW official B Raman wanted leniency for Yakub Memon

B Raman, who retired as Additional Secretary in 1994 and was in-charge of counter-terrorism, had written an article for publication containing this view but stopped it from seeing the light of the day following an after thought.

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A late top official of RAW had favoured clemency for death row convict in the 1993 Mumbai blast case Yakub Memon on the ground that he had cooperated with investigating agencies and does not deserve to be hanged.B Raman, who retired as Additional Secretary in 1994 and was in-charge of counter-terrorism, had written an article for publication containing this view but stopped it from seeing the light of the day following an after thought.But the article has now been published on ‘Rediff.com’ website which talks about Memon being picked up in Nepal and his subsequent formal arrest at Old Delhi railway station by the CBI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chennai-based B S Raghavan, brother of the late Raman, said “everything that has been published is correct and he (Raman) had written it”.Raman, who passed away in 2013, had written about a “moral dilemma” in his mind ever since he had read about the sentencing of Memon to death by the court in 2006.”There is not an iota of doubt about the involvement of Yakub and other members of the family in the conspiracy and their cooperation with the ISI till July 1994. In normal circumstances, Yakub would have deserved the death penalty if one only took into consideration his conduct and role before July 1994. But if one also takes into consideration his conduct and role after he was informally picked up in Kathmandu, there is a strong case for having second thoughts about the suitability of the death penalty in the subsequent stages of the case,” said the article which has been published after taking permission from his brother.The writer, who has written a book “The Kaoboys of RAW”, spoke about many questions in his mind before writing the article but said “ultimately, I decided to write this in the belief that it is important to prevent a person, who in my view does not deserve to be hanged, from going to the gallows.”According to him, Yakub had cooperated with the probe agencies and assisted them by persuading some other members of the Memon family to flee from the protection of the ISI in Karachi to Dubai and surrender to the Indian authorities.”The cooperation of Yakub with the investigating agencies after he was picked up informally in Kathmandu and his role in persuading some other members of the family to come out of Pakistan and surrender constitute, in my view, a strong mitigating circumstance to be taken into consideration while considering whether the death penalty should be implemented,” he had argued in his article. Raman said he was disturbed to notice that some mitigating circumstances in the case of Yakub Memon and some other members of the family were probably not brought to the notice of the court by the prosecution and that the prosecution did not suggest to the court that these circumstances should be taken into consideration while deciding on the punishment to be awarded to them.”In their eagerness to obtain the death penalty, the fact that there were mitigating circumstances do not appear to have been highlighted,” he said.About his arrest part, Raman wrote that in July 1994, some weeks before his retirement, he was informally picked up in Kathmandu, with the help of the Nepal police, driven across Nepal to a town in Indian territory, flown to Delhi by an aircraft of the Aviation Research Centre and formally arrested in Old Delhi by the investigating authorities and taken into custody for interrogation.”The entire operation was coordinated by me,” he said.Yakub was in Kathmandu to consult a lawyer about surrendering before the court but was advised against it and asked to return to Pakistan.”Before he could board the flight to Karachi, he was picked up by the Nepal police on suspicion, identified and rapidly moved to India,” he said.

