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Air safety incidents at Goa and Delhi airport; 2 pilots suspended

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was a day of miraculous escape for air passengers as two major accidents were averted on Tuesday. The first incident pertained to a Goa-Mumbai Jet flight which skidded off at the Goa airport on early morning resulting in 12 people getting injured. The flying licence of the two pilots was suspended and a probe by Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) of the Civil Aviation Ministry was launched soon after the incident. Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said a thorough time-bound investigation and corrective action shall be ensured.The second incident happened at national capital’s Indira Gandhi International Airport when an IndiGo and a SpiceJet aircraft came dangerously close to each other on the runway, allegedly because of bad weather and due to ‘miscommunication’ with the Air Traffic Control (ATC). Both incidents raised questions on India’s air safety record which is obviously a cause of worry as the country is one of the fastest growing aviation market.A three-member team of AAIB rushed to Goa for inspection of the spot of accident, sources in the Ministry said. “Prima facie the runway accident appears to be the pilot’s fault. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has withdrawn the flying privileges of the two pilots, including the Commander, pending the initial outcome of the probe,” a source at DGCA said. Officials in AAIB were of the same opinion. They said that in all ‘probability’ the accident took place because of the pilot’s fault, adding that the preliminary findings on the accident are likely to be submitted in a week’s time.The Jet Airways flight 9W 2374 with 161 people onboard veered off the runway at Dabolim airport in Goa while aligning for take-off. The incident took place at 5 am when the Boeing 737 aircraft turned a full 360 degrees and its nose touched the soft land while taxiing for take off early on Tuesday in Goa airport. The Jet Airways flight had arrived from Dubai and was heading to Mumbai. There was panic among the passengers and a few passengers suffered injuries even during the evacuation process. Some passengers had to be rushed to the local hospital and five of the 12 injured passengers were hospitalised till late evening.Sources in Indian Navy, which manages the Dabolim airport, said its prompt response in rescuing passengers prevented a ‘catastrophe’. The airport, which is located in the Navy facility INS Hansa in Vasco town, was closed down for a while, impacting movements of other flights and causing some flight diversions.The incident at Delhi’s IGI airport took place in the afternoon when an IndiGo flight had just arrived from Lucknow with 160 passengers and the Spicejet flight with 187 on board was about to take off for Hyderabad . The two aircraft came face-to-face and almost collided with each other, sources said. Officials from ATC, on condition of anonymity, blamed poor visibility for the situation. They said haze was particularly intense on Tuesday. 72 flights were delayed that day because of fog. However, officials from Delhi International Airport Limited — which manages the Delhi airport — rejected ATC’s charge and said the problem occurred because of miscommunication from ATC. IndiGo as well as SpiceJet confirmed that both planes saw each other coming from opposite directions but both airlines denied that there was any risk to the passengers.

AAIB, DGCA to probe Mumbai-bound Jet airways flight skid off

Tue, 27 Dec 2016-10:52am , Panaji , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will investigate the Jet airways accident, wherein a Mumbai-bound flight skidded off on Tuesday at Dabolim airport in Goa.As many as 15 persons suffered minor injuries after the flight 9W 2374, whilst taking off from the ‘HANSA runway 26’ aborted takeoff and spun around 360 degrees.”We regret to inform flight 9W 2374 from GOI – BOM, with 154 guests and 7 crew, veered off the runway while aligning for takeoff. All guests and crew have been safely evacuated. Few guests have sustained injuries during the evacuation process,” said a Jet Airways statement.
ALSO READ Jet Airways Goa-Mumbai flight with 161 on-board veers off runway, 15 passengers injuredThe airline stated that medical assistance is being coordinated to those injured. An Indian Navy spokesperson tweeted that the runway has been opened for operation.

Mishap averted at Delhi airport as Indigo, SpiceJet aircraft come face-to-face

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A major accident was on Tuesday morning averted at the Delhi airport after an IndiGo and a SpiceJet aircraft came face-to-face on the runway at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.The incident occurred when the Indigo flight was moving towards taxiway after landing and SpiceJet was ready for a takeoff.Meanwhile, the incident has been reported to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which has assured of a probe.Earlier in the day, a Jet Airways flight with 161 people on board veered off the runway at Dabolim airport in Goa while aligning for take off, with 15 passengers suffering “minor” injuries during evacuation.(Developing story)

Kiren Rijiju asks Arunachal govt to hold independent inquiry into death of engineering student

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju has asked the Arunachal Pradesh government to constitute an independent inquiry into the death of 22-year-old engineering student Haa Tama who died last week after falling from his hostel building in Rajasthan.Rijiju gave this direction to state Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Food and Civil Supplies Parliamentary Secretary Markio Tado and sought a report in the matter during a meeting at New Delhi yesterday.The Union minister urged the state government to constitute an independent inquiry by a superintendent of police, an official communique said here today.Tado also appealed to the Union minister to direct the Rajasthan government to disclose the post-mortem and FSL report.Khandu assured to take up the matter immediately with Union and Rajasthan governments.Tama, who was pursuing engineering degree at Dr K N Modi University in Tonk district of Rajasthan, died after he fall mysteriously from his hostel room on December 16 last.

NGT slaps fine of Rs 50,000 on airlines dumping human waste from airplanes…no, really

New Delhi: Human waste being splattered on houses from airplanes while landing, on Monday led the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to slap a fine of Rs 50,000 on the airline whose aircraft empties toilet tanks on air.

The NGT directed aviation regulator DGCA to issue a circular to all airlines, whose planes are involved, to pay Rs 50,000 as environmental compensation.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar passed a slew of directions while disposing of a plea of a retired army officer alleging dumping of human excreta by aircraft over residential areas near the IGI Airport here.

Normally, the waste in the aircraft tanks is disposed of by ground handling personnel once the plane lands. However, there are cases where lavatory leaks occur in the air.

The tribunal asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to issue circular to all ground handling services and airlines to ensure that they do not release waste from human waste tanks while landing or anywhere near the terminals of the IGI Airport.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“DGCA shall also issue directions that aircraft on landing shall be subjected to surprise inspection to see that human waste tanks are not empty. If any aircraft is found to be violating such circular or (their) tanks are found empty on landing, they shall be subjected to environment compensation of Rs 50,000 per default,” the bench said.

The direction came on the plea of Lt Gen (Retd) Satwant Singh Dahiya who has sought action against the airlines and levy of hefty fines on them for endangering the health of residents, terming their act as a violation of the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’.

While issuing directions, the green panel also said it was “surprised” to note the stand taken by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) that on analysing the samples taken from the petitioner’s house, it could be ascertained that it was excreta but its source could not be known.

“We are surprised to note the stand of CPCB to the extent of coliform and the kind of splashes created on the houses of the petitioner as well as others clearly demonstrate that it was human excreta,” the bench said.

It added that the amount collected shall be deposited with CPCB for using it for environment protection and a quarterly report shall also be submitted by DGCA before it.

DGCA was also asked by the tribunal to set up a helpline so that similar complaints can be addressed and the helpline number, as well as email address, be kept in public domain.

During the hearing, DGCA told the bench it has issued a circular to constitute a committee to investigate the matter.

The NGT had earlier slapped a cost of Rs 5,000 on the Environment Ministry and the Ministry of Civil Aviation for their failure to file inspection report on the plea.

It had also directed CPCB to depute a senior environmental engineer to inspect the petitioner’s house and check the existence of human excreta on its walls and if excreta was found, samples should be collected for analysis and the report placed before the tribunal.

In his petition, Vasant Enclave resident Dahiya had sought the creation of a 24-hour helpline for immediate reporting of such incidents and a monitoring mechanism to check that no aircraft drops “human soil or excreta” while landing.

The Ministry had opposed the argument and said plane toilets stored the waste in special tanks which are normally disposed of by ground crews once the plane lands. However, aviation officials acknowledge that lavatory leaks can occur in the air at times.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 11:03 IST

Gaya: Unaccounted cash worth Rs11 crore traced, may have Naxal link

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a crackdown on black money hoarders in the state, a joint team of police and income tax officials have conducted raids and traced Rs 11 crore deposited in five bank accounts in Bihar’s Gaya district till Thursday evening.The action was taken on the basis of two FIRs lodged at Civil Lines police station in Gaya in which people complained of large sum of money being deposited into their accounts without their knowledge, SHO Jamil Akhtar said.The raids commenced on Tuesday and preliminary investigations pointed to the involvement of one Moti Lal, a cotton mill owner residing in Patwatoli locality of Gaya, a police source said.“Till now, Rs 11 crore has been traced in five accounts but we expect the sum may go beyond Rs 100 crore deposited in about 50 bank accounts once we finish the raids. We are browsing through bank account statements and other documents as well as interrogating Lal and his employees to get more information in the matter,” an income tax official said.He added, “Prima facie he appears to be the kingpin of a racket that converted black money into white. We are investigating whether all money belonged to him or others are also involved in it. Indications are there that part of the corpus may belong to Naxailes in Bihar and Jharkhand.” Gaya is one of the LWE affected districts in Bihar.Police officials said all accounts are of Bank of India, GB road branch, and police is also probing the involvement of bank officials in this matter. “In some cases, apart from depositing old notes, new currency notes have even been withdrawn from the accounts without the information of the account holder. Such transactions may have been performed in nexus with bankers,” they added. CCTV camera footage of the bank is also under investigation.The Enforcement Directorate officials said they are also likely to lodge an Enforcement Case Investigation Report (ECIR) in this matter.

Thane: Man arrested after attempting to kill his children

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 28-year-old man from powerloom town of Bhiwandi here was arrested after he tried to kill three of his children including two toddlers following a domestic quarrel, police said on Tuesday.The incident took place in Kailasnagar area on Sunday night and the alleged accused, identified as Sushil Pandit was arrested last night by Narpoli Police.According to a complaint filed by Pandit’s wife Poonam, the accused was unemployed, an alcoholic and had also taken to drugs which led to frequent quarrels in the house.On Sunday, when Pandit returned home heavily drunk, a fight erupted again.Enraged, Pandit allegedly roughed up his children badly and threw a container of burning charcoal on them leaving them seriously injured.When Poonam’s brother who lived in the neighbourhood came to the childrens’ rescue, he was also allegedly beaten up, police said.The trio — Laxmi (5), Sunil (3) and Krishna (one-and-a half years) were initially rushed to a hospital at Bhiwandi and later shifted to Thane Civil hospital, where they are undergoing treatment for burns, police said.An offence under sections 307, 324 and 504 of the IPC has been registered against the accused, police added.

Mamata Banerjee flight scare | Pilots cried wolf about low fuel: govt probe

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government has completed its probe in the Mamata Banerjee’s flight delay incident, concluding that pilots of three aircraft cried wolf about low fuel to seek an ‘early landing’ for showing good on-time performance (OTP) to their respective airlines.A row had erupted after the Trinamool Congress alleged that the IndiGo aircraft carrying its chief Banerjee was not accorded priority in landing despite fuel shortage. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had ordered an inquiry to find out how three flights–the IndiGo aircraft, an Air India flight and a SpiceJet aircraft could fly low on fuel into Kolkata at the same time. As a fallout of the incident, the entire cockpit crew of the three flights were taken off duty for a week in connection with the incident that took place on November 30. The air traffic controller, who handled these flights was also directed to undergo “corrective training”.Experts in aviation industry said that pilots of different airlines have been using “fuel shortage” as an excuse to get early landings for achieving good OTPs. Better OTPs result in more incentives and bonuses for flight crew as airlines reward for saving aircraft fuel, a senior official from the Civil Aviation ministry said, on condition of anonymity. A top official from aviation regulator DGCA, which had conducted the probe, justified the action of de-rostering of the pilots and said that their suspension would serve as deterrent for pilots who “cry wolf”. Talking about findings of the probe, the official from DGCA said that there was no shortage of fuel in any of these aircraft, adding that the aircraft had fuel not just to hover around Kolkata but also to fly to its diversionary airport, which in this case was Bhubaneshwar airport. Norms mandate an aircraft to carry enough fuel to enable hovering for 30-40 minutes at both the destined airport and the diversional airport as well as to carry it to the diversional airport.

Mamata Banerjee flight row: Pilots’ suspension grossly unfair, only mollifies West Bengal CM

The suspension of six pilots, two each from indigo, Spicejet and Air India for allegedly endangering their flights as they hovered over Kolkata waiting for landing clearance makes no sense. Spurred by the accusations of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who was on one of them and believes this whole exercise was designed to have her killed, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) decided to investigate the issue.With ana alacrity it seldom displays.

On the face of it all three aircrafts were low on fuel and had asked for clearance or else they were to prepare to move to an alternate airport.

There is a fixed protocol in every commercial or scheduled flight. You go from point A to point B with thirty minutes ‘go around’ or ‘hover’ fuel over point B and enough fuel after that to reach your alternate airport (in this case, Bhubaneshwar) and hover there for thirty minutes.

If any of these parameters have been broken, then by all means charge the pilots and the ground crew and the dispatch for negligence.

But if they have not been broken and the fuel was sufficient to get to the alternative with enough to spare then becoming all holier than thou because a chief minister gets paranoid borders on the ridiculous.

Mamata Banerjee. File photo. ReutersMamata Banerjee. File photo. Reuters

Mamata Banerjee. File photo. Reuters

We have to understand that when you make the pilot community jittery and take punitive action like this you are more likely to compromise air safety that if you go off half-cocked into an investigation that requires a probe of what went on between the three flights and the ATC where there might have been a possible misunderstanding but you do not create such a furor and take these unilateral actions when there is no evidence of the rules being broken.

At no stage were the aircrafts in danger or passenger safety compromised and it seems that all this controversy is predicated to the Banerjee’s impatience of her flight landing being delayed.

In fact she should be asked why she would scare 170 passengers and why an airline should be maligned by her causing distress and concern to future passengers.
When you accuse airlines of negligence, it has far reaching effects. Add to that a finger pointing at the pilots for not carrying out their duty and the carrier is literally placed in the dock.

You cannot seriously imagine that the crew colluded to endanger a flight complement of 170 passengers and place their lives at risk as an part of a conspiracy to eliminate Banerjee.

The more incredible part is how protected these politicians are that they can make such outrageous statements and get away with it. Any other normal passenger making such claims would either be taken away in a straitjacket or be placed into custody pending an inquiry.

Once having said it, Banerjee should be asked to explain exactly how and why she has arrived at this conclusion based on the flimsy perception that her flight was slightly delayed.

Imagine, if you will, if all of us on delayed flights were to see the a hand in glove plot what utter chaos there would be in the skies.

Seeing that no pilot on any of these flights called an emergency, hit the transponder 7700 code or said anything more than alerting ground control to facts on the fuel situation suspension for doing their job seems untenable.

After all, they had enough fuel to break the parameters and hover over Kolkata for another ninety minutes.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 11:27 IST

Andaman: 800 tourists stranded in storm at Havelock Island, Navy deploys ships for evacuation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Navy has deployed four ships to evacuate as many as 800 tourists stranded at Andaman and Nicobar’s Havelock Island due to torrential rains.”Civil administration requested the Indian Navy to assist them in evacuating 800 tourists stranded due to torrential rains and rough sea,” said a statement from the Indian Navy.Four Indian Navy ships – INS Bitra, Bangaram, Kumbhir and LCU 38 have been deployed at the Havelock Island to undertake evacuation of the stranded tourists. Many tourists have been stranded with no flights and ships due to rough weather. In several areas, there is no mobile phone or internet connectivity.Some tourists even sought help from the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter. One such stranded tourists wrote, “@PMOIndia Sir! We are stuck in Havelock Island due to cyclone effect from last 2 days. Please help us to reach Port Blair.”A deep depression over Bay of Bengal is bringing heavy rains to the Havelock Island since the last two days. According to the Met office, this deep depression will turn into a cyclonic storm over the next 48 hours over Andaman Nicobar. Meanwhile, fishermen have been advised not to venture into the deep sea following the rough weather. On the other hand, ferry services Port Blair to Havelock Island and Neil Island have been stalled till the weather improves.

