<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying since 50 days of the demonetization drive are over, all restrictions should be removed and normalcy should be restored.’It is fair to expect that there will be no queues outside bank branches and ATMs. It is fair to expect that all ATMs will be open round the clock and fully stocked with currency notes. It is fair to expect that the bank branch will pay out the money written on the cheque and not direct the drawer to write another cheque for a smaller amount,’ Chidambaram said while addressing media.Chidambaram sarcastically said that only the Prime Minister can provide an assurance on the removal of restrictions after 50 days of demonetization as the opposition has been dubbed as supporters of black money hoarders and tax evaders by him.’I wish I could hold out assurances on the matter (demonetization), but none of us in the opposition can, because the government has dubbed all of us in the opposition as supporters of black money hoarders and tax evaders,’ he said.Condemning the government for implementing a currency ban without prior planning, Chidambaram reiterated his opinion of demonetization being a case of total mismanagement.’I had also cautioned that the test of demonetization lies in the manner in which it will be implemented. It is now abundantly clear that the whole exercise was undertaken without forethought and planning; without consulting key officials; without understanding the crucial role of money in circulation’ Altogether, the whole exercise has been a case of total mismanagement, administrative collapse and widespread corruption,’ he said.Pointing towards government’s changing stand on the announcement, Chidambaram called it an absurd and undesirable goal. ‘The government has tried to change the narrative from black money and corruption to a cashless economy. No economy can become — or has become – totally cashless. We support encouraging high-value transactions to adopt the digital mode, but to insist that even low-value transactions should go cashless is an absurd and undesirable goal,’ he said.The minister also put forward his two demands and urged the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to make it public- 1. The Agenda note and the minutes of the meeting of the Board of Directors of RBI held on November 8, 2016; and2. The Note for Cabinet on demonetization placed before the Cabinet on November 8, 2016.Prime Minister Modi is all set to address the nation on New Year’s Eve regarding the same issue of demonetization, which marked its 50 days on Friday.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Admit cards for UGC NET examination to be held on January 22, 107 have been released by The Central Board of Secondary Education on their official website – cbsenet.nic.in. Candidates who have registered for CBSE UGC NET 2017 can now download their admit card from the site.The examination will be held in 84 subjects at 90 selected cities across the country.NET examination is conducted twice in a year to select candidates for assistant Professor/Lecturer and for Junior Research Fellowships (JRF) in colleges and universities across the country. UGC-Net has three papers. Candidate need to clear cut-off in each of the papers and additionally the cumulative cut-off to qualify.Here’s how you can download your NET admit card:1. Visit the official website- cbsenet.nic.in2. Click on – Click here for login for Admit Card.3. You will be directed to login page.4. Enter your application number and password.5. You will now get access to your admit card.Download your admit card and take a print out. Do not forget to carry your admit card to the examination centre, you won’t be allowed to appear for your examination without the admit card.About CBSE UGC NET:On behalf of UGC, the Central Board of Secondary Education conducts the National Eligibility Test (NET) for Indian nationals to determine the eligibility for Assistant Professor only or Junior Research Fellowship. NET in conducted in 84 subjects at selected NET Examination cities across the country.Best of luck!
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aam Aadmi Party’s chief ministerial face for forthcoming Goa Assembly polls, Elvis Gomes appeared before state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Monday in connection with an inquiry into a land conversion ‘scam’.Gomes walked into the office of ACB at around 10.30 AM. Several AAP volunteers, displaying placards, stood outside in Altinho locality of Panaji.The 53-year-old AAP candidate, who would be contesting from Cuncolim in South Goa, has been announced as chief ministerial face of the party for the state Assembly polls due in early 2017.The AAP leader refused to talk to media as he walked into the ACB office. However, the party volunteers displayed placards asking people to chose between “non-corrupt Gomes” and BJP Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar.Gomes, who was then managing director of Goa Housing Board, and Nilkant Halarnkar, its chairman at that time, allegedly acquired about 30,000 sq m of land near Margao town, changed its ‘zoning’ (reservation) to residential which would have increased its market value, and later gave it back to the owner in 2011, as per the ACB’s FIR.The board had acquired the land for building residential units and allegedly got its zoning changed from ‘orchard’ to ‘settlement’.However, Gomes has refuted the allegations against him and said that the timing of summoning him for the inquiry is suspicious.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Targeting the All India Muslim Personal Law Board over the issue of ‘triple talaq’, Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar on Saturday accused the organisation of turning itself into a “male personal law board which is only interested in oppressing women”.”Islam calls for gender equality and not gender oppression. Islam has never called for oppressing women. The Muslim Personal Law Board has turned into male personal law board,” Akbar said while addressing a programme here. On the last month’s convention of AIMPLB supporting ‘triple talaq’ which was attended by a large number of people, Akbar said, “Huge gathering always doesn’t signify truth.” Calling for removal of ‘triple talaq’ as it is against humanity, Akbar said, “Sometimes a marriage doesn’t work so there is a clause of divorce. But while marrying in Muslim community you need the permission of the women. Then why during divorce (talaq), only a man will dictate terms and by spelling the word ‘talaq’ three times (it can be obtained).” Akbar noted that if the country has to move forward and if the economy has to grow, we need to take the women along.”India and its economy can never grow if you want to keep the women behind. Women consist of nearly 50 per cent of our population and we all have to move together towards it,” he said. A debate has emerged over the government’s stand opposing the practice of ‘triple talaq’ with some leading women politicians seeking its abolition, even as some Muslim bodies accused the ruling dispensation of waging a “war” on their personal law.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Madras High Court has made it clear that no tax can be deducted at source from the salaries and other monetary benefits given to nuns and priests working in various teaching institutions established and administered by the Institute of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and similar Christian organisations.’The high court was deciding upon a batch of 74 petitions seeking quashing of an order of Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Chennai, and consequential circular insisting on the recovery of tax at source (TDS) from nuns, fathers and priests. Justice TS Sivagnanam, in his order, said, “The Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax who was bound by the circulars issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CTBT) in 1977 exempting the missionaries from payment of tax, has ignored and issued the above circular (which) has to be definitely set aside.”The judge cited various Supreme Court decisions and said the Income Tax Department was duty bound to examine as to whether such income reaches the nuns and priests as their income. “…the revenue cannot dispute the fact that on account of vows taken by the nuns and priests, especially the vow of poverty, the income has to reach the congregation to which they belong. Therefore, without considering such aspect merely by referring to the fact that the salary is paid to the individuals on account of their personal skills appears to be applying an incorrect test.”As pointed out in Sital Das/Tirtha Das (cases), there may be obligations in other cases but what is required to be seen as the nature of obligation which alone is the decisive factor. If this obligation is taken into consideration, it is clear that by virtue of the precepts of Canon Law, the salaries cannot be treated as income in the hands of the priests and nuns,” the HC said.The judge, while referring to another judgment of the apex court, said, “It was held that unless they received salary, the question of payment of contribution towards the employees provident fund would not arise.” The judge said, “Revenue (department) has not been ableto point out as to the incorrectness of the circulars issued by the CBDT nor it has been demonstrated as to how and in what manner it is conflict with any decided case.” “In such circumstances, the circulars issued by the CBDT are binding upon the authorities…as long as these circulars and clarifications having not been withdrawn or modified, these have to be followed by the officers subordinate to the Central Board.”For all the above reasons, all the writ petitions are allowed and it is held that no tax can be deducted at source from the salaries and other monetary benefits effected to persons who are the members of the religious congregation and it would be sufficient if the head of the institution concerned certifies the names of the staff members, who were members of the religious body and the period during which they have served and the designation of the post,” the judge said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>DMK urged the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu to convene a special session of the state assembly to discuss the Cauvery water issue and the situation faced by farmers in the delta region.Party Treasurer and Leader of the Opposition MK Stalin alleged that because of the ruling AIADMK’s “confrontational approach” toward the upper riparian state Karnataka, the state could not get its due share of water from the inter-state river for the past six years.In such a situation, some farmers in the Cauvery delta region had died unable to bear the losses suffered due to failure of crops or had committed suicide, he claimed. Farmers’ associations, besides DMK, had staged a series of protest on the Cauvery issue, but the government had so far neither held any talks with the ryots on the matter, nor has it provided any relief to them, he said in a statement here.With Karnataka not releasing water, the delta region was “dry” he said, adding, the lawmakers, should therefore discuss the “critical” situation of farmers.Further, with the Centre proposing to establish a single tribunal to look into all inter-state water disputes, he doubted if the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) will be constituted in the near future and sought confidence boosting steps from the government for the farmers. “Therefore, a special session of the Assembly should be convened to discuss the critical situation of farmers. Further, a resolution should be adopted for constituting the CMB and declaring Tamil Nadu as drought-hit and it should be sent to the Central government,” he said.
New Delhi: Supporting the CBSE governing body’s move to make the Class X Board exams compulsory from 2018, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday said it was discriminatory to allow seven lakh students to opt out of the board exams when nearly two crore others were taking them.
Interacting with journalists in Delhi, he said the HRD Ministry will take forward the recommendations made by the CBSE governing body.
He said there are around two crore students across the country who complete their Class X education every year. Out of these, 1.93 crore students take the exams conducted by different boards, whereas seven lakhs opt out of it. This kind of discrimination is not proper, Javadekar said.
He said that there had been popular demand from many schools, parents and education bodies to have a system where there is board exams for all.
CBSE students at present have the option to choose between Board exams and school-based exams in Class X, but on Tuesday the CBSE governing body decided to make the Board exams compulsory for all students from academic session 2017-18.
“We will duly consider it and pass it so that from March, 2018 we will have Board examination for all. Because it was an anomaly in a way. You cannot have discrimination like that,” Javadekar said.
He also said that the HRD Ministry had circulated a Cabinet note for inter-ministerial consultations to various ministries on the proposed changes in ‘No Detention’ policy under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
He said that while it has been decided to introduce exams from Class VI, the HRD Ministry wants a system where the students do not have to waste their entire year.
According to sources, the ministry has proposed that there should be a provision for re-examination in case a student cannot clear the exam in the first attempt so that he or she can be promoted.
Responding to questions on the CBSE’s decision to recommend to the HRD ministry that the three language formula should be extended to Classes IX and X from the current VI to VIII, Javadekar dismissed as baseless apprehensions that the government intends to force students to study any particular language.
The HRD Minister said the ‘Vittiya Saksharta Abhiyan’ of his ministry was getting “a very emphatic response” and that nearly one-and-a-half lakhs volunteers had joined the move to promote digital transactions.
Responding to a question on allegations levelled by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Javadekar said there is no need to responded to “false and baseless statements made by frustrated leaders”.
Taking a jibe at Rahul, he claimed the rug has actually got pulled off the feet of those leaders who wanted to bring an earthquake.
Javadekar also honoured a team of his ministry officials after his ministry’s website was adjudged as one of the best among government departments
First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 22:21 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Board exams for Class X are set to become compulsory for all CBSE students from 2018, three language formula could be extended till Class X and foreign language might be treated as fourth and “elective”, according to decisions taken by the CBSE on Tuesday.At the meeting of CBSE’s Governing body, its members “unanimously” agreed that from the academic session 2017-18, compulsory Board exams should be introduced for all students of Class X, sources said.The decision will now have to be approved by the government before it is implemented. Currently, it is optional for CBSE students to choose either the Board exam or a school-based examination.HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar has in the past favoured making Board exam compulsory for CBSE students as is the practice in all state boards.The sources said while there is a view that for the Class X Board exams, 80% weightage will be given to the marks scored in examinations while 20% weightage will be given to school-based evaluation.In another key decision, the CBSE has decided to recommend to the HRD ministry that the three language formula, under which Hindi, English and Indian language are taught, should be extended to class IX and X as well from the current VI to VIII, a source said.Officials added that the Board also favoured sending a recommendation to the Centre that those languages which are listed in schedule VIII of the Constitution should be taught under the ‘Three language formula’ while languages which are “purely foreign” should be taught as a “fourth language as an elective subject.”In the past the HRD ministry run Kendriya Vidyalayas (KV) used to offer German as a third language, but the practice was later discontinued.The final call on these decisions will be taken by the government, a senior official said.
New Delhi: Board exams for Class X are set to become compulsory for all CBSE students from 2018 as CBSE’s Governing body on Tuesday “unanimously approved” a proposal in this
At the meeting of the Governing body, its members agreed that from the academic session 2017-18, compulsory Board exams should be introduced for all students of Class X, sources told PTI in New Delhi.
The decision will now have to be approved by the government before it is implemented.
Currently, it is optional for CBSE students to choose either the Board exam or a school-based examination. HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar has in the past favoured making Board exam compulsory for CBSE students as is the practice in all state boards.
The sources said while there is a view that for the Class X Board exams, 80 percent weightage will be given to the marks scored in examinations while 20 percent weightage will be given to school-based evaluation.
In another key decision, the CBSE has decided to recommend to the HRD ministry that the three language formula, under which Hindi, English and modern Indian language are taught, should be extended to class IX and X as well from the current VI to VIII, a source said.
Oficials added that the Board also favoured sending a recommendation to the Centre that those languages which are listed in schedule VIII of the Constitution should be taught under the ‘Three language formula’ while languages which are “purely foreign” should be taught as a “fourth language as an elective subject.”
In the past the HRD ministry run Kendriya Vidyalayas (KV) used to offer German as a third language, but the practice was later discontinued.
The final call on these decisions will be taken by the government, a senior official said.
First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 21:33 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Residents of areas around Bengaluru’s Varthur and Bellandur lakes have complained of foul smell and pollution emanating from these frothing water bodies post-Cyclone Vardah.A local group has written to the civic authorities, saying the matter requires immediate attention, especially as the city is expecting a dry summer. “There is nothing new but now pollution has increased as the lake smells bad, which is going to be harmful and something should be done,” a resident said. “The lake stinks and causes diseases. Civic authorities are yet to take any action, but a few students are seen trying to clean the lakes sometimes,” a local resident said.The toxic froth is caused by allowing untreated sewage water to flow into the lakes. It has spilled over onto roads and into drains around the lakes in the last two days.This has also led to poor visibility on roads, and motorists risk skidding while riding. The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board had sent a tanker to sprinkle water and bring down the froth’s intensity.A local group, ‘Whitefield Rising’, has written to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) and the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) to take cognizance of the issue. “This matter needs more attention, especially since we are looking at a dry summer,” a member of Whitefield Rising said. “Wasting a resource as precious as water and dealing with health and safety issues alongside is not good.”The lake must also be desilted and cleared of weeds like hyacinth to allow sun light to penetrate. The BBMP and BWSSB efforts to check frothing by spraying chemicals have failed.Municipal authorities need to install a sewerage treatment plant at Varthur Lake. The water body is supposed to be desilted every year, but the last time this was done was in 1970.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Cricket Board has taken a serious view of the bust-up between Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah during a training session in Brisbane today, a day before the first Test begins at the Gabba tomorrow.PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan told the media here that he was disappointed to hear about the incident involving Wahab and Yasir during a football session. “I don’t know how this happened because so far the team has been a well-knit side and disciplined. This is not discipline and we have asked for a report from the team management on what transpired,” he said. Khan said after studying the report, disciplinary action, if necessary, would be taken against the two players. The incident was picked up by the international media after wire services flashed pictures of the two players facing off in the training session.Team manager Wasim Bari sent off both the players from the training session to sit on the bench. The two players then appeared in a video released on social media in which they insisted they were good friends and the incident was blown out of proportion by the media. Pakistan has never won a Test series in Australia and the current three-match series represents a big challenge for the touring side led by long serving captain Misbah-ul-Haq. Pakistan has named four pacers in Wahab, Rahat Ali, Muhammad Aamir and Sohail Khan in their line-up of 12 for tomorrow.The PCB chief said the series in Australia was an important one for Pakistan and hopefully the team would be able to put up a good show. Asked whether the outcome of the Test series would have a bearing on the future of 42-year old Misbah as captain, Khan said the Board had left it up to the player to decide his future himself. “He can decide himself but as far as we are concerned we have replacements ready as does every cricket nation. We have our replacements clear in our mind if required,” he said.A recent statement by Khan that he had asked Misbah to continue as captain until 2018 led to a backlash in the media and from some former players who questioned the wisdom and timing of such a statement prior to the Tests in Australia.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Delhi has been in the spotlight as the world’s most polluted city, Varanasi and Allahabad did not record a single good air-quality day in 2015, a new study revealed on Monday. It also found a total absence of any action plan to tackle pollution and that there was only one air-quality monitoring station in Varanasi. The study, based on Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data, showed that the holy city and Allahabad had zero good-air days, out of the monitored 227 and 236 days, respectively. A good-air day is one when the air-quality index is below 50. The report, prepared by the Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED), IndiaSpend and Care4Air, brought out the severity of air pollution in the Indo-Gangetic plains, home to 11 coal-fired power plants. “The key industrial hotspots of Uttar Pradesh, starting with Ghaziabad, bordering Delhi, to the district of Sonbhadra, bordering Madhya Pradesh, which produces close to 10 per cent of India’s coal-fired electricity, are all located on the Key Ganges river basin,” the report pointed out. The Purvanchal region of UP has close to 11 coal-fired thermal plants that produce nearly 12,000 MW of energy. Aishwarya Madineni, the lead author of ‘Varanasi Chokes’, released on Monday, said that compared to Delhi, the absence of air-quality data and functioning monitoring stations was glaring. “CPCB monitors the PM 2.5 quality while UP Pollution Control Board manually monitors PM 10 levels. There were huge gaps as data was missing for several days,” Madineni told DNA. PM2.5 and PM10 levels are fine, but lethal pollutants directly enter the human bloodstream and cause upper respiratory diseases.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With elections to the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Assembly set for February, political parties are now scrambling for alliances and selection of candidates. On Saturday, the Election Commission had shot down the Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s game plan to force the Assembly elections in April by hurriedly getting declared the school examinations in February and March.While the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has given a cold shoulder to any proposal for a tie-up, the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) are in the final stages for finalising nitty-gritty of an alliance. Sources in both the parties said that despite a lengthy meeting between Congress poll strategist Prashant Kishor and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav early this week, the number and choice of seats leaving for potential partners was still an issue. They said that Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) chief Nitish Kumar was brokering a deal between the two parties, after he successfully sailed the Grand Alliance in Bihar to victory last year.Earlier talks between the Congress and the SP had failed as the Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi didn’t want to contest less than 100-120 seats out of the total of 403. But the SP was not willing to part more than 50 seats. In the SP, Akhilesh has been a strong votary of an alliance, but he was also keen to push elections to April, in order to delink polls in his state with other poll bound states like Punjab, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand and also to negotiate an alliance threadbare. But the EC exercising its powers cancelled the Class X and XII Board exams fixed by the UP Secondary Education Board from February 16 and directed it to declare the new schedule only after a prior approval of the state’s chief electoral officer (CEO). The EC’s decision, therefore, indicates that it is all set to hold the Assembly elections in February in all five states.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday directed the concerned department to remove industrialist J Shekhar Reddy as Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthaman (TTD) (Tirupati) Board Member. Naidu’s decision came days after the Income-Tax Department raided his Chennai residence and seized currency notes and gold in huge quantities. The department seized Rs 6 crore in newly introduced Rs 2,000 denomination notes from the house of Shekhar Reddy in T Nagar.Earlier on Friday, Left parties and social activists demanded Reddy’s ouster from prestigious TTD Trust Board, which manages the famous Tirumala Balaji Temple and charged the government of preferring businessmen and contractors for coveted post for nurturing their business interests and personal gains. CPI activists also demanded that Reddy be removed from the TTD Trust Board.The Income Tax Department on Thursday raided premises belonging to three businessmen Shekhar Reddy, Srinivasa Reddy and Prem, in Chennai ‘s T Nagararea and seized Rs 90 crore and 100 kilograms gold. The income tax officials also questioned businessmen, involved in the money exchange racket.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aiming to end possibility of impersonation in the JEE (Main) examination, candidates are likely to be marked by an Aadhaar-linked biometric attendance system from next year. Few cases of impersonation are detected every year during the examination, sources said.With these issues in view, the CBSE, which conducts the examination, has decided to use the Aadhaar-based biometric attendance machine at the examination centres, they said. Joint Admission Board (JAB), a high-level body which oversees the exam, had reviewed the system in a meeting on Thursday.However, there will be some relaxation for candidates from some areas of the states like J&K, Assam and Meghalaya where the permeation of Aadhaar card is not upto the same level as other states. While the aim is to ensure proper and transparent conduct of the exam, it is also intended that the process is inclusive and no eligible candidate is left out, the sources said. The CBSE is also expected to use a new advanced image technology-based method – Digi Scoring – to capture responses marked on OMR sheets in examinations.