Rajiv Gandhi assassination: Do not show mercy to the killers, Centre tells SC

Among the seven convicts, V Sriharan alias Murugan, Santhan, Robert Pious and Jaya Kumar were Sri Lankan nationals while female convict Nalini, Ravichandran and Arivu are Indians.
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The Centre asserted in the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi did nor deserve any mercy as the assassination was the result of a conspiracy involving foreign nationals.”Our former Prime Minister was killed by these people. There was a conspiracy to kill him in which foreign nationals were also involved. What mercy is to be seen or shown? This is to be looked by you (apex court). Their mercy plea was rejected by the President and also by the Governor (of Tamil Nadu). So what mercy is being argued?” Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told a bench a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Among the seven convicts, V Sriharan alias Murugan, Santhan, Robert Pious and Jaya Kumar were Sri Lankan nationals while female convict Nalini, Ravichandran and Arivu are Indians.The bench was hearing the maintainability of the Centre”s petition opposing Tamil Nadu government”s decision to remit the life sentences and set free seven convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The issue of mercy was raised by senior advocates Ram Jethmalani who was appearing for Murugan and traced the history of judicial proceedings.Earlier the court, on the plea of the erstwhile UPA government, had stayed Tamil Nadu”s decision to set free all the seven convicts after remitting their sentences. It had framed seven questions to be decided by a Constitution bench on the scope of executives” power of remission.However, Jethmalani and Tamil Nadu government”s senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi questioned the maintainability of the Centre”s petition saying the Article 32 petition cannot be invoked by the Centre as it did not concern any violation of the fundamental rights with which the state is affected.The hearing witnessed a debate during which the court said the Centre has a parental duty to voice the grief of victims of the 1991 assassination in Sriperumbudur.”The Supreme Court commuted the convicts” death penalty to life. The victims did not complain. But here the state government further tinkers with our judgement. Can CBI through the Centre not move under Article 32 of the Constitution? After all, it”s CBI probe which got them death penalty,” the bench, also comprising Justices F M I Kalifulla, Pinaki Chandra Ghosh, Abhay Manohar Sapre and U U Lalit observed.The bench said “when CBI is expressing the rights of the victims, then certainly we can entertain the petition of Union of India. CBI as an ivestigator and prosecutor was concerned with the case and if somebody tries to tinker with the case, can”t they come before us?””If the state tries to tinker, can”t CBI come and say I provided protection to this person and can”t I come to protect them in this court?” it said.However, Dwivedi said the role of CBI comes to an end with the case reaching finality in courts and here the apex court has already pronounced its judgement.When the bench said it was going to examine who has the executive power of remission — the Centre or the state government – in the cases investigated and prosecuted by the Central probe agencies, the Tamil Nadu counsel said “it is a tough question and there is a tough conflict. It is the issue.”The bench said it would be examining whether there was an application of mind by Tamil Nadu government in remitting the life sentences of the seven convicts.”CBI was the prosecutor on behalf of the victims and the state. Now, the rights of victims have been tinkered by the executive order of the state. So, the fundamental rights of the victim is affected and the fundamental rights of the victim is looked after by the Union of India. When the matter is entrusted to CBI, who will have the power to remission? This is an intense question and needs deeper consideration,” the bench observed while addressing various issues including whether the state can file a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution in public interest.The Solicitor General submitted that 18 persons were killed and 48 were critically injured in the 1991 blast and “it is the government who has to take care of interests of the victims. The concept of parens patriae kicks in”. However, the bench also posed some questions to the Centre saying “once we have commuted the death penalty to life, the ball is in the state government’s court to decide whether to use its power of remission to release the convicts or not.”Now, here the State says they have been in prison for 23 years and that is enough… so why do you come to us like a public-spirited person?” the bench asked the Centre.The Solicitor General responded by saying “life imprisonment is till the end of life. You cannot just release them.”However, Jethmalani raised the issue of liberty of the convicts who have been in prison for over two decases. He was asked by the bench not to go into the merits of the case and restrict his arguments on maintainability.The Solicitor General submitted that Tamil Nadu has at no stage since April 25, 2014, the date of reference, in any proceeding let alone filing of a miscellaneous petition or an application or otherwise by a review, sought to impress upon the court nor did it do so before the Constitution bench on July 9, 2014 when notices were issued to all the states that the writ petition itself being not maintainable, why should the referal at all be decided.”In that view of the matter, it is the submission of the Union that Tamil Nadu is stopped from raising any such issue of maintainability especially in the light of the fact that larger and more important questions of law are required to be decided and a purposive/authoritative pronouncement made by the Constitution bench,” Kumar said.He said even assuming there is this question of maintainability to be gone into, then it is the submission of Union of India that the filing of the writ petition and its maintainability is fully supported by the law in place in this regard not only by virtue of the 2008 Amendment in the Code of Criminal Procedure but also by the case law on the subject.It is the submission of the Union of India that the accused persons have violated the fundamental rights of the victims and their families in committing the crime and when this court entertained the writ petition filed by the convicts for commuting the sentences, which happened after the date of Amendment of the above provisions in the Code, the convicts did not make the victims or their families parties to the litigation, the Centre said.”The victims were neither noticed nor heard in the matter before commuting any of the sentences. They ought to have been given an opportunity to argue against the commutation. Therefore comes the role of the Union of India in the capacity of ”parens patriae” which has been developed over a long period of time and which has the effect, by virtue of the precedential case law, that the state is the guardian of all especially in crimes the victims who suffer at the hands of the accused and such like persons. Therefore, the maintainability of the instant writ petition cannot be questioned,” the Centre submitted. The apex court had on February 20 last year stayed the state government’s decision to release three convicts Murugan, Santhan and Arivu whose death sentence was commuted to life term by it two days before. It had later also stayed the release of four other convicts Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran, saying there were procedural lapses on the part of the state government.Santhan, Murugan and Arivu are currently lodged in the Central Prison, Vellore. The other four are also undergoing life sentence for their role in Gandhi’s assassination on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur.”The issue of such a nature has been raised for the first time in this Court, which has wide ramification in determining the scope of application of power of remission by the executives, both the Centre and the State. Accordingly, we refer this matter to the Constitution Bench to decide the issue pertaining to whether once power of remission under Article 72(by the President) or 161 (by Governor)or by this Court exercising Constitutional power under Article 32 is exercised, is there any scope for further consideration for remission by the executive,” the apex court had said while referring the matter to the Constitution bench.It had said the Constitution bench would decide whether the sentence of a prisoner, whose death penalty has been commuted to life, can be remitted by the government. Such a bench would also decide whether life imprisonment meant jail term for rest of the life or a convict has a right to claim remission, it had said.Another issue for the Constitution bench to decide would be whether a special category of sentence may be made for cases where death penalty might be substituted by imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term in excess of 14 years and to put that category beyond application of remission. It will also decide whether the Union of India or the State has primacy over the subject matter enlisted in concurrent list of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution for exercise of power of remission.The Centre had opposed the decision taken by Tamil Nadu government on remission of sentence, saying that the state has no power of take such a decision and the remission in the present case is illegal and without jurisdiction.