Row over Mamata flight incident echoes in Parliament, DGCA orders probe

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A row erupted on Thursday over West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s IndiGo flight being made to hover over Kolkata after the plane was reportedly low on fuel and it echoed in Parliament where TMC alleged threat to her life while the Centre asserted no one was in danger.Aviation regulator DGCA ordered an inquiry into the incidents of as many as three flights, including one carrying Banerjee, reporting low fuel yesterday at the same time. TMC vice-president Mukul Roy alleged that a conspiracy was hatched to eliminate Banerjee and dashed off a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju, demanding a thorough inquiry by his ministry to unearth the truth. IndiGo on its part said its flight carrying the Trinamool Congress supremo was delayed due to congestion over Kolkata before making a normal landing and had adequate fuel. In a statement, IndiGo said the flight 6E 342 with 174 passengers on board made a “normal landing” at Kolkata airport and that its captain did not declare a fuel priority or an emergency, though there was some misunderstanding between the Air Traffic Controller and the pilot.According to IndiGo, the misinterpretation of information by ATC controller, led the ATC to instruct fire engines and ambulances to be stationed at the airport. TMC raised the issue in both Houses of Parliament alleging that Banerjee’s flight was made to hover over Kolkata airport last evening for about half an hour despite the pilot reporting that the plane was low on fuel. The government vehemently denied any design saying just when West Bengal Chief Minister’s Patna-Kolkata Indigo flight reported low on fuel, two other flights of Air India and SpiceJet also called in with the same problem.Banerjee’s flight hovered over Kolkata airport for only 13 minutes and it was ensured that the aircraft landed in a safe and orderly manner, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were informed by Raju and his deputy Jayant Sinha respectively. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) ordered an inquiry to find out how three flights at the same time could fly low on fuel into Kolkata when the norms mandate them to carry enough fuel to enable hovering for 30-40 minutes as well as to carry it to the nearest diversion airport, which in this case was Bhubaneshwar.Alleging a threat to the life of Banerjee, who is at the forefront of anti-demonetization campaign, TMC leader in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay said the government should rise to the occasion and find out whether there was a conspiracy. Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, said that Banerjee has been travelling to various parts of the country protesting against government’s move to ban 500 and 1000 rupee notes causing hardships to common people.”Her life is in danger and ATC should have allowed her flight to land first. The VVIP flight should have been allowed to land in priority,” he said. Raju said it is incorrect to say that the flight was hovering over Kolkata for 30-40 minutes. “The flight was hovering for only 13 minutes. The DGCA has ordered an inquiry how all the three flights were flying low fuel.” In the Rajya Sabha, Sinha said, “At no point was anybody’s life at risk or danger. All safety procedures were fully followed.””Today it is one opposition leader… this opposition leader is at the forefront (of anti-demonetization campaign),” TNC leader Derek O’Brien said, adding questions are being raised if it is a conspiracy to eliminate opposition leaders.

RSS urges to implement ‘Uniform Civil Code for stronger, integrated India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>RSS on Thursday said the nation should come out of the prison of identity politics to make the Uniform Civil Code a reality and people, irrespective of differences, should arrive at a consensus to make it a reality.Delivering a keynote address on ‘Uniform Civil Code: The Need of the Hour here, senior RSS leader Arun Kumar said that UCC is essential to make the nation stronger and a more ‘integrated, progressive and developed’ one.”To ensure freedom, equality and justice, about which our Constitution professes, uniform civil code should be ensured. But unfortunately, every time when this topic comes up for discussion, it becomes an issue of identity politics,” Kumar, Akhil Bharathiya Saha Samparka Pramukh of the outfit, said.”This issue of identity politics was cultivated by Britishers…and carried on by our politicians…every time when the discussions start, our politicians come to this identity politics. Basically, this issue has become a victim of identity politics,” he said.Pointing to the need to put an end to identity politics, Kumar said the menace has come to such an extent that if it goes on, “our society will never be one. It will be segregated to so many parts that we cannot remain as one.” “If we want to remain as an integrated nation, we should come out of this identity politics,” he said.Stating that debates on UCC should be taken out of the issues of minority and religion, he said priority should be given on the interest of the nation.”The important thing is that what is the interest of the nation…what is the interest of the society…and what is the interest of our values and ethos which we accepted and made as the basis of a progressive country,” he said.Kumar also urged people to be ‘proactive’ to address all these issues and make the uniform civil code a reality.He reminded that former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi had batted for uniform civil code once.In the Shah Bano case, Rajiv Gandhi had pitched for uniform civil code. But later he surrendered to appeasement politics, he alleged.Discussion on the topic should go on but this should not be ‘misquoted and miscarried’ any more, he added.The talk was organised by RSS’s district branch here.

Kashmir activist Khurram Parvez, detained under draconian Public Safety Act, finally set free

Prominent human right activist and coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir coalition for civil society, Khurram Parvez, walked out of jail on Tuesday morning, after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court quashed his arrest, made under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA).

Parvez, who was accused of being a “threat to peace in the Kashmir Valley”, was arrested in September. The state government had faced criticism, both locally and internationally, for booking the activist under PSA.

Khurram Parvez. Image courtesy: Twitter/@KhurramParvezKhurram Parvez. Image courtesy: Twitter/@KhurramParvez

Khurram Parvez. Image courtesy: Twitter/@KhurramParvez

Often called “lawless laws”, the PSA was introduced by popular Kashmir leader Sheikh Abdullah in 1978, to keep timber smuggling in check. However, its use has been often been criticised by people across the political spectrum; rights activists have called for its abrogation. But despite criticism, the J&K government not only continues to use it, but it also just set a new record during the ongoing agitation, booking more than 500 persons, including minors, under the Act.

Successive governments in the state have used the law to crush dissent and political opponents. Khurram, too, was arrested under the same Act, which allows police to detain any person without charge or trail, and hold him/her up to six months or even two years.

Finally, after 76 days of incarceration, Khurram’s name was finally cleared by the court on Friday. However, due to a clerical error — the date of issue of the PSA warrant — jail authorities refused to release him. He was only set free on Tuesday, and is currently in Jammu, and is likely to reach Srinagar on Friday, said Khurram’s colleague, Pervaiz Imroz. “The judgment is the vindication of the fact that his (Khurram’s) detention was illegal and unlawful,” Imroz, himself a well-known human right lawyer, told Firstpost.

Despite release orders from the court, however, jail authorities had refused to release the activist; instead, he was taken by the counter-intelligence wing of the Kashmir police, who interrogated him at Meeran Sahib, Jammu.

The state government under chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has come under harsh criticism from the court, which termed Parvez’s arrest “illegal” and an “abuse of power”, and ordered the government to release him from prison immediately. Upon release, Khurram reportedly expressed gratitude to the local and international solidarity campaigning for his release.

Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, J&K High Court judge, while referring to the PSA during is pronouncement of the detention order, had said, “A society which catapulted itself to the highest position of democratic values and principles, may not accept the law like the Act of 1978.”

He added that Parvez’s detention order is not only illegal but the detaining authority has also abused its powers in ordering it. “The detaining authority has stated that activities of the detainee were highly prejudicial to the security of the Valley and maintenance of public order. However, they have not elucidated as to which activities were prejudicial to the security of the territory and which were against maintenance of public order,” the order said.

The court held that nothing was brought to its notice, either on grounds of detention or in the reply affidavit that in the investigation of the FIRs involvement of detainee surfaced as accused. “In absence of any such material having been brought to the notice of the court, at this stage, it has to be presumed that the detainee is not involved in any of these FIRs,” the court said.

It also raised serious questions about the police case against Parvez that led to his arrest initially, saying that police witnesses made “parrot-like statements” and failed to provide the content of the slogans the police had accused Pervez of raising and instigating people.

Before his arrest, Khurram was barred from travelling to Geneva to participate in a UN Human Rights Council session. As many as 52 activists, scholars, writers and lawyers had written an open letter demanding his immediate release.

Parvez, programme coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, he had often accused the government of gross human rights violation and failing the people of the Kashmir Valley. At the time of his arrest, he wasn’t given any reason, and was only slapped with a charge under PSA later.

Srinagar SSP described him as an “anti-social element known for his anti-national activities” and said he’d has “achieved a prominent position in separatist camps under the hidden cover of being a human rights activist”.

But the reasons for his detention, Kashmir observers say, was not connected with the ongoing unrest at all, but rather to a case of alleged molestation of a teenaged girl by an Army soldier in north Kashmir’s Handwara town earlier this year. Khurram has campaigned against the state government for its inability to protect the identity of the teenaged victim, and harassing her instead. His campaigning had caused a huge public outcry in the state.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 19:15 IST

Assam: 6 dead as SUV falls off bridge

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At least six people died and two others were seriously injured when their vehicle rolled down a bridge at Nine Mile in Assam’s Sonitpur district this evening, police said.The group, consisting of eight people, was returning from a picnic when their SUV hit the edge of the bridge at Bhalukpong near Arunachal Pradesh border and fell from it, Superintendent of Police, Sonitpur district, PP Singh said.While six of them died on the spot, one of the seriously injured was being brought to district headquarters Tezpur and the other was admitted at Bhalukpong Civil Hospital, he said. The deceased hailed from Tezpur’s Katekibari area, Singh said, adding that the bodies were yet to be identified.

AIMPLB to oppose government’s move on triple talaq, Unform Civil Code

<!– /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”.

Demonetization | TDP changes stance, expresses ‘shock’ over ‘unexpected fallout’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>TDP MPs expressed “shock” on Tuesday over the “unexpected fallout” of demonetization in terms of the hardships caused to the people that seems to have left the party flustered despite having earlier sought the ban on the high-value currency notes. Party sources said the issue dominated a TDP meeting in Vijayawada this afternoon, with party supremo N Chandrababu Naidu as well as MPs expressing “shock” over the “unexpected fallout” of demonetization, a move which the Chief Minister had been demanding for over three years now.”It has created a lot of negativity because the Centre failed to take adequate alternative measures. The abrupt manner in which the exercise was carried out left the common people cashless and that has caused a lot of heartburn. The economy has also suffered as the cash flow ceased,” the sources quoted the MPs as telling Naidu.The Centre’s decision to bring out Rs 2,000 notes also left the TDP brass baffled. “What’s the point in bringing Rs 2,000 notes and reintroducing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes? Would it not defeat the whole purpose and only lead to disgruntlement among common people,” the meeting opined, according to the sources.On his part, Naidu welcomed the scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes but opposed the introduction of Rs 2,000 notes. “It should go,” the sources quoted him as telling the MPs. For the record, however, Union Ministers P Ashok Gajapati Raju and Y Satyanarayana Chowdary maintained that demonetization was good for the medium and long terms. “There has been a delay in execution (of alternatives) as a result of which people are facing problems,” they told reporters at the end of the meeting.”There will be a debate on this (demonetization) in Parliament and we will have clarity on why the government introduced Rs 2,000 currency notes. The Central government and Finance Minister will also give reasoning for it,” Gajapati Raju said. “We want to use the debate for a constructive business, not an academic debate. People are facing a problem. We feel if A, B, C is done, the problem will ease out. Let them spell out what they are going to do and also take our suggestions,” the Civil Aviation Minister said.”Now, this is the line we will be taking there and we will request for information,” he added. Chowdary said the Chief Minister was discussing the issue with officials and would write a letter to the Centre on the steps needed to alleviate the people’s problems arising out of demonetization.

Indo-Japan civil nuclear deal: Despite the anti-nuclear test stance, it’s a win-win for all

PM Narendra Modi and Japan's PM Shinzo Abe during a joint press conference at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan. ReutersPM Narendra Modi and Japan's PM Shinzo Abe during a joint press conference at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan. Reuters

PM Narendra Modi and Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe during a joint press conference at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan. Reuters

India and Japan, at last, signed an agreement for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Both countries took several rounds of negotiations, which helped resolve several sticky issues. Though only limited information has been released by the two governments, a media briefing of the Indian foreign secretary made several issues clear.

The joint document signed by the two countries lays down a roadmap for bilateral cooperation in the field of nuclear energy. “This would provide for the development of nuclear power projects in India and thus strengthening of energy security of the country. The present agreement would open up the door for collaboration between Indian and Japanese industries in our Civil Nuclear programme,” it says.

But cutting the deal wasn’t easy. There were several questions and concerns raised in the past that delayed the agreement. Some of those concerns remain afloat in both the countries, though they aren’t necessarily of the same nature.

Some in Japan argued that a nuclear agreement with India, a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), will undermine the nuclear regime. The reality is that India received a clean exemption in the guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in 2008 and the CTBT is in a coma. Instead, India has been extending a moratorium on its nuclear test, and this is far more relevant than merely signing a non-existent treaty. Besides, India has an impeccable record, and all of its nuclear cooperation agreements are accompanied by the relevant safeguard practices. So, there is no question of diversion of any item supplied for peaceful purposes to a military programme.

The point that a victim of the nuclear attack would find it difficult to sign a peaceful nuclear programme was intriguing. More so, the fact that idea came from a country, which is enjoying nuclear protective umbrella (and till the Fukushima Accident had used nuclear energy to generate about 30% of the country’s total electricity production), was definitely bizarre. Even the serious section of the Japanese policy making community found it non-serious and basically a deal-delaying ploy.

The argument that for a country that has stopped using nuclear energy and operating nuclear reactors, it is unethical to export them did have some merit. But the moment Japan started operating some of its reactors and decided to eventually operate its non-operational reactors and add a few more, even this ethical resistance evaporated. However, a section that opposes nuclear energy all over the world kept clinging to this argument.

Other than the ethical and non-proliferation concerns, there were some practical commercial concerns of the Japanese nuclear industry, a major driver for the India-Japan nuclear deal. As the Indian nuclear establishment was basically interested in Japanese technology, not in its reactors, Japanese industry did not find it commercially lucrative to enter into the Indian nuclear market.

It was only when India agreed to buy reactors that the Japanese nuclear industry started seriously working on the deal. Now, it will have to partner with one of the Indian operators like the Nuclear Power Corporation India Limited. A Japanese company, however, will still have less than 50 percent ownership in a nuclear venture. For a short period, Japanese industry also wanted a solution to the nuclear liability issue.

Moreover, Japanese officials wanted proper assurance regarding export control enforcement and outreach for the Indian companies receiving the Japanese goods. India has completely harmonised its export control system along the NSG guidelines and annexes. Besides, India increased its outreach activities for its companies. Some Japanese companies have also started giving export control training to employees of the Indian companies, which are receiving its goods.

In India, too, there were some concerns, and to a certain extent, they exist even now as the two governments have not provided details of the agreement. The India-US 123 agreement is a somewhat detailed document available in the public domain. However, the press briefing of the foreign secretary, Jai Shankar sought to clear the air after the signature ceremony. He informed that all the stages of India-US agreements for civil nuclear energy were compressed in one document for the India-Japan deal.

Implicitly, the foreign secretary conveyed that the template of the 123 agreement had been taken for drafting the India-Japan agreement. Administrative arrangements for India-Japan specific would be worked out later, although the technical annexure attached to the agreement may already have some of the arrangements. But the basic parameters of the agreement would not be different.

The termination clause, one of the concerns in India, exists in the agreement. As the Indian foreign secretary rightly pointed out, it exists in most of the agreements. So, is the concern in India, that in the event of a nuclear test, the deal will be nullified, true?

Theoretically, it is possible. A termination clause exists in the India-US 123 agreement as well, though a nuclear test is not explicitly mentioned. The agreement with the US has provisions for consultation between the two countries and remedial action for India in the case of a termination. The agreement with Japan is not radically different from that.

India will continue to have its right to conduct nuclear tests if the strategic environment changes dramatically and adversely affect India’s security. In such a situation, in reality, both the US and Japan may appreciate the Indian situation. India’s security interests are fast converging with both the countries. Quite importantly, by all the assessments, the next round of nuclear tests in the world will start either with the US or China. So, India may not have much difficulty in managing the situation after its own nuclear tests, which may follow after the tests of these countries.

Regarding reprocessing, too, seemingly, the India-Japan agreement has adopted the 123 model. Reprocessing will be done at a dedicated safeguarded site. In fact, India may help Japan in reprocessing its fuel which it sends outside. Moreover, India and Japan may in the future undertake joint research and development projects.

But still, one question emerges. Why did India focus so much on entering into an agreement with Japan when so many countries were willing to do business with it and have already signed agreements for the purpose? Actually, Japan is preferred because of its reliability and trustworthiness. It is not known for imposing additionalities. Second, its technology is considered more advanced than many of the countries active in global nuclear reactor commerce.