The debate on validity of triple talaq intensified after the Allahabad High Court on Thursday termed the system as unconstitutional. The court added that it is the Constitution of India that is supreme and not the Muslim Law Board. The high court bench said that Triple Talaq violated human rights and that personal law of any community cannot be above the Constitution.
The observation comes in the wake of discussion and debate getting vocal about the validity of Muslim Law Board and this statement by Allahabad High Court is a boost for women petitioners involved in the case of triple talaq.
Speaking with CNN-News18 Kamal Farooqui of All India Muslim Personal Law Board said, “This is not a judgment, just an observation.” Adding to that Congress’ Rashid Alvi said, “This view of the Allahabad High court won’t stand in the Supreme Court. I don’t agree with what the Allahabad HC has to say. No one is above the Constitution and nobody should interfere in the practises of any community.”
Other ministers reacted to High Court’s observation:
The Muslim Law Board has announced that it will file a petition against the order. The issue is expected to gain more ground and the matter of arbitrary divorce debated upon after this order. The controversial Shah Bano maintenance case in 1986 raged a debate on the rights of Muslim women and their exploitation on the grounds of Triple Talaq, a personal law that allows muslim man to divorce his wife by uttering the word ‘talaq’ three times.
This order will also embolden the advocates of Uniform Civil Code and bring the personal law boards under pressure. Considering the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, this decision gains more significance. On 23 November, Union home minister Rajnath Singh had said that muslim women cannot be treated like second class citizens in a developing country like India and he termed the Triple Talaq as a burning issue.
On the issue of ‘triple talaq’, the Centre had in an affidavit in the Supreme Court last month opposed the practice. The AIMPLB and various other outfits have objected to the affidavit and Law Commission’s questionnaire on Uniform Civil Code and announced their boycott of the move, accusing the government of waging a “war” against the community.
In an appeal issued on 7 October, the Commission had said the objective of the endeavour was to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise various cultural practices.
In the appeal, it has assured the people that the “norms of no one class, group or community will dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms”. Indicating need for wider consultation before taking a call on Uniform Civil Code, the government had in June asked the Law Commission to examine the issue.
The move asking the law panel to examine the issue assumes significance as the Supreme Court had recently said it would prefer a wider debate, in public as well as in court, before taking a decision on the constitutional validity of triple talaq, which many complain is abused by Muslim men to arbitrarily divorce their wives.
First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 13:16 IST
Thu, 1 Dec 2016-10:53pm , Chandigarh , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Board of School Education Haryana (BSEH) has made it mandatory for students of Class 10 and 12 to have Aadhaar card while applying for the 2017 examination. The candidates will benefit from the move in many ways.The use of Aadhaar will prevent forgery of certificates and impersonation cases, and ensure that the candidates’ details are complete and accurate, Chairman, BSEH, Jagbir Singh said in a statement on Thursday. Aadhaar was used in the examination process earlier too, though it was not mandatory, Singh said.The Board has taken several steps to ensure smooth implementation of the decision. Schools which did not provide Aadhaar of candidates earlier may now fill up the relevant column in the checklist sent by the Board, he said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination has declared the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) Board Examination, and Indian School Certificate (ISC) Board Examination timetable for 2017.The ICSE Grade 10 examination will begin on February 27, 2017 and end on March 31, 2017.While, the ISC Class 12 board examination will begin on February 6 (with its practical examination) and get over on April 5, 2017.Most of the ICSE schools will begin their prelim examinations from this month to prepare students for the board examination.Last year the 10th class board examination began on February 29, 2016, it went on till March 31, 2016.Candidates can check a proper schedule of the examinaton on the CISCE site. Here’s the ICSE and ISC link for the time table. Best of Luck!
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The iconic old Yamuna Bridge of the Northern Railways (NR) is all set to become the country’s first railway bridge to have its camber tested electronically with the help of laser. Camber is a technical term for the upward deflection in girders of a bridge due to the stress exerted by traffic or trains moving on them. Confirming the development, NR Chief Spokesperson Neeraj Sharma said the contract to install the system, called the Intelligent Camber Measurement System, will be given in some time. The Expressions of Interest have already been called, he said.The old Yamuna Bridge was chosen as it fulfilled all the qualities the railways was looking for in this pilot project, a senior engineer from the NR’s Bridge Department told DNA. “It is old, carries a lot of traffic, is made of steel and is right within the limits of Delhi, making it easier to inspect. The project is being monitored at the divisional level, zonal level as well at the Railway Board. The offices of all these three set-ups are in Delhi,” he explained.At present, the camber measurement of bridges such as the old Yamuna Bridge is done manually, with the Engineering Department personnel having to walk on it with various measurement instruments and scales. “The disadvantage is that the measurements cannot be done in real time, that is when a train is passing on the bridge. With the Intelligent Camber Measurement System, however, real-time measurement of deflections on a bridge due to the forces exerted by a passing train can be recorded,” the official said. The officials are seeing the development as the railways’ slow but inevitable move towards the use of technology in matters concerning safety.On its edit page on November 22, in a ‘by invitation edit piece’ by Subodh Jain, Former Member (Engineering) Railway Board, DNA had highlighted the issue of over-dependence on humans for safety checking.Writing for DNA, Jain had stated: “The most striking feature of the Indian Railways is that no country operates such a massive system with so much technological backwardness. We are adding more trains year after year, more passengers are being carried from one place to another. The technological base of the system, however, remains the same as it was for the last several decades. Look at the way track fractures are checked even today by a single person walking in the wilderness in the cold night, with tools that have remained the same for years now.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Four days after dissolution of Nalanda Mentors Group cum Governing Board, its second chancellor George Yeo also put in his papers on Friday protesting a “surprise” top administration reshuffle.In a strongly-worded letter to President Pranab Mukherjee, also the visitor of the varsity, Yeo expressed surprise as to why he was “not even given a notice” before taking the decision. “When I was invited to take over the responsibility last year, I was repeatedly assured that the University would have autonomy. This appears not to be the case now,” he said in his resignation letter. Yeo’s resignation coincides with NU’s foundation day.It may be recalled that Mukherjee on November 21 had dissolved NU’s founding Governing Body, comprising Nobel laureate Amartya Sen as well as Lord Meghnad Desai and Sugata Bose as its members, and consented for the constitution of a new Governing Board. NU’s founder vice chancellor Gopa Sabharwal was also asked to demit office in November 24, the last day of her extended term.“The order of dissolving the Governing Board and creating a new one came as a complete surprise to me and to most members of the old Governing Board. I was neither involved in the preparation nor consulted beforehand,” Yeo said in his opening remarks.At the time of his appointment in July 2015, Yeo said he was told that a new Governing Board would be formed under an amended Nalanda University Act. “For reasons not entirely clear to me, the Government of India has decided to form the new Governing Board with immediate effect before the Act is amended,” he said.Yeo said, “Despite difficult circumstances, the university has made remarkable progress through the tireless effort of VC Gopa Sabharwal and her colleagues. However, the board’s decision to extend the VC’s tenure till the appointment of a new one was also overridden by the visitor.”Bihar CM Nitish Kumar too expressed worry over the incident saying it has created an environment of uncertainty at the university. “Both Sen and Yeo have served the university well. NU has a historical and international, importance. The Centre should take positive steps to preserve and continue the institution’s glorious history and take necessary action in the issue to accelerate NU’s development,” Nitish said on Friday.
Supreme Court bans sale, stocking of firecrackers in NCR
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday imposed a blanket ban on the sale and stocking of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) with immediate effect.
It also asked the central government to immediately suspend the licenses of those who stock them.
A bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur, Justice AK Sikri and Justice SA Bobde said no further licenses would be issued till further orders.
In another direction, the court asked the Central Pollution Control Board to prepare a report to show what elements were used in the manufacturing of the firecrackers to ascertain if they were harmful to people.
First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 17:11 IST
New Delhi: George Yeo, the second Chancellor of Nalanda University after Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, on Friday resigned from the post saying the varsity’s autonomy was being affected as he was “not even given notice” of the leadership change in the institution.
“The circumstances under which the leadership change in Nalanda University has been suddenly and summarily effected is disturbing and possibly harmful to the University’s development,” he said in a statement to the members of the earlier Board of the university.
The Board was reconstituted by President Pranab Mukherjee as its Visitor on 21 November which severed Sen’s nearly a decade-long association with the institution after the government reconstituted the governing body of the prestigious institution.
“It is puzzling why I, as Chancellor, was not even given notice of it. When I was invited to take over the responsibility from Amartya Sen last year, I was repeatedly assured that the University would have autonomy. This appears not to be the case now.
“Accordingly, and with deep sadness, I have submitted my letter of resignation as Chancellor to the Visitor,” Yeo said.
Sources said the President, in his capacity as the Visitor of the university, approved the reconstitution of the Governing Board in accordance with provisions of the Nalanda University Act, 2010.
He also approved giving temporary charge of Vice Chancellor to senior-most Dean of the University as the current VC Gopa Sabharwal’s one year extension expired on Thursday. It will be a stop-gap measure until the new Vice Chancellor is appointed.
The new governing board will be a 14-member body which will be chaired by the chancellor. It will also comprise vice-chancellor, along with five members nominated by India, China, Australia, Laos PDR and Thailand.
Former revenue secretary NK Singh, who was also member of the Nalanda Mentors Group, will represent India.
“For reasons not entirely clear to me, the Government of India has decided to form the new Governing Board with immediate effect before the Act is amended. This is of course entirely the prerogative of the Government of India,” Yeo, the former Foreign Affairs Minister of Singapore, said.
He said that pending the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor, the incumbent Gopa Sabharwal, whose term ended on Thursday, was to stay in place “to ensure that there is no hiatus in the leadership of the University.”
This was also provided in the university statutes and “fully supported by the old Governing Board.”
“However, on 22 November, the Visitor overruled the Governing Board and directed the senior-most Dean be appointed instead,” Yeo said.
He said when he was appointed Chancellor in July this year, “I was told that a new Governing Board would be formed under an amended Act, core aspects of which the Ministry of External Affairs sought my views on.”
The amended Act, he said, would have removed “a major flaw” which “in essence offers Governing Board seats to East Asian Summit countries making the highest financial contributions in the last three years.”
“This provision, which was never recommended by the Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG), would not have been a good way to constitute the Governing Board and was the reason the Government of India requested the NMG to continue functioning as the Governing Board for a number of years until the Act could be amended,” he said.
“It has been an honour and a privilege for me to be associated with the revival of Nalanda over the last decade, to serve as a member of the NMG and the Governing Board under the leadership of Amartya Sen, and to be appointed its second Chancellor.
“Despite difficult circumstances, the University has made remarkable progress through the tireless effort of Dr Gopa Sabharwal and her colleagues …. Nalanda is an idea whose time has come and larger than anyone of us,” Yeo said.
First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 14:10 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To tide over the cash crunch in the wake of demonetization, the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala, where lakhs of devotees converge during the pilgrimage season which began on November 16, has introduced “e-hundi” for electronic transfer of offerings.Lakhs of devotees from across the country worship at the temple during the three-month-long Mandalam Makaravilakku festival, for which the hill shrine was opened on November 15.Ajay Tharayil, member of the Travancore Devaswom Board that manages the temple, said there would be no limit for offerings with debit cards. With a credit card, a devotee can offer even Re 1, he said. The new system would benefit lakhs of devotees coming from other parts of the country, he said, adding, it would be installed at other points as well in due course.Alappuzha Sub Collector E Chandrasekhar inaugurated the swipe machine at a function on Thursday.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>RBI’s ban on district cooperative banks exchanging or depositing demonetized notes has hit tribal milk producers and farmers in Gujarat’s Chhotaudepur district.They are not in a position to buy essential commodities for daily requirements from the market as they have stopped getting cash from their respective village-level milk cooperative societies. Sangramsinh Rathwa, a director on the Board of Baroda Milk Dairy (Baroda Dairy Milk Producers Cooperative Society) said that he has asked the dairy’s chairman and managing director to take up the issue with the Centre and RBI so that the tribals can get their payment immediately. Baroda Milk Dairy daily collects 2.5 lakh litres of milk from 450 village level milk producers cooperative societies in Chhotaudepur district which have total membership of 45,000 tribal milk producers and farmers, he said.The dairy has already deposited Rs 14 crores into the accounts of these cooperative societies in three branches of the Baroda District Central Cooperative Bank in Chhotaudepur for making payment to their members, belonging to the poor tribals communities, he said.However, the tribals who do not have their savings account in these bank branches are now not in a position to withdraw the amount, Rathwa said. Ranjitsinh Rathwa, another director of Baroda Milk Dairy, said the dairy pays these milk cooperative societies of Chhotaudepur on the 7th, 14th and 21st of every month.Senior Congress leader Mohansinh Rathwa said, “I have sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to ask RBI to direct Baroda District Central Cooperative Bank to ensure speedy payment to these poor tribals at the earliest as the situation has become grim.” Naranbhai Rathwa, the former Union Minister of State for Railways in the earlier UPA government, who represented the tribal reserved seat of Chhotaudepur in Lok Sabha for four terms, also expressed concern over the issue. He said some of tribals under the below poverty line category do not have money to buy grains, groceries or seeds and fertilisers as no one is accepting the old currency notes.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Controversy is brewing over renaming of the centuries old hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala as Sabarimala Sree Ayyappaswamy temple, with Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran stating that he would seek an explanation from Travancore Devaswom Board, which maintains the famous shrine.The government, which was taken by surprise by TDB’s decision, said this was a “serious violation of rules” and it’s approval was not sought, the minister said in a Facebook post. The temple, believed to have been established 1,800 years ago, is considered among the biggest and most ancient shrines Since then, it has been known as Sree Dharma Sastha temple and the board had no right to change it, Kadakampally said.Stating that government would seek an explanation from the TDB President Prayar Gopalakrishnan, the minister said he was not aware of the board’s intention behind such a move. “TDB had no right to change the temple’s name and in such a secret manner. We fail to understand the intention behind the change of name”, he said.Kadakampally said he came to know of the name change through media reports. He claimed even the Sabarimala thantri (priest) was unaware of the decision and that none had asked him.The Pandalam Royal family had also expressed similar sentiments, he added. The controversy has hit the famed temple at a time when the pilgrim season has begun and lakhs of devotees would be offering worship during the three month long period.TDB had said on Monday that the Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple would henceforth be known as Sabarimala Sree Ayyappaswamy temple and that the decision to change the name was taken at the Board’s meeting on October 5.The Devaswom said there are many Dharmasastha temples under it. But Sabarimala was the one and only holy seat in the world where Sree Ayyappaswamy presides and that was the reason why crores of devotees visit Sabarimala every year to have a darshan of Lord Ayyappaswamy.The TDB, an autonomous body, administers 1,248 temples, including Sabarimala, in the erstwhile princely state of Travancore.