Criminal defamation law in penal code should be retained, government tells Supreme Court

The provision for criminal defamation should be retained in the Indian Penal Code as a deterrent against defamatory actions, the Centre has told the Supreme Court.

PTI
The provision for criminal defamation should be retained in the Indian Penal Code as a deterrent against defamatory actions, the Centre has told the Supreme Court.The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in its affidavit said there was a need for retaining Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC, also because of the growing tendency to defame people through social media.The Centre’s submission came in response to the notice issued by the apex court on a batch of petitions filed by political leaders including Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy and AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minster Arvind Kejriwal, challenging the constitutional validity of penal provisions on defamation.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All three politicians had argued that Sections 499 and 500 violated the constitutional guarantee for free speech under Article 19(1)(a) and were anathema to right to life guaranteed under Article 21.”It should be erased from statute books as there is a civil remedy for filing a defamation suit under which the courts could award damages,” the leaders had contended.However, the MHA in its affidavit before a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said, “Civil remedy for defamation is not an efficacious remedy. Civil remedies on an average take longer than criminal remedies. Furthermore, with the advent of new forms of technology, acts like online defamation cannot be adequately countered by means of civil remedies.” “With the advent of internet, any statement can be published to the world at large without any in-built checking mechanism. Further, there is always a possibility of the defamer being judgment-free, that is, not having adequate financial capability to compensate the victim.”

An adult can watch porn within the four walls of his room, says CJI HL Dattu

Watching porn is not a crime in privacy, Supreme Court of India said on Thursday and declined a plea to pass an interim order to block porn websites in India. A day after the Centre assured the top court that all possible measures were being taken to block porn sites, Chief Justic of India HL Dattu observed, “Such interim orders cannot be passed by this court. Somebody may come to the court and say look I am above 18 and how can you stop me from watching it within the four walls of my room. It is a violation of Article 21 [right to personal liberty].”

Dattu’s reaction came after lawyer Kamlesh Vashwani filed a PIL petition in August 2014 asking the court to block porn websites in India, The Hindu reported. The CJI, who was heading a three-judge bench, asked the Union home ministry to file a detailed affidavit within four weeks. Panjwani, who is representing Vashwani, told the SC bench that crime against women and children, which was majorly influenced by porn is on the rise and the MHA has failed to file an affidavit despite repeated directions.

Chief Justice of India HL Dattu. Image courtesy: PIBChief Justice of India HL Dattu. Image courtesy: PIB

Chief Justice of India HL Dattu. Image courtesy: PIB

According to PTI, the government had then said that it was helpless to shut these websites down as most of them had servers located outside the country.

The bench agreed that the matter was serious but also added that they cannot give any immediate relief in the matter. Directing the government to reply in four weeks, Dattu said, “The issue is definitely serious and some steps need to be taken. The Centre is expected to take a stand…let us see what stand the Centre will take.”

Government on Wednesday had assured the Supreme Court that all possible measures would be taken to block porn sites, particularly those dealing with child pornography. The assurance had come after the bench headed by CJI expressed its unhappiness that things have not moved forward and the petitioner in the matter was making all sorts of submissions.

The government counsels said it was not the Information and Broadcasting Ministry but for the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to look into the issue. The bench said no interim order can be passed in the matter which has to be examined after going through the counter-affidavit of the government department.

The apex court had earlier asked the Secretary, DoT to file an affidavit on whether the government was competent to issue direction to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block porn sites particularly those showing child pornography. The service providers had submitted that they on their own cannot block such sites and they can do so only on the direction of the government.

The petitioner had pleaded that although watching obscene videos is not an offence, pornographic sites should be banned as they were one of the major causes for crimes against women. It was submitted that the Centre had failed to devise mechanism to block such sites and absence of internet laws encouraged people to watch porn videos and as it was not an offence.