Third, important Japanese nuclear companies have bought stakes in the companies of some of the supplier countries. An agreement with Japan will solve the issue of taking a consent from Japan for doing business with the companies of those countries. Fourth, Japan is emerging as an important strategic partner of India in managing Asian affairs. Together the two countries may push the idea of Asiatom.

Fifth, Japan, a country with advanced technology but declining population, may provide both a base and an opportunity for the Indian scientific force. It could be a win-win situation for both the countries. It is indicated that both the countries may do some innovative work on safety and security, though other countries have the similar provision in their agreements with India.

In the future, the two countries have to consolidate what they have agreed, covered and gained so far. The deal will turn out mutually beneficially for both. India will get its much-needed electricity and technological partnership and Japan will get a market for its companies which are facing a tough situation for several years even before the Fukushima incidents. Really, the sky is the limit for India and Japan in the nuclear and other strategic sectors.

First Published On : Nov 12, 2016 19:44 IST

Kashmir unrest: Mehbooba Mufti calls burning of schools ‘unfortunate’

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday expressed a deep concern over the burning of schools in the Kashmir valley and termed it “unfortunate”.

File photo of Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

File photo of Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

“The govt has already taken into custody some miscreants who burned schools. I hope there should be some good news for us in next one week,” she said on the sidelines of the opening of Civil Secretariat in Jammu.

Over 30 schools have been burnt in various parts of the Valley during the past four months of civil unrest.

Commenting on the ceasefire violations on the border with Pakistan, the Chief Minister said: “Neighbours cannot be changed and both India and Pakistan have to live together. My hope is the shelling on the borders would stop and the ceasefire restored.”

Mehbooba also inspected a guard of honour in the heavily-guarded Civil Secretariat building in the heart of Jammu city.

The Secretariat opened in Jammu after functioning from Srinagar during past six months as part of Darbar move.

The Darbar move is a biannual feature in which the civil secretariat stays for six months of winter (from November to April) in Jammu, the winter capital, and returns to the Kashmir Valley for the summer months (May to October). The practice is on in the state since the time of Dogra ruler Maharaja Ranbir Singh who first introduced it in 1872.

The offices had closed in summer capital Srinagar on 27 October.

The state government functioning in Srinagar had been marred by the unrelenting unrest marked by hartals, lockdowns and curfews that began on 9 July following the killing of a top Hizbul Mujaheedin commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir Kokernag area.

The unrest which entered 122-day on Monday has so far claimed over 90 lives while thousands others have been wounded with over one thousand having received pellet injuries in one or both eyes.

Thousands have been arrested by the security forces during the past nearly four months, with over 400 detained under public safety act (PSA).

Triple talaq: Muslim women’s body slams AIMPLB signature drive

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid the raging debate over ‘triple talaq’, All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) on Sunday crticised the signature campaign launched by the AIMPLB, dubbing it as a move to “mislead” women from the community.”The campaign is not to empower Muslim women but to mislead them,” AIMWPLB President Shaista Amber said. Her comments came days after the All India Muslim Personal Law Board carried out a signature campaign against Centre’s affidavit in the Supreme Court against ‘triple talaq’ and the questionnaire prepared by the Law Commission regarding Uniform Civil Code.She said it would have been better had the AIMPLB written in its documents that it wholeheartedly supported the provisions in the Holy Quran about ‘triple talaq’. AIMPLB could also punish those who utter ‘talaq’ thrice in one go, she suggested. Amber said the affidavit before the apex court smacked of votebank politics and efforts to disintegrate the society. “On the pretext of the issue, the government was trying to push the agenda implementing Uniform Civil Code,” she said. Implementation of a common code is part of the BJP’s election manifesto.

Govt likely to junk inter-parental child abduction Bill

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite international pressure, the Centre is likely to junk the Bill on inter-parental child abduction which deals with child custody issues for NRI couples and would have paved the way for India’s accession to the Hague Convention.The Law Commission, though, recently submitted its report to the Law Ministry sticking to its 2007 stand advising the government to accede to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspect of International Child Abduction (1980).”We are very clear that we are not signing the Hague Convention. This is a decision collectively arrived at by the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA),” said a senior WCD Ministry official.On June 22, 2016, the WCD Ministry had uploaded on its website a proposal to enact a draft of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Bill, 2016. Subsequently, the draft Bill was placed on the website seeking comments. The draft Bill was prepared following a reference made by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to the Law Commission of India and the WCD Ministry to examine the issue and consider whether recommendations should be made to enact a suitable law and for signing the Hague Convention. However, the Bill has since been removed from the Ministry website. The draft envisaged “prompt return of children wrongfully removed or retained in a contracting state, and to ensure that rights of custody and of access under the law of one contracting state are respected in other contracting states.”It also proposed a central authority to discover the whereabouts of a child, to prevent further harm to any such child and to secure the voluntary return of the child to the signatory nation. WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi has expressed apprehension over acceding to the Convention at several forums, primarily on two grounds — that taking such a decision will not be in the interest of aggrieved women and because the government maintains that there are fewer instances of Indian children being abducted and taken abroad. At an event last month she had said, “Personally, in the beginning, when I was new, I thought we should join the Convention because we get protection. But with time and after interacting with women who have been abandoned by their husbands abroad, had their passports snatched from them, been beaten up, and have somehow scraped the money and are in terrible fear, I wonder whether we should join or not.”

Kashmir unrest: 12 injured in clashes in Srinagar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At least 12 people were injured on Saturday in fresh clashes between protestors and security forces, following death of a 16-year-old boy due to alleged poisoning in Eidgah area of the city. Qaiser Sofi from Eidgah area of the city died at a hospital here in the morning.After his burial, some youth indulged in stone pelting on security forces, prompting use of force by the law enforcing agencies, a police official said. He said 12 people were injured out of which six have sustained pellet injuries.Sofi was reported missing on October 25 and found in an unconscious state in Shalimar area of the city six days later and hospitalised, the official said. However, local residents of the area alleged that the teen was force fed some poisonous substance by security forces.Normal life elsewhere in the valley remained affected for the 120th consecutive day due to the separatist-sponsored strike. While most of the shops, business establishments and fuel stations across Kashmir were shut, some were open in few areas in Civil Lines and outskirts of the summer capital Srinagar, the official said. He said most of the public transport continued to remain off the roads but auto-rickshaws and cabs were seen plying at some places in the Valley, including in few areas of the city here.The separatists, who are spearheading the ongoing agitation in Kashmir, have been issuing weekly protest calendars since Hizbul militant Burhan Wani’s killing in an encounter with security forces on July 8. The separatists have extended the strike till November 10.While there were no curbs on the movement of people anywhere in Kashmir, restrictions on the assembly of people under Section 144 CrPC were in place throughout the Valley, the official said. He said security forces have been deployed in strength at vulnerable spots and along the main roads as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order as well as to instill a sense of security among the people to carry out their day-to-day activities without fear.As many as 85 people, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley. Around 5000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.

Pilot grounded as car mechanics "repair" helicopter

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A recent incident of two car mechanics “repairing” a private helicopter, which flew from Goa to Pune via Kolhapur on October 12, has landed the helicopter’s pilot in serious trouble with aviation regulator, the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The DGCA has grounded the pilot.When contacted, a senior DGCA official said: “The incident was reported to our Mumbai office and we received information and pictures of the pilot’s Kolhapur stopover. We suspect that the mechanics had done something to the engine.”Terming the incident as “shocking”, the official added that a detailed probe is being launched. Also in the limelight is the chairman of Varva Aviation, Avinash Bhosale, who was travelling in the helicopter that day. An investigation has been ordered by the DGCA to find out why car mechanics instead of Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (AMEs) were allegedly allowed to “repair” the helicopter.OInly qualified AMEs are allowed to inspect and repair aircraft or chopper engines. DGCA officials said that although the pilot didn’t report any snag in the technical report before taking off from Kolhapur, they suspect that the mechanics were called to “repair” the helicopter. The officials added that they have received pictures of two mechanics posing with the engine of the aircraft.”If this happened, it is a complete violation of rules and appropriate action will be taken,” said the official.

Uniform Civil Code will not be brought by back door, not without consensus, assures Venkaiah Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uniform Civil Code (UCC) will not be brought through the back door and without a consensus, says Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu who rejects the charge that contentious issues have been raked up by BJP to polarise elections, especially in Uttar Pradesh.Issues like triple talaq, civil code and Ram temple will not be used by BJP for political mileage in the upcoming elections, says the Minister who asserts that they will be fought on development agenda. Holding that such crucial issues should not be looked through prism of electoral benefit, the Chief Spokesperson of the government also rejects opposition criticism that surgical strikes were being politicised. “The Government does not consider it (triple talaq) as a religious matter. It is a question of gender sensitivity. It is wrong to say that we are interfering in Muslim issues.”The same Indian Parliament, the same political system had brought Hindu Code Bill, Divorce Act, banning Hindu Marriage Act, banning dowry and Sati practice, all these things are done by Indian Parliament,” Naidu told PTI in an interview. Making it clear that broad consensus will be required for bringing Uniform Civil Code, he said the allegations that Triple Talaq is a backdoor entry for the UCC was unjustified. “We are not discussing about the common civil code or uniform civil code as of now. The Law Commission has issued a questionnaire and asked people to react.”You cannot have a uniform Civil Code without a broad consensus. You have to work and move in that direction,” he said hoping that the Supreme Court will come out with the right decision on the issue of triple talaq. Naidu said these sensitive issues should not be linked to polls as the elections are like festivals in India which keep coming now and then.Defending the government affidavit in the Supreme Court on triple talaq issue, he said nobody then said it (Sati) was a Hindu practice that government was interfering in that. “Somebody might have said it also. But in collective wisdom, the entire country has moved further. We have reformed ourselves. Similarly, when the practice is going on which is discriminatory, which is doing injustice to women, we think it should end,” Naidu said.He said it was Muslim women and organisations which were demanding end of triple talaq who had gone to the Supreme Court. Referring to Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution that speaks against discrimination, the Minister said, “The Government of India wants every religion, every personal law to be in accordance with that. And if the society transforms itself, it”s always better.”Naidu said divesting a woman by simply, saying talaq three times was totally against the principles of natural justice and the practise must end. “This debate was not started by us. Somebody went to court and the Supreme Court while discussing the issue wanted to know the views of the Government. And the government has filed an affidavit saying that our view is that triple talaq is unjust, unfair, uncivilised and saying it must come to an end.”That”s what we have said. How is it connected with UP elections,” he said.

Uniform Civil Code will not be brought without consensus, says Venkaiah Naidu

New Delhi: Uniform Civil Code (UCC) will not be brought through the back door and without a consensus, says Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu who rejects the charge that contentious issues have been raked up by BJP to polarise elections, especially in Uttar Pradesh.

Issues like triple talaq, civil code and Ram temple will not be used by BJP for political mileage in the upcoming elections, says the Minister who asserts that they will be fought on development agenda.

Holding that such crucial issues should not be looked through the prism of electoral benefit, the Chief Spokesperson of the government also rejects opposition criticism that surgical strikes were being politicised.

File photo of Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

File photo of Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

“The government does not consider it (triple talaq) as a religious matter. It is a question of gender sensitivity. It is wrong to say that we are interfering in Muslim issues.

“The same Indian Parliament, the same political system had brought Hindu Code Bill, Divorce Act, banning Hindu Marriage Act, banning dowry and Sati practice, all these things are done by Indian Parliament,” Naidu told PTI in an interview.

Making it clear that broad consensus will be required for bringing Uniform Civil Code, he said the allegations that Triple Talaq is a backdoor entry for the UCC was unjustified.

“We are not discussing the common civil code or uniform civil code as of now. The Law Commission has issued a questionnaire and asked people to react. “You cannot have a uniform Civil Code without a broad

“You cannot have a Uniform Civil Code without a broad consensus. You have to work and move in that direction,” he said hoping that the Supreme Court will come out with the right decision on the issue of triple talaq.

Naidu said these sensitive issues should not be linked to polls as the elections are like festivals in India which keep coming now and then.

Defending the government affidavit in the Supreme Court on triple talaq issue, he said nobody then said it (Sati) was a Hindu practice that government was interfering in that.

“Somebody might have said it also. But in collective wisdom, the entire country has moved further. We have reformed ourselves. Similarly, when the practice is going on which is discriminatory, which is doing injustice to women, we think it should end,” Naidu said.

He said it was Muslim women and organisations which were demanding an end of triple talaq who had gone to the Supreme Court.

Referring to Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution that speaks against discrimination, the Minister said, “The Government of India wants every religion, every personal law to be in accordance with that. And if the society transforms itself, it’s always better.”

Naidu said divesting a woman by simply, saying talaq three times was totally against the principles of natural justice and the practice must end.

“This debate was not started by us. Somebody went to court and the Supreme Court while discussing the issue wanted to know the views of the Government. And the government has
filed an affidavit saying that our view is that triple talaq is unjust, unfair, uncivilised and saying it must come to an end.”That’s what we have said. How is it connected with UP

“That’s what we have said. How is it connected with UP elections,” he said.

Replying to a raft of questions on Ram temple issue, Naidu said, “People of India want a brilliant temple at the birth place of Rama but how do you go about it. You have to have an agreement between contending parties or you will have to abide by the legal verdict which is taking too long.

He maintained that as far as the government is concerned, government and political parties have no role in constructing a temple.

“You can facilitate or remove obstructions or create obstructions like what Mulayamji had done earlier,” he said.

The Minister said as far as government and BJP are concerned UP elections are not going to be fought on the Rama Janambhoomi or common civil code or triple talaq. “They are going to be fought on the developmental issue.”

To a question that focus was now sought to be brought on these contentious issues, he shot back, “If you do not talk about it then it is said you have forgotten Ram. When you talk
about them, then it is said Ram is remembered because of UP elections.”

Naidu said BJP was going to focus more on development and good governance in the campaign for UP polls, adding it does not mean that the party has given up on issues like Uniform Civil Code and Rama Janambhoomi.

On criticism by the Opposition parties of BJP trying to take political mileage from cross-LoC surgical strikes, Naidu reminded Congress of using Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s praise of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as Durga after the 1971 Indo-Pak war, for political gains.

Naidu said leaders of the political parties were briefed and their queries were replied to by the army during an all-party meeting on surgical strikes and all of them had gone back home happily. But raising questions on the strikes and seeking proof were “subsequent thoughts”.

On the surgical strikes, he said details of such nature are not divulged in national interests and they are not even questioned.

Asked about Rahul Gandhi‘s ‘Khoon ki dalali‘ comment, Naidu called it as an “immature” remark.

“Whoever made the comment, it was an injustice to the country, it was an injustice to himself. After the comment was made, he became unpopular. People have answered it,” said Naidu.

Asked about allegations that BJP has a role in the rift in the Samajwadi Party, Naidu said it has become fashionable for some people to blame the ruling party or RSS for anything.

“Good that they have not blamed RSS. It is an internal family problem. They are fighting among themselves openly. Where is BJP’s hand in it,” he asked.

Expressing confidence that BJP will emerge victorious in the assembly polls, he blamed SP for ruining the state. “We do not believe in fishing in troubled waters we believe in eating fish,” he said in a lighter vein. Asked who is BJP’s number one rival in UP, he said SP, BSP and Congress were in the battle. He also compared the fight between UP CM Akhilesh and his uncle Shivpal as a semi- final, saying “Let’s see who comes out victorious.”

Cyrus Mistry removed as Tata Sons chairman, Ratan Tata returns in interim

Tata Sons today replaced Cyrus P Mistry as chairman of Tata Sons and brought in former chief Ratan Tata as interim chairman.

The decision was taken at a board meeting held today, according to press release issued by the group.

The board has constituted a selection committee to choose a new chairman.

The committee comprises Ratan 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.

CyrusMistry_RatanTata_AFPCyrusMistry_RatanTata_AFP

Ratan Tata and Cyrus Mistry in a file photo. AFP

Mistry had recently said that he is “not embarrassed” to admit that exits for the group, which has exited over 40 businesses in 20 years, are usually the last resort and the conglomerate does not take decisions about exiting through a “short-term financial lens”.