The recent decision of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) to establish a separate women’s wing — to dwell on issues exclusive to women like triple talaq and polygamy — will not bring about any change in the status of Muslim women within the family, but is indicative of the pressure on Muslim clerics to display a semblance of concern on gender issues within the community.
The so-called Kolkata Declaration, released at the conclusion of AIMPLB’s 25th conference on 20 November, was keenly awaited given the recent debate over triple talaq and the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). There was, however, no change in AIMPLB’s stance as it unanimously passed a resolution saying that triple talaq is sacrosanct, as per the Shariah laws which are divine, and cannot be modified, changed or altered by any person or authority under any circumstances.
Attacked by vocal liberal sections within the Muslim community for holding a brief for patriarchy, AIMPLB’s decision on the new women’s wing does not mark a change in its position on rights for women within the family.
The resolution is undoubtedly not of their own volition but a result of pressure from below. The semblance of a response by the Board to the growing demands of Muslim women for equal rights within the family is also indicative of new pressure groups that have emerged in recent years.
These organisations have ranged from activist groups like Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), who have backed their programmes with solid research, and the All India Muslim Women Personal Board that despite its limited capacity has recently become party in the ongoing case in Supreme Court.
More than six years after four elective seats were allocated to women in AIMPLB in March 2010, the Board’s decision to form a separate wing for women indicates that pressure from progressive forces within the community is far greater now than at the time of the last churn in the mid-1980s following the Shah Bano verdict of the Supreme Court.
Pro-changers of that time were eventually marginalised after the Rajiv Gandhi government sided with conservatives within the community and enacted the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act. The decision heralded the process of communalisation of Indian politics as it galvanised the Sangh Parivar into re-launching the Ayodhya agitation that had been abandoned in October 1984, following Indira Gandhi’s assassination.
Unlike in the past, the debate for removal of triple talaq has raged for close to a decade with the initiative being taken by progressive Muslim women who decided to treat the treacherous path of questioning the clerics. In a community that is known for poor levels of awareness and coupled with the trajectory of Indian politics towards majoritarianism, the path chosen by groups like the BMMA was daunting because it was often considered a part of the Sangh Parivar’s ‘sudharak’ agenda for the Muslims.
Indeed, the BMMA has been accused of being in cahoots with the government in undermining minority rights. However, its denunciation of the government initiative on introducing UCC puts paid such charges.
In recent months, the Supreme Court has been seized with a clutch of cases challenging the legal validity of triple talaq and polygamy, beginning with the case filed by Shayara Bano, a woman from Uttarakhand, who was instantaneously divorced. When asked to present its viewpoint, the Centre pleaded in the apex court that it should declare the practices as illegal. In its affidavit, it argued that neither of the practices can be “regarded as essential or integral part of the religion”.
Simultaneously, the Law Commission released a questionnaire to assess public opinion on if triple talaq should be abolished. But more contentiously, the Commission also asked if UCC should be introduced. Law panel chairman Justice BS Chauhan (retd) stated that the commission aimed to “begin a healthy conversation about the viability of a uniform civil code”.
Statements by BJP ministers and leaders stirred the hornet’s nest because UCC has long been a political objective of the Sangh Parivar. That a common family law has been a constitutional goal listed in the Directive Principles of State Policy enabled the BJP to claim that it was simply pursuing constitutional obligations.
In October, Prime Minister Narendra Modi too waded into the controversy by taking up the cause of Muslim “behne” or sisters saying that triple talaq was discriminatory and outlined his government’s position on the issue. Predictably, the AIMPLB reacted negatively to the proposal of the Law Commission and declared what has now been reiterated in Kolkata.
Several non-BJP parties, like Bahujan Samaj Party and Trinamool Congress, have also supported this position and in turn have been accused by Modi and other BJP leaders of indulging in “vote bank politics” by pandering to the conservative sections among Muslims.
By introducing the demand for UCC at this stage, the BJP has mired the pitch for progressive groups in the community as the conservatives led by AIMPLB — which still retains great relevance and support in the community — will hijack the issue and argue that when minority rights are under threat from the Centre, organisations like BMMA are weakening the battle against the government’s plan to marginalise Muslims. Token gestures like formation of a women’s wing will enable them to project a facade of being sensitive towards gender issues.
Ironically, the state of Muslim women, being used as pawns in a political game, will remain as abysmal as it is currently.
First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 17:04 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a first, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board on Sunday decided to form a women’s wing to look into burning issues such as talaq, even as it passed a resolution in favour of triple talaq.The resolution passed at the AIMPLB’s three-day convention, which concluded today, stated that the government was infringing into the personal laws of Muslims.The women’s wing would also deal with other issues like family disputes and education, AIMPLB secretary Zafaryab Jellani told a press conference here after the convention.It decided to launch an all-India Muslim women helpline, a toll free call centre in Urdu, English and eight regional languages to counsel and guide Muslim women on family disputes to go to the Darul-Qaza.”It has been decided for the first time that we will form a women’s wing to go into issues concerning Muslim women and an all-India Muslim women helpline, a toll-free call centre in Urdu English and 8 regional language,” Kamal Farooqi, a member of AIMPLB said.”It seems that the government is bringing up this issue of Triple Talaq and Uniform Civil Code ahead of UP polls in order to communally polarise people and reap political dividends,” he said.The AIMPLB said it wanted to be the part of a discussion with the government, though the government did not bother to hear their views.”It is the opinion of the AIMPLB that the Shariah laws have their origin in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. These Shariah laws are divine laws and cannot be modified changed or altered by any person or authority,” Farooqi said.The point of view of AIMPLB has been explained in detail through the affidavit filed before the honourable Supreme Court, he said.”The moment we came to know that the Central government is going to file an affidavit in the Supreme Court, we approached the Prime Minister and five cabinet ministers through a registered post to get the point of view of the board, which represents all schools of thought in the country, heard.Unfortunately, the predetermined mind of the government did not think it fit to know the AIMPLB’s point of view,” he added.Farooqi alleged that the questionnaire prepared by the Law Commission fell short of professionalism.”The questionnaire prepared by the Law Commission not only falls short of professionalism regarding such a sensitive issue, but smacks of the intention of the present-day government to meddle with professional laws and bringing in the uniform civil code through the back door,” he said.He, however, hoped that that good sense would prevail in the government and it would withdraw its affidavit filed in the apex court.The board has now prepared its own questionnaire and circulated it among Muslims for signatures in support of triple talaq.”Lakhs of Muslim women have supported AIMPLB on its stand on triple talaq and the issue is a tool used by the government to interfere in AIMPLB’s affairs. The government is trying to project Muslim women as suppressed and oppressed, which is wrong,” Asma Zahra, executive member of AIMPLB, said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Saturday decided to oppose tooth and nail the Centre’s move against the triple talaq and the imposition of Unform Civil Code in the country.The decision was taken on the second day of the three-day closed door convention of AIMPLB, to discuss issues ranging from triple talaq, Uniform Civil Code (UCC) to other religious matters of the Muslims. “It has been unanimously decided in the convention that we want triple talaq to stay and we will oppose any move by the government against it. We will also oppose uniform civil code. The triple talaq has been going on for ages and it is part of our religious rights,” TMC MP and chairman of AIMPLB reception committee Sultan Ahmed said. The AIMPLB has already launched a signature campaign opposing the move and more than 10 crore Muslim women from across the country have signed supporting the practice of triple talaq.The issue of alleged harassment of Muslim youths was also taken up during the convention. “Our President Maulana Rabey Hasani Nadvi, during his speech, has clearly said that the BJP government at the Centre has taken up an agenda of unnecessarily harassing the Muslims of the country especially the young generation. The government has the tendency to implicate the Muslims as anti-nationals and harass them,” a member of the AIMPLB said on condition of anonymity.He said the BJP is trying to infringe upon the religious rights of Muslims and it will not be tolerated. “Muslims are part of this great secular, democratic republic India. We will fight against this communal designs of the BJP government”.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Students from the Board of School Education Haryana (BSEH) can breathe a sigh of relief as the secondary and senior secondary reappear exam results have been declared.As per the Indian Express, the board in a statement said that the passing percentage of high school students is 34.51% in urban areas while in rural areas it is 30.68%. The pass percentage of high school students in urban areas is 34.51% and that if students in rural areas is 36.50%. Here’s what students can so to check results:1. The students should first go to the board’s official website.2. Senior secondary students can go visit this page for checking their results3. Secondary students can visit this page to check the results4. The students will have to enter their roll no or name to get the result. 5. They can save the results or get it printed. About the BSEH board as per the website:The Board of School Education Haryana, Bhiwani came into existence in 1969. The BSEH conducts the exams middle, high school and senior secondary school exams twice a year in Haryana in its affiliated schools.
Tue, 15 Nov 2016-09:50pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Tuesday opposed the move to reintroduce compulsory Class 10 board examination for CBSE schools from the 2017-18 academic year.”The government should not decide what the child should do? This is my firm belief. “CBSE Class ‘X’ Board were optional. Whichever child wants to take, he should be allowed to take the exam. If he does not want, he need not take it. Why should the government have to decide what the child must take?” party spokesman Kapil Sibal told reporters.Sibal, a former HRD Minister, was asked to react on the decision of his successor Prakash Javadekar of reintroducing the exam. Javadekar had yesterday announced that the government will reintroduce compulsory class X board examination for CBSE schools from the 2017-18 academic year.
Mumbai: The Rata Tata-Cyrus Mistry feud flared up on Sunday with the ousted chairman rebutting allegations of “drifting away” Tata companies during his tenure and hitting back at attempts to question integrity of independent directors who backed him, prompting the $102-billion group’s holding firm Tata Sons to assert it will do “whatever is required” to deal
with the situation.
Terming the Tata Sons’ contention that group companies were “drifting away” under him as “furthest from truth”, Mistry hit out first at Tata Sons calling its criticism of independent directors, revered names in India Inc, as “truly unfortunate”. This led the salt-to-software conglomerate to assert that it will do “whatever is required to deal with the situation”,
hinting at a no-holds-barred battle in the days ahead.
A day ahead of the crucial board meet of Tata Motors, the group also said it is “crucially important” for the boards, including the independent directors, to “consider their views
and positions ensure that the future of Tata companies is protected, taking into consideration the interest of all stakeholders”.
It can be noted that the independent directors of at least two big companies from the Group, including Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) and Tata Chemicals, have backed the ousted chairman leading the holding company to question their objectives in a 9-page letter sent last week. Mistry’s first statement was a part-rebuttal of the allegations levelled against him in the statement and in defence of the independent directors.
“To suggest that ‘ulterior objectives’ and ‘clever strategy’ can sway these eminent names in undertaking their fiduciary duties and in discharging the duties mandated by statute as independent directors is absolutely astonishing and really speaks of how low Tata Sons has unfortunately stooped in their public statements,” a statement from his office said, in a rebuttal to the recent actions of Tata Sons.
Stating that the independent directors whose conduct has been questioned include names like Deepak Parekh, Nusli Wadia and Nadir Godrej, among others, Mistry added that it is “truly unfortunate” that independence of “stalwarts of India Inc” is being questioned. The statement is a rebuttal to the 9-page open letter issued by the Tata Sons in which it had accused Mistry of
“trying to gain control of Indian Hotels Company, whose independent directors had sided with the former chairman of Tata Sons”.
“He (Mistry) has cleverly ensured over these years that he would be the only Tata Sons representative on the board of IHCL in order to frustrate Tata Sons’ ability to exercise influence and control on IHCL,” the Tata Sons letter had said.
Independent directors at Tata Chemicals have also backed Mistry, which has led Tata Sons to initiate action to expel Wadia from its company boards.
In its letter, Tata Sons had alleged that Mistry was trying to gain control of the group’s main companies and regretted its decision to appoint him as chairman four years ago. It had said the structure of the group has been “consciously dismantled so that now the operating companies are drifting farther away from the promoter company and their major shareholder”. Mistry retorted back at this today, saying these suggestions are “furthest from the truth” and added that changing the board structure was part of a plan to alter the corporate governance practices with an aim to make the salt-to-software group’s companies run independently.
“The corporate governance framework that was developed under Mistry’s leadership attempted to ensure that group companies would adhere to the group values, share best practices, enable movement of talent, exploit win-win synergies and do all of this without impinging on independence of the operating companies and the boards that they are ultimately responsible to,” he said. This was done to protect the interests of all stakeholders, employees, and minority shareholders, he said, adding that it was a case of placing responsibility “where it should lie”.
The Mistry statement also made a veiled but not fully elaborate reference to insider trading while explaining the need to have a new corporate governance framework. “… between Tata Trusts, Tata Sons, and the Tata operating companies, there was a need to be compliant with the law relating to insider trading by ensuring communication of unpublished price sensitive information strictly on a need to know basis,” Mistry said.
Listing out the names of the nine directors whose conduct has been questioned, it highlighted six of them were appointed during Ratan Tata‘s tenure that ended in 2012 and two of them serve as trustees on Tata Trusts. It said under the existing laws, the independent directors are required to bring “independent judgement” on issues of strategy, performance, risk management, resources, key appointments and standards of conduct, and safeguard the interests of all stakeholders, especially the minority shareholders. It acknowledged that in both IHCL and Tata Chemicals, the independent directors were unanimous in their support of him as the chairman and claimed that this is a “reflection of Mistry’s conduct as chairman in upholding the highest
standards of corporate governance”.
The statement also elaborated on the change in the board composition of companies under Tata’s leadership and the changes which Mistry introduced. As against the earlier practice of all the board members being internal members of the group, Mistry’s statement said now the requirement is to have 30 per cent Trust nominees and 30 per cent independent directors. “The corporate governance framework in India has considerably tightened in recent times with more stringent rules with respect to independence of directors, female directors, board evaluation, and so on. To meet this increased scrutiny, several new policies and frameworks were developed at the group centre and deployed across operating companies,” it said. These included refreshing the code of conduct, developing a board effective framework, LEAD programme to enhance gender diversity and provide TBEM feedback on company to the board, the statement said.