The petition alleged that over 20 crore porn videos or clippings were freely available in the market, which are directly being downloaded through internet or other video CDs. “The sexual content that kids are accessing today is far more graphic, violent, brutal, deviant and destructive and has put entire society in danger, so also safety threats to public order in India. The petitioner most respectfully submits that most of the offences committed against women/girls/children are fuelled by pornography. The worrying issue is the severity and gravity of the images are increasing. It is a matter of serious concern that pre-pubescent children are being raped,” it had said.

With PTI inputs

SC rejects PIL on ‘misuse’ of funds for laptops by judges

The apex court also pulled up the petitioner for approaching it without knowing about the steps already undertaken by the Delhi High Court chief justice after the issue cropped up.

Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea seeking probe into the alleged misuse of funds allocated for purchase of computers for judicial officers of courts in Delhi. The apex court also pulled up the petitioner for approaching it without knowing about the steps already undertaken by the Delhi High Court chief justice after the issue cropped up. “Do you know what the High Court has done,” a bench comprising Chief Justice HL Dattu and justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy asked while elaborating on the measures taken by High Court chief justice G Rohini to enquire into the allegations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “The High Court is looking into it and the chief justice (of Delhi HC) has constituted a sub-committee to look into the allegations,” the CJI said. Justice Dattu said, “after coming to know about it, I contacted the High Court chief justice. She constituted a committee to look into it. Without knowing about it, you came with Article 32 petition (before SC).” The bench rejected the PIL which sought a probe into the alleged scam by a court-monitored Special Investigation Team or the CBI, claiming that judges of the lower courts in Delhi were sanctioned Rs 1.1 lakh each to purchase computers, laptops or iPads. However, many of them had allegedly used the money for buying devices like television sets and home theatre systems, it alleged. The plea, filed by law student V Anand, also prayed for a direction to be issued to the high court to furnish the status report on the inquiry being conducted by its panel. Also Read: Judges can’t be appointed under ‘hit-and-trial’ method: Supreme Court tells Centre

Don’t shield netas with criminal records: ADR

Representational Image

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The Association for Democratic Rights (ADR) has demanded that the government repeal the amendments made to the Code of Criminal Procedure. ADR is an organisation that analyses affidavits of politicians before elections. It has even come out with post-election analysis of people with criminal backgrounds who have made it to the legislature.The government recently amended the CrPC making it mandatory for the authorities to seek permission of the speaker of the assembly and the chief secretary before taking any action against elected representatives and bureaucrats. Elected representatives of corporations and councils were also covered in this.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a press statement about its previous ananlysis, ADR stated that as per the 2014 elections results, 57% of the MLAs in state had declared criminal cases. Of these, 31% had declared cases where charges had been framed.Maharashtra is second highest after Jharkhand in the number of MLAs with criminal cases. Cases on some of them range from murder, attempt to murder, crime against women, causing communal disharmony, robbery, dacoity and kidnapping.Its analysis of local body elections in Navi Mumbai showed that out of 105 winners analysed, 17 had declared criminal cases and out of this 13 had declared serious criminal cases.”In view of such grave statistics regarding the composition of the Maharashtra assembly and municipalities, further restricting the power of filing an FIR against an elected representative would bode ill not just for legislature but for the very fabric of democracy in the country. This decision limits the accountability of elected representatives and bureaucrats and shields them from the application of law and justice. Elected representatives are repositories of public trust and the sanctity of their position in the legislature can only be upheld through scrutiny and accountability,” read its press release demanding that the amendments be scrapped.Professor Jagdeep Chhokar, founder member of ADR, said: “This decision of the Maharashtra cabinet goes directly against Article 14 of the Constitution of India which guarantees ‘equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws’ to ‘any person within the territory of India’. This decision obviously gives ‘greater protection’ to MLAs and bureaucrats, and therefore makes them ‘more equal’ than ordinary citizens.”