Mistry had then cited the turnaround and growth of Tatas’ jewelery brand Tanishq and its IT arm Tata Consultancy Services as examples “within the group where persistence and a long-term perspective have paid off.”

“And as we push the boundaries, there will always be failures, and we must expect these as part of our entrepreneurial model. Of course, critics could argue we could have been more aggressive with our exists and they most probably would be right if we were to take all our decisions through a short-term financial lens,” Mistry said here last week.

Mistry was the sixth group chairman of the Tata group. He was appointed as the Chairman of the Tata Sons board in December 2012. He has been a director of the company since 2006.

In addition to being group chairman, Mistry was also the chairman of leading Tata group companies including Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Jaguar Land Rover Automotive, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Power Company, The Indian Hotels Company, Tata Global Beverages, Tata Chemicals, Tata Industries and Tata Teleservices.

Mistry was earlier managing director of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group. Under his leadership, Shapoorji Pallonji’s construction business grew into a billion-dollar enterprise, evolving from pure-play construction to execution of complex projects in the marine, oil and gas, and rail sectors, across a number of international geographies.

Mistry graduated with a degree in civil engineering from Imperial College, London, UK, in 1990. In 1997, he received an MSc in management from the London Business School. He is a recipient of the ‘Alumni Achievement Award’ from the London Business School, and is a fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, London.

With PTI

Govt in ‘mission mode’ to expand aviation sector: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accusing previous governments of having “no vision” for aviation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said his government is working in a “mission mode” for expansion of the sector and has put in place the country’s first integrated policy to tap the potential of small cities. He was speaking after dedicating the new integrated terminal building of the airport in Vadodara, which is now the second green airport of the country after Kochi.Modi noted that India in the near future would probably become the third country in the world in terms of airport activity benchmarks with more middle-class families aspiring to travel by air.The Prime Minister said the country is very huge and “if you think only 80 to 100 airports not enough, then we are trying to create hurdles in the country’s growth”. He said the the country’s development can take new dimensions if the tier-2 and tier-3 cities are bought on the aviation map and noted that government was making efforts to revive the large number of non-functional airstrips and airports in the country.”That is why to promote this, the government brought out a new regional connectivity scheme under which people can travel with airfares of only Rs 2,500 for up to 500 kms distance,” he said.Attacking the previous governments, he said, “Earlier airports were set up, planes would fly but the country did not have an aviation policy. How to take the sector forward in next five or ten years and take care of its and passengers’ needs, what should be done for common people, there was no vision in place earlier. It was just moving,” he said.”After the new NDA government came to power, for the first time since independence it formulated a new aviation policy for the country… we are working in a mission mode for expansion,” he said.The PM said the new aviation policy will take care of the consumers’ needs and the growth of the sector. “It is estimated that within five years, the situation in India would be such that the airports in the country would have as much footfall in a year as America’s total population. You can well imagine how this sector is growing. India in the near future would probably become the third country in the world in terms of airport activity benchmarks. This will help increase employment opportunities and would spur economic activity,” he said.According to International Airport Transport Association, India will add 322 million new passengers out of the total 442 million passengers by 2035. It has also forecast that the country will become the third largest aviation market in the world displacing the UK by 2026. Last fiscal, the country registered a growth of 21.6 per cent in the number of air travellers.Spread in an area of 17,500 sq mt, the new integrated terminal has been built at a cost of Rs 160 crore. It has been designed to handle 700 passengers, including international fliers, per hour with 18 check-in counters, which would help in a seamless boarding process. It took about seven years to complete the project as the then Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had laid the foundation stone in 2009.The 8,100-meter-long runway of the Vadodra airport can handle small and narrow body aircraft such as Airbus 320 and Boeing 737s. Besides national carrier Air India, private airlines likes IndiGo and Jet aiways are operating from This airport will be zero discharge, waste to wealth, energy saving and environment friendly, the PM said.Claiming that his government had taken a number of steps to promote the aviation sector, Modi said, “I am happy that after the formation of the new NDA government, two airports in the country have become a part of the green movement.” He said when such iconic buildings come up, the common people get encouraged to use economically viable and environment-friendly technology.”Connectivity plays an important role in the world today, both physical and digital connectivity is required and if we need highways, we also need I-ways (Information ways). Similarly, air traffic is also needed. Air services are required in a big way for growth of tourism in the country. Better air connectivity means more tourists and this means better economic growth. There are immense possibility for tourism growth in India. Keeping that in view, this government has decided to promote the aviation sector,” he said.Referring to the first Railway University to be set up here, Modi said it will impact the next century. “The government has taken a very important decision whose impact will be felt for nearly 100 years. And the decision is that country’s first railway university will be constructed in Vadodara,” Modi said addressing public after inaugurating the terminal.The PM said the varsity will help in carrying out innovation and modernisation for the Indian Railways. Earlier, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajpathi Raju said since the NDA government came to power, air passengers traffic has “grown by over 20 per cent”.

It’s time to abolish triple talaq, says Venkaiah Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing ‘triple talaq’ as anti-constitutional and anti-civilisation, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday said its time the country should abolish this “gender discrimination”, in the light of principles of justice, dignity and equality.”Triple talaq is anti-constitutional, against law, against the principles of democracy and anti-civilisation. This kind of opinion is on the rise. There is a discussion going on, on this subject. Already so much of time has been taken. It is time the country should move forward to abolish ‘triple talaq’ to end the discrimination and also have gender justice and equality before law. We should end this,” Naidu told reporters.”Even Muslim women are demanding justice. There should not be any gender discrimination. There should be gender justice. All are equal before the Constitution,” he said speaking here on the sidelines of a programme organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. He suggested that as the Supreme Court is currently scrutinising the issue, anybody can go and voice their concerns.On the Uniform Civil Code, he said, “the government will do everything in a transparent manner. It will take Parliament into confidence. Some sections are resorting to a false propaganda that the government is trying to implement Common Civil Code from backdoor.”On October 7, the Centre for the first time, had opposed in Supreme Court the practise of triple talaq, ‘nikah halala’ and polygamy among Muslims and favoured a re-look on the grounds like gender equality and secularism.The Ministry of Law and Justice, in its affidavit, referred to constitutional principles such as gender equality, secularism, international covenants, religious practices and marital law prevalent in various Islamic countries to drive home the point that the practice of triple talaq and polygamy needed to be adjudicated upon afresh by the apex court.The law panel’s move was significant 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.

Triple talaq and Indian Urdu Press: Why is the space limited for dissenting views?

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.”

The talaq quotient. PTIThe talaq quotient. PTI

The talaq quotient. PTI

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.

InquilabInquilab

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]

If Govt suppresses rights of one particular religion, Congress won’t accept: Digvijaya Singh on Uniform Civil Code

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> AICC General Secretary Digvijaya Singh said the ruling BJP has “changed the meaning of secularism” and was taking up issues convenient to its political agenda. Addressing a gathering at the Rajiv Sadbhavana Yatra here, Singh hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying BJP was taking up issues that would “divide people on communal lines.” “BJP has changed the meaning of secularism. Those who oppose BJP are being termed as ‘anti-nationals’. Those who support them are called nationalists. According to BJP or Sangh, Muhammad Ali Jinnah who was behind the division of this country, is secular and Mahatma Gandhi who fought and took bullet for the unity of Hindus and Muslims is called communal,” the senior leader alleged.He charged the BJP with taking political advantage out of the sacrifices made by the Indian soldiers.Reacting to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s recent remark where he credited his ‘RSS teachings’ behind taking decision to conduct ‘surgical strikes’ across LoC, Singh said, “Is it not insulting the Army? Our Foreign Affairs Secretary says surgical strikes were held even before also. You mean to say the Army had the ideology of Sangh at that time also?” Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told a Parliamentary panel yesterday that the army had carried out “target specific, limited-calibre, counter-terrorist operations” across the LoC in the past too but this is for the first time the government has gone public about it.He ridiculed Modi’s recent comments that the country would go from “Yudh” (war) to “Budh” (referring to Buddha, peace) and sought to know if the government wants to destroy the lives of lakhs of people before seeking “peace like Samrat Ashoka.” “The NDA government has failed on all fronts. No jobs, no increase in FDIs, no black money brought back to India. In order to cover up their failures, they want bring war between India and Pakistan,” he claimed.On the ongoing debate on Uniform Civil Code, the former MP Chief Minister suggested the government to take the opinion of the Opposition also on board. “Congress always took the opinions of all religious leaders and took decisions (when in power). Everybody has fundamental rights. When it comes to marriages it depends on the system of that particular religion. “If you want to bring Uniform Civil Code, then talk to the leaders of all religions. Discuss with all political parties. Try to get consensus. If you suppress the rights of a particular religion, then Congress will not accept,” he said. He accused Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao of encouraging defections into the ruling TRS party. Telangana PCC President Uttam Kumar Reddy, former Union Minister S Jaipal Reddy were among those who spoke at the programme. Former Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, M N Rao was awarded the Sadbhavan Award-2016.

Uniform Civil Code debate focuses on Muslim law but ignores other communities: Flavia Agnes

The issue of triple talaq has once again ignited the age-old debate on the desirability of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India. The Law Commission of India sought the views of people on the implementation of UCC. It put out a questionnaire on 7 October, which faced stiff opposition from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and some legal experts as it was alleged that it focuses mainly on the Muslim laws, ignoring discriminatory practices perpetuated by personal laws of other religious communities.

Firstpost in an interview with Flavia Agnes, a prominent legal scholar and director of the Majlis Legal Centre, Mumbai, tries to find out the sticking points of the current debate. Agnes provided a detailed legal analysis of the issue.

FP: Do you feel that the debate on UCC and ‘triple talaq’ is progressing in the right manner, given that it is centred on Muslim personal law?

FA: No, I don’t think it is going in the right direction because it is only directed at the Muslim law and the discriminatory aspects of the Hindu law are not coming into focus. It is not just law, we also need to examine the Hindu ethos and cultural practices which are anti-women.

FP: In your article in ‘The Oxford Handbook of The Indian Constitution’ you make a very important observation where you write, “The enforcement of a UCC cannot be viewed in a simplistic manner as outlawing ‘polygamy and triple talaq’ among the Muslims. The issue is far more complex and would require a detailed analysis of the gaps in the existing laws of all communities, from the perspectives of women’s empowerment.” Seemingly, these fine points have been ignored to a great extent in the current debate. What are your views on this?

FA: Yes. Rather than having consultations and trying to understand the issue in depth, the questionnaire framed by the Law Commission reflects a superficial engagement with personal laws.  It also targets the Muslim community.  The current polarisation and the reaction by the AIMPLB are the results of framing the questionnaire in this manner.

Rather than bringing communities closer, it is framed as an attack on minorities. This was totally unwarranted. All along it was stated that the UCC would comprise of best practices of all communities, but the questionnaire does not provide the scope for this.

Flavia Agnes is a prominent legal scholar and the director of the Majlis Legal Centre. Muslim Law Board is contesting UCC.Flavia Agnes is a prominent legal scholar and the director of the Majlis Legal Centre. Muslim Law Board is contesting UCC.

Flavia Agnes is a prominent legal scholar and the director of the Majlis Legal Centre.

FP: In your article, you highlight how personal laws of other communities (apart from Muslims) too have so many discriminatory provisions against women. Why do you think they miss the intensity of scrutiny that the Muslim law attracts?  

FA: This is unfortunate. While the negative aspects of Muslim law are highlighted, the positive rulings and community practices are not given prominence.  One can observe this even within the judiciary. When discriminatory practices within Hindu law and cultural practices are discussed they are not framed as “Hindu” but are discussed in general terms as “women’s problems”.

For instance, the problem of dowry-related violence and dowry deaths. There is no research conducted as to how many women who are murdered for dowry are Hindus. A research done by our organisation about cases which have reached the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court revealed that more than 90 percent were Hindus. Less than 10 percent were Muslims and others.

What do these figures tell us? Take for instance the latest judgement where a husband was granted a divorce on the grounds that the wife refused to stay with his parents. The notion of ‘joint family’ and ‘joint family property’ is a Hindu notion. Such a judgement would not be delivered if the woman was from another community. But we don’t term it as an anti-women ‘Hindu’ cultural norm.

FP: In your article, you dwell on the socio-political circumstances in which personal laws were given some sort of legal sanctity in the colonial era. Why is it that even with the change in the socio-political setup, we have not been able to bring significant reforms?

FA: After the Constitution was enacted, the first set of reforms was for Hindus, which violated the mandate of Article 44. The justification was that the Hindu law is extremely gender unjust compared to laws of other communities and needed immediate reforms. Daughters had no right to inherit property; the right of widows was a limited life estate. Women had no right to divorce and there was no restraint upon men regarding polygamy. Child marriage, abandonment of widows, etc were problems faced by women.

Institutions like mistress and concubinage were recognised. The urgency was to reform Hindu laws. However, though this was the stated objective, there was a political motive to acquire the legislative power over Hindus which until then was in the hands of religious heads of different sects. The aim was also to bring all reform religions such as Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism etc within the broad Hindu fold.

Finally, the laws enacted were not even made to be gender sensitive because a common consensus had to be reached by diluting women’s rights. At the same time, the state did not want to get into the realm of a Uniform Civil Code and ruffle minority sentiments soon after the bloodbath of partition.

It was presumed that as time passed, communities would get more integrated. The communal violence in subsequent years pushed communities further apart and today the faith of Muslim communities in the present right-wing government is at very low ebb. Hence the political climate is not conducive to reforming laws of minorities or for bringing in a Uniform Civil Code.

All personal laws discriminate against women but the discrimination is not similar, says Flavia Agnes. ReutersAll personal laws discriminate against women but the discrimination is not similar, says Flavia Agnes. Reuters

All personal laws discriminate against women but the discrimination is not similar, says Flavia Agnes. Reuters

FP: The government has said that triple talaq violates the right to equality of women as well as their dignity and that it “has no place in a secular country.” Your comments on this. 

FA: The entire affidavit filed by the government is a totally redundant and unwanted exercise because the SC in the Shamim Ara ruling in 2002 has already invalidated instant and arbitrary triple talaq and laid down the procedure for dissolving the Muslim marriages.

Even halala is a practice which accompanies only instant divorce and not a divorce over three months. So that too is rendered redundant. Since that landmark ruling did not receive media attention, most people are not aware of it. There have also been important high court judgments on this issue since 1981 and post Shamim Ara, several high courts have upheld this position.

If any woman who has received a talaqnama approaches the court relying upon these judgements, the courts will strike down the talaq and will give her the rights as though she is married. Hence, there was no need to make such comments on an issue on which the SC had already ruled in a noncontroversial manner.

FP: 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 views on this.

FA: I have no issue with that but it only acquires a political hue in the present climate. The 1952 judgment is a high court judgment and not binding on the SC. But various SC judgments have upheld this decision and so it is not only the 1952 judgment but also the subsequent SC rulings that one needs to examine.

But at the same time, there are a number of judgments of various high courts and the SC which have examined both Muslim and Christian laws and have struck down certain discriminatory aspects or laid down the correct procedure.

Shamim Ara ruling is an example, and there are many more. The discriminatory aspects of Christian laws were also struck down. While hearing those cases, the issue did not get politicised. But in this case, there is a deliberate attempt to politicise the issue.

FP: Many Muslim scholars and personalities have asserted that triple talaq is being given an ‘un-Islamic’ interpretation and that its practice is being ‘wrongly interpreted’, as the concept of one-time triple talaq does not exist. If this is the case then what is the basis of defending it?

FA: I agree. But once we accept that the Shamim Ara judgment is binding, then this question does not arise at all. Surprisingly, the affidavit filed by AIMPLB has also conceded that Shamim Ara has laid down the law regarding the triple talaq and that is the law of the land today. Later they made contradictory statements, but the fact that they accept Shamim Ara ruling is a positive step.

FP: The Law Commission of India sought a public vote on the implementation of UCC. Do you see this development as a precursor to some significant changes in personal laws in India?

FA: I feel it has opened up a debate, but the manner in which the questionnaire is framed to target the Muslim community was totally unwarranted. The AIMPLB has given a call to boycott this questionnaire. This makes it difficult to have any dialogue.