First Published On : Nov 14, 2016 08:50 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Samajwadi Party Parliamentary Board, the highest decision making body of the faction-ridden ruling party, met here today under the presidentship of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav to discuss a gamut of issues ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle and state party chief Shivpal Yadav were also present at the meeting.Though there was no official word on the deliberations, party insiders said that appointment of a new leader of Samajwadi Party in the Rajya Sabha was on the agenda after incumbent Ram Gopal Yadav was expelled from the party. Mulayam has to take a call on the issue before the winter session of Parliament commences on November 16. SP has 19 members in Rajya Sabha and five in Lok Sabha.Party sources said while Mulayam was in favour of his old socialist friend Beni Prasad Verma as party’s new leader in the Upper House of Parliament, Akhilesh was batting for Naresh Agarwal.Reoti Raman Singh is senior-most SP representative in Rajya Sabha, but his failing health may make Mulayam go for Verma, a veteran who had left the party a decade ago following differences with the SP supremo, only to return to the party fold earlier this year. He was soon sent to the Rajya Sabha. Akhilesh, the sources said, favoured Agarwal as he has been a prominent speaker on behalf of the party in the Upper House where he was seen as the number two after Ram Gopal. Amar Singh, who was also sent to the Rajya Sabha by Mulayam recently, is not comfortable with Agarwal due to his proximity with Ram Gopal. Agarwal, who had been in Congress and Loktantrik Congress Party before he joined the SP, favoured declaring Akhilesh as the chief ministerial candidate during the public feud in the Yadav clan.Sources said there was a vacancy in the Parliamentary Board after Ram Gopal’s exit and there was speculation that Surendra Mohan Agarwal could fill the slot.This is the first crucial meeting of the top leadership of the ruling party after Mulayam’s recent announcement to go solo in the UP Assembly polls. Mulayam has ruled out any alliance though he said he would welcome merger of outfits with his party.Sources also said the meeting had been convened to discuss the preparations of the ruling party for the Assembly elections just a few months
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The NDA government has reconstituted the Central Advisory Board on Culture and increased the number of its members by more than double, bringing in people mostly associated with the BJP.The panel now consists of the likes of actor Anupam Kher, husband of BJP MP Kirron Kher and a vocal supporter of the government, noted classical dancer Sonal Mansingh, and former Jharkhand and Bihar governor in the NDA regime M Rama Jois. The move comes months after the NDA-government reconstituted the management of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), bringing in veteran Hindi journalist and RSS ideologue Ram Bahadur Rai as its head.The new board, which was constituted recently, had its first meeting on October 22. The 23-member panel under the chairmanship of Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, also has flautist Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia, vocalists Pt Rajan Mishra and Pt Channu Lal Misra, who was the proposer for Modi’s Lok Sabha candidature from Varanasi, and santoor player Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma on board. “This (revamping of the board) is a routine process,” Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said when asked about the reconstitution.On increasing the number of members in the panel from 11 in the UPA regime to 23 now, he said, “It (the number of members) is within the rules. People who are experts in their respective fields are given a place in the board.” The CABC appointment is for a three-year term and appointees are entrusted with the task to advise Culture Ministry at policy level and to evolve programmes which have either been neglected or not sustained through existing institutional framework.The CABC will also advise on improving the efficiency of 46 organisations under the Culture Ministry. Other members on the board include artist Vasudeo Kamath, who is also an office bearer at the RSS-affiliated Sanskar Bharti, scholar S R Leela – a nominated BJP MLC in Karnataka in 2014, actors Pranjal Saikia (an FTII panel member) and Victor Banerjee who was a BJP member in the past.Musician Suresh Talwalkar, violinist N Rajam, lyricist Sameer Anjaan and authors S L Bhyrappa and Narendra Kohli are also part of the panel. Rahman Ali, a former professor specialising in ancient Indian history, is the lone Muslim face in the board.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The issues of triple talaq and Uniform Civil Code are being “raked up” by the BJP for gains in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, a women’s body on Wednesday said while accusing the AIMPLB of “playing into the hands” of the saffron party by helping it to polarise people.The body said the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is “just a NGO” that does not represent the entire Muslim community, adding that it will urge the Chief Justice of India to ensure all stakeholders are heard by court in a case in this regard, rather than just the Board.The National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) demanded that the practice of ‘triple talaq in one sitting’ must be abolished, even as it maintained that personal laws in all religions, including Hinduism and Christianity, need reforms to ensure justice and equality to women. This, they said, must be done without disrespecting any religion.”The Law Commission has made the move of seeking feedback on whether triple talaq should be abolished and if UCC should be made option without any prior scientific study.”It has done this at the behest of BJP, merging the two different issues. All this is being done with BJP’s eyes on UP elections,” NFIW general secretary Annie Raja told reporters.On the AIMPLB’s stand that the Commission’s move involving triple talaq aims at targeting religious practices of Muslims, Raja accused the Board of helping BJP polarise people communally.”We plan to approach the CJI to urge him to hear all stakeholders rather than just the AIMPLB in a court matter to this regard,” she said.The NFIW said the right of divorce should be given to Muslim women as well and should they be allowed to pronounce the word ‘talaq’ thrice, each time at a gap of one month and ten days, in the presence of two adult witnesses and the “divorce should be binding”.The organisation also opposed the practice of ‘Halala’ that is followed in Islam when a man and woman wish to remarry after divorcing each other.Halala is in interim, obligatory ‘nikah’ with another man and subsequent talaq from him that has to take place for the divorced couple to marry again.The NFIW demanded laws to ensure that a divorced woman gets maintenance for herself till she marries again and support their children, if any, till they attain adulthood.”…it is immediately put forward that the demand (for reforms) should come from the community. Well, now the Muslim women are asking for these changes and a male dominated AIMPLB is threatening them and trying to crush their lawful demands,” the NFIW alleged in a statement.Meanwhile, a lecturer from Ahmedabad, Mubeena Quraishi, and a Lucknow-resident, Mumtaz Fatima, also briefed the press, sharing their experiences regarding divorce and demanded reforms in personal laws.Sharing her experiences with regard to the triple talaq, Mubina said she had to struggle for five years to get divorce from her erstwhile husband under the personal laws, which she insisted, need reforms.”For past five years, I struggled to get divorce with my in-laws, family and even the maulvis opposing it. I was denied Khula, saying it was banned in India. Finally, I approached a court in July this year and got mutual divorce. The point is I had to struggle for these many years. We need reforms,” Mubina said.Fatima, meanwhile, said she was divorced by her husband who pronounced word talaq thrice over phone. Besides her, her two sister in-laws were also divorced in the same manner by their respective husbands, she claimed.”Following the talaq, I approached many people including maulvis, but it did not help. We approached some women organisations which helped us in going back to our home. But that led to fights. The personal laws were not of any help to three of us. There is a need for reforms which give equal rights to both women and men,” she said.Fatima, who is currently fighting legal battles over domestic violence against her husband and also seeking maintenance to raise her lone son, opposed the practice of Halala, terming it as “unjust”.On October 7, the Law Commission had sought public opinion on whether the practice of triple talaq should be abolished and whether the Uniform Civil Code should be optional, triggering a controversy.In an appeal, the Commission said the objective behind the endeavour is to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise the various cultural practices even as it assured the people that the “norms of no one class, group or community will dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms”.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Espionage case: Six Pak High Commission officials leave IndiaAs many as six officials in the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi on Wednesday returned home amidst growing tension between the two countries after a Pakistani Mission staffer was caught in an espionage ring and expelled. Read more hereArmy veteran’s suicide: Rahul Gandhi meets Grewal’s family, detained againCongress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was detained yet again on Tuesday evening after meeting ex-serviceman Ram Kishan Grewal’s family. Read more hereBattle for Mosul: Islamic State chief Baghdadi surrounded by Iraqi ArmyIslamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been trapped by Iraqi Army, which entered the terrorist group’s stronghold of Mosul for the first time in more than two years for a final assault, a report has claimed. Read more here: I live in my own created reality: Shah Rukh KhanShah Rukh Khan on being Shah Rukh Khan and the perks and pains that come with it. Read more here India v/s England: 3 star batsmen ruled out of 1st two Tests; rookie all-rounder includedIndia’s squad for the first two Tests against England was announced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Wednesday. Read more here
Ousted Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry in a statement has said that the allegations by the Tatas that he handled the DoCoMo issue “in a manner inconsistent with Tata culture and values” are baseless. The statement further said the agreement with Docomo had been executed before Mistry became executive chairman of the group.
Earlier in a tell-all letter to Tata Sons board, Mystry had alleged that the deal structure of Tata Teleservices and DoCoMo raised many questions.
On Friday, Mistry had refuted all allegations of not keeping the board in the know of the solar farms deal with Welspun.
In the statement today, Mistry also said that to suggest that Mistry acted on his own is as false as it is mischievous and that all decisions were taken with unanimous approval of Tata Sons Board.
Here’s is the full text of the statement by Mistry on DoCoMo deal:
1) Insinuations that the Docomo issue was handled under the watch of Mr. Mistry in a manner inconsistent with Tata culture and values are baseless. The suggestion that Ratan Tata and the trustees would not have approved of the manner in which the litigation was conducted is contrary to what transpired.
2) A number of discussions on the Docomo situation had been held in the Tata Sons board. Mr. Mistry had always mentioned that the Tatas should honour all commitments within the law. This stance is based on Tata Sons’ board view and was always consistent with the series of board meetings in which the Docomo issue was discussed.
3) To begin with, the agreement with Docomo had been executed before Mr. Mistry became executive chairman of the Tata Group.
4) Tatas under Mr. Mistry requested Docomo to join the Tatas in seeking the approval of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Docomo did not agree. Nevertheless, Tatas applied to the RBI for approval. Since RBI approval was not forthcoming, Docomo initiated arbitration. The Award was passed in favour of Docomo and against the Tatas. Tatas under Mr. Mistry did not challenge the Award in the UK. On the contrary, RBI was approached once again by the Tatas for permission to pay the amount awarded. RBI again refused permission.
5) Docomo sought enforcement of the Award in the Delhi High Court. In order to show their bonafides, Tatas deposited a sum in excess of Rs. 8,000 crores in Court.
6) Throughout the above process, Ratan Tata and N.A. Soonawala, Trustee, were kept informed and they participated in separate meetings held with Mr. Mistry. They also participated in the meeting with the legal counsel (who also happened to be a trustee of the Dorabji Tata trust) and who represented Tatas in the litigation. At all times Ratan Tata and Soonawala concurred and approved the course of action adopted by Tatas and as advised by legal counsel.
7) All decisions were taken with the unanimous approval of the Tata Sons Board. In fact, all decisions were collective decisions and the actions were consistent with every such collective decision.
8) In light of the above facts, to suggest that Mr. Mistry acted on his own, or contrary to “Tata values”, or without the knowledge and/or concurrence of Ratan Tata and Soonawala is as false as it is mischievous.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Diwali fireworks pushed pollution in Delhi to a dangerous level, the worst in three years, as it turned the air highly toxic due to a deadly cocktail of harmful respirable pollutants and gases, engulfing the city with a cover of thick smog triggering health alarms.Various monitoring agencies including Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Central Pollution Control Board, Pune-based SAFAR and Centre for Science and Environment were unanimous about the severity of the air quality in the city. As per DPCC’s real time monitoring mechanism, the ultra pollutant PM 2.5 breached the safe standard by over 14 times at Anand Vihar, Delhi’s most polluted area, at 2:30 AM. Many other areas including densely populated R K Puram had nearly similar readings when pollution peaked past mid night. Noise pollution, which was monitored at five locations in the city, was marginally higher than last year as it ranged between 66.1 decibel(A) and 75.8 dB(A), while last year, it had varied from 65.9 dB(A) to 74.8 dB(A), according to DPCC findings.In the morning, the city woke up to the season’s worst air quality as smoke from Diwali fireworks, coupled with moisture and nearly stagnant wind movement, shrouded the city in a thick cover of smog. Commuters in several areas found it difficult to find their way as the visibility level plunged to nearly zero in several areas. SAFAR, an agency of Earth Sciences Ministry, said air quality was not only severe but plunged to its worst in three years during Diwali mainly due to low wind movement and falling boundary layer, that traps pollutants close to the surface. The most critically polluted period was between 11 PM on October 30 and 10 AM today. The volume of sulphur dioxide (SO2), which can aggravate asthma, also breached the safe standards, indicating that the crackers contained a high level of sulphur. It averaged between 20-131 ug/m3 while it was between 26-64 ug/m3 last year.On Diwali night, PM 10 ranged from 448 (micrograms per cubic metre) g/m3 to 939 g/m3 in Delhi as against the national safe standard of 100 g/m3, DPCC said. The 24-hour average of PM 2.5, particles that measure less than 2.5 microns in diameter, ranged between 180 g/m3 and 440 g/m3. The prescribed standard for it is 60. Diwali in 2015 saw PM 10 averaging between 296 and 778 g/m3 while in 2014, the same was recorded between 421 and 790 g/m3. In case of PM 2.5, the average concentration recorded in 2015 was between 184 and 369 g/m3. The data for 2014 was not immediately available. Prolonged exposure to PM 2.5 and PM 10 beyond the safe limits can harm the respiratory system as the ultra fine particulates can find their way deep into the lungs and also enter the bloodstream. Even areas like Shanti Path, which record moderate levels of air quality even on the worst of days, had hazardous air, with the US Embassy’s pollution monitor recording extremely high levels of PM 2.5, even way beyond the severe category.Agencies like SAFAR and CPCB advise people not to go outdoors when air quality turns ‘severe’ as it has adverse effect especially on children, elders and those having heart or lung diseases. “The ambient air is influenced by plumes of smoke from farm fires in Punjab and Haryana. There is no significant wind movement and the fireworks add to that. So, this is an accumulative effect,” a Delhi Environment Department official said. SAFAR said the Delhi University area was the most polluted while Ayanagar was the least polluted. On the other hand, DPCC identified Anand Vihar as the most polluted in terms of both PM 2.5 and PM 10. Level of pollution, in real-time, peaked at Anand Vihar at 3.30 AM when it reached a whopping 1,068 ug/m3, violating the safe limit by over 10 times. PM 2.5 peaked at 883 ug/m3 in the same spot at 2.30 AM, over 14 times above the safe limit of 60. In its analysis, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said lower wind speed and lower mixing height (vertical mixing of air) came in the way of pollutants getting dispersed and gave rise to smog. “Wind speed fell from 6km/hr on October 28 to 1 km/hr on October 30 night and remained so till the next morning. Temperature remained low at 15 degrees Celsius on Diwali night.The boundary layer height (inversion layer) over Delhi fell to 40-60 metres between October 30 midnight till 7 AM on 31st morning,” Gufran Beig, Project Director, SAFAR, said. In its report, CSE said this year Diwali pollution was not only worse but also more toxic as maximum levels of several gases and particles have gone up from last year. “Neither policy action nor awareness campaigns could prevent toxic loading of our lungs. This is unacceptable in a city where lung of every third child in impaired. Festival of light cannot turn into scary statistics of illness and deaths Delhi is awaiting yet another deadly winter. Action to control pollution this winter has to gather momentum now,” it said. Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain claimed people burnt 40 per cent less crackers this Diwali compared to last year. However, he did not give any details to substantiate his claim. CSE said the minimum and maximum levels of nitrogen oxide this year was 70-123 microgramme per cubic metre compared to 37-79 microgramme per cubic metre in 2015. “The maximum levels have increased by nearly 1.5 times. The lower level has doubled,” said CSE adding Carbon monoxide in the air has also shot up. “CO levels, that otherwise is declining in Delhi increased during this year compared to last year. This year CO has ranged between 2000 microgramme per cum and 4200 microgramme per cum as opposed to 1100 microgramme per cum to 4000 microgramme per cum last year. High level of CO can curdle blood and lead to instant deaths,”
Ratan Tata is exploring options to buy out the 18.4 percent stake the Shapoorji Pallonji group has in Tata Sons, according to a report in Bloomberg. Tata Sons is the holding company for the Tata group and Tata Trusts hold 66 percent stake.
The move comes at a time when the tension between both business groups have arisen after the ouster of Cyrus Mistry, son of Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry, as chairman of Tata Sons earlier this week in a boardroom coup.
The report further says that the Tata group has begun talks with sovereign wealth funds and other long-term investors to explore possibility of tie-ups for a buyout.
The talks are part of the Tata group’s efforts to prepare for “various scenarios”, said the report.
Anyways, it remains to be seen whether the Shapoorji Pallonji group would want to sell their stake in the Tata Group, at all.
The same Bloomberg report quotes Paras Bothra, vice president of equity research, Ashika Stock Broking, as saying: “It’s not going to happen so easily as Mistry may not give in without a fight.” Bothra nonetheless says that if such a deal can be worked out, it would be a good move as that will end the uncertainty surrounding the group.
However, this move by the Tatas to reach out to sovereign wealth funds is based on the assumption that Mistry and the Shapoorji Pallonji family would want to sell off their stake in the Group, says Seema Mahajan, Director, Centre of Family Business and Entrepreneurship, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS).
With no credible reason give out yet by the Tata Group for the ouster of Cyrus Mistry as the chairman, the handling of the Mistry issue is `unprofessional’ and `not in keeping with the standards’ everyone has expected from the Tata Group, said Mahajan. She said that when the Tata Trust decided to appoint Mistry as the chairman, they had to allow for new ideas and new approaches to business and not expect the old tried-and-tested methods to continue under a new head. “What is the difference between a family-owned business and Tata Sons? By wanting someone at the helm to continue what the business decisions of Ratan Tata, inspite of the Nano being a failed venture, for instance, the Tata Sons board want the Group to be run like a family-owned business. This decision by the Board and Ratan Tata just goes to show that they are not receptive to changes,” said Mahajan.
With both sides levelling allegations and counter allegations, the two groups have already queered the pitch for a high profile battle.
The problems started with the first move on part of Tata Sons board to oust Cyrus Mistry in a sudden move on Monday in a full-strength board meeting at Bombay House. According to media reports, a discussion about the chairman was not even listed in the agenda.
A terse statement from Tata Sons said Cyrus Mistry had been replaced with Ratan Tata, who had in 2012 stepped down after he turned 75 years old, a retirement age that Tata himself set up and adhered to.
Predictably, the action of throwing out Mistry led to a bitter war of words with Mistry shooting off a letter to the board terming his ouster ‘unique in the annals of corporate history’.
Mistry also hit out the Tatas where it hurts the most by listing out the failures of Ratan Tata in the capacity as his predecessor of the Group.
Mistry said much of the problems of the group had been inherited and not of his own making. He said the loss-making Nano project is being kept alive only for emotional reasons. He also revealed a few fraudulent transactions that may come to haunt the Tatas for some time now.
The Tatas hit back saying Mistry was sacked since he had lost the confidence of the Tata Trusts. They also defended the business decisions taken by Ratan Tata.
Both the camps have also arranged lawyers in anticipation of a long-running legal battle.
Given the escalation of tensions, the stage seems to be set for a discordant solution but for a big corporate battle.
The Ratan Tata–Cyrus Mistry fracas has spiraled quickly, with both camps airing a fair amount of their dirty laundry out in public. Many are anticipating an historic legal clash to take place between the two titans of Indian industry soon.