PM Modi’s anti-discrimination talk not aimed at Hindutva proponents, says Shiv Sena

“Hindutva is a culture and it should not be overzealous. But at the same time to convert tribal and poor Hindus to Islam or Christianity by allurement is also terrorism. Modi’s plain-talk is for such bigots,” the editorial said.
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Shiv Sena on Thursday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plain-talk on zero tolerance against religious discrimination was not aimed at “pro-Hindutva” forces and suggested that he might have on his mind those “bigots” who convert Hindus to their respective faiths by “deception”.”Prime Minister has taken a strong view against extremists by saying that communal intolerance will not be accepted. But the question is for whom these comments were meant for. Modi’s statement is projected as it is meant for ‘anti-Hindutvavadis’ (pro-Hindutva forces) in certain sections. But, we don’t think that Modi had only Hindutvavadis in mind when he made those comments,” Sena said in its party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ on Thursday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi had recently asserted that he won’t tolerate any discrimination or violence against any community and termed anti-minority comments by some Sangh Parivar leaders as “unfortunate” and “uncalled for,” which is viewed as his strongest response so far on growing incidents of hate speeches.”Hindutva is a culture and it should not be overzealous. But at the same time to convert tribal and poor Hindus to Islam or Christianity by allurement is also terrorism. Modi’s plain-talk is for such bigots,” the editorial said.It said the Hindutva forces were very much active under the previous Congress regimes as well. “Had it not been so the Babri mosque could not have been demolished. Because of this Hindutva wave only the BJP could achieve its current position of power,” the editorial said.Sena said Modi’s assertion also applies to those who convert tribal and poor Hindus to Islam or Christianity “by deception.”The editorial said the recent attacks on churches opened Modi to criticism from Christian community across the globe.”However, the real reasons behind attacks on churches and who were the culprits are still unknown. If these attacks (on churches) happened due to conversion row then Modi’s message was also for those who are indulged into conversion,” it said.Sena said, “Modi’s comments were also directed to those who oppose the uniform civil code and those who oppose the scrapping of Article 370 of the Constitution. His comments also seem to be directed to (AIMIM president Assaduddin) Owaisi who is stoking (communal) fire. Modi has also taken on those (through his comments) who unfurl flag of Pakistan in Kashmir.”

Right to life does not end with confirmation of death sentence: Supreme Court

The apex court said this while it quashed the execution warrants of a young woman and her lover, convicted for killing seven members of her family including a 10-month-old baby in Uttar Pradesh in 2008, noting that it was issued “in haste” by giving a go-by to mandatory guidelines.

The Supreme Court held that right to life does not end with the confirmation of the death sentence, observing that the basis to the right to dignity also extends to the death row convicts.The apex court said this while it quashed the execution warrants of a young woman and her lover, convicted for killing seven members of her family including a 10-month-old baby in Uttar Pradesh in 2008, noting that it was issued “in haste” by giving a go-by to mandatory guidelines.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The court said the Sessions Judge of Amroha issued the warrants for execution of death sentence on May 21 “in haste”, just six days after confirmation of conviction and capital punishment, without waiting for mandatory 30 days to allow the convicts to avail judicial remedy of filing petitions for a review of the May 15 judgement.The convicts, Shabnam and her lover Saleem, could also approach the Uttar Pradesh Governor with mercy petitions after exhausting the legal remedies, it noted.”We find that the death warrant was signed by the Sessions Judge in haste without waiting for the convicts to exhaust the available legal remedies,” a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and U U Lait said while noting that there were judgements of both the apex court and the Allahabad High Court which mandated the authorities to follow certain guidelines to protect the “dignity” of the convicts.”Right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution does not end with the confirmation of the death sentence. The basis to the right to dignity also extends to the death row convicts. Therefore, the sentence of death has to be executed with total dignity.”That is why there are many judgements mandating the manner in which the death sentence has to be executed,” the bench said and added that “therefore the procedure prescribed by the Supreme Court and the Allahabad High Court for execution of death sentence is in consonance with Article 21″.Among the mandatory guidelines are that the death-row convicts have the right to meet their family members. The guidelines are intended to make the execution least painful.”We, therefore, direct the respondents (authorities) to follow the procedure and guidelines laid down in the judgements of the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court.”We set aside the warrants issued by the Sessions Judge on May 21 for the execution of the death sentence,” the bench said.

Kashmir govt working to ensure pro-Pakistan elements are completely arrested: BJP

Hyderabad: The PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir is working to ensure that pro-Pakistan elements in the state are marginalised, BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav said on Wednesday even as he maintained that the party “will leave the government” there if it cannot protect India’s interests.

BJP said pro-Pakistan elements will not be tolerated in Jammu and Kashmir. AFP

BJP said pro-Pakistan elements will not be tolerated in Jammu and Kashmir. AFP

“The government in J-K is taking all the measures to ensure that pro-Pakistan elements are completely arrested, marginalised.

“So, this impression is not based on facts that the government there is soft on pro-Pakistan elements. Masarat Alam is in jail. All the important separatist leaders are under house arrest,” he said.

He was responding to a question from the audience after delivering a talk on ‘Challenges to National Security: Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal, Pakistan to China’ organised in Hyderabad by the J-K Study Centre and Pragna Bharat.

Madhav also said that BJP would rather leave the state government if it cannot safeguard the interests of India.