We should have started with the process of dialogue first and should have got the consensus of minority communities and then prepared a draft and presented it to various stakeholders. I disapprove of the manner in which this entire process has been done.

FP: MPLB’s Hazrat Maulana Wali Rahmani, at a press briefing a few days ago, said, “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.” How do you react to such claims?

FA: I agree. My own position is that uniformity of rights is more important and not a uniform law which will not be accepted by minority communities. We need to first see where we have uniformity of rights and strengthen them. And where there is discrimination, bring reforms in small measures.

All personal laws discriminate against women but the discrimination is not similar. Each has to be addressed separately. It has to be a step-by-step approach which will work better for the culturally diverse Indian communities. Even Hindu law is not uniform and takes within its ambit the cultural diversity of the Hindu population and accepts their customs and traditions.

FP: Implementation of UCC means that along with Muslims other minorities, like Christians and Parsis, would also lose their existing right to apply for their own civil code or laws for family matters, including marriage, divorce and inheritance. Yet, the most vehement opposition comes from the MPLB. Why is it so? 

FA: This is because the issue has been polarised along the Hindu-Muslim binaries. Even when issues concerning other communities have come up before the SC, such as the John Vellomatham case or the Sarla Mudgal case, which involved Hindu women who were victims of Hindu polygamy, the SC have made a call for a UCC in the context of Muslim law. The media too has played into this which is indeed tragic.

FP: Arif Mohammed Khan, who took a very strong stand against the discriminatory practices perpetuated by Muslim personal laws, while commenting on UCC and the functioning of MPLB wrote that, “The Imrana case, for that matter many other cases, including the famous Shah Bano case, are merely symptoms of a much deeper malaise – the desire to maintain and perpetuate disparity between the sexes. MLPB, since its inception, has been the votary of this trend.” Do you think that the MPLB will succeed in stifling any attempt of implementing the UCC this time as well?

FA: Since I myself am opposed to the implementation of UCC on an unwilling community or polity, I refrain from answering this question. With due respect to Arif Mohammed Khan, when we address the malaise only within the Muslim community, we are framing the issue in a lopsided manner.

As lawyer defending women’s rights, women of all communities approach our organisation. In court proceedings, we do not find that Muslim women are more discriminated than Hindu women. In fact, the reverse is true. It is very difficult to prove a Hindu marriage when the husband denies it. There is no proof of Hindu marriage except through photographs and witnesses.

When the husband claims a prior marriage, the woman is termed as a ‘mistress’ even by judges. Muslim marriage is a contract and the mehr is an integral part of it, whereas Hindu marriage continues to be viewed as a sacrament and dowry is an integral part of such a marriage. Though banned by law it continues unabated.

The Hindu rituals under Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, such as kanya dan are also discriminatory. Once a girl is married, she is seen as paraya dhan and doors of the natal family are closed on her.

Due to these women, who are facing domestic violence, get depressed and commit suicide. Incidents such as Imrana are not unique to Muslims, they occur within Hindu families as well. The important point about Imrana is that she had the courage to file a complaint and get her father prosecuted.

The fatwa itself was an attempt to politicise the issue by a journalist, as Imrana herself never asked for the same and the positive aspect is that she ignored the fatwa and continued to live with her husband in her natal home. Media never discusses these nuances and the attempt is only to tarnish the Muslim community through these media discussions.

FP: In your article, you write that “another strategy to break the stalemate is to enact specific legislation, which will apply to women uniformly across the country.” Though desirable, is it possible given the hostility towards UCC, especially by the Muslim law board?

FA: It has been done before. We have laws such as the Special Marriage Act of 1954. Anyone can marry under it. But all communities prefer to marry under their own personal laws and the government has done very little to popularise it. The medical termination of pregnancy, the Dowry Prohibition Act, the dowry-related criminal proceedings under IPC such as Section 498A (cruelty to wives) section 304B dowry murders are uniformly applicable.

Similarly, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, which was enacted in 2005, applies to Muslims and others alike. This law protects shelter, residence, maintenance, child custody and also compensation for the violence suffered to women during their marriage, in their natal home and even after their divorce.

In my EPW article and in a subsequent article in Scroll, I had explained that Shayara Bano ought to have used these remedies to claim her rights rather than rushing to the SC. As a divorced woman, she is also entitled to a fair and reasonable settlement for her entire life under the Protection of Women upon Divorce Act, 1986 which has been awarded a wide interpretation by the SC in 2001 in the Danial Latifi judgment.

But due to illiteracy, ignorance, and denial of access to justice, most women who are victims of domestic violence are unable to use these beneficial provisions. It is poverty, illiteracy and the lack of resources to approach the court that prevent the women victims from approaching the courts to protect their rights.

FP: In an EPW article published in May 2016, you questioned the positive media coverage of Bano’s petition and maintained the same view in another piece published two weeks ago highlighting the “few positive aspects” in the affidavit filed by AIMPLB. Many people expressed serious disagreement and discontentment on this. Please share your views on this?

FA: No, in the EPW piece I was very critical of the media publicity and the focus upon the domestic violence faced by Shayara Bano as though it is unique to a Muslim woman, and because similar violence suffered by Hindu or other community women would not be highlighted in the same manner.

I explained the various legal remedies she was entitled to and that no one was addressing it. So, I had felt that the media was extremely communal in highlighting this aspect. In the later article, I addressed the positive aspect in the affidavit filed by the AIMPLB which endorsed my views and accepted the ruling of Danial Latifi, which has held that a Muslim woman is entitled to a fair and reasonable provision for her entire life and they also advised that Shayara Bano should have approached the local court regarding the domestic violence she was facing.

This was positive because earlier when we talked to people working with Muslim communities there was a feeling that Muslim women cannot approach the courts and must approach only the Mullahs. So the Board accepting this was indeed positive.

The disagreement and discontentment are from those who have not worked with the law and have never helped Muslim women to access the courts. I do not think many of them even read the Board’s detailed affidavit and have gone by media reports.

I have not engaged with people making these comments because the comments are based on a total misreading of my article. After the Board’s affidavit, we are able to reach out to Muslim women and help them to understand their law better and are also able to tell them that the Board advises them to approach the court. So they feel more comfortable in enforcing their rights in a court of law.

DNA Morning Must Reads: 22 killed in fire in Odisha hospital; 8-fold surge in infiltrations across LoC; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. At least 22 killed, 20 injured in major fire at hospital in Odisha; probe orderedThe blaze was suspected to have been triggered by an electric short circuit in the dialysis ward on the first floor of the private hospital which spread to the nearby Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Read more.2. Jammu & Kashmir: Eight-fold surge in terror infiltrations across LoCThe good news is that ‘surgical strikes’ have brought cheer at a time when infiltration is at an all-time high with 87 cases reported this year, while the tally last year was 10, said the official. Read more.3. Mumbai: Fire breaks out at Maker tower in Cuff ParadeA fire breaks out at Maker tower in cuff Parade at Mumbai. Read more.4. Triple talaq: Reformist Muslims to launch campaign for Uniform Civil CodeThe Mandal will launch a campaign to seek support from Muslims for the UCC and a ban on triple talaq, and will also be organising a national convention in November in Pune to assert the rights of Muslim women. Read more.5. Show Review Big Boss 10: Aam Aadmi rocks!At the end of Bigg Boss 9, when the makers declared that the show will have commoners in the next season, it frankly did not spark much interest. Read more.

Bombay High Court restrains BMC from demolishing alterations in Kapil Sharma’s house

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bombay High Court on Monday, restrained Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) from carrying out any demolition until November 23, of the alleged illegal alterations, carried out by comedian Kapil Sharma, at his residence in a multi-storied building, at Goregaon.A division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai allowed the interim relief sought by Sharma who had moved the court challenging the notice issued to him by the civic body in April, alleging that illegal alterations were carried out by him at his 9th floor residence in DLH Enclave. The court also allowed the civic body to file their reply to the petition, justifying their action of issuing him the demolition notice.The plea filed through his advocate Pradeep Thorat claims that the civic body notice is issued at behest of some interested persons with political motives with a view to gain political mileage. The plea also states that the notice issued is malafide and illegal. It highlights the fact that in 2014, the corporation had issued a notice to him under section 351 of the MRTP Act, which has been challenged in the Dindoshi Civil court and time to time, stay has been granted.Thus instead of challenging the order of the civil court, the BMC has gone ahead and issued the fresh notice, which should be quashed and set aside as it is illegal. Sharma has by tweeting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised a storm, by alleging that civic officials were seeking bribe from him to regularize the construction at his Versova office. Following which the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadanvis had assured him of strict action against the officers concerned.However, the storm had died down and Sharma was entangled in various prosecutions lodged by the civic corporation against him alleging of Mangrove destruction to illegal alteration at his residence.

Uniform Civil Code: Muslim sect protest against Law Commission’s consultation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Scholars and clergymen from different Muslim sects, under the banner of All India Muslim Majlise-e-Mushawarat, registered their protest on Monday against the Law Commission’s consultation on triple talaq and the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).Recently, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), while announcing the decision to boycott the Law Commission’s consultation, had criticised the Narendra Modi government for allegedly trying to divert attention from its “failures” by raising the issue of UCC.The meeting in Mumbai was chaired by Maulana Sayed Mohamed Khalid Ashraf, the president of Daruloom Mohamdiya. Prominent among those who attended the meeting were All India Ulema Council president Maulana Zaherudin Khan, Mushawarat president Naveed Hamid and general secretary Mujtaba Farooq, All India Muslim Personal Law Board executive committee member Maulana Sayed Athar Ali, All India Jamiat Islami vice president Maulana Nusrat, internationally-famous Haji Ali Dargah’s Imam Maulana Mohd Islam, noted Shia scholar Maulana Asgar Imam Salfi (Ahlehadis) Maulana Asgar Haideri and others.”Any interference in Muslim Personal Law will not be tolerated. Any efforts to impose a Common Civil Code in the name of social reform and gender justice will prove counter- productive,” they said in a joint statement here.”The government should respect this position of Muslims instead of conspiring to put an end to it. The government cannot force Muslims to follow other communities in issues related to personal laws as it would amount to an infringement of their fundamental rights. “Those clamouring against triple talaq and demanding a ban on polygamy are a minuscule minority and are not representative of the Indian Muslim community,” said Maulana Sayed Mohamed Khalid Ashraf.All India Ulema Council president Maulana Zaherudin Khan said the move of banning triple talaq is a conspiracy to impose a Uniform Civil Code. “We will boycott this questionnaire. No Muslim will respond to it because it is misleading and deceitful. The Uniform Civil Code is divisive and will lead to social unrest,” he said.All India Ulema Association president Maulana Sayed Athar Ali said the government should not interfere in the belief and religion of any citizen. Muslims consider divorce, polygamy and other personal laws as an intrinsic part of their religion and are hence obliged to follow the Sharia in those matters, he said.

Uniform Civil Code: A common code for the common man

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Uniform Civil Code is one of those many contentious topics in Indian politics that can stir up a hornet’s nest. But before we take our stands, form opinions over dinner table conversations, and make our personal views known on a public domain, let’s understand what the Uniform Civil Code is, and how it can change the lives of Indians.The originLet us first understand that the UCC is not an invention of the ruling government. It was proposed in the original constitution of India, and was debated in the Parliament in 1949, and later between 1951 and 1954. Even though Prime Minister Nehru was personally in support of the bill, he was unable to convince the other members. Thus it was agreed to place the responsibility of a Uniform Civil Code on the State by including it in the Directive Principles of State Policy. This ended the first serious debate about the UCC, and gave birth to various laws and law boards, who created their respective the customs and practices for their community to abide by.One nation, one lawOnce adopted, the UCC will ensure the implementation of one law on issues like marriage, divorce/separation and inheritance, which will be uniformly applicable for all Indians irrespective of religion, caste, and community. In the current format, there are different laws for each major community. The logic? India is a diverse country and it consists of various communities that derive their personal laws based on their beliefs. But, let’s pause here and ask some relevant questions – is it fair when some laws start discriminating deliberately on the basis of gender.The decision of the current government is simply to ensure that we are all governed by a single law. As long as personal law boards exist in this country, equal rights will be a utopian concept. For example, in the current system, if a Hindu woman’s husband elopes with another woman, she can drag him to the court of law and seek justice. On the other hand, a Muslim woman has no such right. On matters like divorce, women don’t enjoy equal rights. Even the Supreme Court of India has indicated the need for laws that are common to all citizens. The SC through its rulings in different cases has repeatedly given a message — that the personal laws are not final.Redefining secularismIn a country that prides itself on being the world’s largest democracy and where debates on secularism occupy the centre stage every other day, for a woman of that country to still file petitions seeking maintenance after being divorced in a very abrupt way, it is shameful.Possibly the idea of different personal laws was feasible before, but given the current scenario and the alarming rise in gender crimes, the UCC will unite the society against evils like gender inequality and misogyny. This bill should be thoroughly debated upon, and every teen needs to voice his/her opinion about one homogenous India. The entire world is seeing a rise in religious extremism, and India can set a classic example of how a diverse nation can stand united.The youth of our country must come together to redefine secularism. A thorough study will tell you that secularism doesn’t mean that religion must be separated from state institutions, as far as personal laws are concerned. We are quite vociferous on issues like net neutrality, and the UCC too deserves a similar enthusiastic treatment.Landmark CasesThe Supreme Court first directed the Parliament to frame a UCC in 1985 in the case of Mohammad Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum. In this case, a penurious Muslim woman claimed for maintenance from her husband under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, after she was given triple talaq from him. The SC held that a Muslim woman has a right to get maintenance from her husband under Section 125.
The second instance in which the SC again directed the government of Article 44 was in the case of Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India. In this case, the question was whether a Hindu husband, married under the Hindu law, by embracing Islam, can solemnize second marriage. The Court held that a Hindu marriage solemnized under the Hindu law can only be dissolved on any of the grounds specified under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Conversion to Islam and marrying again would not, by itself, dissolve the Hindu marriage under the Act. And thus, a second marriage solemnized after converting to Islam would be an offence under Section 4945 of the Indian Penal Code.

Congress responsible for contemporary fragmented Indian society: RSS

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Telling the Congress Party that it has no right to preach to the government or to progressive, democratic and secular forces of the country, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Sunday blamed the former for creating a contemporary fragmented society for vote bank politics and, added that had it not done so, Jawaharlal Nehru, the nation’s first prime minister, would have introduced the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).”The Congress is responsible for the contemporary fragmented society. It is the Congress that initiated vote bank politics. Had it not done, Pandit Nehru (first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru) would have brought the Uniform Civil Code. The Congress’ social philosophy is a reactionary social philosophy and they are behind the fundamentalists, so the Congress has no moral right to preach to the government or to the progressive, democratic and secular forces of the country,” RSS ideologue Professor Rakesh Sinha told ANI.Dubbing the Congress as a party of “reactionaries” and having “blinkered vision”, Professor Sinha said, “Due to their blinkered vision and intention of vote bank, the Congress party is no longer a supporter of progressive positions, and they are behind the reactionary forces.”His reaction came in the wake of former union law minister and Congress veteran M Veerappa Moily stating this week that plurality, diversity and multiplicity is the real valuable culture of the country, and thus, the implementation of UCC is next to impossible in India.The RSS ideologue, however, sought to know as to when there was no demand for a “Hindu Civil Code”, the Government of India formulated the Hindu Civil Code and that was a progressive step, but who stopped them from bringing the Uniform Civil Code; if they legislated it for Hindu society, why did not they legislate for a Indian society?Accusing former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of bowing before fundamentalists, Sinha said, “Despite the clear and unambiguous directive and the verdict of the Supreme Court of India to formulate Uniform Civil Code, Rajiv Gandhi bowed down to the fundamentalists’ pressure.”Moily, who was reacting to the move of the Muslim Personal Law Board (MPLB) to boycott the UCC while terming it as “not good for the nation”, said the concept and the design of India is unity in diversity.”So, it is not uniform, we have hindered castes, then have 100 personal laws. I think this is impractical and one can’t implement personal law that very strongly governs the lives of the people of this country,” Moily said.