While Cyrus Mistry has a number of legal options at his disposal under the extant legal framework as well as the Company’s Articles of Association, his best bet would be to go through his father’s company, Shapoorji Pallonji, a principal shareholder in Tata Sons, and file a petition for oppression and mismanagement under Sections 397 and 398 of the Companies Act, 1956.
The Tata Group, however, also seems to have enough evidence but Mistry’s claims put up a strong defence in front of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
Tata’s strategy predicates on being able to show that Mistry’s removal was in the best interest of the company and its shareholders. Let us explore what legal defences are open to Tata Sons under the Act.
As stated in an earlier article published by Firstpost, Section 397 provides for relief if the affairs of a company are conducted in a manner which is prejudicial to public interest or oppressive to any members. Section 398 provides that members of the company may apply to the Tribunal if a material change has taken place in the management or control of the Company, including but not limited to an alteration in its Board of directors, and that such a change will result in prejudice to public interest or the interests of the company.
Under this Section the Tribunal may pass orders to rectify the situation. Under the Act, Shapoorji Pallonji would have to establish that Mistry’s removal is an action that is detrimental to the interests of the Tata group.
For one, Mistry’s ouster was completely legal as per the Company’s Articles of Association. The Articles require the board of directors to vote on bringing a new chairman in and the same procedure is to be followed when removing the chairman of the board. This was the procedure followed when Mistry was brought in and when he was removed. Courts have established that bona fide decisions consistent with the company’s memorandum and articles are not to be equated with mismanagement even if they turn out to be erroneous or cause temporary losses.
The change in the control and management of the company and the appointment of new executives as a result thereof cannot be questioned under Section 398, and the court will not interfere with the affairs of a company in a case where the act complained of is within the realm of the company’s powers under its articles and memorandum.
In terms of Mistry’s email and the allegations he has levelled in it, specifically the losses that the salt-to-steel conglomerate incurred in certain business deals such as NTT Docomo, are not necessarily instances of mismanagement when viewed through the prism of recent court rulings. In fact, Mistry’s improper handling of the DoCoMo arbitration and the subsequent $1.2 billion that was awarded against Tata will certainly not bode in his favour in front of the NCLT.
The NCLT has a wide range of powers when disposing of a petition under Section 397 or 398 of the Act. These powers are enumerated in Section 402 and they include the ability to pass orders to regulate the company’s conduct in the future, termination of agreements between the company and directors, and any other matter in which it thinks a just and equitable provision should be made.
The expansive nature of the powers granted to the NCLT under the Act imposes a strict burden of proof on Shapoorji Pallonji and Cyrus Mistry to back their allegations against Tata.
The Tata group has already issued a response to Mistry’s email, stating that the allegations in his correspondence are baseless and that he was not hindered in any way when running the conglomerate. It will be interesting to see how Mistry attempts to take on an organization that has been around since the time of the American Civil War.
(The author is the founder of Hammurabi & Solomon and a visiting fellow with the Observer Research Foundation)
Cyrus Mistry‘s letter to the Tata Sons board on Tuesday, a day after he was unceremoniously sacked as group chairman, has blown the lid off the workings in the Group. Mistry has levelled serious allegations against the working of the group during his predecessor Ratan Tata‘s time.
Primarily, he has said in the letter that he was not given a free hand as promised before he accepted the job. Mistry also mentioned that he was dogged by the huge debt he inherited.
“Prior to my appointment, I was assured that I would be given a free hand. The previous chairman was to step back and be available for advice and guidance as and when needed. After my appointment, the Articles of Association were modified, changing the rules of engagement between the Trusts, the Board of Tata Sons, the Chairman, and the operating companies. Inappropriate interpretation indeed followed, and as elaborated below, it severely constrained the ability of the group to engineer the necessary turnaround,” he has said in the letter.
Mistry has placed on record his performance matrix vis a vis the charge that he was sacked for non-performance. In the letter to the Tata Sons board, Mistry said that he could not believe he was ousted for non performance issues simply because only recently he was lauded for his performance by the nomination and remuneration committee and independent directors, notably Vijay Singh, Farida Khambatta and Ronnen Sen.
He spelt out the irony of the trio who had praised him for his performance and then two of them were part of the coterie to vote him out of office.
Listing out the legacy hotspots that he inherited, Mistry said despite all the troubles ailing the group, largely caused by deals signed before he came to office, the group’s operating cash flows grew at 31 percent compounded annual growth rate, its valuation increased by 14.9 percent per annum in rupee terms (as against Sensex’s 10.4 percent) and Tata Sons’ net worth increased from Rs 26,000 crore to Rs 42,000 crore.
Ratan Tata, the former chairman and present incumbent, clearly had not left Bombay House when he vacated his chair based on his self-laid rule of giving up office after reaching 75 years of age.
Mistry has alleged that Tata remained a towering figure influencing the decisions even during the board meetings, which forced him to circulate a corporate governance note “in order to clarify the distinct roles of Tata Trusts, Tata Sons Board and the Boards of the operating companies”. Mistry said he was pushed to be a lame duck chairman.
However, the specific allegations made by Mistry are more serious than these. These raise doubts about the much-touted Tata ethics.
Among them the key one is the allegation of fraudulent transactions in Air Asia. “A recent forensic investigation revealed fraudulent transactions of Rs 22 crore involving non-existent parties in India and Singapore. Executive Trustee, Mr. Venkataraman, who is on the board of Air Asia and also a shareholder in the company, considered these transactions as non-material and did not encourage further study. It was only at the insistence of the independent directors, one of whom immediately submitted his resignation, that the board decided to belatedly file a first information report,” the letter says.
This is a serious charge, which the Tatas need to answer.
Apart from this, a realistic assessment of the fair value of the “legacy hotspots”, which Mistry lists as Indian Hotel, Tata Motors PV, Tata Steel Europe, Tata Power Mundra and Tata Teleservices, would result in a write-down of Rs 118,000 crore. This is because the huge increase in the capital employed in those companies from Rs 132,000 crore to Rs 196,000 crore. The increase is due to operational losses, interest outgo and capital expenditure.
On the much-discussed Nano project, Mistry has alleged that before 2013, “in order to shore up sales and market share, Tata Motors Finance extended credit with lax risk assessment”. This resulted in NPAs mounting to more than Rs 4000 crore.
More importantly, he has said the loss-making Nano is not shut down because that would result in stopping “the supply of the Nano gliders to an entity that makes electric cars and in which Mr Tata has a stake”.
According to the letter, “IHCL, beyond flawed international strategy, had acquired the Searock property at a highly inflated price and housed in an off balance sheet structure.” Due to this, the company had to write down nearly its entire net worth in three years’ time. “This impairs its ability to pay dividends,” the letter has said.
Mistry has also said that his desire was to create an institutional framework for effective future governance of the group.
Mistry’s letter raises serious and pertinent questions. Why is Nano not being shut down despite being a loss-making unit? Is it true that the model is alive only to feed orders for a vendor in which Tata has stake in? Why did Tata Motors Finance extend credit without making necessary risk assessment of the Nano? Is the group averse to taking professional decisions and just cater to somebody’s personal and emotional indulgence? If not, why Mistry being made a lame-duck chairman? Moreover is the much-touted Tata governance all a facade after all?
The group is yet to say give a credible and detailed statement on the whole issue. As always, it seems to have gone incommunicado, which will negatively impact the group in particular and also project a poor image of the corporate India’s governance practice globally.
As is seen in the letter the Tata Sons board seems to have been paying obeisance to the God within. But the doubts that are now lingering in the public minds are serious. The God should answer.
Corporate governance and the Tata Group’s oft-stated principles of transparency, social and ethical principles have been intricately meshed that the principles have become synonyms for the group. However, Monday’s incident of replacing Cyrus P Mistry with Ratan Tata in the interim for four months was an unusual step from the over 150-year-old Group.
The Tata group is not known for boardroom battles that have ricocheted outside iconic the Bombay House, the headquarters of the salt to software conglomerate comprising of 100 companies spawning 6 continents.
The abrupt decision to sack Cyrus Mistry will have long-term repercussions for the group, say analysts, stating that this is an ‘unprecedent’ decision and action taken against a former chairman.
It also raises serious concerns about the choice and grooming of Mistry who was handpicked by Ratan Tata after a 14-month period in December 2009.
Many flay the manner in which Mistry was asked to leave. “The Board handled the whole situation badly,” said Mohandas Pai, Chairman of Manipal Global Education.
Pai says that by sacking Mistry, the board has ‘condemned’ Mistry and there is no saying how he will retaliate – a potential situation that could have been avoided by extending the courtesies benefitting to the chairman of the over $103 billion global conglomerate.
“The board has behaved in an arbitrary manner and it also smacks of someone controlling it. Six members decided to vote and 2 abstained. It would be interesting to know who abstained. I feel they must be old hands who did not want to vote against Mistry,” says Pai.
Recent developments at the board points towards a ‘coup’ against Mistry, said an analyst. He pointed out to the recent appointees to the board – Ajay Piramal, chairman of Piramal Group and Shriram Group; and Venu Srinivasan – chairman of TVS Motor. “I feel the board was ganged up against Mistry and were all supporters of Ratan Tata,” he said, adding Mistry did not stand a chance against it.
Transparency, a principle associated with Tata Group, has taken a hit. “There is an issue of lack of transparency with the way the whole thing has unfolded and going by media reports that Mistry wasn’t informed,” says J N Gupta, former ED, Sebi. “If you were to look at the issue from the point of view of Mistry, he was not given a chance to explain and also no notice period was given too. This is against the law of natural justice,” he said.
However, if the issue was to be seen from the lens of the board, it acted the way it did in the interests of all its stakeholders, says Gupta. “There has to be an earth shattering event for a Chairman to have been removed with immediate effect. No explanation has been given for the action, too.”
However, there could be other concerns that would have necessitated this abrupt snapping of the link. Since the company has not given any reasons, it has led to myriad assumptions.
“For all the talk about culture and transparency the over 100-year-old company has been constantly reiterating, it has tossed that culture aside and seems to have adopted the American culture of hiring and firing. But Mistry was not an employee of the Group and was brought in from outside. Where is the genteel, transparent behavior that one associates with the group now? You cannot treat your chairman in this manner, no matter what the circumstance,” says Pai.
The fact that the board felt it was necessary to bring back Ratan Tata from retirement to hold the company together in the interim also speaks poorly about the company. “It shows that they do not have a succession plan in place. They have faced this situation earlier when Tata Motors Managing Director Karl Slym committed suicide and the Group had to look for a replacement,” said Shriram Subramanian, proxy advisor, InGovern.
Pai says that when the rule of retiring at 75 was laid down by Ratan Tata himself, he should not have revoked the rule. “But rules are not iron-clad,” points out Gupta. “Law is subservient to logic. The rule of 75 was laid down with an objective to maximize shareholder’s wealth. However, there must have been some situation, which unfortunately the board has not been forthcoming about, which has necessitated this change,” says Gupta.
However, leaders at the helm have been recalled after their tenure like it happened with Infosys when it brought in NR Narayana Murthy, the co-founder and former chairman who joined the firm. Pai says that comparison is flawed.
He reasons that Murthy wasn’t called back after someone leading the company was sacked. “Murthy was called as the company was going sidewards and it needed expertise that only he could have provided. Also, Murthy was 60 when he retired and he returned seven years later. There was no precedent of anyone being fired.”
Will the reputation of the Tata Group take a hit because of the sacking of Mistry? Though all three – Pai, Gupta and Subramanian – believe it will, not all think it will have long-term effect.
“It all depends on who the incumbent is and his/her performance,” says Gupta. “Public memory is short and no one will remember this incident,” he says.
Since no explanation has been forthcoming yet from Bombay House on the reasons for sacking Mistry, Pai says it has led to speculation.
“Mistry could not have been sacked for incompetence for what he inherited like Corus Steel and other acquisitions of the Group could not have been rectified in a span of four years. The group is saddled with issues, DoCoMo is another case in point. The Group Executive Council (GEC) formed by Mistry has been disbanded. He has been kicked out. The reputation of the Tata Group has been severely jolted,” says Pai.
Subramanian agrees with Pai’s thoughts and says that not giving a reason for expelling Mistry has tarnished the group’s image of transparency. “This will have long-term ramifications. However, a competent successor to Mistry can solve this issue,” says Subramanian.
Pai feels that is a tall order for he says the incumbent would be worried about who he has to face in the boardroom at Tata Sons. “The group needs a fresh, young approach and that is not possible if they wont’ let new ideas and people to take independent decisions, as is evident in Mistry’s case,” says Pai.
Cyrus Mistry‘s ouster from Tata Sons has once again proved that Indian croporates mostly function like feudal fiefdoms rather than professionally run organisations.
The news about the sacking of Mistry, who was appointed as chairman of the Tata group only in November 2011 after a 14-month intricate selection process, was announced in a terse press release on Monday after market hours.
“Tata Sons today announced that its Board has replaced Cyrus P. Mistry as Chairman of Tata Sons. The decision was taken at a Board meeting held here today.
The Board has named Ratan N. Tata as interim chairman of Tata Sons. The Board has constituted a selection committee to choose a new Chairman. The committee comprises of Ratan N. Tata, Venu Srinivasan, Amit Chandra, Ronen Sen and Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, as per the criteria in the Articles of Association of Tata Sons. The committee has been mandated to complete the selection process in four months.”
The tata.com website has removed every vestige of Mistry — including the interview he gave to the in-house magazine, which by and large explained his philosophy of governing the large group, and even the details of the Group Executive Council, a council he had set up.
Definitely, a very unceremonious exit for the 48-year-young chairman of the $108 billion salt-to-software conglomerate.
And there are clear indications that a boardroom battle could be brewing between the Tatas and Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry, father of Cyrus Mistry and also the largest individual shareholder of the group.
The news took India Inc and experts by surprise. There were no visible strains in the recent past between the board of Tata Sons and Mistry. So nobody seems to have expected such a sudden development.
“It is surprising and worrisome,” is what Swaminathan Aiyar, consulting editor, at The Economic Times, said about the event.
True, it is worrisome for the simple reason that it shows 25 years into economic liberalisation and embracing of market economy, Indian corporates still continue to behave as if they are in the pre-liberalisation era. Professionalism is yet to be the way of governance for many of them.
According to media reports and sources Firstpost spoke to, there have been differences of opinion between the chairman and the board over many matters, including the style of functioning.
A source told Firstpost that Mistry’s micro-management was unlike the manner of functioning of his predecessor, Ratan Tata.
“Ratan Tata is a visionary and he has elevated senior people to the level of Managing Directors of various groups simply because he was able to see they were competent and could do the job. Once he gave them the job, he did not interfere. He empowered his men,” said the source. But Mistry did not favour this style, the source said.
According to a report in The Economic Times, recently there were even important decisions that were taken without consulting the former chairman, Mistry. One such, says the report, was the appointment of Piramal Enterprises’ Ajay Piramal and TVS Motor’s Venu Srinivasan on board, which is seen as a step towards tightening Tatas’ grip on the group’s functioning. This reflected “simmering discontent”, says the report.
But these happened “behind the scenes“. Nobody is privy to this.
The sacking has to be seen in the context of governance philosophies Mistry revealed in his now-removed interview on the group website.
Mistry had said that “challenging situations” confronted by some of the group’s businesses require hard and bolder decisions on pruning portfolios.
“It was clear to me relatively early that one needed to confront the challenging situations facing some of our businesses, and ultimately this would entail hard decisions on pruning the portfolio,” he said in an interview to the group’s in-house magazine.
There is a view that Mistry’s move to take hard decisions may have increased the tension between the board and the chairman, which snowballed into his unceremonious ouster.
It is said the old guard at the group did not see Mistry’ move as a good strategy.
If, indeed, this is the reason behind the ouster, it contradicts all written and unwritten norms of decency, corporate governance and professional management.
For one, the towering shadows of Ratan Tata and Tata Trusts were always there in the board room.
As an analyst told Firstpost, Ratan Tata is a colossus in the Tata Group. “His shadow looms at Bombay House even in his absence. As chairman emeritus, he is watching over Mistry and that could have been unsettling for him (Mistry),” said the analyst.
So also, the Tata Trusts representatives on the board.
As Rajiv Kumar of Centre for Policy Research says in this article in The Economic Times, “A besieged Mistry, closeted by satraps on one side and the Trust on the other, could well have given the classic CEO ultimatum of ‘my way or the highway’.”
A report in The Times of India says in the nine-member board, six voted against Mistry and two abstained. Clearly, the Trusts ruled.
So much for the free market and liberal business that Indian corporates demand.
As Rajiv Kumar says, “Even the Japanese Zaibatsus (the pre-World War 2 industrial and financial business conglomerates) or the South Korean chaebols (large family-owned business conglomerates) have changed their functioning to be in sync with globalisation trends and requirements. It is time that Tatas did so as well.”
Until then, the Tatas, despite their reputation of being the great torch-bearer of governance, will continue to act like feudal chieftains.