“If any such situation arises, we will be the first to walk out of this government. If we cannot safeguard India’s interests, we will leave the government, (but) not leave India’s interests,” he said.

Asked why Jammu and Kashmir cannot be split into two for bringing stability and economic development to the people there, he said the state government is striving to bridge the gap between Jammu region and Kashmir Valley. He added that there are no no plans to divide the state.

“You might have asked it because the separation of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh is still fresh. We cannot go on dividing the state like that. J-K is one state, it will develop, it will prosper as one state and our government is making special efforts.

“In fact, (J-K chief minister) Mufti Mohammed Sayeed has gone on record repeatedly saying that his biggest challenge is not some imaginary kind of bridging of gap between the rest of India and J-K.

“The real challenge is to bridge the gap between Jammu (region) and Kashmir (Valley). That is the real challenge for our government.

“We will work towards bringing the two regions closer to each other. The air distance is 25 minutes from Jammu to Srinagar. By road, the distance is six hours, but the emotional gap is 60 years. We are determined to bridge this gap first.

“We are committed to making Jammu and Kashmir one united and prosperous state like Telangana or any other state, say Gujarat or Maharashtra. No plans to divide,” said Madhav.

Replying to another query, he said that the PDP-BJP government would abide by whatever the Parliament decides as regards Article 370.

“Article 370 is the responsibility of the Government of India. We have said that whatever the Parliament decides, whatever is in the Constitution, we will follow that,” Madhav said.

Jammu and Kashmir government is holding talks with Kashmiri Pandits and they are happy with the former’s decision to engage with them, he said.

Referring to Pakistan, Madhav said the neighbouring country is trying to create instability in the state as it is unhappy that the PDP-BJP alliance had brought a stable government to the helm in Jammu and Kashmir.

“A photo was posted on a social networking site (showing) a Pakistan flag hoisted on Shankaracharya Hill. When police investigated, it was found to be a doctored photo. Be careful. Don’t get carried away by propaganda.

“Pakistan is very unhappy with the way a stable government has been formed in J-K. It is trying its best to create unrest in the state. The Pakistani flags and demonstrations that you see now and then are attempts to create instability in the state. The government is making efforts to manage that,” said Madhav.

He added that one should not “romanticise those forces”.

“They do not enjoy the popular support there. But they are there…They have some support. But the majority of the people are with Indian democracy,” he said.

Hailing the Assembly elections earlier this year in Jammu and Kashmir, Madhav said that people in Kashmir Valley had turned out to vote despite calls for a boycott of the polls.

“You cannot expect them to prove their patriotism every day,” he said.

On the issue of infiltration from across the border with Pakistan, he said “it is at an all-time low”.

“Border management is going on very strongly today. For the first time (as) Arun Shourie says, for one tooth, the entire jaw, that formula is being followed.

“We are effectively managing the borders and trying to prevent illegal infiltration,” he said.

To a query on China developing infrastructure in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, he said the Chinese leadership has been told that such steps would impair Indo-China relations.

“China is developing infrastructure in Gilgit in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. We have a situation today where the Prime Minister directly speaks to the China leadership. We are talking and hope that the situation would change through that,” he said.

PTI

SC quashes ‘faulty’ death penalty of couple who killed seven

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed the execution warrants of a young woman and her lover, convicted for killing seven members of her family including a 10-month-old baby in Uttar Pradesh in 2008, saying it was issued “in haste” by giving a go-by to mandatory guidelines.

Supreme Court. PTI

Supreme Court. PTI

The apex court said the Sessions Judge of Amroha issued the warrants for execution of death sentence on 21 May “in haste”, just six days after confirmation of conviction and capital punishment, without waiting for mandatory 30 days to allow the convicts to avail judicial remedy of filing petitions for a review of the 15 May judgement.

The convicts, Shabnam and her lover Saleem, could also approach the Uttar Pradesh Governor with mercy petitions after exhausting the legal remedies, it noted.

“We find that the death warrant was signed by the Sessions Judge in haste without waiting for the convicts to exhaust the available legal remedies,” a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and U U Lait said while noting that there were judgements of both the apex court and the Allahabad High Court which mandated the authorities to follow certain guidelines to protect the “dignity” of the convicts.

“Right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution does not end with the confirmation of the death sentence. The basis to the right to dignity also extends to the death row convicts. Therefore, the sentence of death has to be executed with total dignity.

“That is why there are many judgements mandating the manner in which the death sentence has to be executed,” the bench said and added that “therefore the procedure prescribed by the Supreme Court and the Allahabad High Court for execution of death sentence is in consonance with Article 21”.

Among the mandatory guidelines are that the death-row convicts have the right to meet their family members. The guidelines are intended to make the execution least painful.