Para cyclist asked to remove prosthetic limb at airport

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A month and a half after he apprised the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Union Civil Aviation Ministry of ‘insensitive security checks’ for specially abled people at international airports, para cyclist, Aditya Mehta was again asked to remove his prosthetic leg at Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International airport. On Tuesday, the two-time silver medalist at the Para-Asian Cycling Games, was stopped by a CISF official at the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru, who asked him to remove his prosthetic leg during security checks. The leg was then run through the X-ray scanner.Mehta, who had to catch a flight in the next 45 minutes, pleaded with officials to let him go. However, he claimed that after being forced to remove his prosthetic leg, he tried to put it on quickly, after which he started bleeding.Mehta also added that removing the prosthetic limb every time is humiliating for amputees.On August 26, at the same airport, he had gone through the same treatment, after which he decided to voice his complaint. On August 29, he wrote to the PMO, Civil Aviation Ministry and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) complaining about the humiliating treatment he had faced at the hands of CISF officials.”On August 29, I wrote a letter to Ashok Gajapathi Raju, the union civil aviation minister in which I urged him to introduce a security check system in place whereby special paper or gloves can lightly pat the prosthetic limb or wheelchair and then the paper could be passed through the X-ray machine,” Mehta told DNA.“This is the state of affairs in our country. The only response I got was from the Prime Minister’s Office which said they have petitioned the civil aviation ministry,” Mehta said. He added that while the DGCA had acknowledged receiving his letter, no action had so far been taken.Mehta also alleged that officials has misbehaved with him during his ordeal, with some even saying that his injury was not their problem.However, CISF officials stationed at Bengaluru airport, refuted Mehta’s allegations. They said that an enquiry into the case has already been initiated.”We have been following the procedure of asking the physically challenged people for removing prosthetic limbs. On Tuesday, we asked Aditya to remove his prosthetic limb in the presence of the crew members of the airlines by which he was travelling. There was no misbehaviour from our side. An enquiry into the case is going on,” a CISF official in the control room of the Kempegowda International Airport told DNA.

Dump questionnaire, says Muslim Personal Board

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The All India Muslim Personal Board (AIMPB) – the umbrella body of clerics across different schools of thought – along with some other prominent Muslim groups, has announced that it will oppose tooth and nail any attempt of the government to interfere or amend the Muslim Personal Law or to impose the Uniform Civil Code.They also threatened to launch countrywide programmes, on a much higher scale than the one launched 30 years ago, which had forced the then Rajiv Gandhi government to enact the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986. The Act annulled a Supreme Court judgment that put the onus of maintaining a divorced women on the husband.The Board also rejected the questionnaire of the Law Commission of India seeking public opinion in favour of the Uniform Civil Code, saying it was ‘unacceptable’. It appealed to the community to boycott the questionnaire.Attacking the government’s stand on the issue of triple talaq, the outfits instead claimed that the community has reported a lesser number of divorce cases vis-a-vis other communities, especially the Hindu community, which, they said, has reported a higher divorce ratio than other communities according to Census 2011.”The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, along with all prominent Muslim organisations like the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, Milli Council, Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadees Hind plus the schools of thought like Deoband, Barelvi, Ahle Hadith, Shia and others reject the questionnaire prepared by the Law Commission,” said Wali Rahmani, the general secretary of the Board, at a news conference here on Thursday.Rahmani was unhappy with the government’s stance saying that it was deliberately causing a sense of insecurity within the minority community. “So far as the Constitution is concerned, basic importance is for fundamental rights. As per Article 25 regarding fundamental rights, each and every individual has the right to follow, practice and propagate the religion of his/her choice,” he said.He added that though there are “flaws” in personal laws governing Muslims, they are being addressed from time to time, without any external interference.Countering the Law Commission’s claim that the step was an “endeavour” to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise various cultural practices, Rehmani said that when implemented, the UCC will bring to an end to the country’s diversity and pluralism and paint everyone in “one colour.”The women members of the Board also stressed that contrary to perception, Muslim Personal Law balances the rights of Muslim women and men “very well” and that there is no need for reform within it. “There is no need for any reform in the law. Triple talaq is not an issue and the government’s move to impose UCC intends to snatch our religious freedom guaranteed in the Indian Constitution. This is the reason why we are fighting for our rights,” Aasma Zehra, a Board member, said.

Uniform Civil Code row: Law Panel head surprised as Muslim Law Board boycotts questionnaire

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Law Commission Chairman B S Chauhan on Thursday sounded surprised over the decision of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) to boycott the questionnaire of the panel on Uniform Civil Code (UCC), but refused to comment on the controversy.”I have no comments to offer. The only thing I would like to state is that we have only floated the documents for public comments. No report has been finalised,” he said to a poser on the AIMPLB questioning the decision of the law panel to seek public comments on UCC and the issue of ‘triple talaq’.The AIMPLB and various other outfits today opposed the 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 October 7, 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”.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 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.On October 7, the Centre in an affidavit in the Supreme Court had opposed the practice of triple talaq.

Uniform Civil Code row: Muslim Law Board to start nation-wide signature campaign

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amidst row over “triple talaq”, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) will start a nation-wide signature campaign on Friday among Muslims against the central government affidavit in the Supreme Court on the matter.”The affidavit filed by the central government on the matter of triple talaq is a direct infringement on the Shariat and a nation-wide signature campaign will start from tomorrow on this matter,” senior AIMPLB member Khalid Rasheed Farangimahli said here today.The campaign will start in the state from the Aishbagh Idgah after the Friday prayers tomorrow, he said.A letter to this effect has been sent to imams of all the mosques in the state appealing to them to take active part in this exercise to protect Islami Shariat which will be read out just before the Friday namaz tomorrow, Farangimahli said.The letter explains the details of the case in which the central government has taken the stand that triple talaq is against fundamental rights of women and that it is an infringement on the personal law of Muslims, Farangimahli said.The board will take the views of Muslim women and men separately on the Law Commission’s questionnaire by issuing its own performa.The AIMPLB opposed the Law Commission’s questionnaire on Uniform Civil Code and announced its decision to boycott the move and accused the government of waging a “war” against the community.Trashing government’s stand on the issue of triple talaq, the outfit claimed the community has reported lesser number of divorce cases vis- -vis other communities, especially the Hindu community which, they said, has reported higher divorce ratio according to Census 2011.The board launched a campaign here to create awareness amongst Muslims.

Close shave for Jet Airways’ passengers on board London-Mumbai flight; probe ordered

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As many as 246 people on board a Jet Airways flight from London’s Heathrow airport to Mumbai had a miraculous escape when the Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft failed to reach the required climb after the take-off, prompting the government to order a probe into the incident.According to sources, the pilot’s failure to use the ‘full runway’ for take-off allegedly led to a ‘dangerous’ situation and resulted in the incident which occurred on August 30. The commander of the aircraft has been taken off duty, they said.Jet Airways, however, sought to downplay the ‘serious’ incident saying, “We are investigating the event that has been brought to our attention as part of our active safety management system.”There were 231 passengers and 15 crew members, including two pilots, on board the aircraft when the incident occurred.”The incident did not have in any damage to the aircraft or property, nor injuries to crew members or guests on board,” Jet Airways said in statement to PTI.Taking note of the ‘serious’ incident, the Civil Aviation Ministry has ordered a detailed probe into it.The two-member committee, constituted to look into the incident and headed by Jitendra Singh, has started its probe.The other member of the committee is Rajan Bhatnagar and both of them are assistant directors in the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB).”Jet Airways aircraft VT-JEK was involved in a serious incident at Heathrow airport, London on August 30, 2016,” the ministry said in a notification ordering the AAIB probe.

Airports including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru put on high alert

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Civil airports in western states and important ones like those in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru have been put on a high alert as part of the heightened security arrangements following cross-LoC surgical strikes by the Indian army.Airports in Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru have been asked to step up vigil and security to tackle any attack or sabotage. “Security measures at vital airports have been stepped up….put on a high alert,” CISF Director General O P Singh told PTI.Officials said a decision in this regard was notified by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) following which the airports, especially hyper-sensitive ones like those in Mumbai and Delhi, were put on alert. They said the Central Industrial Security Force chief had also reviewed airport security during a recent meeting with his top officials posted at all the sensitive airports.”While a general review was done for all airports, some specific facilities were asked to be extra-vigilant,” they said, without elaborating.Counter-sabotage teams, bomb squads and commando teams have been asked to be extra-vigilant to thwart any possible terror strikes, sources said.

Ten coaches of Jhelum Express derail in Punjab; three people injured

Ludhiana: At least three people were injured after 10 coaches of the Jhelum Express passenger train derailed in Punjab’s Ludhiana district, police said on Tuesday.

Injured people, travelling on the train, have been sent to Civil hospital Ludhiana, the Ministry of Railways tweeted.

The accident took place around 3.10 am. Near Phillaur town, 125 km from Chandigarh.

A major tragedy was averted as the train derailed before a bridge of Sutlej river.

“11078 (Jhelum exp) derailed on approach to river Sutlej bridge Philore- Ladowal sec NR/ FZR div, No casualty and only 2 minor injuries,” the ministry tweeted.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“Derailed coaches B5,S1,PC,S2, S3,S4,S5,S6,S7 and S8. Injured send to Civil hospital Ludhiana, three buses reached site,” the ministry added.

The derailment took place between Phillaur and Ludhiana. The train had 24 coaches.

The train plies between Jammu Tawi and Pune stations.

Rail traffic between the Ludhiana-Jalandhar section was affected as both tracks were blocked due to the derailment, a railway spokesman said.

“All passengers are safe. There is no casualty,” the spokesman said.

“Some trains have been cancelled and diverted. The Northern Railways will provide a list of the affected trains. The accident took place in the area of Ferozepur division of Northern Railways,” the spokesman said.

Rescue and relief teams reached the accident site after some time.

Passengers of the derailed train rescued the three injured passengers, including a woman and a child. One person was seriously injured.

The remaining passengers were transported to Ludhiana to enable them to board other trains to their respective destinations.

Railway authorities also started work to repair the damaged railway track and remove the derailed coaches to restore traffic on the section.

The track links all important cities in north India, including Jalandhar, Amritsar and Jammu, with New Delhi.

Delhi: Court sends senior judge to 14 days judicial custody on corruption charges

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A special court here on Thursday sent Senior Civil Judge Rachna Tiwari Lakhanpal to 14 days judicial custody on allegations of illegal gratification. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) accused Lakhanpal, a sitting judge at Tis Hazari District Court (THC), of allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs. 20 lakhs.The CBI also arrested the judge’s husband Alok, a criminal lawyer and Vishal Mehan, a court commissioner (CC) appointed by her on charges of corruption.In its press release, the BI stated, “A case was registered U/s 7 & 8 of P. C. Act, 1988 against the Advocate on a complaint alleging that in a matter being heard by a Senior Civil Judge (West), Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi, she had appointed an advocate as Local Commissioner for conducting an inspection of the disputed property and submitting his report. The Advocate (appointed as Local Commissioner) allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs.2 Lakh for himself as well as Rs.20 Lakhs for the said Senior Civil Judge for deciding the matter in the favour of complainant.”Acting on the complaint, the CBI laid a trap and arrested Mehan when he was accepting a bribe. During his interrogation, Mehan confessed and claimed that he was allegedly acting on directions of the judge. The Lakhanpal’s were then arrested when Mehan delivered their share of the money to them. The CBI further conducted a raid at Lakhanpal’s residence at around 2 am on the intervening night of September 28 and 29 and recovered almost Rs. 94 lakhs, two locker keys and other material. Sources close to the case claim that almost Rs. 60 lakhs were recovered from Lakhanpal’s bedroom, whereas the remaining amount was found in their sons’ room.Special Judge (CBI) Sanjeev Agarwal allowed CBI’s plea and remanded Alok and Mehan to two days police custody. “Source of huge recovery of Rs. 94 lakhs is yet to be established and the investigation is at a very nascent stage, therefore fair investigations and interest of justice requires two days PC remand each be granted,” the court said.”Regarding Ms. Rachna Tiwari Lakhanpal only judicial remand has been sought, as it is stated that the investigation qua her is at initial stage and she may influence witnesses and tamper with the evidence,” the court added.According to sources, the complaint was registered on September 27. During the raids, two independent witnesses – one official from the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and a government schoolteacher, were present at the time.The CaseSources within the CBI state that the matter involved a property at Saraswati Garden in West Delhi’s Kirti Nagar area. Apparently, the judge had appointed Mehan as a CC to inspect the property and submit his report. This report is crucial since it becomes a part of the judicial report. A judge would then base his, or her final order based on the submissions made in the report.Court sources claim that Rachna Lakhanpal, who started out as a public prosecutor, was elevated to the position a judge and rose through the ranks to become a senior civil judge. It was rumoured that she was going to be promoted to the position of the Additional District Judge (ADJ)when the new round of promotions would be announced in the next few months to come.Alok Lakhanpal and Mehan will be produced in court on Saturday, whereas Rachna will be produced on October 13.

Jayalalithaa announces Rs 476 cr bonus for PSU employees in Tamil Nadu

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday announced bonus to the tune of Rs 476.71 crore to the employees of various state public sector undertaking companies, in view of forthcoming festive season.

About 3.67 lakh eligible employees would receive bonus of a minimum Rs 8,400 up to Rs 16,800 per month for the period 2015-16, a press release from Chief Minister’s Office said.

Jayalalithaa said a bonus of 20 percent, including 8.33 percent of bonus and 11.67 per cent ex-gratia would be given to the employees of those PSUs which have reported profits.

File image of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. AFPFile image of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. AFP

File image of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. AFP

For those employees of PSUs which have reported losses, she said, “They will get a bonus of 10 per cent including, 8.33 percent bonus plus 1.67 percent ex-gratia.”

Employees of the State Electricity Board, Transport Corporations, Civil Supplies Corporation will receive a hike of 20 percent including 8.33 percent bonus and 11.67 percent ex-gratia, she added.

Tamil Nadu Housing Board, Chennai Metrowater Supply and Sewerage Board ‘C’ and ‘D’ section employees will receive 10 percent hike including 8.33 percent bonus and 1.67 percent ex-gratia, she said.

Besides announcing the bonus to eligible staff of PSUs, Jayalalithaa said a bonus of Rs 4,000 will be given to contract employees of Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, Rs 3,000 to temporary workers of Civil Supplies Corporation and those employees of Co-operative Societies which do not come under the bonus scheme.

“The eligible permanent employees of the PSUs will receive a minimum hike of Rs 8,400 to a maximum of Rs 16,800 per month. The 3.67 lakh employees of various public sector companies will receive a total of Rs 476.71 crore as bonus,” she said.

Mid-air mishap averted after SpiceJet aircraft comes close to Emirates

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A mid-air mishap was averted due to an auto generated warning after a SpiceJet aircraft came in close proximity of an overflying Emirates plane in the Indian airspace.The incident which occurred on August 11, involving SpiceJet Hyderabad flight from Chennai (SG 511) and Emirates’ Dubai-bound Brisbane flight (EK 433), is currently being investigated by the aviation regulator, DGCA sources said.Earlier this month, a mid-air collision between two IndiGo planes, carrying over 225 passengers and crew, was averted over Dhaka airspace after the pilot of one of the flights steered away his aircraft to a safe distance when they came perilously close to each other.According to sources, SpiceJet flight SG 511 was cleared for 34,000 ft and advised to standby to climb further.”However, SG 511 climbed above the permitted level without clearance. It was then asked to maintain 35,000 ft but the aircraft overshot by a 1,000 ft, a level that EK 433 was maintaining,” they said.This forced the Emirates flight to climb further and increase separation, with both the aircraft receiving TCAS alert, sources said.TCAS monitors the airspace around an aircraft for other aircraft equipped with a corresponding active transponder, independent of air-traffic control, and warns pilots of the presence of other transponder-equipped aircraft which may present a threat of mid-air collision (MAC).”Emirates can confirm that flight EK433 Brisbane to Dubai on August 11, whilst in Indian airspace, received indications of proximity traffic. The flight crew correctly followed the on board system guidance to remain clear, following which they reported the occurrence to Air Traffic Control.”At no time were passengers in any danger. The safety of our passengers and crew as always is our top priority,” Emirates said in a statement.However, according to SpiceJet sources, the ATC instructed it to climb and maintain 36,000 ft due to traffic at 37,000 level but “while passing flight level 35,000, ATC instructed the pilot to stop climb. By that time the aircraft had climbed to 35,400 feet. Our flight descended back to 35,000, and during which SpiceJet aircraft got descend resolution advisory.”Sources at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said that the incident is being investigated and would soon be handed over to the Airprox Investigation Board (AIB).