And if Tatas fall off, there is not much hope left for other Indian corporates. And that is indeed worrisome.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Training his guns at Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, suspended BJP MP Kirti Azad today said people “rejected” by the electorate have not only been made ministers but have become “all in all” in the government and the party.”There are people (in the party), who have been rejected by the people in the elections, have not only been made ministers (in the union government) but have actually become ‘sarve-sarva’ (all in all) both in the government and in the organisation,” Azad told a press meet at his residence here. He was apparently referring to Jaitley who had lost in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but was made Union minister.Stating that it has been over 300 days since he was suspended by the BJP, Azad said “I had not indulged in any anti-party activities but despite this I was suspended…The party should take a decision. Either it should withdraw my suspension or expel me”.In response to a query on being suspended from BJP, the three-time Darbhanga MP said he had raised the issue of corruption in the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) of which Jaitley was the all in all.”My charge of corruption in the cricketing bodies has been corroborated as the Supreme Court has restrained the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) from releasing funds to state bodies and directed for auditing of the Board,” he said.The BJP MP and former cricketer Kirti Azad was suspended by party chief Amit Shah on December 23, 2015 for publicly targeting Finance Minister for “irregularities” in DDCA, of which Jaitley was the President for 13 years till 2013.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The union ministry for environment, forest and climate change (MoEF&CC) will soon come out with uniform national policy guidelines on road, railway and other linear projects that pass through wildlife habitats to ensure their speedy clearances and also reduce the impact they have on forests and endangered wildlife.Speaking to DNA, environment minister Anil Dave said, “Yes, there is a policy under process on this issue and we will definitely have uniform guidelines that can be applied across the country.”SS Negi, director general of forests said the policy guidelines, which are under process, will be discussed at length during the on-going ministry conference with state wildlife and forest chiefs. “The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) will present a draft on this issue and also incorporate the views of states,” said Negi. DNA had recently reported that more than 1200 passenger and goods trains pass through sensitive wildlife habitats across the country, posing threat to elephants, tigers and leopards.A ministry note on this issue, while acknowledging that new projects of any kind are avoided within or near wildlife areas, also said that “location specificity or inevitability sometimes warrant appropriate mitigation measures for counter balancing negative impacts on habitat.”Presently, the MoEF&CC recommends ‘mitigation measures’ for linear projects on a case to case basis. Mitigation measures refer to specific conditions stipulated by the environment ministry while clearing linear projects that hamper wildlife habitats. In the case of highway projects, the ministry has in the past asked for building underpasses to ensure smooth movement of animals.The ministry’s move comes in the light of instances where clearances for linear projects got delayed after getting mired in court cases. In the recent past, the MoEF&CC’s National Board for Wildlife cleared the controversial National Highway -7, (NH7) widening project between Maharashtra and Nagpur. The widened highway will cut through the crucial Kanha-Pench tiger corridor. Activists had dragged the road ministry and environment ministry to court on this issue and both had to eventually agree to build overpasses and underpasses on the highway to facilitate movement of animals.The wildlife board also cleared the Sevak Rongpo railway line that will pass through Mahananda wildlife sanctuary. Under the National Democratic Alliance government, the environment ministry has cleared linear projects such as new railway lines, doubling of railway lines, widening of national highways, canals and power transmission lines despite opposition from within the ministry on several occasions.
New Delhi: The CBSE’s Class X board examinations, which were scrapped six years ago in order to reduce pressure on students, are likely to be reintroduced following concerns about academic standards being affected.
The final decision in this regard will be taken on 25 October in a meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) which will be chaired by Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar.
“There have been representations from academicians as well as organisations of parents saying that scrapping the exam and with the no-detention policy being in place, the academic standards are being affected,” a senior HRD Ministry official said.
“Also, it is being observed that students are unable to take the pressure of appearing directly for Class XII boards which are an important deciding factor for the career they choose,” the official said, adding, while no consensus has been reached yet on when to reintroduce the system, 2018 is considered to be an approachable target.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Class X examination was scrapped in 2010 and replaced with the current Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) that provides for tests and grading through the year as a means to reduce pressure on students.
The issue of bringing amendments in the no-detention policy is also on the agenda of the CABE meeting. The policy, which applies to students upto Class X at present, is likely to take into account students till Class V only for no-detention.
If the decision is taken in this regard, states may get an opportunity to devise their mechanism of re-tests for students from Class VI to VIII while beyond Class IX students may be detained if their performance is not up to the mark.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The CBSE’s Class X board examinations, which were scrapped six years ago in order to reduce pressure on students, are likely to be reintroduced following concerns about academic standards being affected.The final decision in this regard will be taken on October 25 in a meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) which will be chaired by Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar.”There have been representations from academicians as well as organisations of parents saying that scrapping the exam and with the no-detention policy being in place, the academic standards are being affected,” a senior HRD Ministry official said.”Also, it is being observed that students are unable to take the pressure of appearing directly for Class XII boards which are an important deciding factor for the career they choose,” the official said, adding, while no consensus has been reached yet on when to reintroduce the system, 2018 is considered to be an approachable target.The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Class X examination was scrapped in 2010 and replaced with the current Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) that provides for tests and grading through the year as a means to reduce pressure on students.The issue of bringing amendments in the no-detention policy is also on the agenda of the CABE meeting.The policy, which applies to students upto Class X at present, is likely to take into account students till Class V only for no-detention.If the decision is taken in this regard, states may get an opportunity to devise their mechanism of re-tests for students from Class VI to VIII while beyond Class IX students may be detained if their performance is not upto the mark.
Seema Chishti, a senior journalist with The Indian Express, has noted in her recent article entitled, The Urdu Press: Strikes and slogans: “Despite expression of dissatisfaction and even criticism of the affidavit filed by the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board in the Supreme Court on the issue of triple talaq in a section of the Urdu press, there is a sense of unanimity in support of the Board and for not allowing any interference in personal law by the government.”
But I find a note of introspection completely missing from the Urdu journalism in India. Today’s Urdu press mostly controlled by the clerics has a very restricted space for the dissenting views on current affairs. A review of the country’s Urdu dailies on the ongoing ‘divorce debate’ makes it pretty self-explanatory. Be it the Uniform Civil Code or the controversial issue of Triple Talaq, it is not difficult to see the brazen breach of the journalistic ethics in the Urdu press.
Some of the Urdu newspapers do not give even a minor space for a different or divergent opinion when it comes to the Muslim Personal Laws. They do not publish anything critical of the misplaced patriarchy, mullahs’ male chauvinism or violation of Muslim women’s rights. The editorial policies in most of the Urdu media outlets appear to be Shariah-controlled.
A recent article in the Firstpost titled, Urdu media agog with conspiracy theories to force changes in Shariah has also candidly depicted this picture. It explored how the Muslim organisations like Darul Uloom Deoband, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind are furthering their ends through the Urdu newspapers published from various cities in the country. Consequently, they are the instruments in bolstering the nationwide agitation against the Law Commission of India’s questionnaire on Uniform Civil Code.
In her article, Seema Chishti has recounted how the leading Urdu daily Roznma Rashtriya Sahara’s reports earned huge support for AIMPLB. In a hagiographical report on the AIMPLB being endorsed by the prominent Indian Ulema and Islamic clergymen, the daily went to the extent of reporting that “All-India Muslim Personal Law Board alone is the representative organisation of Indian Muslims.”
Since the emergence of the divorce debate, Rashtriya Sahara Urdu has been quoting an increasing number of the Islamic clerics and ulema extending an unconditional support to the AIMPLB. For instance, a report in the Urdu daily dated 18 October has quoted Maulana Jalaluddin Umri, the chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (Indian version of Jama’at-e-Islami which has its sister organizations in Bangladesh and Pakistan):
“It is the belief of Muslims that no change is possible in the principles of the Quran, Hadees (traditions and sayings of the prophet) and the Shariat till the end of the world (qayamat). The Jamaat whole-heartedly supports the stand of the Personal Law Board on these issues.”
Tone and tenor
There is no denying that divorce is an essential right of every man and woman, enshrined in the Indian Constitution as well as in Islam, especially in this day and age when marriage is not something irrevocable. Gone are the days when an Indian woman was taken for granted once she tied the knot with a man. Talaq, which is considered the worst permissible thing in Islam, turns out to be an ease for both men and women in many unavoidable circumstances.
But the tone and tenor the maulvis are using in the Urdu media order to justify their position on the ‘triple talaq in one setting’ is distressing. Challenging the Supreme Court’s decision to examine the issue of triple talaq, AIMPLB stated that “Triple talaq is better than murdering wife”. This was headlined not only in most of the Urdu newspapers but also in a number of the English media outlets like the Outlook.
One wonders at the naivety of the AIMPLB in issuing such reactionary statements which are not reasoned by any stretch of imagination. AIMPLB further told the Supreme Court, “Marriage is a contract in which both parties are not physically equal. Male is stronger and female is a weaker sex. Securing separation through court takes a long time deters prospects of remarriage.” Without any critical look at such misogynistic and male-chauvinistic positions, an overwhelming majority of the Urdu newspapers echoed the viewpoint of the AIMPLB that “the apex court cannot rewrite personal laws in the name of social reform”. A leading Urdu newspaper in Delhi Roznama Jadid Khabar ran a front-page five-column story on the consensus (ijma) of the ulama and muftis (experts of Islamic jurisprudence) in favour of the AIMPLB. It quoted many clerics and rectors of the madrasas such as Maulana Mufti Abul Qasim Nomani, rector of the Darul Uloom Deoband, who stated: “Triple talaq and polygamy are an essential part of the Muslim Personal Law. Any type of change is impossible.”
‘Progressive Press’ in Urdu
The baffling problem with the Urdu press is, as shown above, its limited space for the dissenting views, particularly on religious polemics. Clergymen, rather than intellectuals of the Muslim community occupy pages in it. Editors show no consciousness of the sectarian ideologies being promoted through the clerical statements. Consequently, they don’t produce even the slightest sign of introspection in the readers, and of course, no self-criticism ever. This remains the same case with the ongoing debate on triple talaq, as the Urdu daily Roznama Khabrein hints in a signed front-page editorial on 9 October, critiquing the widespread phenomenon: “This is not the time for ishtea’al angezi (emotional offensive). Rather, it is a time to convert the legal battle into victory by a patient approach. Among other weaknesses, in an effort to justify triple talaq, the traditions of four sects of Muslims have been mentioned in the affidavit, but there is no mention of the Shia sect (which has reservations about triple talaq)….. It could be argued that everyone has the liberty to follow the traditions of their own sect. Hence, views of all sects should have been included.”
However, a sort of progression can also be seen in the Urdu journalism, though very rarely. The Mumbai-based Urdu newspaper Inqilab is the first Urdu daily which has opened up a divergent debate on divorce and Uniform Civil Code, incorporating dissenting views. An editorial in the Inquilab (dated 18 October) entitled A Slap on the Polemics of Talaq has slammed the issue as an “unnecessary polemic”. The newspaper argues that Muslims’ condition is worse than that of the Dalits and other backward sections of the Indian society, as the Sachchar Committee has also revealed. Therefore, it recommends the government to ameliorate the social, educational, economic and political condition of Muslims rather than indulge in the unnecessary issues.
On 19 October, Inquilab published a detailed discussion on the issue. Talking to the Inquilab, Maulana Syed Ashraf Kichchawchchvi wondered as to how the Uniform Civil Code or the abolishment of the triple talaq would help in the country’s development. He asked: If the government intends to provide equal rights to Muslims, it should not refrain from removing the religious stipulation from the Section 341 in the Constitution. “The religious terms in Section 341 hampers the Muslim community from availing the opportunities of progression open to other backward communities and classes like the Dalits,” he said.
The author is a scholar of Comparative Religion, Classical Arabic and Islamic sciences, cultural analyst and researcher in Media and Communication Studies. Views are personal. He tweets at @GRDehlvi. Email: [email protected]
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Ganga rejuvenation project, which is of national importance, is being carried out by officials “who do not know” how many drains are polluting the river, the National Green Tribunal lamented on Wednesday. While setting up a panel to collect information on the quantum and quality of waste being released into the river, the NGT said “a project of national importance is being carried out and all authorities including Centre and state government do not know how many drains are polluting Ganga.” Taking the authorities to task, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said “you publish books and books, but you know nothing. We are asking you about only 1/5 part of river which is more than 2500 km in length. Still, you don’t have complete information.”The observation came after the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) told the NGT that there were 30 main drains which joined Ganga or its main tributaries like East Kali, Kosi and Ramganga falling in the segment from Haridwar and Unnao.However, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board claimed there were 172 drains, of which 150 directly joined Ganga and its tributaries. According to UP Jal Nigam, there were 172 drains out of which 83 terminated in the Ganga. “We are very disappointed to note that during the hearing of the case, none of the parties could inform the Tribunal as to how many drains join river Ganga. “We are primarily concerned with segment B of Phase-I but as domestic and industrial waste are inseparable and cannot be quantified, we have to deal with the issue of pollution of Ganga collectively. The Tribunal cannot come to a definite conclusion until the quantum and quality of sewage is brought to the notice by the authorities.”Furthermore, providing of data for control of pollution would depend on the number of drains which join Ganga. The uncertainty created reflects upon functioning of the authorities which have a statutory duty to maintain records.Moreover, the officers present in the court are also unable to assist the Tribunal in this regard. “In these circumstances, we direct Member Secretary of CPCB, chief engineer of UP Jal Nigam, senior environmental officer from UPPCB and a representative from National Mission for Clean Ganga shall personally visit segment B of Phase-I of river Ganga,” the bench, which also included Justice UD Salvi, said. The tribunal directed the panel to identify how many drains joined river Ganga and also record quantity and quality of effluents generated in the river.It asked Ministry of Environment and Forests, CPCB, state pollution control board and UP Jal Nigam to clarify their stand on zero liquid discharge (water treatment process), online monitoring of effluents and discharge of waste in drains by industries releasing contaminants in Ganga. The hearing will continue on Thursday.The NGT is hearing final arguments by various authorities on the mechanism to clean the Ganga from Haridwar to Unnao. Earlier, the Tribunal had rapped Uttar Pradesh government for wasting crores of rupees of public money on Ganga rejuvenation and restrained it from spending on any major project except maintenance work on the stretch from Haridwar to Kanpur.UP government had told the NGT that as per estimates, at present 1382.36 million litre per day sewage is generated and only 300 million litre per day get treated in treatment plants. The green panel had divided the work of cleaning the river into different segments — Gomukh to Haridwar, Haridwar to Kanpur, Kanpur to border of Uttar Pradesh, border of Uttar Pradesh to border of Jharkhand and border of Jharkhand to Bay of Bengal.On December 11 last year, the tribunal had imposed a complete ban on use of plastic of any kind from Gomukh to Haridwar along the river from February 1 and decided to slap a penalty of Rs 5,000 per day on erring hotels, dharamsalas and ashrams spewing waste into the river.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) on Tuesday cancelled recognition of 68 inter-colleges and 19 schools, in connection with the 10+2 toppers scam , reported ANI.The Intermediate toppers scam rocked Bihar in June, a month after Ruby Rai, who was earlier declared topper in arts, failed to reply to basic questions about her subjects and described political science as ‘prodigal science.’Among those arrested are ex-BSEB Chairman Lalkeshwar Singh, his wife Usha Singh, a former JD(U) MLA, a college principal Bachcha Rai and topper Ruby Rai.Rai was arrested by Special Investigation Team (SIT) after she emerged from a re-test of Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) on June 25 and sent to Beur jail.After a re-test on June 25, on the basis of her poor performance not matching her rank in the Humanities stream exam and the evaluators’ report, the BSEB cancelled Rai’s result and the police took her into custody when she stepped out of BSEB that day.Former BSEB Chairman Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh, JD(U) MLA wife Usha Sinha and Secretary cum Principal of Bishun Roy college in Vaishali Bachha Rai, are allegedly kingpins of the racket and are among 21 persons arrested in the case so far.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Opposition parties including the DMK joined a state-wide rail blockade protest announced by a farmer’s federation over the Cauvery issue on Monday, urging the Centre to set up the Cauvery Management Board (CMB). DMK Treasurer and Opposition Leader in Tamil Nadu Assembly, MK Stalin was among those who participated in the protests held in different parts of the state including Chennai and the Cauvery delta districts. Stalin led a procession at Perambur here even as scores of political workers belonging to DMK, the Left parties and MDMK among others staged a rail roko at Thanjavur and Cuddalore, and were detained. A farmers’ federation had called for the two-day rail blockade starting today, urging the Centre to immediately constitute the CMB.The protests come days after a high-level technical team, set up by the Supreme Court, completed its inspection of Cauvery basin region in Tamil Nadu to assess the situation in the state. The team, which also inspected the Cauvery basin in Karnataka, is set to submit its report in the apex court today. The apex court had set up the team while hearing a petition by Tamil Nadu government seeking release of Cauvery water by Karnataka.
It was two months ago that I seriously began to follow the events that unfolded since Shayara Bano’s writ petition in Supreme Court. It was making the most news in mainstream media since March. Until then I thought of it as a cut and dry case.
I had done this a dozen times over the years, explaining to curious friends that there’s no such thing as triple talaq. This was the narrative I grew up with at home, and reinforced repeatedly while reading age-appropriate religious books, the photocopied and well-devoured Most Common Questions Asked to Muslims, at Islamic discussion forums, and in Qur’an translations and commentaries. I would be almost too pleased to enunciate the process of divorce in Islam, for it seemed perfect to me: Thought out, deliberated, arbitrated, waiting time to understand the finality of the decision (three months), and three opportunities at reconciliation. “It is almost like how the courts of law prescribe it,” I would say.