“We, therefore, direct the respondents (authorities) to follow the procedure and guidelines laid down in the judgements of the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court.

“We set aside the warrants issued by the Sessions Judge on 21 May for the execution of the death sentence,” the bench said.

In the order, the apex court noted that the jail superintendent, Moradabad, where Shabnam is lodged, returned the warrant by pointing out that the Sessions Judge has not fixed the date and time for execution of the death sentence. Saleem is lodged in Agra jail.

Uttar Pradesh Government agreed that the warrants were faulty as the mandatory guidelines were not followed.

Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre, also assured the apex court that the rules and guidelines for execution of death sentence would be strictly followed.

Shabnam’s counsel and senior advocate Anand Grover submitted that a review petition would be filed and the latest apex court verdict has said it should be heard in open court by giving an opportunity to death row convict to make out a case for commuting the punishment through oral submissions.

Taking on record the submissions, the bench said “the death row convicts have the right to file review petitions and after all legal remedies are exhausted, they can approach the Governor or the President with the mercy plea”.

The Supreme Court on 1 May had upheld the conviction and death penalty of the couple and 14 days later, delivered a detailed judgement for dismissing the appeal filed by the convicts.

In 2013, Allahabad High Court had upheld the death sentence to the couple awarded by a sessions court in 2010.

Saleem and Shabnam were having an affair and wanted to get married but their relationship had met with stiff opposition from the woman’s family.

On 15 April, 2008, Shabnam’s entire family, including a 10-month-old baby, was murdered with the woman initially pretending that her house in Amroha district of UP was
attacked by unidentified assailants.

It came to light during investigation that she had abetted Saleem in the crime as she made her family members drink milk laced with sedatives before the attack and thereafter, herself throttled her infant nephew.

PTI

End gender bias, divorced parents should get joint custody of minor children: law panel

New Delhi: Pitching for removal of superiority of one parent over the other, the Law Commission on Thursday recommended joint custody of minors to both the parents in case of a divorce, saying Indian custody laws must change with times.

The Commission’s recommendations on custody laws assume significance as in India the idea of shared parenting is still new to custody jurisprudence.

Representational image. IBN Live

Representational image. IBN Live

“Neither the father nor the mother of a minor can, as of a right, claim to be appointed by the court as the guardian unless such an appointment is for the welfare of the minor,” it said in its report submitted to the Law Ministry on Thursday.

It said wherever possible, courts should now grant joint custody of minors.

Recommending changes in the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act and the Guardians and Wards Act, the panel said even after the Supreme Court’s judgement in Gita Hariharan vs Reserve Bank of India case, the mother can become a natural guardian during the lifetime of the father only in exceptional circumstances.

“This is required to be changed to fulfill the principles of equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution,” the law panel said.

The Commission said the amendments are necessary in order to bring these laws in tune with modern social considerations. Major amendments are recommended to the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890, by introducing a new chapter on custody and visitation arrangements.

It said amendments to the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 will be relevant for all custody proceedings, besides any personal laws that may apply.

The two draft bills proposed by the panel to amend the existing laws also deal with removal of preference for the father as the natural guardian under Hindu law. It says that both parents be granted equal legal status with respect to guardianship and custody.

The draft law also empowers courts to award joint custody to both parents in circumstances conducive to the welfare of the child, or award sole custody to one parent with visitation rights to the other.

Besides recommending changes in the two laws, the Commission has also provided specific guidelines to assist courts in deciding such matters, including processes to determine whether the welfare of the child is met; procedures to be followed during mediation; and factors to be taken into consideration when determining grant for joint custody.

The guidelines introduce several new concepts in this regard, including parenting plans, grand parenting time, visitation rights, and relocation of parents.

They also elaborate the position on related aspects such as determining the intelligent preference of a child, access to records of the child, and mediation.

The draft bills also empower courts to fix an amount specifically for child support to meet basic living expenses.

Financial resources of parents, and the standard of living of the child must be considered when fixing such amounts. Child support must continue till the child turns 18, but may be extended till 25 or longer, in case of a child with mental or physical disability.

PTI

Narendra Modi government cuts short Arvind Kejriwal’s aspirational flight, gives LG all the powers

The move was met amid cries of foul play by the AAP government and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal who compared the interplay between LG Najeeb Jung and PM Modi with pre-independence India when Queen of England used to send notifications to the Viceroy here.