Urjit Patel is new RBI governor: A profile of Raghuram Rajan’s inflation lieutenant

Ending months of speculation, the government on Saturday announced Urjit Patel as the governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

Patel, 52, is presently one of the four deputy governors at the RBI. First appointed on 11 January 2013 as a deputy governor to replace Subir Gokarn, he was reappointed in January 2016 for another three years. He has run the central bank’s monetary policy department since 2013 and has worked closely with the Raghuram Rajan during his stint at the central bank.

RBI Governor -designate Urjit Patel. Image courtesy from Patel's Twitter handleRBI Governor -designate Urjit Patel. Image courtesy from Patel's Twitter handle

RBI Governor-designate Urjit Patel. Image courtesy from Patel’s Twitter handle

According to a profile on the RBI site, prior to his appointment as the deputy governor at the RBI in January 2013, Patel was advisor (energy & infrastructure), The Boston Consulting Group. He is a PhD (economics) from Yale University (1990) and MPhil from Oxford (1986). He has been a non-resident Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution since 2009.

Between 1990 and 1995, Patel was with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where he worked on the US, India, Bahamas and Myanmar desks.

During 1996-97 he was on deputation from the IMF to the RBI and provided advice on development of the debt market, banking sector reforms, pension fund reforms, real exchange rate targeting and evolution of the foreign exchange market.

Patel has also served the government in various positions during the NDA-I regime. During 1998-2001, he served as a consultant to the ministry of finance, department of economic affairs, New Delhi.

UrjitPatel825UrjitPatel825

Apart from these, his other assignments include, president (business development), Reliance Industries; executive director and member of the management committee, IDFC; member of the Integrated Energy Policy Committee of the Government of India; and member of the Board, Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation Ltd, the RBI site said.

Between 2000 and 2004, Patel has worked closely with several Central and state government high-level committees such as, Task Force on Direct Taxes, Union Ministry of Finance; Advisory Committee (on Research Projects and Market Studies), Competition Commission of India; secretariat for the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Infrastructure; Group of Ministers on Telecom Matters; Committee on Civil Aviation Reforms; Ministry of Power’s Expert Group on State Electricity Boards and High Level Expert Group for Reviewing the Civil & Defence Services Pension System, Government of India.

Patel has authored technical publications, papers and comments in the areas of Indian macroeconomics, public finance, infrastructure, financial intermediation, international trade and the economics of climate change.

Inflation fighter

During his tenure at the RBI Patel was seen as a close lieutenant to Rajan. He headed a committee that introduced landmark changes in the monetary policy formulation of the central bank.

The changes he helped drive are considered to be among the most significant monetary policy reforms since India opened up its economy in 1991.

The key changes recommended by the committee included:

i) Adopting consumer prices as the new benchmark instead of wholesale prices. This meant the central bank will base its interest rate policies on retail inflation or consumer price index-based (CPI) inflation. Economists have pointed out that CPI “is a better reflector of demand side pressures in the economy” as it includes the services sector price details. As the committee itself noted “The true inflation that consumers face is in the retail market”.

ii) Moving towards a flexible inflation-targeting regime with a target of 4 within a band of ±2 percent. This, according to the committee, was done in view of the vulnerability of the Indian economy to supply/external shocks and the relatively large weight of food in the CPI; and the need to avoid a deflation bias in the conduct of monetary policy”. During parliament’s just concluded monsoon session, the government notified the inflation target for the RBI at 4 percent, plus or minus 2 percent, for the next five years. Moody’s Investor Services hailed the move saying it will help moderate future price rises and support macroeconomic stability.

iii) Setting up of a Monetary Policy Committee, which will be responsible for making policy decisions, and be held accountable in case of failure to meet the nominal target. The appointment of a committee will move rate setting decision away from the individual capacity of the RBI governor to that of a committee of experts. Rajan has expressed hope that the committee will be put in place before his exit in September.

However, these path breaking recommendations apart Patel, whose remit at the RBI included managing money markets, has faced criticism from market participants, however, with some traders and bankers complaining that he kept liquidity tight at a time when the RBI was lowering rates, starving banks of cash.

With input from Reuters

Tourism can support 46 mn jobs in India by 2025, says US ambassador Richard Verma

New Delhi: Travel and tourism sector in India has the potential to grow much faster and support 46 million jobs by 2025, provided the right investments and policies continue to be implemented, US Ambassador Richard Verma said on Wednesday.

Reuters

Goa tourism. Reuters

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the travel and tourism sector contributed USD 120 billion or 6.3 per cent to the country’s GDP, which supported approximately 37 million jobs in 2015.

“If the right investments are made, tourism has the potential to support 46 million jobs in India by 2025,” Verma said. His remarks came while delivering the keynote address at a conference organised by Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) on the theme ‘Travel and Tourism as a means to achieve USD 500 billion trade between India and USA’.

“… India’s tourism industry is growing, but it has the potential to grow even faster if the right investments and policies continue to be implemented,” Verma said. One of the areas that will help increase this potential is “timely and efficient” air connectivity, which is vital to any strong tourism relationship, he added.

Highlighting the close ties between the two countries, Verma said, “In 2015, the US was India’s largest source of foreign tourists. Over 1.2 million American visitors came to India, accounting for 15 per cent of the total foreign travelers.”

On the other hand, the US last year welcomed more than one million Indian visitors, who contributed nearly USD 11 billion to the American economy, he added.

Verma also welcomed the recently announced National Civil Aviation Policy and the 100 per cent FDI in the civil aviation sector. “We look forward to increasing passenger traffic between our countries as India takes steps to facilitate greater regional connectivity and implement growth enabling measures,” he said.

In 2015, for the first time in history, the US Mission in India processed more than 1 million non-immigrant visa applications in a single year, Verma noted.

Highlighting the role of tourism in economic development, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said, “Tourism is very, very critical for India because India needs to create more jobs and there is no other sector which has multiplier effect of creating jobs.”

The tourism and travel sector has huge potential to grow if the country further opens up the civil aviation sector, improves civic governance, enhances communication strategy and focusses on consistency of policies, capacity building and community participation, he added.

Will ensure safety of Indian airports, says Civil Aviation minister after Istanbul attack

Government is committed to ensure the safety of Indian airports and skies, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Wednesday said as he expressed shock over the deadly terror attack at Istanbul airport.More than 36 people have been killed and hundreds injured in the terror attack at Ataturk airport in Istanbul.”I am deeply shocked and agitated at the terror attack on Istanbul Airport. We stand with Turkey and its citizens in their loss & grief,” Raju said in a tweet.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He emphasised that the government is committed to ensure safety of airports in the country.”It’s our commitment that we will continue to ensure safety and security of Indian airports and skies,” he said.Ataturk airport is one of the busiest aerodromes in the world.

Maharaja meltdown: When Venkaiah Naidu had an epic rant on Twitter after Air India delay

Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday expressed his frustration over missing an important appointment after his Air India flight was delayed.In it’s statement, Air India said that the flight was delayed as the pilot was stuck in traffic jam”We deeply regret the inconvenience caused due to flight delay. The pilot was stuck in traffic jam, enquiry has been ordered.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapthi Raju responded to Venkaiah Naidu’s tweet by saying, MoS Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said:(With ANI inputs)

Madras High Court issues notice to govt, Coca Cola on pricing of beverages in cinema halls

The Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered issue of notice to Tamil Nadu government, soft drink giant Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd and others on a PIL seeking to prohibit the sale of beverages and snacks at exobitant rates in cinema halls in the city.Hearing the petition by one G Devarajan, Justice M Sathyanarayana ordered issue of notice to Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Private Limited, S2 Cinemas and Special Government Pleader P Sanjay Gandhi on behalf of the Commissioner of Food, Civil Supplies, Consumer Protection and Price Control Protection Department, the Secretary, Food, Civil Supplies Consumer protection and price control, along with other authorities.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The petitioner submitted that the theatre owners prevented the movie-goers from bringing food from outside outside, thus leaving the audience with no other option but to purchase them from the stalls inside the halls, which were sold at exorbitant rates. Alleging that the Hindustan Coco Cola colluded with cinema theatres to swindle the public of their money, he prayed to the Court to direct the concerned authorities to take action against overcharging customers for products and initiate action against them.

International Yoga Day: 70 diplomats from 35 countries participate in celebrations in New Delhi

Over 15,000 people, including 70 diplomats, on Tuesday took part in International Yoga Day celebrations at seven venues in the national capital.At Connaught Place, where Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu was the chief guest and Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung and BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi also participated, 9,000- 10,000 people turned up for the event, according to a senior NDMC official.The AYUSH Ministry helped organise events at six other locations – Lodhi Garden, Nehru Park, Talkatora Garden, Swarn Jayanti Park in Rohini, Yamuna Sports Complex in Patparganj and District Park in Dwarka. At least 100 Resident Welfare Associations selected by the ministry also hosted Yoga Day events. At Nehru Park, approximately 2,000 people turned up for the event.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Among those who were present were nearly 70 diplomats from 35 countries, including Japan, Sri Lanka and United States, according to an official of AYUSH Ministry. Thousands of police personnel too celebrated Yoga Day in all districts of Delhi Police.The Delhi government held a separate event at the Chhatrasal Stadium which was presided over by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. President Pranab Mukherjee too celebrated the Day with 1,000 people participating with him at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.Fifty-seven Union ministers across the country joined the masses to celebrate the day. Ten ministers, including Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Nirmala Sitharaman, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Maneka Gandhi attended yoga events in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.Around 200 officials and employees of the Civil Aviation Ministry and Airports Authority of India (AAI), including Secretary R N Choubey, performed various Yoga asanas at the lawns of the Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan. Gurgaon-based carrier SpiceJet participated in the exercise with 40-crew members undertaking a 10-minutes session on board. Doctors at the AIIMS, including its director MC Misra, also marked the day.”Yoga is a way of life and it should be part of every one’s life. Yoga keeps several health complications away if done regularly with dedication,” said Misra.The participants also included many non-medical staff of AIIMS. Health Minister JP Nadda tomorrow will inaugurate a centre focused on scientific evidence of the therapeutic benefits of Yoga at the Convergence Block of AIIMS.

Nuclear Suppliers Group plenary: Little movement since 2008 ‘relationship with India’ talks

The United States on Monday asked the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to consider and support India’s application to join the grouping during their plenary meeting in Seoul beginning on Tuesday.

This came a day after China’s statement that India’s inclusion into the group was not even on the agenda of the group’s meeting.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been actively pushing this issue with other countries.

During his five nation tour, he secured Switzerland’s promise to support India’s application for its entry into the NSG.

Representational image of nuclear power plant. Getty images

Representational image of nuclear power plant. Getty Images

“Switzerland welcomes an Indian contribution to the non-proliferation of nuclear arms,” said the President of the Swiss Confederation Johann Schneider-Ammann.

During his trip to Mexico, he secured the country’s support for the same as well. “Mexico recognises India’s bid to be part of the NSG. As a country, we are going to be positively and constructively supporting India’s request in recognition of the commitment by Prime Minister Modi to the international agenda of disarmament and non proliferation of nuclear weapons,” Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron too assured Modi of UK’s “firm support” for India’s NSG membership.

While the plenary meeting in Seoul will decide the fate of the country, let’s look at the progress made since 2008 when India’s application was considered for the first time.

According to its public statement, the Nuclear Suppliers Group met in Vienna on 21 and 22 August to discuss civil nuclear cooperation with India. The participating countries agreed to continue their deliberations.

The International Atomic Energy Agency released the “Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India” adopted by the NSG.

According to this, the participating governments had taken note of India’s efforts and voluntary steps taken in the direction of becoming a member of NSG. It further said, “With a view to intensification of dialogue and cooperation with India, the Chairman is requested to confer and consult with India….”

The NSG plenary meeting 2009 hosted in Budapest too said that the “plenary addressed the regular reporting and consultation requirements under the group’s 6 September 2008 Statement on civil nuclear cooperation with India, bearing in mind India’s voluntary commitments and actions.”

The public statement released after the 2010 NSG meeting held in Christchurch said “The Group continued to consider the implementation of the Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India. It noted actions taken to adhere to the NSG guidelines and the voluntary commitments made by India.”

Interestingly, the 2011 meeting in Noordwijk too considered “all aspects of the implementation of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India and discussed the NSG relationship with India.”

There appeared to be very little movement in the following years:

2012, Nuclear Suppliers Group Plenary, Seattle: continued to consider all aspects of the implementation of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India and discussed the NSG relationship with India.

2013, Nuclear Suppliers Group Plenary, Prague: Continued to consider all aspects of the implementation of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India and discussed the NSG relationship with India.

2014, Nuclear Suppliers Group Plenary, Buenos Aires: Shared information on all aspects of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India and discussed the NSG relationship with India.

2015, Nuclear Suppliers Group Plenary, Bariloche: Shared information on all aspects of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India and discussed the NSG relationship with India.

Considering that the only development has been deliberations and more deliberations, it remains to be seen if the Nuclear Suppliers Group Plenary, 2016 in Seoul will end in the same manner.

Or will Modi’s international outreach finally see India becoming a member of the NSG?

Has the Modi govt’s big bang FDI reforms announcement shut his critics?

New Delhi: Did the Modi government time liberalisation of FDI caps across crucial sectors to lessen the impact of some other developments over the weekend? Namely, has the decision of the RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan to call it quits in September and not accept a second term played the part in today’s crucial FDI-related announcement? Analysts had been issuing dire warnings of a complete bloodbath in the equity and currency markets this morning, the first trading day after the Rajan bombshell. But some sensible decisions by the equity market players and then the FDI announcement queered the pitch. It is all about timing, surely.

Prime minister Narendra ModiPrime minister Narendra Modi

Prime minister Narendra Modi

That the government was keen to ease FDI caps across some sectors was known for some time but there was not even a whisper in the corridors of power about the wide sweep this reform would take. With one fell swoop, the Modi government seems to have shut up critics who carped on the lack of big bang reforms. This is as big a bang as it gets.

The Civil Aviation industry was one of the most surprised with the government’s largesse, since just last week it had seen the unveiling of the Civil Aviation Policy which quietly removed any reference to a hike in FDI caps for airlines, something that was very much a part of the policy draft. Sources in the know said there had been enough indications that FDI would be liberalised but the government did not want it to become part of the civil aviation policy document.

Though Prime Minister Modi held a crucial meeting of his top ministers this morning where the FDI decisions were taken, no one really had an inkling about the issues the ministers had deliberated upon. Commerce Minister Nirmala Seetharaman was running late for a pre-scheduled interaction with journalists at the Indian Women’s Press Corps this afternoon. When asked what held her up, the minister said that the Prime Minister was holding a meeting.

“He seeks views on different subjects” she said almost in a whisper when pressed further. When asked specifically about her reaction to governor Rajan’s exit and then her views on government planning to relax sourcing norms for Apple, she wisely parried. Seetharaman had just finished her interaction when the FDI announcement was made through a government press release.

Among the most significant changes to the FDI regime announced today is a relaxation in sourcing norms for single brand stores, which means Apple can breathe easy. Niti Ayong CEO Amitabh Kant said in a chat with CNBC-TV18 that Apple now will not have to comply with local sourcing norms for three years and then five more years, giving it an 8-year window. He said the phone maker need not apply afresh and its existing application will be considered for allowing relaxed local sourcing norms.

Here are the FDI announcements and their possible implications:

1) Single brand retail: Relaxed local sourcing norms up to three years and a relaxed sourcing regime for another five years for entities undertaking Single Brand Retail Trading of products having ‘state-of-art’ and ‘cutting edge’ technology. Apple suits this definition to the T, therefore making it the biggest beneficiary of this liberalisation. Kant said that there was a clear definition of what comprised ‘state-of-the-art’ and ‘cutting edge’ as a committee of Niti Ayog officials had specified these parameters. This should encourage local sourcing of high tech stuff in India.