In a parallel universe, dark and dysfunctional, Shayara Bano suffered at the hands of her husband and in-laws, living in fear of “three words”. Her truth was different from mine.
Multiple tabs have stayed open on browsers on all my gadgets for weeks now; news articles, opinion pieces, research papers, religious annotations… It’s as if closing them would mean that their sound reasoning would be lost with it. Because the world outside the screen doesn’t look much like what I thought it was; Shayara and my worlds are colliding, and I am forced to face her reality.
Why is the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) being stubborn to not ban triple talaq? Surely the muftis, who are approached with absurd instances of unilateral divorce (worse still, via SMS and post) call it out on its erroneous nature. What recourse do bereft Muslim women have against their husbands, and men in the family, for such blatant misappropriation of their rights and dignity? Why is Flavia Agnes on the other side?
Mufti Abdul Rashid was kind enough to not get offended when I tried to push past his resilience towards simplifying the issue for me. Unilateral divorce is inappropriate, even sinful, but valid according most Islamic schools of jurisprudence. Legal Islamic precedents exist to this effect, and just as the Supreme Court judges rely on former judgments (what we call landmark rulings, like the Shah Bano’s), so do the muftis.
The only silver lining I could take back with me was that most muftis do not hide their displeasure when families approach them for a religious ruling on the validity of triple talaq, after it’s pronounced.
They agree with the internationally acclaimed Mufti Ismail Menk, that a couple be made aware of the rules and procedures of divorce when they decide to get married. The inimitable Menk took the opportunity to talk about it at a nikah ceremony once, much to the chagrin of the host family, he confessed.
Apparently, talking about the ‘D’ word at all is considered a taboo, not pronouncing it out loud, ‘three times’, without much thought, some scholars harrumphed.
It was easier to understand the complexities of Islamic rulings than to fathom ‘the’ Flavia Agnes ending on the same side as the “anti-women” Muslim Personal Law Board. Women’s rights lawyer Agnes made it clear that she wasn’t impressed with the PIL. I learn, so is advocate Nilofer Akhtar, who specialises in personal laws. A leading family court lawyer, Akhtar was part of the team that drafted the model nikahnama, and was among those who began the conversation on talaq-e-tafveez (women’s right to divorce) in India. She points out that instant triple talaq already has no standing in the courts. “There are enough landmark judgments, like the Shamim Ara judgment in 2002, where the court held that a Muslim man does not have a unilateral right to divorce his wife by triple talaq and had to provide good reasons for a divorce. The premise for taking the plea to ban it in courts is a misplaced advice.”
Both lawyers feel that the battle is to create awareness against wrong practices, and insist that enough legal recourse is already available for Muslim women victims of talaq in an instant, and other indignities. It was Agnes’ piece (also appeared on Scroll.in enumerating these remedies that earned her the displeasure of the liberals in the first place. It’s easy to understand why. These remedies were take-ways from the AIMPLB’s affidavit to the SC. Well, I think it was a clever move. Making it the Board’s word would have a farther reaching effect among the community, than outreaches by the courts, and especially the current government.
Agnes, Akhtar, PB Sawant, a former SC judge, and many other matrimonial lawyers, are standing on the same side as the archaic and patriarchal AIMPLB, because they see BJP’s push to ban tripe talaq, polygamy and bring in the Uniform Civil Code as politically motivated. Let’s not overlook this either.
Since forever, the majority’s idea of governments has been of two kinds: “One that appeases Muslims” and “one that can reign them in” (whatever this means!). The current government’s act to care for Muslims, has rather scared them a lot.
AIMPLB has begun a signature campaign, asking women of the community if they want Shariah law or UCC governing their matters. In Mumbai, the exercise kick-started on 3 October. While speaking to a member of the AIMPLB, I inquired of their sample size. “We plan to take the signature campaign all over India,” the office bearer said with fervour and that hit me hard. In a rare moment, I held back the urge to snap, and bit down the words I wanted to say. I write them here: If you can put into action man and machinery for this, why not use it to create awareness among the community about the Shariah prescribed method for divorce, educate on polygamy and the immorality of the way halala is put to practice instead.
That the board almost banned “instant” triple talaq in 2004, and initiated conversation on the model nikahnama eight years ago, may show that it has a will to reform undesirable social practices. That it hasn’t yet, shows it has no spine.
I want the triple talaq banned, and I am not entirely averse to the idea of a UCC. I realise reforms are acceptable to Muslims, but not when they are by a BJP-led government. The Dadri lynching incident and our Prime Minister’s convenient silence on it, the Kairana controversy, and more recently, the news of the tricolour wrapped casket for the funeral of Dadri-lynching accused, paint a picture of the government’s complicity in the anti-Muslim rhetoric. Surely, we are not blind to it. Or fools. Like one woman office bearer of a Muslim trust said to me, “I love my country, but I cannot be blind to the past and the present of the people in the government and their agenda.”
I cannot disregard the sentiments of the majority of the Muslim community. Neither should the government. Take the Muslims along, the formula has to be integration, not oppression. We need to right what Shayara Bano’s PIL points out. For a start, I think one Mumbai man — Abdul Razzak Maniyar — has shown the way. Posters discouraging triple talaq at city mosques is a wonderful idea. The AIMPLB and the government minorities panel can both get cracking on this one.
The government should perhaps slow down to analyse the stakes if it cares to not burn bridges with the community, but the board should not. It’s already too late in the day. We cannot want both: Right to personal law, and the right to not understand and follow it correctly, because unilateral divorce is not prescribed in the Qur’an. Let the Supreme Court do their job, and you do yours.
New Delhi: Government on Friday rebuked the All India Muslim Personal Law Board for trying to “politicise” the law panel’s move to seek feedback on uniform civil code and said it should not be linked to ‘triple talaq’, where the core issue is gender justice and ending discrimination against women.
Calling for an “enlightened debate” on Uniform Civil Code (UCC), Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the “real mood” of the country was to end triple talaq and some people were trying to create confusion over the two issues.
“You (All India Muslim Personal Law Board) join the debate. Let there be enlightened debate you put forth your point of view. Let a consensus be evolved. Why are you trying to bring in the name of Prime Minister and call him dictator,” Naidu told reporters.
Government’s sharp reaction came a day after All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and various other Muslim organisations announced that they will boycott Law Commission’s process to take views on the contentious Uniform Civil Code. They said the move amounted to the Modi government declaring “war” on their religious rights and that UCC will “kill” India’s pluralism.
Naidu said some people were confusing the issue of triple talaq with Uniform Civil Code. “The real mood of the country is that people want this triple talaq to end. People do not want any discrimination on basis of any religious faith agianst women. As I told you the issues are gender justice, non-discrimination and dignity of women,” he said.
Criticising AIMPLB, Naidu even said, “If you are so interested in making political comments you can as well join any political party of your choice. This is not expected from Muslim Personal Law Board and other religious leaders.
“You have to confine yourself to the issue and the issue is put forth for discussion by the law commission,” he added. Naidu said the Law Commission wants a thorough discussion
on UCC and if the AIMPLB does not want to participate in the
debate, it was their choice.
“If you don’t want to react, do not want to respond, it is your choice but you do not pose yourself as you are the champion and other’s views have no relevance. Do not try to convert this into a political debate,” he said.
About the issue of triple talaq, he said the Law Commission wanted the views of all stakeholders. “They wanted this issue to be debated, discussed and all the religious leaders, social workers, prominent public personalities need to acknowledge the basic principle of equality of all human beings — men or women and work in that direction.
“Instead of misleading people some people are trying to confuse the issue of triple talaq with the common civil code,” said Naidu.
He further said Uniform Civil Code is enshrined in Article 44 of the Directive Principles of the Constitution and not brought in by NDA government or Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“There is nothing wrong in discussing about it (UCC) and nothing is going to be forced on people. If something is done, then it will on the basis of consensus and agreement within the community,” he said.
He further added, “The government definitely wants a debate across the country. There are three basic issues gender justice, non discrimination and third is dignity of women. In democracy, everybody has got a right to express their views.”
Addressing a press conference here yesterday, the AIMPLB members and representatives of Muslim organisations had contended that the the UCC, if implemented, will paint all people in “one colour” which will threaten the country’s pluralism and diversity.
Trashing government’s stand on the issue of triple talaq, the outfits claimed the community has reported lesser number of divorce cases vis-à-vis other communities, especially the Hindu community which, they said, has reported higher divorce ratio according to Census 2011.
Liberalism, that cornerstone of a modern nation-state, has undergone a curious and radical transformation in India. Its practitioners — historically the Left which has an illustrious legacy of having authored most of the principles that serve as the foundation of a liberal democracy — have absolved themselves of all responsibilities when it comes to advocating for the common civil code.
The Left’s continued and resolute failure to root for a truly progressive reform that replaces a clutch of illiberal and regressive personal laws has forced it to cede space to the conservative Right, which, in this case, has taken over the task of promoting, protecting and enhancing an individual’s liberty within the principles of gender justice, human dignity and equality before law.
And because it finds itself fenced on the regressive side of history, the Left has sought to use the slur of “communal agenda” as a battering ram against the Right to stifle all debates around a civil code that in historian Ram Guha’s words, “does not discriminate between individual citizens on the basis of caste, community, religion, or gender.”
As the torchbearers of a legacy that includes fighting for universal adult suffrage, against patriarchy, in favour of gender justice and protection of minority rights, the Left must pause and take a long, hard look at its untenable position on the common civil code. Not only is it doing a grave disservice to the real minority (an individual vis-à-vis the community or state), it is fighting a futile battle against an idea whose time has clearly come.
As the clamour led by Muslim women against triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy has shown, the need for reform in Muslim personal law and its codification has arisen from within the community. And the struggle is being led by women — the most vulnerable section within the Muslim community. The women have shown an increasing awareness about their rights, raised a legitimate demand to be treated with due dignity and have sought equality before law — all fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.
The Left must therefore decide which side it wants to be on? The real minority that needs protection? Or a posse of entitled, chauvinistic, regressive power-mongers like the All India Muslim Personal Law Board whose real aim is to ensure their relevance in an ever-changing world and hold on to their sway over the community?
As a recent survey has shown, of the 4500 women interviewed by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, over 95.5 per cent have claimed they have never heard about the AIMPLB — the self-declared custodians and interpreters of Muslim law.
Does the Left (apropos the position taken by some of its venerated mouthpieces such as EPW — Uniform Civil Code: A Heedless Quest?) realize that in refusing to even engage in a debate over the reform and in taking a hard, reactionary position, it is transforming into an extended arm of the hierarchical, boorish law board whose very existence — to quote Tufail Ahmad — is antithetical to the Indian Constitution..?
In his piece Outlaw the Muslim Personal Law Board; Ensure Five Constitutional Paths for Reform, author, commentator and social reformer (also the Director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC) Tufail Ahmad writes, “It (AIMPLB) is unconstitutional because such organisations were established with the objective of working against the fundamental rights guaranteed under the constitution. Since its founding in 1973, the AIMPLB has endorsed Sharia courts across India and runs a legal system parallel to the Indian constitution…. It is a privately-owned NGO that rules over the lives of Muslim masses. The ideas propagated by this anti-equality organisation do not fall within the sphere of freedom of speech.”
And falling into the elaborate trap laid by such regressive interest groups, the Left has conflated the battle for gender justice, personal liberty and equality before law with the narrative that Article 25 of the Indian Constitution (that allows each and every individual to follow, practise and propagate the religion of his or her choice) is in danger if even a discussion over common civil code is undertaken.
The ruse of using identity politics to cloud the debate over a progressive reform isn’t surprising. The interest groups led by the entitled maulanas and maulvis will do it to hang on to power and political parties — led by the Congress — will do it to keep Indians divided along religious fault lines. A common civil code in line with the CrPC and IPC does not harm the plurality of a nation. Giving women — and not just Muslim women — the ability to decide the course of their lives cannot be at odds with the right to practice one’s own religion.
If certain retrogressive practices come in the way, those must be tested on the altar of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution — which guarantees that “the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India” — and dealt accordingly, as was done by Jawaharlal Nehru and BR Ambedkar during the Hindu law reforms. It is another matter that the Congress now finds itself on the dustbins of history precisely because it has shifted away from the progressiveness of past to regression of present.
But the Left surely must look through the ruse. To quote Guha again from his Hindustan Times column: “…left-wing intellectuals who oppose a common civil code disavow the progressive heritage of socialist and feminist movements in India and across the world. They are — whether they sense it or not — apologists for the status quo, whose tortured and convoluted arguments only serve the interests of Muslim patriarchs and the Islamic clergy.”
If the Left has ceded its space, it is only natural that the Right would step in to fill the vacuum. To raise the bogey of “communal agenda” against the Right for leading the cause for common civil code is end of logic. To suggest, as some left-wing commentators have done that the NDA government is “raising the pitch for one nation, one law to polarize the electorate” ahead of UP elections, reflects stunning arrogance and total disdain towards the electorate.
Reform can’t be bad politics. There was considerable opposition towards Nehru and Ambedkar’s move during codification of Hindu law. The effects of the reforms are evident. The Left must abandon its reflexive fear that Indian secularism can be hijacked by a few.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) has summoned former Delhi Waqf Board chairman Amanatullah Khan on Friday to appear before it in connection with the alleged recruitment scam in the body. Khan has been asked to join the enquiry and to be present on Friday for further interrogation. Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia has reached ACB to join the probe for alleged recruitment scam in Delhi Waqf board.Lt Governor Najeeb Jung had on October 7 dissolved the Board, constituted by the AAP government, and quashed all the appointments made by Khan. He also referred the whole matter related to Delhi Waqf Board to the CBI for investigation into the deliberate and persistent acts of illegality, violation of rules, allegations of corruption, possibility of malafide. Official said they had received two complaints against Khan, alleging that recruitments in the Board were made without following due procedure. Alleging that the ACB was targeting him, Khan said, the LG’s order will be challenged in the court of law.
On 23 August 1985, Arif Mohammad Khan, minister of state for home affairs in Rajiv Gandhi government, delivered a passionate speech in the Lok Sabha defending the Supreme Court judgment in the Shah Bano case. It was in the backdrop of a private member bill that was moved in the Lok Sabha by an MP named GM Bantwala, seeking to exempt Muslims from the purview of Section 125, an exemption that was nullified by the apex court judgement in the Shah Bano case, pronounced on 23 April, 1985.
Ramchandra Guha in his book India after Gandhi writes that the bill was opposed in the house by Khan, representing “so to say, the ‘progressive’ Muslim point of view”. Guha writes that Khan defended the judgement by quoting Maulana Azad who had “written that the Quran takes occasion to re-emphasise that proper consideration should be shown to the divorced women in every circumstances”
Khan argued that “We should have better practices these days and only if the downtrodden are uplifted, can the Islamic tenants be said to have been followed and justice done”. However, ‘political compulsions’ won over the ideals enunciated by Khan and in February 1986, a bill was introduced in the House to overcome the Supreme Court judgement.
And as mentioned in his book Text and Context : Quran and Contemporary Challenges, Khan, a few minutes after the bill was introduced, “sitting two benches behind the law minister” wrote his resignation, and according to Guha, told an interviewer, afterwards, that with this new legislation “Indian Muslim women will be the only women to be denied maintenance anywhere in the world”.
As the issue of ‘triple talaq’ and the desirability of uniform civil code (UCC) is once again being debated, Firstpost spoke to Khan to understand what has changed in last three decades and whether he feels that this time around, Muslim women will get their dues and their right to equality.
Three decades have passed since the Shah Bano judgment. Once again, the issue of UCC and triple talaq is being debated. What are your expectations today from the judiciary and government? What has changed and what remains the same?
The question is not about my expectations, the question is what the citizens and in this case, women of India should expect from the government and judiciary. Naturally, the expectation will be that they uphold the law of land and ensure the basic constitutional guarantee of equality before law and equal protection of the laws which includes equality in marital rights.
The government has said that triple talaq violates the right to equality of women, as well as their dignity, and “has no place in a secular country”. Your comments
There is no question that ‘triple divorce’ negates both equality and dignity of Muslim women as human beings and citizens of India and can have no place in a civilised society. In fact the Personal Law Board publication titled The Compendium of Islamic Laws itself describes this form of divorce as “talaq bidat“. Now bidat literally means innovation, something that is not part of the original scheme. They themselves describe it as “good in law and bad in religion”. It is indeed bad because it seeks to dehumanise women. The important question is how you can defend something in the name of religion that you admit to be bad in religion.
The petition that is being considered by the Supreme Court also seeks an end to polygamy and ‘halala‘, which can help women of the Muslim community get their equal place in society and ensure dignity to them. What are your views on this?
Regarding polygamy, the provision of the Quran is crystal clear. It says: “Marry those among you who are single (24.32)”. This is addressed to both men and women and strangely this provision has been totally ignored, while the provision that gives conditional permission for polygamy, applicable in very exceptional circumstances has been elevated to the status of regular law. If you read the provisions of Quran together, then it leaves no room for doubt that it prescribes monogamy as a norm and allows polygamy under very extraordinary circumstances.