Cutting short AAP government’s aspirational flight in the middle, Modi government on Friday issued a notification giving almost unbridled power to its representative, the Lieutenant governor, in key matters related to public order, land, law and order and all central government services.Going a step further, the notification, issued after being discussed threadbare in a late evening meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi, also clipped the wings of Delhi government’s Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) by declaring that “it shall not take any cognisance of offences against officers, employees and functionaries of the central government.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The move was met amid cries of foul play by the AAP government and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal who compared the interplay between LG Najeeb Jung and PM Modi with pre-independence India when Queen of England used to send notifications to the Viceroy here.”Pre-independence, the Queen of England used to send notifications to the Viceroy here. Now, Jung Sahab is the Viceroy and the PMO is London,” said Kejriwal.Playing down the row, union finance minister Arun Jaitley said it is not political but constitutional and the notification issued by the home ministry is merely a clarificatory note.”We do not want that due to confusion offices get locked,” Jaitley said.Deriving powers from Article 239AA (inserted vide 69th amendment in 1991) of the constitution, the union home ministry notification said, “The President thereby directs that subject to his control and further orders, the LG of NCT of Delhi, shall in respect of matters connected with ‘Public Order’, ‘Police’, ‘Land’, and ‘Services’, exercise the powers and discharge the functions of the central government, to the extent delegated to him from time to time by the President.Leaving Delhi government virtually at the mercy of the LG for choosing officers, the notification said, “…the LG may, in his discretion, obtain the views of the chief minister in regard to the matter of Services wherever he deems it appropriate.””Pursuant to the 69th amendment of the Constitution, parliament passed a law called the NCT of Delhi Act, 1991. Section 41 thereof is important. It provides that the Lt. Governor will act in his discretion in matters which fall outside the purview of the powers conferred to the Legislative Assembly, but which at the same time, have to be delegated to him by the President. This section is accordance with Article 239AA (3),” a senior home ministry official said.Explaining the rationale of the notification a senior home official said, “In case of Delhi, it is a UT but with a legislative assembly. It has a trapping of a State but it is not a full State in the conventional sense. The Delhi legislative assembly does not enjoy all powers of a state assembly. Thus there are four exceptions viz. public order, police land and services in respect of which the Delhi legislative assembly does not have power to make laws.”” And it is well established that where there is no legislative power, there is no executive power since executive power is co-extensive with legislative power. Thus, with regard to these four areas the LG will act exclusively under the overall direction and control of the central government,” said the official convinced that the notification is as per the constitution and if challenged will be upheld by the courts.However, one murky area, officials concede, that can be put to legal scrutiny is related to curbing powers of the Delhi government’s Anti Corruption Bureau.

RSS slams Kejriwal government over ‘draconian’ defamation circular

New Delhi: Terming its May 6 defamation circular against media as being “draconian”, an article in RSS mouthpiece ‘Organiser’ has attacked the Arvind Kejriwal government for attempting to take away the freedom of speech and expression and for giving the message that “both sides of a coin are mine”.

The article, ‘Draconian Circular’, written by a Supreme Court advocate in the latest edition of ‘Organiser’, said that through the circular, Kejriwal and his Cabinet showed that they love the “suitability factor” most and to have both sides of a coin without caring that such an attack on media is “anti-democratic and unconstitutional”.

Arvind Kejriwal. AFPArvind Kejriwal. AFP

Arvind Kejriwal. AFP

“The circular issued by Arvind Kejriwal against media is a clear attempt to take away the Freedom of Speech and Expression. Though the Supreme Court stayed the Draconian Circular, the question over Kejriwal’s intention to use and then abuse media needs to be interrogated,” the article said.

It also said the circular has raised a burning and sensational topic for discussion by providing a mechanism for registering complaints of defamatory news or actions of the Fourth Estate in order to cover the Chief Minister, Cabinet and various other Delhi government functionaries.

“By attacking on it politically some say its anti-democratic, an un-announced emergency or an attempt to strangle the democracy or more specifically an attack on media both print and visual as well. But, I feel that his government is trying to give a message ‘Both sides of a coin are mine’,” the article said.

The article further stated that Kejriwal throughout his campaign used defamatory words or news against political leaders and business scions for which he is facing trial at various places. It alleged that the Delhi chief minister propagates himself as a victim of such complaints but moved Supreme Court to de-criminalise Section 499/500 of IPC and still enjoying the stay granted by court.

This, it said, is one side of the coin, while on the other he gets through the very “Draconian Circular” on May 6 by attacking the Fourth Pillar and using the same weapon against it which he himself has attacked and is pioneering to de-driminalise.

“This circular is a clear attempt to take away the Freedom of Speech and Expression,” said the article.

“Thus, he (Kejriwal) and his Cabinet loves the suitability factor most and to have the both sides of a coin without caring that such attacks are anti-democratic, un-constitutional and even when the matter is sub-judice before the Supreme Court,” the article added.

PTI

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