2) Defence: Presently 49 percent FDI participation in the equity of a defence company under automatic route is allowed; FDI above 49% is permitted through government approval on case to case basis, wherever it is likely to result in access to modern and ‘state-of-the-art’ technology in the country. But now, foreign investment beyond 49 percent has been permitted through government approval route, in cases resulting in access to modern technology and the condition of access to ‘state-of-the-art’ technology has been done away with. This should encourage local defence manufacturing and increased supplies of locally manufactured goods to the government. Since the government still retains control over FDI beyond 49 percent by approval, it means local manufacturers of defence equipment need not worry, their interests would be protected as well.

3) Civil Aviation: 100 percent FDI under automatic route permitted in brownfield airport projects. For airlines, 100 percent FDI allowed now with FDI up to 49 percent permitted under the automatic route and beyond 49 percent through government approval. However, foreign airlines would continue to be allowed to invest in capital of Indian companies operating scheduled and non-scheduled air-transport services up to 49 percent of their paid up capital only.

On the face of it, it seems the government had left foreign airlines drooling over the prospect of owning Indian carriers but it is possible that by teaming up with sovereign funds or other investment arms of their own countries, foreign airlines are able to buy up a substantial chunk of an Indian airline or even an entire airline. If this happens, existing Indian airlines will have a chance to sell out in case the promoters want an exit, while it could also lead to powerful global airlines arriving in India to either setup an airline from scratch or buy out/partner an existing airline.

4) Pharma: Already, 100 percent FDI under automatic route is permitted in greenfield pharma and up to 100 percent under government approval in brownfield pharma companies. Now, up to 74% under the automatic route will be allowed in brownfield pharmaceuticals. This could increase investments in India’s pharma sector.

FDI caps have also been eased in food products made in India, broadcasting carriage services, private security agencies and animal husbandry sectors. The official release said measures undertaken by the government till now have resulted in increased FDI inflows at $55.46 billion in 2015-16 from $36.04 billion during 2013-14. This is the highest ever FDI inflow for a particular financial year. Will the latest move, liberalising the caps in nine sectors in all, raise this figure substantially for FY17? This remains to be seen.

IAF seeks ban on use of UAVs, air balloons near vital installations in J &K and Punjab

Alarmed by the security threat posed by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs), the Indian Air Force (IAF) has sought a ban on them in the proximity of defence installations in Jammu and Kashmir (J &K) and Punjab.This, even as the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in consultation with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), para military forces, the Navy and the Army, has been working on a countrywide policy for regulating the use of UAVs and UASs.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>IAF sources said a letter was shot to J&K and Punjab governments on June 2, underlining threats of terrorist attacks through the use of sub-conventional methods to target installations belonging to IAF, defence, para military forces and police.Such sub-conventional methods could be misuse of adventure sports facilities like para gliding, parasailing and air balloons.The IAF has also sought the civil administration’s help in respective areas to identify the private agencies that are involved in these adventure sports and declaration of the equipments they own.IAF chief Arup Raha in October publicly showed concern about the possibility of UAVs becoming tools at the hands of terrorists while speaking to reporters. Other security agencies too, have been seeking a high-priority focus on regulating their use.Since these devices fly at low levels, detecting them by radars become difficult.In January this year, IAF had to press its frontline fighter jet Sukhoi-30 to shoot down an “unidentified” balloon over Barmer in Rajasthan, close to the international border with Pakistan. It later turned out to be a helium filled and harmless balloon but sources in security establishment didn’t deny that such instances could be to test IAF’s response time on breaching of the Indian air space.In May last year, security agencies went into a tizzy after five remote controlled parachutes were spotted in the Mumbai airport airspace. Though they were later identified to have been mistakenly entered the area and ‘harmless’, it led to Mumbai police banning the use of drones and paragliders in the city.

Lower fee structure for excess baggage pushed to 1 July: DGCA

New Delhi: The implementation of lower fee structure for excess checked-in baggage carried by fliers has been deferred to 1 July as airlines have sought more time to upgrade their system.

The reduced rates, which were to become effective from 15 June, will now come into force from 1 July, a senior DGCA official said on Tuesday.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

On Saturday, the government had announced a rate of Rs 100 per additional kilogram of checked-in baggage up to a certain level from the existing charges of Rs 300 per kg.

“Due to system integration problem and software updation by third party as expressed by airlines, the Air Transport Circular 02 of 2016 on unbundling of services addressing the issue of checked-in baggage rate between 15-20 kgs will now be effective from July 1, 2016,” the official said.

Last week, Director General of Civil Aviation M Sathiyavathy had said the revised rates would be applicable from 15 June.

At present, all domestic airlines allow free checked-in baggage up to 15 kg. Beyond that, they charge Rs 300 per extra kg. Only Air India allows a free baggage of upto 23 kg.

“Airlines have been asked to keep variable checked-in baggage fare between 15-20 kg to benefit passengers who carry checked-in baggage in excess of 15 kg but less than 20 kg,” DGCA had said.

Carriers will be free to charge any fee on the baggage weighing beyond 20 kg.

Against the backdrop of concerns in certain quarters about carriers charging high for extra baggage, DGCA has decided to reduce steeply the additional charge levied from passengers in this regard.

Congress slams Modi’s foreign tours, says it has yielded ‘big zero’

In the backdrop of China playing a spoiler in India’s entry into NSG, Congress on Friday dismissed as a “big zero” the sum total of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign visits and foreign policy initiatives.”Never ever in the past almost three decades, China has taken such an absolutely hostile position to India whether on the question of membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) or even getting the Jaish-e-Mohd and Maulana Masood Azhar labeled as terrorist entity”, party spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters in New Delhi. Tearing apart claims of the government and the BJP that PM’s just concluded tour to several countries including US as a big strategic and diplomatic success, he expressed concern that China “has never been so belligerent in the past 29 years”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”China is extremely crucial and has a sensitive relationship with India but has never been so belligerent in the past 29 years ever since late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi broke the ice with China in 1987″, he said. Reports from Vienna had it that with the US pushing its case, India’s bid for membership of the 48-member grouping has received positive indications from most of the member countries but China was still playing the spoiler by persisting with its opposition. He said here has not been a single new idea, a single big idea in the Indo-US relationship in the last two years since Modi became PM. “The only one thread which the NDA-BJP Government and the Prime Minister have been taking forth is the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Energy Pact which was incubated and finally consummated during the UPA Government. “This Prime Minister has suddenly woken up to the virtues of the Civil Nuclear Energy. If I recall correctly, on 12th Sept 2008, while addressing the BJP National Executive, he had stated that the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement is a sell-out. It compromises India’s National security.”So, therefore, between 2008 and 2016, there seems to be a sudden change of heart and what was national security threat in 2008 has now become the biggest swan song of both the Prime Minister and his Government.”, he remarked. He took a dig at BJP President Amit Shah for his reported remarks that the MTCR would help India become an arms exporter. “Possibly the BJP needs to understand that the Missile Technology Control Regime is about controlling proliferation of missiles. It is not about making a country into a net arms exporter. So, this is the limited understanding which the BJP and its President unfortunately have about international affairs.”, he said.”If you look at the Prime Minister and his Government’s foreign policy, in a comprehensive perspective over the past 2 years, India has neither gained diplomatically, neither strategically, neither economically and neither militarily”. “The sum total of Prime Minister’s foreign visits and foreign policy initiatives, is unfortunately a big Zero”, Tewari said.

Police verification is key reason for India’s sluggish passport issuance rate, says report

It took 71 days to issue an Indian passport in 2014, nearly three times as long as the 24 days fixed by the government, and the police took twice as long as they should (42 days instead of 21) to verify applicants’ information, according to a recent audit report from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).

No more than 21% of passport applications were processed that year by regional passport offices (RPOs) within three working days, as they should be after police verification. The proportion of passports processed in time fell from 26% in 2013, the CAG report said.

The audit of 37 regional passport offices (RPOs) was conducted between June 2012 and August 2015.

Source: Union Civil Performance Audit Report 2016, Comptroller & Auditor General

In 2008, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), an information-technology company, signed a deal with the Ministry of External Affairs to speed up passport issue.

The average time for regional passport offices (RPOs) to process passport applications, after police verification, increased from nine days–against the prescribed three days–in 2013 to 16 days in 2014, more than five times longer than it should be.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The national average for issue of normal passports (police verification + processing) was 71 days in 2014 against the total prescribed time of 24 days (three days for processing applications + 21 days for police verification).

“Henceforth, normal passport applications of all first time applicants furnishing Aadhaar, Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC), Permanent Account Number (PAN) and an affidavit will be processed on post-police verification basis, enabling faster issue of passport, without payment of any additional fees,” said this statement from the Ministry of External Affairs earlier this year.

Passports issued increased 54% over 5 years

Passports issued increased by 54%, from 5.2 million in 2010 to 8.1 million in 2014.

Source: Union Civil Performance Audit Report 2016, Comptroller & Auditor General

Average police verification time 42 days, twice as long as it should be

In 2014, police verification of applicants, a key step in issuing new passports, took 42 days, double the time fixed for the process, 21 days, the CAG audit found. This was seven days quicker than in 2013.

The average time declined to 36 days for 2015 for the period for which data were available, January to June.

In Delhi, the police verification process took 12 days, compared to 265 days (9 months approximately) in Assam.

Source: Union Civil Performance Audit Report 2016, Comptroller & Auditor General

The CAG report also mentioned that the delay in police verification report in some states and union territories was because there was no electronic connectivity with passport offices. As many as 35% of police verifications took more than 180 days.

IndiaSpend-Logo1IndiaSpend-Logo1

Earlier this month, the Delhi High Court recommended that the Centre “revisit” its system of applicant checks, noting that even the government admitted to “lacunae in the system” that allowed the use of false or forged documents.

Source: Union Civil Performance Audit Report 2016, Comptroller & Auditor General

Passport offices received as many as 84,647 complaints in 2014, 63,831 (75%) of which were addressed; 20,816 complaints (25%) remained unattended until the end of the year.

Passport process

ProcessingThe service time taken by the MEA for processing a normal passport application was three working days (excluding Police verification time) under the Passport Seva Project, which included processing of application, printing and lamination of passport and its dispatch.

Police verificationOnce an applicant applies for passport, the police should complete their verification in 21 days as per prescribed time.

Issuing time = police verification + processing time = 21 + 3 = 24 days (prescribed standards)

Handwara files molestion case returns to haunt army and police

Handwara ‘molestation’ row has returned to haunt the army and Mehbooba Mufti-led government in Jammu and Kashmir.Father of the schoolgirl on Wednesday approached the local court in Handwara praying for lodging an FIR against the personnel of 21 Rashtriya Rifles and the police.”Father of the minor girl submitted an application to the Judicial Magistrate, Handwara for registering an FIR over molestation by the soldiers of 21 RR, the police misconduct, illegal detention, intimidation and the recording and circulation of the video,” said a spokesman of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a human rights group, which had filed the case in the high court on behalf of the girl’s mother<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After hearing the arguments of the JKCCS legal team, the spokesman said the judicial magistrate issued the notice to station house officer, Handwara asking him to submit the status report of the case by June 15.Earlier on May 16, the family of the Handwara minor girl had moved a formal application to the special investigation team (SIT) of Jammu and Kashmir Police and the SHO Handwara for registering the two separate FIRs.”One FIR was sought to be filed against the army personnel of 21 RR who molested the minor girl outside the public toilet at Handwara market. Another FIR was sought to be filed against the SP Handwara and others who recorded and circulated the video statement of the minor girl without the consent of her parents and for the misconduct, intimidation and the illegal police custody of the girl,” he said.JKCCS spokesman noted after police did not file FIR for more than 20 days the family of the minor girl decided to petition the Handwara district court as per the established procedures under section 156(3) Cr PC.The 16-year-old girl was freed on May 10 after spending 27 days in the police custody. Handwara girl was taken under the “police protection” on April 12 when violent protests rocked Handwara township after rumours spread that she was molested by the army trooper when she entered into a public washroom. Five people were later killed in the security forces firing on the protestors across the Kupwara district of north Kashmir.”As experienced so far, the police are making every effort to scuttle the process of justice for the Handwara minor girl. They have also used rumours as a medium for tarnishing the credibility of the girl and her family. Despite all the intimidation the family is undeterred and will continue to strive to ensure that truth about this case is not buried by the oppressive state machinery,” said the JKCCS spokesman.Deputy inspector general of police, North Kashmir Range, Uttam Chand, told dna that there is already an FIR registered and investigation is going on in the case. “We have not received any direction from the judicial magistrate so far,” he said.

Modi In US: Obama backs India’s NSG bid, vows to be with India in fight against Pak-based terror

President Barack Obama has backed India’s bid for membership of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) amid a major push to the strategic ties between the two countries which finalised a “roadmap” to give India the status of US’ close partner in the defence sector.Obama, who held over hour-long talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi here, also promised to cooperate with India against terrorist threats from groups such as Pakistan-based Jaish-e Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba as well as ‘D’ Company, a reference to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In this context, they (the two leaders) directed their officials to identify specific new areas of collaboration at the next meeting of US India Counterterrorism Joint Working Group,” said a Joint Statement issued after the talks.Significantly, the American side also committed itself to treating Pathankot attack at par with 26/11 terror strike in terms of ensuring punishment to perpetrators based in Pakistan.The two countries also decided to start work on construction of six American nuclear reactors in India amid affirmation that the Liability issue has been addressed.Six pacts, including one on exchange of screening of terror information, besides two other documents were signed after the talks that mainly covered issues like terrorism, clean energy, climate change, defence, regional security, cyber security, economic ties and people-to-people contacts.Addressing the media jointly with Modi at his Oval office, Obama said it was natural for India and the US, two biggest democracies, to “deepen and broaden” partnership.Progress made in the Civil Nuclear agreement was among the issues discussed, Obama said.”I indicated support to India being a part of NSG,” the US President said in remarks which assume significance since China is opposing such a move.Obama underlined that India needs technology, which is critical for its progress and prosperity.The 50-point Joint Statement said, “President Obama welcomed India’s application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and re-affirmed that India is ready for membership. The United States called on NSG Participating Governments to support India’s application when it comes up at the NSG Plenary later this month.”The United States also re-affirmed its support for India’s early membership of the Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement.”Modi later said, “I am ever thankful for the help and support that my friend President Obama has extended with regard to membership in MTCR and NSG.”

Maharashtra: Finance minister Mungantiwar urges aviation ministry to restart Nanded airport

Drawing the Central government’s attention to the lack of air connectivity in Nanded – a major pilgrimage spot for Sikhs and the second largest city in Marathwada region – finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has written to the civil aviation ministry.Mungantiwar, considered to be second in command in the BJP-led Maharashtra government, has asked the authorities to connect Nanded’s Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji airport to Mumbai, and start services on the New Delhi-Mumbai-Nanded and Nanded-Mumbai-New Delhi routes. He stated that this will act as a catalyst for trade and tourism in the region.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Replying to his letter late last month, Minister of State (Independent), Ministry of Civil Aviation, Mahesh Sharma said, “I am having the matter looked into”. Mungantiwar said Nanded is among the oldest cities in Marathwada. It is the headquarter of the Nanded district and second largest city in Marathwada, after Aurangabad. It is also the eighth largest urban agglomeration of Maharashtra. “Nanded has been a major place for Sikh pilgrimage. Huzur Sahib in Nanded is the second holiest site in Sikhism, next only to Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) of Amritsar,” he said.The airport was redeveloped and upgraded in 2008. Aviation Regulator Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) then awarded it the Provisional Aerodrome License in the public use category in April 2010. On October 1, 2010, the airport received the permanent license, said the officials.The now defunct Kingfisher airlines was the first to start services from Nanded. Spicejet and GoAir also joined in at different times, only to discontinue later due to lack of enough demand. As per the aviation sources, none of the private airlines are keen to start services there at present.During the Lok Sabha proceedings in March this year, Congress’ Rajiv Satav asked the civil aviation ministry to press national carrier Air India (AI) to connect the unconnected airports such as Nanded. Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapati Raju, in his reply to the demand, said the government will not “force” AI into flying to unconnected cities. He added that there was a proposal under the new aviation policy to connect unserved airports under the regional connectivity scheme.According to the state government officials, Maharashtra plans to announce a regional air connectivity policy after the one introduced by the Government of India is finalised. This policy will boost regional development and attract investment by developing regional air connectivity at district and regional headquarters and smaller centres.

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