Many Muslim scholars and personalities have asserted that ‘triple talaq’ is being given an “un-Islamic” interpretation and that practice of ‘triple talaq’ was being “wrongly interpreted”, as the concept of one-time ‘triple talaq’ does not exist. If this is this case what are the basis of defending it?
I have already pointed out that even the Personal Law Board publication admits that triple talaq is an innovation and bad in religion, so their insistence on retention of triple talaq is not a matter of wrong interpretation rather it is an attempt to perpetuate something that is repulsive both to religion and good conscience. It is important to note that few years after the death of the Prophet, when triple divorce found legal sanction, the men who resorted to triple divorce were awarded 40 lashes as punishment as they were perceived to have committed a crime. Today you cannot resort to lashing, so a new law may be enacted providing for four years of rigorous imprisonment for the crime of triple talaq.
The government has also asked for the re-examination of a 1952 Bombay High Court judgment that held that Article 13 of the Constitution doesn’t cover personal laws? Your comments.
With respect to the honourable courts, I would say that the Muslim personal law received legislative sanction through Shariat Application Act of 1937. Now a law that is passed by the Parliament cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be outside the purview of judicial review by the higher courts, who have been charged by the Constitution to safeguard the fundamental rights of the citizens from any encroachment by anybody including the executive and Parliament.
The Law Commission of India sought the views of people on the implementation of UCC in the country. It put out a questionnaire on 7 October 7. How do you see this development? Do you see it as a precursor to some significant change in personal laws in India?
I have not seen the questionnaire, but the move is welcome. This is how we must move forward in a democratic society. It is only through debate and discussion that we can crystallise a well-informed view.
“A uniform civil code is not good for this nation. There’re so many cultures in this nation, (they) have to be respected. India can’t impose a single ideology,” said the Muslim Personal Law Board’s Maulana Wali Rahmani at a press conference on Thursday. How do you react to such claims?
Securing a UCC for the citizens throughout the territory of India, is a constitutional principle, not enforceable by the courts but fundamental in the governance of the country. If the state is serious about carrying out this obligation, then we can always endeavour to find common ground. To my mind the basic thing to be ensured is that the law should not have any provision that prescribes a thing that is prohibited by any religion. But this debate can start only when we have in hand some proposed draft.
I have not seen the questionnaire, but the move is welcome. This is how we must move forward in a democratic society. It is only through debate and discussion that we can crystallise a well-informed view.
In your book, while dwelling in great detail on the issue of UCC and functioning of MPLB you write, “The Imrana case, for that matter many other cases including the famous Shah Bano case , are merely symptoms of much deeper malaise — the desire to maintain and perpetuate disparity between the sexes… MLPB since its inception has been a votary of this trend”. Do you think that MPLB will this time too succeed in stifling any attempt of implementing the UCC?
I feel that it is not only triple divorce; there are so many other provisions in the “Compendium of Islamic Law” compiled by Personal Law Board which are inhumane and supremacist in their tone and tenor. For example it says that “if a person under compulsion or duress pronounces divorce, it will be valid”, or that the father of an adult girl of Arab origin can himself terminate the marriage, if the girl by her own volition marries a Muslim man of non-Arab origin”.
Now as we know, the Quran strictly says that “there is no compulsion in religion” and it does not recognise any racial or birth based inequalities, how these laws can be labelled as Islamic. But the Personal Law Board insists that these are laws of divine nature and they cannot be reviewed by any authority. So their intention and purpose is clear. It has nothing to do with religion, it is an attempt to entrench the patriarchal domination.
Implementation of UCC means that along with Muslims other minorities, like Christians and Parsis, would also lose their existing right to apply their own civil code or laws for family matters including marriage, divorce and inheritance. But the most vehement opposition comes from MPLB. Why is that so?
I have already explained as to what motivates the Personal Law Board. But the problem is not the Personal Law Board, the real problem is the lackadaisical attitude of our political establishment. It is not the Muslims who have chosen the Board as their representative organisation. It is the political establishment that gave them credibility and legitimacy.
The board has moved in a calculated manner and now has started claiming the status of “the sole spokesman” as Muslim League had done in 1930s. I feel that the political establishment must engage every organisation to enlist their cooperation for the solution of a problem, but it must be wary of any organisation that claims to be the sole spokesman of a religious community. It was this ‘sole spokesman’ business that divided India in 1947 and today, this can divide India from within.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the face of strong opposition to Uniform Civil Code by Muslim outfits, Congress on Thursday said its implementation would be impossible while BJP asserted that the move is aimed at moving towards a progressive society.Other opposition parties like JD(U) accused the BJP-led central government of trying to polarise the people ahead of Assembly polls in several states, with leader of Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) Asaduddin Owaisi saying that bringing the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) will “kill” the diversity and plurality of India.Earlier in the day, the All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board and some other outfits opposed the Law Commission’s questionnaire on Uniform Civil Code, including abolition of ‘triple talaq’ and announced their boycott of the move, accusing the government of waging a “war” against the community.”If you enforce something in the name of Uniform Civil Code, then it will kill the diversity and plurality of the country. It’s not right to look at it from a Muslim perspective because Indian diversity also comprises of Dalits and Tribals. There are different traditions in Hinduism as well,” he said. Owaisi said the government’s “real agenda” was to focus on Muslims and polarise the society.Reacting to the issue, former Law Minister and Congress leader Veerappa Moily said it will be difficult to implement UCC in a country like India where various communities and groups are governed by personal laws. “In a country of this nature, implementation of Uniform Civil Code is next to impossible,” he said adding no one should take it as a communal agenda or a Hindu versus Muslim issue. He said 200-300 personal laws exist in India covering various communities.BJP national secretary Sidharth Nath Singh said the Law Commission is taking opinion of all the stakeholders on the issue following which it will form a “considered opinion” and give it to the Supreme Court. “Now it is for the Muslim Personal Law Board to consider whether they want to be part of the stakeholders or they want to be an individual identity… if Personal Law Board people are misinformed, I cannot do much about it,” he said.Singh also referred to some international declarations and countries like Turkey, Iran and Indonesia saying they changed law to ensure gender equality. He said it was a move towards building a progressive society. JD(U) MP Ali Anwar asked the government why it was only focusing on Muslims and said it is not the time to start such a debate. “They want to polarise the society.”Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut said “for how long the Muslims will stay away from the national mainstream. The Muslim Law Board should support the UCC as it will help the community, especially the women to come out of misery. “Our party’s stand is ‘one code, one law’ and it should be viewed as a national issue rather than religious one.”In his reaction, Owaisi said those pushing for UCC were not aware of India’s pluralism and diversity. “They are not understanding India’s beauty where there is a different culture every 200-300 kms. If you make one culture to all, then its not going to work. MIM will certainly respond to the questionnaire,” he said. He said, “We have given cultural rights to people of Mizoram and Nagaland. Are you going to end that?”Making perhaps the first such move, the Law Commission had on October 7 sought feedback from public on whether the practice of triple talaq be abolished and whether a uniform civil code should be optional.
Hyderabad: Stating that Uniform Civil Code is not good for the country, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Thursday said his party would nevertheless reply to the Law Commission’s questionnaire.
Owaisi said that while he respects the decision of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board to boycott the questionnaire, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) as a political party had decided to respond to the questionnaire.
The Hyderabad MP, who is also a member of the board, said the AIMIM took the decision despite the questionnaire being heavily loaded in favour of Uniform Civil Code.
Talking to reporters, Owaisi reiterated that Uniform Civil Code was not good for diversity and pluralism of this country.
He said that in a country with different religions, cultures and languages, a Uniform Civil Code will not help.
“Can there be an agreement on inheritance according to Mitakshara and Dayabhaga schools? Can we take away cultural rights which Constitution has given to Nagaland and Mizoram?” he asked.
“Every community or caste in India whether it is Hindu, Muslim, Dalit, tribal Christian or Sikh has its own culture. This country celebrates the diversity of culture and religion.
“Those who want to impose Uniform Civil Code are deliberately not understanding the beauty of pluralism. You cannot impose one culture one language on the country,” he said.
He also wondered why Muslims were being denied Hindu undivided family tax rebate and asked if this was not gross violation of right to equality and right to freedom of religion.
Owaisi said the government wants polarization through efforts to impose Uniform Civil Code. He alleged that it also wants to divert people’s attention from its failures on all fronts.
He hoped that other communities would also understand that this was the real agenda of the government and not development or revival of the economy.
“Surveys show 84 percent Hindu girls who marry are in the age group of 10-16 years but they don’t want to talk about this. They just want to blame Muslims and do polarization,” Owaisi said.
The MP wanted to know why the government was focusing on one directive principle and not another which says that there should be a law banning alcohol.
“There is empirical evidence that more than one lakh people are dying every year under influence of alcohol.”
He said the government had completely failed to revive the economy.
“The industrial output is negative. The last five years have seen highest unemployment. The dollar has touched Rs 70. In the recent auction of spectrum, the government had set a target of Rs 5.5 lakh crore but got only Rs.5,000 odd crore. These are the questions which nobody asks.”
On 7 October, 2016, the Law Commission released a questionnaire asking the public to fill it out and send it back within 45 days, inviting opinion and views on the Uniform Civil Code.
Following this, on Thursday, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) in a press conference slammed the Law Commission saying that it would boycott the questionnaire. “Uniform civil code is not acceptable for the people of this country,” Hazrat Maulana Wali Rehman of the Muslim Law Board, said. “We are staying in this country according to the Constitution of the country. The Constitution has guaranteed the right to live in our country to us,” he added.
The AIMPLB has constantly opposed the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code and the abolishing of the practice of triple talaq. Earlier this week, another AIMPLB member Zafaryab Jilani claimed that “Ninety percent Muslim women support the Sharia Law”, and that banning triple talaq was a “conspiracy to impose a uniform civil code”, he alleged. The Centre, meanwhile filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on 7 October, taking a stand against triple talaq and polygamy in Islam, saying, “gender equality is non-negotiable”.
Talking to Firstpost, Zakia Soman, one of the co-founders of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, rubbished the claims of the AIMPLB. “The important question should be about gender justice. We’re talking about the rights given to Muslim women by the Quran and the Constitution that have been denied ever since Indian independence.” She also said that the practice of triple talaq, “which is not Quranic”, was causing suffering towards Muslim women.
Why does the AIMPLB stay adamant about the issue of triple talaq and by extension, the Uniform Civil Code? Do Indian Muslims cling on to it because they might in a way feel marginalised otherwise? “Ordinary Indian Muslim women demand justice — as women and as citizens of India. They [AIMPLB] are neither a Constitutional body nor a judicial body; they are a male-dominated regressive NGO that is not very good,” Soman said.
The Law Commission’s questionnaire, which begins with an appeal made by Justice BS Chauhan, who heads the panel, talks about a “comprehensive exercise of the revision and reform of family laws”. In it, he also outlined the objective of the questionnaire, which is “address discrimination against various groups and harmonise various cultural practices”. Chauhan ends by saying that the questionnaire was prepared to elicit views from the public so that family law reforms can be introduced in “the most integrative manner” so as it does not “compromise the diversity and the plurality that constitutes the core of India’s social fabric”.
Soman commended the Law Commission for this “correct step” saying that it didn’t limit itself to Muslim personal laws. She said that laws pertaining to property rights for Hindu women and the Christian women’s right to equality on the two-year waiting period for finalising divorces also found mention. “This is a welcome move,” she said.
Perhaps, the members of the AIMPLB missed that message in the questionnaire, instead of calling for a conference to denounce it. It went a step further and cited the United States as an example for their argument. “All states in the US have separate personal laws. And there is hardly any conflict in the society there,” Rehman said. He added that India should follow the US system when it came to personal laws and that it was surprising that “our nation doesn’t want to follow their steps in this matter”.
Soman, who sounds a little stumped at this comparison, says that America’s secular law is far different from ours. “Why even look at America; look at other Muslim countries. This is an attempt at obfuscation; they are selectively referring. We are not asking for charity; we’re just demanding our rights Quranically and Constitutionally.”
Almost a week after the Law Commission, by means of a questionnaire, asked the public for a response on the sensitive issues of Uniform Civil Code and triple talaq, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) in a press conference on Thursday said they would boycott the questionnaire.
The AIMPLB also lashed out at the Law Commission and said that it was functioning like the “government’s agent”.
“This is an attempt to betray the people,” said Hazrat Maulana Wali Rehman of the Muslim Law Board. “The Law Commission is not functioning like an independent body, it is engaging in illegal activities and acting like the government’s agent.”
“Therefore, we have decided to boycott the questionnare sent by the Law Commission,” he said.
Rehman also said this was a move by the government to impose the uniform civil code on the people.
“Uniform civil code is not acceptable for the people of this country,” he said. “We are staying in this country according to the Consitution of the country. The Constitution has guaranteed the right to live in our country to us,” he added.
“Uniform civil code paints everyone into a gadha (donkey),” Rehman said later.
“If these provisions are harmed, the government and Law Commission are messing around with the rights of the people,” he further said.
Rehman also used the US as an example for making his argument. “All states in the US have separate personal laws. And there is hardly any conflict in the society there,” he said, adding that India shoul follow the system adopted by the US when it came to personal laws because it followed other US-based systems and had close ties with it.
The AIMPLB also severely criticised the government for the discussion on the uniform civil code.
“We will oppose the uniform civil code. We feel that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to distract people from the failures of his own government by focusing on this,” Rehman said.
“This is not an issue limited to Muslims,” he said. “Our objective is for a united India,” he added.
“Modiji is not able to protect our borders and is instead out to create internal conflict,” Rehman said. Another AIMPLB member later said that “Modiji is discriminating in his own home.”
On the issue of triple talaq, the AIMPLB refused to comment. However, Rehman said that “the ratio of divorce among the Muslims is the lowest and the ratio among the Hindus is the highest.”
On 7 October, the Law Commission had sought public views on the subject to revise and reform family laws, saying the aim is to address social injustice rather than plurality of laws.
The Commission had said the objective behind the endeavour is to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise the various cultural practices even as it assured the people that the “norms of no one class, group or community will dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms”.
In an accompanying questionnaire, the Commission had asked whether the existing personal laws and customary practices need codification and whether it would benefit people.
Should the practice of triple talaq be abolished, retained or retained with suitable amendments and whether a uniform civil code should be optional are among 16 queries by the commission.
It had also sought to know whether the uniform code should include subjects like divorce, marriage, adoption, child custody, succession and inheritance.
It had asked people and stake holders as to whether a common code would infringe an individual’s right to freedom of religion.
“The Commission hopes to begin a healthy conversation about the viability of a uniform civil code and will focus on family laws of all religions and the diversity of customary practices, to address social injustice rather than plurality of laws,” law panel chairman Justice BS Chauhan (retd) had said.
He had said that responding to the demands of social change, the panel will consider the opinions of all stake-holders and the general public to ensure that the “norms of no one class, group or community dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms”.
Justice Chauhan had said in the appeal that the family law reform has to view women’s rights as an end in itself rather than a matter of constitutional provision, religious right and political debate.
Indicating need for wider consultation before taking a call on a uniform civil code, the government had in June asked the Law Commission to examine the issue.
Implementation of a common code is part of the BJP’s election manifesto.
The move asking the law panel to examine the issue assumes significance as the Supreme Court had recently said it would prefer a wider debate, in public as well as in court, before taking a decision on the constitutional validity of ‘triple talaq’, which many complain is abused by Muslim men to arbitrarily divorce their wives.
With inputs from PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Less than a week after the Law Commission asked if the practice of triple talaq could be abolished and whether a uniform civil code should be optional, the All India Muslim Personal Law (AIMPLB) Board on Thursday announced its boycott of the Law Commission’s questionnaire.Addressing the media, AIMPLB announced its boycott of Law Commission’s proposal saying,” Uniform Civil Code is not good for this nation. There are so many cultures in this nation and those have to be respected.”Stating that they were living in this country with an agreement held by the Constitution which had let them live and practice their religion, Hazrat Maulana Mohammad Wali Rahmani of the Muslim Personal Law Board (MPLB) said,” In America, everyone follows their personal laws and identity, how come our nation doesn’t want to follow their steps in this matter?”Attacking the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government Rahmani said, “Modi government is applying diversionary tactics. We are satisfied with our own religious rules.”Rahmani also said that Muslims equally participated in India’s freedom struggle, but their participation is always underestimated.However, he decline to comment on the triple talaq and said that they stand by the affidavit filed in the court regarding the matter.The Law Commission on Friday has sought public opinion on the exercise of reforming family laws of all religions.Amid a raging debate on the uniform civil code, the law panel had on Monday sought public views on the subject to revise and reform family laws, saying the aim is to address social injustice rather than plurality of laws.In an appeal issued, the Commission said the objective behind the endeavour is to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise the various cultural practices even as it assured the people that the “norms of no one class, group or community will dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms”.In an accompanying questionnaire, the Commission has asked whether the existing personal laws and customary practices needed codification and whether it would benefit people.Should the practice of triple talaq be abolished, retained or retained with suitable amendments; and whether a uniform civil code should be optional are among 16 queries by the commission.It has also sought to know whether the uniform code should include subjects like divorce, marriage, adoption, child custody, succession and inheritance.(With agency inputs)